As we get further and further away from the way things 'used' to be, and more accustomed to our bread baking and yoga pants, I've noticed something...people are seriously amazing. People are rising to the challenge of a new way of livingâeven if only temporarilyâand the results are pretty incredible. After all, they don't say necessity is the mother of all invention for no reason, do they? Here are some people, ideasâeven cocktailsâthat are knocking my socks off this week.
1. Dr. Seuss.
You can't beat a Dr. Seuss book. Colorful, creative, and with great rhymes and lessons, Dr. Seuss covered it all. Well, almost. Enter Wes Tank, who is currently my favorite person bar none. Tank used to add a rapped Dr. Seuss book to some of his live shows to great results. But he never made a whole library of recorded Dr. Seuss songs, all rapped from an unsuspecting white man in a home library, until he was on Coronavirus lockdown. And the results...my God. The results are the best. Really, you need to see this. Click below to see Tank rap, but don't stop there. Go to his YouTube Channel for his entire selection of Seuss raps. YOU WILLL NOT BE SORRY. (Yes, I'm yelling this).
4. Disney World. At Home.
5. Family projects.
As we're working on our nine millionth day at home, I can't help but think about Jack Nicholson's famous line from "The Shining": "All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy." With very little work on the horizon, I'm feeling the opposite, but no less surreal...the absence of work has left me a little unmoored. So as I practice playing instruments, baking bread, and taking on hobbies I never knew I loved, I appreciate you, dear reader, for keeping me writing. Here's what's pretty swell this week.
1. Danny Collins.
2. The environment.
Ok, so here's the thing. I hesitate to include this because from what I've read, this is only temporary. Once people are back out in the world, the pollution is going to go way back up. But I'm sharing it anyway because (1) it's pretty amazing to see what happens when humans retreat and the world has some time to heal and (2) I have hope that seeing this will help us acknowledge what we're capable of changing. And so, check out these photos for some stunning before-and-after Covid shots of our world. Amazing.
3. Yellow Submarine Sing-Along.
4. Wine tastings.
Ok, this might be the best thing to come out of quarantine. VIRTUAL. WINE. TASTINGS. I mean seriously...why have we never thought of this before? Learning about, and sampling wine, from the safety and comfort of home (no driving required)? I hope this is one thing that's here to stay (although company would be welcome!). A lot of places are doing this locally (my wonderful friend Keri is doing this at via her Texas restaurant, Grape Juice), but if there's nothing local, the tastings—and accompanying talks—offered through Wine.com are pretty spectacular! You can order everything that's going to be discussed and have it all in hand prior to the virtual tasting.
5. Stephen King.
It's officially spring! Normally this would mean cleaning off patio furniture and pulling out the grill with plans of early evening cocktails and burgers with friends. Now that I'm a vegan in a pandemic, it means I'm grilling portobello mushrooms all by myself. Ah, change. It isn't easy, but it isn't all bad either. Here's what I'm digging this week.
1. Crip Camp.
Turns out, Barack Obama is pretty multi-talented. Not only was the guy the President of the ole USA, but he's also (with his wife Michelle) got a production company with some pretty amazing stuff. Higher Ground Productions, the Obama's production company in partnership with Netflix, produces diverse programming. And if Crip Camp is any indication, they're doing a bang-up job. A disabled rights documentary, Crip Camp is as informative as it is lively, compassionate, and eye-opening. An absolutely great pic for anyone feeling hopeless in the time of Coronavirus.
2. The Rockettes.
3. Jon Bon Jovi.
4. Live tunes.
So a few weeks ago, I wrote about live music and how I had been tuning into a lot of virtual local shows. These remain some of my favorites because of the community interaction, but I'm also pretty excited to find daily shows on Live Nation. The shows are pretty diverse and include lots of versatile artists with something for everyone—kid shows, comedy, DJs, country, rock, and more. This week alone you can tune into Drew Holcomb and Rhett Miller on Friday; Marcus Mumford, The Killers, and a show curated by Lady Gaga on Saturday; and Alice in Chains on Monday. The list seems to be updated every day and lots of these shows ask for just a minimum donation.
5. Fancy walks.
Restrictions (and my pants) keep getting tighter, but discomfort takes a backseat to health and wellness. And so we are still—understandably—locked in. And obviously, we're not locked in. We just feel locked in, right? Right. At least that's what I keep telling my kids. So while the world rages around us—political unrest, overflowing hospitals, and mandatory face masks—here's what's rocking my boat this week.
Ok, so of course, I watched "The Tiger King" like any good Netflix subscriber, and while it was entertaining, and shocking, and head-shakingly baffling—occupying a good six plus hours of my quarantine—it left me feeling kind of gross. It was just a confluence of so many crappy things and crappy people that I can't say it made quarantine any better. Unlike the supremely powerful Netflix short series "Unorthodox", about a young woman who leaves her Orthodox Jewish community. Loosely based on a true story, it was fascinating, uplifting, and focused on some of the best of humanity. Go watch it. Can't say you don't have time.
2. Backyard Marathon.
We're all finding different ways to cope with this new situation, but I have to admit, some of us are doing it better than others. While I'm over here patting myself on the back for baking a loaf of bread and not strangling my kids, others have taken this quarantine to unbelievable heights. Take James Campbell, a former world class competitive javelin player from England, who wanted to do something interesting for his 32nd birthday. Instead of baking himself a cake, he ran a marathon. IN HIS BACKYARD. I didn't watch the whole thing, but thousands did, and Campbell ended up raising over $30K for the UK National Health Service.
3. The Lost Husband.
4. The Getty Art Challenge.
5. Straight Up Human Kindness.
Sometimes really terrible things—worldwide pandemics—bring out the worst in people. Sometimes it's the opposite. And during this pandemic, I've seen so much goodness it's astounding. From restaurants donating food to healthcare workers; to residents giving hand sanitizer and gloves to postal workers; to tons of signs throughout my community urging us all on, the goodness is big and seems to be contagious. One of my favorite acts of kindness is this one, where hospital personnel are fundraising for ipads so that patients can see their families. Get in while the giving's good.
In lieu of my usual '5 things' for the At the Shore Guide or AC Weekly (there's not a whole lot of nightlife or entertainment to write about these days) I'm keeping myself from getting rusty with my own personal 'This stuff has been swell' list. Here’s what I’ve been crushing on this week...maybe some of it can make your week a little bit better too.
1. Live music.
Ok, so it’s not actually live because we aren’t technically in the same place as the musicians, but it’s the second best thing—musicians live in their house, playing on a screen in your house. In this past week and a half, I’ve gotten to see big shows (Indigo Girls with 50,000 other people in their own living rooms) and lots of shows with local musicians through the Virtual Cape May Happy Hour series. At this point their schedule goes through April 11, so there’s still time to tune in.
2. The Hashtag Cowboy.
I don’t know how I stumbled across this gem but it totally made my day. And my son’s day. And my husband’s. We cracked up and are totally rooting for this guy. Maybe you will too.
3. David Sedaris.
I’ve long been a fan of David Sedaris’s storytelling but had never actually heard him do a reading, despite several missed opportunities. So I am LOVING the audio version of “Calypso”. It's funny—he's always funny—but it's also bittersweet and meaningful. And it'’s making quarantine infinitely better.
4. Guitar Lessons.
That’s right peeps, it’s time to make long lost dreams come true. With all this extra time on our hands, why not? So And I’m learning to play the guitar thanks to a FREE class from Fender. The classes are great and can be geared towards anything you want to learn, so I’m starting off with Acoustic FOLK. Get ready for something fabulous, people.
I’m so not a baker, but like many, many people in some stage of quarantine, I’ve taken to making bread. (And apparently, I am so not alone…it’s getting harder and harder to find flour as people across the country develop their own inner baker). If you’ve got some flour and yeast, get in on the action. This recipe literally could not be easier and it makes TWO loaves of bread. Go ahead…you’ll thank me later (But your pants won’t).
The Swell List
We're in the midst of a worldwide pandemic. There's plenty of bad news. Here's what I'm crushing on while in lockdown.