Friday, September 22, 2017

Show Notes for HMOTD 046: Are You Earth, Wind, or Fire?

0:08 Monster Lizzard Ravages East Coast! Yes, this is a lovely little piece of Les comedy. The reference to the "worst lizzard since '78" immediately made me think of the Northeast Blizzard of '78 which lives on in local lore here in Massachusetts, but is more likely referring to the "White Hurricane" that hit the Midwest a couple of weeks previous. Here's a shot of the electronic warning signs I reference later in the podcast.

3:42 "There's a man exercising in the nude again." First off, I love hearing Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers' "Magnolia," a deep cut off the second Heartbreakers LP You're Gonna Get It! in the background here. I could see Johnny digging their country-fried sound. I'm trying to remember what other context we accused Friends of ripping off WKRP in the past; we did talk in HMOTD 032 about Friends being emblematic of '90s sitcoms having awesome apartments. The Friends Wiki will hook you up with a précis of the Ugly Naked Guy.

[Rob: I think it was the wistful staring out the window shot, a la Bailey in “For Love Or Money.”]

5:20 "We're getting close to the end of the podcast." I talked about this more in the Monday Post, but yeah, I'm really going to miss these times where we get to breathe and hang out with the cast. I have to honestly confess, I've never understood the impulse to fanfic, but after deeply analyzing the entire run of WKRP, I'm beginning to get it. When a piece of narrative fiction leaves you wanting more depth into the characters' lives, you might want to stay in that world a little longer.

8:58 "Record (sic) station": One of many flubs by me this episode. Apologies.

10:55 "Black stations wherever Johnny grew up": See, I wrote my own fanfic right here! Johnny growing up listening to Black DJs, who in the 1950s had a broad crossover appeal with white teenagers. And much as white artists co-opted Black musical styles, so too did white DJs cop the attitudes, slang, and on-air personas of Black DJs. Again, Wolfman Jack was working within a long history of racial ambiguity; the white hipster strikes again.

Black radio stations were some of the most powerful Black-owned businesses during the middle part of the 20th century, with a media reach and economic power that supported Black social, cultural, economic, and even political life during some very difficult times, in metropolises both North and South. Here's a thorough virtual exhibit that opened last year thanks to Indiana University's Archives of African American Music and Culture titled "The Golden Age of Black Radio" that seems to this museum professional to be fairly definitive.

I wonder where Johnny grew up?

13:33 Code-switching/double consciousness: As Rob says, this phenomenon is nothing new in the Black community. W.E.B. DuBois's The Souls of Black Folk from 1903 takes on the cultural collision of colonizer and colonized head-on. In the first chapter, "Of Our Spiritual Strivings," DuBois describes the African-American a mere forty years from emancipation struggling to see through a "veil" that cloaks his vision, a veil placed there by the force of white supremacy in America. DuBois also interestingly evokes the veil as being like a caul and bestowing upon the Black American a "second-sight," the ability to see himself through this very double consciousness, living in two worlds at once. Powerful stuff, and still directly relevant to the Black experience in America.

16:20 "Searching for old Guy Lombardo LPs and smoking dope." I have never gotten high and listened to big-band music, but now I kind of want to. Thanks, Big Guy. Also, it'd be remiss of me not to link to the most notorious intersection of drug culture and old white square culture, the heartwarming performance of Brewer & Shipley's "One Toke Over The Line" on The Lawrence Welk Show.

[Rob: And it would be remiss of me not to observe that Guy Lombardo is, or at least once was, my home city’s most famous son. London, Ontario’s own Guy Lombardo and His Royal Canadians are believed to have sold between 100 and 300 million records during their long career; they also headlined CBS’ New Year’s Eve gala every year from, get this, 1928 (on the radio, naturally) to 1979, two years after Guy’s death. Sometimes when I’m jogging around London I’ll run across an abandoned Guy Lombardo museum or crypt or pavilion. Should auld acquaintance be forgot, indeed...]

16:52 "Are you Earth, Wind, or Fire?" Excuse my long exegesis of the fashion choices of EWF, but I do find it legitimately fascinating. Check their LP covers from '75 and previous and you see a ton of open shirts, or otherwise sleeveless vests and bellbottoms, very post-hippie. But when you get into the late '70s and early '80s, Afrofuturism takes over in a big way. (Check their legendary live performance at the Oakland Coliseum on New Year's Eve 1981 for evidence; leather is out, lamé is in, and the band basically fights Darth Vader live on stage. It's amazing.)

I wonder if P-Funk's more overt scifi wildness was partially the impelling force here. Anyway, I wrote about EWF's aesthetic for We Are The Mutants, as mediated through their groundbreaking sponsorship deal with Panasonic boomboxes. It's a good piece, if I do say so myself; check it out.

18:08 "Billy Jack/Indian appropriation": Speaking of leather jerkins and fringe jackets, the probably hashtag-problematic-by-modern-standards '70s franchise Billy Jack brought a bowlderized version of the very real rebellion of the early-'70s American Indian Movement to the white American drive-in.

18:20 Tim and Tom routine: Oof, yeah, this routine is a bit hard to listen to in this day and age; as we've talked about on WKRP, this kind of "clueless white guy" routine (mostly done by Les on the show) sometimes veers into out-and-out stereotyping. In Reid and Dreesen’s book, Tim and Tom: An American Comedy in Black and White, we can see that Tom's impression of "soul talk" was sometimes a tough initial sell to a Black audience. But reading the rest of the routine, you can really see how Tim and Tom used their knowledge of each other's cultures to get the crowd on their side. The story definitely goes in an... er, unexpected direction.

[Rob: You can see most of the “bus stop” routine here, but not the tense denouement described in the Tim and Tom book. Really, do check out the story of their Club Harlem debut in Mike’s Google Books links above.]

20:03 Ebony and Jet: Ebony and Jet have historically been the pair of African-American publications with the biggest profile and largest economic reach. Both were founded in the same era as Black-owned radio stations, the late '40s and early '50s. Black entrepreneur John H. Johnson brought out both magazines, sensing a void in the market for a literal Black Life magazine. As we mentioned, they featured advertising with Black models and celebrity sponsors, and featured both lifestyle pieces and hard-hitting reporting on racial issues. Jet published the disturbing and graphic post-mortem photos of Emmett Till in the aftermath of his murder at the hands of white terrorists in 1955.

21:15 Tim and Tom history: Check out HMOTD 008 for our first discussion of Tim and Tom, and seriously, buy the book! It's fascinating.

21:58 Tim Reid's background: Tim Reid bounced around a lot of locations in Virginia growing up but they weren't really rural; another error of mine.

27:15 Rick and the women at Black Life magazine: Again, that sentiment could never have worked in Tim Reid's mouth; it is often the prerogative of the outsider or the jester to point out the things we can't admit to ourselves, and when that jokester has the additional shield of white privilege like Rick/Tom does here, it's devastating.

29:25 90s Black sitcoms and Black WKRP: I guess Martin does technically count as a "Black WKRP" given Martin's role as a DJ at WZUP but the show only partially took place in the workplace.

29:45 Black Life before the Black Andy shows up: This was a genius idea of Rob's.

30:48 "I uh, do look rather good, don't I?" This is one of those moments where I feel like all our detailed analysis of Herb's conflicted masculinity from HMOTD 021: Huggable Herb pays off. Herb looks good and feels good and while he's always been a bit of a peacock, you can sense the confidence that comes with a really nice suit.

33:30 Gordon Gekko/Scaramucci/Eighties Guy From Futurama: The death of The Boneitis Guy is one of the more inspired animation sequences from Futurama.

And speaking of The Mooch... I also love to get together with my paisans and pose for imaginary Sopranos DVD box covers.

34:38 T-shirts of WKRP advertisers: There are already a few out there on various custom T-shirt sites, but they are of depressingly poor quality.

36:45 Police Academy: I am not gonna lie; the Police Academy series (maybe from 1 to about 4) were prime cable viewing in my late childhood/early adolescence. Hugh Wilson is right; they are uniformly tasteless and awful and dumb but they do have a certain low-budget charm (at least the first few). And yes, if you want to go diving for WKRP guest stars, you come up with a boatload. George Gaynes, Art Metrano, Howard Hesseman's fairly big role in 2, even Colleen Camp, who we discussed a few weeks ago!

41:20 PJ Torokvei: Again, we'll link to this piece on PJ Torokvei's journey which is alternately inspiring and incredibly sad.

43:52 Ulysses: [Rob: This is Irish actress Angeline Ball (you might remember her as Imelda Quirke in The Commitments) as Molly Bloom in the 2004 film, Bloom.]

[Mike:] I might have gone with Kate Bush's interpretation of the Molly Bloom soliloquy, the title track from 1989's The Sensual World, but that's just me.

49:32 "At least in 1982 the rich still felt a duty to help the poor..." I'm not trying to engage in class treachery here, pining for the days of "philanthropists" like Carnegie and Rockefeller, I'm just observing how that patrician sense of duty and generosity has completely evaporated after the combined assault of forty years of deregulation and neoliberalism and the rise of "do as thou wilt" postmodern libertinage. There was a certain superego that once held the ultrawealthy's predatory influences at least somewhat in check, call it noblesse oblige or clueless and needy attention-seeking, but now that's gone as New Gilded Age tycoons want to turn us all into either cog-like coders or blood batteries.

50:10 "There's something in the New York Times about rich people that makes me mad every week": Behold, this week's offense against the working class and just plain decency. Warning: this piece will make you Mad Online.

51:57 Hobo King: Rob and I and some of our gaming friends have always had a soft spot for the slightly-occult undertones of the hobo lifestyle. Mysterious chalk marks, sacred kingship ceremonies... it all adds up to an Emperor Norton-like innocent, a capital-F Fool who rides the rails for the sins of America.

53:07 Sheila Morgan: The realization that this guest star was the same Sheila "Bombs Away" Morgan that the Big Guy sang a tipsy paean to back in "I Am Woman" was a wonderful moment for me.

55:15 "What kitchen is this?" Our joy at being back in Jennifer's old apartment should be apparent; I really didn't think we'd see it again and I was so authentically pleased and surprised.

56:36 Microwaves: When I started going back through old TV Guides a few years ago, I found the early-'80s issues redolent with ads for microwave ovens that keep hammering you over the head with the versatility and user-friendliness of the appliance. Yes, a lot of these ads seem to prominently feature roasted turkeys. Rob and I share a fascination for this time in American history when a new piece of technology, desperate to shoulder its way into American kitchens, tries frantically to prove its familiarity and usefulness. The one thing I remember about getting our first microwave back in I think 1985 is that the instruction/recipe book featured very prominently two preparations that became standards in our house for their ease and familiarity: hot dogs (nuked, bun and all, wrapped in paper towel) and nachos (3 minutes on the low-medium setting so the cheese didn't dry up). The microwave I think became a leftovers machine for most Americans by the end of the '80s, but the way the appliance was marketed is much more versatile.

[Rob: Well, I know I always cook my lobster tails in the microwave. "Cooking without heat!" I’m afraid this link won’t work for anybody not on a university network, but there was a cool article in the history of technology journal Technology & Culture a few years ago about the microwave as “a terrifying … eruption of the uncanny in the domestic sphere” and how we eventually learned to stop worrying and love post-industrial food.]

[Mike: It's a great article and I am very sorry if you can't read it. You didn't tell me it referenced Scanners, Rob! (Sadly no mention of Back to the Future Part II's "pizza rehydrator"; speaking of which, y'all should check out Rob on the Netflakes podcast talking BTTF2; it's a great discussion.)

Speaking of exploding heads, this reminds me of one of the central events in my favorite novel, David Foster Wallace's Infinite Jest, when tennis academy patriarch and creator of enslaving perfect Entertainment James O. Incandenza literally nukes and explodes his own head in his home's microwave. I get the feeling DFW was working out his own Gen-X microwave anxiety and/or impulse towards using urban legends in his work with this tableau.]

58:45 Carmen Filpi/Gurning/the Enigma: [Rob: It’s Carmen Filpi, not Filipi, my apologies. Not to be confused with Patrick Cranshaw from Best In Show and Old School (though Google Image Search does just that), Carmen Filpi got his start in minstrel shows (!), served in the Pacific during WW2, and had a film and TV career spanning fifty years. A brief list of his memorable roles includes: Homeless Guy, Elderly Guy, Bum #1, Bum #2, Bum, Old Guy, Old Man in Bar, Ancient Guy, Old Crusty Man, Wino, Stan the Bum, Old Man Withers, Old Geezer, Drunk, Jail Bum, Hobo Jack, The Bum, Panhandler, and Bus Station Bum. It sounds like I’m making fun of him, but that really is the list. Filpi’s credit for WKRP, as Percy Romanoff, seems downright dignified in comparison. He passed away in 2003 at the age of 80.]

[Mike: Wait, Percy Romanoff... is he supposed to be the heir to the Russian throne, Anastasia's son or something?? I may have been onto something calling him the Hobo King!

Also, regarding gurning, our timing on this episode was impeccable: the Egremont Crab Fair took place this very week and World Champion Gurner Ady Zivelonghi held his title as the best gurner in the world.

Body-mod-god The Enigma starred in the "first funny X-Files episode," "Humbug," about circus/carny folk, where he played circus geek "The Conundrum" opposite '90s Lollapalooza sideshow legend Jim Rose.]

1:02:50 Cheaplaffs Johnson: [Rob: I can’t say that “Six Gun Justice,” from the very uneven final season of SCTV, was ever one of my favorite bits. It’s a parody of an old Western movie serial, but my impression is that the SCTV gang were almost trying to play it straight--that is, they were more interested in accurately recreating the old serials, warts and all, than in trying to be funny. But I do love the framing sketch, “Happy Hour” with Happy Marsden, a kiddie show so bleak, low-key, and depressing as to gradually approach Scarfolk-style hauntology.]

[Mike: I can see a lot of the DNA of Three Amigos in those Six Gun Justice bits.]

1:03:50 Reaganonomics/homelessness/the mentally ill/drug abuse: I feel like we didn't even come close to doing this series of issues justice on the podcast; there's just so much to say about it, we could have easily done 70 or 80 minutes just on the social ills caused by Ronald Reagan's destruction of the social safety net. But here are the two pieces we mentioned on the podcast: the San Francisco Weekly piece on Reagonomics' impact on social programs and the homeless, and the Salon piece on Reagan and the mentally ill.

1:10:40 Intellivision/video games: Bless you, Rob, for including a clip of a George Plimpton Intellivision TV ad; like Henry on The Americans, all I ever wanted as a kid was an Intellivision. Have any of our listeners figured out what video game console that is supposed to be in this scene, by the way? The big controllers with the curly cords were used by both the Intellivision and ColecoVision consoles, as well as a bunch of lesser lights in the Second Generation of Video Game Consoles, but the size and color is wrong for all of them. [Edit: As I was pulling the screenshots, I noticed for the first time... they have little tiny hair-thin antennas! And they're connected to some kind of deck sitting on the couch! These are obviously some kind of jury-rigged prop. Weird!]

See what I mean about "gamer posture," by the way? [Rob: Is the Big Guy sitting on the floor with his back against the couch? That's perfect!] [Mike: Yep, he was being beaten by Andy - you were right - and sort of jumps/slumps down off the couch in the middle of play. The Big Guy is Sports Gamer Zero. I only wish I could've seen him throw his controller.]

1:15:45 Quarterflash/The Americans: Well, of course I tempted fate by saying Quarterflash was a one-hit wonder; back on Facebook, Mike Hernandez again schools me. But I will say that the moment I knew I'd be hooked on The Americans for its spot-on musical selection was not when they memorably used "Tusk" in the chase scene in the pilot but instead using Quarterflash in the very first scene to soundtrack Elizabeth's honeypot op in the fern bar.

1:18:30 Grace Jones: I am also super curious still about why Grace Jones got dragged like this on the show. My cursory research does show that Jones's overall aesthetic, both visually and musically, was tough for mainstream audiences to understand in the early '80s. This interview gives you a great look at an important and misunderstood artist and figure of our exact late-'70s/early-'80s WKRP period. Venus is not alone, though; Sondra Smuckles is also no fan of Ms. Jones. Raymond is careless... but not like that.

Wednesday, September 20, 2017

HMOTD 046: Are You Earth, Wind, or Fire?

Mike and Rob watch Venus & Herb go through "Changes," then donate some time to "Jennifer & Johnny's Charity."

(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, September 18, 2017

"It's still a nice place to work."

The two WKRP episodes we're covering this week – "Changes" and "Jennifer and Johnny's Charity" – were a pleasant surprise, a pair of episodes that cover Important Issues but in a witty and subtle way. In "Changes," we observe a pair of identity crises as Venus agonizes over appearing "black enough" for an interview with a black magazine, while Herb decides to ditch the polyester and Get With The Eighties... at least for a little while. And in "Jennifer and Johnny's Charity," Jennifer and Johnny fight a proxy war over President Reagan's cuts to aid to the homeless and mentally ill and the place of private philanthropy and charity to fill the gap caused by Reaganomics.

We've talked about the back half of Season 3 and its run of issue-based episodes' sometimes heavy-handed look at current events. There's a much defter touch in these two Season 4 episodes, helped considerably by Tim Reid's chance to work alongside his longtime comic partner Tom Dreesen. But the one thing that came to my mind, especially at the beginning of "Changes" as we casually hang out with the WKRP staff and in "Jennifer and Johnny's Charity" as we watch the Big Guy play video baseball against Andy, is that these little character moments, this thoroughly earned comfort with these eight characters, will all soon be over for Rob and me, and this podcast.

I'm going to miss the Big Guy and Johnny and Jennifer and Bailey and Venus and Herb and Les and yes, even Andy in a few months when this podcast has wrapped. And that's making me treasure the little stuff, the subtle touches – all those quiet character moments – all the more.

When I think about big ensemble sitcom casts that earned this kind of easy, almost effortless depth of character, it's tough to come up with those that can match WKRP! Cheers, maybe. Those other '70s classics Taxi and Barney Miller have to be in the conversation. But when the writers of WKRP trust their actors and their audience with all that rich worldbuilding and continuity, all that depth of character, there was nothing like it on television.

After this week, we've got four pairs of WKRP episodes left and a couple of final podcasts to wrap this whole thing up. We'll also be talking more about The End of WKRP and What Happened to Everyone After the Show both this week and in the weeks to come. Until then, I'm going to try to savor it all as best I can.

Friday, September 8, 2017

Show Notes for HMOTD 045: Are Those Crab Puffs?

3:27 Koko's death scene: Dave's big dramatic death scene in the second episode of the Yacht Rock webseries, which I also included because it hits so many elements of how awesome YR's Christopher Cross character is (thanks to the innocent hayseed portrayal of Rick & Morty's Justin Roiland). But yeah, I too heard this song in my childhood dreams, Koko.

4:57 Divorcecore: Here's the episode of BYR that I think first hooked both Rob and me; such a genius concept made all the more powerful by again, the childhood nostalgia connected to these 1980s albums featuring newly-solo Baby Boomer artists who had been through personal and/or professional divorces.

5:08 Coupland's Generation X: Here's a tumblr that collects all of Coupland's definitions from Generation X, and here's the entry for "musical hairsplitting."

5:40 George Orwave: Such a fantastic episode of BYR and a genre that needed a name desperately. (The video for top George Orwave track "Somebody's Watching Me" by Rockwell received an exhibit writeup at We Are The Mutants, by the way.)

7:13 Interview with Michael McDonald: I can't imagine what it was like for the Yacht Rock crew to see this interview only a year or two after the webseries wrapped. Also worth reading, and I know I've linked to it before, but this Rolling Stone oral history of Yacht Rock is great and has the "Showbiz Kids" story, which always elicits a smile. RIP Walter Becker, by the way.

7:45 "A handful of Porcaros": A great excuse to use the "my brothers in Toto" moment from Yacht Rock 4. If you aren't familiar with the history of Toto, they're not only session musician prodigies but three members of the band are the sons of legendary Wrecking Crew member Joe Porcaro. Here's a great LA Weekly piece about how the Wrecking Crew era naturally led into the Yacht Rock era.

10:22 Theme song to Dallas: Let's nerd out about '80s TV themes for just a moment. The Dallas theme was written by composer Jerrold Immel and he's kind of a one-hit wonder TV theme-wise, although he did do the themes for Dallas spinoff Knots Landing and a personal scifi favorite of my childhood, Voyagers!

11:38 Marina Rock: And here's a third episode of BYR for you to check out: Dave's genre of Marina Rock.

12:20 Retail Rock: I gotcha back on this one, fam: an site full of tapes from the late '80s/early '90s played over the PA at K-Mart stores. I've spent more time than I care to admit here.

14:57 "A Marina Rock Linda Ronstadt": I haven't stopped laughing at this since we recorded this episode a month ago: good one, Rob.

17:20 I Am Not A Stalker: Holy crap, this site is amazing; here's the "movie locations" section.

18:45 "Everybody had to bring someone on the Dip list": I only realized after recording this episode that this is a pretty common trope in a bunch of movies: Dogfight, a great little indie flick from 1991 with Lili Taylor and River Phoenix, and the French farce Le Dîner de Cons and the American remake Dinner for Schmucks (thanks to my wife Jenny for the reminder on this one).

24:45 The Big Guy's mascot costume: So satisfying to be able to reasonably surmise that the Big Guy made the WKRP Carp. Our discussion of sports mascots in the late '70s is back in HMOTD 011 Pig vs. Fish. A good episode to listen to if you're new to the podcast, by the way.

26:45 "The Baby": Discussed in our classic "Real Families"/"The Baby" episode with Leah Biel. Definitely for my money the high point of the Arthur/Carmen relationship; Gordon Jump's portrayal of a nervous middle-aged dad-to-be is a near perfect blend of comedy and drama.

28:15 "What'd you think? Little Carmen was trackin' The Moose?" Gotta give Hank the Hunk credit, that's a great turn of phrase. And Alice Nunn's cackle just perfectly brackets this scene, as I mention later.

31:45 Dave's "dumb show for smart people/smart show for dumb people" theory: One of my personal highlights of this episode. I have never liked Frasier, honestly, for just the reasons Dave discusses here. And yeah, MTM shows took the silly sitcom format and did something new and deeper with it, as we've discussed in earlier podcast episodes.

37:38 Alice Nunn: Thanks to Dave for bringing us the genius of Alice Nunn. I had to use the entire Large Marge scene, by the way; it'd be no good without the "tell 'em Large Marge sent ya!" coda. Fun fact: Nunn's first film role was as a nurse in the classic Dalton Trumbo 1971 anti-war film Johnny Got His Gun, featured prominently and memorably in Metallica's first-ever music video, for "One" off ...And Justice For All.

41:23 Revenge of the Nerds/college comedies/snobs vs. slobs: Probably my favorite part of the episode is this section talking about the evolution of the underdogs vs. rich kids trope from a reliable standby for comedy to something that leaves us all a little cold. We didn't mention the Deltas in Revenge of the Nerds installing spycams in the goddamn sorority house, or the statutory rape in Animal House... the nerds are the villains now, but maybe they were all along.

43:45 “There are just five or six stories” [Rob:] I just want to salute Dave's confident assertion that there are only five or six basic plots, and "rich skier's Dad buys the mountain and threatens to kick off all the snowboarders" is one of them.

48:05 Bailey wants a computer: Here's a good vintage computer ad of the type I was thinking about, and here's a little of my writing at We Are The Mutants on old Texas Instruments computer books. Do you dig Halt and Catch Fire Season 1-style computer nerds? Check this site from the creators of VisiCalc.

58:38 Diet trends of the '80s: Check this timeline of fad diets: the Scarsdale Diet in '78, Dexatrim came out in '79, Jane Fonda's first video workout in '82, Jazzercise on video in '83, and AYDS got taken off the market in '88 thanks to declining sales for obvious reasons.

1:01:03 Diet pill scares: Here's a fantastic time capsule of a New York Times article from... yes, February 1982, right around the time this episode aired, about the active ingredient in Dexatrim at the time (and about a dozen other diet pills), phenylpropanolamine, or PPA, and a 26-year-old who suffered a stroke from pills containing PPA. PPA was finally banned in 2000 by the FDA after being held responsible for "200 to 500 strokes a year" in people between 18 and 49. Jesus.

1:02:15 "Jogging In A Jug": Nothing bonds any two Americans together quicker than making fun of Canadians. But alas, unlike milk in a bag, Jogging In A Jug is not Canadian; it's actually from Alabama. I like how Rob's defense of it not being Canadian is "It's a real thing!"

1:03:46 "Five hundred and seventy dollars." Damnit, Dave, you tricked us both. I thought this was some kind of obscure background research for Yacht Rock that stuck in your head 12 years later.

1:04:50 "Oh great. A drug expert!" Another L. Ron Bumquist moment, this time from Les.

1:05:30 “As Frank Zappa once said…” [Rob:] I’m sorry Les got cut off here; I wanted to hear what Zappa said! Probably he was going to refer to a PSA Frank made in the late 1960s about the dangers of amphetamine abuse.

1:07:25 "Another Merry Mixup": That title is horrible; it sounds like a lost Looney Tunes cartoon. Here's Jaime Weinman's write-up of the script, and here's a link back to HMOTD 007: Nowhere Band, where we cover the "The cocaine? It's on Carlson's feet!" coke payola episode.

1:08:49 Robert Ridgley: Yeah, I'm a fan. The Colonel James is one of the most delightfully disgusting film characters of the past three decades; I debated whether to use this scene ("Oh, you think so, Doctor?") or the scene where he inspects Dirk Diggler's... er, equipment, but I figured the coke overdose scene fit better with this episode being about drugs. Here's The Secret History of Paul Thomas Anderson with a little glimpse at young PTA being around these foul-mouthed hard-drinking comics and being inspired by them to create his cast of characters for Boogie Nights. Here's Ridgely as Boris; goddamn, Blazing Saddles is STILL funny. If you can stand '60s camp gay stereotypes, here's Ridgely in a commercial outtake from the 1960s. I could've sworn Ridgely had a bunch of cartoon outtakes as well, but I think I was confusing his role as Thundarr with the famous Thundercats outtakes.

1:11:48 Max Wright: Yeah, a tragic tale that does tie in well to our Paul Reubens porn theater episode. And as Dave mentions, if you're a famous dude who needs to stay in the closet in the '80s and '90s, you've got to be dealing with tons of internal conflict. Spoiler alert: we'll be seeing Max Wright's "blue-haired lawyer" character again this season.

1:15:55 Swearing on television in the '80s: Dave's totally right; the impulse to open up the cuss horizons on broadcast TV in the '80s was largely due to HBO's subscriber numbers; here's a good video history of cursing on American TV. And here's the D&D scene from E.T. (also 1982!)

1:18:53 "Turn Your Love Around": Certified ESSENTIAL Yacht hit from George Benson's 1981 hits compilation, The George Benson Collection. Here's the cover to Breezin' , one of my first vinyl purchases in my middle age. He's wearing a Herb Tarlek tux!

Among the rest of the music in this pair of episodes: Midnight Star's "Hold Out" and David Sanborn's "Carly's Song" from the booth scene with Venus, Jackie, and the Big Guy, and "The Old Songs," the Manilow song that Shout! Factory could not get permission for. Lighten up, Barry, sheesh.

1:25:18 End-of-show plugs: Dave's Twitter is at @David_B_Lyons and here's the Beyond Yacht Rock website at Feral Audio.

Wednesday, September 6, 2017

HMOTD 045: Are Those Crab Puffs?

Mike and Rob welcome very special guest Dave Lyons from Yacht Rock and the Beyond Yacht Rock podcast to Hold My Order. The three of them go back to school with Arthur in "You Can't Go Out Of Town Again" and enter the sleazy world of early-'80s "Pills."

(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, September 4, 2017

"I felt the raw power of really smooth music."

I tell this story in a little more detail on this week's podcast, but back in 2007, I saw on a friend's Livejournal a link to a ten-part web comedy series that would absolutely change my life. Yacht Rock charted the fictional rise and fall of the highly-trained, West Coast pop music that pretty much soundtracked my entire early childhood. Much as I do WKRP, I associate the music of Steely Dan, Michael McDonald, Kenny Loggins, and Christopher Cross with a more innocent time in my life, when the stereo of our huge station wagon was always tuned to Top 40 radio and these guys dominated the charts with their signature smooth sound.

The Yacht Rock series's combination of lovingly comedic piss-taking and dead serious respect for the music pretty much won my heart from the get-go. I guess the impulse in diving back into this music from the late '70s and early '80s is pretty similar to Rob's and mine in starting Hold My Order. You take a piece of pop culture that loomed large in your childhood and you critically engage with it as an adult, ferreting out all the mysteries within. I am guessing that the Yacht Rock guys had a similar feeling in finding the connections between all those session players in the liner notes of old vinyl LPs that we might in, say, connecting Jane Addams to Edie McClurg.

Over the past decade I've taken a lot of pleasure in sharing the series with friends and family who I think will "get" both the humor and the appeal of the music the show featured. Also over that same decade, the genius of the series (and of giving a name to this genre of music) has been co-opted and pretty blatantly misunderstood by mediocre tribute bands, feckless satellite radio stations, and washed-up sports writers. (Sorry, Bill.)

Last year, four of the guys from the series started a podcast called Beyond Yacht Rock, where they do for other as-yet-undefined genres what they did for Yacht. Reconnecting with the music, getting a new favorite podcast, and meeting tons of Yacht Rock fans on the internet has been for me one of the brightest spots in what's been (for a lot of us I think) a pretty crappy last twelve months or so. Getting to know the Yacht Rock guys as they've graciously given me a chance to talk about Yacht as revolutionary force and to defend Billy Joel on their website has been even better.

So this week, join me in welcoming our very special guest, Koko Goldstein himself, David Lyons, to Hold My Order! Dave's kept the WKRP fires burning on the BYR podcast by prominently featuring Steve Carlisle's WKRP theme on one of their episodes, and when I found out he was a big fan of WKRP I knew I had to ask him aboard our vessel. Our episode drops as usual on Wednesday and it's a jampacked edition of the podcast, with all kinds of backstage Hollywood stories from Dave, as well as a look at two very good episodes of WKRP: "You Can't Go Out Of Town Again" and "Pills."