Monday, February 29, 2016

Dear HMOTD Forum...

We've got a very funny episode of the podcast coming up on Wednesday, taking a look at the special one-hour WKRP episode "Filthy Pictures" from near the end of WKRP's second season. Our guest host, Sean Davidson, brings a special perspective to WKRP's tale of illegally-purloined dirty photos of Jennifer Marlowe and the changes happening to the print pornography industry of the early '80s, which we won't reveal until you get to hear the episode.

But unrelated to tales of print smut and dirty pictures, we need YOU to provide us with fodder for our upcoming Season 2 review episode, where we'll be taking a look at Season 2 of WKRP, some of our highlights from this season of the podcast, some inevitable meta-conversations about what we've discovered this season, and an extra-expanded HMOTD Mail Vault segment!

Which is where we need your help! We've already gotten some great questions and comments on both our Facebook page and in response to our Twitter account, but if you have a question for the hosts about WKRP In Cincinnati, about any of the history topics we've covered, or just about the podcast, let us hear it! You can always reply here at the blog or send us a DM on Facebook or Twitter, but the best way to reach us is via our email:

We'll try to answer as many of these questions as we can in our Season 2 wrap-up, which will be airing on March 30 (our nearly-one year anniversary!).

Friday, February 19, 2016

Show Notes for HMOTD 023: Riverfront

0:00 News reports: This collage of news reports, gathered from various sources on YouTube, demonstrates how the Who concert disaster was national (and global) news. The second and third reports respectively are ITN News in Britain and John Chancellor on NBC. Watching and hearing these old news intros and reports was a real flashback.

2:00 "...and now the comedy stylings of Terry Maguire!" "Are you ready to laugh?" "Quiet, you awful man!"

3:50 The Who concert simulcast in 1982 on CityTV: Terry provided us with a link to the interview of the band during that simulcast. I can't see it in the States, so that's some guaranteed Canadian content for y'all. Also, one of the very few bright spots of my year in Toronto for grad school was getting to know the history of, yes, the indeed great CityTV, Moses Znaimer, Speakers' Corner, and MuchMusic. (Also, obligatory link to Retrontario, a fantastic set of videos and ephemera from 1970s-1990s Ontario media). And let us not forget: anyone who wants to get me a Civic TV t-shirt (3XL pls) is welcome to do so. Civic TV... the one you take to bed with you!

9:00 et subseq. The story of the Who concert disaster: Leading up to the episode we all did a lot of research (mostly Rob and Terry, as you can probably hear). The best online textual version of events I've seen is this Rolling Stone story written in the immediate aftermath. Just a warning: it's a tough read.

11:40 Multi-purpose stadiums: Spectator safety is of course the most important concern in the building of these multi-purpose stadiums, but there are also long-standing aesthetic, player safety, and visitor-friendliness issues as well. There's only one true multi-purpose stadium left in the U.S.: the Oakland Coliseum.

12:43 WKRP taking on the disaster: The Wikipedia page on "In Concert" is a good précis of what Rob talks about here as far as the development of the episode.

14:40 Publicity stills of Gary Sandy and Gordon Jump: These can be found in our Monday post from this week. As we mentioned, one of the bars they visited was actually The Cricket, mentioned in "Put Up or Shut Up."

21:27 Not mentioning The Who: One of the things that this awkward first-half avoiding of the Who's name reminded me of is the fact that sports radio and TV commercials cannot mention the name of the Super Bowl if they are advertising something else. Unrelated to this WKRP episode, obviously, but the logistical loops that the writers had to take with this episode to avoid mentioning the Who are quite jarring.

23:10 The topic of the episode/TV Guide: I will look for a TV Guide for this week the next time I go to The Outer Limits to see if/how they mentioned the episode in promotions.

Edit: Our good friend Leah Biel saves me from dropping another $30 at The Outer Limits by sharing with us two articles about the lead-up to the airing of "In Concert" on her fantastic WKRP tumblr!

29:45 "I like it when people on TV hug." Rob channeling Todd Chavez and hearkening back to our Christmas episode with this quote. And the clip immediately following is of course the famous final episode of The Mary Tyler Moore Show.

31:00 Altamont and Gimme Shelter: Some great essays as usual on the Criterion Collection site for Gimme Shelter, including this one titled "Gimme Shelter: The True Adventures of Altamont" which begins with "The first words we hear are Sam Cutler’s: 'Everybody seems to be ready—are we ready?'" Ominous words.

33:03 Rise of stadium rock: This Wikipedia entry, while very short (and odd), has an intriguing and eclectic set of sources in the notes that describe the shift to big-money, big-venue tours in the mid-70s. Or, yeah, you could just watch Almost Famous.

33:45 Pete Townsend: He is very much an odd duck, as Rob says. This interview with Melvyn Bragg exposes a little of that fatigue we mention in this segment.

37:00 The Van Halen "no brown M&M" rider: Snopes confirms, with an image from the original rider, and here's The Smoking Gun's analysis and all 11 pages of "the Holy Grail [of rock riders]."

38:02 Spinal Tap's arrangements backstage: Come on, how could I avoid using this clip, my favorite scene from one of my favorite movies? And speaking of band safety and stagecraft... God bless you, Moke.

41:00 The Station Nightclub fire: Just another horrible story, 100 lives lost, hundreds more injured physically and scarred psychologically. An odd connection back to the Cincinnati area in the late 70s: the Station nightclub fire was the deadliest fire in America since 1977's Southgate, Kentucky Beverly Hills Supper Club fire. The over-capacity crowd was there that night to see singer and future That's Incredible! and Hollywood Squares host John Davidson.

43:48 John G. Fuller's Are the Kids All Right? John G. Fuller is my personal next Weird writer I'm going to dive into after my recent John Keel kick. If I can find any of his books. Here's a review of Are the Kids All Right? from Rolling Stone writer Robert Palmer in The New York Times.

46:24 "Disco bondage headgear": It's a good line. Sold by Jump and Hesseman and their respective body language and physical comedy, of course.

50:00 The Pretenders: Johnny plays a deep cut off of The Pretenders s/t debut (import) album, "The Wait."

52:11 "The Doctor's Daughter": This has to be the only WKRP episode that shares a title with a Doctor Who serial, right?

55:30 Laurie and Justin at Johnny's Apartment: We had to sadly cut a deep discussion on the posters in Johnny's apartment; all the character close-ups led to great shots of Johnny's decor. Some stuff we spotted: Jim Morrison, Janis Joplin, the poster from the legendary Fillmore gig where Frank Zappa and the Mothers opened for Lenny Bruce, and this Bob Dylan and Joan Baez poster, also from 1965, that was used as the cover for the book about Dylan, Baez, and good friend of Thomas Pynchon's/Gravity's Rainbow dedicatee Richard Fariña, Positively 4th Street. I get the feeling '65, '66 were good years for Johnny, but he's not the only Bay Area Silent Generation freak to think that way.

59:17 "...the kids are all right." I did pull a completely spontaneous unrehearsed St. Vincent-reacting-to-Harris-Wittels type reaction to Rob's unexpected Who reference here. "Oh!"

1:00:27 The Top 40 from February 23, 1980: Here's the Top 40 from the week this episode aired. As we mention, remarkably accurate with references to the Captain and Tennille and the Eagles! Even though this episode was likely taped weeks earlier.

1:03:37 Second-generation hippies: I thought this first-person piece about being a "second-generation hippie" was kind of interesting. I'd also point you to the short story collection at the beginning of Douglas Coupland's Polaroids from the Dead.

1:06:05 The Commitments: Do you know how impossible it is to find the lovely little 1991 movie The Commitments on streaming? Don't ask how I eventually found the clip. Definitely one of my favorite repeat VHS rentals from my undergrad years.

1:08:35 "Justin says tubing is wheeeeeeere it's at." So hard to listen to. Bleh. I'm not sure which set of overdubs are worse, Laurie's or Andy's. I hate the fuckin' Eagles, though.

(Many thanks to Terry Maguire for help with many of the links for this set of Show Notes. Outstanding research work for this episode, Terry.)

Wednesday, February 17, 2016

HMOTD 023: Riverfront

With the help of special guest Terry Maguire, Rob and Mike look at WKRP's episode about the Who concert disaster at Riverfront Coliseum in Cincinnati, "In Concert," and also get to know "The Doctor's Daughter."

(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, February 15, 2016

Cincinnati's a good town.

The creators, writers, cast and crew of WKRP in Cincinnati took on a monumental task when they decided to do an episode about the December 1979 disaster at the Who concert at Riverfront Coliseum. And honestly, it wasn't strictly necessary for them to do it. But WKRP writer Steve Kampmann thought it would be irresponsible not to, given the show's close connection to both the world of rock 'n' roll and to Cincinnati, Ohio.

In our upcoming episode, dropping on Wednesday, we talk a little bit about how television shows reinforce and represent civic pride for cities outside of the media hubs of New York and L.A. We talk a little about Cheers and Boston, and of course there are lots of other examples. But WKRP does its best, even in episodes which aren't so dramatic and serious, to make you feel like the show is steeped in Cincinnati.

We mention in Wednesday's episode how some members of the cast and crew visited Cincinnati in the lead-up to WKRP's debut, and how there were some promotional photos taken. One of them actually is taken at "The Cricket," which Herb mentions back in "Put Up or Shut Up"! These little touches and nods gave WKRP a lot of goodwill with the people of Cincinnati, which allowed them to do this dual tribute to the victims of the disaster/call for the cities of the United States to ban festival seating.

These great photos below come from a slideshow from the Cincinnati Enquirer, celebrating the 37th anniversary of the debut of the show. Check out the slideshow here, but we've grabbed the Cincinnati-relevant ones below.

You guys remember this amusement park from The Brady Bunch, right?

Friday, February 5, 2016

Show Notes for HMOTD 022: They Never Sent Me a Carter

1:20 "Hold me closer, tiny dancer": We searched high and low online for a syndicated version of "The Americanization of Ivan" with "hold my order, terrible dresser" still intact and couldn't find one (many thanks to Friend of the Podcast Leah Biel for helping out in the search). Ironically, the longtime desire among fans for the "good" broadcast versions of WKRP episodes has led to the "bad" versions disappearing down the internet memory hole. This leads me to some thoughts on the ephemerality of "disposable" television history, but I'll maybe save those for another time.

Also, when Ivan asks if Cleveland is a fun place, all I could think of is CLEVELAND! (NSFW)

3:55 The Kitchen Debate: Here's the Wikipedia page on the Kitchen Debate. 1959, such a crucial year in the postwar competition of ideas and visions of the future between East and West. The progressive technocratic-consumerist impulse that Fred Turner talks about in the second half his remarkable book The Democratic Surround comes to its fullest flower in the late 50s and in America's attempt through the United States Information Agency to export its vision of the future through trade fairs, modern art, and other cultural artifacts.

4:15 Andy Travis, Aspiring CIA Agent: If Les Nessman is our George Smiley in "The Americanization of Ivan," Andy is definitely our Ricki Tarr.

5:25 "They never sent me a Carter." The reaction this joke gets is just tremendous. Only in the first quarter of 1980, am I right? There was really no other choice for a title for this podcast episode. Like many of my favorite HMOTD episode titles, i.e., "What Do You Want, the World?" being about both Herb and his dip (no chips) AND about 1970s men's reaction to Lucille Tarlek's brand of feminism, it works on two levels. They never sent nuclear-fear-paralyzed 1980s Mike a Carter, either.

7:30 "...we'll get to them." Rob's perfectly-timed pause after talking about "an icepick in the back of his brain from Felicity and Character Actress Margo Martindale" has made me crack up every time I have listened to this episode.

8:00 Famous defectors: Ooooh, Wikipedia somewhat confirms my off-the-cuff thesis! I'm not going to plug this table into Excel and try to make a graph, but I definitely see a trend, when I sort by date, of military and intelligence defectors pre-1970 and artists and athletes post-1970.

10:05 Top Secret/Ernő Rubik/Rubik the Amazing Cube Saves Christmas: Three quick hits here: 1) That Top Secret module was "Operation Fastpass," published in 1983. I remember Top Secret being more Ian Fleming than John le Carré, but that may have been because I was 12 when I was playing and my espionage fandom was not as sophisticated. 2) Ernő Rubik is an interesting dude and the story of the cube's "defection" even more so! I wonder what sorts of Russia House-style KGB/CIA shenanigans were happening behind the scenes of those 1979/1980 toy fairs! 3) If you really want to watch Rubik the Amazing Cube save Christmas, here you go. Rubik fix. Rubik fix EVERYTHING.

[Rob: Actually, I think the earliest Top Secret adventures are as much Gary Gygax as Ian Fleming - not that Gygax wrote Top Secret, but you can see them struggling to break out of the dungeon format: lots of 20'x20' rooms with 1d6 KGB goons. But then there was a brief period when the production values got really good: I loved "Orient Express."]

11:06 "Let's ask Wikipedia!" We wanted to adhere so closely to the late Cold War period while recording this episode that we decided to use an acoustic modem with coupler for all our Internet access throughout this episode, lent to us graciously by our buddy in Seattle, David Lightman.

13:20 The Soviet Invasion of Afghanistan: A fascinating and horrifying conflict, one that haunted the edges of my own childhood on the nightly network news. Reading this Wikipedia page revealed a bunch of stuff I didn't know, including the death of a U.S. Ambassador in a rescue attempt from a kidnapping by a Communist Afghan faction.

16:50 "What Fits Into Russia?" Dave Thomas kills me in this sketch. "Capitalist convicts and kangaroos," Jesus.

[Rob: Hee. Dave Thomas' signature talent is shouting in a vaguely foreign accent: What Fits into Russia, Lin Ye Tang, angry Bob Hope... (and Doug McKenzie I guess?)]

18:55 Elton John's tour of the Soviet Union: Here's a quick look at Elton John's 1979 tour. WKRP again with their fingers on the pulse of what was current in rock 'n' roll.

20:25 Rock and roll behind the Iron Curtain: My favorite type of Wikipedia article is one that surveys a whole bunch of stuff and puts it under a non-encyclopedia type heading. To wit: "Rock and roll and the fall of Communism." Here's an interesting article about the CIA possibly inspiring underground rockers in the waning days of the Soviet Union. The Velvet Revolution. Atlas Obscura's piece on the Bone LPs is here, and an article on the "stilyagi," one of the Russian music subcultures we mention. And while there's very little on the web specifically about Pere Ubu's David Thomas visit to Siberia in 1990, just a little Googling led to a bunch of interviews (warning: PDF) where he talks about geography, music, and culture that left me with a profoundly hauntological feeling.

24:05 The Day After/Testament/Threads: The Day After and Testament were both released in November 1983. Just reading the plot description of Testament now, at age 40, more than 30 years after I first watched it, just... well, it turns my stomach. It hits me on a deep, dread-evoking level that I can't even try to give voice to.

Threads aired in 1984 and of course gave voice to a whole other set of nuclear concerns for the UK, given the Trident missile controversy raging in the UK in the 1980s.

[Rob: Something we could've discussed, but didn't get to: Ronald Reagan watched and was quite affected by, The Day After. "It's very effective and left me greatly depressed," he wrote in his diary after seeing it. "Whether it will be of help to the 'anti-nukes' or not, I can't say. My own reaction was one of having to do all we can to have a deterrent & to see there is never a nuclear war."]

26:10 Samantha Smith: She was sort of a secular saint, especially in New England where I grew up. I would love to see The Americans cover this series of events on the show eventually.

27:40 Cosmos, "Who Speaks for Earth?" The nuclear winter theory was Carl Sagan's hobbyhorse at this time and while it did not end up being the climate event that humanity had to fear in the 21st century, it does demonstrate Sagan's heartfelt dedication to peace and disarmament.

28:00 WarGames: I really want to rewatch WarGames with all the knowledge of the Cold War defense and computer sectors I have as an adult now. Who is Falken modeled on, by the way? The Wikipedia page says Stephen Hawking, which doesn't seem to line up to me as far as computer science goes. Here's a piece of way-out-there trivia: the writers wanted John Lennon to play the role of Stephen Falken (!!!).

[Rob: Reagan was also much impressed by WarGames. After seeing it (on opening night!) he interrupted a meeting of his national security advisers to ask if anyone had seen the movie. Nobody else had, so he spent the next ten minutes describing it in detail, then asking if it could really happen. This sparked the U.S. government's first serious engagement with cybersecurity. For more, see this article by Stephanie Schulte and this recent NYT piece--which really should give some credit to Schulte.]

[Edited to add: Mike saw that piece and a fine set of tweets resulted:

30:50 Superman IV: I just want to use this very flimsy excuse of a reference to Superman IV: The Quest for Peace to tell all of you to rush to Netflix right now and watch Electric Boogaloo: The Wild Untold Story of Cannon Films. Golan-Globus forever!

40:45 "The Trouble with Tribbles": Man, do NOT insult the Enterprise when Scotty is around, you dumb Klingon!

41:18 Michael Pataki: Here's Michael Pataki in Star Trek, Rocky IV, and check out the Phyl and Mykhi credits here. Man, those chyrons. Pretty shaky, CBS. Here's Jaime Weinman's great obituary for both Michael Pataki and the character actor guest star.

45:55 "Nikita": Here's "The Girl in the Video," and Anya Major in the iconic Ridley Scott-directed 1984 commercial for Macintosh. And here's a quick Cold War music video hitlist: "Nikita," "Russians," "99 Luftbalons," "Breathing," "Games Without Frontiers" (used expertly on The Americans), and "Two Tribes." And we never got to mention Chess! Tsk. I get my kicks above the waistline, sunshine.

(I'd be remiss if I didn't plug my own vaporwave remix/reimagining of the Rocky IV training montage music (lots of Michael Pataki in those clips of Drago training, btw) by the immortal Vince DiCola. And "Burning Heart" features the quintessential Cold War lyric: "Is it East versus West/Or man against man?" Survivor, always posing the eternal questions.)

50:05 WKRP on The Americans: It's in the Season 2 premiere "Comrades," and Henry, Paige, and their babysitter are watching the Season 4 WKRP episode "Pills."

55:58 "Looks like Star Trek." Les was right! The two loungers are in the exact same positions as Sulu's and Chekov's chairs! And as I went through the scene after Darlene redecorates, those posters she put up (you can see one or two of them in the image above) definitely have a New Age/motivational appearance to them.

57:22 Play Misty For Me: One thing this podcast has done is made me fall in love with the over-the-top-ness of 1970s film trailers. Play Misty For Me was indeed Clint Eastwood's directorial debut. The crazed stalker is played by your favorite sitcom grandmatriarch, Lucille Bluth/Malory Archer herself, Jessica Walter! And that voice over is actually NOT Orson Welles, as much as it sounds like him (and as much as you might imagine Orson relegated to doing v/o for film trailers in 1970). It's actually legendary cartoon voice artist Paul Frees, arguably doing his Orson impression. He was the Maurice LaMarche of the 1960s and 70s! Let's not even mention Frees's centrality to the Rankin-Bassiverse.

"You're not dumping me, Buster Blue-Eyes!" "Get off my back, Evelyn!" Wow.

1:01:05: Les's walls: I love Herb's "ohoooo yeah" here. Reminds me of "Les is my best friend, I'm gonna help him!" from "Les on a Ledge."

1:02:52 "Laser Show": Fountains of Wayne! I really dug their early stuff, like "Radiation Vibe," but in the "Stacy's Mom" phase, I kinda tuned out. Also again: sorry, Nicole.

[Rob: The first three songs on Welcome Interstate Managers are the zenith of 1990s-2000s power pop, never to be rivaled.]

1:04:30 The Wolfman: More Hilarious House of Frightenstein content for you Ontarians.

1:08:15 "Sometimes a Fantasy": I'm secretly planning to work sequentially through the entirety of the track listing of Glass Houses at the end of the next 8 podcast episodes, but DON'T TELL ROB, everyone. Your Billy Joel-related challenge this week is to watch the 3 minutes and 50 seconds of the video for "Sometimes a Fantasy" (where Billy Joel's embodied, bearded id impels him to place an obscene phone call to his ex-girlfriend) without cracking a smile. Oh, Billy Joel. You are invulnerable to derision and irony. (brb making a gif of bearded Billy Joel nodding sensually/creepily in approval).

[Rob: Aaugh! /charlie brown]

Wednesday, February 3, 2016

HMOTD 022: They Never Sent Me a Carter

It's a Cold War pop culture bonanza as Mike & Rob look at "The Americanization of Ivan," and experience a fatal attraction (fatal for Les's walls, anyway) in the psychological thriller "Les's Groupie."

(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, February 1, 2016

I hope the Russians love their children too. We begin bombing in five minutes.

In HMOTD 013: Mike & Rob's Review, Part 2, Rob and I talked a little bit about how the podcast had changed, mutated, if you will, over the course of the first season. We knew from the very beginning this was going to be a "deep dive, history-nerd" podcast, but in the middle of the first season we slyly dropped the "rewatch" bit from our self-description. So many of you early adopters, folks who'd never even watched WKRP, asserted your surprise that you didn't need to have watched WKRP to enjoy the podcast. And that's great! We definitely want as many people as possible to enjoy both the podcast and perhaps be intrigued enough to watch WKRP for the first time. Our digressions into the politics of the WKRP period, the pop culture surrounding the show and its era, and the overall historical context entertained lots of you and proved a very deep well to draw from.

What we're discovering is that some episodes of the podcast are going to be like HMOTD 021: Huggable Herb last week, or even like HMOTD 015: Don't Hit It To Me, where we have lots of material to dive into about the show itself and its characters. Rob and I both have a lot of love for these characters, quirks and all, and looking at them 30+ years later with the benefit of maturity, experience, and a tiny bit of psychoanalysis has been fun. Some podcast episodes do lean more WKRP-heavy, and we enjoy those immensely.

But then we get a podcast episode like this week's.

There is absolutely nothing wrong with either "The Americanization of Ivan" or "Les's Groupie." They're both fairly solid episodes of WKRP. But they both offer much more grist for our pop culture and history mills. Especially "The Americanization of Ivan."

By now you've heard our story about the naming of our podcast; we wanted a piece of obscure WKRP-iana that would immediately make all the 'KRP superfans nod sagely and go "ohhh, I get it" while bewildering and befuddling everyone else, presumably into taking a flyer on the podcast. "Hold my order, terrible dresser" is such a piece of inside baseball about the checkered history of WKRP in syndication that it thrilled Rob and me to deploy it as our title. But we also had fond memories of this Season 2 episode itself, a quirky little quasi-espionage tale of Ivan Popasonaviski and his desire to defect to the West, embodied in the persons of Bailey Quarters and Elton John.

What was funny was how immediately and deeply "The Americanization of Ivan" tapped into Rob's and my very vivid (and sometimes even traumatic) memories of growing up in the midst of the peak of the second "heating up" of the Cold War in Ronald Reagan's first term. Endless scares about the realities of nuclear war, the citing of the Soviet Union as "the evil empire," the good vs. evil narrative that was central to so much American pop culture in the 1980s... granted, all that tension and fear and strife is a few years distant in 1980 when this fairly quaint little tale of defection aired.

But again, isn't that itself one of the theses of our podcast? In 1980, battered and bruised by numerous foreign policy embarrassments and the open provocation of the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan, Jimmy Carter (who also shows up in a funny way in "The Americanization of Ivan," more by his absence than presence) was dealing with an America that desired domestic economic tranquility and a new-found respect (or maybe more accurately bluster) on the world stage. And America would get that wish, for good and for ill, in about 10 months' time.

So I hope you'll indulge Rob and me as we explain what it was like to grow up in that last gasp of superpower-related nuclear terror, as this week we both ask why "They Never Sent Me a Carter."