Ned Gallagher in Havana.

Ned Gallagher:
What I’m Up To


Thanksgiving 2023

“O Lord that lends me life, Lend me a heart replete with thankfulness!”
- William Shakespeare, Henry VI, Part 2



Fall Term

Having spent most of my life in school, I tend to regard the year through the lens of the academic calendar. So between Labor Day and Thanksgiving, my teaching aligns with fall term classes and my coaching duties with the fall athletic season. Winter term (and squash season) starts at the tail end of November and continues through the first week in March. And then spring term (and tennis season) unfolds from late March until the end of May/beginning of June. And everything that is left is simply “summer.”

Of these divisions, the autumn always seems like the longest haul. It represents the greatest stretch of largely uninterrupted boarding school life (aside from a long weekend respite following Family Weekend in late October). In the winter, we resume school after a 10-day Thanksgiving break, but just over two weeks later are granted a couple more weeks of down time. The January/February block is broken up by an annual D.C. trip with our government students and then by a post-midterm long weekend. The March spring break ritual entails another two-plus weeks away from the usual routine, followed by the final term of the school year. Spring is the shortest of the three trimesters, one which seems to fly by—though part of that sense may be the psychological lift provided by increasingly pleasant weather.

This is a long way of explaining why prep school teachers usually find themselves particularly spent at the end of November.



On the Road Again

I took advantage of the school vacation to travel a bit, mostly for some cultural immersion. Between Stratford-upon-Avon and London in the U.K., I saw four plays. After a trip home for Thanksgiving with family, I caught a Shakespeare production in Atlanta, followed by an opera and an afternoon of live theater in Chicago. No doubt I had a bit of pent-up appetite for travel after lost opportunities due to the pandemic, so I enjoyed getting out in the world for a bit. And the productions I saw were, for the most part, worthwhile. The Kenneth Branagh-directed King Lear was a pleasant surprise: though the reviews were middling, I appreciated this fast-paced take on the tragedy. Finishing in less than two hours, it felt more like Macbeth. And even though Branagh is on the young side for the title role, I was impressed by his performance.



A Cashless Existence

While I was traveling, it struck me that contactless payment seems to be the way of the world now. For five days in England, I never had to use cash, and so I never needed to have any local currency on hand. I could use Apple Pay on my smartwatch for fare on the London Underground, drinks in the theater, and settling the bill in restaurants. Even buskers on the street would have a device set up indicating one could tap to tip £2. Since the pandemic, going contactless has made a lot more sense for all involved, and this development has made my life just a little bit easier.



What I’m Reading

Working On Now:

  • Jacob L. Wright, Why the Bible Began: An Alternative History of Scripture and Its Origins
  • McKay Coppins, Romney: A Reckoning
  • Adrian Goldsworthy, Rome and Persia: The Seven Hundred Year Rivalry
  • Thea Glassman, Freaks, Gleeks, and Dawson's Creek: How Seven Teen Shows Transformed Television

Recently Finished:

  • Joanna Robinson, Dave Gonzales, and Gavin Edwards, MCU: The Reign of Marvel Studios
  • William Deresiewicz, Excellent Sheep: The Miseducation of the American Elite and the Way to a Meaningful Life
  • Farah Karim-Cooper, The Great White Bard: How to Love Shakespeare While Talking About Race
  • Steven Levitsky and Daniel Ziblatt, How Democracies Die
  • Patrick McDonnell, The Super Hero’s Journey
  • Daniel Mendelsohn, Three Rings: A Tale of Exile, Narrative, and Fate
  • Frank Miller and David Mazzucchelli, David Mazzucchelli’s Daredevil Born Again: Artisan Edition
  • Bernie Taupin, Scattershot: Life, Music, Elton, and Me
  • Mark D. White, ed., Watchmen and Philosophy: A Rorschach Test
  • David Brooks, How to Know a Person: The Art of Seeing Others Deeply and Being Deeply Seen
  • Patrick Stewart, Making It So: A Memoir
  • Andrew Martin, Metropolitain: An Ode to the Paris Metro
  • Heather Cox Richardson, Democracy Awakening: Notes on the State of America
  • Arthur C. Brooks and Oprah Winfrey, Build the Life You Want: The Art and Science of Getting Happier
  • Bob Proehl, The Nobody People
  • Tom Scioli, I Am Stan: A Graphic Biography of the Legendary Stan Lee

On Deck:

  • Tom Holland, Pax: War and Peace in Rome’s Golden Age
  • Mark Edmundson, Song of Ourselves: Walt Whitman and the Fight for Democracy
  • Maya Phillips, Nerd: Adventures in Fandom from This Universe to the Multiverse

For Courses I’m Taking:

  • William Shakespeare, The Tempest
  • Fyodor Dostoevsky, The Brothers Karamazov

For Courses I’m Teaching:

  • Virgil, The Aeneid
  • Joseph Conrad, Heart of Darkness



What I’m Watching


  • The Gilded Age, season 2 (Max)
  • Gen V, season 1 (Amazon Prime)
  • Monarch: Legacy of Monsters (Apple TV+)
  • The Sixth Commandment (BritBox)
  • Star Trek: Lower Decks, season 4 (Paramount+)
  • Family Guy, season 22 (Fox, October 1)
  • Bosch: Legacy, season 2 (Freevee)
  • The Simpsons, season 35 (Fox)
  • For All Mankind, seasons 3–4 (Apple TV+)
  • The Crown, season 6 (Netflix)
  • Strange Planet (Apple TV+)
  • I Am Groot, season 2 (Disney+)

Recently Finished—Television:

  • The Circus: Inside the Greatest Political Show on Earth, season 8, part 2 (Showtime)
  • For All Mankind, seasons 1–2 (Apple TV+)
  • Making Shakespeare: The First Folio (Great Performances) (PBS Passport)
  • Line of Duty, season 1 (Acorn)
  • The Morning Show, season 3 (Apple TV+)
  • Deadlocked: How America Shaped the Supreme Court (Showtime)
  • Lupin, part 3 (Netflix)
  • Gods of Tennis (BBC iPlayer)
  • Our Flag Means Death, season 2 (Max)

On Deck—Television:

  • Slow Horses, season 3 (Apple TV+)
  • Line of Duty, seasons 2–5 (Acorn)

Recently Finished—Films:

  • Saltburn (d. Emerald Fennell, 2023)
  • The Holdovers (d. Alexander Payne, 2023)
  • The Marvels (d. Nia DaCosta, 2023)
  • The Insurrectionist Next Door (d. Alexandra Pelosi, 2023)
  • The Creator (d. Gareth Edwards, 2023)
  • A Haunting in Venice (d. Kenneth Branagh, 2023)



What I’m Listening To


  • George Harrison, All Things Must Pass [2014 Remaster]
  • The Who, The Who Hits 50! [Deluxe Edition]


  • Awakening from the Meaning Crisis

Audiobooks/Radio Dramas:

  • Neil Gaiman, Norse Mythology



What I’ve Been Attending

  • Twelfth Night, Chicago Shakespeare Theater, November
  • The Daughter of the Regiment, Lyric Opera, Chicago, November
  • The Tempest, Atlanta Shakespeare Tavern, November
  • Hamnet, Garrick Theatre, London, Novemberr
  • King Lear, Wyndham’s Theatre, London, November
  • Frank and Percy, The Other Palace, London, November
  • Cowbois, Royal Shakespeare Theatre, Stratford-upon-Avon, November
  • seminar on The First Amendment & the Classroom, Teaching American History, online, October



Where I’m Traveling

Recent Trips:

  • Atlanta and Chicago, November
  • Stratford-upon-Avon and London, November
  • Miami Beach, October

Upcoming Trips:

  • day trip to New York City in early December to visit The Cloisters and see a play
  • Boston for a few days in mid-December once school commitments end
  • Montréal for New Year’s, December/January



What I’m Learning

  • upcoming deep dive into The Brothers Karamazov



What I’m Looking Forward To

  • squash season
  • family time over the holidays



Thanks to Derek Sivers for his concept of the /now page.
Revised: 27 November 2023