Glen Weldon returns from the magical land of hammocks and macitas de puerco. He renders his co-panelists helpless with laughter as he riffs about his Welsh heritage, vacation culture, and UV protection.
The A segment considers the premiere of Conan on TBS following the notorious late-night wars that pitted Conan O’Brien against Jay Leno and NBC. The panelists find the first few episodes funny and engaging, though they opine that staples of the late-night format (e.g. topical monologues and celebrity interviews) have become stale and innocuous.
They then tackle the concept of nostalgia in a technological age that allows people to access obscure types of pop culture. Glen brings up the PBS show The Electric Company, and how his nostalgia erased the kitschy aspects of the show in his mind. Trey considers theater as a medium that primarily exists in memory, but some moments (such as Judi Dench’s affecting rendition of Sondheim’s “Send In the Clowns”) can now be available, thanks to recordings.
A recording of the cartoon "The Great Toy Robbery" and sports recordings are the pop culture artifacts that have eluded Stephen. (On the next PCHH episode, the cartoon quest came to a happy conclusion, thanks to an NPR librarian.) He also cites a beloved Nichols and May sketch, which he gifted to his mother Maggie Thompson. Linda cites the TV show It’s Your Move as one of the catalysts of her friendship with Stephen. (“Don’t make it ugly, Glen Weldon.” - Linda)
What Is Making Them Happy
Glen - He praises BBC One’s Sherlock, particularly the dialogue and chemistry between Martin Freeman (Watson) and Benedict Cumberbatch (Holmes). Much fun is also had regarding Cumberbatch’s J.K. Rowling-esque name.
Linda - A gag product called the Pet Petter and Linda’s credulity causes Trey to have an extended giggling fit. Linda vigorously defends herself by invoking the Harriet Carter catalog and considers her knowledge of the consumer industry as the thing making her happy.
Some Episode Highlights
Linda Holmes declares that Barrie Hardymon is, in fact, a permanent member of the PCHH crew. Callback to Barrie dropping the T-bomb.
Guest panelist Barrie Hardymon (former producer for NPR’s Talk of The Nation) joins the gang once again as Glen Weldon visits a mythical land full of swim-up bars and hammocks. They begin by defending things considered as “pop culture punching bags.”
Stephen and Barrie choose reality television, but they champion completely different genres. Stephen prefers elimination-based shows (Survivor, Amazing Race, The Apprentice), likening their plots to a football season. Meanwhile, Barrie talks about the philosophical lessons gleaned from The Real Housewives franchise, such as the fact that money does not buy happiness or taste.
Barrie - Judith Krantz’s novel Mistral’s Daughter proved to be “truly [satisfying]” amidst the stress of covering the 2010 Senate Elections. She notes regrettable language choices for the ways men and women “interlock.”
Trey - He brings happiness for Stephen Thompson by revealing the trailer for Kung Fu Panda 2. This touches off a discussion of how Stephen has argued that the first Kung Fu Panda is a better movie than Wall-E.
Stephen - Stephen promotes Clem Snide for the first time on the podcast by highlighting Eef Barzelay’s offer to write a personalized song for fans. He mentions their album Soft Spot in order to convince Barrie to commission a song for her baby.
In his defense of Andrew Lloyd Webber, Trey cites former Granta editor Ian Jack. He quotes Jack’s article in The Guardian, “…at its best [Lloyd Webber’s] music can summon feelings in an audience without necessarily cheapening them.”
Trey highlights the Webber musical Jesus Christ Superstar, which he says posits complicated theological questions about Judas Iscariot. He also brings up his conversation with composer Ricky Ian Gordon about the singing style Lloyd Webber invented for Evita. Seth Rudetsky and Randy Graff demonstrates their theory about the high belt.
This episode is a free-wheeling discussion of various pop culture events of the time, specifically the critically lauded James Franco vehicle 127 Hours, critic Roger Ebert’s objection to Top 10 lists, and the proliferation of zombies in pop culture as illustrated by the high ratings of AMC’s The Walking Dead.
127 Hours becomes to jump-off point of their discussion of based-on-a-true-story movies and shows such as United 93, The Social Network, and Carlos. For Glen, this is actually a disadvantage for him because he maintains that the act of adaptation already fictionalizing it. All in all, the panel relayed much interest for the Franco vehicle.
They then move on to the proliferation of Top 10 lists and how critics constantly face a lot of recrimination over ranking but the audience still expect them at the end of a given year. At some point, the phrase “The Tyranny of the Thumbs” is uttered.
The panel then formulates their pitch for the next supernatural creature to catch the public’s imagination after vampires and zombies: Skeletons in Top Hats with British Accents Wearing Monocles. They also formulate the romantic storyline where the skeleton falls in love with a librarian in a small Maine town, a la The Ghost and Mrs. Muir.
What Is Making Them Happy
Stephen - 1) Brett Favre eating it, 2) Finishing The Hunger Games, which the panel discussed here, 3) Submissions for art renderings of Chiktopus, 4) Nick Lowe’s Tiny Desk Concert (“It’s like being serenaded by your kindly, misanthropic uncle.”)
Glen - He mentions Marc Maron’s WTF podcast, which comes up at PCHH multiples times. The show is about comedians discussing the processes and neuroses of comics. He highlights and episode featuring This American Life's Ira Glass, where Maron experiences a moment of connection with a non-comic and a public radio star.
Trey - Some call-outs to a previous episode: a PCHH fan translating a post in Finnish written by another Finnish fan and another fan reaching out to Glen to identify the creepy musical phrase in “The Headless Horseman" as the Neapolitan chord. His main happy-making thing, however, is a recording of Eva Cassidy singing “Autumn Leaves.”
Linda - Free word jumble game on Kindle (she doesn’t mention the specific name) and Family Feud on Facebook.
Much fun is had when Trey compares 127 Hours and Titanic. “It’s about the guy cutting his arm off like Titanic is about the fact that the ship sinks.”
Trey mentions as story by critic Bob Mondello about movies using restrictive settings as a narrative challenge.
They talk about how the creators of The Social Network tries to have it both ways by arguing that they are either eschewing the facts or adhering to them, depending on what serves their defense of their storytelling.
Glen brings up the controversy about David Sedaris embellishing his humor pieces, originally written by Alex Heard on The New Republic.
Glen Weldon mentioned on a PCHH many months ago that (I think it was the thing that was making him happy) he was using a productivity manager on his computer that blocked the internet for a period of time, allowing him to focus on his book. I don't suppose you know which episode that was? Or better, what program he was using? Thanks! - Julie
Halloween takes up the bulk of this episode’s agenda, beginning with a segment where the panelists bring up some scary pop culture-related memories from their childhood. Glen begins by bringing up Bing Crosby and the 1949 cartoon The Legend of Sleepy Hollow (the entire short is available on Youtube). The part that young Weldon found creepy is the song “The Headless Horseman" where Crosby sings, "So when you’re ridin’ home tonight / Make for the bridge with all your might / He’ll be down in the hollow there / He needs your head / Look out! Beware!"
Trey’s pop culture artifact, on the other hand, is the Barbie Loves Beauty Styling Head. (I don’t know which iteration Trey is referring to but this comes close to his description.) He is also terrified of “everything.” Stephen’s scary memory comes from a trip to the Universal Studios Theme Park and his encounter the animatronic shark on the Jaws ride. Linda is vague about her fear, the Golden Pictures Story Book Babes in Toyland but she can’t remember which part terrifies her.
They also discuss a Target commercial depicting a young boy who is mortified at his mother’s attempt at creating an Iron Man costume. Trey, Stephen, and Linda object to the message of conformity, and disdain for creativity that the commercial is promoting. Glen strongly disagrees, however, characterizing this as misguided sentimentality. For a young person wanting to dress up as a superhero, it’s all about being as close as possible to the ideal. It comes down to 3 votes for childhood and 1 vote for consumerismverisimilitude.
Trey - The Big C, a Showtime dramedy starring Laura Linney. Trey praises the performance of John Benjamin Hickey, who plays the lead’s homeless brother.
Glen - Glen praises the first season of Top Chef: Just Desserts from Bravo. He notes the new dimension that a baking competition brings to the Top Chef franchise. The also played a clip from the episode where contestant Seth Caro has a meltdown.
Glen brings up a blog post written in Finnish, which when put through Google Translate’s algorithm, generates phrases such as “squeeze the endcap on this business trip” and “putting a button on people’s ears.” Another Finnish-speaking PCHH-er translated the post on the comments section. (The translation is lost forever due to the recent change in the comment system at NPR.org. Woe.)
Glen takes Washington Irving to task by being “no friend to nerds” since the original story of “The Legend of Sleepy Hollow” focuses on driving the schoolteacher Ichobod Crane out of town.
In an attempt to cure Trey and Glen’s pop culture phobias, Linda proposes putting the Barbie Loves Beauty Styling Head onto the Headless Horseman to come up with a horseman with fabulous hair.
"It’s sort of like being at front row at a Gallagher concert. There’s always the worst possible place to sit if you’re easily startled or four. Or both." - Stephen on his brush with the Jaws shark.
Linda’s fear of Babes in Toyland is revisited on a PCHH episode a year later. Stephen’s mother Maggie Thompson gives her with a copy of the book.
Stephen talks about his childhood dressing up as Alice Cooper based on his appearance on The Muppet Show (Youtube clip).
During the target commercial discussion, brings up a childhood memory of wanting a Batman costume and having to wear the Ben Cooper Batman costume. He calls the logo stamped on the forehead a “third eye of shame.”
Stephen made call for PCHH fans who want to draw the hybrid superbeast Chiktopus to send their art. This eventually resulted to a wonderful gallery of Chiktopusiana.
"Come on, friends, do you really think I am being serious?! Of course they are parodies!" - Katherine Chloe Cahoon
The crew tackles the challenges of live television in this episode, reviewing a special 30 Rock episode that is acted and filmed in front of a live audience. Linda dislikes this particular episode, characterizing it as a so-so episode Saturday Night Live. They point out that the material is frequently stalled by audience reactions, affecting the rhythms of the show. Trey enjoys the fictional commercials and the difference between the East Coast and West Coast broadcasts. They thought, however, that the Tracy storyline does not work and that the main plot of the episode (Liz Lemon’s birthday) is muddled by the jokes surrounding it.
Glen - TLC’s Freaky Eaters, a 30-minute reality show about individuals who eat only one type of food. The clips that Glen plays on the show is about a man who is addicted to pizza. (Youtube clip)
Stephen - Stephen talks about having been recognized by a podcast fan during a post-Happy Hour happy hour. He also recommends two books from his The Onion and The A.V. Club colleagues, Nathan Rabin’s My Year of Flops and A Book of Jean’s Own, written by Maria Schneider’s character Jean Teasdale.
"It would be like if you had a friend who chose to run a marathon wearing Crocs and a Storm Trooper costume, finished two hours behind everyone else with a ton of blisters and asked to be congratulated for finishing at all given the circumstances." - Critic Alan Sepinwall on the live 30 Rock episode, quoted by Linda Holmes.
Linda proposes that “carbuncle” be included in the list of items the Grinch steals at Christmas.
During the discussion of Parking Wars, Glen makes a shout-out to Cops and the officers’ patented monologue of self-justification.
Rick Fairless’s Strokers serves as the setting for Ma’s Roadhouse.
Stephen Thompson returns for a follow-up to episode 4 where they talked about their various pop culture blind spots. Each panelist took to their respective tasks with varying degrees of commitment.
Stephen - While Stephen does not tackle his real blind spot (Breaking Bad), he has progressed in his Stephen Reads a Book project by reading part of The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins. He and the rest of the PCHH panelists praise the dynamite plotting. They also talk about the the Young Adult label and what it actually means.
Trey - Trey characterizes himself as a “qualified convert” to Modern Family, having warmed to the character (particularly the doofy husband Phil). He finds most of the writing tight but points out a particular clunky joke during one episode.
Glen - Watching season 1 of Friday Night Lights has caused Glen to become a qualified convert as well. He, however, expresses reservations about the beginning of the second season, due to a plot point involving Tyra and Landry. He also points out an instance of extremely awkward exposition and the flatness of Layla’s character.
Linda - Her attempt at reading Glen’s special copy of J.R.R. Tolkien’s The Hobbit (the subject of a heartwarming moment back in episode 7) proves to be a failure due to an incident of petty theft. Before having the copy stolen from her desk, she had only read up to page 4 of the book because she hit a wall during the dwarf tea party songs.
What Is Making Them Happy
Linda - Because Glen’s book was stolen from her, nothing is making Linda happy except for The Search for Justice.
Glen - The Hub rebroadcast of the Adam West and Burt Ward’s live action Batman series. He mentions the Batusi (Youtube clip) as well as Yvonne Craig playing Batgirl.
Trey - Logo’s The A-List, a specimen of regrettable television about, as Trey characterizes as, “a gaggle of people.” This is the beginning of Trey tumultuous relationship with the reality show, which he also brings up in a subsequent episode.
Stephen - The birth of Chiktopus! Stephen recounts a heartwarming scene where his son inadvertently invents Dungeons & Dragons, causing them to fuse the DNA of a chicken and an octopus. There is also the obligatory Brett Favre content.
Some Episode Highlights
The saga of Stephen’s jury duty is a callback to episode 11.
Glen points out a trope in YA fiction, which is the propensity of presenting plot points through young people eavesdropping into adult’s conversations.
Linda compares the writing style of Suzanne Collins to Jonathan Franzen’s Freedom. (Barrie talked about the Franzen book on episode 7). She also compares The Hunger Games and Twilight (which was a selection of Monkey See’s I Will If You Will Book Club).
"You have arrived at the wrong podcast. You are looking for Snootitude Today. They make that down the hall, in the regular NPR.”
Glen recommends Rankin and Bass’s 1977 cartoon adaptation of The Hobbit, featuring the voices of Orson Bean and John Huston.
The panel makes a quick detour and discusses audiobooks as a way of consuming books. Trey recounts a great experience of driving while listening to a recording of Margaret Atwood’s Oryx and Crake as read by Campbell Scott. Glen praises Jim Dale’s reading of the Harry Potter books due to the wide range of voices he uses. Linda also recalls her struggle to listen to Stieg Larsson’s The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo audiobook. She also talks about Bobby Cannavale’s great performance reading Richard Price’s Lush Life.
"It’s like Logo is saying ‘Look we gave you Michelangelo and Martina Navratilova and you gave us Proposition 8 and Don’t Ask Don’t Tell, so this is our revenge.’" - Trey Graham on The A-List.
Linda references a Harry Chapin song “Cats in the Cradle" in reference to Stephen and his son.
Glen Weldon returns to the panel but Stephen Thompson’s stint at jury duty causes him to miss this episode. This necessitates the first ever deployment of the emergency back-up Mike Katzif! This episode is particularly superhero-y as they weigh the merits of a Superman reboot by director Zack Snyder. Glen gripes about the punishing literalism that Snyder imposes upon comic book adaptations, while the rest of the panel argue the necessity of a new Superman origin story coming at the heels of the largely unsuccessful Superman Returns from director Bryan Singer. The discussion touches upon various casting rumors and the Superman-Clark Kent true identity conundrum.
They also lightly touch upon the horror and b-movie direct-to-video genre, particularly Roger Corman’s Cult Classics DVD collection released by Shout! Factory. Some fun is had from the titles (and Mike’s deadpan delivery). They also discuss Steven Spielberg’s Jaws and how the aspect of fright in the movie comes from what is unseen.
Trey - Marry Ann in Autumn by Armistead Maupin. Trey gives a short overview of Maupin’s Tales of the City universe and characterizes reading it as, “Running into a an old friend in a neighborhood that you both used to know really well, and sitting down with two glasses of wine and the understanding that you’re going to finish the bottle.”
Mike - The now-cancelled AMC show Rubicon. He praises the deliberateness of the storytelling and the influence of ’70s paranoia movies such as Three Days of the Condor.
Glen makes a few callbacks to Episode 10 (Trey and Barrie’s Twighlight-esque romance, Pop Culture Firsts of Childhood)
Basically, young Glen loved 1978’s Superman movie.
Zack Snyder’s filmography as mentioned on the podcast: 300, Watchmen, Legend of the Guardians: The Owls of Ga’Hoole (or as Trey put it, “The Owls of Ga Hoo-ha”)
The newest iteration (Man of Steel, slated for 2013) is produced by Christopher Nolan, causing Trey to inquire whether they joy and color will be removed from Superman.
The panel discusses the Richard Donner iteration at some length including but not limited to Clark’s exaggerated wimpiness, the floating head of Marlon Brando, Gene Hackman wig-ripping, and the Silver Bean Bag Chair of Love. (visual reference)
Mike Katzif makes parallels between Superman and The Godfather.
The horror movie titles mentioned in the podcast are: Humanoids from the Deep (1980), Death Sport (1978, starring David Carradine) and Battle Truck (1982), The Terror Within (1989), Dead Space (1991, starring the Emmy-winning Bryan Cranston), The Slumber Party Massacre trilogy, and films by Hammer Film Productions.
The panel’s reaction to Linda’s statement that she only saw Jaws for the first time recently.
Trey Graham-Glen Weldon gay-off reference (Callback to Episode 10)
Linda mentions a small controversy regarding Lifetime’s production team and logistical problems during the filming of Runway.
Glen: “Tim Gunn’s superpower is that he’s always right.”
Episode 10 - Our Very First Crushes, Albums, And Too-Adult Books
Title: Our Very First Crushes, Albums, And Too-Adult Books (October 1, 2010)
Barrie Hardymon joins PCHH once again, substituting for Glen Weldon in an episode that celebrates childhood and nostalgia. They bandy about a series of questions about pop culture firsts and revealing various illuminating and sometimes embarrassing childhood predilections.
Questions List: First Album, First Grown Up Book, First Favorite Movie, First Celebrity Crush, First Collection
Stephen - A shoutout to the class of ‘90 from Iola-Scandinavia high school, which he just celebrated their reunion.
Trey - The Annotated Persuasion by Jane Austen, which includes a concordance, character analyses, definitions of archaic terms, literary commentary, and more.
Barrie - Danielle Steel’s comments on the CBS Early Show about her books being labeled as romance novels and claiming that she writes about the human condition. Barrie also mentions Linda’s wonderful essay about women’s fiction.
Linda - Drunk Hulk on Twitter. Choice tweents include: “NO BELIEVE HOW MUCH DRUNK HULK GET DONE TODAY! THANK BOOKFACE!”
Some Episode Highlights
Stephen starts off the show by saying that he had just come from his high school reunion, prompting the panel to reminisce about purple nurples and causing Trey Graham to break out in hives.
Trey tries to bury the lede by listing other records before owning up to Guilty: Aretha Franklin, The Supremes, Brenda Lee, Dolly Parton, Charley Pride, Leontyne Price’s Prima Donna Collection, OSTs for Dirty Dancing, Star Wars, and Xanadu.
Barrie also prefaced her choice by admitting that her household celebrated classical music (Guarneri Quartet, Beethoven, Mahler) and cast recordings of musicals (Carousel and Peter Pan)
Visual reference to Danny Romalotti’s hair from The Young and the Restless, which bore great resemblance to Stephen Thompson’s hair. “Back then the product consisted entirely of hormones and sadness.”
Linda’s musical history: soundtracks for The Muppet Movie, Annie, West Side Story, Journey’s Escape, Tina Turner, Police, and Billy Joel.
This episode tackles the dismal 2010 fall season television lineup. Each panelist chooses a returning show that they’re excited to see again as well as a new show that they’re kind of interested in seeing.
Linda laments the poor showing of Fox’s Lone Star, a prestige drama that was eventually canceled after two episodes. Trey mentions Linda’s September 2010 piece for All Things Considered.
Linda on Lone Star's failure and Fred: the Movie's box office success: “This just proves that we get the television we deserve.”
"I am either too old and/or too not high to enjoy these shows." - Glen Weldon’s commentary on the Adult Swim roster. Stephen responds by saying, "One of those is a problem that you can solve."
Glen Weldon mentions The Venture Bros.' allusion to Automan about a cop and a hologram who fight crime.
Stephen objects to the whole idea of The Celebrity Apprentice, alleging that there are no stakes for the contestants. He busts out his Donald Trump impression for the very first time.
Trey attempts to coin the phrase “the affable drunks” to refer to fans of PCHH. This is a reference to their discussion on episode 8 of The Great Food Truck Race.
Parks and Rec's 2010 season was pushed back in order to accommodate Outsourced (discussed in a previous episode) into the Thursday lineup, a scheduling move that Linda considers a gigantic mistake. They expounded on why the treatment of people of color in Outsourced was off-putting. Trey mentions an episode of KCRW’s The Business where the show’s creator defended the show.
While acknowledging that Mike & Molly is a standard Chuck Lorre sitcom, Linda still praises Melissa McCarthy (who ends up winning an Emmy for her performance on the show) and Billy Gardell.
"Well, that was sanctimony plus entrails!" - Glen Weldon’s view of the typical horror fare. He also mentions his apprehension towards The Walking Dead showrunner Frank Darabont’s tendency towards mawkish sentimentality. Glen also busts out his The Shawshank Redemption-era Morgan Freeman impression.
However, Glen highly recommends the comic book series The Walking Dead by Robert Kirkman about a zombie apocalypse.
Stephen mentions that he has purchased The Hunger Games though he has not “scaled the Mt. Everest that is reading the book.” Linda chimes in to say that she has smelled Glen’s copy of The Hobbit. (Callbacks the the Stephen Reads a Book project and Linda’s Pop Culture Blind Spot)
Hi, very good job at the blog. I know request for information probably slow up the process but I'm just curious of your level of knowledge of the show and also am stumped on finding 2 books... There was an episode last year I believe where Linda played a game with gang using an etiquette book, do you know what the name of the book was? Also I think it was during a What's Making Me Happy segement Linda's choices dealt with epistolary novels, do you happen to recall those books also. Thanks!
Hey thanks. I retain an embarrassing amount of information from the episodes since I listen to them almost everyday during my commute, so I’m glad my obsessiveness is helping others. The etiquette book you’re referring to is Emily Post’s Etiquette, and they played the quiz on this episode. The epistolary romance novel that made Linda happy in another episode is Which Brings Me to You by Steve Almond and Julianna Baggott.
A large chunk of this episode is taken up by their post mortem of the 2010 MTV Video Music Awards, which they largely deem “innocuous.” They discuss the two performances that was billed to be the most controversial, Kanye West singing “Runaway" and Taylor Swift singing "Innocent.” There is some commentary on Lady Gaga’s win for Best Video (“Bad Romance”) and Justin Bieber’s dance number (“Baby-Somebody to Love” medley).
(I know that the topic is already two years old but I urge you to download this episode. Their discussion of Taylor Swift’s performance and Lady Gaga’s giant iceberg of gay still cracks me up.)
Trey - Trey loops back to the VMAs and talks about the meat dress that Lady Gaga wore for the event. He mentions Lady Gaga’s interview on Ellen where she talked about her political and artistic intention for wearing it.
Stephen - Linda Holmes’ gift of a 9,600 word recap of the Episode 5, Season 1 of Bachelor Pad. In 2010 Stephen asked fans who are interested email him for a PDF copy of the recap but since PCHH had created a Facebook Page (like it!) the Bachelor Pad recap is now available for the world to enjoy.
Linda - Season 1 of Friends is helping Linda through some sleepless nights. She talks about how it is now acceptable for the Friends cast to be appreciated in their new projects.
Some Episode Highlights
The first few minutes is a callback to past Gymkata-relatedepisodes. There’s also a callback to their discussion of The Great Food Truck Race.
Clip of Kanye West interrupting Taylor Swift’s acceptance speech at the 2009 VMAs. The dramatic performance of this was performed by Stephen Thompson on the episode.
Trey Graham’s description of Taylor Swift at her House of Sadness sitting on her Rocking Chair of Contemplation playing a Steel Guitar next to the Dog Bed of Repose.
Lyrics to “Innocent”: (It’s okay, life is a tough crowd / 32, and still growin’ up now / Who you are is not what you did. / You’re still an innocent.)
"If you take away sexuality out of dance, it becomes calisthenics." - Glen Weldon on Justin Bieber’s VMA dance number.
Glen briefly discusses his ambivalence regarding people’s desire for facetime with the creators of works they have loved. Stephen poses some of his theories which dovetail nicely into What Is Making Stephen Happy.
A Barrie Special Episode! Erstwhile Talk of the Nation producer Barrie Hardymon (@bhardymon) guests for the very first time on PCHH, filling in for Trey Graham. Linda begins by talking about Glen’s invitation to an al fresco rooftop screening of Gymkata (callback to episode 5) hosted by the writer Ian Buckwalter. A debate ensues about the appropriateness of wearing white sweatpants while a fighting goat.
They bring back the Regrettable Television Pop Quiz. The Bachelor Pad clip prompts a discussion of The Bachelor's soft-focus, moralistic tendencies compared with its offshoot's rampant hedonism. Glen, meanwhile, uses The Great Food Truck Race clip to talk about the pulse pounding thrill of talking about parking and to champion a contestant who invented the wonderful escargot lollipop. (“He’s like a feudal warlord who hates snails.”)
What Is Making Them Happy
Linda - Courtroom TV show Judge Judy always makes Linda happy, mostly because it is one of the most educational shows on TV. Glen agrees and talks about a period where he watched Judge Judy because he wanted her to yell at him. Linda cites a particular episode where an eBay scammer sent the auction winners photocopied images of cell phones instead of the real thing.
Barrie - Barrie mentions two things: getting the tickets for a Lady Gaga concert and reading Freedom by Jonathan Franzen. She confesses some ambivalence for these two things because everyone (no less than The New York Times, in Franzen’s case) has been talking about them.
Stephen - The Stephen Reads a Book project initiated in Episode 6 has received a lot of recommendations from listeners, but a clear plurality named Suzanne Collins’ The Hunger Games. This is endorsed by Barrie, who championed the book’s strong, skilled heroine Katniss. They then resolve that this is the book the Stephen will actually read.
Some Episode Highlights
"If you’re fighting, don’t wear white pants. Everybody knows that. You never know how nervous you could get!" - Barrie Hardymon on Kurt ‘Gymkata’ Thomas’ sartorial mistake.
Stephen, Linda, and Barrie reveal their remarkable achievements as Bachelor franchise scholars.
The panelists paint a mental picture of the quintessential Bachelor (“A waxy-chested, square-jawed, dead-eyed dullard.”)
Other food truck-related shows proposed by the panel: Keep on Food Truckin’,Truck U, Food Drive
Linda mentions a TV Guide list that says Judge Judy Sheindlin earned 45 million dollars in 2010, making her one of the highest earning women in entertainment.
Barrie Hardymon’s stellar performance in the NPR parody video of Lady Gaga’s “Telephone.” (Barrie is the lady in red. WATCH IT, IT’S AWESOME.)
A list of the titles suggested by PCHH listeners: Pretty Little Liars by Sara Shepard, Good Omens by Terry Pratchett and Neil Gaiman, The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo by Stieg Larsson, and House of Leaves by Mark Z. Danielewski. They also named authors Kevin Brockmeier, Gary Shteyngart, and Miranda July.
Linda retakes her seat as the host (“a long national nightmare is finally over”) and begins the discussion of the 2010 Primetime Emmys. The panel praises host Jimmy Fallon’s cold open featuring various TV personalities singing and dancing to Bruce Springsteen’s “Born to Run.” They discuss the way the show flagged somewhat due to the slog of uninteresting categories in the middle of broadcast as well as the inappropriateness of some nominations.
What Is Making Them Happy
Glen - Comedy Bang Bang née Comedy Death Ray, a comedy podcast by Scott Aukerman. He makes a special shoutout to Paul F. Tompkins who comes on as a guest playing Ice-T, Andrew Lloyd Webber, and the Cake Boss.
Trey - Trey recommends an independent South African roadtrip comedy called White Wedding. He particularly enjoyed the surprise inclusion of Brenda Fassie’s song “Vulindlela" and he talks about his special fondness for South Africa and its culture.
Stephen - Stephen started early with his condemnation of things with high approval ratings, including Betty White, Sully, The D.C. Cherry Blossom Festival, and joy. It’s no surprise, then, that he has nothing making him happy. Instead, he begins the Stephen Reads a Book project. He asks the audience to send recommendations of books that are “longer then Goodnight Moon but shorter than Green Eggs and Ham.”
Linda - Linda praises season 8 of Project Runway for coming back stronger after a string of so-so seasons. She goes on to praise Tim Gunn and the way that his participation in the show has deepened.
Some Episode Highlights
"I spent the summer hosting with a bunch of high school students." Linda is referencing their previous discussion of Brett Favre.
List of celebrity cameos in the cold open: Cast of Glee, Tina Fey, Kate Gosselin, John Hamm, Betty White, Jane Lynch, Jorge Garcia, Nina Dobrev, Joel McHale, and Tim Gunn.
During the cold open discussion, Linda mention’s Kate Gosselin’s Dancing With the Stars experience (link to Youtube). As described by Stephen, “She moved with the live grace of a piece of luggage.”
The Closer's Kyra Sedgwick's acceptance speech for her win was described by Glen as, “cool and patrician.”
Stephen recommends a comedy show by Tom Scharpling called The Best Show on WFMU during Glen’s Making Him Happy segment.
The small resurgence of bubbly, unironic fun as opposed to the arch cringe-comedy that has dominated for the last few years (30 Rock, Curb Your Enthusiasm, and Seinfeld). Linda ties this to Jimmy Fallon’ success as an effective awards show host.
Stephen talks about hanging out with Keith Phipps, Nathan Rabin, and Tasha Robinson from The A.V. Club, the entertainment offshoot of The Onion which he founded.
During Stephen’s discussion of his conversation about the meeting of the Juggalos, they play Insane Clown Posse’s “Boogie Woogie Wu.” (Warning: extremely creepy clowns)
"Tim Gunn’s superpower is that he’s right. He’s always right." - Glen Weldon
The episode begins with the results of the the 2010 Creative Arts Emmys, also known as the Schmemmys, where they lump the categories deemed too boring or lowbrow for the Primetime Emmy broadcast. They discussed Neil Patrick Harris’ win for Outstanding Guest Actor (Comedy) (Youtube video) for Glee and Betty White for Outstanding Guest Actress (Comedy) for SNL. Randy Newman’s win for Best Music prompts Stephen’s rant about how one of music’s best satirists has devolved into writing the same songs about friendship.
The panelists also debate the value of having a Best Commercial category, which Old Spice (Youtube video) won. Callback to Episode 2!
This segment focuses on personalities whose popularity or reputation has waned but who may be poised for a Mickey Rourke-style comeback.
Linda - She chooses Tony Danza (formerly of Who’s the Boss?), whose comeback hinges on his reality show Teach: Tony Danza, a reality show where Danza becomes a teacher at a Philadelphia public school.
Glen - Glen surveyed the land for an 80s action star that can make a redefining JCVD-esque movie. He chooses Olympic gold medal-winning gymnast Kurt ‘Gymkata' Thomas, who made a 1985 movie called Gymkata where he infiltrates the fictional Himalayan country of Parmistan and exacts some Gymkata justice. Glen the proposes a sequel where the mulleted Thomas is dropped into a Taliban stronghold. Hilarity ensues.
Trey - Lindsay Lohan is Trey’s pick, after news that she may be relocating to New York and speculations of a Broadway role. He cites her performance in Georgia Rule. He also mentions that she has had a minor role in the movie Machete.
Stephen - He chooses Jim Belushi based on the trailer for the TV show The Defenders (Youtube video). He talks about Belushi’s hangdog expression (“The battered shell of a broken funny man”) that reminded him of Bill Murray in Rushmore. and how a feat of stunt casting can put him in a different light. William Shatner and George Clooney are mentioned as parallels.
What Is Making Them Happy
Yet another episode without this segment!
Some Episode Highlights
The first time that Stephen Thompson hosts PCHH! “It is my theory that by asking me to host this week, Linda is setting me up to be the Tarvaris Jackson to her Brett Favre in the hopes that the audience will beg her to come back and host just one more season.” (Callback to Episode 3)
The term ‘Schmemmys’ is attributed to Kathy Griffin. (Link to Youtube video of a Kathy Griffin comedy special. Language warning.)
Aside from his Randy Newman impersonation, Stephen also busts out his Bill-Paxton-as-Brett-Favre
Trey mentions that Tony Danza played the role of Max Bialystock in the musical The Producers.
Glen’s exhortation of Kurt ‘Gymkata’ Thomas this episode is the dawn of a legend.
"People will forgive a lot of self-immolation. Just ask Robert Downey Jr." - Linda Holmes on Lindsay Lohan’s chances for a comeback.
"Swagger sometimes decays in an interesting way. Not necessarily the ‘rot’ sense but in interesting changes over time as a result of different forces." - Linda Holmes
Trey Graham alludes to the character Willy Loman from Arthur Miller’s Death of a Salesman as the archetype of defeated bravado.
I'm trying to figure out in which episode Trey (couldn't have been Glen, as it's not really his area of interest) talked about the quintet Prima Donna in Andrew Lloyd Webber's Phantom of the Opera. I'd really appreciate any help.
Trey talked about Andrew Lloyd Webber as a pop culture punching bag during their Nov. 12, 2010 episode (Punching Bags And The A Cappella Smackdown), and I’m pretty sure he mentioned Prima Donna then. Hope that helps!
“He swings big and he misses big. He’s like Babe Ruth pointing at the stands saying, ‘I’m gonna hit it to the 95-year old grandmother who’s here with her three generations of grandkids.’ And then he loses his grip on the bat and he hits her in the head.”—Succinct summation of M. Night Shyamalan’s directorial career by Trey Graham of NPR’s Pop Culture Happy Hour.
A large chunk of the episode is devoted to Scott Pilgrim vs. the World, a movie directed by cult darling Edgar Wright (Hot Fuzz, Shaun of the Dead) based on another cult darling, the Scott Pilgrim comic book series by Bryan Lee O’Malley. All of the PCHH panelists found Scott Pilgrim highly enjoyable but Stephen asks whether the niche-y nature of the the source material and the people behind it contributed to its disappointing box office take.
They then talk about the trailer that preceded Scott Pilgrim, which elicited a very visceral and unusual response from the audience at the mention of A Certain Director’s Name. This dovetails into a discussion of personalities that have become trailer-poison. Names bandied about include Robin Williams, Jack Black, Michael Cera (again), and Zach Galifianakis.
In a feat of counter-programming, PCHH introduces yet another segment called:
Pop Culture Blind Spots
Glen - He chooses Friday Night Lights, citing personal and familial baggage that comes with TV shows and movies about sports. Trey voices his agreement, citing his reluctance to watch the similarly sports-themed The Blind Side. Linda valiantly defends FNL's honor by saying that the stories are less about the uplifting quality of high school football and than the students' struggles.
Trey - Modern Family's trailer didn't land with Trey because he found the characters disagreeable. Linda once again leads the defense and says that the characters are not unkind to each other. Glen Weldon backs her up by praising the joke-writing in the show.
Stephen - In his words: “God is dead. People are evil. Have some drugs.” Stephen finds Breaking Bad bleak and nihilistic and he is not inclined to watching it despite the critical acclaim it has earned. In a later podcast, however, Glen Weldon names Breaking Bad as what is making him happy.
Linda - Everything Tolkien. She finds the barrier to entry too steep, saying plaintively, “Life is so short and the books are so long.” Glen Weldon tries to defend the Middle Earth but inadvertently focuses more on the problematic elements of JRR Tolkien’s world. Trey Graham supports his endorsement, however. Glen suggests that Linda read The Hobbit first.
A little late to the party, but PCHH’s own Linda Holmes and Trey Graham as well as one-time PCHH guest panelist Marc Hirsch just finished live-blogging the 2012 Tony Awards hosted by Neil Patrick Harris. Catch up on the hilarity and more by reading the transcripts!
(I thought of naming the tag ‘liveslogging’ in reference to another PCHH episode, but the Tonys are just too delightful for that.)
The week’s episode starts off with Linda Holmes talking about her adventures at the 2010 Television Critics Association Press Tour, where critics enjoy an extended period of detention as networks parade their lineup of new shows. The panel debates the relative merits of the Hawaii 5-0 remake, the not-so-dearly departed Outsourced, Sh** My Dad Says, and MTV’s Teen Wolf. Brief interactions with Shaquille O’Neal, the cast of Jersey Shore, and the giant ball from Wipeout round off Linda’s report. Glen Weldon characterizes the critics at press tour as “leopards in the Serengeti.”
They end this episode with a round of Regrettable Television Pop Quiz, including the Tareq Salahi wine throwing incident involving the Real Housewives of D.C., as covered by The View, and Scream Queens by VH1. This segues into a discussion of the best Auf Wiedersehens in TV’s reality show ecosystem.
What’s Making Them Happy
Trey - James Franco profile written by Sam Anderson for New York Magazine. It leads to a hilarious bit where Stephen Thompson comments, “I thought you were going to say ‘The writer notices a mole.’”
Glen - Adult Swim TV show Childrens Hospital, starring Rob Corddry, which started off as a web series from The WB.com. “What you need to understand there is that Rob Corddry is a guy that wears clown makeup that is very reminiscent of John Wayne Gacy’s Pogo the Clown. He also has blood covering his surgical scrubs.”
The first invocation of Brett Favre, football and the Green Bay Packers in PCHH. It will not be the last. They discuss Favre’s propensity towards playing football with high school students in the off-season.
Peter King, writer for Sports Illustrated, guilty of mythologizing Brett Favre’s heroic suffering.
"What you can’t see because this is a podcast is that Stephen is holding his cheesehead hat in front of his face and sobbing quietly into it." - Trey Graham
"I am four foot, ten, the same height as Mother Teresa… I worked as a church secretary by day and a go-go dancer by night." - Scream Queens contestant
Stephen Thompson busts out his impersonation of Iman from Project Runway Canada with, “I’m sorry, you just don’t measure up.”
Welcome, fellow PCHH enthusiasts, and thank you for following this Tumblr! This hastily made introduction is just to explain a few pertinent things. I started keeping track of these links because I’ve been looping Pop Culture Happy Hour episodes non-stop while at work and I made a habit of taking notes of things to look up. Since the more recent PCHH posts on the Monkey See blog are now super-packed with links and stuff, I’ll mostly be focusing on the back catalog, so to speak.
I also want to state that I have no affiliation whatsoever with NPR or any of the panelists, so my opinions and the materials I post are entirely my own responsibility. This is just a fan-made enterprise lovingly made by an affable drunk.
If you have any questions or suggestions on how to improve this little resource, feel free to send me a message. Submissions are also welcome. If you are so inclined to make an episode summary of your own, I’ll be more than thrilled to run or reblog them. I’ll probably be able to do only two or three of the resource posts a week, so any little bit of material helps.
I don’t have a kicky little outro, so you all will just have to make do with my enthusiastic wave all the way from the Philippines. :D
This episode begins with a discussion of Christopher Nolan’s blockbuster Inception. They acknowledge the punishing amount of gunplay in the story, the deft delineation of the three different dream worlds, and the cinematic tropes that Nolan alludes to throughout the movie. They also discuss the knee-jerk pushback from Nolan fans as a reaction to critiques dismissing Inception's popularity as “delusional hype.”
Regrettable Television *Pop* Quiz highlights choice moments from Ochocinco: The Ultimate Catch, History Channel’s Top Shot, and Real Housewives of New Jersey.
What Is Making Them Happy
Glen - The Wonder Woman costume redesign is ostensibly what is making him happy, but the execution of said redesign (the stirrup pants and the jacket, specifically) is bothersome. DOWNLOAD THIS PODCAST IF ONLY FOR THIS.
Stephen cites Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind as a more poetic visualization of what goes on in the mind.
"The movie is a metaphor for the power of delusional hype—a metaphor for itself." from David Edelstein's piece for New York Magazine, alluded to by Glen Weldon.
This episode makes a lot of references to other critics. Trey also mentions a Roger Ebert article called Whole lotta cantin’ going on. “Boone’s review fits my definition of usefulness. It doesn’t matter whether I agree with him. He helps me see things.”