The Best Things to Try This Week, According to Our Editors: April 12

There’s a new Milwaukee mural, a second season of “The Circle” and more this week in Milwaukee.

1. Check Out Milwaukee’s New Mural


I love outdoor art. So I can’t wait to check out the new mural by Milwaukee artist Fred Kaems that went up at 215 W. Florida St. in the last month. It’s bold and geometric and conveniently located near the hustle and bustle of South Second Street.

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2. Watch for the MKE Skyline in “The Circle”


For lovers of reality TV and the Milwaukee skyline alike, there is a new season of “The Circle” coming out on Netflix (new episodes released every Wednesday). The show isolates contestants in a one-bedroom apartment and allows them to only interact through a social media platform called “The Circle.” Some contestants choose to come in as their authentic selves, and others play a catfish character. This show caught my attention in 2020 when I learned that they use video of Milwaukee in their cut shots. I’ve been addicted ever since. 

3. Post-Vaccine Banh Mi From Xankia


I haven’t been Downtown as much as I’d like in the past, ohh, 13 months, so I try to hit highlights I miss when I do go. After my midday vaccine at the Wisconsin Center (Pfizer No. 2 – party hat emoji!), I made sure to swing by Xankia (222 W. Wells St.) for what will surely be my best lunch of the month. A great banh mi is a kaleidoscope of complementary flavors and textures that challenges the notion that meat needs to be the centerpiece of a sandwich, and Xankia’s House Special is an exceptional one. Bread that’s crusty but also soft and chewy, fresh crunch via pickles and carrots, the bright tang of pickled daikon a little zip from the jalapeños and the pork umami, more of an accent than the main course. Get one after you get your shot! (And get your shot!)

4. Read A Swim in a Pond in the Rain by George Saunders


This one’s for all your English majors out there. We may not have good salaries or marketable skills, but we sure as hell know how to enjoy a book. Saunders, the king of the short story and author, most recently, of the phenomenal novel Lincoln in the Bardo, just released this new work of non-fiction A Swim in a Pond in the Rain. It’s a textual version of his MFA class at Syracuse, where his students read the short stories of Chekhov, Gogol, Turgenev and Tolstoy. This book takes seven of those stories, re-prints them, and then follows each with two chapters of insights from Saunders into what makes them masterpieces. It’s an absolute gem – a distilled version of a top-level literary analysis class.

5. Catch Up on “The Handmaid’s Tale”


In 1985 Margaret Atwood penned the dystopian novel, The Handmaid’s Tale, about women forced to become child-bearing slaves. I think sometime in the 1990s, I started the novel and didn’t get very far – too dark. I’d heard about the critically acclaimed TV version of it, currently showing on and decided to tiptoe into the first season (there are three, with a fourth season set to debut April 28). Wow; intense! I’m only two episodes in, but I understand what all the hubhub is about. I can’t wait to binge more of this season.