The Stranger's Silent Reading Party
Every Wednesday at 6 pm we're going to throw these parties, at least until stay-at-home is over. Attendees at the first Zoom silent-reading party included famous actors, writers, composers, artists, families, teenagers doing their homework, people staring into space listening to the music because it was just so beautiful, cats, and even one household on Orcas Island that was eating dinner and decided to broadcast the reading party as their background music. (What a brilliant idea!) It wasn't just a great party to be at. Behind the scenes, this was a roaring success as well. Our musician Paul Matthew Moore made ten times more on Venmo tips than he's ever made in the tip jar at the Sorrento (thank you for your generosity—he deserves it!), and hundreds of people at the party have written us emails, clamoring for more. CHRISTOPHER FRIZZELLE
The Left Hand of Darkness
Need a book for this week's Silent Reading Party? How about an absolute classic from Ursula K. Le Guin? Not that you need an excuse to crack the spine on any of her works, but The Left Hand of Darkness (available in ebook and audiobook form at MultCo Library, physical copies here at Powell's) in particular has had lasting influence as one of the defining works of feminist literature. The novel tells the story of a Genly Ai, a future human explorer on an icy planet called Winter whose inhabitants are all gender-fluid. Where other Science Fiction writers at the time used the latest innovations in technology to imagine the future, Le Guin developed a Science Fiction of Anthropology (a discipline in part founded by her father, Alfred Kroeber) that rejects gender as essential to ordering society. The novel remains a cherished guiding star for many queer and trans youth today. EDWARD WOLCHER
About a year ago, American treasure and cultural icon Michelle Obama came to the Moda Center as part of her national tour promoting her book Becoming. She covered key events in her life from career to motherhood, and discussed the lessons learned from becoming the first Black woman to serve as First Lady of the United States. This documentary, premiering on Netflix today (from the Obamas' production company Higher Ground, following up their acclaimed American Factory) is "an intimate documentary" for those who were able to attend last year's show, and for us broke folk who only got as close as catching a glimpse of the Secret Service cavalcade that drove through town. Not sure how “intimate” this “conversation” can get, but I also don’t doubt Michelle’s ability to surpass all expectations. JENNI MOORE
The The Bon Appétit Test Kitchen Variety Show
If you're one of many Bon Appétit stans, you know that the magazine's Test Kitchen crew is quarantined like the rest of us. They've been recording themselves in their home kitchens to keep the BA YouTube channel full of serotonin-boosting content, and this culminated in their biggest sheltered-in-place experiment thus far: A live variety show, loaded up with cooking challenges, catchphrases (mostly from Brad), and more fun surprises. If you missed it live last Friday, don't sweat it—it's archived on their YouTube channel, and you can watch along like you were there, and whatever donations you kick down after the fact will go towards World Central Kitchen's COVID-19 relief project, which aims to provide meals to those in need, put restaurants back to work, and feed frontline healthcare workers.
Live Wire! Radio House Party
The only way this could be even more perfect is if Kid 'n' Play were actually hosting Portland's world-famous live 'n' local public radio variety show. That might still happen, who knows, but in the latest installment of this socially-distanced version of Live Wire, the tried and true (and charming-as-hell) team of Luke Burbank and Elena Passarello welcome Cameron Esposito, who talks about the shift from the stage to streaming as a stand-up using Zoom; @RateMySkypeRoom account creator Claude Taylor, who will be rating Luke's home studio and presumably sparing no mercies while doing so; and The Lone Bellow, performing a new song created while quarantined!
If there were an award for music that’s “the best reminder to give your Mexican dad a phone call,” or one that makes you “most nostalgic for a time you never knew,” Chicano Batman would definitely win both. The Los Angeles-based quartet smoothly integrates two wistful genres: the romantic ’60s psychedelia so many brown kids grew up listening to on Saturday mornings, and the inescapably sun-soaked sound of Southern Californian indie. And nobody rocks the soulfulness of the organ like Chicano Batman. Their new album, Invisible People hit streaming last Friday—get a late pass and listen below. GUADALUPE TRIANA