Wednesday, January 17, 2018

HMOTD 049: Venus Is A Girl's Name

Rob and Mike are back! And they're traveling back in time to revisit the Pilot in "The Creation of Venus" and watching Les come to terms with his career in "The Impossible Dream."

(Full show notes appear at Hold My Order, Terrible Dresser two days after each episode is released. All audio clips are the properties of their owners/creators and appear in this work of comment and critique under fair use provisions of copyright law.)

Check out this episode!

Monday, January 15, 2018

News You Can Use

Happy new year, fellow babies! We've got lots of news to share with you this morning. First of all, we're very excited to say that HMOTD will be returning to your airwaves on Wednesday morning! HMOTD 049 will drop at the usual time, 7 am on Wednesday. We cover the meta- flashback storytelling of "The Creation of Venus" and the coda for Les Nessman's dreams of network stardom, "The Impossible Dream."

Then it's only two more episodes of WKRP to cover in our January 31 episode, the final two episodes of Season Four: "To Err Is Human" and "Up and Down the Dial." So, you're probably asking, what happens after that?

Very glad you asked! We're planning two podcast wrap-up episodes in February.

Our first, HMOTD 051, will be an opportunity to review the podcast. We'll be searching our archives for bits we've cut from past episodes. We'll also hoping our community of listeners (and maybe a few of our past co-hosts!) will take this opportunity to talk about the show and the podcast. So let's start now: if you have questions you want to get read on the air about WKRP, HMOTD, or any of the many tangential topics we've covered over the past three years, get them in now! Send an email to in the next couple of weeks and we'll try to get as many on the air as possible.

And our very final episode, HMOTD 052, will review both our trip through WKRP and some of the Big Themes we've hit upon during the podcast. We'll talk about what this journey through WKRP has taught us about the TV of our youth, America during the Carter-Reagan hinge years, and about ourselves, frankly! It should be a good one.

But amid all this hoopla in the next few weeks, watch our Twitter account at @HoldMyOrderWKRP as we will be undoubtedly doing some form of "Best Episode Ever" tournament using Twitter polls. After all, this podcast started by ripping off being inspired by Just One More Thing (who recently did a "Best Columbo Villain" tournament), so why should we stop now?

Friday, January 12, 2018

Show Notes for HMOTD 048: Harold, A Little Razorback Hog

1:50 "WKRP is on the fourteenth floor..." So why do buildings often not have a numbered thirteenth floor? Obviously, it's triskaidekaphobia in action, but there's actually a little more to it than that. Unsurprisingly, 99% Invisible, the great podcast/blog on architecture, infrastructure, and design has an article about it.

4:35 Get to the bank on Friday afternoon: I'm a little bit of a strange case here, as the first bank account I held as an adult had an ATM card attached (right around 1992, 1993). So my late-Gen X self doesn't personally remember the days of having to get to the bank before 5 on Friday. Here's a piece from NBC News in 1977 about the early days of off-hours withdrawals and electronic banking.

5:43 "Three bucks on a hun!" Money Mart! An Ontario staple in the early '90s, or so I'm told. This commercial is Poochie-riffic. Zero line-ups! It is interesting to see basically a payday loan company market to young urban go-getters like this. Their market has changed radically in the past quarter-century, for sure.

[Rob: "Poochie-riffic" is exactly right, Mike. This ad for Canadian jackals financial services firm Money Mart was beloved and endlessly quoted when I was in college. That particularly unconvincing phrase, "Three Bucks on a Hun," spawned many parodies, rebus puzzles, and at least one campus band.

Would you call the guys in the ad "young urban go-getters"? They're young, yes, but they're not yuppies--it's clear they're working construction, which makes them very much the target market for payday loans and similar predatory services. Even in university I did have the awareness to wonder if all the hilarity around "three bucks on a hun" was directed at the cheesiness of the ad or also contained some snobbishness about the world of people living paycheck to paycheck.

Money Mart has been sued multiple times for charging illegal interest rates--according to plaintiffs in one 2003 case, when you include all Money Mart's ancilliary fees, they were charging the equivalent of 120,000% annual interest (that's, like, $120,000 on a hun!). Money Mart has paid out millions in damages but admits no wrongdoing.]

[Mike: Well, the commercial actors were wearing flannel, and I forgot that 1992 was itself sort of a hinge year when it comes to what that signified.]

6:30 Grown-ups loving fire engines: It's not just Arthur Carlson and Ray Stantz who love fire engines and fire houses, how about the great Rube Waddell!

8:35 Johnny's derring-do: Here's that TV Guide article about Howard Hesseman, Man of Action!

9:10 Caribbean vacation: Andy's Caribbean getaway is, as we talked about last season, entirely in keeping with the early-'80s trend of Caribbean countries marketing themselves to budget-conscious American vacationers.

9:50 "This is where they got the idea for Die Hard": Actually, did you know that Die Hard was based on the same series of novels that gave us Frank Sinatra's relatively gritty 1968 film The Detective? Nothing Lasts Forever, The Detective's 1979 sequel, was the basis for Die Hard and also very much part and parcel of the novelistic branch of the '70s disaster movie (like Thomas Harris's Black Sunday) we've talked about a few times over the course of the podcast. See, that's a much less annoying factoid than reminding people that Die Hard is a Christmas movie.

14:00 "Officer Shanks. Explain fire." Damn, that's a great line. And yeah, fire is really really hard to explain! Les is absolutely right to demand this answer.

[Rob: I think I came pretty close with "rapid oxidization"!]

14:25 "This is starting to feel like a bottle episode." From the Community second-season episode "Cooperative Calligraphy."

21:12 Gilligan's Island Lagoon: I don't need to say that the Gilligan's Island lagoon has a secret history, do I? I mean, at this point, are any of us shocked?

23:26 et subseq. Battle of the Network Stars: Get yourself to the AV Club to read this fantastic detailed oral history of Battle of the Network Stars. Its heyday was 1976-1985, really smack dab in the middle of my TV childhood. A lot of the shows are on YouTube, but if you want to go right to the Reid vs. Baio obstacle course video, you can do so here. Poor Tim. He got destroyed.

I misspoke a little bit on the Alvin Garrett thing; it was his stature that ostensibly led Cosell to describe him in such a way. And as we hear on the obstacle course call (and in a previous broadcast from 1972), Cosell certainly called other white athletes "monkeys" too. [Rob: And "gazelles"!]

And on the topic of celebrities on game shows in the '70s and '80s getting money: my own memory is that celebrities in the 1970s definitely used to be awarded cash winnings (for instance, on Celebrity Bowling) but by the '80s celebrities on special celeb-only versions of game shows often would be playing for a charity. Not sure what this means, but it's interesting.

31:25 Cincinnati Chili: Yes, we pretty much had to cover Cincinnati chili before the end of the podcast; it's one of those specifically southern Ohio things that definitely needed a call-out and I'm so happy we didn't have to shoehorn it in (like that Battle of the Network Stars stuff above, heh). If you want some disturbingly high-resolution shots of "plates" of this "chili," here, knock yourself out. But the origins of this chili do seem to come from Greek tomato-based dishes like moussaka. On the whole, I'd rather have the real Greek thing.

34:13 Hawaiian pizza: And on the flipside, yes, Hawaiian pizza, London Ontario's own contribution to unaccountably popular fast-food flavor juxtapositions.

42:20 "Jennifer and Johnny's Charity": We talked a lot about the failure of the federal government to look after the sick and poor in the early years of Reagan's first term during HMOTD 046.

46:27 "Rutabaga is a funny word." I hate to link to a Dilbert in these dark times of Scott Adams having gone batshit crazy, but I always liked this strip about inherently funny words. Also, slight correction: the Scottish rutabaga is a neep, with a P.

48:02 "It felt very New WKRP": We talked about Les having been fully Flanderized in our April Fools episode on The New WKRP In Cincinnati.

50:50 Jaime Weinman on "Dear Liar": Here's our old stalwart WKRP fire-keeper Jaime Weinman on "Dear Liar" and how out of character everyone seemed.

52:22 Janet Cooke: This drama played out to its conclusion mere months before this WKRP episode aired. Here's a good summary piece from the Washington Post's then-ombudsman about "Jimmy's World" (the original piece), its initial rapturous reception and subsequent rejection. Another piece from 1996 about her life since the scandal is really heartbreaking.

58:10 Jayson Blair and Stephen Glass: The Blair and Glass cases resemble Cooke's only in their use of fabrication to preserve the respective fabulists' careers; as Rob noted, their crimes were far more persistent and egregious. Interesting how they, as men, were able to get away with much much more (and how their eventual "punishment" resulted in far fewer long-term career ramifications than Cooke's).

I'd be remiss if I didn't A Million Little Pieces, another famous early '00s case of fabulism, and yet another case of a man getting out of controversy relatively unscathed. There's also the JT LeRoy case, a little more complicated than James Frey's book.

And this section wouldn't be complete without the greatest journalistic fabulist of our age, Peter O'Hanraha-hanrahan.

1:00:18 Dan Rather: I may be rather harsh on Dan Rather in this segment, but come on. The Killian documents were such an obvious modern-day fabrication, it's embarrassing that no one on the CBS News team was able to see this, pull the producers aside, and say you may want to reconsider running with this. Absolutely, I blame the ratfuckers/dirty tricksters who unleashed this hoax on the world, but Rather and his team deserve much of the blame for cutting corners and not doing journalism. It's a shame his stellar career had to end this way, but it's no excuse for abdicating your responsibilities.

1:05:48: "Who's Pulitzer?" Like many other Gilded Age magnates, Joseph Pulitzer did attempt to buy himself some peace of mind with his philanthropic endowment of Columbia University's school of journalism and the Pulitzer Prizes.

1:10:59 Spider Jerusalem: Subject of the oddly prescient comic series Transmetropolitan (1997-2002) by Warren Ellis, Spider is a futuristic Hunter S. Thompson muckraking gonzo journalist reporting in a futuristic City that embodies all the best and worst of America.

1:11:34 "Huhuh. Bummer." The official subtitle of our podcast ever since our entry into the Reagan/Trump years.

1:11:44 The Future of Journalism: This clip courtesy the aforementioned CBC and Rob's colleague at Western, James Compton.

1:15:00 Local news: Of course, as soon as Rob and I posit that local news is the way for us to reclaim a journalism not dependent on capitalism... evil conglomerate Sinclair Broadcasting decides the way forward in propagandizing Americans is by taking over local news broadcasts.

1:16:07 Barbara Cason: One slight correction, Barbara Cason did not play the head nurse on Trapper John, M.D.; she was just a returning guest star.

[Rob: That clip of Cason is from Cold Turkey, a Norman Lear comedy from 1971, about an entire town that tries to give up smoking. Friend of the podcast Leah Biel recognized it right away.]

Friday, January 5, 2018

Happy New Year and some more Important Announcements!

Happy new year, fellow babies! We're excited to announce the tentative release schedule for the final four episodes of Hold My Order, Terrible Dresser!

  • HMOTD 049 (consisting of "The Creation of Venus" and "The Impossible Dream"): Wednesday, January 17
  • HMOTD 050 (consisting of "To Err Is Human" and "Up And Down The Dial"): Wednesday, January 31

After we review these final episodes of WKRP Season 4, we're planning two wrap-up episodes! HMOTD 051 will air on February 14, and our very last episode, HMOTD 052, will drop on February 28. More on the contents of these wrap-up episodes very soon.

Other release information: next Friday, January 12, we'll release our long-delayed Show Notes for HMOTD 048, and on Monday, January 15 we'll have our usual pre-episode release Monday Post. In that post, we'll talk more about our two wrap-up episodes and some of the fun we have planned to get you, the listeners, involved!

We want to thank you all again for your patience and understanding as we navigate some tough times. We'll be wrapping up this crazy project almost exactly three years after we started (April Fool's Day 2015), and it's been quite the journey. Thank you all for being part of it!

Sunday, December 31, 2017

An Important Programming Announcement

To our wonderful and loyal listeners: we wanted to pass along some important information about the final five episodes of Hold My Order, Terrible Dresser.

Our look at "Fire" and "Dear Liar" will drop as usual on Wednesday, October 18. But after this episode, we're going to be going on another hiatus of indeterminate length before we wrap the podcast.

Rob's family is currently dealing with a tough medical situation that requires we take a step back from the podcast for a little while.

We hope you'll rejoin us for the final two HMOTD podcasts that will cover WKRP's last four episodes, and for our planned two-part wrap-up on the show and the podcast as a whole. Stay tuned to the blog, our Twitter account, and Facebook for more details on our eventual return.

Wednesday, October 18, 2017

HMOTD 048: Harold, A Little Razorback Hog

Mike and Rob discuss Cincinnati chili, Hawaiian pizza, the future of journalism, Battle of the Network Stars, and (in passing) "Fire" and "Dear Liar."

(Full show notes appear at Hold My Order, Terrible Dresser two days after each episode is released. All audio clips are the properties of their owners/creators and appear in this work of comment and critique under fair use provisions of copyright law.)

Check out this episode!

Friday, October 6, 2017

Show Notes for HMOTD 047: Lorraine's A Farmer?

1:00 "Man, I was so blown away by both of these episodes." That was all the way back in Season 1, at the beginning of HMOTD 009: Someday You're Gonna Buy It, which featured the pairing of "A Commercial Break" (the Ferriman Funeral Home episode) and of course "Who Is Gordon Sims?"

5:30 Les's sexuality: I do find it interesting to look at Les's sexuality through a modern lens, and gray asexuality does seem to fit the bill very well with what we've learned over these four seasons of WKRP. What his actual orientation is or whom he might be attracted to, I still have no idea, but boy, was that Cincinnati sports player's assessment of "queer little fellow" sort of unintentionally perfect. I do think Les's repeated mentions of broad-shouldered Russian and Soviet bloc women are a bit of a tell.

14:56 "Computer Love": Kraftwerk's 1981 album Computer World extolled the coming computer revolution and especially its ability to connect people. As soon as I knew this episode was coming, I was excited to use this clip. "Computer Love"'s hook was memorably stolen (with permission, but come on) by Coldplay for their 2005 single "Talk."

16:34 et subseq. Computers and their social acceptance: Mario Savio's speech is still chillingly prescient, more than a half-century after its fiery, impassioned delivery. This piece on the history of the punch card from 1991 (!) contains some of the stuff about the Free Speech Movement's co-optation of the punch card and the computer as symbols of modern dehumanization. Both George Lucas's student film Electronic Labyrinth: THX 1138 4EB (1967, viewable here) and feature debut THX-1138 (1971) are a perfect example of this sort of feeling of alienation thanks to the faceless Computer. The Berkeley free speech movement's fear of computerization was indeed the primary mode of the youth counterculture's interaction with the computer up until the '70s and the arrival of computer "revolutionaries" like Stewart Brand.

Rob's right; Fred Turner's From Counterculture to Cyberculture is sort of the signal text for this transition of the American postwar counterculture from computerphobes to computerphiles; definitely check it out if this history interests you. And my Adam Curtis impression is in aid of telling you to RUN, don't walk, to your nearest grey-market Vimeo machine and watch all three parts of his still-shocking 2011 documentary series, All Watched Over By Machines of Loving Grace.

22:06 Computer Date Zero: In our Monday post, we linked to some of the pieces we used for research for our computer dating discussion. The clip we use here is from a fantastic mini-documentary on Harvard's Operation Match and other university computer dating efforts going on at the time. This piece on Joan Ball from Marie Hicks is an impressive piece of research and quite a time capsule of Swinging Sixties London.

30:20 Rob's in-laws: [Rob: Here's the story of my wife's parents and the first computer dates at Oberlin College--that is of course Oberlin, Ohio, not that far from Otterbein! As I say, my in-laws (who are wonderful) celebrated their 50th wedding anniversary this past year. I don't know if this is relevant but it has occurred to me, in the context of the computer match-up, that their marriage was interracial: Janice is Japanese-American, Mike's descended from Russian Jews. They say that nobody at (famously progressive) Oberlin ever batted an eye about their dating, but still: at the time they got married (the same year as Loving v. Virginia) I think their marriage was illegal in like 12 or 13 states. Probably (?) the Oberlin punch cards didn't have a field for race or ethnicity; is it possible the algorithm fixed them up where human matchmakers in 1965 might not?]

33:05 Mike's online dating history: Prodigy, IRC, Usenet, OKCupid, Livejournal, yeah, I've been everywhere, man. I mean, I was and am an awkward chubby dude and back in the day, that was the way to meet people who maybe couldn't see right off that you were awkward and chubby. My philosophy about dating and meeting people online has changed a little bit since my very awkward 20s, but it was a very strange time to be single and mingling. I really can't tell you how many times I've recited that line about "the Livejournal" from The Venture Brothers, though. I probably even had an LJ icon for it.

35:53 The hooker with a heart of gold: Of course there's a TV Tropes page on this. I really liked Rob's observations on this, how it's all tied up with, of course, patriarchy and capitalism. It is interesting that despite their professed desire to demonstrate the interior and indepedent lives of the sex workers in all these '70s and '80s "hooker with a heart of gold" stories, they all seem to end with the woman ending up with the male protagonist (or, in the case of Taxi Driver, with the rescue fantasy/delusion that Rob mentions).

[Rob: It also occurs to me that whatever sex-worker positivity Risky Business and Pretty Woman manage to muster comes through their celebration of capitalism. It's been ages since I've seen either but my memory is that both films make it pretty explicit that prostitution is a form of capitalism and therefore a good thing, or at least not a very bad one. Corvette Summer maybe not so much--Annie never even gets paid!]

39:11 Corvette Summer: I remember catching parts of this 1978 movie on cable as a kid and being sort of confused by it. Mark Hamill is in his first film role since Star Wars (and since his 1978 motorcycle accident). And yeah, it had its own overly-wordy, mannered, nearly three minute long cinematic trailer.

[Rob: That trailer is something. The voice-over guy is determined to work every possible variation on "if X knew as much about Y as they do about Z..."]

43:44 "Baby, Come To Me": I should not be remiss in pointing out three more fun facts about this song, a) Michael McDonald, the very voice of Yacht Rock, is on there providing the background vocals, making this song a true pinnacle of smooth music, b) it was produced by Quincy Jones and written by Rod Temperton, two of the geniuses behind Michael Jackson's Off The Wall and Thriller, and c) it got its boost in 1982 thanks largely to its use on General Hospital (just like "Rise" by Herb Alpert, which we talked about back in HMOTD 029).

53:45 "Homer's Enemy": Hate this episode. DESPISE it. It is the beginning not only of The Simpsons' overall decline, but of the metamorphosis of Homer from a basically sympathetic all-American lug to a willfully selfish, destructive monster. Which may be the point in a greater cultural sense, given his role as sort of an avatar of post-Cold War America, but I digress.

Putting aside any "tradition" of the trope of the sitcom interloper who pulls aside the veil of illusion on a television show's wacky universe, the episode doesn't bother to temper this idea with any kind of empathy or actual humor. It's just a heartless, angry, bitter, spiteful piece of work. You can't have black comedy without actual comedy. It's awful and anyone who likes it is immediately suspect in my eyes. Here's a piece from the AV Club on its divisive nature, where more of the AV Club writers come out in favor of it than I'd like.

58:06 Jaime Weinman's post: Here is Jaime Weinman's look at "Circumstantial Evidence," where he shares some of our bafflement about the episode and the notes on its shortened length, filming with no studio audience, and Tim Reid's role in casting.

1:04:50 Guest cast: Here's our big guest cast for "Circumstantial Evidence": Daphne Maxwell as Jessica, Michael Pataki as Detective Alcorn, John Witherspoon as Detective Davies, Max Wright as Frank Bartman, Robert Hooks as the nameless prosecutor, and Winnipegger (and Academy Award nominee!) Jack Kruschen as Judge Newcomb.

1:09:00 John Davidson and ALF on Hollywood Squares: I swear, I wasn't holding out on y'all when it comes to the "I played ALF in a school play" story; it is just not something I have thought about very much lo these thirty years. But I thought you'd appreciate this clip of ALF taking over Hollywood Squares from host (and HMOTD repeat reference) John Davidson. And it is from... 1987, the very same year I was in 7th grade.

By the way, ALF is voiced (and operated) by Paul Fusco.

1:10:48 Permanent Midnight: Ben Stiller's first real foray into drama, this 1998 biopic of Hollywood screenwriter Jerry Stahl examines how soul-draining a job in Hollywood can be. ALF was changed to "Mr. Chompers" for the purposes of the movie.

1:11:33 Cop Talk spend: Sorry for the deep gaming talk here kids, but ever since discovering Robin D. Laws's wonderful GUMSHOE RPG system I tend to think of the world in terms of Investigative Spends.

1:14:30 Cincinnati Triangle: Yes, our very last Cincinnati Triangle (most likely), but it's a beaut. I would've loved to have explored more the differences between bilocation, tulpas, and Hugh Everett's many-worlds theory, but I also loved our look at Mirror Universe WKRP. I'm supposing Herb could be a sniveling toady to the Big Evil Guy in this universe; no big difference, but I suppose we could give him a conscience which he fights against relentlessly, much as Herb-Prime fights his venal, creepy side. [Rob: Yeah! Like the way Lex Luthor is a doomed hero on Earth-2.] Evil Venus, like Evil Bailey, is an exercise I'd rather not contemplate.