Lady Godiva was a Freedom Fighter.
"Somehow I doubt you're really all that big in Japan." -Ted Leo
"I just got served a slice of humble pie." -MC Steinberg
"I kind of want to pour this Fire sauce packet in my eye." -Kiss Of Octopus
Annotated highlights of the mirth, music, and mayhem:
-If for some reason you're not already consuming the consistently-glorious opening music set, don't miss the Boris (now NYT-approved) track that Tom spins at the 8:48 mark. The Best Album of 2006 race is not ova! Pink will take out Missile Sunset. You heard it here first.
- And then there's ... Spike (starts at: 25:45), whose call is greeted by his new theme song. Is it just me, or does Spike actually sound a bit like Beatrice Arthur? Maybe it actually is Bea Arthur? First Best Show conspiracy theory of 2006! I'm always initially a bit thrown when Spike calls because he often starts in that Arthurian, grandmotherly tone ("Heeeeelllllooooo, Tom....."), which recalls the voice of my dearly-departed grandmother, so it triggers my mind to expect warm, soothing words of praise and Werther's Original candies and then this guy starts bringing out the Gimp and he's tying people up and whipping them into obedience and I'm all like GET OFF TOM'S PHONE! I'll keep an eye on this Bea Arthur thing. If Betty White or Rue McClanahan start showing up on that Pollard tour to stalk Wurster then I may really be on to something.
So anyway, Spike did round out (ha ha) his visual description by revealing that he's 6' 4" (height) and wears dungarees in the range of 46W. Since he previously claimed to look like Malcolm-Jamal Warner, Tom notes that this is a decidedly plus-size M-JW. I'm thinking we're dealing with something more like this. (Nickname: "The Gluten-Free Refrigerator"). Tom also suggested an interesting theory regarding Spike's after-hours antics -- he's Tyler Durdening it up and engaing in some self-discipline.
- Tom finds an intriguing eBay auction (starts at 31:55) for a Los Angeles Non-Scratchy Record Deal, which he considers bidding on to engage in Tusk-level studio squandering. Fave sales pitch: "Question: How can William Hung have an album out and YOU not? Answer: The people behind William had a plan. Stop waiting to be discovered, take control and make this YOUR year." People with a plan win in 2006! Tom read the testimonial of former winner Julie Mains and attempts to sample something from her hooks-and-chops-laden, cutout bin-destined debut record. After initially mistaking a dial tone for a Kraftwerky intro to one of her songs, we were denied a taste of her artistry due to a malfunctioning Myspace ("The most defective site on the Internet"). I have since sampled JM's "Fine China" here. That song could use some FLUTE.
The same seller had another auction for a A Starring Role In A Hollywood (short) Film. I can vouche for this auction as I am a previous high bidder and appeared in a short film called Days of Deceit with co-stars Taryn Manning, Richard Kind, and Chelsea Peretti. The film is an adaptation of a short story about a parrot who has lung cancer and was directed by Fred Savage, who runs a really fun set and lets you do your thing. We didn't get into Sundance, but the short will appear in Wholphin No. 3, where it will be nestled between an episode of a Kazakhstani version of Just Shoot Me and a short documentary about a guy who plays Wilco songs on a kazoo while riding a unicycle. If I had to describe Days, I'd say The Station Agent meets March of the Penguins. I've gotten decent reviews, although the bastard people over at Film Threat called my performance "infuriatingly bland" and compared my chemistry with Peretti to Tom and Nicole in Eyes Wide Shut. Ouch.
- Mack's back (starts at 50:53) and he's still claiming to own a book called The Encyclopedia of Heavy Metal by Daniel Bugs-a-pan ("It exists!!!!). He's a bit worn out from a hard day of pointless English/Language Arts tests and delivers a nice riff on the social vs. academic aspects of the educational experience. My mental picture of this great kid is a rock-lovin', modern day Sam Weir, taking refuge in A/V Club, getting picked on by jerky classmates. (Choice Tom quip: "Have you ever called a sixth grader 'Master'?") Hang in there, Mack! The good guys will ultimately be on your side. Word of warning for your jump to high school next year: don't waste your time with the dull, right-wing cheerleaders -- take the New Girl out to an all-you-can-eat rib joint and impress her with your knowledge of The Scorpions, Aerosmith, and Yngwie Malmsteen. And keep practicing on the skins so you can indeed become the next Neil Peart and have the last laugh on the "crazy, preppy jock people". Bad guys won in 2005. Mack wins in 2006. This one's for you:
Rush - "O Baterista" (live in Rio)
- Some good theme song entries (starts 57:51), although the first of my two faves is much more of a straight-up, music-adding remix of Barry Dworkin's acapella rendition of thrill-rockers The Gas Station Dogs' "Rock 'n Roll Dreams'll Come Through". Nice work -- Dworkin actually rocks now! The other is The Themeweavers, LLC's infectious, powerful theme song. "When you're reachin' for the top shelf, there's isn't any debate", so this seems like a winner. Also in this segment: Tom is repeatedly stung by the IM sound, fans of My Brother and Me call to reveal the unoriginality -- and subsequent disqualification -- of one theme song entry, and debate about whether people who hate teevee are Communists or just jerks.
-The (Legendary?) Mahky Ramone, drummer for the World Famous Ramones, checks in (starts at 1:31) from his solo tour in Tokyo to update Guest-List-Scammin' Tom about some new projects:
1. Marky Ramone action figures are back in-stock, including one that features Marky drumming in the nude (some people are into that), which will make for a nice companion piece for my Ramones Toxic Teddies.
2. The self-promoting "Punk Rock Blitzkreig" (previously called "Punk Rock Planet") on Sirius.
3. Marky Ramone Films' Rock 'N' Roll High School 3 (RnRHS2K5) - a hard R-rated cross between the original, A Hard Day's Night, 28 Days Later, and Silence of the Lambs. The film will be cast with Erasmus Hall High School's distinguished alumni, such as Donald Most, Bernie Kopell, and Babs Streisand. I won't divulge many SPOILERS here -- you'll have to buy a ticket and view it at your local cineplex -- but the big twist is that Mahky develops a new strain of DNA that grows serial killers and someone steals it from his leather jacket, forcing him to save a "hot teacher" whose been kidnapped and thrown in a pit at The Continental by a newly-sprouted Hannibal Lecter.
4. Mahky and Little Mahky, a bland ventriloquist act -- look for them doing warmup shows in Jersey clubs before taking it to Manhattan.
Tom asks Mahky to be a celebrity judge for the Battle Rap, and since WFMU is rolling in dough, he requests a fee of $12 million. He then reduces that to $12,730 in order to pay Andy Wallace to finish mixing The Intruders' "The Job That Ate My Brain 2006", which never got the right treament on Mondo Bizarro. Ultimately, he agrees to do it in exchange for plugs for upcoming NYC shows with The Misfits.
Battle Rap 2006, #002: MC Steinberg
(Defending Champion) vs. Professional Rock Star Ted Leo
Calm Before the Storm (starts at 2:12)
Indie entertainer Ted Leo is in the studio trying to makes sense of how he managed to get mixed up in a Battle Rap with Steinberg and fears his stentorian falsetto will sound silly in the format. Mainstream entertainer MC Steinberg, fresh off cracking 1,000 Friends on Myspace, is focused and confident (Apollo Creed!), warning Ted about his extensive training (including potentially inconsequential weightlifting) and predicts a KO victory.
[Myspace race UPDATE (as of 1/23/06): Tom = 699 (lowered after a recent weeding out of awful bands and novelty friends like The Jolly Green Giant) / MC Steinberg = 1,043 / British cross-dresser Dane Cook = 803,235]
Round 1 (starts at 2:29)
MC Steinberg: Crisp dis track, suggests The Pharmacists are now part of the Steinberg posse and that Leo's records would not sell even if they cost 50 cents. Notes that Leo is lucky it was delivered in the acappella format since if married with beats, Ted would shake in his sheets.
Ted Leo: Dirty Jersey vegan! Very solid, robust dis focusing on how Steinberg's Best Show calls and Myspace graffiti waste time better spent watching Law & Order.
Celebrity Judge Panel:
Petey: Liked Leo's rhymes but felt he was trying too hard and preferred Steinberg's flow.
Philly Boy Roy (using a hoagie as a pacifier to stay silent during the raps): Goes with Steinberg since the Garden State is #1 on his S Hitlist.
Mahky Ramone: Favored Ted's deeper voice and flow. (Also refers to Petey as an "infant".)
Timmy von Trimble: Notes that he hates this "music"; declares a draw since both combatants had cool stuff, but it was often hard for his little ears to process the rhymes. Mentions that Hitler was also a vegetarian.
Recidivism pick: Ted Leo
Round 2 (starts at 2:38)
MCS: "Your career's runnin' out/And so are your hairs" + "Tiny Tim called/He wants his high-pitched voice back" + "Your biggest hit to date was a Kelly Clarkson COVA" = NICE
TL: GOMP! "Overgrown man-child/baby with a rattle" + "And like my man Corey Harris/I knocked your mother 13 times" (Line of the Night, and it hit too close to home for Steinberg: "My Mom's in rehab, jerk.")
Celebrity Judge Panel:
Petey: Claims Leo reminds him of a California-based Chinese rapper that he used to correspond with and was impressed by his transitions into verses (that's called FLOW); docks Steinberg for a short rap, which sets off some fireworks. Steinberg was under the impression that the rules stipulated three rounds of four verses, which Leo disputes. Petey suggests a 4th round of freestyle raps and is dismissed from the panel for insubordination. This does not disapoint Mahky: "The voice was kinda gratin'."
PBR: "Steinberg was pretty cruel, but I gotta say Teddy was a little crueler, which I'm sorta into." This prompts PBR to mention a feud he has with his cousin who borrowed a lawnmower in 1984 and has yet to return it.
MR: Favored Steinberg's more concise rap, which hit him in the hot, and felt bad about Leo's maternal zing.
TvT: His gut reaction to Steinberg's brevity was "Hey, kid, where's the beef?", but the rules crack-up has him on a quest to crawl inside the hard drives of Leo and Steinberg to research any electronic messages exchanged about Battle Rap guidelines. He also reiterates his longstanding threat to -- you guessed it -- jump in Tom's mouth and stab him from the inside. TvT's vote: DRAW.
Recidivism pick: Ted Leo
Round 3 (starts at 2:44)
MCS: Great off-the-dome referencing of Ted's round 2 rap ("Your rhymes are too long/You're breakin' the rules") and a stunning, brilliant "Me and Mia" sing-song sample.
TL: In a bold, controversial move, Ted does an acoustic cover of Big Star's "The Ballad of El Goodo". Immediately following the song, Steinberg admits defeat and laments his big head ("The celebrity ate me up"). Ted proves a good sportsman by offering to concede victory due to rules violations, but the damage was already done -- Ted Leo dethroned MC Steinberg.
Celebrity Judge Panel:
PBR - "It's a draw to me -- you're both losers". PBR suggests settling it with a push-up contest and reveals that he's currently doing some irregular ones.
MR - Praises Ted's tuneful, original song and offers to add fast drums to the track in the future; can't recall Steinberg's rap.
TvT: Not pleased with Ted thumbing his nose at the rules by doing a musical song and recommends disqualification.
Recidivism pick: MC Steinberg
Overall Recidivism Winner: Ted Leo 2 rounds to 1.
Steinberg's talent will not be denied and he will rise again. I recommend that he lay low for awhile -- leave the maistream and get back to his underground roots -- and maybe cut a few tracks with Nick and Amelia to get some confidence back.
MC Teddy T is recording a hip-hop EP with Rick Rubin at the helm (due in July on Gern Blandsten): "If you bum-rush Teddy/I feel bad for you, son/I got 99 problems/MC Steinberg ain't one"
I recommend a scroll through this thread (NSFW squeeze-alicious avatar from "Kiss of Octopus" -- it's probably Greg Graffin) where the kids are getting their first taste of TBSOWFMU via Leo and it's mostly an impatient whingefest (though Tom kind of wins them over with the Myspace riffage and they dig the Mahky). Love that they express doubt that the battle will even happen! Like it's gonna be some kind of urband legend that'll land on Snopes: The rumored Battle Rap of January 2006 between Ted Leo and MC Steinberg DID NOT HAPPEN. It was a clever ruse concocted by N.J. radio personality Tom Scharpling to boost ratings. The most notable howler is matt1419's "the song was The Ballad of El Goodo by Evan Dando from the Empire Records soundtrack" in response to a query about Ted's Round 3 piece being a new song.
However, the funniest comment in this thread actually has nothing to do with anti-Best Show tomfoolery or musical ignorance. Here it is: "Okay I've been tricked into going and drinking beer with girls so I'm gonna leave. If someone can record this I'd be forever grateful." -aminorthreat55. Tricked! I assume this "trick" went something like:
GladGirl: Hey, u wanna drink some beer? Danielle and Megan are going.
GladGirl: Cool. Have you been able to get into Myspace today????
aminorthreat55: i tried to do a post an hour ago but the blogs were down. so were the pics and I couldn't get any songs to play.
GladGirl: I know! I had a bunch of new pics from Trevor's party that I wanted to add. AND I HEARD IT WILL BECOME A PAY SITE!!!!!!!!!
aminorthreat55: whaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaat?? that's so gay! can't wait to hear what Tom has to say this time. someone told me that he's facing charges for comitting an act in an old folks home.
GladGirl: Yuck...ok get ur ass over here NOW, bitch!
Here's the fourth round that Petey wanted:
Big Star Battle - Ted Leo vs. Evan Dando vs. Colin Meloy.
Ted Leo - "The Ballad of El Goodo"
Evan Dando - "The Ballad of El Goodo" (original from the Empire Records soundtrack)
Colin Meloy - "The Ballad of El Goodo"
Vote in the comment bin so Philly Boy Roy can do the tallies.
Tom had six minutes left in the show, so Ted performed a new song that I assume will be on his next record.
Ted Leo - "Dancing in the Dark"
I guess this track has been kicking around for a few years since I found a video clip of a performance from 6/25/2002. Good, tuneful song!
On the next ... The Best Show on WFMU: The tent's still standing and the good guys keep winning.
The Zombies - "This Will Be Our Year"