Murders, Momentum, and Musicians.

Hello and welcome to what I hope will become a bi-weekly rundown of popular culture detritus. 

Maybe detritus is a bit harsh. After all, popular culture can bring the gamut of human emotions and it can educate, but there’s also a lot of trash out there. Trash that, sometimes, I really enjoy.

The sheer volume of popular culture available to us is overwhelming, and I often find myself paralyzed by the paradox of choice. But I also have learned to get a little more discriminating in how I spend my time with popular culture, so if you also find yourself overwhelmed by the options, maybe this can be a guide. Here’s what I’ve loved in recent weeks:

Television: If you haven’t watched “Only Murders in the Building” (Hulu) you are missing out on Martin Short and Steve Martin doing Marty and Steve things, with a side of Selena Gomez and a lovely cadre of side characters (Tina Fey! Nathan Lane! Ali Stoker!) as they try to solve a murder. Season 2, for me, was a bit more disconnected than Season 1, but it’s still what I looked forward to every Tuesday night during its run. It is so delightful that I always feel a little let down when the season ends. 

Podcasts: Sharon McMahon’s Instagram feed exploded during the 2020 election, when her nonpartisan approach to teaching politics, government, and current events to the masses became crucial. Since then, she’s launched a podcast, and she recently closed out a series called “Momentum.” It’s in her main podcast feed, episodes 146 to 162, and she tells several unknown stories of those involved in the civil rights movement of the 1950s. This is a don’t-miss series.

Film: For the past three weeks I have started Sunday Night Comfort Movie time, where I watch a film I haven’t seen in a bit that feels like warm blanket. Last week I watched Tom Hanks’ “That Thing You Do,” and I never cease to be amazed at how I never tire of it. I have the DVD, and I watched the (much) longer director’s cut, which gave me a newfound appreciation for editors. 

Friday Morning Soundtrack: This week I listened to “An Evening With Silk Sonic” by Silk Sonic. My newspaper staff last year raved about this album and I just never got around to it. It’s going in my regular rotation, as it’s chill while still being upbeat.

Pop Culture Lesson of the Week: This week I start a music unit with one of my pop culture sections, and we are going to do a deep dive into the Rock n Roll Hall of Fame. Students will randomly draw two artists’ names and spend some time with their music. We will generate a list of characteristics of what is rock n roll, and how has the definition of the genre (and the purpose of the Hall of Fame) has expanded lately with recent inductees. My favorite part of this lesson is when students have to choose an artist they currently listen to and build a case for why they will be inducted into the Rock n Roll Hall of Fame. 

Who are you listening to now that deserves to be in the Rock n Roll Hall of Fame?

What are you watching and listening to that’s worth your time?

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