Wednesday, July 25, 2007

The Player - A Movie Club Column

Well folks, now that I am somewhat settled in our new home.. and adjusted to our new computer setup since my 2003 relic emachines hard drive went kaput, it is time once again to resume the movie reviews for our Movie Club.

Today we present Part III of our Robert Altman 4-pack (M*A*S*H and Nashville were the first two) The Player is today’s movie and the 4th will be Short Cuts..which I just bought on eBay since no video store stocks it anymore. I decided to do the movies in the order they were made so I was kind of surprised to see an Altman interview on the DVD where he says he decided to cast Tim Robbins after he saw him in “Short Cuts” Huh? I doublechecked and The Player was released first.. so either Short Cuts was filmed first and released second, or Altman’s memory was a bit shaky when the DVD Extras portions were filmed.

This movie is very different than the prior 2 Altman flicks – those were a bunch of characters interacting with no major plot. The Player however has a plot and fewer major characters; yet it has a much larger cast due to a ton of cameo roles by actors who came in and basically did their scenes for free. The DVD extra also has a nifty gallery for the extras where you click on the name and go right to their cameo just in case you missed it during the movie. The extra producers were obviously not fans of The Bob Newhart Show because they identify Jack Riley (Mr Carlin) as another actor.

The plot reminded me of a program I volunteered for 4 years ago that was organized by a friend of mine. She had a lot of cable network execs come out to a program called “Pitch Your Project”. Aspiring reality show producers attended a reality show seminar and then got a few minutes to run their proposal past the very patient cable execs. I don’t know if any of these reality shows got picked up, but one after the other they pitched their idea. I started thinking of this when I saw the movie because Tim Robbins character – Griffin Mill is a bigshot at a movie studio where his job is to listen to people pitch their projects, and his personal life gets a little shaky when one of his rejected Project Pitchers starts to send him threatening postcards.

The first 7 minutes of the movie are a cinematic masterpiece.. mostly adlibbed and all shot off one camera with no takes to a 2nd camera. That means the viewers perspective never changes – there are no edits- and if there is a foul up during the process.. its back to square one to shoot it all over again. This is what is called a tracking shot. Tracking shots have been done in other movies before, but this is the first time that tracking shots in a movie was a topic of conversation during a tracking shot in a movie. They did fifteen takes on that scene.. Among the dialogue improvised was a pitch shot outside through a window where Buck Henry proposes an outrageously bizarre sequel to “The Graduate”. How odd that years later we would get the strange “sequel” Rumor Has It about a young woman played by Jennifer Aniston who realizes that her odd family was the inspiration of the book and movie. Even stranger is the casting of Mena Suvari as her younger sister… she's the same actress who got her start in “American Pie”… the movie that inspired the term MILF where “Are you trying to seduce me Mrs. Robinson? was replaced by yelps of "Stiflers Mom!!!”

Here is an amazing tracking shot from the Orson Welles movie "Touch of Evil"... remember there are no second takes and no cutting away...

Besides a rejected project pitcher, Mill has to worry about a new hotshot exec Larry Levy played by Peter Gallagher pre The OC. Mill gets pitched a project and as if it were ripped out of the pages of “The Producers”, the concept of “Habeas Corpus” sounds so awful that he decides to have Levy take charge of it so he can watch the whole thing fall apart. .. and then watch Levy’s career crash. The original idea is pitched by a wide eyed writer who insists his masterpiece, a mumbo jumbo of mistaken identity a DA and the death penalty… your typical Three’s Company episode… have no big name stars and a sad un-Hollywood ending…. Because that is reality! Ultimately, the movie is “tweaked” and you watch the wide eyed writer go from a bright eyed optimist to an even brighter eyed sell out rich man. Its ironic how in the beginning he insists on a low budget film... "NO Schwartzenegger!" he barks to keep the big names out..... which is exactly the same thing star Tim Robbins and wife Susan Sarandon have been yelling outside the California statehouse.

The movie makes a major turn when Mill realizes he can figure out which rejected project pitcher has been threatening him. He tracks his suspect to a movie theater.. and when he confronts him we realize it’s a younger, thinner Vincent D’Onofrio from Law and Order: CI. His character David Kahane hates Mill with a passion and after a night of drinking at a karaoke bar to sort out their differences, they realize that they cant come to any meeting of the minds, and they just don't like each other. Kahane sees Mill as a shmuck and when the confrontation gets physical outside the bar, a life changing moment arrives for both of them that will dog Mill through the rest of the movie. He also ends up putting the shmaneuver on Kahane’s girlfriend (who wears white at a funeral) much to the chagrin of his own girlfriend, co-worker Bonnie Sherow who passionately fights with the movie studio execs to retain the original concept for “Habeas Corpus”.

You can’t help noticing what a weasel Mill really is. He fingers Kahane as the suspect using flawed logic based on movie concepts. The movie itself has plenty of dialogue about twists on basic plot premises and a Polish joke involving what a woman will do to make it in the movies. Mill drives a snazzy car and has a cool 1992 era cell phone.. back when they were called car phones. During his confrontation with Kahane he runs into Kahane taking a pish outside a building. Kahane borrows the car phone and then hands it back to Mill… even though he never washed his hands! Yuck.. I couldn’t get my mind off the germ filled 1992 car phone during the next few minutes. But then again, here we are 15 years later and you can surf the web on your Iphone while sitting on the toilet!

Mill also dines with the power players during the power lunches and hob knobs with Burt Reynolds and other stars. He admonishes a waiter for serving him water in a wine glass and demands to be re-served using the proper glass ware. He later admits he doesn’t drink unless he is with another drinker… while Levy’s character is also sober but goes to AA meetings since that is where a lot of Hollywood business gets conducted! Levy later has a line in the movie about changing water to wine.

There is one scene in the movie that reminded me of a very funny moment in Nashville. The wacky writer agent duo of Tom Oakley and Andy Civella (played by Richard Grant and Quantum Leap’s Dean Stockwell) are chatting with Andie MacDowell at a Hollywood hang out.. Civella refers to her as “his namesake Andie”, and Mill points out how cool it was to see Andie after he had just run into Malcolm McDowell,… prompting aspiring writer Tom to announce his connection to Roddy McDowell! You almost expect the 1986 Astros to come sulking in after Roger McDowell shut them down in Game 6 of the NLCS. The McDowell scene reminded me of the scene in Nashville where the redneck character runs into actress Julie Christie and remarks how ironic it is to see her since he had just recently seen the Christie Minstrels.

One amusing anecdote about the dvd's extras.... I always like to watch the deleted scenes and the outtakes. Since the movie takes place in a movie studio, we see a deleted scene where the actors are watching “the dailies” involving a movie being filmed with Lily Tomlin and Scott Glenn who were both in Nashville. Since it’s a deleted scene you hear the movie director yell action and then the "movie in the movie" director character yell action. Its kind of odd, but then Glenn messes up a line and asks to start over, and makes it a point to request that he have his cameo appearance union check ready so he can leave right after his scene. Lily Tomlin also starts snapping at him and I was starting to think that the actor Glenn was a real shmuck until I realized that this was part of his character and his character had fouled up his line, and it was a deleted scene NOT an outtake. Oops; it was all supposed to be part of the movie. In the extras they actually said that some of the secretaries visiting the set who were watching walked out because they felt uncomfortable seeing Tomlin and Glenn snapping at each other. That same movie within a movie also featured Julia Roberts and Bruce Willis playing themselves.... as they did in "Ocean's 12" in an odd but strangely well done scene where Julia Roberts character actually is able to pull off a heist by pretending she is... Julia Roberts. Kind of like Too Close for Comfort where they had a cameo by "Ted Knight",..... or was that The Mary Tyler Moore Show?? And when was the last time 2 actors played themselves in 2 different movies?

The Player's plot is very enjoyable.. there are a ton of cameos that are not too distracting from the main story and the ending is filled with irony, especially where Mill is pitched a concept that could actually be a movie… The opening shot.. is a visual masterpiece! The musical score is well done. It actually sounds a bit like the Chuck Woolery game show “Greed”. On a scale of one to four bladders meaning how less likely you would be to leave in the middle to go to the bathroom.. The Player gets three and a half bladders.

Now time for the Clip of the Week: This month WFAN celebrates 20 years on the air.. As I mentioned a few weeks ago, I was the 3rd caller on the first ever show hosted by Jim Lampley. Ladies and Gentlemen... I got my mitts on the tape and here is how it started that first day.. By the way this was the first time I had heard this since 1987, and to be perfectly honest.. I have no idea what the heck I was talking about! A baseball team in NJ?

Friday, July 20, 2007

Melanie in Prison is Becoming a Reality

Since yesterday's sentencing of Melanie McG... I have watched with amusement as the people that participate in the CourtTV website bulletin board have been ripping into "The Ballad of Melanie McGuire". Neil has mentioned this on his blog also. A lot of people liked the song.... some that didn't like it presented some valid points. but there were a few morons who refused to listen to the song yet insisted we were poking fun at the victim. The counter showed the video had more than 400 hits on Thursday which means that next time I post a video on You Tube, I'm putting a "Melanie McGuire" tag on it.

I am kind of disappointed that Court TV's moderator took off all the anti-Nate posts.. because frankly I found them incredibly entertaining. Court TV also disappointed the bulletin board posters by shutting the forum for the weekend forcing them to leave their computer screens and go outside to enjoy the nice weather.

If you are not familiar with the Court TV bulletin board, let's put it in some perspective. There are a few people who populate that bulletin board who apparently have nothing better to do than debate some of the more bizarre minutae involved in this story. On Sentencing Day Thursday, some people speculated about whether the prison would give Melanie tampons or maxi pads. Earlier that day a wave of fury erupted on this bulletin board when the participants realized that the sentencing would not be airing on Court TV because of the explosion in Manhattan on Wed. night. Due to environmental concerns involving asbestos, the Court TV building was shut down and they were unable to broadcast the sentencing. It seems that this was not a good enough excuse for some of these people, since many posters felt that technicians should have bypassed the security, and risk their lives to enter the building so they could get their daily Court TV fix. After seeing the horrific after effects of the air pollution caused by 9-11, I guess health risks are not as important as seeing live how many years Melanie would serve. Ultimately, the coverage was picked up on News 12 NJ, causing many out of state board posters to express a desire to live in the Garden State, at least for just one day.

It's interesting how some of the posters talk like they know the family. They have become so immersed with this website that they really think they know these people. With an exception or two, that bulletin board's population did not know the victim. The victim's niece spoke eloquently at the sentencing on Thursday about how she used to make fun of his legs when he would wear shorts. She said that every time she thinks about his legs, she remembers how they were in that waterlogged suitcase. Its not the song that hurts them; its the reminders that hurt them. He may have liked Cherry Garcia ice cream; they might walk through a supermarket and see Cherry Garcia and that would bring back memories. I think he liked the Yankees too... Those reminders are small paper cuts compared to the major wound caused by the death.

Let's set the record straight - The song was not written to make fun of the victim.

The song is about the criminal and her crime.... It has its graphic moments but the crime is graphic. The woman didnt just shoot him in a fit of anger. She meticulously planned out every detail of the "perfect crime". Crimefighters always have to build a better mousetrap because you will always find a smarter mouse. That is why computer firewalls are a multi-million dollar industry. Melanie thought she was a smart mouse. She figured if she chopped her husband up, the suitcases would sink to the bottom of The Chesapeake and people would just assume he walked out on her. She even went as far as to create the perfect crime scene - an unused apartment she was renting. She had just closed on her house - she needed him to be alive on Closing Day since NJ law says both husband and wife must sign the closing papers (and she probably needed his income for the mortgage too), so she knew that once the house was hers, the old apartment would be the perfect crime scene. She would continue to hold it until after she killed him and she would have time to clean it thoroughly. If neighbors know a woman is moving out, they wouldn't think twice about seeing her (and an accomplice) shlepping heavy boxes and suitcases out of her apartment. And as for the accomplice, I hope he sleeps at night with one eye open, because he will probably be the next one to get arrested.

Little did she know that the suitcases would float up to the surface..

Then the preposterous lies started. She called EZ Pass to challenge a fee that put her at the scene of the crime. She told police she was in AC because she was "moving his car to mess with his mind", when in reality she planted the car there to stage his disappearance. Some of the comments she made in her ABC News interview also showed firsthand that she is a pathological liar. She thought she was such a smart little mouse. And when we build better mousetraps, it's important to never forget the clever mice who thought they could get away with it. That's why we fight computer hackers and study murderous dictators who rose to power. Melanie is no Hitler, but she is much worse than a computer hacker.

In retrospect, the song is tacky.... I wouldn't say that its funny... but the way it matches up with the poetry of "Creeque Alley" is definitely quite clever if I may say so myself. Whats the difference it would have been a book or movie about the crime and the criminal? Do you sugar coat the reality of how diabolical and brutal she was?

By the way the posters might be disappointed that Court TV shut the site down for the weekend. They can always post to the Harry Potter bulletin board. I heard the book ends with him at a New Jersey diner ordering onion rings while a woman has difficulty parallel parking.

Thursday, July 12, 2007

Baseball 2Q: The Lingering After-Effects of McGuire and McGwire

101…. 101…. Seeee Beeeeee Essssssssssssssssssssss FM….

Hey folks CBS-FM is back and if you hit the play button right now you will see that you have 8 seconds to read this before the words start.. … It’s the Mamas and The Papas with Creeque Alley.. Oldies Radio is back in NY!!

It’s great to have CBS-FM back! Now people will get to hear these legendary songs again so they can understand the song parodies!! Today in honor of the return of CBS FM we bring you the video premiere of “The Ballad of Melanie McGuire”. See the 2 prior Melanie columns in the archives on the left if you are not up to date on what has gone on to this point. Again, apologies to anyone who is offended.. the song was created to portray the incredible evil of Ms. McGuire. Her narcissism is captured in the video in the shot where we address the absurdity of her tale that she went to AC to move her husband's car just to mess with his mind!… How stupid does she think the police and jury are? The sentencing is set for July 19th; an mp3 will be available soon.. and now the Premiere of the video for “The Ballad of Melanie McGuire” c2007.

The Giants hosted Tuesdays All Star Game and the San Francisco fans are the only ones who seem to be rooting for Barry Bonds to break Hank Aaron’s home run record. It’s just a matter of time before Hank Aaron’s 30+ year run as Home Run King comes to an end. But legacy-wise, Bonds will forever be linked to another one who shares Melanie’s last name.. Mark McGwire. While Melanie went to Walgreen’s to buy poison, Mark was allegedly stocking up on other stuff.. and both he and Bonds will always be looked at as having padded their power numbers by using muscle enhancing supplements.

McGwire’s former manager Tony LaRussa really came off as being quite the idiot as The National League went down to their 10th consecutive All Star loss.. How does he not send up Albert Pujols, arguably the best player in the game (and McGwire’s replacement as St. Louis Cardinals first baseman) to bat for Aaron Rowand with the bases loaded and 2 out in the 9th inning? The stupid All Star Game rules stipulate that the winner gets home field advantage and La Russa knew full well that his lousy Cardinals weren’t going to be going to The World Series this year.. LaRussa claims that if the game went extra innings he would have been out of bench players. Well as Warner Wolf would say.. “Change The Rule”… I say that if all the players are used during the 9 regulation innings, they should allow the 8 starting position players voted in by the fans to come back into the game! Baseball is the only sport that doesn’t allow a player who leaves the game to come back.. why not make the game more fan friendly.. that way you get all the position players in the game and if it goes late…. the popular ones come right back in for a 2nd time!

This losing streak has gotten really bad…The last time the National League won the game was way back on July 9, 1996. That day the Nationals scored 4 runs in the first 3 innings and shut out the American League 6-0. This current AL winning streak is now 1 short of the National League’s 11 game winning streak from 1972-1982. Now those were the good old days!

I remember as a kid that the National League always featured a Met or 2… and I would always show up to day camp the next day beaming with pride after yet another NL victory. As I mentioned in the June 29 column, I was a counselor at a local day camp in 1982 and I remember that in the morning I would always gather my little Pac Men together to chat for a few minutes as we were getting ready to start the day. I remember asking… how many of the guys in my bunk saw the Game… At that point the previously mentioned kid with the Rather Unusual First Name asked me why I called it a bunk if we were in a day camp. And my literate camper asked me if they allowed free substitution in the All Star Game.. wouldn’t it be anti Paradigmatic? I shook my head and told the kids to get their lanyards ready for Arts and Crafts.. . Incidentally, my buddy Steve tells me that since that June 29th column his friend has signed emails as "The Kid With The Rather Unusual First Name"!

I remember the 1982 game.. it was 25 years ago tom’w on July 13, 1982.. it was played in Olympic Stadium in Montreal… the home of the Expos. The game was also known that year as Partie D’etoiles. Local Expo hero Steve Rogers and Dennis Eckersely were the starters.. My homeboys won the game 4-1 thanks to a spectacular defensive play in the first by Ozzie Smith that saved 2 runs. Smith’s fellow Cardinal Lonnie Smith also made the team.. at least that year Tommy Lasorda had the common sense to play the Cardinals on his team. The AL was managed by Billy Martin.. and if you have been watching that ESPN miniseries.. it’s quite impressive how John Turturro resembles the late Yankee skipper.

Baseball is always looking for a kick in the tuchis and one of the agents.. Scott Boras had an idea about changing the World Series to a best of 9 and having the first 2 games played at a neutral spot and making a whole big showcase out of it like the Super Bowl. That big baseball weekend would also include the Post Season Awards for MVP, Cy Young and Rookie of the Year. I agree except I would keep it as a best of 7 series.. Play games 1 and 2 at the neutral spot to kick off the event.. then give games 3 and 4 to the World Series team with the best record, send the series to the other city for Games 5 and 6 and back to the host city for Game 7. Granted, one team will be on the road for four games and could be swept right out without a home game.. but it might not be a bad idea to create more excitement.

One other point – has any baseball player fallen downhill more dramatically than White Sox Pitcher Jose Contreras? Maybe a trade to the Mets might jump start him out of his slump. Last year at the All Star Break, Contreras had a 17 game winning streak but since then he has gone 9-19! Before this year long slump, his career record was 44-18! I know this because Contreras along with El Duque are both on my rotiserrie baseball team… and both are Cuban defectors. In honor of their adventurous arrival from the land of Castro, I named my team Havana-Gila and my team logo is a hat that says “Uruachim”.

When the season started we presented our picks (see the March 2007 archives) and some of them are right on the money. Some aren’t.

It looks like I’m eating crow on the Red Sox not making the playoffs.. so Im gonna change my pick of the (White) Sox winning their division to the (Red) Sox. I still like the Indians to make the post season…. Probably as division winners and the Angels look like they are the team from the West. Who pray tell will be The Wild Card? Well if the Yankees can pull it off., then I would have 3 of the 4 teams picked correctly from the AL>.. Yankee fans may not want to hear this, but I never get 3 of 4 teams right. My surprise team was the Mariners and they are definite Wild Card contenders, and my pick for Disappointment was the Oriole fans who were buying all the hype.

In the National League it looks I was totally wrong on the Astros,.. they seem too far back at this point… and if anyone can catch the Brewers, it should be the Cubs. After all they have 3 studs in their line up in Alfonso Soirano, Derrek Lee and Aramis Ramirez. I’m stunned theyre not in first place, but the Brewers have some great young players and potential MVP Prince Fielder looks to be the Justin Morneau of the Brew Crew. It looks like I missed the boat with Phillies, Astros and D-Backs as division winners.. but in reality, my wild card pick the Mets look like they will pull off the division and Im going with the Phils to win the Wild Card.. I think the Brewers should hold on, and my Dodger pick looks weak now that off season acquisitions Jason Schmidt and Randy Wolf have turned out to be injury prone duds. Chris Young has turned out to be a great pitcher on the Padres (he was the loser in the All Star Game by the way) and Jake Peavy who started the game is also having a great year… They currently rank 1-2 in ERA. If Greg Maddux can pull out a 15 win season yet again.. and fellow old timer David Wells can keep his temper in gear and pitch well, it looks like the Pods are the team. They have also made some shrewd moves by picking up some good spare parts in Milton Bradley and Michael Barrett.

I’m staying with my Mets-Phillies prediction for the NLCS…although common sense would indicate that the Phils probably are not going that far . My preseason surprise pick – The Cubs..they will probably be in the Wild Card race right to the very end. My preseason NL Disappointment team – St. Louis… I think that has turned out to be quite accurate!

My World Series pick.. I’m sticking to my guns.. Indians against the Mets. The only bummer is the Mets will have to travel to Jacobs Field if the series goes 7.

Thank you Tony LaRussa.

Now time for the Bonus Clip of the Week.. continuing our theme this summer of musical geniuses named Neil (Fein and Diamond) … and my Cuban baseball players… and 25 years since the 82 All Star Game.. (Watch for the 25) here is Neil Diamond from The Jazz Singer with his version of….. Hava Nagila!!

Up Next ----> The Movie Club Reviews Come Back!!

Wednesday, July 04, 2007

Thoughts for July 4th – Freedom, FAN, Fun, But No Funky

Hello Folks and welcome to our annual July 4th column.. to see last year’s column.. check out the archives...

Being the son of an immigrant… my dad came over from Europe in 1948 after The Holocaust … July 4th is really Thanksgiving to me... and deserves major celebrations! So today we address some of the Freedoms we get… the Freedom of Speech which allows us to have open newspapers and radio allowing us to speak freely.

TALK RADIO – I don’t agree with a lot of the hosts.,. but in America goofballs like Bill O’Reilly and Rush Limbaugh and possibly Ann Coulter are welcome to speak about their views on government… even when they clumsily defend Our Evil President’s disgraceful actions involving his partner in crime Scooter Libby. Inflammatory speech however is not part of the freedoms allowed in freedom of speech so I’m not too sure someone like Coulter should be allowed to flap her yapper especially with her horrible comments about the 9-11 widows and Presidential contender John Edwards.

Talk radio makes a lot of money for some people.. but the richest talk station is WFAN which appeals to that much desired male demographic informally referred to as guys who spend money. This past week WFAN celebrated its 20th anniversary with an incredible reunion highlighted by one hour shifts by hosts who hadn’t been heard on the station in many many moons. One interesting tidbit was passed along during a rather dry hour by Spencer Ross who talked about radio research conducted by the all news stations many years ago where participants indicated they did not want to listen to reports about… sports! Yet now, WFAN is the most profitable station in the country.. thanks mostly to non sports host Don Imus who brought in millions and millions of bucks.

In case you missed the reunion weekend, it was nice to hear the former hosts again… such as Ed Coleman and Dave Sims.. Sims is now the Mariners radio announcer while Coleman works the Met broadcasts. Russ Salzberg did a pro Imus rant.. and former overnight hosts Joe Beningo and Steve Somers did a live remote which included a salute to the former callers including the late legendary Doris Bauer from Rego Park who despite a chronic cough had some delightful insights that she often shared with the hosts. One late summer night during a too long drive home from the Jersey shore, my non sports fan buddy Mike listened to a Doris call to Jody MacDonald and exclaimed how amazed he was that a woman would know that much about sports!

Here were some of the highlights from the weekend…

Bill Mazer – Rumor has it he is in his late 80s and by his shaky voice you could tell that he has aged quite a bit... but once he got going you could see that the Amazing One is still as sharp as a tack talking about stuff from many years ago as it were yesterday and still able to talk about sports current events too. I thought he had “retired”, but apparently he still does a daily airshift at a Westchester station. He opened the show by speaking of his grandfather and great-grandfather who lived past 100 – and neither really retired. But his dad who did retire.. actually died in his late 60s.. hence Bill’s work ethic!

I always got a kick out of how he ended each broadcast.. either radio or on Channel 5 by saying “Thank You It’s Been a Pleasure”. I always wanted to order a call girl for him just to see if he would say that to her too.. (how Kushner-esque, but I wouldn’t videotape it!),. Ultimately, at the end of his hour the 80-something Mazer did not say “Thank You It’s been a pleasure”.. but instead wrapped up his hour on the 20th anniversary special with a shout out to the program director informing him he planned to be back for the 50th anniversary. As they say in Yiddish.. “biss a hundred and tzvantzik” (May he live to be 120)

Spencer Ross – Spencer dropped a side comment about his dislike for Pete Franklin the late rabble rousing afternoon drive host pre- Mike and the Mad Dog. Moments later leading out of a commercial, the producer surprised him and replayed a lengthy diatribe by Franklin where he bellowed about a feud with other staffers including Ross. Once he was back on the air, Ross went nuts totally dissing Franklin and I could swear used the word a-hole! Ross musta really had a lot of pent up hatred for ol Pete.. Incidentally, I did 2 radio internships.. the 2nd was in the Fall of ’88 at WFAN when Pete was working there. He really wasn’t friendly to anyone and used to come into the newsroom during commercial breaks and regardless if anyone was watching the newsroom TVs would turn each one of them off and announce.. “If you wanna watch TV.. go work at a TV station”. And he did this all the time.. Incidentally, my first internship was at WMCA when Chris Russo was an unknown weekend host, and back then I used to tell him that one day he would take Pete Franklin’s job and be the afternoon drive host on WFAN!!

Jim Lampley – the last host on the reunion, he was the first ever host on WFAN and yours truly was his third caller that fateful day. Lampley did his show from The West Coast and made it a point to inform listeners that he drove more than 100 miles to get to the studio. Lampley had some interesting moments including a call from a former co-worker who seemed to have a chip on his shoulder because Lampley didn’t help him during the early days when he attempted to launch a broadcasting career. It was quite bizarre. But the biggest news I learned during Lampley’s show.. long time radio caller Bruce From Flushing… who has been calling in shows since they came out with keypads and redial…is now married! (He is an observant Jew and didn’t call in during the Sabbath for Day 1 of the reunion and its all Jewish lineup!)

NEWSPAPERS AND OTHER RELATED MEDIA – The Star Ledger to me is the best paper.. I read a ton of papers online… but the Star Ledger is part of my daily FDA required reading and I have been a regular reader since I was a little pisher. Every day starts out with the comics, which is why today I want to discuss Two Things I Would Do If I was Running The Star Ledger.

1. Drop Funky Winkerbean from the comics until its new format starts later in the Fall. Just in case you haven’t heard.,.. For Better or For Worse, one of just a few comics where the characters age naturally will freeze in time this fall… Funky which was frozen in time in the earlier days when it was funny, had its characters start to age after the original cast of Funky and Les graduated from high school.

This fall, the Funky characters will age 10 years…and according to published reports Lisa the cancer stricken wife of Les is going to die. This really bugs me. Even though she is a fictional character, cartoonist Tom Batiuk has tortured her with untold suffering that has no place on the funny pages. Word on the street is her death may come in an unexpected manner… she is on the cusp of discovering that the son she gave up for adoption is a local yokel kid.. Maybe the boy will save her life with some rare blood type transfusion, only to have the strip pick up 10 years later and she died in the interim? Highly unlikely since Tuesday’s strip had the poor husband hear that his wife only had months left. How horrible to put this where little kids learn to read!…..The strip is just out of line… and if it were up to me, I would drop it till the story gets resolved. Kids who read the paper don’t have to be exposed to this,…. They should be watching Dennis menace or the Lockhorns lock horns... or Andy Capp's wife develop an odd admiring fascination with the Melanie McGuire Story, or The Little Family Circus kids say cute things even though they are all in their 50s now.

2. Change the website. The Ledger doesn’t have a regular site, but shares it with other Jersey papers as part of

I was recently made aware of some absurd cheap shots being launched towards a few people I know on a local town bulletin board. In my best Dennis Miller rant imitation, if we want to make the internet better… why doesn’t shut down those God damn bulletin boards that allow people to make nasty personal comments while hiding behind the cloak of anonymity. It’s really heroic that these moronic losers can just say what they want without posting their real name.. Knowing full well that these gutless weasels don’t possess the balls to make these comments to these people right to their faces. Read the Constitution folks - Freedom of speech doesn’t allow people to make blasphemous comments about public figures just because you have some silly little personal issue with them.... The Star Ledger, otherwise a fantastic source of journalism has sunk to a new low by allowing this forum fiasco - they would never publish a letter in the paper without a name… (They will withhold identities upon request), and they would never allow their newspaper to carry the garbage that pollutes their website. The daughter of retiring NJ State Senator Bob Littell was recently rebuffed by a judge in her attempt to unmask one of these cowards after one of them made a disparaging comment about her young child on that bulletin board.

If were more responsible they would shut down their forums and only allow postings IF THE PERSON USES THEIR REAL NAME… These gutless weasels wouldn’t say a peep if they had to attach their name to their comments…and all these cowards who make absurd comments about respected people in the community can just disappear into the woodwork and go back to looking at porn or learning better ways to hold the broom while they are on the job, or whatever it is that these pathetic losers do.

Remember… freedom of speech has to be understood to be appreciated. It doesn’t give ARod’s wife the right to wear a vulgar t shirt while parents of young kids cringe out of fear that their kid will see it… but freedom`as intended by our founding fathers is one heckuva beautiful thing…

Now time for The Clip of The Week - Last week I mentioned Neil Diamond's awesome Kol Nidre in The Jazz Singer. Today in honor of July 4th, here he is performing America!

Have a wonderful 4th of July!