Programming Note

Tinsel and Rot has intercepted a top-secret memo concerning plans for the program schedules of ESPN and its various offshoots. It is expected that this memo will soon be incorporated into a press release. But who wants to wait for that? Instead, T&R now shares this memo with you. You're welcome.

I think yesterday's meeting was a real fruitful one and will eventually be seen as a watershed moment in this new direction that we are pursuing. Many productive ideas were put forth, and I think many, if not most, will soon find their way onto the airwaves of ESPN and its sister networks. Allow me to recap some of the ideas for new programming that we brainstormed about:

Bonds on Bonds and Stocks: A half-hour recap of the day's financial news and how it is affected by Barry's push for 756. Barry will host, with occasional assistance from Mel Kiper, who, we all agree, usually only proves his usefulness about five days out of the year. Barry will also offer his tips on the best investments for the ESPN viewer.

Barry Bonds Eats Cold Pizza: Our new morning show on ESPN2, and a real exciting endeavor. Each morning, our ESPN2 cameras will follow Barry from the bedroom right to the breakfast table, as he eats cold pizza and discusses the issues of the day. In this discussion, B-Dogg will talk about the horrible treatment he receives from the "other" media and express his desire to not be in the media spotlight and simply be left alone.

Flavor of Bonds: We have to clear this with the Mrs., but it sounds like a slam dunk. Women will compete for the affection of Barry over the course of a six-week stay at Casa de Bonds. Each week, Barry will eliminate one contestant, dismissing her with a yet-to-be-determined catchphrase that will inevitably sweep the nation. We've already talked to Palmeiro about guesting in one episode as the guy who administers the lie detector test. He seems game. The winner of the whole shebang will get to be on the field when Barry hits 756.

Baking with Barry : Thirty action-packed minutes of the B-Man preparing a delectable dessert while recapping his rise to glory. Potential tagline: "He knows what's in this cream...and it's delicious!!!" Kudos to Joe in Marketing for coming up with that one.

Barry Bonds's World Solitaire Tour: Join Barry in the locker rooms of the baseball stadiums of America (and Canada--hence, the "World" part) as he plays solitaire while his teammates avoid him and members of the press pepper him with questions about his chase of Ruth and Aaron. Riveting television, with play-by-play commentary from Stuart Scott. "Boo-yaa! He closed out the hearts!"

I think that's a really good start, but there's still a lot of work to be done. So, let's not slack off. ESPN's viewers need their nonstop Bonds coverage and, right now, there are points where it stops. That's unacceptable. We can do better. And I know we will.


The Tinsel and Rot Hall of Fame: The Inaugural Inductees

After weeks of deliberation among the Tinsel and Rot Board of Governors, the inaugural class of inductees to the Tinsel and Rot Hall of Fame has been chosen. Twelve lucky inductees will be honored at the forthcoming induction ceremony, which will take place at a time to be determined on a date to be decided in a place to be announced.

What, you ask, are the criteria for entry into the Tinsel and Rot Hall of Fame? Well, first of all, you can't suck. And that's suck as a whole. You can suck every now and then, as we all have our moments of suckiness. But, generally speaking, you've gotta not suck way more than suck to even be considered.

Second, you have to have had a direct, lasting impact on the institution that is Tinsel and Rot. So, while Tinsel and Rot certainly gets much enjoyment from any given participant on "Date My Mom," said participants will not find a place in the hallowed T&R halls. But keep it comin', MTV.

Most important, the decisions of the Tinsel and Rot Board of Governors are final and shall not be challenged. So, really, we don't have any more explaining to do to you.

In alphabetical order, the inductees are:

Chuck Barris--Creator of "The Newlywed Game," "The Dating Game," and, most important, "The Gong Show." And, for good measure, also wrote the undeniably catchy pop hit "Palisades Park" for Freddie "Boom Boom" Cannon. He is definitely the reason I watch game shows as much as I do, probably the reason why I wear hats a lot, and likely the reason why I scratch my head a lot when I feel nervous or uncomfortable. Recommended work: Until they release old episodes of "The Gong Show" on DVD (doubtful), give "The Game Show King" a read. It's his "straight" (re: non-CIA agent) biography, but it's just as entertaining as "Confessions of a Dangerous Mind."

John Candy--When one of the Martin boys told me that John Candy died as we were setting up the Monsignor Farrell High School gym for the Superdance, I assumed he was lying. Turns out he wasn't. That was a bad day. From his work on "SCTV" as one of the Shmenge Brothers all the way through "Who's Harry Crumb?" John Candy earned an eternal spot in the heart of Tinsel and Rot. There was no person whose presence in a movie or TV show brought more excitement in my childhood years. There were a couple of stinkers toward the end of his career, but he'd built up such a list of hits by then that it didn't matter. "Uncle Buck," "National Lampoon's Vacation," "Planes, Trains, and Automobiles," "The Great Outdoors," "Only the Lonely," "Stripes," "Brewster's Millions," "Summer Rental"--I loved them all. One of the three inductees in this class I wish I had met. Recommended work: Just for laughs, "Uncle Buck"; for laughs and a little bit of tears, "Planes, Trains, and Automobiles."

Johnny Cash--Maybe the coolest man in popular culture history. Even people who turn their noses up at country music will admit a fondness for Johnny Cash. And that's because he never pandered, never seemed anything less than true and honest. Even when the material he was doing wasn't quite up to snuff, he still pulled it off, just by being Johnny Cash. Recommended work: "I Still Miss Someone," the "Live at Folsom Prison" album, and the "American Recordings" album.

Little Jimmy Dickens--We've been through this, yes? Tinsel and Rot does not have its love for country music (yes, Gawker nerds, we love country music) without Little Jimmy Dickens. One of the last surviving links to the golden age of country music. Cooler than anyone you know. Recommended work: "Life Turned Her That Way" and "Raggedy Ann."

Bob Dylan--Probably one the first serious musical obsessions of Young Tinsel and Rot started after listening to the "Bobfest" from Madison Square Garden in 1992. A life-changing evening. The voice always sounded perfect to me, and even though I liked a lot of the cover versions of his songs done at Bobfest, I've always preferred the originals. And after a few dozen shows, I'm still on board (though, admittedly, slightly less enthused with Keyboard Bob). Tinsel and Rot trivia: James Sigman's first newspaper byline was on a preview of the Bob Dylan concert at Ithaca College in October 1994. It was announced only a few weeks after my first semester began. It was then that I knew I was at the right place. Recommended work: "Don't Think Twice (It's All Right)," "The Lonesome Death of Hattie Carroll," the albums "Blood on the Tracks" and "Hard Rain," his appearance on a L'Chaim telethon with Harry Dean Stanton and Peter Himmelman, lots of other stuff.

William Hickey--Perhaps the least known of the inductees, but no less of a giant. Best known for his work in "Prizzi's Honor," William Hickey receives his accolades from Tinsel and Rot for his performances in two classics, "My Blue Heaven" and "National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation." Young James Sigman's favorite autograph was obtained from William Hickey in Woodstock, New York, after his performance in Israel Horovitz's one-man show "Spared." The producer of the show saw me and my mom waiting afterward and asked us if we wanted to meet Mr. Hickey in his dressing room. Yes, we did. So, we went in and got to hear him tell stories about his stuffed dog and this movie he just finished doing voice work for that he didn't think was any good (which turned out to be "The Nightmare Before Christmas"). Then, right before he called it a night, I asked him to sign an index card for me. He had been signing things "Love love love," but as I explained to him my obsession with "My Blue Heaven" and his one-line response to a guy picking up a roll and asking "What the frig is this?", he began writing something else. And that's how I got the "Popover Popover Popover Love, Bill Hickey" autograph that sits in a place of honor in Disgraceland. Coolest autograph ever. Felt such a debt for that that I actually went to his memorial service, where I found out he was good friends with someone I went to grammar school with. Weird. Recommended work: "My Blue Heaven" or "National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation," take your pick.

Willie Nelson--For my money, and the money of the Tinsel and Rot Board of Governors, one of the best songwriters of all time. His songwriting talent often gets lost in the Willie persona that everyone adores, but if you take a listen to the body of work he has created, it's impossible to deny him his due. And there is no songwriter who makes it look as effortless as Willie--at least among the living (see Inductee #12). While I'm talking about his writing abilities, let me take this moment to share something with you. You should never slow dance to "Crazy." It's not a slow dance kind of song. It's about lost love, not "oh, we're crazy...but crazy in love!" Learn that. Also, "Crazy" is not a Patsy Cline song. It's a Willie Nelson song that Patsy Cline covered. The song belongs to the writer. Remember that. Recommended work: "The Part Where I Cry," "Three Days," "Whiskey River," the album "Willie and the Family Live," and on and on and on.

Leslie Nielsen--"Airplane!"--a classic, but not just because of Leslie Nielsen. "Police Squad" and "The Naked Gun"--classics because of Leslie Nielsen. "Police Squad" may be the finest show ever created and is certainly the source of my favorite bad pun of all time, after Frank Drebin admits that he knew where to find the perp because of "a little hunch back at the office." Then his partner says, "I thought so. I brought that little hunchback with me." And then he introduces the hunchback. Brilliant. And "The Naked Gun"--essentially the movie version of "Police Squad" may be the most consistently funny movie of all time. You may disagree. I'm not interested in your opinion. Start your own hall of fame. Enrico Pallazzo! Enrico Pallazzo! Recommended work: See above.

Roy Orbison--While the rest of the depressed young folk of the world fawned over Morrissey, I chose Roy Orbison. Roy--and, more specifically, the phenomenal "A Black and White Night Live" cassette tape that I wore down to the spindles--provided much help and guidance from seventh grade right through to high school. That's what happens when your friend starts dating the girl you like. And then she breaks up with him only to move on to another guy, whom you try really hard to dislike but can't really, especially when he stands up for you on the bus when the kids start in on you. Oh, the sad, sad years of the socially awkward teen. Anyway, I don't know how a seventh grader becomes obsessed with Roy Orbison (and not the "Pretty Woman" Roy Orbison but the "Crying"/"Only the Lonely" Roy Orbison), but I'm glad I did. And I salute Roy Orbison and welcome him into the Hall as the second Traveling Wilbury to be enshrined. There might eventually be room for one more. Sorry, Jeff Lynne--it's not you. Recommended work: the album "A Black and White Night Live," "Leah," "Crying" (with or without k.d. lang), "Workin' for the Man," etc,

Randy Quaid--So, one day I headed out to the "Live with Regis and Kathie Lee" studios because I saw that Randy Quaid was gonna be on. But when I got there, the other collectors told me I just missed him. Crap. I missed Cousin Eddie, the man whose lines are frequently quoted around the Sigman household ("Merry Christmas! Shitter was full!" being, of course, at the top of the charts). And I'd brought the "Vacation" video cover and everything. Damn. But, wait, what do I see? Is that him sneaking out for a smoke? It is. OK, calm, calm. Me: "Um, Mr. Quaid, could you sign this for me?" Randy: "Sure." Me:"Oh, thanks a lot. We quote Cousin Eddie around the house all the time." And then there was a look that said, "Seriously, dude, I just want to smoke. Don't start quoting lines from those ridiculous movies to me." Then he smiled politely, and I decided it was best if I stopped talking. But, hats off to Randy Quaid, the better Quaid by far. Recommended work: "National Lampoon's Vacation," "National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation," and two scenes in "Caddyshack II."

Hunter S. Thompson--It may seem that I am including the Good Doctor just to show you that I can and do read. And, while, yes, I would like to point that out, it isn't the sole reason for his inclusion. HST was the first journalist I read that made me not want to cry at the thought of pursuing a career where I would be identified as a journalist. Of course, that career hasn't exactly panned out, but, well, you know, I'm writing now, aren't I? In any case, when he was on the top of his game, he was one of the best pure, compelling writers of modern times. Norman Mailer was too full of himself to be any good, Tom Wolfe would get bogged down in writing THWAAAAAAAAK a lot in an attempt to seem hip, and the rest of New Journalism only had fleeting moments of brilliance. But Hunter's ratio of brilliance to dreck was pretty good. And even when his writing got a little too out there, it was always entertaining and at least worth giving a chance. Recommended work: "Hell's Angels," "Fear and Loathing on the Campaign Trail '72," the DVD "Breakfast with Hunter" and his first appearance on "Late Night with Conan O'Brien."

Hank Williams Sr.--There is no country music without Hank Williams. And popular music would probably be a good deal worse off as well. It's mindboggling to think of all the ridiculously strong songs he was able to produce in such a short period of time. There's so much to highlight I don't even know where to start. So let's just say there will never be another quite like Hank and welcome him into the Hall. Recommended work: "The Complete Hank Williams" boxed set, probably the best boxed set out there for any artist. If you can't afford that investment, just go for the "Luke the Drifter" CD.

Several people just missed making it in on the first ballot but are expected to make it in the second time around.

Tinsel and Rot salutes the twelve fine men (sorry, ladies) and welcomes them into the hallowed hall of greats here at Tinsel and Rot.


Eat it, Tandy Rice

While the Tinsel and Rot Board of Governors continues to deliberate over the inaugural class of inductees into the Tinsel and Rot Hall of Fame, I would like to present a brief response to a recent column written by Tandy Rice for Music City News. In that column, Mr. Rice proposed that the Grand Ole Opry institute a mandatory retirement for all members when they reach the age of 65. Tinsel and Rot responds:

Mr. Rice,

First of all, never start another column with a quote from Garth Brooks. Especially when it has very little to do with what follows and surely wasn't thought up by His Garthness. No one's impressed with your knowledge of the wit and wisdom that comes out of Garth Brooks's mouth. And, while we're on mouths, no one's impressed with your teeth either.

Second, your proposal, delivered on the heels of Jeanne Pruett's voluntary resignation from the Opry, is so ridiculous that it could only come from someone who used to be the president of the Country Music Association. Complaining that the Opry membership skews too old is like going to Branson, Missouri, and bemoaning the lack of good strip clubs. A large portion of the people who go to the Grand Ole Opry, myself included, go expressly to hear the "Old Guard." The Opry is not a young person's scene, and no one is under any delusion that it is. Yes, listening to Bill Anderson sing can frequently be akin to sticking your head in a blender, but, y'know, who cares? It's Bill Anderson and it's cool to get the chance to see Bill Anderson while he's among the living. When he dies, the Opry can force him into retirement. I'm fine with that plan. But until then, he stays, unless he decides it's time to call it quits. He's earned the right.

Furthermore, if we instituted your genius plan, the Opry would have about 15 members available to perform on any given weekend. And as kind and reverential as people like Trace Adkins and Brad Paisley are, the likelihood of them putting their highly profitable tours on hold to play the Opry twice a month can't be considered high. The days of the Opry featuring the best of the current crop of musicians are gone, ruined by an industry in which touring is the only real way for a working musician to make money.

Now, I suppose this problem could be resolved by inducting more members into the Opry. Unfortunately, doing so would dilute the 80-year legacy of the institution. Just about everybody in Young Nashville who should be in the Opry is, with a few exceptions (I'm leaving myself some wiggle room there; I can't think of any, but I'm sure there must be some). And if the only way the Opry can grow is to force Little Jimmy Dickens into retirement so Rascal Flatts can join the Opry, well, then, just shut the whole damn thing down and let Carol Lee Cooper do a burlesque show on closing night.

I know the Opry isn't a big moneymaker anymore, and it's surely years past its prime. But it needs to exist and, more important, it needs to exist with the over-65 legends that made the words "Grand Ole Opry" mean something. A world in which there is no Grand Ole Opry--a world that will likely exist before the Opry can make it to 100-- is a sad world. But a world in which an Opry exists that boots out Little Jimmy Dickens, Porter Wagoner, Jean Shepard, Ralph Stanley, Del McCoury, Loretta Lynn, Charlie Louvin, and George Jones is a much sadder one.

In closing, Mr. Rice, you're a douchebag.

Your pal,


What I liked about March

*Daniel Crommelin Verplanck and his pet squirrel at the Metropolitan Museum of Art
*Meeting Little Jimmy Dickens
*The penultimate episode of "Flavor of Love"
*Alejandro Escovedo at Joe's Pub, NYC

*Marah at Drew's, Ringwood, NJ
*Maybe Pete singing "Do You Remember Rock 'n' Roll Radio?" at the Pussycat Lounge, NYC
*Todd Snider at World Cafe Live, Philly, PA
*The coconut mini-loaf from Hershey Farm

*The Yayhoos' new website
*Paulie Walnuts cutting coupons on "The Sopranos"
*Two more autographs from Willie Nelson
*The willingness of people with cars to drive me places