Free Stamp: All things indoors and free in the #CLE for April 2020Powered by Cuyahoga Arts & Culture

Books to Read

“Little Fires Everywhere.” Written by Shaker Heights native Celeste Ng, this novel takes place in her hometown and tells the story of two families who are brought together through their children. It’s Ng’s second novel to take place in the Cleveland suburb, and many of her setting descriptions are on target. It’s also now a series streaming on Hulu, starring Reese Witherspoon and Kerry Washington. There are many reasons to give this book a read. Consider it a binge-read followed by a binge-watch.

“The Broom of the System.” Described as a “Cleveland-based character drama,” David Foster Wallace’s novel follows 24-year-old Lenore as she navigates three different crises: her great-grandmother’s escape from a nursing home, a neurotic boyfriend, and a pet cockatiel that’s suddenly able to speak. This novel doesn’t follow a traditional plot format, but it may be a refreshing challenge during this quarantine period.

“Finding Me: A Decade of Darkness, A Life Reclaimed” and “Hope: A Memoir of Survival in Cleveland.” The first memoir is written by kidnapping survivor Michelle Knight, and it tells the story of her tragic childhood, her fight for custody over her son, and her estrangement from her family. Published in 2014, it was named to the top 20 biographies sold on Amazon that year and served as an outline for the 2015 Lifetime Network film “Cleveland Abduction.” “Hope” was written by Amanda Berry and Gina DeJesus, and it goes more in depth about the horrifying events that took place at the now infamous Cleveland address.

“Seedfolks.” A children’s novel written by Paul Fleischman, the story is told from a diverse group of characters living on Gibb Street in Cleveland, each having a different ethnic background. As the novel progresses, the characters band together to transform an empty lot into a beautiful community garden, and they undergo many personal changes in the process.

Shows to Binge

“Love is Blind.” Released Feb.13, this show took Netflix by storm and reached the top 10 most streamed shows in a matter of days. Created by Nick and Vanessa Lachey, “Love is Blind” follows five couples who become engaged in 10 days without seeing one another, as their love is based solely on an emotional connection. Will their love survive when tested by the pressures of modern society? You’ll have to see for yourself.

“Cheer.” Another popular Netflix series, this documentary-esque has finally determined that yes, cheerleading is definitely a sport. Following the Navarro College cheer team on their journey to a 2019 cheer championship, it captures the grueling physical and mental challenges its members face inside and outside of the sport. Since its premiere in January, the show has earned several celebrity fans, including actress Reese Witherspoon and NFL player J.J. Watt.

“The Society.” When lockdown calls, we really start to miss it. As adults start to vanish from the wealthy town of West Ham, a group of teens must create their own society to survive. Often described as a modern retelling of the classic novel “Lord of the Flies,” this show puts alliances, freedom and political order to the test. A relevant watch amidst the coronavirus chaos.

“On My Block.” A story of true friendship in the gritty streets of inner-city Los Angeles. Following a group of four teens as they navigate their way through adolescence, the Netflix series highlights how loyalty and companionship can conquer anything, even gang violence. While we can’t freely walk the streets, we can watch other people do it.

“The Innocence Files.” Coming to Netflix on April 15, this documentary will cover three real-life cases of wrongful conviction, prosecutorial misconduct, and eyewitness misidentification. Considering the increasing popularity of true crime series on Netflix (hence “Conversations with a Killer: The Ted Bundy Tapes” and “The Trials of Gabriel Fernandez”), this docu-series should be worth a watch.

“Brew Brothers.” Follow estranged brothers Adam and Wilhelm Rodman as they start their own brewery, though their taste for and way of making beer couldn’t be more different—the same can be said for their personalities. The show has an all-star production team, including Greg Schaffer of “That ‘70s Show” and Jeff Schaffer, creator of “The League.”

Ways to Communicate

Zoom. With the new trend of working from home, many people have started using Zoom, an online video conferencing platform. To get started, create an account, and host or join a virtual meeting. When in a conference, the controls are simple: Click the microphone icon at the bottom of the screen to mute, and the video camera icon to shut off the webcam. For more detailed instructions, click here.

Game Pigeons. Five different games can be played via iMessage through this free app, including 8-ball, poker, sea battle, anagrams and gomoku. The process is simple, each “texter” takes turns shooting pool, drawing cards, or taking shots at a battleship. It’s refreshing to switch things up in day-to-day text message conversations.

Virtual Events

[email protected] Three days a week, the Cleveland Museum of Natural History will engage with visitors online. On Museum Monday, there will be virtual science classes for school-age children, taught by museum educators. For Wildlife Wednesday, KeyBank will present video profiles of native Ohio animal species and give an inside look at the museum’s animal care programs. As for Scientist Saturday, there will be an ongoing rotation of recorded scientific lectures and research findings. To connect with the museum online, click here.

The Cleveland Museum of Art. All this month, the museum will interact with guests through social media and their expert blogger. Additionally, it will make its digital archives available to the public, host a video series, and share more than 30,000 public-domain artworks through its Open Access Initiative. For more information and specific dates, click here.

Apollo’s Fire. In response to the coronavirus shutdown, The Cleveland Baroque Orchestra has launched “Music for the Soul,” an online series that includes concert videos, interviews and related readings. Join their email list to know when a new “episode” is released—front row seats are guaranteed. Click here for specific dates.

The Quarantine Concerts. Piano Cleveland will bring lively, musical entertainment straight to your home this month. Each concert will feature a local artist. Please note that many performers are dealing with financial burdens, as they cannot perform due to the current health crisis. Viewers are able to support these artists by donating to them directly through Piano Cleveland's Musicians’ Fund. Click here to learn more.

Games to Play

“Town of Salem.” Basically a digital version of Mafia, this online game takes place during the Salem Witch Trials, and each player takes on a different role. There are various modes of the game, but classic is most like the traditional version of mafia. For more information on game modes and types of players, click here.

“Settlers of Catan.” In this online version of the famous board game, friends can play together virtually. Each player’s objective is to create the largest settlement by building, acquiring resources and developing holdings. Points are earned as settlements grow, and the first person to reach 10 points wins. For more information on how to play online, click here.

Read more articles by Dana Shugrue.

Dana Shugrue is a graduate of John Carroll University, where she earned her Bachelor’s Degree in Digital Media and Professional Writing. She is a full-time Content Specialist at Budget Dumpster, and part-time freelance writer for FreshWater Cleveland. When she’s not writing, you can catch Dana taking a run through the metros or sipping a latte at her favorite local coffee shop.