Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Mark Elfenbein and the Larger Changes

I share AP's regret at Mark Elfenbein's departure from Sunday mornings for a midday gig at 105.3.

This site has had occasion to remark on Elfenbein's unique broadcast sound in this market.  I'll miss him on Sunday mornings.  He had a solid show and good chemistry with his guys.

However  .  .  .

I have also thought that Elfenbein is probably best in small doses.  A few hours of an all-Elf show a week was probably about right.  I wish him the best on his everyday gig (real estate biz must really be depressed), but if I were Fan management I'd look for a strong co-host for him, or at least a sidekick that will offset his somewhat spicy delivery.  He works well with other voices on the show, doesn't seem to have big ego issues.  [[SEE CORRECTION BELOW.]]

Could they have found an everyday slot for Elf?  If it were up to me, I'd ditch the Top Ten and install a nighttime host, and Elfenbein would have been perfect for that. 

Richie Whitt in his report suggests that Elf may have been ill-treated by The Ticket, as a second-class citizen weekend host not worthy of standing with the weekday guys in the recent 15th anniversary celebrations.  So there may have been some behind-the-scenes stuff that made it uncomfortable for him to stay, or easy to go.  Maybe some anonymous insider in the know will lift the veil for us.

I'd been meaning to talik about some of the larger changes at The Ticket, but I don't know exactly what's going on.  New studio; new signal.  Elf leaving.  And all those ads for new sales and technical guys.  Sounds to me like The Ticket is going through some behind-the-scenes stuff, some of it good for P1s, some of it bad. 

Some of it, of course, is natural turnover in the volatile world of local radio.   Well-regarded but poorly-paid second-stringers at the mic and at the board looking for a better living elsewhere.

The Fan is not sitting still.  So far its all-Ticket hiring policy isn't working out for it, kind of like the Bengals' Cowboy poaching.  But they're in there slugging, and somewhere along the line, somewhere during the broadcast day, they're going to strike a little gold.

Note that in the portrait above, that Your Plainsman is "scanning the sports radio horizon," despite the name of the site.  I've been switching channels more frequently lately, checking out the competition when I've wearied of some tired bit or overexposure of one host or another.  Anyone want to steer me in the direction of good sportstalk elsewhere, lemme know.

CORRECTION:  I didn't realize they were going to team Elfenbein up with Josh Lewin..  Wow, an all-Jewish midday on The Fan.  Interesting.  That might be a potent alternative to BaD Radio.  If you're tired of all the bickering over there, Josh and Elf might seem worth a listen.

ADDENDUM, 2:30 pm:  Looks like Todd Archer is also changing his affiliation to ESPN.   Todd's OK, but this is not an immense loss from a daily broadcast standpoint.  The question I have is -- what does it mean about what's going on at The Ticket or, perhaps more meaningfully, what's ESPN's management up to?  Guessing that they're tired of looking foolish in this market (although promoting Hammer to five endless hours of drive is unlikely to prove an inspired strategy) and going to spend some bucks to class up their output.

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Ticket Sports Saturday Quick Hit

Your Plainsman is working the entire holiday.

Why am I telling you this?

Because it means lots of time in the SRT listening to off-hours Ticket.

I caught Ticket Sports Saturday this afternoon.  It was David Newbury and some other guy.  I'm not sure I caught his name.  Was it Ken Daley?   I didn't catch the name and that may not be right.  But he was a pretty relaxed cat.

Ty and Sean are plenty good, but I thought these two guys were really outstanding.  Nice calm, knowledgeable talk about a range of local teams.  Nobody saying anything was the greatest or the worst, just sober, knowledgeable analysis.  Nobody yelling at me, nobody trying and failing to be clever.  It was just a pleasure to listen to.   I assume these guys were filling in for Ty and Sean (again, no complaints about them, just don't catch them very often). 

I continue to be impressed by The Ticket's local weekend programming.

Last Greggo Post for Awhile Unless Something Interesting Happens

No Hardline yesterday so I turned in The Richie and Greggo Extravaganza. 

Greggo was back, sounding raspy but not, uh, overmedicated or anything.

You know, "extravaganza" is the wrong word to describe that show.  "Experience" would be better.

It's really not good.  It's anything but extravagant.  But since I've only caught 15-20 minutes at a time, and maybe only a half-dozen times, I'll reserve further judgment until I can listen to more of it.  If I can stand it.

The last of my preliminary takes, which is a lot like my first one:  They all sound nervous.  They all talk very rapidly, talk over each other.  In the segment I listened to yesterday, Richie and the other guy were constantly correcting Greg's factual mistakes.  And Greggo, bless his heart, just does not have enough interesting and original to say to be the focal point of that show.  The best guy on it is the non-Richie/Greggo guy who I don't know.  They're always trying to throw the conversation to Hammer, and he tries, starts hammering away, but there's very little there.  He just sounds dumb, and it's sad.   He's more hyperbolic even than Corby.

But it might get better, the balance might improve, they might find a plus-one who will make all the difference.  For now, though, unless Greg disappears again, I'm out.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Your Plainsman Wishes All Confessors . . .

.  .  .  a nourishing and safe Thanksgiving. 

I'm thankful that you shop at My Ticket Confession.

Back soon with more blasts.

Plainsman

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Where's Greggo? -- Part 23

Tuned into The RaGE yesterday a little after five during a Hardline advertising/Traffico/Traffico/Ticker extravaganza.  I didn't hear Greg or any reference to him.  Anyone RaGE listeners out there who can enlighten us on whether the RaGE participants offered any explanations for his absence?

====

New topic:    Face it, when you're alone in your car or just listening casually, you rarely laugh out loud at The Ticket.  Not because it isn't amusing, but because when you're flying solo there's no occasion for the social interaction that laughter enhances.  But today I had one of those solo LOL moments, actually, a couple -- The Musers' obit photo talk.

Friday, November 19, 2010

The Musers: Not So Gentle on Greggo the Hammer

I don't remember the context, but this morning I believe I heard Craig "Junior" Miller make reference to someone being "hoarse," which was quite obviously a not-so-oblique reference to Greg Williams's vocal woes over on The Fan 105.3 RAGE showgram.  "Whatever the cause," he said -- or words to that effect, I was getting out of the shower at the time and my notepad was in my other towel. 

George and Gordon played along, i.e., pretended not to know what he was talking about, while knowing perfectly well.

The takeaway here is that The Exquisitely Gentle Musers disbelieve that Greggo's problem is laryngitis. 

There's some industry scuttlebutt here known only to local media insiders of the sort that used to be reported by Richie Whitt, but, of course, no longer. 



It's not beyond belief that Hammer had and has laryngitis.  (His voice sounds better by the day, on the brief snippets that I catch during Twin Peaks commercials on The Little One.)    I don't even know what kind of historical Greggo-style abuse would cause a loss of voice of the seriousness and duration of Hammer's.  So, in the absence of any definitive reporting by industry insiders -- or, heaven forbid, actual local media reporters -- I don't know that we have a choice other than to go with the official Fan version:  an organic source for Greggo's rasp.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Your Plainsman Congratulates Sportsradio 1310 The Ticket on Its New Victory Park Studios -- and, As Usual, Has a Few Questions

I expected this, reading between the lines of some of the banter in the programs. No, I didn’t know it was Victory Park, but I figured the lease was up there hard by Turtle Creek.

My Ticket Confession congratulates The Ticket on this move. Although apparently they’re dragging the other raggedy-ass Cumulus properties along with them. One would like to think that this was an acknowledgement of The Ticket’s contribution to Cumulus’s bottom line and an enhancement of the broadcast quality. But no, sounds more like their lease was up and they got a deal.



So although it’s great news – we want our favorite hosts to operate in attractive surroundings – I’m not entirely sure why it should be cause for celebration among the P1 Nation. I guess we’re all expecting that the technical issues that plague The Ticket – signal aside – will abate. Is there any reason to believe this? Has anyone heard that the move will involve improved hardware or software? Isn’t it a lot more likely that they’re just going to move their stuff from the old place to the new place? I didn’t hear the announcment on the station, I’m just reading the publicly released stuff, so maybe something was said about getting some new stuff. But I think it’s more likely that we’ll hear even more technical screwups than we hear every day as they work out the bugs in the new studios. I hope not.

(And by the way – why isn’t there a link to this announcement on http://www.theticket.com/? )

And I’m wondering whether the lessor’s agent maybe needs to get clued in to the new tenants’ actual business. From the release:

“Brokaw said about 85 people will work in the new Cumulus office. ‘It will bring more people to the district,’ he said. ‘It provides Cumulus with a great venue for people to come see their programs.’”

Brokaw needs some gentle instruction on the nature of freakin’ RADIO. And broadcasting from the Old No. 7 Club or the AA Center is going to be just as much a remote as it is now.

At least the hosts can now park in the P1 Garage they’re always flogging.

In any event, I’m a lot more interested in the pending AM power increase, the details of which have been unearthed by the Incomparable AP and reported in a comment to Your Plainsman’s article here (see Comment 10). This power increase is of particular interest given Greg “Greggo” “Hammer” Williams’s move to drive time on 100,000-watt The Fan 105.3 and a fairly direct challenge to The Hardline. I’ll have more to say about that in future articles.

In any event, I hope the move goes well and that I’m wrong about just rearranging the ENCO on the Titanic.

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Now I Can Die

I heard Rick Arnett and George DeJohn talking romance (not with one another) on The Train Station Fitness Show this morning. 

Actually, as odd as that sounds, it was pretty good.  I mean, they're right that:

(1) You should continue to date your wife.

(2) Spouses should avoid complacency about their health and appearance.

Hard to argue with that. 

Friday, November 12, 2010

That's Some Laryngitis

I thought I could do without The Fart Game today so I switched over to RAGE on 105.3.  Richie and some other guy were talking about Greggo, and the other guy reported that Greggo had "severe inflammation of the larynx, complete with pus pockets."  They said they hoped he would be back Monday.  He said that when he spoke to Hammer's girlfriend, she said he was in the bedroom punching the pillow out of frustration of not being able to broadcast.

O  .  .  .  kay.

How does one develop severe inflammation of the larynx?  Severe enough to generate (one of Junior's favorite words) pus?

Do we have any otolaryngologist Confessors out there?

Howcum? Department

How can a station that takes a fair number of listener calls on-air have such a consistently terrible time actually making that happen?  

It's not limited to remotes.  In a meta-E-Brake today, we heard Norm struggling through uncompleted calls, and then voting for the E-Brake utterly failed when calls could not be connected to the hosts and to us.

If I were Jeff Catlin I'd be screaming at someone.  I don't know who.  It may be The Ticket equipment vendor; it may be the Cumulus tech maintenance guys; it may be the board ops, although for no reason at all I have a feeling that it's not the board ops.

I've listened to talk radio for years and I've never heard a station that so consistently fails to convey calls successfully to the air.  Just incredible.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Wade Termination Quick HIts

A few thoughts on The Ticket's performance during the Cowboys' dissolution:

(1)  Great Program Planning.  The Ticket went above and beyond by getting Bob and Craig, and then Norm and Bob, to join The Hardline in impromptu host roundtables to consider the events of the day.  Whatever one may think about sketchy show prep, individual hosts, excessive fart humor, or the Train Station Fitness Show, I think it's clear that The Ticket is dedicated to its listeners and to putting on the best possible programming.  Even Ticket-haters must acknowledge management's superior customer service in this market.

(2)  Hardline Sounded Real Darned Good.   Didn't The Hardline sound great with those additional adult voices?  Mike was a first-rate moderator, Corby's offerings were appropriate and a good change of pace -- this is what Corby brings to The Hardline when the show is at its best.  I've been mulling over The Hardline's sound the past several months, and yesterday's round-table has reinspired some thoughts on bringing in another host, as I urged some months ago in my multi-parter on The Hardline.

(3)  Craig Gets to the Point.  Craig Miller made all the points I've been waiting for a host to make, but somehow everyone has just been missing.  He places responsibility clearly on Jerry and Wade and successfully refutes (in my view) people who say that the talent must not have been what every single pundit on the planet judged it to be.   (Norm is still saying that.)   Craig hit on the explanation for Wade's perplexing positive won-loss record over his career.  His car analogy was perfect:  Wade is handed the keys to a thoroughbred sports car, but by neglect and failure to maintain it, it predictably breaks down.   And I don't know if it was Craig or someone else on the show, but finally someone stressed the lack of onfield leadership.  It only remains to draw the line between the skills of the head coach and the development of onfield leadership -- that is, management is accountable for everything that happens on the field, including the failure to cultivate commanders in the field of play.

(4)  Dan Shines Again.  Mrs. Plainsman arrived home just as Bob and Norm were supposed to come on.  I didn't hear any of Norm.  I did hear some of Dan, and, just like the Game 5 post-game, he was sharp and interesting.  My recent listenings of Dan suggests that he should shift away from Sports Humor and more into Sportsy Sports, with the humor flowing naturally from more substantive contributions.  Hmmm, need to think about that one.

(5)   Rowwwwwr!!  Loved the Craig/George spat this morning.  If you missed it, please go to The (Incomparable) UnTicket and check it out.  Here it is from memory:  Craig was making his case (a pretty good one) that Phillips is the worst Cowboys coach of all time.  George disagreed and defended Wade, or rather said that -- hell, I always get Campo and Gailey mixed up, before my Dallas days -- one of those guys was worse.  Junior pointed out that Campo/Gailey (whichever one it was) had an abysmal roster to work with but still went 5-11.  George ended up saying that he just thought Junior was too hard on Wade. 



This remark triggered something in Craig, who noted that George had done more to ridicule Phillips in this market than any other single human, with his Fake Wade reduction.  It is not overstating it to say that he accused George of hypocrisy (he didn't use that word), said he wished he could operate that way, slam the guy one minute with the cruel imitation, and then defend him the rest of the week.  George told him that maybe he (Craig) could operate that way, if he developed a Jason Garrett imitation. 

When stuff like this happens, you wonder What It All Means.  A checklist of possibilities.

     (a)   Behind the scenes tension? 

     (b)  The normal minor squabbles that attend any close friendship? 

     (c)  Junior a little disapproving of the weekly extreme Wade/Jerry bashing, making likable Wade seem like the simplest of morons? 

     (d)  Junior a little defensive about his theory of the worst all-time Cowboy coach?

     (e)  An eruption of the festering contradictions that accompany mixing comedy (which must always be negative) with observation and commentary (which should be even-handed and analytical).

I'm saying not (a), and some combination of (b), (c), (d), and (e). 

(6)   A Phony Is Ringing.   Deion Sanders was terrible on BaD.  Not BaD's fault.  Sanders was so wrapped up in being precious, and an insider, and controversial, and confrontational, and street, and cool, that after all the verbiage he communicated almost nothing of value.  I felt sorry for Bob and Dan, who were trying their best to be polite hosts.  Sanders was just an unlistenable schmuck.  I wonder if it was because BaD was the main popularizer of the "phong is ringing/Michael Trabtree" clip.



(7)   Craig Gets to Another Point  This is note from a couple of weeks ago:  Alone among pundits, Craig said something  that everyone who has ever run an organization thinks about the Cowboys:  I don't have any exact quotes, but Craig was commenting on some impossibly tangled Jerry remarks, and Craig said:  "That's what's wrong with the Cowboys."  From this statement and his follow-up, his point was (and I'm expanding way beyond anything Junior actually said, but this is what I took to be his meaning because it happens to be a point I want to make my ownself) that when you have management with the extremely primitive communications habits of Jones and Phillips it is completely unsurprising that the team appears unprepared.  There is no reason in the world to believe that either of them makes more sense or speaks more credibly to the organization than they do about the organization to the press and public. 

All in all, The Ticket has done itself proud on actual sports coverage on the Cowboys drama.

PS:  It's interesting that we call Jerry Jones "Jerry" and Wade Phillips "Wade."  But Bill Parcells was usually "Parcells" and Tom Landry is usually "Tom Landry" or "Landry."  "Jason Garrett" is almost always "Garrett."  I was going to make a point about how we use the last names of guys we respect more, until I realized that they usually refer to Jimmy Johnson as "Jimmy," so forget I said anything.

Any Post with "Greggo" in the Title Probably Isn't Good News

OK, something new this morning. 

Before I get to that, Confessor Scott left a very nice comment about Greggo on my previous post about Greggo's whereabouts. Check it out.

Let's review:

(1)  Caught the midday show a couple of times, very briefly.  Hammer sounded OK.  Show wasn't too exciting, but Greggo was the most interesting thing on it.  I think they call it RAGE, for Richie [Whitt} And Greggo.  I don't know if  the E stands for anything, but you can't call it RAG.

(2)  Caught the post-game show the week before last.  Greggo didn't sound drug-addled, but he sounded sick and extremely hoarse.

(3)  Greggo apparently disappeared from yesterday's postgame.  I only heard him say a couple of things, but he didn't sound hoarse to me as he had the week before.

(4)  This morning I decided I could do without "Muse in the News" and switched over to 105.3 The Fan.  Jagger and some guy named Henson?  And some chick.  I don't know who all was on the show.  It was awful.  Anyway, they were talking about yesterday's broadcasting day and they said something about Greggo not being there.  And then someone said:  "Greggo was there, but he has some kind of bad laryngitis."  And one of the other hosts said, with a smirk in his voice:  "OK, we'll go with that."

In other words, the morning guys did not believe that Greggo was off the show on Monday because of any legitimate illness.

Thus, I conclude -- very sadly, because like a lot of other people I grew very fond of Greggo the Hammer --that based on the past several years of Greggo disappointments, and just a few snippets from the past two weeks, Greg Williams is headed for trouble at The Fan, if he hasn't already arrived there.

Again, any 105.3 The Fan listeners are invited to comment with additional information, or to correct my impressions.

Sunday, November 7, 2010

AND AGAIN -- WHERE'S GREGGO?

I'm going to need a hand from knowledgeable Confessors here:

I'm listening to the Cowboys pregame on The Ticket.  Sean Bass and Larry Brown.  They're doing a great job, a very impressive show.   Sean has prepped and it shows.  I've never been wild about Brown, always thought he was OK, but today he seemed to have some really good insights on what was going on with the Cowboys.

And Todd Archer -- on fire!  The best I've ever heard him.    Really incisive commentary on what was going on with the Cowboys.  Why don't we get this Todd on The Ranch Report?  I'm wondering if the Cowboys' suckitude frees some of these pundits to say what they think.  It's clear that sources within the Cowboys are worthless -- there is no reason in the world to worry about Cowboys insiders not talking to you if you're publically critical.  Whatever the reason, he basically implied that Wade Phillips is constitutionally incapable of telling the press the truth about his players.  Good stuff.

But that's not important now.

I thought I'd switch over and listen to the Fan 105.3 Cowboys pregame.  I'm not sure who all the personalities are on that show.  Coach Joe and another guy, and another guy, and Greg Williams.  I don't think Richie Whitt was on this pre-game.   But I will tell you this:  (1) I heard Greggo's voice briefly, see below.  (2) Christie Scales, after her hilarious interview with Jerry, sent it back to three people she named, one of which was "Greg."  (Jerry was almost rude, had no interest in answering questions, the shortest Jerry answers in history, and Christie was brilliant, having another question ready immediately when Jerry would clam up.  This may have been edited, but it sounded to me like Christie was totally on the ball.)    And I see in my internet research that the Hammer is supposed to be on this pre-game show.

OK, here's what I heard:  They were talking about "the frozen tundra" of Lambeau Field, and that led to a mention of NFL Films narrator John Fassenda, and one of the guys said that Fassenda was the best voice of the NFL, and then you heard Greg say:  "I resent that."  I guess it was supposed to be a joke, but since Greggo is not the voice of anything, it didn't make any sense, and the other guys on the broadcast were clearly taken aback.  In retrospect, I wonder whether maybe it was a drop.  But I don't think so.


That was the last I heard from Greggo for the hour or so remaining on the broadcast.  His name was never mentioned again.   When they were talking to Brad Scham, he referenced "Joe" and one other guy by name -- I was jogging at the time and didn't have any way to write this stuff down, was it "Wally"? -- but no mention of Hammer, and when the show signed off, his name was not mentioned.

So here's the question -- did Greggo just blow it again?  I did not hear the first part of the show, so I can't say 100% for sure that he was even on the show.  I certainly heard his voice, but it was so brief that, as I say, I can't say it wasn't a drop.  He apparently is supposed to be on the show, at least as of the time that Christie Scales taped her interview with Jerry.  But for at least the last hour of the show -- no Greg Williams.

So -- have we just experienced another Greggo the Hammer meltdown? 

Sorry I don't know any more about the personalities who are supposed to be on the Fan Cowboys pregame.  All I can say is that if Greg Williams was on that show, then he ran into a problem well before the show was over and was gonzo for over an hour before it ended.  If not, then I apologize to the Confessor Nation -- and to Greggo -- for this alarming post.

I invite knowledgeable Confessors to enlighten this site.  Many thanks.

Saturday, November 6, 2010

How's Greggo?

I've tuned into the midday show over on The Fan a couple of times.  I found it difficult to listen to for some reason.  Dull.  Lack of insight not compensated for by interesting personalities.  However, I thought the Hammer sounded OK.  Certainly not incoherent.  Pretty much like his former Hardline self.

When I switched over to the 105.3 postgame show during a break in Norm's postgame show last week, there was the same team together with Coach Joe.  In this particular show, nothing much at all was being conveyed.  Greggo wasn't incoherent, but he sounded terrible, hoarse and sick.

I'd love to listen more and do a more thorough report on Greggo's broadcasting adventures on 105.3, but haven't had a chance to do so.  I'm betting there are Confessors out there who sneak over to Greggo's show now and again, and if you have any news about the guy I'd love to hear it.  Or if you'd like to weigh in on his show over there, be my guest.  Mainly, I'm hoping someone can tell me if his health is OK -- he really sounded rough last Sunday.

This is of increased interest now that The Fan is going to put Josh Lewin on middays and move Whitt/Hammer to 2-7, competing with The Hardline.   I don't see Whitt and Williams making much of a dent, but there will at least be some initial curiosity. 

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Oh, Danny, Danny, Danny -- or, Little Douche Coupe

Your Ticket Confession forgives Danny almost anything. In fact, it recently bestowed upon the sainted Mr. Balis the ultimate compliment, comparing him to bacon – a little Danny improves almost anything.

Danny requires very little forgiveness, but it is apparent from Confessors’ comments referencing Danny that one of the few things they would edit out of his act is his ┼▒bercoolness about music. About this I would agree. I am an admirer of Danny’s musical talent as it manifests itself on The Ticket, but I am not familiar with his non-Ticket oeurve. I don’t own any Sorta or any of his solo stuff, no particular reason, just haven’t gotten around to checking it out.

But yesterday – oh, Danny, Danny, Danny.

Sneering at – The Beach Boys. (Corby joined him in this sneering, but this particular article is about Danny Danny Danny, and Confessors I hear from don’t get exercised about Corby’s musical tastes.)

Now I will concede that in these the Twenty-Taints songs from fifty years ago about chicks, surfing, high school, and cars don’t sound cool to forty-year-olds. It might not even have sounded cool to those forty-year-olds when they were fourteen. And the Beach Boys didn’t get into groovy trippy lyrics until “Good Vibrations” and Brian Wilson’s collaborations with Van Dyke Parks. And I will also concede that we’re not talking about instrumental virtuosity here.

But oh, Danny – the music, the music.


Brian Wilson in the studio during "Pet Sounds" session

Brian Wilson is widely acknowledged among musical scholars and serious pop music critics as a musical genius.  Look, I know there's a lot of pretentious BS in the musical press on the artistic merit of marginal pop. I am not a scholar of music, but I am knowledgeable about it and I concur with those who stand agape at the alter of Brian. Couple of things:

First: Melody. It’s near impossible to do well. Oh, we can all write a little melody that follows the conventions acceptable to Western ears, but the chances of it being catchy, much less of catching the interest of millions of your fellows, is vanishingly tiny. Brian Wilson wrote dozens of them.  Dozens. And while all were catchy, many were and remain truly beautiful -- even some of the car and surfing songs, like "The Ballad of Ol' Betsy."  Freakin' song makes me cry.   Who can write like that, song after song after song? Paul Simon; McCartney and Lennon; Richard Rogers; Cole Porter; Jerome Kern; Fagen and Becker. Might put Billy Joel on that list. Personal addition – Brian Eno. Others, for sure, but not a lot with the vastness of Wilson’s string of hits.

In the documentary "I Just Wasn't Made for These Times," Tom Petty compares Brian Wilson to Beethoven.

Second: Sophistication. Jeebus, Danny, I know there’s a lot of posturing in the musical world, but lots and lots and lots of people who know quite a lot about music recognize Brian Wilson as a musical genius, albeit a naive (untrained) one. Yeah, critical attention doesn’t define great music, but his music is great. And part of what makes it great is that it manipulates musical forms in a way that engages the ear in a very complex way.  Paul McCartney repeatedly acknowledged the Beatles’ admiration of “Pet Sounds” and its influence on "Sgt. Pepper."  Books have been written about Wilson’s construction of his songs – and not just the gorgeous harmonies, but the underlying chordal structure and use of time.  I’ll link to just one site that analyzes one my my two favorite BB songs – "The Warmth of the Sun," a stunning song composed on the night of JFK's assassination with Mike Love.  (My other favorite is “Don’t Talk” from “Pet Sounds,” of which I have actually had a role in recording a cover. “The Warmth of the Sun” is a favorite of many musicians, who point to one particular chord change as nearly revolutionary as a single chord change can be.)



Yes, it's sad to see the remnants of the band continuing to cash in on music that was made all those years ago, and which only Mike Love had some role in composing.  But part of the reason they can keep doing that is that the songs are fabulous constructions, every bit the equal of the Beatles' pop classics.  Brian Wilson never went on to record a "Sgt. Pepper" or "Abbey Road," but what he accomplished in the face of paternal opposition, mental illness, and the ossified studio system in the US at that time -- nothing short of breathtaking.  And what remains on the vinyl is still absolutely transporting.

So, Danny – not my leader, exactly, but pretty close until I saw you in that hat at the World Series remote – your credentials as a knowledgeable music guy are presently in purgatory. The Danny Nation will be listening for your further musical judgments upon which to evaluate your worthiness as a guide to excellent song listening.

But of course, you could give a crap about what we think. 

And we love you for it.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

World Series Quick Hits; or Wherein I Almost Unmask

Mrs. Plainsman decided that she and I would give each other World Series tickets for Christmas, and Mrs. Plaimsman pretty much runs things around the old sod house, so we went to Game 5 last night.  A few observations.

Hardline -- Not So Remote.  We walked past the kids' ballpark where The Hardline was doing their remote.  We were pretty early, so I told Mrs. Plainsman I was going to go down and check out the remote.  I arrived as they were going into a break.  They seemed pretty relaxed, seemed to be having a good time.  Here they are as the spots are running:

Danny "Wool Hat" Balis, Corby Davidson, Mike Rhyner on break
outside the Jim Sundberg Junior Ballpark, Rangers Ballpark at Arlington,
just before Game 5, 11-01-10
On the far right you can see Craig Miller's distinctive profile entering the frame.  During the break he said hello to The Hardline and spoke to a couple of other people he knew.  I thought I would wait until The Hardline started broadcasting again and Craig was freed up and I'd introduce myself to him.  But at that point, Mrs. Plainsman horsecollared me to return to our trek to The Temple, so I maintain my status of never having met or spoken to anyone connected with The Ticket.

Classy Rangers Fans.  The Musers have mentioned this today, and I agree completely -- the Rangers fans were 100% cool.  When the game was over, they didn't instantly pour out of the station.  Everyone was standing and applauding.  Part of it was wanting to view the drama of a World Series celebration live on our own humble ballyard; part of it was to give a final cheer and a nice hand for the Rangers in thanks for a groovy ride this year; but I sensed that a part of it also was to show respect for the Giants and their fans who were present.  (May have been where we were sitting -- fourth row upper deck behind home late -- but the Giants fans were pretty loud.)

Retooling Those Swings.   Nolan Ryan said in a post-game interview that we're a fastball-hitting team and the Giants had us scouted out pretty well and threw a lot of curves and offspeed stuff that got close enough to the strike zone to be taken seriously.  No kidding.  Our guys were way out in front of pitch after pitch.  On the way home, The Memsahib asked:  "Can't they change that when the pitcher isn't throwing fastballs?"  I said I didn't know, but I hope Clint Hurdle does.

Good Dan.  We listened to Diamond Talk on the way home with Sean Bass, David Newbury, and Dan McDowell.  It was a good show, and Dan was especially good.  He was incisive, succinct, and reflected the attitude that most fans seem to have.   Kept the snark to -- well, I'm not sure I heard any.  Very nice job.  Hmm, maybe Dan needs a change of scenery, a show where he's the senior partner and not expected to be a Sports Humorist.  Let me think about that one.  Dan was pretty good last night.

Your World Series Joke, Guaranteed Original.  I sent this to Corby but haven't been able to listen to the entire Hardline, so don't know if it made the air:

     What do you get when you're sick of making lease payments on your apartment?


     Renteria.

Let's Go, Rangers.

Monday, November 1, 2010

Elf Quick Hit -- That Sound He Makes

[[This was drafted a couple of weeks ago.  I forgot to hit "publish post."  So this one's a little stale.  Sorry.  -- Plainsman.]]

One day a couple of weeks ago the Musers were teasing Mark Elfenbein about the promo he taped for the show since he appeared to endorse the concept of a fourth playoff game for the Rangers and Rays.  Elf called in to defend himself.  He re-ran the Musers segment on his show Sunday morning.

They got to talking about that ngyah-ngyah sound that Elf makes at the end of all his promos these days.  If I had to describe it, it is a sound of amused anxiety.  I thought sure I knew where he got that sound, but he didn't mention it, so I'll throw it out my speculation --

It's the sound the late Dom DeLuise used to make with some frequency.