"Get off, bad Flamin' Groovies! I just played good Flamin' Groovies, not bad Flamin' Groovies! -- Tom, after the band's Chuck Berry rock 'n roll cover snuck on the air for a few seconds
"Gonna see it soooooon, won't be loooong now. Gonna seeeeeeeee it ... soooon." -- Philly Boy Roy, breaking into a song about his impending viewing of Rocky Balboa
"Well, some people debate whether he's human or not." -- Philly Boy Roy on the nature of his son
"The Kid is the show! The show's sittin' right here in this chair!" -- Tom, telling everyone where it's at
"Quit smoking, buy yourself a Mr. Potato Head, have a happy holiday." -- Tom, offering some sage advice
"Mom, I want a Porsche." -- Miles in PA, making yet another unrequited gift request
"Dead animals on a coat. What are we, cavemen?" -- Tom on this icky outerwear
"This is Christmastime, we talk about Christmastime topics." -- Tom on Evan's attempt to derail the show by talking up his record collection
"Does he collect pewter figurines?" -- Tom, hoping to send another caller to the Route 18 flea market
"Bring back Tommert." -- Jason, calling The Best Show bullpen to bring back the golden days
"The girls are normal!" -- Tom, finding solace in the female callers
"Man shall ride a bike taller than man." -- The sign of the apocalypse
"Plenty of people still listen live, there's just human garbage. Pure driftwood in the ocean of life." -- Tom on the state of 2006 callers
"Splash some cold water on your face. You get your priorities straight." -- Tom, imploring Chris and his bandmates from the DC Snipers not to blow it
"The only guy I see wear coats like that now is Kevin Smith." -- Tom on the Monkees' penchant for padded dusters being adopted by the filmmaker
"I think he rides on a senior scooter." -- Tom on how Harry Knowles travels in Austin
"I'm a fan of music, I'm a fan of heat waves, and I'm a fan of dust getting kicked up." -- Tom on the perfection of the Austin City Limits festival
"I'm gonna say it's the best album from the 60s." -- Tom, heaping praise on The Monkees' Pool It, an album so good it travels back in time
"Hey. Hold on a second. Are you putting down Wayland Flowers?" -- Tom, ensuring that Bob in Memphis was not speaking ill of the beloved puppeteer
"Western Maine is a place cloaked in mystery and fear." -- Sarah on her home state's pocket of intrigue
"You gotta extinguish it real fast. You gotta have fast hands." -- Philly Boy Roy on the traits that make for a good match fighter
"As long as Sly's makin' 'em, we're playin' 'em." - Former Philadelphia Mayor Frank Rizzo mandating the continuous theatrical run of the Rocky films
"Just another day in the life of Roy Ziegler, I guess, huh?" -- Philly Boy Roy on a typical Philadelphia adventure that ended in jail
"She's still in the building, you idiot!" -- Tom on Kevin Smith unleashing maximum filth within earshot of his young daughter
"How 'bout helping him out, you slob? You read his thing and help him out." -- Tom, demanding that Kevin Smith read a handicapped fan's screenplay
ESG - "UFO"
( Click here to buy A South Bronx Story)
Public Enemy - "Night Of The Living Baseheads"
( Click here to buy It Takes a Nation of Millions to Hold Us Back)
Kashmere Stage Band - "Scorpio" (Dennis Coffey and The Detroit Guitar Band cover)
( Click here to buy Texas Thunder Soul 1968-1974)
Tigers and Monkeys - "Loose Mouth"
Live from a flea market off Rt. 18 (plenty of pewter still left!), here's some annotated highlights:
NOTE: This recap will skip over many of the calls from the Undergroundlings and sub-Jerky Boys who decided to spend their Christmas break polluting the airwaves with their goofball voices and turlet talk. Mutant thugs, y'all all need hugs. Where's the love?? Where's the love?! May they all get squished by Tom's bus at the Joyce Kilmer rest stop.
ALERT: Mike the Associate Producer continues to rummage through Tom's gym bag o' candy, so action had to be taken. Tom applied a sticky glue (the best kind, in my opinion) to the confections, so if you see a guy walking down Main St. in your town with a couple of Zagnut wrappers stuck to his hands, that's Mike. Please immediately report him to Office Harrups.
The Jerry Lewises of Engaland have a message for the cheap-shot hooligans trying to defeat the show before it even starts
WORD OF WARNING: In a fit of competitive jealously, a bush-league chump tried to bring down The Best Show by bowing Tom's locker door (seen here in happier times), preventing him from accessing the CDs containing his standard theme music and a can of Planter's mixed nuts. Tom compares this stunt to the behavior of the New York Knickerbockers, while The Best Show is running the table like the Phoenix Suns -- locks for the NBA Finals. In a nutshell: The Best Show don't lose! The theme music complements the show, but it isn't the show. The Kid is the show!
- A caller performs (starts at 26:32) an intense version of the Rocky theme followed by a verse from an original tune about how it won't be long before he sees it. Tom correctly guesses that it's Philly Boy Roy, who is a bit surprised that Tom was able to identify him. Tom explains that the 40 seconds of Rocky music was an easy tip-off, and PBR thinks Tom is bustin' his b's. He's still lined up outside the Ritz 5 (he's been there since the day after the day after Thankstaking, as you'll recall) to see the midnight showing of Rocky Balboa. PBR is "beyond excited" to be seeing the film in about 3.5 hours.
The last time PBR checked in, he was second in line behind Center City Sid, but now he's taken over the top spot. PBR says that CCS kinda found a SEPTA bus and got hit by it Walnut St. PBR denies pushing him in harm's way. Tom wants to know if somebody pushed him, but PBR needs definitions for "somebody" and "push". Tom says that "somebody" would be another human. PBR says there is some debate about whether the culprit is actually human. He's, of course, referring to his possibly-psychic son, Roy, Jr. Tom concludes that Roy, Jr. pushed the old man in front of the bus, but PBR renews his request for the meaning of "push". Tom declines to define the word. While CCS is definitely no longer in line, he may or may not still be alive. PBR is thrilled that Rocky Balboa has been garnering rave reviews. Roy, Jr. has been calling him with updates on its ratings on Rotten Tomatoes, and the film currently stands at 92% "fresh". Tom decides that he will let PBR enjoy this great Philadelphia moment and won't rain on his cinematic parade. PBR, improbably assuming the role of Best Show Correspondent, promises to check back in with a progress report once the theater doors open.
- Tom discusses (starts at 31:29) his plan to assemble an official stable of potential protégés along the lines of Ghostface Killah's Theodore Unit. Like Ghost, Tom would be the main attraction, but he'd also bring a few other lesser talents along for the ride. This approach is common in hip-hop circles, ranging from Eminem's D12 posse to Busta Rhymes's Flipmode Squad (leader and subordinates joining forces to slide down the fame ladder together), and the controversial Elephant 6 collective. Tom's crew of madmen would include Spike, Pete, Captain Jack, and The Bore (the liar formerly known as No Smokin' Joe).
Pete already checked in to tell everyone that he's fixing somebody's car tonight, so there's a chance he might not be able to call. Tom gives all the Pete-centric fans the greenlight to bail on the show. Tom will look into getting him a regular Tuesday night gig fixing two cars from 8 p.m. - 11 p.m. to spare us the horror show of the newest member of the family. Tom believes they are all descending from the same mother ship to do tag-team radio improv. Captain Jack tagged Stevie Blue who tagged Spike, and when Spike turned (relatively) normal, Pete swooped in for his reign of terror. Tom also puts Pete in the #4 slot on his list of possible death scenarios. Tom points out that Alan Berg was a paid employee, whereas he's doing it for free and still might get mowed down.
- Faux Petey is real GOMPed. Tom braces for the call from real Petey explaining that the guy who called was not him. The call never came.
- Tom proposes (starts at 38:14) two Christmas topics: he'll offer gift-giving advice for the tough friends and family members on your shopping list and/or assess the gifts you really want, but you're too mortified to even request. In this scenario, buying or receiving such items would illuminate the true nature of American excess in the face of world hungrr. Mike wants 42" HDTV to watch Kevin Smith movies.
- Sam in South Orange calls (starts at 40:37) for some assistance buying a gift for a female friend who likes equestrian. He's at a loss because he hates horses. He's willing to spend $40 tops, so Tom sends him to the Route 18 flea market to purchase a miniature pewter horse. It's just that easy.
- A caller says (starts at 42:04) he wants a Mr. Potato Head, but nobody will give it to him. Tom wonders if he's actually talking to Mr. Potato Head. The caller doesn't really confirm or deny his status as a face-shifting, plastic root vegetable, but he does say that he's probably been called that behind his back. Since the item is under $10, Tom recommends buying one for himself. The caller's laugh gives way to a two-packs-a-day wheeze. This pulls Tom back into the addiction counseling game by asking the caller when he plans to break the habit. He says he'd have motivation to quit if it meant that he'd get the Mr. Potato Head, but Tom thinks the caller should do it for himself. Since Tom's not made of money, he can't get him the Mr. Potato Head. The caller creeps Tom out by being extremely happy that Tom is not constructed from cash.
- A caller offers (starts at 43:49) a guilty pleasure gift that nobody would ever get him: a $4,000 massage chair sold by Sharper Image and Brookstone at the ritzy Short Hills mall. Tom likes the configuration of Short Hills because the Brookstone and Shaper Image boutiques are almost across from each other. This forces the same cruddy golf ball finders to stare at each other all day long. While the chairs feel good, the caller is not a member of the tax bracket that is able to exchange these kinds of gifts. The caller wonders if Tom has ever sampled the chair for so long that the owner tells him to move along. Tom has tested the chair, but he gets instantly creeped out by imagining all the bad karma in the head area. Tom's says that if you can't afford one, just go enjoy it at the mall, constantly darting from Sharper Image to Brookstone and back again. The caller hopes to be able to continue to do this free of charge, but he's leery of the encroaching police state.
- Miles in PA calls (starts at 45:50) to say that he has a hankering for a new Porsche to drive around Mt. Hope and make everyone jealous when he stops off at the general store for some licorice. However, his mom still hasn't sprung for one. He wants Tom to assume the role of Santa and hook him up with a donator to finally close the deal. Tom will see what he can do. During the call, Tom refers to the 42-year-old Miles as "junior", which is acceptable because Tom is 57.
- Another caller visits (starts at 47:57) Sharper Image to select $400 glasses that plug into a video iPod to make it seem like Lost is being projected onto a 42" screen. The caller would never wear them in public. Tom might be embarrassed to don them in private in case he glimpsed himself in a stray mirror. The caller believes this is the wave of the future, but Tom disagrees. He believes the video capability of the iPod is stupid because nobody wants to pay $3 today to view something on a 1.5" screen that was on actual television for free the night before. The caller points out that if you drop an additional $400 on the glasses, you'll think you've been invited to a network screening room. Tom is less enthused, pointing out that the glasses will merely make the viewing experience somewhat tolerable and sort of like television. Tom GOMPs the capitalist jerk and recommends getting some priorities instead of the pricey goggles.
- Nicholas needs help (starts at 50:34) with a gift for his mother. She's a great woman, but she doesn't own anything or care to own anything. For example, she loves books, but only goes to the library. She also does not own any records or CDs. I believe his mother is Lloyd Dobler. Perhaps kickboxing lessons are the way to go here. She loves whatever she gets -- Nicholas once got her a beautiful coat with dead animals on it -- but never does anything with it. Tom has the answer: go to the Route 18 flea market and buy her a pewter horse. Tom also gives Nicholas the option of making a donation to PETA in her name to make up for the horror coat he gave her. Nicholas likes these ideas. Tom then GOMPs the nice guy he had no reason to hang up on.
Not your minge: Keith imparts wisdom while consuming a traditional English breakfast of sausage-wrapped, deep-fried egg
- A caller is embarrassed (starts at 52:31) to ask for a machine that toasts an English muffin at the same time it makes an egg, creating the classic McDonald's Egg MacMuffin. At this point, Jason from Engaland and WFMU big shot Megan "Menace" Murphy swing by the studio to offer some insight into this gift. Tom asks Jason if he knows about an all-in-one device than can make a traditional English breakfast. Jason mentions an all-day breakfast tin containing beans, a boiled egg, a sausage, and a ration of bacon. To make it even more traditional, one should add tomahtoes and some black pudding made from congealed pig's blood. The caller hangs up at the mention of this item.
Megan offers Tom a cupcake that she made to honor the birthday of Hatch, the disc jockey who starts off the WFMU Tuesday lineup. Tom says Hatch is a nice guy who would never damage his locker. In addition to the CDs and mixed nuts, Jason reveals that Tom stores a guide to public speaking in his locker. Despite his knowledge of its contents, Jason denies bowing it. Tom has a list of suspects, but he's not ready to name names on the air. He does, however, say one name: Dr. Stupid. He now also speculates that Hatch committed the act in a "birthday rage". Let's also not forget about Ken Freedman's notorious night prowls.
- Jimmy from Arkansas calls (starts at 58:57) to make a confession about the locker. Tom doesn't want to hear this flight of whimsy and wonders about two things: what is happening and where are these callers coming from? Tom believes that people auditioning for the animated version of Happy Gilmore are better suited for programs like 7 Second Delay. The false locker confession inspires Megan -- now scarfing down a cupcake sandwich -- to dub Jimmy the John Mark Karr of locker bowing. Tom will certainly need to ice his hang-up finger after this show.
- Evan from Providence calls (starts at 1:00) to celebrate being on the air because he thought he'd be working at a catering event all night. Tom introduces him to the two studio guests, noting Jason's harrowing escape from the old country in the wheel well of a jet. Evan says that he and his catering cronies were recently trying to bungie a refrigerator for another offsite event. The other guys thought they finally had it properly secured and asked Evan for his opinion. He then unleashed the classic "I don't like it ... I love it" fakeout. They nearly died from laughter. Rather than take credit for this gem, Evan admirably seized the opportunity to promote Tom and The Best Show podcast. Tom suggests increasing the efforts by telling everyone who takes food off his tray to subscribe. Evan proposes a fortune-cookie approach of embedding promo material inside the food. The diners will wonder what's in their mouth and pull out a piece of paper with the podcast URL. Tom doesn't like it. It's bad business and will lead to Evan's termination.
Evan is also in the middle of a music project where he's listening to all 2,000 albums he owns in order as they are on his shelves. In the march from Abba to Zappa, he's been finding some surprise hits and some disappointments. The best surprise has been revisiting Six Finger Satellite's Severe Exposure, while the lowpoint was trying to get through Oval's Systemische. Evan is looking forward to getting to a CD book that contains some "dark things" he hasn't listened to in a long time. He was curious to find out if Tom and the listeners own any strange albums that have inexplicably lingered in their collections. Tom figures it out. Evan is trying to hijack the show and filibuster the Christmastime topic. Tom GOMPs him for going off the holiday book, but Jason thought it was a fine topic. Tom agrees in theory, but it simply wasn't timely -- it was a pre-Record Fair topic completely at odds with the looming holiday.
- Molly calls (starts at 1:05) because she's having trouble shopping for her picky brother who lives in Japan (presumably the stentorian Skyper Scott). He likes books, but their weight makes them an expensive shipment. He doesn't collect pewter figurines, so Tom's old standby won't work in this case. A blast of static mars the connection, so Tom recommends that her brother get her a new phone for Christmas. With pewter off the table, Tom's stumped, so he opens it up to Jason and Megan. Jason thinks it should be something uniquely American, so Tom suggests sending him some E. coli. Molly seems to like the idea and thinks an old, moldy Chalupa would be a good vessel. Tom recommends the Taco Bell / KFC / Baskin Robbins / Dunkin Donuts amalgam shop across from the Route 18 flea market. Tom's always overwhelmed by this multifaceted eatery's eclectic choices, struggling to decide whether to consume a taco, fried chicken, an ice cream sundae, or a donut. Since I'm almost certain that the USPS restricts the overseas shipment of an bacterial parcel, I was glad to hear Tom offer a more sensible alternative: the Region-5 DVD of Clifford.
Oddly enough, the next caller was an E. coli victim and spewed some of it by randomly bursting into song. Here comes Santa Claus, there goes the caller. Tom points out that Mike is breaking a sweat just to get this level of call. The creativity involved in getting past the screen now easily exceeds anything in the actual on-air chatter.
- Donya calls (starts at 1:09) to say she'd really like a house with one bedroom completely coated in mink fur. It's really cold where she lives, so a space heater and this room would be all the heat she needed. Tom recommends traditional fiberglass insulation over this mink treatment, but Donya claims that's too expensive. She admits that she doesn't really want the Mink Room -- she just thought the animal fur callback joke was funny. She thinks warmth is good. Tom concurs.
- MC Steinberg MC Steinberg called (starts at 1:11) just to wish Mike a Happy Holiday, but the beleaguered, button-happy screener put him on the air. MCS is primed for his television debut on New York Noise (channel 22 or 25), an NYCTV hourlong devoted to documenting the city's independent music scene. It airs at 10 p.m. (reruns on Saturday and Sunday), which Tom believes is about the same time he'll be declaring the show a complete defeat. Steinberg says he's enjoying the program, especially the Undergroundling who keeps calling up to do his characters. Tom thinks a rogue DJ (Noah Zark?) is sabotaging the show by orchestrating the callers.
In his segment, MCS interviews the cream of the crop from the 2006 CMJ Music Marathon: The Knife, The Shins, Hot Chip, and The Rapture. Most of them didn't really like MCS, but he gives a teaser on the highpoint of the show: the girl from ¡Forward Russia! gave him a cookie, and they kinda had a moment.
MCS parts with his usual sign-off: "Tom rules!"
I'm a woman!: Tom's spirit is rejuvanted by the opposite sex
- Jess from The Shamblers, a much-needed oasis of female normalcy, inspires (starts at 1:17) Tom to switch to only girls for the rest of the evening. He immediately shuts off Jason's mic. Jess thanks Tom for turning her onto The Blood Brothers with his recent heavy rotations of "Set Fire to the Face on Fire". Pete, her bandmate/boyfriend, got her their new album as an early Christmas present. Let's hope he's also got some pewter unicorns under the tree. Tom couldn't find this CD earlier, so he's paranoid that someone is after him. Tom starts hearing weird noises, so Jess urges him to cool out and not give up on the show.
Jess really misses August and thinks that he's staying away because Tom gave him some bad Halloween advice. Tom previously detailed a four-part plan to help August increase his candy haul with dishonest (e.g., feigning illness, pre-holiday canvassing, etc.) trick-or-treating. Emphasis on the trick. Jess speculates that he got in trouble, but, if anything, his own moral code may have caused him to sever ties with Tom. Tom also misses his little buddy and makes an exemption: all girls + August. Tom was ready to tell Mike to get Pangaea so he could read magazines and clockwatch, but Jess's positive outlook has inspired Tom to fight on. She hopes to see more of Tom's indomitable spirit.
- An unnamed female calls (starts at 1:20) to say that Jason's deep, comforting voice is very sexy and seductive. Tom turns Jason's mic back on so he can hear more of those young Michael Caine tones. Her desired gift is a fallout shelter because the world is coming to an end around Christms 2012 per "spiritual predictions" and the ancient Mayan calendar. Tom's response: "Uh oh." In addition to these predictions, the caller can also sense it coming. Tom's confident that good times are ahead and directs her to Santa for the fallout shelter. Jason knew she was crazy as soon as she expressed an interest in his sultry voice.
- Purple Shirt gets (starts at 1:22) bummed out by all the crazy apocalypto talk, but Tom has some doomsday riffs of his own. He thinks one of the true signs of the apocalypse is when man rides a bike taller than man. Megan says a second sign would be bike culture going up for sale. PS got a new nickname after he was doing his usual hotdog moves on the ice skating rink. While trying to impress a pretty lady, he fell pretty hard and pretty bad. His knee remains bruised and his nerve remains pinched. The entire contents of his pockets spilled out, including his cell phone and camera. As he sat amongst his splayed belongings, another parent assigned him the name "Yard Sale". Tom disapproves the new name. Purple Shirt lives. Tom considers "Hubris Shirt" since he's constantly trying to show off and act like a tough guy.
Tom thinks HS is one step away from being like the guy who grows grass on his car. PS just sent Gene Pool a Christmas present. Tom is not surprised that the name turns his stomach. For the record, the most impressive vehicular foliage I've seen was within Zachary Brimstead, Esq.'s vintage 1968 Mercedes Benz, a botanical marvel known as "The Planter". Tom hates those dumb cars and would like to see a Hummer crush them. Tom thinks that the time it takes to create grass-covered cars and tall bikes would be better spent changing the world and working in local soup kitchens. PS argues that he's doing his part by wrapping books and throwing tops for the neighborhood kids. Tom says this does not qualify as charity, but PS thinks it's better than the Atari 2600s and HutPods all the kids are clamoring for this year. Tom thinks those are infinitely better gifts than books and tells PS to buy himself a subscription to Wired to get with the technological times. Tom GOMPs him
- Pete finished his mechanic work and calls (starts at 1:29) to talk about the worst possible stocking stuffers. Last year, he woke up to a stocking filled with mechanical pencils, carrots, and ChapStick. Pete was not pleased with his ex-girlfriend's selections and has no idea what he could have done with them. Jason says that this is what happens when you date shoplifters. Pete's says he's not here to burst Tom's bubble. He's ditched the invisibility talk and is now all pro-Tom Scharpling. Mike gives Tom the signal to dump him, which means that Mike can start the 40-minute cool-down call with Pete.
- Doug from NJ needs (starts at 1:32) a gift idea for 25-year-old sister who likes magic. He has a car and a computer, but is not familiar with Route 18. Tom tells him to Mapquest the Route 18 flea market and buy her a pewter horse.
- A female caller from Fort Polk, Louisiana checks in (starts at 1:33) to say that she's one of the few people who still listen to the show live. Tom points out that there's plenty of people listening live, they're just human garbage -- pure driftwood in the ocean of life. Tom wants to know what goes down in Fort Polk, so she sums it up with a trio: squirrels, deer, and military things. She's a full-time student at LSU in Baton Rouge, where the fervor over Shaq has faded to talk about football and, yes, deer. She never goes to the football games and hopes there aren't locals listening to her call. Tom thinks she's probably in trouble because the show has a big presence in Baton Rouge. Her impossible Christmas wish is for her first real winter with snow in five years.
- Chris from the DC Snipers calls (starts at 1:36) to try to make this one a W and do some last-minute politicking to push Missile Sunset over the top in the heated battle for album of the year with the late-surging Jay Reatard's Blood Visions. Chris admits that the the top-shelf Blood Visions has been burning up his iPod. Tom points out that the band members have now dispersed to D.C. (Chris), Chapel Hill (Dan), Williamsburg (Mike), NJ, and Manhattan. Tom wants to know if it's difficult to tell people in D.C. the band's name considering its association with a horrible local event. Chris says it still has the ability to rub people the wrong way on occasion.
Chris, who grew up in fancy East Windsor, NJ, hates boring D.C. He's counting the days until he can return home and hopes that Dan will follow. Tom thinks all of them need to splash some cold water on the faces, take a look in the mirror, and realize that it's not play time. They need to get their priorities straight and make their mark. Tom wonders what Leo is up to, but it's actually Luke. Tom excuses his ignorance because the back of their album has five silhouettes with question marks for their names. Chris says the mysterious approach seemed like a good idea at the time, but now they're ready to aim for the US Weekly covers. Tom says the album of the year title is a gift that's within the bounds of Santa's reality.
Frosty's down again: Tom vows to wield a scimitar (chopping off only the wrists) to protect his turf from invaders like Wolf Blitzer
- Tom gets the fight back, so he moves (starts at 1:45) to a new topic: First Show/Worst Show. Megan's first and worst was seeing Amy Grant at the Garden State Arts Center with some church group friends. Tom says that Mike tried to get him to go in on a lawn-seat package to see every show that came through the venue. Tom refused. Jason's first show was Scream, while the worst show was Man or Astroman? on the tour supporting the E.E.V.I.A.C. LP. He had seen them many times before at small venues, but this was a crowded gig in a bigger place with a full-on theatrical set beyond their standard props. Jason was sickened by the spectacle that included a mosh pit. A bit later in the program, Jason came up with another candidate: an "Armitage Shanks" show he saw on his 23rd birthday. It turned out to be some 18-year-olds playing Jim E. Hendrix covers.
- Steve from Brooklyn weighs in:
First: Honeysuckle Rose-era Willie Nelson
Worst: Counting Crows at the Craisins®/Carol's Cupcakes/CNBC Autumnal Equinox at the Rahway State Prison Amphitheatre
Steve said the band was horrible, but Tom wants to know exactly what he was expecting. He admits that he got about what he expected: not much. In order to retain his good standing among his current coterie of Brooklyn hipsters, Steve claims he only went as a companion for a girl he was interested in! Ha ha! We all know he went with his frat buddies and drunkenly sha la la'd every word of "Mr. Jones". As the Book says, we may be through with the past, but the past ain't through with us.
The hardcore wizardry of Harry and the Potters
- Evan from Providence returns to prove that he can stay on topic. He says he was unaware of the earlier Christmas theme and did not intentionally try to derail the program. Tom requires a formal apology and provides the text for Evan to repeat aloud: "I am sorry for taking the show off track. While I am not one of the horrible callers, I helped create an atmosphere that encouraged horrible callers. So in a way, I am worse than a horrible caller."
Worst: Harry and the Potters, the headliners for a bizzare and unbearable Potter-themed event. HatP were the best of three musical acts, but there was also a sideshow of high school kids mingling with 40-year-olds dressed like wizards.
- Scott, the sound guy for TLRX, calls to tell Little Danny to pump up the volume on his vocals. He also has a first/worst combo: Petra, who committed atrocities ranging from a 20-foot-long guitar ramp to a momentum-killing, hourlong sermon in the middle of the set.
- Mike switches things up by starting with the bad:
First: The amazing and scarring Monkees reunion show at Jones Beach in 1986. Mike brought an inflatable gorilla to tie-in with the primate theme, and Davy Jones -- wearing a white blazer with a pink undershirt -- swiped it for a dance. Tom provides a quick backgrounder on this incarnation of the band: Mickey Dolenz on stand-up electronic drums (not plugged in), Jones played the tambourine, and Tork played guitar. The eight-piece backing band was poorly lit and pushed to the back. Tom points out that The Monkees' love for shoulder-padded dusters is shared by one remaining follower: Kevin Smith.
- A caller who I think is Bob from Warwick, NY ( the guy who used to drive that Ben & Jerry's "Scoopmobile"):
First: The Kinks at Rutgers. This show spoiled things for a while because they did two encores and then one more song after the lights came up. For his next twelve shows, the caller was convinced that his applause would keep luring the band back to the stage.
Worst: He at Garden State Arts Center in 1988 as a "goof". Tom catches the caller in a bit of revisionist history, so he admits that he went to the show with a girl who was into the band. The caller says he really did see Tom Jones as a goof, but then he realized that he was a really great performer.
First: Schlitz's Rocks America ZZ Top Eliminator Reunion Arena
Worst: Modest Mouse at the Austin City Limits festival. He gave the band three chances because he liked some of their early records, but Isaac Brock's lifeless ACL turn hammered the final nail in their coffin. Despite having an hour set, the band floated off the stage after 35 minutes. Tom thinks that the ACL festival sounds great if you love music, dust, and heat waves. Brett keeps telling himself that he's done with it, but every year, someone produces a ticket and he goes. Tom thinks he's an ACL lifer who will keep going back until they end it, and then he'll lament its loss.
- Bob in Memphis mentions that The Monkees's 1986 hit was "That Was Then, This Is Now", originally done by The Mosquitos. The band cooled off that hott single with the full-length Pool It. Tom loves the album, which he considers the best album made in the 1960s.
First: Bob went to see one of The General Lee cars (protected by Hazzard County barriers) on display at Knots Berry Farm in 1981. Attendees received a bonus later that night when Tom Wopat's countrified crooning filled the concert hall. Tom can't wait to hear the worst show if Wopat didn't take the prize.
Worst: A 4 p.m. Wayne Newton showcase at the Arizona State Fair in 1998. The singer squeezed into a tuxedo with the aid of a visible girdle and read lyrics off the teleprompter while clutching a gold-plated microphone. Median age of the audience: 78. Midway through the performance, Newton needed a breather, so he summoned a third-rate Branson comedian to do Ronald Reagan jokes with a ventriloquist dummy like something from Madame's Place. Tom wants to make sure that Bob is not disparaging the puppeteer Wayland Flowers. He isn't -- he was just trying to tie the act's staleness to a particular era. Since Tom did not attend the event, he will take Bob's word that the Newton experience was worse than Wopat.
- Once he figures out that he's on the air, a music scholar named Frederick (this guy sounded a little like Crispin Glover) wants to play:
First: The original configuration of The Standells at a high school assembly 1966. Frederick confirms that they did "Dirty Water".
Worst: A late 1980s X show. He thought the band was good live during their Dangerhouse period, but got full of themselves when they married Ray Manzarek. Hate to say it, but I agree with Frederick: total ear candy. While he's seen worse shows, this one sticks in his craw because of the massive buildup of everyone telling him how fantastic they were. He expected musical Gods, but they sucked.
- Sarah from Easternmost Maine:
Worst: The Waitresses, right after their first hit album. Sarah thought it would be fun, but they performed the songs with total boredom and contempt for the crowd. This just in: The Waitresses are reforming with a new lead singer so they can play the Austin City Limits festival in 2007. Tom thinks The Waitresses could have taken a lesson from him and kept their head in the game. After an hour of bad calls, Tom didn't quit and managed to right the ship. Sarah says the band could have put in a similar effort, but they were never in Tom's caliber.
Tom wants to know what goes down in Western Maine, a place he's heard weird things about. Sarah says it's cloaked in mystery and fear, but she has heard about a thriving music scene and some other shenanigans. Since Sarah resides in the boonies off the coast, she's saddened about being out of the Western Maine loop. She hears about the highfalutin doings to the west on the Intronet and yearns to be closer to the real action. Alas, Sarah can offer no gossip on Claude Velndonom.
- Weirder Jon from Maplewood 07040:
First: The Kinks at the New Haven Coliseum in 1982 for the Give the People What They Want Tour
The Kinks - "Better Things"
Worst: A tie between his one Grateful Dead experience or Jello Biafra spoken word. Tom thinks the only thing worse would be if they teamed up to form what Weirder Jon calls The Grateful Dead Kennedys, with Jello subbing for Jerry. Tom thinks he should pitch it to both Bay Area camps. The Grateful Dead show was made worse by Weirder Jon's lone dabbling in psilocybin mushrooms. Weirder Jon recommends the drug only if you like nausea and not understanding what people are saying to you. And it got worse: the guy in front of him was wearing a Frank Zappa t-shirt featuring the logo for Barking Pumpkin Records.
- Mike (not the Associate Producer) calls back (starts at 2:13) to argue that he was the connector who triggered the tipping point for the show. He also thinks the worst show he's ever seen is tonight's installment of New York Noise. Tom thinks he just delivered a Zinger to MC Steinberg, but Mike says the fault lies with the hipsters. Mike is also at fault for lapsing into turlet talk. Tom now agrees that he was in fact the tipping point -- he ruined the show twice. Tom can no longer take calls, so he opts for a musical recording by Jay Reatard.
- Philly Boy Roy returns (starts at 2:31) with a deflated rendition of the Rocky theme that fizzles out after a few seconds. Tom wants to know how everything's going at the theater, but Roy wouldn't know because he's not there. He's in jail. As it got closer to the doors opening, PBR and Roy, Jr. started doing what they always do when they reach a certain level of excitement: match fights. Tom is not familiar with this popular Philadelphia sport where participants light matches and then flick them at each other. PBR says that in order to take it up a notch, you can squirt lighter fluid at a person's chest to create a flammable bullseye. Since this can easily result in setting someone on fire, PBR points out that fast hands are necessary to quickly extinguish the blaze. However, fast hands could not prevent the theater from burning down. Tom is shocked that after standing in line for a month, the theater was destroyed just 90 minutes before showtime. PBR tells Tom not to rub it in and notes that the film will still play in Haverford. PBR overshot Roy, Jr. with a match and set fire to Ol' Winston, the theater's 80-year-old usher. Back in 1982, PBR took Rhoda to see the Black Sabbath/Blue Oyster Cult Black and Blue movie, and Winston threw him out for climbing the screen during "N.I.B." The match landed in Ol' Winston's hair, so he stopped, dropped, and rolled around on the carpet to try to put it out. In the process, he accidentally set fire to some curtains and the whole theater went up in flames.
Roy, Jr. is currently alone in a holding cell because he mouthed off to the cops. He told them that if they didn't bring him some Kandy Kakes or Peanut Chews, PBR would smash their fat faces. The cops banished Roy, Jr. to his own cell so he didn't have to see them beat up PBR with battery-filled socks. PBR says the sock cushion is used to prevent marks, but he has plenty of marks on him. Tom feels bad that he's missing the movie, but it turns out that Rhoda didn't even buy tickets for Rocky Balboa. She mistakenly bought advance tickets for Rocky V, which was also playing at the theater. PBR explains that one of Mayor Rizzo's final acts was a citywide ordinance dictating that as long as Sylvester Stallone is making the films, the entire series will continue to screen in Philadelphia theaters. (There were rumors that his famous line -- "As long as Sly's makin' 'em, we're playin' 'em" -- would appear on his tombstone. It didn't.) Roy vows to "get" Rhoda for this mishap if he's able to get out of jail.
PBR says he needs to call her, but Tom informs him that he's already using his one call. PBR thought he remembered Wojo granting two calls on Barney Miller. Tom confirms that Wojo didn't never not say that. PBR says that he called the show because he promised to report back, and the people of Philadelphia keep their word. Tom appreciates that, but PBR knows that Tom didn't appreciate nem Eagles defeating the Giants the previous Sunday. PBR starts doing his victory cackle, but it fades to despair when he realizes that not only will he spend Christmas in jail, but he'll likely remain in the slammer until St. Patrick's Day based on what he heard. The Zieglers have no bail money since their basement speakeasy recently closed to make way for Roy, Jr.'s health tab lab.
PBR spots Roy, Jr. walking by his cell wearing a badge, a police hat, and holding the keys to the jail. Officer Giuseppe Harrups then hands Roy, Jr. a big bag of money in exchange for a bag of white powder. Harrups also hands over his pistol, and Roy, Jr. leaves the jail, selling his father up the river. PBR resigns himself to the fact that he'll be viewing the Super Bowl in Cell #62. He thinks it's all just another day in the life of Roy Ziegler. If this is the Philadelphia norm, Tom's glad he's at a safe distance. He recommends that PBR make the switch to Jersey, but PBR throws up and tells Tom that he can't talk to him like that. PBR didn't think they whipped people no more, but he has to hang up because Officer Harrups is stinging him with a bullwhip.
The Shins: The short-pants-loving Kevin Smith brings his daughter into his world of filth
Tom discusses (starts at 2:44) another day in his life: getting mad at Kevin Smith for two hours. Mike is a member of a new video-rental service called Netflix. If you send them coupons, they will select movies and mail them to you. You can then return the movies to your local Circuit City. Netflix sent Mike An Evening with Kevin Smith 2: Evening Harder, the new 2-disc installment in his college lecture series. Mike let Tom borrow the first disc, which takes place in Toronto. Even the generally innocuous DVD menu was annoying since Kevin Smith now fashions himself a silent film star in the mold of Harold Lloyd. He pretended to play hockey and screw in light bulbs for a running time that exceeded Safety Last!.
Paycheck from Toronto checks in to give a local perspective to Smith's love of the city. Smith claims that the donuts at Tim Hortons aren't any good. Paycheck thinks that's blasphemy, while Tom assumes that Smith must have been high on Krispy Kreme's cotton candy junk. Air and sugar don't cut it in Toronto where the hearty cake donuts provide the necessary substenance. Tom's ashamed of the people in the audience who gave Toronto a black eye by embracing Kevin Smith. Paycheck says that anybody who pays Canada any attention will be loved. In Smith's case, he scores points for continually touting the Degrassi series. Other Canadian shows Smith will be mentioning in the inevitable third lecture DVD: The Beachcombers and King of Kensington. Tom may go to Toronto to do a lecture about his love of Heart of the Annex and Prank Patrol. Paycheck says that with a moderate level of promotion, he could draw 425 paid. Paycheck is concerned about potential Toronto Raptors questions, but Tom would praise their fast-paced game and the good players (e.g., Damon Stoudelmire) who have come through the organization.
Paycheck has some concert entries:
First: Bob Dylban in 1990 on the Under the Red Sky tour. Tom has blocked out this entire era. This show also offered two additional firsts for the 11-year-old Paycheck: first whiff of the Bryce smell and the first full-on, grown-man fistfight he's ever seen. The two combatants were squaring off over a dispute about whether "Wigwam" or "The Boxer" is the best track on Self Portrait. It was so brutal that Dylan stopped the show to tell them to chill out. Paycheck wasn't a big Dylan fan at the time, so he was more entranced by seeing SNL's G.E. Smith in his band.
Worst: The Bowzer Rock 'N Roll Revue at a provincial fair 18 months ago. Paycheck says that Jon "Bowzer" Bauman reminded the crowd three or four times that Sha Na Na was at Woodstock. Tom says that the band looked like unwashed hippies while playing their rock 'n roll tunes.
Once the DVD menu stopped, Tom became nauseous at the site of Smith's daughter taking the stage to introduce him. Smith then comes out in his classic Trenchcoat Mafia duster, shorts, and Jeff Spicoli Vans. Tom doesn't understand Smith's obsession with displaying his shins and ankles. Tom's horrified that 90 seconds after his daughter left the stage, he's spewing curses like he's a caller to The Best Show. Mike says that the second disc shifts to Engaland, and his mother is in attendance for that one. Tom mentions a segment where an aspiring screenwriter in a power-assisted chair (Harry Knowles?) asked Smith to read his script. Kevin Smith says no because he's too busy to even get to his own material. Tom thinks Smith is a slob who should help people like this out. Tom was also annoyed by Smith's dispensing the entire contents of his head in 45-minute answers and his return to the Prince well. (An Evening With Kevin Smith contains a long story about Smith's work on a Prince documentary.) Smith loves to name names, so he mentions that he almost got one of Prince's assistants fired by citing her on the last DVD. Smith also drags his indentured servant, Jason Mewes, out like a court jester to rile the crowd up even more. Tom will continue to talk about Kevin Smith until Mike kicks him out of the studio.
On the next ... The Best Show on WFMU: Mike earns a merit badge for filtering out the driftwood dregs and Tom fires up the party bus for the final ride of 2006. Will it go out like a lamb or a lion?
Happy Holidays! I got everyone some Christmas blend crippler (thanks, Rutager!), a 4-pack of Sensor IV razors, and these nice pewter bookends for your Dick Francis hardcovers:
Need to find a hott shindig for NYE? I'll be attending the Cosby-Off at Temple University, but you may want to head to The O.C. for a lineup Little Steven could only dream of putting together. Rumor has it that Slim Charles, Dwight Twilley, Kim Mitchell, Tia Carerre, Danny's Junior, Tom Troccoli's Cheetah, Joanna Newsom, Brett Haskins's Hank IV, and our very own Tom Scharpling will be added to the bill!