Pop Culture Free Time September 2021: Dean Koontz, Kids Games, and the 90s
Ah, and we’re back once more. If you missed my August 2021 free time, then you should know that it was mostly about me trying to find pockets of happiness in a bummer month. (You should also know that I’m pretty sure I have reverse seasonal affective disorder* and thus, hate all things summer.) And if you’ve never been here before at all, then…hello. This is where I share the pop culture I got into in my meager September 2021 free time.
The Required Reading: This Dean Koontz Is Really Going Places
I tore through the first “season” of Dean Koontz’s Nameless when I found it, so unsurprisingly, seeing a second season excited me. In case you’re unfamiliar, the Nameless series is part of Amazon Original Stories, their “single-sitting reads.” Each season is basically a book in itself, but Koontz divides the story into novellas. It feels like you’re a quaint Victorian, reading a serialized novel.
image via Amazon Original Stories
It’s clear from the storyline that the current state of the world troubles Koontz. So in season 2, instead of merely hunting down killers, Nameless feels drawn to stop a bigger threat. His visions have become apocalyptic, with premonitions of American devolving into a fascist state. That’s not very chill, so Nameless is determined to keep it from coming true. I don’t want to spoil anything, but I will say that I found the ending satisfying.
And in non-book reading, this essay, “What’s So Funny about My Southern Accent?” just squeaked in to make my monthly list. At its core, Audrey Atkins’s piece is obviously about being proud of the Southern accent. It, of course, struck me on a personal level.
And it’s not just me. I’ve heard Southern professionals from all over tell countless stories of being called out in front of classmates or colleagues, shamed really, for something intrinsic to their very being — their accent. And if you’re a native Southerner reading this, I bet right about now you’re thinking about a time (or times) that it’s happened to you too.
*sniff* I am. In fact, if you hear me speak, then chances are you’re not hearing my real accent. Most of the time, I cover it up. I learned to do it so it wouldn’t hinder me (as much). Because as Atkins points out, Southern accents, and the non-standard English types they often accompany, like Southern American English and African American Vernacular English, are often subject to mean judgment.
September 2021 Free Time Watch Party
This month, I actually managed to watch something besides reaction videos. Don’t get me wrong; I still watched a heckuva lot of those. I’ve really enjoyed, for instance, watching people find out the Malignant secrets. And if you’re looking for new reactors, I’m also enjoying watching the couple behind TBR Schmitt try to make it through The Haunting of Hill House. And speaking of Mike Flanagan works, I would have watched Midnight Mass even if I weren’t reviewing it.
But that’s not really the spirit of Pop Culture Free Time, because I did watch it for review. However, that’s not all I watched outside of reaction videos. As fall, the best season, has begun, our TV stories are returning. As such, I’m getting to watch the new seasons of shows like 9-1-1. And still, I discover new stuff.
image via Netflix
Well, “discover” is maybe too lofty a word. Like a whole lot of other people, I’m now hooked on Squid Game, the blockbuster Netflix hit from Korea. If you haven’t seen it, then it’s like The Hunger Games meets a Korean variety show, but lethal. To that end, a mysterious and apparently well-funded organization invites a bunch of deeply in debt folks to play some games for a lot of money. The games are all simple games. In fact, they’re kids’ games, like 무궁화 꽃 이 피었 습니다 (red light, green light). But they have much higher stakes.
I’m not actually finished with the series yet, so no spoilers. I also can’t tell you if it’s worth watching the whole thing, obviously. So far, though, it is. It has an irresistible plotline that immediately caught me. And if you’re one of those folks that, as Bong Joon-Ho said, can’t “overcome the 1-inch-tall barrier of subtitles,” then learn Korean. Or I guess you can watch the dubbed version, although I never like those. The voices just sound so weird!
Anyway, as Meghan just told y’all, Bridgerton is the biggest thing on Netflix, especially after our managing editor Joshua watched it 625 million times. But Netflix co-CEO Ted Sarandos thinks Squid Game could be on the way to beating it. But that’s just what I heard.
Music and Other Things I Heard Last Month
I’ve mentioned History of the 90s before, but it’s worth mentioning the podcast again. They just started their second season a couple of weeks go. So far, host Kathy Kenzora has tackled fairly silly topics for this season, like ska. But I’m sure more serious fare is coming. On that note, I recently listened to a more serious episode from season one, “The Somalia Affair.” It was very disturbing, as I thought it was going to be about the Battle of Mogadishu and the whole Black Hawk Down thing. What’s more disturbing than war? Well, sometimes it’s the smaller crimes that happen within them, like the Canadian military scandal that became known as the Somalia Affair.
In much lighter news, I also had music. As many as of you may know, Ms. Taylor Alison Swift is rerecording most of her catalog. She’s got a bit before she gets to 1989, but she still released her version of that album’s “Wildest Dreams.” It’s great, obviously, but liiiike. We’re not that far from 1989‘s release, so it’s not really that different. And I’m laser-focused anyway on the upcoming release of Red (Taylor’s Version), which will include the long-fabled and actually real 10-minute version of “All Too Well.” It’s only one of my top 5 Taylor tracks.
If you look at my Spotify statistics, though, there is one clear winner for the past month. Unsurprisingly, it’s those sweet lads from South Korea–diplomatic presidential envoys now–and their new collaboration with Coldplay. BTS has previously covered Coldplay’s “Fix You” in their MTV Unplugged performance, and they’ve made no secret of their admiration for the British band. Apparently, it goes both ways, though, because now we have this song. I would prefer hearing a lot more BTS in the song, but it does sound right lovely. Anyway, here’s the wildly over-the-top video.
So that’s what took up my free time last month. As always, I’d love to hear what you were into in September. Let me know by commenting here or on our social media.
*Yes, “Summertime Sadness.”
featured image via Netflix
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 email@example.com.