This week we’ve got an Issa Rae and Kumail Nanjiani collab, a dystopian thriller about medical experiments and a card game about memes to troll your family members with. To make a suggestion for a future issue, send an email to [email protected]
The Lovebirds (Netflix)
Readers who frequent this space will know that I’m a big fan of Issa Rae. Kumail Nanjiani’s back catalogue includes The Big Sick, co-written by his wife, Winston-Salem native Emily V. Gordon, and loosely based on their own interethnic relationship. Rae and Nanjiani are a lot of fun to watch as a mixed-race couple who are commitment-shy creatives in an upwardly mobile yet economically tentative layer of multicultural New Orleans. It sounds like a mashup of The Big Sick and “Insecure” or “Awkward Black Girl” — Rae’s projects. But there’s a dark, alluring energy in this film that’s different than anything else I’ve seen from Rae. The films of Jim Jarmusch, including Down by Law (1986), which after all features three men who share a jail cell in New Orleans, and Night on Earth (1991) come to mind. The story unfolds from the early evening as Leilani (Rae) and Jibran (Nanjiani) are headed to a dinner party at a moment when their relationship is poised to implode, when suddenly they become involved in a bizarre murder mystery. A super-exclusive, secret sex cult, a blackmail ring involving drug-addled bros and a congressman who keeps a mule in his backyard. New Orleans is the one setting where all of this seems plausible. — 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)
Lakewood by Megan Giddings
I’m only a quarter of the way through this new novel but I’m already hooked. The writing is simplistic and straightforward but the harrowing story is enough to keep readers interested. Millennial Lena Johnson faces economic hardship after her grandmother dies, leaving her alone to take care of her ill mother. In light of her circumstances, she takes up a mysterious job wherein she essentially becomes a test subject for a bizarre number of science and psychological experiments. Harrowing and disjointed at times, the dystopian novel alludes to the injustices that have been committed against black bodies in the name of science throughout history. — Sayaka
“There’s one epidemic we may never find a vaccine for: fear of black men in public spaces” by John Blake
It’s always happening somewhere. The harassment, oppression, erasure, of black men and women, most often at the hands of white people, in the world. Just this past week, we saw videos and clips of black men being harassed in a park, and one die at the hands of racist police in Minneapolis. White people need to educate themselves. Other people of color need to educate themselves. We need to be in solidarity with the black community. In his recent article for CNN, John Blake talks about what it is to be black and male in this country.
“Black men have long been a bogeyman in White America’s collective psyche. There’s something about us that brings out the worst in many people.”
To combat these horrific acts of violence, we must understand why and how they happen. Read this as a start and then get to organizing. Uplift black voices. Volunteer and donate to black causes. And keep an eye on white people and call them out when they’re being racist. It happens all the damn time and it’s up to us to keep it from happening again and again. — Sayaka
Games (board games, virtual games, video games):
What Do You Meme?
This fun adult game is perfect for parties if you’re stuck at home or quarantining with family. Participants can compete with friends and family to make all sorts of funny memes. The winner of each round is decided by a rotating judge and the best way to win is by knowing the judge’s sense of humor. The card game includes 360 caption cards and 75 photo cards. In addition to the original game, the game also has featured expansion packs. You can purchase the game online. — Rachel
Lucky One by Alex McMurray
I’ve seen more of my favorite musicians play live during the pandemic than I have since I used to prowl the music clubs every night in my twenties. Except I’m watching a livestream on my couch or in bed, and I’m not itching to get to the afterparty. I’m flexing my Venmo account, too, in small amounts for tips. I’ve come to feel even more strongly that we need to vote with our dollars, and if someone is doing something you’re into, you should support it financially. So while I’ve been livestreaming my favorite New Orleans musicians Tuesday night live sets with some regularity, I also ponied up and bought his latest CD, from his website so a middleman couldn’t take a cut. McMurray takes pages from Randy Newman, Warren Zevon and Tom Waits, with sad songs about the underground, stories with unhappy endings, a cast of characters that rivals Chuck Palahniuk’s, and even a touch of Bukowski in his hedonistic leanings. Lucky One is a fine example of his songwriting prowess, six-string proficiency and knack for arrangements that evoke the sweetest and darkest places of New Orleans. The CD got here yesterday and I’ve already run through it a couple times — on my laptop, because I don’t even have a CD player. But that’s not really the point. — Brian
Virtual Tribute to “The Drowsy Chaperone”, Thursday @ 7:30 p.m.
UNCSA virtually presents a taste of what would have been their performance of The Drowsy Chaperone, a musical by Bob Martin on Thursday evening. Instead of performing the entire show, the cast and crew will give insight into how they put together the show, which will hopefully go live next spring. The story is a parody of American 1920s comedy and centers around a middle-aged man who plays a record of the fictional 1928 hit “The Drowsy Chaperone” in his living room as the music, actors and the story come to life. Find the event on Facebook for more information.
Chris Wiles Live, Friday @ 7 p.m. by Comedy Zone
This Friday, the Comedy Zone will be hosting comedian Chris Wiles in their venue. The 28-year-old performer is not only a stand-up but an actor and writer as well. The venue will be taking the necessary precautions to keep this a safe and fun event for all. Find the event on Facebook for more information.
A Night Out with Mom, Friday @ 111 N. Chestnut Studio (W-S) 6 p.m.
Though Mother’s Day was two weeks ago, this local paint studio will be hosting a small, make-up evening for mothers and their kids this Friday. The shop will be limiting the number of customers allowed so be sure to buy tickets in advance to reserve your spot. There will be a scavenger hunt, karaoke and canvas painting for everyone to enjoy. Refreshments like sparkling juice will be provided for guests. As a token of appreciation, each guest will be submitted in a drawing, to receive a complimentary vacation voucher for two. Find the event on Facebook for more information.
Drive Thru Ice Cream, Saturday @ Beth David Synagogue (GSO) 2 p.m.
This congregation will celebrate Shavuot by serving free ice cream to curbside guests that would like to enjoy a sweet treat on Saturday. Guests that wish to grab a cold dessert can register here. Enjoy a day with family and a surgery snack. Find the event on Facebook for more information.
Music in the Palisades Virtual Concert Series, Sunday @ 5 p.m.
Musician Jennifer Curtis, a member of the International Contemporary Ensemble will be virtually performing folk and classical music this Sunday. While the concert series is normally held at Historic Bethabara Park, Curtis will be performing online so viewers can enjoy her music from the safety of their home. The ensemble that Curtis is a part of is based in New York City and Chicago, and is a contemporary classical music group that plays a diverse range of musical sounds such as electro-acoustic, improvisatory and multimedia works. Find the event on Facebook for more information.