3 April 2020

10 Things Keeping Us Busy in Isolation

We may have been telling people reading and television were our favourite hobbies for years, but turns out it's going out to eat and perusing non-essential businesses. Luckily for us though, we do really like reading and television. Here are 10 things we've been entertaining ourselves with:

(A Highly Specific, Defiantly Incomplete History of the Early 21st Century) The fact that I read a ten thousand word essay on KISS shows how much I love Chuck Klosterman and how much I hate I hate this pandemic. Chuck Klosterman's X is around 430 pages and is made up of 38 essays. I have never met a book of short stories I've enjoyed, but I love to read essays. Klosterman's collection covers everything from interviews with musicians and athletes, to TV reviews and other random musings. I have been a fan of Chuck Klosterman since high school and will continue to absorb anything he writes. I also found that reading a book of essays is particularly well suited to our current timeline. I started this book on March 17 (my first day working from home) and finished it on March 24th.

I unlocked the free Starz subscription on my Amazon Prime trial to watch this show and I would go as far as to pay for it if there was going to be a weekly episode. I haven't read Nick Hornby's High Fidelity yet, and like the movie adaptation with John Cusack, but I seriously love this show. Zoe Kravitz is the coolest person ever to exist and she is amazing in her role as Rob in this series. I will also pretty much watch anything with Jake Lacy and love him in everything he does. There are only 10, 30 minute episodes but I desperately hope it gets picked up for a second season. I love that they flipped the cast and it's now a female lead taking you through her worst heartbreaks. You do not have to be 'into' music to enjoy this - I certainly am not. I would caution against trying to make this a 'couples watch', however, my husband referred to it once as "the show with that Kravitz daughter PMSing" and I could see how it would seem whiny, but I am the whine Queen and I love it. I am not looking forward to quarantine without more episodes of this.

Blank Check is a podcast hosted by David Sims (critic for The Atlantic) and Griffin Newman (comedian/actor) where they cover director filmographies. I can literally hear Griffin introducing the podcast in my head now. They are usually 2 hours and provide so much background on the movie in question that I start reciting these facts to everyone I know. I have been taking a lot of comfort in movies from Nancy Meyers and James L Brooks during this horrendous time, and the Blank Check episodes on their filmographies are soo enjoyable. This is actually how I found out that there were rumours Dianne Keaton and Keanu Reeves hooked up during the making of Something's Gotta Give... a rumour that was BASICALLY CONFIRMED at the Oscars when the two presented an award together. INCREDIBLE. Some other directors they have done: Christopher Nolan, Jonathan Demme, Katherine Bigelow, Cameron Crowe, etc.

I've been wanting to read this book forever, especially knowing how much Meg loves it. I finally grabbed a copy at our town garage sale last year, but I don't read a lot of big fiction and it's been sitting on my shelf intimidating me ever since. I thought this would be the perfect time to start it. I love Steinbeck's Of Mice and Men and know he's a talented author, but was nervous about the religious elements of this book. I'm about halfway through it right now and so far there's nothing overtly religious that would put anyone off. It's very detailed and very character heavy. I love learning about homesteading which there's a lot of so that's really fun for me. If you have a big book on your shelf that you're a bit scared of try a few chapters every day while we have nothing else to do!!!

This is the book I am currently reading. It has already made its way on to many of the lists we've published in 2020. Ben got me Station Eleven for Christmas and I'm really excited to check it out before it is adapted as a miniseries - of course now with all the delays it probably won't be out for two years. This book is written by a Canadian author and the opening setting is the Elgin Theatre in Toronto - a place I've been many times now thanks to TIFF! I decided to start reading this book now because it is actually about a fictional pandemic that wipes out most of the world's population. Ben won't let me re-watch Contagion so this is where I'm at for freaking myself out.

Over the last year I've got more into podcasts but usually stick to "news" type ones where there's a new episode a week or following a show, etc. and haven't done much dabbling into "story" or "journalistic" types where they tell a narrative over the course of a season. I saw a few bloggers I like recommend this podcast and decided to give it a go. The whole first season is about MLMs and it is FASCINATING and the second season is about the "wellness" industry. The narrators/producers are a married couple and they are massive skeptics of both industries they cover, which is right up my alley because I am also an MLM/wellness skeptic. They do a lot of really emotional interviews, and someone on their team actually joins a pyramid scheme to get the insider scoop. So far I like the first season better than the second.

As of writing this I have only watched the premiere episode of Westworld season three. I know a lot of critics are tough on this show because it is so self serious and also usually nonsensical. But I loved binging the first two seasons in July 2019 and was excited for it to return. This season is especially fun to watch because they have finally ditched the old west and it now is set in an environment more similar to Blade Runner. I included this on the list because not only is this one of the rare shows I get to enjoy weekly, but I also listen to three podcast recaps each episode as well. I love listening to these while on my lunch hour walk. I want to be completely absorbed in a show or not watching at all.

I'm a big euchre player, as is my whole family, and now most of my friends. I also conveniently work on a team of 4 and we play regularly throughout the work week to give ourselves a break. Working from home has been hard, especially if you like your co-workers. My team and I downloaded this app and now we play once a day while on video chat so we can still heckle each other for a terrible hand. It's actually a lot of fun to play without dealing/shuffling and we now joke that even once we're back at work we may just use the app because we're lazy. You don't need 3 pals to play with, the game will provide bots for you to fill the game, but as we're all learning everything is more fun with REAL FRIENDS.

I feel like I can trick my boyfriend into watching any movie as long as it is on the Criterion Channel. We have fairly different tastes in film - I love stuff  that was once a John Grisham book or any big blockbuster drama from 15 years ago. BUT we also have a lot of common ground when it comes to what we want to watch. Over the last few days we have been watching Jane Campion movies and we also both watched Desperately Seeking Susan for the first time! Ben loves art films and he pays for our subscription to the Criterion Channel. I just use it to be able to watch The Graduate.

This list pretty much speaks to my true personality in that it includes literary fiction like East of Eden and the trashiest of MTV reality all at once. Reality TV is my first love, and even though I consider myself above the actual pond scum of it like Teen Mom, I love the genre that encompasses Laguna BeachThe Hills, and now, of course, Siesta Key. Season 3 just finished and there is something so nostalgic and comforting to me about taking my laptop to bed (MTV doesn't have apps yet surprisingly) and watching rich kids get drunk and scream at each other on the beach. This season is especially fun because it's really a crossover with The Bachelor in that one of the main stars dates Robby Hayes (runner-up on JoJo's season) for a bit. You can watch all 3 seasons on the MTV website and you will not regret it. 

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