Summer is here. With the Memorial Day mullarkey safely behind us and the election winding down, or heating up, depending on your viewpoint, it’s time to get to the matter at hand – summer fun and the Best of the Beast. Top films, pop music, long days and those summer nights.
You know the drill – there will always be the options of days out riding rollercoasters, weekends at beaches from Rehoboth to Redondo, and enjoying an air-conditioned afternoon watching various English actors dressed in tights battling various other monster thingies. But what if, Beast that you are, you want some alternate suggestions on how to fill those long hot days and nights before Labor Day?
Don’t be stranded at the drive-in: Here is this year’s Best of the Beast Summer List – the events, releases and entertainment options we think you should check out. Enjoy!
Washed Away – Rooney
Looking for the perfect album to get you in the summer mood? The latest album from the pop-rock band Rooney will have you singing along with your windows down. Washed Away has so many summer-spired tracks like “All the Beautiful People”, “My Heart Beats 4 U”, and the title track, “Washed Away.” Pick up the awesome, catchy, rockin’ album of the summer now and click here for my review of the Rooney Secret Show. More on Rooney’s upcoming dates here.
Joyland by Stephen King
Yes, this book came out 3 years ago, but it’s the perfect summer reading. It’s a coming of age story featuring romance, mystery, and a ghost all rolled up in a nice 288 page package. It’s Scooby-Doo meets Stand By Me!
This quick read takes place in the summer of 1973 when college student Devin Jones takes a summer job at an amusement park in North Carolina. Meeting new friends, finding his own path, learning about love and loss, and solving a 50 year old murder makes for a summer that Devin Jones won’t soon forget. I can’t rave about this book enough and although it came out in 2013, last fall an Illustrated Hardback Edition was released. It’s the perfect book for traveling with and reading on vacation.
Mr. Robot Season 1
Lots of traveling this summer? Raining where you live? Just plain hate being outside? Well then binge watch the acclaimed USA series Mr. Robot (click here for the trailer). The first season is available now on Blu-Ray, Digital HD, and DVD. Catch up on this Fight Club and Hackers inspired thriller. Join Elliot as he tries to find his place in a world that is dominated by the big business, Evil Corp. A group of mysterious hackers known as F-Society recruit him to help fight the good fight. Season 2.0 starts this July on USA, so now is the perfect time to catch up on this exciting and fun thrill ride! – Kyle Dodson
The Get Down
Show me one person who can watch the trailer for The Get Down—a new Netflix series helmed by cinematic showman Baz Luhrman—and not squeal with excitement, and I will show you a cynical fool. Luhrman’s foray into television looks to be the year’s most energetic, exciting, fresh, original and diverse show. Featuring a cast (including Giancarlo Esposito and Jimmy Smits) almost entirely of actors and actresses of color (Netflix original programming continues to knock it out of the park when it comes to representing diverse peoples and cultures), The Get Down is a music-heavy foray into the lives of teenagers and young people living in The Bronx in the 1970s. Though Luhrman’s involvement leaves me a little skeptical—his visual flair often leaves little room for nuance and subtlety—the presence of veteran TV writer Shawn Ryan (The Shield, Terriers and Angel, among others) as head writer gives me hope that Luhrman’s flamboyant style will be matched by a writer who has proven himself capable of humanizing larger-than-life characters. The Get Down will premier on Netflix on August 12th.
Viggo Mortensen, where have you been? After one of the more astounding acting runs in the early and mid-2000s—Lord of the Rings, A History of Violence, Eastern Promises — Mortensen’s career has been subdued in the past five years, picking up quiet roles in tiny movies with little marketing and small distribution. Captain Fantastic—written and directed by character actor Matt Ross, who currently plays Gavin Belson, the delightfully megalomaniacal antagonist of HBO’s Silicon Valley—isn’t a huge film, but seems to be a picture with enough meat on the bones to bring Mortensen back into relevance. Mortensen plays Ben, a father who has raised his large family in the woods, away from the world and modern conveniences and is forced to re-acclimate to a society he has left behind. Boasting a terrific supporting cast—Frank Langella, Missi Pyle, Steve Zahn and Kathryn Hahn—Captain Fantastic, set for release on July 8th, has all the makings to be the summer’s most charming film. And if nothing else, it will be a relief to see Viggo Mortensen back on the big screen. – Craig Schroeder
I’m very excited to see the results this year for the Hugo Awards, as this year’s voting numbers break all previous records. Last year was the highest participation by over two thousand votes cast, and this year has it beaten by twice as much–over four thousand votes have been cast in the nominating process. The winners will be announced at WorldCon 74 in August.
Winds of Winter
As far as summer reading goes, Kyle’s recommending Stephen King, but I’m waiting on George R. R. Martin. Like so many others, I’m eager to see GRRMs Winds of Winter. We hope to see it this summer. Or fall. This year? Maybe? Here’s a taster to tide you over. When the complete novel finally pops up on the radar, I’ll pursue it doggedly for review. – JL Jamieson
Tale of Tales
This film is finally coming out in the UK, and it looks, oh, what’s the word I’m looking for… grandiose. This fantasy-horror joint by Matteo Garrone stars Salma Hayek, Vincent Cassel and John C. Reilly. It was filmed entirely on location in Italy and various castles and typically beautiful Italian ruins, but then digital effects and sets were used to make everything look very theatrical. Not sure how Chicago’s own John C. Reilly is going to fit into this medieval mess, but now that it is finally hitting UK cinemas, I’m curious to see what it all looks like.
Georgia O’Keeffe at the Tate Modern
This one I’m looking forward to because (whispered tone) I just don’t get the fuss about Georgia O’Keeffe. Yes, I know it’s not about the flowers and more about the lady petals, and the works I’ve seen in my art appreciation class in college are perfectly nice, but I’m going to go see the entire vast Southwestern-y vivid lot at the fabulous Tate Modern – the first UK exhibition of her work for over twenty years – and my petals and I are gonna stick around until I get it. July 6 – October 30.
Dinosaur Jr. – Give a Glimpse of What Yer Not
Dinosaur Jr. is back! While some were lucky to have seen them at Glastonbury in 2013, this tour supports their first album in four years, only their second since joining indie label Jagjaguwar in 2009. The next album for the on-again-off-again “fuzz rockers”, Give a Glimpse of What Yer Not, will be out in August, and while I’ll have to wait until November to see them in the UK, they’ll be pretty much everywhere else in the world this year – Dinosaur Jr. Tour Dates – Martina O’Boyle
Greyson Chance – Somewhere Over My Head E.P.
We interviewed Greyson a few years back after he blew up and released an album following his appearances on Ellen. He was just a kid then and he has grown into full-blown artist with a fantastic new EP that I’ve listened to, literally, daily since it came out. He’s at the top of his game with some truly great music on this release. If you are fans of Troye Sivan, whom I adore, then this Greyson album is right up your alley. Similar sounds, different points of view, but truly enjoyable. Definitely a must have and a nice intro to what is sure to be more excellent music from a fresh voice in music.
The King family, twice in one list! Joe Hill is so much more than Stephen King’s son. He’s taking the horror world by storm on his own merits and his latest novel, The Fireman, is sure to be another great entry in what is already a fantastic collection of books. Father and son both have books coming out this summer and if I am being honest, I am not sure which one I am more excited about. If his past works are any indication, Joe Hill’s The Fireman, is sure to be an excellent and scary read this summer.
End of Watch
This summer has lots of things garnering national, and international, attention, which I’m sure you’ve all heard of already. So I’ll be focusing on a few things to do in Colorado, that have people talking in some niche circles. First up is MaLCon a smaller very inclusive fandom convention in Northern Denver. This year’s dates are 12-14 August. Guests of honor include the world renown author Jim Butcher, geek music band The Doubleclicks, Mythpunk vanguard musician SJ “Sooj” Tucker, and potter Peri Charlifu.
Yarn Along the Rockies
There is also a fantastic yarn crawl that runs along the Colorado front range from 20-28 August. Yarn Along the Rockies involves nineteen yarn shops this year! There are always wonderful goodies given to guests, last year’s incentive to visit all the shops were limited edition stitch markers. This year’s goodie swag hasn’t been announced yet, but I’m sure it’s going to be awesomely yarntastic. – Robin Lynn
Hot Tip from a loyal Pop Culture Beast reader @katrinadevane
“Tell everyone to see Sharon Jones and the Dap-Kings! They are playing with Hall and Oates for some reason, but don’t let that put you off! I’m seeing them on the 8th!”
(add your tips in the comment section below)
And special recognition goes to… The Games of the XXXI Olympiad
Who will NBC demand you worship as America’s Newest Sweetheart? Who will win the first golf gold medal in 112 years? Will Maria Sharapova be allowed to compete with the Russian team, when they’re all already doping – alllllegedlyyy…
You’re not going to get Zika Virus from the television, so enjoy gluttonous wall-to-wall coverage August 5 – 21, live from Brasil.
Have a great summer!
A former ABC National, Dallas and Atlanta radio personality, Martina O'Boyle is now making movies and covering culture in London, Dublin, and as far in Europe as the cheapie flights will take her, for Pop Culture Beast.