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Filtering by Category: podcasts

Pop Culture Happy Hour: Christmas Songs, Our Favorites and The, Watchacallit. Best.

Chris Klimek

 I’m glad my folks hung onto this for the 40 years it took me to buy my own turntable.

I’m glad my folks hung onto this for the 40 years it took me to buy my own turntable.

I’d say it was the Pop Culture Happy Hour episode for which I’ve been training my entire life, except we just did the Die Hard episode. Anyway, I was glad to be part of the elite panel of holiday song-pickers summoned to the National Public Radio today to argue which Christmas song is the Muhammad Ali Greatest of All Time yulejam, and which one is our individual favorite at this particular moment. The stakes in the latter instance are lower, but that only complicates the emotional work of choosing, because the shackles of convention are all the way off!

It says something about the company I was in—PCHH regular Stephen Thompson, plus two very smart NPR Music staffers, Lyndsey McKenna and Marissa Lorusso—that my selections were somehow the most uptempo of the lot. (They’re all lovely people, whose affection for mopey holiday songs is one I very much share. Click on “Christmas Mixtapes,” above, for years and years of evidence.)

Had this episode been recorded at an earlier or later hour of the day, I might’ve stanned for James Brown’s “Santa Claus Go Straight to the Ghetto” or “Christmas Love” by Rotary Connection  or The Killers' "Great Big Sled" or even the ‘87 U2 version of Darlene Love’s classic “Christmas (Baby Please Come Home).” But I chose to stump for the lead track off Blue Wave Christmas, the latest ineffable installment in my generally somewhat effable Yuletunes Eclectic and Inexplicable series. (See here, you.) There’s no promotion like self-promotion. Ebeneezer Scrooge had to learn that the hard way. I don’t know what that means, but if you say it out loud with the inflections in the right places, it sounds like it means something.

FURTHER READING: Since Marissa chose “All I Want For Christmas Is You” as her all-timer, perhaps you’d like to revisit my five-year-old Slate piece trying to puzzle out why this song, from 1994, is the most recent entry to be admitted to the perennial holiday songbook. Or my six-year-old Washington Post story about sad-sack seasonal sounds.

B-Boys & B-Sides: Presenting (the first quarter of) my Lucky 13th Yulemix, "Blue Wave Christmas"

Chris Klimek

 I’ve only gotten better at this.

I’ve only gotten better at this.

Have mercy! This is just getting ridiculous now. For the lucky thirteenth iteration of my Yuletunes Eclectic and Inexplicable series, I thought that instead of releasing it in two indefensibly long parts, as had been my habit since I stopped burning and printing physical CDs of this thing—a nice bauble to thrust into some unsuspecting person's hand, but expensive—I thought I would do a sort of podcast limited series of four episodes, released weekly, counting down to the Feast of Christmas. Because four is more than two—one hundred percent more, from a numerical perspective. And I believe in always giving one hundred percent, Christmaswise. 

2018-Blue-Wave-Christmas-Superman.jpg

So this is merely the first twenty-five percent, right here. And I daresay this is the most eclectic Yuletunes Eclectic entry yet. Do they know it’s Christmastime at all? Do you? Is Santa a B-Boy or a B-Man? Sure, you’ve heard Brenda Lee’s “Rockin’ Around the Christmas Tree”; that’s entry level. But have you heard the flip? These are cuts so deep they’ll give the bends, and yet so Prime that Jeff Bezos would be delivering them to you with free two-day shipping if I hadn’t already dropped ’em on ya instantaneous.

Strap in. Turn on. Light up. Get down. Because to paraphrase Ben Grimm, it’s hall-deckin’ time. Again!

Pop Culture Happy Hour: "Creed II"

Chris Klimek

 Sly, Wood Harris, Michael B., Jacob “Stitch” Duran, and Tessa Thompson all return. (MGM)

Sly, Wood Harris, Michael B., Jacob “Stitch” Duran, and Tessa Thompson all return. (MGM)

It had been too long since I got to appear on a PCHH panel with the great Gene Demby from Code Switch, so I was very happy to find myself sitting beside him for this episode dissecting Creed II, which frustrated each of us in different ways. You can hear the episode below; my review of the movie is here.

Pop Culture Happy Hour: Never Say "Die Hard"

Chris Klimek

 Alan Rickman & Bruce Willis both got film careers because of  Die Hard.  We'll always have  Die Hard.  (Fox)

Alan Rickman & Bruce Willis both got film careers because of Die Hard. We'll always have Die Hard. (Fox)

We had to do a Pop Culture Happy Hour discussion of Die Hard because it’s holiday time and because the beloved classic turned 30, uh, back in July and because we just had to. I thought I was being punk’d when I got the invitation but I’m so glad it was real. This was the awkward Christmas Eve holiday party/attempted spousal reconciliation I’ve been waiting to be invited to since I was 11 years old. Yippie kai yay, podcast lovers. (My punishingly long Die Hard Dossier is here.)

Pop Culture Happy Hour: "First Man" and What's Making Us Happy

Chris Klimek

 Ryan Gosling as Neil Armstrong (Universal)

Ryan Gosling as Neil Armstrong (Universal)

I was delighted as always to join my pals Linda Holmes, Stephen Thompson, and Glen Weldon on Pop Culture Happy Hour to discuss the Neil Armstrong biopic First Man—a movie that, like the new A Star Is Born, I appreciate more the more I think about it. Somehow we managed to avoid re-litigating the great La La Land controversy during this conversation. (My bomb-throwing position: It's good!) When I used the word Weldonian in the studio, Glen nearly tore his rotator cuff making the "cut" gesture, but cooler, more hirsute heads—those of producers Jessica Reedy and Vincent Acovino—prevailed.

During the "What's Making Us Happy" segment I endorse Alec Nevala-Lee's new history Astounding: John W. Campbell, Isaac Asimov, Robert A. Heinlein, L. Ron Hubbard, and the Golden Age of Science Fiction, of which I'll have a review appearing in the Dallas Morning News shortly. It happens that Nevala-Lee wrote a thoughtful post about First Man and the silly flap among people who haven't seen the movie over the fact that it doesn't depict the planting of the American flag on the lunar surface. I'm glad to share it.

Pop Culture Happy Hour: Mission: Impossible — Fallout, and What's Making Us Happy

Chris Klimek

 Simon Pegg, Rebecca Ferguson, Tom Cruise, and Ving Rhames.

Simon Pegg, Rebecca Ferguson, Tom Cruise, and Ving Rhames.

Sure, he's a weird guy. But Tom Cruise is the greatest onscreen runner since that horse that Eadweard Muybridge photographed in 1872 to prove that all four hooves of a galloping stallion leave the ground. 

Here's our Pop Culture Happy Hour on the triumph that is Mission: Impossible — Fallout.  Any Cruiselike zealotry in my voice is purely intentional. To watch a two-star action movie with Linda Holmes is a five-star experience. To watch a five-star action movie with her is an M:I-6 star experience.

Pop Culture Happy Hour: Skyscraper and What's Making Us Happy (which is, for me, Blindspotting)

Chris Klimek

 Dwayne Johnson is no Tom Cruise, stuntwise.

Dwayne Johnson is no Tom Cruise, stuntwise.

I had a lovely time dissecting the laughably derivative, greenscreeny pleasures of Skyscraper with Pop Culture Happy Hour hosts Linda Holmes and Stephen Thompson and fellow friend-of-the-show Margaret H. Willison. This movie wants to be Die Hard, and it isn't even as good as Johnson's own Central Intelligence or Rampage.  It's maybe on par with San Andreas.

I get a plug in during the What's Making Us Happy segment for Daveed Diggs and Rafael Casal's Blindspotting, one of the two or three strongest movies I've seen this year. Buy a ticket to Blindspotting and watch Skyscraper on a flight or something. 

Pop Culture Happy Hour: Ant-Man and The Wasp

Chris Klimek

 The just-fine firm of Lily, Douglas, & Rudd, LLP (Marvel Studios)

The just-fine firm of Lily, Douglas, & Rudd, LLP (Marvel Studios)

I saw a review headline earlier today proclaiming Ant-Man and The Wasp "the perfect summer movie." I could easily name 20 perfect movies released during the summer going back to Jaws, released the summer before I was, but the phrase "a perfect summer" movie almost invariably refers to movies that aren't very good. 

Ant-Man and The Wasp isn't Not Good. It is, as my pal and editor and occasional (today!) Pop Culture Happy Hour panel-mate Glen Weldon observed in his review, fine.

I'm going to see it again tonight, in fact, but only because it's on a bill at the drive-in with Incredibles 2, which I've not seen yet, and because I haven't been to the drive-in in I think two years. I won't stay for the third feature, Avengers: Infinity War, because that movie will end at 3 a.m. and it's a 55-mile drive back to the District. But I'm glad that screening is happening.

Anyway, please enjoy our PCHH dissection of Ant-Man and The Wasp. It's fine.