I'm McLovin It

Even though I could barely put pressure on my right leg for the better part of Wednesday, I decided to tough it out and head to the city, because I had a pass for an advance screening of "Superbad," the next in the line of Judd Apatow comedies. This one's cowritten by Seth Rogen and stars Michael Cera (George-Michael from "Arrested Development") and Jonah Hill (from "Knocked Up").

And it was everything I hoped it would be.

You likely won't be able to see it until it comes out in mid-August, so I won't pump it up too much (though I reserve the right to do so closer to the release date). I think part of the reason I was a little underwhelmed by "Knocked Up" was because I had read about two months' worth of hype about it. So, I'll just say that "Superbad" kicked ass. It's a little raunchy at points (it earns the "R"), but never really crude, and consistently funny. Cera and Hill are particularly on the money. And the guy who uttered one of my favorite "Freaks and Geeks" lines ("Let's tear this mother down!") has a bit part. What's not to like?

Anyway, here's the trailer. It doesn't give away all the funny parts, so don't worry about taking a sneak peek.


Chris Benoit

So, since you don't watch professional wrestling, I imagine you had a quiet Monday night. I, on the other hand, spent about four hours alternately watching a tribute to Chris Benoit on USA and scouring the Internet for more information on his death.

If I'm home on Mondays, I instinctively flip over to Monday Night Raw out of sheer curiosity. In doing so, I follow the family tradition established by my dad, who used to call me at college and say, "Wrestling's so stupid now" before recapping most of the two-hour Monday Night Raw that he was glued to that particular week. I like to think I'm making progress, because now I genuinely do lose interest after about three minutes. See, attractive single women reading this blog: I'm making progress! I'll be human in just three to five years!

Anyway, I flipped over to USA at about 7:58 and caught the promo for the evening's special three-hour Raw commemorating the life and legacy of "Mr. McMahon," who "blew up" in a "limo fire" on a recent edition of Raw. The quote marks are there for a reason, people. Vince McMahon is alive. Breathe easy. But tonight's Raw was supposed to be a memorial celebration of "Mr. McMahon." As I watched a clip of his daughter crying in the promo, I thought, "Well, this sort of demeans those actual memorial shows they do when wrestlers actually die. This seems like a bad idea." And just as I had finished thinking that, a picture of Chris Benoit appeared on the screen above the words "Chris Benoit, 1967-2007." Any thought that this too was what is called a "work" in the wrestling business (yes, ladies--I know wrestling business lingo!) was erased when the allegedly dead Vince McMahon appeared in the middle of the ring in an empty Texas arena to announce that Benoit, his wife Nancy (a former wrestling manager), and son Daniel were found dead at their home outside of Atlanta.

I scurried on over to the computer to see if there was more info on the Web, but there wasn't much outside of a few wrestling sites. So I spent the rest of the night watching wrestlers cope with the loss of a friend (while checking in on the Mets during commercial breaks) and checking news sites for more info. Helluva way to spend an evening.

Then, after Raw ended, I headed back to the computer, and at that point the Georgia police were saying that they were investigating the matter as a murder-suicide (originally, it was reported that it was being treated as a homicide). An Atlanta TV station reported that investigators "believe the 40-year-old Benoit killed his wife, Nancy, and 7-year-old son, Daniel, over the weekend, then himself on Monday." And after fully comprehending the awfulness of that possible scenario (just thinking of it makes my stomach turn), I realized that I spent my evening watching a tribute to a guy who might have killed his wife and son. That made me feel weird.

In any case, after what I imagine was several hours of editors asking "Are we sure this is real?," the story is starting to make its way onto front pages of websites and the TV news. But I think I need to go to sleep and pray that I don't have nightmares of murder-suicides.

Peace to the Benoit family, though I imagine it will be hard to come by.

UPDATE: From the Atlanta Journal-Constitution "The details, when they come out," said Fayette County District Attorney Scott Ballard, "are going to prove a little bizarre." Hmmm...

OK, now, for real, I'm going to sleep.

FINAL UPDATE: Authorities believe Benoit strangled his wife and suffocated his son before hanging himself in his weight room. Yeah, that tribute seems kind of icky now. They're still looking into what caused Benoit to commit the murders. They can keep looking, but I can't think of anything more heinous than suffocating your seven-year-old child. I don't think there's a reason that can make that make sense to me.

I'll get back to more lighthearted stuff here soon.


Decision '07: Who Will Fill Barker's Shoes?

Tinsel and Rot has been observing a proper period of mourning for the departure of Mr. Bob Barker from the television airwaves. But we will now break this period of mourning by launching our coverage of Decision '07, which will, of course, follow the quest to fill the unfillable shoes of Bob Barker on "The Price Is Right."

Let us now assess the candidates for the job:

Mark Steines/Todd Newton--Essentially the same guy. And that guy is unctuous and unworthy of gracing the screens of America at 11 a.m. The host for "Price Is Right" should be a man of the people, or at least seem like a man of the people. Neither of these soulless monsters qualifies. For the record, Mark Steines is from "Entertainment Tonight" and Todd Newton hosted "Whammy." You already destroyed the precious legacy of "Press Your Luck," Newton. No more, Toddy.

George Hamilton/John O'Hurley--Again, essentially the same guy. These two are simply not "Price" material. Hamilton shouldn't be allowed to do anything but commercials at this point in his life. Or, really, at any point in his life. And no matter how hard he tries, John O'Hurley's always going to be J. Peterman. No one wants to see J. Peterman play Plinko.

Mario Lopez--Sorry, A.C. Just can't see it. The best so far, but, really, being better than Todd Newton and George Hamilton is not much of an accomplishment. Ultimately, M. Lo is not the man for the job. Too young. Plus, his ties to Screech can only be a hindrance in this post-"Celebrity Fit Club: Men vs. Women" world.

Rosie O'Donnell--Sure, she seems to have a genuine affection for the show and probably knows all the games inside and out. But, in an unfortunate turn of events, she's also Rosie O'Donnell. She'd be loud and annoying and everything a game show host shouldn't be. Plus, no one would want to reach into her pocket for $100. Sorry. Donald Trump made me write that.

That about covers everybody who's been mentioned as a possible successor. I think that weatherman Dave Price was also brought up, but that's gotta be because his last name is Price. Dude's already gotten enough breaks, hasn't he?

Tinsel and Rot would like to suggest a dark-horse candidate who has yet to be mentioned in the rumor mill. He is the perfect combination of all the above candidates. He's got the wide, toothy smile of Mark Steines/Todd Newton, the movie-star good looks of George Hamilton/John O'Hurley (well, he's been in movies), and the recognizable celebrity factor of M. Lo and Rosie. I'm pretty confident that he's free, and I genuinely believe lots of people would watch him try to get a Hole-in-One (Or Two).

Yes, Tinsel and Rot throws its support firmly behind the legendary, utterly fantastic Gary Busey:

Who's with Busey? We're with Busey.

While looking for clips from "I'm With Busey" on YouTube, I stumbled upon this gem. It's Busey singing "Stay All Night (Stay A Little Longer)" with Rick Danko and Paul Butterfield on "Saturday Night Live." Sweet Jesus. YouTube Find of the Week. And further proof that this should be your next "Price Is Right" host. He tells you to have your pets spayed or neutered, you listen:


Bocephus wants to get it on

The list of musicians I want to see at least once grows smaller and smaller each year. Last year I was able to cross Chuck Berry and George Jones (or at least a full Jones show...I'd seen him at the Opry twice) off the list, and, as of this past Saturday I can now put a line through "Hank Williams Jr."

I probably could've put a line through Bocephus's name a long time ago, but I can't be 100% sure. I have a vague recollection of seeing Hank Jr. at the tragically long-gone country music festivals in Hunter, NY, that used to be held every summer. I wasn't much of a country fan growing up, so I didn't really appreciate how great those festivals were. Toward the end of their run, I did wise up and wound up seeing Willie Nelson and Johnny Cash (and the Carter Sisters), though I spent so much time getting in position to get Johnny to sign things that I didn't spend nearly enough time enjoying the show. I've got some cool Johnny Cash autographs, but, looking back, it would've been cooler to pay more attention to the show and have memories of that. To make matters worse, I think I totally missed Waylon Jennings right after Cash one year. And, on a far more embarrassing note, I paid full attention to a Sawyer Brown show right after they won "Star Search." Boy, did I love "Smokin' in the Rockies."

Anyway, back to Hank Jr. I seem to remember hearing him sing "Family Tradition" at Hunter, as I can recall trying to figure out the call-and-response going on in the first part of the chorus. So you don't have to do the same, it goes like this:

Why do you drink?
To get drunk
Why do you roll smoke?
To get high
Why must you live out the songs you wrote?
To get laid

Since this call-and-response thing only happens when Bocephus is among his rowdy friends in concert, I went awhile before I could figure out what was being said. If I'd had the Internet back then, I could've figured that out in seconds.

"Family Tradition" came back into my ears when I bought the legendary "Celebrities at Their Worst" CDs, specifically Volume 2, which featured Hank Jr. drunkenly slurring his way through a version of the song in which he tells his band to "turn that shit way, waay down," suggests that Garth Brooks would like to fellate him, and, well, says a lot of other things I'm not comfortable putting down in this blog. Suffice it to say that it is a genius performance that made me obsessed with learning more about Bocephus.

He's got an interesting life story, but you know how to use Google if you're interested in all that. For the purposes of this blog, all you need to know is I have a weird obsession with Hank Jr., own two dancing and singing Bocephi (see above), and spent $73 on a round-trip bus ticket to Albany on Saturday to see him open for Lynyrd Skynyrd on the Rowdy Frynds Tour.


When I arrived in Albany, I walked right into the block party that some local radio stations were sponsoring before the evening's show at the Times-Union Center (formerly the Pepsi Arena, originally the Knickerbocker Arena). The show wasn't set to start for another two hours or so, so I had plenty of time to kill. I checked in at the box office to see what the ticket situation was, and after coming real close to making the asinine decision to pay $69.50 for a real good floor seat, I decided to stop and think it over (I eventually wound up buying a ticket in the cheap seats for $20 from a guy looking to unload a couple of seats closer to showtime). When I made my way back to the block party, I checked out the official tour merch set up outside the arena, realized that my unwillingness to wear a confederate flag on my body was going to be a problem, and then headed back to the street to listen to the Back Forty Band play the latest and greatest in country hits, including, joy of joy, Garth Brooks's "The Thunder Rolls." But I entertained myself by reading T-shirts and watching a guy dressed up as Vegas Elvis gyrate around the street. Actually, it's kind of inaccurate to say he was dressed up as Vegas Elvis. It was more like he was dressed up as Vegas Elvis if Vegas Elvis had lived, shrunk a foot or so, and really, really went to seed in the subsequent thirty years of his life. I wish I had a photo to show you, but I didn't bring a camera because I was told that the arena doesn't allow cameras (technically true maybe, but since there was no security check, I guess it's on the honor system). So you are denied a photo of Compact, Gone-to-Seed Vegas Elvis. I am truly sorry. I am even sorrier that I did not have a camera to document my post-Bocephus encounter with Howard Stern Wack Pack member Jeff "The Drunk" Curro. Man, am I sorry.

After watching as much of the block party as I could stand, I headed into the arena and quickly found my seat for the opener, Randy Houser, who alternated between decent ("Paycheck Man") and "what, seriously?" His last song was, if I recall correctly, "Good Boys Need Spankins Too." I can find no files of it on the Web. But I did find out that Randy Houser cowrote "Honky Tonk Badonkadonk." He didn't brag about that on stage. He should have.

Soon after Houser left the stage, screens with the Hank Jr. logo lit up the area above the stage, and I actually became a little bit giddy. And after a video introduction narrated by Merle Haggard (which bizarrely went right from Hank Jr.'s days aping his dad straight to "Monday Night Football"), the man himself came out singing "Women I've Never Had" (maybe my favorite Bocephus song) and it was on. He continued the onslaught with a video highlighting what really seems to be his proudest achievement, performing the theme to "Monday Night Football." And that video was even more bizarre than the intro, as it featured testimony from noted musicologist Uncle Frank from "Jimmy Kimmel Live." In any case, he and the Bama Band plowed into "All My Rowdy Friends Are Coming Over Tonight" as football highlights aired on the video screen. For some reason, it made me wonder if Leon Redbone sings the theme to "Mr. Belvedere" at his shows while clips air on video screens above him. I hope he does. I actually might go see a Leon Redbone show if he did.

Anyway, it's an entertaining song and, to his credit, he sang the original lyrics, albeit with an "Are you ready for some football?" thrown in at the end. So Bocephus is keeping it real.

After the solid start, the show meandered around, with Hank Jr. taking a turn on the piano to play Hank Sr. songs as interpreted by Fats Domino, as well as "Whole Lotta Shakin' Go On" (during which Compact, Gone-to-Seed Elvis wiggled around just a little bit a few rows away); Hank Jr. taking center stage for a solo acoustic mini-set that featured a rough "Whiskey Bent and Hell Bound" and ended with the generally cruddy "A Country Boy Can Survive/America Can Survive"; and Hank Jr. playing his oughta-be-patented air bass fiddle.

The people around me were in a general pot-smoking, beer-guzzling, shirt-removing frenzy for most of the set (one guy behind me inexplicably yelled out, "C'mon, shake your moneymaker, Hank!" before the piano portion of the show), so I missed out on a bunch of Bocephus small talk between songs, which was a bit of a drag. I wanted to keep a running tab on how many times he actually said "Bocephus" during the show, but I can't give you any solid numbers on that. It was a lot, though, mainly in the course of "conversations" that Bocephus had with various suits/detarctors about his viability in the current music market. From what I can gather, there are an awful lot of people doubting Bocephus these days.

It was in the course of recounting one of these conversations, and some time after he made the declaration that "Fortune 500 magazine is doing a story about this tour," that Bocephus brought up the fact that he has "red friends, black friends, yellow friends, white friends--I even got two Yankee friends I like pretty good." Then, after he and the band played an instrumental "Cat Scratch Fever," Bocephus once again broached the topic of diversity when he declared to an invisible detractor during a conversation, "Do you know Reverend Run?" And then I think he said, "Do you know D?" But I could be wrong about the second part of that, because it clearly makes no sense. Then again, maybe I'm 100% right. Hard to say when it comes to Bocephus. Regardless, he capped off his Reverend Run rant by telling the invisible suit that he could get him on the phone if he wants him to, and then he and the band launched into an instrumental version of that classic Run-DMC hit, "Walk This Way." Could've gained some more credibility points with "King of Rock." Also, I would have shit my pants.

Bocephus (who does hat changes instead of costume changes) eventually wrapped up the set with "Family Tradition" (with a little "Hey Good Lookin'" thrown in), and I finally got to shout along with everybody during the chorus, which was legitimately exciting for me. That excitement was tempered slightly by the end-of-song shoutouts to Uncle Kracker and his "rebel son, Kid Rock," but what can you do? Even the declaration that if I didn't like those two, I could kiss Bocephus's ass couldn't ruin the fact that I had finally seen Bocephus live on stage at an age where I could appreciate it.

I hung out in the ridiculously hot concourse between sets and did some people watching. It was at this point that I first had the realization that, you know, I'm really not all that bad looking. I also was able to again check out the t-shirts of the assembled, which included two "I'm Rick James, Bitch" t-shirts, one sleeveless "I Didn't Invent Sex, I Just Perfected It" t-shirt
one Jeff Foxworthy's Redneck Fishin' Excuses t-shirt (#1: I had to use my stringer as a belt), one Che Guevara t-shirt, and, impressively, one Hank III t-shirt. I also spent some time trying to figure out how many Skynyrd songs I could see before I had to leave to catch the bus. I would've been fine with staying for none, but, I figured, I was there so maybe I could hear one of the Skynyrd songs I like. Turns out I got to hear one ("What's Your Name"), so it wasn't all bad. From the 4 1/2 songs I saw, though, I get the impression that I may not have been missing all that much. Skynyrd's fine, but I'll take listening to the original band on CD over seeing the current lineup in Albany and then waiting until 3:30 a.m. in the Albany bus terminal for the next bus back to Manhattan. Sorry. boys. This bird you cannot change.

And, after all, it was a night to celebrate Bocephus and the fulfillment of a dream to see him on stage. Mission accomplished. And it was a good show. Sure, he's a bit of a cartoon, but, what's the problem, you don't like cartoons?

I wanted to end this with a YouTube clip of that Chris Farley-as-Bocephus skit from "Saturday Night Live." But YouTube fails again. Sorry.



I don't care if you think I'm strange

Thanks to the release of "Knocked Up," the quest to add more signatures in my "Freaks and Geeks" DVD yearbook continued earlier this week. And that meant another return to the thrill-an-hour world of autograph collecting outside of TV studios. This time, it was NBC Studios, where Leslie Mann (star of the "Chokin' and Tokin'" episode of "Freaks and Geeks"--and also wife of "Freaks and Geeks" executive producer Judd Apatow) was to appear on "Late Night with Conan O'Brien." It was a return to where it all began for me, as I first started talk-show autograph collecting at NBC, back when it was mainly just people with nothing better to do who weren't all that interested in selling autographs. Ah yes, the good old days. Well, they were old anyway.

I arrived at NBC to find only three shifty-looking gents milling about, so it looked to be an easy day. And, all things considered (and even with two latecomers), I suppose it was. But I did have to sit through a rendition of the Celebrity Photo Shoot Waltz before I could get the yearbook signed.

The Celebrity Photo Shoot Waltz involves anywhere from two to, oh, a dozen collectors and usually takes place at an open area like the 30 Rock lobby, as opposed to the barricaded scene outside the Ed Sullivan Theatre stage door. The Waltz begins when one person asks the celebrity if he (it's almost always he...most women seem to have better things to do than pose for photos with celebrities they barely know) can take a picture with the star. Then, he hands the camera to another collector, who takes the picture and then quickly asks if he can take a picture. So he passes the camera off to another guy, and the Waltz continues until either everybody has a picture or the celebrity can't bear to be a part of the dance anymore and starts to rethink this fame thing.

To her credit, Leslie Mann let everyone waltz who cared to waltz. And, most excitedly for me, she was accompanied by her husband, who had yet to sign the yearbook. I thought about approaching him while the waltz was going on, but I didn't want to interfere with the choreography, so I waited, had her sign it, and then when she pointed out to Apatow that I had the yearbook, I made my way over and asked him to sign.

And that's when it started to get fun.

See, the other collectors (although I guess I can't call them collectors, because all they wanted were pictures with Mann) didn't know that it was Judd Apatow. And that's a fair reaction, as I assume most people don't know what Judd Apatow looks like. I, of course, am not like most people. So they watched as Apatow signed the book and he told me to make sure I see "Superbad" when it comes out (will do). Then he walked away and headed to the exit that would take him to the waiting limo.

As he left, one of the collectors asked me who was the guy I had sign the book (I can only assume that everyone was staring at him as he signed, desperate for a clue as to his celebrity). When I told him it was Judd Apatow and the rest overheard, the reaction was as if I had told them that it was Paul McCartney.

And it was 1964.

And they were teenage girls.

They quickly ran after Apatow, calling for him to stop so they could take photos with him. And so the Waltz began with Apatow, as his wife was already outside, probably waiting in the car. Apatow graciously endured the Waltz, and four guys wound up with a picture of them and a guy who they didn't recognize from five feet away ten seconds ago. Ah, the excitement of celebrity. And the thrill of autograph collecting.

Still taking suggestions for another hobby if you've got any.