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May 14, 2006 - May 20, 2006 Archives

May 14, 2006


The Vito-in-New England subplot is mercifully over and the Vito-Back-In New Jersey subplot is just beginning. Oh, joy.

Tony is dealing with his sibling rivalry issues again, this time after Janice confronted him about his emasculation of Bobby and Bobby's subsequent mugging while collecting from a Newark bookie. He solved it by making Janice owe him for a good deed (muscling Johnny Sack into selling his house out from under his wife to Janice at a discount). He also solved his Carmela problem by lying to push her into selling the Montville house she was having problems with. OK, so Tony'll get laid a little more. Great.

Most of the episode was Vito-centric, with plenty of gay kissing and bed sequences, plus Vito/Vince helping rescue a pastor and a tender dinner after which Vito, bored with working construction and longing for the Jersey lifestyle (and who doesn't?), hit the road, managing to rear-end (cough) a guy's truck on a back road (and how did Vito go from I-95 to some ice-slicked country road? Was he obligated to do so under the no-freeways rule of Hollywood?) and shoot the guy when he insisted on calling the cops. Good news: the interminable Vito-being-gay-in-New-Hampshire subplot's over. Bad news: according to the coming attractions, we're in for a load of where's-Vito subplot. Enough Vito.

Johnny Sack copped a plea- 15 years, lotsa money- which appalled his fellow mobsters, to whom admitting he was in the Mob is a short step away from being a rat. A sub-subplot involving Tony trying to muscle a pair of New Orleans brothers-in-law (one being William Katt!) into cashing Johnny out of their business was fairly useless. Maybe they're setting up something that'll loom larger in subsequent episodes, but it's more likely that they'll forget it. Meanwhile, the feds are rounding up Johnny Sack's assets, which is how they got Christopher into this week's episode with minutes to spare- he'd bought his car from Johnny Sack's wife and the marshals seized it off the street. (Moral: park in the garage) Oh, and Paulie has prostate cancer. That was HIS only scene.

The episode dealt with a lot of stuff but really seems only to be wrapping or advancing subplots. For an episode with a lot going on, there seemed to be not much forward momentum. I'm still waiting for a breakout episode this season.

Next week: everybody's looking for Vito. Where's Vito? Has anyone seen Vito? Got Vito? O Vito, Where Art Thou? If he's looking for a hiding place, may I suggest "Big Love"? Nobody'll see him there.


May 15, 2006


Uh oh.

Sprint (and Verizon) finally announced the release of the Treo 700p. I'm still using my old, tired 600, and it's time- long past time- for an upgrade. The 700p is getting some gripes from Treo 650 users as not enough of an upgrade, the same complaint I had about the 650 when it came out- $600. ought to buy more than they were offering. What the 700p has to offer is this: EVDO. More memory, although still not enough- half of it is taken up with resident programs. Bluetooth, but not upgraded from the 650. 320x320 screen, same as the 650 and much better than the 600 (or, for that matter, the 700w- more on that later).

What's wrong with it? Can't do WiFi. Can't run SlingPlayer Mobile- that's Windows Mobile only. Crappy camera (still better than the 600, though). Limited streaming video/audio. It's still bulky, with not the best battery life. And, worst, it's burdened with the same old Palm OS Garnet that's pretty much outlived its usefulness as an operating system.

I really, really, REALLY want EVDO- high(er) speed Internet access. But if I can't use the SlingBox with it, what's the point? And I can't tell whether the phone with EVDO plus the new iteration of the Blazer browser will render the All Access administration pages in any kind of useful manner, anyway (the 600's Blazer, or AvantGo or Opera Mini, for that matter, can't). And I have yet to find an SSH-compliant FTP program for the Palm OS, nor a text editor that will allow me to edit and save non-.doc or .txt files with the correct extension (no .html, no .inc, no .asp). That's what's blocking me from leaving the laptop home and doing everything on the phone.

But there's the Treo 700w, too. That's the Windows Mobile Treo, currently a Verizon-only item. Sprint, according to Engadget Mobile, will launch it this Summer. If WM 5.0 apps like Pocket Explorer and Word will do what I need them to do, and we know it runs SlingPlayer, that's a slam dunk. But here's the thing: I have yet to find a single cell phone store that not only carries the 700w (or the Sprint PPC-6700), but has one all loaded up, provisioned, and WORKING on the network. All I want to do is fire it up and see if the All Access pages (and the JavaScript parts) work, if Word lets me save a doc as something other than a .doc file, if it, in short, does what I want it to do. Is that too much to ask? Yep. And forget about testing it to see if it's a decent cellphone- they won't let you do that, either. How many industries expect you to buy their products without trying them to see if they work well?

Still, I'm ready. Before the year's out, I WILL buy a new phone. The gadget geek within me demands it.



Or even...

What to buy? Decisions...


May 16, 2006


I was browsing through my old baseball cards trying to bust through a mild case of writer's block- more writer's fatigue, since I've been cranking out so much copy my head's swimming- and found a few for guys who, well, not sure what happened to them. Like this guy:

Promising pitcher, still a rookie- a couple of cups of coffee up and down from Tulsa in '65 and '66. Didn't talk much. But, you know, you can always use a lefty on the staff.

I remember this guy as a wildman:

He was on the Mets in '69 and '70 and threw bullets, but you never knew where the ball was gonna go. They dumped him off on the Angels- got Jim Fregosi, so you can't argue with that kind of deal.

This guy was already a star:

This was in '67, and he was a sure bet for future success. A few years later, so was the catcher just arriving in the Bronx:

And who would have thought, looking at this 1973 rookie card of NL third baseman, that I'd someday be proud to own an authentic, near-mint John Hilton card?

Not sure what happened to the other guys. But I think folks in Boston know what happened to one of these guys:

These are samples of my good stuff. The real fun stuff's in a box in storage, the more obscure guys nobody else remembers. The stars are easy; it's the Fred Wenz types, the Danny Comers and Don Minchers and Lowell Palmers that really bring back the memories. If I'm still blocked, one of these days, I'll drag that box out and scan away.


May 17, 2006


Might as well not duplicate effort, because I still have work to do and it's late, so here's part of the weekly "The Letter" newsletter you'd have gotten if (hint, hint) you'd signed up for AllAccess.com:

Last week's big radio news about the Star and Buc Wild incident in New York reminded me how difficult it can be to pull off "controversial" radio. It's hard to defend what Star said under any circumstances, and I can't- and won't- do that. But over the years, I've witnessed- or been involved in- controversies that got people suspended, fired, run out of town on a rail, practically drawn and quartered, and it always raises the same reaction from me:

All this from a RADIO SHOW? Geez, people really do listen!

That's what radio management SHOULD think when something gets people riled up. But they don't. They don't want the trouble, don't want to take the chance an advertiser- ANY advertiser- might cancel, don't want to deal with it. It's the kind of thing that gets GMs thinking how life would be SO much easier if your station was the "More Music Station." Nobody complains about "Today's Best Music." ("Dear Manager: I represent the Society For The Proper Transportation of Infants, and I wish to register our complaint over the playing of Britney Spears music on HotKissMixJamzLiteBeatQZ 108")

But if you shy away from controversy, you're missing a lot. After all, how interesting is a talk show if it strives for inoffensiveness and "balance"? You need to have an opinion, and most opinions are going to draw some offense. "Pudding is better than cake" will get some people frothing mad. (Your GM will get calls from the powerful Cake Lobby demanding your immediate resignation) So how do you make controversy work for you? Here are a few things I've learned:

1. Make it Real. Controversy for controversy's sake isn't good radio. Listeners can, believe it or not, tell when you're just faking an opinion to get people going. A handful won't, and those are the people who call Phil Hendrie. If you're going to say or do something outrageous or controversial or edgy, either mean it or make it really funny. Getting fired for something you don't even believe, or that wasn't even funny, just isn't going to make you proud. Might as well make it count. (And, no, threatening someone's child isn't something you'll be proud to have done, no matter how it makes you feel now)

2. Know That Management, Given The Opportunity , Will Disavow Any Knowledge Of You. Go ahead and make sure everyone in the building's on board with what you plan to say, but when the pickets show up and the advertisers start to pull schedules off the air, your GM will most likely not say "I approved the bit and support my talent's freedom of speech." Those GMs are someone else's boss, or in your fantasies. YOUR boss will tell the web guy to wipe your name and picture off the station website- there'll be an empty space in your slot- and will give the protestors their own weekend show. Funny- the bigger the market I worked in and the bigger the company that owned the stations, the more controversy-shy the GMs got.

3. The Dump Button Is Not Ornamental. If you just said something that you think may cause imminent unemployment, hit the button. If you're a producer or board op sitting by the delay button and you hear something that you know is going to be a career-ender, hit the button and deal with the irate talent later. Sure, it's aggravating when someone hits the button on you, but sometimes, you're better off that way. (That incident in St. Louis would have come and gone without trouble had someone just hit the button)

4. Don't Say You're Sorry Unless You Are. Try not to apologize if you don't mean it. But if you must, please, don't do it through your lawyer or agent. Do it yourself. Having your mouthpiece do it is just too, you know, Hollywood .

5. Don't Be Afraid. Yeah, with all that, if you have something to say that might be trouble but you truly believe is worth doing, do it. It's easier to live with yourself that way. Besides, you'll eventually find another job. Which reminds me that if you're on satellite radio, it's a different story. But most of you aren't on satellite radio.


May 18, 2006


You're a fan of 70's-80's baseball? Well, check this out: this was the roster insert for the game program for the Richmond Braves-Tidewater Tides International League game of September 2, 1976.

My dad and I were there at Met Park in Norfolk, in an intermittent driving rainstorm, mostly standing against the press box wall behind home plate, watching the last game of the season. And there were more future major leaguers than I remembered: Richmond was managed by Jack McKeon and had an awkward catcher named Dale Murphy that they were talking about converting to another position. Jim Brazeale was at first and destined to bounce back up to the Atlanta roster. Reggie Sanders had the 16 homers and 70 RBIs, but was on his way down- he had a cup with Detroit the year before, but never played in the majors again. (The Reggie Sanders of the 90s was a different guy. And this Chico Ruiz wasn't the same as the one that stole home in 1964, although this one played a little bit in the majors, too) Barry Bonnell, Brian Asselstine, Preston Hanna, Billy Champion, Bob Beall, Norm Angelini, Al Autry (one game, one win!), Rick Camp, Mickey Mahler, Jamie Easterly- there were a LOT of mediocre-and-less major leaguers on that roster. On the Tides, John Stearns, Benny Ayala, Jim Dwyer, Jackson Todd, Brock Pemberton, Billy Baldwin, Mark DeJohn... and, of course, Bill Dancy, who didn't make it as a player but has a job with which I might be familiar.

That's what I love about minor league ball- there's always a chance you'll see someone you'll someday be able to say you got to see before he was a star. 30 years ago, standing in the rain in Norfolk watching these guys play out the string, I wondered if it was worth it. No hall-of-famers on the field, but, yeah, it was worth it.


May 19, 2006


Here's one for those of you in Atlanta who will undoubtedly recognize these three guys, two of whom joined the Braves that year, pictured in the Braves' 1976 yearbook:

Photographer: "Okay, guys, let's do an action shot. Let's get you holding some mics."

Ernie: "But we're eating lunch."

Photographer: "That's okay, just grab whatever you have. A spoon will do."

Skip: "As long as we don't step on downed power lines!"

Pete: "Mel Ott once used a spoon to hit a game-winning three run homer in the Polo Grounds. And Monty Stratton replaced the leg he lost with a carving knife to pitch three more seasons in..."

Skip: "Veriiiiiizon Wireless!"

Ernie: "That hasn't even been invented yet."

Skip: "You're almost as much of a dork as your son."

Okay, I'll leave the imaginary Skip Caray banter to Larry Wachs, who does it far better than I. But how 'bout that 1976 look? Skip's rocking the same hair as the next door neighbor on "That 70's Show" and the same clothes, too- leisure suit and tinted glasses, ready to hit Buckhead hard. Pete, who was 31 at the time, is caught between a more conservative look- corduroy sports jacket, tie, discount glasses- and Mod (longish combover, epic shirt collar). And Ernie evidently raided Lindsey Nelson's closet for that jacket. The guys also seem to be looking in three different directions.

Skip and Pete are still on the job, 30 years later. Not bad.


May 20, 2006


Ladies and gentlemen, the winner of the Unfortunate Name Award for 2006:

Seriously, dude, you could have saved yourself a lot of abuse by going with "Richard Morris."

(Dick is a retired TRW guy who runs the local community theater, meaning that he brings a succession of Z-list ex-sitcom-star talent to do road-show versions of plays (Eddie "The Big Ragu" Mekka in "Art." Really.) and lots of musical/cabaret showcases mostly appealing to the very elderly, and rents it out. Good for you, Mr. Moe)


About May 2006

This page contains all entries posted to PMSimon.com in May 2006. They are listed from oldest to newest.

May 7, 2006 - May 13, 2006 is the previous archive.

May 21, 2006 - May 27, 2006 is the next archive.

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