Glen Weldon

Glen Weldon is a regular panelist on NPR's Pop Culture Happy Hour podcast. He also reviews books and movies for NPR.org and is a contributor to NPR's pop culture blog Monkey See, where he posts weekly about comics and comics culture.

Over the course of his career, he has spent time as a theater critic, a science writer, an oral historian, a writing teacher, a bookstore clerk, a PR flack, a seriously terrible marine biologist and a slightly better-than-average competitive swimmer.

Weldon is the author of Superman: The Unauthorized Biography, a cultural history of the iconic character. His fiction and criticism have appeared in The New York Times, The Washington Post, The New Republic, The Atlantic, Slate, Story, McSweeney's, The Dallas Morning News, Washington City Paper and many other publications. He is the recipient of an NEA Arts Journalism Fellowship, a Ragdale Writing Fellowship and a PEW Fellowship in the Arts for Fiction.

12:39 pm: Next up on Pop Culture Happy Hour's end, we'll record a late-night Small Batch, which ought to be up in your feeds overnight. Too bad there won't be much to discuss...

Look: You want to win your Oscar pool. We want you to win your Oscar pool.

In truth, we feel we owe it to you.

You took our advice on the Emmys, last September, and you did ... okay. Seventeen right, out of 27 categories. Which, yes, if you're the kind of egregiously unimaginative churl who clings, with a willfully hidebound insistence, to the "rules" of "math," works out to 62%. A "failing" "grade."

We talk about movies often on Pop Culture Happy Hour, which means we've already devoted shows to most of the best picture Oscar nominees (see the bottom of this post).

Updated at 4:10 p.m. ET

A literary treasure buried for more than a century has been unearthed by Zachary Turpin, a grad student at the University of Houston.

Sunrise, sunset: light into darkness, darkness into light.

This perpetual cycling through archetypal phases of yin and yang, light slapstick and dour melodrama, is what lends Batman his unique mutability. His fellow heroes are a more stolid lot. They tend to pick a lane and stick with it.

Not Batman. Dude's ephemeral. A veritable will o' the wisp, that guy.

Season Two of the CW's darkly funny musical comedy series Crazy Ex-Girlfriend just ended, and it falls to me the doughty task of ranking, with a rigorous, resolute and clear-eyed empiricism, the numerous musical numbers contained in those thirteen episodes.

I shouldered this same burden for the show's first season, last year. The exacting scientific analysis I undertook produced this prohibitively, nay! forbiddingly objective ranking.

"That's a weird smile."

So says someone to Timothy Olyphant's manically grinning Joel Hammond, a few episodes into the smart, hugely funny Netflix series Santa Clarita Diet, and the thing is: they're right, it is weird.

Used to be, you could count on two fundamental truths:

1. Superheroes were jocks.

2. People who loved superhero comics were nerds.

Sweeping generalizations to be sure, and they grew steadily less and less true every time, over the last 75+ years, superheroes escaped the comic book page for radio, television and movies, where they found themselves embraced by a wider, less obsessive audience.

1. Don't.

2. No Seriously, Netflix: Do Not.

This is a thing for which no one — no one — was clamoring. There's still time to turn back! I'm the creepy guy at the beginning of the horror movie, imploring you not to enter the abandoned house/read from the blood-smeared tome/go for a swim, at night, alone. You don't have to do this. Save yourselves!

... Ok.

Updated 10:57 a.m.

Updated 9:53 a.m.

Updated 9:25 a.m.

When the nominees for the 2017 Academy Awards were announced this morning, La La Land racked up 14 nods, tying records held by Titanic and All About Eve.

It's not fair to compare the 2004 film Lemony Snicket's A Series of Unfortunate Events to the new Netflix series A Series of Unfortunate Events.

But let's do it anyway.

Leather jacket ... over superhero tights.

Maybe with the jacket sleeves pushed up to the elbows jauntily? Finished off with some leather driving gloves, for precisely no reason?

It's ... a look. You can't say it's not.

At least, it was a look, back in the bad old days of the benighted '90s, when superhero fashion, like skiing, skateboarding, makeovers and underarm deodorant, got extreeeeeme.

This is not a review.

It started out as one: I fully intended to offer a considered critique of the new comics anthology Love is Love, in which various creators both within the comics industry (Gail Simone, Matt Millar, Jim Lee, G. Willow Wilson and more) and without it (Matt Bomer, Patton Oswalt, Morgan Spurlock, John Ross Bowie, Taran Killam and more) produce dozens of brief — one-or-two-page — reactions to the mass shooting at the Pulse nightclub in Orlando.

Some people possess a quality — a highly specific fuel mixture of intelligence and humor — that makes them seem like they've always got a secret they want to share with you, and only you.

It's not obvious. That's the whole point of it: It lives on the sly, this quality, around the edges of what they say and do. It sidles up to you and draws you in, it whispers to you that you are important and special, and that's why this person chose you. You share something, the two of you.

Once a day, since Dec. 1, we highlighted a specific small, good thing that happened in popular culture this year.


Hm? What's that?

An odd choice for the Pop Culture Advent Calendar's final day, you say?

Well, look: You're you, I'm me.

Once a day, until Dec. 25, we'll be highlighting a specific small, good thing that happened in popular culture this year. And we do mean small: a moment or image from a film or TV show, a panel from a comic, a brief exchange from a podcast, or a passage from a book.

Once a day, until Dec. 25, we'll be highlighting a specific small, good thing that happened in popular culture this year. And we do mean small: a moment or image from a film or TV show, a panel from a comic, a brief exchange from a podcast, or a passage from a book.

Once a day, until Dec. 25, we'll be highlighting a specific small, good thing that happened in popular culture this year. And we do mean small: a moment or image from a film or TV show, a panel from a comic, a brief exchange from a podcast, or a passage from a book.


Historically, writers of science fiction tend to enjoy fleshing out the means by which the human species might communicate with beings from other worlds. China Mieville, Ursula K. LeGuin, C.J. Cherryh, and many, many other authors have grappled with the chewy notion of first-contact linguistics.

Once a day, until Dec. 25, we'll be highlighting a specific small, good thing that happened in popular culture this year. And we do mean small: a moment or image from a film or TV show, a panel from a comic, a brief exchange from a podcast, or a passage from a book.


The disparate plot threads of HBO's sprawling Game of Thrones finally began to tighten in the series' sixth season. Characters long separated were reunited, while other characters who'd never encountered one another before met in person for the first time.

Once a day, until Dec. 25, we'll be highlighting a specific small, good thing that happened in popular culture this year. And we do mean small: a moment or image from a film or TV show, a panel from a comic, a brief exchange from a podcast, or a passage from a book.


Don't call it "splashy."

Once a day, until Dec. 25, we'll be highlighting a specific small, good thing that happened in popular culture this year. And we do mean small: a moment or image from a film or TV show, a panel from a comic, a brief exchange from a podcast, or a passage from a book.

Once a day, until Dec. 25, we'll be highlighting a specific small, good thing that happened in popular culture this year. And we do mean small: a moment or image from a film or TV show, a panel from a comic, a brief exchange from a podcast, or a passage from a book.


Diners feature in a number of memorable scenes in American film.

Five Easy Pieces. Bagdad Cafe. Heat. When Harry Met Sally. Reservoir Dogs. Pulp Fiction.

And not to put too fine a point on it, Diner.

Once a day, until Dec. 25, we'll be highlighting a specific small, good thing that happened in popular culture this year. And we do mean small: a moment or image from a film or TV show, a panel from a comic, a brief exchange from a podcast, or a passage from a book.


I know, Joyce, I know.

Once a day, until Dec. 25, we'll be highlighting a specific small, good thing that happened in popular culture this year. And we do mean small: a moment or image from a film or TV show, a panel from a comic, a brief exchange from a podcast, or a passage from a book.

Once a day, until Dec. 25, we'll be highlighting a specific small, good thing that happened in popular culture this year. And we do mean small: a moment or image from a film or TV show, a panel from a comic, a brief exchange from a podcast, or a passage from a book.


That photo right there? Up above? Is not a shot of the expression on the face of Hank's Dad (Richard Gross) at the conclusion of this year's most egregiously and defiantly odd indie film, Swiss Army Man.

Once a day, until Dec. 25, we'll be highlighting a specific small, good thing that happened in popular culture this year. And we do mean small: a moment or image from a film or TV show, a panel from a comic, a brief exchange from a podcast, or a passage from a book.


OK, maybe the music choice was a bit on the nose. Maybe.

Once a day, until Dec. 25, we'll be highlighting a specific small, good thing that happened in popular culture this year. And we do mean small: a moment or image from a film or TV show, a panel from a comic, a brief exchange from a podcast, or a passage from a book.

Once a day, until Dec. 25, we'll be highlighting a specific small, good thing that happened in popular culture this year. And we do mean small: a moment or image from a film or TV show, a panel from a comic, a brief exchange from a podcast, or a passage from a book.

Once a day, until Dec. 25, we'll be highlighting a specific small, good thing that happened in popular culture this year. And we do mean small: a moment or image from a film or TV show, a panel from a comic, a brief exchange from a podcast, or a passage from a book.


The fans knew he'd show up, of course.

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