Hey, remember last year, when it snowed in March? What a crazy time! Well, there was that... and the social distancing measures enacted statewide in the face of a global pandemic putting the entire planet on pause. That was pretty wild, too. But doing your part to stay safe, and supporting your loved ones and your community however you can, doesn't mean you can't also keep yourself somewhat sane and entertained while stuck inside on self-quarantine, and there's a lot of cool things to do from the comfort of your couch this weekend. Maybe not literally "snow-on-the-ground-in-the-middle-of-March" cool, but still... hit the links below and plan accordingly.
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Friday, March 20
Staying in with Emily and Kumail
Some of you know of Emily V. Gordon and Kumail Nanjiani from their endearing comedy The Big Sick (which you should probably stream on Amazon Prime sometime this weekend, too), and some of you maybe know of Kumail from Silicon Valley, or his jaw-dropping physical transformation for the probably-postponed Eternals movie from Marvel. But if you're a podcast listener, or a podcaster, or both, because that's basically how podcasting works—Emily and Kumail are The Indoor Kids, hosts of one of the best video game podcasts ever. And those Indoor Kids have returned to save the self-quarantined day, with a new podcast charting how they're keeping themselves busy, and the best part? The proceeds from this podcast benefit charities helping those affected by COVID-19. Whatever it is you have to neglect on your subscribe list to make room for this one? Do it. Or Kumail will come to your house, force-feed you pure whey, and make you do 800 pushups.
(Now Streaming, Apple Podcasts)
Turns out one of the few entertainment releases COVID couldn't disrupt? The release of Abel Tesfaye's latest LP, After Hours which promptly dropped, as promised, at midnight, Friday. Did Abel seriously branch out and expand his sound beyond his tried and true "Spooky-soulful-ice-cold-vibes" kinda thing? ....nnnnnot really. But that's just fine, because that whole thing about unbroken things not needing fixing? Definitely applies. Plus it's not like he just re-did Starboy or anything. If anything, a lot of After Hours feels like it's streaming off a LaserDisc player plugged into the internet. (That's a good thing. Promise!)
(Now Streaming, YouTube, Spotify, Apple Music)
While this weekend begins Hollywood's grand experiment with finally taking movies straight out of the theater and into your living room, there are other options for maintaining your regular Movie Night festivities with friends even though you're all confined to your respective homes. Netflix Party is a Chrome extension that syncs up the movie you settle on for the night across all your browsers, and lets you chat while it's playing—not that you should, but at least if you're going to talk through Movie Night this app will let others mute you, so that's cool. But what if you don't wanna watch a movie on Netflix, or use Chrome? Metastream lets you use Firefox too, and increases the number of platforms from Netflix to include Hulu, Crunchyroll, YouTube and more. Both platforms only work if everyone has an accompanying account with the streamers of choice. Not that you and your crew of friends would ever indulge in an activity like password sharing or anything...
(Now Streaming, Your Browser, Extensions are free to download and install)
Stop Making Sense
People are going to be watching a lot of concerts, and a lot of movies. Why not watch this concert movie, which is the best concert movie ever made? From the setlist arrangement, The Heads' hyperkinetic performances, to the way the show just keeps building and building and building even when you think it's slowing down but it isn't, all captured indelibly via Jonathan Demme's expert direction, Jordan Cronenweth's cinematography, and the band's crystal-clean sound. Plus: BIG SUIT!
(Now Streaming; Vudu, Tubi, PlutoTV; free w/ ads, all ages)
Born in Portland, the insanely funny Preacher Lawson is best known for being a finalist in season 12 of America’s Got Talent, but he also took home the top prizes for the 2015 Funniest Comedian in Florida AND the Seattle International Comedy Competition. So… yeah! A pretty good resume. But it’s really no surprise: Preacher absolutely slays onstage with his over-the-top energy and hilarious observations on his life, family, and veganism. (Did I mention he’s vegan? He’s vegan! And built like a brick house. Just thought you’d like to know.) He was supposed to start a three-night run at Helium tonight, but you can stream his special, Get to Know Me on BET+
(Now Streaming, BET+, $9.99 per month, 7-day free trial here) WM. STEVEN HUMPHREY
Portland trio Candace describe themselves as witchgaze, and I think that's a pretty apt description of their lush, dreamy sound. If you've ever been a fan of the Cocteau Twins or felt yourself melting into a song like sugar into coffee, you're gonna dig it. They were scheduled to headline a show in Portland tonight, but instead, why not have 'em headline your headphones right now. COURTNEY FERGUSON
In 2018, Film Editor Erik Henriksen's review of Mandy stated: "This is a movie that’s kind of sad, kind of lyrical, and kind of rock ’n’ roll; its first half is an earnest, artsy character study, and its second is a greasy, sordid revenge flick. It also features one of Nicolas Cage’s most bugfuck crazy performances, so: Mandy isn’t for everyone. But for those it is for? It’s a hell of a thing." If you are the kind of person that feels like trying this out, you're probably also the kind of person who enjoys a good horror movie every now and again. Shudder is a streaming network dedicated solely to horror films, and in response to COVID-19, they're offering a 30-day free trial under the promo code SHUTIN.
(Now Streaming, Shudder, $5.99 per month, 30-day free trial here)
OPB Music Festival
Not being able to head out and catch a show is heartbreaking in a city that's normally filled with great music every night, but Oregon Public Broadcasting is doing what it can to help scratch that itch from the safety of your living room while also supporting a ton of amazing artists, by raiding its archives and curating a collection of videos they're calling the OPB Virtual Music Festival. Performers include Joseph, Haley Heynderickx, Black Belt Eagle Scout, Laura Gibson, Ages and Ages, Y La Bamba, and a whole lot more. As Jerad Walker of OPBMusic puts it: "Use your imagination. Skip around. Soak up the sights. And hopefully, relax."
(Now Streaming, opb.org, free, all ages)
I Am Not Okay With This
One of the biggest knocks against original Netflix programming is that it doesn't know how not to bloat. The platform is full of shows that could be great, and should be great, but just find themselves dragging ass around the middle of the season, a phenomena that came to more or less define Marvel's Netflix universe. But then came I Am Not Okay With This, a comic-book adaptation from the people responsible for The End of the Fucking World, about a girl who discovers she has telekinetic powers and she fucking hates it. The comparisons to Carrie are obvious, but not altogether accurate—but even if they were, the show is sharp, the show is fun, the show is poignant, and most importantly, the show is 100% bloat-free. It's a Netflix miracle!
(Now Streaming, Netflix, $8.99 per month, free trial here)
Saturday, March 21
Best known for his role as Charlie on Black-ish and Grown-ish, Deon Cole actually shines brightest as himself, while doing his own stand-up material. A great example is his recent Netflix special, Cole Hearted, which caused me to bust a gut way harder than I expected. Cole typically has an even-tempered, matter-of-fact delivery as he tackles subjects like sex, “managing your Blackness,” the struggle of taking photos with gangsters who don’t smile in photos, and the many people who marry on a level they should have passed in life. Cole’s comedy has tons of gems, and he’s a fucking riot. He should have been in town this weekend, but instead, just pull up the aforementioned Netflix special, and let Deon's gems shine.
(Now Streaming, Netflix, $7.99 per month, 30-day free trial here) JENNI MOORE
Tonight was the night the 2020 XRAY Awards were set to pop off, and it was probably going to be a damn good party, too—the crew there has done an amazing job building a community radio station from the ground up, and while their sixth-anniversary celebration is postponed, you can reward them and yourself by getting familiar with their slate of on-air personalities, their top-notch local podcasts, and the finely curated music shows they run all day.
(Now Streaming/Broadcasting, free, all ages)
Blazers vs Sixers
The NBA was the first major sports league to recognize the Coronavirus threat and shut down accordingly. Here in Rip City, that means some serious b-ball withdrawals are going on. But the NBA is trying to make it right by unlocking their premium NBA League Pass, allowing new viewers to try it out for free until late April. This is cool because not only can you check out some of the original programming and documentaries on the platform, but they also have an extensive archive of classic games that you can enjoy, in full. If you want to relive the glory days of Blazermania, here you go.
(Now Streaming, NBA League Pass, free trial here)
Hang Out in Ben Gibbard's House
Seattle's floppy-haired maestro of all things sad-bastard has been inviting the world into his domicile and performing intimate concerts for whoever wants to watch via his Facebook or his YouTube channel, and if you're wondering if he played that Death Cab song, or did that Postal Service jam? Yes, he did. He also talks with viewers through the chat, and most importantly, donates proceeds from these concerts to charities doing their part to combat COVID's most negative effects. Hang out with one of the Northwest's best songwriters for an hour or four, and help some people in need while you do it, too.
(Now Streaming, Ben Gibbard's House, YouTube/Facebook, free)
Can't Stop the Karaoke
Vice columnist Alex Zaragoza test ran a Karaoke Night through Google Hangouts, and reported her results last Thursday. Not only is it do-able, it's highly recommended that if you're looking to get your diva on, it must be done.
(Now Streaming, Your Living Room, Or Your Bathroom, Whichever Has the Better Acoustics, free, all ages)
A Night at the Opera
Maybe you don't want to be the one singing! That's cool too. Why not check out some of the best pipes on the planet, for free, at the Metropolitan Opera? Normally this sort of thing is pretty exclusive, because you have to be at the Lincoln Center in New York, and it kind of costs a lot to be there. But in response to the COVID-19 crisis, the Met Opera is streaming performances nightly, for free on their website. Tonight's performance is Donizetti’s Lucia di Lammermoor, about a woman caught in the middle of a 17th Century Scottish family feud.
(Now Streaming, Metropolitan Opera, free, all ages)
Speaking of opera, The Mercury review of Jackass 3 called it "a grandiose symphony of stupidity... strung together with a cartoon logic that Chuck Jones himself would applaud." I bring this up because just about forever ago (read: two weeks prior) there was a minor kerfluffle on social media when a New York Times article about the "dirtbag left" included a quote suggesting people didn't really like the Chapo Trap House podcast in the same way people didn't really like Jackass—they just pretended to like it to avoid being bullied. The shaky comparison between the two phenomena was immediately ignored on the way to asking this question: "Who the hell pretended to like Jackass?" The answer? Nobody. There was no pretending. Either someone getting hit in the face with a giant hand makes you laugh until you're immobilized with joy, or it doesn't. It probably does. And if it does, this weekend is probably a great opportunity to revisit the most... lovable (?) of the three Jackass films, containing all-timers like "Poo Cocktail Supreme," "The Field Goal," and "Pin the Tail on the Donkey."
(Now Streaming, Hulu, $5.99 per month, free trial here)
Especially when compared to Pixar's best, there's definitely stuff to nitpick in the studio's latest, Onward. Fair? Maybe, but then again, even Pixar movies can have a hard time living up to Pixar movies. But to focus on Onward's benign, minor missteps—none of which detract from the story's surprisingly emotional arc—is to miss the bigger picture. Funny and wholly original, it's a fantasy adventure that digs into something nearly all of us know but rarely talk about: How the memory of an absent family member can hang over the lives of the living.
(Now Available; Amazon, iTunes, MoviesAnywhere; $19.99) ERIK HENRIKSEN
Sunday, March 22
When Kathleen Hanna, Kathi Wilcox, and Tobi Vail reunited for Bikini Kill shows in New York and Los Angeles in early 2019, fans in the Pacific Northwest knew it would only be a matter of time before the pioneering punk and riot grrrl band out of Olympia made their way back to their old Northwest stomping grounds. Obviously, COVID made sure that didn't happen this weekend, BUT: This is a very good excuse to go deep diving into the origins of Bikini Kill with The Punk Singer, director Sini Anderson's award-winning documentary, which former Portland Mercury Arts Editor Alison Hallett called "An affectionately reverent homage to an important figure—not the last word on the movement Hanna spearheaded, but a valuable tribute in its own right."
(Now Streaming; iTunes, Amazon Prime, Google Play; $3.99)
Alton Brown Teaches You to Cook
If you've been thinking about taking this quarantine time to become a culinary master (albeit only of your own kitchen, but still...) then Alton Brown can most definitely help you. Not only has his classic Good Eats returned in remixed form to Hulu recently, but he and his significant other Elizabeth took to YouTube for a live tutorial from his actual kitchen (not a studio recreation). It's not often you get the opportunity to peek in on the Browns (please, when you click the video, ignore the tragically-misplaced apostrophe in the title) as they create a dish right in front of your eyes. Make the most of this opportunity, and make yourself a delicious meal while you're at it.
(Now Streaming, Alton Brown's Kitchen, YouTube, free)
Stories of Your Life and Others
Ted Chiang is one of the most important, satisfying, and necessary reads in the last 30 years. Not just if you're a fan of sci-fi, but also if you're a fan of things like "feeling emotions" and "having empathy" and "enjoying pure imagination." So if you like those things, and if you've got a library card, then you've got access to Overdrive, and if you've got access to Overdrive, you
can should listen to Todd McLaren read Chiang's acclaimed short story collection Stories of Your Life and Others—including the short that's the basis for Denis Villeneuve's Arrival, a movie that legit convinced our Film Editor there was still hope in this world for us and our children.
(Now available, Overdrive.com via the MultCo Library, free w/ library card... or you can use an Audible free trial too, just sign up with literally any podcast's name you can think of, they're all sponsored by 'em.)
Go on Safari
Getting out of the house is not a thing we're supposed to be doing unless absolutely necessary, but there's a lot of outdoorsy folks that might be reading and wishing there was some way to slake their wanderlust. That's where Twitch.tv comes in! Normally Twitch is where sub-cable-access-level "talents" earn millions for playing other people's video games as loudly as possible, but it's also home to WildEarth, a channel that livestreams walks through a game reserve in South Africa. The stream isn't consistently on at all times, but that's okay because you can check out their video clips for on-demand wildlife just chilling out.
(Now Streaming, Twitch.tv, free, all ages)
Doctor Who: The Eighth Doctor Adventures
While the most recent seasons of Doctor Who haven't been the most well-received (especially in comparison to the white-hot fever surrounding the show on its 50th anniversary) this isn't anywhere near as dark a time for Who fans as the '80s and '90s were. The show was effectively dead for about 20 years, with only a brief blip of a Fox TV-movie in 1996 to show for it. But Doctor Who lived on as a series of radio dramas produced by Big Finish productions, and Big Finish's biggest triumph is probably their Eighth Doctor Adventures, which took the star of that TV Movie, Paul McGann, and paired him with Sheridan Smith's companion, Lucie Miller, a woman that's all the best parts of Rose Tyler, Donna Noble, and Jo Grant. There ended up being four+ seasons of the Eighth's adventures, and the first is available for free on Spotify. There's a reason people who have tried out the audio dramas almost immediately decide McGann's Doctor is top tier, despite only appearing twice in live-action. This first season is a huge reason why.
(Now Streaming, Spotify, free, all ages)
If you're looking for something to just binge and binge without any negative side-effects, there's probably nothing recent that so consistently blends the funny and the feel-good for as long as Bob's Burgers has done it. It's just a wholesome-ass show. Granted, you have to expand your definition of "wholesome" to include things like "erotic friend fiction," and the usage of "-ass" as a suffix, but that's really not so hard once you settle into the vibe creator Loren Bouchard establishes almost immediately. Don't let this show stay under your radar. Do let every single one of its highly-catchy songs earworm their way into your head forever, though.
(Now Streaming, Hulu, $5.99 per month, free trial here)