Friday, October 30, 2015

Show Notes for HMOTD 015: Don't Hit It To Me

0:00 So an interesting thing happened over the course of recording, editing, and doing the Show Notes for this episode: I think I like "Baseball" less and "Bad Risk" MORE now. Again, analyze any piece of media for long enough and hidden gems will start to emerge. I still connect with "Baseball" on a visceral level, but I see Rob's critique, especially compared to other great baseball episodes (we had to cut a bit on Star Trek: Deep Space Nine's "Take Me Out to the Holosuite," which comes in a close second to "Homer At The Bat" among baseball episodes for me). And "Bad Risk" actually has a lot of really strong bits, and while I would argue it is still a bit weird structurally and thematically, it's better than I initially gave it credit for.

1:22 "It's extremely basic." Rob and I have discovered that disagreement makes for good radio podcast, and while we're not quite at the "Mike, you ignorant slut" level yet, I would humbly offer that our disagreements on both "Hoodlum Rock" and "Baseball" have made for some of our best episodes.

3:50 "It's a fashion show...": Might as well link to a shot of the team in their pre-game huddle.

5:10 "Because you're the most wholesome!": We had to cut a bit about Les citing Bailey as "the most wholesome" and how it jibes with our "Les Nessman, secret swinger" thesis. More on this later.

5:40 The Scorecard: I gave it a shot. Click here to embiggen.

So a few things here; for a game that was likely cobbled together from footage, it's remarkably plausible. The lineup and position switches all work out. A few notes. 1) I can't figure out how Bucky drove in a single run in the fourth inning. The final line score, seen here, seems to indicate that however Bucky got the rally going, it was in the fourth. For him to have gotten an at-bat in the fourth, WKRP would have had to have gotten a lot of hits in the second and third. It's possible, but not probable. 2) The first, fifth, and seventh innings are kosher, though. We see them basically in their entireties. WKRP bats around in the fifth, with Les killing the rally, and then Carlson, Fever, Quarters and Flytrap get up in the sixth to let Marlowe lead off the seventh. 3) I decided to score Moose's inside-the-park home run as a home run and not a four-base error because damn it, the Big Guy deserves it.

I feel a little embarrassed to have spent this much time on this.

8:15 "Don't you think you've had one too many?" "Absolutely." I wish there was more Bucky Dornster in WKRP, but maybe that's why he's such a great character. Small bits. This is the last time we'll see Bucky; he's only in "Hold Up" and "Baseball." Thanks, Bill Dial. You made me smile more than should be possible with about three minutes of combined screen time.

10:08 "If I can psychoanalyze you a little..." Hey, turnabout's fair play, we do it to Les later.

10:48 Grantland Rice: When we think of flowery, epic-poetry level sports prose, we're really thinking of the tradition founded by Grantland Rice, which is obviously a legacy still felt today.

14:45 The Python Barber Sketch: If you're not someone who's memorized Monty Python sketches (and really, how much more of a Freaks and Geeks-type confession could that be), the gag here is that Michael Palin's barber is a homicidal maniac who is afraid he's going to kill his customer and he plays an audio tape of him cutting the customer's hair. Which, of course, somehow leads to the classic Lumberjack Song.

15:57 Carlin's Baseball/Football Routine: I wonder if you could chart how football replaced baseball as the national pasttime by how crowds reacted to the lines in Carlin's classic baseball/football bit. This recording is from the period of the First Gulf War, which I think says it all about the crowd's reaction.

17:47: "There's a lot of time to sit and think..." While baseball's leisurely pace undoubtedly leads to a lot of great baseball prose, it also leads to the dead air that leads to all kinds of random factoids being talked about between pitches and batters.

I should add that it's not impossible to write poetry about basketball; my uncle, noted poet Michael Sweeney, does just that in his collection In Memory of the Fast Break. His recollections of the 1960s Russell Celtics were some of my earliest encounters with poetry and undoubtedly colored both the way I look at sports and poetry. Thanks, Uncle Mike.

18:30 "The Sweet Science": The phrase comes from way back in the early 19th century. Interesting story about how sportswriter A.J. Liebling brought it back in the middle of the 20th.

19:20 The Python Cricket Sketch: I think I might subconsciously be trying to prove my geek bona fides in this sports-centric episode by pulling off the elusive double Python clip inclusion. I wonder if subconsciously I am using this many Python clips because the time period I discovered Python (junior high) was also the time period of my greatest athletic embarrassments in gym class.

20:10 "Baseball emerges in... 19th century New York": You can do worse than watching the entire 18+ hours of Ken Burns's Baseball. I'm not so much of a hipster contrarian to admit that he did a fantastic job with this series. Episode 1 gives you the true, urban origins of the game. As my British wife slowly became a baseball fan over the course of the Boston Red Sox's 2007 World Series run, we watched the miniseries and it gave her a fantastic grounding in the history of baseball.

26:05 Moose Carlson: Moose Carlson is very obviously flouting the unwritten rules of baseball here. There's been a lot of discussion in the past few years about showboating, bat flipping, and the so-called "unwritten rules of baseball," but since Moose's leisurely promenade around the bases could be considered payback for Clark Callahan's calling in the fielders, I suppose the Big Guy is justified. But still, Moose, pick up the pace!

28:30 Clark Callahan/Ross Bickell: I want a ruling on the deep psychology of Ross Bickell a) having to watch his real-life wife tease all the members of the WPIG team and having to act angry about them getting distracted and b) the aforementioned sub rosa flirtation developing between Loni and Gary.

29:40 Homer at the Bat: Ozzie Smith falling through the dimensional vortex at the center of the Springfield Mystery Spot is honestly the funniest four seconds in the history of television and I will brook no argument or contradiction on this.

Here's a detailed, loving oral history of the episode, where I grabbed most of the factoids about this Simpsons classic.

Also, happy trails Don Mattingly. Now trim those sideburns, you hippie.

31:48 The Diary (Freaks and Geeks): Rewatching this episode for the podcast was such a treat. As Rob mentions, that sequence where all the geeks get picked last, all soundtracked to XTC's "No Language in Our Lungs," is yes, extremely painful to watch. But yeah, Martin Starr kills it in this episode, especially the prank calls. Oh, and Coach Fredericks is watching What's Happening!! in that clip. Also, Biff Tannen wishes you a happy Belated Marty McFly Day! Make Hill Valley Great Again!

36:00 "Herb Tarlek is selling life insurance!" I want to commend Rob for his prescient choice in our live radio set from a few weeks back of the Knack's "Good Girls Don't," which actually does get played in this scene where Johnny and Venus are hiding from Les.

40:00 "It was The Monster Who Sold Life Insurance-insurance-insurance!!" More fodder for my Venus as scholar of pop culture thesis! He loves old '50s monster movies! Also, check out them playing another snippet of great music, the Rolling Stones' "Bitch."

46:15 Network: I recently finished a great book: Mad as Hell: The Making of Network and the Fateful Vision of the Angriest Man in Movies by Dave Itzkoff. We're going to have more, much more to say about Network as the podcast unfolds, including at least one more time this season; it's impossible to see television in the late '70s in the aftermath of Paddy Chayefsky's masterful satire without considering its impact on the pop culture of the time.

50:40 Apologetics/Les having Borderline/Histrionic/Narcissistic Personality Disorder: The cluster of personality disorders in the DSM-5 in "Cluster B" all seem to apply in one sense or another to Les Nessman, with maybe the exception of Antisocial. I cited Borderline and Histrionic in the podcast, but Rob is right; there is a healthy dose of narcissism in there too. And again, we are speaking of Les Nessman, not ourselves.

55:00 Conspiracy theorists: Here's a great article on the psychology of conspiracy theorists, and yet another, which appeared just this week and despite the title is less about psychology and more about the social conditions (i.e., "perceived power imbalances," *coff*late 70s*coff*) that lead to conspiracy theorizing. Some good links in that article, though.

56:50 "You drove all the way over there, and Charlie wasn't there?" This is definitely a drug deal, guys. But it's also an example... of a trope! Also, I mentioned the "So I says to Mabel, I says" line from The Simpsons, which people have been puzzling over for years.

58:20 "One that has been featured on 60 Minutes... twice!" Friend of the podcast Leah Biel reminded us after HMOTD 014 that the Point/Counterpoint bit from SNL was an explicit reference to 60 Minutes's popular liberal/conservative head-to-head feature. And of course, Airplane! used the actual Point/Counterpoint folks (James J. Kilpatrick and an off-screen Shana Alexander) in a cameo. "I say, let 'em crash!"

We end the podcast with a bit of the classic SNL sketch from the Christopher Guest/Harry Shearer/Billy Crystal/Martin Short era, the Minkman Toys/60 Minutes sketch. Martin Short has literally never been better.

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