Recess summer quarantine roundup

Need any pop culture recommendations? In Recess’s summer quarantine roundup, you'll find what our writers and editors have been listening to, reading or watching since lockdown. Here are their recommendations:

“Le Bonheur” by Agnès Varda (1965)

To be entirely honest, I didn’t watch anything “challenging” my entire time at home in quarantine, but since I’ve been living on my own, I have been indulging again in The Criterion Collection’s offerings. Steeped in sarcasm against the beautiful and brightly-colored backdrop of a small French town, “Le Bonheur” follows a married man, François, who loves his wife, loves his children and loves nature, but he finds himself in an affair with a postal worker and he claims to love her equally as much. For a time, he seems to have it all and lives in a state of total bliss — but his happiness is shallow, momentary and cloying. Of course, Varda exposes the callousness of where patriarchal assumptions place women in relation to men’s happiness, and the result is nothing short of a cheery, vibrant horror film. —Sarah Derris, Recess editor

Netflix’s “The Baby-Sitters Club” (2020)

Nostalgic reboots have been an uncreative blight on television and film line-ups for years now, but Netflix's reimagining of the classic 90s book series "The Baby-Sitters Club" superbly updates the sugar-sweet source material for modern audiences. While still adorably wholesome and kind-hearted, the series tackles contemporary issues like transgender discrimination, disability and broken families with an unflinching maturity that respects the intellect and empathy of its tween protagonists. In a world where role models are either sanitized corporate products or reckless influencers, the brave, open-minded girls of "The Baby-Sitters Club" represent the kind of flawed, but loving pre-teens that the world is full of — and assures them that they're on the right path."—Sydny Long, managing editor

"Pure Moods, Vol. 1" by Various Artists (1994)

“Pure Moods” is a compilation album of New Age music highlights. It’s over-the-top, it’s mystical and, at times, it recalls healing crystals, Marianne Williamson and prancing in a field of tall grass somewhere in California. The tracklist, featuring Enya, Enigma, Kenny G, early house music and TV theme songs, provided a perfectly bizarre and heart-swelling soundtrack to my equally bizarre, yet decidedly less lush, summer in quarantine. —Stephen Atkinson, culture editor

Kelly Stamps on Youtube

I can't tell you exactly why I spent an entire Saturday this July binge-watching Kelly Stamps's YouTube videos, but considering the fact that she has gained nearly 300,000 subscribers since May, I assume I am not alone. Defying both category and expectation, Stamps' hodgepodge of fashion, comedy and lifestyle content is just so likable — much like Stamps herself. Maybe I admire her candor and trademark "unbothered" demeanor or maybe I'm just socially deprived and feel a bond over our shared love for tiramisu. Whatever she's doing, it's working. —Tessa Delgo, local arts editor

Megan Thee Stallion’s Summer Releases (2020)

At the start of quarantine, I began naming my playlists after U.S. cities that corresponded with their associated genres: “Seattle” for grunge music, “New Orleans” for jazz and “Nashville” for, you guessed it, country. It was my “L.A.” playlist, though, that defined my Summer 2020. Bold and empowered hits from Ke$ha, Beyoncé, Flo Milli and Megan Thee Stallion — among many more — helped me embrace independence and femininity in this isolating year. I love each of the women on this playlist, but I wanted to highlight Megan for embodying the hot girl summer. With the “Savage” remix, “Girls In The Hood” and “WAP” all making the Billboard Top 10, Megan is taking charge of her life and career while brilliantly collaborating with other empowering black female artists. And I love it. —Skyler Graham, culture editor

“Forever and a Day” by Anthony Horowitz (2018)

Given that I am stuck in my childhood home and surrounded by my own personal memorabilia, quarantine has reminded me of all the things I used to love as a kid. One of my particular favorites has been indulging in my favorite literary genre — murder mysteries. Anthony Horowitz, a British murder mystery writer, occupied a special place in my heart, and during quarantine, I enjoyed his 2018 Ian Fleming-inspired novel, “Forever and a Day.” This beautiful take on James Bond novels is an incredible escape from the everyday and into the French Riviera in 1950. I would definitely recommend to any lovers of murder mystery and spy novels. —Kerry Rork, campus arts editor

“Do the Right Thing” by Spike Lee (1989)

Just like the boiling heat, the issues and conflicts tackled in this classic Spike Lee joint are as relevant as ever this summer. It’s a perfect time to watch it again to remind ourselves how racism and police brutality have persisted even before this film’s release in 1989, and why we need to keep fighting. Bonus: it's still a deeply satisfying visual and auditory feat, even in 2020. —Eva Hong, staff writer

“Selfie” by Will Storr (2017)

The best piece of culture I consumed this Summer was actually a book. Will Storr’s “Selfie” is about the rise of self-obsession and narcissism in Western culture and what it has done to us as a society. It's definitely a must-read if you want to better understand why we are the way we are or if you have feelings of anxiety about not being good enough. —Derek Chen, design editor

“The Answer is… Reflections on My Life” by Alex Trebek (2020)

This past July, Alex Trebek published his memoir, “The Answer is… Reflections on My Life,” where he recounts his upbringing in Ontario, Canada, his stage IV pancreatic cancer diagnosis and his most memorable moments as the celebrated host of “Jeopardy.” He writes with a candid and personable charm that almost feels like a conversation with an old friend. Each chapter begins with a question like “What is rheumatism?” or “Who is St. Thomas Aquinas?,” which he answers in a format inspired by the show. The audiobook version of the memoir is delightfully narrated by Ken Jennings, one of the show’s most notable contestants. For many Americans, Alex is part of our family — we eat dinner with him, we shout our answers at him through the TV screen and we flood him with supportive messages on social media. He brings all of us together. —Courtney Dantzler, staff writer


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