At the end of a long day of self-quarantine, when you’re tired and worn out and just looking for a little bit of comfort, what is your go-to way to unwind? For the Arts and Culture team, we’re each finding solace in our own ways. This week, we’re sharing a piece of pop culture that has been getting us through these uncertain times. From Beyoncé to “Project Runway” to tiny snacks made in a tiny kitchen, here’s a pop culture care package filled with content we turn to when we need to self-soothe.
While I’m never not watching “The Office,” the quarantine is making me crave connection. My mom lives in western Virginia while I’m up here in Boston, but every time we’re together, we watch reality competition shows, from cooking to baking to crafting. Because our scheduled April visit is on hold, watching “Project Runway” is giving me a way to bond from afar. Watching these designers create beautiful (and occasionally hideous) garments and then discussing the drama with my mom brings me back to previous visits and offers comfort in a completely uncomfortable time. Plus, it’s inspired me to take baby steps toward my longtime goal of learning to sew with a beginner’s hand embroidery kit. This week, I’ll start a season of the show on Hulu (seasons 8-16 are available for streaming), I’ll start teaching myself to hand embroider and I’ll call my mom and talk about the looks we loved and those we didn’t. (I started with season 16 and the drama the twins created was the perfect distraction for my anxiety. At least for an hour or so.)
-Dianna Bell, Producing Editor
Beyoncé, ‘HOMECOMING: The Live Album’
I’m a Texas gal at heart, so it’s no surprise fellow Texan Beyoncé stays in my music rotation. Prompted by a tweet, I tuned into a full-blown virtual watch party of “HOMECOMING: A Film By Beyoncé” and was reminded of the complete power hearing that 2018 Coachella performance gave me. I’ve listened to the live album every day since I watched the concert documentary and even got my roommates to listen and watch the documentary while being stuck in the house. Listening to the album reminds me of just how present Beyoncé has been in my life and the joy she has brought. My first concert was Destiny’s Child’s last tour in 2005 and hearing the live “Homecoming” album almost feels as good. It's high energy from the beginning until the very end. Listen, dance your heart out and sing alongside Beyoncé if you need to move your body right now.
-Christian Burno, Arts Reporting Fellow
I've never seen anything quite like "Tiger King." If you're looking for a documentary that delves into the crazy, unpredictable world of big cat breeding and rescues, this is a must-see. It has everything — murder, deception, lions, tigers and more. It's the perfect escape because it totally draws you in and makes you forget you've been cloistered on your couch for the past two weeks. You'll also meet some really interesting characters and, of course, if you're an animal lover like me, seeing the big cats is a huge plus.
-Arielle Gray, Arts Engagement Producer
Waxahatchee, ‘Saint Cloud’
The music that makes me happiest is usually deeply sad — don’t make me explain it — which is why I’m such a fan of Waxahatchee’s depressive, acerbic, cathartic songs. Waxahatchee is the solo project of musician Katie Crutchfield, and her new album, “Saint Cloud,” is an energetic, twangy departure from her lo-fi beginnings. Her songs have always hit the sweet spot between wistful and buoyant, like the release after a good cry. Now she seems to float a little lighter, though she still fights against a dark undercurrent. I must have listened to the lead single, “Fire,” a hundred times when it came out in January. Now I’m doing the same with “Saint Cloud.”
-Amelia Mason, Arts & Culture Reporter
Teeny Recipes Made In A Tiny Kitchen
I'll admit I'm struggling with tapping into my inner frivolous (some might say immature) self in these upended times, but Tiny Kitchen's sweet and savory Instagram and YouTube videos are not failing to turn my frown upside down. Picture a well-equipped dollhouse-sized kitchen complete with fridge, stove, island and sink. Giant (meaning our-sized) chef hands manipulate weeny mixing bowls, cute-beyond-belief cutlery (love the Japanese-style knife!), whisks, frying pans, baking dishes — everything it takes to transform minute portions of actual edible ingredients into miniature dishes. Recent recipes include: homemade snickers chill-hardened in a Stewart Little-sized fridge; a colorful Easter cake — made with a quail egg! — topped with M&M’s minis; wee-little Irish soda bread for Saint Patrick's Day; and what could be my favorite — the “shrimpiest of shrimp” fried and served with rice and itty-bitty chopsticks. A particularly fun episode celebrates the decadent Christmas feast scene in Greta Gerwig's “Little Women” that was created by Boston-based food stylist Christine Tobin. The actresses from the film are in the video, oohing and aahing over the Lilliputian cakes, crème puffs and pink ice cream. Fun!
-Andrea Shea, Senior Arts Reporter
Poetry and Tea
I reach for words during moments of darkness. I always have. I reach for quotes. I reach for poetry. When I’m alone and there are no answers and nothing makes sense I read my favorite poems over and over again. I watch spoken word poets online leave it all on stage. And sometimes, I sit on my floor and surround myself with poetry books like a warm blanket. I read and I write if the words come to me. Because poets are needed at moments like this, to write the unspeakable, to tap into the rawest human emotions and turn them into sentences that make sense. I reach for Mary Oliver’s “Wild Geese,” I reach for Fatimah Asghar, I reach for Cleo Wade, Nikita Gill and Yesika Salgado on Instagram. I reach for U.S. poet laureate Joy Harjo. Read Harjo’s poem “Praise the Rain,” have a cup of tea, play your favorite song and dance around your house. Maybe keep a journal. Whatever you need right now, express it. The fear. The anxiety. The gratitude. Let yourself feel everything.
-Cristela Guerra, Arts & Culture Reporter
When I first saw the music videos produced by COLORS Studio in Berlin I was smitten with the conceit — a solitary musician, performing on their own, in a spare room awash in a single color. Just a microphone dangles from the ceiling, putting all the focus on the artist and their voice. For me, this has been an appealing way to find new music. Scan the bright options on the COLORS YouTube channel and pick a new hue, a velvety rose or a mellow goldenrod to lead you to a new performer. And sometimes an old favorite appears, like Christine and the Queens. The minimalist aesthetic lets each musician stand out with the qualities that make them special.
-Tania Ralli, Acting Senior Editor
We want to know how you’re finding comfort during these chaotic times. What are you watching, reading and listening to? Send your suggestions to firstname.lastname@example.org!