Thursday, May 14, 2020

Sam's Weekly Quarantine Digest #10: May 13, 2020

Hi everyone,

This week, the entertainment options continue to multiply, including many for kids - there's seemingly an option for anything you can think of to fill your evenings.  While temporary cheering-up can be helpful, remember the silver lining of the quarantine as well: With fewer people driving their cars and essentially no rush hour traffic globally, city-dwellers around the world have noticed Mother Nature reclaiming areas previously overtaken by smog and cars: the vistas in cities like Los Angeles and Jakarta have opened up to clear blue skies, and wildlife has been spotted in cities across the world, including deer in Japanese subway stations, wild boars in central Barcelona, mountain goats in the streets of Wales, and fish repopulating the canals of Venice.  Check here and here for photos and maps showing the disappearing smog and the beautiful results, and see this viral video for a poignant message about how our world could change if we keep these trends going.

As always, if you have suggestions or want to stop receiving these emails, just let me know.  Previous digests are posted on my blog at  Feel free to share these with anyone who might find them helpful; if they want to get weekly updates, they can follow the blog or you can send me their email.


For the Fun

The arts
  • Tomorrow (Thursday), The Jazz Foundation of America is hosting #TheNewGig, a show to benefit its Covid-19 Musicians Emergency Fund, hosted by Keegan-Michael Key and including performances by Sheryl Crow, Elvis Costello, Jon Batiste, and many more.
  • The Public Theater is presenting a play about Zoom calls called What Do We Need to Talk About? The Apple Family: Zoom Conversations.  It's available on their YouTube channel and on their website, now through June 28.  The show is a continuation of a series The Public has performed in the past, The Apple Family Plays, picking up with them during their now suspended and quarantined lives.
  • Martha Graham is offering "Martha Matinee" performances on the dance company's YouTube channel twice a week.
  • Live in Greenpoint?  Check out this art exhibit series a local artist is hosting in her apartment windows, which you can view from a safe distance.
  • Missing the days when you could invite friends over to play board games?  Me too.  Check out the image above, featuring a huge list of online sites to play popular board games.  Note: This was forwarded to me by a friend whose friend found it on the Internet, so apologies for the lack of attribution - if anyone knows the source, I'd be very happy to update it!
  • You can also play Wheel of Fortune online here.
  • The AARP has also made a bunch of games available, all of which are aimed at their target audience of 65+ adults, but many of which are fun for all ages.
Virtual tours and landmarks online
  • With Ellis Island closed to visitors, their staff will now personally help your research your ancestors.  For $30 and some information about the family member you're interested in, their researchers will send you the ship's manifest with numerous details about your family's arrival in America.  The manifest will be sent to you digitally for now, with a physical copy mailed once the office re-opens.
  • I've mentioned multiple times that many museums are now offering virtual tours or online access to their collections.  Google Arts & Culture has centralized a huge selection of them here.  Time for a field trip!
  • Virtual tours and live cams have also expanded to zoos, aquariums, and more: Check out the Atlanta Zoo's Panda Cam, the Georgia Aquarium (featuring penguins and whales), the Houston Zoo, the San Diego Zoo (allowing you to switch between koalas, polar bears, tigers, and more), and the Monterey Bay Aquarium.
Other awesome options
  • McNally Jackson is offering a new "Ask a Bookseller" tool, where you can write a few words about your favorite authors and what you're looking for, and in a few days, someone will get back to you with detailed suggestions.  You can then order directly from McNally Jackson and help support one of NYC's few remaining independent bookshops. 
  • When we're not in an apocalypse lockdown, 92Y offers dozens (maybe hundreds?) of classes, on every topic you can think of.  They've now expanded those offering to a digital format.  Check out the astounding breadth of topics here.
  • The only thing more painful than being the designated IT guru in your family is trying to do it remotely!  Relive those glorious moments (hours?) of trying to teach your parents how to use Zoom with this priceless video!
  • Missing the outdoors?  Saw Mill River Audobon is hosting online bird talks and other nature-related offerings.
  • Those of you who prefer the urban jungle might appreciate these striking images of New York City from the past few weeks.
  • The Resolution Project, an organization I've been involved with for over a decade, is hosting a day of gratitude, positive news, and giving, called Giving AMPlified, on May 18th, in honor of the 518 Resolution Fellows who are continuing to undertake their life-changing work during this crisis.  Check out the details of the event and the incredible work of this organization here.  I included this one last week, but it's important to me, so I wanted to remind you to join me!

For the Kids (and the kids at heart)
  • Tired of reading books for yourself?  Miss the glory days of waiting in line at Barnes & Noble to buy the next Harry Potter book at midnight?  Ever wish Daniel Radcliffe would read you a bedtime story?  Well, you're in luck on all counts: The Harry Potter at Home project features famous friends from the Wizarding World taking turns reading chapters of the first book.  (Daniel Radcliffe kicked it off with Chapter One, and Eddie Redmayne joined for the most recent reading.)
  • On a similar note, Jennifer Garner and Amy Adams have led the charge for a group of celebrities (including Jimmy Fallon, Camila Cabello, Reese Witherspoon, and Kamala Harris so far) who have live-streamed themselves reading their favorite children's books "to provide fun and education to kids and parents stuck at home during the coronavirus outbreak."  They're asking for donations to support Save the Children and No Kid Hungry in order to provide meals to children who rely on the food they normally get in schools.  Check out the #SavewithStories Instagram page to access the videos.
  • Scholastic Learn at Home offers "day-by-day projects to keep kids reading, thinking, and growing" and includes resources for kids, parents, and teachers, organized by grade level.
  • Looking for something that will keep the kids occupied for a half hour?  Check out the Kennedy Center's Lunch Doodles with Mo Willems and Thank You Thursdays.  (Mo Willems is a writer, animator, and voice actor who created the TV series Sheep in the Big City and has worked on Sesame Street and The Off-Beats.)
  • Rye Playland might still be closed, but it's offering would-be parkgoers the opportunity to play a bunch of themed online games here
For the Kitchen
  • Magnolia Cupcakes has released the recipe for their famous classic vanilla cupcakes!  Enough said.
  • Recipe of the week: White wine butter pasta sauce.  One of my favorite sauces to make is also incredibly simple.  Start with some chopped garlic and equal parts white wine and butter (I usually do 1/4-1/2 cup each).  Heat on medium-low until slightly reduced (about 1-2 minutes; if you're worried about the garlic burning, you can add it after a few minutes, although I usually don't have that problem with this particular preparation for some reason).  Add some sage or rosemary if you have them on hand, a pinch of salt, and a splash of pasta water.  Finish with 1/2 cup parmesan cheese if desired.  It all takes less than 5 minutes to come together and is absolutely delicious!

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