Fall is my favorite season. Fall is the season for tailgating, Thanksgiving and my birthday. Who can ask for anything more? As we enter the thick of autumn, and COVID-19 cases are on the rise, many of us are nesting and looking for ways to stay occupied around the house. From now through the end of December, I’m reviving the weekly recommendations list with some of the programs and products that will be sure to make this fall and winter special. Since Thanksgiving was yesterday, I must say that what I am most grateful for this year are health, family, friends and financial stability. These things can slip away in an instant, so I’m, cherishing them all.
- TO WATCH: As an arts critic, I see a lot of stuff and a lot of it I don’t necessarily want to see again, not because it’s bad, but simply because it doesn’t stick. However, Radha Blank’s film The Forty-Year-Old Version is officially on my repeat list. It’s funny, endearing, hopeful and so relatable. In it, flailing playwright and high school theater teacher Radha Blank is trying to figure out how her dreams got so far from her, while also grieving her mother’s recent death. She finds herself going back to her hip hop roots and a trip to a recording studio in Brooklyn changes her life. I won’t say anymore about it, but this movie is a coming-of-age story for late bloomers and we need more of that for those of us who take a little longer to become ourselves. An added bonus is that Sundance Institute will be honoring Blank with the 2020 Vanguard Award, which is given annually to an artist whose work highlights the art of storytelling and creative independence. It’s never too late. Never.
- TO EAT: Fall is in the air and it’s time for apple everything. I know we retired Aunt Jemima, but her semi-homemade apple cinnamon muffins really are yummy. I put less oil in mine and add a little extra sugar to keep them smoother and fluffier, but the taste is 100% still there.
- TO DRINK: The game done changed and it is because of the Apple Cider Moscow Mule. I make mine with Trader Joe’s apple cider, ginger beer, fresh shaved ginger, lime juice and Ketel One Vodka. Sprinkle it with some cinnamon and add a slice of a Granny Smith apple– thank me later.
- TO PLAY: Vivian Green has been one of my favorite artists since I was 11 years old. Her first hit “Emotional Rollercoaster” introduced me to her jazzy, melodic voice. Her latest album, Love Absolute, is red wine, is Cognac, is Champagne– it’s everything! My favorite tracks are “Light Up,” “Where You Are” and a beautiful remake of “Harlem Blues” from the 1990 Spike Lee film Mo’ Better Blues.
- TO READ: I keep my Audible library full and this time in the house has been great for discovering new books to listen to. The latest book I’ve added to my library is a collection of short stories, The Office of Historical Corrections by Danielle Evans. I discovered Evans when I read her debut collection of short stories, Before You Suffocate Your Own Fool Self in 2012. I was impressed by the freshness and theatricality in Evans’ writing style. She reminded me of a little Junot Diaz meets a Sara Dessen novel, if that’s even a thing. I’m excited to lose myself in this new collection!
- *BONUS* TO SHOP: Is it just me, or has anyone else been sitting around the house looking at their bare walls and wishing that art would appear? This fall, Framebridge has created a special shop featuring the work of Black women artists. Less than 5 percent of art in all American museums is by Black women artists, so this is a big first step in getting talented Black artists the recognition they deserve. Though the official Framebridge sell is over, check out the Black Artists Print Shop to see the work of some artists who can add some color to your walls. The image at the top of this post is a painting by Synthia St. James, whose work has appeared on book jackets and hangs in homes around the world.