Picks of the Week: From poetry to peanut butter, here are things to catch up on before January ends

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Welcome back!

Whether it be back to classes or back to this column or back to your email, I thank you for taking the time to join me!

Happy Martin Luther King Jr. Day, Americans. What better way to spend the day than celebrating and supporting Black artists who continue to produce fantastic and intimate work about Black love? Barry Jenkins’ film, “If Beale Street Could Talk,” based on a novel by the same name by James Baldwin, will be playing at California Landmark Theatres Monday. If you look back to the song “Lullaby” by Tasha produced in 2017 (which I discovered just days ago), you’ll find a beautiful and tender celebration of radical softness and self care for Black women.

Mary Oliver, the Pulitzer Prize winning poet, passed away this past week. During her life, Oliver filled volumes of poetry books honoring nature, life and death. The thing I find most comforting about Oliver is that she has given all of her admirers such concrete directions on how to mourn her. Some of my favorite Oliver poems, especially during this time of mourning and celebration, are “Wild Geese,” “In Blackwater Woods” and “I Worried.” On Tuesday, go ahead and take a walk out in nature with Mary and some of her poems and tell her what “you plan to do with your one wild and precious life.”

SNL returned this weekend and as someone who binge watched the early Kristen Wiig and Bill Hader era SNL as a tween, I can comfortably say that SNL is not all that it once was. While last week’s episode was easily forgotten, the “Weekend Update” segment featured Pete Davidson and John Mulaney discussing their shared love for the movie “The Mule.” More than just funny and sweet, the segment is educational and this Wednesday is a perfect opportunity to check out it out. (I can say with some confidence that “The Mule” will never show up in another picks of the week during my tenure. Ever since seeing the trailer some months ago I asserted I would never in my life watch that movie. Any media about sad old people making back decisions is a big miss for me, but from this segment I learned that Clint Eastwood doesn’t just spend the whole movie sad, he also has two threesomes in it. Which, while it has in no way increased the amount I want to go see this movie, I am glad to know.)

In other news, Snail Mail is going to be performing this Thursday at the Fillmore in San Francisco. The last Snail Mail performance I remember in the Bay Area was at the much smaller Starline Social Club just months ago. Now, with their album “Lush” coming up 5th on Pitchfork’s Best Albums of 2018, be sure to catch them in concert while they are still playing smaller venues!

This week two Fyre Fest documentaries were released — “FYRE: The Greatest Party That Never Happened” on Netflix and “Fyre Fraud” on Hulu. For those who have forgotten, Fyre Festival was a “music festival” in 2017, where the extremely wealthy paid thousands of dollars for what amounted to bagged sandwiches and bare minimum accommodations. Both documentaries have been getting a ton of positive attention and since Hulu does not work in Ireland I would have to throw my recommendation behind “FYRE: The Greatest Party That Never Happened.” As you watch, I implore you to remember that no matter what happens to you in the upcoming semester, it is impossible for you to mess up as badly as these men did.

Saturday is going to be a day all about self-care and reconnecting with yourself after a week of classes. My Saturday recommendation is a peanut butter and jelly sandwich. Here in Ireland it is very difficult to locate appropriate peanut butter options, and that is why I recommend you take some time Saturday to unwind with a PB&J, the epitome of what is a taken for granted delight.

Finally, for my Sunday European recommendation, Hozier (known for his 2013 hit “Take Me to Church”) has finally announced he will be releasing a new album — Wasteland, Baby! will be coming out March 1st. Hozier is Irish, which is one of those things I always sort of knew but has been made abundantly clear since my flight over here, when I saw him on the cover of the in-flight magazine and on a poster in the airport. In conjunction with the album announcement, he released the single “Almost (Sweet Music)” earlier this month. It sounds a little like my favorite Hozier song “Jackie and Wilson,” but not too much — it still serves as an entirely new treasure.

I want to close this “Picks of the Week” with a mantra from Mary Oliver’s poem “Sometimes”:

“Instructions for living a life:

Pay attention.

Be astonished.

Tell about it.”

Till next time,


Kate Tinney writes the picks of the week newsletter. Contact her at [email protected]. Tweet her at @katetinney.