Richard Dawson: Tinsel and Rot Hall of Famer

As you, the subtly attractive T&R reader, no doubt know, the game show genre holds a special place in that place in Tinsel and Rot where a heart would be. It's a very populist genre (its contestants are, by and large, more real than your average reality show participant), and we're populist kind of people, so it's a natural fit. But sometimes the common foolk aren't enough to take a game show to the next level. Sometimes you need a host that can tie it all together.

The Hall of Fame has already welcomed the Game Show King, Mr. Chuck Barris, and today we would like to honor another of the true greats in game show history, Mr. Richard "Dickie" Dawson.

If Mr. Dawson's career consisted solely of a starring role in a sitcom with perhaps the most unlikely "sit" of all time (that would be, of course, "Hogan's Heroes," which brought us the lighter side of Nazi Germany), it would be worth noting. But it wasn't until Mr. Dawson's post-"Hogan's" career as a game show icon that he earned his induction into the Tinsel and Rot Hall of Fame. First came "Match Game," where Mr. Dawson was a world-class bickerer with host Gene Rayburn and fellow panelists Brett Somers and Charles Nelson Reilly and the go-to guy in the Super Match round. And he also honed his shameless flirtation techniques.

Mr. Dawson really upped the flirtation on "Family Feud," where he became legend. Ray Combs did a decent job after Mr. Dawson left, but every host that followed was so awful that they only highlighted the brilliance that was the Dawson Years. And in those years, Mr. Dawson kissed every female he laid eyes on--young, old, pretty, homely...he kissed 'em all. Aint that a man?

There are many fine, fine moments from Mr. Dawson's tenure as "Family Feud" host, but these two are genuine classics.

Then, after leaving "Family Feud," Mr. Dawson delivered a stellar performance as the heartless Killian in "The Running Man," likely Tinsel and Rot's choice as Favorite Schwarzenegger Film (Non-Comedy Division).

We salute you, Richard Dawson. Survey says you're in the Tinsel and Rot Hall of Fame.


Random Thoughts About the 2008 PBA U.S. Open Pro-Am

Rather than fill your screen with a recap of an event I already gave you a recap of last year, here are just some quick hits from yesterday's fun at the Brunswick Zone Carolier in North Brunswick, NJ.

*You know a bowling alley is cool when it has its own barber shop. Hats off to the person at Brunswick Zone Carolier who thought to add that feature.

*Personal shoutout to Web pioneer Tim Lynch for sending me a box full of the 1990 Kingpins bowling cards you see above. As soon as they arrived a few months ago, I knew I was destined to wind up back in North Brunswick getting them signed. Since they're almost two decades old, most of the bowlers in the set have long since retired, but I was still able to get 12 signed yesterday, shooting their value from five cents each to somewhere between a dime and a quarter. Thanks, Tim. But I won't be sharing my windfall with you.

*I'm glad I didn't need to get up at 6 in the morning to get to North Brunswick for the first practice session, but I still wish Hall of Famer Mark Roth didn't drop out of the tourney a week ago. I probably would've gotten up early for him. Just so you know.

*Yesterday, I witnessed what is surely an all-time Top 5 moment in my sports-watching career. Toward the end of the first pro-am, someone at the front desk called the winning number for the 50/50 raffle, which would net the winner $215. While waiting for his turn to come up, PBA Hall of Famer--and second all-time money earner on the PBA Tour--Pete Weber looked up at the number, left his lane, and yelled to get the attention of his wife, who was sitting in the bleachers a few lanes over.

''The number!" he yelled. "Check the number!"

Yes, Pete Weber, one of the greatest bowlers in PBA history desperately wanted to know if he and the wife won $215.

He didn't.

Good luck this week, Pete.

*Though we're rooting, as always, for Mr. Weber (the defending U.S. Open champion), Tinsel and Rot suggests you keep an eye on Wes Malott this week. We like his chances to win it all. And we think Chris Barnes will hold off Walter Ray Williams Jr. for Player of the Year honors.


Yahoo! News Reimagined, Vol. 2

Yahoo! News Headline: "Kid from Brooklyn gets NY Phil Debut"

NEW YORK--Most people don't go to New York Philharmonic shows expecting hours of senseless vulgarity and relentless shouting, but that's just what the crowd at Avery Fisher Hall got when the delightful Internet superstar "The Kid from Brooklyn" made his debut with the Philharmonic.

Beginning his time on stage with a hearty "Hey! The Big Man's Back!" the tank-topped Kid (he changed to a terrycloth robe for the second half of the evening's performance) earned a rousing ovation with his thoughtfully crafted treatises on bachelorhood, foreigners, postage stamps, Starbucks, and, in the grand finale, a brand new work on rush-hour traffic. The Kid was backed by the Philharmonic's equally tasteful arrangements, which were created in collaboration between the musicians and the Kid, who is a fervent classical music fan.

"Hey! What a great [expletive deleted] show that turned out to be, heh?" the Kid said at a post-concert reception. "Oh, man! The Kid was {expletive deleted] on fire, [expletive deleted]! I [expletive deleted] can't [expletive deleted] wait to [expletive deleted] do it [expletive deleted] again! [Expletive deleted] yeah!"

Jeffrey Bornstein, who helped book the Kid for the show, explained the reasoning behind the appearance.

"In the modern age, it's tough to get people interested in what the Philharmonic is doing," Bornstein said. "So, we came up with the idea of having various stars of the Internet world do guest spots at shows. The response so far has been overwhelming, which is just so, so gratifying."

Bornstein said the Philharmonic will welcome Zay Tonday in June. The event has already sold out.


Have some class

Something about that Celebrity Fit Club weigh-in room makes people go nuts. Following in the grand tradition of the Screech vs. Harvey battle comes this gem from Toccara, who really is just fantastic. I know almost nothing about what makes her a celebrity, but this screaming fit makes her my new favorite celebrity. And, if there is any justice in the world, it will catapult "Have some class" into everyday speech. Please enjoy (contains language not suitable for work, unless you work in a factory or some other place that turns a deaf ear to high-pitched screaming and cursing):

Or you can see it on your TV screen when the episode airs Thursday night on VH1. All my expectations for this season have been met, and we're only two episodes deep. How is "American Idol" more popular than this show? So unfair.



As the dozens of people who have read and, no doubt, thoroughly enjoyed the literary masterpiece Critical, but Stable know, I represented the great borough of Staten Island in the 1990 Daily News Spelling Bee (snazzy jacket awarded above). I finished tenth, which I considered pretty impressive...after I stopped crying when I was eliminated.

I kind of wanted to win the whole thing and get the trip to the National Spelling Bee in Washington, DC, but I figured it was a longshot based on the words in the study guide that helped you prepare for what you would be asked to spell in front of a Town Hall audience full of your peers and anyone else deranged enough to watch a six-hour spelling bee. I was confident enough in the first two groups, but when Sister Eustace (my coach) made it over to the third group, I had a feeling a glorious victory might not be in the cards. There was just no way I was gonna be able to nail those ridiculous words when the time came, no matter how many roots and language origins I knew.

So, it came as quite a shock when I read about the two winners of this year's Daily News Spelling Bee, which is now split into two days, with a winner crowned at each day's end. The first winner (I will mention neither winner by name, lest they Google their names and find a 31-year-old man casting aspersions on them) took home the prize by spelling "anomaly" correctly. Seriously? Anomaly? And, the Daily News reported, this was his third try at the title. The first two times he crapped out on "debris" and "psalm." Hoo brother. The second winner "earned" the trip to Washington by spelling "magisterial" and "agility" right. What? You're kidding. Has the spelling bee sunk this low?

Do you know what word was my demise? "Toolach." What? Never heard of it? No kidding. Ninety-nine percent of the world hasn't either. "Agility," "magisterial," and "anomaly" are a bit better known. And the bee went on past my word. I don't remember what the winning word was, but I sure as heckfire know it was something loftier than "agility."

Kids today. Bunch of losers.



I've clearly been reading too much, because I completely blanked on the season premiere of "Celebrity Fit Club: Boot Camp." By the sheer grace of a benevolent God, I was able to catch the last 20 minutes or so and thus see the triumphant return of Dustin "Screech" Diamond to the Fit Club stage as part of the alumni team, which will be taking on newcomers Erin "Joanie" Moran, A.J. "The Guy Who Slapped Stuttering John" Benza, Sommore "whose one-name moniker prevents me from adding a descriptor," and Brian "Hey Remember Me? I Was Once the Cohost of 'American Idol'" Dunkleman.

Screech's return was, however, overshadowed by team member Toccara, who threw a fit because (a) she doesn't want to lose weight and (b) there were cameras filming her every move. I almost forgot how awesome this show is.

And if those two weren't enough, there was the sight of Willie Aames, who I think has finally reached the top of Bizarre-Looking Mountain.

(photo credit: Mingasson/VH1)

The Aames/Diamond/Toccara troika (supplemented by Tina Yothers) is almost enough to make up for Busey not coming back. And definitely enough to make me watch every glorious episode.

Hooray for television!


The Week in Dylan and Willie

Two developments in the world of the two greatest living songwriters:

(1) Crazy woman somehow gets up close and personal with Dylan; Dylan vaguely affected (2:24 in the clip)

A few notes about that clip. First, when are people gonna learn not to try to sing along at Dylan shows anymore? He's not gonna sing "Like A Rolling Stone" the way you remember it. And no one wants to hear you sing it like the record. So, stop. You're embarrassing yourself and annoying everyone around you.

Second, hats off to bassist and bandleader Tony Garnier for his quick moves since I guess security doesn't feel it necessary to station anybody by one of the greatest songwriters of all time. I also think Garnier is the only guy currently in the band who is likely to actually inflict pain on someone crashing the stage. I certainly don't see Donnie Herron stopping anybody.

And, lastly, the unflappability of Bob Dylan in situations like these (see "Soy Bomb Incident") is commendable It barely even fazes him.

(2) Willie Nelson changes guitar straps

(Photo by Jan Janner)
It's not quite retiring Trigger, but the news (from Austin360.com, via Still is Still Moving) that Willie Nelson had to change guitar straps because his red, white, and blue strap was hurting his neck concerns me. It reminds me that Willie Nelson is mortal and, thus, will die someday, which I don't like to be reminded of. Plus, that's the coolest guitar strap going, and he looks weird without it.



I got started collecting autographs in, I think, about 1985. I remember going to my first baseball card show on Staten Island (maybe St. Dorothy's...my memory's not that good) and getting Rusty Staub to sign an 8X10 and my copy of the 1985 Mets Information Guide. I'm not entirely sure where those two items are now, but I do know that was the start of a childhood full of baseball card shows, from smaller ones on Staten Island (Kevin Elster and Keith Miller at the Nansen Lodge, Matt Williams and Eddie Mathews at St. Teresa's, Willie Mays, Warren Spahn, Dave Magadan, and a ton of others at a school auditorium I'm blanking on) to larger ones in New Jersey (a Brooklyn Dodgers reunion at the Hilton in Hasbrouck Heights) to megashows in Manhattan (a 1969 Mets reunion at one of the piers and countless shows at the Penta Hotel/Hotel Pennsylvania across from Madison Square Garden). God bless my parents--they took me to just about whatever show I wanted to go to and gave me money to get signatures from whomever I wanted. So I assembled a pretty nice collection before autograph prices got too out of hand. It's not a collection that will ever make me a multimillionaire, but I got to meet some pretty cool people.

Nowadays, I will occasionally head to a show or a signing at a memorabilia store for old times' sake (and, of course, Chiller because (a) I'm a loser and (b) I need photos for my Holiday Greeting). But most autograph prices are absurd today, and I kinda do the old-man "wow, times have changed" thing in my head and then spend a few moments feeling grateful that I was able to get autographs when they were cheaper through the magnanimity of my parents, who not only funded me but alsooften patiently waited hours as I stood on lines to meet baseball players I'd only read about in books.

But occasionally, I will come across a show whose prices are so ridiculous that I am legitimately taken aback. Such was the case the other day when, feeling bored, I started checking out websites for local card shows. Triumph Sports runs a lot of megashows in New Jersey, and their upcoming show is called "The Football Spectacular." They have an impressive lineup of football legends, including seven members of your Super Bowl Champion New York Giants (striking while the iron is hot); former Cowboys Emmitt Smith, Michael Irvin, and Ed "Too Tall" Jones; and legendary quarterbacks John Elway, Joe Montana, and Dan Marino, among others. Some prices aren't too crazy ("Too Tall" Jones and Paul Hornung are $35 each), some are ridiculously high, but at least somewhat justifiable based on the athletes' careers (Elway, Montana, and Marino are $200), and some are just stupid (Eli Manning is $150, Reggie Bush is $125, and Brady Quinn, who has played a game in the NFL, is $75). But, whatever-- such is the state of card shows today.

Then, I clicked on a link titled "Photo Booth" to see what that was all about. It turns out you can get your picture taken with some of the guests by a "professional" (their quotes, not mine) photographer. "Oh," I think, "that's a cool idea, especially if you're paying so much for the autograph. At least you're getting your money's worth." But wait, at the end of the page, there's this:

“Photo Booth” tickets do not include an autograph of that guest. Autograph tickets must be purchased separately.

"Fair enough," I think, "It probably is a hassle to hold up the line; you'd have to expect that they'd need a little extra to make up for that convenience. Let me click on one of these player links to see how much the Photo Booth ticket is. Let's try Dan Marino. Aaand scroll down aaaand...Oh my God."

350 dollars.

Meaning that if you want to get an autograph from and a picture with Dan Marino, it'll cost you 550 dollars. Unless you want a mini-helmet or football ($575) or a pro helmet or jersey ($600). And tack on $75 if you want an inscription on any of those autographs.

Alternatively, you could just punch yourself in the balls for free. I recommend that option.


Cheating on you

I've been focusing on hockey lately. but after watching the Islanders play tonight, I have a feeling that I won't be focusing on that much longer. So it'll be busier here as March goes on. In the meantime, those who like to see pictures of old hockey players--with and without me--are invited to check out my thoughts and pics from the Islanders' Core of the Four (the players who were on all four Stanley Cup teams from 1979-80 to 1982-83) weekend over at the Palm Isle. Nineteen playoff series wins in a row. I don't think that will ever be duplicated. So at least I have that to hold onto as the current Islanders continue their mastery of medicority (even if I barely have a recollection of any of those series wins).


What I Liked About February

*Slo-Mo/Sue and Steph, Chapter House, Ithaca, NY
*The birth of Samuel Louis Heindl
*Scoring another great Johnny Bond record at Autumn Leaves, Ithaca, NY
*Dollar Store, Knitting Factory, NYC

*A $10 seat to see the Islanders play the Devils
*Jason Isbell and the 400 Unit/Will Hoge/Dawn Landes, Bowery Ballroom, NYC
*Red velvet cupcake, Babycakes NYC, NYC
*Partying with the Chambalas, Johnson City, NY

*Bowling with the Presidents II, Bowl-Rite Lanes, Union City, NJ
*Pierogies at Sava Polish Deli, Jersey City, NJ
*Levon Helm, Paramount Theater, Asbury Park, NJ
*The willingness of people with cars to drive me places