Photo: Neha Chollangi

What the Review masthead is reading, watching, and listening to during the pandemic: Part 1

Sean Young is a business and audience engagement manager at the Ryerson Review of Journalism. He has previously worked with CBC News’ The World This Weekend, CBC P.E.I., and The Dance Current.

I’m taking a triple-pronged approach to the pandemic: explainers, pop culture, and straight-up comedy. At my most anxious and confused, I turn to hard science. Vox’s guide to navigating the coronavirus is an easy-to-understand and beautifully designed explainer collection, backed up by a multiplicity of experts and strong reporting. For local guidance, I look to Canadian outlets, such as CBC’s constantly updating round-up.

NPR’s review podcast, Pop Culture Happy Hour, hosted by Linda Holmes (who is often joined by colleagues Stephen Thompson and Glen Weldon), is my comfort food twice a week, even outside of the pandemic. I’ve been listening to this crew for years. Their easy pop culture recommendations have carried me through the worst. One of the latest episodes offers up “short bursts of joy” amidst isolation. If you’re feeling alone, let them be your friend group for a bit. Camaraderie abounds in every episode. To revisit a time long ago in a galaxy far, far away, listen to their half-hour dedication to the phenomenon of Baby Yoda.

Speaking of which, to get completely out of the coronavirus headspace and get into, well, outer space, listen to Newcomers: Star Wars, a podcast from Nicole Byer, of the Netflix show Nailed It!, and fellow comic Lauren Lapkus. Byer and Lapkus have never seen any of the Star Wars movies. (Full disclosure: I’ve only watched the most recent three.) Join them on the absurd ride to falling in love with characters whose names they still can’t pronounce. (I agree with Byer, it’s not “Supreme Leader Snoke,” it’s “Snooki.”) It all makes me laugh out loud, and is a fantastic mental break.

Urbi Khan is the managing editor of print at the Review. She was previously the business and technology editor at The Eyeopener and the politics and current affairs editor at Australia’s Grok Magazine.

I have a running list of articles, essays, and musings on the pandemic in my Notes app. It’s a bit dramatic, but I am glad that—in what feels like the end of days—art and new thoughts by writers and journalists are rising, as they should be, during this time of collective crisis. After all, as legend has it, William Shakespeare wrote King Lear during the bubonic plague. 

The Atlantic is doing great coverage on COVID-19. An article that resonated with me was “Springtime for Introverts” by Andrew Ferguson. I am a certified introvert, and this made me feel validated. Even though introverts may be comfortable in this time of isolation, writes Ferguson, the pandemic is affecting everyone’s mental health. Humans are social creatures by nature, whether they like to be left alone or not. I feel that now there is an understanding of the difference between what it means to be lonely, and to be left alone. COVID-19 is definitely changing our cultural notion of how we interact with each other. 

A time like this is also a chance to soothe the soul with a devastatingly magical love story! I am currently reading Love in the Time of Cholera by Gabriel García Márquez, mainly because I think Love in the Time of COVID-19 can be a sure thing. The disintegration of love as a bodily disease is a wonderful metaphor. This one’s specifically for you lovelorn folks out there.

Catherine Abes is the managing editor of digital at the Review and the features editor at The Eyeopener

Admittedly, I’ve been watching a lot of TikToks. I know this sounds very Gen Z but hear me out. A lot of it is odd humour, quick sketches, and of course dances. (I’m not too shy to admit that I can now do eight popular routines, albeit not very well.) But there are also many artists posting videos of their process which, for me, is very calming to watch. Two of my favourite accounts are @ktscanvases and @boelterdesignco. Both of them paint plants, one of my favourite things to draw because I’m sadly not good at keeping real plants alive. They’ve even inspired me to get back into painting, too. 

I will say that TikTok requires a certain amount of self-discipline to use: all the videos made in the app are 60 seconds long at most, making them easy to watch in large batches. The app is also very clever in hiding the time at the top of your screen, so it’s easy to fall down a rabbit hole of quirky videos. Personally I have to be careful with my escapism now, especially since I’m in quarantine alone and don’t have anyone around to hold me accountable. (And even if I did, being a “productive” person doesn’t feel like the most pressing matter in the midst of a pandemic.) At the same time, I recognize that the current state we live in is a lot, and it’s not wrong to give my brain something else to focus on for half an hour. On the bright side, I can always be counted on to have something funny to send to my friends. The importance of laughter during these times isn’t lost on me. 

Karen Longwell is a visual editor at the Review and the former news editor of the Northumberland News. Her work has appeared in the Toronto Star, the National Post and community newspapers across Canada.

As a single person living alone, I have found comfort in CBC Radio. Hearing familiar voices such as Matt Galloway on The Current, Ify Chiwetelu, and Trevor Dineen on Now or Never, and Michael Enright on The Sunday Edition makes isolation a little bit easier to manage. Aside from online meetings, these last few weeks have been unstructured. Now my regular routine is to switch on the radio in the morning and listen to The Current. Recently, Galloway interviewed people from Italy about how they are continuing to cope with the pandemic. I like to hear these different voices and experiences. It brings a little bit of the world into my living room when I can’t get out.

I am also suppressing my urge to get out of the house by viewing the work of photographers around the world. In particular, Alison Wright, a New York-based photographer, is posting images to her Facebook page regularly. The news out of New York has been scary. Wright’s images give me a new perspective. She captures delivery people, bus drivers, a solo skateboarder on a usually bustling, now-quiet street in Manhattan—portraits of people in the pandemic.

Neha Chollangi is a visual editor at the Review with bylines in The Eyeopener and Ryerson Folio. 

I am constantly thinking about food—what I’m craving, what to eat for my next meal, what I have in the fridge and what I, sadly, do not. Like many other people on the Internet, I’ve taken to compulsive cooking and baking at midnight to fill the in-between spaces of my day, making anything from a Turkish breakfast to Korean street food. Although I normally find myself scrolling through Pinterest and countless food blogs, I’m also on Bon Appétit’s website daily. Their website and YouTube channel have been great sources of excitement for me. It’s not just their recipes, but simple tips (like ripping vegetables instead of chopping them for a more rugged texture) that change the way I interact with my food. It feels like I’m attending a makeshift culinary school that I get to curate with my own interests. 

Still, it becomes hard to ignore the anxiety I feel about the restaurant industry amidst the pandemic. I worry about the tiny fish and chips joint behind my house run by the sweetest couple and the Hakka restaurant tucked beside a Popeyes in a back alley. Mostly, I just miss eating out. And so I’ll read about the Bar Bête in Brooklyn where the sommelier is also the DJ with a killer playlist and then watch a 30-minute long video about every way to cook a potato so I have some new experiments to try tomorrow. 

Sarah Do Couto is co-chief copy editor at the Review and the editor-in-chief of Her Campus Ryerson.

Whenever I’m stressed, the first thing to be affected is my sleep. Oddly enough, I find that sleeping with some sort of sound on helps, whether it be music, white noise, or even a boring lecture. When I stumbled across a Facebook share of the Vice story “This podcast is so boring it’ll put you to sleep—on purpose,” I was intrigued. 

The podcast from the Vice story was Drew Ackerman’s Sleep With Me. In each episode, Ackerman rambles on about mundane topics, from the annual Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade in New York City, to the history of Count Chocula cereal’s box designs, to television show recaps of The Mandalorian, or The Good Place, neither of which I’ve personally seen. These stories are just entertaining enough to keep your brain engaged, but not fully riveted. Ackerman’s voice isn’t particularly soothing, but his self-proclaimed “creaky, dulcet tones” are familiar, and feel like a friend telling you a not-so-interesting bedtime story. 

Though it likely drives my roommate batty to listen to this droning through our paper-thin walls, I’ve never had anything work better to put my restless mind at ease, even melatonin and other sleep drugs don’t compare. When I’m overcome with worry about the COVID-19 pandemic, Sleep With Me is always there at the end of these often hectic and lonely days. 

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