What’s Making Me Happy This Week?

I want to establish a weekly series on this blog called “What’s Making Me Happy This Week,” lifted from everyone’s favorite segment on the best pop culture podcast. But somehow, despite the okay week I’ve had and the sunshine outside, it seems wrong to publish a column called “something something happy” today. You know, with the Tomahawks in the south and the truck in the north.  But then again, when would it be truly appropriate to post a happy post? 

So here are my two favorite morsels of pop culture: 

* Stown, the This American Life/Serial podcast. It’s amazing, TAL storytelling at its best. But be warned, if you’re struggling with depression: Only listen to it on a good day. It’s not an abstract, whodunnit true crime story, but rather the intimate detail of a shit town and a man struggling with the world and his place in it.  

*Good news: There is a new At the Drive-In album on the horizon and the first few singles are actually good. For your sad/angry/happy/content  weekend listening pleasure, here is a Spotify playlist of the entire At the Drive-In discography. (The end of Invalid Litter Dept. always feels cathartic.)


It’s really entertaining as a longtime listener of This American Life to see how many people seem to be confused that Serial is more about a story and storytelling than cold hard journalism and conclusion-driven investigation. Additionally, I’m pretty sure Sarah Koenig and the TAL producers are quite surprised by how big the spin-off is. 

Ira Glass … has said that “the power of anecdote is so great that it has a momentum in and of itself.” He contends, “no matter how boring the facts are,” with a well-told story, “you feel inherently as if you are on a train that has a destination.”

The Toxicity of Tylenol/Paracetamol

This weeks episode of This American Life reminds us of the dangers of the common pain/fever reliever Tylenol, or rather of the active ingredient acetaminophen, Paracetamol in Germany/Europe. The problem is that it is well-tolerated at small/the recommended doses (1000 mg per single dose/4000 mg daily) but is gets possibly fatally toxic (especially liver toxic) at a relatively low overdose level. The TAL episode is good, especially in uncovering and describing the bureaucracy that debates warning labels. 

(Sometimes they oversimplify for the sake of story-telling/effect. Ibuprofen, for example, can be toxic at small doses as well, for example for people who have/had chronic kidney diseases.)

I highly recommend this episode.