This week's staff picks
Every week, the ASBMB staff shares what we’ve been reading, listening to and watching. As we all weather the COVID-19 pandemic and our new normal of social distancing, we look for ways to cope and connect — and a bit of entertainment to take our minds elsewhere. Enjoy, and feel free to tweet us (@ASBMB) your thoughts.
LUNCH DOODLES with Mo Willems (YouTube)
The Kennedy Center’s artist-in-residence is posting daily videos of drawings you can do at home. Mo Willems is an author and illustrator of children’s books, including one of my mom’s favorites, Don’t Let the Pigeon Drive the Bus! She’s a special education teacher and loves to read these books to her students, so she was really excited to see he was doing this while school is closed. My mom, grandma and I can’t be with each other, so we do our own doodles to show each other in our group message to keep occupied and stay connected.
Love is Blind (Netflix)
If you’re looking for something that’s highly entertaining but not the least bit cerebral, I recommend “Love is Blind” on Netflix. You’ll watch a bunch of singles meet and “fall in love” without ever having seen each other in person. To be allowed to actually see each other, they have to get engaged. There’s such a consistent flow of drama that you can look away for a good 15 minutes and not miss a thing. It would make excellent background TV for anyone working from home.
— Joanna Kotloski, marketing associate
Processing the COVID-19 pandemic is challenging. Every day I experience different emotions. I am very grateful to have a wonderful support network, which includes my local yoga studio, extendYoga. Being able to attend classes there has been such a positive experience for me, and I really miss it. Although the studio is temporarily closed, the teachers and managers have kept our community connected through emails and Facebook groups. They’ve been streaming live videos of classes and created a wonderful video collection that is free to access (donations are welcome). I was feeling overwhelmed last week, and this breathing meditation from Kim Groark really helped me to calm down. I hope it can be of help to you too during these challenging times. Namaste.
— Ally Frick, multimedia and social media content manager
The Moment of Lift (Melinda Gates, Flatiron Books)
This book is about the author's journey to understand gender inequity across the world and how empowering women helps their families and their communities. This author takes the reader into different communities where people are facing enormous struggles with their normal everyday lives and shows how the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation provides some solutions. Reading the book is very calming as Melinda Gates talks to the experts in the different situations and describes seemingly quite simple solutions that have made big differences.
— Lucinda Jack, Journal of Biological Chemistry editorial staff
Postcard coloring books (Pepin Press)
I’ve always been into crafts, but never got into the coloring-book trend … until now. At a really stressful time, I’ve found the physical act of putting pencil or marker to paper in a guided way deeply soothing. There are a lot of coloring options out there, but I’ve really enjoyed the postcard pack from Pepin Press that I picked up on a whim from an artists’ supply store. Every time I finish one, I have a new piece of stationery to send to someone I miss seeing in person, reminding me that keeping in touch doesn’t always have to rely on a screen.
— Laurel Oldach, science communicator
Undone (Amazon Prime)
I was raised on sci-fi. My father, a trained organic chemist and certified geek, started me young and has never let up. My bedtime stories were written by Isaac Asimov and H.G. Wells, and my film education was centered around Star Wars, Star Trek and The Fly (I had nightmares after that one). So it isn’t surprising that when facing the threat of a global pandemic, I’ve found myself scanning streaming services for a dose of sci-fi to clear my head of apocalyptic thoughts. I’m pleased to report that I've found a new remedy and it was 100% effective. The show is called Undone and it follows 28 year-old Alma as she grapples with personal crises and may have broken her own space-time continuum in the process. The series uses rotoscoping, a process by which actors are filmed on sets, then drawn over by animators, creating a visually stunning effect that adds to the show's allure. I don’t want to give too much away, so give the first episode a watch and, if you’re a geek like my Dad and me, you’ll be hooked!
— Anand Rao, science communicator
Tiger King: Murder, Mayhem and Madness (Netflix)
Late last summer, I took a vacation to Iceland with my daughter, son-in-law and granddaughter. As we drove our rental car from waterfall to geyser to black-sand beach, we listened to podcasts. One in particular, Joe Exotic: Tiger King, was so absorbing we almost forgot to look at the Nordic sights. Flash forward: During a recent visit to that same daughter, I read that Netflix had a documentary series about that same Joe Exotic, an eccentric zookeeper accused of trying to murder an animal rights advocate, so of course we started watching together. Seeing this cast of wacky people (and they are ALL wacky) interacting with the magnificently serene big cats and adorable cubs is jarring and riveting. I’d love to cuddle a baby tiger, but what’s the cost?
— Comfort Dorn, ASBMB Today managing editor
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René Fuanta, a second-year assistant professor at East Stroudsburg University of Pennsylvania, tries to support his students through a semester of unexpected challenges.