Pop Culture Free Time: March 2021 – 1990s History, Shakespeare On Bikes, And Tales Of Pennsylvania
Hi there, Ides of March survivors. Welcome back to the monthly column wherein I find out what pop culture I enjoyed off the clock this month. If you haven’t been here before, then you can check out the previous month, the February 2021 Pop Culture Free Time, to see what it’s all about or merely read on, brave traveler.
Free Time Books for March 2021
image via Glitter Pigeon Press
Pennsylvania, reportedly a state (?), was the setting for two of the best books I read this month. First of all, there’s Alissa Grosso’s Haunted Houses. This is the third book in her Culver Creek series. (Last month, I read the second book, Factory Girls. And look forward to seeing the next one next month, probably.) If you haven’t read the series, then you can start with book one, Up the Creek. Each book in the series follows a different mystery. However, Detective Sage Dorian is the common denominator. When he was younger, someone murdered his sister, and the unsolved crime has haunted him ever since. Hopefully, when we meet next month, I’ll be telling y’all that I know whodunnit.
And speaking of whodunnits, I also read The Hand on the Wall, the most recent book in the Truly, Devious series. If you haven’t read this series, then here’s what you need to know. Teenage Stevie is from Pittsburgh, a village I’m told is like a northern Birmingham (but without barbecue as a food group). Anyway, Stevie loves solving mysteries. Her pet mystery is a series of murders and disappearances at an acclaimed, if eccentric, Vermont boarding school. When she gets the chance to go there, of course she’s going to try to solve it all.
(I’m also reading the upcoming book in the Pennsylvania-set Detective Josie Quinn series by Lisa Regan, but I haven’t finished it yet.)
Finally, another standout I read this month is from horror newcomer Stephen King. He released another book this month through the Hard Case Crime series. So if you read Joyland from that outfit and enjoyed it like I did, then you’ll probably like Later, too.
The Things I’ve Watched in My Free Time
As with last month, I haven’t really watched any movies that I haven’t already written about. And as with last month, I’m still watching a lot of TV.
Mayans, M.C., image via FX
Two of my regulars, New Amsterdam and Mayans M.C., came back this month. If Sons of Anarchy, which preceded Mayans was “Hamlet on Harleys,” then this season’s Mayans is like…any of the other Shakespeare plays about power struggles. It also reminds me a bit of Game of Thrones. That’s because it sees the Santo Padre chapter vying for power against other chapters and other MCs. At the same time, the real-life border issues threaten their livelihood. (That plotline, for me, is bittersweet. The border is a mess, but at the same time, I obviously don’t love that the Mayans’ business is heroin.)
And on the complete opposite side of the spectrum is New Amsterdam. As with other hospital shows, it obviously had to acknowledge the great pandemi moore in the room. However, unlike the other hospital shows I watch, New Amsterdam is set in New York, which had a brutal beginning to the outbreak. I still can’t go there, in fact because I don’t have the time to quarantine as required. (I miss you so much.)
Anyway, while COVID is still influencing the current storyline, the show dispatched with the bulk of its effects on the story in its premiere. That episode began with a montage set to “What a Wonderful World.” I know this isn’t the first time that song has been used ironically, but it was particularly gutting hearing it play as, for instance, workers stacked more bodies in refrigerated trucks. And the show continues to go for the jugular with Sharpe’s PSA (below) and other storylines that confront issues like police brutality and mental illness during die Pandemie.
What I’ve Been Listening To This Month
Through the playlists Spotify generates, I’ve discovered some new artists. Or rather, I’ve finally paid attention to some. I’ve been vaguely aware of Conan Gray being on the radio, but I’ve never stayed on a station long enough to listen to his music. The insane catchiness of “Maniac” won me over, though, when I heard it during a workout. That led to “Fake,” his song with Lauv, which is also ridiculously catchy. (And speaking of music, my sister would like to announce that she is now very aware of Harry Styles.)
As for my stories–my podcasts–I started listening to two new ones recently. The first is History of the 90s. As a verified 90s b-word, I’m obviously very here for this. So far I’ve listened only to the episode on The X-Files, but I’m looking forward to listening to the episode about Scream, and episodes about more serious topics like Columbine and “The Somalia Affair.”
“Die Hand Die Verletzt,” the very first episode of The X-Files that I ever saw (image via Fox)
And speaking of more serious fare, the other new podcast I’m listening to is Stolen: The Search for Jermain. This show follows the investigation into the disappearance of Jermain Charlo, who went missing in Montana in 2018. With her disappearance, Jermain joined the ranks of too many other Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls (MMIWG). I wish we could keep that number from growing. It’s sadly too late for Jermain and others, but the show hopes that by shining a light on the reality of being an Indigenous woman, they can make that reality safer.
So what pop culture did you love this month? Let me know by commenting here or on our social media.
featured image via Hard Case Crime
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.