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Janet Margolin died at the age of 50 on December 17, 1993.

December 17, 2016.

The family went to go see Santa this morning. Look, check it out, it’s Santa.

My kids have passed the point where they are scared of Santa — Wynn never really had that point; I’m fairly certain he would have gotten on the lap of a dragon if it meant more presents — and now they just get excited that he’s there. I know it’s a cliche, but it really is difficult to overstate how much good cheer one can receive simply from a child’s unadulterated enthusiasm when they come across something they haven’t seen before. We all act like we have seen it all — when of course we haven’t, not even close — but kids are too young and graceless to pretend. Something is awesome, and holy shit that is AWESOME. As adults, we’re much better at expressing holy shit that’s terrible. And we can do it faster than ever.

Anyway, I’m starting to reach the age that while Santa is still older than I am, the guy playing Santa might well be someone I know socially or have even had a beer with. I’m catching up with Santa, is all. I’d not met this morning’s Santa before, but I’d put him at about 49, 50, maybe, which is only eight years older than me. For the sake of discussion, Ryan Gosling is eight years older than Emma Stone. I am looking forward to my whirlwind romantic musical comedy with Santa. He’s a jazz-loving musician who just wants to open a club at the North Pole; I’m an actor exhausted by the constant rejection of auditions but still hanging onto my dreams.

It Santa, It Me.

(Seriously, that movie is really good. Here’s Grierson’s and my podcast about it.)

Like a lot of parents, my wife and I have had the discussion about whether Santa is, you know, Good For The Children. After all, Santa is:

a: An old white man who sneaks into our house at night, flouting all Stand Your Ground legislation;
b: Constantly watching them all all hours, wherever they are, they are never safe from his unceasing gaze;
c: Making subjective judgments on their behavior despite not knowing them all that well and not even understanding much about their background or the justifications for their actions and decisions;
d: Creating their toys in a workshop despite not having any licensing agreement with a single major corporate brand;
e: Giving them toys from the sky rather than having the children understand the value of money, the importance of sacrifice and the dedication and hard work their parents do because they love them more than they ever thought they could love anything;
f: Making them sit on his lap;
g: Often stinking of gin;
h: Seen for roughly five minutes after a long line of people go through, yet still he never takes a single note marking what, in fact, the child had been requesting of him.
i: Is morbidly obese.

I’m sure there are more.

We ultimately stuck with Santa for the reasons that anyone sticks with anything: Because it’s easier, because it’s “tradition” and, mostly, because telling them that Santa is watching them gets them to go to bed faster. Santa Claus is less a joyous bringer of gifts than every parents’ tacit admission that they ultimately lack authority and thus must appeal to a higher one. Santa is a God that brings toys and you don’t even have to pray to and don’t have to be scared of (though you probably should be). Santa is just another tool in the box. Raising kids, we’re all just throwing shit at the wall every day, hoping something stick. Someone tried Santa about 200 years ago. And it stuck! We’ll just keep throwing.

By the way, if you happen to come across Santa, William wants a new basketball hoop for the back yard, Georgia Bulldogs checkers and something called Soccer Guys. Wynn told Santa this morning he simply wants chocolate milk. Their parents want them to sleep past 6:30 on the weekends. It would be a Christmas miracle. I’ll get on Santa’s lap and ask his ass for that. Shoot, we might have gone to high school together. Cut a Mom and Dad a break, Santa.

Here is a numerical breakdown of all the things I wrote this week, in order of what I believe to be their quality. (This is an attempt to have an objective look at the value of my work in a way that I suspect will be difficult to sustain.)

1. The Dodgers Are a Classic Baseball Franchise, Sports On Earth. It was Leitch Across America week, and a couple of the pieces turned out OK! This one turned out the best. Plus, I got to see Grierson, Daulerio and Hirshey. Seriously, I may have as many friends in Los Angeles now as I do in New York.


Daulerio and I went to Friday’s game, literally an hour after this all got settled. Gonna be a big few months for Daulerio, I suspect. Stay tuned.

2. “Rogue One:” The Force Fails to Awaken, The New Republic. I’m pretty sure I’m gonna be on the right side of history on this one.

3. The Rams Are Stuck in Limbo in Los Angeles, Sports On Earth. Making fun of Stan Kroenke and the Rams is my favorite thing. Poor Todd Gurley.

4. Entitled Behavior, Sports Illustrated. I’ve got an essay in this week’s issue about how championships don’t really sate fans anymore. I originally used a George Carlin quote to explain this — “People always ask me what doing cocaine feels like. What’s doing cocaine feel like? It’s makes you feel like doing more cocaine” — but the editors, perhaps wisely, thought the piece could do without the reference to hard drugs. Anyway, it’s in the issue with LeBron James wearing a turtleneck on the front.

5. Sorry, Clippers: The Lakers Will Always Rule L.A., Sports On Earth. Is it wrong that I find the Lakers more likable than the Clippers? Still? It probably is.

6. Los Angeles Is Just a Different Kind of Sports Town, Sports On Earth. The intro to the series.

7. Where Does Los Angeles Rank Against the Other Sports Cities, Sports On Earth. The wrapup. A fun trip!

As I say every week: If you are the sort to subscribe to a weekly newsletter, I would have to think it wouldn’t be too much of a hassle to subscribe to one of the three podcasts I do. Here they are:

Grierson & Leitch, two shows this week, one on “La La Land,” “The Usual Suspects” and “The Five Heartbeats,” and another just on “Rogue One.” We’re taking a week off, and then doing our big end-of-the-year Top 10 show.

The Will Leitch Experience, took another week off, but taping a show Monday, I swear.

Waitin’ Since Last Saturday, taping one soon, since there’s lots of big news in Georgia football land.

I’ll be back next week on Christmas Eve, with a ton of family in the house begging my attention. So if next week’s newsletter is five times longer than usual, you’ll know why.

Have a great week, everyone.



Best,
Will