LISTEN: Haim – Women in Music Pt. III
Last summer, there was a two week stretch when Haim’s Summer Girl, an early single from their new album Women in Music Pt. III, was all I would listen to. It was on in my car, on when I was cooking, on when I was doing laundry, on when I was in the shower, on when I was playing tug of war with the dog — it was just that good. The album finally came out last week — and every song on it is just as flat-out fantastic as Summer Girl. Channeling everyone from Lou Reed to Fleetwood Mac to Clap Your Hands Say Yeah, this is thoughtful, sunny, California pop-rock at its very best. The perfect soundtrack to a socially distant summer morning jog or to an afternoon barbecuing with the family.
PLAY: Divinity: Original Sin 2
Do you like setting things on fire? What about blowing things up? Or electrifying bad guys? If so: this might be the RPG for you. Divinity: Original Sin 2 is a top-down roleplaying game in the vein of Baldur’s Gate or Planescape: Torment, in which you control a band of four characters on a quest to save the world from monstrous “voidwoken.” What sets Original Sin 2 apart is its modular combat: in Original Sin 2, your characters can combine their talents to create crazy and fun ways of killing da bad guys. You can have your water mage cast rain — and then electrify it. You can have your geomancer throw down some oil — then have your archer light it on fire with a flaming arrow. You can even turn bad guys into chickens. Featuring fantastically balanced, dynamic, turned-based gameplay and smart, funny writing in a genre that sometimes relies too heavily on cliches, this is my desert-island game, one that I have played on-and-off for years and still find thrilling and fun. Currently on sale on PC, but also available on PS4, Xbox One, and Switch. (The Switch edition even features cross-platform play with PC.)
READ: Team of Rivals
“Really, Michael? Another Civil War thing?” Yes, I know. But this is the perfect book for the Fourth of July weekend (and yes, I know 4th of July = Independence Day, not Civil War). I listened to Team of Rivals on audiobook six or seven years ago and It. Blew. Me. Away. The book charts the four men who vied for the Republican nomination for president in 1860: Mississippi Attorney General Edward Bates; the austere, religious Ohio Governor Salmon Chase; the loquacious, convivial New York Senator, William Seward; and a relatively unknown prairie lawyer and two term congressman named Abraham Lincoln. All three of Lincoln’s rivals would later be invited to join his cabinet, and together, they saw our country through it’s greatest national trial. It is easy to take American history for granted; this book reveals how remarkable it is that of all people, it was Lincoln — with his incredible gifts of empathy and foresight — who was elected at America’s crossroads. By the time you’re finished, you will feel like you know Lincoln as a friend.
BINGE: Back to the Future Trilogy
Last weekend, my movie marathon crew binged all three Back to the Future movies. Somehow, I’d forgotten just how wonderfully joyous these films are. The chemistry between Michael J. Fox and Christopher Lloyd is absolutely electric — there’s nothing quite like watching these two comedy masters ping-pong one liners off of each other. And the action sequences are phenomenal. These days, we’ve grown used to blockbusters that feature massive, turgid, CGI battles set to thunderous music and devoid of any emotional investment. Back to the Future is the antithesis of that: every single action sequence in these films hinges on the relationships between the movie’s characters. If you haven’t seen these recently — they’re worth a re-watch. I guarantee they will put a smile on your face. All three stream on Netflix.
MAKE: Kale Salad
These days, the kale salad-industrial-complex has taken over the world. Zillions of restaurants offer some iteration of a kale salad on their menus; indeed, whole fast casual chains seem to have sprung into existence thanks to the cult of kale. But this wasn’t always the case. Back in 2007, eating raw kale was still a novel idea. We have Joshua McFadden — a New York-based chef and cookbook author — to thank for the kale salad. Out of frustration with the lack of good salad greens one winter, McFadden decided to experiment with using kale as a salad green; the result was so good, it got written up in the New York Times and took the world by storm. It did so for a reason: Joshua McFadden’s OG kale salad is impossibly, wonderfully delicious — WAY better than what most restaurants serve. What makes it so good, you ask? I could point to its perfectly balanced acidity, it’s pecorino saltiness, it’s punch of red pepper spice — but at its core, I think there are two principles here that can be applied to kale salads even beyond McFadden’s original recipe:
- Use Lacinato/Tuscan kale, cut out the ribs, and shred into small pieces.
- Let that kale salad marinate in the dressing for at least five minutes, so that the kale can soak up the acid and break down.
About the author: Michael Robin is an LA-based television writer. When he’s not working away on his latest pilot script, you can find him scuba diving, hosting Shabbat dinners, or goofing off with his goldendoodle, Biggie Lebowski.