Not Just Books: July 2017

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:

mv5bntk4odq1mzgznl5bml5banbnxkftztgwmtmymzm4mti-_v1_sy1000_cr006581000_al_Movie: “Spider-man: Homecoming”

I know I for one was a pretty skeptical when this movie was announced. I love super heroes as much as the next guy. To be honest, probably more than the next guy, but even I had to role my eyes at the idea of having three Spider-man origin stories presented for us on the big screen over 15 years essentially. But after seeing “Captain America: Civil War” and loving Tom Holland’s brief cameo in the role, I was a bit more on board. All of this to say…set your skepticism aside, folks, turns out they can give us something new with this character after all! The true game changers of this movie are the wise casting (Tom Holland is perfect in both iterations of the character), wise story decisions (thank god we didn’t get another Uncle Ben dying “with great power blah blah blah” scene), and wise plots (this is truly a story about a highschool boy as a superhero, and the only version of the three that rings true to the day-to-day challenges and life of a boy this age). Add on a great villain with Michael Keaton’s Vulture, and you’ve got a great summer flick! Definitely check it out if you like superhero movies of any kind!

mv5bmjezmjyzmdq0mv5bml5banbnxkftztcwnze1otm5ng-_v1_sy1000_cr006741000_al_Movie: “Chronicle”

This movie came out in 2012, but my husband and I only got to it this last month. And man, if we knew how good it was, we would have done it sooner! I didn’t really know what to expect from this. It’s a small production, “found footage” type film about three teens who discover a strange cave and emerge with powers. From the sound of it, it could have been quite trite and cheesy. But man, not only is the “found footage” aspect done extremely well (I’m not usually a fan of this medium), but the film tackles some dark topics amidst its super powers action scenes. It’s also incredibly funny and heart felt. I really can’t recommend this film enough. Bonus points for it being set in Seattle, my old stomping ground!

game_of_thrones_title_cardTV Show: “Game of Thrones”

One of us had to do it, so this time it’s me! Obviously both Kate and I are huge fans of “Game of Thrones.” I’m there for all the high fantasy political action, Kate’s there for the dragons, we’re both there for the eye candy (don’t tell our significant others). While I’m super bummed that this is a shorter season than the last several, I’m also exorbitantly pleased to see a show taking the correct approach to story telling: tell the story, complete with beginning, middle, and, most importantly, an end. All too often massively popular shows attempt to drag on for forever to the detriment of the quality and sense of their own story. There’s tons to get through in these last two short seasons, but I’m hopeful that they’ll be able to wrap it all up in a, I wont’ say “happy,” but, satisfying way.

Kate’s Picks:

mv5bmji1mdexodg0mv5bml5banbnxkftztgwmji4mta2mji-_v1_uy1200_cr9006301200_al_Netflix Show: “GLOW”

I love me some 1980s nostalgia trips, and thanks to my husband I’ve found a certain joy from watching the over the top glory and soapiness that is pro-wrestling. So it’s really no surprise, I’d imagine, that both he and I were super into the new Netflix show “GLOW,” a fictionalized origin story of the Gorgeous Ladies of Wrestling. Along with the pretty impressive and always entertaining wrestling moves and in ring antics, we also get the stories of some pretty well rounded women who, living in the 1980s, are trying to succeed in an entertainment industry that doesn’t take women very seriously. Alison Brie as Ruth is, of course, a delight, but there are also a lot of wonderful newcomers that all give their characters a whole lot of backstory, motivation, and complexity. I cannot wait for Season 2.

nosleep-podcast-s4-logo_1400Podcast: “The No Sleep Podcast”

Looking for some original and deeply unsettling horror stories for your commute, gym visits, or doing chores around the house? Then do I have the podcast for you! The “No Sleep Podcast” selects some of the best stories from the Reddit board “No Sleep” and dramatizes them, turning them into a radio drama for the horror geek. I’ve been on the “No Sleep” board a number of times, and while there are definitely ways to find really good stories there, sometimes you have to dig. With this podcast, they do the digging for you, and give them an eerie ambiance with how they tell them. I’ve been devouring my way through the seasons, each episode being about two to three stories each (and if you are willing to pay for it, you can access even more stories), and have found some VERY scary gems within. Listen if you dare, but I don’t recommend doing so late at night.

headerVideo Game: “Stardew Valley”

I was at a Sci-Fi/Fantasy convention at the beginning of the month, and while I was there I became privy to a very chill video game called “Stardew Valley”. In this game you are a person who has just inherited a plot of farmland from your grandfather, and have to become a farmer and to join the community of Pelican Town in Stardew Valley. It’s kind of like “The Sims” meets “Farmville”, with some “Zelda” thrown in for good measure. It’s a very laid back and relaxing game, just the thing that I need when the world gets to be a bit too much. You can pretty much decide what your gaming experience is going to be; you can farm, or fish, or go exploring in caves, or make friends and possible romances as well. I really like the open sandbox design of the plot, and the look of it feels like something out of a Super Nintendo era game. If you are in need of a video game that is super relaxing and incredibly charming, “Stardew Valley” may be the right match for you.

Not Just Books: June 2017

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!

Joint Pick

mv5bndfmzjgymtetytk5mc00nmy0lwjhzjktowy2mzi5yjkzodnlxkeyxkfqcgdeqxvymda4nzmyoa-_v1_sy1000_sx675_al_Movie: “Wonder Woman”

We bought tickets to this super in advance because we knew, WE KNEW, it was going to be awesome. So just imagine our smug self-satisfaction when we walked out of the theater knowing that the DC flop fest had ended at last. And with a female superhero’s story none the less! The hype is real with this one, folks. Not only is Diana Prince/Wonder Woman fabulous, her supporting cast of characters all fit together perfectly. Want to feel empowered, ladies? Go see this movie.

 

Serena’s Picks:

 mv5bmwy3ntljmjetyzrimi00nwm2ltkznjitztvmzje0mtdjmjjhl2ltywdll2ltywdlxkeyxkfqcgdeqxvyntq4ntc5otu-_v1_TV Show: “Sherlock”

While I will admit that “Elementary” is my preferred go-to Sherlock Holmes TV show (mostly because I love Johnny Lee Miller and Lucy Lu’s Watson is a unique element to the tried and tru duo), my husband and I started watching the BBC “Sherlock” this month on Netflix. We’re now on the third season, and I’m warming up to the series as Sherlock becomes less of a jerk and Mycroft’s snarky British greatness really comes to the forefront. Though we did just finish the historical piece that re-imagines the series set back in the books’ original time period, which, for a historical fiction junky like me, just made the transition back to modern times all the more painful! Why did they have to torture me with “what ifs” and an historical version that I probably would have preferred?!

mrhpdh-cover-819x1024Blog: Mark Reads “Harry Potter”

The obsession with this blog continues! Last month I obsessively read Mark’s growing horror at the “Twilight” books all while muttering to myself “It gets even worse! Just wait for the next book!” So this month I got to experience the opposite side of book-feelings while reading Mark’s growing love affair with the “Harry Potter” series all while muttering to myself “It gets even better! Just wait for the next book!” I know it’s kind of a cop out to highlight the same blog twice in a row, but the reviews of these two series were such complete opposite ends of the spectrum that it felt like a completely different beast this second time around. And the one thing better than reading about someone hate-read a series you disliked, is reading about some fall in love with a series you adored.

Kate’s Picks:

p13713169_b_v8_aaTV Show: “Twin Peaks: The Return”

Remember how I said I hoped I’d be able to finally put this on my highlights? Thanks to my Mom and her generosity with her Showtime Anytime password, I CAN! “Twin Peaks” is back, and it’s crazier than ever. While it’s definitely feeling more “Eraserhead” than the original “Twin Peaks” at this point, I’m already hooked if only because of getting to see such favorites as Dale Cooper, Bobby Briggs, Albert Rosenfield, and (hopefully soon) Audrey Horne, aka my muse, back on my screen. It’s bananas and I just love it. We finally get to see where all of these characters have ended up after all these years, and while in some cases it’s very confusing (what is happening with Coop?!), in others it’s bittersweet and lovely (Bobby Briggs made me cry and I’m not ashamed).

e1c2bd0b5aa0a8d2fff1fe4aeb2ce4157761d9c2Netflix Show: “Mystery Science Theater 3000: The Return”

Another ‘return’! So I was pretty well obsessed with “Mystery Science Theater 3000” when I was in college. I liked the snark, the retro trash movies they watched, and the characters (at least for awhile. I’m solidly a Joel girl and once the Mads leave I’m not interested anymore). So when I heard that Netflix was going to revive it, I was nervously hopeful. The good news is that while the revival isn’t going to live up to the golden days of Joel, the bots, and the Mads, it still has so much heart, great nerdy humor, and terrible movies to make fun of. Plus, while the new people (including Patton Oswalt and Felicia Day) are good, it’s fun seeing some of the original people pop up in cameos. If you like the original “MST3K”, this is a worthy revival!

 

 

Not Just Books: May 2017

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:

Movie: Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2

mv5bmtg2mzi1mtg3of5bml5banbnxkftztgwntu3nda2mti-_v1_sy1000_cr006741000_al_

I will admit that I was one of those skeptics when I heard about the first “Guardians of the Galaxy” movie. I’m a DC fan, so I knew very little about the comics and from the description (a talking racoon?? a tree character??) I was like “Whelp! Disney/Marvel are finally showing their hands with this one! Money grabbing time!” But we all know how that stories ends! So this time, I also had worries, how could the sequel ever live up to the unexpected hilarity and quirkiness of the first one? But it did! It really did! In some ways, I would even go so far as to say that this is the stronger movie of the two, fixing up the few complaints I had from the first one, particularly in the improvement of its villain, always a weakness for Marvel. However, it is the spot on casting that carried the first movie and continues to carry the series with this one. Each character is given time to develop, as individuals, as friends, and as members of a wacky family, and each and every actor brings their A game to this feature. Definitely check this out in the theater if you possibly can!

TV Show: “Supernatural”

Supernatural_Staffel_12_PromoSPOILERS! I didn’t know what I was getting myself into when I started watching this show when it premiered during my early years at college. What it turned into was the one show that I have followed from beginning to….12 seasons later with more still coming! There have been some rough seasons here and there, but for the most part this show’s best talent is knowing its audience and consistently delivering with the spooks, the laughs, and the single man tears. Season 12 just wrapped up this month by shockingly killing off two main characters while trapping a few more in an alternative world. However, given the penchant for fan favorites to make miraculous, some would say dubious, returns, I’m mostly just curious to see how they will bring Castiel back to life. Crowley, on the other hand, might be gone for good?? But…but…what if Bobby came back? I mean, that’s a real possibility! Ugh, the fan girl spiral of speculation is happening! I’ll cut myself off now.

Blog: Mark Reads “Twilight”

 mrtwilightadIs it true schadenfreude to enjoy reading someone else’s misery while reading a book series that you also suffered through? Probably. But it’s also tons of fun. As a librarian, I of course understand and respect the fact that many people truly enjoy this series. I, however, demonstratively did not and while I will check this book out to anyone who asks me to, there is a good chance that if I see them again I will strongly recommend other, better, vampire fiction to sate this particular reading habit. All of this to say, sometimes I just need to be reassured that I’m not crazy and there are other people out there who recognize the madness that was this fad (a fad that we still see affecting the YA fantasy publishing world today). And, luckily for me, Mark was there with his hilarious, snarky, and at times downright despondent reviews of these books, chapter by chapter. I binge read this whole blog series in one afternoon and I’m not sorry.

Kate’s Picks:

220px-fargoseason3promoTV Show: “Fargo”

When it was first announced that FX was going to make a show inspired by the movie “Fargo,”  I was skeptical. Then Season 1 was very good, and Season 2 was phenomenal. Now we’re into Season 3 of this Anthology series that takes place in Minnesota, and “Fargo” is going as strong as ever. This time the eccentric criminals are being played by Ewan McGregor (who is playing twin brothers, one a parole officer and the other a parking lot mogul), Mary Elizabeth Winstead (who is a grifting card player), and David Thewlis (as a SCARY AS HELL British loan shark). And, of course, our noble law enforcement officer this season is played by Carrie Coon, who is trying to solve who murdered her stepfather. It’s darkly funny and very Minnesotan, so I’m glad it’s finally back.

unbreakable-kimmy-schmidt-season-3-update-premier-of-season-3-to-be-in-2017Netflix Series: “Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt” Season 3

It was a long wait, but damn was it worth it, because “Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt” is finally back!!!! I love the quirky and ridiculous humor of this show, about a woman who escaped from a doomsday cult and is living in New York City, with hilarious results. The characters on this show are all unique and funny, with the incomparable Titus Burgess playing the perfect foil to Ellie Kemper’s wide eyed heroine. Plus this season we get cameos from Daveed Diggs (schwing!), Maya Rudolph, and Jon Hamm returning as the evil (but charming) Reverend Richard Wayne Gary Wayne.

twinpeaks_openingshotcreditsTV Show: “Twin Peaks” (the Original)

So you know how excited I was about the reboot of my favorite show of all time, “Twin Peaks”? Well, I’m still excited, but haven’t quite gained access to it yet as I don’t have Showtime. So instead of watching the new episodes I’ve been watching the original series all over again. What I love about “Twin Peaks” is that it is the perfect blend of small town soap, supernatural mystery, and quirky characters. From Kyle MacLachlan’s effervescent Dale Cooper to Sherilyn Fenn’s coquettish Audrey Horne to Ray Wise’s tragic Leland Palmer, the characters leap off the screen, and the stories unsettle and entice. I hope that the reboot brings all of this back, and that next month I’ll be able to list it as a highlight.

Not Just Books: April 2017

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:

FNV_box_art_(US)Video Game: “Fallout: New Vegas”
My husband and I both succumbed to a terrible cold last week and what better to get you through enforced couch time than a post apocalyptic, rather out dated, video game? We are still hold outs on the Xbox One, so our options for game play are stuck a bit in the past. However, as a fan of the “Fallout” series as a whole, I was excited to try out this game. While it is clear that this is a “.5” type game (not given the entire “Fallout” treatment of the full, numbered games in the series), the storyline was very compelling and the open world style was as fun to explore as ever.  If you’re a fan of Bethesda games and are looking for less of a commitment than some of the larger games out there, this is definitely worth checking out!

250px-survivor34logo

TV Show: “Survivor: Game Changers”

I warned you that my reality tv watching would make another appearance, and here we are! I’m not ashamed to admit that I’ve watched every season of “Survivor.” The combination of the interesting physical challenges and the complex interpersonal strategy that make up this show has continuously drawn me in year after year. This season is notable for bringing back a few of my favorite players like Aubry (completely and utterly robbed of a win in her season due to bitter jury syndrome) and Malcom (a great player, but likely to never win as he is seen as too much of a threat to ever make it through).

MV5BMjE1ODgwOTkzNF5BMl5BanBnXkFtZTgwMDcwMTg5MTI@._V1_SY1000_CR0,0,674,1000_AL_Trailer: “Thor: Ragnarok”

Most importantly…does Chris Hemsworth rock the new hair cut or what? The “Thor” series as a whole has been probably the weaker movies for me in the Marvel line up. I enjoy the character very much, but he is at his best when playing off other characters, which can make his own movies a bit challenging. However, this trailer looks awesome. I’m a big fan of the director, Taika Waititi, having loved both “What We Do in the Shadows” and the more recent “Hunt for the Wilderpeople.” Both of those movies are about as far from a comic book blockbuster movie as you can get, so I’m excited to see what new take he can bring to this movie and the genre. At this point, I feel like audiences are going through a bit of “super hero exhaustion,” so a breath of fresh air to the Marvel universe is much needed, and hopefully this movie will bring just that!

Kate’s Picks:

myfavoritemurderPodcast: “My Favorite Murder”

No one is going to be surprised that I am not only a horror and thriller fan, but also a huge true crime buff. And while my fascination with murder has always been side-eyed by many people around me, my friend and fellow murder ‘enthusiast’ Amanda told me to try out the podcast “My Favorite Murder,” by Karen Kilgariff and Georgia Hardstark! Karen and Georgia are two women living in the Valley who are obsessed with true crime, and every episode they come with an oral history of a murder case, and banter the only way two close lady friends can. Also, there’s a cat named Elvis who is basically their mascot. It’s dark subject matter, but I love this show because they are both really funny while maintaining the right levels of interest and horror at the awfulness. So fellow ‘murderinos’, check this out!

mv5bmzk1nzi1odg3m15bml5banbnxkftztgwnzm0mzc4mti-_v1_sy1000_cr006741000_al_Trailer: “It”

Okay, so as much as I do really enjoy the original TV miniseries “It”, I never found it terribly scary. Tim Curry is awesome, but I was never really too terrified by him. I also think that the book is a work of sheer genius, and absolutely horrifying. So when I heard that they were making a movie of it, I was kind of skeptical. I felt it didn’t have the Tim Curry Factor, and the original book is so hard to do justice to. But then I saw the trailer, and my God. My jaw dropped and I watched it over and over again. The book about a murderous entity in small town Maine, and the kids who come together to fight it, may have just been given a worthy adaptation that captures just how scary Pennywise and Derry, Maine are supposed to be. And I cannot WAIT to see it.


hq720TV Show: “RuPaul’s Drag Race”

IT’S BACK, HUNTYS!!!! My favorite reality competition of all time and one of my favorite TV shows on the air at the moment, “RuPaul’s Drag Race”!! I’ve been addicted to this show since season 4, and now we’re on season 9 as RuPaul brings us a bunch of amazing drag queens competing for the title of America’s Next Drag Superstar! The talent of all these drag queens when it comes to performance, design, make-up, and fashion consistently boggles my mind, and the over the top self awareness that RuPaul presents in every episode is a hoot and a treat. There are also moments of awareness building and activism seen on this show as well, as GLBT issues are not shied away from in conversation. If you want to make your life just a little more fabulous, this is what you should be watching.

Not Just Books: March 2017 (Plus exciting news!)

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!

Joint Pick

mv5bmtuwnjuxmtm4nv5bml5banbnxkftztgwodexmdqzmti-_v1_ux182_cr00182268_al_Movie: “Beauty and the Beast”

As you all know, we have been looking forward to this movie, and our book club went together opening weekend. And boy, was it everything we were hoping it would be. The visuals were stunning, the character additions were mostly perfect (specifically Stanley Tucci’s harpsichord Maestro, who is the husband of Audra McDonald’s Madame Garderobe), and they fixed some pesky little plot holes from the original. Some of the new songs were hit and miss, but Dan Steven’s “Evermore” was a worthy addition to an already amazing soundtrack. Emma Watson is as charming as ever, but Luke Evan’s Gaston was the real surprise performance, adding a deeper level of cunning malevolence to the character.  For those who are nervous, this movie doesn’t disappoint and it is best served if seen on the big screen where the sweeping sets and large musical numbers can be fully appreciated.

Serena’s Picks:

cuaiczwueaaid_w-jpg-large Movie: “Logan”

Can I just cry instead of type? Does unabashed raw emotion count as a blurb? Look, I knew what I was getting into with this movie. The previews themselves set us up for a more tonally dark movie, it has an “R” rating, and we’ve all heard by now that this was likely going to be Hugh Jackman’s and Patrick Stewart’s final hurrah as these characters. But I was not prepared! Not for all the feelings! And not for all great the movie itself was going to be. I didn’t dislike the previous two Wolverine movies (though…that first one..), but this was in a category of its own. Not only as an X-Men movie, but as a superhero movie all together. I won’t say it was the best one ever (though it may be), but I do think it is a gamechanger for what superhero movies can be going forward. This proves a very important point: they can simply be good movies, superheros and abilities aside, with real characters, real stakes, and real drama. Ok, I got some words out. Now back to crying.

Movie: “Kong: Skull Island” 

mv5bmtuwmzi5odewnf5bml5banbnxkftztgwnjaznji2mdi-_v1_sy1000_cr006741000_al_ For a complete switch of tone, the same week I went to “Logan,” I also squeezed in “Kong: Skull Island.” Which, as much as I loved “Logan” was a bit cathartic really. This movie is unadulterated fun. While I haven’t jumped on the hate train for Peter Jackson’s re-make a decade ago, this movie approaches the classic tale with stronger eye on monster-bashing good times and less on heart-wrenching tragedy. Kong is the king of this movie in every way. As the second movie to be released in this rebooted “monster world” (“Godzilla” from a few years ago was the first), “Kong” continues to set the stage of a world where amazing creatures exist beneath our world. I particularly enjoyed how much screen time Kong himself got. One of my bigger criticisms of “Godzilla” was how long it takes to see him and then how little there really is in total. Here, the human characters are probably the least fleshed out, but that feels more correct for the type of story this is setting out to tell. All in all, if you love blockbuster action flicks, this one is definitely worth checking out on a larger screen.

Kate’s Picks:

the-black-tapes-podcast-2016-iconPodcast: “The Black Tapes”

For the record, “Kong: Skull Island” is fabulous. But I have something else. As someone who enjoys a good horror story, and who also really enjoys the podcast “Serial”, when I discovered that a horror, “Serial”-esque podcast existed I was STOKED! “The Black Tapes” is a docudrama (fictional) hosted by a woman named Alex Regan, whose focus is on “Evangelical Skeptic” Dr. Richard Strand. Though he’s debunked a number of ‘supernatural’ events, there are a few cases he can’t explain, those he calls ‘the black tapes’. This show starts out like a “This American Life” episode, but turns into a conspiracy laden, “X-Files” echoing, demon and ghost fest! It’s well researched, addictive, and incredibly scary at times. I LOVE it, but I can’t listen to it at night, especially if my house is empty…

3079403-resident_evil_7_biohazard_-_ps4_boxart_png_jpgcopyVideo Game: “Resident Evil 7: Biohazard”

Speaking of things that I can’t do after dark when I’m home alone, I bring you the scariest video game I’ve played in a long time: “Resident Evil 7”. Unlike the notorious plot of many of its predecessors, Raccoon City, Umbrella Corps, and their zombie virus aren’t really in the forefront. Instead, you find yourself in a backwoods bayou setting when you start the game as Ethan, a man looking for his lost wife. It’s also first person now, which is incredibly immersive. Which means it’s both awesome and horrifying. I got through the first board, my husband laughing at me as I screamed my head off throughout the whole thing, and then had to turn it off and turn to happier things. So make no mistake, this game is awesome and a GREAT addition to the “Resident Evil” franchise. It’s just really, really scary.

Also! March means that our  blog has been online for one year! In celebration of this, we are going to be having a HUGE giveaway this week!!! You will have the chance to win not one, not two, but FOUR BOOKS! Because it’s our blog’s birthday, and we want to give YOU gifts! So tune in tomorrow, because all the deets will be revealed then!

giphy1
(source)

Not Just Books: February 2017

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:

mv5bmtg4nda1ota5nf5bml5banbnxkftztgwmdq2mdm5ode-_v1_sy1000_cr006741000_al_Movie: “Hell or High Water”

I’m on a bit of a “Western” kick right now both with what I’ve been reading (upcoming review of “Silver on the Road!”) and watching. This movie is a modern western about two brothers who are pushed to their limit and begin a bank robbery spree in an attempt to save their family home. Their story is balanced by that of the federal ranger who is tasked to stop them. The cast in this one is really what sells it. It’s no surprise that Jeff Bridges plays the gruff and grumpy federal ranger character as it seems like the part must have been written specifically with him in mind. But the surprising performance is that of Chris Pine who gives himself a break on the action hero type and instead shows that he has real drama chops in this much more subdued and complicated character. Also, Ben Foster is criminally under-recognized as a fantastic actor, and this is no exception!

top-chef-nola-0-0

TV Show: “Top Chef”

There are a few reality tv shows that are my guilty pleasure (I’m sure others will show up on this list eventually). But maybe the most bizarre is my love of realty cooking competitions, as I hate cooking myself and am quite terrible at it. I particularly like “Top Chef” because while it is reality tv, is often lacks the added and unnecessary drama that pops up in other cooking show (I’m looking at you “Master Chef” and “Hell’s Kitchen!”). This season has been set in Charleston and has had a mix of new chefs and returning Top Chef competitors. Some of my favorite contestants did very well, which also increased my enjoyment of this particular season!

oregon-trail-old-featureOnline Game: “The Oregon Trail”

I discovered that you can play the old 1990 version of “The Oregon Trail” online! This has not been good for my productivity levels either at work or at home. Kate and I, and our other halves, got together on New Year’s Eve and among other fun board games, we tried playing a card game version of “The Oregon Trail.” Her husband and I didn’t make it to Oregon due to tragic circumstances, sadly. But the game did spark major nostalgia and when I found the online game…an addiction was re-born!

Kate’s Picks:

heathers300Soundtrack: “Heathers: The Musical”

Some friends and I, on a whim, went to see a local production of this Off Broadway musical, based on one of my favorite movies. I had never heard the music from it before, but I was completely entranced by it as we watched it. It captures the movie perfectly with a rock and roll soundtrack, and it has some amazing power ballads between Veronica Sawyer and J.D., the renegade teens who are killing their most awful classmates (much to her horror). This is one of my most screwed up ships (I DON’T WANT TO HEAR IT, GUYS!), but the two songs “Seventeen” and “Our Love Is God” have been on a constant loop in my day to day this past month because they’re so passionate and power ballad-y, and capture that doomed relationship so very well. Sweet, sweet anguish.

drew-barrymore-timothy-olyphant-santa-clarita-dietNetflix Show: “Santa Clarita Diet”

Now I love me some zombie shows, but I love them even more when they think outside the box. “Santa Clarita Diet” is a hilarious satire of suburban life mixed with a zombie show, in which Drew Barrymore, or Sheila, finds herself turned into a sentient zombie. Her husband Joel (played by the foxy Timothy Olyphant) is doing his best to be supportive, because he loves his wife. It’s her ‘eating people’ thing that’s hard to stomach. Barrymore and Olyphant are hilarious, as it their daughter Abby (Liv Hewson) and her best friend Eric. It’s gross and bloody, but has a whole lot of heart to it. And many, MANY laugh out loud moments.

riverdale-header3TV Show: “Riverdale”

YES, OKAY, I’M INTO THE SEXED UP “ARCHIE” SHOW!!! But I have my reasons. First of all, it’s seeping in “Twin Peaks”-esque nostalgia and aesthetic. Second, Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa, the man behind “Afterlife with Archie” and “Chilling Adventures of Sabrina”, is the showrunner, so you know he’s going to have some serious, SERIOUS dark and screwed up stuff up his sleeves. Yes, I’m bitter that they started by killing off Jason Blossom (GODDAMN I LOVE THE BLOSSOM TWINS, HOW DARE THEY!?!?!), but I love what they’re doing with a lot of the characters that I like (Betty, Kevin, Josie, and of course, Veronica). Though I will never understand why we’re supposed to believe that the doof Archie attracts so many capable and intelligent women….. But also, Luke Perry. I mean, really.

 

 

Not Just Books: January 2017

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

new-arrival-movie-poster-615813Movie: “Arrival”

This is probably a bit late to the game, but I went to see “Arrival” at a late showing theater and it blew me away. The trailers for this movie were all over the place. The first one I saw, I literally had no idea what this was about. The second one I saw made it seem like an alien invasion action movie? Having seen the movie now, I can understand the challenge of creating a preview of this movie. This cerebral sci-fi movie knocked the breath out of me at every turn with its gorgeous visuals, moving score, discomforting realizations, and deep insights. It also left me thinking for many days after seeing it, which, I think, was its primary goal. I can’t recommend this one enough. While it’s likely out of many theaters, if you can possible catch it at a late-run theater, I definitely recommend it for the big screen.

mv5bmtuxmjizodi0nv5bml5banbnxkftztgwmdk3oti2mdi-_v1_uy268_cr30182268_al_Netflix Series: “A Series of Unfortunate Events”

Yes, yes I featured the trailer for this on a list a few months ago, but now it’s here, and I’m loving it! Now, that being said, I’m not sure this one is for everyone. The series fully embraces the wackiness and corniness of the books, so at first even I was a bit put off by the strangeness of this world. The acting of the kids is also a bit stiff in the first episode, but improves as they are given more to work with. But, in no surprise to anyone, what carries the series is Neal Patrick Harris’s performance. The moment he shows up (and it sadly takes a good bit in the first episode), you can almost feel the story take a breath of fresh air and settle into itself more fully. He’s so committed to the camp and wackiness of this character, at times even managing to make a completely evil character rather pathetically sympathetic. If you liked the book series, this is well worth your time. If you didn’t…maybe not so much.

how-did-this-get-made-podcast-cover-thumb-q33uloPodcast: “How Did This Get Made?”

I know this is a favorite podcast of Kate’s as well, but I got to this list first with it, so I get to talk about it! Sometimes it feels good to watch trashy movies. And sometimes it feels even better to listen to other people describe their experiences having to watch trashy movies and telling you all about how truly trashy the movie really is. This podcast is so fun. I haven’t watched half the movies they talk about (cuz…obviously…most of them are awful!), but my enjoyment is not affected in the least by this fact! Listening to them ponder the whys, hows, and wtfs of these films is so much fun. And sometimes, just sometimes, you catch yourself wanting to go out and find yourself a copy of “Sharknado 2” just because how did that get made?!

Kate’s Picks

15099342_1818297575122609_3345333340906455040_nWeb Series: “The Boulet Brothers’ DRAGULA”

Yep, the “RuPaul’s Drag Race” dry spell is still in full effect. But luckily, I was able to find a show that would quench my thirst this past month. “DRAGULA” is a web series produced and starring The Boulet Brothers, a shock and horror drag act that emphasizes the edgy and filthy aspects of drag. They decided to put together a “Drag Race”-esque show that would showcase ‘freaky’ drag, putting a number of drag queens together to compete in looks, performance, and challenges (like being buried alive, eating brains, and other squeamish things). Fashion, horror, and lots of dark humor pepper this show, and it gives me (after?)life!!! But just a warning: it’s not the the squeamish or easily offended. These ladies are hardcore in the ‘filth’ aspect of drag…

mv5bmtc3mjewmtc5n15bml5banbnxkftztcwnzq2njq4na-_v1_sy1000_cr006661000_al_TV Show: “Stargate: SG-1”

While I’m definitely a geek, when it comes to Sci-Fi I am far less knowledgeable than my husband is. So when I confided in him that I’d never actually seen any of the “Stargate” TV shows, he demanded that we watch “SG-1” immediately. Though it took me a bit to warm up to the show (I mean, really, parasites have to be the main antagonist?), I’m now all in. Richard Dean Anderson is a joy to watch, playing Jack O’Neill with the proper amount of disdain, snark, and, yes, pathos (the episode “Cold Lazarus” had me sobbing from start to finish), and while Michael Shanks will NEVER be Daniel Jackson to me (James Spader or get out), the two of them play well off each other and bring the characters to the TV format pretty well. And the new characters, specifically Tilk, an alien who has joined the team, are well written and fit in with the mythology!

vh1_antm_keyartTV Show: “America’s Next Top Model”

So I have pleasant, pleasant memories of watching “America’s Next Top Model” in college. I am not at all fashionable or ‘with it’ when it comes to the ins and outs of the fashion industry, but there is something about “Top Model” that I love. The photo shoots, the beauty, the clothing, the models, I like all of it. But I have to admit, I also like the drama of Tyra and the house infighting. Regardless, there is a brand new iteration of “ANTM” that has rebooted the show and the concept. Long gone are the days of the social media scores and Kelly Cutrone (THANK GOD ON BOTH COUNTS). We’re back to the basics of fashion and the potential of the aspiring models. Yes, I miss Tyra. But don’t worry, there’s still plenty of drama.