Catching bees with vinegar

The academic institution that was lucky enough to take copious amounts of money from me and my family for four years recently sent me a reminder that next year is my ten-year reunion. Once I stopped crying after I realized it's been almost ten years since I graduated college, I actually read the letter, which ended as follows:

"Before you start making excuses as to why this year just isn't a good time to attend Alumni Weekend consider this - nobody is getting any younger, your priorities and commitments only grow with age, and since it's only been ten years, there's a greater chance of you remembering a classmate and them remembering you! This is the year to make it happen, so we must all do whatever it takes to get back to [college redacted] for this very special weekend."

Really? Is the hard sell the best approach here? And, if so, why not just come right out and say what you mean? How about:

"Hey, loser. You're only getting older, fatter, more stressed out, and more senile with each passing day. Why not come back and relive the times when you weren't such a drag? And there's a decent chance that people you went to school with will even remember you. They probably won't pretty soon, so get on with it. Get off the couch, you dope."

Or at least that's what I hear.

And that last line just creeps me out. "We must all do whatever it takes." Good God. Do I have to kill someone in order to go to the reunion? Because if I do, count me out. Probably. Depends on who I'd have to kill.

Still thinking about going. And throwing my book in people's faces. Hey, did you know that book still makes a great holiday gift?


Tinsel and Rot is exhausted

Management apologizes for the lack of posts. The Tinsel and Rot staff has kept the following schedule the last 10 days:

THU 11/15--Mr. Tinsel and Rot celebrates his Billy Smith birthday with dinner at Maxwell's, followed by the Gourds/Shinyribs show. Pierogies are eaten. A douchebag who spends most of the show texting takes spot during bathroom break. Fun is still had.

FRI 11/16--After a day of work, it's off to the Prudential Center, where the New York Islanders play slightly less horribly than the Devils and win 1-0 on a Josef Vasicek goal in which he dekes about eight times. Someone behind us finds a wallet, asks if anybody lost a wallet. No response. An hour later, a member of the T&R entourage realizes he doesn't have his wallet. Panic ensues. Wallet is recovered, minus cash. Mocking of wallet loser commences. Hasn't ended yet.

SAT 11/17--Breakfast/brunch at the Brownstone Diner. Bowling in Staten Island (194 in the first game). Pizza at Denino's. Rocking to the Avett Brothers and Will Hoge at Webster Hall. Full day. Wondering if all this running around is such a great idea.

SUN 11/18--Up at 8 a.m. to get a bus to Binghamton. Arrive in Binghamton at 3. Trip to Wegman's at 3:30. Quick visit with friend's child. Off to Ithaca at 4:30. More rocking with Avett Brothers and Will Hoge, this time at State Theatre. Fuller day. Convinced of idiocy.

MON 11/19--Up at 7 a.m. to get ride to bus station for bus back home. Woman at Ithaca bus station really only has use of one hand. When phone rings while she's dealing with a customer, she screeches, "Shortline, please hold," throws the receiver hard on the desk, and lets the person wait for five minutes. This happens three times. Only one person hangs up. Could've watched that all day. Instead, go to the Ithaca Bakery after getting ticket and then buy some records at Autumn Leaves. Bus supposed to leave at 12:30; doesn't show up until after 1. Could've played more "Mr. Do" in the bus station. Sad. But, in happier news, the bus also stops in Newark, so that shaves off some time. Get home around 7 p.m., too late for TMZ.

TUE 11/20--Get up to watch "Price Is Right." Still not sold on Drew Carey. Then get sucked into another episode of "The Steve Wilkos Show" before departing for Wilmington, Delaware, for another Avett Brothers show (no Will Hoge). Do a mad dash through Philadelphia's Reading Terminal Market for food, mentally noting places to hit on the way back. Arrive in Wilmington at 5. More interaction with a friend's child. Watch him eat liquid ham. Eat food that looks and, one would assume, tastes better. Off to Avetts show at 8 p.m. A decidedly less-frenetic-than-usual Langhorne Slim opens. Much more enjoyable. Avetts kick ass, name-check Ithaca in "Travelin' Song." Probably yell too loud during song.

WED 11/21--Up and out of Wilmington by 11 a.m. This time, spend an hour in the Reading Terminal Market and make many exciting purchases, including pumpkin bread pudding from the Amish. Overjoyed. Get home in time to do a load of laundry and eat chicken pot pie, also bought from the Amish. Closest thing to a quiet day in a week.

THU 11/22--Thanksgiving on Staten Island. Turkey is consumed. Fun is had. Laughs are shared. Very tired. Not from turkey.

FRI 11/23--Sleep in past most of "Price Is Right." Catch the TMZ replay at 12:30. Wilkos still yelling. Attend decoy 30th birthday party for friend at Union Hall in Brooklyn. After waiting three hours to play bocce (and thus ending a twenty-year bocce-playing drought), hear the douchebag in a Knicks sweatshirt who we're playing say, "You're in the fuckin' hotseat now" right after his buddy says, "This'll take thirty seconds." Immediately flash back to every day of high school and then nearly as immediately make a note never to come to Union Hall to play bocce ever again. We lose 7-3.

SAT 11/24--Up and at 'em for the real deal surprise birthday party in Long Island, where the Islanders are victorious yet again, this time 2-1 over the Bruins. Party honoree genuinely surprised. Fun is had. Laughs are shared. Hockey fights staged on the front lawn. Darts are thrown. Sleep is achieved around 3 a.m.

SUN 11/25--Back at home by 2. Really tired. Not ready to go back to work tomorrow. Tired. So tired. So very tired.

Anyway, we'll try to be more active this week. We offer no promises, though.


Aint that a shame

Last Friday, Fats Domino was scheduled to sign copies of the new Fats tribute CD, Goin' Home at the Columbus Circle Borders at 7 p.m.. He was in town for a performance on "Late Show with David Letterman" (cancelled because of the strike), a "Today Show" appearance, and a benefit concert for the Tipitina's Foundation, where he received a key to the city from Mayor Bloomberg. Unfortunately, the signing was at the end of the trip for Fats, and by Friday night he was apparently worn out and not up to the signing. According to the highly entertaining blog of the trip kept by Times-Picayune writer Keith Spera, Fats was sleeping at the time of the signing and since his hand had swelled up and he seemed exhausted earlier in the day, all those involved decided it was best to let Fats get some rest. Fine with me. Completely understandable if a few hectic days got the better of him. And even without having read the blog, I figured Fats wouldn't just not show up for no good reason. I suspected he wasn't back at the hotel doing blow off a hooker's ass while playing "My Blue Heaven" in the hotel lounge.

Plus, the Fats camp did all they could to salvage the event, passing out CD booklets Fats had already signed and promising that those who bought multiple copies could leave their addresses and get a signed booklet and an extra bonus in the mail. Still, people were indignant when news started to filter through the line. Most seemed to settle down, including the guy behind me who spent most of our first 15 minutes in line droning on about how long the line was and how we'd be there until 9:30 at night. He was initially hurt ("I woulda never come if I knew this was gonna happen"), but then seemed to relax. And another guy eased the evening's pain by shoving about 10 WFUV lip balms in his pockets after the girl from FUV suggested he could have one.

But then as I left and gathered my stuff outside the store, some dude about my age came up to me.

"Hey, man, I just got here. What's the deal with Fats?"

"Yeah, they said he was sick and couldn't make it."

"Man, that's such bullshit."

"Yeah, well, the guy's 79 years old..."

"Yeah, I know, but I went to the show last night and he only played "Blueberry Hill" for 43 seconds--I timed it--and then he played piano for the guy, um, 'Lawdy Miss Clawdy'..."

"Lloyd Price."

"Yes, thank you. And then he just did that song and left the stage."

"Yeah, well..."

"And that's it. He's not coming back. This is the last time. Very disappointing, man."

It was at that point that I was almost glad Fats Domino was sick enough to miss meeting that creep. People worry me sometimes. Between this and recently seeing a woman reach through a crowd just to touch Roger Daltrey, I'm starting to wonder if I'm traveling in the wrong circles.


Hank Thompson RIP

Sadly, the Tinsel and Rot Death March continues. Today we salute the great Hank Thompson, who died Tuesday at the age of 82 from lung cancer. Despite his Hall of Fame stature, Thompson's a somewhat underrated guy in the annals of country music, probably best known for "The Wild Side of Life," which inspired Kitty Wells's answer song, "It Wasn't God Who Made Honky Tonk Angels." I guess that's what USA Today was looking for when they titled his obit "Hank Thompson looked on the bright side of life." They probably should have saved that one for when Eric Idle passes on.

Thompson's records always had a clean, smooth sound to them, carried by Thompson's vocals, which were smoother than just about anybody in the country music pantheon (save maybe Ray Price). Hits such as "Humpty Dumpty Heart" and "A Six Pack To Go" still stand up pretty well today and aren't likely to lose any luster as time goes on. And Thompson's live record "At The Golden Nugget" (often credited as the first live record by a solo artist) is an easy All-Time Top Tenner and should find a place in the collection of any music lover. The record gives you the full casino experience, with the sounds of bells ringing and gamblers gambling captured right along with the crack band (which featured Merle Travis on lead guitar) supporting Thompson and shining on their own. If you don't have it, get it. It was recently released digitally (along with 17 other Thompson records from his Capitol years), so no excuses. Just do it.

I saw Thompson twice--once at Lincoln Center's Midsummer Night Swing series (where the photo of me looking young and happy below was taken) and the other at the American Music Theatre in Lancaster, PA (where I bought the belt buckle shown above). Glad to have done so, sad that I won't see him again.

Thanks, Hank. Rest in peace.


Fabulous Moolah RIP

(AP Photo/World Wrestling Entertainment)

Mary Lillian Ellison, better known as The Fabulous Moolah, died Friday at the age of 84. Best known for her in-ring battles with Wendi Richter and Cyndi Lauper in the mid-1980s, Moolah won her first wrestling championship in 1956 and was arguably the most recognizable female wrestler for the better part of three decades. In her book The Fabulous Moolah: First Goddess of the Squared Circle, Moolah told stories of hanging out with Elvis and Jerry Lee Lewis and getting a marriage proposal from Hank Williams Sr.

Naturally, I have a signed copy of the book. Probably the only person you know that does. Kinda proud of that.

More info on Moolah's career here and here.


What I Liked About October

*Avett Brothers/Jimmy Sturr Weekend of Music and Good Times, Troy and Hunter, NY
*The completion of the Quest for the 2007 Holiday Greeting
*Nicole Atkins on "Late Show with David Letterman"
*Pumpkin pancakes at Sweet Sue's, Phoenicia, NY

*Amy LaVere, Living Room, NYC
*The apple cider donuts from the Lincoln Square Greenmarket
*Larry David's Bluetooth confrontation on "Curb Your Enthusiasm"
*Earl Scruggs and Family and Friends, BB King's Blues Club, NYC

*Deadstring Brothers, Mercury Lounge, NYC
*Islanders 2, Rangers 1
*The birth of Dean Richard Finch
*The willingness of people with cars to drive me places