Pretty Much Pop #118: Adapting Agatha Christie

In light of Death on the Nile, we discuss the continuing appearance of the works of the world's most successful mystery writer in film and TV.  Mark is joined by repeat guests Sarahlyn Bruck, Al Baker, and Nicole Pometti to discuss the recent Kenneth Branagh films, the Sarah Phelps TV adaptations (like The ABC Murders), the Poirot BBC TV series, and earlier films. We  Continue Reading …

Pretty Much Pop #117: Roguelikes Like Hades

Supergiant's Hades is now the first video game ever to have won a Hugo award (i.e. sci-fi/fantasy fiction) and has set a new standard in the Roguelike genre, which features relatively short "runs" through a randomly-generated dungeon (or some equivalent) with perma-death, i.e. you die, you go back to the beginning. Generally, these games are very hard. Your host Mark is  Continue Reading …

Pretty Much Pop #116: Good Grief! Peanuts Persists

Animator/musician David Heatley, comedian Daniel Lobell, and academic/3anuts author Daniel Leonard join your host Mark Linsenmayer to discuss Charlie Brown and his author Charles Schulz from Peanuts' 1950 inception through the classic TV specials through to the various post-mortem products still emerging. What's the enduring appeal, and is it strictly for kids? We talk about  Continue Reading …

Pretty Much Pop #115: So-Called Greatest Albums

How does canonization work in popular music? Is Rolling Stone's 500 Best Albums of All Time list just a modest record of the favorite albums of people associated with Rolling Stone? Is it a statement of what "experts" in popular music enjoy? Does it reflect English-American popularity, and what responsibility to list-makers have to experience and include world music, indie  Continue Reading …

Pretty Much Pop #114: The “West Side Story” Story

Did it make sense for Steven Spielberg to remake one of our nation's most beloved musicals (with music by Bernstein and Sondheim!), attempting to fix the parts that did not age well politically? Is the new version a modern classic or a doomed Frankenstein? Your host Mark Linsenmayer is joined by Broadway scholar, theater critic, and actor Ron Fassler; Remakes, Reboots, and  Continue Reading …

Pretty Much Pop #113: The Matrix Regurgitated

PMP#113: The Matrix R It's a Pretty Much Pop season one reunion, with Brian Hirt and Erica Spyres back with Mark Linsenmayer, plus very special guest Abe Linsenmayer, Mark's adult son. In light of the release of The Matrix Resurrections, we talk through the franchise as a whole. What made the first one remarkable, and does that a bar that any sequel can reach? We talk  Continue Reading …

Pretty Much Pop #112: Class Critiques in Squid Game, Succession, etc.

Popular shows have commented on wealth inequality by showing how dire the situation is for the poor and/or how disconnected and clueless the rich are. How effective is this type of social commentary? Mark is joined by philosopher and NY Times writer Lawrence Ware, novelist and writing professor Sarahlyn Bruck, and educator with a rhetoric doctorate Michelle Parrinello-Cason  Continue Reading …

Pretty Much Pop #111: Our Beatles Love-Fest

Mark is joined by musician David Brookings, Gig Gab host Dave Hamilton, and OpenCulture writer Colin Marshall to discuss Peter Jackson’s documentary Get Back and the enduring popularity of The Beatles. This was recorded on 12/8, the anniversary of John Lennon’s death. We consider the arc of their career, the various post-mortem  Continue Reading …

Pretty Much Pop #110: The Dune Franchise Tries Again

Yes, we have another Dune film, and this time Warner Bros. is serious about a franchise, with at least one sequel planned and a prequel TV series in the works. With thousands of years worth of world building, the books by Frank Herbert and the world now being fleshed out by his son Brian Herbert with Kevin J. Anderson offer more source material than Star Wars for potential  Continue Reading …

Pretty Much Pop #109: Dueling in Film

In light of the release of The Last Duel (which you needn't have watched), we talk about the trope of the honor-resolving duel in movies and TV. Mark and guest co-host Dylan Casey of The Partially Examined Life are joined by Clif Mark, host of the Good in Theory podcast who wrote his political thesis and a 2018 Aeon article on the history and logic of  Continue Reading …

Pretty Much Pop #108: Board Game Ideology

As board games are becoming increasingly popular with adults, we ask: What's the relationship between a board game's mechanics and its narrative? Does the "message" of a board game matter? Mark is joined by game designer Tommy Maranges, educator Michelle Parrinello-Cason, and ex-philosopher Al Baker to talk about re-skinning games, designing player experiences, play styles,  Continue Reading …

Pretty Much Pop #106: Stand-Up Comedy in the Internet Age

Mark discusses how Internet culture has changed stand-up with three comedians: past guests Rodney Ramsey (who co-owns the Unknown Comedy Club) and Daniel Lobell (host of Modern Day Philosophers and author of the Fair Enough comic), plus Dena Jackson (also a speaker on yoga and mindfulness and host of The Ego Podcast). How does the existence of YouTube, social media, and  Continue Reading …

Pretty Much Pop #105: The Death of Soap Operas (Is Greatly Exaggerated)

Writers Sarahlyn Bruck and Kayla Dreysse join Mark to discuss how this once very popular TV show type has simultaneously become niche yet has had a tremendous influence on current prestige TV as well as reality shows. We talk about soaps' story and structure conventions, the demands on soap actors and writers, and how changing market forces and technology have affected the  Continue Reading …

Pretty Much Pop #104: King Arthur Reigns O’er Pop Culture

With the recent theatrical release of The Green Knight, Mark and Brian along with Den of Geek's David Crow and the very British Al Baker consider the range of cinematic Arthuriana, including Excalibur (1981), Camelot (1967), King Arthur (2004), King Arthur: Legend of the Sword (2017), First Knight (1995), Sword of the Valiant (1983), Sir Gawain and the Green Knight (1973), and  Continue Reading …

Pretty Much Pop #103: Queering Video Games w/ Naomi Clark

While LGBTQ+ representation in video games has been improving (as with other media), Naomi Clark (who designed games for LEGO, Gamelab, Fresh Planet, Rebel Monkey, et al) has something more disruptive in mind when arguing for game "queerification." The prototypical video game includes a more-or-less linear progression through a pre-defined story to a defined win condition, and  Continue Reading …

Pretty Much Pop #101: The “Conjuring” Retroverse

With the release of The Conjuring: The Devil Made Me Do It, Mark, Erica and Brian explore the larger "Conjuring universe" that started with the 2013 James Wan film depicting the fictionalized supernatural investigations of Ed and Lorraine Warren (played by Patrick Wilson and Vera Farmiga). Largely using the plot-generating device of the couple's storehouse of haunted objects,  Continue Reading …

Pretty Much Pop #100: Directing Comedies w/ Heather Fink

What makes for a good comedy film or show? Funny people reading (or improvising) funny lines, right? WRONG?  Mark, Erica, Brian, are joined by Heather Fink to discuss the role of the director in making a comedy (or anything else) actually good. Heather has directed for TV, film, and commercials and spent a lot of time doing sound (a boom operator or sound utility) for  Continue Reading …

Pretty Much Pop #99: The Music of Your Youth w/ Jon Lamoreaux (The Hustle podcast)

What long-term effects do songs that we're exposed to early have on our adult tastes? As children we (hopefully) learn to love music, but then our critical faculties and peer pressure kick in, and many early influences become unacknowledged or transformed into guilty pleasures. Is the generation gap in musical taste really just due to how styles change over time (and we old  Continue Reading …