Watch the Full Episodes of the 6 Best Cast Reunions (So Far)

6 Best Cast Reunions
(Instagram/Will Smith YouTube/Josh Gad)

Celebrities: currently just as bored as the rest of us nameless nobodies. And if there’s one silver lining to all this, it’s that they’re far more susceptible to the concept of cast reunions. Most are willing, eager even to recapture any modicum of onscreen chemistry they shared with former costars. It’s truly a treat for everyone involved.

Here are 6 of the best pop culture reunions we’ve seen so far this year.

The Goonies


Heeyyyy you guyyyyys! If the prospect of a Goonies TV series doesn’t shift your nostalgia gear into overdrive, this certainly will. Josh Gad, Olaf himself, recently launched a reunion-centric YouTube series called Reunited Apart, and so generously invited on the clan from this 80s classic. Thank goodness Goonies also never say no to reunions.

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Back To The Future

Josh Gad making with the goods once again. If you’re even the most casual fan of the BTTF trilogy, you’re certain to get a kick out of this one.  Featuring Christopher Lloyd, Michael J. Fox, Lea Thompson, director Robert Zemeckis, and several surprise guests! Spoiler: Huey Lewis! There was also one cast member missing from the first round but he made his presence known here.

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The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air

When Will Smith launched his quarantine Snapchat show, Will At Home, we knew this was an inevitability. Will successfully reassembled the whole Banks family (minus Uncle Phil of course, RIP) to chat about their time together on Fresh Prince. Carlton, Hilary, Ashley, Geoffrey, Aunt Viv. Even Jazz pops in for a bit!

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Parks & Recreation

It’s been 5 years since your favorite crew from Pawnee, Indiana appeared together in the series finale of Parks & Rec. In a bid to raise money for Feeding America’s COVID-19 Response Fund, Amy Poehler, Chris Pratt, Aziz Ansari, Rashida Jones, Aubrey Plaza, Nick Offerman, and a few other familiar faces got together for, not just your run-of-the-mill cast reunion, but a whole freakin’ scripted episode, with everyone filming remotely. Hopefully, this paves the way for other shows to do the same. Fingers crossed for Seinfeld’s “The Zoom Call.”

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Community

Community is one of the most resilient sitcoms in TV history. It stayed on NBC for four seasons despite abysmal ratings, got canned, was immediately revived by its fan base, and then killed once more. Now the students of Greendale Community College are back, raising money for frontline workers with a table read of the season 5 classic, “Cooperative Polygraphy.” Even Donald Glover was there!

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Splash

Okay, now you’re just showing off, Josh. But we approve of the John Candy related content.

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Someone Has Made a Mod That Puts Barney Into the Resident Evil Village Demo

resident-evil-8-barney-mod
(Youtube/Marcos RC)

The Resident Evil franchise is famously known for it’s zombies, ridiculous storylines, creepy settings, and unsettling monstrosities.  Now, we can add purple dinosaurs to that list.

Last weekend, players had the chance to try out the upcoming eighth installment in the series ‘Resident Evil Village’ via a limited-time demo.  The demo was only available for 24 hours and once you started playing, you only had 60 minutes to explore and complete it.  Not one to let that short amount of time go to waste, modder Marcos RC managed to put Barney the Dinosaur into the game.  This isn’t the first time Marcos has modded a Resident Evil title, but I feel like it’s the best one yet.

The mod is pretty hilarious, but it doesn’t quite pack the same punch without Barney’s actual voice.  This needs to be rectified immediately.  Imagine Barney shuffling towards you saying things like “Super Dee-Duper!” or hearing him hum the Barney theme song to himself while standing in a dark corridor.  The thought alone sends shivers down my spine.

If you were one of the many (including myself) that missed out on trying the demo, developer Capcom ended up changing their mind.  They lifted the restrictions and made the demo accessible for everyone from now until the game officially releases on May 7th.  Will you be picking it up?

Disney Imagineers Branch Out and Build Robotic Baby Groot

Disney Imagineers build dancing robotic baby Groot
(YouTube/Walt Disney Imagineering)

I couldn’t tell you the plot to Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2, but I vividly remember almost every second of Baby Groot’s flawless dance to ELO’s “Mr. Blue Sky.” Groot is a creature of few words, repeating his catchphrase “I am Groot” in varying tones to convey whatever it is he’s trying to say. But like Chewbacca, Wall-E, and most other nonverbal characters, Groot makes up for his nonexistent vocabulary in wildly creative ways.

Whether you’re a fan of Guardians of the Galaxy or not, it’s impossible to deny just how freaking cute the sentient tree creature is. To celebrate baby Groot in all his shimmying glory, the Walt Disney Imagineers spent several years bringing him to life.

The Imagineers are the geniuses behind Disney theme parks, cruise ships, attractions, essentially everything at the crossroads between creativity and technology. Their extensive experience and ingenuity made their Disney branch the perfect one to take on project Groot – and fir real, they crushed it.

To celebrate the fruits of their labor, the Imagineers shared a video of their creative process on YouTube. In 2018, the team began work on Groot’s little legs. Once those were up and running, the team added the trunk of Groot’s body before letting him roam free around the office for a while.

“Using custom authoring tools that combine whole-body motion planning and traditional character animation, artists can quickly bring robotic characters to life with expressive motions and interactive behaviors,” Walt Disney Imagineering captioned their video. “There are no immediate plans for use in Disney theme parks; however, a prototype in the form of Groot is being used to test unique traits, gaits and capabilities.”

Robo-Groot had a few missteps, likely far more than the single tumble included in the video. But by 2020, the team was confident enough in their baby Robot to give him the full Groot, resting birch face and all.

Meet Linda Owens, The Woman Who Has Fostered Over 80 Infants Throughout 34 Years

78-year-old fosters over 80 infants in 34 years
(YouTube/KPIX CBS SF Bay Area)

Taking on the role of a foster parent is a monumental responsibility, one that requires a lot of patience and an enormous heart. Foster parents fulfill all of the daily responsibilities of a parent, in addition to the emotional toll of giving yourself fully to a little one knowing that it’s only temporary. Sadly, nearly half of the infants who enter the foster care system have faced neglect, and more than half come from homes with parents who abuse drugs or alcohol. Transferring unhoused infants into loving foster homes is of the utmost importance, and nobody understands the vital nature of a good foster parent quite like Linda Owens.

Linda Owens is a 78-year-old retired grocery store manager living in Hayward, California. Rather than retire to a life of leisure, Owens decided to change the world for the better. Throughout the past 34 years, the single mom has fostered 81 infants – sometimes two at a time.

Anyone who has raised their own infant knows just how exhausting it can be. We give ourselves pep talks, remembering that one day they’ll sleep through the night, eventually they’ll become more independent. But for Linda Owens, her time as a foster mom comes to an end before her babies can feed themselves, use the toilet, or even tell her how much they love and appreciate her.

The babies who are fortunate enough to end up in Owens’s expert hands often require more care than the average infant, some even going through drug withdrawal after exposure in the womb. Owens, however, is filled with gratitude for the opportunity to help.

“It’s a challenging job, but very rewarding,” Owens told KPIX. “This is what God’s handed me a gift to do.”

Owens’s 34 years as a foster mom means that many of her foster babies are now fully grown adults, the oldest now being 37 years old. But Owens has a special place in her heart for each and every baby that has passed through her door, and to this day, she remembers every single one. Some adoptive families have even kept in contact with Owens over the years, sharing their children’s milestones with the woman who helped complete their families.

CBS affiliate KPIX recently honored Owens with a Jefferson Award in recognition of her life-changing efforts, the same month Owens took in her 81st foster baby. Saying goodbye to an infant you’ve poured so much love into raising seems impossible. But for Owens, it’s a sign that she did her job, and did it well.

Of the baby girl Owens is currently fostering she says, “I can give her a kiss on the forehead and wish her the best, and say, ‘I love you.’”

The Top 10 Star Wars Games of All Time as Voted by ‘The Dad Gaming’ Community

Top 10 Star Wars Video Games
(Electronic Arts)

That’s right my young padawans, it’s Star Wars Day!

No matter how you got hooked on the franchise, there’s no denying the impact it has had on the world.  Star Wars is everywhere.  To help celebrate, I held a poll recently in ‘The Dad Gaming‘ Facebook group to see what everyone’s favorite Star Wars games of all time were.  Just like the best Mario games poll I held back in March for Mar10 Day, it’s clear this community knows their stuff.  Every game on this list is great and is a trip down memory lane for me.  I played a lot of these when I was a kid, and now I just want to bust out the old consoles and start playing them again.

However, in this case, there can be only one Star Wars game that takes the top spot today, so *in my best Yoda voice* to this list, we must get.

10. Star Wars: Rogue Squadron – December 3rd, 1998

Star-Wars-Rogue-Squadron-N64
(LucasArts)

First up is Star Wars: Rogue Squadron.  This game put you in the pilot seat of 5 different iconic Star Wars vehicles as you made your way across 16 missions to save the galaxy.  The game’s story takes place between the events of A New Hope and The Empire Strikes Back, but it was really just a solid action game.  What kept bringing me back were the medals you could get from each mission.  Based on how well you did, you could unlock bonus content like secret levels including ‘The Death Star Trench Run’ or being able to fly the Millennium Falcon.

9. Star Wars Galaxies – June 26th, 2003

Star-Wars-Galaxies-StarterKit
(LucasArts)

Star Wars Galaxies was an MMORPG in the same vein as World of Warcraft or Everquest.  Featuring 10 different races (like Wookie or Twi’lek) and 9 different professions such as Jedi, Bounty Hunter, Smuggler, Commando, Spy, Officer, Medic, Entertainer and Trader to choose from, this game had a wealth of content for fans to play through.  It would become so popular, that three expansions would be released for it after its initial launch, including one that allowed you to pilot your own ship.  Unfortunately, Star Wars Galaxies would end up shutting its servers down 8 years later to make way for the new Star Wars MMORPG ‘The Old Republic’.

8. Star Wars: X-Wing Vs. TIE Fighter – April 29th, 1997

star-wars-x-wing-vs-tie-fighter
(LucasArts)

Unlike Rogue Squadron, Star Wars: X-Wing Vs. TIE Fighter was more of a flight simulator than arcade shooter.  It still featured white-knuckle space combat, but you really needed to know your opponents ship and set-up.  This game included a robust multiplayer for up to eight players with free-for-all, team-based, and cooperative play modes.  When Star Wars: X-Wing Vs. TIE Fighter first released, it only featured multiplayer, which some fans weren’t too happy about.  LucasArts would end up releasing an expansion called ‘Balance of Power’ which added in a campaign.

This game was added to the poll by community member Shaylin Clark.

7. Star Wars: Republic Commando – February 28th, 2005

Republic Commando Cover Art
(Nintendo)

Star Wars: Republic Commando is a first-person, tactical shooter that put you in the boots of a clone trooper named “Boss”.  As Boss, you were the leader and were able to control what actions the other three NPC’s in your squad would perform.  You could order “Scorch” (demolitions expert), “Fixer” (hacker), or “Sev” (sniper) to help breach and clear rooms or take on their preferred roles to provide cover fire.  It was a pretty unique gaming experience set in the Star Wars universe, and I hope we see more like it in the future.  There was even a remaster that just recently released on Nintendo Switch & Playstation 4, so if you haven’t played this one yet, definitely give it a go.

6. Star Wars: Shadows of the Empire – December 3rd, 1996

Star-Wars-Shadows-Of-The-Empire-N64-Cover-Art
(LucasArts)

Star Wars: Shadows of the Empire was the first N64 game I owned along with Super Mario 64.  The graphics and gameplay are pretty dated now, but the nostalgia is strong with this one.  That first level on Hoth when you had to fly the snowspeeders around the AT-AT’s to trip them with a cable seriously blew my 11-year-old mind.  It was just like the movies!  The main character Dash Rendar also really deserves the live-action treatment.  I always thought he was the coolest and his ship the ‘Outrider’ is one of my all-time favorite Star Wars vehicles.

5. Star Wars Jedi Knight 2: Jedi Outcast – March 26th, 2002

star-wars-jedi-knight-2-jedi-outcast-cover-art
(LucasArts)

Taking on the role of Kyle Katarn, you must return to your Jedi ways to stop the dark Jedi Desann from empowering their army with the Force.  While you could use blaster pistols and other ranged weapons, the big draw here was the awesome lightsaber fights.  Seriously, Jedi Outcast is considered a landmark Star Wars game for its revolutionary (at the time) lightsaber combat.  Jedi Outcast also featured a multiplayer mode that allowed players to compete in different game modes online or over a LAN connection.  Ah yes, LAN gaming.  Nothing like getting a bunch of friends together and playing on separate systems.  It was pretty great.  You can also pick this up on Nintendo Switch and Playstation 4 right now (minus the multiplayer).

This game was added to the poll by community member Junior Godoy.

4. Star Wars Battlefront 2 – November 1st, 2005

Star-Wars-Battlefront-2-Cover-Art
(LucasArts)

The original Star Wars Battlefront lets you experience iconic Star Wars battles upfront and personal on a large scale.  The sequel, Star Wars Battlefront 2 cranked that gameplay up to 11.  It featured new vehicles, characters, game mechanics, maps, and the use of Jedi and Sith.  Battlefront 2 also featured a more story-driven campaign, retelling portions of the Star Wars story from the point of view of an Imperial Stormtrooper, reminiscing about his tour of duty in both the Galactic Republic and the Galactic Empire.

3.  Star Wars: The Force Unleashed – September 16th, 2008

Star-Wars-The-Force-Unleashed-Sith-Box-Art
(LucasArts)

Star Wars: The Force Unleashed put players in the role of Starkiller, Darth Vader’s secret apprentice.  Tasked with hunting down Jedi survivors of the Great Jedi Purge, Starkiller starts to question his own morality and wishes to redeem himself.  The gameplay featured plenty of lightsaber and force powers, along with the ability to sneak around and stealth attack.  One of the cool features with this one is enemies learn from the player’s character’s attacks.  Using the same attack on different enemies would sometimes lead to you doing less damage.  You really had to switch up your play style with this one.

I’m still a fan of the name Starkiller.  I tried to name each of my three kids Starkiller, but my wife shot the idea down every time.  Maybe I’ll have to legally change my name to Starkiller instead.

2. Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order – November 15th, 2019

Star-Wars-Jedi-Fallen-Order
(Electronic Arts)

Developed by Respawn Entertainment (Titanfall, Apex Legends) Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order was able to combine Dark Souls-style gameplay and exploration with the Star Wars mythos to create a tough and satisfying gaming experience.  The voice acting was top-notch, the lightsaber combat and force powers felt awesome, and Fallen Order featured some truly epic story moments.  This one is also getting a PS5 and Xbox Series X/S next-gen upgrade.  If you own a copy and one of the new systems and want to try it out with updated graphics, you’ll have your chance this summer.

1. Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic – July 15th, 2003

Star Wars: KOTOR
(LucasArts)

We have reached the #1 spot and I’m not kidding when I say that this game earned it by a long shot.  It nearly earned triple the number of votes that Fallen Order did.  What can I say, the fans love this one.  Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic featured turn-based combat with a morality system.  How you treated others would either put you on the Light or Dark Side of the Force.  With rumors of a remake currently in the works, the legacy of this game will continue to live on for years to come.

So, there you have it.  These are all great choices if you’re looking to dive into the world of Star Wars video games, but we wouldn’t have these if George Lucas hadn’t created it.  That’s something I’m thankful for.  I’m sure we can all remember the first time we watched a Star Wars film.  I was 10 at the time and my parents bought me the 1995 VHS box set of the original trilogy.  The films blew my mind and from that day forward, I was a big fan.  Growing up with Star Wars was such a cool experience too because I got to relive those moments again watching them with my kids.

Happy Star Wars Day and may the 4th be with you!

If you want to be part of an awesome community, feel free to join The Dad Gaming Facebook group

For more gaming memes, stories, news, and tournaments, you can check out The Dad Gaming Facebook page.

Star-Wars-Ewoks-Dancing-Gif
(Pinterest/Cleverson Rodriguez)

Father Figures: He Trained For This

“When Myla was born via surprise c-section in June of 2010, I developed severe post partum depression and anxiety. I couldn’t breastfeed or even get out of bed some days.

Michael was a young father with no dad experience at all. Perhaps his Army training and time in Iraq prepared him to spring into action so quickly.

He mastered diaper changes with no problem and is still the only dad I’ve ever known who got up diligently hour after after for middle of the night feedings. He said it was because the military had accustomed him to waking up frequently in the night to do whatever was asked of him and comparatively, this was a labor purely of love.

This is my favorite photo of them, a sight I’d wake up to often after a long sleepless night: the two of them cuddled under his Army blanket aka ‘Woobie.'”

– Alicia Boggio Stiteler

Want to share a story about fatherhood? Email [email protected]

Conan O’Brien Announces Final Episode as a Late Night Talk Show Host

Conan Final Episode
(YouTube/TeamCoco)

Conan O’Brien finally has announced the ending date for his late night show on TBS. Conan is a legendary talk show host, the Johnny Carson of the MTV generation, and this will mark his official exit from the late-night scene after nearly three decades of innovating in the genre.

Monday, Conan announced on his show the last new episode would air on June 24th. O’Brien has been hosting a regular late-night show on TBS since 2010 after NBC completely bungled his era as host of “The Tonight Show.” O’Brien got his start in the late-night game (after cutting his teeth at SNL and The Simpsons) after taking over for David Letterman on NBC’s “Late Show” in 1993.

O’Brien is leaving to host a weekly show at HBO Max in a much different format.

“As some of you have heard, it’s been out there for a while now, but we’re making it official. We are winding down our TBS show. The plan is to re-emerge on HBO Max sometime in the near future with, I think, what will be my fourth iteration of a program. Imagine a cooking show with puppets and you’ll have the wrong idea,” O’Brien said.

While his start date with HBO Max isn’t clear, he did say the last run of shows on TBS will be special.

“We’re going to create, I think, a really fun, special environment and it’s going to be, I think, a lot of fun. And, you know, I just want to point out that for 11 years, the people at Turner have been absolutely lovely to me and everyone here at the staff. They gave me a home when I needed one most and I am eternally grateful and very proud of what we’ve accomplished here. And so, what I’d like is, I’d like these last couple of weeks to be a fond look back at all the absurd madness my team and I have concocted,” he said.

It’s truly an end of an era, but it’s important to remember just how much Conan has changed. What seems conventional now was completely bonkers in the mid-1990s, and he’s never stopped innovating.

Even at TBS, he’s found new ways to be creative with the format, including the truly incredible “Conan Without Borders” series, which is transcendent in the travelogue world (watch them on Netflix if you haven’t seen them yet). He’ll continue making “Conan Without Borders” specials for TBS.

As for his next show, the “fourth iteration” he talks about, much remains to be seen. What is for sure, though, is that it will be entertaining.

O’Brien has never hesitated to pivot, whether it was in changing his network, his style, the length of his show, or even the genre, as he recently started a very successful and entertaining podcast as well.

Conan is one of a kind, and while this closes a major chapter of late-night entertainment, his next act will come with just as much anticipation.

The Simpsons and Star Wars Mashup Lands Today on Disney+

Star Wars Simpson Mashup
(Disney)

May the Fourth be with you!

I actually sort of hate that, but I have a 10yo Star Wars fanatic in my house, so it’s unavoidable. Star Wars is also unavoidable, even when you’re trying to avoid it. My son has loved it since he was in preschool, as the originals are just soft enough to be okay (don’t @ me). Now that we’re moving onto slightly more sophisticated content, I’ve begun showing him The Simpsons.

And now The Simpsons and Star Wars have mashed up.

They’re both owned by Disney, which means The Simpsons no longer have to do throwaway gags; now they can go all out in referencing and (lovingly) mocking the franchise. Which they are doing, with a brand-new short on Disney+! It’s called: “Maggie Simpson in The Force Awakens From Its Nap,” which features Maggie Simpson, despite the fact that she can’t talk.

The synopsis reads:

In a daycare far, far away… but still in Springfield, Maggie is on an epic quest for her stolen pacifier. Her adventure brings her face-to-face with young Padawans, Sith Lords, familiar droids, Rebel scum, and an ultimate battle against the dark side, in this original short celebrating the Star Wars galaxy.

It’s sure to feature cameos from Star Wars and Simpsons favorites alike, and hopefully, someone will get their hand cut off (my money is on Moleman!).

It landed on Disney+ overnight, because it’s Star Wars day for people who love puns. Also out today is The Bad Batch, the long-awaited animated series, which I’ll also be forced to watch tonight.

Here’s the poster for the short:

The Force Awakens From Its Nap
(Disney)

Grandpa Is Moved to Tears When Daughter and Grandson Plan Surprise Visit

Grandpa's emotional response to grandson's surprise visit
(TikTok/erica_mf_lusher)

If you tell your kids’ grandparents that you’re coming to visit, they’ll start preparing almost immediately. There are few joys quite as pure as spending time with the grandkids, and by nature, grams and gramps can go a little overboard when it comes to spoiling their family’s newest generation. By warning them of your imminent arrival, you’re setting yourself up for a home-cooked meal and a pile of little gifts that somehow look like they came from the 1950s – but if you show up unexpectedly, sometimes the rewards are even greater.

Erica Lusher and her son live roughly 800 miles away from her parents, and due to the pandemic, it’s been over a year since they’ve seen each other. A year in grandson time is an eternity – it’s a well-documented phenomenon that kids grow up seemingly overnight, so the time apart was challenging for the doting grandparents.

Since Erica and her parents were recently vaccinated, a desperately-needed reunion was finally within reach. Rather than letting her parents know, however, Erica and her son devised an adorable plan. They packed up and made their way to Port Orange, Florida, where the unsuspecting grandparents lived.

Rather than surprising them at their house, this planner extraordinaire found out where her parents were having lunch and casually bumped into her mom 800 miles away from home.

@erica_mf_lusherKentucky to Florida ##surprise ##fyp ##grandpa♬ Proud of You – Five Times August

“Hi Memaw,” Erica says calmly as her mom’s eyes widen with both shock and loving recognition. Stunned, she holds her hand over her mouth as Erica and her son approach their next target – grandpa.

The moment Erica’s dad spots his grandson, his eyes fill with tears. Erica’s son runs towards his grandpa with open arms, thrilled the moment he’d been waiting for had finally arrived. The pair embraces tearfully, as grandpa chokes out a quiet “hey buddy.”

For a moment Erica’s dad holds his grandson at arm’s length, registering just how much the little boy grew since the last time he held him in his arms. And in part, perhaps, making sure the whole thing wasn’t a cruel dream. Before long, he pulls his grandson back in for another emotional embrace.

A year without hugging our loved ones has been difficult for so many of us, but the process of making up for lost time is the sweetest possible reward.

Will Smith Speaks for All of Us: ‘I’m in the Worst Shape of My Life’

Will Smith Worst Shape
(Instagram/willsmith)

Some people got a LOT done over the last year, like the 12-year-old who graduated from high school and college. But the rest of us are Will Smith. OK, not the famous, Fresh Prince, wooo-ing Bad Boy movie star Will Smith. But we are the Will Smith he shared on Instagram recently! The star decided to get real and shared a clearly untouched pic of himself, claiming he’s “in the worst shape of my life.”

You don’t typically see celebrities being vulnerable on social media and showing any images that would present them in anything but the very best light, but when you’re Will Smith, you aren’t beholden to the same norms as the rest of Hollywood. He’s too big to fail. Metaphorically, at least, because even his “worst shape of his life” still looks like an after photo for most guys’ workout plans.

 

View this post on Instagram

 

A post shared by Will Smith (@willsmith)

Yeah, he’s not like Thor-level ripped, but he’s 52, let the man enjoy his life a little bit. We are only on this planet for such a short time, you really gotta do whatever it takes to enjoy it as much as possible. And if that means going from ‘Getting jiggy with it’ to ‘getting jiggly with it’ then god bless.

The most infuriating part of the post is probably the plethora of commenters praising him for rocking a ‘dad bod.’ Basically, anything unflattering or any weight gain is all it takes to launch you into “dad bod” territory and I, for one, am frankly offended (not really, people who genuinely mean that are so boring).

Will Smith looks normal! That’s good. We should all aspire to embrace the normal in our lives, even if it’s “the worst shape of our lives” or the best. And most importantly, we all need to be way more forgiving about the shape we’re in after the last year.

Some people have the discipline to somehow come out of all this fitter and to that, I say good for you. The rest of us? We were just trying to survive working from home and doing remote learning, so even if we’re not in the shape we’d necessarily want, it’s not the end of the world. The diet and the workouts can start (next) Monday.