It’s Friday. Looking for something to switch up your weekend, or to give you an excuse to relax a little? That’s what the Weekend Reset is for. Each week we’ll pull together five things to get your weekend started. Could be something to read or watch, something to eat or listen to, or even something to do. Enjoy the weekend fellas.
Ask any adult, and they’re bound to have some traumatic memories from middle school. In Pen 15, set in the year 2000, Anna Konkle and Maya Erskine take all of their middle school awkwardness and turn it into television. In a wild, daring choice, Konkle and Erskine — who are in their 30s — decided to play themselves at age 13, but the rest of the teenage roles? They’re played by actual real life 13 year olds. Somehow, it works — marvelously. Pen 15 is an absolute delight, a raw, R-rated take on adolescence that is equally hilarious and moving. For those who came of age with the millennium and have (fond?) memories of boy bands and discmen and Britney and painfully awkward gymnasium dances, this is for you. Streams free on Hulu.
I have a standing tradition of Friday pasta nights. During the summer, that usually looks like pasta primavera, or other fresh and veggie-heavy pasta dishes. But with cooler temps coming on, with the leaves a’crunchin on (and off) the trees, there’s nothing more simple and comforting than a plate of spaghetti and tomato sauce. The simplest way to do this, of course, is a box of spaghetti with a can of premade sauce. But if you have the time? Making your own sauce is really, really worth it. Want simple but perfect? Marcella Hazan’s tomato sauce is as easy as it gets. Want something more involved but soooo worth it? Alison Roman’s Roasted Tomato Bucatini is out. of. this. world. (Tomato roasting directions in the video; the written recipe is here.) Whatever method you choose, though — make sure to sauce your pasta correctly! The big secret to a well-sauced pasta? Starchy pasta water! That’s right — before you drain your spaghetti — save a cup of that pasta cooking water. Heat up the tomato sauce in a pot/pan, add the spaghetti to the warm sauce, and add in 1/2 cup or so of the starchy pasta water, and toss. Do it this way, and you’ll be amazed at how well the sauce will cling to the pasta noodles.
PLAY: Genshin Impact
When Genshin Impact dropped last week, it appeared to be a “Zelda: Breath of the Wild” clone. And yet over the last week, it’s become clear that this game is so much more. While yes, the game borrows heavily from Zelda, particularly in its aesthetics and its exploration mechanics (hello, hang glider!), Genshin Impact’s combat and roleplaying mechanics are completely different and incredibly fun. Instead of controlling a single character, you control several, switching between characters in combat to chain up different elemental status effects on enemies. With both innovative combat and a unique and gorgeous anime-inspired world, Genshin is well worth your time — and best of all? It’s totally free. (Yes, there are optional microtransactions, but they don’t get in the way of the game itself.) Available on PC, Mobile, or PS4.
WATCH: The Right Stuff
I was fortunate enough to watch an advance copy of the pilot of Nat Geo and Disney +’s new TV adaptation of Tom Woolfe’s The Right Stuff, and I can tell you: it’s absolutely fantastic. While the (equally phenomenal) 1983 film of The Right Stuff is focused on telling a huge, epic, multigenerational story of human flight, this new TV adaptation is more focused on the psychology of America’s first astronauts and their complicated personal lives. These men were heroes — but they were also cocky hotshots and alcoholics who routinely cheated on their wives. The show’s focus on the rivalry between playboy Alan Shepard and family man John Glenn is a particular highlight. This is “Mad Men” meets NASA, in the very best way. Watch the first two episodes on Disney + today; the rest will drop weekly on Fridays.
LISTEN: The Ascension by Sufjan Stevens
Sufjan Stevens is an indie-folk legend. From the soaring, symphonic Americana of Illinois to the stripped-down acoustic-folk of Carrie and Lowell, Sufjan has been making incredible music for close to two decades. The Ascension, his latest, is a very different beast, a huge epic undertaking that is less personal and more outwardly directed but just as wonderful as you’d expect from him.