Monday, August 21, 2017

"Let's run away together. To Los Angeles! They'll understand there!"


We've had this pop up a couple times before in our podcast history: two adjacent episodes in WKRP's run that provide us with a more-or-less themed podcast episode around one of the characters in WKRP's ensemble. In early Season 2 it was "Baseball" and "Bad Risk," which allowed us to delve deeply into Les Nessman's psychology, and later in Season 2 we had "Herb's Dad" and "Put Up or Shut Up," which gave us a fantastic opportunity to talk about Herb's upbringing, male role models, and masculinity in crisis in WKRP-era America more generally. "Huggable Herb" has fast become one of my personal favorite episodes of the podcast.

This week, we get a pair of Andy Travis-centric episodes. We see a dark "path-not-taken" version of Andy in "The Consultant" and the trials and tribulations of Andy as a piece of, well, beefcake in "Love, Exciting And New."

We've said it again and again; we were super harsh on Gary Sandy in Season 1 of Hold My Order, and maybe unfairly so. By this point, we know a lot more about Andy as a character and Sandy has slipped into the role much more comfortably. And these two episodes might be him at his finest. There's a great scene in "The Consultant" where Andy meets with Norris Breeze, his old friend, now a radio consultant, where Andy has to essentially complete the process that "Baby, If You Ever Wondered" back in Season 2 started. He's no longer That Guy who comes in from out of town to upset the applecart; Andy by now is one of the inmates in the asylum that is WKRP, and he wants to help save his friends' jobs. And Andy comes up with an ingenious plan to save the station, which he takes great delight in springing on Mrs. Carlson.

And speaking of Andy and Lillian... wow. "Love, Exciting And New" takes the transgressive idea of Mama and Andy dating and does some incredible gymnastics around that sitcom-y plotline, the then-very relevant issue of workplace sexual harassment, and somehow still manages to make it funny, at least to the two of us in 2017. Once again, Put-upon Andy is Best Andy.

A couple of solid episodes of WKRP, some great early-'80s history and culture to talk about... all this and a double-shot of HIRSCH! Coming your way in a couple of days!

Friday, August 11, 2017

Show Notes for HMOTD 043: High Heels and a Whole Lot of Leather


0:00 "Three Days of the Condo(r)": Many props to Rob for this ingenious open, which not only references the 1975 conspiracy thriller of the same name, but also our long-documented love of over-the-top three-minute-long 1970s movie trailers.

Also, can I say? I'm a little upset; I typed "Three Days of the Condo" into Wikipedia, and it brought me to the Frasier episode guide where I find out that they used the WKRP writers' very clever title! Dirty pool, Frasier writers.

1:15 Sean Cranbury and Luke Meat: Here's all the links you'll need to find Sean and Luke online: Sean can be found at seancranbury.com, booksontheradio.org and realvancouver.org! And Luke can be found at 98.3 FM/Roundhouseradio.com and his band störc (GREAT name) is on Bandcamp here. And here's the website for the Storm Crow Tavern; I really want to go there!

1:40 "Like that Flaming Lips album!" That Zaireeka joke may have been a bit of an obscure reference; if you don't know the story, the 33⅓ series book on it is a good read. Also a bit poignant considering the problems Rob had with editing this episode; sorry, Rob.

[Rob: Yeah, this exchange is ironic, because we did have some technical difficulties in recording this episode. Instead of a quadrophonic soundscape with each of us in a different speaker, we all got lumped into one channel, which podcasters will know is a bear to edit. I don't wanna be all  "Area Podcaster Makes Solemn Promise to Improve Sound Quality Next Episode," but...]

4:35 63 CHED: An AM station that was rock and roll in the '70s and early '80s but since has gone to talk and sports radio. It's a little WKRP on the central Alberta prairie!

6:28 "..and obviously, the 'Baseball' episode." THANK YOU, Sean. Les in right field, thou art avenged.

6:48 "Soap... you can SEE through!" One of Johnny's many coked-up purchases was a couple of bars of see-through soap, which he puts up to his eyes in a suitably comic manner. I remember one of the many aspirational lifestyle purchases my family made in the 1980s was Neutrogena soap, which today kind of feels like a yuppie affectation. Neutrogena had been around since 1930 but really only became a lifestyle product in the '80s, as its brand was built marketing to "dermatologists and luxury hotels." Those are definitely two places where it pays to market to upscale yuppies. In fact, Neutrogena is one of the many facial care products that Patrick Bateman uses in American Psycho. And that's my 10 minutes of material on Neutrogena.

8:02 Another reason to plug the Shout Factory DVDs: Never a bad time to send Shout! Factory (and presumably, the cast and crew of WKRP) a little of your hard-earned cash!

9:22 "It's an outrage, Jennifer!" So yes, the 1981 baseball strike and subsequent frankly bizarre "split-season" playoff format did screw over the Reds, who had the best record in the NL West, royally. But my point about the Big Red Machine being gone at this point still stands: this really was the Reds' last chance at playoff glory for the rest of the '80s.

9:36 "That soft drink machine... break again?" Such a weird line read but it makes me laugh every time.

15:50 "There's the suits and dungarees. Venus is definitely neither of those." As expertly explained in our alignment chart from way back in HMOTD 005.

17:10 "It just takes a little bit of success to turn Johnny into a jerk." As seen in both "Most Improved Station" and "Dr. Fever and Mr. Tide."

21:15 "Land. The only thing worth fighting for." So people on our Facebook including Rob and friend of the podcast Leah Biel seem to think the voice doing this ad for Gone With The Wind Estates sounds familiar. Is it perhaps Hugh Wilson doing his best Rhett Butler?

22:00 America II: Sadly long out of print, but both stunningly prescient in so many ways and a lovely reflection of where America's well-to-do were headed on the cusp of the yuppie Eighties. Louv talks a little bit about its prescience in the aftermath of the 2016 election here.

27:55 Plantation weddings: Here's a piece from Salon in 2014 about the "disturbing" trend, but it's kept going over the intervening years.

29:23 "Sometimes it's the straights who are the weirdest ones..." It was quite perceptive of both our guests to detect this undertone in both these episodes. While we can overstate the "suits vs. dungarees" thing sometimes, I think back to the early part of Season 1, when this conflict was entirely internal to the station, and Herb, Les, and sometimes the Big Guy were the antagonists. I think it was probably around the Ferriman episode where the weirdness of the straights was externalized, and the wacky zany WKRP family became the ones who were actually sane.

30:18 "If Georgia fights, I go with her." Speaking of William Tecumseh Sherman, Rhett Butler's observations of the South's industrial and economic paucity at the outbreak of the Civil War are taken almost word-for-word from Sherman's famous warning to his friend David Boyd.

31:50 Ms. Archer as Nurse Ratched: Another very perceptive observation, this time by Rob. As Nurse Ratchet in One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest was very clearly meant to evoke a postwar matriarchal domesticity being enforced on ostensibly free, wild men, Ms. Archer takes a great deal of relish in promising that Johnny will learn to conform, by hook or by crook.

33:00 Tommy Krasker: Again, we'll link to Tommy's great Season 4 piece which is pertinent to "Three Days of the Condo" and yes, a piece on Blake Hunter which becomes a celebration of the elegance of the script for "Jennifer and the Will."

35:10 Crab puffs and scampi and quiche: Correction from Twitter! Real Men Don't Eat Quiche (1982) was intended as a parodic riposte to those who decried the new sensitivity in males. But the problem with parody, as we've seen in the past year or so, is that it can backfire and normalize the behavior it was meant to parody. I remember the "real men don't eat quiche" line being trotted out as a kid in the mid-'80s with absolutely no irony but that just might have been my family. People who don't read the book but love the title... a better summary of our problems in 2017 couldn't possibly be concocted.

[Rob: I actually gave a copy of Real Men Don't Eat Quiche to my Dad one 1980s Christmas, along with its sequel Real Men Don't Cook Quiche--a cookbook! As with so many things from that era, I could not tell you precisely how sincere/parodic this purchase was. Real Men Don't Eat Quiche was inevitably followed, in classic flogging-the-joke / diminishing-returns style, by Real Women Don't Pump Gas, Real Kids Don't Say Please, and Real Dogs Don't Eat Leftovers.]

39:10 "Top of the day... Deathwatch!" A shoving match with Spiro Agnew? You go, Colonel! This feels like it was based on a real-life incident, but I can't quite put my finger on it.

41:12 Violins in the dark restaurant: What a find here by WKRP music man Mike Hernandez. I'll quote his Facebook comment directly: "The violin player at the beginning, Shony Alex Braun, was a composer and musician, as well as a Holocaust survivor. Here's a bit of his story. The piece he's playing for Jennifer and the Colonel, "Fascination," is a waltz composed by Fermo Dante Marchetti and Maurice de Féraudy. Daytime TV fans of the day would likely have recognized the melody from a number of Luke and Laura scenes from General Hospital. Or maybe you recognize it from The Karate Kid." Amazing! Thanks, Mike.

44:20 Jennifer marrying the Colonel: Rob's source for the Jennifer marrying the Colonel plotline is WKRP lore-keeper Jaime Weinman.

47:20 Henri: Played by the recently-departed George "Commandant Lassard" Gaynes in "Jennifer's Home For Christmas"; I'm still bummed we had to cut our 2-3 minutes on Gaynes from our Christmas episode, his life really is fascinating. He was Hollywood's Frenchman! And most importantly, he was married to WKRP's sweetheart, Carmen Carlson herself, Allyn Ann McLerie!

49:51 "Hey look, she's with another old coot!" "Cootster" is another one of those Gordon Jump line reads that is alternately baffling and adorable.

52:25 "Hey Jenny." Yeah, Frank Bonner gets just a couple of things to do in this episode but just kills them both. Again, check out Tommy Krasker's Blake Hunter post for some thoughts on Herb's "way with words."

54:10 Les and his dictionary: Les's last journey through the pages of the dictionary to look up "obtuse" and "addle-minded" occurred in the otherwise moribund "Young Master Carlson."

57:05 Video will: So pleased to see TV Tropes has us covered for this very definite trope and trend at the outset of the home video era.

1:00:15 Tontine: Couldn't find much on WWII officers leaving bequests to their enlisted men, but here's the fascinating history of the tontine with a giant section on tontines in pop culture, including M*A*S*H, Barney Miller, and of course The Simpsons.

1:01:40 Pat O'Brien: Here's his Wikipedia entry; I note he came from the same Wisconsin Irish conservative milieu as Joseph McCarthy. O'Brien died not too long after recording this episode of WKRP, in 1983.

1:02:38 Milkshake Duck Moment: For those of you unfamiliar with Twitter account "pixelated boat" (a.k.a. cartoonist Ben Ward) and his addition to our social media vocabulary, here's the story of the lovely duck who drinks milkshakes.

1:03:55 Johnny's date ideas: Specialty comic stores in the '70s! This is exactly when the "direct market" for comics began; another fascinating piece of hidden history and one I wish we'd gone into in more detail on the podcast. Bailey's right; one of the innovations that specialty direct market comic stores brought to the world was the ability to pick up back issues in the increasingly continuity-conscious titles of the '70s and '80s. Personally, in the mid-'80s I bought my first comics in a local convenience store on a wire rack, like my parents' generation did, but pretty soon I was checking out local chains like New England Comics and Newbury Comics for those all-important back issues.

1:05:40 Night Court: I will gladly take the copyright hit for excerpting this classic TV theme in its entirety. Night Court kind of kept the flame alive for grungy '70s sitcoms well into the '80s.

1:10:16 "All right, we finally made it to BAAAAAHSTON!" Aw, come on, how can you not love Bob Seger's amazing stage presence. He feels funky tonight and is going to let you know about it!

Wednesday, August 9, 2017

HMOTD 043: High Heels and a Whole Lot of Leather


Special guests Sean Cranbury & Luke Meat join Mike and Rob to discuss and dissect the WKRP episodes "3 Days of the Condo" and "Jennifer and the Will."

(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, August 7, 2017

"Lord knows, I do want to be a good... Gone With the Winder."


From the very beginning of this podcast (okay, to be fair, from the second episode of this podcast), we've had to deal with the fact that WKRP In Cincinnati is a product of a very different time. In "Les on a Ledge," we had to deal with a double dose of "well-meaning" 1978 sensitivity towards homosexuality that looks quite unfortunate to modern eyes, to say nothing of the crude use of the possibility of Jennifer being trans as a punchline.

This week, in our look at "Three Days of the Condo" and "Jennifer and the Will," we get that same push and pull of WKRP in one moment trying so hard to be progressive, and the next indulging in the worst kind of stereotyping. In "Jennifer and the Will," we finally see Jennifer confront the gold-digger innuendo that has floated around her throughout the series as an attractive young woman who dates older men, thanks in large part to a powerful and understated performance by Loni Anderson. But in "Three Days of the Condo," we have the well-known denouement in which Johnny pretends he and Venus are lovers to get out of Johnny's condo contract.

Rob makes an excellent point in this week's podcast that surely the writers of WKRP thought they were the hip ones, puncturing the absurdity of homophobia in episodes like "Les on a Ledge" and "Three Days of the Condo." After all, the evil condo board at "Gone With the Wind Estates" can't countenance a gay interracial couple, and they're clearly the bad guys! But regardless, Johnny's performance for the condo board is of a piece with other camp portrayals of homosexuality from this period: broad, full of stereotypes, and uncomfortable to watch in 2017. I remember reading in more than one source that the Monty Python troupe regretted their use of camp over the course of their series in the late '60s and early '70s. Even having Graham Chapman (an out gay man who definitely could and did play around with characters who were alternately butch and camp) in the group didn't let the straight Pythons off the hook for what they felt were repeated insensitive portrayals of homosexuality for cheap laughs.

And I think that's the key to Johnny's (and Howard Hesseman's) performance. Those with privilege sometimes can't see that whatever their good intentions, using broad comic signifiers to signal a kind of hipness to a "straight" crowd (here meaning "straight" in all senses of the word) perpetuates the same hurtful stereotypes as outright mockery. It's of a piece with stuff we've discussed in the past about the "love and theft" at the center of the collision of dominant white and oppressed black cultures in terms of things like popular music and the history of rock and roll. It's still an issue that hits home hard today in terms of things like cultural appropriation.

I'll point you again to Tommy Krasker's excellent summary of Season 4 which in part discusses WKRP's returning to unfortunate gay jokes over and over throughout the series' run. We'll be discussing this part of Tommy's piece in detail in this week's podcast. (You should also check out Tommy's piece on Blake Hunter and "Jennifer and the Will" while you're there: it's magnificent.)

Putting these serious issues aside, this is a funny (and moving!) pair of WKRP episodes, so join us on Wednesday as we take a look at both "Three Days of the Condo" and "Jennifer and the Will" with a pair of special guests!

Friday, July 28, 2017

Show Notes for HMOTD 042: From Porn To Corn


2:45 "Ah, Greeta." "Dieter." Whoever got to record the German-language clips for this putative West German 3D porn movie must have had a blast. I'm no German language expert, but it doesn't sound super authentic, right down to pronouncing "Greta" in a way that it rhymes with "Dieter."

3:55 "The old-school red-blue 3D glasses." I remember them well! And their history goes back a long way, all the way to the 1850s! Or, if you believe Alan Moore, to Margaret Cavendish's Blazing World.

5:20 Herb and Les's friendship: We've talked about Herb and Les's weird friendship before; it was definitely more prominent in Season 1 when they were the Suit Axis aligned against the Dungarees in episodes like "Turkeys Away" and of course "The Contest Nobody Could Win."

7:25 Fragile masculinity: For the definitive take on Herb and his fears about his masculinity, check out HMOTD 021: Huggable Herb, which has, over time, become one of my favorite episodes of the podcast.

8:25 "Isn't that how Houdini died?" Snopes takes on the story and deems it a "legend" but in any event history does tell us Houdini died of acute peritonitis brought on by appendicitis which worsened by... not heeding the warning of his wife to get the hospital sooner, which fits this episode so perfectly anyway!

10:15 "You're just... whipped!" I don't think Google ngramming "pussywhipped" would produce much useful data, given the term's likeliness not to be in printed media, but here's the episode capsule of the SNL episode with the "P-Whipped" sketch from December 1990. Check out this murderer's row of classic sketches: Tom Hanks joins the Five-Timers Club, Carl Sagan's Global Warming Christmas Special, Sabra Shopping Network, and musical guest Edie Brickell and the New Bohemians! Those are some intense high school feels for yours truly there.

14:35 "Whooee, that's good bacon!" I giggle every time I hear that misplaced cart with the Porkers' Paradise ad.

15:30 The porn theater: We went into a lot of the topics in this portion of the episode in our Monday Post, so check that out. Keep in mind that many of the links in the section of Show Notes below may be considered NSFW depending on your particular place of W.

16:30 "Porno chic": Here's the 1973 New York Times article that introduced the concept of couples going to the porn theater together. In an era rocked by extreme cinematic experiences like The Exorcist and the opening up of the movies to outlaw cinema (remember, Midnight Cowboy had won Oscars with a brand-spanking-new X-rating from the new MPAA just a few years before), the idea of hip couples going communally to porn theaters for a good time didn't seem so outrageous! Good to see that the Times has been doing trendy urbanite thinkpieces for going on four-and-a-half decades now, by the way. Also, please don't judge my deep knowledge of the titles of early '70s artsy porn; we all contain multitudes, and I'm just as God made me.

18:10 Auto Focus: Greg Kinnear is, I feel, definitely the weak link in a strong cast, and it does suffer from the prototypical Scorsese/Schrader rise-and-tragic-fall plot structure.

18:50 "You talked about the Pee-wee Herman arrest on Netflakes!" Rob appeared with our friends Dylan Clark-Moore and Caroline Diezyn on the Netflakes Podcast to talk about the Netflix original film Pee-wee's Big Holiday and I highly recommend checking it out as soon as you've finished listening to this HMOTD episode. It's fantastic not just for Rob explaining the impact of Pee-wee's '80s output but also covering Pee-wee's (and Paul Reubens's) deeply and classically queer aesthetic.

Here's a Rolling Stone article from 1991 on the theater arrest and its aftermath. Reubens also got into trouble with the law in 2001 over his collection of vintage queer erotic art, which was seized by the LA city attorney because it was deemed to include obscene images of children. This article in the Village Voice takes a look at the "physique" and "photography" magazines of the '50s and '60s, their appeal to a gay man of Reubens's age, and why Reubens got into trouble over his collection.

22:18 "This is the point in Boogie Nights where everything's going to videotape..." Boogie Nights more or less perfectly tracks to the WKRP era, by the way: 1977-1984, and covers many of the same issues we've discussed: "mom-and-pop" operations facing off against big money, the enervating hangover of the '70s turning into a faster-paced '80s, and so on.

23:21 "I've seen better." What, I wasn't going to include the bit near the end of Bachelor Party where Tom Hanks has a climactic fistfight with Tawny Kitaen's rich evil boyfriend in a 3D theater?

24:00 The early-'80s 3D fad: 1983 was PEAK '80s 3D. Aside from that reference in Bachelor Party (1984), in 1983 there were Jaws 3-D, Amityville 3-D, Spacehunter: Adventures in the Forbidden Zone, and the immortal Metalstorm: The Destruction of Jared-Syn.

25:00 The guy in Mallrats who couldn't see the sailboat: I, too, am stereographically impaired, so I always identified with Ethan Suplee in Mallrats.

25:30 William Castle: The King of B-Movie Gimmicks! By 1975, those gimmicks were definitely looking a little long in the tooth, though... a million-dollar life insurance policy for a cockroach?

25:45 IMAX: IMAX debuted at the 1970 Osaka World's Fair, and the first permanent IMAX theater was indeed in Toronto at Ontario Place the following year.

27:37 The Combat Zone in Boston: A fairly detailed Wikipedia entry about the part of town that, as a child, it was clear I was Never, Ever to Go To, and a piece from a web exhibit on gay life in Boston that talks about the drag queen par excellence of Boston in the postwar period, Sylvia Sidney (!!!). (In case anyone's forgotten, Sylvia Sidney was the old-time Hollywood star who played Mama Carlson in the pilot episode of WKRP.) The story of how Boston's Sylvia got her drag name is amazing.

28:10 "Even Cincinnati had its own vice district": [Rob: Here's a short piece in Cincinnati Magazine about Cincinnati's dedicated vice district, which had its heyday between the 1880s and the First World War. And here's a story about the Cincinnati police's attempt to ban prostitutes on bicycles--complete with high-speed velocipede chase.]

30:00 "It's so much a Kate Beaton cartoon!" Specifically, this wonderful one.

33:10 Times Square: Here are some comparison shots between Times Square in the early '80s and in 2016.

36:22 Times Square Red, Times Square Blue: Here is Samuel R. Delany's memoir of gay Times Square in the '80s.

37:30 Mom and Pop Porn Theaters: Another classic Mr. Show sketch. I tried to pick the least lewd bits of the sketch, but they also fit well in our discussions of urban renewal in the person of Tom Kenny's "Mr. Tink" and the fall of old-timey porn in "one of those X-rated CD-ROMs."

39:05 We Got It Made: Correction, Bonnie Urseth was not the maid but one of the bachelors' girlfriends, Beth.

44:03 Earl "Madman" Muntz: Look upon his works, ye mighty, and despair. And here's a clip from the Madman Muntz documentary.

51:50 "Come on, Gil!" Gil Gunderson is one of the few late-season Simpsons introductions that I unabashedly love. [Rob: Does Season 9 still count as "late-season" Simpsons?] I've sure by this point he's married Selma, been revealed as alien, and was in Homer's '00s EDM band when he was a teenager or something.

53:05 "Here's our Big Guy!" God, I still lose my shit at "Yes! I'll sit here because it's my chair." Richard Sanders is the underrated MVP of "Who's On First?"

57:25 Mickey Morton: Here's his IMDB. And I feel appropriately chastened by the dozens of you who were like, "Mike hasn't heard about Legends of the Superheroes?" It was a chance for Adam West and Burt Ward to reprise their roles in 1979 as Batman and Robin along with a bunch of actors from the Batman '66 series and DC heroes who'd never appeared on screen before in a combination comedy live action special and, wait for it... celebrity roast (!!!) hosted by Ed McMahon (!!!!!). It's the kind of cultural blind spot I get for being born in 1975, because you know this thing never got re-broadcast.

1:00:25 "I'm Andy Travis, this is my brother Randy, and this is ol' Venus of course." Very Larry, Darryl, Darryl of Howard Hesseman here.

[Rob: Eagle-eared Friend Of The Podcast Leah Biel points out that Andy's brother would be named Randy Travis, as in country music legend Randy Travis. This doesn't seem to be an intentional joke: the singer Randy Travis was born Randy Traywick and adopted the stage name Randy Travis... right around 1981! Is it possible he was inspired by Andy Travis? Seems a funny coincidence, like a musical act named Rob Newhart or Ralex P. Keaton...]

1:05:30 "A Mile In My Shoes": Remember, the defendant in the case that Herb is on jury duty for was thought to be Italian, which made everyone think he must be guilty.

1:06:55 The Sopranos: I actually confused two episodes of The Sopranos that are both universally deemed the worst in the show's run: "Christopher" from the fourth season about the crew's interactions with the Columbus Day controversy and Indian casinos, and "Johnny Cakes" from Season 6, where Patsy and Burt try to shake down a Starbucks-like chain coffee shop.

1:08:22 Twitter account of Italians angry over food: It's actually "italians mad at food" at @ItalianComments on Twitter, and speaking as an Italian-American who eats Sunday gravy and other bastardized American versions of Italian cuisine, I find it endlessly hilarious.

[Rob: Is it OK if I find it hilarious too, or is it an in-group only thing? I also love Scottish Twitter for what it's worth.]

1:15:15 Jersey Shore: Speaking of minstrelsy... but I'm sad to say, I actually love Jersey Shore. It's the only dumb "reality" show I ever got into because yeah, I grew up around guys like Pauly and Vinny and The Situation. It feels like coming home.

1:18:40 E.F. Hutton: Here's the classic form of the E.F. Hutton commercial, and here's the story of their rise and fall.

Wednesday, July 26, 2017

HMOTD 042: From Porn To Corn


Rob and Mike delicately tiptoe through the porn theaters of yesteryear in "Straight From The Heart," and rejoice at our possibly final "zany" WKRP episode, "Who's On First?"
(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, July 24, 2017

"All purveyors of obscenity will be exposed for what they really are."


This week's HMOTD episode covers the Herb Tarlek brush-with-mortality tale "Straight From The Heart," and WKRP's second bite at the zany mistaken identity sitcom plot apple, "Who's On First?" Both episodes are solid, with "Who's On First?" providing a lot of laughs. But we spend a lot of time talking about the setting of "Straight From The Heart"'s final act, Herb's final sanctuary as he hides from the reality of impending heart tests at the hospital: a 3D porn theater.

Rob and I are well-equipped to talk about all the myriad ways in which neoliberal, corporate consolidation in the early '80s hit the mom and pop businesses of America, be they funeral homes, wrestling circuits, or indeed radio stations. But we maybe don't provide the same righteous oomph defending America's down-home purveyors of smut.

We have talked local Cincinnati porn magnate Larry Flynt and his taking on the titans of the print porn industry in HMOTD 024, but in this episode we go deep into porn theaters: their brief flirtation with respectability during the Deep Throat early '70s, their slow decline back into sleaze as depicted in media like Taxi Driver, and their eventual purge from the centers of major cities in the sanitized 1990s. In the midst of our standard HMOTD tale about corporate consolidation wiping out small businesses, we discuss their value (and other businesses like dirty bookstores) to marginalized communities like urban gay men. We also touch on perhaps our generation's first encounter with the concept of the porn theater, the arrest of Paul Reubens a.k.a. Pee-wee Herman.

Given that most of these theaters were operated or extorted by organized crime, our brief discussion of depictions of Italian-Americans in media during "Who's On First" can be considered a nice unintentional coda to our porn theater discussion. But mostly it's just funny to hear us stumble, hem and haw as we try to understand the appeal of the sticky-floored XXX theaters of yore. Be sure to join us in a couple of days for a look at WKRP's entrance into the world of vice when HMOTD 042 drops!