Fall Guide 2019
The RN&R’s annual guide to the Great Indoors
Every year you anticipate summer’s arrival—you get the beach bod ready, schedule vacation time, maybe order a few new outfits. And yet every year, summer does you wrong. The sunburns, the hangovers, the crowds, the wildfires; the cruel knowledge that you still have to work when you’d rather be running around outside like a giant, adult second-grader.
But fear not, for quiet, contemplative fall is on the way, and we here at RN&R are ready to get cozy in our favorite place—the Great Indoors. Every year we put together a guide to some of our writers’ favorite picks for books, movies and other media to keep you comfy on those cold, wet days and nights.
For our album picks, regular contributor and music junkie Mark Earnest picked out some of his favorite albums for the season, as well as some upcoming releases he has his eye on. A chilly fall morning wouldn’t be the same without a hot cup of coffee, and preferably a scenic walk on your way to get one. For both, woman-about-town Pax Robinson breaks down her favorite local cafes. Oliver Guinan, our resident teenage contributor, lists the season’s best video games to keep you occupied for 12-14 hours at a time. Books and movies are handled by our Associate Editor Jeri Davis and longtime movie critic Bob Grimm respectively, and both have more than enough experience to steer you right.
Of course, if you have to leave the house, there’s no shortage of seasonal activities, and Kelley Lang, our calendar editor has scoured the best pumpkin patches and harvest festivals of the next few months for our pages. But picture yourself: bunny slippers by the fire, crimson leaves dancing in the breeze outside, this guide folded in your lap as you watch Creepshow on Bob Grimm’s recommendation. It’s a thing of beauty.<br?<b>—Matt Bieker
Video games by Oliver Guinan
The videogame macrocosm, like the universe itself, is ever-expanding. Each year, thousands of games are released to meet the demands of a voracious, never-saturated consumer market, like red meat thrown to the couch-dwelling wolves.
It's difficult at best to keep up with all the new titles. Staying au courant can be especially challenging in the spring and summer, when much of our time is spent outdoors enjoying the season, not on our computers loading virtual carts with hot new Role Playing Games. But as the weather cools and emblazons nature with shades of orange and red, we retreat indoors to power on our consoles and PCs once again.
Let's start with the favorite. Minecraft is a cultural force and has remained hugely popular across all platforms since its release in 2009. I first started playing Minecraft in 2014 and was hooked instantly. My friends and I created our own “worlds” together and even started YouTube channels to document our progress and compete against each other for subscribers. If you aren't one of the game's 91 million monthly users, here's what you can expect:
Minecraft's graphics are intentionally similar to retro, 8-bit classics like the Mario Bros. series and Final Fantasy. Everything you interact with in-game is a big, goofy looking block of a single material, like cobblestone or wood. Both single and multiplayer modes are available, and there are endless public servers that offer everything from intergalactic parkour to Hunger Games-style arenas for battling other players. If the chaos of online gameplay is overwhelming, I find single-player mode to be almost therapeutic and remarkably easy to figure out. The user has complete freedom to interact with the destructible environment. If you can conceptualize it, you can build it in Minecraft.
The FIFA franchise is an EA Sports powerhouse. In the game, you can play as one of more than 720 soccer teams from around the world in matches online or at-home against friends. In the past, there has also been a “Career Mode,” where you can play against the computer for an entire season in attempt to come out on-top in numerous leagues.
FIFA 20, scheduled to release on Sept. 27, promises even more hyper-realistic graphics than previous iterations, which is impressive considering I already easily mistake people playing FIFA for a live soccer match on TV. The upcoming release will also include a much-anticipated new game mode: Volta. It will place a focus on footwork and finesse by introducing a high-intensity “street” format that's a new development from the strictly league-style play of previous games in the series. It's definitely a kick.
Need for Speed: Heat
Consider the rush of an arcade racing experience. Gripping the foam of a faux rally-car steering wheel with both hands, tensing up and flooring it while a booming, unseen announcer narrates your blistering journey through an Arctic wasteland, dodging falling icicles and hurtling your Mazerati off hulking glacial jumps. Trade the confines of a bright yellow plastic arcade seat for the comfort of your own couch and multiply that feeling by a hundred—now you're playing Need for Speed.
Need for Speed: Heat's release on Nov. 8 will mark the series' 25th anniversary. From what gameplay trailers I have watched so far, the game, like FIFA 20, features lifelike textures and mesmerizing graphics. Everything on your ride is customizable, and there is no shortage of “dream car” material. As Heat implies, much of the gameplay involves out-maneuvering police as you race through crammed city streets at break-neck speed.
Music by Mark Earnest
I'm one of those 24/7, 365-a-year music nerds, so really any season is the right one to blow off your responsibilities—including deadlines for this very newspaper—and really get into an album in-full, headphones on, lost in the moment.
Still, autumn is the best time for this mostly solo excursion, with the temperatures cooling off and the allure of the indoors that much more prevalent. I've got several records on my own “must get” list that will likely need some quality time.
One of my favorite bands of the 2010s has been Alabama Shakes, and their trusty leader, Brittany Howard, has her first solo album, Jaime, due on Sept. 20. Of the three preview songs, two are slices of minimalist avant-funk with an '80s tinge, while “Stay High” is a widescreen, melodic modern soul masterpiece.
Another artist pushing the envelope clean off the table is Sturgill Simpson. Beloved by roots/country fans, he's about to give 'em a crazy left turn with Sound and Fury, due on Sept. 27 and reportedly the soundtrack to an anime film he wrote. The first single, “Sing Along,” sounds like one of his rootsy songs fed through a '90s dance music simulator—and it's not even a mess!
While other hip-hop fans are excited by a new Post Malone record—and I at least want to see how he changes up his sound—I'm more jazzed about the new one from Clipping. Due on Oct. 18, There Existed an Addiction to Blood will likely be more of the group's mix of social messages, wild experiments and compelling beats.
For metal, some of my pals are worshiping that new Tool record, Fear Inoculum. I will probably have a similarly drooling response to the new one from Opeth, In Cauda Venenum, due on Sept. 27. They've disappointed before, but the early tracks released from this one sound closer to their glorious middle-period heaviness.
All the rest
Big Business' The Beast You Are is an album-of-the-year contender, chock full of bracing melodies and a heaviness that skirts the punk and metal lines. The final album from the People Under the Stairs, Sincerely, the P, is a fun and sometimes moving old-school rap romp with humor and pathos in equal measure. And, who would've thought that Bruce Springsteen would still surprise you? Indeed, the new album from the Boss, Western Stars, is his strongest since the early '00s, evoking '60s Countrypolitan sounds with the earthiness and stunning lyrics you've come to expect.
Movies by Bob Grimm
No doubt, quality home theater offerings continue to grow like an over-fertilized tomato that a genie commanded to get bigger after God told it to do so in the first place. (I have a tendency to over-emphasize things in a lame attempt to look clever.)
Subscription services like Netflix, Shudder and NuNu (Sorry … Hulu) will be throwing big names at you in a blatant attempt to get you to stay home rather than go out. I say, do both dammit. Movie theaters are still fun, and they have beer there now and, like, 50 kinds of sausages, and M&Ms. Get out of the house on occasion, god dammit. But mark your calendars for some of the below, and stock the cabinets with hot cocoa, popcorn, tea and pie for autumnal culinary vibes while you view things with people and pets. Here's a few of the home offerings that have me jazzed.
The long-rumored Breaking Bad movie finally gets a release date. While little is known about the plot, we do know it involves Jesse Pinkman (Aaron Paul), who was speeding away in the title car at the end of the seminal series. Hey, we never saw a toe tag on Walter White (Bryan Cranston), so who knows what creator/director Vince Gilligan has in store. Cranston in some sort of cameo, be it flashback or zombie or ghost, is a safe bet. This movie could be about Saul Goodman's (Bob Odenkirk) toe jam, and I'd still watch it. On Netflix Oct. 11.
Attending San Diego Comic Con this year, I saw a preview panel for this new anthology series featuring producer and gore god Greg Nicotero. I got roped into subscribing to Shudder because this looked so damn good. (I also got an autograph from Nicotero, who loved my Jaws shirt and showed me pictures of his restored Bruce the Shark on his personal phone. Yes, I'm bragging.)
It's worth noting that the original Creepshow movie was part of the 24-hour movie marathon Brad Bynum and I did a few years ago, the one where we almost died. And, yes, I'm cancelling Shudder as soon as I watch all of the Creepshow episodes. I don't need 24-hour access to Critters: A New Binge. On Shudder Sept 26.
I'm going to do a bigger fall movie preview where I will surely talk about this one again. Martin Scorsese goes Netflix in a big way with the likes of Robert De Niro and Al Pacino being digitally de-aged in what looks to be a very long mobster movie. Did you hear what I said? De Niro … Pacino … Scorsese … mobster movie. The entire movie year orbits around this release. Yes, I'm including Star Wars in that equation. On Netflix Nov. 27.
Dolemite is My Name
This is worth noting because Eddie Murphy stars as filmmaker Rudy Ray Moore, and it looks like a return to form. It's also worth noting because the subject of Murphy allows me to post some of the greatest news of the fall: Eddie Murphy will host Saturday Night Live on Dec. 21 for the Christmas episode. That stuff I just said about The Irishman just got dwarfed by this news. Openly pulling for Celebrity Hot Tub 2019! On Netflix Oct. 5.
Books by Jeri Davis
Reading is so great, especially as cool fall weather arrives and blankets and fireplaces beckon. But it's often a solo activity, and fall is also such a great time to spend time with the people we love—lest we lose one another in things like homework and holiday planning. Of course, you can avoid those pitfalls by making and taking time for anything from walks to pumpkin carving to cooking (and the latter two can totally be combined). With that in mind, why not pick up a cookbook and get the best of both worlds. Here are a few that combine recipes and stories in great ways.
Nadiya’s Bake Me a Story: Fifteen stories and recipes for children by Nadiya Hussain.
You may know Nadiya Hussain from The Great British Bake Off television show. This book, like Hussain, is a treasure. Each chapter includes a take on a classic fairytale and a recipe to go with it. Kids will adore it, even the older ones who may end up doing the storytelling and a lot of cooking tasks associated with the recipes. The first chapter begins, “It was nearly elevenses time, and a little old lady was at home with nothing to dunk in her cup of tea.”
The Cooking Gene: A Journey Through African American Culinary History in the Old South by Michael W. Twitty
Let's start by saying that this book won the James Beard Foundation Book Award for Book of the Year in 2018. Its writer is Michael W. Twitty, launched Afroculinaria—a culinary history blog that covers African and African-American food—in 2010. The cookbook tells a story that's part memoir and detective self-discovery work—but also looks deeply at slavery in America. Fans of etymology will love this book, which explains the origins of food names. For example, Twitty writes, the word “okra” can be traced back to a word in the Igbo language spoken by some Nigerians, “okwuru.” It's been posited by many researchers that okra was introduced to southeastern North America from Africa in the early 1700s. According to Texas A&M's community agriculture extension program it “was being grown as far north as Philadelphia in 1748 … and from about 1800 onward numerous [U.S] garden writers had something to say about it.”
The Cuban Table: A Celebration of Food, Flavors, and History by Ana Sofia Pelaez
You're going to want to visit Cuba after reading this book—and Miami and New York. Cuban-American food writer Ana Sofia Pelaez and photographer Ellen Silverman traveled through all three places documenting Cuban cooking. The result is a book with simple, delicious recipes and gorgeous photos. Be aware, there's a lot of meat and a lot of wheat in this cookbook, so it may not be for everyone.
Ad Hoc at Home by Thomas Keller
Celebrated Napa Valley chef, restaurateur and cookbook writer Thomas Keller sums up his book best himself: “When we eat together, when we set out to do so deliberately, life is better, no matter your circumstances. Whether it's a sad or difficult time, whether it's an ordinary-seeming day, or whether it's a time of celebration, our lives are enriched when we share meals together. And that's what the food in this book is all about.” It's this writer's favorite cookbook, full of great recipes and thoughtful explanations of the “why” behind actions.
Coffee by Pax Robinson
As the weather cools off, curling up with a latte and a book starts to look very tempting. Reno has more coffee house options than ever, with new places popping up on a regular basis. The trick is to find the place with the beverages and vibe that that feel just right to you. All these options have good coffee and free, unlimited wifi.
Old World Coffee Lab (104 California Ave.)
This establishment attracts a diverse crowd of button-up working types, students and people looking for a friendly spot to chat. The espresso drinks are exceptional, and, if you like flavors, they have you covered with artisanal options like the vanilla lavender latte or mocha drogata (a spicy mocha).
Old World also has the only draft cold brew latte in town, which is guaranteed to keep you awake and excited. The design is clean and modern and includes a communal table with electrical outlets for everyone. One downside is that the acoustics can be a little rough when the place gets crowded, so bring ear protection if you need it. Bonus points for finding the tiny death star mural. Hours: 7 a.m.-6 p.m.
Swill Coffee and Wine (3366 Lakeside Court)
A bit like a caffeinated Cheers, Swill is the kind of place where they make a point to learn your name and make you feel welcome. Always enthusiastic owner Peter Krup works hard to create a friendly environment and strongly believes that, “everyone belongs here.”
Swill hosts events from baby showers to memorial services and has an eclectic number of groups that meet there on a regular basis, including writers, adult coloring fans, harpists, bridge players and more. The inviting common room has warm yellow walls, natural light and lots of seating. A combination of a community center and coffee shop, one former barista called it, “an unpretentious coffee house with some of the best coffee in town.” Hours: 7 a.m.-7 p.m. Monday to Friday, 9 a.m.-5 p.m. Sat., 9 a.m.-3p.m. Sunday
Reno Coffee Company (1300 South Wells Ave.)
This new-kid-on-the-coffee-block has been open for just over a month. They specialize in individual pour-over coffees, which are made to order with just the beans, sweetener and creamer that you like. Depending on your fancy, you can choose anything from the dark, chocolatey Jet Fuel to the light and bright Gold Rush. Be forewarned that there are no espresso drinks here. RCC also has several craft beers on tap and a selection of wines, including prosecco by the bottle, making it the perfect place to transition from productively caffeinated to relaxation mode. They are also open later than most coffee joints, so keep this place in mind if you want the coffee house vibe to stretch into the evening. Warm orange walls, baristas who like to chat and board games to play makes hanging out here seem like a very good idea. Hours: 7 a.m.–9 p.m. Sunday to Thursday, 8 a.m.–10 p.m. Friday and Saturday
Magpie Coffee Roasters (1715 S. Wells)
This is the place where bartenders, bike mechanics, artists and other Bohemian types go to wake up and swap stories. Belly up to the bar to get your chat on, or score a table for some quieter times. Magpie's baristas make damn good drinks, including pour overs and loose-leaf teas. They also have a small patio with outside seating if you prefer some fresh air.
Roasting since 2011, Magpie specializes in single origin beans, which are sold on-site and around town as well. Magpie doesn't serve much food, but in a pinch you can get single serving oatmeal for just one dollar. Uncle Buddy's food truck out back is also open most mornings with on point breakfast sandwiches, fried chicken and a pickled veggie and rice bowl so good you will forget about bacon for a minute. Hours: 7 a.m.–5 p.m. Monday to Friday, 8 a.m.–5 p.m. Saturday and Sunday
See See Motor Coffee Co. (131 Pine St.)
Located in Little Portland (the colloquial name for businesses on Pine Street) this motorcycle-themed coffee shop features Stumptown beans and a spirited, rock 'n' roll attitude. Vintage helmets, exposed brick walls, polished wood and mechanical decorations give See See a steampunk rumpus room feel. If you're looking for more than a latte, they also have motorcycle themed merch and actual motorcycles available for purchase.
“Come in and try us. If we're for you, hang out. If not, that's OK, too,” said barista Jason Allen. See See also has four picnic tables outside for nicer days. Before the weather gets too cold, grab one for Hot Dog Happy Hour, where you can score a dog and tall PBR for just $6 (daily between 2 and 5 p.m.). Also, don't miss their famous breakfast burritos. Hours: 7 a.m.–6 p.m. Monday to Friday, 8 a.m.–6 p.m. Saturday and Sunday