At least, it feels easier than last summer.
Time to turn up, as they say (that is, the air conditioning), and focus on some of that good living. I’m here to be your guide this week — and every week if you are signed up for the Pop Life Chronicles newsletter.
‘High on the Hog: How African American Cuisine Transformed America’
‘Tis the season of the cookout, and there isn’t anything more perfect to watch right now than “High on the Hog.”
Writer and cofounder of Whetstone magazine Stephen Satterfield “traces the delicious, moving throughlines from Africa to Texas” in this Netflix docuseries about Black cuisine.
Satterfield is the most charming of hosts, and the series is not only informative but also — no pun intended — soul-stirring.
“Hog” is currently streaming.
‘Woman in Motion: Nichelle Nichols, Star Trek and the Remaking of NASA’
Nichelle Nichols not only starred as a Black woman in space with her role as Lt. Nyota Uhura in “Star Trek: The Original Series,” but she also helped others like herself in real life despite an uphill battle.
This documentary “chronicles how Nichols transformed her sci-fi television stardom into a real-life science career” with a 1977 campaign to increase diversity in NASA’s space program.
She “recruited more than 8,000 African American, Asian and Latino women and men for the agency,” a news release for the film stated. “Nichols and her program continue to influence the younger generation of astronauts as well, including (Dr.) Mae Jemison, the first female African American astronaut in space.”
“Woman in Motion: Nichelle Nichols, Star Trek and the Remaking of NASA” starts streaming Thursday on Paramount+.
‘The Conjuring: The Devil Made Me Do It’
When you start complaining that’s it’s “hot as hell” outside, remember this “chilling story of terror, murder and unknown evil that shocked even experienced real-life paranormal investigators Ed and Lorraine Warren.
“One of the most sensational cases from their files, it starts with a fight for the soul of a young boy, then takes them beyond anything they’d ever seen before, to mark the first time in U.S. history that a murder suspect would claim demonic possession as a defense,” is how the film is described.
Vera Farmiga and Patrick Wilson star as Lorraine and Ed Warren in the movie, which hits theaters and starts streaming on HBO Max (which is owned by CNN’s parent company) Friday.
Two things to listen to
Liz Phair’s music may be closely identified with the 1990s, but she’s still creating.
Her latest album, “Soberish,” drops Friday, and she talked to Variety about how she has grown as an artist.
“I’m a much better singer, producer and guitarist now … and my voicings and tunings are far more complex and interesting,” she said. “But there’s a pure, unspoiled, unselfconscious beauty to the early work that I can’t capture again. I can’t unknow what I know.”
Can we please now get Lilith Fair back?
Paris Hilton hosts a podcast?
The woman who pretty much invented the selfie and influencing talks pop culture and chats with famous folks, including some of her friends, on her iHeartRadio podcast, “This Is Paris.”
There is no one better suited for the gig than the mogul-DJ-activist. And she doesn’t even shy away from talking about her own personal experiences, including accepting comedian Sarah Silverman’s apology for roasting Hilton at the 2007 MTV Movie Awards.
Two things to talk about
I just love Dolly Parton so much.
That’s why I was tickled beyond belief to learn that she’s not like the rest of us, lounging as we are around the house in sweats and/or yoga pants during the pandemic.
The legendary singer told WSJ. Magazine in an article published Monday that she has her own version of comfy house wear: “a little dress-type teddy, a long teddy, then I have a little jacket or shirt to match if I get cold,” she told the publication.
“I call them my baby clothes because they’re soft like a baby,” Parton said.
What else would we expect from a woman who said she does “all my beauty work and cleaning my face in the morning because I usually try to keep my makeup on at night”?
She explained, “I never know if there’s going to be an earthquake or a tornado or a storm and I’m going to have to go out in the middle of the night!”
Parton is a national treasure.
I was today years old when I found out.
That Clare Crawley and Dale Moss appear to be a thing again, at least on Instagram. The former Bachelorette this week posted a photo on her verified account showing Moss (from the chest down) and her pup, with the caption referring to them as “The boys.”
The couple made history after Crawley exited the show early when she fell head over heels for Moss, who was one of the contestants vying for her heart.
Viewers got to see them get engaged, but shortly thereafter they split.
“Media will take things and run with them. People will spread lies or always want to point the finger,” Moss, a former football player, said after they broke up. “But the fact of the matter is, there’s no one person to blame in this situation.”
It wouldn’t be Bachelor Nation if there wasn’t a breakup and an occasional reconciliation — or two.
Something to sip on
“Mare of Easttown” is a reminder of just how good a crime drama can be.
The finale aired recently, and social media couldn’t stop talking about everything — the tremendous acting, the superb writing and the spot-on Pennsylvania accents.
Kate Winslet as Detective Mare Sheehan gives one of the finest performances of her career. Her costars Jean Smart as Mare’s mother Helen Fahey; Julianne Nicholson as Mare’s best friend, Lori Ross; and Evan Peters as Detective Colin Zabel are also wonders. Seriously, just go ahead and nominate them for all the awards.
But the thing I loved most about the HBO limited series (HBO and CNN are both part of WarnerMedia) was the downright incredible, keep-you-on-the-edge-of-your-seat storytelling. As my CNN colleague Brian Lowry noted, it was as much about relationships as it was a whodunit, and both of those narratives were executed with intensity and grace.
More of this, please.