Quarantine Activities

Staffers suggest creative ways to stay occupied while staying at home


1. Dear April- Frank Ocean

I think any avid Frank Ocean enthusiast has long awaited his next album release. While his highly anticipated project still hasn’t dropped, he’s performed several new songs that are scheduled to appear on this next album. Alongside “Cayendo”, “Dear April” is a recent song that has only been played at his rare concerts until he officially released it on April 3, 2020. 


Ocean’s production and synth-based instrumental again take the spotlight in this piece like a number of other singles in this album that focus heavily on background sound (i.e. “DHL,” “In My Room”). The play with echo is stunning in “Dear April.” His newest project implements heavier trap beats and slowed vocals more frequently, which may be off-putting to long-time listeners. However, instead of feeling old or washed out, the echo in this song allows Ocean to create a refreshing new take on his own voice. Through the lyric repetition and vocal crescendo sections of the song, he is able to execute a track of nostalgia while simultaneously introducing listeners to what the future looks like through his eyes, signalling a departure from more traditional R&B works like “Channel Orange.”



2.Can’t Take My Eyes Off of You – Ms. Lauryn Hill

Franki Valli may have brought “Can’t Take My Eyes Off of You” to life, but Lauryn Hill electrified it in a way that can’t be replicated by any other artist – even though many others have covered the same track. The simple background beat allows for her unique voice to shine through in a comparatively energized fashion. When Hill sings the hook “I need you, baby…” listeners are gravitated towards the clarity of her voice as she shifts from soft spoken verses entering the chorus. While Valli’s original was slower and peaceful, Hill’s rendition makes us want to groove along to her voice, bringing a livelier lens to this classic.


Let me get one thing straight. Every BROCKHAMPTON song is strange in some way due to their one-of-a-kind production. The band’s sound has become so distinct that they’re pioneering the alternative hip-hop genre. Even amidst their eccentric discography, “FACE” is often cited as the song that makes fans love BROCKHAMPTON even more. The instrumentals are simpler, and the repetition of “Tell me what you’re waiting for / I just wanna love you” is so effortlessly catchy that it sticks to your brain even after you finish the song. Despite the mellowness of the overall track, the beat keeps the verses flowing seamlessly. The lyrics are haunting, and the pain of lost love is encapsulated best through Joba’s sweet, warmer voice.

4.Be My Baby – Honeywire

Honeywire has produced a magical cover on the classic song by The Ronettes. The slowed tempo might be unsettling for some listeners, but I enjoy how this spin on the original lets us take a breath with every lyric. The tone of the song definitely feels more melancholic than The Ronettes’ version, written with dissonant synth-like production intertwined with the hushed vocals. Honeywire still keeps the same lyrics of “Be my baby / Say you’ll be my darling…” as the Ronettes, but he incorporates a breathier sound instead of the confident breakthrough of chorus in the original. It feels like entering a new galaxy, especially with the quieter instrumental used in place of the original upbeat percussion melody.

5.Heather – Conan Gray

Conan Gray’s debut album “Kid Krow” is currently massive, performing at the top of the charts since its release. While the entirety of the album nurtures the concept of coming-of-age, no other song does it better than “Heather.” Stripped-back vocals, acoustic guitar, and a compelling story of unrequited love Gray’s vocals are dazzling. Known for his soft voice, the climax of the song features unflinching strength that we didn’t see before in his previous works. His break in soft vocals towards the bridge of the song encourages us to “melt through the floorboards” with him, as he himself stated in a Tweet about this song. The idea of unrequited love in songwriting is commonplace, but “Heather” brings to light the agony of hating someone that hasn’t hurt you. It’s a song about us being unable to bring ourselves to like someone that has the affection of one we love, despite having no qualities to hate.

Additional songs to listen to during your physical distancing period :

6.Linger – The Cranberries

7.Settle Down – The 1975

8.In a Sentimental Mood – Duke Ellington, John Coltrane

9.Vincent – Don McLean

10.Disco – mitsume

11.Sunflower, Vol. 6 – Harry Styles

12.How Can You Mend a Broken Heart – Al Green

13.ur phone – boy pablo

14.La mer – Charles Trenet

15.Nocturnes, Op. 9: No. 2 in E-Flat Major. Andante – Frédéric Chopin


Cost Money:

Stardew Valley – 1-4 players:

Available on various platforms, full list at https://www.stardewvalley.net/ 

The premise of “Stardew Valley” is simple: the character gets bored of their soul-sucking office job and quits to work on inherited farmland. The farming aspect of the game alone is surprisingly addictive — who knew that doing basic chores and tasks could be so fun? Throughout the in-game years, the player cycles through buying seeds, upgrading tools, raising animals and more to continuously build on the land. Even beyond developing the farm, “Stardew Valley” has no shortage of additional content and sidequests to explore: the player can go fishing, explore the mines, fight monsters or even befriend and romance the NPC villagers. Each of these mechanics is just as fleshed out as farming is, creating an incredibly well-developed game that you can easily sink countless hours into.


The Jackbox Party pack 6 (2-10 players):

Available on various platforms, full list at https://www.jackboxgames.com/party-pack-six/ 

This bundle contains five different titles developed by Jackbox Games, all promising a great time over video chat with friends. The horror-themed “Trivia Murder Party 2” presents an entertaining survival contest, as players answer questions to avoid getting killed by the murderous host. The creative setting and player interactions make it one of the standouts of the pack alongside “Push the Button,” a social deduction game with various minigames that help players identify the aliens among them. These two games bring fresh twists to the classics of trivia and mafia respectively, making it easy to whip out your phone and have fun with friends from the comfort of your own couch. 

Town of Salem (1-15 players):

Available at https://www.blankmediagames.com/, on Steam for PC/MacOS, or on iOS/Android  

Another take on hidden role games, “Town of Salem” is a much more developed version of mafia set during the Salem witch trials. It has the classic town versus mafia setup with the former trying to identify and vote out the latter, but what makes it more interesting than regular mafia is that each player has a unique role. Even if just a “regular” townsperson, one might be a Spy, Investigator or Vigilante with a different ability to support the town faction. The flying accusations and stealthy deception of a good mafia game unfold through the onscreen chatbox, and this thrilling chaos is furthered by killing roles like the Arsonist and Werewolf trying to win independently of the mafia. This extensive roster of roles — along with separate game modes that scramble the roles present — ensures that each new game of “Town of Salem” will have something different to offer.


Pokemon Showdown (1-2 players):

Available at https://pokemonshowdown.com/

For fans of the classic Pokemon games (which are also amazing for quarantine), Pokemon Showdown is a flexible battle simulator that can create Pokemon with any stats or moves. The sprites and animations recreate the aesthetic of the original games well, while allowing you to hold battles that would be impossible on your old DS or Gameboy copy. There are levels for everyone ranging from casual, newbies to hardcore battlers maximizing the most obscure stats — regardless of where they fall, everyone can enjoy themselves creating the Pokemon team of their dreams.


Puzzles (1+ players):

While they’re not games in the same sense as others on this list, puzzles such as crosswords, ciphers, logic grids and nonograms are just as addicting. It’s oddly therapeutic to fill in each square or component of a puzzle one after another, and each time you finish one or work out a difficult part gives a rush of satisfaction. There’s no shortage of apps and websites dedicated to gathering all types of puzzles, presenting the innumerable clever tricks that creators of crosswords or other puzzles have come up with. You can even go tech-free by printing them out if you have a printer at home, or by digging your old jigsaw puzzle from years ago out of the closet. 

Tech Free:


 Drawing has been shown to create feelings of relaxation and stress relief so what better time than during quarantine to break out your favorite stationary. You can use anything from the pens and pencils you use for school to the random markers, crayons and colored pencils you find around the house. If you aren’t feeling like creating your own design, you can use coloring pages or work abstractly and see where it takes you. 

2.Try a new Recipe:

Learn a family recipe, find a new one, or try your hand at making your own, the possibilities are endless. If you need an idea for what to make here is a recipe from Statesman Reporter, Paulina Ornatsky: https://www.statesmanshs.org/3727/opinions/cozy-butternut-squash-recipie/ You could even have family cooking competitions reminiscent of your favorite Food Network shows. If the joy of cooking isn’t enough for you, once you are finished you get something delicious to eat. So get ready to pack on that “quaran-fifteen” and start cooking!

3.Make a Craft:

Making something yourself is a great way to feel productive while having fun. My personal favorite is knitting but there are various options from sculpting to sewing that you can try out. Don’t have experience? Not a problem check out a few YouTube tutorials and you are ready to go. You can also get creative with supplies you find around the house. You can use chopsticks sharpened in a pencil sharpener for knitting needles, post-its for origami, or opt to use masking tape instead of clay for your sculptures like Stevenson art teacher, Patrick Fairchild. 

4. Read:

Though you can’t go out exploring in real life there is nothing stopping you from exploring new worlds through books. Whether you want a fantasy story about dragons or a more realistic storyline, you are sure to be able to find something you will enjoy if you look. If fiction isn’t your style, you can choose a nonfiction book to learn a new skill or about a topic you are interested in. You could also read a nonfiction book to plan a future trip for when social distancing ends. If you don’t have access to any physical books, all you need is a library card to access numerous titles and audiobooks through library databases. Our very own ILC has digital access to the library here http://libguides.d125.org/c.php?g=278955&p=1859560. Though this option isn’t tech-free, it still gives you a way to feel an escape from the walls around you. An option if you are not in the mood for a book is to hear stories from family members or try your hand at writing your own stories.

5.Build a fort:

When was the last time you built a fort? If you are like many high school students, it has probably been a while. Building a fort can remind you of the simpler times of childhood and give you a comfortable place to hide out if your house is chaotic. You can even help younger siblings make one to give them their own space away from you when you are busy. For extra fun, start a competition to see who can build the best fort and share pictures with #stayatfort to show off your creation. For maximum comfort, gather all the pillows and blankets you can find and stock up with your favorite snacks. Once it is done you can use it while playing games, watching Netflix, or doing any activity of your choice.