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

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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

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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

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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

  • Linda begins the show by recounting her experience covering Stewart and Colbert’s Rally to Restore Sanity And/Or Fear. She calls it “surprisingly grueling.” Trey mentions an NPR internal memo regarding the rally, which had caused some controversy.
  • 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.
  • Trey mentions Linda’s piece, “Ten Jobs Not Right for Wolverine.”
  • Listicle vs. “Multiple Points of Entry”
  • The panel mentions the Inventory section of The A.V. Club and praises it for being quirky and esoteric, as well as for being commentary in and of themselves.
  • "Ordinarily I love what you do, but this time you’ve gone too far!" - Stephen’s approximation of random internet commenters.
  • The also highlight the McSweeney’s piece “Great Literature Retitled to Boost Website Traffic.”
  • Stephen mentions that the Nick Lowe Tiny Desk Concert was recorded on the same day as Richard Thompson's.
  • Trey relates the story of the piano soloist that performed with Eva Cassidy for “Autumn Leaves.”
  • Glen and Linda goes into a discussion about Linda’s dismissal of the game Angry Birds, with Glen characterizing her action as “a little like bailing at the dwarf tea party.”
  • During the discussion of games, Stephen mentions his quest to find the traditional version of The Oregon Trail for iPhone.
  • "In fact, I’m offended that there isn’t a Trey-voice yet." - This needs no attribution.
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Episode 14 - BOO! Halloween Fears And Costume Theory

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 consumerismverisimilitude.

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.

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.

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
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Episode 13 - The Menace Of Laughter And A Life-Saving Allergy

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.

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.

Linda - A particularly bad day caused Linda to rediscover Marshall Crenshaw's music from the 1980s. She plays two songs, “Someday Someway" and "Better Back Off.” (Youtube clips)

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)
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Episode 12 - Literacy, ‘Modern Family,’ And Other Blind Spots

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.

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.
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Episode 11 - Superman, Tim Gunn, And Other Everyday Heroes

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.”
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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.
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Episode 9 - Fall Television, With Donald Trump And Zombies

Title: Fall Television, With Donald Trump And Zombies (September 24, 2010)

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.

Returning Shows: The Venture Bros. for Glen, Dexter for Trey (though he mentions Glee and American Idol as well), Season 10 of The Apprentice for Stephen, and Parks and Recreation for Linda.

Sort of Interesting New Shows: Mike & Molly for Stephen, Hawaii 5-0 for Trey (bleep his dad watched!), The Walking Dead for Glen, and My Generation for Linda. Among the shows they talked about, only My Generation was cancelled on its first season.

Other Episode Highlights

  • The first part is a callback to the last episode, where Stephen offered to send a Bachelor Pad Recap to interested listeners.
  • 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)
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Episode 8 - Meat Dress, ’90s Sitcoms And The Dog Bed Of Repose

Title: Meat Dress, ’90s Sitcoms And The Dog Bed Of Repose (September 17, 2010)

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.)

What Is Making Them Happy

Glen - The 2010 Small Press Expo, and event made up of indie comics creators and publishers, awarded the Ignatz Awards to some of the titles that Glen Weldon has reviewed for NPR. You can read some of his pieces here, here, here, and here.

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-related episodes. 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.
  • Lady Gaga first wore a meat bikini for the cover of Vogue Hommes Japan.
  • Performance artists that have used meat in performance art, as listed by Trey: Jana Sterbak’s “Vanitas: Flesh Dress for an Albino Anorexic,” Carolee Schneemann’s Meat Joy, and Zhan Huan’s My New York. (Blanket warning for all the links on this bullet point. They contain graphic imagery)
  • Trey also mentions Steven Kaplan of the contemporary art blog post.thing.net.
  • Linda Holmes used to be a recapper for Television Without Pity, where she wrote about illustrious shows such as The Amazing Race, Survivor, and The Apprentice.
  • Trey made a short Pop Culture Blind Spot segment by talking about Seinfeld.