Wednesday, November 30, 2016

HMOTD 033: Gotta Dance!

Mike and Rob shake their booties on the disco dance floor with the return of fan-favorite guest host Jeff Wikstrom and WKRP's "Dr. Fever and Mr. Tide."
(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, November 28, 2016

Burn, Baby, Burn

Rob and I have often said we've been putting off and putting off the "rock vs. disco" discussion until we finally came to the hour-long WKRP episode "Dr. Fever and Mr. Tide." Well, it's finally come around, and dare I say, its timing is somewhat fitting.

When "Dr. Fever and Mr. Tide" aired in February 1981, disco was allegedly "dead." Lots of our favorite media have made hay from people cluelessly clinging to disco far beyond its expiration date: take Joel Hodgson's mall disco DJ in Freaks and Geeks' classic episode "Discos and Dragons," The Simpsons' Disco Stu, or perhaps Whit Stillman's underrated The Last Days of Disco. Whatever the case, "Dr. Fever and Mr. Tide" did arrive a tiny bit late to take full advantage of the "Disco Sucks!" movement. Still, the scars and wounds from that late-1970s war were still fresh, and if anything were more evident as America entered the Reagan era in earnest.

Disco's death spiral either started or culminated, depending on who you ask, at Disco Demolition Night at Comiskey Park in July 1979. We talk about the event on this week's episode and about the "Disco Sucks!" movement's not-so-hidden undercurrents of race, class, and gender resentment. Our special return guest host this week, Jeff Wikstrom, made us aware of this intriguing piece written by Arthur Chu a couple of years ago: "Of Gamers, Gates, and Disco Demolition: The Roots of Reactionary Rage." In it, Chu makes some direct comparisons between the inchoate rage of white males during the height of Gamergate in 2014 and the dark, phobic urges channeled by local Chicago DJ Steve Dahl in his promotional event destroying hundreds of disco LPs at Comiskey Park in 1979.

What I find interesting about Chu's now-obviously prophetic piece is how Gamergate preceded the election of 2016 by very close to the same amount of time as Disco Demolition preceded the 1980 election.

Was Gamergate the canary in the coal mine for Trumpism the same way Disco Demolition presaged the Reagan Revolution? As historians are fond of saying, history doesn't repeat itself, but it does rhyme. Sure, the malaise of Carter's America triggered a white working-class rage in the same way that the economic upheaval of the postindustrial 2010s pushed traditionally Democratic strongholds like Pennsylvania, Michigan, and Wisconsin into the Republican column this time around... but let's be clear: so did sexism. So did racism. So did homophobia. The same stew of impulses behind seemingly harmless pop culture phenomena like "Disco Sucks!" and Gamergate led to an electoral upheaval a handful of months later.

Pop culture and mass media are battlefields upon which the culture wars and indeed politics are always fought. The artifacts of culture that emerge from a point in history are both reflection of and roadmap for where that society is going. Issues of authenticity, anti-commercialism, and even a form of populist anti-capitalism were at the roots of the 1979 rock fan's impulses to defame disco, as we discuss in Wednesday's episode. Is it too outrageous to posit that Reagan's cowboy rebellion (against perceived liberal power structures in post-Watergate Washington and among the mainstream press) received its startling support in the 1980 election as an outgrowth of this sort of worldview?

I'd argue these same exact impulses of distrust of authority, the same urges for rebellion against nebulous powers-that-be, were at the center of Gamergate. Defamation and distrust of the major sources for video game journalism echo and presage the Trumpist distrust of neoliberal elites in the press, globalist corporations, and pop culture. And once again, that angry, young white male rebellion is co-opted, twisted, and compromised to further entrench and support the true elites: right-wing politicians who support a capitalist status quo.

The push and pull of history, the desperate struggle for rights on the part of the oppressed is always invariably met by the forces of reaction. The openness and joy of disco's seeming decadence, its implicit appeal for sexual and racial unity on the dance floor, and its association with the burgeoning gay rights movement was as much a slap in the face to the 1980 reactionary as gay marriage, trans rights, and yes, women making video games (and their associated prominence in pop culture) are to the 2016 reactionary.

In the minds of these near-identical young white male reactionaries separated by more than a generation, when all around you is changing, speeding out of all perceived control, all that you can do to save yourself and preserve your personal symbols of identity and psychological security is to grab the emergency brake... no matter how exaggerated the perceived emergency is, or how many people will be thrown around and hurt by that lever being pulled.

While politics are obviously on our mind lately, Wednesday's episode is also full of the usual crackpot pop culture analysis you've come to expect from Hold My Order, especially when Jeff Wikstrom is in the guest chair. Also, forcing Rob to be a disco DJ for a whole episode proved an unexpected delight. So join us on Wednesday for the very funny (as well as timely) HMOTD 033: Gotta Dance!

Friday, November 18, 2016

Show Notes For HMOTD 032: Can You Teach Me About Magnets?

0:00 Clips and editing: A couple of quick notes on how we edited this episode. Much like our fantastic chat with Leah Biel earlier this season, we packed a lot into our two-plus hours of recording with Mandy. We erred on the side of including the social issues and history instead of going deep on the episodes themselves this time around. As such, we had to cut a lot of discussions about some of the great comedy in “Frog Story.” I’m hoping that some of these Show Notes will give you a window into what we cut.

Likewise, we felt it made more sense to give you more content and fewer clips in this episode of the podcast. So many of the clips from WKRP would’ve been served better by giving them another 45-60 seconds of runtime to breathe, but, as we just mentioned, we felt we had more important content in the form of the three of us talking. We’re going to link to clips as needed in these Show Notes (especially the entirety of “Venus Explains the Atom”) so hopefully you won’t miss these clips in the actual podcast episode too much.

1:55 Introducing Mandy Leetch: If you enjoyed this episode of Hold My Order, Terrible Dresser, definitely feel free to follow Mandy Leetch here on Facebook, especially if you're interested in ecopsychology, activism, and radical politics... all three of which we need right now more than ever.

9:40 ‘90s sitcom sets/Friends: Here are some photos from some ‘90s TV show sets. They do definitely look different from the 12th Precinct on Barney Miller, the Sunshine Cab Company from Taxi, and the bullpen of WKRP, am I right?

13:20 The podiatrist: One of the side-discussions that got cut is how well the podiatrist in the Flimm Building, Dr. Hunnisett, stole the show. He’s played by a gentleman by the name of Kenneth Tigar. His bit part performance was so good I just had to go to IMDB to see if he was from The Committee. He's not, but not only is he from around Mandy’s and my way (Chelsea, MA), but I bet most young folks/Marvel Cinematic Universe fans will recognize him as the Holocaust Survivor Who Stands Up to Loki in The Avengers. Quite timely.

17:30 Great introduction to these characters: Way back in our listener mail segment in Season 1, Leah Biel asked how I would get new viewers into WKRP. Well, I think I have my answer now. I agree with Mandy; “Frog Story” is a tremendous introduction to almost all the characters, with the possible exception of Venus and the Big Guy, and for that, you could maybe show people “Who Is Gordon Sims?” So there you go, boom. Two episodes guaranteed to demonstrate what WKRP can do, in terms of both comedy and drama.

18:50 Johnny’s B-plot, hypochondria: Again, one thing that had to go in our final edit was our discussion of Les’s tormenting of sickly Johnny, who’s looking “a little grayer than usual.” Les spends a lot of time medically testing Johnny (which leads to the classic one-liner, “What about your joints?” which delights both in terms of Howard Hesseman’s deadpan reaction and the studio audience’s raucous reaction to a drug reference) which leads to a diagnosis of “schistosomiasis,” which of course Johnny cannot instantly look up on the internet. Les’s joyful scamper away at the end of the episode finally lets us know that yes, Les does know more than he’s letting on and is fully capable of being a chaos figure all on his own.

20:00 It’s a useful site, guys.

20:30 C.S. Lewis: An intriguing letter in the C.S. Lewis collection of Letters to Children confronts the theological question posed by a nine-year-old American boy in the late ‘50s: “What if I love Aslan more than Jesus?” Lewis kept up a three-year correspondence with the boy (later a computer science professor) where he reassured him: “God knows all about the way a little boy’s imagination works (He made it, after all).”

21:00 How ecopsychology makes things personal: [Mandy: Here is an introduction to ecopsychology.]

25:30 A little bit of Jan Smithers: It seems a shame we did not highlight Jan Smithers’s real life environmental and ecopsychological connections in the episode, but if you are interested, please check out the 50-year anniversary follow-up that Newsweek did with their cover girl from 1966. Jan Smithers namechecks both Amma the Hugging Saint and environmental activist and scholar Vandana Shiva. (Please note: I misspoke in the episode when saying Smithers was a devotee of Transcendental Meditation; I was obviously confusing her with another ‘70s/’80s sitcom star who was a TM devotee, about whom Mandy’s written quite eloquently on my old blog, Renfusa.)

26:05 Death of a Fish: I’d never read Adam Gopnik’s “Death of a Fish” before Rob recommended it in the lead-up to this week’s episode, but it’s well worth your time. Touching and thought-provoking. And Alison Gopnik’s The Philosophical Baby, which was released in 2009, looks fascinating as well; there are some interesting outgrowths of her research featured in this article about the infant brain’s receptivity.

27:35 Two classroom stories: [Mandy: My 3rd grade teacher also read us Stone Fox, and her grandpa had just died and so when she got to the same part in the story, she broke down and the class had to finish doing the reading.]

32:28 “It is easier to identify with a completely different creature...” [Mandy: This one is my own construct, it's pulling from the intergroup conflict literature on otherization, depersonification, and dehumanization, and things like anthropomorphism and identification. It was first sparked for me in a course on mythology and literature and confirmed as I studied group dynamics, ecopsychology, etc.]

33:35 Ecology movement: Vague childhood memories of the “ecology movement” focus around how they intersected with my own childhood, and one place that happened: in board games. The board game Careers (which itself has an interesting history, having been invented by sociologist, conlang creator, and science fiction writer James Cooke Brown) was first released in the 1950s with period-appropriate careers for the time, but as new editions of the game came out, outdated careers were jettisoned and new ones emerged. In the 1970s version of the game that one of my friends had growing up, there was indeed an “ecologist” career.

33:52 The Incredible Shrinking Woman: Yeah, watching clips from this movie on YouTube led to an episode of media-related childhood flashback dread for me second only to Close Encounters of the Third Kind. The Incredible Shrinking Woman was written by Lily Tomlin’s longtime creative partner and now-wife Jane Wagner and if I do think too long about Lily Tomlin’s character slowly shrinking into nothingness in a puddle of bright blue detergent while singing goodbye to her family, I do start to get a little bit queasy. So as far as inculcating a knee-jerk revulsion for modern consumer capitalism in a tiny child goes... mission accomplished, Jane and Lily.

35:37 "Energy Warning": The sound here is from Scottish electronic duo Boards of Canada’s bricolage of a 1979 4-H PSA about energy conservation, called, appropriately, “Energy Warning.” I wrote about this track here at online magazine We Are The Mutants, where I’m a Contributing Editor. If you like HMOTD, I get a feeling you will enjoy some of the stuff we write about there. [/plug]

37:30 Greenpeace and the Nazca Lines: Just some really idiotic activity here from Greenpeace. It can be very disheartening when the people who believe in the right things so fervently go about trying to change people’s minds in the worst, most destructive way possible. (That may be meta moment #10 or 11 for these Show Notes.)

Also, my tongue-in-cheek reference to ancient aliens making the Nazca Lines should in no way diminish the genius of the actual Nazca culture who made these stunning and massive geoglyphs. Actually, We Are The Mutants will be featuring a piece quite soon on the racial destructiveness and not-so-hidden white supremacist origins of the ancient astronaut myth.

41:09 SSS Bob Barker, SSS Sam Simon: On the Sea Shepherd website, you can also find details on the SSS Steve Irwin and the SSS Brigitte Bardot. And if you’re a Simpsons (or Taxi!) fan, check out this heart-rending 2014 piece (written by comedian and former David Letterman collaborator Merrill Markoe) on Sam Simon facing his own mortality. Simon passed in March 2015.

43:05 Fear based environmentalism: Yes, the story about the Great Barrier Reef broke a little while before we recorded this episode and sent everyone into paroxysms of guilt, blame, and confusion, which proves Mandy’s point about fear-based environmentalism quite neatly.

44:52 "Venus and the Man": I will confess, I had several cringe moments not just in the first half of “Venus and the Man,” but in the very first scene with Cora. It all seemed a little too neat, a little too perfunctory, a little too stereotypical... tone-deaf, in the way a white writer might pose the issue of Arnold quitting school.

49:20 Frank’s Place: I really want to watch Frank’s Place after all this talk about it we’ve done over the course of HMOTD. I do remember watching a couple of episodes in first-run back in ‘87, but even with my excitement over Venus Flytrap as the star, the issues of black identity and the North vs. South, urban vs. rural dynamic were WAY too far above my 12-year-old head.

51:50 Keny Long: Keny Long, whom I do think did a fantastic job in a very tough, near-impossible situation in this episode, actually did go on to become a performing arts teacher! You can see him talking AIDS education here (AIDS hit the world of dance with immense destructive impact in the 1980s) and some comments from his students here. Strict but fair! Like Venus!

56:25: Conflict literature, implicit vs. explicit racism: [Mandy: All my intergroup resources are from the Oxford Handbook of Intergroup Conflict. Project Implicit’s bias tests are also a good resource.]

1:00:15: “It’s a stark contrast to the fear from the rest of the cast.” Yeah, the portrayal of Les's racial awareness throughout the series is fraught and complicated at best, but the place we came to in the course of this conversation, where we note that Les shows no fear and is friendly and outgoing... does bring me down on the side of "awkward but well-intentioned."

1:04:10 Survival vs. conquest: Not only is Venus's dichotomy in terms of his assignment of sex and education to each of these drives respectively quite clever and welcome, but purely just the very fact he separates the world into these two particular drives is genius. Survival and conquest both have to loom large in Arnold's present situation. Again, Venus customizes his message to the audience as best he can.

1:04:50 Tim and Tom in school: Definitely check out the Tim and Tom book, written by Reid and Dreesen with Ron Rapoport, Tim & Tom: An American Comedy in Black and White for more stories of both their comedy club and school education careers.

1:05:25 “I can give you the basics of the atom in two minutes.” So here’s a link to the best version of the Venus Explains the Atom scene I could find on YouTube. It’s worth watching if you’re not a WKRP fan. Again, some aspects are cringey, but the underlying message of bringing an abstract concept, cloaked in impenetrable jargon, down to earth culturally for a young black student, is amazing.

1:08:00 Making it relatable: And speaking of making the jargon relatable, what do people think of Venus’s sly elision of the origins of “nucleus” and “-tron” as being Swahili? It puts Arnold off-guard just enough to be receptive to the information, but Venus equivocates on it later. I am guessing that Venus didn’t want to be a liar to Arnold, so he told him the straight truth as they finished the lesson.

1:09:45 Johnny leads them back into the world of whiteness: Johnny as psychopomp again! But of course Johnny as spiritual figure, trickster figure, racially liminal figure, bridge between black and white with his love of 1950s rock and roll, is nothing new.

1:12:35 Teacher burnout in 3-5 years: [Mandy: So, this statistic is from over a decade ago (when I was doing my own teacher training); the new numbers are a bit different. It's hard to verify how the burnout numbers are going, but fewer people are becoming teachers in the first place (I am obviously a representative of that statistic).]

1:14:30 Humanitas Award: Here’s that page for the Humanitas Award winners. I note with interest that Frank’s Place won one in 1988.

1:16:00 Educational programming: Whoo boy. Our repeated discussions of TVOntario educational programming may be a bit self-indulgent, but really, the pull, the hold, the absolute power that PBS educational programming had over me, both domestically-produced and imported from Canada, as a youth cannot be adequately measured. You all know this is one of my major hobby horses, how heartbroken I was when Sesame Street went to HBO, how much I believe that Republicans’ crusade against PBS is probably at the root of a lot of the problems we’re having in this country right now... yeah, yeah, that may be fucking naive and simplistic but I really believe it. Without a public broadcaster with a mandate to educate without having to worry about the vagaries of the market and selling Tickle-Me-Elmos... we as a nation are lost. Lost. So I hope that you all won’t mind if I confess that I wept for a very long time as I went to YouTube to get the 3-2-1 Contact theme song, watched the opening credits, and considered what has happened to this country in the past week or so.

1:16:50 Mark Fowler: I hate to burst Rob’s bubble on the positives of his countryman Mark Fowler but it’s fairly likely that Fowler led the charge to break up the AT&T monopoly and eventually profited personally from it; after leaving the FCC, he was a communications lawyer and a VP at Bell South. (We should probably get used to these kinds of public servants in our government again.) Also, when I said he “tried” to repeal the Fairness Doctrine, I probably should’ve completed the story and said that he basically succeeded.

1:18:13 Strawberry Shortcake: Could a better tale of the Hinge Years be devised than the tale of Strawberry Shortcake? Mandy’s analysis is spot on: she was just an image on greeting cards in 1979, but the combination of deregulation and a red-hot toy market for the kids of the Baby Boomers in the 1980s led to the inevitable multimedia blitz. And like all those Hasbro characters, the fad burned out quickly.

1:20:55 “We do export our neo-cons.” I can only name David Frum, but I'm sure Rob knows some others. [Rob: I guess I was thinking of David Frum, with whom I had a nice dinner one time, and who is practically a bleeding-heart liberal by 2016 standards. But there's always Ted Cruz.]

Wednesday, November 16, 2016

HMOTD 032: Can You Teach Me About Magnets?

Rob and Mike are joined by special guest and ecopsychological pedagogy expert Mandy Leetch for two episodes of WKRP about teaching your children well: "Frog Story" and "Venus and the Man."

(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, November 14, 2016

I don't have it in me for a witty subject line, sorry.

In putting together this week's episode of Hold My Order, Terrible Dresser, which covers the touching tale of a spraypainted frog named Greenpeace in "Frog Story," and the story of Venus trying to help a black teenager stay in school in "Venus and the Man," I couldn't help but keep the results of last week's election close to hand.

How could I not? As I sat here editing discussions of environmentalism, raising your kids with compassion and care, and both the power of education and its flaws as it's currently constituted, all while simultaneously absorbing the results of the vote, I thought about my fellow citizens of the United States. And how we all have a stake in all these things: our planet's health, our children growing up safe and loved, able to learn and grow.

It's tough when you see the face of hate, of short-sightedness, of fear, staring right at you. When you see children all across America bullying other children because of where they came from, because of who they are. Those bullies had to learn it from someone, right? And you think of their parents, those parents who themselves have worries, distractions, concerns, all legitimate, that mutate under the economic duress that they're experiencing into blind bigotry, hatred, tribalism, anger... racism.

There was a somewhat mawkish sentiment expressed back during the Cold War, most notably by Sting, that "the Russians must love their children too." That we couldn't look at people as ideological enemies if we also saw them as human, as having humanity, as having families they loved and wanted the best for. I thought about that sentiment a lot while editing this episode.

Herb and Bunny are about as far apart from Cora and Arnold as possible, socio-economically. But the concerns they have are, essentially, identical.

Herb loves his daughter. But he accidentally spraypainted a frog belonging to a young girl who loves nature and the environment, and he has to deal with the consequences as best he can. He has to grow and realize he has to be honest with her about death. Because he loves her.

Cora has spent years working as the cleaning woman at a radio station with only one black employee in order to fund her son's college, and now he wants to quit school because he's making more money on the streets. But Cora can't abide it. She wants him to go to college. Because she loves him.

These stories are about the same thing. About our children, and the world we want them to inherit. And if we started from that frame of mind when talking to people very different from us? We might actually get somewhere.

I haven't felt too optimistic about the future of America the past few days. Doing this podcast had awakened me to a lot of the ways that we've lost something undefinable in this country; you've heard us talk about it a million times.

But today, everything feels lost. Every bedrock belief in American democracy and society, every myth of fair play and teamwork that I was told and then retold myself through my adult life, gone. But not in an instant. Not as a result of this election, but as a result of nearly four decades of very deliberate neglect. Our polity has now lost all of its safeguards for the powerless.

My only hope now is that someone, somewhere, will remind us that the people on the other side, whatever side that may be, also love their children, too. And that we heed that message before it's too late for America.

Friday, November 4, 2016

Show Notes for HMOTD 031: Pour Something Sticky All Over Me

0:00 Title of the episode: A little more behind-the-scenes here; as you may have read in other Show Notes, titling of the episodes largely falls to whomever edited them. We'll frequently bounce ideas off each other, but this week, when I got the file from Rob and saw the title, I guffawed out loud. This is your revenge for my not using "Disco Bondage Headgear" for the Riverfront episode, Rob, isn't it?

0:28 "Even smaller I'm afraid." Les's imitation of his mother's slow shrinking culminates in a great sight gag where he just barely peeks over his work desk at Herb (see above). It immediately reminded me of Killer BOB from Twin Peaks peeking from between the slats of Laura Palmer's bed, because I'm a big weirdo.

3:55 " so many of these Season 3 episodes seem to have." Let's do a quick Herb episode tally in Season 3: "Real Families," "Hotel Oceanview" and "A Mile In My Shoes" sorta add up to one total Herb episode, "The Painting," and later this season "Frog Story" and "Out To Lunch." That's 5 out of 22 episodes! If WKRP were a game of Primetime Adventures, I'd be calling GM favoritism. Herb's got a ton of 3's!

5:30 Provenance: Oooh, the fancy French pronunciation. But if you train in museums, you soon learn the paramount importance of knowing whose hands a piece of art, an object, or a cultural artifact has gone through. Given how much of museum collections were collected as part of plunder in wartime or as a benefit of colonization, repatriation is a very hot issue in museums in our ostensibly post-colonial period.

5:45 A summer breeze: As Bailey tells the guys in Andy's office about the painting's calming effects, "Breezin'" by George Benson, another huge smooth hit from the late '70s, is playing in the background.

6:45 Mansplaining: Here's a primer on the term, but ACTUALLY (ahem), I really want to get "Gen-Xplaining" trending. It's when you try to explain something to a millennial that they already understand quite well!

8:15 "Herb? So's your mother." Just about perfect. I kinda wish Bailey Quarters was on 2016 Twitter. If not in the White House.

9:13 "This thing is like a Mamet play." Talk about late 20th-century American capitalist masculinity in extremis; that's basically the entire canon of Mamet's dramatic output. Well, that and con artistry. Apropos of close to nothing, I'd like to see what a mature Frank Bonner could do with the role of Shelley "the Machine" Levene in Glengarry Glen Ross.

11:20/23:05 Constanza on Art/Analysis of The Kramer: Did your mid-'90s dorm room have a copy of The Kramer?

13:20 Tortured artists in Johnny's mind: My wife Jenny asks me to include Jean Genet in my listing of homosexual criminal artists. Which also allows me a Bowie reference as a bridge to link up to, yes, my wife's and my Velvet Goldmine podcast, The Whole Shebang, which is just chock full of artists who have been come to grips with their homosexuality if not gone to jail for it!

15:05 "...for selling Quaaludes." Back in the WKRP period, we are about to see the end of Quaalude sales in the U.S. in 1982, so get those Lemmons while you can, folks.

15:31 "...don't get me started on that, we'll be here all night!" A lot of Kids in the Hall content in this episode but really, can you ever have too much Kids in the Hall?

16:40 Bob Ross/Thomas Kinkade: Bob Ross passed away back in 1995, going to that great squirrel refuge in the sky. His paintings were often given away to local PBS stations for their pledge drives, but there is a Bob Ross Gallery in Florida where you can see some of his works.

Thomas Kinkade, the pre-eminent "Painter of Light" (that Turner guy was a hack), achieved fame with his "maudlin and sentimental" images that struck a chord in middle America. I'd forgotten that podcast favorite Joan Didion offered her own critique of Kinkade back in her 2003 Where I Was From. This article on Kinkade and the subprime mortgage crisis from The Baffler is also excellent, art (and social) criticism with real teeth.

18:50 Voice of Fire: Painted for Expo 67, it surprises me that anyone would think this isn't an important piece of cultural heritage for Canada. I could try to be cute here and say that while America was tearing itself apart in the '90s over stuff like Robert Mapplethorpe and Andres Serrano's Piss Christ, Canada was busying itself with a controversy over three stripes, and how perfectly Canadian that is... but I won't.

19:06 Exit Through the Gift Shop: Highly recommended. We had to cut a fairly lengthy discursion in this episode on the young angry British artists of the 1990s and how they became rich beyond anyone's wildest imaginings thanks to the interest of the moneyed elite for what are, in my opinion, pretty pedestrian pieces of conceptual art.

20:35 "That is not a primary concern for [millennials]:" More Gen-Xplaining! See kids, you may not know this, but it's really important for you to be concerned about sincerity vs. irony, and about authenticity in your life. In other words... "WELL ACTUALLY, you should probably read some David Foster Wallace."

22:18 Herbert Ruggles Tarlek III IV V: Thomas Pynchon himself had illustrious forebears who loom over his work; references to oddball nonconformist colonial-era ancestors appear in Gravity's Rainbow, among other places. This "Ruggles" question is definitely one of the questions I want to ask any WKRP writers or performers who might one day deign to let us interview them.

23:40 Secret history of black velvet paintings: Here's that fantastic longform Collectors Weekly article. Not gonna lie, I would TOTALLY buy that painting of Heaven's Gate cult leader Marshall Applewhite about a third of the way down the page.

28:20 The Big Guy and D&D: First of all, I want to give many sincere apologies to Jon Peterson for flubbing the title of his definitive history of RPGs, Playing AT the World, in this episode. If you are interested in those very deep cultural roots of D&D in both midwestern wargaming and late-'60s hippie Tolkien love, definitely check it out. You might also be interested in Rob's series of "Dungeon Master Zero" posts from his blog: 1, 2, 34.

32:36 "Big Guy, two questions. One: Why is Jerry Lewis so popular in France?" Okay, here we go: if you want to learn the definitive answer to Herb's question, check out Rae Beth Gordon's book Why the French Love Jerry Lewis which includes elements such as: mesmerists, hypnotists, and magnetists, contagious hysteria, the famous French "fartiste" Le Pétomane, the French New Wave and auteur theory, and the aforementioned deep dive into fin de siècle Paris cabaret comedians and singers who embodied a neurotic, twitchy style. Also, when we speak of French clowns, we should not neglect to mention two Canadian representatives, M. Piedlourde from Kids in the Hall and Sol from Parlez-Moi, played by immortal Québécois mime Marc Favreau.

Also, apparently no one in England knows who Jerry Lewis is.

Also also, I forgot the word "sang-froid" when talking about French unflappability.

39:56 That's Entertainment! Go back to our look at "Mama's Review" in HMOTD 005 for our discussion Rob's love of clip shows and the That's Entertainment! series of movies.

42:45 Narratives are like technologies: My favorite part of this episode. Well put, Rob.

43:27 The Song Remains the Same: I really do love this movie. Every time it's on VH1, it makes me wish I was a high school kid in the Dazed and Confused era, going to see this at the movie theater while chemically altered.

45:32 "Radio. What is it? Where did it come from? And where is it going?" God, I love the Big Guy's delivery of those lines. And hey, if you're in Boston in the next four weeks, come to Radio Contact: Tuning Into Politics, Technology, and Culture before it closes!

46:30 Herb's Daydream: Regarding Tintin: We had a discussion on Facebook about elements of our childhoods that people from other countries can't understand (it grew out of the "no one outside the U.S. and Canada knows who Jerry Lewis is" discussion) and I can say, I never once read Tintin or even knew what it was, probably before college. Anyway, here's write-ups of General Tapioca and General Alcazar

49:09 Jennifer's Daydream: A history of media technology story here in the Big Guy's intro! In my research for the aforementioned radio exhibit, I discovered that in the early 1930s, in an attempt to peel away motion picture fans, there were radio versions of big Hollywood movies, sometimes even acted by the same actors as the film versions! Of course, the film industry would have none of this with the Depression on, and issued a blanket ban in December 1932 of their stars doing radio. Of course, radio's reach and power meant that the ban didn't last long; it was rescinded in August 1933 and was never fully enforced. This excerpt from Hollywood and Broadcasting: From Radio to Cable by Michele Hilmes explains it really well.

53:45 Les's Daydream: "Walter" and "Eric" are referred to by Les in this segment; their identities are pretty obvious. The trouble with trying to find a good source for George Patton's quote about wanting to beat the Russkies is that you end up dealing with a WHOLE lot of scary paleoconservative articles. Wikiquote has your back. And the Tom Joad speech, for those who aren't familiar with. That scene really has that Barton Fink feeling.

57:18 Bailey's Daydream: Thanks to Jaime Weinman for the information on the Bailey sequence being cut. Here's a story on the 1995 Walmart ban of the Margaret-from-Dennis the Menace t-shirt. (Our Monday post took a look at what Hillary Clinton was up to while WKRP was on the air.) Here's a link to all the Diamond Joe Biden stories on The Onion. And the reference to the previous tenant stealing the silverware got me thinking of the now-debunked urban legend that the outgoing (Bill) Clinton administration staffers removed the W's from all the White House keyboards. And many kudos to Rob for including that clip from the first-season MST3K episode Project Moonbase.

1:03:33 Andy's Daydream: What am I, a clown to you, Rob? And yeah, I'm not the first to notice the "watching 1940s Looney Tunes as a kid in the 1980s and being completely clueless about the cultural references" thing.

1:07:23 Venus's Daydream: We are certainly not the first to float the idea of Venus secretly wanting to be an unhip corny comedian; it was also noted by Jaime Weinman in his post about "Daydreams." I was of the opinion it was supposed to be Gordon Sims's "five minutes on Carson" originally, but I think I've come around to Venus being at the Palace.

1:10:56 Johnny's Daydream: Johnny limping through the backstage area surrounded by yes-men and hangers-on made me think of the bit in Van Halen's "Panama" with David Lee Roth being "arrested" backstage at a concert in nothing but a towel. Also, plan yourself a double feature of Phantom of the Paradise and The Apple if you can. Your mind will melt.

1:14:45 Arthur's Daydream? I'm going back on my Arthurian thing; I think he'd instead be a '30s or '40s swashbuckling adventure matinee idol like Errol Flynn as Robin Hood.

Wednesday, November 2, 2016

HMOTD 031: Pour Something Sticky All Over Me

Mike & Rob haggle over "The Painting" and drift off into "Daydreams," which are also the titles of the two episodes of WKRP in Cincinnati we just watched.

(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!