Greasy Funk Stuff.
"I wish I could hit the button and the calls would be like flowing like gravy. Like good, funny, gravy." -- Tom, longing for less pre-topic viscosity
"Let me present to you, people of the jury, why we should take our bar vacation to South America. Exhibit A: this brochure I procured from a local travel agent." -- Paul from Nashville, litigating his rich people's problem in his apartment
"What was that over, which display was more boring?" -- Tom, trying to figure out why a college classroom nearly came to blows over historical recreations
"I don't like it. My Tommy Sense was tingling." -- Tom, reading some mutant mischief tells and folding
"You might want to look into a guitar with an amplifier next time, and a drummer maybe, if you want to get more in the Husker Du neighborhood." -- Tom, trying to help Nashville's answer to Flight of the Conchords sound more like early 1980s Minneapolis-St. Paul hardcore
"Irony don't get you through the night. Irony. It's easy. It's cheap. It's wrong! And you know it. You were a weisenheimer, and you regret it." -- Tom, counseling Paul on flicking a hipster jab at local comedian The Counterpuncher
"I'd go in my backyard. I catch Tony Alba back there. I hit him with a rake." -- Tom, punishing the skateboarding legend for criminal trespassing and property destruction
"Nobody wants to hear a hippie play a lute, cancer or no cancer. Come on!" -- ArchStanton, discovering a nasty side-effect of Canada's health care system
"I've got dental insurance!" -- John Junk, proposing a meager comeback to his blowout L at the hands of a young art student
"I was just so into the greasy funk those guys were laying down that I just had to get up and express myself through dancing ... and singing." -- Darren, riding the wave of sonic bliss at Allan Toussaint's concert last Saturday night
"You know what? On some sick level, I liked it, but only because it was embarrassing." -- Tom on Darren's performance of "The Robot" during Toussaint's set
"I didn't even have good seats, and I could see him rolling his eyes." -- Tom on Toussaint's sarcastic praise of Darren's air guitar antics
"It's so cool. It's probably the coolest thing I've ever seen on TV, of course I haven't seen that Cavemen show yet." -- Darren on the "Viva Viagra" television commercial that inspired his new bandana-based hairdo
"This isn't because you heard I groom myself down there is it?" -- Darren, suggesting a reason for Tom being jealous of him
"He's actually a decent kid, I should say. Knows when to make himself scarce. Doesn't impede our sessions, if you know what I mean. They're long sessions, too." -- Darren, praising Sky Stalker's respect for his epic lovemaking with Part Female, Part Party Animal Sheila Larson
"Please do not barge my brother." -- Tom, begging Darren to have mercy on Dom Scharpling
"I want people to know that when I'm elected things are gonna be groovin'. You know, it'll be kinda chill, but we'll get stuff done. But we'll chill out, too." -- Darren, stating the platform of his Greasy Funk Party
"But you have like to make yourself like a fake person kind of, Tommy. I don't wanna do that. I wanna be a real person." -- Petey, explaining why he avoids asking his boss how to properly scan merchandise when working the cash register at his new job
"Is that the guy from Blur?" -- Tom, asking Laurie about the identity of conceptual artist Damien Hirst
Les Savy Fav - "The Equestrian"
( Click here to pre-order Let's Stay Friends on 12" vinyl from the Whirlyball Gift Shop)
Grafton - "Never Had Less"
( Click here to buy Jumpstart Wire)
Gaunt - "Each And Every Side Effect"
( Click here to buy Sob Story)
One Last Wish - "Loss Like A Seed"
( Click here to buy 1986)
Pinback - "Good To Sea"
( Click here to pre-order Autumn Of The Seraphs)
Young Marble Giants - "Music For Evenings"
( Click here to buy Colossal Youth)
Dean & Britta - "You Turned My Head Around"
( Click here to buy Back Numbers)
Peter Sarstedt - "Where Do You Go To My Lovely"
( Click here to pre-order The Darjeeling Limited soundtrack)
Now is the time for us to gather together and celebrate those things that we like and think are fun:
Tom gives out the exclusive phone number, but he doesn't want anyone to use it before he announces the first official topic of discussion. He can no longer trust the garden variety caller to craft their own material and use the beginning of the show as their empty canvas. Tom knows it may sound harsh and cruel to some, but history dictates that he must drive the bus from now on. He wishes he could hit the button and have the calls flow like good, funny gravy, but that hasn't happened in recent months. Tom sees one line flashing, and he asks
Mike (still out on the high seas, now an honorary member of Team Zissou, performing Portuguese Grateful Dead covers with Pelé dos Santos under the night sky) Jason if it's worth putting on the air. Jason says it's a first-time caller. Tom tries to fight the temptation, but he decides to give the newbie 30 seconds to bring the goods.
- Paul from Nashville, TN, calls to ask Tom to settle a debate he's been having with his girlfriend. Tom wants to hear more about the key issues before agreeing to serve as their radio arbiter. Paul says they are both law students with one year remaining prior to taking the bar exam in late July 2008. Time expires, but Paul earns another 30 seconds. He explains that most law students go on a "bar trip" to some exotic locale after taking the examination. He and his girlfriend are having a big dispute about their desired destination. Paul really wants to go to South America (less "ethno-centric and Western"), but his girlfriend prefers a jaunt to Spain, Greece, and Portugal. They thought Tom's wisdom could help them work through this crucial life decision. Tom says that Paul and his girlfriend have what he likes to call "rich people's problems." He doesn't care about their fancy travel itinerary and issues an emphatic GOMP to the rich jerks/future lawyers. Tom acknowledges that there are good lawyers out there. He's not judging Paul and his paramour for their chosen profession, but he is judging them for asking him to analyze the pros and cons of vacations to South America and Europe and issuing his ruling. Tom points out that this is why he now puts people on the clock in the pre-topic portion of the show. You get 30 seconds, then it's click, kaboom, bong.
Speaking of GOMPs, Tom heard that there's a radio guy named Bob Grant who has been stealing his phone call termination technique. He thinks it's sickening and plans to file a lawsuit to straighten things out. Tom is confident that Grant will be punished in a court of law, perhaps with a verdict rendered by a creep like Paul from Nashville. I think Tom should just head over to the Reo Diner in Woodbridge, kidnap Grant, and barge him. Tom wonders if Paul and his girlfriend pontificate in legalese when debating their rich people's problems. He imagines them pacing around around their apartment, making dramatic, arm-flailing gestures, addressing an invisible jury, and proposing motions about European vacations. Tom does an impression of Paul introducing a South America brochure he procured from a travel agent into evidence.
After consuming these rich kids, Tom has another pleasant chat with his beautiful, blue-felted ABBA box, back announces the music, and refers to the fun Good Will Hunting as "The Prince of Tides for dudes."
- Tom doesn't think anyone will believe what happened to him. Yes, that's right, his Henry Rollins "Search and Destroy" keychain broke. He was walking around with it and noticed that the actual S&D logo fell off. Tom thought a mighty Henry Rollins keychain would be strong, but it had the durability of a weak Painted Willie keychain. A replacement is on the way, so Tom hopes it will stand up to the ruthless abuse that he put the first one through over the 12 days that he owned it.
- Tom puts a topic on the table: The Wit of the Staircase. According to comedian Paul F. Tompkins, the French refer to this topic as l'esprit de l'escalier. Tom wants people to think of the times they absorbed an insult and then thought of the perfect comeback 20 minutes later. He's giving people the chance to recreate the moment and finally win. Not really. They still flopped. Tom thinks this thing is gonna play out just like The Best of Times, a film in which Robin Williams and Kirk Russell revise their gridiron history.
- Morgan claims to be calling from Linkin Park, New Jersey, but Tom has never heard of it. Morgan says it's located between Paterson and Wayne. He also mentions that while the town has been around since the 1640s, it was officially incorporated in 1922. Tom duly notes these facts. Morgan says the town is not named after the rock band, and all of its residents hate them because they spell it like President Abraham Lincoln, the borough's supposed namesake. Tom thinks a more appropriate name for the town would be Historyville. The town council also filed an official grievance with Warner Brothers because they thought Rick Rubin's production on Minutes to Midnight was a bit too "hands-off".
Morgan is a college student who is hoping for a career in historical preservation. In his classes, he has to go before a jury at the end of a long project. The students parade their work to their peers and endure their horrible criticisms. Morgan did models, drawings, and sketches for a small neighborhood park that recaptured some classic features of the parks built in the 1930s under the WPA. Tom doesn't know what that is, but he does know that Morgan really likes his history. He wonders if Morgan enjoys history because it's old and non-threatening. Morgan says that history is constantly changing, while the future stays the same. Tom thinks this is something that a history fanatic would say just before unleashing a demented laugh. He can't wait to hear about the quip that Morgan missed considering the one he just dropped off the dome.
Morgan says one classmate created a model for Hoboken when they were building parks on the piers, but one of her parks collapsed into the sea. She told Morgan that his design looked like he was planning a future slum, so he wishes that he summoned the quick wit to say, "At least none of mine had fallen into the sea." Tom says he would have won the moment by eliciting a chorus of "oooooooh"s from the rest of the class. Morgan doesn't think you can beat an "ooooooh" moment. Tom says that at that point you either have to fight the person because they may attack or just raise your eyebrows, show your palms to everyone, and own it. Morgan says a previous jury nearly came to blows, and Tom suspects they were arguing over which historical display was more boring. Morgan says it was a children's playground designed by three women. A male judge criticized the amount of open space they included in the design. He thought it was terribly unsafe and would not allow his hypothetical children to play there. The three women said they all had all given birth to actual children, and a fight ensued. Tom is surprised by the passion involved in reinterpreting history. Morgan mentions the ongoing renovations to Thomas Alba Edison's historic house and factories in West Orange. When they were digging around his basement, they found his stash of beer cans and Lucky Strike cigs. (And a few stray stroke books per my sources.) Tom thinks that's exciting. Edison was hiding them from his wife, who wouldn't let him smoke or drink in the house. Tom thinks these history guys are something else. He thinks it sounds like a real party. Edison's house will be renamed Thomas Edison's Secret Stash and open as a comic book store early next year.
- Matthew calls from Greenpoint to talk about his brief encounter with the world of organized crime. A couple of years ago he was walking past a supposed Mafia hangout after work. He thinks he made eye contact with a guy in his 50s who looked the part -- wifebeater, hairy, track pants. Half a block later, he drove up in his town car and asked Matthew if he wanted to join him for a cold sodey. Matthew freaked out and said he had to go home because his girlfriend was cooking him dinner. He wishes he got in the car to see what would have happened. Tom pictures the moment in Goodfellas when Jimmy Conway sent Henry Hill's wife to get some free dresses. He's offended by Matthew's racism and bids him goodnight. Matthew obviously has an ax to grind with Italian-Americans, and The Best Show won't stand for it.
- Matt from Rockaway, NJ, says he's calling about the topic, but he quickly reveals his cards. Matt says that "we" (presumably the people chirping in the background) were at ShopRite in Dover, and they walked across the street to the dollar store to purchase some Glow Sticks. The store only had one overweight white lady working the register. Tom pulls the plug on the call because his Tommy Sense was tingling. He decides to reveal Matt's three tells on the air:
1. Instead of saying how he was doing, he went right into his rap. This suggests that he was calling to make mischief instead of engaging in actual conversation.
2. People stirring and rumbling in the background; huge giveaway.
3. The classic bush-league move: radio turned up.
There are a few more that Tom keeps to himself. Matt had a made mutant hand. Tom wisely folded.
- Tom was recently having coffee at a New Jersey-based coffee chain called Starbucks. They were playing the worst music he's ever heard from a John Lennon "tribute" album. Tom thinks they should have billed the record as a tribute to Paul McCartney featuring John Lennon songs done badly. Tom wishes McCartney was on hand to fix the tracks, including a particularly bad version of "#9 Dream". Some guy seated across from Tom was actually tapping his foot and rocking out to the dreamy melodies Starbucks was laying down. Tom wonders if Starbucks spins the worst in-store music of all the chains. While Panera opts for innocuous background jazz, Starbucks pollutes the retail space with a Sly & the Family Stone "tribute" featuring the likes of Joss Stone, I-ron's Reggae Challenge, and will.i.am having a go at the greasy funk Sly used to thrown down.
- Stu calls from Easton, PA, where he's sitting inhis radio. Tom thought he was either really tiny like Timmy von Trimble or sitting in front of an old-timey radio with his family. Stu is actually listening to the show by himself in his car. He thinks a lot of people will relate to his missed opportunity. Stu was backstage working on the filming of a television show, and one of the supporting actors came over to the catering area. In the course of the casual conversation, Stu wished he asked this person on a date. It was a very pretty lady. He felt a spark, and she had eyes to die for. Her name was Rachel. Rachel Dratch. Stu was particularly interested in taking her out to dinner, and he subsequently discovered that Dratch's bio mentions that she likes to go out to dinner. Tom finds it a bit hard to believe that Dratch enjoys doing that. Stu confirms that she likes going to restaurants to eat food. He was a millisecond away from asking her to dinner, but he hesitated and blew it. In this moment of indecision, Dratch's knife fell as she was trying to apply butter to something, and the moment was lost forever. One of the technicians came over to retrieve her to do a scene. She was gone, and Stu never had another chance to woo her. Tom's not sure what to say about this sad story, but he think it's typical of the way things are handled in Easton, PA.
- David in Philadelphia 19125 (close enough) calls to recreate a gig gone awry. He was enlisted as the lead vocalist for a show that took place in December 2005 at the Grape Street Pub in Manayunk, per my local insiders. David says he was pretty drunk when it was time to perform. The guitarist took the performance a lot more seriously, and the band broke down on stage. The music stopped, and the angry axeman called David out for his intoxication. David says he was wearing Native American garb. He's half-Vietnamese, so his skin tone made his get-up look a bit more authentic. He wishes he shot down his guitarist's rebuke by saying, "You'd be drunk, too, if your land was stolen from you." Tom thinks that would have been a good one. He also wants to know how being half-Vietnamese gives him the right to pretend to be an American Indian rock frontman and make drunken slurs about an entire group of people. David justifies it by saying that he's also a minority. Tom GOMPs the sicko. He suspects David is really only 1/16th Vietnamese, exaggerating the percentage of his heritage based on his frequent consumption of Vietnamese cuisine.
- Paul from Nashville takes a break from looking up legal precedents to bolster his case for a four-night stay in Brazil and returns with a cautionary tale about the perils of irony. He played an open mic night as part of a musical duo he formed with his buddy, Tom. Paul held down the bomp-bomp-bomp on bass, while Tom strummed an acoustic guitar. Flight of the Conchords sans jokes. While the open mic was held in a bar, they realized it was a Christian event when there was an altar call after their performance. They used a four-letter word (not f), and they felt bad that they subjected a wholesome crowd to their brand of semi-filth. Their toilet rock was preceded by a comedian called The Counterpuncher. He wore boxing gloves and sported a makeup black eye. At the end of his set, he did a nice bit about sticking up for the oppressed. Another hero to the disenfranchised! After Paul played, The Counterpuncher compared his music to the Gin Blossoms in what was a very sincere compliment.
At the time, Paul and his bandmate were not GB fans, so they were rude and laughed in The Counterpuncher's face. Paul wishes he just looked The Counterpuncher in his blackened eye and thanked him for his kindness. He regrets acting like they were ironic hipsters who were too cool for church. Paul says they wanted to sound like Husker Düde with a little more kick. Tom's sure they must have had that whole HD vibe so down that the crowd mistook their acoustic guitar and bass ditties for tracks from Metal Circus. I hope at least one of them grew a handlebar mustache. Tom thinks they should explore the possibilities of guitar amplification and the services of a drummer if they want to get closer to that sound. Paul says fair enough to the musical advice and expresses regret for being such a weisenheimer to The Counterpuncher. Tom tells him that irony don't get you through the night. It's easy, cheap, and wrong. He gives Paul credit for being smart enough to realize this in retrospect. Tom tells him not to do it again and reprimands him for hurting The Counterpuncher's feelings. Tom proposes an interesting alternative theory: what if The Counterpuncher thought they sounded like the Gin Blossoms because their songs were equally terrible. Tom reminds Paul that he was a comic capable of delivering just such a zing. He concludes that Paul got punched by The Counterpuncher. Even if it was a zing, Tom thinks Paul should have thanked the pugilistic prankster and praised him for a high-energy set that indicated he was having a lot of fun up there. The ultimate cop-out. Paul finally realizes the difference between telling the truth and being gracious. He scored no points on that night. Tom thinks The Counterpuncher probably prayed for Paul after the show. Tom spoke to his pastor about tonight's show. Rev. Miller helped him come up with this topic.
- Chris calls from from the future:11:00 a.m. on Wednesday in Newcastle, Australia. He's got two hours of bonus broadband to listen to the program. Chris has lived in Manhattan and Ramsey, N.J., but his primary U.S. home was Pittsburgh. He tried to call last week to see what Tom thought of the city during his trip to the Andy Warhole museum. Tom thinks the people there like their football. Go Steeluhs! Chris says that they like their rugby in Newcastle, so he can't escape fanaticism over sports with head-butting. He's a fan of rugby, which he prefers to Australian rules football because there's no pads, no commercials, and lots of blood and gore. Chris points out that Newcastle is a steel town that lost its mill in 1999, much like the shift in the economy of Pittsburgh. Tom thinks that Chris may be a bad luck charm, bringing down the steel industry wherever he roams. Chris has his sights set on Dusseldorf. Tom wants to hear his moment before his broadband conks out.
He was at the Metropolitan Museum of Art with his family on a Friday night, enjoying some cocktails on the roof. He was playing with his son, holding him over his head while tickling him. A young female security guard started chewing him out for this aerial show. Chris does an impression of the South American woman telling him to stop lifting his child into the air because it was dangerous. Everyone turned their heads to check out the commotion. Chris slowly turned towards the woman and said, "Thank you, Dr. Spock." Everyone cracked up, and the security guard slunked away. His son is alive and well at age 12. Chris hasn't killed him yet. He's glad he said it because he felt she stepped over the line of her security duties by counseling a parent. The world traveler captured the wit of the moment and stuck it to the lowly museum employee. Mike Healy told me that Tom is a renowned baby expert, so I'm surprised he didn't weigh in on this one.
- Larry the Perv crawls out from behind a rock and calls to see how things are going, there. Since
Memorial Day Labor Day is coming up, he was thinking about those Jerry Lews TV-thons. He wants to know if Tom will host a Larry-thon to raise money for his business. He makes feachas. Tom dumps him. Oh, Larry. Tom can't continue to talk to Larry under the laws of the new regime.
- Martin from Edison calls to discuss an incident that occurred while skateboarding eight years ago in Boston. He says Bostonians hate skateboarding. Tom points out that it's not a crime, and Martin says he still has a bumper sticker featuring this reminder. Tom changes his mind, noting that property destruction, such as crashing a skateboard into his car, is in fact a criminal act. He points out that skateboarding was formed on criminal trespassing through private pools, which were then drained and scraped up with rotten skateboards. If Tom ever caught legendary Z-Boy Tony Alba (no relation) in his backyard, he'd hit him with a rake and inquire about payment on the bill to refinish the interior of his $20,000 pool that was ruined when he went out of town for two days.
Tom guesses that the Boston debacle occurred when Martin was 8, but he was actually 19. Tom wonders why he didn't have a driver's license at that time. Martin says he was in Boston on vacation. Tom thinks people should approach skateboarding like soccer -- you abandon it for good at a certain age. Martin says that super-old dudes still play soccer, but Tom hasn't signed off on their continued participation in the sport. While Martin was skateboarding by himself somewhere in downtown Boston, five drunk dudes wanted to start a fight and got in his face. He had no comeback for this angry mob because he knew they would have pounded him. He still has no comeback for them. Martin admits to not being a tough guy like Charles Bronson, so Tom says the correct move is to keep quiet. Martin considers taking up martial arts, but Tom says that would be of no help in this kind of situation. If you're riding a skatebord in a strange town and five drunk guys start saying stuff, you skateboard away and hope you don't get hit in the back of the head with a beer bottle. Martin still skates, but he does it in parks so he avoids destroying buildings and curbs. Tom often tries to walk past the post office amidst kids doing jumps off the steps. Jump and fall. Jump and fall. Martin says he's too old for those tricks. Tom thinks these kids need to return to skateboarding school to improve their 1/9 landing ratio.
- ArchStanton from the AST board calls from Canada. Tom wants to know what part of Canada, but Arch lapses into a Henry Owingsesque steamroll. (It's Winnipeg.) He had surgery to remove a recurrence of his cancer, and now he's currently undergoing chemotherapy. Whenever he's in the waiting room, he has to bite down hard on his tongue to avoid saying something about the hippie volunteer who is playing a lute in an attempt to soothe the elderly cancer patients. Arch says the last thing he needs is a set of this guy's baroque funeral music while he's pondering his impending mortality. Tom thinks the lute must be a bonus treat from Canada's free health care system. Arch says he's received excellent care during his two bouts with cancer, and it hasn't cost him anything. However, there's the issue of putting up with the hippie who plays a lute. He guesses it's a good trade-off all things considered. Tom says that when faced with a decision between free medicine and a hippie lutist, he might take out his checkbook. Arch is starting to think this approach ("Pay and No Pay"?) is an attractive option. He wonders where one draws the line considering that he's subjected to a live music performance while waiting to receive chemotherapy. Arch assumes the Canadian Cancer Society is booking the musician (also a touring member of Devendra Banhart's backing band) to help patients cope with their illness. Arch thinks the people who are nearly twice his age enjoy the music because it eases them towards the light at the end of the tunnel. He prefers not to see or think about the light. He doesn't think anyone wants to hear a hippie play a lute whether they have cancer or not.
He doesn't own an iPod, so Tom offers to send him one so he can drown out the lute with his own tunes. Arch doesn't want the device, but Tom insists. Arch despises cell phones, and he feels that the iPod is too similar. He says he's not one of those crotchety curmudgeons, but he just hates cell phone culture and the dangerously close iPod culture. Tom is thankful that Arch declined his iPod offer. He dodged a bullet trying to look like a bigshot on the radio. Tom renews his generous offer by promising to buy Arch the best iPod he can find. He hopes Arch declines again. Arch says he would prefer a t-shirt. Tom thinks every dirtbag will now call to take him up on the iPod offer, but it's only valid for Arch. Arch says people will have to first get cancer if they want a freebie. He's kicking cancer's ass, proving that Good Guys win. Tom tells him to stay strong and hopes he's eating well. He doesn't want him making daily visits to Tim Hortons to load up on fat bombs. Arch says a donut is the worst thing on Earth you could possibly put in your body since it has zero nutritional value and cancer feeds on sugar. Tom wants Arch to increase the seaweed in his diet, but Arch isn't sure if can get it in the middle of the prairie. Tom will send him a seaweed-wrapped sushiPod.
- A dirtbag calls to try to get Tom to give him the iPod. Tom says it was only for Arch. The caller says his eye fell off, so he really needs an iPod.
- Colin from Westfield prefaces his tale by admitting that he brought it on himself by being a bit of a jerk. He was on the subway after a long day and just wanted to ride home to New Jersey peace. A guy standing in front of him in a business suit declined a request for money from a panhandler. Colin knew he was next, and he didn't have any money to offer. The guy approached him, and Colin told him he didn't have anything before he asked. He got very irate that Colin assumed he was going to ask for money. He told Colin he had a gun, giving him the means to rob him. He said something about only wanting 12 cents. While Colin was sitting on the subway, he wondered if he should have just apologized for his presumptuousness or demanded to see the weapon, essentially daring the man to shoot him. Tom says he definitely figured out the two extremes of possible responses. Colin says he would have felt like a cowboy in his mind. Tom tells him that cowboys don't exist, and Dirty Harry is a fictional character.
Tom would have apologized to the gentlemen, punched him in the nose, grabbed his gun, and pistol whipped him with it. He thinks Colin must feel like the Prince of the Planet out in Westfield with its nice little movie theater and proximity to two Barnes & Noble stores. Tom is disappointed that they couldn't hold onto the bagel place on the main drag. He laments the lack of support for the fake local business with screen-printed chalkboards displaying cartoon drawings of chocolate chip bagels. Tom doesn't think these mass-produced pieces are fooling anyone into thinking that an employee of that store had the artistic talent to pull of these elaborate depictions of personified food in their spare time.
- Comedy buff
Wack Zakk Zach from Philly calls to relive a meeting with his wife 14 years ago to finalize the paperwork of their pending divorce. They met outside an Italian restaurant in Hawaii, where Zach lived for seven years. He thought Hawaii was awesome, especially since 1988-1995 was a particularly good time for the local music scene. Zach applauds Tom for referencing Poi Dog Pondering. The meeting was civil until the end when his wife told him that she had hoped to have his children. Zach was at a loss for words, and he hasn't come up with anything in 14 years. He considered saying something about her mother's macaroni and cheese recipe. Tom tells Zach that he should have made some cartoon noises, waved his hands in the air, and walked backwards to his car. Zach had never considered interpretative dance as a viable response. Tom suggests something from The Nutcracker to make her think he was losing his mind. Zach says there is a single word for the topic's central concept, but he can't remember it. He thinks it's something like "octothorp," which he claims is another name for the # sign. Tom thinks it's just called the "number sign." Tom now realizes that his wife divorced him because he's weird and makes words up. He GOMPs him.
- Roger calls from Washington Heights, and Tom wants to know Roger's favorite Roger. Roger goes with Roger Healey from I Dream of Jeannie, but Tom wants Roger to name a real Roger. He suggests Roger Grimsby, but Roger prefers Roger Maris. He doesn't like Roger Moore. Tom tells Roger that his name is fading, giving way to the Britneys and Blaines of the world. Roger feels that his name will soon end up in the ash heap of history along with Rosemary and Maury.
Roger was walking out of a store on Broadway 15 years ago and smashed into a big blond guy who was out for a run. The guy's friend wanted to continue jogging, but the guy wanted to start a fight with Roger for his aimless wandering. Roger stammered some meager response, and then the guy's friend grabbed him prior to any fisticuffs. Roger always wanted to say, "Dude, it's called a sidewalk, not a siderun." Tom says it's not great, but good for the moment. He thinks Roger should have punched the guy in the nose and shown him his own blood to stop his bullying. Tom would have hired a bodyguard like Ricky Linderman and returned to the scene in the hopes of another altercation. Roger says he was a younger guy then, but Tom says a guy younger than both of them figured out the benefits of personal security. Tom says Roger could use some of the wisdom of a Chris Makepeace. Roger says we all could. Tom couldn't. He GOMPs Roger for telling him what's what.
- John Junk calls to try to pick of the pieces of a blistering art school zing. After receiving his graduate degree, he started working at his school as the manager of the art studios. The 19-year-old undergrads consistently annoy him, and about 10 months ago he got madder than an Australian Copperhead at a Tracey Emin exhibit when a female student was causing him excessive grief. She fired back by saying, "Don't get mad at me, I know this isn't what you wanted to do after grad school." Junk glazed over when faced with this full-on zing, and he's yet to come up with a clever retort. Tom would have dedicated himself to wreaking havoc on the student's existence, slashing all of her paintings with a razor blade and demolishing her sculptures. Junk loves the idea. He thought of saying stuff like "I've got dental insurance!", but Tom doesn't think citing a basic health benefit would be nearly as effective as destroying creative works. Tom thinks she showed him up with a triumphant W, sending Junk spiraling to a blowout L. Junk says he tried to read her to see if she was aware of the brutality of her quip. He still encounters the student, but he's not entirely sure of her awareness of the incident. Tom thinks the perfect amount of time has passed for Junk to plot his revenge -- JUNK style! The students won't suspect him if he spray paints his FOTverse moniker of JUNK on all of her art. Junk says he has the access, and Tom thinks he needs to listen to the devil on his shoulder and bring it. Junk will draft his plans and begin his retribution in a few weeks.
- Darren Ploppleton, Tom's longtime Consolidated Cardboard co-worker, calls to see what's shakin' with his buddy. He apologizes for not having much contact with Tom at work since he got moved to Accounts Disputable. Tom assumes the department fights bills that people think CC should pay. Darren says it's sort of like that, but kinda weirder almost. For example, yesterday a guy from Kern Pharmaceuticals totally tore him a new one because he claimed that Kern did not have an active account with CC. Darren says he spends the day dealing with disputes about the existence of customer accounts. Tom agrees that this department is weirder than what he thought it would be. Darren says the work is a total drag, and it's worse because Rick Davies totally screwed up all of the files in the department. Darren can't believe Davies hasn't been fired. Tom thinks Davies might be the new hire, but Darren says he was in AD for a long time before Old Man Dalrymple, CC CEO, started moving him into different positions throughout the company.
Tom now remembers that Davies is the guy who's always shaking the vending machine in an attempt to get his beloved Toast Chee crackers. He suspects that Davies is shaking the moneytaker to try to get two snacks for the price of one, but Darren says he can never even get the one item to come out. Since nobody else has a problem with the machine, Darren says people believe that Davies has "The Vending Machine Curse". While Davies eventually gets his crackers, he sometimes has to smash the front of the vending machine to grab them. This destruction has yet to lead to his termination, so Darren says it must pay to be a former judge's grandson. Rick Davies is the grandson of disbarred Newbridge judge Montgomery Davies. Darren thinks that Judge Davies must have something on Old Man Dalrymple, which explains why he keeps Rick at the Double-C. Darren tells Tom about the rumors going around that Judge Davies used to have "device parties" in that old cabin out by The Devil's Breakfast Nook, a weird rock formation just east of a weird mud sculpture called Satan's Jukebox. The sculpture is located just beyond the Hell's Wash Basin hot springs. Judge Davies apparently filmed all these parties on 35 mm because he wanted the highest quality documentation of all the sick stuff that was happening. Darren says he can't even provide any of the details over the air. He's pretty sure that Rick Davies would have been fired two years ago if not for his grandfather's blackmailing efforts.
Darren says he doesn't want to dwell too much on work. Tom likes to leave that stuff at the plant, too. Darren changes the subject by asking Tom if he had fun at the Allan Toussaint show on Saturday. Tom had a good time, and Darren thought Toussaint was great. Darren didn't mention the venue, but my guess is that the show was at the Newbridge Jazz Academy, the site of the fateful Hammerhead vs. Sonny Rollins showdown in the fall of 1983. Tom had seen him twice before, but this was Darren's first Toussaint show. Darren asks Tom if he saw him dancing. Tom says they all did. Darren says he was having a blast shaking his moneymaker to that greasy funk the band was laying down. Tom is highly skeptical about the amount of income generated by Darren's "moneymaker", which he also refers to as his "groove thang." Darren says he's never tried to make money with it, but if he did, it would probably bring in six figures. Tom thinks a decimal point would have to be inserted somewhere for that statement to be accurate. Darren doesn't think Tom knows what he's talking about.
Darren was trying to get others to shake their moneymakers to the greasy funk, but nobody was up for it. He tried to make eye contact with Tom during his gyrations. Tom says nobody joined him because they were all there to see the Allan Toussaint perform, not to watch Darren's dancing. Darren is surprised to hear that because he was having a blast. Tom says the other 1,200 people were not having a blast watching him. They thought he was pretty annoying. Darren says he was just so into the the greasy funk those guys were laying down that he had to express himself by dancing ... and singing. Tom says the singing is what really pushed people over the edge. Darren thinks Tom is joking. He's not. Darren says he got so into the greasy funk those guys were putting down that he had to sing along. Tom mentions that his vocal accompaniment was marred by not knowing any of the lyrics to Toussaint's tunes. Darren says he was singing the same words that Allan was, but Tom points out that it was a few seconds after Allan sang them, creating an unpleasant reverb effect that suggested a faulty PA system.
Darren wants to know why nobody said anything. Tom says that people repeatedly yelled "Sit down!", but Darren interpreted these pleas as a directive to "Get down!", i.e., continue dancing and singing along with the greasy funk coming from the stage. Tom wants him to stop saying "greasy funk." Darren thinks it's the most appropriate term for what Toussaint's band was laying down. While it may be sonically accurate, Tom begs Darren not to use the term again. Darren thinks Tom will next criticize his rendition of The Robot. Tom liked it on a some sick level, but only because it was so embarrassing. Darren says the dance is funny and kitschy, and it cracks him up when the guy in the Prilosec commercial does it. Tom's glad that Darren was entertained by that, but he says it was very annoying to see at a live show when everyone is trying to focus on the music. Darren wonders why Allan Toussaint didn't say anything to him if his antics were so offensive to other concertgoers. Tom says Toussaint said stuff about Darren between almost every song. At one point, Toussaint asked, "Has anybody else had enough of this guy?" Darren thought he was referring to President Bush. Tom tells Darren that Toussaint was talking about him while pointing at him. Darren is shocked to hear this. Later in the show Darren thought he praised his air guitar skills. Tom says that Toussaint was being as sarcastic as anyone he's ever seen in his life. He didn't even have good seats, but he could see Toussaint roll his eyes while issuing the faux props. Darren wants to know why he'd be rolling his eyes. Tom says it was because he was playing air guitar on the lip of the stage while Toussaint was playing piano backed by a bassist and a drummer. No guitar. Darren says it sounded like there was a guitar. Tom says if he turned around to watch the show, he would have seen the guitar-free set-up. Darren says he got so caught up in the greasy funk those guys were laying down that he was confused about the instruments they were playing. Tom renews his request for Darren to stop saying "greasy funk," but Darren says Tom can't make him.
He asks Tom if he checked out his new hairstyle at the show. He thinks it's pretty cool, but Tom thought it was Part 2 of the embarrassing spectacle that went down on Saturday night. Tom says Darren is kinda not fooling anyone with the new look. Darren says he's just wearing a bandana around his head, but Tom thinks it's clear that he's losing his hair. Tom tells Darren that he shouldn't be ashamed of his hair loss. Darren denies going bald, reminding Tom about the really long hair poking out from underneath his bandana. Tom compares these tufts to the supposedly long hair emerging from the bandanas of Hulk Hogan or Brett Michaels. Darren calls Tom a jerk for suggesting he got the hairdo idea from the two aging reality television stars. He was actually inspired by a Viagra commercial in which Elvis Presley's "Viva Las Vegas" is tweaked into a chorus of "Viva Viagra!" Darren sings a bit of the jingle and says it's probably the coolest thing he's ever seen on TV, although he hasn't seen Cavemen yet. Tom thinks that may top the Viagra commercial. Darren thinks Tom has always been jealous of him. Tom disagrees. Darren asks Tom if the jealousy is the result of him hearing that he grooms himself down there. Tom tells Darren to stop. Darren says Kim Dalrymple was bragging about it to a lot of the girls at CC.
Darren thought his relationship with Old Man Dalrymple's 22-year-old daughter was going to last forever, and he made a big life change while dating her. He tells Tom that he made the right decision by not following Darren in pursuit of fleeting rock 'n roll dreams. When Darren last called last May, he was really feelin' it after The Consolidated won a corporate Battle of the Bands competition, defeating arch rival McKinley-Severson from Upper East Westbridge. Tom was holding things down on bass, and Darren subsequently hired Rupert Threadwell to manage the renamed Hell Toupee. Darren was writing some original songs: a Kim-inspired balled called "Little Lover Girl" that was primed for Tom's fuzz pedals, a slice of John Cougar Mellencampy Americana that denounced "Jewish liberals" while supporting GWB's fight for freedom, and a rip-off of Scorpions' "Rock You Like a Hurricane" that hails Werner as a "hero with a bag of magic/the man who makes the snow come." Darren was certain that Hell Toupee (Tom loathed the name) was primed for rock stardom and world tours, but Tom declined to quit his job at CC, leave his family, and move in with Darren, Kim, and the other bandmates. Tom says it's not hard to believe this arrangement wasn't one for the ages.
Darren doesn't think Tom will believe that Kim couldn't deal with some of his idiosyncrasies. For example, Darren's brother, Chief Ray, who is the Newbridge Fire Chief, kept coming to their house to do spot inspections. He was specifically interested in searching their bedroom, and more specificially Kim's underwear drawer. Darren admits it was weird. Kim also didn't like that they could never go out to restaurants. Darren says he doesn't like anyone watching him eat, including Kim. She'd make a big meal, and he'd go into the garage to eat his hut dog in the dark. Tom's not familiar with a "hut dog", so Darren asks him if he's ever been to a baseball game. Tom says he's been to one, but he still doesn't know about a "hut dog". Darren says it's a frank on a bun. Tom tells him this is called a "h-o-t dog". Darren thought it was a hut dog because food vendors at baseball games pull them out of the steaming trays in those steel cookers, aka the "hut". Tom says that is a new one to him. Darren thinks it makes perfect sense. Tom says it's makes zero sense. Darren prefers to eat in darkness because he also can't stand looking at his own food. It makes him sick. Tom now understands why he never sees him eating lunch in the CC cafeteria. Darren says that when the lunch whistle blows, he'll head to the broom closet on the 72nd floor. He turns the light out and eats five handburgers. Tom thinks that's a lot of food, but Darren assures him that he can put it away.
Kim also had major problems with his affliction. Darren suffers from Van Rothner's Syndrome in reverse. Tom doesn't even know about the non-reversed VRS. Darren says it's basically a fancy term for needing to make water and the other thing in public. Tom doesn't want any more details. Darren says he's lucky that his new lady, Sheila Larson, doesn't judge him. The name sounds familiar to Tom, and Darren says that Larson used to be married to a huge rock star named Corey Harris. Tom also knows her because she's engaged to his brother. Darren asks him if she's engaged to Ron, Lon, John, or San. Tom says San was a Korean exchange student the Scharplings once hosted. Darren doesn't think it could be Dom, but it is. He thinks Tom must be kidding, but Tom says they've been engaged for a while.
Darren thinks that news is a bigger bombshell than the one Sheila laid on him last night. In a nutshell, Sheila isn't 100% a woman. Tom doesn't want to know about this, and he points out that Larson had a kid with Corey Harris. Darren's not sure how that worked out, but he says their son is actually a decent kid. He says Sky Stalker knows when to make himself scarce and doesn't impede on his marathon sessions with Sheila. Tom thinks this is usually the sign of a great kid. He doesn't want to know anything about these sessions, but Darren wants to know more about this thing with Dom because it's totally bumming him out. He thinks Tom knows that it will have to be settled "Newbridge-style". Tom is scared to know what this means, and Darren says his fears are justified since it involves a relative. Darren says he's gotta barge him. He will knock Dom out, take him down to the dock, put him on a barge, and shove him out to sea. Dom will float down the Newbridge Straits and right out into the Atlantic Ocean in what amounts to a death sentence. Darren says his barging skills have been honed in 13 prior bargings, and Tom asks him not to make Dom his 14th. Tom has a ton of issues with his brother, but he doesn't want to see him taken out.
Rock throwing phenom Melissa Peuchk, Left Pull Guard for the Central North Drawbridge Contusion Causers, shows off during a skills competition
Darren gives Tom another option: entrapping Dom inside the triskaidecagon. Tom doesn't know what that is. Darren calls him a "jidierk" for not knowing that it's a 13-sided polygon. Darren says he just crafted the hybrid insult that's part idiot, part jerk. Darren gives Tom permission to use it, but Tom declines. The triskaidecagon is the enclosure where the local rock throwing league holds their violent rock throwing matches. Darren plays Right Smash Tackle for the for the Newbridge Nailers, who defeated the Old New West Eastbridge Welt Givers last Thursday. Tom comments on all the violent recreational leagues that are cropping up in the Newbridge area (e.g., slapfighting, belt whipping, Australian Rules Captain's Donuts skeet shooting), and Darren thinks it's a great outlet. Tom wants a rundown of how a given team earns a victory in a rock throwing match.
Darren says that once the two teams enter the enclosure, opposing players stand back to back. Each player then takes turns doing a little pirouette to end up facing away from each other. All of the players then drop to the floor, do 18 push-ups, spring back up, do another pirouette to now face each other, and then start whipping rocks at the opponents' faces. Tom laughs at this bizarro ballet of gameplay. Darren thinks it's really cool. Tom downplays the sport's coolness and notes that it sounds really violent. Darren thinks it sounds like Tom's mad at him, but Tom's just taken aback by all this stuff. Darren can kind of understand that, but he thinks he should be mad at Tom for trying to run him over last night. Tom doesn't recall the incident because it occurred in Darren's dreamscape. Tom says he can't be held accountable for that. Darren says it was pretty real, and Tom gives him the go-ahead to recount his dream.
Darren says he was pushing a cart full of fudge around the track at New South North Newbridge Presbyterian Junior High School while all the members of the marching band were shooting t-shirts at him via a canon. A band member fired one at Darren, striking him in the "pookledook" and causing him to keel over. After he got up, he unfurled the sartorial artillery, revealing a t-shirt with the phrase "Half Animal, Part Party Machine", the slogan for the Rollins Band. Darren remembers Tom owning a similar t-shirt. Tom thinks the correct slogan was "Part Animal, Part Machine", a reference to the ferocious stage presence of Mr. Rollins. Darren remembers it differently, but he thinks Tom would know because he had the Rollins Band tapes they used to listen to in his truck. Tom declines further comment on his supposed vehicle and the music within. When Darren put the shirt down, he saw Tom barreling towards him on a tall bike. Tom then began whipping him with a belt. Darren says Tom was a good belt whipper and suggests that he join a Dream Belt Whipping League. Tom says he doesn't want to be a featured player in Darren's dreams, in a reality-based belt whipping league, or in a dreamworld belt whipping league. Darren says he has no control over Tom's appearances in his dreams. Tom's forceful, accurate whips knocked Darren down, but just when he was about to die, Jayne Kennedy rescued him. The superhott 1970s actress was taking care of him, and then Darren woke up in a whipped cream factory. He prefers not to get into what happened there, and Tom doesn't pursue it.
Darren's fine now, and he's running for mayor of Newbridge after acquiring the requisite 37 signatures over the weekend. Chief Ray Ploppleton is also running, joining Hammerhead and Thor from Eastbridge in the race. Tom says he's trying not to follow the campaign so early. Darren thinks it's good strategy to start establishing what he calls "brand recognition" to "get the synergy going." In addition to getting the Darren from Consolidated Cardboard brand out there, Darren also wants to introduce his party to voters. He's running for the Greasy Funk Party to let people know that once he's elected, things will be groovin' and chill, but he'll also get things done. Tom doesn't think he can vote for Darren. He hasn't really considered the other candidates, but he can't support anyone on a Greasy Funk ticket. Darren says they'll just be chilling out, and he feels really good all of a sudden. Tom asks him if he ate or drank anything. Darren says that while he was talking, his lips felt crackly so he dug around Sheila's purse to get some lip balm. Tom wants to know what it says on the tube. Darren removes the Das Sieben Und Der Elf price sticker to discover that he applied Blue. Tom's not surprised. He asks Darren if he knows what it is, but he's already asleep. Like many afflicted by the scourge of Newbridge, Darren somehow manages to hang up. Jason has never done Blue, and Tom's glad to hear it. He's an upstanding citizen. Darren calls back in the midst of another dream, his snores giving way to cries of "Jayne ... oh yes, Jayne!"
- Petey calls even though he can't really relate to the topic because he's so little. He says he doesn't have experiences as vast as "adult people." In other news, Petey got a job. He doesn't think he can reveal where because weirdos will find him and hurt him. Tom does an impression of Petey behind the counter at a Wendy's asking a customer if they want a double w/ cheese, Biggie fries, or a Frosty to wash down their chicken sandwich. Petey says he's not employed by a fast food eatery, but he would "make" a restaurant. He doesn't like his job, and he gives Tom a hint about where he works. While some people will say they work in "retail", Petey works in "wholesale" at one of those places that require membership to get all their bulk stuff. Petey says he actually likes it sometimes. Tom plays the role of a gentlemen customer asking young Petey to direct him to the skids of paper towels. He then morphs into Petey telling the customer to walk past the aisle with the potato chips and then look for the paper towels just beyond the thing with the bottled water.
Tom's had plenty of bad jobs. He tells Petey to take his lumps, but Petey doesn't know what a "lump" is in this context. Tom says life is gonna knock you around a bit, and he wonders if Petey expected to land a gig as a Creative Director of some business enterprise at the ripe age of 11. Tom thinks Petey will better appreciate the good jobs in his future if he endures the bad jobs when he's young. Petey says he wants to work for himself. He does enjoy pushing the shopping carts, but he's not into working as a cashier. Tom wants to see Petey in action, and he wonders if he'll let merchandise slide through unscanned. Petey says he usually doesn't know what to do at the register if the bar code doesn't swipe. In those cases, he'll let the customer take it for free. Tom thinks he should ask his manager to teach him how to resolve these issues. Petey says it's hard to talk to people in these situations because they're on a different plane than everyone else.
Tom thinks it's pretty easy to just talk to people, but Petey believes he has to become a fake person to deal with his superiors. He doesn't want to do that. He wants to be a real person. Tom thinks this approach to workplace communication will make Petey real broke. He asks Petey why talking to his boss would make him a fake person. Petey says his superiors would respond to him like he was a stupid child because they know more about the job. He prefers to make his own place in the world. Tom thinks he should seek out some wisdom from his boss, but Petey doesn't like other people telling him the things he should do. Tom is certain that he's doomed because Petey just described existence. Petey thinks Tom has always done it his way, but Tom reminds him that he endured plenty of bad jobs where he had to tough it out. Petey says he doesn't want to complain, but Tom says it's too late because he's embarrassing himself on the air. He does an impression of Petey announcing that he's heading to the breakroom to get a hot pretzel.
Tom wants to know if he works at a place with a "C" in its name. Petey's doesn't know what a "C" is, so Tom tells him that it's a letter. Petey's heard of it, but it's not in the name of his wholesale outlet. He does work for a place that is referred to as a "club." Tom asks him if it's run by man's name. Petey says there are no men there. He thinks there might be a man in there if you broke the name down and looked deeper. Petey appears to state that the name of the place is two words, so Tom asks him if one of them shares a name with the star Cleveland Cavaliers point guard of the late-1980s and 1990s. Petey doesn't know. Tom asks him if it rhymes with "twice." Petey says he's not on the right track. While he may not know the name of it, Tom definitely wants to go there. Petey suggests a live remote on a Tuesday night. Tom says he will find out where he works and join the club. Petey says one of his perks is four free membership passes for friends and family, so he can hook Tom up. Tom doesn't want it because he will make Petey's life a nightmare on his own dime. He plans to wreak havoc, but Petey says the store is already "havoc-fulled." Tom says he will be wreaking havoc on Petey, not the store in general. For example, If Tom sees Petey driving the cart, he will tell a manager that Petey ran over his foot. Tom expects that Petey will wonder why he's doing this to him, but he will offer to split any settlement with him.
Petey likes to gather the carts in the parking lot, and Tom hopes he's also cleaning them out. Petey says he disposed of a pretzel he found in one of them. Tom is glad to hear that because he's sick of seeing some guy's half-eaten lunch rotting in his shopping cart. Petey informs Tom that grocery carts are the third-most bacteria-filled things on the planet Earth. Tom suspects Petey is a petri dish, and Petey thinks he will get a disease. Tom says he already has the diseases of complaining and entitlement, and he doesn't like it. Petey also likes asking a nice man or a nice lady if he can take their cart away after they load their bags into their car. Tom says if he ever sees some old battle axe having a hard time loading her stuff, he should go help her to earn some tips. On his first day, Petey's co-worker told him that he could make a lot of money out in the parking lot. He claimed to have once earned $16. Petey suggests he should get tips for working the cash register because it's hard work. He vows to "be a man in this" and never complain about his job again. He's looking forward to the excitement of avoiding electrocution while loading the grocery carts in a thunderstorm. Tom thinks the job will toughen him up and put some hair on his chin. Petey wants to become a tough guy because everybody is afwaid of evwything andeeboodyboodybooboo. Tom GOMPs him for cartoon voicework. He doesn't have time for 10-year-old children crying about their jobs. While this is further evidence that it's a sick world, Petey does provide the perfect seque into a new topic: I Could Do That.
Tom has often mentioned that he knows he would be a top-shelf thief. He's confident that he could cover all of the angles and easily pull off a heist. Tom says he couldn't do what Conan O'Brien does, but he could step in to host Last Call with Carson Daly. The job only requires badly telling two jokes, doing a horrible interview with a guest, introducing a musical group, and then saying goodnight. Tom could do that.
- A lethargic Chris from Brooklyn calls to say he could do publishing/editorial work if someone would hire him. He's been sending out resumes, but so far it's been one hand clapping. Tom thinks he sounds very excited about his employment prospects, and he can't imagine any company not wanting this dynamic go-getter skipping down their halls. Tom tells Chris to splash some cold or hot water on his face to shock him out of his sleep. Chris apologizes for being a snooze. He was distracted by staring at his computer monitor after a Microsoft Vista installation. Tom GOMPs the creep for unacceptable multi-tasking when making a call to a radio show.
- John in Hoboken 07030 believes he could be a successful bull rider considering the current world record is only six seconds. Tom thinks bull riding is essentially not letting go. In his senior year of college, John's friends got a mechanical bull, and he thought he could remain in the saddle for five minutes in this ersatz rodeo. They thought he'd get knocked off in his inaugural ride, but they had to pry him off it. John says it was the easiest thing anyone could do. He has far more difficulty finishing off his call with a proper recitation of the topic. Bull riding? John
thinks knows could do that.
- Weirder Jon from Maplewood 07040 calls to see if it's too late to do a Wit of the Staircase entry. Tom zings WJ by pointing out that it's ironic that he's late for that topic. He allows him to proceed if he makes it fast. WJ says he cracked a joke at work about a week ago, and his boss responded by telling him he was almost as funny as he is hairy. WJ happened to be bald. His boss apologized, but WJ said he understood the desire to take advantage of the comedic opening because life's too short. Just like his boss. Classic rebuttal zing. Sadly, nobody else heard him say that. WJ admits to stealing the quip from the Burt Reynolds vehicle, Hooper. The boss's initial reaction was "ouch" before moving on to "fair enough." Tom predicts that the joke will cost WJ his job.
- Jake from San Francisco calls to announce that he could do large-scale window displays for retailers like Macy's and Best Buy. He has experience doing fish tank displays, so he thinks he could transfer those skills to more elaborate productions. Tom isn't too excited by the prospects of putting red dresses on mannequins and littering the floor with fake snow for Macy's Christmas displays. Jake thinks some of these projects would be creative and stimulating, but Tom suspects that would just involve installing a choo-choo train. Jake says he could come up with something better. Tom feels slighted, so he adds a mechanical Santa whose arm goes up and down and up and down. Jake thinks that would be classic in an ironic sense, but that was not Tom's intention. Tom vows to secure a window decorating gig and outdo Jake's efforts. Tom will work for Macy's, and he gets Jake to work for Gimbel's. He thinks it's a fair trade because Gimbel's went out of business 80 years ago. Jake will have to get a production designer job on AMC's period drama Mad Men in order to have a chance to add his touch to the retailer's storefront.
- Tim calls from Ellensburg, WA, aka Sasquatch territory aka Gibb Benson country (Wawa credit is still there!) aka David Lynch country. He thinks he could write an episode of the animated laffer American Dad!. Tim makes it clear that he's referring exclusively to the television serial, not the feature film adaptation that Tom has been toiling away on for the past two years. Tom is very proud of an exciting scene where the kid buys a moped so he can ride it all around Langley Falls like a bigshot. He ends up doing donuts on the mayor's lawn. Tom thinks it's going to be funny.
While Tim is sure the film will take the show to the next level a la South Park: Bigger, Longer & Uncut, he thinks he can pull off a regular episode by just taking an episode of All in the Family and replacing the 1970s references with dialogue about iPods and clips of 1980s programming. Tom points out that this template also applies to Family Guy: characters constantly recalling some past incident as a lead-in for Seth MacFarlane's canister full of popular culture quips, snaps, cracks, and clips. Tim says he would have scribbled a spec for John from Cincinnati, but, alas, it's been canceled. Tom does an impression of Rebecca De Mornay freaking out over her missing son. He still has the last two saved on his DVR, but he shut the penultimate episode off after 20 minutes because it's not as fun to be tortured by it post-euthanization. The gnarly ride is over. Tim stuck with it to see the actors from Deadwood recite a few good lines. Tom wants to know which Deadwood character he most resembles. Tim says he's like that one fat journalist guy because he was a journalism major before switching to film production. Tom would be a Bullock-Swearengen hybrid. He GOMPs Tim.
- After 160 minutes, a female finally calls the show! It's Susannah, formerly of Philadelphia, from her new residence in exotic Santa Monica. She misses PBR country and Scotch Plains, N.J., the Pride of the Double Deuce. Susannah arrived on the left coast last week, and Weird-O-Wood has been living up to its name. Tom suspects she's seen a parade of guys rollerblading while wearing Speedos and old-timey headphones, but Susannah's strangest sight involved an accessory far more bizarre than oversized cans. She spotted a normal looking guy returning from the beach with a python wrapped around his neck. Susannah says he seemed like he was out for a typical, shirtless Sunday stroll with his exotic pet.
Susannah moved to L.A. to switch careers and start a new job, but she's discovered some additional employment options in the past few days. This past Sunday she went to a Malibu restaurant employing a "DJ" "performing" for the lunch crowd. Susannah says he appeared to be playing tracks from his iPod. She doesn't think she could be a radio DJ or beat bounce/spin like a turntablist DJ, but she's pretty sure she could manage to hook her iPod into speakers to share her digital music library with diners. Tom points out that the guy didn't even have the common decency to bring his laptop with iTunes. He simply used his scroll wheel (the closest he could get to "spinning") to navigate to his "Mexican Fusion Restaurant" playlist. Once that was carted up, he could go eat. Susannah predicts that his "set" would include selections from Thievery Corporation. She's also confident that she could star in a docudrama television show like The Hills, which follows the lives of vapid Half Actors Part Party Machines hitting local hotspots like Sprinkles Cupcakes, talking about boys, and marveling at how like how things are like so different than high school.
Tom directs Susannah to type "Poquito Más" into the Internet, find the nearest location, and eat their every day. He gives her permission to occasionally mix it up with a trip to Carneys on Sunset and Norm's. Susannah says she's afraid to drive in L.A., so this may hinder her ability to heed Tom's culinary advice. Tom informs her that she can take a bus for 85 cents (only 75 cents in Santa Monica) and reach any of these fine destinations in about three hours. Tom welcomes Susannah to the west coast and hopes she has fun settling in.
Feed The Tree: Something goes horribly wrong at Laurie's 12th birthday party
- Another woman! It's Laurie, helping Dave Hill, The King of Miami, hold down the fort. When she was at one of those hippy-dippy grocery stores, she saw the KoM cameras at the adjacent Coconut Grove Marina. Tom approves of this MOJO program, but he's not a fan of Uncorked , hosted by tyro wine adventurer Billy Merritt. He thinks it's garbage that deserves cancellation. Tom is baffled by the abundance of drinking-related shows on the MOJO network, indicating that its programmers (I think Matthew Tompkins is over there now) believe high-def television owners are alcoholics. Laurie thinks a few drinks would serve to cushion the blow of spending all that money on an 80" plasma. She has no need for Three Sheets because she got her fill of the drinking tour genre with the hijinks of Insomniac with Dave Attell. It appears that MOJO will continue to develop alcohol-soaked shows -- according to the TV Spelunker blog, The Lovable Lush featuring Foster Brooks will debut in January.
Laurie thinks she would be a pretty good art dealer based on her acquisition of a miniature Mark Ryden painting as her primary 12th birthday present. The $700 piece is now worth $14-15,000. Tom doesn't care about the painting's current value -- he's just shocked that someone would drop $700 on a gift ("Here's that painting you wanted, honey ...") for a pre-teen. Tom wonders if Laurie is a member of the Rockefeller clan and concludes that she is a rich kid. Laurie denies it. She says that she was the poorest kid in her school, but Tom reinterprets that to mean that she went to school with richer kids. Laurie confirms this by citing some of her classmates: the offspring of Jeb Bush, Nayib Estefan, and a Bee Gees kid. Tom thinks she was really struggling and imagines Laurie crying about only getting a $700 painting for her birthday.
If Tom was an art dealer, he would not invest in the work of Tony Millionaire. Laurie says she not only stopped buying the troll's Sock Monkey books, but she turns them around at stores so the backing board faces out. Tom also thinks his The Drinky Crow Show cartoon is garbage. He doesn't have any use for his fountain pen, old-timey doodlings. Laurie is equally disinterested in his chiaroscuro etchings. Tom wants Millionaire to construct a time machine and return to his beloved old days if he truly thinks modern life is rubbish. He urges Millionaire to wake up to the 21st century or hang out with 90-year-olds. Laurie would not invest in Damien Hirst pieces. Tom asks her if that's the guy from the musical group Blur. He's actually a conceptual artist who put a dead tiger shark in a glass tank of formaldehyde. Laurie also mentions Hirst's For the Love of God, a platinum cast of a human skull encrusted with 8,601 flawless diamonds. Hirst claims that the piece was sold on 8/30/07 for £50 million ($100m), topping the previous record sale ($77 million, inflation-adjusted) of the "Baseball Diamond" from The Great Muppet Caper to Charles Grodin in 1985. Laurie agrees with Billy Childish's opposition to Hirst. She points out that Childish is an old-timey guy who cuts it in the modern world.
Tom wants to return to the good old days of American artists like Norman Rockwell. He's a big fan of Thomas Kinkade, and he hopes to obtain one of his Christmas paintings in time for the holiday season. I recently started collecting the nature paintings of Newbridge artist Keith Kincaid. His latest trio of works -- "From the Pagan Vastlands", "Wolves Guard My Coffin", and "Transylvanian Forest" -- show remarkable growth. I can't wait until he finishes the stained glass cathedral I commissioned. Laurie owns a Kinkade candle, and Tom assumes it was an $12,000 gift on her 11th birthday. Laurie actually got it for $2 at a CVS Pharmacy she received for her 14th birthday. Her wealthier classmates got a Target. Tom tells Laurie that there's nothing wrong with being a rich kid, and she finally admits to being middle upper-class. Tom got a
bike ride to work for his 12th birthday. He was already employed as a busboy.
- Hat trick. Erika from Baltimore calls, and Tom jokingly accuses her of being one of the AST animules mocking Owen Wilson's suicide attempt. Tom reminds everyone that Wilson's fame does not make him any less human. He thinks Wilson is a good guy, and he appreciates all of the entertainment he's provided over the years. Erika thinks she could be a preschool or kindergarten teacher. While she'd enjoy the work, she won't pursue it because she likes cable television and money. Erika has extensive experience babysitting toddlers, and she discovered that she is able to communicate with groups of kids while maintaining her cool. She would also have fun doing arts and crafts projects. Tom thinks it would be a fairly easy gig -- handing out juice, managing crayon time, and overseeing naps. Erika mentions a key perk: summer vaca.
- Mike from Urbana, IL 60642 (close enough) calls to say he could check facts for The New Yorker. He thinks they exaggerate the demands of the job, scaring away people that already know a lot of facts. Mike says that rather than actually verifying information, he would just stroll in a few times a month and inform the editors that the issue was completely accurate. Tom thinks he proved his case.
Tom plans to watch the finale of The Bronx is Burning after tonight's show, and he offers a sneak peak at the exciting conclusion. Tom heard that the Son of Sam kills Jimmy Breslin during an interview, removes his face, and wears it to walk out of prison. The members of the Yankees patrol the Bronx (Chris Chambliss protruding from a car window) during the day to try to catch the escaped serial killer prior to Game 7 of the World Series. The search was unsuccessful, so the press is blasting Reggie Jackson for his failure to catch the Son of Sam, in addition to his batting slump. During the decisive game, the Son of Sam takes George Steinbrenner hostage in a box inside the scoreboard. Reggie then launches a home run right into his makeshift lair, knocking out the Son of Sam. Reggie's the hero. Yankees win. Theeeeeeeeeeeeeeee Yankees win.
Tom is unable to devote the proper amount of time to his latest magazine find: The Journal of Counterterrorism & Homeland Security International. He thinks cover stories like "Here or There: Do You Know Who's In Your Backyard" will work the public into a lather. Fun for the whole family! Tom's a fan of their crossword puzzles.
On the next ... The Best Show on WFMU: A reinvigorated Mike the Associate Producer returns from vacation to revolutionize the art of the call screen, Corey Harris debuts his new track ("Trapped in the Polygon, Chapter 1") for the Newbridge violent sports compilation 2 High 2 Know Better (Merge; 11/20), Petey reveals that his wholesale club is built on top of an ancient Viking burial ground, and Tom lets the ABBA box host the final hour.