quarantine entertainment

Timely nuggets of information and ideas we want to share with you.

Quarantine Entertainment:  This is a round-up of the television shows, movies, podcasts, music and fun websites that we have recommended in The Friday Bulletin over the past 12 months. This will be the first of several articles featuring Quarantine Entertainment. We welcome any entertainment ideas you want to share with other ASE readers.

Brené Brown, the bestselling author, has a new special on Netflix. It is called The Call to Courage. Ms. Brown discusses what it takes to choose courage over comfort, putting oneself out there instead of sitting on the sidelines, criticizing. She also just announced a new podcast called Unlocking Us.

She is a university researcher, not a therapist, but Ms. Brown has become beloved to all who have heard her speak with her great sense of humor, humility and wisdom. Read one of her books or listen to her TED talks.  If you are new to Brené Brown watch the TED talk that launched her career called The Power of Vulnerability.

We just finished watching Mrs. Wilson, a three-part PBS Masterpiece spy thriller mini -series. It stars the actress Ruth Wilson (Jane Eyre and The Affair) who plays her own grandmother, Alison. It takes place in the 1940 & 1960s London, and 1930s India and follows Alison Wilson, married to Alec Wilson, a member of the British intelligence. After his death Mrs. Wilson is confronted by contradictions and mysteries about his life, not the least of which is a woman who turns up insisting that she is the real Mrs. Wilson. It is enthralling and based on the true story of Ruth Wilson’s grandmother and the extended family who bonded in the face of the unraveling of Alec Wilson’s secrets and lies. It aired March 31 2019 and is available to stream on PBS.I loved it!

Check out the Sleepwalkers podcast from iHeartRadio. It examines the increase of artificial intelligence in all our lives.  I loved a segment in the third podcast where the uses of Alexa are discussed.  Some are bad (children misusing the ordering component) and some are lovely (an elderly patient in hospice asking Alexa to play his favorite music).  When I hear or read about AI, I incorrectly assume it will be techy and over my head.  It turns out that I am up to my eyeballs in AI myself! The podcast is hosted by Oz Woloshyn and Karah Preiss who have a lovely dynamic and are clever and witty.  Their guests are knowledgeable and interesting.  How can we learn what boundaries to set with AI? This podcast might help.



David Hockney, one of the most influential British artists, is using his iPad as his canvas. Stop playing Angry Birds and start creatingDavid Hockney’s Digital Creations.


If you are feeling the need to be empowered by a great story, have your faith in mankind restored and just generally feel good, re-watch the following four movies and you will be filled with the can-do spirit. Great for all ages to watch together as all are rated PG.

Chariots of Fire was released in 1981 and is a British historical drama.  It is the fact-based story of two athletes in the 1924 Olympics and is a fact-based story. It is rated PG.

A League of Their Own with Tom Hanks, Madonna, Geena Davis and many others, tells the story of the first female professional baseball league and the players’ struggles.  It was released in 1992 and is set in the Midwest during World War 2.  It is rated PG.

Field of Dreams was released in 1989 and stars Kevin Costner as an Iowa farmer in this fantasy drama. It is a lovely story, much deeper than a plot description here can do justice to.  It is rated PG.

Stand and Deliver from 1988 features Edward James Olmos as math teacher Jaime Escalante who empowers his inner-city Hispanic students to succeed in calculus.  It is based on a true story. It is rated PG.



“The Blessings of Aging” is a lovely short (5 minutes) film recommended by a reader.  It is very sweet, upbeat and encouraging.  Members of a retirement community tell the viewers the many positive aspects of getting older. Watch it with your parents!



‘Free Solo’ is an inspiring film which takes viewers with Alex Honnold on his quest to perform a free solo climb of El Capitan in Yosemite National Park – a 3,200-foot vertical rock face. 97-minutes.  Rent Free Solo, $3.99.


Wow in the World,  NPR’s first podcast for kids,  will spark their imaginations in weekly shows about the wonders of everyday science.  Since its release, the podcast has been downloaded over 3 million times. Parents love it too.  A few recent titles are “Now Watch Me Drip: The Science of Slower Melting Ice Cream”, “Wait…Wait…Are Those Marshmallows?  Why Kids Are Better at Waiting Than Adults” and “Un-Bee-lievable Bees!”.

Ms. Fisher’s Modern Murder Mysteries is a spin-off of the popular Australian series called Miss Fisher’s Murder Mysteries. The original Mrs. Fisher’s Murder Mysteries are gentle mysteries, similar to Murder She Wrote.  In this new spin-off, Mrs. Fisher’s long-lost niece decides to follow in her footsteps as a lady detective in the 1960s.  The series is four episodes on Acorn.



Endeavor, Season Six, the wonderful Masterpiece Theater mystery set in Oxford, is available in the U.S. Endeavor Season Six, Blu-ray $30.94, DVD $24.75.

Endeavor Season Six on Amazon Prime Video, $9.99.


If you are a Sesame Street fan, check out Sesame Street’s Tiny Desk Concert.  It is adorable.  It features Big Bird, Bert & Ernie, Rosita, Abby Cadabby, Elmo, The Count, and Cookie Monster. Of all the groups who have played the Tiny Desk, Sesame Street has won more major awards than any of them. This 15-minute Tiny Desk Concert will bring back memories and entertain any young people who might be underfoot.

A new video dropped this week at NRDC (Natural Resources Defense Council) by Perrin R. Ireland.  The topic is the illegal wildlife trade that is causing some animal species to become extinct as they are slaughtered for some part of their bodies that will bring money. It’s only 4 minutes and while the message is sad, it has delightful and creative graphics.





Season 4 of Granchester became available on PBS Masterpiece on July 14th.  There are 6 episodes.




Do you write?  Are you interested in writing? Check out the Better Humans blog article How to be a Better Writer” by Gareth Branwyn. It is a comprehensive report, but one of my favorite tips is about finding your sounding board person or people to help you edit. Author Stephen King advises finding people you trust and designating them as The Readers.   Write for those people.

Image  from the NYTimes

I have loved Anna Quindlen’s work since she wrote a column called “Life in the 30’s”.  I have grown up with her.  Her new book, Nanaville, is a collection of essays on her what she calls, ‘Adventures in grandparenting’.  She is funny, insightful – and useful.  She learns to accept the following about being a grandmother after she falls as deeply in love with her grandchildren as she did her own children: “Where I once led, I have to learn to follow.” Eventually a close friend provides words to live by: “Did they ask you?”    Goodreads 4.10   NYTimes Review.   Nanaville: Adventures in Grandparenting.

Anyone in your household into knots?  This website, Animated Knots, will help backpackers, climbers, fishermen, sailors and travelers of all kinds learn how to tie the knots they need to know.  There are knots for rescue, climbing trees, riding horses, farming, even tying ties.  Click on the knot you want to learn and watch the video as it ties itself.

I am loving Netflix’s Explained docuseries from Vox.  The episodes run between 14 – 20 minutes and do exactly what the title says – explain things.  They choose current topics that impact peoples’ lives and give a balanced, impartial analysis. I’ve enjoyed the ones on Cryptocurrency, Monogamy and Why Diets Fail.

In her debut ‘feel good’ memoir, 19-year-old Lara Prior-Palmer (she is just as English as she sounds) shares the story of her last-minute entry into the 1,000-mile Mongol Derby – the world’s longest, loneliest, toughest horse race.  Always unconventional, Lara enters the race on a whim and flies to the world of Genghis Khan to race ponies over mountains in heat, wind, and storms.  She brings haphazard equipment and a Winnie-the Pooh journal in which she captures her adventure.  If you enjoyed West with The Night by Beryl Markham, put this on your list.  I listened to the audiobook version.  It is full of poetry and adventure.  Goodreads only gives it a 3.75, but this time you should ignore them. Rough Magic: Riding the World’s Loneliest Horse Race, Published in 2019, $14.67

If you like music that’s a cross between country and folk check out The Highwomen, a supergroup of female music stars who released their debut album about seven weeks ago.  They made their first live appearance together in April 2019 at Loretta Lynn’s 87th birthday concert in Nashville.  The group is comprised of Amanda Shires, Brandi Carlile, Natalie Hemby and Maren Morris, all accomplished singer-songwriters.

The Browser is a daily newsletter with five recommended articles, a recommended video and a recommended podcast on a wide variety of topics. On Saturdays they post the Best of the Week and on Sundays they post their Audio Browser dedicated to podcasts.  The Browser’s editors try to choose high-value articles, videos and podcasts they think you would not have come across otherwise.

The new seven-episode Netflix show, Diagnosis, is based on the New York Times column.  I love reading the column so was curious what the TV show was like.  In both the column and the show, I enjoy the sleuthing, and the crowd-sourced input from readers, both medical professionals and amateurs.  The shortcomings of our health care system, the mysteries and complexities of the human body and medical science and real-life patients make this a very interesting show. While the endings are not all ‘perfectly happy ever after’, there are no dire or tragic endings.  This is my kind of show. Each episode is around 50 minutes.

Joan Shelley is a Kentucky folksinger, reminiscent of Joan Baez, Judy Collins and Sarah McLaughlin. Her songs are personal, and her voice is clear. She has a new album, her seventh, called ‘Like the River Loves the Sea’.  Stream her music on Alexa or Spotify, or be old school and buy the CD from Amazon for $12.69.



The Marvelous MrsMaisel is a must-see and the entire Season 3 is available for binging.



Did you know that if you are an Amazon Prime member, you are entitled to one free Kindle book a month from Amazon’s book selections?  It’s called Amazon First Reads.  Search among the ‘Editors’ Picks’ and if you are a Prime member, choose one free Kindle book each month. If you’d prefer a print edition, shop among Amazon’s selections and pay only $9.99 or less.

I’m looking forward to watching Cats with Taylor Swift, James Corden, Judi Dench, Jennifer Hudson, Idris Elba, Ian McKellen and many other fabulous actors.   Taylor Swift wrote a new song for the production. This has been a controversial movie. The first trailer, released last July, was panned by many critics and viewers.  A second trailer was released November 19th and still was not received particularly well.  I have faith, however, that with the director (Tom Hooper who directed Les Misérables in 2012)) and an amazing cast, it will be worth seeing! Cats is now streaming on Amazon Prime.  It costs $19.99.

Attention all Charlie Brown fans!  In The Peanuts Papers:  Writers and Cartoonists on Charlie Brown, Snoopy & the Gang, and the Meaning of Life, thirty-three writers and artists examine Schulz’s seemingly simple comic strip and its enormous impact.  It is published by the Library of America, and is $18.95.

After seeing American Utopia with and by David Byrne on Broadway last week, I have developed a major crush on him.  I just learned that he has a foundation called Arbutus Foundation, and it sponsors an editorial project called Reasons to be Cheerful.  It tells stories with reasons to be cheerful, causes for hope and solutions to some of the world’s problems.  In their words “We are part magazine, part therapy session, part blueprint for a better world”.



Spotify has a decade-end wrap up of the past decade’s best artists, music and podcasts.  Who could resist?




Good news can be hard to come by, so here are 99 good news stories to read when you need a pick-me-up.




If you are trapped inside by terrible weather, Popsugar has posted what it considers to be the best Netflix original movies of 2019.  There are 102 of them!


The Explorers are a team of professional scientists, artists, photographers, videographers and citizens of the world who travel and are creating an inventory of our world. The mission of this non-profit is to showcase our amazing planet, it’s beauty and fragility in the hopes of uniting us in awe, love and respect for our planet.  Their goal is to create a free planet-wide inventory in high definition photographs and videos in 4K resolution.  Viewers can search for something specific, view a feed, or just browse the earth. Perhaps The Explorers unified love and concern for our world might inspire a collective concern for its health and heritage.  https://theexplorers.com/landing

Book Freak is a weekly newsletter that offers bits of advice to improve your quality of life. The author and book title are always cited.  For example, under the topic “Simple ways to be a better communicator” comes this advice “Never, ever, give just a one-sentence response to the question, ‘Where are you from?’ Give the asker some fuel for his tank, some fodder for his trough.” That is from the book How to Talk to Anyone: 92 Little Tricks for Big Success in Relationships by Leil Lowndes.

Mo Rocca, the humorist and CBS Sunday Morning correspondent, has always loved reading obituaries.  He came to realize that not every notable person got the obituary they deserved.  He set out to change that.  His podcast is very popular, and he has recently published a book with essays on all kinds of interesting people and why they mattered.  A ‘Mobituary’ is “an appreciation for someone who didn’t get the love she or he deserved the first time around” according to Rocca.  He wants to enlighten us to the quirks and overlooked interesting facts about notable people.  He feels, for example, that Audrey Hepburn dying on the same day as Bill Clinton’s inauguration deprived her of the attention her death deserved.

Mobituaries:  Great Lives Worth Reliving was published in 2019.  $19.69

Alton Brown hosted the very popular show “Good Eats” on the Food Network from 1999 to 2012.  Mr. Brown delves into the historical origins of the particular dish he’s cooking as well as the science behind the co-mingled ingredients. Fans have clamored for the show’s return and in 2019 the Food Network announced the new show “Good Eats: The Return”.  Alton Brown is charming and fast-talking.  The show airs on Sunday nights at 10 pm EST on Food Network.

I have recently been introduced to a unique and captivating New York Times column called Anatomy of a Scene.  In it, film directors choose a single scene from their current film and walk viewers through it.  They explain what was important about shooting that scene the exact way they did and any mistakes that were made.  Each one is an interesting and fun peek into the art of film making.

NPRs Life Kit podcast explores a problem or a question in areas where NPR has “deep expertise”.  The podcasts are audio guides for navigating life.  Topics range from personal finances to parenting. It is also possible to subscribe to a targeted Life Kit podcast collection dealing only with Health topics, Parenting topics or Money topics.

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