Stay-home Guide for Wednesday: Watch a delicious satire, listen to a comedy-horror podcast and more


1. Watch: Delicious satire of the well-heeled

Still from the HBO series The White Lotus. PHOTO: WARNERMEDIA

In comedy-drama miniseries The White Lotus, the Mossbachers are a family that feel ripped from the pages of the lifestyle pages. Nicole (Connie Britton) is a powerful executive who has penned a bestseller about female empowerment in the workplace; husband Mark (Steve Zahn) and their children, the teens Olivia (Sydney Sweeney) and Quinn (Fred Hechinger), all live in her shadow. The family and several other characters come together in Hawaii at a pricey resort for a vacation.

Reading by the beach and endless Mai Tais are great, but these wealthy mainlanders are needy, for companionship, emotional validation and other pleasures. When the hotel employees provide it, is it exchange or exploitation?

Writer-director Mike White pierces through the hypocrisy of upper-class Americans with delicious satirical accuracy, mocking the self-regard that comes with inherited wealth, self-help book culture and Gen Z social-justice self-righteousness, among other targets. But he also has great affection for the guests and staff of the hotel - each has to metaphorically walk over a bed of hot coals, but they emerge, shaken and a little clearer-eyed.

The White Lotus is available on HBO and HBO Go.

2. Listen: Top-notch comedy-horror podcast

Welcome To Night Vale is scripted, usually by creators Joseph Fink and Jeffrey Cranor, then read by voice actor Cecil Baldwin. PHOTO: WELCOME TO NIGHT VALE PODCAST PAGE

The pandemic-fuelled demand for podcasts has created a surge in supply. The problem is that most of them are low-effort, low-quality and forgettable clones of the wacky-guy or lone-interviewer morning show radio format.

In contrast, Welcome To Night Vale is scripted, usually by creators Joseph Fink and Jeffrey Cranor, then read by voice actor Cecil Baldwin, sometimes with appearances by guest actors.

This comedy-horror series, which was launched in 2012, also satirises news media and American small-town life. It has since built an adoring fan base who buy the books based on characters and snap up tickets to live shows affiliated with the podcast.

On a podcast slate crowded with celebrities interviewing other celebrities who have their own podcasts, Night Vale is a welcome, quality alternative. These are writers and voice actors with zero profile who have produced nine seasons of consistently entertaining work.

Welcome To Night Vale is available on major podcast platforms like Google, Apple and Spotify

3. Explore: Fresh alien invasion story

Chinese writer Liu Cixin. PHOTO: SWF

Mainstream science fiction has a problem. It has to do with how its main characters always seem to be Western men acting in typically heroic ways. Even if they were born in galaxies far, far away, lead characters tend to behave and think as if they were middle-class Ohioans. It has become boring.

Enter Chinese writer Liu Cixin, whose trilogy of books, Remembrance Of Earth's Past, fixes this point-of-view problem.

The first novel, The Three-Body Problem, was published in 2008, but when writer and translator Ken Liu's English version hit shelves in 2014, the books became a sensation globally, and for good reason. Its main characters - at least in the first book, which has a chronology close to ours - were shaped by China's history, beginning with the Cultural Revolution of the 1960s.

The alien invasion story that springs from that Chinese source feels fresh and thrilling, underlining the lesson that, in fiction, being as culturally specific as you can is the key to being understood around the world.

The trilogy is available on National Library Board apps as e-books and audiobooks.

4. Shelf Care: The weird, wonderful world of fungi in Entangled Life


It is natural to seek escape through fantasy, but there is also enchantment to be found in the real world.

British mycologist Sheldrake's introduction to the weird and wonderful world of fungi is nothing short of magical.

Read about slime moulds that can model motorway networks and map their way out of furniture store Ikea, white rot fungi that can grow on a diet of used diapers, and even the sex lives of truffles.

Gasp in horrified fascination at "zombie fungi", which infect ants, forcing them to climb up high, whereupon the fungus sprouts a stalk out of its host's head and showers spores down on unwitting ants below


5. Tar Pau Nation: Iconic chicken rice from old stalwart Boon Tong Kee

Half a chicken with rice and poached chinese spinach with gluten & garlic.ST PHOTO: WONG AH YOKE

With eateries coming up with all sorts of riffs on iconic local dishes for National Day, it is not surprising that I find myself craving chicken rice.

For me, this is a dish Singapore deserves to be celebrated for. Although similar versions can be found in many Asian countries, I feel the best is found here, honed to perfection by hawkers – with smooth and juicy poached chicken accompanied by aromatic rice cooked in chicken stock and a piquant, gingery chilli sauce.

Among those that provide islandwide delivery of chicken rice via foodpanda is Boon Tong Kee, a household name that has been synonymous with the dish since it started as a stall in Chinatown in 1979. 

It has eight outlets in various parts of the island, including in Balestier Road, East Coast Road and Sengkang. The delivery platform matches you to the nearest outlet, so the food can get to you without having to travel too far.