Wisconsin lessons, New Year's fireworks, Alan Arkin's excellence and more you need to know

The Buzz Bin

click to enlarge British baking has never been hotter.
British baking has never been hotter.

READY, SET, BAKE!

Another season of The Great British Baking Show has dropped and I haven't been able to get anything done since. Watch in awe as 12 of the best amateur bakers in the U.K. battle it out for the title of best amateur baker in all the land. There's a good chance you have never heard of any of the desserts or breads, but nevertheless, it's exhilarating. Yes, you heard me, baking can be exciting. I've managed to suck my family into watching it, even though each time it is on the TV my grandpa says "ah, we're still in Britain watching people bake." Watch the latest season, and the six other seasons available, streaming now on Netflix. (MICHAELA MULLIGAN)


MR. ED

The pollstar.com list of the biggest money-making concert tours of 2018 is out:

1. Ed Sheeran: $432 million, 4.86 million tickets sold

2. Taylor Swift: $345 million, 2.88 million tickets sold

3. Beyonce & Jay-Z: $254 million, 2.17 million tickets sold

4. P!nk: $169 million, 1.29 million tickets sold

5. Bruno Mars: $168 million, 1.29 million tickets sold


WISCONSIN OVERRUN

The tale of how Wisconsin went from being a bastion of progressive politics and good governance — the nation's first progressive income tax and workplace injury compensation law were born in Wisconsin — to a state Donald Trump won in 2016 is as infuriating as it is fascinating. In his book The Fall of Wisconsin, Dan Kaufman uses extensive reporting in his home state to dissect how corporate interests coordinated with Wisconsin Republicans like Gov. Scott Walker to divide the local labor movement, demonize teachers and environmental conservation and, ultimately, make state government work for the private sector at the expense of the citizenry. You'll walk away feeling both informed and depressed. (JOSH KELETY)


LIGHT IT UP

Just because there's no First Night in Spokane doesn't mean you'll go wanting for New Year's Eve fireworks. At 9 pm, Riverfront Park will set off its annual explosion of sound and color. And if you're over Coeur d'Alene way, 9 pm is when Coeur d'Alene Resort will launch its own fireworks extravaganza. (DAN NAILEN)


ALAN ARKIN, NATIONAL TREASURE

The Kominsky Method is getting some hype out of the fact that Michael Douglas, Hollywood royalty, is actually acting in a sitcom. The Netflix show created by Chuck Lorre (Big Bang Theory, Two and A Half Men) is about an aging acting coach (Douglas) who navigates all the things that aging brings (dead friends, troubling prostates and, in this case, dating much younger women). And while the show has its moments, the best reason to watch is Alan Arkin, the brilliant comedic actor who plays Douglas's agent and seemingly only friend. Virtually every laugh in the first few episodes comes via Arkin's deadpan line readings and way with a cutting barb at his friend's expense. (DAN NAILEN)

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