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.


  1. Si Leis was the County Sheriff at the time of Mapplethorpe being charged in Cincinnati (I remember that some of my older siblings who never went to the CAC before or since went because Si and those doofuses were trying to shut that exhibit down). Si was also the prosecutor of the case against Hustler (as seen in The People vs Larry Flynn). Si's partner in the Flynt prosecution, Charles Keting wasn't really available to help go after Mapplethorpe, as he had his hands full at that time with the Savings and Loan scandal.

    1. Mike, you are Our Man In Cincinnati, that's great stuff. It's kind of amazing how crucial the Cincinnati area was to free speech issues in the '70s-'90s. Lots of grist for our mill when we talk "Clean Up Radio Everywhere" later this season. Thanks!

  2. I've always had this theory that it should have been Andy in Bailey's bed, not Johnny, because of the interlinking structure. Jennifer appears in Herb's dream, then we see hers. Les appears in Jennifer's dream, then we see his. The whole pattern continues except for Andy's dream following Bailey's. That annoys me.

    Of course, it might just be that the writers liked using Johnny more.

    1. Johanna, that's brilliant! You're right, this episode should've totally been structured like that. I think there's even a name for that kind of narrative, where one person leads to the next in a chain, but I can't remember it right now.

  3. The daydreams make me wonder what's going on in their deep dark psyches. Does Jennifer suspect that Les is having kinky fantasies about her? Does Venus see Johnny as the one who has sussed him out (correctly, perhaps) as more Gordon Sims than Venus Flytrap? Does Johnny see himself as the star of the station, but thinks they'd leave him behind if someone else came along?