At Home Newsletter
Virtual travel and a whole mess of podcasts.
Welcome. I’ve started to fantasize about travel, about waking up in a bed not my own, windows with strange views, days unshackled from routine. But travel is still complicated: The virus and its variants still pose risks, and mandatory government quarantines can keep travelers confined to hotels for up to two weeks. Better, perhaps, to wait for summer, when, if we maintain precautions, scientists say life may begin to feel normal again.
For now, I’m contenting myself with City Guesser, a surprisingly amusing game in which you’re plopped down in a random city and have to try to suss out where you are from store signs, architecture, context clues. The game’s part of Virtual Vacation, a quarantine project of Paul McBurney Jr., which also features walking, driving and flight tours crafted from online video footage. Check it out.
Then watch Lance Oppenheim’s Op-Doc about the Florida retirement community The Villages and a young girl who lives next door to it. (Oppenheim made a whole feature documentary about The Villages called “Some Kind of Heaven,” which you’ll want to take in next.)
More streamable stuff’s in the offing if you’re game: Marvel’s “WandaVision” is “TV’s latest diversion from the pandemic and perhaps its best metaphor,” according to the Times TV critic James Poniewozik. “The Father,” in which Anthony Hopkins plays a man with dementia, gave Jeannette Catsoulis chills. And it’s been available for a while, but I just recently started watching “How To With John Wilson,” a charming show in which Wilson explores New York City (pre-pandemic and bustling), chatting up strangers, finding beauty and absurdity around every corner.
Here are 36 podcast recommendations from people who make podcasts — queue up a few and take a walk if you can, or put one on while you’re driving. (I recommend “Welcome to Your Fantasy,” about the Chippendales dance troupe in the 1980s.)
Read “The Secret Life of H.G. Carrillo,” by Paula Mejía in Rolling Stone, about a writer and George Washington University professor who adopted a fictional identity that was only discovered after he died last April. Read Parul Sehgal’s essay “Reviewing the Book Review.” Read about the “bad boy harpsichordist” Scott Ross, then listen to some of the 555 Scarlatti sonatas he recorded.
There’s a new Diary of a Song, featuring Olivia Rodrigo talking about her No. 1 hit “Drivers License,” which is just delightful. So are Jill Clayburgh and Lisa Lucas singing “Maybe I’m Amazed” in “An Unmarried Woman,” from 1978. Julien Baker has a new album that I plan to play the bejesus out of this weekend; here she is performing Bruce Springsteen’s “Badlands” in 2016.
A reader recommends.
Jonna Ramey in Salt Lake City has been posting poems on repurposed election signs in her front yard twice a week during the pandemic:
My wife saw a mom have her son read a poem aloud to her. We watched a woman read “The Everlasting Self” by Tracy K. Smith to her dog. Three boys on bikes came by and read a poem together. A handful of kids hooted over “Snowball” by Shel Silverstein. Someone thanked us with a note scrawled in chalk on the sidewalk. Before lockdown, a local church group held a Sunday school session about one of the poems. Masked folks have hollered their thanks from 20 feet away or shoved cards through our mail slot. We’re now known as the Poetry Ladies in our Wasatch Hollow neighborhood. The poem that I selected to celebrate Ferlinghetti this weekend is, I now realize, about me as well as the poets he extols. “The state of the world calls out for poetry to save it.” Yes, indeed. Rest in peace, you poet-provocateur. I’ll keep putting poems out on the lawn.
How are you leading a full and cultured life at home? How can we help make things better or easier? Tell us: email@example.com. Include your name, age and location. We’re At Home. We’ll read every letter sent. More ideas for passing the time appear below. See you Wednesday.