Sunday, January 29, 2006

Klein + King - A Political Awakening

Its looking like Sam Alito is headed to the Supreme Court… and since I have never really gotten too political on this blog.. I figured that after almost three months here... why not find out more about what makes ol’ Nate tick politically?

I grew up in a home that was not particularly politically active. My parents voted Democrat.. and that was about it. There really wasn’t much political talk. However, I did realize several years ago that my mother was more liberal than I thought when it became public knowledge that Rudy Guiliani was having an affair while still married to Donna Hanover. My mother didn’t think it was such a big deal… while I was mortified.. Maybe its because I always liked Hanover back to the days when she anchored the Action News (or was it INN News) on Channel 11 in the pre-CW pre-WB days when Channel 11 was known as 11 Alive! Boy was she hot back then!

Speaking of WB.. Now that it has merged with UPN what is going to happen to Channel 9? I can’t believe Channel 9 officials didn’t get much advance notice of UPN’s demise. Since it won’t have any more UPN awful programming it has to come up with its own prime time shows, they have to go back to the old days of Channel 9 when they aired those horrible holiday commercials where terrified kids looked in the camera saying "My daddy works at Channel 9". Maybe they can get a sports package since local NBA and NHL fans never get to see their teams on broadcast TV.. Or perhaps they might get a game show block… They might also show movies. Or will they revert back to the old days when they had such locally produced shows like Morton Downey, 9 Broadcast Plaza and The Richard Bey Show?. It will be like being back in the late 80s.

Speaking of the late 80s that was when I saw the first of two landmark events that led to my Political Awakening. Back in 1988 a Long Island family had what they thought was a private situation involving a comatose pregnant woman. Nancy Klein suffered head injuries in a car crash, and doctors determined that if they aborted the fetus the woman would be able to wake from her coma. The husband agreed. But, before they had a chance to perform the abortion, 2 local Right to Life Organizations sued to become legal guardians to block the abortion from taking place. The case actually made it to the Supreme Court but they booted the crazy guardian scheme and allowed the abortion. Nancy woke up from her coma and although she is not 100%, she now delivers speeches to Pro Choice Groups.

The Nancy Klein event was when I permanently became Pro-Choice, and realized how scary life would be if the Supreme Court ever overturns Roe v Wade. I don’t necessarily think abortion is right.. but it must remain legal. I also realized this issue doesn’t have much to do with abortion… but about morons who want to butt into personal family decisions. The Right to Lifers, as evidenced by the Klein case are out of control and need to be stopped before things get too far... especially the extreme religious right. Sadly, this hasn’t stopped Bush from being elected TWICE.. And in reality the President’s most powerful job… is picking the Supreme Court justices who will ultimately keep or reject this law.

Who knows how the courts will rule on these type of topics if Bush keeps picking justices? The Right Wingers only care about their extreme beliefs and their attempts to overturn Roe v Wade could lead to a lot of scenarios. Lets say a rape victim wants an abortion.. . Amazingly some right wingers will say the procedure is ok if she was “raped” and that means a “crime” was committed.. Which means without a conviction, there was no crime, and then we will live in a society where victims of rape and incest will be forced to carry a baby. Do you really think a rapist would be convicted before the point where it would be safe to abort a fetus?

Exhibit B … Terri Schiavo’s feeding tube. A family got into a debate about keeping her alive.. Once we saw the interviews with these family members it became apparent that this was the opening of a scab caused by a long running family feud between Terri’s parents and husband that started way before she suffered her brain injury. The extreme right wingers got wind of this intensely personal and private family feud, . and the next thing you know a crazy circus started outside Schiavos nursing home. And all because the right wing right to lifers felt it was their obligation to keep Terri alive. Since her death, there hasn’t been one iota of evidence that she had any type of brain function but the last month of her life the huge protests truly showed how incredibly evil some of these right wingers can get..

I like to see what other people think about these issues so I regularly read the letters to the editor. I always find something interesting, but a letter in a recent Jewish State struck me as THE most absurd thing I have ever read. The writer was commenting about a public Hannukah lighting ceremony in Edison. The rabbi of a local synagogue led the group in the prayers for the candles and at the end threw in a comment that the participants should pray for a painful death for the President of Iran in light of his comments that the Holocaust never happened and that he wants to get rid of Israel in the context of his building up his collection of nuclear arms.

The writer criticizes the Rabbi for wishing this on the Iranian president. And he’s right.. We shouldn’t be wishing a long tortured death on this man…. We should be wishing him a quick sudden death. A long drawn out death will give these evil spawns of Satan time to get an interim government together, while a sudden death will catch them off guard. Incidentally, this president whose health this Jewish State reader is concerned about recently made Parade Magazine’s Casey Kasem like Top 10 Worst Dictators list cracking the list at No. 9. Technically it was the dictator and not the president who made the list… The so called democratically elected president who cut his teeth as a hostage taker in the infamous 1979 incident can pass any law he wants… if the Dictator doesn’t like it, he can just veto it. One of his newest Hitler-esque transgressions is a law killing all homosexuals. I’d like to send a long distance dedication that the Ukranian President’s Food Taster get a job working for some of these government leaders!

Incidentally, the Jewish State letter writer who will remain anonymous because this blog is not here to embarrass people, had been quoted in the Jewish News at the time of the event.. He actually went home and composed the letter and sent it to The Jewish State which ends with this Mary Poppins nugget… “We should pray for the President of Iran to receive the knowledge and understanding that the Holocaust was an absolute tragic event in Jewish History”…

Of course it isn’t “nice” to wish harm on others… but 4 times a year at the Yizkor Memorial Services we say a prayer for the people killed in the Holocaust and the Cantor prays in Hebrew for people"killed by the Nazis… may their names be cursed”. Nobody objects to that.. Yet why object to wishing harm on a person who idolizes Hitler and is crafting nuclear weapons pointed towards Israel that have the word “Jew” carved on the warhead? Pre World War II, a lot of Jews looked the other way just like that letter writer while the Nazis took power. Just keep in mind that according to the Drudge Report, these same Iranian leaders are hoping to put "all of Israel into the same coma that Sharon has been in". As the saying goes.. “al teera - Never Forget’!!!

Speaking of Israel we could have a Schiavo issue there too. It seems obvious that Prime Minister Sharon’s brain function is quite minimal and almost non-existent after his stroke. This is not to be confused with the Palestinians who voted in Hamas last week, and killed any chance for peace. Of course this was part of President Bush‘s brilliant idea to bring “democracy“ to the Middle East… That‘s why our boys are in Iraq.. fighting for more Middle Eastern “democracy“. Maybe the injuries suffered by high profile ABC News anchorman Bob Woodruff will wake people up to the colossal waste of time this Iraqi war has become. One would think the heartbreaking plight of Cindy Sheehan would be a wake up call…. instead she has been the target of scorn by Bush lackeys such as Bill O’Reilly.

At some point.. probably after the March elections the time will come to make a decision about his feeding tube. I’m sure a lot of the more religious groups will lobby to keep him alive at all costs. Don’t forget the Lubavitcher Rebbe was brain dead for quite awhile before the machines couldn’t keep his body going anymore. Nonetheless, the Sharon feeding tube decision will not be an easy one for his family, and its very doubtful the public will fully support his sons should they decide to remove it.

Then, there was another eye opening event that brought me to where I am today politically...The Rodney King riots. I watched them on TV and soon realized that many of these people who were stealing TVs from electronic stores did so not because they objected to the beating King endured, but because … they wanted a free TV. Some of these looters were interviewed and said they felt entitled to their new electronic windfall… ironically the so called race riots led to some black owned stores being looted. And why weren’t these petty thieves at work? That was when I realized that something is horribly wrong with a welfare system that allows perfectly healthy people to sit on their tuchises all day and not work.. And many of my Democratic brothers were just sitting there looking the other way while all this was going on clinging to some crazy liberal viewpoint about the importance of welfare.

That was around the time when the Best President of my Generation… Mr, Bill Clinton took office. Unfortunately his legacy is Monica Lewinsky’s dress and getting impeached for lying under oath when some wiseacre popped a Lewinsky affair question to him while he was testifying under oath about an unrelated subject. But, do you remember what Mr. Clinton did in his first day in office?… He overturned the first George Bush’s crazy law that outlawed federally funded Planned Parenthood clinics from even mentioning a legal abortion as an alternative for any pregnant woman who comes there for a consultation.

Clinton also did something else that was much needed… Welfare reform… and now the free ride has considerably slowed down with Workfare programs.. The King free TV sale made me realize that you can be a Democrat and not liberal.. Which is why I am a conservative Democrat like Mr. Clinton. Some liberals are morons such as Ron Kuby (or William Kuntsler Jr. as I used to call him) He gives defense lawyers a bad name with his morning show on WABC that I stopped listening to years ago. (And defense lawyers are very important since constitutionally, every accused criminal deserves a defense so prosecutors stay on their toes and don’t get lazy.)

Some liberals are nice people but I can't understand the things that bother them.. I read a column by a liberal blogger who was upset about terrorists being tortured. That boggles my mind. Who cares? They’re terrorists.. And they deserve it. And, when they catch Osama Bin Laden…. I am all for a public hanging at the World Trade Center site…I will personally tie the noose! Some say he should be hung naked by his testicles.. I don’t agree… I say hack ‘em off before the hanging, as part of a massive beating one could model after the one Stewie gave Brian on Sunday’s Family Guy, and then sell the video rights on pay per view as a fundraiser for terrorist victims.

It’s interesting that from approximately 1994 - 2000 both parties drew quite close ideologically during that overlapping period when Clinton was Prez and Christie Whitman was the governor of NJ. Politically they were almost on the same page…… but the gap got much wider a few years back when the Democrats performed poorly in the Congressional elections and the Powers that be in the Democratic party decided to embrace more left wing causes and select a liberal like Nancy Pelosi to lead the party. And look how many big shots in the GOP put the kibosh on Whitman’s attempts to move up within her party because she is Pro Choice.

Lets hope the Dems get their act together by 2008 and the Supreme Court Justices all remain healthy.

Friday, January 27, 2006

The Books I Read in 2005

Hi everybody and welcome to Part II of Literacy Week on the Blog!

As you may know from a recent post called Technology Schmecknology, I purchased some discs at Best Buy and got a free six week subscription to Entertainment Weekly. Of course I forgot to cancel after six weeks, so now I have a six month sub to the magazine… however this time I will keep track and put the kibosh on the weekly delivery at the six month mark since at that point, spring will be here and I will be too preoccupied with my baseball rotisserie team(s), and enjoying the nice weather.

EW has a regular feature on the back page.. a column by horror writer Stephen King. After reading his column, I am starting to understand how his brain came up with the horrors that he outlines so well in his many books…. He is just weird and creepy. In a recent back page column I noticed he was addressing the reader as Grasshoppah. Why is that? I don’t like the critter, and there are many other animals that I would rather be called. I don’t even like grass… I have hay fever issues and it irritates me. I also don’t smoke grass. I just don’t get it. Anyway his column did have a very funny joke that I am going to repeat here…”What did the Zen Master say to the hot dog vendor? - “Make me one with everything!”

Now that’s funny. He also did a year end column talking about the books he read in 2005 which totaled about 80. That’s a lot more than me by about 76 and of the four I read, I finished two of them. Although I read a lot, most of it consists of magazines and newspapers…. including several I read on-line. Speaking of which, I see that Google has been fighting the government’s request to turn over search records of its users. It has nothing to do with searching for terrorists, but actually involves the intrusive Bush administrations attempt to bring back old legislation outlawing porn. Turning the records over would confirm my theory about most male search engine users…. they’re searching for sexual sites. (plus we google our own names… how narcissitic!)…This is not a big surprise, and it explains why us men are so good at using searches. Some worry the government may interfere with searches so that teenage boys will only find references to the Eve Ensler play “The Vagina Monologues” every time they google the word,….. Monologues.

Today, I will talk about 2 books that I read... 2 that I didn’t finish and another book I bought on eBay that is sitting on my coffee table for 2006 reading pleasure.


Chuck Barris’ bizarre "autobiography" never quite made the Oprah Book club, but if it did.. there would be a lot less brouhaha over the Frye information that was recently exposed as fraud by The Smoking Gun Website. And boy did Oprah do a 180 from her lovey dovey call in to Larry King? And just imagine the scandal if The Smoking Gun finds inaccuracies in Oprah‘s autobiography! Can you imagine the horror?

Barris tells the story of how he created his game show trifecta... The Dating Game, Newlywed Game and Gong Show (along with a few others such as The 1.98 Beauty Show with James van Praagh lookalike Rip Taylor). However, the book is interspersed with tales of his "secret life" as a CIA hitman. If you read the book, the whole CIA angle is entirely tongue in cheek…. .. he talks about various girlfriends.. yet hes been obviously married to the same woman for many years who he thanks in the Acknowledgements. As a matter of fact I just pulled out the book and I noticed its referred to as “an unauthorized autobiography”…. a term you may have noticed I used in the previous column entitled "Jemima and The Sugar Plums". I didn’t steal it from Chuck since I also used the same term in my old Jdate profile which was originally uploaded in 1997 and deleted from the hard drives of hundreds if not thousands of heartbroken women when I got married in 2004.

I really didn’t care too much for the CIA episodes... To me the book would have been good enough just talking about his every day life as a game show producer. However, every time a landmark moment happened with his shows.. he’d get "a call" and it was off to another preposterous adventure. Nonetheless it made for a very entertaining book and elicited many a guffaw from me as I read it at the condo pool during the summer.

The book was made into a movie a couple of years back... except the film implied that Chuck might be mentally ill and really believed that these CIA adventures were really happening. George Clooney who is evolving into a popular movie director, directed this flick which featured an excellent performance by Sam Rockwell as Chuckie baby Barris. The screenplay was written by Charlie Kaufman who excels at these fish out of water movies... where the viewer is supposed to enjoy seeing Barris executing Russian commie spies...This movie was not as good as the other Kaufman movies such as "Being John Malkovich" "Adaptation", or even “Human Nature“. Those movies execute the fish out of water concept much more successfully. Maybe the fact that Chuck was famous, made it too much of a stretch to really think this could possibly be a true story. By the way check out "Adaptation" and then see the underrated "Human Stain" and tell me that these 2 aren’t the same movie. Author gets "writers block"... meets an imaginary friend. and voila... is able to write again. Chuck Barris definitely didn’t have writers block... Although maybe the Russian spy trips are “creative blocks” since he always ended up coming up with more TV ideas after one of his “adventures“. By the way, the first page is downright hysterical as he describes his morning routine! You’ll think twice the next time you hear the term “shriveled” and “overcooked bacon”.


This quick reading autobiography by Hollywood Squares host Peter Marshall is a very enlightening look about the history of the show. I will get into more detail about this program in an upcoming column titled "The Top 12 Game Shows of All Time". Marshall writes about all of the stars who appeared on his program and seems to be as happy go lucky and easygoing as he is on the show. He also gives Paul Lynde a break since Lynde was a notorious drunk who had a penchant for getting nasty to the other squares, but that is glossed over in the book.

One thing I didn’t know... Marshall hated Bert Convy for whatever reason. He doesnt go into much detail about it.. but he does mention it a few times in the book. He also didn’t like Dan Rowan from Rowan and Martins Laugh-In. The book is basically a tribute to the show which ran for 16 years in its original format, and since it was so popular in its heyday, fans of the program will find this book quite enjoyable. Marshall also includes photos of numerous landmark events during the show’s history and as an added bonus includes a CD that has funny answers provided by the celebrities.. There’s even a list of every star that ever appeared on the show! However some of the old timers who were up there in years when the show premiered in the 60s may not have the cd player needed to play the disc... but its much cheaper to burn a cd than make a tape or an 8 track.

The 2 books I didn’t finish were the 50 Greatest Movies Never Made and Spin Selling. The movie book runs through the stories of various movie concepts that never made it to film.. even though at least one of the movies “Alien vs. Predator” was made. There were some interesting concepts like National Lampoons Jaws 3 People 0.. but the stories got kind of dull....since most of the time it involved a star or director who couldn’t do the film, or there was some kind of legal problem securing the rights to get it made. Eventually I just got bored of it. It was my original pool reading book for 2005 but when the Barris book got here after I ordered it on eBay, I tossed it aside and read Chucks book instead.

Spin Selling is so dry.... its basically a work related textbook about making large scale sales presentations. Some of the anecdotes are interesting but I’ve tried reading it from the beginning and it tends to get dull. A co worker read the book and liked it... but he skipped ahead to the later chapters.. so maybe that’s the way to deal with it. The author worked for a research organization that launched a lengthy project that he constantly quotes that sounds a lot like that wacky company that built the crazy computer that is in the Hatch on Lost.I don’t know about you.... but I’m not sure how long Lost is gonna last before it jumps the shark. The Hurley lust for “other“ (or) “passenger” Libby is kind of interesting, but I’m really more interested in seeing Edgar hook up with Chloe on 24. Lost is still very original and successful, but they’re going to run out of gas at some point... and the 'secrets" the island holds won’t really be revealed till the show gets cancelled... which means the producers and writers are just going to drag this out until they have nothing else to do except build a radio out of coconuts and have someone smack his little buddy with his hat..... even though the more sophisticated viewer will realize that off camera the characters are engaged in giant homosexual orgies. That is the premise for Gilligan's Island... Isn’t it?

As for 2006... here are 2 books that might match my 2005 output... I just bought Podcasting for Dummies.... as I try to get into I Tunes... .Folks.. this podcasting is not as easy as it sounds! And I bought a book off eBay called “Amazin” by Peter Golenbock. Its the History of the New York Mets and its 654 pages long!!. I took a chance and bought it on eBay from a guy in Boston .and as soon as the book arrived in the mail... I checked out the chapter about 1986 just to make sure they didn’t rip it out in a state of fury.

Speaking of Massachusetts, I see that Republicans are thinking about having Governor Mitt Romney run for Prez when Bush's nightmarish 2nd term expires in 2008. I recall in the early 90s Romney launched an unsuccessful attempt to unseat Ted Kennedy from the US Senate. The 2 had an outrageous debate that was televised on C-Span... and Romney really had Kennedy on the ropes. Kennedy who took public speaking classes knew not to stutter when he was on the spot... and to cover himself till he could get his thoughts together repeatedly would say "Mr. Romney, Mr. Romney" instead of uh uh uh or homina homina homina....You could have started a drinking game he said it so many times!!

Mitt Romney lost the Senate election, but I had an idea... Hire World Series Goat Bill Buckner to do a political spot for him.... All Buckner would have to say is..."Hi I’m Bill Buckner and I want to tell you to vote for Romney... because everybody in Massachusetts could use a good Mitt!"

If Romney's people find out about this ad and use it to elect him as President please spring Dr. Kevorkian from prison and have him shoot me! Thanks, Grasshoppah!

Tuesday, January 24, 2006

Jemima and the Sugar Plums

A recent Doonesbury had a strip where a character applying for college had to answer an essay what page 201 of their 300 page autobiography would say….. Here, ladies and gentlemen as part of Literacy Week on this blog, and with a wink to Oprah’s pal Mr. Frey’s work of non fiction we proudly present page 201 from my unauthorized autobiography!

2001, a year, a decade, and maybe even a century marked by the horrible events of one September morning was coming to an end… Each and every day things slowly started to get a little better. And, as December arrived, we all started to look forward to the arrival of 2002 so we could finally bid farewell to 2001.

I was still single back then, and as usual, I was trying to meet women, yet I found brick walls on virtually all of my adventures. I came up with this brilliant idea - do volunteer work. A friend of mine had told me he had joined an organization and was meeting a ton of hot babes…. So I signed up.. put on my good cologne and off I went to meet these babes.. And to volunteer of course!

Within moments of getting there, I met a woman who for the purposes of anonymity I will refer to as “Jemima”. Jemima was actually quite attractive, I’m sure she still is; it’s been years since I have seen her, and I had originally heard about her through a friend of mine who in some convoluted Jewish Geography had gone to camp with her many many years ago. I had been warned about one trait about Jemima. She’s one of those people who when you first meet her, she tells you her life story. Within minutes of my first introduction, I knew more about her than I did about most of my friends…. She even told me about a cousin of hers who was born with an undescended testicle. Very very fascinating.

Jemima was one of those girls who was kinda hot.. But the notion of dating her just didn’t register.. Unless I started to lose my hearing… She would go on and on and on about all this personal stuff…ex boyfriends…feminine problems… her allergy to peanuts and how she would get skin rashes in unmentionable places. Nonetheless, she was a nice girl who I could handle in short doses.

Then one day she let a little nugget slip out…. She was not exactly the most virginal girl. In one of those streams of consciousness to be filed in the TMI department, she revealed that she had quite the active social life, and confessed to me while I was eating a piece of apple pie at Starbucks that she was aware that people knew and were gossiping about her active personal life. I sort of danced around it and told her I didn’t know anything about this.. Although, in reality she did have a bit of a “reputation“, and many of my single male friends had been asking to be introduced to her. As I walked with her to the volunteer group, she asked me if she had a bad rap… “Nah”, I said…fibbing…

As we turned the corner, she casually tossed out a nugget that she had just joined a Sexaholics Anonymous group and was trying to work out her problems through there. Even Paul Lynde couldn’t have a comeback for such a confession. Then one week later, she informed me that the volunteering was a scheduling conflict and she wouldn’t be going because she had to go to her group and it was just too tight for her schedule.

She invited a bunch of us over for a little get together that November… and I was impressed by how incredibly hot AND friendly her friends were. I called the next day to thank Jemima for the invite and she casually mentioned to me that these friends of hers… were actually fellow addicts from her support group. After I picked the phone up off the floor…. it was corded and easy to recover…. she also said she was coming back to the volunteer group the next week and asked me if I wanted to join her at Starbucks beforehand. Did I ever?

We met up and I was on my best behavior praying with all my soul that she might set me up with one of these addicts! As she got to Starbucks I queried why she was coming back to the volunteer group. Well… she said… I spoke to my girlfriends and we decided to quit the group. My eyeballs popped out of my head… Jemima philosophized further.. “Look… we’re all modern women, and we find the whole group to be very sexist… and lets face it.. If men are sexually active they’re studs; women do it… they’re hos”. I couldn’t, shouldn’t and wouldn’t argue with that logic.

As we strolled to our volunteer group, Jemima dropped another piece of news. She and her friends were hooking up for a small party that Sat night… December 29th at a friend’s house and asked me if I wanted to come along. Did I ever? I could only imagine what kind of wild and crazy activities would be taking place there. I had visions of sugarplums dancing through my mind… oh yeah.. I called her friends the sugar plums… I was PSYCHED!! I was as excited as Yankee fans were in Game 7 of the 2001 World Series when Mariano Rivera took the mound in the bottom of the 9th inning against the Diamondbacks! And the implications.. I just might meet someone and have a date for New Years Eve. I even went out and bought a new outfit for the occasion! It was tough to find time though since I kept having to call Jemima to ask if I could add yet another single friend to her guest list after they begged me and bribed me with gifts that would make Jack Abramoff blush..

The morning of December 29th I went to synagogue.…and afterwards stopped at the post service kiddush to grab some diet coke. It was going to be a late night and I wanted to be ready, so I started pumping caffeine into my bloodstream I ran into a friend of mine… who I’ll call Carrie… mainly because that’s her name and she did nothing controversial to keep her anonymous. We were just chatting about the usual stuff… I had recently moved to the area and started going to this synagogue. From a distance I noticed this adorably cute girl was walking over and I detected a limp in her gait. I had recalled some friends had mentioned that they knew a girl from the same temple who had sustained an ankle injury. One friend had even recommended setting us up on a blind date,… which sounded intriguing because a woman with a foot injury has a harder time running away.

Carrie’s friend kind of jumped into the conversation and my immediate thought was … how come these matchmakers never told me that she was so CUTE!! The 3 of us chatted for a bit and they mentioned an event that they were going to together after services. The cute girl… then turned to me and invited me to join them. “Wow”, I thought “I can get to know her better.. And still make it in time to meet Jemima and her friends!” I could do the wholesome Waltons activity in the afternoon and then hook up with the Sugar Plums in the evening!

As I was getting ready to leave, I asked the two women what time the little get together would be that afternoon.. “Afternoon“, said the cutie…”No, no we‘re getting together tonight“….. and yes it was exactly the same time as Jemima and the Sugar Plums. My heart sank into my stomach.. Kind of like Mariano Rivera a few months earlier when his error in the 9th inning gave the Diamondbacks the World Series. I had been looking forward to this shindig and had been counting down the minutes. But now I had a real dilemma on my hands since I really wanted to get to know Carrie’s friend better… and little did I know that 3 years later this cute girl who I had just met would become my Trophy Wife!

That concludes Page 201.

Thursday, January 19, 2006

Radio Days - Part II Watch Your Language - You're On the Air!

© 2006 All Rights and Tables Reserved
A podcast based on Nate‘s World of Words blog
Nate Kean
If it‘s offbeat and can be recorded… it‘s here!
Nate's World of Words - Written, Spoken, and Otherwise
A better interview for GSN!
If you don‘t like the Gene interview that GSN currently uses on That 70s Hour, here is a different one!
Wed, 19 Jan 2006 19:00:00 GMT

I recently wrote about AM Radio’s demise, fueled by WABC going all talk and Howard Stern’s departure from WNBC to greener pastures at K-Rock and national syndication. While all this was going on…. I decided to get more involved. AM Radio had been a hopping medium since way back when… in the old days Rayburn and Finch were the big morning team that all those cool cats listened to. This makes me want to address an issue and the topic of today’s audio clip …. (now also available on my pod cast which is up and running. But I have no idea how to set it up to be subscribed to so for now, you gotta tune in through here!)

Since New Year’s GSN has been running “That 70s hour” a series of back to back Match Game episodes that airs weeknights from 11pm to 12am. They have a feature showing Gene Rayburn chatting with an off camera interviewer… but it was the last interview Gene ever did.. And he just doesn‘t look too hot. My thought is, if they don’t have a better interview to show.. as a public service I will offer this interview I did with Gene in the summer of 1990.… Does any other blog provide this kind of fun stuff? Click play to hear it (or you can also click the little icon at the left of the title) and while it loads… read on!

Who woulda thunk that 17 years after starting on a little AM station, I would be futilely attempting to pod cast on the internet?

Things were taking off in the on air department as a newscaster. In the late summer and fall of ’89, I worked briefly at a dumpy little AM station in Central NJ that is no longer on the air. It had a little nebbishy guy working as news director. He was a nice harmless fellow, but despite being a newscaster for many years, he just couldn’t write as fast as me, and he couldn’t grasp the point of a news story and why it was relevant to our small minyan sized audience of drug addicts who were hanging out at the nearby methadone clinic. Grasping and relevance are very important in the news business! This was a bit sad since I was new to the bizness and he had been there for many many years and aspired to be an anchorman on WINS.

The highlight there came on my very first day. I got a call at about 6am from the news director telling me that a small single engine plane had crashed into the backyard of a home in Edison. Off I went and for the next 4 hours I anchored live reports from there describing what the heck was going on. And, this was my first day on the air! I was so new that back then, there were no cell phones, and I had to go to some lady’s house to call in my reports while I looked out the back window as workers pulled the poor pilot’s body from the wreckage. I didn’t want to run up the nice lady’s phone bill so I called in my updates by calling collect, but once the receptionist arrived, she wouldn’t accept the call, because she didn’t know who the hell I was.. So I had to ask the operator to say it was a collect call from “Nate the new newsman live at the plane crash scene!”

Also very strangely, I have a picture of myself at the scene,… and for the life of me I have no idea where it came from and who took it! I came across it several years ago while looking through a stack of old pics so whoever got it for me… Thanks! See me pre-goatee in the lower right hand corner....

From there I went to Danger Spouse radio in Northwest NJ. He writes one of the funniest blogs in the universe. I used to fill in there every once in awhile. One day a newsman got suspended because he threw a tape recorder at one of the women there… and they needed one of their fill-ins to anchor some newscasts. Luckily for me, I took the call and I went to fill in for a few days. The guy ended up getting fired, and I kept filling in and filling in until I got the gig. First I was on in mid-days with Danger and then I was moved to afternoon drive at around the same time he went there. Danger was quite the character, breaking in and interrupting my newscasts in attempts to throw me off my game.. He once ran through my news booth naked while I was on the air doing the news.. Despite that we had many happy hours there.. and the truth is Tom is a true radio genius….

I also rented a 3 bedroom house that I shared with 2 of the djs. The owner of the house was this German guy who asked us to pay a measly 65 bucks a week…but since he was from Germany.. He was into punctuality! Since I was the shortest of the roommates.. Every Monday he would come looking for me bellowing…”Vere is the little guy? He owes me sixty-fiiiiive!” I’d show up for work Mondays, and that’s how I’d be greeted by my co-workers…”Vere is the little guy? He owes me sixty-fiiiiive!” I thought of using it as my Monday on-air signoff sort of like how Nancy Grace always says…”Goodnight Friend“ The house was fun to live in, even though one of my roommates made an audio recording of me singing in the shower, and then proceeded to play it on the air. I wasn’t too thrilled, and strangely enough he taped me singing a little song I had made up about his girlfriend. I guess for sixty-fiiiiive a week, you couldn’t expect soundproof walls!

I think I was only thrown off my game twice there. One early morning 7 AM newscast on the 4th of July I was filling in for the morning guy and either I had eaten something the night before that didn’t agree with me, or I was still physically sick from seeing Danger naked! I had already read the whole newspaper, and I was struggling to get through my newscast counting the seconds till I could get to the boys room and enjoy the legal notices and the auto sales section; the only parts of the paper I hadn’t read yet. I zipped through the sports scores.. and was wrapping up the weather and was all set to head out of there when just as I signed off, Bill the morning man flips his microphone on and says… “So Nate….” and proceeds to shmooze with me about some kind of silliness in a conversation that just wouldn’t end. I was this close to either telling him to just shut up, and begging him to just let me out of the studio. Finally the conversation came to an end.. And I don’t think I was outta that bathroom till the Macy’s Fireworks show started!

The 2nd time I got thrown off I was taping my weekend talk show with a woman about some topic that is long forgotten. The evening host was doing his show on the other side of the glass in the adjacent studio and decided to test my unflappability so he made funny faces through the window at me while I interviewed this woman. Through careful manipulation of my mic, I was able to control myself so the listeners couldn’t tell what I was trying not to laugh, but I kept smiling at the woman at inopportune times and she in turn started to feel giggly. I took a commercial break and explained to the woman what the dj was doing, and she didn’t seem too upset about it and the interview continued without a hitch.

Or so I thought. Fast forward to a few months later. My buddy Paul and I are at an event at a local restaurant, and a teenage girl comes up to me and out of the blue starts yelling at me! We were so stunned by this we thought it might be a case of mistaken identity. But she kept yelling at me, and then we realized what she was saying. She was mad because she thought I was laughing at her mother! Turns out she was the daughter of the aforementioned guest , and apparently the little giggle-fest was not as uneventful as I had thought.

One time on the show, we did a program about the Karen Ann Quinlan Center for Hope Hospice. The mother of a friend of mine was a big shot there and we did a very uplifting program with one of the women who worked there that was actually quite informative and very interesting. At one point during the taping, the guest used the term “joie de vive”, whereas I promptly stopped the show, and told her that this program was being broadcast in Sussex County and the people there didn’t know what that meant.

One cool thing about doing the news there was our competition WSUS (which is now actually owned by the same owners as our station) didn’t have an Associated Press wire machine.. But we did. WSUS’s newscasters used to listen to our newscasts and steal as much as possible. Their newscast aired shortly after mine, so I would listen to it just for fun to see how much they stole from me. One time they didn’t quite get the facts straight about a rather complicated story, so the next hour when I did my report, I stopped and repeated it, and then spelled it out very slowly informing my listeners that I wanted to make sure that the WSUS news department would be able to write the facts down accurately for their upcoming newscast.

At the time they were owned by a guy who wore a horrific toupee. One Election Day he was moderating local cable coverage and I made a wisecrack that I hoped the ceiling fans wouldn’t run too high since it might blow his wig off. According to a buddy who worked there, several staffers who were monitoring (stealing) my news stories heard this comment and started cracking up, not realizing that this gentleman happened to be standing nearby.

Sadly, the AM station went to some kind of half assed satellite service in late ‘94 and ultimately the whole staff of Bill, Frank, and Danger Spouse were let go. Also canned was Doug the weekend/fillin host who would later end up being sued on a very amusing episode of The People’s Court. It was quite a sad time there and I left the station shortly thereafter to take a part time job that was paying me more than the station paid me full time. I also was getting things going with my video productions, so the time was right. The only thing enjoyable about the new satellite format was the automated computer program had so many glitches that it would constantly screw up on the air because it couldn’t automatically jump from the Denver based dj’s “witty banter” to the programmed local commercials. As a result the same commercial would play repeatedly…., it would also knock itself off the air for long periods of time, along with many other kind of hijinks. I’m sure the squirrels that were still listening to this craziness got a chuckle out of it.

But once again, it marked another notch on the belt as the Grim Reaper came after AM Radio. I left my sixty fiiiiive dollar a week house and moved back to Central Jersey, where once again, it was time to find something entertaining on the now long forgotten side of the dial.

At a later date, I will address the declining quality of AM Radio from ‘95 to the Present Day. Next week Nate’s World of Words will celebrate Literacy Week! Stay Tuned!

Monday, January 16, 2006

Halfway There (Oh Oh Livin' on a Prayer)

Well folks… as of last weekend, I have now seen 3 of the 6 Star Wars movies…. (and 4 hours of 24 … oy, my head is spinning!… what a wknd… 24’s Palmer and Michelle get killed… the Colts get knocked out… and GSN shows the first ever Match Game with Richard Dawson… again fueling the question how his Damon Killian character from The Running Man stacks up against Darth Vader in the race to be the Worst Villian in Movie History)…. After seeing the action packed Star Wars II and giving it 3 and a half bladders, I was psyched to see where the story would go next. I had become a big fan of Yoda and was hoping that he would take Annakin Skywalker under his wing after he showed signs of wandering away from the Force and getting into trouble in SW II.

Speaking of Yoda, one day last month, I was driving past Burger King and out of the corner of my eye noticed a billboard about a Star Wars promotion involving Yoda watches. I didn’t catch the whole essence of the promotion as I drove by, so I decided to go in to look into it further. Unfortunately I had to ask the clerk behind the counter to explain what the poster at the cash register’s counter said because it was written… IN SPANISH! That’s right… not Spanish and English… but Spanish ONLY!! And this is in Central Jersey!!

Hellooooo… does anyone speak English anymore? Well, she finally explained to me that I could buy a cool Yoda watch for 2 bucks…. which I did and have been proudly wearing for the last few weeks.. designating my old BK Simpsons talking watch of Bart bellowing “Are We There Yet?” to back burner status. The clerk however, had no answer about the Spanish-ness of the banner.. My dad was an immigrant who came to this country in 1948. The minute he got off the boat he went to great lengths to Americanize himself.. changing his last name, and going out of his way to learn as much English as he could as quickly as possible. It’s with that perspective that I find it insulting that immigrants refuse to learn English, and even more disgraceful that BK doesn’t have the sign in English.. I could have boycotted the promotion, but I really wanted the watch….

So imagine there are two trains on parallel tracks chugging along.. Trains A and B. They don’t chug loudly like the ones out side the El Palacio Hotel in Fort Lauderdale.. But they chug. Both trains carry viewers of Star Wars III…. Train A is every living breathing human being who saw 4,5, and 6 already and know that the purpose of III is to thread the needle and deliver them to the 1977 movie. Then you have me sitting all by myself on Train B.

George Lucas has to play by some strict rules for the Train A people. They know the “ending” of this movie and there are only so many directions he can go with it. On the other hand the Train B person has no clue what will happen in the future of the Star Wars universe, therefore the universe is infinite in terms of the film’s content. Does the fact that he has to play by these rules make it tougher for Lucas when it comes to critiquing the film, and if so, does that mean a reviewer would generally frame criticism differently since Lucas has made a movie under different circumstances than other film-makers? And in reality, how many prequels have their been over the years?

What really grinds my gears is when I am the last one to know something. When there is big news (or gossip), and I’m out of the loop, it just drives me nuts! Well talk about being the last one to know… It seems that was the case when Annakin Skywalker became… Darth Vader. I was so stunned, shocked and amazed…. Good thing I didn’t see this in a movie theater, the other people would have looked at me like I was crazy. Oddly enough, I had heard of Darth Vader and was patiently waiting for his first appearance.. Little did I know that he was there all the time…

The evolution of Annakin to Darth is one of four pivotal scenes in this movie. The first one is when Palpatine (played brilliantly in an Oscar worthy performance by Ian McDiarmid even though he does have some overacting Shatner-esque scenes) tells Annakin about the Dark Side, then there is the heartbreaking simultaneous ambush of the Jedi by the clone army, killing all but a few of them, (including a scene where Yoda escapes into a spaceship that when boarding looks like he’s sitting on a porta potty) and lastly the end which consists of simultaneous epic saber battles between Annakin and Obie wan Kenobie and Yoda vs. Palpatine.

Ol’ Palpie turns out to be a pretty manipulative and nasty son of a gun. The movie opens up with our “hero” Annakin risking life and limb with Obie to save Palpie who had been “kidnapped” by Christopher Lee who does very little except lose his arms and life to Annakin in a saber fight… only to have Annakin say he doesn’t feel it’s the Jedi way to kill an “unarmed” opponent…. Was that an intentional pun? There is also a nasty creature named General Grevious who had a little set up where he could maneuver four light sabers at the same time. The goal for our Jedi heroes is to kill this dude and finally end the war…Obie is sent off to do this… leaving Annakin on his own, and once again he gets into trouble just like Star Wars II when he was left alone with the queen who he promptly hooked up with and somewhere between 2 and 3 impregnated with Luke and Leia… (If it was Luke and Laura, I would have thought this was how General Hospital started).

But Annakin is very troubled…. Just like he had self fulfilling prophetic dreams about the death of his mom… he starts having nightmares that his wife will die in childbirth. But Palpatine who is really the head of the evil Sith…. starts to seduce Annakin with stories about …”The Dark Side”… a side where one can achieve great powers…. and prevent death… He even throws the tidbits in about being able to save one’s wife from death by childbirth tipping off Annakin that ol’ Palpie may not be such a nice guy after all.

That is the scene where we realize how incredibly gullible Annakin really is. I mean just sell this guy a bridge while you’re at it for God’s sake. This is not a person who should be left alone at a time share seminar. Heck this is one guy who would go running for his Webster’s once he finds out the word gullible is not in the dictionary! And…. I’d be scared to take Annakin to a ballgame because I’d be nervous he would see Jews for Jesus flyers and take them seriously! He probably thought nothing of last week’s Lost where we found out 2 brothers on 2 planes crashed on the same island! He’s more gullible than the Palestinians who really think that that rat Yasser Arafat didn’t steal all of their hard earned money. I think you get the point.

By the way,… I hear on the news how the doctors are concerned by Prime Minister Sharon’s non responsiveness. I hear his sons are playing Sharon’s favorite classical music in his room. Remember, Sharon was such a competitive take-no-prisoners warrior in his heyday… You wanna wake him up? Play tapes of Yasser Arafat… that will get his blood boiling and will probably cause him to bolt right out of bed! You think Dick Clark made a big comeback?

But getting back to Annakin, that temptation is too tough to fight off, and Annakin gets into deeper doo doo… and when Jedi Master Mace is about to kill Palpie after he is exposed as a fraud, it is Annakin who steps in to save his life and while doing so indirectly kills his fellow Jedi. “What have I done?” cries Annakin.. But then he promptly shakes it off, and declares his loyalty to the Sith and at that moment Darth Vader was born, whereas I paused the movie to pick my jaw up from off the floor, and remove that “Whatcha talkin about Willis?” scowl off my face. In retrospect I should have left my jaw there since it dropped again during the first ten minutes of Sunday night’s 24 when Palmer and Michele were killed and when Chloe got some hoochy McSchoochy….(I hope Edgar just jumps her bones this season at their CTU Computer Desk!) And what does Darth Vader do as one of his first acts?? He goes to visit some of the little Junior Jedis in training and brutally murders them… an action recorded on a security camera and later seen by a devastated Obie.

Then there’s the finale, as my homeboy Yoda gets it on with Palpie while Obie battles it out with Annakin/Darth… who gets a well deserved can of whoop ass not seen since Jason and Freddie Krueger duked it out. Annakin’s beating comes after Obie and Padme track him down at his new home… Whatsa matter Annakin?.. You leave for some deserted planet and leave behind your pregnant wife who you allegedly love and you never call? Well, when all is said and done, his wife dies in childbirth, yet Darth doesn’t see the irony… (Palpie tries to tell him that “Annakin” killed her.. but the suddenly non-gullible Darth Vader doesn’t believe him)… After Obie beats him to a bloody pulp and takes his remaining arm and a couple of legs back with him…. what’s left of Annakin is rescued by Palpie and the last remaining memory of a now horrifically deformed Annakin becomes the benchmark for all movie villains.. The evil metal wearing Darth Vader!

I liked SW II because it was action packed…. This one is shorter on action.. but plot wise has 24esque twists and turns that kept me riveted…Again the special effects are outstanding, and the musical soundtrack is extremely well done. On a scale of one to four bladders meaning how less likely you would be to leave in the middle to go the bathroom,…. Nate from Train B gives Revenge of the Sith, 3 and a half bladders.

Thursday, January 12, 2006

(Bo) Teach Your Children Well

I recently went bowling and noticed the guy in the next lane was throwing an amazing game. I checked the overhead score board and noticed he had thrown strikes in his first five frames. He threw another one in the 6th, but as he approached the 7th frame I noticed a teenybopper at his adjacent lane wearing low cut jeans bending over to get her ball displaying her teeny little red thong. Everybody’s eyes were popping out of their heads over this spectacle, apparently including the bowler, who seemed to be thrown off his game and promptly tossed a 9 on his next throw. Ultimately he bowled a 245. At the end of his game, he didn’t seem too thrilled, and I over heard him tell his bowling cohorts how unfortunate it was that his recently departed “Uncle Mickey” wasn’t with us anymore to share the moment with him.

That brings to mind a recent Larry King Weekend episode. Larry had 3 psychics hashing it out against 2 doubters… And what an interesting line-up it was. It was James Van Praagh, Char Margolis and some old lady named Sylvia Brown against Rabbi Shmuely Boteach and some college professor I had never heard of who seemed to have it in for the old lady psychic after he quoted a string of appearances she had made on Montel Williams Show that even her own manager probably wouldn’t remember.

Margolis seemed sweet enough… I really am not too familiar with her.. But she looks to be somewhat attractive for her age, and she must have been a red thong wearing hottie in her heyday. I wonder if she is related to Cindy Margoilis.

Although the older lady and the professor seemed to have some sparkling dissensions.. the highlight for me was Rabbi Boteach vs. Van Praagh. In one corner was Boteach an Orthodox rabbi who hit big success in the late 90s with his book “Kosher Sex”. He has since written several more books, none of which I have read, including a new one that he was more than happy to hype during his Larry King appearance. Boteach is also incredibly clever and a skilled debater. I recall several years back he did another King show about Christians who try to convert Jews. Boteach brought his adversary to a stunned silence when he used Talmudic logic about the concept of accepting Jesus and going to Heaven. “So”, the Rabbi said.. “a little Jewish girl is gassed to death in Auschwitz by a Nazi who becomes a born again Christian before his death…… does that mean that the little girl goes to Hell while the guard goes to Heaven?”

I actually met Rabbi Boteach a few days after that. They were hosting a singles event which consisted of a forum at the Lincoln Square Synagogue with Boteach facing off against those two yentas who wrote “The Rules” book. It was basically a battle of wits against an unarmed opponent as Boteach ran circles around them. Afterwards. Boteach while still doing his publicity for “Kosher Sex” was autographing copies of his book. All of the participants were asking him about the book, dating advice, etc. However, I went up to him and told him how much I liked his Larry King appearance…. He stopped signing for a minute and thanked me for my comments, relieved that he had a break from the “Kosher Sex” questions, yet not quite realizing that I hadn’t sprung out any shekels for his book.

Then you have Van Praagh who I have never met…. although maybe some of my dead relatives have. Van Praagh’s shtick is very similar to John Edward’s…. although I think Van Praagh is slicker and also bears an uncanny resemblance to Rip Taylor. I half expected Van Praagh to interrupt his debate with Boteach by ripping up some paper… and dance on Larry’s desk while throwing confetti into Char Margolis’ cleavage. Speaking of cleavage, he also is the inspiration for that awful Jennifer Love Hewitt show “The Ghost Whisperer”

That brings me to the point of today‘s column…. Obviously Van Praagh is a fraud, but if he gives mourners a crutch with this silliness that he can speak to their dead relatives and he makes them feel better.. is he really harming anybody if he isn’t charging them a lot of money?.

It's very interesting how seriously the ultra-orthodox take the thoughts of dead souls. Boteach came to the show armed and ready for battle... He jumped right in on Van Praagh, knowing how he gets people's dead relatives to send messages that deal with mundane things like.. "Hey Aunt Mary likes that you go to her beautician"... or "Uncle Henry is happy you taught his great grandson how to swing a baseball bat". Boteach feels the content of these conversations should go much deeper. And he came out swinging.. questioning Van Praagh (and the others) why nobody had channeled the victims who were killed on 9-11 so the all-seeing dead can tell Van Praagh where Osama bin Laden is hiding. I like his point.. it seems more important than the color of the new sweater Aunt Mildred's great granddaughter bought on sale at Macy's that happened to match her zinnia plant that she used to have at her condo in Florida.

Boteach is not the only one. The ultra orthodox have a very different viewpoint on the "seriousness of the souls in the afterlife". They also have a very different opinion about having their sons bris's performed by a mohel using his mouth to drain blood. This bizarre practice which apparently has been going on for generations attracted media attention when a herpes infested mohel in NY passed his disease on two babies... one of whom died from the disease.

Im not too concerned with the mohel's extra cirricular activities that caused him to get the disease... that’s his business. But, I am very happy the state of NY has stepped in to keep an eye on, and maybe ban this bizarre practice. The ultra's have stepped in, and in a half page editorial in their English language newspaper of record said the use of this practice is non-negotiable. I don't quite think they are in the driver's seat on this issue to take a Scut Farkus bully like attitude.. (I'll be using Christmas Story analogies through February). And.. this lengthy editorial actually says in the beginning..."not every detail that appears elsewhere will appear [in this editorial} ". That’s an understatement…they throw out a bunch of stuff, but leave out the fact that this particular mohel had herpes, and even speculate that the baby’s death was due to a rash he had before his bris. As if the baby was in the nursery hitting on other infants and passing out a disease! The fact is a mohel with herpes should not be allowed to put his mouth on a baby's shmeckle!! And, if the parents refuse to protect these innocent babies from this bizarre practice... DYFS and/or the state should absolutely get involved!!

But getting back to Boteach and his ideas about the souls of dead people... For some odd reason, I once got into a lengthy debate with an ultra Orthodox chusid about whether my mother watches "Days of Our Lives" in Heaven. It was her favorite show, and to me it's a no-brainer. "No, no" he insisted..."the souls of the dead have more important things to do than watch TV ". "How do you know that?" I asked..."Oh, the rabbis say so" he insisted.... I know he meant well...but don't dead people watch over the living?.... And if so... How do you know that my mom isn't watching over another Days of our Lives fan while she watches NBC every afternoon at 1pm.

In reality, nobody knows what goes on up there in Heaven... neither myself, Rabbi Boteach, nor James van Praagh. He (or maybe Char Margolis) did a live reading on that Larry King show from a caller... During the call they channeled a dearly departed relative who told the caller how much they liked the way the house was re-arranged. Boteach who was fit to be tied, patiently waited for the red light of his camera to go on.... at which point he bellowed..."You mean of all the things in the world this dead relative could comment on..... she had to say how much she liked the remodeling job in the house??"

When push comes to shove, I disagree with both of them. Boteach may be a bit sheltered about the amount of emotional support some people need from Van Praagh. Boteach is well aware of the mourning laws of Judaism, which I feel are brilliant. A "mourner" has to follow certain laws in the first day, week, month, and year after the death of a loved one. During seven days of shiva, a mourner has a whirlwind tour of visitors coming and going from the home...The saying of kaddish with a group of ten people is ingenious.. the mourner starts to form a group of regular friends who they see every day and it’s very consoling.. I met a lot of terrific people when I said Kaddish in 1985, and again in 2001-02, and it was very nice to see them at services every day. . I also met my wife at Saturday morning services while I was saying Kaddish.

But mourning laws while restrictive, also become non-restrictive... and after you pass the point of the week... the rules tell you its time to move on.. and not sit shiva.. and after the year... its time to not say kaddish..... and you watch the other mourners who say Kaddish and you think to yourself...."Look at those people… They’re mourners,.... Yet now, I'm not one of them".....because that's Judaism's way of saying.. its time to move on...

In reality it is too bad other religions don‘t observe the rules of mourning. I feel bad for people who come back to work too soon after a death and try to get on with their lives. They need that kind of an organized program to deal with their grief... and unfortunately, many don't know how to deal with that type of a loss. Those are the people who fill the audience for Van Praagh's show. And as long as he doesn't charge them a lot of money....(although all of these psychics are fabulously rich), I don't see the harm if he tells these people that Uncle Mickey is happy that you bowled a 245 in the Thursday night league. Sometimes, it helps.... and after a period of time passes,.... the mourner starts to feel better about the void in his heart, and comes to the realization that neither Mickey nor James Van Praagh could care less about his 245 bowling score.

Monday, January 09, 2006

Radio Days - Part I The Slow Death of AM Radio

He did it! The moment has arrived…..The King of All Media, Howard Stern has just launched his brand new show on Sirius Radio.. And from what I am hearing he got enough of his fans to buy the subscriptions needed to pay his salary. Many say satellite radio already achieved some legitimacy when Opie and Anthony started their show on competing XM.. Seeing the massive publicity surrounding Howard’s move to satellite got me thinking… and once I start thinking.. keep that keyboard away.. ‘cuz all Hell is breaking loose! Isn’t that really what most bloggers do? We think .. We write..… and voila.. Anybody can read our kooky thoughts and ideas.

So what did it get me thinking? Does Howard’s departure from so called terestial radio mark the end of FM Radio? Sadly, I think AM Radio is already dead and buried.. Unless you’re a right wing WABC fan, or an all sports WFAN listener.. The AM band seems to already have a fork stuck in it…. I don’t count the all news stations as AM stations, .. since they basically hire robots to read the news… and to me… AM needs personality!!

I reread last month’s entry about AM in my younger days (Pay Radio.. Are You Sirius?)…As a kid…. AM Radio was hopping….. But when WABC went all talk on May 10, 1982…AM started to lose its footing as the source for music personality radio. As mentioned last month, Howard came to WNBC shortly after WABC went talk…and he enjoyed a few successful years doing afternoons at WNBC until he was unceremoniously dumped by them on September 27, 1985. Shortly thereafter he took his show to K-Rock where he briefly did afternoon drive, until he ultimately moved to mornings replacing Jay Thomas. The rest is history.

AM Personality Radio took another hit when beautiful hi fidelity FM started to adopt the format. Z100 came on the scene on August 2, 1983... a top 40 station with radio wunderkind Scott Shannon anchoring the Z-Morning Zoo…. a humorous high energy morning show that included offbeat contests.. a guy named Mr. Leonard who called in every day to say he wouldn’t be coming to work.. and song parodies that attacked the NJ Devils, a rather lame hockey team that had a hard time winning games in the first years since the franchise moved here from Colorado.

I remember the whole “Howard Got Fired from WNBC” hullaballo all went on during the Jewish holidays in 1985. One day our Rabbi had invited me over to his sukkah where, he mentioned to me that he saw an article in the New York Times about this Howard Stern character and asked me if I was familiar with him. When the Rabbi asks you a question like that.. its time to put on the mid 80s innocent look…kind of like Ronald Reagan being asked about his knowledge of the Iran-Contra scandal. ”Stern”, I replied “I think he did a radio show… never really heard it though”. Moments later during a prayer you say in the sukkah instead of saying the word Ba-Sukkah… I almost slipped and said Ba-Ba booey… (Now the Stern historians will correct me by saying that he was Boy Gary back then… well Pumpsterdamus told me his nickname would be Ba Ba Booey!)

So how would one describe WNBC’s canning of Stern? Dumb! Stupid! Absurd! A colossal error that cost a radio corporation millions of dollars! The station tried to replace him first with Joey Reynolds who is actually quite witty and does a show at WOR, and later Alan Colmes. Reynolds had to endure a horrific live broadcast on October 22, 1986 when the N-copter crashed during a live Jane Dornacker Report… killing his off the wall traffic reporter, and ultimately the N copter. NBC soon decided to leave the radio business and the station basically died a slow and painful death, and was replaced by WFAN in 1988 which assumed the 66 spot (not to be confused with "execute order 66"), moving over from its original home at 1050.

WFAN came aboard on July 1, 1987 replacing country music station WHN. I was actually the third caller to the first ever show that was hosted by Jim Lampley. Lampley is now living in LA and was married to Bree Walker who does the news on one of the local stations out there. I actually saw her recently on Larry King Live and she looks - horrible. She was a very pretty woman but had some horrific looking plastic surgery that was probably done by the same doofus who took his knife to Joan Rivers! But unlike Joan, Bree was actually an attractive woman at one time... even though Jim Jensen once asked her on the air if she thought her momma would have aborted her had she known that she would have been born with the condition that gives her claw-like hands and feet. I wonder if Channel 2 will show that clip on the Channel 2 News “classics” feature on their website!

So WFAN was born and became the 1st ever all sports radio station! Most of those original weekday hosts are still around in one way or another.. Greg Gumbel is at CBS…. Lampley does boxing on HBO and I assume is on TV in LA… Howie Rose does the Mets games and Steve Somers shmoozes s-p-o-r-t-s nights and weekends. Pete Franklin has since moved to the great beyond. Art Shamsky was also one of the original hosts, hosting a short lived program from 1-3. The following year, on Friday October 7, 1988 WNBC went off the air and the FAN moved to 66 in a wild broadcast, as a legendary station was put to death, and moments later another one got a better spot on the dial. The old WNBC listeners who tuned to 66 the following Monday heard a familiar voice….Imus remained in the mornings at his old post on 66 although his new studio was at WFAN in Astoria Queens, instead of Rockefeller Center.

I kind of miss WNBC and I don’t think FAN would have moved into the 66 spot had Howard not been canned. I also wonder what would have happened to Imus had Howard been moved to mornings. But the Imus train chugs along and in the early FAN days he deliciously exploited a Will Clark vs. Don Mattingly debate between mid-day host Mike Francesa and weekend host Chris Russo. Ultimately, their bickering became so popular that they became afternoon drive hosts in 1989, and never looked back!

Russo had been toiling in obscurity at WMCA, an old talk station that was hemorrhaging listeners by the thousands. They hired a former WABC guy named Paul W Smith to host the morning show and Russo was his sports guy. He also hosted a weekend sports talk show there too. Little ol’ me was looking for a radio internship at the time, so I made some arrangements with WMCA and off I went to my first day working in the control room for afternoon drive host Gary Dee… who was MCA’s version of Bob Grant. Well, I showed up there and Dee had just been fired and… well, welcome to Radio.

I also helped out on a wknd show hosted by Patricia McCann who was the last generation of a family that were bigshots in NYC radio, but before my time. McCann did a breezy magazine show and over the years I have heard her do commercials for Golden Blossom Honey. The spots would start…”Hi this is Patricia McCann… for Golden Blossom Honey”. I always wondered… does anyone under the age of 40 even know WHO Patricia McCann is? Kind of a strong way to start a spot, don’t you think?

McCann’s show followed Russo’s sports talk show….and I used to listen to the Mad Dog when I’d drive in.. Back then I used to tell him that he would one day replace Franklin as the PM Drive host on the FAN, and once he even took me to Shea Stadium for Tom Seaver Day! (I should have told him he’d replace Johnny Carson… he might have taken me to Scores!) We were sitting in the press box, and I pointed out something to him regarding the game that was promptly announced a minute later in the press box to which Russo bellowed in his own inimitable way…”GOOD JOB NATE; GOOD THAT YOU KNEW THAT”. Some newspaper guy overhearing this exchange went up to him and said… “Aren’t you Chris Russo?” Wow, the Mad Dog was recognized!

I remember the day the Stock Market crashed. All of the on air personalities at WMCA had a lot of money. The key word is “had”. They used to share a big office and that night they were all pacing nervously and almost all of them were near tears. Except for one - Sonny Bloch. Sonny did a real estate investment show and had no money in the stock market. As many grown men cried at their desks, Sonny lit up a cigar, put his feet up on his desk and mocked his coworkers with “I told you so”… He was a bit of a shmuck about it, and reminded me of the Penguin from Batman. Bloch later got caught being involved with some financial misdoings… and went to jail and later died.

MCA was the first of 2 radio internships… my 2nd was at the FAN which I started at shortly before it moved from 1050 to 66. They really didn’t have much for me to do there, so I set it up to work an occasional overnight shift in the control room for Steve Somers. Back then he had a wacky show with the same insomniacs calling in about the same topics at the same time each night. He would occasionally put me on the air once he realized I could do an uncanny impression of Dr. Ruth Westheimer. I would also go in on Sundays and help put together files containing recaps of that day’s NFL games which I think ended up in the men’s room so the hosts would have something to read just in case their tummies hurt them from the various delicacies one could purchase at the local eateries in Astoria.

I also worked in the newsrooms at WOR and WCBS before I embarked on my on-air career. WCBS was just a temp job basically to help in the newsroom between Thanksgiving and New Year’s in ’89 when everyone took time off. If I did an overnight shift, I got to call the morning sports guy with a wakeup call and Max Kinkel from the FM side used to call me to find out if I knew the lottery numbers. Thrillsville!! I stayed at WOR for a longer period though. The only major highlight was meeting Joe Franklin. He did a weekend music show there overnights Sat to Sunday. I used to work that shift in the newsroom since I didn’t have much of a social life and my claim to fame with Joe was I was the one who told him that Donald Trump and Ivana were splitting because he was having an affair with Marla Maples. I’m no news breaker.. I just got to see the screaming headlines in the NY Daily News before he did.

AM Radio was dying a slow death… which meant it was time for it to be rescued. I got my cape and purple tights and little did I know that Dangerspouse and I would team up in an attempt to save AM Radio!


Friday, January 06, 2006

What I Did On My Winter Vacation

Nates World of Words Podcast

-Here is a 4 minute video of our recent trip!

Wed, 04 Jan 2006

Hey folks… Happy New Year and welcome back to another year of fun and games. As you can see we’ve changed a few things around format-wise, but the blog remains basically the same, and yes we will have comments on Star Wars III coming very soon!! Meanwhile we have a movie about our vacation, so click the play button, and while it loads, read on….

So I got back from FL on New Years Day,… and it has taken me this long to recuperate from a bug that hit me the day I got there. You would think that catching some kind of bug the first night of vacation and still having it close to 2 weeks later would be the main highlight of the trip… but no… because…


Yup… Last Thursday morning, the four year anniversary of the day I met my sweetie, we were headed from Ft. Lauderdale to Miami to visit some friends, and cruising along in the rental car… (not a covertible, nor a sunroof) in the left lane of I-95 listening to Sid Rosenberg. I was happy to hear that Sid had gotten a job after he blew numerous chances at WFAN, but who knows how long this gig will last? The Florida papers already have reported that Sid had a run in with his co-host, former Dolphin OJ McDuffie about the length of time Sid spends talking about the NY Giants. These Florida papers have nothing about the Giants!! Its all Dolphins, tons of college football a little hockey and even less NBA! There was a teeny bit of baseball coverage, mainly about a holiday party hosted for Marlins season ticket holders who are extremely ticked off they can’t back out of their ticket plan even though the team got rid of most of its players. The Sun Sentinel also has 2 pages of weekday comics. One page is in color; the other page is black and white. I guess the funnier strips get color, and the so so strips stay the old fashioned way!

So as I’m driving on I-95, I suddenly felt something smack me on the left side of the face. It was not a hard smack, and I thought it might have been my wife but she was sitting to my right! I look on my shoulder and for a moment I felt like Baretta… there was a bird sitting there.. Except this one had rigor mortis setting in. Before I could scream out in shock, I realized that I would need to pull over and get this dead bird off of me…I kind of shrugged it off as best I could... both literally and figuratively, as the little birdy fell to the floor of the car in that little area between the seat and the door leaving behind a trail of blood that thankfully eluded the sleepy headed clerk at the car rental office a few days later!

I kept my cool, and managed to get the car to the shoulder, where I gently lifted the little tzipor… (Hebrew for birdie), and placed it in its final resting place.. on the shoulder of the road. After sitting on the shoulder for a few minutes and catching my breath we assessed the damage.. And it was minimal… just a few scratches on my face. After years of watching CSI, Trophy Wife and I came to the realization that the aforementioned birdy must have smacked into another car and ricocheted into mine, because there was no way a bird could just fly into a closed-top car at that angle and not hurt like hell on impact. However if the bird was dead and was just bouncing off another vehicle that would make the rest of the damage more sensible.

So we got to FL late on Christmas night and between Travelocity and the El Palacio Hotel, someone didn’t have it straight that our post midnight hotel check in would go according to plan… (Remember I still planned to watch Scrooged… which I missed!). I’m not going to say anything too bad about El Palacio, but many others have had their say about this place, and you can read those comments by just clicking here However, we finally got to sleep at 3am after lighting the Hannukah candles and my 230 am run to the nearby On the Run store which was selling 52 cent big gulps!

As soon as I woke up Monday morning.. that’s when healthwise, all hell broke loose. My sinuses are pretty normal and I rarely get colds,… but I felt like I swallowed my nose. However once we were out of the room I felt a lot better and we took a nice stroll along Pompano Beach. That night as soon as I hit the sack, I felt lousy again, and then I tried an experiment… I turned off the ac… turned on the fan, and cracked open the window. Within minutes I felt like a million bucks. I have no idea what kind of garbage was in the air ducts or mold that may have been in that room , but I sure as heck wish I had those contraptions they used at the miners recovery operation to measure what kind of crap I was breathing in! I was hoping for a good nights sleep, but noise ordinances apparently don’t exist in FL, (nor does drivers ed for that matter) and therefore every half hour the train tracks behind my bed would jump with excitement welcoming the incoming freight train… which of course had to toot his horn rather loudly because our bed was just yards away from the railroad crossing on Commercial Drive. If you saw the Triplets of Belleville (or the Blues Brothers).. you’ll know what I mean!

Most of the other highlights are captured in the movie.. But the moral of the story is once I started to feel better on Wed., my trophy wife got sick, and then she’d feel better and I’d feel lousy. A trip to a FL doctor on Fri confirmed that indeed we had likely caught some kind of viral infection from the hotel. And we weren’t the only ones…. Some little teeny bopper we saw in the elevator wearing a miniskirt one would see on a porn site, informed us that she too had gotten ill at the El Pala-sicko Hotel!

We did manage to feel ok enough to do some fun things. We went to the Hard Rock, which my wife loves! We also checked out a cool kosher restaurant in Hollywood, and went to the “Tel Aviv Restaurant” only to find out its actually an Arab restaurant that cleverly lures in tourists who think it’s a Kosher place. However the Jewish highlight came in the middle of the week. My buddy Harmon was in town also, so on one of those nights when my wife was under the weather we decided to hit the town. It was the night before his birthday so we went to Hooters in Fort Lauderdale for a few brewskies. Va Va voom… As we ventured back to the car, a cavalry of vehicles approached us playing Jewish music and we realized the local Chabad was coming by for a visit.

They pulled over on Route 1-a.. a one way street that runs along the beach and proceeded to dance up a storm with a huge dreidel and a quickly shrinking box of donuts that seemed to go to the hot babes who were strolling along the street. Then the men broke into spontaneous dance that you only see at a Hasidic wedding or the annual Chabad telethon…They then took a long stick and proceeded to light a huge menorah that was tied to the top of the roof of one of their cars. However just as they were about to start the blessing, the outdoor band at the local pub ended its break and started to perform drowning out the poor Chabadnicks.. But the band realized that something was a bit out of the ordinary, promptly broke into a pop rendition of Hava Nagila… and the candles were lit.

I hadn’t seen that much dancing and celebrating until I saw the scene at the church the other night when authorities and the media so incredibly irresponsibly told these poor people that the miners were alive. Maybe this is the crow CNN’s Anderson Cooper needs to eat after he so emotionally cried about the Katrina victims and essentially muscled Aaron Brown out of his job. (Although I couldn’t see Anderson or Geraldo interviewing the temporary celebrating miners’ relatives with the caveat…..”Well not to burst your bubble, but you know the information that your loved ones are alive really is NOT CONFIRMED, but tell me how you feel…..“) What happened when Anderson was a kid and didn’t like his Levi’s? Did he cry to his mommy Gloria Vanderbilt to create a more fashionable piece of denim for himself?

Back to the chusids, shortly thereafter, they headed for their next stop.. jumped in their cars and drove off.. with their menorah still burning… We got into the car and as we headed back to the hotel passed them yet again… this time they pulled into another bar area… but when a group of intoxicated muscular, tank top wearing men seemed to pour out of one of the bars and eagerly grabbed their hands to join in the dancing…you could hear the Chabadnicks squeal,….”Oy Gevalt, Faigalas”, and they promptly zipped away in their Mitzvah Mobiles.

Speaking of gays, and no we won’t make any wisecracks about South Beach which my wife and I briefly visited…. The doctor gave us a prescription for our ailments. The pharmacist at the local drug store was quite gay….(Not that there is anything wrong with it), and trophy wife asked him what kind of medicine we were getting. The pharmacist said it was a magic potion,,… and I just held back before I accidentally slipped and asked him if it contained…..”fairy dust?”

Finally, New Years Eve arrived… Harmon came over and the 3 of us went to Jai Alai. My aunt lives close to it, yet I had never been there. (My aunt was on a cruise that week so we didn’t get to see her). After that my sweetie decided to hit the sack early since we had an early New Years Day flight, so Harmon and I went to a local restaurant to watch the rest of the Giants game and ring in the New Year. Let me tell you… nothing is deader on New Years Eve than the non beach area of Fort Lauderdale. We went to a local hang out near the hotel, and enjoyed the services of a waitress who was admittedly intoxicated and kept screwing up our orders….. But it was a good time. After the Giants game they switched over to Dick Clark and at 12:10 the lights went up.. The place closed at 12:15 and I was back at the hotel at 12:20.

As for Dick Clark, a lot has been written about his appearance on New Years Eve. He looked ok, but didn’t sound so great due to the effects of his stroke. I know that stroke victims sometimes curse unexpectedly, plus Dick Clark has a notorious temper so I was hoping he would go off on Ryan Seacrest or maybe Mariah Carey… but he stayed on the script and was able to do his part while seated at his anchor desk. He better keep an eye out for that “cohost” Ryan Seacrest.. before the young whippersnapper pulls an Anderson Cooper and takes over himself…. don’t forget Seacrest used to cohost American Idol with Brian Dunkleman… whatever did happen to him? Is he in that secret room with Chuck from Happy Days?

Some other bloggers have also mentioned this also… I think some if not all of Dick Clark’s comments may have been pre recorded. But for those who criticized his going on TV with impaired speech… I am 100% behind him. Nobody held a gun to his head to do the broadcast…. And he has made a remarkable recuperation over the past year, and if he continues his progress… one can only hope that he will be that much better when he returns 12 months from now on New Years Eve 2007.

One thing for sure… I sure as hell won’t be watching it in Fort Lauderdale!!