Friday, July 10, 2015

Show Notes for HMOTD 010: Rock Throw, WV

Reminder! You have exactly two more days to get listener mail to for our Season 1 wrap-up episode!

2:30 Arthur Dies at the End: I will direct you to Jeff Wikstrom's author page on Amazon where you should pick up all five parts of Arthur Dies at the End. I give it my enthusiastic Medievalist Seal of Approval.

5:20 "You're also a Mystery Science Theater fan." Here's the Shout! Factory MST3K tentpole page.

5:40 "It was Della and the Dealer and a dog named Jake..." "Della and the Dealer" hit Number 17 on the Country charts in 1979, and this was Hoyt Axton's first single off his 1979 LP A Rusty Old Halo. Also, to link up this note with the previous one, Hoyt wrote the theme song to classic MST3K movie Mitchell and "Della and the Dealer" appeared as a reference in at least two episodes of MST3K. It's a bit earwormy if you let it into your head. Damn you, Hoyt, and your affable avuncular country stylings.

11:10 "Fly Me to the Moon..." Home Theater Forum commenters, thou art avenged! Also, I love that Johnny can make a joke about Hare Krishnas just hanging out in the lobby of Jennifer's building. Also also: my top 3 favorite Jennifer appliances: 1) peanut butter maker, 2) the "hot dogger," whatever that is, and 3) the blender, for the Big Guy's sight gag, and for daiquiris, of course.

15:10 Rock Throw, WV: A digression here! We had to cut a very long discursive discussion inspired by a book by David Hackett Fischer, Albion's Seed, which looks at the four great waves of British immigration to the Americas as founding cultures of the United States: Puritans, Cavaliers, Quakers, and Scots-Irish. The Scots-Irish settled in the Appalachians and named their towns in very insouciant, casual ways:
Other backcountry names showed a spirit of improvisation which differed from naming customs in other regions. Back settlements were called Thicketty and Saltketcher (both in South Carolina), Licking Creek (Tennessee), Big Sandy, Kerless Knob, Tater Knob and Teeny Knob. A relaxed attitude toward naming in general appeared in Aho, whose founders were unable to agree upon a choice, and decided to take the first sound that was made in the new community. Other names in the same vein included Why Not, Odear, Shitbritches Creek, Naked Creek, Cuckold’s Creek, Stiffknee Knob, Big Fat Gap, Ben’s Ridge and Bert’s Creek and Charlie’s Bunion Mountain. This casual nomenclature was far removed from the naming ways of Puritans, Quakers and Cavaliers.
So Rock Throw sounds actually super accurate. I bet Hugh Wilson drove through tons of Appalachian towns like these going up and down the dial in his radio career.

16:00 "...Barney Stinson from How I Met Your Mother": Jeff shares this proviso with us: "I will note that I broke an unwritten rule of television criticism: I acknowledged the existence of How I Met Your Mother without mentioning the awful series finale and how it retroactively made the entire show that much worse."

18:30 Buzz Sapien: Here's Buzz Sapien's IMDB; he's done a lot of directing and very little acting, but damn if he doesn't steal that scene in the elevator. It's a corollary of our theory about Jan Smithers' naturalistic line reads being just what is needed in certain scenes.

[Rob:] Also, "Buzz Sapien" is a terrific name. He sounds like a character from Tank Girl, or 2000 A.D.

19:50 "I like country." One of the cuter scenes from a very cute episode of Lost, "Some Like It Hoth."

21:13 "A small number of my friends are gonna be closed-minded and reject me..." [Rob:] I've already caught some (good-humored) flak on Facebook for my confession here. What are you gonna do? Kris Kristofferson, tied with Willie Nelson as my favorite of the 1970s outlaws, makes the case for capacious musical tastes here.

22:00 Outlaw Country: Hey, Wikipedia will hook you up with a very good summary of the Outlaw Country movement.

23:15 "Joy to the World (Jeremiah Was a Bullfrog)." Unsurprisingly, Three Dog Night seem rather ambivalent about the success of their arguably most famous song.

23:50 "The counter-revolution of neotraditional country." Another possible example of the reactionary impulse of Reagan America to the malaise of the 1970s perhaps? Certainly. Another possible piece of support to our overarching HMOTD theory that WKRP charts the crucial point at which the country went from Carter to Reagan? MAYBE.

24:25 "I had to... make sure that Hoyt Axton was not the same person as Jim Stafford, or Roger Miller, or Roy Clark." Jim Stafford is the comedic country star who starred in the MST3K episode "Riding With Death." Roger Miller was King of the Road and yes, Alan-a-Dale in Disney's Robin Hood. Roy Clark was the host of Hee-Haw and that's all we'll say about that.

24:50 "I grew up in North Alabama back in the 1970s..." I mentioned "The Three Great Alabama Icons" in Monday's blog postSouthern Rock Opera, Drive-by Truckers. Seriously, give it a listen today.

27:22 "When I was in high school..."  [Jeff:] I related this anecdote expecting it to end up on the cutting room floor, alongside the description of a town called Evening Shade.  However Rob and Mike thought it was funny, so, sorry ASMS Class of 1997.

29:05 "Bubba didn't have an ironic bone in his body." [Rob:] I would also like a ruling on how offensive this was.

29:40 "Billy Carter threw up on Prince Sihanouk." From the "Tornado" episode. We couldn't find a place for it there, but boy, it fits in right here. This humorous fake news item also very eerily prefigures the moment of downfall of the first Bush presidency: the moment where George H.W. Bush vomited at a Japanese state dinner.

31:10 "He's such a little... skinny... tiny... half-man." Now you guys know why we wanted Jeff as a guest host on the podcast.

34:20 "There was a poll, who was your favorite Friend?" Yes, here it is. Also check my comment in the comment section where I ask the Gif Oracle to "gif me the most unlikable paleontologist in new york."

36:15 "Oh Agent Starling, you think you can dissect me with this blunt little tool?" Whew. What can I say about Thomas Harris? His rehabilitation began with the surprising revelation that David Foster Wallace was teaching him in his writing classes. I think that 50 years from now, he'll be considered a writer of the Southern Gothic at the level of a William Faulkner or Flannery O'Connor or Truman Capote or Tennessee Williams. Harris writes cops well, and Southern cops well, and understands the ins and outs of Southern culture in this New South moment in the late 70s/early 80s. Red Dragon, an artifact of this WKRP period, is well worth a read and also well worth a critical re-appraisal. The entire novel, with the exception of a sojourn in Chicago at Freddy Lounds's National Tattler (see? late 70s/early 80s tabloids, another hobby horse of mine!), occurs in Southern or border states, including the memorable flashback coda at Shiloh. The Hannibal Lecter of the books is a witty observer of the cornpone authority figures he has to deal with in his captivity, to the extent that I cannot imagine TV Hannibal, the Dane Mads Mikkelsen, being able to deliver these lines about Clarice's West Virginia roots with the arch irony and self-awareness that Anthony Hopkins did in this scene from Demme's The Silence of the Lambs. (I still like bull-necked Brian Cox's Hannibal "Lecktor" in Manhunter best, though.)

[Rob:] Nice choice of clip, Mike. Now I want somebody with a good Anthony Hopkins impression to redub that bit so he's talking to Jennifer: "While you could only dream of getting out, getting anywhere, getting all the way to W... K... R... P!"

37:15 "How hick became hip." CB radio. "Convoy." Li'l Abner. Barney Google and Snuffy Smith. The Beverly Hillbillies and the eventual largely-CBS Rural Purge. Deliverance. Smokey and the BanditThe Dukes of Hazzard, awfully timely lately, and its antecedent, the more brutal hixploitation movie Moonrunners. And the New South. The Rural Purge Wikipedia article also points me to a Roy Clark song called "The Lawrence Welk-Hee Haw Counter-Revolution Polka," which pretty much squares the circle of the first ten episodes of Hold My Order, Terrible Dresser in one song.

[Rob:] Mike's thoughtful Monday post already explained how this podcast was recorded before the heinous murders in Charleston, South Carolina triggered some overdue conversations about the Confederate Battle Flag. By no means the least surreal part of that conversation was the spectacle of Bo Duke and ex-Congressman Ben "Cooter" Jones weighing in to defend the flag. Me, I go back to what I said in Episode 2, about "Les on a Ledge": when you're dealing with history, you have to handle the idea that Things Can Be Both. The Dukes of Hazzard was a silly, lovable kids TV show (even Ta-Nehisi Coates loved it), AND that flag is an irredeemable symbol of white supremacy and hate. Both.

40:58 "The South is this weird appendage..." [Jeff:] I'm pretty sure I lifted this insightful cultural analysis from Lewis Grizzard circa 1992. [Rob:] I thought you might be riffing on the historian Ed Ayers, who has observed (he can't be the only one) that the South is simultaneously held to be distinct from, and the most American part of, America.

41:35 "Here's all of the rich people making fun of all of the poor people." [Rob:] While I always enjoy a good dig at Andy, to me this is the line where Jeff totally earns his keep.

42:46 "Except over here in the corner there's the bit where they sing the theme from Rawhide." [Jeff:] Rolling rolling rolling... [Rob:] Talk about segregating country music from the rich American stew of which it is unquestionably a part. They literally perform that number in a cage! (Also, the Rawhide theme is really not country music. Hmph.)

[Mike:] But Jake and Elwood also play Tammy Wynette's "Stand By Your Man!" Which ends up winning the crowd over! Which gives me an excuse to link to the KLF's "Justified and Ancient" for no good reason.

45:15 "Is this the worst episode of WKRP?" This is really just a rhetorical question.

48:00 Gas leak episodes. Noted Community fan Jeff will surely get on me if I do not acknowledge that Season 4 of Community was commonly termed "the gas leak year."

1:02:58 "The kid is not into the music on WKRP." [Jeff:] My wife pointed out that Young Master Carlson turns off "Soul Man," a song that's part of the soul/R&B/rock/jazz black American tradition, in favor of the whitest music possible, John Phillip Sousa.  Which makes this gag even more problematic, yay!

1:04:45 "A tax is a terrible... hairy... liberal monster." Probably my favorite bit of this week's episode. Generation-X Demonic Republican Changelings in your crib! There's a book/movie/RPG to be written here, kind of an American version of Village of the Damned/The Midwich Cuckoos.

1:07:50 "You can't do that!! You cannot do that!" Rob here assiduously refuses to deploy the H-Bomb.

1 comment:

  1. Am I imagining it, or did you go the whole discussion and not compare Jennifer's story to Holly Golightly's? And here I was thinking "Fly Me To the Moon" was too on-the-nose for "Moonriver". Mind you, I don't thinking having the "Breakfast at Tiffany's" Episode is a common trope.