Wednesday, February 28, 2018

HMOTD 052: Maybe Think Of Me Once In A While

In the final episode of HMOTD, Mike & Rob pay tribute to WKRP creator Hugh Wilson, ask "where are they now?", and look back on the TV series and the podcast as a whole. Thanks for listening, everyone.
(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 26, 2018

...Good day, and may the good news be yours.

Mike: Rob and I have spent a lot of time referencing The Invisibles during the podcast, the seminal 1990s comic series by Scottish comic phenom Grant Morrison. We talked back in HMOTD 038 about how Morrison started to weave chaos magic into the text of The Invisibles, trying to live the life of his protagonist, international playboy-terrorist King Mob, and ended up paying the price with a near-fatal golden staph infection. Morrison claims he helped fight off the infection by giving the bacterium a promise that he'd feature it in The Invisibles, binding the infection, making a totem spirit out of this demonic invader who came to kill him.

I only mention this because the night we recorded our final episode, HMOTD 052 (dropping on Wednesday morning), which was already a fairly intense experience emotionally, I was just beginning to feel sick from a flu that I am still faintly suffering from now, 10 days later. My buddy Richard McKenna, co-editor over at We Are The Mutants, mentioned that sometimes when you finish a big project that's been stressing you out, your body's immune system will just sort of shrug its shoulders and give up on you. I'd also noticed that in the past, especially when I was still in the corporate world and I'd miss days of work due to stress or my body falling apart after a particularly challenging project. I suppose it's fitting that the illness that came with the completion of the primary creative project of the last three years (!!!) of my life is commensurately massive.

The night Rob and I recorded 052, I felt a weird... buzz in the air, that was only partially due to the virus then colonizing my cells. Ultimately, I think it was down to the fact that was really hard to record this thing! As natural and easy as the conversation was (and one of the great personal developments of this podcast the past three years for me has been the rapport that Rob and I have built, how very quickly we grew able to toss topics back and forth between us with a casualness and ease), there was a hovering knowledge that after tonight, we wouldn't be doing this anymore! Like a lot of you have mentioned on Twitter the past couple of weeks, I didn't want this whole thing to end. It felt like teetering on the edge of a tall building (callback!), weird feeling in the pit of my stomach and all.

But all things must pass. I've been listening to old episodes of HMOTD this week while I've been sick, thinking about my favorite parts of the podcast, thinking about those weird tangents Rob and I have taken, the historical topics that stretched their pertinence to the episode of WKRP featured that week, and I smile. But I also just smile thinking about the show itself, about Gordon Jump's goofy facial expressions, about Jan Smithers and her naturalness, about Howard Hesseman's barely-contained ego (and id), the lightning in a bottle that was the chemistry between these eight actors, about all the genius plotlines, both serious and silly. About the memories of sitting in front of the big living room TV from 7 to 8 pm every weeknight, watching a show I was too young to really understand but somehow seemed perfect and right and true. A family that wasn't a family, a collection of oddball archetypes that somehow became part of the Tarot of my childhood mindscape.

I mention "I Am Woman" in this week's wrap-up show as one of my favorite rediscoveries of the podcast. And as you'll listen to Wednesday's episode, I think you'll see the big historical and philosophical themes that Rob and I talk about in our episode's latter third neatly embodied in "I Am Woman." That we owe a debt to history. That even the seeming least and quietest among us can roar like a lion when given help from our friends. The idea that we are all connected and we can only experience that connection when we get out from behind our desks at work and just go and have a drink at the Cricket with our friends and family.

I won't miss the hours in front of Audacity, or the hours combing for just the right clip, but I'll miss everything else. The Big Guy, Jennifer, Andy, Herb, Les, Johnny, Bailey and Venus. I'll miss getting the chance to chat with Rob for a couple of hours every few weeks. And I'll miss all of you.

So in case we didn't say it enough in HMOTD 051, thank you. Thank you for letting us do this, thank you for being there, and thank you for loving this show as much as Rob and I did, and do. I hope you enjoy our final episode, dropping in two days.

Rob: Now, see, I definitely got tired of Audacity, but digging around on YouTube for just the right clip--or being surprised and delighted by whatever wonderful bit of audio archaeology Mike exhumed--is still one of my favourite parts of doing the podcast: Hammy Hamster, Stan Freberg, Terence McKenna, the "Who Shot J.R." song, Red Dwarf, Boards of Canada, Too Many Cooks, vocal fry, Mr. Show, SCTV, occasionally The Simpsons, so many long wordy 1970s movie trailers, so many great musical stings, 3 Bucks on a Hun, Old Skull, "The Tarleks," Miller Lite ads, Americathon, The President's Analyst, Olly's Mom on Sifl & Olly, "never bet against Pete Rose," that girl who "wouldn't have sex" with VALIS... Each of those little clips, or at least each of the really good ones, was for me like the whole podcast in miniature: a tiny dose of history recontextualized in the present, a quick hit of something you'd long forgotten or maybe never knew, collapsing the distance between present and past.

I was also coming down with something when we recorded 052.* I don't think germs can travel over Skype, so I don't believe Mike infected me, or vice versa, but I wouldn't rule out Morrison's nanobot machine elves. Certainly I felt that same weird buzz, and the same mix of emotions, as Mike and I arrived at the end of a project that's brought me so much fun and satisfaction for the last three years.

(* You'll hear my voice getting pretty gravelly in 052 - but it goes well with the aged voices of Gary Sandy, Howard Hesseman, etc in the "where are they now" clips we dug up. Right after editing 052, I listened to one of our peppy early episodes (it was HMOTD 018: We Are Definitely Talking Cordoba) and we were talking so fast I thought I'd somehow sped up the playback! Ah, we were young and sprightly once, and also we used to record in the morning with coffee instead of in the evening with beer.)

We were talking on Twitter about favourite moments of the podcast. I have more than I can list, or even remember. (I do sometimes listen to old episodes; I feel self-conscious about doing so, but whenever I do there's something silly or brilliant or brilliantly silly I'd forgotten.) A short list of favorite moments would have to include all Mike's sweet stories about his parents and his funny only-child upbringing, all his astounding knowledge about pop culture and music and Arthurian myth. It would include all our guests, for damn sure. It would include all the random research rabbit holes the podcast led us down: Computer Date Zero, the secret history of the Gilligan's Island lagoon, Simon's debut at Studio 54, the guy who played Chewbacca's wife in the Star Wars Holiday Special, the medieval origins of the TripTik, Mexican black velvet painting sweatshops, why the French love Jerry Lewis, BBC rules about human voices for animal actors, the word pal-imony, sports mascots, the Hull House origins of American improv comedy, "Loni in the Sky with Diamonds," the Cincinnati Triangle, and whether the Watergate burglars wore pants. (Oh, and once again I have to thank Mike for all his extra hours writing our amazing Show Notes: another 2000-3000 words of meta-meta-commentary on each of our episodes of meta-commentary!) It would include all the ridiculous riffs and unplanned creative whooshes: Ad Rock's heart to heart with Venus in "Hoodlum Rap," our Russia House thriller about the defection of the Rubik's Cube, Vincent Price's Men of Action (or was it Frightenstein's?), John Hughes' "Sweet Home Chicago" starring Jan Smithers and Joan Cusack, Good Morning Tehran, Thomas Pynchon's silver age sitcom about the Big Guy's Navy days, the WKRP alignment chart and the Sam Anderson political compass. And the Fisher King theory! Which I insist remains a shibboleth designed to separate out our true fans... ;)

And of course it would include all of you. Thanks so much, everybody. It's been a blast.

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!

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!