It’s October, and here in Michigan, that means it’s officially apple cider and cinnamon donuts season! I was unfamiliar with this tradition before moving here, but I am 100% a convert. You drive out to a cider mill, grab some fresh cider and hot donuts, wander around a corn maze, pick some pumpkins and maybe pet some farm animals.
The cider is non-alcoholic so it’s perfect for the kids or anyone not ready to start drinking at 10 a.m. But if you’re like Lovey and get confused as to why your cider is not hard, you can always bring a flask of bourbon if you’re down for some day drinking.
Earlier this year, I asked readers to tell me what defines the Midwest, and Friend of Bar\Heart Suma sent in this love letter to cider mills:
Oh, Angela. On your way out as the Chancellor of Germany, you went to a bird park and just wanted to feed some Australian lorises. But then they got feisty. And now you’re a meme.
Thanks so much for your book recommendations last week. Those were so helpful. This week, I’m reading Wildland from New Yorker staff writer Evan Osnos. He comes home from living overseas as a foreign correspondent and is surprised by what he finds. His book explores how the country has become so divided — and angry — using the metaphor of the wildfire. There was so much “underbrush” languishing in our society as fuel, that when something sparks, it’s inferno time. So far, so great. I can’t wait to finish and see if I can get Evan for an interview!
I’m not making that up. The director of the Astrophysics and Astrochemistry Lab at NASA Ames Research Center says so.
Prestige TV season is upon us. In the coming days and weeks we get the return of Succession and Yellowstone (faves!) and the new Sopranos prequel, The Many Saints of Newark. And the new chapter of the Spanish caper show Money Heist just dropped on Netflix, as did Season 6 of Queen Sugar. (Squee!) Plus, I still need to start Ted Lasso and Reservation Dogs.
I have pretty voracious viewing habits. I love to watch my "stories," as my friend Cris says. I’m interested in all aspects of storytelling and narrative. Sometimes that means cotton candy FBoy Island for a distraction; other times I’m up for a serial doc like High on the Hog. But I rarely like comedies — and never sitcoms.
What my favorite shows have in common is the search for belonging and community. They ask, in some way, who are we and where do we call home?
So this week, I give you a list of some of my favorite shows, in no particular order:
Halt and Catch Fire. Set in Austin at the dawn of the PC revolution. The first season is the classic tale of dudes inventing something. But then a funny thing happens: The remaining seasons center the two female leads and it becomes a show about belonging in a male dominated industry and how you build in person and online community.
Friday Night Lights. This is ostensibly a story about high school football in West Texas. But it isn't really about football at all. It’s about race and class and what happens when you do — and, especially, don’t — get your dreams.
Veronica Mars. Kristen Bell as a wise-cracking teenage private eye? What could be better? It was CW TV and smarter and wiser than it should have been considering its platform. It is also constantly aware of the issues of class and race in the affluent seaside town of Neptune.
Firefly. Captain Mal forever! My youngest niece, Kaylie, is even named for the badass mechanic on this show. This is what happens when you put a Western in space; here’s even a roundup involving a Firefly class ship. But it’s not silly. It’s actually the story of nine people living on the edges of society and what it takes to get by.
Battlestar Galactica. Always be nice to the robots so they don't come back to kill you. That’s the theme of this space odyssey. But in reality, it’s about how you rebuild a society. Plus Katee Sackhoff is perfection as the brash fighter pilot Starbuck. So say we all.
Treme. Most people would put David Simon’s The Wire in their vaunted top 10. I’m a bigger fan of his Treme, which offers us interweaving storylines of five families in NOLA as they recover from Hurricane Katrina. The Wire gave us Stringer Bell and Omar Little — two of the most dynamic characters on TV — but Treme gives us more heart. And Steve Earle’s “This City” for the theme song guts me every time.
I’m Dying Up Here. This series was short-lived and centered around the nascent comedy scene in LA in the 1970s. The ensemble cast performs at Goldie's nightclub, which is ruled with a heavy hand by Goldie, played by the indomitable Melissa Leo. But it's no comedy, though the drama does bring us some dark humor. What it really looks at is what binds people together.
Some of my other *big* faves: (I ran out of time to write blurbs. Sorry. 😂)
It’s my favorite time of the year… soup season! I love it when I get to start spending Sundays simmering soups and stews. But then after day three of eating the same thing, I’m so over it.
But I haven’t wanted to just freeze a giant batch because it takes forever to defrost and takes up so much space. That changed when a friend pointed me to Souper Cubes that allow you freeze things in half-cup, 1 cup and 2 cup portions. I’ve just ordered some and will report back!
Do you have some good life hacks? Perfect soup recipes? Send them my way to share with the group. Either email firstname.lastname@example.org or post it in the comments below.
Hank is stepping aside this week in favor of fat bears! Fat Bear Week runs from September 29 to October 5 and celebrates the bears of Katmai National Park, Alaska. Each day offers a head-to-head challenge that allows you to vote on which bear is the most rotund. You can also watch the bears on a live webcam!
Vote! Vote! Vote!
Ok. That's it for this week, friends. I'll see you next Friday for Cocktail Hour!