Friday, January 12, 2018

Show Notes for HMOTD 048: Harold, A Little Razorback Hog

1:50 "WKRP is on the fourteenth floor..." So why do buildings often not have a numbered thirteenth floor? Obviously, it's triskaidekaphobia in action, but there's actually a little more to it than that. Unsurprisingly, 99% Invisible, the great podcast/blog on architecture, infrastructure, and design has an article about it.

4:35 Get to the bank on Friday afternoon: I'm a little bit of a strange case here, as the first bank account I held as an adult had an ATM card attached (right around 1992, 1993). So my late-Gen X self doesn't personally remember the days of having to get to the bank before 5 on Friday. Here's a piece from NBC News in 1977 about the early days of off-hours withdrawals and electronic banking.

5:43 "Three bucks on a hun!" Money Mart! An Ontario staple in the early '90s, or so I'm told. This commercial is Poochie-riffic. Zero line-ups! It is interesting to see basically a payday loan company market to young urban go-getters like this. Their market has changed radically in the past quarter-century, for sure.

[Rob: "Poochie-riffic" is exactly right, Mike. This ad for Canadian jackals financial services firm Money Mart was beloved and endlessly quoted when I was in college. That particularly unconvincing phrase, "Three Bucks on a Hun," spawned many parodies, rebus puzzles, and at least one campus band.

Would you call the guys in the ad "young urban go-getters"? They're young, yes, but they're not yuppies--it's clear they're working construction, which makes them very much the target market for payday loans and similar predatory services. Even in university I did have the awareness to wonder if all the hilarity around "three bucks on a hun" was directed at the cheesiness of the ad or also contained some snobbishness about the world of people living paycheck to paycheck.

Money Mart has been sued multiple times for charging illegal interest rates--according to plaintiffs in one 2003 case, when you include all Money Mart's ancilliary fees, they were charging the equivalent of 120,000% annual interest (that's, like, $120,000 on a hun!). Money Mart has paid out millions in damages but admits no wrongdoing.]

[Mike: Well, the commercial actors were wearing flannel, and I forgot that 1992 was itself sort of a hinge year when it comes to what that signified.]

6:30 Grown-ups loving fire engines: It's not just Arthur Carlson and Ray Stantz who love fire engines and fire houses, how about the great Rube Waddell!

8:35 Johnny's derring-do: Here's that TV Guide article about Howard Hesseman, Man of Action!

9:10 Caribbean vacation: Andy's Caribbean getaway is, as we talked about last season, entirely in keeping with the early-'80s trend of Caribbean countries marketing themselves to budget-conscious American vacationers.

9:50 "This is where they got the idea for Die Hard": Actually, did you know that Die Hard was based on the same series of novels that gave us Frank Sinatra's relatively gritty 1968 film The Detective? Nothing Lasts Forever, The Detective's 1979 sequel, was the basis for Die Hard and also very much part and parcel of the novelistic branch of the '70s disaster movie (like Thomas Harris's Black Sunday) we've talked about a few times over the course of the podcast. See, that's a much less annoying factoid than reminding people that Die Hard is a Christmas movie.

14:00 "Officer Shanks. Explain fire." Damn, that's a great line. And yeah, fire is really really hard to explain! Les is absolutely right to demand this answer.

[Rob: I think I came pretty close with "rapid oxidization"!]

14:25 "This is starting to feel like a bottle episode." From the Community second-season episode "Cooperative Calligraphy."

21:12 Gilligan's Island Lagoon: I don't need to say that the Gilligan's Island lagoon has a secret history, do I? I mean, at this point, are any of us shocked?

23:26 et subseq. Battle of the Network Stars: Get yourself to the AV Club to read this fantastic detailed oral history of Battle of the Network Stars. Its heyday was 1976-1985, really smack dab in the middle of my TV childhood. A lot of the shows are on YouTube, but if you want to go right to the Reid vs. Baio obstacle course video, you can do so here. Poor Tim. He got destroyed.

I misspoke a little bit on the Alvin Garrett thing; it was his stature that ostensibly led Cosell to describe him in such a way. And as we hear on the obstacle course call (and in a previous broadcast from 1972), Cosell certainly called other white athletes "monkeys" too. [Rob: And "gazelles"!]

And on the topic of celebrities on game shows in the '70s and '80s getting money: my own memory is that celebrities in the 1970s definitely used to be awarded cash winnings (for instance, on Celebrity Bowling) but by the '80s celebrities on special celeb-only versions of game shows often would be playing for a charity. Not sure what this means, but it's interesting.

31:25 Cincinnati Chili: Yes, we pretty much had to cover Cincinnati chili before the end of the podcast; it's one of those specifically southern Ohio things that definitely needed a call-out and I'm so happy we didn't have to shoehorn it in (like that Battle of the Network Stars stuff above, heh). If you want some disturbingly high-resolution shots of "plates" of this "chili," here, knock yourself out. But the origins of this chili do seem to come from Greek tomato-based dishes like moussaka. On the whole, I'd rather have the real Greek thing.

34:13 Hawaiian pizza: And on the flipside, yes, Hawaiian pizza, London Ontario's own contribution to unaccountably popular fast-food flavor juxtapositions.

42:20 "Jennifer and Johnny's Charity": We talked a lot about the failure of the federal government to look after the sick and poor in the early years of Reagan's first term during HMOTD 046.

46:27 "Rutabaga is a funny word." I hate to link to a Dilbert in these dark times of Scott Adams having gone batshit crazy, but I always liked this strip about inherently funny words. Also, slight correction: the Scottish rutabaga is a neep, with a P.

48:02 "It felt very New WKRP": We talked about Les having been fully Flanderized in our April Fools episode on The New WKRP In Cincinnati.

50:50 Jaime Weinman on "Dear Liar": Here's our old stalwart WKRP fire-keeper Jaime Weinman on "Dear Liar" and how out of character everyone seemed.

52:22 Janet Cooke: This drama played out to its conclusion mere months before this WKRP episode aired. Here's a good summary piece from the Washington Post's then-ombudsman about "Jimmy's World" (the original piece), its initial rapturous reception and subsequent rejection. Another piece from 1996 about her life since the scandal is really heartbreaking.

58:10 Jayson Blair and Stephen Glass: The Blair and Glass cases resemble Cooke's only in their use of fabrication to preserve the respective fabulists' careers; as Rob noted, their crimes were far more persistent and egregious. Interesting how they, as men, were able to get away with much much more (and how their eventual "punishment" resulted in far fewer long-term career ramifications than Cooke's).

I'd be remiss if I didn't A Million Little Pieces, another famous early '00s case of fabulism, and yet another case of a man getting out of controversy relatively unscathed. There's also the JT LeRoy case, a little more complicated than James Frey's book.

And this section wouldn't be complete without the greatest journalistic fabulist of our age, Peter O'Hanraha-hanrahan.

1:00:18 Dan Rather: I may be rather harsh on Dan Rather in this segment, but come on. The Killian documents were such an obvious modern-day fabrication, it's embarrassing that no one on the CBS News team was able to see this, pull the producers aside, and say you may want to reconsider running with this. Absolutely, I blame the ratfuckers/dirty tricksters who unleashed this hoax on the world, but Rather and his team deserve much of the blame for cutting corners and not doing journalism. It's a shame his stellar career had to end this way, but it's no excuse for abdicating your responsibilities.

1:05:48: "Who's Pulitzer?" Like many other Gilded Age magnates, Joseph Pulitzer did attempt to buy himself some peace of mind with his philanthropic endowment of Columbia University's school of journalism and the Pulitzer Prizes.

1:10:59 Spider Jerusalem: Subject of the oddly prescient comic series Transmetropolitan (1997-2002) by Warren Ellis, Spider is a futuristic Hunter S. Thompson muckraking gonzo journalist reporting in a futuristic City that embodies all the best and worst of America.

1:11:34 "Huhuh. Bummer." The official subtitle of our podcast ever since our entry into the Reagan/Trump years.

1:11:44 The Future of Journalism: This clip courtesy the aforementioned CBC and Rob's colleague at Western, James Compton.

1:15:00 Local news: Of course, as soon as Rob and I posit that local news is the way for us to reclaim a journalism not dependent on capitalism... evil conglomerate Sinclair Broadcasting decides the way forward in propagandizing Americans is by taking over local news broadcasts.

1:16:07 Barbara Cason: One slight correction, Barbara Cason did not play the head nurse on Trapper John, M.D.; she was just a returning guest star.

[Rob: That clip of Cason is from Cold Turkey, a Norman Lear comedy from 1971, about an entire town that tries to give up smoking. Friend of the podcast Leah Biel recognized it right away.]

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