Crazy in Love.
"Help me with my interests! I'd like to buy records! I really want that new Husker Du album. Somebody, please, throw money into my milk jug so I can go record shopping!" -- A young Tom Scharpling, panhandling to fund his hobbies
"The wrestling, you know, I could take or leave unless it's, you know, wrestling beneath the sheets." -- Gene Simmons, supporting the bedroom-based form of the ancient sport
"Please. $5,000 is what I have in my pajamas." -- Gene Simmons, urging Tom to increase his guess on the amount of money in his bulging wallet
"Oh, Mr. Simmons ..." -- Tom, responding to Gene's desire to have his $3 billion rub against him
"Now I think he's running around Haight-Ashbury, looking for a bong. The Golden Bong." -- Tom, revealing the central quest in the new Indiana Jones pitcher
"No one likes that. Kurosawa didn't like Kurosawa." -- Tom, informing The Sixth Beatle that he's alone in his love for the Japanese filmmaker
"Greatness pours out of you like sweat out of Harry Knowles." -- Tom, comparing Weirder Jon's effortless calling skills to the profuse perspiration of the portly pundit
"This Hitler, thumbs all the way down on this guy, straight across the board -- nothing about this guy gets anything but a thumbs down. He is a grade. A. jerk." -- Tom, denouncing the Nazi leader after learning about his atrocities in an audio lecture series
"I like a lot of those Vivaldi tunes. He lays down some good stuff. Another good tunesmith: Beethoven. You might want to check him out. Good songwriter." -- Tom, praising some of his favorite classical hitmakers
"I need this so much less then you need it. I need this so much less than you need it. You can't do better than me, but I can do better than you." -- Tom, contemplating retirement after a caller mentions a trip to a brothel
"She's still tasty, I think. Even in those Grumpy Pants movies." -- Paul, finding continued appeal in mid-1990s Ann-Margaret
"I can't really express myself with words so I draw pitchers and then when I like stand up there and say them, it makes it look like I'm actually reading the words, but I'm just actually like saying what the pitchers say." -- Paul, explaining his peculiar method for translating his speech notes into verbal communication
"The princess and the hot guy, they ended up kinda living happily ever after, and they had a lot of sex and stuff." -- Paul, summarizing the exciting conclusion to the classic tale of Sergio de Burgerback
"Why? Because they exploded those four times?" -- Paul, wondering why Tom sided with Gwen on the perils of mixing fireworks and children
"You know some guy in Japan is paying like $30,000 for that." -- Paul, lamenting Bill's big score of a Dean Smith-autographed Season of Glass LP
"Well, you know, I've never felt that Gwen respected me, and who commands more respect than the Hulkster? I mean, some would argue Randall Savage does, but I don't think that's quite so." -- Paul, hoping to win back his wife via Hogan-delivered flowers
"She says it was just some fat guy in a headband and wrestling tights. I knew I should've hired Randall Savage." -- Paul, regretting his choice of wrestling legend
"I'm just so sorry and ... um ... basically here's what happened, alright: Tom Scharpling told me to take out that money that you reserved for the care of your sweet ma-ma and pa-pa." -- Paul, coming clean about why he raided Gwen's bank account
He forced me to do it. He's a sadist! Yeah, he's positively Draculian." -- Paul, noting the extreme ways that Tom exerts his influence
"Yeah, our family's pretty awesome. We haven't written any books or started any companies or anything, but ... we obviously don't know our Scarface, either." -- Bonnie, pointing out some minor shortcomings of her otherwise royal clan
Mudhoney - "Twenty Four"
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Cheveu - "Jacob's Fight"
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Cheap Time - "People Talk"
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Fastbacks - "The Jester"
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Robert Pollard - "1 Years Old"
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Free Kitten - "Sea Sick"
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TMA - "You Crack Me Up"
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Mudhoney - "Tales of Terror"
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Now is the time for us to gather together and celebrate those things that we like and think are fun:
- John in Houston heard Tom express disinterest in what Pugsley Adams was up to these days when he was listening to some recent podcasts. He doesn't have any Pugsley news, but he did grow up with the kid who played him in the early-1990s film adaptations. Tom considers these the "cool" versions ("This isn't your father's Addam's Family!") compared to television serial featuring Ken Weatherwax in the Pugsley role. John calls his generation's Pugsley a punk, so Tom bids him good day before he can further besmirch the good name of young Jimmy Workman.
Let's do dis. We can do dis. Tom Scharpling is back again for another Tuuuuuesday night extravagonza. Music? Check. Mirth? On the way. The mayhem is always guaranteed. Since the ABBA box is still on hiatus under the New Regime, the best Tom could do was a quick fix via The Paragons' "Abba" from Le Beat Bespoke, Volume 3 compilation. He knows his buddy is listening, so he tells him to keep his distance and respect the New Rules. Tom promises that there will be room for him down the road. Tom wanted to play Wings' "Hi Hi Hi" in his opening set, but he had to settle for "Getting Closer" from Back to the Egg because Wings Greatest was missing from the WFMU library. Tom suspects that the disc is located inside Mike the Associate Producer's mysterious briefcase. Mike waves it around to mock Tom's lowly gym bag, but it only contains an apple and a newspaper.
Tom eliminated Open Phone Tuesday in the Old Regime, and it will remain an evergreen of the past, nestled next to the Betamax format and The Ragman. He thinks he needs to change something else this week because he's ready to walk. According to some observers, The Best Show has peaked, and its best days are in the rearview mirror of radio history. Tom has already seen certain people from the show entertaining offers to flee to other programs. For example, Mike is considering a move to The 700 Club, which isn't surprising considering he recently said that Terry Meeuwsen was "still tasty" even 35 years after winning the Miss America Pageant. Tom peered into Mike's briefcase and found a letter from Pat Roberston in which the televangelist beseeched his call screener to join his CBN talk show. Tom concludes that Mike is a headhunter -- he goes where the grass is greenest. The harsher New Regime continues to silence the phones. Tom wonders if he's competing with a State of the Union address, but it's just two fairly meaningless primaries in Oregon and Kentucky. He points out that Obama is the favorite to win in Oregon, especially among the Portland street trash. In fact, his state campaign headquarters is staffed exclusively by local skate punks that were wrangled by Gus Van Sant.
The other day Tom was driving along in - you guessed it - his car, and he stopped at a traffic light. He spotted some of those people who come around with coffee cans and milk jugs looking for spare change for some charity. If it's for a good cause (firemen, sick kids, LifeChanges, etc.), Tom will gladly throw in some money. However, he's far less willing to finance Tier 2 causes: personal interests and hobbies like cheerleading. Tom will not donate $5 to keep the squad up and running because these girls should just help themselves by getting a job like the rest of the slobs out there. Tom points out that he wasn't panhandling at age 13 to help him buy that new Husker Dude record at the CD Submarine. He was out there working before the age of 12 (paper route!) so he didn't have to ask for handouts to go to the movies. On this day at this particular intersection Tom hit new lowpoint in misguided charity work in the form of a muscular tough guy with an Eminem haircut prowling around with a Sanka can trying to raise money for his wrestling team. He thinks the coffee canister should have had a "Finance Future Bullies of America" disclaimer written on it to alert people to where there money was really going. Tom refuses to help a jock squad learn how to more effectively torment regular kids. He compares it to financing a l'il terrorist cell where members undergo training on how to pick on nerds. Tom states for the record that he can't stand wrestling.
A bit later he mentions that he feared the inflated Marshall Mathers impersonator was going to punch through his window like The Hulk if he didn't pay up. While the steroidal solicitor wasn't wearing his singlet, he made up for it with a suitably dumb ensemble of a white t-shirt, baggy jeans, and a general aura of colossal stupidity. Tom questions the necessity of the entire enterprise because a school system could likely buy a set of mats to fully fund their wrestling programs for the next half-century. He thinks he'd be better off buying these wrestlers some beer because it would at least mellow them out. Tom strikes that after realizing that the alcohol would just transform them into drunk bullies.
- A caller says he wants everyone to stay off of alcohol because you'll never get anywhere doing that. He also has a simple question for Tom: "What do you have against cheerleaders?" The caller says he can take or leave wrestling unless it's the kind that takes place beneath the sheets. Tom doesn't care for the sexual reference, and he's not sure who unleashed it. The caller says he doesn't like to admit that he sometimes listens to the program, but he was compelled to call after he heard Tom mention Ragman, a character from a film he appeared in some 20-odd years ago. Tom says he was talking about the Ragman, an old-timey guy who used to go around collecting discarded rags. The caller is referring to the nickname of the lead character portrayed by Marc Price in the 1986 movie Trick or Treat (shot by eventual PTA cinematographer Robert Elswit.) The caller says he'll give Tom and Call Screener Kevin a hint about his identity. Mike thinks it's Glenn Danzig. The caller doesn't know who thaaat is. Tom knows it's not Danzig, and he's pretty sure it's another mayubernatorial candidate: Gene Simmons. He's right. The teetotaling Kiss bassist planned to provide a clue by reciting some lyrics he penned some 25 years ago:
So you've been to the mountain
And the meat looks good tonight
And the ladies in waiting
Will show you what it's all about
Tom recognizes it as the great opening verse from "Ladies in Waiting," so Gene assumes that he's a fan of the band. Tom says he's familiar with the song. Gene asks Tom why he's down on the cheerleaders. Tom explains that he has no problem with their recreational activity, but he will not pay for it. Gene says he's financed many cheerleaders over the years. Speaking of finances, he wants to play his beloved game of having Tom take a gander at how much money he has in his wallet. Tom initially guesses $5,000, and Gene wants him to guess again because that is the amount of money he keeps in his pajamas. Tom increases his guesses to $10,000, $20,000, $40,000, and $60,000 before Gene mentions that he's including checks in his total. Tom continues to lowball the figure with guesses in the $100,000 to $300,000 range, and Gene decides to just cut to the chase: $3 billion. Tom wants to know why he would keep that much money in his wallet. Gene says he likes to have the bulge of bills rub against him.
Tom can only muster an "Oh, Mr. Simmons" in response. Gene requests the song he co-wrote with Bob Dylan, and he feels so sorry for Tom because he doesn't know about this historic collaboration despite having a radio station. Gene says he's coming down to the studio to hit Tom with something. Tom correctly assumes that it will be his axe bass. Gene sees this as evidence that Tom is clairvoyant in addition to being stupid. Tom says he's knows it's his weapon of choice from his many previous threats. Gene denies any prior mentions of axe bass violence and tells Tom to get ready to taste the instrument. Tom asks him which wig he selected for this evening's attack, but Gene denies that he wears wigs at all. He fires back by saying that he's heard plenty of things about Tom, such as his use of a voice modulator and the boots that make him 7" taller because he's only 4' 8". Tom denies these charges. Gene wants him to confirm his height with call screener Garth, who estimates it at 6' 1". Tom puts it closer to 6' 3". Gene says he's 6' 3" sans boots and 8' 11.5" with boots. He wants Tom to play something else from his solo album, Ash Ole. Tom doubts the record is in the library. Gene hangs up to go have sex.
- Tyler from a space station in the Lower East Side of Manhempton calls to see if Tom saw Mister Loney, the new Harmony Korine film. Tom says he hasn't been able to get into any of the packed screenings. Tyler works at the IFC Center in NYC, where the film will be playing until this Friday. Tom says it's been sold out every time he tried to see it, and Tyler directly links the attendance figures to the quality of the film. He mentions that cinematic master Werner Herzog plays a priest in the film, which also boasts flying nuns. Tom is looking forward to Mister Lonely because he's a big Korine fan -- he saw Gummo 11 times and julien donkey-boy eight times. Tyler says that he's seen Gummo 30 times and can recite the entire script. Tom says "Script?!" accompanied by some cartoony noises to suggest that he did not think the film was written in advance of production. Tyler has seen Mister Lonely three times during its limited theatrical run. Tom reveals that Korine's next project will be Speed Racer 2, hopefully with Emile Hirsch reprising his title role. Tyler wonders if Andy Milonakis will appear in the sequel. Tom is not familiar with him. Tyler says he's the 35-year-old guy who looks like he's 13. He apparently had his own show on MTV. Tom says he will look into the Milonakis oeuvre. Tyler is convinced that Milonakis will unseat Hirsch as the lead, and Tom GOMPs him for egging him on. Tom will now write "Pick it up, Weisenheimer" on the side of his IFC Center popcorn bucket instead of disposing of it himself.
Tom reminds/warns everybody that this is the week that Raiders of the Lost Ark: The Legend of the Crystal Skull marauds through the nation's multiplexes. He hopes people are bracing themselves to be disappointed by a stinkbomb coated with too much George Lucas. Tom doesn't see how a movie featuring an elderly Harrison Ford running around with Shia Laboof could possibly be any good. The first film in the series took place in the 1940s, and now Ford has been transplanted to the Haight-Ashbury district in the 1960s in search of The Golden Bong. [Cue rousing theme.] Tom laments the CGI-fest he's seen in the TV spots.
- A caller asks Tom if he's taking calls about the new Indiana Jones movie. It's James James James James James James James James James James James James James James James. Tom thinks the toupee glue has now seeped deep within his cerebral cortex. He invites James to call back throughout the night to continue doing his sad little routine. Tom thinks the rapid repetition of "James" is beginning to sound a lot like "Shame." He renews his request for associates of James to offer him help, specifically Ramsey, his Good Guy friend.
- Peter Michael, the caller formerly known as "Petey," claims he's reached the advanced age of 17 despite appearing as little as a 10-year-old. Tom refuses to believe that he's almost an adult. Petey is willing to answer a quiz about his age, and he states his birth year as 1991. He wants Tom to ask Mike to help him come up with some additional questions that only a 17-year-old could answer. Tom starts to inquire about his musical interests, and Petey says he's a big fan of The Beatles just like every other kid his age. Tom thinks Hannah Montana and The
Naked Jonas Brothers are more appropriate for his peer group. Petey also enjoys the films of Akira Kurosawa. Tom doesn't think anyone has ever liked those, including Kurosawa himself. Petey considers that a valid way of looking at audience response to the director's work.
Petey wonders if Tom's interests at this age included drugs. Tom sees the query as a telling example of what is at the forefront of Petey's mind these days. He asks Petey if he started selling drugs, or if he's still just buying them. Petey denies any involvement with drugs unless music is considered a drug. Tom notes that Petey actually made a "heh-heh" noise after his quip. Tom attempts to shift the call to more serious conversation by asking Petey how he's been doing. Petey says he's been listening to The Beatles since "we" broke up. Tom is confused by his choice of pronoun. Petey delivers the news: he was one of The Beatles. Tom realizes that he's workshopping a bit, perhaps for his new radio show called The Quiet Mule.
Petey says he used to hang out with George Harrison, who anointed him the littlest Beatle. He claims that he's listed as an official band member in an unspecified anthology. Tom wants him to rank The Beatles, but Petey declines to do that to his friends. Tom gives him credit for putting him in his place. As for his favorite Beatles song, Petey prefers "the oldies." Tom thinks that now describes their entire catalog, including the post-Lennon, fake Beatles song "Free As A Bird." Petey loves the tune, especialy since you can supposedly hear them chanting "Petey is The Beatle" if you play it backwards. Tom asks him if he's seen Intervention. Petey threatens to never call again if he keeps pressing him about the need for a confrontational meetup. Tom GOMPs him per the guidelines of the new Regime. Good enough doesn't cut it anymore. You either bring it, or you're gone.
- James calls back to take Tom up on his offer of a three-hour greenlight. Tom cuts him off and tells him to go re-center his toupee.
- A guy calls on the Old Line of Terror to point out that Petey outwitted Tom when he asked him to rank The Beatles. He feels that Petey had been saving up all of his power to reach this turning point in his Best Show career. Tom gives Petey his deserved kudos. He asks the caller why he's using a number that he hasn't given out in five years. The caller claims it's indicative of how long he's been calling the show. Tom GOMPs him.
- Norm from Montague has a comment about wrestling mats. Tom's had enough of the shenanigans, so it's time for a topic to try to repel the mutants.
About nine months ago Tom got a new Trēo -- a sturdy, rubberized device that bounces up like roundball every time it hits the ground. Since incoming calls were no longer audible, Tom took it in for some repairs. The Not-A-Marathon employee said it would be ready in a few hours, so Tom swung by to pick it up after a hard day at the double-C. The guy he dealt with earlier that morning promised a quick transaction, but he ended up waiting for 90 minutes. Tom saw his phone sitting alone on a shelf labeled "Pick-Ups" a mere six feet away from him. He had previously checked in at the podium, but his name was relegated to a weird, unnumbered sidebox instead of the main service screen. Since the guy was with the same customer for an hour, Tom thought he may have been providing guidance as part of a new build-your-own-phone option.
At this point Tom realized that less than 10 years ago he was not addicted to his cell phone. He wonders how he got to the point where he would wait 90 minutes so he could get it back. Tom makes it clear that he was not mad at the slobs working in the Not-A-Marathon store. He reserves his wrath for the snobs at the corporate headquarters who staffed it with just seven employees. The topic is on the table: How Did This Happen/How Did I Get Here? Tom imagines that James used to be a rosy-cheeked boy sliding down his Slip 'n Slide and eating ice cream before turning into a bald, sweaty creep, hellbent on ruining the thing he loves. He reminds listeners that if they provide three bad minutes of radio, they will get three bad minutes in return.
- Steve from North Hollywood, set nanny to the stars and flameout ROY candidate, calls to say that he's a bigtime supporter of the New Regime. He's stuck in his car and unable to listen live, so Tom GOMPs him for trying to wing it on live radio. Tom announces that people do not have to call just because they have access to a phone on a Tuesday night. He wants to know how this happened when he could be home reading a comic book.
- Some guy talking about The World of Peteys triggers Tom's first Three-Minute Rule punishment: a loop of various Beatles flubs and foolings around.
- Soundbyte John from Houston feels that he was unfairly punished while he was on hold during the three bad minutes. He claims he's one of the Good Guys. Not tonight!
- Emerson from Los Angeles calls to say he fell out of The Best Show loop during his transition from Chicago, but now he's back just in time for the New Regime. He plans to be the first good caller over an hour into the show. When he first moved to Chicago fresh out of college with a B.A. in journalism, he was surprised that the dump trucks full of cash didn't arrive with him. (He should have opted for the Doctorate of All.) Faced with some financial shortfalls, Emerson decided to sell his plasma to buy food. He recalls wondering how he landed in this situation as he sat with a needle in his arm in the Plasma Bank waiting area/screening room, which was showing Bringing Out The Dead. Tom thinks that third-tier Scorsese starring Nic Cage is an odd pairing for fluid donation. Emerson says he wants to shake the hand of the programmer who selected a film about ambulance technicians responding to gruesome medical emergencies as the entertainment for this operation. Tom thanks Emerson for getting the show back on track.
- Regular Caller Erika from Baltimore checks in with a topic entry that relates to her unsuccessful attempt to quit smoking earlier this year. While trying to kick her habit she went to the Royal Farms convenience store to buy a pack of the crappiest, harshest cigs she could find. Erika then smoked a single cigarette outside the store and discarded the rest of the pack. As she drove home, she wondered how she got so addicted to something. Tom wonders if this was some form of self-punishment. Erika says she didn't want to buy a pack of her preferred brand and smoke them in the comfort of her own couch. She was trying to make the ritual as unpleasant as possible. Erika is now smoking half as much as before, and she's getting primed for another full-on attack.
Tom knows she can do it not only for her own health, but also to provide her cats with the smoke-free environment they deserve. He promises to reinstate Erika's Supercaller status if she quits, and he further ups the ante with the offer of a three-month window of exclusivity. Mike says he can get her on the set of The 700 Club to meet his new friend, "Mr. R." Tom is amazed that Mike is already on such good terms with Pat Robertson. Mike is IMing with him right now, and Erika thinks that seems unprofessional. Tom also discovered that Robertson is the only friend in Mike's Facebook profile. Erika thinks it might be time for Mike to look in the mirror instead of watching Pat's Twitterings.
- Evan from Montclair (the original Old Regime Supercaller!) returns to the airwaves after an extended podcasting hiatus to discuss the daily how-did-I-get-here moments that come with the life of a parent. Since his wife lets his kids select the music for car voyages, Evan has to deal with a rotation heavy with the soundtracks to Grease and Seussical. The programming arrangement has foiled his plans to be the Cool Dad who lets his kids listen to his music. Tom is alarmed that Grease is child-approved because he considers it to be a pornographic work. Evan admits that tracks like "Look at Me, I'm Sandra Dee" raise some questionable morality issues. Tom recommends alerting DYFS to the daily filthcast in his vehicle. Evan says the playlists also include a John Waters soundtrack that's even worse. Tom wonders if he's showing his kids Pink Flamingos on the DVD player in the minivan. Evan says one of his kids is a big fan of Abel Ferrara's hard-R crime drama, Bad Lieutenant, which is now being remade by Werner Herzog with Nicolas Cage replacing Harvey Keitel in the lead. Somebody alert the Plasma Bank in Chicago! Evan says he always thought Cage would be more appropriate in that role. Tom is looking forward to the updated version where Cage can battle his inner demons with the assistance of e-mail.
Evan's not sure if a series of bad decisions led him to occasionally watch American Idol, or if this is just the natural progression of his existence. Tom says he has nothing to complain about since he has a nice family. Evan explains that he just finds it unusual in a fun way, not a sad way. He's similarly perplexed that he's gone from working on some interesting television shows to his shift at Arby's. Evan reveals that he's actually working for one of the big
weapons news companies. Tom asks him if it's Fox. He wishes it was Fox.
- Noah calls from Brooklyn Heights, his new stomping grounds as of a week ago, to contribute a medley of surprising destinations. He's always dreamed of living in BH, and he's not sure how his fontasy became residential reality. Since Noah is a bit nervous, Tom directs him to gently -- but firmly -- clonk his Nokia cell phone against his forehead to help him maintain his focus. Noah says that he somehow found himself in a bowling alley last night with Yoko Ono as part of the STRIKE II: Visual AIDS Vanguard Awards event. He never thought he'd be a person who makes buttons for a living, but he designed a series of Safe Sex buttons for the organization as part of his successful enterprise.
Tom confirms that he recently spotted Noah harassing someone* on an episode of the short-lived reality skein, Artstar, which airs on the
Shout! Gallery HD network. Noah says that his victim was also at the bowling alley last night. While he's still somewhat amused by Noah's antics, he told Jeff Koons to steer clear of his mailing list. Tom thinks it's time for Noah to drop the "Shock Jock" routine and change the name of his company. Noah argues that it's special to him because he launched the brand when he was 14. He wants Tom to let the listeners in on the inside joke, but Tom won't even say it out loud. Noah reveals that his eight-tentacled media empire is known as Retard Riot. Tom recommends changing it to anything else and GOMPs him.
*I only caught a brief snippet of the episode in question, but I did see Noah poking Matthew Barney with a razor cane while Dave Lombardo banged out Slayer's "Aggressive Perfector" on his** bare bottom.
- Colleen from Baton Rouge, LA, really likes tonight's topic because it's something she's said to herself every day for the past year. She moved to the somewhat scary South from Brooklyn because her fiancée is attending graduate school at LSU. Tom is concerned about encounters with weird mountain people, but Colleen has discovered a far worse group: insane LSU Tigers football fans. She reports that the entire area (even the wood chips) is drenched in purple and gold, and the locals are already counting down the days until the team begins their quest to repeat as National Champions.
Tom knows that Colleen is a healthy eater, so he wants to know how she's faring with the new food scene. Colleen, a vegetarian who has added some fish to her diet, says she's been unable to avoid a significant weight gain since she arrived in town. She was surprised to find out that hard-boiled eggs and Cool Whip are the two main ingredients for much of the cuisine. Tom wants to know if they would put Cool Whip on a hard-boiled egg, and Colleen thinks the dessert topping could easily infiltrate any dish. She just learned about another Cajun treat that involves soaking corn bread in kane syrup and mashing it up in a bowl. Tom christens the makeshift porridge the "Diabetes Special." Colleen also recently heard the slang term "tump," a union of "tip" and "dump" that could be used to describe the toppling of a friend doing a keg stand while tailgating at a Tigers game. In a nutshell, Colleen can't believe that she went from being an editor at a NYC magazine to hanging around BaRou eating pimento cheese and hunting snakes for dinner.
Since her fiancé has two more years of school, Tom thinks she should start walking 10 miles/day to combat the heavy Southern grub. Colleen says her current regimen of one mile/day plus the bleachers at a nearby high school falls well short of Tom's training plan. She mentions that her walks used to prompt concerned locals to wonder if her car broke down . Tom tries to lure her into a
Rocky IV-style gym with the aid of a high-energy iPod playlist, but Colleen prefers to do something real outside instead of getting tumped around in a hamster wheel. Tom's heard enough crying - he tells Colleen to take a book to the gym and get to work. He had accidentally blocked Colleen on IM, so he unblocks her, but she scolds him for the original blockage, so he reblocks her for 10 years.
- Weirder Jon from Maplewood arrives to take the show all the way back to where it belongs. He's got the shakes from the pressure of the New Regime, but Tom is confident that greatness will continue to pour out of him as freely as the sweat of Harry Knowles. WJ thanks Tom for what he reluctantly classifies as a compliment. When he and his wife were cash-strapped students a friend came through with a one-off gig that involved boarding a van with 30 other people armed with confetti canons. WJ assumed the gang was headed for something very exciting, but his friend drove them to the Prudential building in Newark. The assignment was blasting confetti to celebrate the official announcement of the transition to Prudential Investments. WJ says it was still kind of fun, but some of the suits scoffed at how the confetti crew were making ends meet. Tom points out that now WJ can hire people to fire off canons to complete the circle. He did it! (No, he didn't.) Tom declares tonight's show a stone-cold dud that is destined for the scrap heap. Mike contributes to the topic with an improbable session at the Turkey's Nest while death metal blared from the speakers. Tom thinks the tavern should be raided.
- Tom announces that he's been plowing through the Great Books series in an attempt to be less stupid. He's currently enrolled in A History of Hitler's Empire, a set of recorded lectures from UPENN History Professor Thomas Childers, who is welcomed with some highly inappropriate fanfare. The format is the same for each lecture: fancy-schmancy (and fake) classical music lifted from an investment firm commercial followed by a narrator stating the chapter and title of the lesson. It then cuts right to the students applauding for the lecturer, and this is where things get dicey. Tom plays a clip where the voiceover introduces "Lecture 11: Holocaust: Hitler's War Against the Jews" to a rousing reception. He wonders if the classroom is full of weird Nazis celebrating their hero's atrocities. While it makes Tom sick to his stomach, Mike loves it. Tom plays another clip where "Lecture 12: The Final Solution" is given a similar reception. He thinks the unintentional effect of this odd juxtaposition is that the lectures were held in Dusseldorf or Munich instead of an American university.
After sitting for several sessions, Tom is ready to give the entirety of Hitler's existence a thumbs all the way down. He believes the man is a grade-A jerk. Mike claims he's an artist. Tom notes that Hitler got thrown of art school school, but Mike gives him credit for trying. (It's difficult to separate the art from the artist, but I've always admired the formal rigor and emotional exploration of a pre-jerk Hitler's early short film, Spiegel, Mutter, Spiegel.) Tom is very unsettled to be sharing studio space with a Nazi sympathizer. He whispers an announcement to listeners about upcoming auditions for a new call screener for the New Regime. Tom requests two muscle men (my picks: Tank and Yuri, Tornado Todd's Siberian enforcer) to help him escort the feisty Mike off the premises. He is prepared for the possibility that Mike is now storing a firearm in his briefcase. Mike appears to send Tom a message later in the show by openly reading Guns & Ammo, Soldier of Fortune, and American Counter-Terrorist while on the job.
- Tom in Austin calls with a HDIGH moment that originated with his former girlfriend's employment at a costume shop. Tom in Jersey City halts the entry to further discuss this boutique. Tom in Austin says it was located in Vancouver, so Tom in JC assumes they were well-stocked with Trailer Park Boys get-ups. Tom in Austin says it was actually a top-notch shop supplying legit costumes (magicians, gladiators, cavemen, etc.) for the local film industry. He agreed to a deal where his girlfriend would pick out a pair of costumes that they would then wear out on the town (not on Halloween) as a lark. When it was time to get dressed, his costume was revealed: a white, WW2-era Gene Kelly sailor suit. Tom in Austin says his girlfriend wore a classy, 1940s dress that looked normal.
As the night progressed they decided to visit a strip club. When Tom in Austin entered the establishment all of the strippers thought a ship had docked in town. He got lots of weird attention because they assumed the rest of his crew was en route. Tom in Austin is normally uncomfortable at strip clubs, and this made the experience even creepier, as did the DJ's attempts get him to go on stage to sing Village People songs. Tom in JC is sure that the other prevert patrons would have loved the burlesque performance complete with a nice soft-shoe. Tom in Austin tried to keep up the act that he was an actual seafarer, but he eventually explained that he was just a willing boyfriend. The strippers were angry about not getting pizz-aid by his shipmates.
- Joanna calls from Portland, OR, which is back to its lovely seasonal temperatures after a brief spell of extreme heat. Tom is currently dealing with warm Jersey days that yield freezing, rainy nights that are more appropriate for the month of February. Joanna thinks that these 40-degree temperatures shifts every 12 hours are signs of the looming apocalypse. Tom blames it on global warming ... dun-dun-duhhhhhh! Joanna wants to put a positive spin on the topic because the tone of the calls is making her a bit depressed. Tom agrees that it's been a bummer. Joanna says that when she woke up from a nap earlier today her baby boy was sporting a huge grin. She experienced an awesome HDIGH moment over his happiness to be alive and hanging out with her. Tom agrees that this is a sweet moment for a lucky lady. However, he balances out the karma by GOMPing the proud mother for showing off. He thinks Portland is too sick of an environment for raising children.
- Andrew in Philadelphia calls, but he's not the Andrew in Philadelphia (aka Freddy). He tells Tom that he's the AiP who recently sent him an e-mail to complain about the podcast not showing up on Thursday as scheduled. Andrew mentions that he did contribute to WFMU during the marathon to support the podcast format. Tom gives him permission to talk to his boss about docking his pay for the mishap. He's also ready to follow the lead of Jimmy Parton's Never Funny podcast by switching to a subscription-based approach. Andrew says he'd probably pay for it. Tom knows that he and a long line of others would gladly hand over their money to keep listening to this great show. Andrew wants to get back to his topic entry, but Tom informs him that one of his flights of fancy is still airborne. He's sick of giving away the show for free in various formats. It's time for a straight-up cashout.
A couple of years ago Andrew was living downtown with his wife, and they decided to go on a camping trip. He came home from his night shift, packed all day, attended a function for a friend that was moving away, got home later that night, told his wife to get some rest for the long drive ahead, and resumed packing. Tom is intrigued by the preparations and asks Andrew about the length of his drive. Andrew says it took about four hours to arrive in Chincoteague Island, Virginia. Tom needs some additional details to really get the whole feel of the voyage. He assumes that Andrew was traveling at around 65 mph. Andrew says his wife was driving, but the speed sounds about right. He served as the music programmer with a selection of CDs: The Kinks' The Kinks Are the Village Green Preservation Society, some hip-hop, and Hank Williams.
Tom notes the diversity of his ABBA-to-Zappa playlist. Andrew reluctantly admits to liking a bit of everything, but Tom catches him in a bit of a fib. Andrew then admits that he doesn't know much about classical music beyond his enjoyment of the theme song to Platoon. Tom is sure that the composer is pleased to hear his composition referred to as "The Theme from Platoon." Andrew isn't concerned because he's dead. Mike thinks Giorgio Moroder wrote the theme, but Andrew is certain that is incorrect. Tom discovers that it was Samuel Barber's "Adagio for Strings". Andrew likes Barber's song, and Tom agrees that it's a good song. He also enjoys Mozart's hit single "Concerto No. 5," the (greasy?) tunes Vivaldi lays down, and the songwriting chops of Ludwig van Beethoven. Andrew says he's familiar with the latter artist. Tom performs the opening of Beethoven's "Symphony No. 5 (Radio Edit)" and resists the temptation to insert a GOMP into its melody.
Andrew is still packing, a (seemingly-epic) task that required 40 trips up and down the stairs. Tom requests some additional details about each of these trips. Andrew says he was just carting a bunch of camping gear. The story takes a dark turn when a scary, nameless bar up the corner emptied a band of crazies (zumbies?) onto the street at closing time. Tom wonders if they were old-weird crazy or young-aggressive crazy. Andrew says they were loud-crazy, perhaps the result of some illegal activities throughout the evening. Two of these crazies, a man and woman in their 40s, cornered Andrew to ask him for some money to buy food. While nothing was open in the neighborhood at that time of night, Andrew gave them $10 so he could return to his packing and get some sleep after being up for 30+ hours. The couple asked him which house he lived in so they could eventually return to pay him back. Andrew told them not to worry about it. Tom compares the potential unpleasantness of a return visit to The Strangers, speculating that they would use the money to buy weird masks to wear when they came back to terrorize him.
The guy thanked Andrew and extended his hand to conclude the transaction. Andrew declined the offer due to his germaphobia. The guy got offended by his refusal to shake and asked for an explanation. Andrew told him that his OCD makes him afraid of such human contact. The guy wanted to hear more about this condition, so Andrew delivered a quick, streetside lecture on psychological disorders. The couple then joined hands to circle Andrew while praying for Jesus to sooth his troubled soul. Andrew had no idea how he got in the middle of this impromptu ritual. Tom says he would have asked for his $10 back and fought him for it if he met any resistance. Andrew thinks that would have just caused additional problems, especially since he's more of a classical music fan than a fighter. Tom tells Andrew that he's top-notch and bids him goodnight. Tom was confused about the notch-rating system and quickly changes his assessment of Andrew to bottom-notch.
- Josh calls from Clinton Hill, Brooklyn, where the cocaine sometimes flows like water outside of the methadone clinic up on the corner. Tom takes the opportunity to propose his solution to the ongoing fight to save Park Slope's Union Hall: take a wrecking ball to it. Josh is with him on that plan. He says he's been trying to follow the story that may involve noise complaints from neighbors and an anti-stroller policy. Tom believes that people will go to one of the other 9,500 bars in Brooklyn if Union Hall is shut down. Josh says he prefers Southpaw. Tom enjoys that venue, as well as some of the people in Brooklyn, but he'd still like to see the entire borough get walled in. Josh says he used to live in Manhattan, and now he's become a big fan of his new digs. He also praises Mike's call screening efforts in an attempt to get on the air every week.
Josh sets the scene for his HDIGH moment in the mid-1990s at the Windows on the World bar, which offered a great view, some good DJ/band bookings, and an eclectic mix of patrons ranging from strange businessmen to hipsters. He begins to discuss a besuited gentleman roaming around the bar with a parrot on his shoulder, but Tom has to dump him for using sewer language. He reminds listeners that Al Goldstein and Ron Jeremy are not running this family show. Tom cites this as further evidence supporting a walled Brooklyn where residents can pollute each other with their own filth. He does an impression of the parrot denouncing Josh as a jerky toilet mouth.
- Ryan in Flanders, NJ, calls to discuss a night of debauchery when he lived in Korea for a year. He went to an area of town with a lot of foreigners (i.e., not Koreans) for drinking sessions that left him and his cohorts wasted and confused at 4:30 a.m. Since the subway system shut down from 2 a.m. to 6 a.m., Ryan and a friend decided to pass the time by heading to separate brothels. Tom's heard enough. He says he's done because he needs this so much less than you need it. You can't do better than Tom, but he can do better than you.
- A caller tells Tom not to knock brothels. It's Paul, Tom's CC co-worker and volleyball teammate, who is tuning into The Best Show while in the midst of a rough night. He doesn't want to be a pest, but he noticed that Tom didn't bring the book he wanted to volleyball last night. Tom apologizes for neglecting his request. Paul says he really needs that book because he's been going nuts since his wife, Gwen, left him two days ago. Tom points out that he's largely to blame for Gwen's abrupt departure. Paul believes that marriage is a two-way street, although he does admit to doing some bad stuff in the past. Tom laughs at the massive understatement because it would take an hour to fully detail Paul's offenses, which, considering his introductory directive, may involve ladies of the night. Paul explains that this is exactly why he needs the book so badly.
Tom asks Paul why he thinks The New Rules for Marriage: How to Keep Your Relationship Hot in the 1970s is such a crucial read for dealing with domestic tumult in 2008. Paul says that it really spoke to him when he saw it on Tom's bookshelf and skimmed through the pages. He couldn't locate it at any bookstores, so he was hoping Tom could lend it to him. Tom says he bought the book for 5 cents at garage sale last year mainly because of the goofy cover: a super-70s couple clearly modeled after Swedish tennis star Bjorn Borg and WKRP in Cincinnati starlet Loni Anderson. Paul suspects the Loni lookalike may have attracted him to the tome. However, the advice on the inside hit home, and he took notes on some of the key points. He asks Tom if he knows where they hold "est" meetings in Newbridge. Tom confirms that Paul is referring to the Erhard Seminars Training self-empowerment course that was popular in the 1970s. Paul thought the intense weekenders sounded cool. Tom doesn't think anybody still administers the courses in the area. Paul crosses it off his list of potential marital remedies.
He hopes that the Newbridge Video Den carries three instructional titles for couples that he read about in the book: Carnal Knowledge (1971), Bob & Carol & Ted & Alice (1969), and Looking for Mr. Goodbars (1977). Tom seriously doubts that the Video Den has these older releases. Paul says he's heard that Ann-Margaret is hott stuff in Carnal Knowledge, and he thinks she remained "tasty" up through those Grumpy Pants movies with the old guys in the 1990s. Tom realizes that Paul is referring to Grumpy Old Men and its grumpier sequel. Paul believes that one of the old men is played by Jack Lennon. Tom is positive that it's acting legend Jack Lemmon. Paul confuses matters even more by stating that Jack Lennon is related to John Lemmon. Tom disagrees with everything that Paul just said.
Paul also found a lot of good suggestions for fun couples activities to explore common interests and help weave a tapestry of a good relationship. He asks Tom if he knows where he can purchase a CB radio in Newbridge. Tom doubts there are any remaining retail outlets for this device. Paul wants to know where Tom and Jillian Barberie go jogging, but Tom says they don't really jog. Paul gets frustrated that he keeps striking out with the concepts from the book. He wonders if Newbridge still has the World Hockey League team. Tom says the Newbridge Hockey Sticks franchise went out of business in 1979. Paul begins to question the value of the seemingly outdated book, and Tom agrees that it's probably not the best resource for reinvigorating his marriage. Paul doesn't want Tom to bother bringing it to work tomorrow morning prior to another volleyball session.
Paul thinks he has another idea that will be more effective than the obsolete self-helper. He mentions that he always gets tongue-tied when he gets nervous, including an embarrassing performance at a CC sales meeting where he stammered unintelligibly for five minutes instead of giving a proper speech. Tom remembers the incident and estimates the stammer time closer to the range of 10-15 minutes. Paul didn't realize it was that bad, and he hopes that Tom was the only person who noticed his profuse sweating. Tom says everybody noticed. Paul is concerned that Sheila was one of these people. Tom's not sure if she ever made any specific comments about his perspiration. Paul thanks Tom for the 100th time for helping him out with the great speech. Tom says he was forced to essentially make an impromptu presentation because nobody could even decipher what Paul intended to deliver. Paul admits that his penmanship leaves a little to be desired. Tom asks him if his speech notes even contained words because he mainly saw weird, scribbly symbols. Paul says that he can't really express himself with words, so he draws pitchers to make it appear like he's actually reading words when he has to do any public speaking.
Tom takes this to mean that Paul is unable to read or write. Paul sort of asks for a definition of those terms. Tom confirms that Paul can recognize things as being words, but he is unable to easily interpret and articulate them. Tom assumes that it took him a long time to stare at the marriage book to get anything out of it. Paul says it took him about four hours to absorb the material. Tom says he wasn't sure what Paul was doing as he stood still in front of his bookshelf for that length of time. He definitely didn't think that Paul was only perusing one book. Tom asks him how he figured out a word like "jogging." Paul says that it takes him an average of 42 passes/word to get to the point where he can makes sense of it. Tom thinks some kind of remedial adult education for reading may be worthwhile. He wonders how Paul got through school and landed his job at CC with these basic deficiencies.
After it became apparent in the first grade that learning was too hard, Paul would pretend to get hurt on a piece of gym apparatus or claim that he found a rat or snake in his lunch at some point during every school year through the end of high school. He says that his daddy would then threaten to sue the school, so they just passed him along to the next grade to avoid the legal hassles. Tom refers to this as a false lawsuit, and Paul wants him to define "false." Tom asks him if he really saw a rat or snake in his lunch. Paul did not. When he got to the University of Newbridge State, he exploited the so-called myth that granted an academic free pass to a student whose roommate died. Paul says that UNS had this policy in place up until 2000. He laments the tragic deaths that befell all of his roommates over his eight semesters at the school. Tom asks Paul how they died. After an extended period of silence, Paul asks Tom if he would use his word expertise to help him with something.
Paul wants Tom to be his Sergio the Burgerback, and Tom wants to know what that is before accepting the role. Paul is surprised that Tom owns all those books, but hasn't heard one of the greatest stories of all-time. Tom has no idea what he's talking about. Paul is very excited to finally getting the chance to take Tom to school. He explains that once upon a time there was a German man, who, like him, was really good-looking and great at volleyball. He was totally in love with the princess of Germany, but he didn't know what to say to her during the wooing process. The German then enlisted his hideous friend, Sergio, who had a hump that was shaped like a handburger, as his courtship coach. Paul says that Sergio was very elegant with words. Tom tells him that the correct term is "eloquent." Paul disagrees. Tom wants to move forward with the story of Sergio the Burgerback. Paul says that Sergio would stand in the bushes and feed awesome lines to the hot German. The princess ended up falling in love with him, and they lived happily ever after in a life filled with a lot of sex. Tom believes he just heard a bizarre adaptation of the story of French playwright Cyrano de Bergerac.
Paul suspects that Tom is probably thinking about the plot from Roxanne, the comedic film adaptation scripted by Sting. Tom says that Sting didn't write the screenplay, and Paul wants him to ask call screener Greil about that. Tom doesn't even have to consult with Mike on this one. He remembers it being a Steve Martin movie, but Paul is convinced it starred Marty Feldman as a weird-eyed Sergio assisting the hot fireman. Tom says it was Steve Martin with an elongated nose. Paul thinks he's making that up. Regardless of the correct actor/odd facial feature pairing in the film, Paul wants to know if Tom will be his real-world StB. Tom declines. Paul is disappointed because Tom is very good at coming up with stuff to say to people. While he's certainly skilled in this area, Tom is not interested in telling people what to say to solve their own personal conflicts.
Paul says that absent Scharpling-dictated dialogue his marriage to Gwen is over. Tom says that he's simply not comfortable with the assignment. Paul says he really needs to get Gwen back despite her tendency to nitpick him on things like his construction of home fireworks kits. Gwen feels that they are too dangerous to have around the kids, and Tom sides with her on this issue. Paul wants to know if Tom's take has something to do with the fact that four kits exploded. Tom says that was a factor in his safety assessment. He reiterates that there is no way that he's getting involved in this dispute. Paul says that Gwen also cited the time he skipped her father's funeral so he could wait in line for a Lindsay Lohan appearance at Baby Foot Locker in Newbridge. He wanted to get the young star, who was then promoting The Parent Trap, to sign his copy of The Mentors' You Axed For It!. Tom vaguely recalls the Lohan visit, and he's familiar with the Seattle-based shock rockers featuring Sickie Wifebeater on guitar. Tom tells Paul that he learned about the unusual autograph market last week from their CC co-worker, Bill, who is sort of Paul's rival in this circle of collectors. Paul says that Bill just got UNC basketball coaching legend Dean Smith to sign Yoko Ono's Season of Glass to increase its value. Paul is sure that some guy in Japan will pay $30,000 for the piece. He's pretty mad about Bill's big score.
Paul says that Gwen's biggest peeve is that he has no concept of money. Tom agrees with Gwen because he's been privvvy to Paul's fiscal irresponsibility over the years. Paul is surprised to hear this and asks for some specific examples. Tom reminds him about his recent plan to send Gwen a bouquet of roses via a town car driven by Hulk Hogan. Paul thinks this is an awesome idea, and Hogan is actually en route to the house right now. Tom thinks it's insane. Paul says he never felt that Gwen respected him, so he enlisted the highly-respected Hulkster to serve as his messenger. Paul acknowledges that some people would argue that Randall Savage commands more respect, but he's not one of them. Tom only knows Savage by his longtime ring moniker, "Macho Man" Randy Savage. Paul wants him to show Savage some respect by using his more mature given name. Since the Hulkster respected him enough to deliver the flowers, Paul hopes that Gwen will respect him in return. Tom thinks that the Hulkster reserved the bulk of his respect for his paycheck, and he's very curious about the price tag for such a stunt. Paul is reluctant to get into it, but he does admit that he paid the Hulkster $27,000, plus first-class airfare and a new sleeveless tuxedo.
Tom concludes that if this is how Paul's brain processes information then he might not have any business being married to anyone. Paul doesn't like to hear that sentiment. Gwen calls him on his cell phone, and he's very confident that she will be excited about the flowers and want him back. Tom asks Paul to call him back, but Paul wants to keep Tom on his work line while he talks to Gwen. He explains that he's still at the office shredding reams. Tom says he doesn't want to be a part of the conversation. Paul begs Tom to do it and promises to buy him something supercool like a lawnmower or a Leroy Neiman painting signed by anybody. Tom's wind-chimes ringtone indicates that someone is calling him. Paul wonders if it's Gwen. It's not. Tom apologizes for the interruption. Paul says that he will pretend that he has to sneeze every time he has to confer with Tom about something Gwen said. Tom says he really doesn't want to do it, but Paul starts it anyway.
Paul: Hey, Gwen! Like the flowers?
Paul: What was your favorite ... stop yelling!
Paul: Hey, was The Hulkster mean to you? He didn't manhandle you, did he?
Paul: No, don't ... seriously, don't worry about how much it cost, Gwen. I just ... I only wish I could've been there to see that look on your face when The Hulkster presented you with those flowers. You must've been radiant.
Paul: Wait. Whaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaat? It wasn't The Hulkster?
Paul: Hold on. I really have to sneeze.
Paul informs Tom that he's never going to believe that he might have been ripped off. Tom is shocked to hear this. Paul says that Gwen was greeted by some random fat guy in a headband and wrestling tights. He now realizes that he should have hired Randall Savage instead. Paul is very angry about this decision. Tom asks him what he wants him to do. Paul says that Gwen is adamant that he tell her about the cost of the delivery. He is pretty sure that she will be really mad about the truth. Tom suggests telling her that he's aware of his problem and that he does these outlandish things because he cares about her so much. Paul returns to Gwen.
Paul: Hey, Gwen, seriously, don't worry about how much it costs. It's really nothing. The important thing is that I've shown you how much you mean to mean to me and how much I love you.
Paul: Oh, don't say ... hang on, I really have to sneeze again. The pollen is terrible here in the office.
Paul tells Tom that Gwen really wants to know where he got the money. He admits that he withdrew the funds from an account Gwen set up to take care of her parents when they get Oldtimer's Disease and don't know nothing anymore. Tom tells Paul that it's probably time to just tell her the truth. Paul thinks that Gwen will respect that. Tom is concerned that Paul stole money from her. Paul asks Tom to define "stealing." He says that he stole it if he took it without telling her. Paul admits to that. Tom tells him that is wrong. He recommends apologizing and promising to pay her back.
Paul: [Atchoo!!!!] Hey, Gwen. Listen, honey, I'm gonna come clean. Um ... I got the money by winning a watermelon carrying contest.
(Tom: What am I stuck in the middle of here?)
Paul: Yeah, you know they stack these watermelons on your arms and whoever can hold the most, they win $27,000. And I held 11 of them.
Paul: What? Wait, hang on. [near-sneeze noise]
Paul tells Tom that Gwen finds it really interesting that his melon-carrying prize is the exact amount in her bank account. He's at a loss as to how to proceed. Tom thinks Paul is crazy. Paul says he's just in love. Tom believes he's entered the realm of the sociopathic. Paul disagrees because he gets along with everybody. Tom says he's done severe damage to the relationship by stealing, lying, and attending a Lindsay Lohan signing instead of an important family gathering. Paul thinks Tom is nitpicking. He knows that this is his last chance. Tom thinks he should tell her that he lost his mind and promise to make it right by seeking professional help. Paul likes the plan.
Paul: [violent sneeze] Hey, Gwen, sweetie, um, look I'm gonna fully come clean now. I ... I lied to you. I mean, I've been lying for a long time, and I think you know that and ... um ... I'm just so sorry and ... um ... basically here's what happened, alright: Tom Scharpling told me to take out that money that you reserved for the care of your sweet ma-ma and pa-pa.
(Tom: [laughs] That's not true!)
Paul: Yeah, Tom from volleyball.
Paul: Yeah, he's the guy who looks like a cross between Chim-Chim from Speed Racer, the bassist from the Atlanta Rhythm Section, and The Elephant Man had he really let himself go to seed. Yeah, that's him.
(Tom: Hey, Paul! Paul. Stop!)
Paul: [crying] He forced me to do it. He's a sadist!
Paul: Yeah, he's positively Draculian.
(Tom: What is he saying? I don't even--)
Paul: Draculian. No, like in the days of Dracula.
Paul: What's Draconian?
Paul: I don't know what that is, no.
Paul: Well, do you know what he does to us, the guys on the team?
Paul: He makes us slap each other's bare bottoms with towels while he stands over top of us and diddles his ...
Tom begs Paul to stop just as he hangs up. He wonders how he got surrounded by crazies. Tom considers leaving his job, and he really wants to get out of that volleyball league. Mike thought the details of Paul's accusations sounded convincing, but Tom assures him that none of it was true. Mike points out one silver lining to soothe the sting of Paul's false confessional: he's not running for mayor. Tom is grateful that he can take some degree of solace in the small things.
- Garth in Brooklyn recalls a wild night after settling in Astoria when he first landed in NYC six years ago. Around that time a friend worked for a theater that was having an opening night party at a really obnoxious hipster club in the Village. Garth says he was glad to take advantage of a free event with an open bar due to his impoverished finances. He guzzled as much as he could, got really hammered, and then boarded a train at Union Square expecting to head home. However, the next thing he remembers is walking down Coney Island Avenue in Brooklyn. Garth has no idea how he ended up at the wrong destination, but Tom does: intoxication. He GOMPs Garth for his carousal.
- Phil from Pittsburgh says he's been stuck in the same day since covering an unexpected February blizzard in the middle of rural Pennsylvania for his TV station. Tom dumps Phil because he realizes that the caller is pretending to be WPHH-TV9 meteorologist Phil Connors, the character played by Bill Murray in Groundhog Day. He thinks the ruse is sick. After the call, fake Phil saw his shadow, returned to his basement apartment, and won't call for another six years.
Tom returns to the scene outside the Not-a-Marathon store earlier this morning when a Ford Explorer with PA plates passed by him. As the guys inside rolled down the window, Tom heard one imploring the other to "Ask him! Ask him!" The passenger-side guy then asked Tom if he wanted to buy their extra home entertainment system. Tom loves home entertainment, but he declined to purchase anything from the back of an out-of-state vehicle driven by creeps. He wished them luck moving the hot merchandise.
- Mike in Manhattan calls to say that he doesn't know how he got from not wanting to get into video games to owning a PS3, assembling his own gaming clan, and yelling at kids online as he tears it up. Tom tells Mike that the "it" in this context is his future. Mike reveals that his newfound addiction led him to name his squad The Couchbreakers, a reference to Tom's insulting, alternative moniker for Team Final Boss. In addition to embracing the putdown, Mike has morphed into "Mike from Manslaughterhattan" and joined forces with "Frank from Weehawkeye" for missions in Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare. Tom reminds Mike that there are real soldiers currently fighting in a real war. Mike says he's read about the conflict in The Economist. Tom thinks Mike should put his virtual machine gun skills to the true test by joining the military. Mike says that unless the Iraqi insurgents are 10-year-old kids from the Midwest he's not too interested. He's more interested in trash talk than actual warfare. Mike invites Tom to join The Couchbreakers so they will have a celebrity spokesperson on the roster. Tom accepts the offer as long as Mike sends a PS3 to the station.
- Spoony in Brooklyn calls to tell the harrowing tale of of how he ended up inside a Nazi lair. While attending the Art Institute of Pittsburgh, he developed a friendly rapport with the grill cook at a nearby bar, chatting about music and the weather after a day of classes. He moved away and returned to The Pitts years later to visit a friend. They split up one night, and when Spoony got back from a bar his friend wasn't home. He didn't have a cell phone (this was circa 2000-2001), and he ran into the grill cook as he looked for a pay phone. Spoony told him about his plight after they exchanged some pleasantries. The grill cook invited him back to his place around the corner so he could get out of the cold and sleep on his floor, if necessary. Spoony took him up on his offer and discovered that his apartment was filled with Nazi propaganda, ranging from authentic Hitler Youth daggers to a full uniform.
The grill cook started telling Spoony some personal details, such as quitting drinking in favor of a regimen of antipsychotic drugs. Spoony compares his situation to the scene in Falling Down where Army Navy surplus store owner Frederic Forrest bonds with Michael Douglas in a back room full of Nazi trinkets and weaponry. Spoony jokes that the grill cook started measuring his feet for boots. Tom wants to know how he was able to escape from the residence. Spoony says he rode it out by smiling and patiently sipping his tea (this Nazi was civilized) during a screening of Romper Stomper. He reports that he stared at his feet and focused on his beverage whenever the grill cook cheered for Russell Crowe's beatdowns. When the film ended, Spoony thanked the grill cook for his hospitality and flew down the staircase to meet up with his friend. Tom thinks Spoony played it well and turned the nightmare into a top-notch call.
- Paul calls back to say that he and Gwen have agreed to just be lovers. Tom is not pleased by the terms of the reconciliation. He was previously relieved that Paul wasn't running for mayor, but Paul is indeed holding a Pancake Potluck this Saturday to announce his candidacy. Tom wonders if Gwen knows that he's entering the race. Paul doubts that she's listening to the show because it's not good anymore. He's heard rumblings about the lack of entertainment value and widespread opposition to Tom's use of the VoiceMod® DeepTone 500, among many other complaints. Tom wishes him luck with his campaign. Paul says he doesn't need it because he knows he will win. He reminds Tom about their 4:30 a.m. volleyball game tomorrow.
- FOT fave Bonnie from Georgia checks in as a newly minted high school graduate. Tom congratulates her for the achievement and thanks her for sending him a nice invitation to the corresponding party. Bonnie says she invited some of her favorite famous people:
- Radio personality Tom Scharpling
- Drummer Jon Wurster (Psychotic Norman, The Right Profile)
- Author Christopher Buckley (Thank You For Smoking, Bleh Bleh)
- Singer-songwriter Josh Grogman
- Actor Matthew
GreatGray GooglerGubler (Criminal Minds, Team Zissou intern)
While none of these people actually showed up, Tom launches into an impression of what could have been: Mr. Grogman performing an operatic rendition of "Happy Graduation." Bonnie says it would have been an awesome treat, but she didn't expect to see any of her chosen celebrities. Tom says he pulled in just as the party was winding down because his trip was delayed by a flat tire. He decided not to go inside. Bonnie says she was probably already in bed due to exhaustion from a bout with mononucleosis. She retired at 10:30 p.m. while people where still at her house because she had to work the next morning. Bonnie is still suffering from low energy, but she doesn't have time to be tired as she prepares for her summer gig as a camp counselor. Tom was once stricken with mono, so he knows it's not easy.
Bonnie says her graduation loot included enough money to buy a laptop for school in the fall. Her brother has had some problems with his Dell, so she is open to any computer advice. Tom points out that Bonnie's brother is responsible for one of the greatest moments in the history of The Best Show. Bonnie reveals that he contributed the Tony Montana adaptation "Get ready to meet my little friend" during last year's Movie Quotes spectacular. Tom compares Bonnie's talented household to The Royal Tenenbaums and vows to meet them. Bonnie says her family is pretty awesome despite not writing any books, starting any companies, or accurately quoting from Scarface on live radio. Tom considers the latter mishap a plus because the movie stinks. He asks Bonnie why her brother is watching that violent filth. Bonnie says she was disappointed with Scarface because she was expecting something great based on its pop culture influence and ubiquitous merchandising tie-ins. Tom declares Bonnie a top-notch caller before she even contributes to tonight's topic.
Bonnie says she experienced a HDIGH moment when she went to an Of Montreal show having never seen any live pictures or videos. She enjoyed the spectacle from a spot up front, but she wondered whether the band's fashion choices like cut-off shorts and fishnet tights were part of a surreal dream. Tom recommends the wholesome vocal groups The Four Freshmen and The Lettermen as less weird alternatives.
- Dan in Hoboken says that after college he got a job working on a hospital newsletter with an eye towards moving on to something more creative in the writing/editing field. About six months ago he accepted a more lucrative offer for a supposedly similar post at a different hospital. However, he quickly found himself stuck in boring meetings about parking lot construction, night staffing, and the importance of ream shredding. Dan says he had no knowledge of these administrative issues so he just put in his two-week notice to become unemployed. Tom urges Dan to start living his dream of writing books right this second. Dan says his career will have to wait because he's outside without a pen. Tom tells him to start carving a sentence into his arm with a sharp object. Dan's debut novel, SLAYER, will be published this fall by Penguin.
After reading Richard Zoglin's Comedy at the Edge: How Stand-up in the 1970s Changed America, Tom is convinced that stand-up is the easiest thing in the world. He is confident that he could spend one week crafting a 45-minute set that would demolish the audience at a 2,000-seat theater. Tom doesn't think anybody ever really wanted the act of Robert Klein, a prominent player in Zoglin's book. He believes that Klein served as little more than a passable diversion from the three available television channels. Tom points out that Gabe Kaplan parlayed six jokes into a sitcom sale and never prowled the boards again. He admits to enjoying the antics of the Sweathogs on Welcome Back Carter. Mike picks Detective Stan "Wojo" Wojciehowicz from Barney Miller as his favorite Sweathog.
Tom says he doesn't want to offend his hard-working stand-up friends because he certainly admires the skills of the Paul F. Tompkinses, Pat-ton Oswalts, and Zach Galifianaki. However, he knows he could jump the line and dominate their game within a week. Tom mocks George Carlin's obsession with weird, modern words and dismisses the terrible Richard Pryor as the Miranda July of the 1970s -- a performance artist doing toilet-mouth characters. Gary Mule Deer is not mentioned in the book. Tom considers juicing up his material with Hawaiian shirts and musical stings from a keytar or a stork-shaped theremin, a sight gag suggested by PFT via IM.
- Liz in Chicago recalls her failure to secure a ticket to an R.E.M show on the Document tour at the beginning of her freshmen year at Indiana University. She and her friends were bummed out and eventually wandered over to the steps of the venue to pass the time. Liz pulled on the door, and it flew open to allow them to scurry inside. A big guy stopped her as she tried to locate her friends, and he led her down a hallway to show her what the band did to fans who sneak backstage. Liz says she was scared by his stern demeanor and the approving nods that greeted the procession. He then opened a door and pushed her into the performance area where her friends were watching the show in the front row.
- Frank from Weehawkeye has a silly topic for tonight, but Tom doesn't accept new topics with only three minutes left on the Colgate Clock. Franks calls back a few minutes later and begs Tom not to hang up on him. Alakazam!
- Mike from Morristown says he was surprised that John from Boston praised his calls at the end of last weeks' show since he's usually lackluster. He estimates that he's only made one good call to the show. Tom agrees with Mike's assessment and GOMPs him. He's trying to gallop down the home stretch like Triple Crown contender Old Brown, and these guys are hanging on his tail.
On the Next ... The Best Show on WFMU: Tom dissects Indiana Jones and His Crystal Meth, a new historical docudrama from the Lucas-Spielberg juggernaut.