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.

1 comment:

  1. Thanks, guys. I'll just maybe think of you once in a while.