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Pop Culture Happy Hour: Of True Tales, Fantasy Adventures And Happy-Making Things

A drawing of two clinking martini glasses.
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With fearless leader Linda Holmes pounding the pavement at the annual Silverdocs documentary extravaganza, we thought we'd chat about some of our own favorite nonfiction feature films — true tales of obsessions, outrages and tragedies, not to mention Hitler. (Spoiler: We mention Hitler.)

But because we're humongous nerds, we try to dig a little below the surface, too, and talk about what makes a good documentary — the techniques and strategies that go beyond simply pointing a camera at a good story. We even have special-guest expertise: The delightful Barrie Hardymon, whose husband made a documentary about a family secret, is with us this week. (Though the revelation that she despises one cult-classic doc that is near and dear to my people may force us to get un-work-married.)

The line of the show? I'm voting for "It's basically Grey Gardens with meth." I'm betting you can guess who uttered those words; kindly listen to the show to figure out in what context it makes sense.

In part two, we move on to videogames, because (a) they are also things we stare at on screens, and (b) we were feeling fairly random this week. Again, there's some "Oooh, I like this one," but we try to puzzle out what makes some work better than others.

Barrie leads off with another shocking confession about her deprived childhood and her depraved behavior with The Nicest Boy In High School; I admit to wreaking natural and unnatural havoc upon entire populations; Thompson offers up not his own favorite but the current obsession of one of his offspring; and Weldon, per custom, explains why it's important that a game offer you a jumpsuited avatar resembling Joyce DeWitt.

And of course as always, we finish things off with a quick round of What's Making Us Happy — so have a listen, and come join the fray on Facebook.

We make noise all week on Twitter, too, so follow us there if you feel like you need more of our tomfoolery: Linda, Stephen, Glen, Barrie, Mike and me.

Oh, and if you're lazy like me, sign up to get Pop Culture Happy Hour sent directly to you every Friday. Fun! Conveniently delivered!

More linkage for you hardcore types:

A Game Glen Weldon Recommends

A Map That Will Help You Understand Said Game

YouTube Evidence That Stephen Is Not Making Up The Game Eggomania

How To Revisit Your Obsession With 'Adventure'

More On A Documentary That Barrie Highly Recommends

An Excerpt From The Gruesome Horror Novel That Makes Barrie Happy

Copyright 2021 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

Trey Graham edits and produces arts and entertainment content for NPR's Digital Media division, where among other things he's helped launch the Monkey See pop-culture blog and NPR's expanded Web-only movies coverage. He also helps manage the Web presence for Fresh Air from WHYY.

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