This week we’ve got more than a few thriller picks, a dark comedy police procedural featuring a blue unicorn and a survival game that’s like “Animal Crossing” but crafted in a Tim Burton-esque world. To make a suggestion for a future issue, send an email to [email protected]
“The Stranger” (Netflix)
For those that have been reading these picks for the last few weeks, you’ll know that I love the thriller genre. A few weeks ago I recommended the film I See You on Amazon and this week, I’m recommending a mini-series on Netflix called “The Stranger.” Based on a book by thriller writer Harlan Coben, the series starts with a stranger dropping truth bombs on unsuspecting people. A husband finds out that his wife faked a pregnancy. A woman finds out that her boyfriend leaked an old sex tape. Pandemonium ensues. With winding storylines, and cliffhangers at the end of each episode, it’s hard not to binge this one in one sitting. Fans of “Big Little Lies” and Gone Girl will find “The Stranger” to be just as enthralling. — Sayaka
From the strange mind of comic book writer Grant Morrison, “Happy!” is an extremely dark action comedy based on the graphic novel of the same name. “Happy!” follows main character detective Sax played by Christopher Meloni of “Law and Order” fame. Detective Sax is haunted by a past filled with violence and a present filled alcohol and drug addiction. Where this show starts to split off from most typical cop dramas is the cartoon blue unicorn (voiced by Patton Oswald) that only officer Sax can see. Anyone familiar with Grant Morrison’s other works like “Doom Patrol,” “The Invisibles” or “Filth,” will know that the odd elements don’t just just stop there. This is in typical Morrison fashion, featuring real life issues like addiction, failed relationships and government corruption combined with otherworldly-like imaginary friends, ghosts and interdimensional beings. This show, although featuring a cartoon unicorn as a co-star, is filled with adult content. So wait for the kids to go to bed before you throw this series on. — Rob
I’ve been following Issa Rae since her brilliant YouTube series “The Misadventures of Awkward Black Girl” upended stereotypes of young, black women after taking off in 2011. I miss the DIY, homemade feel of “Awkward Black Girl,” but “Insecure,” the show she developed with comedian-producer Larry Wilmore, retains the humanity, humor and awkward realness of its predecessor, while transfusing it into a more shiny, glamorous edition of black Los Angeles. The striving, upwardly mobile, young, black, professional milieu of “Insecure” is a specific slice of the city, but eminently relatable. The characters’ complexity is refreshing. Just as one example, it’s easy to cheer Issa and her younger brother (played by Jean Elie) ditching their step-siblings and celebrating Thanksgiving at a Mexican restaurant, while also faulting their lack of consideration. Even if what they did was wrong, their support for each other while navigating romantic disappointments is touching. — Jordan
(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)
“Driving a Bus Through a Pandemic” (HuffPo)
Greensboro bus drivers walked off the job on Wednesday after learning that one of the operators had tested positive for COVID-19, but not who the person was. It shut the whole bus system down. It’s a brutal blow for folks who still rely on public transport to get to work — many of whom work at hospitals and other healthcare facilities. But it’s also a dangerous situation for the drivers. Just a couple weeks ago, Huffington Post published a first-person account from a bus driver in Seattle, an early US hot spot for the pandemic. — Brian
The Husband’s Secret by Liane Moriarty
If you can get past the ridiculous title, this is another great pick for thriller fans. Written by the same author who created the world of Big Little Lies, this domestic thriller dives deep into interpersonal relationships, focusing mostly on the ties between middle-aged women. The book starts off simply. A woman finds a letter from her husband, only to be opened in the event of his death. She, of course, opens it. Like Pandora’s box, the opening of the envelope unravels a web of lies that tie multiple families together. If you’re into a refreshing and relatable look at relationships with a hint of suspense, this one’s for you. — Sayaka
Games (board games, virtual games, video games):
“Data Jack” (PC)
A cyberpunk game involving espionage and stealth, this indie pick is a total time suck. Originally released for free by Epic Banana Software in 2013, it’s now only available on abandonware sites like the link here. The look of “Data Jack” is a sprite based retro game with an isometric view similar to the PC games of the mid-90s. Even with this look, it has the feel of games like “Hitman” or the “Metal Gear Solid” series. Story wise it pulls heavy influence from the cyberpunk style found in books like William Gibson’s “Neuromancer” or Neal Stephenson’s “Snow Crash”. If you’re a fan of these or of the cyberpunk aesthetic, definitely check this out. — Rob
“Don’t Starve” (Most platforms)
This one comes recommended by my fiancé, Sam. “Don’t Starve” is a resource management game, but “one geared towards a more masochistic audience than, say, ‘Animal Crossing’ or ‘Stardew Valley’,” according to Sam. So far, he’s died by bees, the cold, the heat, a particularly vicious buzzard, lightning. Watching him play the game, it looks pretty simple. Your character goes around chopping wood or spending time fishing or building. But the world, which is drawn in a Burton-esque art style, is unforgiving. “The weather is harsh, its wildlife homicidal and to die means to start entirely over from scratch,” he says. There’s even a dedicated sanity meter to track your character’s descent into madness. Sam says the game is perfect for those who enjoy exploration and a challenge. There’s even an option to play with others called “Don’t Starve Together.” Find it wherever you play games. — Sayaka via Sam LeBlanc
Friday – Celebrity Queensboro Virtual Show @ 8:30 p.m.
Hosted by Vintage to Vogue Boutique — a local designer clothing store in Greensboro that specializes in slightly used vintage clothes — this drag show will be livestreamed for audiences to watch queens impersonate a variety of different celebrities. For more information check out the event on Facebook.
Saturday – High Point Farmers Market @ 8:30 a.m.
This weekend, the farmers market will be open for people to stock up on fresh fruits and vegetables. According to the N.C. Department of Agriculture, farmers markets fall under the same classification as grocery stores and are also considered an important source of food for the community. Food vendors will be selling a supply of all sorts of fresh as well as locally produced lettuce, strawberries, spinach, green onions and tomatoes. Other food items will also be sold such as chicken, pork, baked goods and seafood. Find the event on Facebook for more information
Saturday – Virtual Class on the Grass with Dancing Dogs Yoga @ 3 p.m.
Beginning to feel angsty from being cooped up inside? Then step out into your backyard or patio and immerse yourself in nature while finding relaxation in a free online yoga class. The virtual class will be streamed live on Zoom, so be sure to sign up in advance. Find the event on Facebook for more information.
Tuesday – Growing Vegetables at Home @ 10 a.m.
As quarantine continues, some people may worry that they may not have enough healthy sources of food at home. The N.C. Cooperative Extension Forsyth County Center will be providing virtual classes on how to properly grow vegetables at home every Tuesday . The online class will be hosted by Mary Brennan on Zoom. For more information check out the event on Facebook.