Picks of the Week: Puns, prizes and political activism to get you through the week

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Happy Monday, Berkeley.

Maybe you’re not so happy, though. Maybe the events of last week — Brett Kavanaugh’s confirmation to the Supreme Court, UC Berkeley’s abysmal equity index score and the disappearance of Washington Post columnist and Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi, for a start — have made you feel a sense of deep dissatisfaction in governments, both local and global. Maybe you feel as though it’s hard to have your voice be heard.

Well, the U.S. midterm elections are coming up quickly, and it’s your best chance to call for the change you want in this country. If you haven’t registered to vote yet, do so here — the deadline is Oct. 22. And even if you aren’t eligible to vote in the United States, there are still plenty of opportunities for activism, such as contacting your representative.

But first, it’s Indigenous Peoples’ Day today, which supports Native American communities and cultures. Whether you’re of Native heritage or you’re an ally, you could attend the annual Indigenous People Sunrise Ceremony on Alcatraz Island. This one-day, early-morning event commemorates the occupation of the island by “Indians of All Tribes” from 1969 to 1971.

If you won’t be out on the bay that early, you can still educate yourself through film. The award-winning documentary “Tribal Justice” follows two judges, Abby Abinanti and Claudette White, in their attempts to incorporate indigenous beliefs to form restorative justice systems. Or watch “Reel Injun” by Cree Canadian filmmaker Neil Diamond, which takes viewers across the United States and Canada to explore depictions of Native people in cinema.

And Tuesday, catch up on last week’s Nobel Prize winners — the awards this year cover everything from cancer therapy to tiny tools made of light. The governing body decided to postpone this year’s prize for literature in the wake of a scandal ranging from sexual assault to financial misconduct. But if you want to explore the work of a Nobel laureate, read Nadia Murad’s memoir “The Last Girl,” which details her early life in a Yazidi community in Iraq as well as her time as a captive of the Islamic State group. And listen to her Nobel Peace Prize co-winner, Denis Mukwege, discuss his work with sexual assault victims in the Democratic Republic of the Congo.

Then Wednesday, try to decompress with “Serenity: Past, Present, Future.” This visual art exhibition at UCSF’s National Center of Excellence in Women’s Health focuses on moments in time. On top of being engaging, the collection also aims to reduce anxiety and stress through artworks from five artists chosen by McKinley Art Solutions. The artists will be present for a reception from 5:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m.

On Thursday, embark on a quest to find the best kombucha in the Bay. While you’re in the car, plug in your aux cord and play some new releases. Twenty One Pilots came out with a new album last week — Trench directly carries on the tradition of 2015’s Blurryface. And Halsey’s “Without Me” offers plaintive lyrics against a perfectly average, synth-heavy backdrop. For a more upbeat choice, Anderson .Paak dropped the bubbly single “Tints,” which features Kendrick Lamar.

Or save the exploring for Friday. Drive up to Mount Tamalpais State Park in Marin County, and get to know the so-called birthplace of modern mountain biking. You can ride the 16-mile summit loop or the 38-mile Alpine Dam ride, or just walk the 0.75-mile Verna Dunshee Trail — no matter what you choose, you’ll be greeted with sweeping views of the entire Bay Area, from Mount Diablo to the Farallon Islands.

Then get dinner in San Francisco, where you can follow up a day in nature with a meal inspired by seasonal produce at Heirloom Café. Try the creamy corn soup and the salad with duck, figs and goat cheese, then round out the night with buttermilk panna cotta topped with caramelized oats.

After all that physical activity, spend the weekend immersed in books. Head to the library — maybe you’ll check out B.J. Novak’s hilarious short story collection “One More Thing: Stories and Other Stories” or maybe you’ll search for a copy of Nora Krug’s graphic novel “Belonging: A German Reckons with History and Home.” And while you’re there, stay a little longer for a library event. On Saturday, acclaimed mariachi group Mariachi Mexicanisimo will be playing a concert at the Central Library at 12:30 p.m., and spoken word poet Jair “The Literary Masturbator” will perform at the Claremont branch at 2 p.m.

Or explore San Francisco during its annual literary festival, Litquake. From noon to night both Saturday and Sunday, members of the literary community will discuss topics ranging from puns to publishing. The majority of the events are free — I’ll try to make it to David Harris’ talk on the California redwoods and these panels on storytelling and short stories, as well as a talk on zombies in nature. Or if sitting and listening takes its toll on you, stretch your legs with Beat Museum founder Jerry Cimino’s walking tour focusing on counterculture and the Beat movement. And if you’re willing to pay a little to cap off the weekend, check out the “Bay Area Pun-Off: Litquake Edition,” where for $15 at the door, you can watch wordplay wizards compete in a freestyle format.

While you’re waiting for the puns to be pitched, read Alex Jiménez’s column on gender and characters. She’s the the Daily Cal’s arts & entertainment columnist this semester, and she’ll be writing a series about what it means for an artist to also consume art.

And if you have any trail tips or Nobel notes, or anything else you want me to know, send an email: [email protected]. It’ll be far more exciting than being slapped with an octopus.

Until next time.

Contact Ketki Samel at [email protected]. Tweet her at @ketkisamel.