‘Hunker down’ entertainment: UAA professor recommendations

Students aren’t the only ones struggling to stave off boredom during this ‘hunker down’ period. I emailed a few UAA professors to ask what they were up to in-between Zoom meetings and grading assignments. Here are their responses.

Graphic by Michaeline Collins.

Marsha Olson

Communication term instructor

Despite having watched [“Parks and Recreation”] numerous times over the years, I have found myself revisiting it this month. Spending a bit of time with the menagerie of weirdos who work and live in Pawnee, Indiana is just what I need during this time of social distancing. “Parks and Recreation” is particularly excellent to watch in our current, stressed-out circumstances. Turning it on is akin to wrapping yourself in a cozy blanket, maybe even one of those weighted blankets that feels like a hug. Remember what hugs felt like?

The underlying theme of the show is kindness, which it manages to accomplish without sacrificing any humor. The characters legitimately enjoy one another and spend much of their time working together to achieve goals. I get that sounds boring, but stay with me — it’s phenomenal. A note to those who are new to it: skip the first season and start with season two.

For those who have already experienced the amazingness of “Parks and Recreation,” I highly recommend a rewatch. The specific episodes I find myself continuing to enjoy regardless of how much I’ve memorized the jokes are: “The Fight” (S3, Ep. 13), “End of the World,” (S4, Ep. 6), “Two Parties” (S5, Ep. 10) and “Moving Up” (S6, Ep. 21 and 22).

Bonus recommendations [go to] the other shows created by Mike Schur: “Brooklyn Nine-Nine” and “The Good Place.”

- Advertisement -

All seven seasons of “Parks and Recreation” are available to watch on Netflix, Hulu and Amazon Prime Video.

All seven seasons of “Brooklyn Nine-Nine” are available to watch on Hulu.

The first three seasons of “The Good Place” are available to watch on Netflix, while a few episodes of season four are available on Hulu. All of season four is available on NBC’s website through a cable or satellite provider.


Don Reardon

Chair and professor of the Department of Writing

For a writer, being in self-quarantine is as much about the creation of new content as binging and devouring the work of others. To that end, I’ve been putting up new essays on my blog, as well as writing a poem a day for National Poetry Month. I’ve done a little rereading of two old favorites for inspiration and insight into this pandemic in Alaskan terms: Harold Napoleon’s “Yuuyaraq: The Way of the Human Being” and Robert Fortuine’s “Chills and Fever: Health and Disease in the Early History of Alaska.” I’ve also been fielding numerous questions from friends, fans and journalists about my novel, “The Raven’s Gift” — a general theme of the inquiries related to how I feel about predicting a pandemic hitting Alaska and how do I feel about all this? Both of these pieces just came out in the last week: one in Alaska Public Media and the other in The Anchorage Press.

I’ve also been serving as a beta-reader of sorts for a brilliant new work by Shane Castle, a friend and colleague in the Department of Writing. He’s written “Moby Dork,” a masterpiece, essentially the “Moby Dick” of zombie novels, and he will be rolling out the book on a website for all to enjoy soon. I don’t know if I’m at liberty to reveal more, but I can’t wait for people to read it.

[I’ve] also been jamming to Pearl Jam’s new album, “Gigaton.”


David Bowie

Chair and professor of the Department of English

I’ve been between a desire for mindless humor and a pull to learn something. Also, the stay-at-home order means that I’m even more sedentary than usual, so I need something to push me to get some exercise. This led me to my solution for all of these needs: the BBC series “Horrible Histories,” which as a bonus, I can stream from Amazon Prime Video. The psychological math is simple: I work out for half an hour and I get two episodes that are guaranteed to make me laugh (occasionally while recoiling in horror, but that’s beside the point) and might actually teach me a thing or two.

Also, my main hobby is cooking, so I’ve been scouring some of the cookbooks on my shelves for fun-looking recipes to inflict upon my family. I’m too afraid to try any of the stuff in the most wonderfully kitschy 1950s cookbooks I own, though. There’s one recipe that, in its entirety, involves surrounding a canned whole chicken — yes, take a moment to ponder that marvel of modern technology — with red grapes and then flambéing the whole thing. Seriously, really?