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With Social Distancing in Mind, Entertainment Picks From Aspen Public Radio

Apr 22, 2020

How have you been spending your time while you're stuck at home? What's made you feel less stressed during the COVID-19 pandemic? In between virtual meetings and working remotely, we asked that same question of the Aspen Public Radio team. Here's our reading, listening, and viewing list to get you through this next phase of social distancing.


The Hogwarts Express of Harry Potter's wizarding world
Credit Photo by Ester Marie Doysabas on Unsplash

I'm kind of embarrassed to say it and I want to lie, BUT I am a big Harry Potter fan and I've been rereading the series. I know it's for 10-year-olds, but it brings me so much joy and allows me to escape the reality of the scary world we're living in for an hour and get lost in the book!

     —Molly Dove, Morning Edition Host

I joined a virtual book club with some friends at the start of the stay-at-home order, and my favorite read so far (by far!) has been Where the Crawdads Sing by Delia Owens. It's a novel about a girl growing up by herself in the coastal Carolina marsh in the 1950s and 60s, and how her story intertwines with a murder mystery set in the same place. The vivid descriptions of the setting transport you to a sepia-toned world filled with shell-covered beaches, Spanish moss, and fireflies, and the story keeps you flipping through pages till you find out whodunit.

     —Kirsten Dobroth, Arts & Culture Reporter

So many experts say people should limit their news intake right now to help them feel less anxious, but that's pretty hard to do when you actually work in the news business. That means that I'm turning to literature to help me escape more than ever. I'm reading Margaret Atwood's The Blind Assassin right now. A little sci-fi, a little historical fiction, a lot of mystery and characters that only she could create. Even if I only read it for ten minutes at the end of the day, it takes me to another world.

     —Christin Kay, Interim News Director


Ear Hustle (about prison life at San Quentin State Prison that's co-hosted by a former and current inmate), stories from The Moth, Glynn Washington's weekly radio show Snap Judgment, and Heavyweight, where host Jonathan Goldstein helps guests resolve a moment from their past they wish they could change.

     —Lauri Jackson, APR's Office Administrator/Development Associate

The Anthropocene Reviewed; I'll often go for a long walk along the golf course near my apartment after work, and John Green's podcast is the perfect companion. The eloquent author takes a lighthearted, philosophical look at the ways humans shape the world, and it's a great way to get lost in thought. And music—at the end of  a long day, I'm just looking to mindlessly unwind. Bahamas makes soothing tunes that are perfect for chilling around sunset. I can't stop listening to the album "Earthtones."

     —Alex Hager, News Reporter

This week, I am going to make time to listen to Fiona Apple's new album, "Fetch the Bolt Cutters," which received a perfect 10 on Pitchfork.

      —Lisa DeLosso, Development and Community Engagement Manager

I am obsessed with Unladylike, a podcast about women's issues. It has engaging conversations that any woman can relate to, and lets me think about something OTHER than COVID-19. If you're a fan of The Office, I am rewatching the series while listening to the podcast Office Ladies by Jenna Fischer, who plays Pam, and Angela Kinsey, who played Angela. It's fun to watch the series over again and then listen to the podcast episode that goes beyond the scenes and points things out from the episode that I never saw.

     —Molly Dove, Morning Edition Host

The Other Latif, from Radiolab. Radiolab producer Latif Nasser always believed his name was unique, until one day when he made a bizarre and shocking discovery. He shares his name with another man: Abdul Latif Nasser, detainee 244 at Guantanamo Bay. This is the amazing story of his years-long investigation following the other Latif's journey from Morocco to Sudan, Afganistan, and Guantanamo.

     —Daniel Costello, Program Manager/All Things Considered Host


Ok, here it is: I could not get into Tiger King. I know, I know. Another documentary with schemes aplenty and characters that make your jaw drop is HBO's McMillionsIt delves into the McDonald's Monopoly scandal of the late 90s. Turns out, all those million-dollar winners were hand-picked by the mob. The series follows the undercover FBI investigation and the fallout for all those who got involved with the get-rich-quick scheme. Lots of re-enactments make the story come to life in a non-cheesy (I promise) way. And, hey, Tiger King fans—McMillions will also make you shake your head and say, "Only in Florida."

     —Christin Kay, News Director

I loved Tigertail on Netflix ... the empathy it instilled within me was a welcome reminder that we all need to take time to consider how others are feeling right now.

I loved Tigertail on Netflix. Directed by Alan Yang, the movie follows the life of a Taiwanese immigrant whose dreams for the future slowly fade after years of self sacrifice and loneliness. It's absolutely heartbreaking, but it's beautifully filmed. Moody, vibrant, saturated colors serve as a flashback to happier times in the past, versus an almost sterile, lifeless look in the present. Most importantly, the empathy it instilled within me was a welcome reminder that we all need to take time to consider how others are feeling right now.

     —Lisa DeLosso, Development and Community Engagement Manager

I am rejoicing the return of HBO series recently; Westworld started airing its third season (fortuitously on March 15, the same day that Colorado essentially shut down), and while it confuses the heck out of me sometimes, this season's plot—in a nutshell, that incredibly sophisticated AI have escaped a robot theme park to take on the human race—has kept me intrigued. And Insecure just premiered the first episode of its fourth season this month—there are few shows that make me laugh out loud when I'm by myself, but Issa (played by the comedy's writer and producer Issa Rae), her friend Molly (played by Yvonne Orji) and their awkward stumbles through life never fail to crack me up.

Kirsten Dobroth, Arts & Culture Reporter

Operation Odessa and The Innocence Files on Netflix, The Morning Show (on Apple TV) is awesome and relevant, Hulu's Hilary documentary about Hilary Clinton's 2016 presidential run (liked her before, but love her so much now!), and The Dectectorists on Netflix; I've watched the whole show multiple times, it's the sweetest little English dramedy.

Lauri Jackson, APR's Office Administrator/Development Associate

Dr. Lucy Worsley of the BBC
Credit Creative Commons

OK, I LOVE British historan Dr. Lucy Worsley. I watch everything she does and it's on my bucket list to meet her someday (it doesn't get more public media nerd than to have "Meet a Specific Historian" on your bucket list). Her series If Walls Could Talk: The History of the Home takes you through specific rooms in the houses throughout English history—the bedroom, the bathroom, the kitchen, and the living room—and some pretty weird practices, such as sleeping in your employer's great hall (literally "hitting the hay"), having more than three people dress you as a royal and one person's entire job is present your shoes to you, and sleeping in a bed that doesn't contain your entire family is a tradition that's fairly new. Check out this interview she did with Terri Gross in 2012.

Tammy Terwelp, Executive Director

Sanditon, from PBS. This is Masterpiece's interpretation of Jane Austen's final unfinished novel. Jane Austen was chronically ill in early 1817, when she turned her thoughts to a happier subject: a novel set in a seaside town. Not completely true to Austen's style, but still a nice escape to the past with beautiful scenery, sets, and interesting characters.

     —Daniel Costello, Program Manager/All Things Considered Host

My family loves movies of all types, and during this challenging time of COVID-19, they have provided some much-need escape. Old favorites, watched many times in the past, are comforting in a way—from Contact, Avatar, Seven Years in Tibet to Groundhog Day, Dave, The Italian Job, and even a few James Bond oldies and some animated movies like Moana. We also enjoyed a new favorite, Harrietthe inspiring story of the amazing Harriet Tubman, which was quite moving. The English Game, a mini-series on Netflix about the origins of professional soccer in the 1800s in England, is beautifully written by Julian Fellowes, and beautifully acted as well. 

Debbie Welden, Sales Director