Culture Call Sheet

July's Pop Culture Watch: What We're Really into Right Now

From Netflix's Stranger Things to Hari Kondabolu and W. Kamau Bell’s Politically Re-Active podcast (with some essential Veep along the way), PoMo writers reveal their current pop culture obsessions.

By Portland Monthly Staff July 28, 2016

Molly Woodstock, Contributing Health Editor

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Julia Louis-Drefyus expresses her enthusiasm for politics in Veep

Image: HBO

I’ve been using the ol' "laughing to keep from crying” strategy regarding our current political climate. Hari Kondabolu’s and W. Kamau Bell’s new Politically Re-Active podcast is hilarious, educational, and delightfully prolific. I also re-watched all five seasons of Veep (and listened to a great interview with showrunner David Mandel on Fresh Air). Veep deliberately doesn’t reveal the characters’ political parties, but at this point I’d take the petty incompetence of Selina Meyer over the GOP nominee any day.

Lisa Dunn, Contributor

As if those damn millennials weren’t already glued to their phones, Niantic just released Pokémon Go, an augmented reality game and my actual childhood dream. Hunting for pocket monsters in the real freakin’ world? Yes, please. Despite all the think pieces about how it’s the worst of late capitalism or it’s the beginning of the age of robots, let this sink in: my Netflix-watching lazy butt has gone out almost every night after dinner since the game came out. My fiancé and I walk around, hunting for these elusive creatures instead of watching Futurama from start to finish yet again. I could talk about how many new cafes and restaurants I’ve discovered while trying to find a Tentacool or a Muck with the dubiously accurate tracking, but instead I’m going to say this: despite the battery-draining, Zubat-bloated kinks to work out, it’s a ton of fun, and it makes people happy. And yeah, I remember to look up occasionally.

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Winona Ryder goes back to the '80s in Stranger Things.

Image: Netflix

Margaret Seiler, Managing Editor

I'm pretty sure I recognized my old bedsheet being used as El's fort in the '80s Netflix series Stranger Things. And as a Harry Potter lover who can barely watch the first couple of films before the child actors learned how to handle the camera (or simply were directed by someone other than the better-at-comedies Chris Columbus), I'm very impressed with the kids in it. 

Fiona McCann, Arts Editor

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Image: Tim Slew

It feels like anything The Last Artful, Dodgr lends her voice to these days automatically sends it to the top of my playlist, but the Rare Treats EP dropped by EYRST last month, which she recorded with one of Portland’s other rising stars, rapper Myke Bogan (and Neill Von Tally producing), brings it to a whole new, space-beat level. It's a four-track tease that lets you down only by being over too soon.  (Available on iTunes and Spotify)

Rebecca Jacobson, Digital Editor

The film Maggie’s Plan (not brand-new, but still playing at the Laurelhurst) cleverly subverts rom-com tropes while still delivering 98 minutes of screwball charm. Director Rebecca Miller, daughter to almighty playwright Arthur, traces the push-and-pull of a love triangle populated by three neurotic, idiosyncratic New Yorkers (yoohoo, Woody Allen!). They’re like just-so characters, behaving only barely outside the realm of reason—well, except for Julianne Moore’s deliciously over-the-top Danish academic, who boasts a ballet-school bun, an accent from outer space, and nary an outfit not cut from fur, fringe, feathers, or some other piece of unidentifiable fuzz.

Samala Coffey, Web Producer

For the third year running, Holocene and local puppetry collective Beady Little Eyes presented POP + PUPPETRY, an interdisciplinary extravaganza for the eyes and ears. Three puppeteers of diverse styles (giant puppets, tiny puppets, and shadow puppets, for example) paired with three inventive Portland-based pop groups. Each puppeteer presented an original puppet show created especially for this event and synced to the band's music. The results were dazzling, and helped to elevate the experience of both artistic mediums when combined. They also screened puppet films between acts, directed and crafted by local artists.

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