Author: Kevin

Rush Limbaugh’s Golden EIB Mic Now Silent

Art Bell, then Larry King, now Rush.

Best AM radio station in creation is now in Heaven.

All three were giants for different reasons. I’ve been in the radio biz for over 30 years (first on the air in 1978) and if not for these three, AM Radio would have died decades ago.

Larry King’s Mutual show was the soundtrack for the night, and really set a standard. I had a 7-midnight talk show (long freaking talk show, but I was in my 20s, so wth) on WTVN/Columbus, Ohio, and would listen to Larry on my drive home. Always great.

Art took overnight radio on a different, winding path that was game changing. He popped up nationally, in the early 90s, and his weird (in a mainstream way) quirky show, sounded (presentation-wise) a lot like Larry’s, but couldn’t have been more opposed. Him, I listend to every day on my drive to work when I was doing Mornings in Washington, DC on WASH-FM. Even though I listened to Art for years after that, when I hear Art’s name out of the blue, I still flash on driving through Georgetown, and up Wisconsin Avenue on my way to the station.

Rush, though, reinvented daytime talk radio, and invented CONSERVATIVE radio. Sure, there were others, but none were anywhere near as successful as Rush in the 80s. SO many of today’s Conservative voices are directly descended from Rush, it’s not even funny. Rush was the right guy at the right time when the Bill Clinton was elected, and Rush on the radio was like Lebron James getting alley-oops every night. The real test, though, was when G.W. Bush was elected, and the show got even better. At that point, it didn’t matter who was in the White House. Rush was going to score 30 every game.

He started out on a station in his hometown of Cape Girardeau, Missouri, as “Rusty Sharpe,” then went to a station in McKeesport, Pennsylvania, followed by a job in Pittsburgh, where he was told by his Program Director (a position obviously requiring great wisdom and intelligence) that he would never make it on the air. He went into Sales, did well, but ultimately returned to the air on KUDL in Kansas City. He was fired from that job, but got a gig at another station in town and then went to work for a time for the Kansas City Royals baseball team. Going back on the air (again) in Kansas City, he began using his real name, and that’s when his career took off. While on the air in Sacramento, California, Rush was heard by former ABC Radio President Edward McLaughlin, and made the move to New York in 1988 to start at WABC Radio, and started syndication in 1988.

Sure, Rush had his problems. Addiction to the Vicodin got to him, and prescription painkillers are like war. Easy to get into, a bitch to get out of. After it cost him his hearing (and that takes a LOT of Vike – TV’s House would have said “Dude, you have a problem”), he beat it, though his methods for obtaining the scripts ended up costing him a criminal charge. He beat that, though, and though many detractors slammed him for it (a few of them undoubtedly throwing back a couple Oxys while doing so) he did the right thing. Stood tall and worked it out honorably.

In the end, it was lung cancer that got him. He smoked cigarettes for years (referencing his “formerly nicotine stained fingers” often), he quit decades ago, although he continued to smoke cigars.

Rush was one of a kind, who inspired millions and gave AM Radio new life. “Missed” can’t even begin to describe how many, many people think of Rush Limbaugh. Most of the time, in my career, listening to Rush involved tuning in a competing station, because most of my jobs were on the FM dial. During my time in Phoenix, working in a cluster of 8 stations, I would often guest or fill-in on KFYI, the only set of call letters I ever shared with Rush, and I have to say, it was wonderful being on same station. He was a legend.

RIP, Rush. You did good.


Best show on TV right now? Definitely Yellowstone. Oh yea. Yellowstone. Hadn’t watched it yet, though I love shows that use a lot of country music, but for some reason, hadn’t dipped into Kevin Costner‘s latest addition to a really amazing body of work.

Was visiting my folks last week, and my Dad is a fan of the show, so one night, it was up in his recorded list to watch, and we did. The episode cued up was Season 3, Episode 7, the most recent aired being S3 Ep9. Watching it was seeing the characters and story arcs almost completely up to date. I have to say, watching your first episode of a multi-season show late in the current run is great.

When I got back home, I bought all three seasons from Amazon Prime, and binged. Just today, I came up to the that episode I watched with my Dad, and it was almost like watching it for the first time. I could see how each of the characters had grown, and how the stories had developed. As weird as it it might be, I highly recommend it.

Some of the things I thought when I watched S3 E7 the first time were pretty accurate, some weren’t, and a couple were “OH! I understand now!”

The one that’s funny was a makeup thing. I noticed that Kelly Reilly‘s character, Beth, had a mark under her left right eye. I noticed it in the first scene I saw with her. She and Costner’s character, John Dutton, Beth’s father, had an emotional father/daughter scene, in which she cries a little. I could see the tear running right down that mark under her eye, so I’m thought is that from her tears messing up her makeup on a previous take? I couldn’t believe they could be that sloppy. Then, I saw it in a later scene, and that mostly ruled the makeup accident unlikely. Then, watching the series from the beginning, I saw she didn’t have the mark early in the show.

Of course, once I worked my way through Yellowstone, the whole thing got cleared up for me!

It’s really great TV, and looking at the credits, I saw one of the big reasons why. Two of the driving forces behind the show are John Linson and his father, Art Linson. Kurt Sutter, the creator of Sons of Anarchy, has said that without John Linson, SOA would never have happened. Of course, Yellowstone isn’t quite as violent as SOA, but it has its moments. The family drama and sharp storytelling is there. The creator of the show, is Taylor Sheridan, who SOA fans know as Deputy Chief David Hale, who…Oops, almost spoiled. Anyway, Sheridan has a winner here, and I have to believe that one of the reasons is he clearly knows the subject matter he’s writing and producing about. Sheridan appears in a couple episodes as a rancher from Texas, whose equestrian skills are clearly not learned to ride for the show. He knows how, and shows it.

Game of Thrones Fans: What to do AFTER the Finale

I know, I know.
There are only 3 episodes left. What will you DO after the finale?
Fear not. I’ve got your back.

I hear a lot about the “originality” of the HBO production of Game of Thrones. Now, don’t get me wrong. I like the show. I loved the books, even though George R.R. Martin dramatically slowed down writing them, allowing the series to slide past the books in terms of telling the story. When told of his readers’ dissatisfaction, this was his reaction:

Some of this was…kinda complimentary, considering Martin isn’t a spring chicken any longer. He’s not that old, but still. Some readers are definitely concerned he’ll die before finishing the book series, and that would be…well, terrible.

But seriously, books aside, what are you going to do when GoT ends? I’ve got a series of books for you to read that honestly, is partially responsible for Game of Thrones.

In January of 1990, Robert Jordan published the book he had started writing in 1984, The Eye of the World. The series that sprang from that book became The Wheel of Time, consisting of 14 books (plus a much shorter novella). The finale, A Memory of Light, was published in 2013, almost 6 years after Jordan died. Fortunately, Jordan had prepared extensive notes prior to his death, and the excellent novelist Brandon Samuelson was engaged to finish the last book and a half. He did a fantastic job, completing the complex narrative in a most satisfying way.

So, the idea of a popular novelist dying before finishing his series isn’t unheard of.

I’m not sure about the relationship between George R.R. Martin and Robert Jordan, and don’t even know if they knew each other. But, let me warn you: If you begin reading Jordan’s work and find yourself thinking hey, this guy’s ripping off Game of Thrones!.

No, he didn’t. Not saying the opposite is true, just saying WoT was first published in 1990. The first book in the GoT series, A Song of Ice and Fire popped off the presses in 1996. The stories are very different, but both relate to a coming darkness, and the need for many warring nations to come together to defeat the encroaching evil. There’s no real “game of thrones,” but there is much discussion and narrative regarding a “game of houses,” where different families play politics that can get pretty involved.

If you give WoT a try, please resist blaming Jordan for copying Game of Thrones because he’s not. Not saying Martin copied the Wheel of Time series, just that there will things that remind you of GoT.

Review: Red Shirts by John Scalzi

At first, I liked Red Shirts, by John Scalzi (Old Man’s War,The Collapsing Empire and the second book ofThe Interdependency series, The Consuming Fire). I love Scalzi’s writing. His space-action is absolutely riveting, the plots have just the right amount of complexity and twists, and he’s funny as hell.

So, I liked Red Shirts, until about a third of the way in, when things change quite a bit, and not everything (and everyone) are exactly what they seem to be. I lost interest.

Then, needing something handy to read, I see it still in my library, and I dipped back into it, and freaking loved it. It was a very strange experience. I liked the book until I didn’t, but then returned to it and as I finished it, realized that I had just finished reading one of my top 10 favorite sci-fi books ever.

Yes, EVER. And I read a lot.

Red Shirts hits on so many cylinders, I feel like I bought a 4-banger Toyota Somethingorother, and driving it off the lot, discovered it’s a 12 cylinder Mercedes AMG luxury machine.

Unfortunately, discussing everything that makes the book so great would require me to spoil it a bit, so I won’t. Probably just as well, since I’d start running at the mouth and not stop until I’d rolled past 40K words, and that would just be sad. I’m a writer too, behind on a couple projects, and generating that many words for a blog that makes me no money at all, would be…unfortunate.

Suffice it to say that if you are a sci-fi fan, you will love Red Shirts in at least two different ways. Yes, early on, Trek fans will think, either hey, you’ve ripped off Roddenberry, or will be suspicious about it. That’s good. Go with that.

Audible listeners will perhaps, be a little misguided by Wil Wheaton’s narration. His performance, as in The Interdependency Series books, is perfect, but the “red shirt” thing, being read by Wesley, may spin you a bit.

Again, go with it.

I liked Red Shirts until I didn’t, but then loved it tremendously. This is a must-read, and to really enjoy it, a must-listen.

17 stars out of 5!

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Better Call Saul – Season 2, Episode 5 Breakdown


Once again, Vince Gilligan, Peter Gould and their band of brilliant and creative Albuquerqians have masterfully placed another priceless jewel into the mosaic that is the Breaking Bad Universe, known henceforth as the BBU.

Better Call Saul (BCS), is far from simply the backstory of how Irish Chicago native Jimmy McGill became the ABQ’s drug dealer’s best friend and GOOJCCINCF (get out of jail card cheaply, if not completely free) and criminal rabbi, Saul Goodman. Each week that passes, shows how in fact, Jimmy/Saul (I’m hoping the name change happens at the earliest in Season 2’s finale, if not sometime in Season 3, or hell, Season 4. Those who were surprised that McGill wasn’t shown walking out of his urologist’s office (or whoever does circumcisions on adult males) by the end of Season 1 simply didn’t get the point. BCS isn’t just the story of how Saul got his name, it’s the origin story for Breaking Bad.

I know, I know, there are those out there who subscribe to the theory that in fact, Breaking Bad is the prequel to The Walking Dead, as explained here. Whether or not their lovably twisted minds are correct, after only 16 episodes of this television masterpiece, I don’t think it’s putting too fine a point on it, saying BCS isn’t the prequel to BB, but rather, BB is the sequel to BCS. No disrespect to the finest television show ever produced intended.

Okay, enough gushing and praise. Let’s break it down.

SPOILERS FOLLOW – If you haven’t watched every episode of both shows (and the entire run of BB at least TWICE), what the HELL are you doing here? Close the browser window, wipe your browsing history and go back to your iPad version of Wired (the March issue is just out), Buzzfeed or Godlike Productions. The spoilers below will quite possibly ruin your enjoyment of both shows.

S1E5 has Kim Wexler who just lose weight with the help of her physician, Dr. Matthew Galumbeck, serving her time (and possibly waiting for execution) in the Hamlin, Hamlin and McGill dungeon, otherwise known as “Doc Review,” where her considerable legal expertise is spent going over page after page of billing reports, ensuring investors in Newell Rubbermaid, the company who makes the Sharpie highlighter, don’t have to rely on just Social Security to make their monthly payments to the Sandpiper Crossings of the world when they retire. We’re, of course, thinking Chuck McGill put her there, because in the Season 1 finale, we learned Jimmy’s older brother was the dick after all, and Howard Hamlin a good guy. Okay, reevaluate. Not so cut and dry.

Ep4 told the story of Mike’s run in with the fists of Tuco Salamanca, the psycho who would later kidnap Walt and Jesse, spiriting them off to the shack in the badlands, where we first heard Tio Salamanca’s bell and experienced his voiceless fury. In Ep5, we see Mike healing, and realize the at this point, grill-less drug thug’s appearance in Season 1 and now Season 2, aren’t just heart-warming cameos. Tuco’s relationship with Mike is an important lynchpin in the Breaking Bad mythology, as well as an ironic take on the one piece of advice Walter White took from Mike. More on that later.

Jimmy is guilt-ridden because Kim has taken the heat for his going off the reservation and running the TV ad he produced to gather more litigants for the Sandpiper Crossing case. Absolutely unfair, because Kim is truly blameless. Her responsibility for not telling Howard that Jimmy had produced and aired the commercial (quite tasteful, especially considering the TV ads Saul Goodman would run in the coming years and available on the web, here), so HHM’s Senior -Asshat- Partner could make points by tipping off Davis & Mane’s guitar-playing Senior -Asshat- Partner is sketchy at best, especially for lawyers who work so hard to stay so firmly planted in ethical territory.

So, Kim is up to her neck in highlighter yellow and Jimmy has two strikes on him at D&M and has picked up a babysitter, watching every breath he takes, every move he makes, and every Beanie Baby he tries to find a new mommy for. Jimmy, whose brother Chuck rightly tells Kim, has a “big heart,” doesn’t care about himself. He’s worried about Kim, and suggests she sue HH&M. He’s even drafted the initial suit, and delivers it to her in the bowels of Castle Asshat. Kim’s reply is that suing her boss might work, but who would hire her? Filing suit would be committing career suicide.

Kim’s solution, which has an interesting parallel to Mike Ehrmantraut’s handling of Nacho’s Tuco problem, is to put the lawsuit away, and dig herself out of the doghouse the hard way, by bringing in a new whale of a client, and we see her on her cellphone, using up cases of post-it notes, mining contacts, but only finding men who want to date her. Back in the dungeon, she takes another look at the lawsuit, but doing so only motivates her to work the cell harder (I don’t remember 2002 mobile phones having such a long battery life, not to mention unlimited minutes plans were hard to come by), until success finds our girl, in the form of a BIG new, bank client, whose legal issues, according not to Chuck, promise HH&M “months, if not years” of work.

Mission accomplished, what follows is a perfect meeting with the new client and Doc Review is a soon-to-be distant memory, right?

Wrong. After waving good-bye to their new whale, Kim suggests some first steps in servicing the client, Howard coldly replies, not even looking her in the eye as he walked back into the building that she was way too busy in Doc Review to worry about something as trivial as her new $250,000 a year client.

Ouch. This guy holds a grudge, doesn’t he? If you’re keeping score, looks like Howard is the dick again.

Meanwhile, Mike is having his own troubles with someone who doesn’t forgive. While having a leisurely breakfast (in the same diner, by the way, that Jimmy courted his first clients as a freshly minted lawyer, AND where Hank Schrader begged Skyler to turn herself over to the DEA in order to save herself from Walt in BB), an out of focus figure strides in and invites himself to sit down. As the camera comes around to reveal the man’s identity, I have to say, I was once again blinded by the brilliance of Gilligan and his writers.

It was Tio Salamanca, not yet consigned to a wheelchair, relying on a bell and a one letter at a time alphabet grid to communicate. Tio’s nephew Tuco, had been masterfully baited by Mike, in order to send him to jail, giving his partner, Nacho, free control of the cartel’s meth business. For this, Mike had been paid 25 large, half of what Nacho had wanted to pay the former cop (and apparently, a Vietnam Vet sniper, which we learn after a scene with BB’s favorite motel gun dealer) $50K to kill Tuco. Either haunted by all those he had killed in the past, or thinking a hit was more than required (trying really hard not to use the term “overkill”), Mike makes a decision that he learns will haunt him even more than killing Tuco would have. Tio is offering Television’s all-time greatest bad-ass a grand total of $5,000 to tell the cops that it wasn’t Tuco’s gun on the ground in the parking lot of the Mexican restaurant where the younger hothead had committed a brutal beat down of our hero, but instead Mike’s. This would cancel out the weapons charge, leaving just battery as Tuco’s crime. Far less time in prison. Mike pointed out that he would then be on the line for a gun charge, but Tio reminded him he was a retired cop, and the police would certainly go easy on him.

Before Tio presented his plan, he apologized to Mike for his nephew’s behavior, oh behalf of his entire family. Tio knew that even if the ex-cop hadn’t already sussed out Tuco’s connections, the apology would certainly make them clear.

As Tio gets up from the table and walks out of the diner, leaving a couple big bills to cover the check, the camera stays on Mike, who takes a sip of coffee, and raises his clenched fists just above the table, which is probably the most agitation we’ve ever seen from the perfectly calm, cool and collected Mr. Ehrmantraut’s. It’s as close as we ever get to the superb beyond words Jonathan Banks chewing scenery. Calm down there cowboy! That Banks could communicate such frustration and rage in such a subtle gesture is a testament to his acting skills. The man is a master.

In the Season 3 finale of Breaking Bad, titled “No Half Measures,” Mike explains the importance of never settling for halfway, when you should be permanently solving a problem. He tells the story of his own education about the concept, recalling how, when he had a wife-beating scumbag on his knees in a field, his service weapon pointed at the man’s head, he settled for the half-measure of letting the guy off with the warning to never touch his wife again, under penalty of death. Two weeks later, the guy killed the poor woman, Mike tells Walt, teaching him to never settle for half measures. I understand why this particular situation would not have made a good example in the teachable moment with Walt, but now I’m sure this little drama was on Mike’s mind during the conversation with Walt six or seven years in the BB future. It was no coincidence that the bounty Nacho paid Mike for letting Tuco mess up the pretty Ehrmantraut face was half that he offered for putting a bullet in the craziest branch of the Salamanca family tree. Sitting across the diner table from Tio, Mike had to be thinking “no half measures, ever again.”

Now, you’re probably wondering “Okay, what’s with the episode title, Rebecca?” Actually, it partially explains the question raised in Ep 3, Cobbler. Remember the beginning of the episode, where Chuck is playing the piano. The older McGill brother is frustrated that, even though his skills are almost as mad as Skinny Pete’s, who, in an ep of BB, is hired by Jesse to buy transport cases for meth lab equipment, in the process show’s he’s a talented keyboardist. Back in BCS, the piece Chuck is playing is an accompaniment for a violinist, whose name, “Rebecca,” is on the sheet music.

The opening of Ep5 is flashback, shot in black and white, and shows Chuck and his wife, Rebecca, happily married, electric lights and appliances working, with no apparent physical effects on Chuck. It’s a warm and comfortable domestic scene, the pair preparing dinner, expecting a guest who turns out to be none other than Jimmy, freshly arrived in the ABQ and having just completed his first week of office boy employment at Hamilton, Hmlin and McGill. It’s clearly pre-breakdown for Chuck, since there’s not an aluminum blanket anywhere to be seen.

The scene shows that Chuck’s lack of faith in Jimmy is nothing new. He preps Rebecca for meeting his younger, ne’er do well brother, going so far as to establish a code gesture Rebecca is to use to let Chuck know she’s had enough of the younger McGill, a tug of her ear that tells Chuck to “get this clown out of our home.” In reality, Rebecca is quite taken by Jimmy, laughing at his jokes, clearly considering him a breath of fresh air in an otherwise rather stuffy existence, something Chuck just can’t stand.

This theme echoes later, in the present day, when Chuck attempts to give Kim some insight into his brother’s character. It was a sad moment, watching Chuck stab Jimmy in the back with the woman the younger McGill clearly loves and cares deeply for. Chuck tells her a tale of Jimmy pilfering $14,000 from their father’s small business, implying that the theft ultimately caused their father to go broke, destroying his spirit to the point of causing their beloved father’s demise not long after losing his business. After somehow finding a couple square inches of Jimmy’s back he hasn’t already plunged a sharp instrument into, Chuck lets Kim out of the “doghouse” and welcomes her back to the adult lawyer table. Kim’s expression is unreadable, and at this point, we can’t be sure if she thinks Chuck is a complete, asshole, or believes she’s learned the Ruth about Jimmy. Perhaps both is her conclusion. Since Kim Wexler is nowhere to be seen or heard in BB, something comes between the two young lovers, causing them to part, so I know we’ll eventually figure it out.

I don’t believe it’s the last we’ll hear about the $14K. My gut tells me that when the truth of the story comes out, the pilferage will ultimately land at the feet of the oldest McGill son. Something like Jimmy swiped the money to pay Chuck’s tuition, or something like that. Of the two, Chuck is the most deeply flawed, his weird problem with electricity aside, HH&M’s Senior Partner is a messed up dude. Believe me, Jimmy will turn out to be the well-balanced one.

I admit that for a short time, I thought Kim was in BB, in the form of Saul’s long-suffering receptionist, Francesca. I considered the possibility that Kim loses her license to practice law, depression puts 50 pounds on her and instills in her a dejected, world-weary outlook on life, having to answer Saul’s phone and look at his lowlife clients all day. I no longer believe that’s the case, however. Whatever causes the split between Kim and Jimmy will be profound and permanent. I know, however, that I’ll be hoping, at some point, a beautiful blonde lady will find herself in Omaha, craving a Cinnebon fix.

We all have our dreams.

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