Friday Five: Westworld, The 13th, Angel Olsen and More

First, the fun stuff: it was my sweetheart’s birthday this week and I got him a turntable to replace the broken one on our home! The record player — and a nice birthday dinner date at one of our favorite little farm-to-table gastropubs in the city — was a highlight for a week that felt a little hinky. You know how some weeks everything just kind of gets away from you? This was one of those, creating weird little logjams in my life. Sigh! Well, there’s always next week!

Also: I debuted a new work/gym bag that looks good for work but fits my workout stuff as well. #gamechanger

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Westworld/Insecure/Divorce. I know there is nothing cutting edge about liking HBO TV shows. But these Sunday night shows are particularly diverse and hit all the bases when it comes to storytelling: cerebral yet visceral sci-fi, funny relatable black- and female-focused comedy with some teeth, Cheever-esque white upper-middle-class dramedy. (I should also mention that it’s pretty cool that HBO’s flagship night features two shows led by an older woman and a woman of color — two very much neglected demographics in entertainment.) The weakest or most divisive of the bunch might be Divorce but I give it props because it made me remember that Sarah Jessica Parker used to be a well-regarded character actress before she played Carrie Bradshaw on The Show That Cannot Be Named. Plus, it’s nice to see a Hollywood star look her age (in the best way!), and not crazy Botoxed out.

I get more of a kick out of Insecure, because Issa Rae is funny, smart and a deft performer. Here’s the full first episode of ‘Insecure’ below:

But my favorite has to be Westworld, which kind of proves TV can out-cinema movies these days in terms of visual flair and intellectual ambition. Plus, any show that slips in a honky tonk version of Black Hole Sun gets about 100 bonus points in my book.

The 13th. Did I just diss movies? Yes I did, but this Netflix doc proved there are still compelling, vital stories being told in the feature-length format. Ava DuVernay directed this no-holds-barred examination of racism and the U.S. prison system, and the horrific injustice and greed of it all will hit you hard. Some docs are flashy brochures — flashy images about a subject that, when you think about it later, you realize it didn’t go deep. This is not that: The 13th goes deep and feels more like a well-researched book. Not a fun viewing, but an important one, nevertheless.

Angel Olsen. I’m late to the party but I finally streamed this on Amazon Prime and I love it. Some music critic types describe it like Lana Del Rey but country instead of 50s pop-meets-hip hop, but Olsen has her own thing going, really. If Lana can sound anodyne, Angel Olsen has a voice that transmits real emotion, not just atmosphere, and the songwriting is compact and memorable.

This frittata mini-muffin recipe is my jam. I’m trying to save money on lunch when I go to work, so I make a bunch of these at the beginning of the week and take a few with me everyday. They’re like a snack deluxe but pretty filling! This recipe is super simple and very customizable — you’ll need to play with seasonings, veggies and the like to really make it sing, but this is a nice template and a worthy addition for any serious meal planning devotee’s arsenal.

This Washington Post article about a white supremacist’s transformation and change is a legit phenomenal read.

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