business news in context, analysis with attitude

Bada Bing, Bada Gone.

I’m going to come right out and say it.

I loved “The Sopranos” finale. Loved it. Despite the fact that as it was happening, I was on my feet with the remote control, swearing at the cable company and trying to figure out what happened to my television set.

Now, the more I think about, the more I love the ending. Even though it was nothing like what I predicted in this space last week.

First of all, I love the idea that “Sopranos” creator David Chase, faced with the impossible task of ending a legendary series and dealing with expectations and predictions from virtually everybody, both took a creative risk and came up with an ending that virtually nobody expected. That alone is saying something.

I actually think that if we’d seen Tony Soprano lying dead in the street, his body riddled with bullets, it would have been tough to take. He’s a sociopath, but he’s our sociopath…and despite his antisocial and murderous tendencies, America has found itself rooting for Tony over the past decade. Okay, maybe “rooting” is too strong…but you get my point.

I’m actually one of those people who believes that the show does have an ending – that Tony, in fact, is dead.

Remember what Bobby Bacala told him when they went fishing a few episodes ago?

“At the end, you probably don't hear anything, everything just goes black," he said.

And that’s what happened. We just didn’t see it, and the ambiguity got everybody talking, and still has everybody talking.

What more can an artist ask for?

Chase owed the audience an ending. Not a conclusion, not a summation. Just an ending.

And by the way, I think that the entire last five or six minutes of the final show were amazing – tense, suspenseful, teeming with possibility and dread. Meadow unable to park the car, as we wait for her to get hit by a truck. Tony sitting at the table as a wide variety of people walk into the diner, people who look like they could whip out a gun at any moment. Carmela and AJ joining him and actually having a nice family moment (which tends to be a harbinger of disaster). And the guy in the members Only jacket going from the counter to the men’s room, which made everybody watching it think about that great scene in “The Godfather” when Michael Corleone goes to the men’s room because that’s where the weapon is hidden. Edge of the seat time, baby…and utterly brilliant. I get chills just thinking about it.

I don’t mind it when people say they hate the ending, but it has really irritating me when I hear some folks – like the increasingly annoying Mike and the Mad Dog on WFAN, who seem to have gotten more strident since Don Imus got fired – say that they think Chase sold out with the ending, that he left it open-ended because he wanted to make more money on a “Sopranos” movie.

That seems, in a word, idiotic.

Chase has plenty of money. His next project will make him plenty more. And there was nothing about that ending that seemed commercially driven.

I loved it.

Bada Bing, Bada Gone.

I had a story last week about a 66-year-old Chinese man who says that he has avoided all stomach distress for some four decades through a steady diet of live tree frogs, accompanied sometimes by live mice, baby rats and green frogs.

Which promoted one MNB user to send us a story he read about a Peruvian woman who “plucks one of the 50 frogs from the aquarium at her bus stop restaurant, bangs it against tiles to kill it and then makes two incisions along its belly and peels off the skin as if husking corn. She’s preparing frog juice, a beverage revered by some Andean cultures for having the power to cure asthma, bronchitis, sluggishness and a low sex drive.”

Things must be tough in Lima, Peru – because she reportedly sells a minimum of 50 servings of frog juice a day.

I can see it now! Next week at Jamba Juice, Frog Smoothies!

Have you been reading the story about the Washington DC judge who is suing his dry cleaners for $54 million because he says they lost his suit pants?

This is an amazing story that could only happen in America.

The judge, Roy Pearson, says that he is owed that much money because of a complicated formula that allows him to claim that the dry cleaners defrauded him and every other resident of the city for years by claiming “satisfaction guaranteed” and “same day service.” The defendants are a Korean couple that came to the US 15 years ago seeking the American dream…and now find themselves living in the middle of an American nightmare.

Go check out Marc Fisher’s coverage of this crazy story in the Washington Post - it’s priceless.

But what is really scary is the idea that this nut is a judge, and sits in judgment of other people’s cases.

The judge who is hearing the case – who we trust is of saner mind than Pearson – is scheduled to hand down her ruling next week. We can hardly wait.

My wine of the week – the 2006 Touraine Gamay, which is a perfect summer red…and one that, for some reason, tastes even better the second day.

Denis Zegar of Food For All, which describes itself as “a program of the Food Industry Crusade Against Hunger (FICAH), which is a voluntary effort of the food industry to alleviate hunger and malnutrition by fostering long-term, self-help solutions in the United States and around the world,” has asked me to tell you about the July 23 Food For All Congressional Golf Tournament, taking place at the Renditions Golf Club, just outside of Washington, DC.

The tournament is sponsored by GMA/FPA, FMI, and the American Beverage Association, which are covering all the costs – all the proceeds go to support Food For All.

Seems like a pretty good way to spend the day and your money to me.

If you need information, give Denis a call at (703) 237-3677.

I saw “Ocean’s 13” last weekend, and liked it. Not a lot, but I liked it. The movie is exactly what you would expect – breezy, impossibly cool, filled with great looking people plotting a heist.

I would have liked some more surprise, some more suspense, and maybe a significant twist at the end. I wanted to be dazzled. I just got entertained. Which is fine.

It is what it is.

If you are looking for solid DVD entertainment, let me suggest that you rent or buy the TV movie versions of two Robert B. Parker Jesse Stone novels – “Death in Paradise” and “Night Passage.” I’m a huge Parker fan, as most of you know, and these two movies – starring Tom Selleck, perfectly cast as the troubled yet honorable small town police chief – are even better than the books. (They keep the annoying ex-wife off-screen and focus more on Jesse, who is a fascinating creation.) The plots are solid and noirish, the scenery is great (the movies at set in Massachusetts but shot in Halifax), and the acting is strong. They look like movies, not TV shows.

The first of the movies, “Stone Cold,” came out on DVD last year. The fourth in the series, “Sea Change,” aired on CBS last month and was another excellent outing. And the word is that there will be at least one more, to be shot this summer and airing next year on CBS.

It is a great series – no special effects, no explosions. Just solid, character-driven mysteries.

Good stuff.

KC's View: