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Everything our editors loved about September

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September is the back-to-school season, so it seems appropriate that some Outside staff members spent the month reading about new topics, from the life of Cleopatra to the migratory stories of trees. Others took a less educational approach and pulled out with a light Hulu series and a heavy guitar rock album. Here are all our favorites for September.

What we read

Last month i read The Transit of Venus, by Shirley Hazzard. Hazzard was an Australian-American writer who moved to the United States in the 1950s and wrote four novels, several non-fiction books, and dozens of short stories. The Transit of Venus, published in 1980, is considered his revolutionary work. The subject is simple – two Australian sisters move to England and build a life for themselves – but the beautiful handwriting turns what might be a simple story into a meditation on individuality and intimacy. —Abigail Barronian, Associate Editor

I spent most of September looking at the trees. They’re more on the minds of people this time of year (at least the deciduous ones), captured in envious social media posts and seen as vibrant backdrops for the activities of the year. outdoors. And it inspired me to read journalist Zach St. George’s 2020 book. The trips of trees, which focuses on how forests have migrated over time and the convergence of tree and human lives throughout history. As anecdotes oscillate between evidence of ancient forest trips recorded in fossils and the possible future of forestry, the book translates environmentalists’ research into a captivating look at the relationship between humans and the forests we inhabit. . —Kevin Johnson, Editorial Manager

I was looking for a biography of a strong woman, and I found an amazing one with Stacy Schiff’s bestseller Cleopatra: a life. It was a slow read, for the right reasons: facts on facts about the legendary Egyptian Queen, her reign in Alexandria, her devoted relationship with Caesar and Antony, her escapades, her downfall and death at age 39 (not, as many the would have it, with the fangs of an asp). But the author’s abundance of detail doesn’t drown out the story, only heightens it. I was especially encouraged by descriptions of the emphasis Cleopatra’s society placed on education and equality (women had many rights, far more than their counterparts in Rome) and by how much her spirit, her intelligence and understanding of different cultures has won over two of the most powerful men in the world and others considerably edgy and disturbed. It shows how long great women have been fighting a double standard. Since her death her story has mostly been told by male writers who portrayed her as a femme fatale, but as Schiff puts it, Cleopatra was an intensely focused, “silver-tongued and charismatic” wonder, “l supreme and stubborn exception to every rule. She was an iconoclast, in the best sense of the word. —Tasha Zemke, editor

What we listened to

Usually my “suggested for you” selections on the Apple Podcasts app fail: I arrive for about ten minutes on a new show and end up letting go. But on a recent road trip, the app finally delivered, recommending the podcast 9/12, moderated by Dan Taberski. The premise of the show is vague: it promises to explore how “the day of 9/11 became 9/11. the idea.“I would sum it up as a deep, introspective look at how 9/11 changed all levels of society, from how we dealt with the immediate consequences to the racist police of Muslim Americans. What really makes this podcast great are the stories Taberski uses to illustrate these points: We are learning Onion writers struggling to find things to laugh at the day after 9/11, Hollywood producers hired by the CIA to imagine future hypothetical terrorist attacks, and a conspiracy theorist whose ideas turned against him. It’s funny, sad, confusing and worrying at the same time – a mixture of emotions that reflects how Americans feel about the event 20 years later. —Kelsey Lindsey, Editor-in-Chief

Ty segall is a prolific modern psychedelic rocker who produces more records than any other artist (13 solo albums since 2008 and many more with other bands). But its last drought lasted more than two years, which Harmonizer, the album he dropped without warning in early August, even more delicious – it surprised fans like me with a synthesized, laser-infused wall of sound. This is Segall’s most 80s-inspired collection, but it stays true to its garage-rock roots. The monstrous guitar riffs, head-banging hooks and dark lyrics are still there, but it’s a new direction for an artist who never ceases to amaze me. —Will Taylor, Director of Materials

What we watched

A surprise cultural moment of my September was Schmigadoon!, the six-episode miniseries released this summer on Apple TV +. The show stars Keegan-Michael Key and Cecily Strong as Josh and Melissa, a doctor couple from New York who go on a backpacking trip to rekindle their relationship and stumble upon a mysterious place called Schmigadoon, where all residents seem to be trapped in a mid-20th century musical. As Josh and Melissa try to escape this strange town whose inhabitants constantly sing, the series becomes an affectionate parody of classic musicals, with an original score that borrows elements from shows like Oklahoma, The sound of music, and The man of music. The cast is packed with recognizable names, including Martin Short, Jane Krakowski, Alan Cumming, Fred Armisen, Kristin Chenoweth, and Jaime Camill — and unlike recent Hollywood musicals like La La Land, all the movie and television actors here can really sing. My favorite performance, however, was Ariana DeBose, a true triple threat, as a schoolteacher who romantically entangles the character of Keegan-Michael Key. If you only watch one song on the show, make it its delightfully silly tap number “With all your heart. “—Sophie Murguia, associate editor

Another of my favorite shows this fall has been the Hulu comedy series Only the murders in the building. Also starring Martin Short, this time in a starring role alongside Steve Martin and Selena Gomez, the show revolves around three residents of an upscale Manhattan apartment building who decide to investigate the murder of one of their neighbors. They soon start a true crime podcast based on their experience, but things get complicated when it becomes clear that Gomez’s character Mabel may know more about the murdered man than she suggests. . The podcast elements of the show are my least favorite – we’re far enough into the real crime boom that a lot of the jokes feel tired – but the three lead cast have great chemistry, and I’m finding myself more and more invested in the series every week. —SM


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