Tina Tyrell / Courtesy of the artist
This week, Baby Yoda flew the streets of New York City during Macy’s Thanksgiving Parade, Ridley Scott’s Gucci House debuted and Grammy nominations have been announced. Here’s what NPR’s Pop Culture Happy Hour team was paying attention to – and what you should check out this weekend.
Piranesi, by Susanna Clarke
I loved Susanna Clarke’s Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell, both the 2004 novel and the 2015 BBC adaptation. But somehow I never touched on his 2020 novel, Piranesi, which tells the story of a credulous young man who lives in a massive house made up of vast halls and vestibules lined with statues. As far as he knows, the house is the whole world. He lived there as long as he can remember, which is not very long.
It’s such a dreamlike setting that at first you almost wonder if it’s going to work as a narrative or if it’s going to do more of Murakami’s dream logic stuff, which is really not my bag. But then he starts to interact with someone else who lives in the house, and we the readers start to get a hunch about a lot of what’s going on. The mystery of it begins to give way to something more concrete and darker. The book and audiobook version, read by Chiwetel Ejiofor, cast a spell. It might not work for listening in the house, so save it for a long trip. It only lasts four hours. – Glen Weldon
The Fergamerican National Anthem: A Civic History by Rob Anderson
Imagine this. It’s 2018. You watch the NBA All-Star Game and it’s happening. Fergie performed an infamous rendition of the national anthem that year.
The reason I’m talking about this again is because YouTube star Rob Anderson created a children’s picture book that commemorates this moment. It’s called The Fergamerican National Anthem: A Civic History, and he recently shared a amazing tweet combining Fergie’s audio with a guided tour of each page of the book. It made me so happy. – Aïcha Harris
Valentine, Postal mail
We’re coming to the end of the year, which means the entire NPR music team has picked the music over the year to identify the best songs and albums. At the same time, several major album releases have come out, and we frantically try to assess: “Is Adele’s record one of the best of the year? Silk Sonic’s record is- he one of the best of the year? ” Those year-end albums can run the risk of getting lost in the rework. And the one that jumped out at me is Valentine, by Snail Mail.
The album came out in November, and I think it’s one of the best rock records of the year. It manages to be smooth and warm at the same time. – Stephen Thompson
epicurean Youtube channel
Recently, I really enjoyed the YouTube channel for Epicurious, and more specifically, two related series that I really like. One is where a regular home cook and a professional chef put together the ingredients they would use to make something, be it roast chicken or mac and cheese or something like that. Of course, the professional chef will get $ 250 of ingredients and the home chef will get, you know, $ 15 of ingredients. They will exchange and then they will cook with each other’s ingredients.
I’m also a fan of a series they call “Four Levels of Chefs”: they have a beginner chef, an intermediate chef and a professional chef who make their version of a dish – they made chicken nuggets, fries rice, even eggs benedict. Then a food scientist, the “fourth level”, takes stock of what they’ve been up to. What I like about this series is that it isn’t meant to say that the food prepared by the base chef is bad. It’s just to show that as you put more work into the food you prepare, that changes. – Linda Holmes
NPR Kroc Fellow Mia Estrada Adapted This Segment Of Pop Culture Happy Hour Into A Digital Page.