What to read…
Kim Suhr has already made quite an impact on the Wisconsin writing scene, directing Red Oak Writing and serving on the board of the Wisconsin Writer’s Association. She has now added to her legacy by releasing her first collection of fictional stories, which are all set in the Midwest and capture the complexity of the lives of people here. In one tale, a man opens a paintball range for Jesus, and in another, deer hunting takes center stage. Nothing to Lose is perfect for days when the cold makes it so that all we’ll see of the Midwest is our homes and apartments.
If you get through the list and still don’t want to leave the house, last year’s recommendations are still good!
The Gift of Our Wounds: A Sikh and a Former White Supremacist Find Forgiveness After Hate by Arno Michaelis and Pardeep Singh Kaleka
For a deeply impactful read, turn to The Gift of Our Wounds, which details how Milwaukee native Kaleka, whose father was killed in the 2012 Sikh temple shooting, became friends with Michaelis, a former skinhead who lead a major racist organization. After the shooting, Kaleka reached out to Michaelis to attempt to understand the hate that killed his father and devastated his family. The two then decided to form an organization called Serve 2 Unite, which works to foster inclusivity in local communities. Released earlier this year, the book is a powerful reminder of the strength of forgiveness but also the nature of hate.
If you end up feeling like leaving your home, Kaleka and Michaelis are also speaking at an event moderated by former WPR host Kathleen Dunn at Boswell Book Company on Jan. 8 at 7 p.m.
What to watch…
It’s rare for a film to please critics as much as the box office, but Black Panther did just that, wowing viewers with its cinematography, vivid characterization and compelling villain. If you were one of the unlucky few who missed it in theaters, Netflix recently released it, so settle in for a night of CGI action and astute social commentary.
The Netflix gods have been generous this winter, releasing a holiday version of the hugely popular baking competition that had previously only been seen by British audiences on cable. Watch as favorites from the show’s early seasons return to the tent to compete to be crowned Christmas Star Baker or Festive Star Baker. If you’re like me and often too unskilled to make actual Christmas delicacies, this is a good alternative.
Cheesy Christmas Movies
You do not need to go far on Netflix, Hulu or Hallmark to find a slew of terrible (yet somehow pleasing) Christmas romances. Highlights include Netflix’s new A Christmas Prince: The Royal Wedding, A Cinderella Christmas (available on Hulu) and Hallmark’s Mingle All the Way. You won’t get quality filmmaking, per se, from any of these films, but that’s not what you’re watching them for.
What to listen to…
Amanda Huff is an artist to watch, and her new album Hemiptera shows why. Her enchanting lyrics and emotive melodies are gorgeous, earning her five nominations for the 2018 Radio Milwaukee Music Awards. Her single “Gravetalking” is also a must-listen.
Milwaukee favorite Abby Jeanne’s single, “Be in the Sun” is a light in the darkness of the cold, cold Wisconsin winter. Her husky voice is accompanied by an infectious melody on this track, which has an equally amazing music video.
New Age Narcissism member Lex Allen released his debut solo album this year, and it’s more than worth a listen. “Never Look Back” is a highlight, a catchy anthem of how Allen overcame many hardships.
Podcast fans: look local. The Disclaimer by WMSE has episode upon episode of all things Milwaukee, with new ones nearly every Wednesday. To get started, check out this recent episode about the new hunt for a Milwaukee flag.
What to do…
Learn to Knit
Knitting is the perfect winter activity, leaving you with scarves and hats that help shield you from the harsh cold. There are hundreds of YouTube videos and step-by-step articles that make it easy to learn, and once you’re comfortable enough, you can knit while watching Netflix, making a lazy activity productive.
Make Your Own Cocktails
When it’s too cold to go to the bar, Milwaukeeans have to resort to a little DIY to get their booze fix. Here are some tips for setting up a next-level home bar. There’s always the old fashioned (Wisconsin’s unofficial cocktail), but if you’re like me and the old fashioned isn’t your favorite (I know, that’s a sin), learn how to make other classics like a Tom & Jerry, Hot Toddy or an Irish Coffee.
Take a Crack At Painting
Bob Ross is famous for a reason: He made painting accessible to the masses. Set up an easel, grab some acrylics, and try to paint a landscape using one of his videos. And once you’re ready to leave the house, sign up for the one of the Milwaukee Recreation Department’s painting classes. I particularly recommend Introduction to Acrylics, which is taught by Fred Bell.