Picks of the Week: Puzzles, playlists and more to pass the time during dead week

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The Final Table

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Happy Monday, Berkeley.

Well, how about the Big Game? After all that excitement, it’s finally Reading, Review and Recitation Week, though you may still have class for the next couple of days. Whether it’s your first dead week or your last, fear not: There are still plenty of opportunities to bust out of your studying routine and get into the winter break spirit.

So spend Monday on the northwest side of campus. Get to the Li Ka Shing Center for Biomedical and Health Sciences early in the day, and stake your claim to one of the tall wooden benches in the lobby. While the squirrels frolicking right outside might be distracting, this is the perfect place to catch up on course captures amid natural light from the large windows. When you’ve had your fill of lectures, head Downtown for lunch — Veggie Grill offers filling, plant-based dishes, while Cancún pairs Mexican classics with a variety of fresh salsas.

Afterward, return to campus to buy yourself a nondenominational holiday tree from the Cal Forestry Club. The trees, which are sold in Mulford Hall as part of the club’s annual weeklong fundraiser, are harvested in the Sierra Nevada by campus students. Then, celebrate a full day of studying by putting on your favorite Christmas-themed playlist and decorating your new tree. Try to create a UC Berkeley-themed ornament, or focus your energy on handmade holiday gifts — either way, it’s sure to be a good time.

On Tuesday, hit up the Marian Koshland Bioscience, Natural Resources & Public Health Library in the Valley Life Sciences Building to crank out all the reading you didn’t do during the semester. This quiet, sparsely populated library is a great place to focus without distractions, and it even features a few Triceratops friends to cheer you on. At night, put all that new knowledge to good use with my favorite puzzle, the crossword. Whether your taste skews toward the New York Times or AARP, take this chance to test your brain — it’s good for you, I promise. If you’re up for a real challenge, you can even try to make your own with a crossword builder.

Wake up early Wednesday, because Free Speech Movement Café is busy all day, every day, especially during dead week. Despite this, it’s still the best spot on campus to write any papers you might have due, so grab a latte, snag a seat and start typing. Once you’re done, text five of your closest friends and see who’s free at 8 p.m. — it’s time to round up your trivia team. As long as you’re 21 years or older, head down to Triple Rock Brewing for two hours of trivia night, which features eight rounds of questions and prizes for the top three teams.

After that late night, sleep in Thursday. You could even stay in all day and work on your Quizlet flashcards at home, but I’d make the trip to the C.V. Starr East Asian Library for the spacious environment. While you’re typing out terms and definitions, put on some of last week’s best new albums. The 1975 dropped A Brief Inquiry into Online Relationships, an expansive piece of work that ranges from jazz ballads to a Siri-narrated spoken-word monologue. Earl Sweatshirt’s Some Rap Songs, in contrast, is exactly what you’d think: The 24-year-old rapper explores family and self in 15 short and sweet tracks, each under three minutes. And everyone’s favorite young Canadian star Alessia Cara expounds on maturity and adulthood in The Pains of Growing, with powerful ballads interspersed amid some over-processed pop tunes.

Finally, go hard Friday — hole up in a comfy chair in the windowless Kresge Engineering Library, and let the outside world pass you by as you cram in everything you’ll need for your finals. You’ll undoubtedly be worn out after that high-intensity studying, so relax at night with a true classic: Kraft macaroni & cheese. The recipe on the box is more than adequate, but feel free to add your favorite toppings — I’ll be folding in some black pepper, a tad of sour cream and plenty of grated cheddar. Set out your noodles and your favorite jigsaw puzzle, put Netflix’s new worldwide cooking show “The Final Table” on in the background and decompress from a full week of studying.

With all that done, treat yourself Saturday. Take BART down to Fremont and check out Pacific Commons. The outdoor shopping center has all your classic mall favorites, such as Nordstrom Rack and DSW, giving you plenty of opportunities for some classic retail therapy. For a mid-shopping snack, stop by Dog Haus, which serves heavily topped sausages and burgers on Hawaiian rolls.

Enjoy your time shopping, but make sure to get back to Berkeley before 5 p.m. so you can stop by “Knitting Hour” at the central branch of the Berkeley Public Library. The event, open to knitters of all skill levels, is a surefire way to both relax and produce a great holiday present.

Now, before you dive straight back into studying Sunday, cook yourself a full breakfast. If you have any pumpkin on hand, whip up these pancakes; otherwise, you could incorporate leftover vegetables into this breakfast hash. Either way, accompany your meal with egg-in-the-hole avocado toast, which combines two classics into one incredible sandwich.

Once you’re properly energized, head to the North Reading Room in Doe Library to review all the material you learned in the past week. Hit play on your favorite chill mood playlist — maybe coffeehouse acoustics or hypnotic vibes — and let these tunes carry you out of dead week.

The week after that is filled with finals, and good luck to all of you. But that Monday is also my birthday, so with that, a transition: It’s the end of the semester, and I’ll be taking a break from this weekly newsletter for a while. I might be back in the spring, or maybe it’ll be someone new, but either way, I’ve thoroughly enjoyed this semester of bringing you art shows, affordable trips and animal videos.

Before anyone gets too sentimental though, take a minute to look back at all the great art that’s been created this year — The Daily Californian’s arts & entertainment staff has compiled its annual Arts Awards, covering the best of 2018 in film, television and music. Read on to find out how Donald Glover (and his musical alter ego Childish Gambino) won three awards across two mediums, and debate the merits of top films such as “BlacKkKlansman” and “Beautiful Boy.”

Enjoy your winter breaks, and if you do or see anything particularly exciting, let us know: [email protected]. I’ll be as excited as this iguana eating salad (don’t worry, he’s fine).

Until next time.

Contact Ketki Samel at [email protected] .