The Smith Effect.
“I broke that out of my canister of quips and snaps.” -- Philly Boy Roy, finally revealing the source of his neverending supply of comebacks
“I admire any kind of person that can make a livin’ sitting down.” -- Philly Boy Roy on his respect for sedentary professionals
“They’re not at all cosmopolitan like we’s is." -- Philly Boy Roy on the unsophisticated Ames, Iowa-based Zieglers
“They made a bad record, you don't need to play it!” -- Fred, not a fan of Led Zeppelin's "Hot Dog"
“Knock it off” -- Tom, sending a message to Hezbollah
"They're not your fans, buddy." -- Tom delivering some bad news to meet-and-greet proponent Robert Kelly
“Daddy likes.” -- Tom after getting some Fruit Punch + Berry Gatorade to put out the fire in his mouth
“We bring guns to knife fights.” – Tom, telling the Goshen kids how The Best Show rolls
“I hate everything about this.” -- Tom, finding nothing to admire in Clerks
“I’m reading this guy’s book. I’m studying every move!” -- Tom on his Rommel-inspired approach to defeating Kevin Smith
“One for Jay and Silent Bob.” -- Single-ticket guys about to get their opening day Smith fix
“There might be a couple of copies of Daredevil #1 at Kevin Smith’s house.” -- Tom, suggesting some budgetary tomfoolery on Clerks II
“Let me just let the local ruffian from my town pollute the screen for 10 minutes.” -- Kevin Smith on an alternative approach to the intense emotional sweep of Magnolia
“You did it, Smith. You got me in the theater again.” -- Tom, on the myterious allure of the View Askewniverse
"How many ladles of spoiled soup must you people eat before you realize the whole pot has gone bad?" -- Tom, wondering when the fanboys will Wise Up
( Click here to buy Juggernaut Rides '89-'98 [IMPORT])
The Thermals - "Here's Your Future"
( Click here to pre-order The Body, The Blood, The Machine)
Chad VanGaalen - "Dead Ends"
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Guided By Voices - "Goldheart Mountaintop Queen Directory" (Live at the 40 Watt, 1/22/00)
Guided By Voices - "The Official Ironmen Rally Song" (Live at the 40 Watt, 1/22/00)
( Click here to buy Guided By Voices recordings)
I received an overwhelmingly positive response (2 pro, 1 con) to the new feature launched in the 7/11/06 show recap, so here's the hotttly-anticipated Youse Are On Notice #2.
I wasn't even supposed to be here recapping today, but I've got my POT-80 Porta-Ghetto, some Soul Asylum tapes (post-Twin/Tone only), a fully-loaded canister of pop culture references, and a small "Buddy Christ" figurine to guide me. In other words, snootchie bootchies!
Wit heavy hearts: Distraught Philadelphians line up for a vigil to honor the life of cheesesteak pioneer Harry Olivieri. Not pictured: Roy Ziegler, Jr. convincing his father to hotwire and steal the vehicles of the mourners.
- Philly Boy Roy checks in (starts at 25:17) with a whimpering "Poor Harry ...", and Tom's not sure who he's talking about. PBR thinks Tom's ignorance is crazy and reveals that it's Harry Olivieri. Tom wants to know a.) who that is and b.) why PBR is crying. Harry is the brother of Pat Olivieri, of Pat’s Steaks fame, and he recently died at the age of 90. The brothers co-invented the cheesesteak, thus making them eternal culinary heroes in Philly. PBR kinda knew Harry because he threw him out of Pat's a few times. In fact, PBR had a rough relationship with both brothers, and Pat, who died in 1970, threw him out when he was a six-year-old whippersnapper because he was stealing stuff from the restaurant. Tom wonders what one could actually steal from a restaurant, and PBR says he and 15 other kids from his class tried to take their oven. The heist didn't get too far -- they thought the oven would be on rollers, but it was bolted down to the kitchen floor. Tom tells him that it's pretty standard for restaurant ovens, and PBR says: “Don’t get snippy, I’m in mourning.”
Tom says he’s sorry that Harry died and feels for the Olivieri family's loss. PBR admits that he did not like anyone in his family since they all threw him out on occasion, but he gives Harry requisite props for the cheesesteak invention. PBR wants Tom to play a song in memory of Harry’s passing: “Cheesesteak Rag” by The Mummers, a 45-rpm record issued by PHIdelity Records. (The "PHI" honors the code for Philadelphia International Airport.)
Cop sirens can be heard in the background and PBR explains that he’s in front of Pat’s Steaks having a "mourning thing". The cops are trying to keep order among the 7,000 people, a wild scene PBR compares to the events in Tehran when the Ayatollah’s body was paraded through nem streets. A bit earlier, they took Harry’s body on a similar journey to the funeral home through the streets of South Philly. However, a bunch of the pallbearers (likely drunk from grief-fueled Yeungling consumption) got carried away and he kinda spilled out. PBR is trying to blend into the crowd because the cops are after them and people was taking pictures of the spill. PBR tells Tom that he might see him on the cover of the Enquirer on Wednesday. Tom wonders if it’s the National Enquirier, and PBR tells him that it’s the Philadelphia Inquirier, calling Tom a "Philadummy".
Tom thinks this is the debut of a new retort, but PBR reminds him that he broke out the term from his "canister of quips and snaps" during his call two weeks ago. He calls Tom a regular "dummy" for that mistake. PBR then suggests that Tom did not have the “cajones” to do a show last week. Tom informs PBR that he was simply on a nice vacation, and PBR wants to know where he went. Tom says he will address it in an upcoming segment, but allows PBR to take some guesses: Buffalo, Rochester, Upper Merion, PA., and Ames, Iowa, the site of the Ziegler family reunions. PBR explains that his family actually comes from Iowa, but they broke off with nem other Iowan Zieglers and came to Philly in the late 1800s. PBR asks Tom if he’s seen National Lampoon’s Vacation, specifically the scene when Clark Griswold and his clan went to visit Randy Quaid and his clan. PBR thinks that the cultural clash is similar to the Ziegler reunions because the Iowa-based family members are "not at all cosmopolitan like we’s is.” Tom speculates that it’s like Randy Quaid meeting himself, but PBR says that his family is the city people, and pulls a trusty "dunce" from his canister.
PBR heard Tom spin Led Zepplin’s “Hot Dog” in his opening music set and thinks it's a bit odd – a maligned cut from a maligned album (In Through the Out Door)). PBR describes the track as “kinda rockabilly” and Tom agrees with everything he said except the word “kinda”. PBR has always thought Bonham was a little heavy-handed on the drum kit. He thinks his style is perfect for a track like “Achilles Last Stand,” but believes Bonzo was out of his element when the band tried to soften it up a bit. Tom didn't know that PBR was such a big Zep fan. PBR says he’s a total drum geek and has subscribed to Modern Drummer since age 7. PBR is not a drummer, but he wishes he was. Despite not playing the instrument, he reads the magazine cover to cover and is wearing Modern Drummer sweatbands during the call. Tom wants to know what PBR gets out of a niche magazine geared for one type of musician. PBR explains that he admires any person that can earn a living while seated.
Tom correctly assumes that PBR also admires computer programmers, security guards, and tollbooth operators. PBR also subscribes to Tollbooth Monthly and Security Guard Digest, which feature centerfolds of the best looking guys and gals in those professions. PBR wonders why Tom sounds so surprised, and Tom says he can’t believe there’s a "movie" like that. Tom’s misspeak gives PBR an idea: Tollbooth: The Movie. PBR asks Tom to guess who could bring the film to life with incredible ease. PBR says it's someone Tom knows, so it's an easy guess: Trent L. Strauss.
PBR says he’s a huge fan of Strauss’s work, and owns all nem Face Peelers on VHS except for Face Peelers 5, the only film of the series that Strauss didn't direct. He compares Strauss's teen slasher Blood Puddles 2: The Oozing to Citizen Kane, and Tom agrees that within the splatter genre the comparison might actually be apt. PBR says he can't wait until the release of "TBK", and Tom quickly identifies it as The Tool Belt Killer. PBR is a bit surprised that Tom's heard of it, and Tom says he's heard a bit too much about it. PBR thinks it’s due out in September, but heard that something crazy happened on a hike that Trent Strauss went on. Tom said he was actually climbing Mt. Everest. PBR said he heard he was climbing some hill and ain’t been heard from, but Tom tells him that he called the show once post-hike, confirming that he was still alive.
Tom assumed that it was news, but PBR did not read about it in Premiere or Creative Screenwriting. Tom jokingly suggests checking Uninspired Screenwriting, and PBR wonders if that’s a dig at yours truly. Tom says it’s more of a dig at Trent L. Strauss. PBR says he has plenty of digs to throw right back at Tom if he’s up for it. PBR vows to bring a backhoe over to WFMU, provided that Rent-Alls is open. If not, he’ll have to wait until next Tuesday around 5 p.m., rent it, and then wait a bit before driving up and doing him. Since it goes 8 mph, Tom tells him that he won’t make it. Tom suggests leaving tomorrow in the hopes of arriving by next Tuesday.
PBR reiterates his request for “Cheesesteak Rag”, and since Tom can't fulfill it, PBR breaks into song:
Everybody's doin' nem Cheesesteak Rag!
Everybody's doin' nem Cheesesteak Rag!
From South Philly to Roosevelt Avenue,
Everyone’s doin' that Cheesesteak Rag!
All night, All night!
...and all day!
Tom says it sounds like a very focused song, and PBR says Tom should wait for the banjo to come in courtesy of nem Mummers. Tom sarcastically bills the banjo as one of his favorite instruments, so PBR decides it’s time to kick him to the curb. Tom says that PBR cannot kick him to the curb, so PBR initiates a hang-up war. Tom claims victory!
- Fred calls (starts 39:16) to propose a truce because he's also in mourning. Fred recently caught a mouse at his "house" and kept him in a cage, gave him clothes, and fed him cheese balls and Cheez Doodles®. Fred preferred to keep him as a pet instead of offing him. The relationship was short-lived -- after either three or five days, the mouse went and died on him. Tom presses Fred on his residence, and it's revealed that he has a room in a building with a lot of other rooms.
Fred was so depressed that he didn't even do his “thing” today. His voice is not as hoarse because he couldn’t even be happy and do any drugs. Fred hopes that Tom is not mad at him since he's temporarily drug-free. Tom says he comes on strong and talks tough without backing it up. Fred says he’s just speaking the Truth. Tom mentions the proposed fight on the Triboro Bridge a few weeks back and Fred claims he would have shown, but figured Tom had to do the rest of the show and could never make it. Tom wants to let it go and move on.
Fred reluctantly grants Tom permission to play “bad Led Zeppelin” because it’s his show. Tom wants to know what’s wrong with “Hot Dog”, and Fred says everybody knows the difference between good Zep and bad Zep. He says that Tom needs to accept that they made a bad record and not play it. Fred thinks Tom should play good stuff like Jim E. Hendrix and Ike & Tina Turner, music that first locked him into WFMU. Fred says the mouse is starting to smell, but he can’t bring himself to toss it. He asks Tom if he should save the mouse bones as a memento. Tom says it’s his call on the bone collecting. Fred remains sad, but Tom assures him that there will be another mouse to catch. Fred ends the call by predictably praising last week's show with fill-in Billy Jam.
Curb Your Enthusiasm, Eh?: Toronto's answer to Larry David is all aboot charm, not laughs.
- Tom begins the discussion (starts 43:56) of his mini-vacation escape to Niagara Falls and Toronto by apologizing to area FOTs for not notifying them of his arrival. The Kid needed a break and was in cool-down mode. Tom was pleased with the vacation spots, but found the intermittent, 1994-ish Internet access in his Toronto hotel room to be soft-serve. Tom speculates that Toronto listeners have to deal with constant cut-outs when listening to the live stream. Tom scolds Toronto for the bush-league move of forcing him into an Internet cafe alongside weirdo gamers out for a night on the town. Tom gives a thumbs-down for Internet access, but gives a thumbs-up for Canadian TV. He mentioned three highlights of his viewing:
1. The entire six-episode run of an amazing program called Hart Of The Annex. Tom describes the show as the response of some dude who saw Curb Your Enthusiasm and decided to do his own version with him just tooling around his apartment and hanging out in Toronto. It's financed by having scenes take place at local businesses as advertisements. Tom will definitely not need side-replacement surgery, but did find it charming and beautifully Canadian.
2. Prank Patrol, a half-hour lowercase-p prank program that achieves new levels of gentleness. The Discovery Kids Canada offers a description for the episode Tom watched:
"Our Pranster [sic] (Chelsea) challenges her brother, self-proclaimed King of Pranking, by setting him up with an Archaelogist to dig up dinosaur bones. But he discovers much more than he imagined."
Tom said that the prank involved a Canadian special effects guru constructing a dinosaur egg from which a remote-conrol dinosaur would eventually emerge. The brother ran seven feet away from it at the reveal. A monster then came out of the bushes and it attacked the host of the show, who was pretending to be the archaelogist. The brother immediately untangled the bottom-shelf ruse: “Oh, that’s fake.”
3. NBA MVP Steve Nash doing commercials for MDG, a Canadian computer company. In the ad, Nash tells Canadians that they have to stay competitive with the world by being on top of technology. In order to do that, they can get a PC, the latest software, and an .mp3 player from MDG for $1/day. Tom thought it sounded like a good deal until realizing that the .mp3 player cost $9, the computer cost $200, and the latest software cost $40. I did some digging around and discovered that the PC comes with the Jock Squad OS and most of the parts are refurbished pieces from the NC Radio Hut (Jeff Cooper's cousin is the CEO of MDG).
Tom concludes that when it comes to the hardwood, Nash is the MVP, but when it comes to selling computers, he's the LVP -- Least Valuable Pitchman. Tom tells the people of Canada to get their computers at a big-box retailer like Best Buy or their local Mom-and-Pop boutique. Tom says that if you want to learn about crossover moves, Nash is your guy. That diagonal, falling-backwards-in-the-paint shot? Nash. Trying to get your hands on some live Tragically Hip cuts? Ask Steve Nash. But computers? Sorry, Steve Nash. You're not the guy.
- Ivan calls (51:07) and his “uh”-laden funny voice yielded a quick dismissal. Mike the Associate Producier reveals that he did not use the funny voice when first calling, so this prompted a new Funny Voice Policy: Mike screens a call and puts them on hold. If they start doing a funny voice when Tom puts them on the air, Mike yells out “funny voice!”. The caller runs the risk of pretending that a funny voice is real and trying to get on the air with it. Otherwise, you will get busted.
Ivan calls back using his real voice and wants to know if Tom has ever been to Wawa market. Tom has. He wants to know if Tom enjoys it. Tom does. He wants Tom's take on the Wawa Gatorade selection. Tom's never really focused on it. Ivan is specifically referring to the Montgomery, NJ, location on route 206. He’s certain that Tom has passed by it because he’s been to the Princeton Record Exchange. This Wawa apparently has a Gatorade archive containing four cases -- CASES! -- of Gatorade in every color, style, and smell. Every varietal ever produced by the Gatorade company. Tom's not that impressed and responds with "And?" followed by a bomb noise. The combination of unfunny voice and unfunny observational humor (Dennis Miller, Jr.) yields bad news for young Ivan. Compared to the Gatorade riff, Tom found the funny voice riveting. Tom offers a quick lesson in Economics 101, stating that it's a simple case of supply and demand. Wawa is not a bottom-shelf organization with wily-nily stocking procedures. The locals want their Gatorade and they adjust their inventory accordingly.
The discussion gives Tom a craving for ice-cold Gatorade since his unrefreshing Diet Coke is not cutting it. The Kid’s dehydrated and his throat is clenching up. He wishes he was at the Wawa wonderland and could secure some fuchsia Gatorade.
- Noah calls (starts at 1:00) and asks Tom if he's been following the news lately. Tom thinks it might be a Jay Leno-ish joke setup, but Noah assures him he really wants to discuss recent troubling world events. Since Tom was on vacation, he's out of the loop on current events, so he needs a refresher from Noah. Noah informs Tom about Israel vs. Hezbollah, vs. Lebanon vs. The World vs. Patton Oswalt vs. Zach Galifianakis vs. The Amazing Screw-On Head. Tom reads Marvel, not DC, so he has no idea what he’s talking about. Noah wants Tom to go thumbs-up or thumbs-down on Israel but Tom offers a message instead: “Don’t be tough guys.” Tom thinks he should straighten out everybody and tells the Hez to "knock it off." He gives thumbs-up for everybody and thumbs-down for everybody. Tom's preferred hand gesture would be to put his thumbs out and his palm up to create an ersatz STOP sign.
Noah also wanted to share some information about new laser bean weaponry being used in Iraq. They were initially used to detonate IEDs, but have since expanded in scope to include melting the faces of bus passengers. Tom’s had enough. He’s going over there and will have it all fixed by next week. Noah’s glad since the Good Guys only have six months left to achieve victory. To escape from the depressing news cycle, Noah has been watching some good cartoons: Home Movies and Venture Brothers. That’s it. An hour of ‘toon fun. Noah doesn't think you can ask for much more than that in life. Tom thought of one thing: an ice-cold bottle of Gatorade.
Noah can’t bring him any since he’s in Flatbush, but he does offer to make Tom some watermelon juice the next time he's in the area. Noah needs no juicer -- he just chops it up and throws it in the blender. On a hot day in the 90s, he’ll drink a few refreshing glasses. Noah estimates that for each quarter chunk of watermelon, you can extract four 16 oz. glasses of juice. He declares the fruit itself a "big chunk of juice." Noah doesn’t want to continue to bore Tom, and Tom says that it’s way past the point of boredom. Noah laughs like Tom Hulce in Amadeus (props to Chris L for the accurate comparison) and Tom wants to elicit the eccentric guffaw again. Noah says he laughs easily and claims to have stolen the Hulcey sound from a friend named Ruby, who laughs like a donkey. Tom says it didn’t sound like a donkey; Noah says it was more like a little girl, and Tom thinks it’s an insult to little girls. This makes Noah laugh more normally. He admits to being nervous about being boring or getting GOMPed. Tom says he did fine and delivered a good call.
- Andy in Middletown calls (starts at 1:07) and wants some information about Wet Rat. Tom thinks he should ask himself about the band because he believes Andy is a member of Wet Rat. Andy denies it. He wonders if Wet Rat sent the demo to WFMU, so Tom asks him if he sent it. Tom hangs up, but doesn’t burn a GOMP because Andy seemed like an OK guy. GOMPs are like the “smart bombs” in Defender -- you only get three per show so you have to use them strategically.
- Tom talks about (starts at 1:13) about his newfound desire to make post-show personal appearances. Two weeks ago, Tom was inspired by Toooouuuuurgasm, where Dane Cook & Co. set up a folding table and met fans after their gigs. At 11:30, Tom went to the Exchange Place PATH station escalators and rode them up and down for 15 minutes, but nobody showed up. Tom canceled tonight’s personal appearance, but will resume next week. Tom thinks that a gaggle of FOTS riding up and down the escalators is a surefire way to get arrested. If security personnel inquires as to which one is the show's host, Tom will point to Mike the Associate Producer, who is also the Executive Escalator Supervisor. He'll then tell the officer that he was simply headed to the Journal Square station and has no involvement with the offending gang. Or, Tom might say “Let’s get ‘em!” and signal the FOTs to attack the security guard a la Turk 182, taking over the subway until Robert Urich gets health insurance.
Robert Kelly was big proponent of the meet-and-greet format, thinking that all comedians should shake every damn hand of every damn fan. Tom points out the unlikelihood that there are fans who are going to the show to tough out Cook’s 140-minute headlining set but really came for Kelly’s 16 minutes. Tom compares this to going to the Chiller and setting up a table next to Butch Patrick because your dad played the dragon under the stairs that operated the lever. The directive "Slide that down, Butch, I’m gonna sign it" is likely to be met with confusion and disappointment by fans of The Munsters.
- Tom has a message (starts at 1:20) for the people of Goshen:
“You guys think you’re slick, you kids think you’re funny, you kids think you’re in control. You know what? I’m gonna tell you right now: shoe’s on the other foot, guys. Shoe’s on the other foot. I got stuff in the works. I got somebody doing some dirty work up in Goshen. That’s all I’m gonna say.”
Guided By Voices - "Unleashed! The Large-Hearted Boy"
- Mark in NY calls (starts at 1:21) to chat about the Toooouuuuurgasm finale, particularly the moving depiction of Dane Cook's return to his roots to meet with his old high school teachers. Mark picked up on a telling moment where Cook's father is unenthused by the arrival of his son, and Cook laments that his old man doesn't give him credit for his success. In one scene, his father talks about the death of younger brother Darren Cook and wishes that Clarence Clemons had consumed Dane instead. Tom declares the Cook family to be soft rich kids and Dane a Kobe Bryantesque “success machine”. Tom believes Dane could have achieved equal success as a stockbroker, but it was the unluck of the draw that he chose comedy. His hypercompetitive spirit carries into paintball and miniature golf (nice hole-in-one from Gulman to take the title). Note: a flag was CGI'd into Cook's hands during the paintball sequence.
[The Cosmic Cowboy delivers a Fruit Punch + Berry Gatorade and Tom promptly puts out the fire on the roof of his mouth.]
Mark can understand the hypercompetitive soft-serve loyalists, but is baffled by Cook's broad appeal and thinks a lot of his supporters should know better, including HBO. Tom explains that HBO got into business with him to lure the dumb college kid demo and they inherited the already-in-production stink-bomb Toooouuuuurgasm. Mark and Tom agree that creepy MC Jay Davis is worse than Cook. Tom thinks Cook is being disengenious by pretending that the tour will elevate all of the comics, when he knows that they are likely going nowhere. Cook mentions that he likes seeing the performers' progress even though Jay Davis kept trying the dreadful "TLC Killer" joke, unpacking its mechanics for hours on end, and bombing without fail. There are some rumors that Davis will team up with Trent L. Strauss for a film adaptation of the joke. Perhaps a short that will play in front of The Tool Belt Killer? "Hey, filmgoers!!!!!! Are you ready for some Extreeeeeeeme Cinema????!!!!!"
Tom’s sick of discussing Cook and says that he could get 1 million Myspace friends if he kissed up to people like the morons in Goshen. The official town joke of Goshen is Cook's smashing ice cream cone bit, which Tom has now heard 9,000 times on Toooouuuuurgasm, SNL, and The Tonight Show.
- Joey from Goshen calls (starts at 1:29) and Tom immediately hangs up on him because he has no time to pal around with these kids. Goshen in a low priority for Tom. The mutants have ruined everything for legit Best Show fans in their town that will now be unable to get on the air. Joey calls back and says that he and Tom are not that different. He’s just a fan and wants to be Tom’s friend. He’s from a nice, cozy town in upstate New York. A historic place with horses. He won’t say the name, but offers to give Tom a hint. Tom accuses him of being Rumplestiltskin and wants the name. He reveals it and is cut off mid-Goshen. Tom is proud of his hang-up and boldly compares his editing skills to those of J Dilla and Madlib.
Robert Palmer - "Looking For Clues"
- Tom's second music set was an audio-textual-visual warning for Goshen: Jason Lowenstein's At Sixes and Sevens album cover depicts a tornado (The Best Show) chasing after a car (Goshen), the Misfits' "Horror Business" is more menacing and direct (I"ll put a knife right in you"), Yo La Tengo's "Beanbag Chair" comes from the forthcoming album titled I Am Not Afraid Of You And I Will Beat Your Ass, Mayo Thompson's Corky's Debt To His Father album cover shows a monkey (Goshen) in a cage, and the Chico Magnetic Band's "We All Come Cand Go" suggests that Goshen came and are about to go.
Tom warns the Goshen kids that they are messing with the crazy, scary grown-ups in The Best Show audience. If they dont watch who they are tussling with, they might get some of the Whack! Boom! Bap! Tom didn’t start it, but he’ll finish it.
Rescue Me: Denis Leary gets a history lesson and discovers the concept of joke writing
Tom compares the Goshen situation to Judgment Night -- they think they’re driving around in the party bus, but they made a wrong turn and now Denis Leary is hunting them down. Tom quickly decides he doesn’t want to be compared to Denis Leary. This leads to a mini-rant about all the twisted ideas being cooked up in the writer's rooms of all those awesome FX programs. Tom's sampled the network's offerings, but doesn't like any of them. He cites the recent domestic rape storyline on Rescue Me and a character breakdown of Nip/Tuck in which the five main characters were afflicted with every perversion/issue known to man, including night prowls.
- Jeff from Middletown calls (starts at 1:54) with his research findings that indicate that Dane Cook (Jeff admits to being a former fan) did not attend college. Tom is fine with that since he views his collegiate matriculation as one of the great wastes of time in his life. Jeff graduated from Alfred State, a vocational school for those aspiring to work as butlers for superheroes. In addition to his butler work, he'd like to be a web developer, much like UK-based FOT Jason, who has been taking The Best Show web products to new levels of fun.
Unfortunately, Goshen is very close to Middletown, and Tom thinks that Jeff may have to be punished by proximity. Jeff declares Goshen to be full of mutants and does not support the town. Since, like Cook, one of the Goshen kids worked at Burger King, Jeff thinks the next Cook may spring from the town. Tom doubts it. He gives Cook credit for doing it and thinks the Goshen kids are even softer. Cooke is talentless, but driven; the Goshen kids will just work at daddy’s accounting firm.
- Tom delivers (starts at 1:58) a glorious, hourlong Unfair Filmography Review, inspired by a screening of Clerks II. As he's mentioned on the show before, Tom's not much of a Kevin Smith fan. Both hail from the same general area of Jersey -- Smith's from the mean streets of South Central Jersey (Red Bank) and Tom's from Central Jersey (Newbridge). Tom was intrigued when Smith first came on the scene in 1994, repping Jersey and promising to provide a glimpse into the way it really is with his debut film. Tom was geared up for Clerks and scored a bootleg video after it was hot from the festival circuit. Tom devoured the feature stories in the Star-Ledger talking about the new genuis of Red Bank. Tom viewed the film and thought it was one of the worst things he's ever scene, but it hit him on a different level. Sometimes people will see/hear something (e.g., the first Velvet Underground or Slipknot album) and it speaks to them so much that they go out and make their own stuff. In this case, Tom was drawn in by a kind of "inverse inspiration". Tom may be Smith's biggest fan without actually liking anything about his work.
Tom marveled at how much he hates everything in Smith's films: the writing, the voice, the jamming of wordy tracts into his actors' mouth, the actors, the fact that he can’t compose a half-decent shot, the fact that he’s not funny, the pop culture references, the shifts in tone, the sudden overly dramatic detours, and the fake indieness of it all. Tom hated five things for every second of Clerks. Even when a character said something he agreed with, Tom hated himself for having views that overlapped with something Smith liked. Tom points out that when one goes from the blank page and pen to putting together a finished movie, there’s a million choices that have to be made. In Clerks, Smith was a perfect 0/1,000,000. As a result, Tom was hooked.
Tom saw Mallrats in a theater near where the flea market scene was supposed to take place. The movie made Tom hate his beloved Animal House because it was trying to emulate it. The film bombed and Tom figured that Smith’s career was two and out. But no! Kev fired back with a return to his low-budge roots with Chasing Amy, which was getting good reviews. Tom saw it and it hit every anti-quality barometer and signpost that he has for entertainment product. It was supposed to be “deep”, but it did not deliver. Nevertheless, Smith was back. Tom started exploring the stuff on DVD, watching an hour of Mallrats outtakes and two commentary tracks. Tom is diving deeper into the oeuvre than even his fans who considered Smith their favorite filmmaker. There's a method to this madness because Tom is taking inspiration from George S. Patton's defeat of Erwin Rommel's forces in North Africa -- he beat him because he read his book. Tom is doing the same for Smith, studying his every move. Smith serves as the anti-Tom, showing him want not to do with everything in his life. If Tom was Smith, he’d be buddies with Fred and have him down to the studio. If Captain Jack showed up at the studio, Tom would throw him out; if he showed up at Kevin Smith’s house, he’d end up sleeping on a cot in his basement.
Tom moved on to Dogma, which was somehow even worse than his previous efforts, hitting new lows. Tom doesn’t know how he’s doing it and wonders where the floor is. When someone’s on an artistic skyrocket, people wonder where the ceiling is, but Smith is drilling to China. Tom figured that the Earth’s core would have melted his drill by now. Smith next announced that he was going to put a cap on his universe with the ultimate View Askew experience: Jay & Silent Bob Strike Back.
The final film of the five-ilogy left Dogma in the dust. Tom saw it at the 11:30 a.m. show the day of its release, the Jersey multiplex scattered with single-ticket guys uttering a steady steam of "One for Jay and Silent Bob" at the ticket window. Tom skipped Jersey Girl because it looked too sad. Tom prefers it when Smith is feeling good about things. Since many of Smith's fans kicked him for this non-universe entry, Tom thinks he might actually like it. If Smith did everything wrong for him, it might work right for Tom. Plus, the film features Tom's favorite funnyman.
When Clerks II was announced, Tom was more excited than even Jeff Anderson and Brian O'Halloran, who would be reprising their Randall and Dante roles. Tom got off the plane on Monday and vowed to see it as soon as he physically could. Tom refused to see it in Canada -- he had to see it in the home base with the fanboys. Tom declares the film the worst one yet, and he almost left because he felt physically ill. He felt his DNA changing. Tom believes the movie might have been emitting rays that mutated his innards. Tom outlined some of the film's offenses:
1. The clerks themselves. Tom refuses to put the two slobs down, since they never claimed to be Olivier-grade thespians. In fact, Tom doesn't think they rise to the level of Oliver from The Brady Bunch. Smith has Tom making pop culture references. Tom would do the work, too, if some director would hire him to act. While they certainly don't claim to be movie stars, it doesn’t make it easier to watch them for 90 minutes. The ticket price was not reduced to $3 to account for non-stars.
Tom does a nice impression of their provocative banter that is quite similar to this:
Cut Chemist - "The Spat"
2. Jason Mewes. Tom compares Mewes to the guy who got banned from the arcade where Tom grew up and suddenly got a movie part doing exactly what he did to get tossed.
3. After the QuikStop burns down at the beginning of the film, the two heroes (definition recently altered to mean “dudes you’re stuck with”) now work at Mooby’s, the Smithverse’s McDonald’s clone that first appeared in Dogma. Tom has never been at a McDonald's where there are 11 customers all day. This is the one. The film cost $5 million and Tom thinks someone at the Weinstein Co. should check the books because Kevin Smith may have diverted funds intended for PEOPLE into buying some copies of Daredevil #1. In one scene, the clerks return from a bumper car outing to a massive rush of two people at the counter.
4. The direction. Smith is extremely self-deprecating about having no idea what he's doing behind the camera, and Tom agrees: “Yeah, you really don’t.”
5. Wall-to-wall filth and toilet talk. From debates about sexual fetishes to a Bachelor Party-inspired donkey show (aka "interspecies erotica") to a litany of racial epithets repeated ad nauseam. Tom said the audience was surprisingly light on laughter except for the die-hards who erupted at every line, including moments that have been appearing in the ads for the past few months.
Kevin Smith vs. Joel Siegel - "The Walkout"
6. Faux dramatic tension. Dante wants to get his life together and plans to move to Florida with his fiancé, played by Smith’s wife -- the less said about that the better. Tom thinks it may qualify as spousal abuse. Randall is going to remain at Mooby’s so he can hang with his friends in Leonardo. Tom notes Dante’s elastic reaction shots and thinks he will burn out his face muscles if he continues to work. He compares his visage to that of a cartoon character being punched/shot in the face: one side is just skin, the other contains the mouth, eyes, and nose. Tom points out that Eli Wallach delivers less facial contortions when Lee Van Cleef has his thumb in his eye sockets in The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly.
7. Pop-culture-infused dialogue. Tom hated LOTR, but know he likes it because Randall hated it in the movie, preferring Star Wars.
8. Offensive undercurrent of a phony "here’s to the little man" attitude. Smith attempts to craft the Clerks films into an ode to the working class living real lives, the salt of the Earth. Paycheck alerted Tom to an interview with Smith:
“We’ll find our dream jobs, until then we’ll work at these [crummy] jobs.” (expletive deleted by Tom, who informs Smith that he'll get more across with clean talk.)
“What happens, though, if you don’t find that dream job. It totally worked out for me, but I realize that I’m more lucky than talented. Luck and timing made Clerks what it was. But there are so many people, some my friends included, who are waiting for their ship to come in. It’s like popcorn, sometimes it pops and sometimes it sits at the bottom of the bag.”
Tom imagines one of his friends reading that and being horrified to discover that he views them as an unpopped kernel.
Tom is excited to see Lady In The Water, billed by some as one of the worst films ever made. But at least that film suggests that it’s someone having a meltdown. Tom compares the maligned Shymalanan film to Elvis Costello's Goodbye Cruel World -- every decision is wrong, but it’s intriguingly crazy. Unlike those works, Smith actually has people loving Clerks II. Tom's fandom extends to non-fiction Smith, having watched every minute of the An Evening with Kevin Smith college lecture compilation. The sequel is out in November.
- Fido from the FOT Chat calls (starts at 2:28) and said that if he didn’t know better, he would think that Tom is jealous of Smith. He speculates that Tom feels that he ould have been making films about Jersey life that he prefers. He views Smith as just a guy that caught a lot of breaks. Tom thinks he's doing fine, and Fido agrees. Tom notes one thing that vaults him ahead of Smith: he's not responsible for any of those movies. Fido doesn’t think the films are that bad, but doesn't view Smith as a cinematic genius.
Tom gives Smith credit for running a great operation, appreciates his museum/comic book store, and his generosity with his fans. But: completely bereft of talent. Fido thinks that Smith is a stand-up guy ruined by Hollywood, but Tom thinks his passion project was one of the most atrocious films committed to film. Fido thinks that Tom is suggesting that Clerks would have been better with more “Hollywood influence”, but Tom is saying that it would have been better with less “Kevin Smith influence.” Tom believes Smith’s the luckiest person alive and should recite the Gehrig speech first thing every morning. He found and worked a fanbase, not unlike Dane Cook. If you find the people you speak to, you can do your thing even if the thing is terrible. Tom wants Fido to see Clerks II and get back to him. Fido bids him fare thee well.
- The Maryland-based Chris L calls (starts at 2:33) to confirm that Tom does not think that Clerks II deserved the eight-minute standing ovation it got at Cannes. Tom can understand celebrating the film’s end and definitely stood when it was over. Tom thought the musical outro -- Soul Asylum's "Misery" -- was one of the most appropriate in history. Chris L notes that Dave Pirner is clearly Smith’s musical muse, having now ended Clerks, Chasing Amy, and Clerks II with Pirner-based tunes.
Tom mentions being irked by Smith’s infamous slams on Paul Thomas Anderson's Magnolia. As I recall, Smith was particularly harsh on the confrontation between child genius Stanley and his douchey father. I think he felt that Stanley should have used profanity and thrown in a few Jaws references, instead of simply requesting that his father be nicer to him. Tom can kinda understand Smith's displeasure with the film because it had sections to it and built and had emotional arcs and swept you along and then it went this way and built to something and had a musical release and a big surprise in the end and it was completely emotionally involving and draining. Who would want to do something like that? Not Smith, who would prefer to let the local ruffian from his town pollute the screen for 10 minutes.
Chris L is a recovering Smith fan. His favorite was Clerks, though even at the time, he did not care for Mallrats. It was an inverse touchstone to see one of the worst films ever made. Tom did like Jason Lee in the film and assumes that Lee, Affleck and others must hate it when they get the call (both have cameos in Clerks II) from Smith these days. Tom suggests that Affleck notified his agent that he had to do Surviving Christmas in order to avoid being in a Kevin Smith film. Smith also has an ability to drain the funny juice out of the likes of Chris Rock, Jon Stewart, and Will Ferrell. Chris L believes that these performers are victims of "The Smith Effect".
- Bob from Chicago calls (starts at 2:40) with a report from his local video/DVD emporium. He saw a sticker on the new Road House Deluxe Edition DVD promoting a Kevin Smith/Scott Mosier commentary track. Tom’s appalled that Smith might speak ill of this masterwork, and he'll have to check it out because Smith is his puppetmaster. Tom thinks the inclusion of the track is part of a rational business strategy -- it will guarantee that about 30,000 drones, Tom included, will buy it. Bob suggests that Smith is the indie film version of Gene Simmons, bombarding fans with product not unlike the Kiss Army. Tom cuts Smith some slack for the merch because he's just offering it. But Tom does wonder how many ladles of spoiled soup must the fans must eat before they realize that the whole pot has gone bad.
NOTE for Smith completists: He also does a commentary track with Richard Kelly on the Donnie Darko Director's Cut DVD.
b_buster Strikes Back: (l to r) Jay, View Askew Nemesis, and Silent Bob
- Mike the Associate Producer joins the discussion (starts at 2:43)and offers a different perspective. While Tom’s battle with Smith is a one-way war, Mike got into heated debates with Smith in the early days of the View Askew message board (sadly, the archives are lost). Mike was very disappointed with Clerks after all the build-up and used the forum to criticized Smith's films. After reading a draft of the Dogma script online, Mike tore it apart line-by-line. The entire website attacked, and Mike was having a good time. Mike took particular offense to the lifting of the “plastics” punch line from The Graduate.
Mike eventually made amends with Smith and actually appeared in J&SBSB. After hearing this, Tom wants Mike to sign his limited mylar one-sheet. Tom doesn’t actually own the DVDs because he doesn’t want them seeping through other films in his collection. Clerks might pollute Caddyshack, causing Ted Knight to go off on Danny for 45 minutes about the upcoming Empire Strikes Back. Mike was in the scene in which Brodie informs Jay and Silent Bob that they got ripped off on the Bluntman and Chronic comic. Originally, Mike was closer to the camera, but was moved back because Pert made his hair too shiny and lustrous. One of Mike’s criticisms involved putting down those older than 14 still reading comics, so Mike was reading comic books in the scene as an in-joke. Mike thinks he may been an inspiration for the Internet-aspect of J&SBSB. On the shot of the computer screen, his handle b_buster is visible.
Mike met Smith at one of the fanboy meet and greets. Smith shook his hand, Mike found him to be pleasant. Tom thinks Smith is a a nice guy who fills you septic tank instead of draining it. Tom concludes the Smith rant by comparing him to Rush. A new Rushalbum entersthe charts at #8, and then drop to #41 once the diehards are done shelling out the cash in its first week of release. It's all part of Smith's effective business plan: cheap movies attract a loyal audience, turn a profit for the Weinsteins, and then you make more of them.
UPDATE: Since the show, Mike has seen Clerks II. He loved it!
On the next ... The Best Show on WFMU: The debut of Submarine Confessions, Denis Leary and Kevin Smith take Tom to task, and Fred goes back on the smack.