Culture Call Sheet

Pop Culture Watch: The Shows, Movies, Tracks, and Books We’re Really into Right Now

From Christopher Guest’s Mascots to Y La Bamba and Joseph, Portland Monthly staffers reveal their current pop culture obsessions.

By Portland Monthly Staff October 26, 2016

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A still from Christopher Guest's Mascots

Image: Netflix

Eden Dawn, Style Editor

The new Christopher Guest movie Mascots will entertain anyone who loves Guest’s previous films: It’s basically Best in Show with sports mascots, and if you liked that formula and winning cast, you’ll laugh just as hard at Mascots. Sure, you’ve seen it all before with dogs, but that’s why you’re back for more, right?  Along with many stalwarts of his other flicks—Parker Posey, Fred Willard, Ed Bigley Jr, Jane Lynch—Guest brings back one of his most beloved characters of all time in a small cameo that is enough reason to watch the whole thing. Plus it’s funny, proving that if it ain’t broke...

Molly Woodstock, Contributing Health Editor

I finished the new season of BoJack Horseman weeks ago but I’m still freaking out about it. Why? (Spoilers, obvi.) A major character came out as asexual in the season finale, becoming what is generally considered to be the first openly asexual television character whose asexuality isn’t used as a punchline. Turns out that asexual folks are humans who eat ice cream and have wacky comedic mishaps, just like everyone else! I also want to give a shout-out to the abortion episode, which is noteworthy because, as Bitch’s Sarah Mirk points out, a character “wants to get an abortion and then actually gets one. She doesn’t change her mind at the last minute, no one tries to talk her into opting for adoption, she doesn’t very conveniently miscarry, nothing horrific happens to her on the way… it’s actually a rare story to see on TV." 

Samala Coffey, Web Producer

I’ve been obsessed with a local musician called Snowblind Traveler lately. Dreamy folk that’s perrrrfect for hibernating during a rainy fall day. 

Snowblind Traveler from The Portland Sessions on Vimeo.

Marty Patail, Associate Editor

I don’t get the Internet hate on Westworld, HBO’s new series about a futuristic theme park set in the Wild West. It’s provocative, engrossing, and totally addicting. Plus, it’s only a matter of time before the robots go all Jurassic Park on its creators. I’m staying tuned. Also, a shout-out to Halycon 6: Starbase Commander. Take the base-building of X-Com, the turn-based combat of Final Fantasy, and the hostile, capricious universe of FTL, add in some gorgeous pixel art graphics and a chiptunes-y soundtrack, and you’ve got Halycon 6. It’s a damn gem.

Amy Martin, Associate Art Director

I’m really into Bitch Magazine’s BitchTapes, feminist mixtape published every week, "highlighting specifically women and genderqueer folks who are making great music." I’ve discovered a ton of great new music, and all of the mixes have really smart themes.

Rebecca Jacobson, Digital Editor

I’ve been soundtracking October with Oregon-bred voices, namely the sweet harmonies of sister act Joseph and the playful, ethereal vocals of Luz Elena Mendoza, frontwoman of Y La Bamba. Both bands have newish albums—pretty but punchy bursts of music perfect for these shrinking days.

And I just finished Yaa Gyasi’s Homegoing, which follows two family lines across hundreds of years: one branch in West Africa, the other in America. It’s a sprawling but self-contained novel about slavery, violence, and love—sometimes uneven, but with an undeniable emotional wallop. (Plus, the Ghanaian-born Gyasi visits Portland for Wordstock on November 5.)

Webb Wright, Intern

I'm really obsessed with Netflix's Black Mirror right now. It's a British show, now in its third season, with non-continuous plot lines. In other words, every episode consists of a different setting, characters, and plot. But each is brilliantly executed, depicting different dystopian-style futures that portray all of the twisted and dark places technology could take us. Scary stuff. 

Fiona McCann, Arts Editor

I filled up the long, cruel stretch between Game of Thrones seasons with a dive into the HBO back catalog, and have just finished all five seasons of The Wire, for—gasp!—the first time. And I don’t think I’ll ever recover. Tightly written, heartbreakingly acted, sprawling in scope and ambition, unflagging in attention to detail, and about as real as it gets, The Wire still feels relevant 10 years on, despite how closely it reflected its particular American moment. Watching it now, even aware of how much our world has changed, it’s staggering to see how much remains the same. Jon Snow’s got nothing on you, Omar.

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