Every month at the AE offices, we choose our Pop Culture Picks. It could be an album, a band, a book, a movie, a TV show, a podcast, or anything else we enjoyed over the previous 30 days. Keep scrolling to find out what caught our attention this month!
The Great British Sewing Bee (TV Show)
In Short: Season 5 of the Great British Sewing Bee airs February 12th, 2019. Tune in for a good laugh and to learn more about the world of sewing!
If you read my Pop Culture Picks with any regularity you might pick up on a theme here: my love of British reality shows made by the BBC.
This year’s Bee has a new host, Joe Lycett, a British comedian. I’m not too familiar with him but was sent this clip (NSFW) – ha! Season 5 sees Joe in the sewing trenches with the contestants, while Patrick Grant and Esme Young circle the sewists like great white sharks, literally picking at their stitches. Patrick loves a well-made garment and Esme loves some flair – they are such a perfect pairing.
I started watching the series when I took up sewing, hoping to pick up tips. But in fact, the show has taught me much more about the history of fashion and why garments are constructed in certain ways. If you have any interest in clothing you’ll come away with an appreciation for a well-made garment and most likely look a little closer at the clothes you purchase. Better yet, try your hand at making your own!
Joe Lycett posted this Season 5 trailer on his Twitter. Give it a watch if you aren’t already convinced!
Star Trek Discovery (TV Show)
TL;DR: Season 1 is great and Season 2 is even better!
I believe I have watched every iteration of Star Trek: the original series, the animated series, TNG…the list goes on. I’ve read novels set in the Star Trek universe. I’ve even attended a sci-fi convention and asked a question to an Enterprise series actor during a panel.
So, now that my credentials have been established, I’ll provide my opinion on the latest series. I’m going to (try to) avoid major spoilers and focus on a high-level impression.
The first season introduces us to the starship Discovery and is set 10 years prior to “Star Trek: The Original Series.” The season covers the original Klingon war against the United Federation of Planets, with the Discovery being the most important weapon on the Federation’s side.
They definitely hit the ground running and I was a big fan of their nod to aspects of the original series, including the mirror universe, Harry Mudd of tribbles fame, Spock’s father Sarek, and more.
The entirety of the season covered a single story arc, with none of the self-contained episode format used in most of the other series. I did like the storyline and I really enjoy Sonequa Martin-Green as Michael Burnham. Each episode was fast-paced and fun; they are not afraid to surprise!
Some aspects bothered me a little. For one it was a bit darker than I anticipated, although I think we were introduced to the story at a dark time (The Klingon War). For another, there was very little focus on the crew other than the 4 or 5 main characters. I’m used to being introduced to the bridge crew over the initial season but the story format and pacing did not really allow that.
Lastly, it’s not really as much of a “kid’s show” as the other series, F-bombs are dropped fairly frequently. I find this a little sad because I was a kid who fell in love with Star Trek during after-school afternoons and weeknight “prime-time” TV. I imagine this series may be hard for some parents to share with their kids.
Having said all of the above, season 2 actually appears to have taken some of this on board. We have a far more positive captain as a role model, none other than Captain Pike of the Enterprise! Although there is an overarching storyline again, this one looks like it will allow a bit more of the old school “away mission” type episodes. As a side effect of that, more time is being given to other members of the crew. We will also get to meet a young, pre-Kirk Spock.
I’m liking what I’m seeing in season 2 so far, it has all the aspects I liked from season 1 while addressing some of the issues.
Overall, I’m impressed with the quality of the show, and how fast the series has gotten up to speed. Something difficult to do in the post-20-something episode season era of the past.
There are already additional Star Trek projects in the works, such as a Patrick Stewart revisit of Picard and a Section 31 series. I’m all for it.
Some version of Star Trek has been there most of my life, so let’s keep it boldly going!
Mint by Alice Merton (Album)
TL;DR: Alice Merton’s debut album shows off her strong voice and radio-friendly beats.
This month, Spotify recommended to me a new release which I ended up really enjoying. Alice Merton’s new pop album Mint brings great beats and catchy lyrics. Her voice is confident but not overpowering.
Her debut song, “No Roots,” was released in 2016 and the world loved its deep bass and emphasis on the chorus. The song made the charts all over the world before making its way to the US, where it reached Gold status.
Mint is quite radio-friendly, with each song sounding like it could be a mainstream hit. “2 Kids” is one of my favorite songs on the album, as is “Homesick”. I like how her lyrics are relatable and easy to sing along to (great for me as I sometimes I have trouble making out the words when people sing!).
The album does get a bit repetitive near the end – I can tell there’s room for growth, which will bode well for her next album!
The Beyond Burger (Food)
What you need to know: The Beyond Burger is a delicious way to reduce your carbon footprint. Keep reading to learn more!
The new Canada Food Guide was quietly released last month. To the people’s surprise, there were some pretty radical changes from the 2007 version. Not only did they do away with the traditional food groups and serving sizes, the government highly emphasizes the consumption of fruits, veggies, and plant-based proteins (the “dairy food group” is completely gone!).
This huge shift in the food guide is just one part of a greater movement. Companies are getting crazy innovative to bring us food that satisfies our cravings while minimizing harm. Lab-grown tuna anyone? Or how about some eggless scramble? Nah, I’ll just stick with my non-dairy Ben & Jerry’s.
My pick isn’t about any of those tantalizing treats though. It’s about the Beyond Burger- an epic, plant-based alternative to the traditional hamburger. Using ingredients like pea protein, coconut oil, and beet juice extract, the resulting burger “looks, cooks, and tastes” the same as a regular beef burger.
I tried a Beyond Burger for the first time a few months ago and was happily surprised. It was delicious and very, very convincing.
Caveat: I’ve been vegan for 5 years now, so I don’t think I’m a super trustworthy source. I actually find a lot of plant-based foods very similar to their animal alternatives. But a quick Google search will show you that I’m not the only one convinced by its meatiness!
Beyond Meat, the mad geniuses behind it all, state that it took them 7 years of prior research and testing before releasing the burger in 2013. They have now added Beyond Chicken, Beef, and Sausage to their line of meatless products.
- It is the first burger to be sold in the meat aisle at the supermarket in the US.
- Tyson Foods, the largest animal agriculture corporation in the U.S., owns a 5% stake in the company.
- When A&W Canada rolled out the Beyond Burger to chains nationwide in July 2018, it sold out completely in a matter of weeks!
The mission of Beyond Meat is to find a better way to feed the planet. They state on their website that “[b]y shifting from animal to plant-based meat, we can positively and significantly impact 4 growing issues attributed to livestock production and consumption: human health, climate change, natural resource depletion, and animal welfare.”
Economist and Forbes both declared 2019 year of the Vegan. I, for one, can’t wait to see even more food innovation in the next 11 months!