June 2010 Archives

Today was largely spent in a waiting room again, and, knowing that I would be there for hours, I brought along my recently-acquired pay-as-you-go Virgin Mobile MiFi 2200. That's the same credit-card sized 3G WiFi hotspot that Sprint and Verizon have offered for a year or two, but this one has a special bonus: No contract. You buy the thing for $150 or so, and you pay as you go, from $10 for the smallest data package to $60 for a month or 5 GB of data, whichever runs out first. That's perfect for me; I don't need to spend $60 every month, because I don't need the service except for when I cover conventions or for specific moments like today.

I fired up the MiFi and it latched onto Sprint's EVDO network. I logged in, spent ten bucks, and proceeded to work for a couple of hours, using about half the data I bought. Pages loaded much slower than at home, but at home I have FiOS fiber; for the purpose, it was fast enough, faster than dial-up but not close to fiber broadband. I didn't drop the connection once, and it just plain worked.

That, in my book, is a win. The thing allowed me to work where there was no other accessible open Internet connection. I got to be productive -- even chase down a couple of news stories and get them written and posted -- in a place where I otherwise would have wasted time browsing through six month old copies of Road and Track and Golf Digest. And I now feel confident that those hours I end up spending in certain airports where they don't offer WiFi or charge a fortune for it will turn into productive hours instead of fidgeting time.

So far, so good. Next month, I'll be on the road with it. We'll see if it continues to do the job.


Did I mention that this was going to be a tough week or two? It is.

Oh, if you're going to be in Seattle September 4-6 (and who isn't?), go to this. Some of my friends are on this bill, along with many other great comics. Go.


Randomness on another busy night:

1. Communications companies are the worst at, you know, communicating. Verizon's e-mail servers went down along with one of their websites, but on the FiOS website, in their forums, and on the status page, there was no indication that there was a network-wide problem. I couldn't send e-mail for hours. Their live chat function for customer service? Dead. Phone? Slow. There WAS a message simply saying that "vz.net" (not Verizon's site, by the way) was not working, but nothing about the e-mail servers. I ended up on hold for 20 minutes before getting a human on the line, who eventually figured out that the problem was theirs. Need I remind them that they have competition? Cox Cable wasn't THAT bad, after all.

2. On the other hand, Southern California Edison came to swap out our old electricity meter for a new, spiffy, high-tech networked "smart meter," which, I imagine, will automatically figure out ways to make me pay more for electricity. But insofar as the actual swap, we were told that it would take 5-10 minutes, during which we would be without power. In reality, the swap took, maybe -- maybe -- a minute. More like 30 seconds. In and out, power back, and with battery backup, I never even lost Internet connectivity. Better than advertised. For once, I gotta hand it to the power company.

3. Kyle Kendrick is alternately a pleasant surprise and awful. Tonight: Awful. Plus, Utley hurt his hand sliding into second. This season continues to suck. But there's a long way to go.

4. Got one of those MiFi mobile broadband hot spots, which became viable when Virgin Mobile started offering them on a pay-as-you-go, pay-when-you-need-it basis. It will make business travel much easier -- finally, WiFi in LAX without pain or extra expense, and connectivity in convention centers and hotel ballrooms where there never seems to be available Internet access. And you can buy as little or as much as you need, on the fly. I like the concept; we'll see if the execution's adequate. 3G isn't exactly fast, but if I can reasonably do my work that way, I'll be happy.

More tomorrow, time permitting.


Against my better judgment, I went ahead and watched the season opener of "Entourage." I don't know why. With each successive season, the characters get more and more detestable, the situations more and more ludicrous, and the acting that much hammier.

Yet I still watch. My own damn fault, I guess.

The concurrent plots involved Vince hoodwinked by director Nick Cassavetes into doing his own stunt, which ended with a lame car stunt that really didn't seem all that dangerous; Eric planning his wedding to Sloan; Turtle, now the head of a sleazy limo service (how did THAT happen?) with female drivers maneuvering himself into a sure sexual harassment case; Johnny Drama finding out -- again -- that he's being blackballed; and Ari just having no time for his wife because he's now the head of the Biggest Agency in Hollywood. None of these were all that compelling. Watching rich people go through minor, transitory angst is really boring, and the writers don't seem to want to return these douchebags to the brink of losing everything. Now, it's just Douchebags Being Douchebags. It's like the whole show wears an Affliction t-shirt.

And I still watch, because, I've been watching from the beginning, and I'm committed to the long haul. I've given up on shows before -- "24," for example, got just too stupid to bother committing 24 hours per season to watch -- and I could easily bail on Vince and his crew of leeches and jackasses. I haven't yet, but they'd better come up with some reasons to keep watching. Make Vince into a drug-addicted flame-out. Have the other three end up in prison. Make Ari have to flee the country. Anything would be better than Undeserving, Lazy Morons Make Good, which is what the show is now.

As long as people like me still watch, though, that won't happen. If only I wasn't an Undeserving, Lazy Moron myself, I'd use the remote and see what else is on.


It's still busy. Lots to do this week and next. Plus, no inspiration.

Hang in there. I'll put something of value up here shortly.


I spent the day doing manual labor around the house.

That's my story and I'm sticking to it.

But I didn't get to the usual work until late, and now it's very late, I'm still not done, and that means nothing for here. Maybe tomorrow. Sorry.


Today, all I want to do is mention this site: HistoricAerials.com. It's, simply, aerial photography -- like Google Maps -- that goes back all the way, in some cases, to the 1930's. You can put in a bygone place -- say, Connie Mack Stadium -- and see the location from the air through the years.

I tried it with my current home, and went back far enough to determine the true date it was built -- the records conflict, but the aerial shot shows an empty lot in the earlier of the two years we've been told, so now we know that the later date was correct. Our whole peninsula was largely farmland and open space in the 50's; by the 70's, it was mostly developed.

I then tried some bygone landmarks, but then I thought to put in the address where I grew up. And, sure enough, in 1979, I could see my father's boat-like Lincoln Continental with the vinyl roof, sitting there in the driveway, those scraggly bushes next to the fence along the side, the rose bushes my mom planted squatting alongside. And in 1966, the house was there with remarkably little vegetation in the neighborhood, the gray Rambler in the driveway, the half0circle patio surrounded by nothing but a sea of grass, the grass my dad and I would use to play catch, the yard that routinely got soaked with runoff from up the hill with every drizzle. I couldn't help but think that I must have been there when those pictures were taken, greeting Dad as he stopped at the house between his jobs (he worked two and sometimes three), watching TV or teasing my sister (and getting teased right back). It's like that "Twilight Zone" episode, looking out the window and seeing another era, but this time knowing that you're down there, or, shall I say, a younger version of you is down there. And click far enough back and it's before you.

Go check it out. If your town's in there, you might find some things you recognize.

This was in the October 9, 1978 Deseret News of Salt Lake City:

Ah, yes, the first UHF in town deal. In the 60's and 70's, as markets grew large enough to be able to support more commercial television stations, a lot of cities had to be reeducated about the UHF dial. UHF had failed big time in the 50's, and only after the federal government mandated that all sets have UHF tuners in 1962 did UHF begin to get at least a tentative foothold. In Salt Lake City, KSTU was the first independent and the first UHF, so it had to tell people how to get the station. Most sets of the time required you to turn the VHF dial to "U" and the other dial -- usually a free-spinning radio-type dial, sometimes a click-tuner -- to the desired channel. "It's as easy as that!," the ad says, ignoring the part where you have to twist the stupid circular antenna back and forth until you give up and go back to "real" television. Things have changed, of course, and now, with digital, most stations are on UHF and people don't even know it. But in 1978 in Salt Lake, it was revolutionary.

For me, UHF was an oddity when I was a kid. Where I lived, reception was not good at all; despite being about 20 miles from New York, those stations came in mostly unwatchable. The best were channels 41 and 47, the Spanish-language stations, good for Mexican Lucha Libre and the awesomely bizarre game show "Sube Pelayo Sube," about which I must write more at some point. But channels 25 and 31 were just not usable. We did get channels 17 and 29 from Philadelphia, also snowy and usually watchable only early and late in the day; I liked how they would air Warner Bros. cartoons unedited, with all the racist and violent stuff left in that channel 5 in New York cut out. Remember the end of that cartoon when Bugs Bunny faced a firing squad, and the fat version of Elmer Fudd asked him for his last wish, and he wished he was in Dixie, whereupon Bugs, Elmer, and the firing squad ended up in blackface as minstrels singing? If you saw it in Philly, you do; if you watched in New York, you wouldn't.

Later, we got channels that came in well. New Jersey Public Television -- Jerseyvision, later New Jersey Network -- came on in the early 70's on channels 50, 52, and 58, and had decent news and even Jean Shepherd. The other one was WBTB-TV, channel 68, from the tower next to Crystal Lake in West Orange, home to the epic Uncle Floyd show, plus unbelievably cheesy local shows like the Danny Tarantino show (variety on a bare set with people of whom you've never heard), business news, "Dobie Gillis" reruns, and, later still, scrambled pay TV ("Wometco Home Theater") that you could, by adjusting the bow-tie antenna, kind of watch ("Look! I can kinda make out a breast!"). Channel 68, under several sets of call letters, generated a lot of bizarre memories; it also did a music-video format ("U-68") for a while before getting sold to Home Shopping Network. It's now the Telefutura affiliate for New York.

KSTU? Oh, they moved to VHF several years later. It's now on channel 13 and the Fox affiliate for Utah. Channel 20 returned in 2001 as KTMW with religion and shopping.


To whom was THIS supposed to appeal?

This ad ran full-page in the Milwaukee Sentinel on April 14, 1980. It was for WZUU, which was the hot Top 40 at the time. You wouldn't know it from this ad, which played up "warm memories" and weird features like "Song Play," described as "your all-time favorite tunes aired in classic mini-drama form." But who would notice that? The ad had a hideously malformed man with a bizarre radio for a head. He appears to be trying to pick his nose with one hand and doing jazz hands with the other. And it has the rather mild exhortation "Touch 96FM Put it on! Leave It On!" Not much of a call to action there.

With all of that, the station still did well, and hung in there as a Top 40 until dropping the format in 1986. The Top 40 format spawned some familiar names, including Jonathan Green, who today holds court on heritage talk station WTMJ, and Uncle Joe Benson, who's spent decades as a great jock and classic rock expert in Los Angeles, including a low point when he worked for me. WZUU today has the heritage WRIT call letters and a Classic Hits format; it's owned, naturally, by Clear Channel.

Still can't get past that hideous radio-headed guy, though. Ew.


I wish I could have reproduced this ad from the March 28, 1984 Deseret News of Salt Lake City bigger, but:

RCA Videodisc was better known by the trade name SelectaVision. This was not Laserdisc; No, this was the disc with grooves, like a vinyl record, so susceptible to damage by merely touching them that they were encased in a plastic tray that you inserted in its entirety into the player. By 1984, RCA was ready to throw in the towel, but judging by this ad, they were making one last run at it. Didn't work. Later that year, they announced that they wouldn't be making more players, only to notice that sales had been going up a lot in the time period before the announcement. Naturally, sales dropped like a rock the moment the end was announced. And that was that.

Laserdisc lasted longer; those were like DVDs, only on 12-inch discs that held less material. They were huge with videophiles, and my friend Joe had -- probably still has -- some very cool rare movies in that format. But DVD made all of that obsolete, and digital downloads threaten to make DVDs and Blu-Ray as dead as SelectaVision. Such is the fickle nature of the business.

Me? I think we still had Beta in 1984. I didn't even have a VCR in my apartment. I had Comcast Cable of Lower Merion Township; if it wasn't on the Philly broadcast channels, Prism, ESPN, USA, or WTBS, I probably didn't see it. Good times.


Sorry, too busy.

Tomorrow. Maybe.


All things being fair, to him, that is, he would be around today, celebrating Father's Day. I would have wanted to be visiting with him today; I'd have played some tennis with him, taken him to the Rays-Marlins game, taken him out for a good burger or a steak. I'd have given him a card to load up on books on the iPad I'd wanted to buy him for his birthday. That would have been a wonderful day.

But that's also fantasy, because he's been gone for six Father's Days now. Each one, I think I'll miss him less, yet his absence remains profound. There's no overstating the importance of a father in a guy's life; he's the one you turn to for advice at every crossroads, and in times like these, I could use his wisdom. While I'd like to think that, by absorbing his knowledge over the years, I'm carrying on his legacy, I know I'm a weak substitute, the only consolation being that with no kids of my own, I'm not called upon to be the wise counsel by the next generations, not on life matters, at least.

Most people, I imagine, still have their fathers around; I suppose that would explain the busy men's department at Nordstrom yesterday. It remains surreal and painful that the day before Father's Day, I was only shopping for myself. Six years later, I still wish that, today, I was sweltering in the humidity of South Florida, analyzing the NBA Finals, and solving the world's problems with my very own personal World's Foremost Authority. It isn't a holiday without him.

You remember him, right?

January 16, 1955. Dick Shawn was, of course, in two iconic movies, "The Producers" and "It's A Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World." He was the voice of the Snow Miser in "The Year Without a Santa Claus." And he died on stage of a massive heart attack, with people thinking it ws part of the act.

THere are other people listed in this ad, but way down there is the owner of the Latin Quarter, Lou Walters, doing a radio show for WQAM in Miami. His daughter does some radio these days, but you know her better from television. And you do know her.


I've done all the writing I'm gonna do this week. I wrote a column for All Access, it's here, go read it.


As Game 7 progresses, here's how it went at the beginning:

The NBA wasn't that big a deal in 1959, when the Lakers and Celtics first met for the championship. The Lakers were in their next-to-last season in Minnesota, and it's telling that the coverage of the game took second place to Lakers coach John Kundla quitting to coach the University of Minnesota. The Celtics swept the 1959 finals, but they met again a few years later:

Relatively buried in the wire report in the April 19, 1962 papers was the way it ended, with Frank Selvy missing a wide-open shot at the end of regulation that would have won the series for the Lakers. The Celtics won in overtime and plowed ahead with the dynasty. Had Selvy made that shot, one he normally could bury in his sleep, NBA history might have been quite different.


I am SO happy:

YES! Helmet sundaes are back at Baskin-Robbins, just in time for my birthday!

Helmet sundaes were a small but important part of my youth. I remember fondly walking halfway around Memorial Stadium in Baltimore to get vanilla soft-serve in an Orioles helmet. I remember ending up with an Atlanta Braves helmet (?) at Shea Stadium. Ice cream -- cheap soft-serve ice-cream -- just tasted better when in a tiny plastic replica of a major league helmet.

My local Baskin-Robbins better have a Phillies helmet. I'm not settling for the Dodgers or Angels, even if that's all anyone around here will want. Only the Hitless Wonders will do.

When it becomes a chore instead of fun, it's time to take a break.

I have spoken.


This commercial break has it all. From 1985, on WOR-TV Secaucus, NJ/New York:

Where do I start?

WLIR! This was the end game for WLIR, which had lost its license; the interim owner and the new licensee were battling it out. Ultimately, WLIR vacated the 92.7 slot, and WDRE came in. I worked at WDRE for a short time before heading to L.A. And some of my radio friends are WLIR alumni. I had no idea WLIR actually had TV commercials.

Crazy Eddie! You need no additional information, I gather. Dr. Jerry Carroll screaming his lungs out as always.

"Phil Rizzuto for the Money Store" -- in triplicate!

Carvel! Custom made ice cream cakes! With the crunchies! My birthday's in a few weeks -- I want one. And it will happen.

Jordache! With big hair! Available at Sid's Pants!

A promo for "King King Vs. Godzilla"! "Who would you bet on? King Kong or Godzilla?"

A promo for a Loretta Lynn concert special!

So much nostalgia in one convenient package.


Busy today. Here's the theme for "It's About Time":

The show, a terrible sitcom about astronauts and cavepeople, is primarily known for that theme song, which burrows itself into your consciousness and stays there for at least 44 years. And as Joe E. Ross' next series after "Car 54, Where Are You?" The episode was directed by Richard Donner, who went on to bigger things ("The Omen," "Superman," "Lethal Weapon," "Scrooged," "The Goonies").

Oh, yeah, here's a promo from CBS for the show:

Sherwood Schwartz really did have a thing about stranding characters, I suppose.

While I was looking through that 1961 issue of the Ottawa Citizen, I noticed this:

It seemed unusual, graphically, for 1961, and I'd never heard of it. "Nibbles" was by Mal Hancock, who was a very familiar magazine cartoonist and illustrator. I remember a panel he did for a long time called "Fenwick," and he did other comics, but "Nibbles" was and is a mystery to me.

Hancock was later a regular in National Review, but "Nibbles" was a footnote. By 1963, it was gone, replaced in the Citizen by "Smidgens":

That one was by Bob Cordray and lasted from 1961 through 1974. I don't remember it, either.


I get letters... okay, e-mail. Same thing:

Whitney Port took to her blog today to share the songs she likes to break a sweat to at the gym.

Ah, a press release. Okay, then. Just a quick question: Who the hell is Whitney Port?

She's a reality TV "celebrity," of course. That's her "talent." So... why would anyone care what songs she "sweats to at the gym"? Ah, there's an answer:

Whitney wrote, "As someone who's very into music, I find it practically impossible to work out without my iPod. I always switch up what I'm listening to so my workout playlist is constantly changing, but here are my go-to songs of the moment."

I see. So, you like to listen to music on your iPod while working out. This makes you different from everyone else in the world... how?

I know, it gets tired after a while to complain that reality show people shouldn't be considered celebrities, or anything. Sometimes I think they should be actively ostracized, like it should be legal to fling feces at them for no reason. But if people didn't watch, I wouldn't be getting these press releases.

Hope you can include in your news today with a source link back to Whitney's web site.

Oh, sure, what the hell. Here. You'll see that the accompanying photo shows her not really working out (unless people work out while carrying a pocketbook and wearing fashion sunglasses). And you'll see that the very first comment says this:

when i go to the jim its allways madonna!!

she gives me enrgy in her songs, and it helps me!

its like working out is my cualety time with her songs :)

You don't find that kind of cualety everywhere.


There's nothing to write about him that you don't already know, But, once upon a time, he was the hottest comedian in America, and it was right about at this time, April 17, 1961, when this ad appeared in the Ottawa Citizen:

$2 to $4 bucks for tickets -- okay, that's pre-inflation, but, still, more than worth it to see Bob Newhart in his "Button-Down Mind" days. You know, that kid might have a future in show biz.

The Capitol Theatre is no longer, but it was quite the venue.

Breaking News, reported from the perspective of 49 years ago:

The article talked about how the Hawks had finally ended a 23-year drought and how it may have marked a new era beginning in hockey.

Oh, if they only knew.

(Of course, I'm bummed, especially with how the game tonight ended. Great game and series ended with a goal nobody was sure went in. But good for Chicago. Next year....)


Open letter to the Stephen Strasburg bandwagon:

September 23, 1954:

(Sarasota Herald-Tribune)

Seven months later:

(Rock Hill Herald)

Just sayin'. Strasburg was outstanding tonight against an overmatched Pirates lineup, and I really do hope we're looking at the start of a Hall of Fame career. But give the kid a chance to develop before anointing him the next unhittable superstar. You don't want another Karl Spooner.

Reblog this post [with Zemanta]


Late, time to sleep, sorry.

No, didn't feel the earthquakes, although they were only a few miles away. Weird.


Ladies and gentlemen, Peter Lemongello:

There are no words to add.

Except: He lives! You can still buy "Love 76"! And if you're in Lyndhurst, NJ on July 14th, you can see him for free! Over three decades later. Who'd have thought....

Reblog this post [with Zemanta]

Check this ad for a political TV broadcast, from the Modesto Bee, November 1, 1966:

Yes, it was Ronald Reagan getting roasted by opponent Pat Brown in a special, "Man Vs. Actor," warning Californians that Reagan was an ACTOR while Brown, apparently, was a man. The ad was considered one of the lowest and dirtiest political ads ever -- it even mentioned that John Wilkes Booth was killed by an actor. And it didn't work.

Brown's son is on the ballot Tuesday, of course.

Reblog this post [with Zemanta]


I love finding old news clippings in the "if we only knew" vein. Take this AP report from the Daytona Beach Morning Journal in 1963:

Let's review. It's January 1963. Cassius Clay, not yet Muhammad Ali, is telling one and all that he will beat Liston. He's being specific, saying he'll knock the champ out in six. Here it is in the newspaper. Liston is saying he'll kill the challenger.

You know what happened, right? February 25, 1964, Miami Beach Convention Center, Clay pummels Liston, and the champ fails to answer the bell for round seven. Just as Clay/Ali said it would go.

And the legend began.

Reblog this post [with Zemanta]


Again, it's late, no time.

Here, a Two Guys commercial. Enjoy:


I'm staring down the barrel of four nightmare work days. The Flyers are in overtime. I... gotta go.

We'll talk tomorrow. Maybe.


All I knew about the D8 conference was that everyone who IS anyone -- Steve Jobs, Steve Ballmer, Jeffrey Katzenberg, James Cameron, Julius Genachowski, Alan Mulally -- would be there, and that it was in "Los Angeles." Oh, and that it was close to $5,000 to go. So I ignored it.

The conference started today, and I saw some tweets from Steve Jobs' appearance. And one said that it was in Rancho Palos Verdes.

Hey, wait. That means... that could ONLY mean...

Geez. They're RIGHT F'ING HERE. Like, minutes away. A short walk. The leaders of the digital world -- the COO of Comcast, the CEOs of NPR and Qualcomm and HTC, Jobs and Ballmer and all of them -- are practically neighbors tonight.

And I'm here at home, in my office, working. So close.

The D8 conference is, of course, another world. I'm straddling old and new media -- I cover radio but I write exclusively for online -- but I'm on the content side. Five grand to hobnob with the digerati is not going to happen. And I'm not much for conferences where everyone smugly congratulates themselves for being the elite. Still, to have that firepower in my own neighborhood is pretty astounding. And even though I wouldn't really know what to do with them, it would be cool to do the lobby-con thing. They bought out the whole resort, though. You can do that when you're those people.

So I'll stay over here on the townie side while Steve and Steve and many other Steves gather on the elite side. Hey, if any of you elitist... er, elites wanna grab lunch on the Hill, I'm free.

Reblog this post [with Zemanta]

March 2012

Sun Mon Tue Wed Thu Fri Sat
        1 2 3
4 5 6 7 8 9 10
11 12 13 14 15 16 17
18 19 20 21 22 23 24
25 26 27 28 29 30 31




    Perry Michael Simon. Talk radio guy. Editor of the News-Talk-Sports section at AllAccess.com. Editor and writer at Chris Hardwick's Nerdist.com. Former Program Director, Operations Manager, host, and general nuisance at KLSX/Los Angeles, Y-107/Los Angeles, New Jersey 101.5. Freelance writer on media, sports, pop culture, based somewhere in the Los Angeles area. Contact him here. Copyright 2003-2012 Perry Michael Simon. Yeah.

About this Archive

This page is an archive of entries from June 2010 listed from newest to oldest.

May 2010 is the previous archive.

July 2010 is the next archive.

Find recent content on the main index or look in the archives to find all content.

Twitter Updates


    Powered by Movable Type 5.01