Pop Culture Free Time May 2021: The Constant Man, Nancy Drew, And BTS, OMG
Hey, y’all, it’s time for Pop Culture Free Time, my monthly pop culture discussion. If you haven’t been here before, then basically, it’s my log of the stuff I consumed when I was vegging out. Or in other words, the TV, movies, books, and music I turned to when I wasn’t writing. And so let’s get on with it, the May 2021 Pop Culture Free Time.
May 2021 Free Time Books: Y’all Got Murder In ‘Em?
After a bit of a disappointing April (the cruelest month), I had a much better book time this month. Don’t get me wrong, though. There were some stinkers, which I won’t mention. However, I did get to read some good heavy hitters.
The first one was Linwood Barclay’s Find You First. It’s about a tech mogul who finds out he’s dying. When he was younger, though, he was quite the, uh, supplier to a sperm bank. Knowing that his days are numbered then, he decides to find his offspring and split his fortune between them. Someone, however, starts killing them off. As I wrote on Goodreads, “I was going to go with a respectable four stars, then Chloe did the thing, and eff it, five stars it is.”
image via William Morrow and Custom House
In addition, back in February, I whined on Twitter that I hadn’t gotten a copy of Hairpin Bridge by Taylor Adams. His previous book, No Exit, was my absolute favorite of 2019, so I was eager to read his next one. Thankfully, as it usually does, my complaining paid off. A very nice lady from William Morrow and Custom House reached out to me with a copy–thank you, again! Anyway, while I didn’t love Hairpin Bridge as much as I loved the last one, I still liked it a whole lot. It’s got the same stressful vibes, which is very uncomfortable during the reading, but is ultimately cathartic. (Hairpin Bridge will be available on June 15.)
Finally, my other favorite book I read in May was Peter Steiner’s The Constant Man. It’s a thriller that takes place in the very early days of Nazi Germany and it follows former cop Willi Geismeier. He’s trying to find a serial killer in Nazi München–shades of an actual true story–while also trying to stay underground.
I must admit that before I read it, I was not looking forward to it, though. The last Reich thriller I read…how do I say this professionally? It sucked, bro. This book, though, did not suck. As I’ve mentioned before, I read a lot–A Lot–of mystery/thrillers. While many writers I read are good storytellers, that doesn’t mean that they’re actually great writers. They’re competent, sure, but they’re not able to turn a phrase. Steiner doesn’t have that issue. Not only is the book a compelling story, but it’s also positively stuffed with fantastic lines. (This book is number two in a series, but you don’t have to have read the first one for it to make sense.)
What I Watched This Month
Unfortunately, I didn’t get to watch a lot of things that I haven’t already written about or am going to write about. There were a few exceptions, though. On the movie front, for instance, I helped contribute to the Quiet Place II box office take. I liked the movie, especially how the story spent so much time on Regan (Millicent Simmonds). That’s a smart move. However, I also thought that the ending was kind of just there. They were clearly setting it up for another movie, the last part of the trilogy.
image via The CW
And while I do regularly write about Nancy Drew, I haven’t written about it here in a while, so it still counts. Anyway, it started off as a pretty good show. Now, though, it’s an amazing show. It manages to blend the mystery aspect with astute commentary on social issues. Unlike some shows, though, it’s not so obvious when the Drew Crew does it. However, the episode “The Siege of the Unknown Specter” made its subtext text and it was better for it. (I’m being purposely vague, yes, but I’m trying to avoid spoiling the episode, their most powerful yet.)
In May I Listened to…
In the last month, my music tastes regressed for some reason. Well, actually, I regressed to my teen and tween years. First of all, I couldn’t get enough of Olivia Rodrigo’s album Sour. I am an eldritch swamp monster and I’m in an healthy relationship. Still, though, her album moved me. She wears her influences on her sleeve and guess what? I already love of all them, so unsurprisingly, I love this album. It sounds like a blend of Taylor Swift (Taylor is the blueprint), Paramore, and even Bikini Kill. In other words, she made it for Salomés. (That doesn’t mean that we don’t still feel weird about it, though.)
Then there is the other thing, which I’m not even sure how to talk about: my sudden case of BTS fever. I was certainly aware of them–it’s kind of hard not to be. They’re probably the biggest group in the world.
I’ve even enjoyed their music, adding “Boy with Luv” and “Dynamite” to my workout playlists. But for some reason, that, again, I’m at a loss to explain, they have taken root in my heart over the last two weeks. I’ve gone from being a casual fan, who wondered things like “Why are there so many of them?” to having google searches I would rather die than show you. I have learned (some of the) lingo. Like, I have a bias. (And nope, I’m not going to say who it is. Okay, it’s V. I knew it was him when he spent their Grammy nominations video absolutely housing Samgak-gimbap. Below: A man of culture.)
Anyway, now I can’t stop watching their videos. I mean it–I cannot stop. And it shouldn’t be surprising, because they put so much effort–so much work–into everything they do. Again, though, this should not be happening to me. I’m an adult!
featured image a composite of an image from HYBE
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.