Pop Culture Free Time August 2021: Rumors, Butter, And Twilight
Back in the June gloom, comedian Trey Kennedy did a video on the differences between this summer and last summer. At that point, there still were differences. And I know it’s easy to feel like it’s never going to get better. But things move faster than we think and there are still small joys to be had in the art we create. So here’s some of the art (and other things) I enjoyed in my August 2021 free time.
Books This Month: Y’all Heard of This Stephen King?
image via Scribner
Maybe I also have June on my mind, because like June, August was a pretty dry month for me book-wise. This week, I logged several August books on Goodreads that I hadn’t gotten around to noting. That’s your first clue that not a whole lot really blew my mind last month. Your second clue is that I gave nearly every book three stars. Most of the books I read in August were very okay. Neither too good or offensively bad to be noticeable in either direction. But of course, there were a couple of exceptions.
While I was in California filming Jeopardy!, I read Samantha Downing’s My Lovely Wife. Again, in what is clearly a pattern for me, I liked it. I didn’t love it. However, I had a much more positive experience with Downing’s recent For Your Own Good. This book, set at a private school where people are dropping like flies, is a delightful twisty mystery. After all this time reading mystery/thrillers, I feel like I know what to expect with most books, but not with this one. It kept me on my toes, which is one of the things I really want from a story.
The other book I really enjoyed last month was Stephen King’s Billy Summers. I have a long-standing running joke here about his being an unknown author because it makes me laugh. He’s just so iconic. For so many horror archetypes–the scary dog, the scary car, the scary clown, etc.–his creations might as well be the blueprint, because they’re usually your first thought. As you should know, though, he doesn’t just deal in horror. Billy Summers is a prime example.
It’s King on full flex-mode and I loved it. He writes a crime novel, but also writes a war story inside of it and then throws in a couple of references to his most famous works because eff it, he’s Stephen King. Anyway, it’s about a hitman who takes one last job, and y’all know how well those always go.
In other book news, I actually read it months ago, but Stephen Graham Jones’s My Heart Is a Chainsaw is out this month. It’s denser and harder to crack than The Only Good Indians, but I liked it quite a bit. You can also read his essay on one of my favorite topics, final girls. And speaking of non-fiction, this true story about the hunt for a book thief whose motives don’t seem to be what you’d expect was also intriguing.
The Things I Saw in My August 2021 Free Time
image via FX
I mentioned last month that I was really enjoying American Horror Stories in my July 2021 free time. However, as it was an anthology, its individual episodes played very hit and miss. I really liked “Drive In,” like I said, and “Feral.” Unfortunately, for the finale episode, as I wrote in our Comic Years Slack, they “went back to the goshdang Murder House, because I am truly cursed. (Sorry for the pay channel language.)” That is all to say that I haven’t checked out the new season of American Horror Story, but I plan to, especially because I love Lily Rabe so much. (Please don’t comment to tell me she dies in like, the second episode.)
Most of my TV viewing, in fact, amounts to “I’m planning on it.” I’m planning on checking out Clickbait. I’m planning on watching Brand New Cherry Flavor. Maybe someday I’ll see what the Ted Lasso fuss is all about. But I just haven’t yet.
Instead, I’m still watching a whole heck of a lot of reaction videos. My newest favorite channel is TheMikeLawz. Mike and Roman watch a lot of horror movies, which is obviously my jam. However, I might not like those videos as much as I like watching these two grown men watch teen movies. Their tour through the Twilight series was a particular highlight. You think you remember how dumb that story was, but you don’t really understand until you watch it through the eyes of two guys who are coming in wholly unfamiliar. Anyway, they are funny as hell and might be the first Patreon to which I contribute.
And now I have to watch The Kissing Booth 3 so I can get the full experience from watching their reaction. (Does that mean that I’ve already seen parts one and two? Yes. Mind your business.)
What I Heard Last Month
As the hottest Hot Dummy™, it took me until last month to realize that Last Podcast on the Left had been doing theme episodes all summer. Maybe you’d put it together already, but I had to have them actually say it into my earholes that all the main episodes this season have been about historic events. And as a history swole–this is better than history buff–I’ve obviously been very happy. We know this, because I’ve mentioned them like, every month this summer.
Anyway, I’m mentioning them again. As I write this, they’re just about to finish up a series on Billy the Kid. I didn’t know much about him before the series started. I’ve never seen Young Guns, for one thing. The history of the West is largely obscure to me, unless it concerns shit that happened to Indigenous people. As such, I’ve appreciated getting to learn some more about how the west was fun.
And on the music side, my favorite song this month has been “Rumors” by Lizzo and Cardi B. However, that song and video are probably too spicy to embed on this family website, so you’ll have to listen to it or watch the video on your own time. Besides that, I mostly continue to discover old songs. There are, however, some exceptions.
Megan Thee Stallion, who helps guide my life decisions, released her remix of BTS’s “Butter.” She had to sue her own record company for the right to, and damn, that’s powerful. I’m going to meditate on that kind of self-confidence as we go further into September, my birthday month.
Tell me what lessons you’re learning this month, as well as the pop culture you vibed with in your August 2021 free time, in these comments or on our social media. (Oh, and here’s that Trey Kennedy video if you want to get rill bummed out.)
featured image via Hybe Corporation and Sony
Salomé Gonstad is a freelance writer who grew up in the swampy wilds of south Alabama. When she's not yelling about pop culture on the internet, she's working on a supernatural thriller about her hometown. Also, we're pretty sure she's a werewolf. Email her at firstname.lastname@example.org.