Picks of the Week: Beat the back-to-school blues with blockbusters, baby birds and beyond

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Happy Monday, Berkeley.

I don’t know about you, but I’m excited for UC Berkeley classes to start back up this Wednesday. You can call me a nerd, but there’s nothing better than syllabus day, when notebooks are fresh and classrooms smell like hope, rather than stress sweat.

But first, there are two days left of summer break, and I plan to make the most of them.

Maybe you heard that MoviePass recently cut down on its offerings — participants now only get three movies a month, instead of one a day. Despite this, Monday sounds like a good day to hit the theaters and watch one of those summer blockbusters you just never got around to seeing.

Landmark’s Shattuck Cinemas, just around the corner from Berkeley High School, seems like the right place to catch a teen-centered flick — try “The Miseducation of Cameron Post,” or maybe “Eighth Grade.” Or head to UA Berkeley 7 for the latest popular releases, such as “Mamma Mia: Here We Go Again!” or “Crazy Rich Asians.”

And if you want to try something a little more old-school, check out Oakland’s Grand Lake Theater. This 92-year-old movie palace is the perfect setting to watch the Oakland-centric “Sorry to Bother You” and “Blindspotting.”

Whether Tuesday is your last day of summer or not, take some time to do what you like best. Maybe that means waking up early for a sunrise hike at Tilden Regional Park, or maybe it means spending the day gaming, with your laptop and a Steam gift card.

Whatever it is, get ready to head out by 7 p.m. — you want to give yourself plenty of time to get to Coit Tower before the sun sets. Sure, it’s not an ideal spot, considering all the trees around the base, not to mention the fact that the tower is on the northeast side of the city rather than the west. But really, sunsets in San Francisco are rarely ideal, with the fog, the clouds, the rain and the chill. You’ll have a perfectly fine view of the Bay and the cities across it, which is what we’re really here for: perspective. Take some time to look out at the view, and remember that everything in the coming months will turn out OK — even changing your plans or being rejected.

Then walk over to Stella Pastry & Café for chocolate-chip cannoli before getting a late dinner at Uva Enoteca in the Lower Haight neighborhood. Try the orecchiette with housemade sausage, then make a version of it yourself at home over the weekend — I rather like this recipe.

Now, Wednesday will be hectic for most — after a summer away, attending classes again can be a rough adjustment. Don’t push yourself too hard trying to find something fun to do; just take a few minutes to lose yourself in a new song. If I’m feeling a little melancholy, I might choose “Lonesome Love” off Mitski’s Be the Cowboy. Or maybe the right soundtrack will be “Successful” from Ariana Grande’s Sweetener, for that kick of confidence before heading to campus. And don’t miss listening to Bastille and Marshmello’s collaborative single “Happier.”

Let these summer hits propel you through the day, right into the next. After the excitement of the first day of class, Thursday will be a back-to-school kind of day. Go get the notebooks and textbooks you need, and stock up on your favorite office supplies — personally, I love those 12-packs of multicolored ballpoint pens for taking notes. And pick up a journal: maybe a composition notebook, maybe something fancier. There’s no better day to start bullet journaling.

Friday morning, I’ll be going to my class on animal behavior. If you happen to be as interested in social behavior or behavioral responses as my professors are, then you should check out the 9:30 a.m. bird walk at the UC Botanical Garden. Chris Carmichael, a former associate director of collections and horticulture at the garden, will lead visitors through the space, with chances to see both newly hatched fledglings and visiting species such as warblers or orioles. Tickets cost $20, but they include admission to the garden.

After a few days of hanging around campus, head back across the Bay Bridge to Treasure Island for Saturday’s TreasureFest, which markets itself as “Nor-Cal’s largest monthly festival.” A $5 ticket will let you experience a variety of food, music and entertainment, along with more than 400 flea-market-style vendors. Once you’ve shopped and eaten to your heart’s content, get back on the bridge and drive over to Washington Square for Film Night in the Park. Sit back in the grass and watch “Lady Bird” for free. While you’re driving back, you’ll get a great view of the lights on the Bay Bridge against the darkness of the bay.

On Sunday, try something you’ve never done before. I, for one, will be going to a play: “Kiss,” as presented by Shotgun Players. Written by Guillermo Calderón, the show centers on a group of actors who perform a script set in Syria — but apparently, everything is not as it seems. From Aug. 23-29, tickets will be “pay what you can,” so if it sounds interesting, head over before the prices go up.

And finally, I’ll give you something to read during your break between classes (thank God for Berkeley time). Justice delos Santos wrote a feature on the local rapper Azure — you might recognize “Let Me Show You,” which Azure released with Kero One on their 2017 album Kero & Azure. Find out how being a DJ has influenced Azure’s time behind the mic, as well as what counterculture means to him.

And if you like the story, or if you have any other comments, questions or concerns, please drop me a note: [email protected]. I’ll snag unread emails in my inbox like a young David Attenborough going after a python.

Until next time.

Contact Ketki Samel at [email protected] and follow her on Twitter at @ketkisamel.