Wednesday, February 14, 2018

HMOTD 051: Listen Up Fellow Babies

The first of our two podcast wrapup episodes is dedicated to you! The fans, followers, listeners, and especially guest hosts of Hold My Order, Terrible Dresser! In this super-sized penultimate episode, Rob and Mike talk with some of our past guest hosts and review some Listener Mail!

(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, February 12, 2018

Turkeys vs. Fish... WHO YA GOT?

Well, the championship matchup in our Best Episode Ever is set, and I'm guessing not a lot of us are surprised.

Yes, "Turkeys Away" will face off against "Fish Story" in the final match of our Best Episode Ever tournament. "Turkeys Away" methodically stomped its way to victory in the Station region and beat "Who Is Gordon Sims?" over the weekend. "Fish Story," likewise, handily defeated its very high caliber fellow Zany episodes and reached the Final Four by squeaking out a narrower victory against "Real Families."

(We'll pass along some of our observations about the tournament in Wednesday's podcast; we recorded it during the Elite Eight round.)

"Turkeys Away" is the favorite, obviously. It's a justified classic, not only within WKRP's run but in all of television sitcom history. But I think everyone here knows Rob and I have a real soft spot for "Fish Story," an episode that manages to balance three zany plotlines: Venus and Johnny on the air drinking with a state trooper; Herb (in the WKRP carp suit), Les, and Bailey doing a promotional appearance at a local university where they face off against the cultured WPIG pig mascot; and the Big Guy and Andy trying to explain away all the zaniness to a reporter doing a piece on the station. The story behind "Fish Story" is one we told back in HMOTD 011, and makes the episode's eventual success somehow all the more satisfying.

But ultimately? The choice is yours, fellow babies. Here's the final poll in our Best Episode Ever tournament, and it's going to stay up until Saturday morning the 17th of February. Good luck to both competitors, and keep an ear out for our Giant-Sized HMOTD 051, a Valentine's Day tribute to our fans and past guest hosts, dropping on Wednesday, February 14!

Friday, February 2, 2018

Show Notes for HMOTD 050: Soul Suds

BIG REMINDER: Get those Listener Mail questions in to us ASAP for our penultimate episode! There's still time, despite what we said in our post-credits "blooper." Email before next Wednesday the 7th!

1:00 Hugh Wilson, RIP: As we said, three hours' notice was not enough time to do justice to the man who brought us WKRP, but rest assured, HMOTD 052 will take a deep dive into the man and his career.

2:23 "I learned the news of Hugh Wilson's passing... from Les Nessman." That's @WKRPQuotes on Twitter, well worth a follow!

4:50 "White guys drive like this..." It's true, it's true! We're so lame!

5:45 Big Guy Office Props: If I were to rank my Top 3 Big Guy Office Prop bits, it'd probably go: 3) inflatable raft, 2) Soul Suds standees, and 1) Apollo 11 rocket. But they're all so damn good. The one where he flings a desk drawer out the window is funny, but always makes me nervous about the people on the ground outside the Flimm Building.

5:59 Standee: I was hoping there'd be a really good Secret History of the Standee but I couldn't find much online. Although the Wikipedia entry has this lovely image from the Roaring 20s of some cartoon-y standees for a clothes shop.

[Rob: Here's an 80s CanCon anecdote for you: at some point in the early 1980s, my sister acquired a standee of pouty Canadian dreamboat Corey Hart, sunglasses and all. Long after her infatuation with Corey faded, he lurked in one corner of our rec room, giving people heart attacks when they came down the stairs.] [p.s. Holy heartthrob: the Corey hotline was real??!?]

7:39 Media/communication failures on WKRP: I mean, I guess we shouldn't be too surprised that a series about radio has so many plotlines that hinge on communications and how funny it is when they break down, but there's the episodes we mentioned in the episode, plus "An Explosive Affair," "Mike Fright," and of course tons of Les jokes ("killer lizzard," for one). I have a feeling either Rob or I could get a good Media Studies-type paper out of this.

14:13 Tom Sullivan: Hey, Tom Sullivan is from Boston and a Harvard graduate, not to mention a musician, screenwriter, and author! His memoir, If You Could See What I Hear, was released in 1975 and was adapted into a movie in 1982 starring Marc Singer, the Beastmaster himself, and Shari Belafonte!

Also, I wanted to mention, apropos of the mention Rob gave of the nameplate on Mr. Sherman's receptionist's desk, that Mr. Sherman has that classic 1980s executive toy, the Newton's Cradle, on his desk.

[Rob: Is it able-ist to wonder what appeal a Newton's Cradle would have to a blind person?]

14:50 "Handicapped": I want to give a sincere apology for using the term "handicapped" and not "disabled" or "person with disabilities" in this episode. As someone who grew up in the time period that this show depicts, it's awfully easy to slide back into outdated terminology, especially when you're watching a show that is set during that time. But honestly, that's no excuse, and I apologize unreservedly and will most certainly do my best to avoid this in the future.

21:48 The Metric Marvels! You see that '70s cartoon style I'm talking about here? It's very Schoolhouse Rock. I actually remember this PSA much better. Man, the late '70s really were a golden age of PSAs, weren't they? (BLATANT PLUGS IN LAST-EVER SHOW NOTES, AHEM)

[Rob: Here's a Canadian PSA from the same era, explaining what is obviously the most critical use of metric system: the difference between 3 cm, 30 cm, and 100 cm of snow. Note the little flying bug (snowball? will-o-the-wisp?) wearing the Canadian metrication logo as a hat. I'll bet this guy is the reason I remembered that logo as "adorable."]

23:26 French Revolution: So yes, the French Revolution not only gave us the awesome idea of chopping the heads off the monstrously wealthy, but they also gave us uniform units of measurement. Alas, decimal time did not take off, and neither did the Revolutionary calendar, as beautiful as it might be.

24:01 The British get the Prime Meridian: Rob was absolutely right. The trade was that France would recognize Greenwich (instead of Paris) as the Prime Meridian if the British signed onto the metric system. While the British technically did as early as 1884 recognize the meter, as Brexit has shown, it has never dislodged the mile and the yard in British hearts.

24:40 A cubic decimeter of water: I was right! A cubic decimeter of water simultaneously takes up one liter of volume and weighs on kilogram. Not bad for having my metric dreams crushed at the age of 8.

26:10 "You like Canadian late-20th century graphic design?" Yes. Yes, Rob I do.

28:15 Meet The Meters: Used copies are going for $40 on Amazon. I'm not ashamed to say I teared up a little seeing that cover. My goodness, what nostalgia. Basically the only books I used to take out of the library at this age were about math.

30:31 Old Skull: When Rob included this clip in the episode, I was floored. I'd forgotten all about the most punk of all hardcore '80s bands, Old Skull! Yes, three 10-year-old kids in the late '80s singing songs about how much Ronald Reagan fucking sucked. Sadly, the two brothers at the center of the band both died in the early '10s. The story of Old Skull always reminded me a bit of The Shaggs, too.

31:29 Madam C.J. Walker: Really, just an amazing story; Madam C.J. Walker is literally one of the world's first truly global brands, as Black beauticians across the Americas used her products and trusted the name (and face) on the packaging.

34:23 Afro Sheen/Frederick Douglass: Both Rob and I didn't remember clearly if this ad was real or a Robert Townsend/Eddie Murphy-era satire, but no, it's absolutely real and actually kind of awesome. Frederick Douglass is being recognized more and more.

[Rob: I can't get enough of the line, "I've been watching the progress of our people, and I'm quite familiar with the natural."]

35:31 Huey Lewis: I've had "Do You Believe In Love" stuck in my head all week, thanks Huey. Good song, GREAT dorky early '80s video. I bet that woman is like, "Hey, The News, get the hell out of my bedroom." But WKRP music maven Michael Rodriguez reminds us in this comment from our Facebook that only Sean Hopper of Clover went on to join the News.

39:41 Johnny/Hirsch: It's a great scene and a great pairing. What more can be said? It feels like Hesseman is finding Ian Wolfe to be a comedic brother-in-arms in that scene.

42:47 "It makes everything make sense." It's true! Whether the arc was planned out or not, kudos to Hugh and the writers to be able to stick the landing like this and explain away 4 years' worth of zany schemes and Mama's conniving.

49:44 News radio on AM: The all-news format began in the early '60s but really didn't take off until stations like 1010 WINS in New York changed format in 1965 and heavily branded their content with slogans like "You give us 22 minutes, we'll give you the world" and their famous use of the xylophone intro to Ib Glindemann's "Construction Site," memorably used in Goodfellas as news of the Lufthansa Heist comes over Henry Hill's radio.

51:12 "Another Merry Mixup": We talked about "Another Merry Mixup" back in HMOTD 045, and here's Jaime Weinman's article about it one more time. Hey, sincere thanks to Jaime Weinman for being one of our polestars throughout this podcast for WKRP lore, along with...

55:13 Michael Kassel: If you take your WKRP fandom seriously, you really should pick up a copy of Michael Kassel's America's Favorite Radio Station: WKRP In Cincinnati. Thank you so much, Michael Kassel, for all your hard work in interviewing the cast and crew.

1:06:32 "Leave it to Gordon." This quote about the show's cast and crew being a family shoots up to the top of my list of Gordon Jump's Being Adorably Kind list; I don't know how I'd rank Gordon Jump's Lasagna and Gordon Jump And His Wife Dancing Like Singin' In The Rain, but those are definitely my top 3.

1:07:59 Cheers: Boy that Cheers post-finale interview is just a horrible mess. I cringed like five times just listening to 45 seconds of it. I will tell you, though: people in Boston in 1993 were fucking INTO having the Cheers cast here in town. But the finale itself... I love that final couple of minutes, still, to this day.

1:12:45 "Life on Mars finale... just Google it": If you must know how the American version of Life on Mars ends, spoilers I guess.

1:14:00 Lincoln in the Bardo: I really need to read this book. I'm a George Saunders fan from way back and everything I've heard about this book has been exceedingly good.

[Rob: I liked it a lot: funny and sad and Saunders has a lot of fun with the language. I'm a sucker for faux 19th-century grandiloquence.]

1:20:14 Post-credits: As we said above, it's not too late to get your questions into us; we definitely would like a few more emails before next week! And hey, the Twitter tournament is heating up! We've got three regional rounds still going today and this weekend! We were too shaken up from having to end the podcast to look at a damn calendar. Oh well, it's a good blooper. :)

Thursday, February 1, 2018

WKRP Best Episode Ever Tournament!

Fellow babies! Here is a blog post where you can find all the links to our WKRP Best Episode Ever brackets, polls, and results.

Live brackets (remember to scroll down):

Links to Polls:

STATION region (voting closes morning of 2/2)
VERY SPECIAL region (voting closes morning of 2/3)
ZANY region (voting closes morning of 2/4)
FAMILY region (voting closes morning of 2/5)

STATION and VERY SPECIAL regional semifinals (voting closes morning of 2/7)
ZANY and FAMILY regional semifinals (voting closes morning of 2/8)

STATION and VERY SPECIAL regional finals (voting closes morning of 2/9)
ZANY and FAMILY regional finals (voting closes morning of 2/10)

STATION vs. VERY SPECIAL (voting closes morning of 2/11)
ZANY vs. FAMILY (voting closes morning of 2/12)

Final matchup timing TBD

Wednesday, January 31, 2018

HMOTD 050: Soul Suds

Mike and Rob arrive at the final two episodes of WKRP in Cincinnati: "To Err is Human" and "Up and Down the Dial." 

(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 29, 2018

The WKRP Best Episode Ever Tournament: It's Awesome, Baby!

First off: we still need your questions and comments for the Listener Mail segment of our penultimate episode! Send your messages to in the next week, and thanks to those of you who've reached out already!

Okay, now the moment you've been waiting for: the revelation of the brackets for our 32-episode WKRP Best Episode Ever Tournament!

(You can also download a JPG version of the bracket here.)

Our voting starts tomorrow, on Tuesday January 30, with the four matches in the Station region. Each regional poll will stay up for three days:

Station region (Matches 1-4): 1/30 - 2/1
Very Special Region (Matches 5-8): 1/31 - 2/2
Zany Region (Matches 9-12): 2/1 - 2/3
Family Region (Matches 13-16): 2/2 - 2/4

Next week, we'll wrap the tournament with some rapid-fire two-day rounds:

Regional semifinals: 2/5-2/6
Regional finals: 2/7-2/8
Final Four: 2/9-2/11

And we'll hold voting for the Championship from February 12-14! The champion will be revealed on the 15th and we'll discuss the tournament on our final episode.

All voting will take place on Twitter, and you'll need an account to vote on the polls. Sorry, but it's just the easiest polling venue to manage and provide for fairness of voting.

And stay tuned for our look at the very last two episodes of WKRP, "To Err Is Human" and "Up And Down The Dial," coming this Wednesday, same time, same place as usual!

Friday, January 19, 2018

Show Notes for HMOTD 049: Venus Is A Girl's Name

2:35 Our hiatus and Lisa's blog: Lisa Faden's blog is at Breathing In, Breathing Out. It is a powerful read, and I'm grateful to Lisa for sharing her journey with all of us. And once again, thank you to all our listeners for your kind words and well wishes. It's meant a lot to Lisa and Rob and family, and to me.

4:23 "What the first line of The Invisibles?" Ah, I misremembered it, Rob was right, it's "And so we return and begin again." I suppose this loses me a spot in any eventual Invisibles read-along podcast.

8:40 Andy's side of "The Creation of Venus": This was the big revelation of the episode for me, showing Andy's nervous time during the Pilot behind the scenes, contradicting the laconic cowboy he seemed back in 1978. The writers have done so much with Andy, and Gary Sandy as we've noted time and time again is in a different class than he was back in Season 1. Most Improved Cast Member!

10:00 Carol Bruce: Yeah, probably not controversial at this point to say that Carol Bruce has also shown tons of versatility in her four years on the show, and totally justifies the decision to use her for the series.

13:00 Reshoot of the format change scene: This is probably the biggest bummer of the episode for me. They shouldn't have even tried to do this. I do appreciate the scenes between Pilot-era Johnny and Venus meeting each other for the first time, though. Two guys who'd become best buds during the series having their meet-cute which we never got to see the first time.

[Rob: I don't mind the alternate version! I think it's less about being "low energy" and more about showing us how Johnny is winging it / making the Fever character up on the spot. I also think it forces us to embrace a Rashomon-style approach to continuity, as we discuss. What we saw in the pilot might be what that moment seemed like to the WKRP audience, or maybe to Arthur; what we see here is what the moment might have felt like internally to Johnny and maybe Andy and Venus too.]

15:33 Simpsons memory clip: It's a very visual joke, but Lord knows it's probably one of my favorite single moments in Simpsons history.

15:52 "It's a love sign, ruled by Venus." Libra is a super interesting sign! It is indeed ruled by Venus, and the "love" part of the sign is said to involve Librans' appreciation of fine art and fine clothes. Hmm, seems perfect for our Venus now that I think about it. It's also the title of probably my favorite Don DeLillo novel (1988's Libra, about the life of Lee Harvey Oswald). In that book Clay Shaw, CIA asset and possible assassination conspirator, explains to Oswald that the Libran be either balanced or impulsive and brash. It kind of makes you think of Venus's double nature throughout his time on WKRP, doesn't it?

19:12 Other carnivorous plants: Carnivorous plants are creepy and weird; I've always had a kind of irrational fear of them, stemming I think from a 3-2-1 Contact segment I saw growing up with microphotography of bugs getting captured and eaten. Shudder. Or maybe it was this Vincent Price-narrated (!!!) educational film called Death Trap. Also there was Little Shop of Horrors which I liked not one bit as a kid. In conclusion, carnivorous plants, while badass, can also GTFO.

25:03 "In 2017, we're all nerds now." I really did shudder to think about the ramifications of this statement.

26:45 "Trials and Tribble-ations": Oh man. I think my love of this episode of Star Trek: Deep Space Nine came out sufficiently on the show, but the Memory Alpha entry does give all the background including the fact it was inspired by the success of Forrest Gump and that it was originally going to be set on the planet of "A Piece of the Action." But it would be about the planet 150 years later, now adhering to the Enterprise crew's behaviors as they had the 1920s gangsterse, "as a social commentary on the Trekkie phenomenon." I actually kind of want to see Rob Moore's script for this episode now.

[Rob: That's interesting: shades of Galaxy Quest, though the DS9 episode would have preceded the film by a few years.]

31:07 Broadcast intrusions/David Foster Wallace: My piece on the history of broadcast intrusions is here (it's also been syndicated at one of my favorite sites on the paranormal, the Daily Grail), and the classic David Foster Wallace piece on the meta-reflexiveness and irony-saturated landscape of television is here. The MTM/St. Elsewhere stuff starts on page 158.

32:23 The Tommy Westphall Universe: Wading into the history of the Tommy Westphall theory is about as labyrinthine as the theory itself! These guys claim they invented it on (big ups to Usenet baby!) back in 1999, but I've also heard rumors that late comic legend Dwayne McDuffie arrived at it independently in 2002 as well. I'd forgotten that Tommy and his father put his snowglobe down on top of a TV set at the end of the episode as the St. Elsewhere theme plays in the background. Just hammer that metaphor home, Tom Fontana. I love it, though.

34:58 The Wold Newton Universe/Planetary: The Wold Newton universe theorizes one single event, a meteorite strike near the British town of Wold Newton, created all the pulp heroes of the first half of the 20th century (this concept was indeed ably recycled by Warren Ellis in his Planetary comic series, a longtime favorite of Rob's and mine, with Ellis's concept of "century babies" all born with superpowers on January 1, 1900).

[Rob: Here Mike mentions our longtime mutual friend, Jess Nevins, Two-Fisted Librarian and probably this timeline's number one expert on the pulp, comic, and dime novel fantasies of yesteryear. You might remember him from the Encyclopedia of Fantastic Victoriana or his hypercomplete annotations to the League of Extraordinary Gentlemen and other comics, which frightened even Alan Moore, and that's saying something.]

38:01 Bishop Berkeley: Bishop Berkeley's philosophy is a little more complicated than my potted version, but subjective idealism tells us that everything is real insofar as it is sensed by a mind.

40:50 Mad About You/Seinfeld: While the jokes about George being emasculated by having to watch Mad About You are pretty retrograde today (and now that I think about it, an incredible burn to the producers of that show by the Seinfeld crew!), hearing the theme music tinkling over George's agonized facial expressions in the closing credit of that episode still makes me chuckle.

45:37 "The Impossible Dream": I liked keeping this little "not-intended-for-air" bit about Rob pondering whether he should sing.

49:24 Walter Cronkite/Dan Rather: So we had the timeline a tiny bit off; Cronkite had been replaced by Dan Rather back in March 1981, so he'd been out of the seat for a year by this point. So this bit probably would've involved, as Rob theorizes later, Les getting some appropriately avuncular advice from Uncle Walter.

52:30 Aurra's "Make Up Your Mind"/Ernie Watts's "Chariots of Fire": Two pieces of excellent music on Venus's show in this pair of episodes. Aurra's aforementioned sick jam, which is just in that perfect post-disco, early-'80s funk place of artists like Cameo and Rick James. And in the last episode we had to cut a discussion of Peak Vangelis triggered by the appearance of this amazing jazz cover of the massive Vangelis hit, the "Chariots of Fire" theme song, by jazz saxophonist Ernie Watts at the beginning of "The Creation of Venus."

59:47 "New York's gonna eat him alive." The conversation between Andy and the Big Guy here is very meta, isn't it? The Big Guy represents the kind of old, idealized, fictional universe where a kid from the sticks can make it big in the city. Andy is the brutal realist. Kind of an amazing little clash of worldviews there.

1:02:38 "He doesn't do anything really bad to anyone." I was wrong, of course: only last episode Les was stealing Bailey's incomplete piece from her typewriter in "Dear Liar." Call it my hiatus hangover.

1:05:43 John Hodgman's Vacationland: Rob's right: every geeky 40-something dad I know has been raving about this book. I'm not a dad but I'm going to pick it up ASAP because Hodgman is awesome.

1:07:24 Dave's Theory of Narratives: Ably described by Dave Lyons back in HMOTD 045, at around the 43-minute mark.

1:09:11 Moms episode: If you missed the episode with our moms, it's HMOTD 030. And given all the talk about "bad moms" in this episode, I'd point you to the 46-minute mark there, for Rob's mom Betty Jo's incisive assessment of the "bad mother" character in pop culture.

1:09:32 Drag in comedy: Again, keep in mind Rob and I are a couple of cisgender guys working all this out. But it is undeniable how much of my formative media, especially sketch comedy, utilized drag. John Cleese of course lampshades it delightfully in the Piranha Brothers sketch with his "female impersonator" punchline, but this of course is also inspired by the fact that Ronnie of the notorious Kray Brothers (the model for the Piranhas) identified as queer.

1:11:26 Canadian TV bracket: Here's the beginning of the bracket that roiled Canadian Twitter for well over a fortnight.

[Rob: I called it wrong! In the end, Mr. Dress-up beat out Kids In The Hall, proof once again that democracy simply doesn't work.]

1:16:13 Steps: Whoo boy. What can you say about the Steps sketch in 2017/18? Two straight and one gay comedian play essentially gay community "types": Dave as airheaded twink Riley, Kevin as the always politically correct Smitty, and of course Scott as Butch, the, er, shallow butch cocksman. And then you have the additional weirdness of Bruce cross-dressing and playing a lesbian who hates "when fags do [drag]" but who's going to dress up as Rush Limbaugh at a warehouse party and my brain just exploded. It's a recursive set of political and comedic statements, it's problematic and hilarious, it's downright Brechtian and I love it despite its obvious flaws.

1:18:25 YMCA: How much did middle America understand about "Y.M.C.A." when it came out? I've tried to find some evidence that either that the whole country was in on the reference, or that nobody outside of the gay community knew the double meaning, but I'm guessing that in 1978 it was somewhere in the middle. Urban hipsters probably understood, but your average housewife in, say, Iowa probably thought it was a wholesome paean to the Y.

1:19:44 VHS or Beta: I found this lovely NEC ad when searching for "VHS vs. Beta" and it's actually super illustrative! The rootin'-tootin' rich Texan oil baron wants Beta for its superior picture, and the couple about to start to necking on the rec room couch probably want to watch a horror movie on VHS. It's perfect!