This week we’ve included different forms of games, a superhero-themed novel, a TV show about journalism and more.

Movies/TV shows:

“What We do in the Shadows” (Hulu)
Done in the mockumentary style similar to shows like “The Office or Parks & Rec.,” this horror-themed comedy follows the misadventures and daily lives of vampires renting a house in NewYork. Their battles with rival foes like werewolves is less of an epic fight and more like people bickering at a town hall meeting. This lighthearted take on the undead really pokes fun at how ridiculous vampire lore is. Even if you are unfamiliar with the film that started this series, you can easily jump in and start watching. Currently, only the first season is out on Hulu, but they will soon be carrying the second season. — Rob

“Shrill” (Hulu)
We’ve been down this road before. “Shrill” is a quick, 30-minute sitcom about a young journalist — played effortlessly by “SNL” veteran Aidy Bryant — at an altweekly in Portland. Meta! It’s based on the real-life conflict between Seattle Stranger editor Dan Savage, who might be best known for his column and podcast “Savage Love” — and Lindy West. It looks at relationships, body issues, journalism and all that. But I’m in it for John Cameron Mitchell’s turn as Gabe, the fabulous editor based on Savage. I’ve met Dan (he’s pretty great), so Mitchell’s exaggerated version cracks me up (“Do I look like the establishment? I’m wearing nail polish!”). And his version of Bowie’s “Moonage Daydream” that closes out the new season is… exceptional. — Brian

Books/Reading:

(Greensboro and High Point libraries are closed but Scuppernong Books is still taking orders. Forsyth County Public Libraries are still open for pick-up. Readers can also check out e-books using the Libby app if they have a library card)

Soul on Fire: The Life and Music of Peter Steele by Jeff Wagner
A decade ago, this week, an icon of metal and goth music, Peter Steele, passed away. Jeff Wagner, a Greensboro resident and former writer for Metal Maniacs magazine, covers the turbulent life and career of Steele. Born to first-generation Polish immigrants in Brooklyn, Steele started playing punk music in the late ‘70s. By the end of his life, he had become a goth and metal icon, but was also at the height of his battles with addiction. Wagner covers all of this and more with in-depth interviews with Steele, his family and former bandmates. An interesting read about a lesser-known character in the music world. —Rob

Vicious by VE Schwab
Much has been made about how superheroes are created. Radioactiveæ spiders, sludge or just immense amounts of money and access to resources are common storylines. This novel by VE Schwab follows the story of two teenage boys who decide to test the theory that a near-death experience combined with trauma could create what they call EOs or Extraordinaries. Their friendship sours after their tests take a turn and they become rivals. A pretty clever and interesting take on the superhero genre and a fun read. — Sayaka

Games (board games, virtual games, video games):

Wingspan by Stonemaier Games 
Sure, the game sounds pretty lame. You are playing as a bird enthusiast and your goal is to collect as many interesting birds in your aviary as possible to score more points than your opponents. But those who like deck-building games like Dominion or even Machi Koro, game find the Wingspan is similar but better in many ways because of its nuance and numerous mechanics that work together. Plus, the pieces and the art are gorgeous and you get facts about different kinds of birds. Sounds like a win to me. Buy it online here. — Sayaka

Jackbox Games
One of my favorite activities to do with friends and family is to play board games. Now, with the new reality brought upon by COVID-19, that’s impossible. But Jackbox Games makes playing games virtually pretty easy, cheap and most importantly, fun again. Only one person needs to own the game — my favorites are Drawful which is kind of like Pictionary and Quiplash which is kind of like DIY Cards Against Humanity. You can find both on platforms like the PS4, Steam or the Nintendo Switch and then all other players just need a smartphone to participate. I would encourage everyone to hop in on a Zoom, Facebook or Discord call and then start playing the game together. Check out this link to learn more about how to play Jackbox Games virtually. — Sayaka

Music/albums:

New Riders of the Purple Sage (YouTube)
I’ve been revisiting the music of New Riders of the Purple Sage, an early 1970s spinoff of the Grateful Dead that can credibly claim as much as any other group to be the progenitors to the subgenre of stoner-country. Think of it as a slightly less adventurous but more accessible cousin to acid-folk. Like all subgenres, stoner-country periodically cycles back around, most fruitfully in the mid-aughts with a Brooklyn group called Oakley Hall. New Riders pulled off the alchemy of creating a new genre by grafting twang onto a long-haired hippie look and dope-smoking indulgence even more conspicuously than their more famous counterparts in the Grateful Dead (Jerry Garcia played pedal steel guitar in the inaugural lineup of New Riders). But a closer listen to New Riders’ infectious groove yields the insight that they successfully melded a lot of different influences — not just Bakersfield honky-tonk, but also LA pop-folk and swamp rock. There’s not much New Riders music on YouTube, but the small sample is rewarding, including the dreamy and dark “California Day,” a full Halloween 1975 concert at the Capitol Theatre in Passaic, NJ, and this latter-day psych edition. — Jordan

Community events:

Sunday – NC Piedmont DSA Socialist Movie Night – Snowpiercer
Everything is happening on Zoom these days. On Sunday evening, the Piedmont Democratic Socialists Association is encouraging members of the community to watch Bong Joon-Ho’s Snowpiercer and then join a discussion on Zoom afterwards. Those of you may recognize Joon-Ho from his most recent OScar pick-up for best film for Parasite which became the first foreign language film to win the honor. Snowpiercer, much like Parasite, tackles issues of class but on a much larger, dystopian scale. Learn more on their Facebook event page.

Tuesday – In Pursuit of Justice virtual screenings & live Q&A by a/perture cinema
A/perture cinema has been offering virtual screenings of some of their movies through their website and is encouraging the community to view In Pursuit of Justice and then join them for a virtual Zoom Q&A with directors Gregg Jamback and Jamie Huss, exoneree Greg Taylor and attorney and justice reform advocate Chris Mumma. Learn more about the film and how to attend the Q&A here.

Anytime – Digital Performance Project by Spring Theatre
Ever since the shutdown of theatres and arts companies across the world, many have had to shift gears and come up with innovative ways to offer their entertainment to viewers. Now, Winston-Salem’s Spring Theatre has launched what they call their “Digital Performance Project” in which they pick a single topic like a song and host virtual auditions to create a collaborative mash-up. Their first creation is a cover of “Lemonade” by musician Alex Boyé. The theatre company got more than 100 people from across the world to contribute and their final product can viewed on their website here.

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