The Echo Recommends – September 2021


Aarti Gupta

The Echo has returned with their monthly column. New staff, new recommendations.

Students have returned to Neuqua Valley and so has the staff of The Echo! This year, we’re back with new staff members and new recommendations to boost your mood as school inevitably crushes it. Whether you’re stressed, bored out of your mind or just need something to do outside of school hours, The Echo’s got you covered with some of our current relaxing favorites. 


Jason Verdin – “Bo Burnham’s: Inside”

Trigger Warning – this recommendation is about a film that discusses topics concerning depression and suicide.


Ever feel like laughing, crying, singing and questioning the purpose of the internet (and life) all within the timespan of an hour and a half? Then look no further than  “Bo Burnham’s: Inside.” In his return from a 5 year comedy special hiatus, Bo Burnham explores several areas of life with a unique, sometimes comedic, spin. The special begins light hearted and funny, but as it continues, Burnham dives into serious questions about the pandemic, isolation and depression, all while producing, writing, singing, playing instruments and editing this special by himself inside of his home. It is visually incredible to see what someone is able to produce inside of their own home with a massive amount of lights, projectors and some cameras. The songs are catchy, witty and very well produced. Some of my favorite numbers are “Content,” “Healing the World with Comedy,” “All Eyes on Me” and “Welcome to the Internet.”


Aarti Gupta – “Chuck”

It’s not easy keeping your friend’s secrets—much less the secrets of every intelligence agency in the United States. Chuck Bartowski, however, has to if he wants to live. After his ex-best friend surprises him on his birthday with the gift of the century—an upload of a government database that overwrites his brain—Chuck becomes the first Human Intersect and consequently the most important government asset. The pros? He’s under constant government surveillance, has an incredibly beautiful handler and gets to secretly tag along on spy missions. The cons? He’s under constant government surveillance, has an incredibly beautiful handler and gets to secretly tag along on spy missions. It probably doesn’t help that he has to lie to everyone he loves about being hunted by international terrorists. Follow along Chuck as he hatches his own mission to be a nice guy by day and hopefully be that same good dude at night, and I swear you’ll let out a little chuckle each episode.


Sachin Fong – Go to a football game

Football games, whether high school, college or professional, are super fun to attend, and there is no other fan base like that in America. Go grab a couple snacks, carpool with a bunch of friends and get absolutely pumped at a football game. Make sure you follow along with the game and make sure you don’t switch sides halfway through the game *cough cough* bandwagon. 


Ben LeGrand – Chicago summer events

Go to a baseball game or any summer event in Chicago. Although the Cubs suck now, Wrigley Field has one of the best atmospheres in the league. As much as this pains me to say, the White Sox are good. Checking out one of the best teams in the league is an experience not many people get to see. Chicago’s summer events are unmatched, and it was a great time visiting with my friends this summer. You can find a full list of events to visit here.


Maya Stone – Crumbl Cookies 

Yes, technically during summer it’s all about keeping up the perfect “summer body,” but a few (massive) cookies can’t hurt! Crumbl Cookies is a nationwide cookie chain that produces new flavors of cookies each week but always makes sure to have their famous chocolate chip cookies up for grabs. Personally, I think the Chilled Lime Sugar cookie is their ABSOLUTE BEST one, but I have heard that the Cornbread is a fan favorite. Don’t just take my word for it; go in and try them! 


Peter Wujek – “SINNER GET READY”

I have to recommend “SINNER GET READY” by Lingua Ignota. This experimental album features harrowing chanting and singing with religious undertones. Ignota builds the album with piano, banjo, organ and cello to create the exact vibe she desires. It is critical of religion, commenting on the vindictive nature of God and the hypocritical nature of televangelists such as Jimmy Swaggart, who is sampled on the track “THE SACRED LINAMENT OF JUDGEMENT.” The album is hauntingly beautiful and masterfully produced. My favorite song would probably be “THE SOLITARY BRETHREN OF EPHRATA,” complete with beautiful melodies, not unlike a hymn from Mass. It’s not a ‘fun’ album to listen to, but you will be wowed by Ignota’s ideas and dedication.


Abby Apeland – Google’s Doodle Champion Island Game

In celebration of the 2021 Tokyo Olympics, Google partnered with Studio 4 to create a fun and very interactive game. In my opinion, this new Doodle Champion Island game is the best little interactive game google has created. It is a highly developed game with a lot of components in it and mini games that will guarantee to keep you entertained and engaged. If you ever need a little break from schoolwork or want to participate in your own mini Olympics as a cat, open an empty tab and dive into the world of Champion Island! 


Jason Appel – Writing

I love to write because it is a great way to destress and just think through things that have happened in your day. Writing just opens your mind and clears your head for things that are bothering you, but writing is not the only coping skill out there: it’s just one I highly recommend.  


Jaclyn Bobbe – “Then She Was Gone”

“Then She Was Gone” is a gripping, psychological thriller novel written by Lisa Jewell which is about the disappearance of a fifteen year old girl named Ellie Mack. The book is mostly in the perspective of Ellie’s mother, Laurel Mack, who doesn’t believe that her daughter ran away. As the book goes on, more twists and secrets are revealed. I recommend this book to people who enjoy reading mystery and thriller novels. 


Logan Brown –”Trailer Park Boys”

Showcase’s mockumentary “Trailer Park Boys”  kicks off with two lifelong friends, Ricky and Julian, being released from a Canadian jail after an 18-month sentence. It follows the pair on their failed journey to get clean, as they cheat and scam their way through their new lives as free men. This show has some pretty wild story arcs and is a great show to toss on when you don’t want to think too hard about anything in particular. You can find all 12 seasons of “Trailer Park Boys,” as well as several spin offs, on Netflix.


Noah Burrell – Art

Try getting into art or coloring. Over the last year, getting into art and photography has brought me tons of happiness, and if you are stressed over school or just bored, it’s an amazing alternative to just scrolling through TikTok. There are a plethora of great coloring books as well as free hand drawing options. 


Viraj Desai – “Future Nostalgia” by Dua Lipa 

“Future Nostalgia”  is personally my favorite album by any singer. Dua Lipa is definitely one of my favorite singers of all time, and this album is a huge reason for that. There is not one song on this album that I don’t like or I find boring. My personal favorite songs on this album are “Levitating” (which you have probably heard before), “Break My Heart” and “Love Again.” All of these songs are really upbeat, and even have the power to lift your mood if you’re stressed. You also cannot resist dancing and singing along when the songs play. Listen to this album, and hopefully it will lift your mood!


Olivia Durcan – “D-2”

“D-2” is the second mixtape created by Agust D, also known as SUGA of BTS. Each and every one of the songs include brilliant lyricism talking about criticism from society, personal growth and experiences of being in the spotlight for a long time. With flawless rap skills, the featured track, “Daechwita,” explores Agust D’s hard work and determination to finally be able to do what he loves and become recognized for it. Personally, my favorite songs from the track are “Moonlight,” “Strange” and “People.” The album also features collaborations from RM of BTS, NiiHWA and Kim Jong Won. 


Mahika Gupta – “Haikyuu”

“Haikyuu!,” a riveting show about volleyball released in 2014, is one of my absolute favorite shows. Though I binged it at the beginning of quarantine, it’s still one of the top things I’d recommend to watch if you’re bored or have spare time. It starts with the background of the main character, who first comes across volleyball through a TV screen in passing at a market, and the show is about his journey through his passion. His friends and teammates, all side characters that the audience can’t help but hyper-fixate on, support and grow with him throughout the show, and it’s honestly really entertaining. Every season is just as amazing as the last, you won’t regret it!


Lily Ha – “Loki”

Disney+’s most recent Marvel series, “Loki” is a great show to binge. With its final episode released on July 14, 2021, and each of the six episodes falling under an hour, the show is a must watch for any Marvel fan. The story centers around Loki and begins with him using the Tesseract to escape during the events of “Avengers: Endgame.” The series contains a fast-paced plot, with new characters joining the Marvel Cinematic Universe. “Loki” is already confirmed for a second season, which so many are already anticipating.


Adam Hristov – Fishing

Fishing is a real test of patience and skill. Some people look at fishing as gross and hurtful to the animal, but once you get past the fear of touching the fish, you should be just fine. It is such a rewarding feeling when you catch a fish because you know everything you did, your bait and your technique had to be spot on. 


Lucas Lombana Arias – Biking

Find some friends and ride your bikes to the nearest forest preserve and explore. You can go through side paths or deer trails, usually they lead to a very pretty view. I recommend Knoch Knolls and Greene Valley forest preserve. You can find scenic spots and good views, a rarity in the Chicago Suburbs.


Udhay Nallapati – “Freudian” by Daniel Caesar

With stress taking over and some sleep deprivation kicking in, Daniel Caesar’s debut album “Freudian” will seem like a breath of fresh air. With calming beats, stripped-and-reinvented instrumentals and almost remorseful vocals, Caesar really traps his listeners into loop after loop of remarkable songs such as “Get You” (my personal favorite), “Best Part” and “Take Me Away.” Along with Caesar’s own brilliant vocals, his choice of features—Kali Uchis & H.E.R.—only elevates the artistic value of the piece.


Sanchali Pandey – Baking

As school has started rolling and homework and tests are piling up, there is nothing better to do than to channel your worries into a craft such as baking. Since baking requires such scientific precision that a single screw-up could ruin your entire end result, you are forced to live in the present and forget your qualms about the future. As you bake and smell the varying, comforting smells of flavors such as vanilla and cinnamon, your mind instantly reverts to happier times and reminds you that whatever stress you are currently experiencing will eventually go away. The end result of all the hard work put into baking simply contributes to the state of peace we experience as we bake since it gives us something worthy to strive for, which we often find lacking in our day-to-day lives. 


Jake Panek – Alvin Zhou

Out of the many gems that YouTube randomly throws into my recommended feed, Alvin Zhou’s channel is one of the best. His channel revolves around food that he makes, but what sets him apart from other cooking channels is… well, everything. Just from the titles of the mere nine videos that he’s uploaded over the course of the past year—“150-Hour Chocolate Cake,” “48-Hour Chocolate Chip Cookies” and “72-Hour Beef Wellington” to name a few—it’s clear that he puts an unparalleled amount of effort into his work, and looking at the mouth-watering thumbnails, it’s apparent that it pays off. But it’s not just the food that he makes that sets his videos apart; his videos are some of the most technically impressive I’ve ever seen on the platform. The lo-fi music and sound design of his videos is aural bliss, and if YouTube videos could get nominated for Oscars, all of his would be contenders for Best Cinematography and Editing. He’s the epitome of quality over quantity in every way, and he deserves so much more than 1.07 million subscribers.


Ingrid Reginato – Growing an avocado from the seed

The slowest yet most rewarding process ever is watching your avocado seed grow into a little tree. If you need some extra greenery in your house, consider planting an avocado tree (but don’t expect it to yield actual avocados). First, peel the avocado seed, wet a paper towel and wrap it around the seed, stick it in a ziploc bag until the seed grows little roots, and then put it in a vase of water. Switch the water once a week, and in a few months, you should have a little avocado tree. Growing an avocado plant is very cheap, and it’s really fun to keep track of the plant’s growth.


Sabrina Sabatin – Renaissance Faire

My favorite summer activity would have to be taking a trip down to the Bristol Renaissance Faire, located between the border of Illinois and Wisconsin. Not only can you visit there to enjoy wonderful shows, marvelous food, collections of handcrafted merchandise, rides and games, but it is also an experience in itself to dress up and feel as though you have stepped back in time. The Bristol Renaissance Faire is definitely the place where “Fantasy Rules!”


Mahima Shankar – “Friends”

My favorite TV show and pastime is “Friends,” and this summer was my second time rewatching the show with my family. The characters I most relate to are in this show, including the roles “Rachel Greene” and “Chandler Bing” who both radiate their own personality influencing mine as well. I often think about the odd and spontaneous storylines, and this persuades me to even live in an apartment with five other friends! This is a great way to pass time and just watch a show mindlessly with silly stories. 


Ryder Stejskal – Stack some rocks 

Find a place by some water with a bunch of rocks. Just stack ‘em. Don’t listen to music while you do this, and do it alone, too. With friends is fine, but doing it alone gets you the fullest experience. Go for a walk too, or bike there, unless you have your own special water/rocks spot already. Stack some rocks.


Amerie Zaininger – Daz Games

I’d recommend a YouTube channel known as Daz Games that always seems to make me laugh somehow when I’m down. The games played are typically horror, so if you don’t like that sort of thing, then you could check out his reaction videos or some of the non-horror game playthroughs he has. Although his commentary and reactions are what some might think a bit exaggerated, they are what I find hilarious. Those of you who may watch Vine compilations may recognize him as he used to be on there before Vine died. So if you’re intrigued as to what he does now, go check him out!