Not Just Books: February 2022

While we do love us some books, believe it not, we do have a life outside of reading. So to highlight our other pop culture interests, on the last Monday of each month, we each will highlight three other “happenings” from the last month. Big events on favorite TV shows, new movies we’ve watched, old movies we’ve “discovered,” etc. Pretty much whatever we found of particular interest outside of the book world during the last month. Share your own favorite things in the comments!

Serena’s Picks

Sports: The Winter Olympics 2022

This year was a tough one for the Olympics, mostly because it’s hard to watch it and enjoy it without thinking of some of the humanitarian crisis that China is embroiled within. The ongoing doping issues with Russia was also a big splash of cold water one one of my favorite Olympics sports, ice skating. But there were also incredible moments for sports lovers in general. Touching stories of redemption. Fantastic feats of skill and sportsmanship. These are the stories I watch for, and while this year was definitely more challenging than other years, I still enjoyed tuning in nightly to see athletes from around the world perform such amazing things on the world stage.

Amazon Show: “The Wheel of Time”

I’m so intimidated by this fantasy series. So long, so many books, such a commitment. I had a half-hearted thought to just read along with the series of the show, like reading only the first book before watching the first season. But honestly, even that seemed like a lot and, well, I caved and just watched the show anyways. Hopefully some day I will tackle this series, but for now, I did enjoy seeing it brought to life on the screen. And while the story didn’t grab me as much as I had hoped (the acting was all aggressively just fine, other than Rosamund Pike who is always awesome), the gorgeous cinematography and costume design definitely had me intrigued. I’m hopeful that as the series continues I’ll become more invested in the actual characters, but for now, I did enjoy it well enough.

Movie: “A Quiet Place 2”

I really loved “A Quiet Place” when my husband and I saw it in theaters right when it came out. I also really, really hated the idea of a sequel when it was announced. The ending of the first movie was so poignant and hopeful that I couldn’t imagine where the story could go from there that wouldn’t damage the excellence of that first movie. Well, I’ve been proved wrong! While I still think the first movie is the superior, this second entry still stood up well on its own and took the story in new and interesting directions. It also was so tense that I could barely make it through the last half. My poor husband can attest to the fact that I was practically jumping out of my seat because I couldn’t handle the building drama. Fans of the first movie who may still be on the fence should definitely give this one try!

Kate’s Picks

TV Show: “Pam and Tommy”

I was in grade school when the infamous Pamela Anderson/Tommy Lee sex tape made waves across pop culture. I remember the scandal vaguely thanks to entertainment TV shows, but I also have a vague recollection about all the jokes that were made about it. Looking back at it now I like to think that society has realized what a disgusting invasion of privacy it was and really no joking matter. So I’ve been enjoying “Pam and Tommy”, the Hulu series that dramatizes it and shows just how goddamn horrible it was. The show follows not only the leaking of the tape itself, but also the whirlwind romance of Tommy Lee and Pamela Anderson, and how this tape did significant damage to their relationship, and also to Pam’s reputation. Sebastian Stan is pretty fun as Lee, but it’s Lily James who shines brightest, as she completely becomes Pamela Anderson, and brings out all of the vulnerability and helplessness that this poor woman must have felt during this horrifically traumatizing moment.

Film: “Nightmare Alley”

As someone who has absolutely adored Guillermo del Toro since I saw “Pan’s Labyrinth” in the theater, imagine how crestfallen I was when his newest film “Nightmare Alley” came out exclusively in theaters during the holiday season when I wasn’t feeling comfortable going to the movies. But hey, I can be patient, and eventually “Nightmare Alley” dropped on HBO. So on Valentine’s Day, my husband and I decided that it was the perfect night to sit down and watch! A bleak choice for a romantic date, but whatever. It follows Stan, a potential psychopath who joins up with a sideshow carnival out of convenience as he runs from a mysterious crime. While there he starts to take up the grift of fortune telling and mentalism, and when he and sweet sideshow act Molly take his show on the road, his hubris gets them both into some dangerous situations with shady characters. This remake of a 1940s noir is dark as hell, but Bradley Cooper as Stan is fantastic, as is Cate Blanchett as a femme fatale psychiatrist. This is, for me, del Toro’s darkest film yet. but it’s also beautiful to look at.

Music: The “Peacemaker” Soundtrack

Okay, obviously “Peacemaker” is still very much at the front of my pop culture consciousness this month. Seriously, I LOVED THIS SHOW. But as we were watching it together my husband and I were like ‘damn… this soundtrack is awesome’. And I’ve pretty much been listening to it on a loop all month. It’s mostly the kind of music that Peacemaker himself would listen to, which is, specifically, glam metal. I think that before this soundtrack became my obsession I would have probably ranked glam metal fairly high up there on my preferred music genres, but now I’ve come to realize that it’s absolutely top three behind New Wave and 70s/80s punk. From the likes of Pretty Boy Floyd to Faster Pussycat to Hanoi Rocks to Mötley Crüe (see above: this month also finally prompted me to buy a vintage Crüe tee shirt), the soundtrack also has some Lita Ford, and, of course, the earworm that is “Do Ya Wanna Taste It”, the opening song to the show which is also possibly the best opening credits of all time. As Peacemaker says, “There’s never a wrong time to rock!”

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