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What's making us happy: A guide for your weekend reading, listening and viewing

Sandra Oh stars in <em>UMMA, </em>out March 18.
Saeed Adyani
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Sony Pictures
Sandra Oh stars in UMMA, out March 18.

This week, Bob Dylan announced that he's releasing a new book, photographer Bryan Tarnowski captured the magic of a Fat Tuesday run and Oscar Isaac turned 43.

Here's what NPR's Pop Culture Happy Hour crew was paying attention to — and what you should check out this weekend.

BTS: Permission to Dance tour

The South Korean boyband BTS has three Seoul concerts this week, and they'll be live-streamed and shown in theaters for people who can't go in person. I've also gotten tickets to see them on tour next month, so that's four different concerts I'll be enjoying. —Laura Sirikul

Umma, out March 18

UMMA, a horror movie starring Sandra Oh, comes out next Friday. It follows Oh as a woman named Amanda, who lives on a rural bee-keeping farm with her daughter. Everything is going well until the remains of Amanda's estranged mother arrive from Korea. The film seems to be taking on ideas of potentially overbearing mothers and intergenerational trauma. I'm really excited about this movie, and I've already watched the trailer a bunch of times now. —Kat Chow

All Songs Considered

All Songs Considered
/ NPR
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NPR

All Songs Considered — a show that I have been on intermittently for more than 15 years now — has been making moves to expand beyond what they've been doing for years, and I'm thrilled about it. They just launched a Best of the Month podcast hosted by our pal, Lars Gotrich, and have been putting out a Turning the Tables mini-series of panel discussions. They just put out a conversation between two dear friends of the show, Ann Powers and Marissa Lorusso, talking about their shared love of Kate Bush and Yoko Ono.

I just have been really, really excited to see one of the longest-running podcasts out there continue to grow after all these years, and find new ways to cover an even broader range of music and showcase the many, many gifted voices across NPR Music. —Stephen Thompson

"Is It Funny For The Jews?" by Jason Zinoman

It'd be weird to say that this makes me happy because it's about a serious subject, but Jason Zinoman wrote a piece called "Is It Funny for the Jews? " a few weeks ago for The New York Times, and it's a fascinating essay.

He's wrestling with this idea of being Jewish and dealing with things like anti-Semitism, the Holocaust, and prejudice through comedy — and what it means to brush those things off or make light of them. And he goes through this brief cultural history of different Jewish comedians like Jerry Seinfeld or Jackie Mason and what it means to be Jewish in this time of rising anti-Semitism. It really made me think, and it's worth checking out if you haven't already. —Aisha Harris

The Last Days of Ptolemy Grey on Apple TV+

Apple TV+'s The Last Days of Ptolemy Grey has a great cast — Samuel L. Jackson, Dominique Fishback, Walton Goggins — and a great writing pedigree, in that it comes from Walter Mosley adapting his own novel. It's a little disorienting at first, because part of the premise is the central character's failing memory and cognition, but it's worth sticking with it to see whether it's for you. Two episodes are out Friday, and more will stream weekly. —Linda Holmes

Dead Eyes, the podcast

On my list for this weekend: the podcast Dead Eyes, which ... well, just see what it's about. It involves Hollywood and Tom Hanks and broken hearts, and I haven't listened to it yet but the recommendations have just been piling up, so let's all get to it together, eh? —Linda Holmes


NPR intern Fi O'Reilly adapted this Pop Culture Happy Hour segment into a digital page. If you like these suggestions, consider signing up for our newsletter to get recommendations on what's making us happy every week.

Copyright 2022 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

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.)
Aisha Harris is a host of Pop Culture Happy Hour.
Fi O'Reilly
Fi O'Reilly is a production assistant for Alt.Latino.
Laura Sirikul
Linda Holmes is a pop culture correspondent for NPR and the host of Pop Culture Happy Hour. She began her professional life as an attorney. In time, however, her affection for writing, popular culture, and the online universe eclipsed her legal ambitions. She shoved her law degree in the back of the closet, gave its living room space to DVD sets of The Wire, and never looked back.