20. February 2017 · Comments Off on PerryVision! President’s Day Special Plus One · Categories: All Access, Radio, Video

Here’s Friday’s and Monday’s PerryVision! videos on talk radio for AllAccess.com.

First up, from just before Friday’s deluge hit, on the devaluation of the human part of radio:

And today’s hit, on the value of independence for talk radio hosts and the danger of hitching your wagon to the wrong star:

15. February 2017 · Comments Off on PerryVision! Trifecta: Snow, Hollywood, and Diversity · Categories: All Access, Podcasting, Radio, Video

Almost forgot to post the PerryVision videos, so let’s catch up:

There. That wasn’t so hard, was it?

09. February 2017 · Comments Off on PerryVision! 2/9/17 – Radio Free Alexa · Categories: All Access, Podcasting, Radio, Video

In which the future of the radio business arrives, things get hard to hear, and the future proves it has some work to do before it’s totally ready. Plus some Ken Burns effects because I was too lazy to turn them off, and a sub-Dad Joke.

08. February 2017 · Comments Off on PerryVision! 2/8/17 — Crow Podcast · Categories: All Access, Podcasting, Radio, Video

Ohai. This is the first video I did for the new All Access News-Talk-Sports-Podcast email newsletter. It’s cheap and shaky and stupid and goofy, which is kind of the point. Observe:

In which AllAccess.com’s Today’s Talk newsletter debuts, a very expensive radio deal is analyzed, and crows interfere, because that’s what crows do. Also, a ficus is introduced, things shake, and Perry gets redundant.

03. January 2017 · Comments Off on Lather, Rinse, Repeat · Categories: Convention, Work

And it begins anew.

2017 is in its third day and I’m sitting at the gate in Long Beach Airport, waiting to head to the first of several conventions this year, as in every year. It’s what I do, I cover conventions, and there are worse fates in life, no doubt. This time, it’s CES — the CTA has decreed that it’s just CES now, not International CES or the Consumer Electronics Show — and I’m going just for the preliminaries (opening trend speeches, Media Day and some panels, one hectic day of the full deal) this year because I have to be back for personal reasons before the convention hits full speed. I’d love to be able to do these things the way others do, foregoing the panels and wandering the show floors checking out the wares, but I have a job to do, so that isn’t going to happen.

I’m more skeptical than ever about what the consumer electronics business is hyping these days, because, let’s face it, what we’ve seen them push in the last several years hasn’t been impressive. 3D TVs flopped and flopped hard. 4K TVs are selling only because the price dropped to commodity levels, but you don’t see much 4K content. The Internet of Things is coming but people seem pretty unenthusiastic about it. Wearables? In people’s junk drawers within a few months, though the technology will find its way into the medical field before long. Drones? Please. The one thing that they show at CES that will be a game changer is the autonomous car, which stretches the definition of “consumer electronics” a bit but will obviously be everywhere at some point. Yet we’ve been seeing that at CES for years. This year’s hot thing? No clue. Guess the CTA will spin that as the maturing of the industry, or they’ll stress growth in developing countries. Yeah, that’ll work OK.

But I’ll be writing plenty about that this week for All Access and maybe here, too. This is how every year really starts for me; it’s not officially a new year unless I’m off to Vegas for CES. Here we go.

01. January 2017 · Comments Off on The First Thing You Hear In 2017, And I’m Sorry · Categories: Podcasting, Radio

Hey, I’m on the first 2017 episode of the “Sound Off” podcast with Matt Cundill. You can hear it here if you wish. I get ornery about radio’s performance in 2016 and the development, or lack of same, of the podcasting industry as well. It’s not upbeat.

Happy New Year, y’all!

07. December 2016 · Comments Off on Let’s Test Stuff, Shall We? · Categories: Video, Work

Hey, I’m back!  Again!  After only four months or so!

Well, I’d explain what the holdup has been, but it’s complicated and personal and we’ll let insurance handle it.  But more’s coming, and part of it is video.  So, let’s test out some embed code for Facebook Live and see if this test video — really, it’s just me blathering on about testing things out — works:

Huh.  I have some things to learn, like spacing and stuff (I did figure out how to get embed code to work, so there’s that).  So, more of that coming, only talking about radio stuff and podcasting stuff and other stuff because I get bored with radio stuff and podcasting stuff sometimes.  You’ve been warned.

11. August 2016 · Comments Off on Work From Home · Categories: Cat, Work

There are benefits to working at home. The commute, of course, can’t be beat.  The flexibility of work attire is obvious.  (Yes, I do get dressed.  No, not a suit.)  The availability of your own kitchen, your own bathroom, your own everything is ideal.  And I’m pretty good at warding off distractions; I don’t turn on the big TV, I don’t go off and play video games all day, I don’t really do anything but work.

Which is how I get days like this, on which I never leave the house.  Other than a break for my daily run, and 10 minutes to slam down what passed for lunch, I spent all day right here in front of the computer, writing and researching and writing some more.  I saw nobody, talked to a few people on the phone but that’s all the human interaction I had, and… well, I don’t want this to become the Daily Ella Mourning, but I used to at least be able to check on the cat and maybe feed and pet her for a few minutes for some semblance of socialization, and now that’s gone, too.  So, solitude.

When you’re solitary like this, you tell yourself that you’re going to make a concerted effort to break that chain, that you’re going to schedule lunches and coffee and whatever else would work to just get together with friends and business associates.  And I’m going to do that.  My pending schedule changes will help, and I already have some scheduled.  But it’s an effort, especially when you live, as I do, very far, far away from everyone you know.  That leads to conversations like this:

“Okay, let’s do lunch on Friday.  Where’s your office?”

“Palos Verdes.”

Long pause.  “Um… Let’s meet up here.”

But I will.  I will get in the car and drive and drive and meet up with people, because if I stay in the office all by myself, I am going to do crazy things like talk to myself and write blog posts about how I work alone and have no human interac…

Never mind.  If you’re in the L.A. area and know me and want to grab lunch, all I’m saying is that I’m open to that possibility more than ever.  A change of scenery is always a good idea.

10. August 2016 · Comments Off on Updates: Missing Ella and Fixing Up This Place · Categories: Cat, Work

IMG_1170Most of the last 24 hours have been a blur, but recovering from the events of yesterday has… well, I’m functioning and ambulatory, so there’s that. We cleared out as much of Ella’s belongings as we could in an attempt to keep from being triggered at every turn, but even without the accessories, I’ve been finding myself looking for her in her usual places — the couch in the library, the bed, the other bed — and quickly closing the front door to keep her from running out, and going to the cupboard to get some food for her. And in each instance, it stings. I suppose I’ll be doing that for a while. Fran says she’s doing the same thing. There’ll be a period of adjustment, that much I know.

Adjustment is the watchword here at this site, too. My daily work schedule is about to change, and while the specifics are not relevant to anyone but me, it means more time to do new things, and old things I’ve neglected. The latter would include this site, which I know has been a wasteland for a while. With more time to just write whatever I want, I think I’ll be a little more active here, not for any reason other than I like to write and not everything fits in a tweet. I can’t guarantee something every day, or even anything coherent and interesting, but I’ll be here. At least it’s free.

09. August 2016 · Comments Off on Ella, 2001-2016 · Categories: Cat, Family · Tags: , , , ,

ella0503

I know.

I know cats don’t have the same cognizance that humans do. They don’t understand language, they don’t perceive things the same way, and we don’t know if they experience the same emotions. We anthropomorphize them, projecting what we want them to be thinking and feeling, whether or not they really do. I get that.

Yet, I do everything that every other cat “parent” does, especially since we are the stereotypical childless-couple-with-cat. Ella was our child, our fuzzy, inscrutable daughter. We loved her, she was our family, and now she’s gone.

I know, “only a cat.” It still hurts.

Ella came into our lives as a surprise, and she left us almost as quickly as she arrived.

First, her entrance came at a time when we really needed her and just didn’t know it. It was in the aftermath of 9/11, a few months after the attacks, and we were killing time on a Saturday afternoon when Fran said she wanted to look at kittens for adoption. She’d long been on that campaign, and I’d been resistant — allergies and the need to devote time and effort (and money) into taking care of a pet were my objections, and I had in the back of my mind the fear of welcoming a new family member who we, based on all actuarial tables, would have to see pass away in a decade or so as well. But I was feeling a little generous that day, so we walked into a Redondo Beach pet food store and looked at the available cats.

“I have my heart set on a kitten,” Fran told the woman in charge of the adoptions, who responded that it wasn’t “kitten season” (a thing that I was unaware was a thing until that moment), but that she thought an adoption service in Long Beach might have some.

“How long will it take to get to the PetSmart in Long Beach?,” Fran asked. About 20 minutes, I volunteered. She thought that it wasn’t worth the drive, but — I told you I was feeling generous, and, besides, I wanted to duck into the Barnes and Noble there anyway — I said, oh, it’s not that far.

Ella 022105And that’s how we ended up at a PetSmart in Long Beach, looking at cats being given up for adoption, and while Fran was in the room with all the cages, I stood by, basically disinterested, until I looked down at a pet carrier on a card table and saw two eyes staring up at me. I asked the people running the adoption if the cat in the carrier was available, and they said yes, she was picked up from a playground in Long Beach not too long before and had just been trained by the leader of the adoption agency. I asked if I could see her, and within seconds, a little Torti kitten was clinging to my shirt, looking up at me and being as adorable as any creature ever to walk the earth. Within a half hour, we were on our way home with a kitten and a car full of cat food, toys, and accessories, and a driver who was not expecting to be bringing home a cat when he woke up that morning.

But we needed her. Fran christened her Ella, and I added a surname, “The World’s Most Famous Cat,” because I thought it would be funny to force that into Google searches. (It wasn’t.) And for the next 15 years, she brought us love and joy and warmth and fun, and hair shedding all over the place and middle-of-the-night wake-up nudges and all that comes with a cat. But it was never annoying, just amusing. Okay, it might have been annoying when she’d repeatedly walk on Fran in the wee hours, or would occupy part of the bed in the precise place that made it difficult for Fran to get out of bed or roll over or even move. But she was also there to help Fran recover from cancer, she was there when I’d come home from business trips to greet me and meow at me (“Where have you been?”), there through all of the peaks and valleys life brought us.

A few months ago, she went from an energetic, active cat to a lethargic, too-skinny shell of herself, and our vet diagnosed kidney disease, a common thing for cats of her advanced age. I was tasked with administering subcutaneous fluids, injecting her with an IV bag and squirting steroids into her unwilling mouth, and she seemed to be responding, briefly, until last week, when she just stopped eating. And then she began to twitch and bat at her mouth, and we called Amy the vet to come in and take a look.

Oral cancer. No wonder she couldn’t eat.

At 15 years of age, oral cancer would be tough enough — they can remove part of the jaw and do chemo and radiation, but that would be a very tough recovery and recurrence is practically guaranteed in a short time — but combined with kidney failure, there was no reasonable expectation of improvement. There was nothing we can do, and she was in obvious discomfort and losing weight at an alarming rate, unable to eat or groom herself or do anything anymore. It was time.

The two days between the vet’s determination that Ella wasn’t going to make it and the appointment were agonizing. Nobody knows what’s on a cat’s mind — we don’t even know what their thought process is like — but to see her curled on the couch, or on the bed, or walking, slowly, around was truly sad. She doesn’t know what’s going on, I thought. She doesn’t know that she’s about to die. She doesn’t know what or why or how. And we can’t communicate any of it to her. All she knows is that she’s hurting.

We cried ourselves to sleep last night, Ella curled up next to Fran as always. They were in the same position when I woke up at 3 am for work. I put food out for Ella, but she couldn’t eat. And I did my best to work through it all, but it’s hard to be funny when the tears are welling up.

She knew. Okay, maybe she didn’t know exactly what was going to happen, but she knew something was up nonetheless. That would explain why she did something today that she hadn’t for a long time, paw at Fran’s face to wake her up. And why she was walking around as if she was taking a tour, one last tour, of the house that was her world for 15 years. And why she climbed into a cubby hole in her bed/scratching post, one she hadn’t been in for years. And why she then hid under the bed and snarled when I went to prod her out of there. Something wicked this way comes, she probably thought. Or maybe she wanted to go out on her own terms, in that cubby hole or under the bed, the way, my friend Johnny reminded me, that feral animals go off into the woods and find a private spot in which to expire. But it really did seem like she knew, and as we got her in the pet carrier and took her out of the house, she howled a couple of times before giving up. By the time we got to the animal hospital and into the room, she was curled up at one end of the carrier, silent, seemingly resigned to her fate.

I thought I could not bear to be in the room for the final moments. The idea that the last memory I would have of Ella would be of her being scrawny, vulnerable, scared, cowering on a table at the veterinarian’s office while her life was “peacefully” going away was incomprehensible to me. But when the time came, Fran’s explanation of why she would be there with Ella at the final moments — “I don’t want her to go alone” — echoed in my mind, so there I was, petting and murmuring my love and regret to her and bawling my eyes out.

She went as quietly and peacefully as they say it goes — first, taken back for a sedative and a catheter, then returned to the room, placed on a blanket, and after a few minutes of alone-time with us, Dr. Amy gave her three injections through the catheter and within 30 seconds, she was gone. And that, unfortunately, is the image burned into my mind right now, just as I feared: Ella, on her side, eyes open but no movement, jaw disfigured from the cancer, shedding fur on the blanket. That was last-two-months Ella. I would rather remember the other 14-1/2 years, and I suppose that’ll come back soon enough.

It would be different if we could reorder our memories to take away those last moments and instead remember only the happy days. If that were possible, I wouldn’t have the last image of my father being of a frail elderly man in extreme pain propped up in a hospice bed, or my mother, only a few years older at the time than I am now, lying helpless in a bed at a New York hospital as the cancer took away her will to fight. I’d only have the memory of my dad playing tennis and basketball and enjoying every second of life, and my mom doting on me and my sister and talking in Yiddish on the telephone, secure in the (mistaken) knowledge that we couldn’t understand what she was saying.

And I’d have only the memory of Ella scooting past my ankles and rubbing up against my office chair in an always-successful attempt to get me to rub her, or chasing down little rubber soccer balls I’d throw while marveling at a cat playing fetch. I’d remember the midnight wake-up calls — tap tap tap tap HEADBUTT — and the adorable tableau of Fran sleeping with Ella curled up right beside her in her customary position. But for now, I have the memory of a cold veterinarian’s office and Ella laying still on a blue blanket. That’ll be with me for a while, maybe forever.

The last few weeks, though, were relatively fast. Her deterioration was swift, and for that I might have to be thankful, because, as so many people will say in these situations, at least she didn’t suffer long. That leaves unspoken the part where I wonder why she had to suffer at all. We’ll never know. Having a shorter period of pain doesn’t make having to have endured the pain any less excruciating. And pain has a way of making a minute seem like an eternity.

So we mourn, we cry, we feel guilt, we deal with it. I will miss my daily office companion, our sleep buddy, our unconditionally loving family member. We will remove all the things we had around the house for her, the toys, the litter box, the water fountain, the steps we put by the bed so she could more easily join us each night. The hair she shed all over the place will eventually be vacuumed up, although I doubt we’ll ever get all of it. The bathroom that has been her domain for 15 years will be reclaimed. Soon enough, there will be little physical trace of her life in this house.

Except that when I said that “now, she’s gone,” that wasn’t quite correct. She will be here as long as we are. And she will be with us wherever we go, whatever happens. She was not “only a cat.” She was our family.