Pop Culture Happy Hour Liner Notes

Feb 15

Episode 17 - Late-Night War, Merged Freckles, And The Pet-Petter


Title: Late-Night War, Merged Freckles, And The Pet-Petter (November 19, 2010)

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.

Trey - Having watched the Country Music Awards for the first time, Trey was moved by the performance of "Coal Miner’s Daughter" for Loretta Lynn, who was honored during the event. It reminded him his special affection for the grand ladies of country music such as Emmylou Harris, Dolly Parton, Linda Ronstadt, and Tammy Wynette.

Stephen - Dikkers.com, a cartoon website founded by former Onion editor Scott Dikkers. Stephen also mentions a short called "The Astounding World of the Future." He also mentions The Complete Hank Williams Box Set.

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

Nov 04

Episode 16 - Punching Bags And The A Cappella Smackdown

Title: Punching Bags And The A Cappella Smackdown (November 12, 2010)

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.

Trey defends Andrew Lloyd Webber against accusations that he is a schlockmeister for “inflicting Sarah Brightman to an unsuspecting public.” Finally, Linda calls out Ed Helms’s Andy Bernard (The Office) for perpetuating the idea that it’s fine to make fun of college a cappella by creating the fictional group Here Comes Treble. The panel, however, still proceeds with the mockery.

A new installment of the Regrettable Television Pop Quiz features clips from Mario Lopez: Saved by the Baby, Ghost Hunters, and Bridezillas.

What Is Making Them Happy

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.

Linda - The now-defunct Extra Hot Great podcast by Tara Ariano, Joe Reid, and Dave Cole. I unfortunately can’t find an archive of past episodes.

Some Episode Highlights

Oct 11


Oct 10

All in all, I can’t say the Rally To Restore Sanity quite measured up to the Hot Bath To Re-Restore Sanity.

— Linda Holmes (@nprmonkeysee) on her coverage of the event. October 31, 2010

Oct 09

Anonymous said: Which episode did Linda talk about the book Gone Girl?

Linda named Gone Girl as the thing that’s making her happy on this episode, but she also talked about it with Glen and Barrie a week later.

Episode 15 - Replacing Zombies And James Franco, Mountaineer

Title: Replacing Zombies And James Franco, Mountaineer (November 5, 2010)

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.

Some Episode Highlights

Anonymous said: Which episode features Stephen's story about his Bucky Covington CD collection?

That episode is from June 2011, and also has the distinction of being Tanya Ballard Brown’s first appearance on the podcast.

Oct 01

Anonymous said: Which installment of PCHH includes the story of how Glen was turned gay by the cater-waiter?

Episode 11, where Glen waves his ecru-colored flag of gay surrender. The caiter waiter story happens during Glen’s What Is Making Me Happy Segment.

Anonymous said: 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

Sorry for the one-month (sob) delay, but the app that Glen Weldon mentioned is called Freedom. He mentioned it on the 2012 New Year’s resolution episode.