Wednesday, October 18, 2017

HMOTD 048: Harold, A Little Razorback Hog

Mike and Rob discuss Cincinnati chili, Hawaiian pizza, the future of journalism, Battle of the Network Stars, and (in passing) "Fire" and "Dear Liar."

(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!

Friday, October 6, 2017

Show Notes for HMOTD 047: Lorraine's A Farmer?

1:00 "Man, I was so blown away by both of these episodes." That was all the way back in Season 1, at the beginning of HMOTD 009: Someday You're Gonna Buy It, which featured the pairing of "A Commercial Break" (the Ferriman Funeral Home episode) and of course "Who Is Gordon Sims?"

5:30 Les's sexuality: I do find it interesting to look at Les's sexuality through a modern lens, and gray asexuality does seem to fit the bill very well with what we've learned over these four seasons of WKRP. What his actual orientation is or whom he might be attracted to, I still have no idea, but boy, was that Cincinnati sports player's assessment of "queer little fellow" sort of unintentionally perfect. I do think Les's repeated mentions of broad-shouldered Russian and Soviet bloc women are a bit of a tell.

14:56 "Computer Love": Kraftwerk's 1981 album Computer World extolled the coming computer revolution and especially its ability to connect people. As soon as I knew this episode was coming, I was excited to use this clip. "Computer Love"'s hook was memorably stolen (with permission, but come on) by Coldplay for their 2005 single "Talk."

16:34 et subseq. Computers and their social acceptance: Mario Savio's speech is still chillingly prescient, more than a half-century after its fiery, impassioned delivery. This piece on the history of the punch card from 1991 (!) contains some of the stuff about the Free Speech Movement's co-optation of the punch card and the computer as symbols of modern dehumanization. Both George Lucas's student film Electronic Labyrinth: THX 1138 4EB (1967, viewable here) and feature debut THX-1138 (1971) are a perfect example of this sort of feeling of alienation thanks to the faceless Computer. The Berkeley free speech movement's fear of computerization was indeed the primary mode of the youth counterculture's interaction with the computer up until the '70s and the arrival of computer "revolutionaries" like Stewart Brand.

Rob's right; Fred Turner's From Counterculture to Cyberculture is sort of the signal text for this transition of the American postwar counterculture from computerphobes to computerphiles; definitely check it out if this history interests you. And my Adam Curtis impression is in aid of telling you to RUN, don't walk, to your nearest grey-market Vimeo machine and watch all three parts of his still-shocking 2011 documentary series, All Watched Over By Machines of Loving Grace.

22:06 Computer Date Zero: In our Monday post, we linked to some of the pieces we used for research for our computer dating discussion. The clip we use here is from a fantastic mini-documentary on Harvard's Operation Match and other university computer dating efforts going on at the time. This piece on Joan Ball from Marie Hicks is an impressive piece of research and quite a time capsule of Swinging Sixties London.

30:20 Rob's in-laws: [Rob: Here's the story of my wife's parents and the first computer dates at Oberlin College--that is of course Oberlin, Ohio, not that far from Otterbein! As I say, my in-laws (who are wonderful) celebrated their 50th wedding anniversary this past year. I don't know if this is relevant but it has occurred to me, in the context of the computer match-up, that their marriage was interracial: Janice is Japanese-American, Mike's descended from Russian Jews. They say that nobody at (famously progressive) Oberlin ever batted an eye about their dating, but still: at the time they got married (the same year as Loving v. Virginia) I think their marriage was illegal in like 12 or 13 states. Probably (?) the Oberlin punch cards didn't have a field for race or ethnicity; is it possible the algorithm fixed them up where human matchmakers in 1965 might not?]

33:05 Mike's online dating history: Prodigy, IRC, Usenet, OKCupid, Livejournal, yeah, I've been everywhere, man. I mean, I was and am an awkward chubby dude and back in the day, that was the way to meet people who maybe couldn't see right off that you were awkward and chubby. My philosophy about dating and meeting people online has changed a little bit since my very awkward 20s, but it was a very strange time to be single and mingling. I really can't tell you how many times I've recited that line about "the Livejournal" from The Venture Brothers, though. I probably even had an LJ icon for it.

35:53 The hooker with a heart of gold: Of course there's a TV Tropes page on this. I really liked Rob's observations on this, how it's all tied up with, of course, patriarchy and capitalism. It is interesting that despite their professed desire to demonstrate the interior and indepedent lives of the sex workers in all these '70s and '80s "hooker with a heart of gold" stories, they all seem to end with the woman ending up with the male protagonist (or, in the case of Taxi Driver, with the rescue fantasy/delusion that Rob mentions).

[Rob: It also occurs to me that whatever sex-worker positivity Risky Business and Pretty Woman manage to muster comes through their celebration of capitalism. It's been ages since I've seen either but my memory is that both films make it pretty explicit that prostitution is a form of capitalism and therefore a good thing, or at least not a very bad one. Corvette Summer maybe not so much--Annie never even gets paid!]

39:11 Corvette Summer: I remember catching parts of this 1978 movie on cable as a kid and being sort of confused by it. Mark Hamill is in his first film role since Star Wars (and since his 1978 motorcycle accident). And yeah, it had its own overly-wordy, mannered, nearly three minute long cinematic trailer.

[Rob: That trailer is something. The voice-over guy is determined to work every possible variation on "if X knew as much about Y as they do about Z..."]

43:44 "Baby, Come To Me": I should not be remiss in pointing out three more fun facts about this song, a) Michael McDonald, the very voice of Yacht Rock, is on there providing the background vocals, making this song a true pinnacle of smooth music, b) it was produced by Quincy Jones and written by Rod Temperton, two of the geniuses behind Michael Jackson's Off The Wall and Thriller, and c) it got its boost in 1982 thanks largely to its use on General Hospital (just like "Rise" by Herb Alpert, which we talked about back in HMOTD 029).

53:45 "Homer's Enemy": Hate this episode. DESPISE it. It is the beginning not only of The Simpsons' overall decline, but of the metamorphosis of Homer from a basically sympathetic all-American lug to a willfully selfish, destructive monster. Which may be the point in a greater cultural sense, given his role as sort of an avatar of post-Cold War America, but I digress.

Putting aside any "tradition" of the trope of the sitcom interloper who pulls aside the veil of illusion on a television show's wacky universe, the episode doesn't bother to temper this idea with any kind of empathy or actual humor. It's just a heartless, angry, bitter, spiteful piece of work. You can't have black comedy without actual comedy. It's awful and anyone who likes it is immediately suspect in my eyes. Here's a piece from the AV Club on its divisive nature, where more of the AV Club writers come out in favor of it than I'd like.

58:06 Jaime Weinman's post: Here is Jaime Weinman's look at "Circumstantial Evidence," where he shares some of our bafflement about the episode and the notes on its shortened length, filming with no studio audience, and Tim Reid's role in casting.

1:04:50 Guest cast: Here's our big guest cast for "Circumstantial Evidence": Daphne Maxwell as Jessica, Michael Pataki as Detective Alcorn, John Witherspoon as Detective Davies, Max Wright as Frank Bartman, Robert Hooks as the nameless prosecutor, and Winnipegger (and Academy Award nominee!) Jack Kruschen as Judge Newcomb.

1:09:00 John Davidson and ALF on Hollywood Squares: I swear, I wasn't holding out on y'all when it comes to the "I played ALF in a school play" story; it is just not something I have thought about very much lo these thirty years. But I thought you'd appreciate this clip of ALF taking over Hollywood Squares from host (and HMOTD repeat reference) John Davidson. And it is from... 1987, the very same year I was in 7th grade.

By the way, ALF is voiced (and operated) by Paul Fusco.

1:10:48 Permanent Midnight: Ben Stiller's first real foray into drama, this 1998 biopic of Hollywood screenwriter Jerry Stahl examines how soul-draining a job in Hollywood can be. ALF was changed to "Mr. Chompers" for the purposes of the movie.

1:11:33 Cop Talk spend: Sorry for the deep gaming talk here kids, but ever since discovering Robin D. Laws's wonderful GUMSHOE RPG system I tend to think of the world in terms of Investigative Spends.

1:14:30 Cincinnati Triangle: Yes, our very last Cincinnati Triangle (most likely), but it's a beaut. I would've loved to have explored more the differences between bilocation, tulpas, and Hugh Everett's many-worlds theory, but I also loved our look at Mirror Universe WKRP. I'm supposing Herb could be a sniveling toady to the Big Evil Guy in this universe; no big difference, but I suppose we could give him a conscience which he fights against relentlessly, much as Herb-Prime fights his venal, creepy side. [Rob: Yeah! Like the way Lex Luthor is a doomed hero on Earth-2.] Evil Venus, like Evil Bailey, is an exercise I'd rather not contemplate.

Wednesday, October 4, 2017

HMOTD 047: Lorraine's A Farmer?

Mike and Rob take a look at computer dating (and prostitution) in the not-so-classic "I'll Take Romance" and dive into Venus's Kafkaesque, canned laughter-backed nightmare in "Circumstantial Evidence."

(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, October 2, 2017

Computer Love

You all may have noticed over the past two and a half years that Rob and I kind of have a thing for the history of technology. I mean, okay, it's literally Rob's job and as for me, well, I think everyone knows that I love me some retrotech. So it's probably not surprising that with the computer dating-related plot of this week's Les-centric episode, "I'll Take Romance," Rob and I maybe went a little bit overboard in looking at the history of computer dating.

We had to cut a good 8 to 10 minutes from our discussion on the history of computer dating, video dating, and internet dating but we wanted to share some of the links we talk about (and some of the ones we cut) in our Monday post to whet your appetite for Wednesday's episode.

Computer Dating:

Operation Match at Harvard received all the media hype back in the mid-'60s, but computer dating was happening all over the US, UK, and elsewhere. This video from 538 and ESPN talks a lot about the Harvard boys and a little bit about some of the other university computer dating clubs around in the mid-'60s. But in this week's podcast we'll also give some of the other major competitors to Harvard's "Computer Date Zero" crown their due, including Joan Ball from East London.

Video Dating:

We clipped our 1980s video dating discussion from the episode, but I think folks should definitely take the time to check out a couple of sample montages of 1980s video dating. Also, we mentioned this on our Facebook pages ages ago, but Jan Smithers starred in a pilot for an unproduced romance anthology series based around video dating called The Love Tapes.

Internet Dating:

Cringe along with me through this Computer Chronicles episode from 1997 where they discuss "cyber dating." Knowing that my first real relationship, begun over IRC for goodness sakes in 1995, had come and gone by the time this aired on PBS is alternately humbling and troubling.

And, as a soundtrack for your link surfing, here's Kraftwerk with their ode to "data dates," "Computer Love."