Pop Culture Free Time: April 2021 Twisted Lies, New (Old) Taylor Swift, And Nobody
April is the cruelest month, innit? Actually, despite the continued effects of the pandemitasse, this month wasn’t so bad. Yes, I had to work at my night job* for three weeks straight, but I’ve had worse. In fact, ten years ago this month, I had just survived the 2011 Super Outbreak, the largest tornado outbreak ever recorded. So yeah, compared to that, I’m in clover. And on that note, it’s time for the April 2021 Pop Culture Free Time. (If you missed last month, then you can still catch up with the March 2021 Free Time.)
April 2021 Free Time Books: Not a Great Haul This Month
I started out this month finishing Hush Little Girl, the latest book in Lisa Regan’s Josie Quinn series, which I had just started when I wrote last month’s Free Time. Like the books that preceded it, it was a great read. That also holds for the next book I read, Twisted Lies, the upcoming book in Angela Marsons’s DI Kim Stone series. I read a lot of mystery/thrillers obviously, but there are few that I love like this series.
image via Bookouture
Kim Stone is 100% that b-word, and so is Angela Marsons. (Her twitter name is @writeangie because that’s what I whisper to her.) It seems like it would be hard as heck–sorry for the pay channel language–to continue writing compelling stories 10+ books in, but somehow she does it. (Note: Twisted Lies isn’t actually out until next month, so if you haven’t read the series, then you can start with the first one, Silent Scream.)
And thankfully, I had some other series…es to enjoy. Campus Bones, the new one in Vivian Barz’s Dead Remaining series, was a winner, for example. (You can read the first one for free with Kindle Unlimited.) In addition, as I predicted last month, I also liked the final installment in the Culver Creek series. And yes, I know whodunnit.
Unfortunately, besides those, I read several duds this month. One notable exception, especially since it’s non-series, is Kaira Rouda’s The Next Wife. That’ll be out next month, but you can also read her book Best Day Ever, which I just finished and really liked.
What I Watched This Month
First of all, if you want to keep up with the movies I watch in realish time, then you can follow me on Letterboxd. If you did, then you’d see, for instance, that I really liked Bad Trip. You think you’re getting Eric Andre’s prank movie. And it is that, but it’s so much more. This silly-ass film is also a tribute to the fundamental goodness of people, as well as the power of community. And the last scene make me shriek-laugh so loudly that I scared my dog. Below: It wasn’t this scene, but I definitely use this to serenade my mermaid friend Maria.
I also saw Nobody, the Bob Odenkirk-starrer that’s basically (to steal a phrase) Black Panther, but for dads. Or a film version of Al Bundy’s favorite series, Psycho Dad. As I’m spiritually a dad–my degree is in WWII history, after all–it’s unsurprising that I loved this movie. Absolutely do not think too hard about any facet of this–this is a movie designed for fun. And it’s fun as hell.
Also, in TV news, after I saw the trailer for Mare of Easttown, I thought I knew what to expect. I mean, we’ve all seen the burnt out detective before. (And some of us have seen Happy Valley, which has other themes similar to Mare.) So while it is familiar in some ways (*cough* another dead girl), its central mystery is compelling enough to keep me watching. Ending an episode with double cliffhangers? Bold. (For full authenticity, please read the preceding paragraph in a STRONG Philly accent.)
The April Audio in My Ears
It truly is a struggle to come up with answers for this category that aren’t just variations on “Taylor Swift.” But I can’t help it if she just happens to release a new album. Well, technically, Fearless is an old album, but she released a new version of it this month (along with some songs fresh from her vault). Overall, the songs are pretty similar, although it’s interesting to see how she’s changed some of the emphasis in her phrasing. For instance, it no longer sounds to me like she’s singing, “Good Charlotte, tell me how to feel” in “Love Story.”
By the way, if you don’t know why Taylor’s rerecording her music, then you should read about it in her own words. (No one likes a mad woman.)
image via Republic Records
Speaking of pop music, though, Julia Michaels has a new album out this month. However, Not in Chronological Order, the album, just came out. Like, while I am writing this. Obviously then, I can’t really give you a fair assessment of it at this time. Like Taylor Swift, who is incidentally Michaels’s labelmate, Michaels is an accomplished songwriter. For other people. This is her first full album of songs just for herself. So while I have limited familiarity with it–I’ve listened to it in full just once–I like it. My favorites so far are “All My Exes” and “Orange Magic,” the latter of which kind of gives me Carly Rae Jepsen vibes. Specifically, it reminds me of the one-two punch of “LA Hallucinations” and “Warm Blood” on 2015’s Emotion.
As far as podcasts go, I haven’t listened to any new ones this month. Still, I’ve continued to listen to History of the 90s, which I mentioned last month. I’ve gotten to some of their more serious episodes, like “Oklahoma City Bombing,” and “The OJ Simpson Verdict,” and they’re just as thoughtful and carefully constructed as the more lighthearted ones.
And that’s been my Pop Culture Free Time for April 2021. As always, tell me what you’ve been into this month. Comment here or on our social media.
*I’m a freelance werewolf by night.
featured image (of Mare of Easttown) via HBO
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.