I was worried this summer might be a bust for entertainment, but I seriously underestimated July. Of course I anticipated the premiere of Sharp Objects, but now every few days it seems I’m finding new releases I might have missed, or exciting premieres to put on my calendar. I’m already falling so far behind on my watch/read/listen lists and let’s just say that I could do this full time.
Props to my fiancé Stephen for telling me to watch this winner from Paramount Network. Kevin Costner plays a power-crazed cattle baron caught up in a pissing contest with the new chief of the Native American reservation that neighbors his land, and the small town politics turn lethal real quick. At first I was just excited to see the cool actress who played a redhead named Jordan in True Detective‘s second season, which we don’t talk about. But by episode two there’s a murder cover-up subplot, and now that we’re three episodes in it seems like people are getting killed left and right. Come for the incredible sweeping shots of Montana’s natural splendor, but stay for the fucked up family dynamics.
I came across this book thanks to Grace of the Stripe, who makes great book recommendations on the reg and has a super nifty search feature on her blog’s book club page that lets me filter for creepy thrillers and dark fiction. After forcing myself to finish Dark Matter, this was a nice return to my usual form. I only wish the story were written…better? I mean, for a book by two women it barely passes the Bechdel test. Or maybe I’m just not sympathetic to flimsy female characters whose entire identities are constructed around baseless desires to marry faceless men and spawn “housefuls” of faceless children? Who knows. But despite my gripes about the writing style, I still had to know the end of the mystery and I finished the book in about three sittings.
Please tell me y’all aren’t sleeping on Claws. Last summer I started a weekend tradition of sitting down to paint my nails while I watched each new episode, like self-care but extra meta. Now I’m finally finally getting around to watching the second season, and OMG I didn’t realize how much I have missed Desna and her crew of bad bitches. There are so many great, unique characters on this show who are equal parts compelling and hilarious and balls-to-the-wall over-the-top, even by south Florida standards. The cast feels like a reunion of my old friends from shows I loved years ago – Carrie Preston, Dean Norris, Judy Reyes, Harold Perrineau – and newcomer Karrueche Tran is straight killing it as lil stripper Virginia. Laughs aside, Claws has a lot to say about some real shit like issues of race and class, sexism, feminism, mental health, organized crime, addiction and abuse. And props for its thoughtful discussion of abortion in episode two, because I’ve never seen a show make space to let more than a dozen female characters just talk about it on screen. In other words, Claws most definitely passes the Bechdel Test, and it might be one of the most intersectional shows you can watch on network television right now.
I’ve been a big fan of this podcast since Jo made her debut to the murderino crowd at one of MFM’s live shows in Australia. She’s funny as hell and I can’t wait to read the book she’s publishing, but until then I look forward to each new episode of her podcast about cults. Some cases are super dark and twisted, but Jo has a knack for bringing on guests who can crack the right jokes to balance out the gore. While listening to her episode about Roch Theriault I had the sudden realization that I already knew about his cult from a terrible made-for-television movie called “Savage Messiah” – I think I watched it while staying home sick one day when I was 11 or 12 and it’s scarred me ever since. I may never know what role that movie played in making me the murderino I am today, but as I listened to Jo recount his crimes it certainly felt like my life was coming around full circle. Be warned that the audio quality is a little rough in the first few episodes, but the most recent episode about FLDS was pure gold.
And on an unrelated note:
Did you know there’s a little ghost town sitting right outside of Richmond? I’d heard mention of it before: An eerie fake town by the airport that locals know as the Lost City, a 2,200 acre plot of overgrown roads complete with sewer systems, street signs and fire hydrants, even a water tower. The Elko Tract was (supposedly) originally built as a decoy airfield during WWII, so that in the event of a night raid Richmond could darken the entire city and fool the Luftwaffe into bombing the lit-up replica instead. But after the war, the history gets a little fuzzy and weird, and at this point no one seems to know what the area is currently being used for. And for such a seemingly well-known place, it’s surprisingly hard to find pictures of the structures. Kids who try to sneak onto the property have reported being stopped by armed federal guards, which has created a general suspicion that government forces must be using the tract for some kind of super covert operations. If you’ve got theories, I’d love to hear them.
Richmond is hot AF right now but at least it’s purdy 🌺