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


Rex Harrison singing “Why Can’t a Woman Be More Like a Man,” Barrie Hardymon’s favorite movie from Episode 10 of Pop Culture Happy Hour.


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 - Weird Al Yankovic’s In 3-D, Suzanne Collins’ The Hunger Games (jokingly) but he also mentioned Judy Blume, The Love Bug and the subsequent Herbie-themed movies, Nancy Wilson and Samantha Fox, various collections such as Wacky Packages, Hotwheels cars, Atari 2600 cartridges, coins, Garfield Treasuries, sporks, and Scratch and Sniff stickers.

Barrie - Poison’s Open Up and Say… Ahh!, Judy Blume’s Wifey, My Fair Lady, Dirty Dancing-era Patrick Swayze (“He always seemed upset by how much he loved the girl!”), baseball cards and Sweet Valley High novels.

Trey - Barry Gibb and Barbara Streisand’s Guilty, Sidney Sheldon’s oeuvre and John Jakes’ Kent Family Chronicles series, beginning with The Bastard, a pass for favorite movies because he doesn’t rewatch movies, Tom Wopat from the Dukes of Hazzard and Max Baer Jr. from The Beverly Hilbillies, Breyer ponies, Tom Swift Jr., and Hardy Boys books.

Linda - Rick Springfield’s Wait for Night, Daphne du Maurier’s Rebecca, The Sure Thing (Linda talked about it in a more recent episode of PCHH), Andy Gibb and Ricky Schroder, Sweet Valley High novels.

What Is Making Them Happy

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.
  • Weird Al Yankovic on All Songs Considered’s Tiny Desk Concert (Parts One, Two, and Three on Youtube)
  • 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.
  • Choice passages excerpted from Wifey. (Content warning)
  • Episode of The Wonder Years that references Our Bodies, Ourselves, brought up by Linda Holmes. Here’s a screencap.
  • Other authors with grownup content that the panelists have read as children: Jackie Collins and Judith Krantz.
  • Stephen references the first book from the Choose Your Own Adventure series The Cave of Time.
  • Most-watched movie bonus question: The Sure Thing for Linda, My Fair Lady and Gone with the Wind for Barrie, This is Spinal Tap for Stephen, All About Eve, Auntie Mame, and Dangerous Liaisons for Trey
  • Proposed gay-off between Glen Weldon and Trey Graham
  • This is the episode that first featured Barrie and Trey’s podcast romance, which Glen later characterized as “Twilight-esque.”
  • Linda talks about Patrick Swayze’s scene in Dirty Dancing where he is dancing with Cynthia Rhodes. “I think a lot of girls spontaneously passed over into womanhood.”
  • Trey tells a wonderful Tom Wopat-related anecdote back when Wopat starred opposite Bernadette Peters in Annie Get Your Gun.

I forgot to queue this last time, so have the wonderful parody of Lady Gaga’s “Telephone” as performed by NPR staff. PCHH panelist Barrie Hardymon is part of the dance troupe.


Episode 7 - Hobbits And Food Trucks And Freedom, Oh My!

Title: Hobbits And Food Trucks And Freedom, Oh My! (September 10, 2010)

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.

Glen - He brings a copy of Michael Kupperman’s Tales Designed to Thrizzle Vol. 6, and praises its humor. He mentions specific comics such as “Jungle Princess,” “Cowboy Oscar Wilde,” and “Ben’s Warehouse of Cursed Savings.” He gives Linda a surprise loaner: a limited edition of The Hobbit. (Callback to Episode 4)

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.”)
  • Barrie mentions Real World/Road Rules Challenge.
  • 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.