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Glen Weldon

Glen Weldon is a regular panelist on NPR's Pop Culture Happy Hour podcast. He reviews books, movies, comics, and more for the NPR Arts Desk.

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 completely inept marine biologist, and a slightly better-ept competitive swimmer.

Weldon is the author of two cultural histories: Superman: The Unauthorized Biography, and The Caped Crusade: Batman and the Rise of Nerd Culture. He has written for The New York Times, The Washington Post, The New Republic, The Atlantic, Slate, McSweeney's, and more; his fiction has appeared in several anthologies and other publications. He is the recipient of an NEA Arts Journalism Fellowship, an Amtrak Writers' Residency, a Ragdale Writing Fellowship, and a Pew Fellowship in the Arts for Fiction.

I have seen the new The Lion King. Pop Culture Happy Hour is devoting a whole show to it this week, so I won't get into a full review here, but just know that, when it comes to one specific aspect of the new film — the one aspect about which I cared most keenly, most deeply, most intensely — the news is not senSAAYtional. It's anything but, in fact.

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We've recapped the eighth and final season of Game of Thrones. Spoilers, of course, abound.

I mean ... sure?

I am prepared to die on the ashy hill of They Didn't Lay The Necessary Track To Justify Daenerys' Heel-Turn, but that whole contretemps seems soooo last week. I've made my peace with it and am prepared to dissect the show that they made, not the one we expected/wanted them to.

We're recapping the eighth and final season of Game of Thrones; look for these recaps first thing on Monday mornings. Spoilers, of course, abound.

Dany got a raw deal.

Narratively speaking, Game of Thrones did the Mother of Dragons dirty, there's no two ways around it.

We're recapping the eighth and final season of Game of Thrones; look for these recaps first thing on Monday mornings. Spoilers, of course, abound.

After great pain, a formal feeling comes.

That's a quote from Lady Emily of House Dickinson, who might as well have been describing this episode, which probably couldn't help but feel anticlimactic and setty-uppy, coming as it does in the narrative gully that naturally stretches between last week's exultantly fire-and-bloody spectacle and next week's likely disastrous siege of King's Landing.

We're recapping the eighth and final season of Game of Thrones; look for these recaps first thing on Monday mornings. Spoilers, of course, abound.

Welcome back, everyone. It's been two years since last we gathered around the flickering electronic hearth to feast our eyes on this world, and these characters, many of whom – I'm thinking here of the dragons and the ice-zombies mostly – would happily feast on our eyes. Because Winter is Here, and it's shaping up to be a long, cruel one, and Sansa didn't pack away enough provisions for everyone.

Batman Turns 80

Mar 29, 2019

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No matter what happens in this unsettling world, at least Batman is on the case.

(SOUNDBITE OF TV SHOW, "BATMAN")

WILLIAM DOZIER: (As narrator) Fear not, America. They are still on duty, that legendary duo.

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Warner Bros. says the next Batman film will drop in 2021, and it looks like Ben Affleck won't be sticking in the main role.

(SOUNDBITE OF DANNY ELFMAN'S "THE BATMAN THEME")

"Critique is so limiting and emotionally draining." — Morf

Say this much about L.A. art critic Morf Vandewalt (Jake Gyllenhaal) — he's right about the act of criticism. It's reductive by nature, and it can take a psychic toll on the critic, who, if they're any damn good at all, worries that their zeal for identifying the essence of a work may prove inadequate, if not flat-out wrong.

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(SOUNDBITE OF JONATHAN LARSON SONG, "SEASONS OF LOVE")

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The hit Broadway musical "Rent" made it to the small screen last night on Fox TV.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

Eight best picture nominations emerged on Tuesday morning: Black Panther, BlacKkKlansman, The Favourite, Vice, Green Book, Bohemian Rhapsody, Roma and A Star Is Born. They are comedic and dramatic, based on real events and conjured from the pages of comics, in color and in black and white.

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Alyssa Edwards (née Justin Dwayne Lee Johnson) is a lot.

She has to be; she's a drag queen. Being a lot comes with the lace-front wig. A drag queen who isn't a lot is no drag queen at all; she's food without flavor, art without color, Cher without Auto-tune. It's the difference, more specifically, between a fierce and fabulous queen like RuPaul and that one jock in high school who slapped on a Halloween store wig and stuffed himself into his girlfriend's cheerleading outfit for school spirit day.

Fall is often the most intense movie season of all. Awards contenders begin to come into focus after the Toronto International Film Festival, while comedies and thrillers continue to hit screens. We got to see a lot of upcoming films at TIFF — below you'll find write-ups of 15 movies we really enjoyed and a heads-up about nearly 40 notable releases.

Disenchantment, Matt Groening's new animated series that hits Netflix on Friday, August 17th, does for our mythical past what Futurama did for our imagined future, but it does so in a manner so closely reminiscent of that other show's wryly cynical sci-fi hi-jinks that it could have just as easily been called Pastarama, if that didn't sound quite so much like a seasonal promotion at Olive Garden.

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In a letter to its members sent this morning, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences (AMPAS) listed three changes approved by its Board of Governors.

1. A three-hour Oscars telecast

We are committed to producing an entertaining show in three hours, delivering a more accessible Oscars for our viewers worldwide.

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This week, with Linda off galavanting around New York, Stephen and I are joined by the great and good Margaret Willison and Chris Klimek to discuss a certain quiet, subdued and exceedingly well-mannered topic that somehow we hadn't yet gotten around to: The Paddington films.

Call them the Mighty Marvel Movie MacGuffins. They're the glittery objects that drove the plots of several individual Marvel movies and that collectively shaped the direction the entire Marvel Cinematic Universe has been heading (almost) since its inception.

They are the Infinity Stones — immensely powerful gems that contain and channel elemental forces of the universe. They're what the villains crave and what the heroes protect. They can be used to destroy or create.

Mmmmmostly that first thing.

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The first book of the Harry Potter series went on sale in the U.K. 20 years ago today. It offers a convenient excuse to reacquaint yourself with a world before anyone on this side of the Atlantic had heard of muggles, horcruxes or pensieves, before tourists would crowd into London's Kings Cross railway station simply to peer wistfully at the space between Platforms Nine and Ten.

Here's the first story NPR ever aired about Harry Potter — a wonderful piece by the late Margot Adler, from All Things Considered in 1998.

Some gems, from that bygone era:

"Why is a welder like a woman in love?"

I'm 7 years old, standing between the two dogwood trees in my backyard. It's autumn; there's a crispness in the golden, late afternoon air. I've taken the hood of my parka and thrown it over my head, but my arms are not in the sleeves. The coat falls over my narrow, bird-boned shoulders and down my back.

Like a cape, you see.

Robert Silvers, whose long career as an editor included terms at The Paris Review, Harper's and, most notably, as co-founder of The New York Review of Books, died Monday at his home in Manhattan. He was 87.

Silvers launched The New York Review of Books in 1963 with Barbara Epstein, intending to raise the standard of book reviewing. In its pages, a given book under consideration could be little more than a jumping-off point for an extended essay that directly engaged the political and cultural moment.

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.

Updated 10:57 a.m.

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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.

Actor and writer Gene Wilder, who brought his signature manic energy to films such as The Producers, Blazing Saddles, Young Frankenstein and the role that forever ensconced him in the collective memory of a generation of children, Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory, has died. He was 83.

Wilder died early Monday at his home in Stamford, Conn., of complications from Alzheimer's disease, according to a statement from his nephew Jordan Walker-Pearlman.

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MICHEL MARTIN, HOST:

At the San Diego Comic-Con now underway, toys, comic books and costumes fill the exhibit floor with color and light. It's a crush of bodies buzzing on adrenaline and fan joy.

My wife's the reason anything gets done

She nudges me towards promise, by degrees

She is the perfect symphony of one

Our son is her most beautiful reprise

We chase the melodies that seem to find us

Until they're finished songs, and start to play

When senseless acts of tragedy remind us

That nothing here is promised, not one day

This show is proof that history remembers

Monkey See contributor/longtime nerd Glen Weldon recently attended San Diego Comic-Con. He kept a diary during one of the largest media events in the world.

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