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Pod People or How I Spent the 21st Century’s First Decade

December 15, 2009 Leave a comment

As the Aughties* (see below) draw to a close, let others make those lame lists. Lists are for shopping. Provided you remember to take it with you, and can read your own handwriting. Yeah, listen elitist, you use up your toner, that stuff is expensive.

I’d like to take aim at the best phenomena of the Internet Era – the podcast. Everybody and their mom has a podcast. Except for me and my mother, and she wants the Propaganda software for Christmas. Some of these are professionally produced by broadcast industry professionals and bring with them all the positives and negatives of program content, performance and tech savvy. They are not the target for this diatribe which is genuinely intended to be helpful tools for tyros. Cough cough.

No, the pros be pros. I do download some of those shows. NPR’s Wait Wait Don’t Tell Me is a personal fave. Nothing like well balanced politico bashing and intelligencia poop jokes. This blahg is pointed at the kids in the basement (not the Kids in the Hall, they are old pros). Not all podcasters are actually amateurs or young, they just share some common flaws. Flaws which are not just me being a bitter old unemployed radio worker, which I am. Real problems in presentation.

I am well aware too, of budget constraints. I’m not about to criticize somebody for not owning state of the art, broadcast quality equipment – that stuff costs almost as much as toner! Since most of the podcasts are essentially non-commercial, they are done out of love. Mostly ego, but self love counts in the show biz, or why bother to continue spouting off your opinion on Jar Jar Binks ten years later. Every week. Sometimes twice a week! Luckily for me I’m too spaz for game playing – those geeks are freaks. Though the podcasters who speak Klingon are in the top spot for doofy.

My grind is with untrained extemporaneous speakers. Working from a script sucks – I ain’t no card reader; I don’t want to have things read to me, no matter how interesting.  Ad libbing off your notes and knowledge of a subject works for my ear, a few uhs and pregnant pauses won’t kill me. Good show prep is key though. As sharp as it is to have a good outline of topics, and most of these ‘casts do have loads of excellent content, they need to prep some basics too. The kinds of direction you need before the mic is open.

By far the most egregious problem is people talking simultaneously. Its pandemic. This overlapping dialogue can be organic and fun at a party or in an old Robert Altman flick. But as an audio only listen, it is a cacophony. Mostly ca ca. And they are not doing this because they are arguing or fighting. Or stupid. They are just talking at the same time.

This happens because the host(s) and/or guests are typically in different parts of the world. Tough to get physical cues from the panel when one of you is in LA, one in Hong Kong and another is in a car on the Long Island Expressway, eating a taco. Even if it is a video/cam show, it takes sophisticated equipment and engineers to synchronize audio/video. I’m just talking about the talking. So, I can tell who actually is. That and being able to delineate what they’re saying.

Here’s a helpful tip. Prior to the show (or before their segment), tell your guests you and they, must take an audible beat when you are finished speaking. That’s their cue – a beat is clear and fast, and a bit longer than a natural breath and some practice is required. A host can always cleverly cue a response by saying the person’s name he’d like to speak next. This does control the flow and sometimes is not as natural sounding as we’d all love. But it’s @#%&*! a lot better than the wall of sound effect. Never ever forget what happened to Phil Spector and his hair.

Next point of contention is a technical issue. Not everyone can afford a Gentner, or ClearOne studio phone-in system (a specialized PBX). Voice levels can be adjusted to match the level of the studio program microphones and callers. Well, it can, when its installed properly. Don’t ask. Hey! I know I couldn’t do it. But I am NOT a highly paid radio engineer. It wasn’t my fault. . ..

Even if the podcast is archived from an actual radio broadcast, the levels can be way off. Yeah, sure, I know I’m lucky to get anything at all. I also know they are not paying an engineer twice so he or she can go back and do the audio for a freebie podcast. I can’t pay for them so I wouldn’t know. In fact, I regularly listen to maybe a dozen different, mainly weekly podcasts. But there are probably several thousand to choose from in existence. Severe download speed limitations keep me from many good ones. I have rejected some due to size. The reason I drop many is due to my complaints about their performances.

Oddly, Howard Megdal, one of the more intelligent and witty sports personalities emerging from the Pod Era, just corrected some of the over-talking on his Perpetual Post Radio show (I’m listening to it as I type – I am all about the multitasking), by employing the technique I described. Did I mention he was smart? and yet while the media may indeed be the message still, when its garbled, it’s mess only.

No doubt the strait laced and older listeners might have a problem with the flagrant usage of obscene language in some podcasts. The F bomb gets lots of play in certain genres – that being the drunken young dude’s ranting one. Or the young dudes talking about life i.e. drinking, chicks, sports and more drinking. Think the show Jackass, sans the visuals and stunts. A few of them are entertaining while having true insight into media. I don’t mind those words – I was using them before most podcasters were born and getting in trouble for it too. What I do mind, besides misogyny, is the mother fucking laughing at everything they say shit.

The laughing problem is not genre, age or subject specific. I like movie reviews and commentary on TV series. I tried one podcast. The two 40 something guys laughed so much I had to think they’d smoked a doobie or three. They likely were not under the influence – they were much too articulate and made sense in between the yucks. But holy crap – every remark was punctuated by extended guffaws. OK -this is judgmental, but what they were saying wasn’t funny. I tried a really well produced Science Fiction media ‘cast. Same thing, with the too many laughs.

I’m not against having a good time, or laughter. Does anybody remember laughter  (insert Jimmy Page guitar riff here)? I gave them a second try, new episode. They were at it again. Only this time it was a ratio of one comment::two laughs. Sigh. I dropped a few F Bombs. And that podcast. Speaking of which, depending on the bandwidth the podcast uses, it can take me anywhere from three to five  minutes of download time to get one minute of program. After not being able to do anything but watch my ISP crank, and possibly disconnect me, for 5 or 6 hours, I gots to have mo show, yo, than ho ho ho (see how I worked Christmas in there? which I can do because I am not PC. I’m a Mac).

Previously, I’ve admitted I’m a know it all, who knows I don’t know it all. Though overall, I know more than most sportscasters. My usual opinion of the majority of those people are, they were the kids who fell asleep in class beginning with 6th grade. If they made it to senior year or astonishingly to college, they cut out the middleman bullshit and stayed home to do their sleeping. Books were for propping up the couch with the missing leg.

Not only do they routinely mispronounce words, in One Hundred Monkeys style, they all say the same ones incorrectly! They also misinform. The most egregious statement I ever heard was a former NFL player at Fox Sports fool(who shares the same name as an older UK actor) say, on the occasion of President’s Day, “Lincoln owned slaves” well, that and the rest of them calling Lindsay, Lo – Han. She’s not Asian, though she is aging. It is Low – un. BTW she’s still relevant in a look at me look at me! kind of way, if a new photo shoot is any gauge.

I’m not against informal speech or playing with language either. I enjoy mixing in some patois with my huge vocabulary – my patois de foie gras is legendary. When I do it, its ironic. When they do it, its moronic. Sure sports ain’t the Algonquin. Yes, it is not. But as Yogi once said – “You can lead a horse to water, but you can’t make him a Man o’War.” You might not be able to teach an old dog new tricks, but you can fire his dumb ass and get a smarter dog.

Oh well, do what you will podcasters. I’ll take what I can get. I might just be in a blue mood exacerbated by a seasonal disorder. The first half of December includes the birthdays of five of my former girlfriends, none of whom are in contact with me. Not even a card. You’d think with all those Sagittarians, one of Cupid’s arrows would’ve hit something above the belt. It’s not because I’m a prick – it’s because I am a poor prick.

Ho ho ho

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* Or the Naughties if you had lots of fun. I tried to copyright Oties. But it was too esOteric…

Pete, We Hardly Knew Ye

September 18, 2009 Leave a comment

The state of the economy has taken its toll of many. I would never minimize how it has adversely affected people and the ramifications of it will extend into their lives for years to come. That said, it has finally & cruelly gone too far. This is just awful, sad news. I see the Apocalypse coming out of left field and it ain’t Manny Ramirez—OK, maybe it looks a lot like him.

PETE Abraham, Yankee beat writer and incredibly successful blogger for the NY area Lower Hudson Journal News is leaving the pinstripes to move closer to his family. He’s going to work for Boston Globe.com. It’s an upgrade for him and I wish him the best. But he’s going to be covering the Re… no! I can’t bring myself to say it. Or type it. Or whatever it is I’m doing. Other than feeling ill that is.

You know, when they tried to trade the legendary Jackie Robinson from the Brooklyn Dodgers to their hated cross town rivals the NY (Manhattan) Giants, he retired. It was a laudable and principled albeit extreme statement Mr. Robinson made. Of course, a hot dog at the ballpark & a Coke didn’t cost you $25 fifty years ago. And gas to fill the tank to take a drive to see the folks was 22¢ a gallon. Really.

Sure, Jackie wasn’t making 15 million a season either, he was lucky if he topped out at 40K ( the O’Malley’s were likely trying to salary dump, seeing as Robinson was in his mid 30’s). Pete isn’t getting millions to switch, but the Globe is getting a guy who did make a baseball blog in three years the most popular one on the net. Having the Yankees as the team didn’t hurt. That won’t happen in Boston—99% of Sawks fans can’t read. Oddly the other one per cent are writers of all levels and/or brilliant talents. Go figure.

I’d heard the newsstand copy of the Globe will become extinct in 2010, along with the NY Daily News, Miami Herald & 5 other major metro dailies. Online being the current format & one Pete has been extremely successful with, they are getting a proven winner. That said, here are the Top 5 Stories I hope he gets to file next season-

5. Ted Williams secretly longed to be a NYY & wore Yankee logo boxers

4. MIT will publish a Nobel Prize winning paper that Varitek is indeed a Cro Magnon

3. Larry Lucchino & Theo Epstein are married to each other

2. Every Red Sox player except Ted Williams & Dom DiMaggio has been juicing since 1919. They just didn’t get the good stuff until 2004

1. The entrance to Hell is that door in the Green Monster Manny used. . ..

Look out Gammons, there’s a new Pete in town.

In the Year 2013. . .. or Larry King stole this style from me 40 years ago

July 1, 2009 2 comments

I just realized the reason the Mayan Calendar ended at 2012. Those freaks ritually sacrificed all the guys who could do the math! which is apparently where the phrase ” do the math ” has its origins. They literally ripped the heart out of their civilization. The dumbasses killed the smart guys just to appease their gods. BTW Apocalypto was a really good flick. I do know two men who were disappointed by it though. I overheard them outside the theatre after the show. One of them thought it was Apocalypso. Well, there was dancing. The Mayans were nutjobs, but we can thank them for adding jai lai to world sports.

Speaking of ancient religions & suicidal tendencies, old Jehu Cristos must have had a major death wish. He not only took on the the entire Roman Empire with his big mouth, he confronted the alte cockers of Jeruselam. Not content to piss them off, he insulted and criticized the hierarchy of Judaism on a daily basis. Having been evicted from the Home Land by pharoahs, they were in no mood to take it on the chin from some snotty kid. Especially one who never got Bar Mitzvahed. Hey! no applause. This stuff just comes to me in between listening to sportstalk hosts refer to Shakespeare’s “novels” and the Egyptian pyramids where “the Mayans did their calendar.” Stick to Lou Piniella and Milton Bradley’s hissyfit & the scores Jason.

I know it’s way too much to hope that last night’s Baltimore Oriole comeback win—they were losing 10-1, over the Rat Sox will mean a deep downward spiral for those creeps. But Manny is due back in LA LA Land Friday. It will be fireworks somewhere this weekend. Good one huh.

Phillies should trade for Carl Pavano. He doesn’t beat his wife. But a move back to the National League and he just might beat enough teams to help the Phils. Unlike the rest of this blog, I’m virtually 100% serious.

I can’t help it—I love ENTOURAGE. But I’d shitcan Ari Gold in a NY minute, too counter-intuitive & petty for me. And who knew Adrian Grenier could sing—well, I have to wait for the DVD release. Thanks NetFlix—don’t fuck me up w/SMALLVILLE though. Please.

Where Angels Fear to Tread w/ commentary by Chico Marx

June 26, 2009 2 comments

“Hey! thatsa pretty fonny. You canta fool me boss. Thosa Transformahs ainta racists, theyah battlebots they donta race!” Chico Marx

Let me get this straight. There are some people upset about racism in the new movie Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen. The pervasive destructive disregard for life, property and national treasures, that’s okay? Not to mention the dogged possibility of damage to Megan Fox. And the veritable lake size puddles of oil they leave behind. I’d be an idiot of the same stripe as they are, to read as if I’d ever condone racism. But the superficial, knee jerk reactions of such people do nothing but actually pour some of that bot fluid on the flames.

They learned a big word once—stereotype. But they learned it in the context of an explanation with negative connotations. Am I even allowed to use negative? Stereotypes, as with the verbal equivalent, the cliché, exist for one reason—they are experiential human shorthand. If it waddles like a duck, we then see a duck, not some poor kid in a mascot suit. Unless of course, it is some kid in a mascot suit. Personally, I have seen just about every stereotype in real life, these jerkoffs complain about. It would be fine with them to have a white trash moron, an Italian mob goombah, a Jewish anything, but not a person of color who isn’t in Mensa? Could’ve been worse, they could’ve had Tyler Perry in drag Transformer. . ..

Bullshit. They are the people with the problem. It is so intense of a problem, they see racist in the use of the word people. In the Sixties, I was a second generation Italian, a teenager with long hair, a beard, wore sunglasses & drove a Corvette. If you knew anything about life before you were born or say, Heaven forfend, read a book, you’d know that was a set of characteristics sure to get you special notice by authorities. Luckily, I never did get any harassment. Because I was lucky and behaved myself, and never got caught the few times I power shifted, burnt rubber and wore a hundred miles off my tires. The only time was when a guy on my softball team, a police sergeant, advised me to be careful of the company I kept. He was right too. And I did. However, if you don’t think I got a taste of prejudice back then, you are culturally bereft. Sure, I had the ability  and the option to “clean up my act,” a popular phrase of that era. Oddly, even when I did, I was still the same iconoclastic individual. My attitudes and foibles were internal. Have some groups had unfortunate extra attention? the sad answer is yes. As always, I ain’t here to do an exegesis of race relations. Just to point stuff out. Did I look like a small time drug dealer though? you betcha. Was I? Nope and that rhymes with—okay, but just that one time. And I was drunk. . ..

But including a dumbass black character in a movie is anathema? What! there no stupid blacks? how do you explain Martin Lawrence? You obviously don’t listen to WFAN. While possibly not the only choice for a movie character, if it’s an urban scene, what fits more for the point it makes? an African American with GQ cover looks and two doctorates? or some street thug. All y’all are just hater players. BTW why are you even at that movie? oh—Megan Fox! Sexist ahole huh. Or just hetero and enjoying yourself. I’d say lighten up, but I’m no racialist, you get the picture. Maybe. . ..

“Ha hah ha. Shoo, everybody knows they gotta lottsa juice in Florida. They come frommah Noo Yawk for the sunny shine!” Chico Marx

Manny Ramirez, eagerly ( LOL ) awaiting his return to Mannywood and the Dodger lineup, has caught some new attention himself. This because he is a stereotype—of a ballplayer caught using performance enhancing drugs. Apparently someone he’s been associated with has a father who is a doctor. A doctor can write prescriptions for said PED. Voila! This conduit from outside the US, up into Florida and servicing predominantly Latino jocks, is now under scrutiny. Again may I state: Boston, you are hypocrites & phonies. Have a nice day.

Wowie zowie! God didn’t waste anytime with the dead celebrity trifecta. Banging them out like ARod in batting practice. Only God can do it in the actual games too. Yeah sure Alex has had some good at bats the last few days—90 games to go hombre. Sorry, got off track there. So, Farrah Fawcett, Ed MacMahon, and Michael Jackson are at the Pearly Gates. Saint Peter sees Farrah, looks at his big book and says—-” Angel! go right in.” Ed steps up. Peter says-” Heyo!—you have all ready won. Go on in.” Then he looks at Michael Jackson, looks at the book. Looks at Michael again, then back at the book,* he asks — ” Moonwalk, eh! you were an astronaut?” Michael squeaks, ” Uh yes. Yes I was. An astronaut.” St. Peter smiles, ” Welcome to Heaven.” St. Paul throws Peter a look.  Peter looks at paul and says – “Hey have you ever heard him sing She’s Out of My Life? The way his voice breaks at the end. That’s Heaven.”

*Take 2: St. Peter looks down at his book, looks at Michael Jackson. ” Oh dear, it’s Jackson. Whew–I thought they said Michael JORDAN. . ..”

Now if he can only keep his hands off the cherubs. Good night everybody! drive safely and don’t forget to tip your waitrons.

Aks me no questions. . ..

May 21, 2009 Leave a comment

I’m well aware most of you @#%&*! jock sniffing morons, who somehow were hired to be professional media announcers only made it to sixth grade. So, one more time:

If a proper name ends in the letter s i.e. Phil Hughes and you need to make it a possessive, as in— Phil Hughes’ next start—that is how it is enunciated. Don’t add another s. Not only is it unnecessary, it creates sibilance, which is bad for audio, most importantly as spoken, it’s AWKWARD sounding. BTW no doubt you were asleep, dreaming of showering with the football team that day in class, because they teach that rule by sixth grade. Pete Rose’s name only sounds as if it ends with s. You’re on your own with Rodriguez, Gomez, Martinez & Aziz et al. That ain’t English.

Note to major know it all Colin Cowherd–the word is pictorial. Not pictoral.* As for some audience members who call in radio programs—how do you exist at least twenty plus years in a country where English is the primary language, and mispronounce the word ask? Laughable and depressing at the same time. Audio-verbal dyslexia—the new epidemic.

OK— recess you dumbasses. Go enjoy some repressed homosexuality. Don’t aks

* next time I heard that particular promo, the pronunciation had been corrected—incroyablé!

Parallaxatively 4th Street

March 31, 2009 Leave a comment

My life has always been lived in parallel lines. The geometrical manifestation of that which runs side by side, destined to never meet. Here’s an example or two.

When I was 20, I was a teacher aide in an inner city school, troubled by a lack of student discipline, due to drug use. Mostly marijuana, some of it heroin. This was before crack was cool & ecstasy was only a dream of getting Susie Q to third base in the back seat of the Ford.

Having just failed ( then )as an entrepreneur in the burgeoning head shop business, due to a personal ethos that dictated never selling drug paraphernalia, I got the aide gig. That was my first cosmic/ironic clue I’d have troubles making ends meet ( see parallel lines above ). But even by age 20, I’d had experience in spotting a doper. After all, most of my so called friends were—they required it, they told me, so they could be better musicians.

Eventually, after having my heart broken by girls and the music business, I succumbed one party night to trying some mushrooms, or organic mescaline, as approved by Castaneda’s Don Juan. Administered by the drummer. What fun! I almost got busted first time out of the gate. Not content with a good beer high or even a doobie buzz, I went straight—OK wrong word—directly to tripping.

It was yet another portent— I saw God—(who looked remarkably like a much older version of me!), seemed like a good guy. At the time. . .. Then, with my antennae, abnormally sensitive on a regular day, way up high, I heard the inner voice say—look out the window dude. I saw a blinking red light in the dark street, coming from next door, in the suburb we were partying.

A devotee of Sherlock Holmes, I instantly deduced — police. Ran up stairs, announcing it room to room. Much flushing took place & on cue, the door bell rang. One officer, very polite, told the kid whose parents were out of town for the Memorial Day weekend (natch), there had been a complaint about drums. Yes, he had been playing them loud + long, earlier, but he promised the cop, he was done for the night.

As he was a clean cut young man, and the back windows had been open, the cloud of cannabis was wafting points due west, away from the officer’s nose. Case closed. Me, still trippin’, I dodged bullet one. Much praise from the rest. Sadly, with one exception, they were male, the lone girl, was taken. No grateful girl to, well, you know, for saving her ass. Oh well. I did get to meet God. By the way, God told me I was going to be all right. Still waiting. . ..

Back to school. So, I knew a drugged out kid when I saw one. But after having been threatened ” I’ll cut you up Mod Squad! ” by a sister ( possibly Tyler Perry’s ) with a nail file, whose smacked out boyfriend told her–“he’s cool” I started rethinking the gig. About the same time I learned one of the students (girl) was having sex with a teacher (male). Now, I was not a teacher, I was a 20 year old aide. The reason I found out about those two though, was because I had formed a Platonic palship with the bff of the girl in question. If you knew me, you’d know when I say Platonic (paltonic?*), I mean it.

I was more flex then. Not to mention, active. I was into being monogamous and sincerely wanted just one good chick. In retrospect or in a time machine, I’d likely moderate that position. A lot. Using the Kama Sutra as a primer. Any way, when a work/study girl propositioned me in the hall one day, I closed my eyes and thought of England. It was a What Would John (Lennon) Do moment. Yeah, yeah, yeah. And I still remember all their names too.

What I really wanted to say though is, any given school day I ‘d be sashaying down the hall. One conversation I’m criticized for using “college” words. The next, I’d go off in a blue cloud about junkies with sharp implements and get the worn out “using profanity is the sign of a small vocabulary,” lecture. Well, I was pissed off at the fucker who. . .oh, never mind.

It’s always been that way. I’d walk down the street in a small town and one person would comment—“you look so much better now you’ve shaved off your beard.” The very next would say ” grow your beard back.” What was most disconcerting is the former observer was male, the latter a female. Have I mentioned I’m a devout heterosexual? Well, unless the only way to get a threesome with Bridget Regan & Abbie Cornish is to go through Hugh Jackman. Tina Fey & Katrina Bowden? Sigh.

This special edition is brought to you by Norfolk-Southern Railroad. Here in Bubbadoon, I live a mile from the railroad track (more parallel lines). When I first moved here, the people in the community immediately adjacent to the tracks, voted to ban train whistles from midnight to 6 AM. The train suits ( standard issue fat white guys ) had much more clout and were able to have the legal voice of the people vote overturned. That’s why I am awake and filing this, two train whistles, 10 minutes apart at 2:30AM.

I bet there are more deaf drivers at 3:10 AM then say, BLIND ones. There are with certitude a greater amount of people sleeping than drivers crossing those fucking tracks. Why can’t these assholes just employ a few more flashing red lights. Shit, those warn even humans who might be tripping for the first time. AND that’s why I hate the South.

*©2009 Jukeofurl Prod LTD.