More Scrivening Than You Require.
You're really gonna carry your weight here on Thanksgiving." -- Tom, giving Spike props for bringing some sparkling cider to his family's holiday meal
"You feeble-minded lightweights. Oh, so weird. Couldn't handle it, huh, ladies? So weird!" -- Tom, underestimating the cinematic tolerance of the elderly Movie Clubbers during their post-Kaufman debriefing
"I mean, those guys could probably walk down the middle aisle at one of their concerts and not even get recognized. I don't know, it's kind of sad." -- 9-year-old Little Bill, lamenting the unfortunate anonymity of Aerosmith's unheralded Hamilton/Kramer rhythm section
"No, I wasn't saying it. He was. Little Bill was. I'm Big Bill, you idiot." -- Big Bill, setting Tom straight on which family member is embroiled in a tumultuous relationship
"This is Little Bill. He can't get enough of it. He loves having nightmares." -- Little Bill, confirming his father's enjoyment of the now off-limits Nightmare Machine
"I'm in a belt-whipping league." -- Mr. Sherbert, revealing one of his violent hobbies
"The weirdest part is that the dog has the same voice as the other two. I'm not even questioning that the dog speaks English." -- Tom, grappling with the third indistinguishable participant
"No, Big Bill's gonna whip Mr. Sherbert because there's more ... uh ... pudding." -- Big Bill, vowing to punish his pet for its second dessert deposit
"Alright, Big Bill, Little Bill, let's go for a walk." -- Mr. Sherbert, leading his masters into the night
"I don't have time for a plastic fork. Are you kidding? I've got to eat this thing. I've got to numb the pain." -- Tom, rejecting utensils for his 9/11 cheesecake feast
"Oh, the scrivener? He's some monk you've got stowed away somewhere in upstate New York? Illuminating every word in a manuscript? -- John Hodgman, speculating on the working conditions of Omar, The Best Show's Resident Recapper
"I got one about faxes. Put it in the book." - Milton Berle, crafting a late-period gem
"If you want, you can sign up for the Biosphere Project with other Geniuses and spider monkeys. A lot of spider monkeys." -- John Hodgman, promoting an exciting new Apple Store initiative
"That's why Detroit's going bankrupt. Because of the unions. Preventing children from cleaning smokestacks." -- John Hodgman, finding the roots of the global financial crisis
"It's like a high-pitched cackling that hurts." -- John Hodgman, describing the trademark laugh of Ricky Gervais
"Uh, I'll take the opposite position. What he said was wrong! How's that? Just to keep things interesting." -- John Hodgman, taking the Eagles over the Cardinals in the "Pigskin Picks" segment
"It is the gambling, yeah. Yeah. And the beatings. She won't beat me." - Brad in Sciencebridge, providing two reasons for his impending, fifth divorce
"Can you fax me a blueprint of your home, as well as a map of the air ducts that I can conveniently crawl through in order to drop into your nerve center?" -- John Hodgman, anticipating aspiring burglar Frank from Weehawken's follow-up question
"Are you a fertile man? Do you produce enough sperms to produce a human child." -- John Hodgman, checking on the viability of Tomas from New Canaan's reproductive system
"IT'S NOT A PARTY! HOW MANY TIMES DO I HAVE TO TELL YOU? IT'S A FRIENDLY GET-TOGETHER!" -- Mike in Manhattan, emphatically downgrading the gathering in his residence
"I like it a lot. It explains why I'm wearing this smoking jacket." -- John Hodgman, enthusiastically embracing the bachelor status bestowed upon him by Listener T
"You're a man of many enthusiasms. I understand, Trembling Eagle." -- John Hodgman, figuring out what drives the newest Hate Pit member
"Success is only success when you're standing on the corpses of others. That's my back tattoo." -- Tom, choosing a more destructive path to glory
"Are you sure the H-Man is not 89 years old?" -- John Hodgman, questioning the young protégé's age after reading a Facebook status involving croquet-based pant rippage
The Peanut Butter Conspiracy - "Is There Anything I Can Do?"
( Click here to buy Spreading From the Ashes)
Thee Oh Sees - "Block of Ice"
( Click here to buy Thee Hounds of Foggy Notion)
Crippled Pilgrims - "People Going Nowhere"
( Click here to buy Down Here: Collected Recordings 1983-1985)
100 Flowers - "Our Fallout"
( Click here to buy 100 Years of Pulchritude)
The Flies - "All Hung Up"
( Click here to acquire the rest of Get Wise)
Scruffy the Cat - "My Baby She's Alright"
( Click here to buy Tiny Days)
Squalls - "Take It All"
( Click here to buy No Time)
R.E.M. - "Catapult" (live, T-Dot, 1983)
( Click here to buy Murmur [Deluxe Edition])
Now is the time for us to gather together and celebrate those things that we like and think are fun:
- A female caller forgoes the standard greeting that generally prefaces civil radio discourse to accuse Tom of being a bunch of sour grapes regarding his criticism of I'm Not There. She loved it despite not being a huge Bob Dylban fan. Tom asks her if she normally launches into a rant without any kind of introduction. She offers a belated "hello," and Tom apologizes for putting her out with a request for some common courtesy. The caller doubts that Tom really cares whether she says hello because he's too busy ripping everyone to shreds. Tom says he is a polite person who can have differing opinions about a film. The caller agrees that he's entitled to his take, but she feels like he's just being a provocateur. Tom reminds her that he dropped $9.50 to see this thing and requests a refund. The caller has seen the film twice, including a $20 advance screening at the Woodstock Film Festival. She is ready for a third go-round. Tom's glad she enjoyed it, and he thinks she can understand that he didn't like it.
The caller informs Tom that director Todd Haynes employed non-traditional narrative techniques to illuminate the various stages of Dylban's life and public personae with surrogates that position him as a totemic presence in the audience's collectively shared culture. Tom says he was able to crack the code and figure that out. The caller says it obviously didn't mean anything to him. Tom reiterates that he simply didn't like the film despite its ambitious thematic scope and top-shelf cinematography. The caller wants Tom to provide some specific reasons why he didn't like it. Tom yells that he just talked about it for 35 minutes. The caller realizes that this segment occurred before she tuned in. Tom has had enough and turns her into a ghost using his soundboard.
At first Omar did an extraordinary quantity of writing. As if long famishing for something to copy, he seemed to gorge himself on my program. There was no pause for digestion. He did lines in the day and again at night, copying by sun-light and by candle-light. I should have been quite delighted with his application, had he been cheerfully industrious. But he wrote on silently, palely, mechanically. -- T. Scharpling in "Omar, the Scrivener: A Story of Muffler Row," Trump Magazine Literary Issue, October 2007
I'd prefer not to do this recap. But I will. Tom whimpers and asks Mike the Associate Producer if it's 11:00 p.m. yet. It's not. Mike refuses to relieve Tom of his duties by retrieving Mile Davis's Pangaea to fill up half the show. Tom reprimands himself for crying about having to do another Tuesday night installment of The Best Show on WFMU. He decides to get it over with since he has places to go later tonight. Tom anticipates Spike's standard opening and joins him in a pleasant vocal harmony that evokes mid-period Moonglows.
- Spike says he can't wait for the Thanksgiving holiday, and Tom tells him that it's only 48 hours until the big day arrives. He asks Spike if he's equally excited about tonight's guest, John Hodgman. Spike is glad Tom brought that up because he recently saw Hodgman on a segment of I Love the Whatevers with Paul F. Tompkins. He got the sense that PFT had no interest in talking to the renowned humorist. Tom thinks PFT was seriously mad about his intrusion. He tells Spike that many show business personalities are weird. Spike wants Tom to ask PFT about the apparent rift the next time he's on the show. He says that despite the awkward encounter it was still a funny episode. Tom wonders if he's trying to morph into the Best Show's answer to NY1's bushy-eyebrowed entertainment reporter George Whipple. Spike says he just found the Tompkins-Hodgman dynamic interesting.
Tom asks Spike which diner he selected for his Thanksgiving meal. Spike says he will spend the day with his family at a residence in Queens. Tom wonders if they a) know he's coming and b) know that he considers them his "family." Spike confirms that they are blood relations who invited him to dinner. Tom is very excited by the prospects of this gathering. Spike doesn't do cooking on big occasions, so he will contribute a bottle of sparkling cider. Tom suspected that he would opt for a jar of marshmallow creme to construct some Fluffernutter sandwiches. He commends Spike for really carrying his weight this year. Spike says he's known for his annual sparkling cider gift. He mentions that someone wants him to review the smash rom-fontasy Twilight. Unfortunately for Spike, this someone is not Mike or Tom. Alas, the first Spike film review since his Septmber 2006 double-bill of The Devil Wears Prada (3.5 Gimps Masks) and Little Miss Sunshine (3 Gimp Masks) will have to wait.
- Frank from Weehawken congratulates Tom on the new TBSOWFMU feature in The A.V. Club. Tom appreciates the kind words because he worked very hard on the piece. Frank attempts to find out Tom's plans for the holiday, but it's none of his business. Tom prefers to get the show underway instead of announcing his personal schedule over the air.
He back-announces an abbreviated, two-song set that opened with "Ramble Tamble" from a Creedance Clearwater Revival (aka America's Beatles ©) album and closed with the loop-throwing ABBA classic "Does Your Mother Know," the lone single featuring Björn Ulvaeus on lead vocals. Since Tom has already played selections from the only two CDs he brought to the studio, the music portion of the program is complete unless somebody wants to hear CCR's "Railroad Jumper." Mike wants to hear it, but Tom denies the request to focus on the forthcoming 2.5 hours of mirth and mayhem. Mike says he's in line with Spike on the Thanksgiving food front, but he will provide an assortment of beer, including some fancy Sierra Nevada for his brother. Tom realizes that he's not interested in anyone's dull Thanksgiving agenda. He's also not interested in reminiscing about the Jonestown Massacre. Tom says that Mike once again urged him to discuss the tragedy in honor of last Tuesday's 30th anniversary. While Tom usually whispers his pleas to help his troubled co-worker, he's now fed up enough to crank the volume. He decides to get his bearings by ending all talk about CCR, Thanksgiving, and, most importantly, Jonestown. Tom renews his quest for a replacement for Mike because he appears to be spooking all the good calls with his unbridled creepiness.
- First-time caller Gibby checks in from Monchesta, Eng-uh-lund, but Tom accuses him of using a fake British accent. Gibby convinces him that he's the real deal by correctly providing the local time of 1:25 a.m. He says he's up late rehearsing with his band called Total Victory. Tom likes the name and wonders if all of their songs are suitably triumphant. (The UK's answer to Bad Guy conquerors County Mounty, perhaps?). Gibby says the name is supposed to tout their ability to win over audiences, but subpar music could render it ironic. Tom asks him if they perform covers songs like "We Are the Champions." Gibby says that TV setlists do not include the celebratory Queen tune.
Gibby called because he has a bone to pick with Tom over last week's tossing of "Iron Brutherhood" member Trembling Eagle into the Hate Pit. Tom is not familiar with this mysterious organization. Gibby explains that it's a splinter group of weightlifters that TE is trying to form on the FOT Board. Tom reminds listeners that TE is a kid who is out of his gourd from a steady diet of Sarah Palin .jpgs and repeated spins of the Natural Born Killers soundtrack. He pushed Tom (and himself) over the edge by calling him a fat blob. Gibby thinks TE is a good guy who was making a sincere comment about the benefits of Rollins-style lifting and resistance training. He thinks TE and Tom just got off on the wrong foot. Tom puts the inauspicious beginning squarely on the muscular shoulders of TE. He asks Gibby how many hours he's spent cracking TE's radio program to get to know him. Gibby cedes that point, but he still argues in favor of a second chance. Tom says he's sick of being the bad guy. He compares it to the episode of All in the Family where Archie Bunker was reluctant to let an ex-con do work in his home. Gibby believes it's more like the scene in Schindler's List where Oskar Schindler reaches out to Amon Göth. Tom dismisses Gibby to halt any further discussion about the SS commandant.
Tom elaborates on the Norman Lear sitcom staple of making a lead character side against inviting a convicted criminal fix up the attic. In the case of AitF, Mr. Bunker would be portrayed as the villain for expressing second thoughts about giving the guy free reign without a thorough background check. Tom believes these days are coming back, and he's the new Archie Bunker. He regrets committing that thought to tape and giving people the chance to throw the sound clip back in his face for years to come. Tom reveals that authore / actore / commercial endorsore John Hodgman is en route. He then mentions that he's all sweaty after running up and down the stairs when Mike went AWOL before the show. Tom calls strike 2 and places Mike's fate in the hands of the next call. If it's a dud, he will be escorted out of the building. Mike starts begging the people on hold to deliver the goods.
"Ew, buoy. I hope they worked the kinks out of that Youngoproxin ..."
Tom leaves Mike to fight for his job and transitions into the wrenching tale of yesterday's 2:00 p.m. screening of the new Charlie Kaufman film, Synedouche, New York, in Princeton, N.J. He arrived early enough to catch the pre-show movie trivia:
Q. Which one of these hunks had a job as a chef before becoming an actore?
A. Jake Gyllenhaal.
Tom was the only person in the theater, and he had a baaaaaaad feeling going into this one. He was not reassured by the five (FIVE) old ladies who stumbled in while engaging in loud, nonstop chit-chat. Faced with spending the next two hours with a gaggle of gregarious grandmas Tom bolted for a later show. He learned his lesson after seeing Paul Thomas Anderson's Magnolia with two old ladies who provided a running commentary throughout the three-hour melodrama. When the frogs fell they wanted to organize a group meeting to hash out the meaning of the Biblical showers. They appointed Tom as their point man to alert the projectionist when they were ready to unpause it.
The crucial part of this story involves Tom's encounter with the young usher. As we know from his aborted Ferris Wheel ride at the Palisades Mall, Tom is often compelled to pretend that he's been called away to an emergency rather than admit the truth: it's the old ladies. He relies on his classic ruse of pressing his cell phone against his ear to create the illusion of getting summoned back to "the office." Tom quickly realized that he's weaving a tale for a 19-year-old who doesn't care when he sees this film. The kid offered Tom a refund, and he blew it again. He locked his money in with a replacement ticket so he could avoid the rush at an arthouse box-office on a Monday afternoon.
Tom left the theater undetected and had a grand old time walking around Princeton. He spotted a flyer advertising a FREE lecture in one hour by Dr. Cornel West, the warrior for social justice and underrated M.C. Tom wanted to attend because he's a huge fan of The Matrix: Revolutions, and West is the only holdout on his autographed one-sheet. (An unidentified man in the studio wheezes with laughter at this peculiar collectable.) However, he looked down at the pre-paid ticket for the stupid movie and ultimately returned to the theater. Tom saw the departing old ladies marveling at the weirdness of what they just saw. He assumed they were feeble-minded lightweights who were ill-equipped to process Mr. Kaufman's dark vision. He was wrong.
Brother Tom handed the ticket to the oblivious kid and settled in for the film. After the first 90 seconds he knew that he should be listening to Brother West. Tom walked out after 45 minutes because he couldn't take the unrelenting sickness. He deflects the inevitable backlash by making it clear that he got what it was and didn't want it. Tom, who was scarred by even his limited exposure, immediately started texting Jason Woliner, the brother of the celebrated Facebook poet known as the H-Man and three-time survivor of Kaufman's journey into the existential abyss. He considers contacting the authorities to gain custody of the disturbed Human Giant directore. Tom doesn't even think Kaufman should be subjected to his creation three times. He concludes that the old ladies were the heavyweights for enduring the entire film. They sat there. Tom believes that he is the lightweight in this scenario, but he also proposes two alternate theories:
A. They were really stupid and had no idea what was going on.
B. They were really cheap and would never waste the money spent on their Monday Movie Club outing.
Mike wonders if the seniors fell asleep. Tom doesn't know because he was wandering around the Princeton campus. However, he doubts that anyone could doze off while confronting the boil-and-pustule-laden death march. Tom interprets the 45 minutes he saw as Kaufman's cry for help and/or medication. He advises the poor guy to be thankful for his financial success and ability to work in this tough economic climate. Tom says he's since learned that he left during the lighter portion of the film before things got really dark. He sums up the moral of the story by recommending that people get their money back whenever possible. Tom asks Mike if any of the lines contain good callers. Mike recommends Line 3.
- A caller says he'll skip Synedouche based on Tom's scathing review even though he was a fan of Being John Malkovich. Tom says he was particularly disappointed in Kaufman's directorial debut because he also likes the previous films he's written. The caller says he didn't like Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, but he blames that on star Jim Carrey instead of the script. Tom confirms that he, too, is not a big Carrey fan. The caller says he never saw the meta-comedy Adaptation (Tom liked it a lot), and he can't recall the title of the movie about game show producer/C.I.A. assassin Chuck Barris. Tom informs him that it's Confessions of a Dangerous Mind, which he also liked a lot. The caller makes a noise that Tom interprets as sarcasm, but he says that it was a legitimate response to Tom's approval of the rest of Kaufman's oeuvre.
The caller says he's excited about the great show tonight because he's a big fan of John Hodgman and his fabulous first book, The Areas of My Expertise. Tom says the new book, More Information Than You Require, is even better. The caller plans to ask Santa for that one. Tom asks if him he has any Thanksgiving plans. The caller says he'll hang out at his mom's house for a few days while he's on break from Newbridge State.
Since he knows Tom is into pop culture, he asks him if he heard about the insane name Ashlee Simpson and Fall Out Boy's Pete Wentz III chose for their newborn son. Tom agrees that Bronx Mowgli Simpson -- a bizarre mash-up of the NYC borough and a character from The Jungle Book -- is nuts. The caller says he hates the trend of wacky baby names because it's a look-at-me stunt by parents who fail to put any thought into their selection. Tom thinks it displays a lack of any concern for the child saddled with the eccentric moniker. The caller is glad that he and Tom have more traditional names. He reveals that he's Bill in Newbridge.
Bill asks Tom for his take on the concerns about loose-canon Czech Republic President Václav Klaus taking the helm of the Council of the European Union. Tom thinks it's nuts. Bill mentions that the Council has a rotating presidency where every EU member drives the bus for a six-month term. He says that Klaus, a "Eurosceptic" who opposes further European integration, has a massive ego and can't get enough of the spotlight. The Prague provocateur also dismisses global warming as a "dangerous myth." Tom thinks his tenure has the makings of a contentious battle. Bill informs Tom that Klaus referred to the EU bank bailouts as "irresponsible protectionism," a position that contradicts the conventional wisdom that they are required to tackle the liquidity crisis, solvency in the banking section, and the restoration of confidence in the financial markets. Klaus, 67, is also rumored to have had several extramarital love-making sessions with younger ladies, including a tryst with a 25-year-old this past March on the night of his second Presidential inauguration. (Don't get any ideas, Mr. Ziegler! Rhoda will crush you.) Bill thinks it will be very interesting to see how it plays out when Klaus takes over on January 1st, 2009.
He asks Tom to play some Aerosmith in the midst of his ongoing jag for the band's music. Tom says he might be done with records for tonight. Bill points out that people always talk about Steve Tyler and Joe Perry, but nobody ever really gives proper due to one of the most unheralded rhythm sections of all-time: bassist Tom Hamilton and drummer Joey Kramer. Bill believes they are pretty unstoppable when they lock in. Tom agrees that these duos often emerge as the secret weapon, holding things down in the shadows of the top-tier stars. Bill thinks it's sad that they could walk down the middle aisle at an Aerosmith concert and not get recognized. He says that bassist John Paul Jones is similarly the odd man out in Led Zeppelin as the Page/Plant juggernaut -- and even fast-footed groovemonster John Bonham -- hog all the headlines.
Bill asks Tom if he's seen the critically ravaged Australia, starring Nicole Kidman and Hugh Jackman. Tom says he's yet to screen Baz Luhrmann's $130 million national epic. Bill says it seemed like Kidman was perfectly cast in a film about her homeland, but she's getting blasted for not being believable as an English aristocrat who helps Jackman drive cattle across the rough Darwin terrain during the Japanese air raids. Tom says that he would have expected Kidman to have an emotional connection to the story. Bill thinks the actress may have lost touch with her roots after an extended walkabout in La/Weird-O-Wood. He says the really odd thing is that Kidman looks exactly like the woman in his life. The promotional blitz for Australia has been tough because he keeps seeing her on all the posters.
Bill says they generally get along, but little things keep creeping up that have put a strain on the relationship. For example, Bill reports that she has a really hot temper, which can be really attractive if it's super passionate and ends up driving things. However, it usually manifests itself as annoyance at his behavior. Bill says she hurt his feelings yesterday by yelling at him for hanging off the monkey bars by his legs. She demanded that he get down before he killed himself. Tom wants to know more about the circumstances that led to the childlike dangling. Bill says he was just goofing around at a playground. Tom thinks it's weird to even have a relationship spat at such a location. Bill explains that it occurred during recess from math class. Tom tries to clear up his confusion by asking for Bill's age. Bill says he's 9 years old and wonders b'why Tom wants to know.
Tom reminds him that he said he was a college student at Newbridge State. Bill explains that he's actually a fourth-grader at Newbridge Elementary on State Street, an address that earned it the nickname "Newbridge State." Tom doesn't think his voice matches someone of that age. Bill assures him that he's frequently mistaken for an older boy. In fact, just the other day someone pegged him as a 10-year-old. Tom says he sounds like a full-grown adult. Bill recalls that earlier in the year he almost snuck into the PG-13 Hancock before the second usher stopped him. Tom confirms that he's talking to a 9-year-old. Bill mentions that he's been told his overall maturity level and height (4' 7") are advanced. Tom tells Bill that he seems a little young to be in what appears to be a serious relationship. The comment ignites what is perhaps the most confusing conversation in the history of the program.
Big Bill: What kind of question is that?
Tom: Well, I'm basing it on what you said .. is that you said you were having like ...
Big Bill: Where do you get off talking to a kid like that? He's only nine years old.
Tom: He's nine years old.
Big Bill: Yeah.
Tom: I'm ... it's ... but you were just saying that you were in a thing where you're fighting with her or something? And it's the kind thing where she's--
Big Bill: No, I wasn't saying it. He was. Little Bill was. I'm Big Bill, you idiot.
Tom: Who's Big ... who is this?
Big Bill: I'm Little Bill's dad.
Tom: Well, who was I just talking to?
Big Bill: Little Bill!
Tom: Little Bill.
Big Bill: I picked up the other extension just now. Why?
Tom: You have the ... so, right now I'm talking to the kid's dad?
Big Bill: Yeah.
Tom: That I was just talking to?
Big Bill: Yeah.
Tom: Well, you have the same exact voice as your son.
Little Bill: Uh-uh. He doesn't sound anything like me.
Tom: Well, he does sound exactly like you.
Little Bill: No, I'm Little Bill now.
Tom: Well, who's .. what's that?!
Little Bill: This is Little Bill.
Tom: Who is?
Little Bill: Right now! I'm talking to you.
Little Bill: That was Big Bill ... earlier.
Tom: That was your dad just a second ago?
Big Bill: Seems like that voice modulator's fried your eardrums.
Tom: I'm really confused right now. Who am I talking to?
Big Bill: Big Bill, you munch.
Tom: This is ... Big Bill ... you're both ... you have the exact ... I can't tell either of you apart.
Little Bill: He is a munch.
Big Bill: Show some respect, you little munch.
Little Bill: What? What'd you say to me?
Big Bill: You heard what I said to you. You want a spanking?
Little Bill: You can't spank me.
Big Bill: Certainly can.
Little Bill: Says who?
Big Bill: I say so.
Little Bill: Oh yeah?
Big Bill: You don't talk to your father like that.
Tom: Are you guys done with your weird argument?
Little Bill: Hey, shut up!
Big Bill: You can't tell him to shut up! He's an adult.
Tom: And that was Big Bill yelling at Little Bill?
Big Bill: Exactly, yeah.
Little Bill: Hey, just for that, you can't use the Nightmare Machine next Halloween.
Tom: Mmm hmmm.
Little Bill: Yeah.
Big Bill: Come on! I love that thing.
Little Bill: No.
Big Bill: But I bought it for you!
Tom: Who bought it for who?
Big Bill: Big Bill.
Tom: Big Bill bought it for Little Bill.
Big Bill: Yeah.
Tom: So you're not gonna let him use it?
Little Bill: Well, it's mine now!
Tom: Whose is it now? It's Little Bill's now.
Little Bill: It's mine, yeah. Little Bill. Why?
Tom: Okay. I'm really struggling here.
Little Bill: Wha ... ha-how?
Tom: Because your voices are exactly the same.
Big Bill: They're nowhere near the same.
Tom: They are. Well, who just said that?! I don't know who said that!
Big Bill: Big Bill said that.
Big Bill: It's me.
Tom: Can you maybe say who you are before you say something?
Big Bill: Why?
Tom: So I can tell you apart.
Big Bill: Okay.
Tom: So ... you're not gonna let him use the Nightmare Machine now?
Little Bill: This is Little Bill. No.
Tom: It's Little ... so ... wait. Little Bill's not gonna let Big Bill use the Nightmare Machine?
Big Bill: This is Big Bill. Yeah, I love it. I ... uh ... I bought it for him and ... uh ... he liked it okay, but I really love it.
Little Bill: This is Little Bill.
Little Bill: He can't get enough of it. He loves having nightmares.
Tom: Mmm hmmm. Your dad does.
Big Bill: This is Big Bill. Yeah, I do.
Tom: Mmm hmmm. Wow. I'm ...
Big Bill: You are in such trouble.
Tom: Who's in trouble?
Big Bill: Little Bill is.
Little Bill: Your mother would blow a gasket if she heard you talkin' like that.
Big Bill: Why would your grandmother be upset with me for reprimanding you? You're my kid!
Tom: Um ... that's very confusing. Who just yelled at ... I don't even know. Little Bill just yelled at Big Bill, I think.
Big Bill: Yeah, Little Bill told me that my mom would be upset with me.
Tom: His grandmother.
Big Bill: Exactly. Yeah, yeah.
Tom: Mmm hmmm. Well that--
Little Bill: She thinks you have a horrendous temper and need to be stopped.
Big Bill: No, I don't.
Tom: Who has the temper?
Little Bill: Host, do I have a horrendous temper? This is Little Bill.
Tom: Little Bill wants ... I ... look, Little Bill, I don't--
Little Bill: I just don't want ... I don't want to inherit his bad temper.
Tom: Whose bad temper?
Little Bill: BIG BILL!
Tom:This is Big Bill or--
Little Bill: No! This is Little Bill! I was talking about Big Bill.
Tom: Talking about Big Bill. Okay.
Big Bill: This is Big Bill now.
Tom: Okay. Sorry, Big Bill. I'm thrown here.
Little Bill: You little creep. I'm gonna beat you.
Tom: Who just said that?
Little Bill: Little Bill.
Tom: Little Bill?! You're gonna beat your father?
Little Bill: No! I was talkin' to our dog, Mr. Sherbert.
Tom: (laughs) You're talking to ... okay, now the---
Big Bill: He just made water on the floor.
Tom: Okay, can we keep the dog out of it now?
Little Bill: Okay.
Tom: That's gonna ... it's hard ... I'm barely hanging on here. So.
Little Bill: You know what you're gonna be hanging on by?
Tom: Who just said that?
Little Bill: Little Bill.
Tom: Uh-huh. Okay.
Little Bill: You can't talk to an adult like that.
Tom: Thank you, Big Bill.
Little Bill: No, that was Little Bill. I was talking to myself.
Tom: (laughs) Oh, you're talking to yourself.
Little Bill: Yeah.
Little Bill: Yeah.
Tom: I'm sorry, Little Bill. You're very ... this is very confusing.
Big Bill: This is Big Bill now. I'm the one who's gonna kick your ... your bottom.
Tom: You're gonna fight me?
Big Bill: Yeah, you can't treat my son like that.
Tom: Well, I didn't treat your son like anything.
Big Bill: You sure did.
Tom: I did not.
Little Bill: You called me a name.
Tom: What name did I call you?
Little Bill: This is Little Bill.
Tom: Uh-huh. What name?
Little Bill: I think you know what you called me.
Tom: I have no idea what you're talking about.
Big Bill: You called him an F.
Tom: I ... I didn't--
Little Bill: Yes, you did call me that.
Tom: I didn't call anybody anything. Okay, and who said that?
Little Bill: Little Bill.
Tom: Mmm hmmm. Okay, so I'm gonna fight a child now?
Little Bill: Yeah.
Tom: Well, I'm not gonna fight a child.
Big Bill: I'm gonna smash you.
Tom: And who's that?
Big Bill: That was Big Bill.
Big Bill: I was talking to Mr. Sherbert. He made pudding on my desk.
Tom: (laughing) I can't tell you guys apart!
Big Bill: I'm gonna whip you.
Tom: And who's saying that?
Mr. Sherbert: That was Big Bill talking to you, host.
Tom: Okay, now ... so after you beat your dog you're gonna get me?
Mr. Sherbert: I'm in a belt-whipping league.
Tom: Uh-huh. You're in a belt-whipping ... okay.
Mr. Sherbert: Yeah.
Tom: Okay, and who's in the belt-whipping league?
Mr. Sherbert: Me, Mr. Sherbert.
Tom: (laughing) It's the ... that's not the dog!
Mr. Sherbert: I'm a dog.
Mr. Sherbert: Why?
Tom: I'm actually talking to the dog now?
Mr. Sherbert: Oh yeah. Yeah.
Tom: That's ridi ... the hardest thing ... I gotta say ...
Mr. Sherbert: Uh-huh.
Tom: The weirdest part of that is not that the dog is talking ...
Little Bill: Right.
Tom: The weirdest part is that the dog has the same voice as the other two. I'm not even questioning that the dog speaks English.
Little Bill: Oh, that's a whole thing that I was actually reading about in ... uh ... gosh, I feel like it was in The Atlantic?
Tom: Mmm hmmm.
Little Bill: Yeah.
Little Bill: About how ... uh ... animals take over their masters' traits and things?
Tom: Now who's reading that?
Little Bill: Little Bill.
Little Bill: Yeah.
Tom: And you were reading that about--
Mr. Sherbert: I don't like him reading that stuff. I think it warps his mind.
Tom: And who said that?
Mr. Sherbert: Mr. Sherbert.
Tom: (laughs quietly) Okay ...
Mr. Sherbert: Yeah.
Tom: Well, guys, that's a very ... you guys are going to have a very exciting Thanksgiving.
Mr. Sherbert: Can you please play some Aerosmith.
Tom: And who says ... is this Little Bill?
Mr. Sherbert: Mr. Sherbert.
Tom: So you like Aerosmith, too?
Mr. Sherbert: Yeah, it kinda puts me to sleep. I love that song "Dream On."
Tom: Also, Little Bill, how are you so ... such an Aerosmith fan?
Little Bill: What do you mean?
Tom: You were talkin' about Aerosmith ... it made me think you were older 'cause you're going on an on about Aerosmith ...
Little Bill: Oh ...
Tom: How you love the rhythm section and all that.
Little Bill: Yeah, I don't ... I don't really know who those fossils are, I just read it off the box.
Tom: The box of what?
Little Bill: Rock Band.
Tom: (chuckling) Oh ...
Little Bill: Yeah.
Tom: So you don't even know anything about the actual band. You just were reading the names of the band members off the box.
Little Bill: Yeah, but I do know when to press the buttons when the ... uh .. you know, it comes on the screen.
Little Bill: Yeah. That's the wave of the future.
Tom: It really is the wave of the future.
Little Bill: Oh yeah. Yeah. I love it.
Tom: Any chance you might get a real guitar, Little Bill?
Little Bill: I don't know. I'll have to ... uh ... I'll have to ask ... uh ... Big Bill.
Tom: Mmm hmmm.
Little Bill: Or Mr. Sherbert.
Mr. Sherbert: He's not getting a guitar. There's no way I'm gonna buy him a guitar.
Tom: Mmm hmmm. And who said that?
Mr. Sherbert: Big Bill.
Mr. Sherbert: (chuckles) No, it was Mr. Sherbert.
Tom: Oh, so now Mr. Sherbert's lying about who he is.
Mr. Sherbert: It's just pranks!
Big Bill: Yeah. He loves to pull pranks
Tom: Who does?
Big Bill: Mr. Sherbert. This is Big Bill.
Tom: This is Big ... okay.
Big Bill: Yeah.
Big Bill: What is wrong with you?!
Big Bill: You.
Big Bill: No, Mr. Sherbert. He's just being very odd tonight.
Big Bill: Yeah.
Little Bill: So are you.
Little Bill: Little Bill.
Tom: Little Bill's being odd also.
Little Bill: No, I'm Little Bill. I was saying it to Big Bill. Geez, I don't know how much more of you I can take.
Tom: Oh, you're right guys. I'm sorr--
Little Bill: Yeah.
Tom: I apologize.
Little Bill: I wasn't talking to you, host.
Tom: Oh. Okay!
Little Bill: I was talking to Little Bill.
Tom: And who ... who ... who was talking ... who said it talking about Little Bill?
Little Bill: Big Bill.
Little Bill: No, it was Little Bill. I was talking about myself.
Tom: I can't ... follow this anymore.
Big Bill: You ... it sounds like you need some coffee.
Big Bill: Mr. Sherbert.
Tom: Mr. Sherbert needs coffee?
Big Bill: He loves coffee.
Tom: Dogs aren't supposed to drink coffee.
Big Bill: It has the opposite effect.
Tom: On what, a dog?
Big Bill: On me. This is Big Bill.
Big Bill: Yeah. It doesn't make me, you know, jumpy. It kinda cools me out for some reason.
Mr. Sherbert:: Yeah. I don't know, I just have this ... uh ... I don't know what it is. It's almost like, you know how they give ... uh ... how they give kids like Ritalin, and that ... they're already hyper, but somehow this has a calming effect ...
Tom: Mmm hmmm.
Mr. Sherbert: ... in the hyper kid, but it has the opposite effect in like a non-hyper person? It makes them more hyper.
Tom: Mmm hmmm.
Mr. Sherbert: Yeah.
Tom: Who just said that?
Mr. Sherbert: Mr. Sherbert.
Tom: Okay. Hey, guys, I'm gonna ... uh ... I'm gonna wish you a Happy Thanksgiving.
Big Bill: Oh, you, too. Okay. I'm still gonna whip you.
Tom: Who is?
Big Bill: Big Bill's gonna whip you.
Big Bill: No, Big Bill's gonna whip Mr. Sherbert because there's more ... uh ... pudding.
Big Bill: Yeah.
Little Bill: You're so bad.
Tom: Mr. Sherbert is?
Little Bill: No. That was Little Bill. I was talking to Big Bill.
Little Bill: Yeah.
Tom: Well. You guys ... it sounds like you've got your ... uh ... I think you've got it all figured out.
Big Bill: Oh, we definitely do!
Little Bill: Yeah.
Tom: Mmm hmmm.
Mr. Sherbert: Alright, Big Bill, Little Bill, let's go for a walk. (hangs up)
Tom instructs Mike to take out the "Banned For Life" pad and add these three names to its pages: Big Bill, Little Bill, and Mr. Sherbert. Mike asks Tom how he will be able to tell which member of the forbidden trio is attempting to call. Tom whispers that he seriously needs to get rid of Mike because he's gone from funny to just troubling. He thinks the misbehavior is particularly unsettling around the holidays when everyone wants to focus on positive thoughts.
43 SECONDS TO JOHN HODGMAN LAUNCH!!!
Tom makes good on his recent pledge to book more smart people by welcoming human beatboxer John Hodgman to the studio. Tom knows that he could do phoners all the live long day (or at least two per show) with guests like "a woman" or Frank Miller during his promotional tour for The Spirit. However, he only invites the cream of the crop to make the trek to Jersey City for a face-to-face chat. Hodgman says he wouldn't miss this thrilling opportunity for the world. Tom assumes that most people are tuned into his work in 2008, but Hodgman believes he still eludes a sizable portion of the public. Tom points out that he's achieved a roof-busting Q-rating with The Best Show audience, who recognize him as their mayor. He provides some highlights from Hodgman's impressive resume for any stragglers/undecideds: The Daily Show with Jon Stewart ("Resident Expert"), the "Get a Mac" advertising campaign ("Personal Computer"), and successful author of two hilarious books. Hodgman doubts that anyone celebrates his publishing career. Tom is momentarily scared by the sudden disappearance of his apple juice. Hodgman quickly locates the beverage and observes that Tom is a little jumpy. Tom considers Who Moved My Apple Juice as the title of his hotly-anticipated debut book. Hodgman thinks it would work well.
He bets that Frank Miller would be willing to come down, but Tom isn't really interested in talking about 300. Hodgman recalls interviewing the affable Miller on 9/10/01 at The Algonquin Hotel for his one Maxim piece. He only accepted the laddie mag assignment to get the chance to meet the comic writer/artist. Tom wonders if he was transcribing the recording when he heard about the terrorist attacks. Hodgman says that when he woke up the next morning he decided to focus on tearing his hair out while the ground shook. He shared a couple of beers with Miller during the course of a wonderful conversation that touched on the controversial Batman: The Dark Knight Strikes Again mini-series, which began its run two months later. Hodgman says Miller was a lovely guy who spent a lot of time with someone assigned to write a mere 250 words about him. He admits that he weaseled his way into Miller's life much like he weaseled his way into Tom's life tonight. Tom floats the possibility that he set a trap, and Hodgman wonders if one of them is a rat. Tom ultimately determines that both parties are guilty of some degree of weaseling.
Hodgman says the events of 9/11 where initially unnerving because he had been re-reading the original Batman: The Dark Knight Returns, which includes a dramatic moment where Commissioner Gordon looks up to see a plane crashing into a Gotham skyscraper. A friend called to rouse him from bed to turn on the television. Hodgman then contemplated the strange coincidence of Miller's 1986 work mirroring the live images prior to realizing that the world was coming to an end. He and Tom reenact the spirit of this moment:
JH: "I wonder if Miller's watching this?!"
TS: "Miller, you did it again!"
Two days later Hodgman tried to regain some level of normalcy by doing the last thing society required of him: transcribing the Frank Miller interview. He forced himself to sit at his desk and pound out the words with his bear paws due to the loss of fine motor functions. Halfway through the interview Miller correctly predicted that fans were going to tear him apart for returning to the Dark Knight. Hodgman declines to comment on whether the negative reaction was justified. Miller said he knew this book was his "suicide mission." Hodgman could no longer handle listening to the detached voice. He called Miller, a new resident of NYC, to seek the solace of human interaction. Miller told him that all he could do was ink, just as Hodgman could only transcribe.
Tom salutes these sturdy professionals because he was in the parking lot of a Trader Joe's stuffing his face with an entire cheesecake. Hodgman laughs at this coping option, but he doesn't' blame Tom for the indulgence. He clarifies that this particular feast was 9/11-inspired and not one of Tom's standard snacks. Tom says he was definitely trying to block out the world. Hodgman says that eating an entire cheesecake while inside a car is a foreign experience since he usually doesn't go for sweets. However, he did enjoy munching on one of the delightful and savory gingerbread men that Tom brought from Au Bon Pah. Hodgman asks Tom if he used utensils on a cake already sliced into wedges.
Tom describes a much more primal scene where he ripped out chunks from the unblemished round like a neander-tall in an attempt to stave off the apocalypse. He had to eat that thing to numb the pain. Hodgman wonders if Tom attacked the cake from the outside and then worked his way to the center. Tom says he can't remember his exact eating pattern, but it definitely wasn't a clean spiral like a mouse buzzing around the perimeter. Hodgman thinks Tom has to agree that his question was reasonable. Tom says it was fair enough. Hodgman apologizes for bringing Tom down with the 9/11 tangent instead of what he'd really love to talk about: Jonestown. Tom scolds Mike for influencing the guest. Hodgman is pleased that Tom is plugging his book, but he can't let the anniversary slip by without a proper tribute. He changes his mind because the incident is awful.
Tom says he loved AoME, but MITYR, released this past October, mops the ground up with it. Hodgman thinks Tom has gone too far. Tom insists that he is speaking the truth. Hodgman tells Tom that he doesn't have to lavish him with exaggerated praise just because he's in the studio. Tom recommends that Hodgman confirm his fandom with Omar, the official transcribore for The Best Show. Hodgman speculates that Tom has stowed this scrivener in a monastery in upstate New York to illuminate every word in a manuscript. Tom mentions that Omar is also helping with the Georgia battle to oust incumbent cretin Saxby Chambliss in his 12/2 runoff election against Democratic challenger Jim Martin. Hodgman approves of the effort and wonders how it's going. Tom says Omar's last correspondence cited polls showing the race narrowing to a 2-point lead for Chambliss.
Tom reports laughing 1,001 times while reading MITYR, and Hodgman questions the tally since the book is only 368 pages. Tom says it's packed (2.72/page) with jokes, but not like an overstuffed Milton Berle collection. Hodgman wishes he had released something in that format. Tom mentions the three-inch-thick Berle jokebook that's divided into categories for easy reference. It has a section called "Democrats," but goes silent on "Republicans." Tom is disappointed that Berle couldn't even toss a few barbs at the other side in his unfair and unbalanced anthology. He does praise Berle for a tech-savvy "joke" about faxes that is essentially a mother's lament:
"I don't talk to my son anymore. He doesn't call, he doesn't write, he doesn't fax."
Tom is convinced it was ghost-written, but Hodgman, who often farms out his projects, detects the feel of an Uncle Miltie original. He employs a staff of very fine writers stationed in Grenada to write his books for him. Hodgman says that he pays them very well to ensure quality product like MITYR. He thinks the fax joke is definitely something an aging gentleman would craft upon discovering the newfangled invention the early- to mid-1990s. Hodgman concludes that either Berle penned it or his writers are very good at adopting his voice. If he was paid by Berle, he would want to deliver funny material instead of this humorless statement.
While Tom doesn't see any workable context for this DOA quip to thrive, Hodgman suggests a nightclub. Tom says it would have to be a nightclub known for booking mothers who complain about incommunicative children and then tap the microphone to make sure the silent crowd can hear them. He now realizes that the horror of this non-joke is affecting the show. Hodgman wonders if Berle wrote it with the intention of poisoning future generations. Tom compares Berle's feat to the bodyjumping in The Hidden , starring Kyle MacLachlan and Michael Nouri. He once asked MacLachlan when The Hidden was coming out on DVD, and the actor was unable to provide a street date.
Hodgman tells the short version of one of his own encounters with a celebrity -- Hancock director Peter Berg. Since Apple puts him up in first class when he flies out for the "Get a Mac" shoots, he often spots famous people like Loni Anderson, the female lead in Tom's joyspace. Hodgman was reluctant to bother Berg as they sat on the tarmac during a 2.5-hour delay. He was freaking out about the prospects of boredom because he didn't think he would need much reading material on a cross-country flight. Berg then reached into his knapsack and came up with a copy of Frank Herbert's Dune. Hodgman was amazed that he pulled the perfect science-fiction tome for the situation. Berg looked at him and smiled.
"Do you want one? I got two copies," he said
Hodgman couldn't resist asking him why he was traveling with two copies. Berg said he was thinking about a movie adaptation. Tom admires his ambition, but doesn't understand how the extra book moves him closer to a greenlight. He wonders if a printing error left a key page blank in the original. Hodgman says there was no real explanation for it. He and the very nice Berg ended up having drinks and talking about life. Berg, who was plotting a move, asked Hodgman about NYC apartment locations and the suitability of Brooklyn for raising kids. Hodgman says their lives dramatically diverged when Berg inquired about whether the borough could also satisfy him when he woke up at 2 a.m. and really wanted to meet a woman. He was unable to advise Berg regarding this quest beyond directing him to the Battery Tunnel. Hodgman is a proud nerd who's been married for nine years to a woman he dated for 10 years. While he can talk about Dune all day long, he doesn't know how to meet a lady in any city. Tom addresses the ladies in the audience to emphasize that Hodgman is off the market.
He observes that Hodgman put more of himself (e.g., the unabridged Berg story) into the new book compared to the first satirical almanac. Hodgman says he did talk about his status as a former professional literary agent and magazine writer in AoME, but it was indeed mostly fake trivia nuggets like the nine Presidents who had hooks for hands and the great hobo uprising. He weaved himself into MITYR after his life changed dramatically in the period following the first book. (Hodgman reprimands and strikes the terrible WFMU microphone.) In AoME, he made jokes about a TV and movie career modeled after George Plimpton, who popped up as Noah Wyle's grandfather in ER and a ballyhoo-averse psychologist in Good Will Hunting. Hodgman claimed he played a literary agent in The Muppet Movie and served as the USS Alabama's creative writing consultant in Crimson Tide. He tried to write jokes from that same outsider, tweedy literary guy POV, but he now had to acknowledge becoming a famous minor television personality. The most insane thing in the first book was now a semi-regular part of his life as previously disparate worlds folded in on each other. Hodgman says he became acutely aware of his pop culture capital during an eye-opening trip to the Apple Store.
When he walked into the popular boutique to buy a product, patrons and employees treated him to a reception that he believes is similar to the one experienced and endured by actual celebrities. Hodgman found himself in a rarefied environment, much like cult favorite Bruce Campbell (Maniac Cop, Waxwork II: Lost in Time, Fargo) grooving his way onto a horror convention floor. BC is the biggest star in the world to his adoring fans, but a relative nobody while milling around the lobby of the venue. The Apple Store was like a surreal John Hodgman Convention -- people clamored for autographs and cell-phone pictures as a giant image of "Mr. PC" appeared on the in-store screens. Hodgman says he felt like a mascot in a theme park, especially since he was wearing a giant plastic head of himself to retain his anonymity. Tom confirms that Hodgman removed the headgear to fit through the front of the WFMU building. The discarded disguise is now blocking the studio door to prevent a Mike intrusion. Hodgman concluded that the crazy fake trivia now seemed kind of boring compared to the real worldy stuff, although MITYR contains enough to keep titans like Kip Palfner buzzing for hours. He offers to read a classic playground rhyme about Jonestown later in the program. (A chair falls and doors start opening and closing on their own accord. Hodgman believes the studio is haunted by poltergeists.) The bottom line: Hodgman struggled to make fiction as strange as reality. Tom thinks he found the perfect balance.
He suspects that a guy two spots away from his iPod check-up was annoyed by Hodgman's screen presence. Hodgman deals with his detractors by wielding his Apple Store power like a monster, reversing the hierarchies by booting the on-deck hopeful to the back of the line. Tom asks him if he's equipped with one of the belt-based registers. Hodgman says he constantly walks around with the devices. Tom thinks those were a great idea because the Apple Store experience wasn't quite unsettling enough for him. He's pleased that it morphed into an "un-store" without a central location for completing transactions that yield receipts printed on paper. Hodgman wonders if Tom has stepped inside one of the Sensory Deprivation Tanks or joined the utopian commune located behind the Genius Bar. He also points out that you can sign up for the Biosphere Project to live with the Geniuses and a lot of spider monkeys. Tom predicts that a Genius-run biosphere would malfunction within three hours.
Hodgman says he's always received sterling service at the Genius Bar. Tom knows they are trying hard in their t-shirts. Hodgman offers to talk to some people if Tom is really having unpleasant Apple Store visits. Tom says that while he likes the overall experience, he's unnerved by having to hunt down the belt brigade in lieu of a stationary front end. Hodgman wonders if Tom longs for a wooden counter with an old-timey cash register adjacent to jars of hard candies on a shelf with a rolling ladder. He thinks Tom is confusing the Apple Store with TEKSERVE. Hodgman makes it clear that he's a fan of both and loves being part of the "Get a Mac" campaign. Tom salutes him for being awesome at this campaigning.
Hodgman says that about 40 of the 80 filmed spots have aired over in the past three years, and he touts his foreign counterparts: Mitchell & Webb in the UK and Katagiri & Kobayashi (from the comedy troupe Rahmens) in Japan. Hodgman explains that Apple had to hire a British duo because he and co-star Justin Long ("Macintosh Computer") don't speak English. Tom asks Hodgman if he was insulted by the antagonistic Microsoft commercials where he was played by a sweaty, 300+-pound mutant claiming to be a PC stereotype. Hodgman laughed it off, but he was a little threatened by the Bill Gates/Jerry Seinfeld chemistry by the end of their second (and last) Windows Vista effort. Tom says he checked out when they were in the shoe store in the first one. He asks Hodgman if Seinfeld managed to plug Bee Movie in the sequel. Tom suspects that the billionaire secretly lost all his money and was counting on Bee Movie profits to bring him all the way back.
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Hodgman says he can't even begin to speculate on what goes on inside Seinfeld's brain because it doesn't operate on the same planet. Tom agrees that if you have a garage full of cars in Manhattan, you have separated yourself from the rest of humanity. Hodgman loves driving around in his 15 ATVs (several of which are tricked out), including a Batmobile replica with four wheels to provide greater balance. He stores them in his garage in Park Slope (he kicked out all the previous occupants) so he can remain a Man of the People. In addition to the less ritzy location, the open ATV design allows Hodgman to interact with fellow humans when he's zipping down 7th Avenue doing errands like triple-parking in front of Junior's to buy a pure, non-swirled cheesecake. Hodgman says the eatery encourages the vehicular protrusions because Flatbush Avenue is usually barren. Tom recalls having to drive on the opposite sidewalk to squeeze down the road. After returning to his ATV, Hodgman kicks back his helmet and reaches into the box to prepare for battle. He then takes a big handful from the middle of the cake and starts shoveling it in. Hodgman says his full facemask helmet prevents him from dropping his chin enough to really see what he's grabbing. However, he does raise his hand to the facehole to verify that it does indeed contain cheesecake (i.e., not wax paper) before eating it. Hodgman washes it down with a couple of espresso shots and drives the wrong way on the BQE if he's really hyped up.
Tom considers purchasing an All-Terrain Vehicle because his current ride is too low-rent. Hodgman guesses that he rolls around on a Segway PT, but it's a hybrid Honda Civic. He appreciates that Tom went green -- four or five of his ATVs are hybrids. Tom downplays the green factor because the battery will rot for 800 years after it dies. Hodgman points out that Tom is spurring job growth because Chinese children will attend to it. Tom prefers to keep the money at home by hiring American kids to babysit the rotting batteries. Hodgman believes that American children have the greatest work ethic in the world, but the insane labor laws are preventing them from cleaning smokestacks. He blames the pesky labor unions for bankrupting the Detroit auto industry and the economy at large. No wonder Mellow Grove, Inc. had a record-setting quarter with sales of "Farm Fresh" auto parts up 37%. Analysts said increasing profit margins were largely due to "non-existent wages."
Tom says that at age 12 he was already grinding it out at two jobs: a 6 a.m. paper route weekday mornings and busing at the Sunset Diner on weekends. He now only returns to the diner to warn the new crop of pre-teens to get out while they can. Hodgman wonders if Tom was trying to save up money for a bus ticket out of town. Tom has no idea where all the paychecks went. (One word: fudge.) Hodgman has trouble fully grasping what would compel a young boy to volunteer for this work schedule. Tom says his internal drive guided him to the early-morning bike rides and tableside clean-em-ups . Hodgman relates to this because he went to work as soon as he could during his 1980s youth in Brookline, MA. He moved pallets and unloaded skids in the stock room at Conran's, a fancy Williams-Sonoma-type store on Exeter St., and enjoyed drinking coffee on the loading dock. Tom asks him if the older co-workers taught him how to drink this adult beverage. Hodgman says they taught him how to not ever want to have a job in a stock room as an adult. Tom says he received the same life lessons at the diner, but he stayed there for years.
Hodgman says that he knew it was over for him after the heartbreak of leaving his Limited Edition Keith Haring-designed Swatch on the loading dock. It vanished within five minutes, although he does not suspect any of his fellow stock room boys since they were art school nerds who would respect such a prized item. Hodgman realized that this wasn't the life for kids who watched Dr. Who and wore Pop Art timepieces. He vowed to get a job at a local video store. Tom begs Hodgman to help get him escape the world of freeform radio. Hodgman accuses Tom of buttering him up about his new book as preparation for his final run to the Sunset dish station. Tom admits that he has not read MITYR. Hodgman agrees to call up the Rich & Famous helicopter to airlift them to a better life.
Tom resets like a radio professional and discovers that Hodgman is published by Charles S. Dutton Books. Dutton self-released his autobiography I Am The True Roc in the mid-1990s and, after seeing some strong sales figures, decided to keep the presses rolling with a tell-all about his experience working with David Fincher on Alien3. The veteran actor then expanded the imprint by reaching out to other authors. Tom points listeners to Hodgman's primary website, as well as the redirecting bookoflists2.com. Hodgman says that The Book of Lists (1977) was a huge inspiration to him as a child and valuable source material for AoME. The 1980 sequel inspired the proposal for MITYR: more of the same but twice as long. Since the trivia writing family (the maybe-dead Irving Wallace + his children Amy Wallace and David Wallechinsky) failed to register the domain, Hodgman decided to grab it.
Tom is reluctant to broadcast his desired URL because it would be snapped up in seconds by a listener. He writes it down and slides it over to Hodgman, who actually registered it earlier today. Tom checks the site and finds no evidence of this cyber-squatting. Hodgman assures him that he's at the front of every line. Tom is ready to take some calls before letting Hodgman read an excerpt from his work. Hodgman says he'll do it only if necessary because he's tired from a monthlong book tour that left him looking like 10 miles of bad road. He's been having a "wonderful" time meeting people at readings, but tonight he just wants to chat with his friend, Tom Scharpling, and the radio audience. However, he says that he'd be delighted to read the H-Man's Facebook updates before he leaves.
- Bob (not that Bob) held on for 20 minutes to get some help with his fledgling and unglamorous career as a comedy writer. He's a huge Hodgman fan and bought copies of his book for all his friends. Hodgman wants to know whether it was AoME or MITYR, but Bob doesn't hear him. He decides the petty query is not worth repeating. Tom suspects that Bob is Canadian based on his "comb-edy" pronunciation. Bob claims to be from Ohio, and Hodgman offers his primary piece of advice: Get Canadian ASAP. Bob requests some additional comb-edy guidance before he gives up and takes his own life. Hodgman also detects a Canadian accent and asks Bob to repeat "comedy." Tom asks for a reading of "sorry." Bob says "sore-y" to mess with them. He is indeed an American.
In a nutshell, Bob wants to secure an agent and/or borrow some of Hodgman's popularity. Hodgman wonders if he can get to Jersey City in time to board the R&F helicopter. Bob says he'll be there in 30 seconds, but he'll need assistance climbing the rope ladder due to a lack of upper-body strength. Hodgman doesn't recognize Bob's town of Kent, Ohio, until the aspiring scribe reminds him that people were shot there. He and Tom have a shockingly positive response to the Ohio National Guard's 1970 mayhem:
JH: "Oh! Oh, okay. Very good."
TS: "That was very good. Dirty hippies."
Bob, who has not been gunned down, is a graduate student and does a lot of Internet comb-edy writing. He used to write for the school newspaper, but he parted ways due to creative differences over his use of jokes. Hodgman wonders if he was trying to insert laffs into non-comedic news stories and restaurant reviews. Bob says he signed on to do a comb-edy column, but the editors thought jokes would hurt people's feelings. Tom announces that he is very close to hanging up on Bob for continuing to say "comb-edy." Bob, 26, hopes comb-edy will rescue him from the life of a perpetual grad student, living in a cold, cheap apartment, heating up frozen burritos in a filthy oven. Hodgman doesn't believe any of this sob story.
Tom wants to know where Bob would be if he could press a button and live his fontasy. Bob says he'd be a TV writer, and Hodgman wants to know why. Bob says he's mainly looking to earn a living wage and envisions Hodgman as a potential Oprah-like figure with the launch of The John Hodgman Charity Fund for Struggling Comedy Writers. Hodgman recommends that Bob focus on finding his voice on the Internet instead of rushing into a staff writing job. Tom just wants Bob to take his lumps. While Hodgman thinks Tom is being a bit harsh, he doesn't disagree with the sentiment. He wants Bob to develop his sense of humor by embracing the fun of freedom online, in print, or on the stand-up and improv stages. Hodgman warns that writing jokes becomes work when you start getting pizz-aid. He asks Bob if he thinks he's being compensated for tonight's appearance. Bob doubts it. Hodgman informs Bob that he was paid $1,000 and tells him to write a book of fake trivia.
Tom knows that he sounded angry when he initially called for Bob to take lumps, so he tones down the same advice. However, Hodgman thinks this version sounds wrathful and more frightening. Bob asks Tom how many years of lumptaking he should endure. Tom says "the fates" will tell him when his relentless beatings will cease and finally yield some opportunities. Bob thinks that sounds fair. Hodgman tells Bob that he could get any kind of job, but he could also do the greatest comedy of his life for $0. Tom says that Bob should approach it like WAR -- a battle to the death with Hodgman as the enemy. He wants Bob to cut out his picture from the cover of MITYR as motivation. Hodgman fears that he's become the new M. Berle, telling the Bobs of the world to pen fax jokes so they will fail. Tom believes that Bob reasonably hates Hodgman for getting through the door. Bob asks Hodgman if he can rip him off to become the Canadian John Hodgeman from Kent, Ohio. Hodgman loves the idea of a hilarious doppelganger. Tom tells Bob to hang in there and keep fighting. Hodgman wishes him luck, but Tom already hung up.
- Ernest from Teaneck, NJ (aka God's country) calls to ask Hodgman if it's awkward to get recognized more in public while promoting the new book. Hodgman says it's very unusual and surreal to be approached by strangers who want to hug him. In fact, he had to ban hugs at a book signing in Seattle when a meme got started in the line. Hodgman shut it down with 25 people to go because he was getting manhandled by forceful and occasionally damp embraces. While the fans were initially angry, they got used to the new policy. Hodgman even denied a hug to Janice, his Seattle-based equivalent of a Supercaller, although he did kiss her hand because she's beautiful. Hodgman says that getting sick and bruised in Seattle would have been problematic for the rest of the tour.
In general, Hodgman thinks it's wonderful that people want to show him affection. He knows that these encounters are part of the transaction he's made by being more visible. Ernest asks him if he prefers it when people don't recognize him. Hodgman says that he doesn't try to control the whole world around him. Tom scolds Ernest for not reading MITYR, which includes Hodgman's take on this. Earnest says that he does have the first book. Hodgman points out that there is no reading requirement for calling the show. Tom thought it was implied. Hodgman summarizes the anecdote in which he wondered if any of his fellow passengers had a television. He admits that he does get a little depressed if nobody says anything. Ernest reveals that he spotted Hodgman a month ago on the E Train. Hodgman had a feeling this would soon turn creepy. Ernest didn't say anything when Hodgman got on around 1 p.m. at the 34th Street stop. Hodgman now remembers Ernest.
- Top-Notch Caller Samir in Florida says he loved the first book and has the second one ready to go. Since he's a law student, he still has two more weeks before he can read anything enjoyable. Hodgman thinks it's classy to even claim to own the book. Samir asks Hodgman about his small role in the upcoming Ricky Gervais film, This Side of the Truth, which also features Louis C.K. Hodgman says the opportunity resulted from interviewing Gervais on stage for The New York Times' "Sunday with The Magazine" series. At this time Hodgman had appeared on The Daily Show and was still working as a magazine writer to weasel his way into the lives of people he liked and admired. He always hopes that these people will adopt him as their best friend, but it has never happened. However, Hodgman and Gervais did keep in touch via e-mail. He says that the extremely gracious Gervais will laugh at anything you say because he has very indiscriminate taste about humour. Samir points out that Gervais also has a very distinctive and robust laugh. Hodgman describes it as a high-pitched cackling that hurts the ears.
He says that Gervais, unlike many of his industry brethren, was able to develop into a real human being with a strong sense of friendship and loyalty because he achieved worldwide renown late in life. (He was 40 when The Office premiered in 2001.) Gervais, who is not a creature of pure ego, genuinely admires the work of others and enjoys helping people. Hodgman considers himself lucky to have been in his sights the day he wanted to help someone. He says the backstory of TSotT provides a great example of the generosity of Gervais. After wading through countless scripts for his directorial consideration, he got one from a young writer named Matt Robinson. He loved the script so much that he called his agent to say that he wanted Robinson to co-direct it with him. Tom compares this arrangment to Frank Miller co-directing Sin City with the frugal, jack-of-all-trades Robert Rodriguez. Hodgman doesn't quite see the parallel. Tom insists that it's there.
Samir suggests that Hodgman could end up interviewing Matt Robinson for his big return to the pages of Maxim. Hodgman confirms that Robinson is also a very nice guy who joined him for a screening of Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull after his day of shooting. He laments that it kind of ruined an otherwise delightful experience. Hodgman is horrified to discover that Tom is a fan of the film. Tom assures him that he was joking. Hodgman says that he's sorry the results were not better because there were a lot of very talented people working on the movie. Samir, who also thought it was horrible, forgives him for the subpar effort. Hodgman is baffled by the absolution. Samir lives up to his advance billing by getting him. Hodgman asks Tom if he has a button to mute his impending cough. Tom does have such a button, but he waits until after Hodgman coughs to find out when he should press it. Hodgman responds to this mishap by performing the punchline of the Milton Berle fax joke. Mike presents a dud call on Line 4 because he's too busy touching the giant Hodgman head to to properly screen.
- Joe calls from Seattle, so Hodgman wonders if this is a gentlemen he has hugged. Joe says he did not attend the affectionate local event and has not read any of Hodgman's work. He's now a convert and plans to run out soon to buy the books. Hodgman says the nice thing about his books is that a purchase eliminates any obligation to actually read them. The owner can simply stick them on a shelf to complete the experience. Tom recommends displaying them in a prominent place as a way to alert guests to Joe's true character. If someone asks about the Hodgman collection, he can just point and laugh.
Joe says that he found out that Hodgman was a Yale graduate while perusing his Wikipedia page. Hodgman confirms the accuracy of his educational background and all other information on his Wiki. Joe doesn't want to broach any touchy subjects, but he wonders if Hodgman has any experience with the infamous Skull and Bones. He suspects that it may be a mythical organization. Hodgman jokingly asks Tom to explain that he has left the room in a huff. He says that he was never a member of any of the campus secret societies or a cappella singing groups. Hodgman regrets sitting them out because he really wanted to at least get a glimpse inside the enormous, windowless, ornate clubhouses. He mentions that the buildings were designed by the private architect of the Vanderbilt family in the early 20th Century. Hodgman says he was was very excited when he was eventually invited to a party at one of these library-like structures. Tom's phone interrupts the New Haven memories, and Hodgman threatens to confiscate the noisemaker until June 2009. Tom blames the constant sing-song on some weisenheimer in the studio. Hodgman lets it slide because it wasn't a great story anyway.
Tom apologizes to Hodgman and Joe for derailing their discussion of Yale's underbelly. Hodgman promises to update his Wikipedia page to address this matter. Tom says he's very embarrassed and "in the flesh" about the cellular chirps. He borrowed the phrase from actor Willie Ames (Eight Is Enough, Zapped!) on an episode of Celebrity Fit Club. Aames uttered it in response to a surprise visit from Drill Sergeant Henry Walden IV for failing to make his target weight for the week. Aames proceeded to slam doors, yell, and squirt Walden with a garden hose. Hodgman asks Tom what it means. Tom says he's researched its origin, but it appears to be some kind of mysterious Aamesism.
- Pat from Buffalo, NY, says that he gave MITYR to his girlfriend in early November for her birthday. He's not sure if she read it, and Hodgman questions whether Pat has actually met his supposed girlfriend. Tom asks Hodgman if he considers sharing books to be an act of theft. Hodgman accepts it as staple of book culture, although he is very angry at libraries for granting children free access to his work and, thus, taking food off his table. He ultimately approves multi-reader gifts as part of the art of enjoying and/or getting rid of books.
Tom says that someone offered to lend him Artie Lange's Too Fat to Fish when they were done reading it. He's almost bought the drug-addled comic's memoir to prove he could afford his own copy. However, he was scared off by the back cover photo: Mr. Lange amidst a bevy of male dancers (actually the Queer Eye crew!) with a bathroom-graffiti-font promise to explain the homosexual scenario in his follow-up book. Tom thanks Lange for convincing him to not even bother checking the flap for the price. Hodgman plans to buy a used copy at Goodwill. Tom thinks Too Fat to Fish would make a great Christmas present, especially if it was wrapped upside down to greet the giftee with a special holiday message. Hodgman says that he's happy Pat bought the book for his girlfriend, if she does exist, and he dismisses any criminal charges. Pat admits to reading books prior giving them as gifts, but he didn't have time in this case.
- Brad out in Sciencebridge says he missed most of the show, but he wanted to make sure he wasn't too late for the special John Hodgman edition of "Pigskin Picks," his favorite Best Show segment. Tom tells Brad that he's in luck. Hodgman, who is known as a rabid sports fan, oddly pretends that he has no idea what this entails. Tom explains that it's a weekly blitz of NFL predictions. Hodgman is reluctant to take part because he doesn't even know the rules of football. Brad convinces him to give it a shot with Tom providing some additional guidance. Tom gives Brad the go-ahead to run through the key games.
1. Cardinals at Eagles (Thursday)
Brad knows that longtime Eagles QB Donovan McNabb was benched at halftime of last week's horrible loss to the Baltimore Ravens, but head coach Andy Reid did re-install him as the starter for this Turkey Night tussle. His main question is this: Can McNabb, whose terrible two-week run also includes not knowing the overtime rules in a tie with the pathetic Bengals, pull it together and return to top form? Tom signals the end of the Donovan McNabb era in Philadelphia. Brad asks Mr. Hodgkins for a second opinion. Hodgkins decides to keep things interesting by taking the opposite position because what Tom said is wrong. Brad thinks that's perfect. He plans to weigh these differing views before locking in his final pick.
RESULT: Eagles 48 Cardinals 20
2. Steelers vs. Patriots [Line: PITT -1.5]
Brad mentions that Patriots QB Matt Cassel is racking up huge yardage as a surprisingly able replacement for the injured Tom Brady. He wants to know if the Pats can continue to do it with their perennial MVP stuck on the sidelines. Hodgman asks for some clarification about what exactly the team will or will not do. Brad says he's asking him if the Patriots will win the football game. Hodgman is certain that they can do it. Brad is glad to hear that because he's really feeling the Pats in this one.
RESULT: Steelers 33 Patriots 10
It's time for ... Quick Blasts®!
1. Saints at Buccaneers
Hodgman asks Brad what he means by "at." Brad explains that the New Orleans Saints will travel to Tampa Bay to compete in this divisional showdown. He begins to express some doubt about whether Hodgman has seen any sporting events. A confused Hodgman wonders if Tampa Bay is a second opponent and confirms that the sport being discussed involves an oblong ball with laces. Brad notes that a baseball also has laces. Hodgman asks Brad if "Saints at Buccaneers vs. Tampa" is the correct description of the game in question. Brad says that the Saints are a team who will play on the field of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Hodgman assumes that the home team is comprised of some kind of pirates. Brad says they have a pirate logo on their helmet.
Hodgman takes this opportunity to offer a brief lesson on the origin of the term "buccaneers." He says that natives of the Caribbean, where the art of barbecue was first perfected, roasted pigs to create a dish they called boucan. Brad points out that Caribbeans also perfected the art of reggae. Hodgman agrees that this musical innovation was concurrent with the barbecue revolution. He continues to say that privateers and pirates would devour the meat when they passed through the islands. The penchant for this regional cuisine branded the seafarers as boucaniers, which British colonists later anglicized to name of the Tampa Bay football unit. Brad thinks it's amazing that pigs played an important etymological role during a segment called "Pigskin Picks." Hodgman seems to get a kick out of the enveloping circles and picks the Buccaneers in five innings.
RESULT: Bucs 23 Saints 20
2. Chiefs at Oakland
Hodgman obviously picks the Chief, and Tom agrees.
RESULT: Chiefs 20 Raiders 13
At this point Tom asks Brad how much money he bets on each game. Brad says he puts $2,000 down. Tom wants to make sure that Brad conducts his own research instead of simply relying on John Hodgman's input. Brad says he's putting his trust in Hodgman because he's famous. Hodgman thinks this strategy makes a lot of sense. Brad knows it does.
3. Bears at Vikings
Hodgman wants to know if the visitors are actual bears. Brad reports that some of the players are pretty hairy. Hodgman selects the Vikings because they discovered North America. Tom goes with the Bears for unspecified reasons. The split vote stumps Brad. Hodgman pushes the Vikings again, and Brad sticks with the more famous panelist.
RESULT: Vikings 34 Bears 14
Brad is very happy with the feedback on this week's slate and expects to be loaded come Monday. He's confident enough to increase his bet on the last game to $10,000. Brad giggles after revealing that he lacks the funds to back the substantial outlay. Hodgman doesn't think this is a wise financial risk, but Brad thinks it's fun. Hodgman points out that it could trigger a catastrophic life event if he loses. He asks Brad if he's independently wealthy. Brad responds with a "God, no" because he earns a modest living picking up broken bottle caps at the factory in Sciencebridge. Tom correctly assumes that this is very much an entry-level position. Brad says that his boss is a 14-year-old boy. Hodgman wonders if Brad collects plastic caps or the old metal caps usually reserved for retro sodas. Brad says he works with the vintage metal product that attracts a huge following in Brooklyn.
Hodgman concludes that Brad can gamble as much as he wants as long as he's a single man without anyone depending on his income. Brad says this is where the situation gets screwy because he has four ex-wives. He wants Hodgman to guess how many kids came out of the quartet of failed marriages. Tom starts to chime in, but Hodgman wants to take a crack at continuing the prognosticative powers he displayed with his Pigskin Picks. Before settling on a number Hodgman asks Brad for the spread. Brad admits that he doesn't even know this basic sports betting concept. Tom laughs at the extent of Brad's gambling incompetence. Hodgman knows that the spread involves a point differential, but he asks Tom to flesh out the definition. Tom explains that it's a handicapping tool that bridges the gap between two unevenly matched teams to make the betting more competitive. Hodgman provides an example of a bettor who picks the Red Sox baseballers to win by a certain margin if they are playing a team perceived by oddsmakers to be of inferior quality. He guesses that Brad has nine children.
Brad says he went completely off the rails and tuned out after Hodgman said "differential." He thought they were talking about a car. Hodgman suspects that Brad thought it was a model name, such as a Honda Differential, but he believes a "differential" is a working part. Brad says Hodgman was close: he has 11 kids. Tom says he would have set an over/under of 10 on this bet instead of a point spread. Brad says he's surprised to discover that over/under is a legitimate gambling term because he just mimics what he hears on various ESPN broadcasts. Hodgman asks Brad if his large family also includes a current wife. Brad asks him to define "current" and laughs at just how dire his domestic situation has become. Hodgman rephrases his question to refer to a future ex-wife. Brad doesn't think they will ever be able to guess why she's mad at him. Hodgman immediately attributes the anger to his bottle cap gig, and Tom thinks the excessive gambling is to blame. Brad says that that the lowly job and, especially, the gambling are factors, along with the beatings. He parts with a disturbing twist: his wife refuses to beat him. Tom dumps the creep for providing more information than he required.
- Frank from Weehawken calls with a quick technical question regarding Mr. Hodgman's home computer set-up. Tom is, of course, concerned that Frank is attempting to extract key information about alarm systems and potential window access for an upcoming home invasion. Hodgman considers faxing Frank blueprints and maps to help him crawl through his air ducts and drop down into his nerve center. Tom mentions the laser schematic that Frank will have to negotiate in order to avoid detection. Hodgman reveals that he primarily uses an iMac, iPhone, and MacBook Air, plus an iPod to put underneath the short leg of his coffee table. He enjoys the Apple family of products and did so for many years prior to getting on the company payroll. Hodgman asks Frank about his level of satisfaction with this answer and his need for additional follow-up.
Frank says he's always curious about people's setups since he does video engineering work. He uses a dual-processor Power Macintosh G4, which works for menial Web-based tasks and fits within his current budget. Hodgman begins to suspect that Frank is on the prowl for a free computore and hopes to use him to carry a message up the corporate ladder. Frank downplays any desire for freebies and advises Hodgman to just keep doing his thing because he just wanted to call with an out-of-the-blue question. Hodgman turns the tables by asking Frank about his home security systems. Frank says his three-digit PIN starts with a 0. Tom thinks this was a very fascinating call that delved into questions that listeners had been anxiously waiting to hear answered by his esteemed guest. Hodgman says PC users get very upset when they find out that he's a Macintosh user because they have embraced his character as their pudgy champion. Tom concludes that he's viewed as some kind of traitorous minstrel -- the "Kingfish" George Stevens of personal computores. Hodgman is alarmed by this comparison. Holy mackerel!
After a second flameout on Line #4, Hodgman informs Tom that he had that line cleared exclusively for werewolf callers like the policy used on the Art Bell program. Tom is mildly annoyed that Hodgman doesn't know that George Noory took over the reigns of Coast to Coast AM. Hodgman doesn't help matters by asking Tom whether Whitley Strieber still does weekends. Tom says that Strieber is no longer in the rotation, while Bell does the occasional fill-in. Hodgman says he was referring to those rare installments. Tom lets it slide.
- Thomas in New Canaan, CT, impresses with his announcer voice despite not being a professional radioman. He mentions that his stentorian tones are a bit stentorianier due to a cold/seasonal allergy attack. Hodgman asks him if he's taking any medication. Thomas has been relying on cough drops to soothe his symptoms, so Hodgman recommends also wearing a scarf to maintain neck warmth. Thomas says the purpose of his call goes beyond medical advice.
Tom, who occasionally moonlights as a baby expert, notes that Hodgman played a doctor in the Tina Fey comedy Baby Mama. Hodgman confirms that he was in fact the Fertility Specialist in the film. He asks Thomas if he's fertile enough to produce the amount of sperms required to create a human child. Thomas indicates that he hasn't really tested the reproductive viability of his ejaculate Tom wants to move on from discussing semen because this is not Midnight Blue with legendary pornographer Albert Goldstein. He scolds Hodgman for promising a G rating and then traipsing into PG territory. Hodgman argues that these are matters of medical science. Tom doubts anyone would ever hear the "s" word in family entertainments like WALL-E or concert films featuring The Jonas Brothers and Hannah Montana. Hodgman guarantees that he will not touch on anymore topics about simple bodily functions that make Tom uncomfortable. Thomas asks Hodgman if he has any publishing advice for Tom based on his experiences as a professional literary agent. Tom promptly dismisses Thomas for stepping on his toes. He has the show paced out to the minute and will address his authorial woes later.
- Mike in Manhattan calls while in the midst of what sounds like a fairly festive party atmosphere. However, he claims that the background noise is just the result of a friendly get-together that includes budding burglar Frank from Weehawken. Hodgman thanks Mike for ducking out of his party to make a quick phone call. Mike reiterates that it's just a FRIENDLY GET-TOGETHER, not a proper party. The non-partiers discovered that "Mr. Leonard," a longtime Z-Morning Zoo Crew radio character fond of using a sneaker phone, has a book coming out. Tom is disgusted by this news. He asks Mike if "Mr. Leonard" is still on the program because he hasn't listened since age 16. Mike reports that "Mr. Leonard" has left the airwaves. Hodgman identifies the book's title as Mr. Leonard's Book of 1,000 Fax Jokes. Tom dumps Mike for serving as a middle man and fielding questions from people at his Listening
Party Friendly Get-Together.
Hodgman says this swift dismissal is an example of one of the things he most enjoys about The Best Show: Tom's ability to become the human embodiment of aggrievement and allow his listeners to experience catharsis. Hodgman is, thusly, unnerved by Tom's seemingly genuine praise for his new book. Tom mentions the "Today in the Past" nuggets that are inset on every page, a preemptive strike that Hodgman launched out of frustration that nobody turned AoME into one of those Page-A-Day desktop calendars. Hodgman recommends that people buy two copies of MITYR, one to tear out daily in chronological order and one to tear out in any order of their choosing. He also advises that the book is best enjoyed while randomly flipping through the pages in the bathroom. Hodgman considers MITYR to be an old-fashioned hair-combing book or the kind of breezy fare that gets left behind in a summer house. He images that after the reader has polished off the day's third Bloody Mary, they can take a break on the couch, read a few pages, and toss it back on the shelf next to the collection of Ian Fleming novels. Hodgman says that he intentionally designed the book this way instead of as traditional literature that would undoubtedly drive readers insane. Tom, however, devoured the book straight through so he could look Hodgman in the eye and honestly say that he read every word. Hodgman apologizes for putting Tom through this and commends him as a Man of Honor. Tom says he realized that the Page-A-Day material is a lot like Tales of the Black Freighter, the story within a story in Alan Moore's Watchmen series. Hodgman laughs heartily at this warming of a nerd's (i.e., his!) heart.
Tom says he was particularly slayed by Hodgman's reference to the infamous political debate featuring a question from a talking snowman. In the book Hodgman claims that the historic event took place at the first of three 1858 showdowns between Abraham Lincoln and Stephen A. Douglas for a seat in the Illinois state legislature. After each candidate was granted an hour to speak and a half-hour for rejoinders they had the chance to respond to "funny little daguerreotypes" sent in by the voters. A snowman asked Lincoln if he thought that an African-American person could be classified as a legitimate human being. Hodgman believes it was equally important to admit snowmen into the political discourse in the most recent election cycle. During the 2007 CNN-YouTube debate Billiam from North Point, Alaska, appeared via video to ask Democratic candidate Dennis Kucinich about the biggest issue facing snowmen: global warming. He wanted Kucinich to outline the policies he would enact to ensure that his heat-sensitive son would live a full and happy life without fear of melting. Hodgman says the 2007 snowman query already seems as ancient as a Milton Berle fax joke.
Tom struggles to properly phrase his next question since he's not used to having up-market guests. He usually books lower-tier comediennes like Paul F. Tompkins, a man from the streets who is barely understandable with his thick Philadelphia accent. While it's certainly laugh-a-minute stuff, PFT's appearances are not filled with much ... thought. Hodgman thinks Tom is being a little means towards PFT, although, as Spike mentioned earlier in the program, he did give Hodgman the high hat when he appeared on BWE to discuss his book. Despite the upturned nose, Hodgman still loves PFT because he's infected his brain (in a good way) as one of the most inspiring comedians working today. He hopes they can eventually mend their fractured friendship.
Tom asks Hodgman if he thinks that the cast of SNL will moderate one of the 2012 debates. Hodgman doubts it, but Tom thinks NBC will trot out the hopefuls at 11:30 p.m. for one of the Republican debates early in the primary season. He mentions that the general trend is to begin with silliness -- e.g., ABC broadcaster George Stephanopolous asking Obama with a straight face why he wasn't wearing a flag pin -- and then shift into more serious topics. By the time the 2008 Presidential debates rolled around the global economy was collapsing and there was no time for nonsense. However, Tom considers the possibility that the 2012 discourse could devolve to the point where Louisiana creep Piyush "Bobby" Jindal lands a role as a new employee in the Teeeerget Lady sketch. The candidates will be judged based on their comedic prowess. Hodgman agrees that there will definitely be shenanigans. He missed McLame's guest spots on SNL, where he came alive as a vibrant performer, much like his engaging and fun stints on The Daily Show. Tom says that McLame had no interest in becoming the President and would have committed suicide if he won. Hodgman is taken aback by this morbid prediction. Tom argues that McCain wanted it for so long that he forgot what it was and was too tired to do it 24/7 anyway. Hodgman says his exhausting book tour has left him feeling like a Junior's cheesecake -- hollow on the inside after he's scooped out the innards with his hands. Tom asks Hodgman to imagine a 30-year book tour followed by running the entire country. Hodgman wants that unlucky guy to have an extended vacation.
- Laurie from Miami reports that she saw Hodgman last year inside the flagship NYC Apple Store when Jesse Thorn was interviewing satirist Stephen Colbert. Laurie decided not to bother Hodgman at this event. Tom wants to know if The Sound of Young America magnate's last name is "Thorn" or "Thorp." Hodgman believes it to be Thorn. Tom is certain that the gentleman who bills himself as America's Radio Sweetheart® has the surname of Thorp. Hodgman celebrates the return of the aggrieved man he so loves. Hodgman says the confusion may stem from the broadcaster of the stars' full name: Jesse Gil Thorp Thorn. Hodgman tells Laurie that he would have welcomed the encounter. Tom laments that the moist-eared JGTT is mixing it up at the Apple Store with Colbert and Hodgman while he's dipping into his own pockets every week to produce The Best Show inside the WFMU filth pit.
Hodgman senses that Tom is losing control and decides to reset the segment by having a private conversation with Laurie. He will provide occasional pauses to allow for Tom to vent. Laurie asks Hodgman about Dick Van Patten's Natural Balance brand of high-quality pet foods. Hodgman says a cartoonist named Ape Lad told him about Natural Balance Eatables Hobo Chili, a product that DVP believes is good enough for human consumption. Laurie wants to know why DVP fails to give a similar gastro-greenlight to his feline formulas, which are apparently only good enough for those disgusting cats. Hodgman asks her if DVP's cat food looks appealing to her. Laurie says it's grain-free and includes peas. Tom cites her for not answering the question. He'd love to continue the culinary discussion, but Mike is waving his trusty "MOVE ON, PLEASE!" sign in the background.
- Listener T in Los Angeles, CA, says hello to Dr. Hodgman. Hodgman says he is not an accredited doctor, but he did earn a bachelor's degree for his collegiate efforts. Listener T addresses him as Bachelor Hodgman, and Tom doesn't like the revision even a little bit. Hodgman likes it a lot since it indicates that he is an unmarried man free to play the field as he sees fit. He says this also explains why he's wearing a smoking jacket.
LT reminds Hodgman that they met briefly last year in L.A. at the Booze Clues Pub Quiz. At this event LT was wearing a Jughead hat, and Hodgman's teammate was alternative father and one-time Best Show guest Neil Pollack. The ubiquitous Mr. Jesse Gil Thorp Thorn was also in attendance. Hodgman understands that LT is a frequent competitor and winner of these events. Tom mentions that the Quiz Master also once cleaned up on the Jeopardy! program. LT asks Hodgman if he will be back in town next week for the latest BCPQ session. Hodgman says he'd love to participate in another real-life trivia throwdown as soon he is in L.A. at the same time they are doing one and has that particular evening free from any other obligations. In short: No. LT says it's returning next Tuesday after a six-month hiatus and will hopefully proceed on a monthly basis.
Hodgman helps LT get back into playing shape by asking him to name the two female leads in Alfred Hitchock's 1963 film, The Birds. LT quickly names Tippi Hedren and stumbles a bit on the way to Janet Leigh. He claims he responded with Ms. Leigh because he thought the question was about Hitch's Psycho. Tom criticizes LT for babbling to cover for his cinedumminess. Hodgman prompts LT to think about Bob Newhart to come up with the correct answer. After Tom incorrectly guesses male thesp Tom Poston, Hodgman reveals the actress to be Suzanne Pleshette and claims victory over the Trivia Titan in this impromptu round. Hodgman gives LT the chance to get him back with a trivia stumper of his own. LT takes inspiration from the earlier Tom/Little Bill discussion about exceptionally poor baby names and asks Hodgman to provide the peculiar name the vocalist Jermaine Jackson assigned to one of his sons. Hodgman says it's Suzanne Pleshette. Tom knows it to be Jermajesty. Hodgman gasps for two reasons:
1. It's awesome that Tom got it right.
2. The name Jermajesty is insane.
- Trembling Eagle says he loved the audiobook for AoME, so he was wondering if MITYR would get the same audible treatment. Hodgman announces that he will record an audio version with the Whiffenpoof Coulton after the holidays. He recommends that TE read the print book aloud in the interim. Tom wonders if TE's next question will seek to put him down for being a fat blob. Hodgman realizes that he's caught in the crossfire of a prior girth dispute. TE assures Tom that he really loves him. Hodgman says that Tom, who ably glided up the stairwell, looks fantastic, and TE favorably compares the host's physique to that of a football linebacker. He prefaces his second query by noting that he has many interests (beyond bad hip-hop and MMA), including new religious movements unique to America. Hodgman correctly identifies the Church of Latter-day Saints as one such domestic movement that might pique the interest of a Trembling Eagle. Tom dumps TE for emitting an "Ahhhh, yes" like he was Live and Let Die's Baron Samedi doing those old 7-Up commercials.
- Spoony in Brooklyn asks Hodgman how he came to serve as guest auctioneer last December at the AIGA-NY Christmas Dance/Friendly Get-Together/Annual Ball. Hodgman says that the renowned graphic artist and old high school friend Sam Potts, who designed both of his books, asked him to do it. Spoony was impressed with Hodgman's good rapport with the members of this professional association. Hodgman says he tends to have a natural rapport with people -- designers, radio DJs, and all sorts of other fun, creative people -- who sit alone in a room for long periods of time and hates themselves.
- Stephen in Chicago says he saw Hodgman about a month ago performing at the Second City theater. Hodgman was hoping that he recorded the show because the lovely woman at the venue decided that an archival request would be rude. Stephen says Hodgman's performance inspired him to take action about a week ago when he was at a bar with some friends. He wasn't feeling it that night and looked over the bartender's shoulder to find a bottle of Jeppson's Malört, the rare, bitter, and largely disgusting liqueur of his fair city. Hodgman recalls some copy on the back of the bottle: "Flavored with an unusual botanical." Stephen knocked back a shot and thought it was the worst liqueur ever. Hodgman actually enjoys the odd elixir. He also enjoys hearing from people he's encountered while touring around the country.
Tom thinks that after spending 1:45 in the studio Hodgman can safely conclude that he is in the presence of someone who has "it." In fact, Tom believes he has "it" in spades and wonders why he's stuck here despite accruing such large quantities of the elusive pronoun after years of taking his lumps. He bemoans the fact that NPR guys like Thorp, Ira Glass (This American Life), and Peter Sagal (Hey, Look Out!) are jumping over him and stealing his radio thunder. Tom is confident that he could oversee the H,LO! proceedings ("President Bush. DING!") and inform winning contestants that they will get the voice of announcer Carl Kasell on their home answering machine. Hodgman agrees that Tom has "it" and has no doubt that he could use "it" to excel as the host of a weekly current events quiz show. Tom initially compares himself to the kid stuck in Kent, Ohio, before remembering that said kid is not very good. He says that someone he knows at NPR laughed at the notion that he could join their programming lineup. Tom knows that he could tell stories about a weird old man who plays the saw just as well as the TAL correspondents. The bottom line: The Best Show is gigantic and powered entirely with Tom's hard-hat steam.
Tom begins to plot his escape from his residency in the rut. Mr. Leonard has a book. Artie Lange has a book. Tom has no book. He's the clown's clown. Hodgman asks Tom where he wants to go after he boards the Rich & Famous helicopter that is dangling overhead. Tom says he wants Hodgman to help get him on NPR so he can start interviewing eccentric prisoners who make mobiles for baby cribs. Hodgman laughs at him like a cartoon villain version of Daniel Schorr before praising him for developing his own unmistakable radio voice and reaching more people on the freeform WFMU than he could on public radio, especially since podcasting has leveled the playing field. He warns Tom that public radio higher-ups would dilute his power by making him change his inimitable style. Tom denounces the NPR breakrooms for housing fancy panini machines that Ira Glass presumably uses to press his beloved vegetable-and-fancy cheese lunches. Hodgman objects to the panini insult and sees a parallel between the successes of Glass and Scharpling: both broadcasters developed a show entirely in their voice and had complete creative control from the start. They both built their own castles and now rule them.
Tom plans to put his castle on the market with an initial asking price of $3,500 for all of The Best Show's assets. He will work for the new owner upon completion of the Paypal transaction. Hodgman agrees that Tom deserves national prominence and immediate enshrinement in the broadcasting Hall of Fame. However, he doesn't think the glamorous ring-a-ding-ding world of public radio is the right career move. Tom wants to as least try to make a bigger mark in a world where the dregs of society -- apes dipped in Nair® like Nick DiPaolo, Greg Fitzsimmons, and Jim Breueuer -- litter satellite radio slots. Hodgman says Tom wants approval, but he has empire. Tom diagnoses the underlying problem: he's too dumb from an education on the streets. He is simply not a learned man. The old ladies hung in there for the full two hours of Synedouche, New York while Tom imagined what kind of vegetables would be on display at the Hometown Buffet as he was stuck in Route 206 traffic while trying to flee the scene.
Hodgman points out that the real money is in book publishing. Tom asks him if he can at least pitch something to Charles S. Dutton, such as a Roc fan-fiction series that picks up the narrative from its untimely passing in 1994 and redirects the focus to Joey Emerson, ne'er-do-well brother-in-law who was always getting Roc in trouble by association. Hodgman suggests a title of Tom Scharpling's Memories of the Television Show Roc with a foreward by Charles S. Dutton, who would endorse it as a fine memoir written by someone who watched three episodes. While he's willing to help with his ins in the publishing industry, he's also troubled to hear that Tom is reaching for something he already has within his grasp. Tom reminds him that the 33 1/3 mini-book overlords Schorr-laughed him off the Internet for attempting to write entries on Styx, Kriss Kross, Hanson, Missing Persons, and late-period Paul Simon. He wants to jump the line like most of the talking heads (PFT earned it) on VH1's I Love The Whatevers. Hodgman says that if he just wrote a book and did public radio he wouldn't be sitting here right now, and he certainly wouldn't be riding around Brooklyn in his 30 ATVs with a helicopter at his beck and call. Hodgman's life was transformed by the power of television.
Tom asks Hodgman if he needs cosmetic surgery to get on TV. Hodgman assures Tom that his handsome, Roman profile needs no reconstruction. Tom announces that he will get blond streaks in his hair. Hodgman suggests auditioning to become a correspondent on The Daily Show, but Tom doesn't really know what he wants to do. The phones are now creepily dead. In the spirit of Fight Club, Tom declares himself to be either Bob from Ohio or Spartacus. Hodgman mentions that while Bob can do his best comedy on his own terms, his main goal is to become a staff writer for a TV show. He asks Tom if there's anything less than that gig. Tom agrees that Bob has embarked on a sad quest that will end in a gunshot suicide. Hodgman wants Tom to try to make The Best Show as satisfying as possible so he can do it forever for his sake and the sake of America at large. Tom mentions the Never Funny podcast, but Hodgman says the Pardo project is actually called Never Not Funny. Tom thought the Better Business Bureau made him rename to avoid misleading consumers. Hodgman notes two routes to success: building yourself up or tearing other people down. Tom says success is only success when you're standing on the corpses of others. In fact, he has the sentiment tattooed on his back. Hodgman sees things a bit differently.
He offers Tom a funny joke that he can use to reach the next level: "My son never calls, doesn't write, he doesn't even fax." Tom says that if Milton Berle was alive he'd likely request a texting joke. Tom asks Hodgman if he's seen the new Dr. Denis Leary book, Why We Suck: A Feel Good Guide to Staying Fat, Loud, Lazy and Stupid, which blows the lid off the existence of autism. Dr. Leary claims that these kids just crave excessive attention. Tom can't believe that nobody corrected the author by offering some medical evidence about the brain development disorder. Hodgman says there is no fact-checking structure in book publishing. Leary responds to his critics with a "Yeah, whatever."
The H-Man Status Updates
Tom starts things off so Hodgman can hear the proper spirit for these readings before passing him the laptop.
The H-Man can't believe the insanity/awesomeness that was Halloween Weekend. Next big event: elections! Let's get out there and vote!
The H-Man is gonna shower in a few minutes, then vote in his first official election. Holy moly.
The H-Man realized he saw three different numbers from different shows, so he's not gonna post the poll updates in his status anymore.
The H-Man just watched a report on CNN where they gave McCain a buttload of states just to see what would happen and he still couldn't win! 194-69 on CNN. Wow.
The H-Man thinks yesterday was fun. Now let's not make anymore Facebook statuses about it and talk about other things like Thanksgiving! Great holiday.
The H-Man can't wait to make a t-shirt design in his printmaking class. The only thing is that he's wondering what kind of design to make.
[Hodgman takes over.]
The H-Man thinks everyone here got seriously screwed over with this day change. Even though he only has one class, it's not one of his favorites.
The H-Man can't wait to eat some delicious turkey, stuffing, and other Thanksgiving staples. Yes, that's right, he wants to eat staples.
The H-Man is flipping out about the Internet loss, but was watching Cash Cab and playing a game on his computer and now the Internet's back. Sweet!
The H-Man was playing croquet today and went to do a shuffleboard shot and his fairly new jeans ripped in a bad spot. He's really not in a good mood about it.
[Hodgman asks Tom if The H-Man is 89 years old.]
The H-Man is so happy that the one class for his major he really wanted still has some spots open. Bad news: everything else he wanted is filled up. DAMN IT!
The H-Man honestly can't believe this crap. Pushing Daisies, his favorite show on ABC, is officially canceled. Goodbye old friend. You were great for a time.
[Tom is equally upset that Buck Henry's sci-fi laffer Quark was canceled after an eight-episode run in 1977-1978.]
The H-Man says Wow. Just effing wow. A whole slew of BS came his way tonight and really messed with his head. He needs to go home tomorrow. This is important.
[Hodgman's advice: Specificity is the soul of narrative. He wants to know more about the nature of this BS and how it has messed with the young man's head.]
The H-Man had a good 10 hours of sleep and is feeling less anxious. Caught up on the past two BWEs with PFT on the DVR. Now he's just gonna relax with the fam.
The H-Man again would like to wish his roommate Anthony a very happy birthday. "You rock, Anthony!"
The H-Man just heard that John Hodgman (Mac/PC commercials and The Daily Show) knows who he is via The Best Show. That's awesome.
So then: Adaptation. Folding in on itself. Circles within circles. Is this truly reality, or the reality we've imagined for ourselves? Heady stuff. Tom has no idea what Hodgman is talking about. He's community college product that has no business writing a book. He's the henchmen who will get kicked in the face. Ned Beatty in Superman. Hodgman says he won't kick him off the rope ladder. No time for Pudding It First in Brookline, MA, because Tom pud it second. Hodgman has the eternal greenlight to visit or call. Until then, he'll spin platters with Evan "Funk" Davies. They will delve deep into the Robert Stigwood Organisation catalog.
Ah Omar! Ah humanity!