January 3, 2020 at 5:42 p.m.

The CR recommends

The CR recommends
The CR recommends

We tried out this idea last year and it seemed to be well received.

So, here we go again.

The end of each year is filled with top 10 lists, not only of photos and stories like ours earlier this week,

but of all kinds of favorites — television, movies, podcasts, music, books and so on.

Last year was our first effort at providing our own lists of recommendations from across the spectrum.

We return this year with a list of personal favorites from editor Ray Cooney, publisher Jack Ronald,

reporter Riley Eubanks, freelance reporter Rose Skelly and former sports editor Chris Schanz.

It qualifies as eclectic.

Our hope again this year is that this list will open some doors and encourage you to consider reading a book,

watching a TV show or take in a local opportunity that you may not have otherwise thought about.

Local interest

The Children’s Museum

The Indianapolis facility is still the best of its kind anywhere. Great place to spend time with kids or grandchildren. Count on spending the full day. — Jack Ronald

Fisher brats

Specifically the jalapeño and cheese variety. These are nothing new, but I’d be remiss if I didn’t point them out. They’re delicious, like most everything our local meat processor offers, and the jalapeño isn’t too overpowering for those of us who sweat at the slightest amount of spice. Every time I’m headed back to visit family in Avon, Ohio, my dad requests a package of brats from Fisher. — Ray Cooney


The pulled pork street tacos at Pete’s Bar and Grill in Albany; the patty melt at The Chocolate Moose in Farmland; Rooster’s Ciabata at Montage Cafe in Greenville, Ohio; the chicken Philly at Moeller’s Brew Barn in Maria Stein, Ohio — Jack Ronald


“Before the Fall”

Noah Hawley's 2016 novel Before The Fall is a thriller about a private jet that crashed and killed nine of the 11 people aboard 16 minutes after leaving Martha's Vineyard on its way for New York City. The two survivors, a down-on-his-luck painter, Scott Burroughs, and a 4-year-old boy who is the last remaining family member of a powerful media mogul. The book describes the backstories of the 10 dead privileged people and the crew as well as the aftermath of the crash and Burrough's sudden thrusting into the national spotlight. — Chris Schanz

“Mostly Dead Things”

This a book recommendation based solely on Kristen Arnett’s Twitter, which is one of my favorite accounts I started following last year. I haven’t read it yet, but if Arnett’s debut novel “Mostly Dead Things” is anything like her tweets then it’s filled with hilarious dark humor, Florida culture and insightful commentary on what it means to be gay. Named one of the best books of 2019 by The New York Times, NPR and others, “Mostly Dead Things” is centered on a family of taxidermists in Florida dealing with the suicide of the main character’s father. — Riley Eubanks

“The Nickel Boys”

One of the best books published in 2019 and sure to be an award winner. I ordered my copy early on the strength of Colson Whitehead’s earlier works “The Underground Railroad” and “John Henry Days.” It’s intense, it’s mesmerizing, and it is illuminating. — Jack Ronald

“The Overstory”

A novel about trees? Yup, a novel about trees. And you’ll never look at trees the same way after you read it. I’ve recommended this Richard Powers piece to several people, and no one has been disappointed. — Jack Ronald


While it was published almost a decade ago, I recently discovered Laura Hillenbrand's “Unbroken: A World War II Story of Survival, Resilience, and Redemption.” It is the true story of Louis Zamperini, a troubled youth who becomes a world-class Olympic runner and an Army hero as a prisoner of war in Japan. The New York Times bestseller inspired a movie with the same name, but the book is much better than the motion picture. It had me hooked from the start. — Chris Schanz


Armchair Expert with Dax Shepard

It's actually been a while since I've listened to this podcast but I want to get back into it. Actor Dax Shepard, husband to actress Kristen Bell, basically sits down and chats with all sorts of people — fellow actors, journalists, psychologists, sports figures and writers. With new episodes every Monday, Armchair Expert is a podcast that, according to its website, “celebrates the messiness of being human.” — Chris Schanz

Cautionary Tales

A few times a year, usually when I’m on vacation, I go looking for new podcasts. This is one that stuck. “Cautionary tales” tells stories about events gone wrong and the reasons for those failures. If you’re looking for a good place to start, I suggest the episode about the mishap at The Oscars when “La La Land” was mistakenly announced as best picture instead of “Moonlight.” — Ray Cooney

The Joe Budden Podcast

Recently named the No. 1 podcast on Spotify in 2019, the Joe Budden Podcast might be a bit daunting to begin listening to. For 300 episodes the famously clamorous Joe Budden begins each podcast by yelling over whatever R&B track he picks to open the episode playing loudly in the background. The selling point is the chemistry between Budden and the rest of the regulars on the podcast and the debates they embark on, which truly is not replicated or matched by any other music show. — Riley Eubanks


“The Dreamer”

I don’t find myself listening to a lot of new music, but I took a look at a few lists in an effort to have something to recommend. I stumbled upon this song by Che Apalache. The bluegrass piece about an American immigrant is beautiful. (There’s a political message, which I didn’t know when I started listening, but politics aside, the music is engrossing.) — Ray Cooney

Lulo Reinhardt

He performed with Daniel Stelter about a year ago at Arts Place and blew us away. He started playing guitar at the age of 5. His is always a good CD to have in the car on a long drive. — Jack Ronald

“Mystic Truth” 

Bad Suns, a California-based alternative rock band, released their third album “Mystic Truth” this spring with a slight change in sound — luckily, one I enjoyed. As with any rock band, there’s plenty of angst; however, there is also optimism infused in their upbeat tracks. — Rose Skelly

Snoh Aalegra

Listening to albums about relationships can be tiring. However, Snoh Aalegra second album “-Ugh, those feels again” is anything but a chore. The album perfectly encapsulates the emotions felt during a new relationship: overwhelming admiration, uncertainty, skepticism and everything else in between. The lyrics aren’t particularly original nor enlightening yet every opening line of the 14 track album is an instant hook, but more than likely you’ll stay for the spatial beats and memorable bridges occupied by Aalegra’s enticing vocal range. — Riley Eubanks

Robbie Robertson

Robertson was one of the driving forces behind The Band, an iconic group from the 1970s that was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1994. He worked on Martin Scorsese movies, including “Casino,” “The Departed” and “Gangs of New York.” He still has the chops. — Jack Ronald


“Good Bones”

Skepticism about this HGTV home improvement show has given way to consistent enjoyment. A mother-daughter team restore houses in Indianapolis, mostly in the Fountain Square neighborhood. — Jack Ronald

“Looking for Alaska”

This Hulu mini-series is based on John Green’s first novel of the same name that tells the story of a group of teenagers at a co-ed boarding school. For middle-agers like myself, it offers nostalgia. (It has a bit of the feel of my band camp, which was held at a Boy Scout campground.) For teens, it should appeal to the variety of issues you confront every day (minus the cell phones). — Ray Cooney

Premier League soccer

You can’t really appreciate the game until you see it played on this level consistently. You’ll find this on Sundays on NBC Sports before the NFL onslaught. And the Premier League season continues after the closing whistle of the Super Bowl. — Jack Ronald

“Russian Doll”

Natasha Lyonne, starring as Nadia, spends the eight-episode season of “Russian Doll” attempting to solve the puzzle of her own death after dying unexpectedly, then coming back to life. She continues to relive the same night in a loop as the audience learns more about her backstory in this Netflix series. — Rose Skelly


“The Last Waltz”

Great concert film of The Band’s last concert at The Fillmore in San Francisco features Ringo, Neil Diamond, Joni Mitchell and about a dozen other guest performers. “This movie is to be played loud.” — Jack Ronald


If watching gullible college students get high and fall victim to a gross adaptation of ancient Pagan rituals in rural Sweden sounds interesting, then the horror movie “Midsommar” might be worth checking out. Though many horror movies sacrifice quality and good acting for blockbuster effects and repetitive scare tactics, “Midsommar” boasts an incredible score, mesmerizing direction by Ari Aster and a memorable performance by Florence Pugh. — Riley Eubanks

“Richard Jewell”

I'm recommending this movie without having actually seen it (yet). A friend of mine, Paul Walter Hauser, plays the title character in this Clint Eastwood film about a security guard who discovered a suspicious backpack, which turned out to have an incendiary device inside, in Atlanta's Centennial Park during the 1996 Summer Olympics. – Chris Schanz

Technology, etc.


Enjoy ebooks or audiobooks? Libby, available on the App Store and Google Play, is a must-have for book lovers. Libby allows a user to read ebooks and listen to audiobooks for free; all that's required is a membership at a local library. There are thousands of titles available to borrow for 21 days at a time in both formats. Some of the more popular titles will generally have a waitlist that can range anywhere from a couple days to six months. — Chris Schanz


It’s not exactly a blog but an offering of articles, essays and book reviews each day. The “al” stands for “arts and letters,” so it’s not for everyone. It’s a great place to stretch the boundaries of your thinking. — Jack Ronald




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