Saturday, May 30, 2020

At-home learning #64

Streaming theater: act now!
TheAmerican Shakespeare Company has several filmed plays to stream, but the offer expires May 31. See updated versions of  "A Midsummer Night's Dream" (set in New Orleans), "The Grapes of Wrath," and "Cymbeline." Give what you can, starting at $10. We want to support the struggling arts, yes?

More streaming theater
The Goodman Theater is Chicago offers "2666," about recent Mexican history and murdered women. Free.

Learn about art
High-quality streaming films about art and artists come your way from Boston's Museum of Fine Arts. Small rental fee.

Shopping from home without Amazon
A list of ways to order what you need.

Wednesday, May 27, 2020

At-home learning #63

Library books are back!
At least in Bangor they are. Your friendly Bangor Public Library will take your book orders and you can pick them up curbside.

While you're on the library's website, check out their "pandemic postcard" contest, the Maine Bicentennial exhibit, and more.

Go to the dogs

We're not sure what this is, but if you're a dog lover, it might be worth $5 to find out. Apparently it's a 90-minute "medley" of doggy film. Proceeds go to animal rescue.

Saturday, May 23, 2020

At-home learning #62

A potpourri of treats
Your friendly neighborhood Collins Center for the Arts has thoughtfully assembled huge menus of treats from the performing arts, from YoYo Ma and Tennessee Williams to barbershop and letter-writing (and reading). You could spend hours browsing.

Friday, May 22, 2020

At-home learning #61

Chickens and rhubarb
The UMaine System's Cooperative Extension arm has several online presentations coming up, from fiddleheads, rhubarb, and pickles to growing native plants and backyard chickens. Check out their offerings at

Free art
Food and drink in Italian Renaissance art, anyone? Women painters? Chinese landscapes? Drawing lessons? Loads of art adventures await you with a free 6-month subscription to Princeton University's art museum.

Thursday, May 21, 2020

At-home learning #60

Who would have imagined, a few weeks ago, that we'd hit our 60th day of posting these ways to learn at home?

"Lucky Grandma"
This isn't exactly learning, but it sure looks like fun! The Strand's offers the film it would be showing live if it could: "Lucky Grandma," about a Chinese elder who wins big at the casino, then has to deal with gangsters who want the money. Billed as a dark comedy. There's a ticket price; get all the info at

NT Live's play this week is a strong, dark production of that all-American classic, Tennessee Williams' "A Streetcar Named Desire." Hear Stanley's famous shout, "Stella!" On YouTube beginning tonight. Search "NT Live." Warning: there's domestic abuse.

Wednesday, May 20, 2020

At-home learning #59

Viola concert this Friday
Houston Symphony principal violist Joan deHovesepian plays from her home on Sunday at 8 PM only, for $10. Presumably that's 8:00 Central Daylight Time, so 9:00 here.

Fish migration in Maine May 27th
Brought to you my Maine Audubon, this one is live on the 27th at 2:00. You must register, and space is limited, so act now!

Blackbirds in the Maine woods
A UMaine graduate student presents his research on the rusty blackbird in the northern Maine woods

Ken Burns' "National Parks" series
If you missed it on TV, Maine Public Television has Ken Burns' national park series available for streaming.

At-home learning #58

Encounter Mark Twain
Two Zoom productions about Mark Twain will be aired on Thursday, the 21st. Your trusty blogger has no idea what this is like, and there isn't much information, but if you're feeling like an experiment, check it out:

Streaming theater, music, etc.
As sheltering in place drags on, more and more theater companies are putting their productions online. Some charge for their shows, as arts organizations are desperate to stay afloat without ticket sales.

Your best source of things to watch from your couch seems to be It's updated each week, so keep checking back.

One particularly interesting-sounding play to consider: "Boxcar" ("Vagon") tells the story of five men who cross the border in a boxcar and must deal with a conflicted immigration officer. Available free through June 7 in Spanish with English subtitles. You will register and be given a password to view the video.

Tuesday, May 19, 2020

At-home learning #57

Take a class
If you can afford it, this is a rare opportunity for big-time learning and discussion on one of the icons of our culture: The New Yorker. Cultural critic Adam Gopnik begins a lecture-discussion series on the history of the magazine this Wednesday, May 20:

Learn a language
As a recent New York Times article pointed out, what better time than now to start learning a language?

The Times offers a number of helpful suggestions. One is using a phone app. Babbel, CofeeBreak, and Memrise all offer thorough instruction at a cost. Duolingo is rated as easy and free.

Another is using flashcards, either homemade or on an app. Apps have the advantage of pronouncing the words for you.

YouTube has a language-learning channel; who knew? It's called Easy Languages. A gentleman named Luca Lampariello has made a specialty of this. A good place to start is with his website, He also has a YouTube channel.

If you have a Times subscription, the complete article is at

Monday, May 18, 2020

At-home learning #56

Go to school
Lectures about a huge variety of topics are offered by OneDayUniversity. There's an $8/month fee, so check the sample videos to see if you want to invest.

And don't forget that you can always listen to free lectures and even take free courses on your own time at the top universities in the country. or

Lots of theater, streaming
[UPDATE] TimeOut is a great source for what's playing that you can tap into. Check it out at

Sunday, May 17, 2020

At-home learning #55

Gardening and the environment
Cooperative Extension has some webinars coming up this week that might be of interest, especially if you're a gardener. Rhubarb preservation, anyone? Invasive plant identification?

Saturday, May 16, 2020

At-home learning #54

Tour a bucket list place
There are lots of videos with views of popular tourist sites on YouTube. But if you want to learn anything, you need a guide. So look for videos with narration. You can spend happy hours searching out the best. A good example is this one, of Machu Picchu; An interesting short explanation of the engineering of the Great Wall of China is at

"Go" to a museum (again)
We've posted links to museum virtual tours before, but this seems like a good time to revisit (haha). This is quite a compehensive set of links:

Friday, May 15, 2020

At-home learning #53

See a movie "at" The Strand (Rockland)
Each week, The Strand streams a film you'd never see in the big-box cinema. They do cost money, just as they would if you went to the actual theater ($12). Worth a try to see something special. This week: the music of New Orleans.

Cirque du Soliel in quarantine
The folks at The Strand also suggest a video by Cirque du Soliel; how do their artists get through quarantine?

There are also full-length Cirque performances on YouTube, just search their name.

Explore music at Tiny Desk concerts
NPR has had this series running for a while now. Check out some music you might not hear about otherwise. For those of us still stuck in the music of our youth, this is a good way to sample some indie-folky-rootsy-rocky stuff, along with music in some categories you've never heard of (got psych-folk?).

Thursday, May 14, 2020

At-home learning #52

Theater for for the weekend
We've mentioned these before, but they bear repeating:
  • The Folger Shakespeare Library and Theater at Harvard has a full version of Macbeth with lots of extra features: what's the deal with Mrs. Macbeth? Is there really humor in this grim tale of naked ambition and murder? Available through June. Check out a full page of goodies:
  • NT Live continues its free streaming, with a new play each week. Beginning today, it's the sellout The Barbershop Chronicles, focusing on the central role barbershops play in the lives of African and Anglo-African men. It's a "heartwarming, hilarious and insightful new play that leaps from a barber shop in Peckham to Johannesburg, Harare, Kampala, Lagos and Accra over the course of a single day." Go to YouTube and search "NT Live. For upcoming productions, go to and scroll to the bottom.

Monday, May 11, 2020

At-home learning #51

Try something new
We've said it before, but lest you grow fretful and weary, be sure to put some newness in your days. Figure out something to make with the coconut that's been sitting in your cupboard. Find a new place to walk. (Maine Trail Finder is a good resource for more adventurous outings. Dig out a book you've been avoiding. Try drawing with your non-dominant hand. For that matter, try drawing at all! Figure out what all those weird apps on your phone do.

Creativity in isolation
We think our current situation is tough; imagine being in forced isolation for fifteen years. A remarkable film shows how one woman's confinement led to fascinating art. The Strand in Rockland makes this 30-minute film available to us with the password isolation. You may have to create an account in Vimeo (a platform for posting homemade or professional videos).

Friday, May 8, 2020

At-home learning #50

Fifty days and counting. We'll keep on sending you suggestions for staying sharp and engaged while sheltering at home for as long as we can come up with ideas.

More music, music, music
Here is a frequently updated source for live TV and streaming concerts, listed by date:

BDN virtual events
If you're a Bangor Daily News subscriber, there are regular online events that might interest you. Coming up on Tuesday: three area chefs show and tell. Upcoming events include such topics as pandemic and climate change, handling finances in difficult times, and nature journalism.

Thursday, May 7, 2020

At-home learning #49

Music, music, music
The Bangor Symphony continues to offer ways to listen and watch our favorite local orchestra:

A rerun of a past performance: this Sunday, May 10, at 3:00, on MaineClassical (106.1). Beethoven, Brahms, Schumann.

Wake up your ears with some big trombone sounds. The "Artists in Residence" (get it?) series currently features the low brass playing a little Mahler. Search "Bangor Symphony Orchestra" on YouTube.

New experiences
Of all people, Air B&B is offering virtual experiences that will get you out of your routine. You can visit sheep or goats, or learn to dance the Argentine tango. You can cook pasta while your chef/instructor sings opera. You can even make dumplings with the drag queens of Lisbon. There are many, many possibilities, most of them less exotic than these examples. Fees and available dates vary. Some require purchasing ingredients or supplies.

Wednesday, May 6, 2020

At-home learning #48

Quarantine fatigue
It's a thing. If you're feeling restless and cranky, it's not surprising. This has gone on beyond our expectations and capacity to deal easily. But if there's anything age has taught us, it's resilience. We know the survival basics: have a schedule and a social life (at a distance), get outdoors, exercise, try something new.

Here are some interesting articles about the way people are feeling and how to cope:

And if you're scientifically inclined, this is a thorough study:

Tuesday, May 5, 2020

At-home learning #47

The next warm(ish) day, grab your lunch and lawn chair and head outdoors. Back yard picnics are great for putting a spring (ha ha) back in your step. Even a sandwich on the front porch steps can provide a change of scene. If you're feeling adventurous, head for a park where you can have plenty of distance from others.

Try some yoga
If you decide to try yoga, please be very careful! Not all yoga is for everyone, and these links have not been vetted by experts. They are labeled "for seniors," but use your own judgment. The first one might be a place to start if you have limited mobility or balance: chair yoga.

Monday, May 4, 2020

At-home learning #46

Give yourself a facial
Somewhere in a bathroom drawer, you have a peel-off mask or other form of facial stuff. Or make your own; some recipes are at If you live with someone, get him or her to do it too. (Men like facials, too!) Take pictures of yourselves masked with foamy stuff and send them to someone who needs a laugh.

Try some brand-new operas
Philadelphia Opera is offering a short opera series in May--four world premieres of very contemporary works and one classic, The Barber of Seville. Check out the list at

Memorize something
Stretch those brain cells! A musician friend is memorizing some Bach, a few measures a day. Or a poem that makes you laugh, some helpful quotations, the state capitals? If you're feeling blah at this point in our quarantine, this may give you something to feel good about.

Saturday, May 2, 2020

At-home learning #45

Listen to the Berlin Philharmonic
Today at 1:00, there's a live concert. This isn't Zoom--it's an actual concert, in the concert hall, with a smaller orchestra and no audience. Today's program includes Mahler, Barber, and more.
Pre-recorded concerts are also available.

"Visit" some national parks
AAA has thoughtfully put together links to 10 national parks, where you can find videos and other ways to explore the parks from your couch. Go to this link and click on "Plan for visit" for each park you want to explore.

Friday, May 1, 2020

At-home learning #44

Check out digital books free!
Your friendly local library has access to Cloud Library, and you can check out e-books free. An introductory webinar is on MONDAY, May 4. Here's the info and free registration spot:

If you're not a subscriber to the weekly newsletter from The Strand Theater in Rockland, now might be a good time to get connected. Each newsletter has a set of links for a variety of at-home viewing, thinking-about, and/or listening. This week's reminded us--among other things--of the great free theater performances on NT Live (YouTube). Starting now: the fabulous Benedict Cumberbatch "Frankenstein."

In addition, there is information about

Other links, courtesy of The Strand: