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What's making us happy: A guide for your weekend reading, viewing and gaming

Ronald Young Jr., Ed Helms and Randall Park on <em>True Story With Ed & Randall.</em><em></em>
Richie Knapp/Peacock
Ronald Young Jr., Ed Helms and Randall Park on True Story With Ed & Randall.

This week there were horses on the Chanel runway, Euphoria failed to appreciate the mastery of Rodgers and Hammerstein's Oklahoma!, and — tragedy of tragedies — Dolly Parton's new line of baking mixes sold out before we had a chance to snag any.

Here's what NPR's Pop Culture Happy Hour crew was paying attention to — and what you should check out this weekend.

Party of One: A Memoir in 21 Songs by Dave Holmes
/ Crown Archetype
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Crown Archetype

Party of One: A Memoir in 21 Songs by Dave Holmes

I just finished Party of One by Dave Holmes as part of my New Year's resolution of reading five books this year. I know that might seem like a very modest resolution for most people, but for me it was part of an effort to try and dip my toe into reading at night instead of just doom scrolling.

I loved Party of One — a pop culture memoir by a friend of Pop Culture Happy Hour. Dave is such a warm, funny and generous writer, and the memoir is a marvelous piece of storytelling that I hope to emulate if I ever get off my rear end and write my own book one of these days. -Stephen Thompson

"Your Bubble Is Not the Culture" by Yair Rosenberg

There was an article from a couple of weeks ago in The Atlantic called "Your Bubble is Not the Culture." It's a really smart piece by Yair Rosenberg about the dangers that come from critics like us assuming everyone thinks the way we do about pop culture.

He notes how recent articles from major publications have declared people and things like Lin-Manuel Miranda or Harry Potter obsolete even as they continue to have tremendous success with audiences. (Critics have said that people are sick of Lin-Manuel; people are turned off by J.K. Rowling and her anti-trans rhetoric. In his piece, Rosenberg says, you know what? Most people probably don't even know that J.K. Rowling has said these things. Lin-Manuel has a hit on his hands with all the Disney stuff he's done, including Encanto.)

He cautions critics to remember that it's their job is to spend time watching and thinking about these things, and the way they interact with media can be unrepresentative of how larger audiences feel. It helped put into words something I had been thinking about for a while, and I just really appreciated the article. (I still maintain that Don't Look Up was not a good movie and I stand by that.) - Aisha Harris

A screenshot of the online game Wiki Trivia.
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Wiki Trivia

Wiki Trivia

It turns out there's yet another game I can play on my phone that makes me feel even stupider than Wordle does on my six-guess days. It's called Wiki Trivia, and it's a historical timeline game. At the bottom of the screen you see a randomly generated historical event or person and the year it happened, or the year they were born. Above that, in the middle of your screen, you see a different randomly generated historical event or person without an accompanying year. So you slide the event in the middle of the screen down onto the timeline before or after.

It keeps getting harder as your timeline fills up and the gaps between events get smaller and smaller. You only get three wrong answers before the game cuts you off.

I am not good at this game — my longest streak is an entirely pitiable 16 events — and because of that, the satisfaction I get from it far outweighs what I get from Wordle. -Glen Weldon

True Story With Ed & Randall on Peacock

If you've been keeping up with Pop Culture Happy Hour for a while, you're probably familiar with our regular panelist, Ronald Young Jr. He recently appeared as a guest on the new Peacock show True Story With Ed & Randall hosted by Ed Helms and Randall Park.

Guests will come on the show and share a story from their life while actors re-enact the account. Ronald appears in the third episode to tell them the story of him sneaking out to attend prom when he was in high school. His very strict parents are played by Terry Crews and Tichina Arnold. I won't tell you too much of this because it would ruin it, but it was an absolute delight to hear his story, and this is a great opportunity to see a whole new side of him. -Linda Holmes


NPR intern Fi O'Reilly adapted this Pop Culture Happy Hour segment into a digital page. If you like these suggestions, consider subscribing to our newsletter to get recommendations on what's making us happy every week.

Copyright 2022 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

Linda Holmes is a pop culture correspondent for NPR and the host of Pop Culture Happy Hour. She began her professional life as an attorney. In time, however, her affection for writing, popular culture, and the online universe eclipsed her legal ambitions. She shoved her law degree in the back of the closet, gave its living room space to DVD sets of The Wire, and never looked back.
Stephen Thompson is a writer, editor and reviewer for NPR Music, where he speaks into any microphone that will have him and appears as a frequent panelist on All Songs Considered. Since 2010, Thompson has been a fixture on the NPR roundtable podcast Pop Culture Happy Hour, which he created and developed with NPR correspondent Linda Holmes. In 2008, he and Bob Boilen created the NPR Music video series Tiny Desk Concerts, in which musicians perform at Boilen's desk. (To be more specific, Thompson had the idea, which took seconds, while Boilen created the series, which took years. Thompson will insist upon equal billing until the day he dies.)
Glen Weldon is a host of NPR's Pop Culture Happy Hour podcast. He reviews books, movies, comics and more for the NPR Arts Desk.
Aisha Harris is a host of Pop Culture Happy Hour.
Fi O'Reilly
Fi O'Reilly is a production assistant for Alt.Latino.