Title: BOO! Halloween Fears And Costume Theory (October 29, 2010)
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
What Is Making Them Happy
Stephen - He is made happy by his son’s Halloween costume, a banana suit from Target (linked product a conjecture on my part) and the prospect of Chiktopus art. The list of happymaking things also include “Brett Favre eating it,” CMJ music festival, and Whisky Friday at The Onion headquarters.
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.
Linda - Comedian Dave Holmes get credit for what is making Linda happy: a series of Youtube videos by Katherine Chloe Cahoon produced to promote her book The Single Girl’s Guide to Meeting European Men. Linda highlights a particular gem, her advice for girls who are attending Oktoberfest.
Some Episode Highlights
- 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.
- They mentions Bing Crosby and David Bowie singing “Little Drummer Boy / Peace on Earth.” Stephen calls it his favorite pop culture artifact.
- 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
— Stephen Thompson on Undercover Boss and the show’s extended PR stunt for corporations.
Anonymous asked: What other podcasts should I try?
I’m afraid my tastes in podcasts are a little idiosyncratic. I don’t listen to many pop culture ones aside from PCHH. These are the shows that are in constant rotation on my mp3 player:
This American Life
I download the best-of episodes of All Songs Considered since Stephen Thompson is always part of it, but I don’t listen regularly. I also listen to some audio drama podcasts, including The Thrilling Adventure Hour (which Glen Weldon recommended!), Wormwood, and Blackjack Justice.
I made a post about this on my personal blog, but I haven’t written the follow-up yet due to general laziness.
Title: The Menace Of Laughter And A Life-Saving Allergy (October 22, 2010)
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.
Regrettable Television Pop Quiz makes a comeback, with the panel bringing their own choice clips. Their TV Show and Tell includes clips from $#*! My Dad Says, Parking Wars, Ma’ Roadhouse, and Undercover Boss. The entire team acknowledges their debt to The Soup, where they mine TV gems such as Gordon Ramsay characterizing a dish as “Gandhi’s flip flop.” (Youtube clip)
What Is Making Them Happy
Trey - Trey offers up happy-making things for the rest of the PCHH crew, including the news that The Hobbit movie has been greenlit, Barack Obama’s appearance on Mythbusters (Youtube clip), and an iPhone case that works as a bottle-opener.
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.
Some Episode Highlights
- Vulture’s article listing the 26 differences between the 30 Rock East Coast and West Coast broadcasts.
- Glen mentioned Louie C.K.’s cancelled HBO show Lucky Louie. It recalled the sitcom style of The Honeymooners, where the live audience was acknowledged by the characters.
- Tracy’s storyline references The Carol Burnett Show.
- “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.
- Episode recap of the Undercover Boss episode about Hooters.
- As with his screed against Donald Trump’s The Apprentice, Stephen rails against self-aggrandizing CEOs in Undercover Boss.
- Nathan Rabin also wrote a memoir called The Big Rewind. Apparently, Stephen is lavishly praised in it.
- Marshall Crenshaw played Buddy Holly in the 1987 movie La Bamba. (Youtube clip from the movie)
Title: Literacy, ‘Modern Family,’ And Other Blind Spots (October 15, 2010)
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.
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.
Title: Superman, Tim Gunn, And Other Everyday Heroes (October 8, 2010)
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.
What Is Making Them Happy
Glen -The Music of DC Comics: 75th Anniversary Collection. Glen plays clips from several of these tracks, needless to say, puts a thrill down the entire panel’s spines. He notes the sad absence of the Batgirl theme.
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.
Linda - Gunn’s Golden Rules: Life’s Little Lessons for Making It Work, the memoir written by Project Runway’s Tim Gunn. She points out some bracing personal revelations and some fashion bitchery included.
Some Episode Highlights
- 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)
- Linda mentions her old fandom for the Dean Cain and Teri Hatcher vehicle Lois & Clark: The New Adventures of Superman, a relic of which is a headshot of Dean Cain addressed to Linda saying, “Super Wishes.”
- First use of the “When Are They Going To Get to the Fireworks Factory?” argument.
- 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.”
Anonymous asked: Did the gang ever discuss the movie "Dogtooth"? I believe Glen Weldon mentioned it around 3/11 hoping it would be up for discussion in a later episode. Thanks!
They didn’t talk about again, as far as I can tell. The subsequent movie-themed episodes they had never discussed it.