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Pop Culture Happy Hour: How Long Is Too Long?

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Half of the Pop Culture Happy Hour crew is scattered to the four winds — if, by "the four winds," you mean "an assortment of movie theaters in Toronto" — but before parting ways, the old gang met up to discuss a question that's been vexing me. What are the tipping points, I vex, that push various forms of entertainment over the line between "long enough" and "too long"? What constitutes an acceptable standard length (of an album, a movie comedy, a movie drama, a reality TV series, a play, and so on), and why?

We bounce some ideas around — a "two hour rule," thoughts on iTunes vs. CDs, The Hobbit and its appendices, varying belief systems with regard to skimming and fast-forwarding, the final season(s) of Breaking Bad, something about a four-hour adaptation of Hamlet — while also giving me the flimsiest excuse yet to bust out a halfhearted Gordon Ramsay impersonation.

Then, it's on to a characteristically strange Linda Holmes quiz, which — for me, anyway — consists mostly of an opportunity to show off the fact that I know Linda's brain well enough to anticipate the answer to any quiz question she concocts. In your face, Linda's brain!

Finally, as we do every week, it's on to a robust round of What's Making Us Happy. Glen loves the theatrical adaptation of a movie we've raved about in the past. Trey is psyched about an upcoming sitcom, and about being Toronto-bound with Linda and our pal Bob Mondello, while Linda revels in reality-television marathons, a kind letter from Germany and her mom's successful knee-replacement surgery. (Hi, Linda's mom! You are inferior to my mom, but to very few others'!) And, finally, I marinate in the joy of sport and praise a new project by a much-blathered-about personal favorite. (Incidentally, between the time when the show was recorded and today, the project has been scaled back a bit — only 10 of its 40 songs are available here.)

Oh, and for the love of goodness, please find us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter: me, Trey, Glen, Linda, producer Jess Gitner, and our producer emeritus and music director Mike.

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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.)

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