“Soft despotism is a term coined by Alexis de Tocqueville describing the state into which a country overrun by "a network of small complicated rules" might degrade. Soft despotism is different from despotism (also called 'hard despotism') in the sense that it is not obvious to the people."

Sunday, June 10, 2007

The Sopranos and the End.

Tony Soprano looked up from the diner table. His wife son and daughter were in the booth with him listening to "Journey." The screen went black with no further sound. Life ends like that for some. One second you are and one second later you are not. So ends the Sopranos, according to Tony Soprano.

'Sopranos' is history - or is it?
By Jonathan Storm
Inquirer Television Critic

This 1999 photo, supplied by HBO, shows a younger-looking James Gandolfini ,who plays mob boss Tony Soprano, in an episode from the first season of the HBO cable television mob series, "The Sopranos." Sunday night, June 10, 2007, concludes the show's eight years of mob maneuvering, metaphor-laden dream sequences and mad exclamations of "Marone." (AP Photo/HBO Anthony Neste)
Set me free, why don’t you, babe? You don’t really love me. You just keep me hanging on, you dirty rat.

Not only Vanilla Fudge fans will hear echoes Monday morning of the anthem that ran through the first part of Sunday night’s Sopranos finale. Creator David Chase cut to black, to end his TV masterpiece 100 percent unresolved.

Cut to black? Cut to black after a scene so loaded with tension, it was more delicious than the onion rings at Holsten’s – “best in the state,” according to Mr. Anthony Soprano, and who would know better?

Cooler heads, and I’ll bet, when the dust settles, most viewers, will savor the rings, and with them, the genius of an ending that set up every one of the signs of Mafia doom, without pulling the trigger.

Nondescript Baseball Cap Guy will forever be drinking coffee in that booth. Gray-Jacket Mook’s permanently in the bathroom. The hip-hop gangstas will always be standing at the jukebox. Nobody’s whacking anybody.

And our loving family, because you had to see Sunday night, finally, that that’s what they are, will forever be ordering the All-American burger special with homemade ice cream for dessert, after Meadow’s parking problems proved just to be ineptitude, and not the horrible coincidence that would leave her either the only survivor, or the only victim of final, horrible carnage.

The odds against Tony are still stacked high. Carlo’s talking. There’s an 80 percent chance of an indictment. “Damn, we’re going to win this thing,” the FBI man exclaims after hearing that Soprano rival Phil Leotardo has shuffled off this mortal coil. (Lucky for him – and us, thank you, Mr. Chase – that he was denied the pleasure of seeing Phil’s grandchildren driving over their Pop Pop’s head, which popped.)

But, “trials are there to be won,” Tony’s lawyer tells him. The Boss certainly overcame a passel of problems Sunday night, barely breaking a sweat.

And from all the deep well of music, so often obscure, plumbed by The Sopranos, he punched the box to play Journey’s “Don’t Stop Believing,” the finest of the power ballads, as clich├ęd and delectable as those onion rings.

That midnight train goes to anywhere, maybe even to the oft-whispered Sopranos movie in the future, but do you really think that Chase, who has ridiculed so much of contemporary American culture, will opt for the corny concept of closure?

We leave Uncle Junior, who once ran North Jersey with Tony’s father, befuddled. Sister Janice will find another husband. She’s good at that. Paulie Walnuts – nyah, nyah, all you conspiracy buffs – declares, “I live but to serve you, my liege.”

It’s not all right, Ma, and it never will be with son A.J., even if his hot baby girlfriend does dig Dylan, and even if he does remind us at the end to focus on the good times.

But even if Dad’s done bribing the sniveling son, sister Meadow, starting at $170K after law school, will be around to help out, whatever her parking skills. Nobody’s following in Daddy’s footsteps because his whole world – misanthropic Chase invites you to make it as big as you like – is fading.

“This is New York’s famous Little Italy,” barks the Gray Line guide on the passing tour bus. “It once covered over 40 square blocks, but has now been reduced to one row of shops and cafes.” Leotardo’s henchman can’t even walk the length of a short cell phone call without finding himself – where else? – in Chinatown.

Some, like Paulie did with the orange cat that was maybe Christopher’s ghost, will want to club Chase for not tying it all up. But I’ll take the cat’s point of view, staring at the ghosts in my television, purring in admiration


  1. Wretchard does not understand the concept of the "Big Look".
    He is some kind of a software engineer, I always thought.

    Not an artist or graphical image kinda guy.

  2. The fun thing, is here at the Bar.

    allen and I were discussing Mexico and it's integration in the US.
    How the project is moving forward, it's historical perspective, at the tail end of Hitchens.

    When I happen across this piece, by Mark Steyn, pricelss in its' timeliness to allen and my's most civil of discussions.

    Syndicated Columnist
    About five years or so back, I started making references in columns to "fine upstanding members of the Undocumented-American community." But from the lame Steyn joke of yesteryear to the reality of tomorrow is a mere hop and a skip. A few days ago, Harry Reid, the Senate majority leader, declared:

    "This week we will vote on cloture and final passage of a comprehensive bill that will strengthen border security, bring the 12 million undocumented Americans out of the shadows, and keep our economy strong."

    Talk about "a fast track to citizenship"! Never mind probationary visas, Z-visas and Green Cards, in the eyes of the Democrat steering "comprehensive immigration reform" through Congress these guys are already "undocumented Americans." Was it simply a slip of the tongue? Or did Senator Reid mean it?

    If he did, the very concept of citizenship is dead, and the Senate might as well opt for really comprehensive immigration reform" and declare everyone on the planet a U.S. citizen with backdated Social Security entitlements.

    Inalienable Rights, Granted by God.

  3. The US is the World's oldest Revolutionary Movement and Government, still influenced and "ruled" by the Revolutionary Documents.

    The Oldest and Most successful Revolution.
    A Revolution not bound by geography, unless God is.

    All men...
    Endowed by their creator ...
    Inalienable Rights.

    What parts would or should the true belivers ignore, which should they give up on and abandon, before the mission is complete?

    Work worthy of a lifetime, generations of them, really.

  4. James Baker's Disciples
    By Caroline Glick

    Ahead of Prime Minister Ehud Olmert's trip to the White House on June 19, the Bush administration is pressuring Israel to endanger itself on at least two fronts.

    First, the Americans are pressuring the Olmert government to agree to Palestinian Authority and Fatah chief Mahmoud Abbas's request to bring millions of bullets, thousands of Kalashnikov assault rifles, RPGs, antitank missiles and armored personnel carriers into Gaza from Egypt.

    3,000 M16s were not enough, it seems.

    Ms Glick goes on from there, sweet in her own stylistic way.

  5. RCP Average 05/28 - 06/06
    Rudy= 26.7,
    McCain= 17.2,
    Thompson= 14.5,
    Romney= 10.5,
    Newt= 7.7.

    Average puts Giuliani +9.5

    G Team= 34.4%

  6. Discussion of his work

    No impact on the reruns, the viewer still does not know how the story ends.

  7. I was going to do a post on the Soprano's also but I don't mind that Deuce scooped me. The final episode of the Sopranos was unlike any final episode of a television show that I have ever seen. At the critical final tension filled moment, David Chase elected to "pull the plug" literally leaving the viewer thinking that the signal had been lost. The critics may think the final episode was brilliant but the word anti-climatic can barely begin to describe it.
    It was very unfulfilling...imagine if we just walked away from the EB with a word of explanation.

    Admittedly, commercially it was a good move. It left this viewer with the distinct feeling that the final message is "To be Continued."

  8. Another story w/a Mexican connection.

  9. "...imagine if we just walked away from the EB with a word of explanation.
    Deuce made two valiant attempts, but like women's attempts at suicide, they were half-hearted affairs.

  10. Strobe Talbott,Deputy Secretary of State (1994-2001); Ambassador-at-Large and Special Adviser to the Secretary of State on the New Independent States (1993-94); said a few years back that in the not so distant future there would be no borders and no nation states.

    If I am not mistaken the man thinks this is a worthy goal. There are too many powerful men who think like Mr Talbott and yet we are told that we are crazy to believe these very men are working toward such a world.

  11. Carolyn might as well commit suicide:
    The Americans are gonna get her killed yet.
    (not real Americans, Globalists Posing as)

  12. Valiant attempts, Doug? Dramatic maybe, but valiant?

    Sorry Deuce, just teasing.

  13. Buddy had some great links on Strobe, I think.
    Don't remember what, but as expected, bad for the USA.

  14. I compared them to the actions of a woman, figured that's as low as I would go.

  15. You woulda felt like the hole in the lifesaver if I hadn't!

  16. I've never seen an episode of the Soapranos, so I quess I might as well miss the heaven sent last one. I heard every other word was a swear word. Maybe Trish watches.

  17. Oh gawd, I forgot, Double Al is here:
    Now I'm gonna hear
    Sermon on Misogynism number 39!

  18. Soaps are now our highest artform, AlBob:
    Don't knock em.

  19. Are you from the South, AlBob?

  20. "I heard every other word was a swear word. Maybe Trish watches."

    In reruns, most swears dubbed-out.

    The most profanity-laden series I've seen was Deadwood. (Similar, unsatisfying, anti-climactic ending.) Lavish employment of "cocksucker." Priceless for the introduction of "hoople-head."

    In my own defense, however, the only swear my children hear is goddamit, which my mother also preferred. Good, sturdy exclamation, that one.

  21. As a farmer, Trish, I can state, I've never sworn in my life, even when the heavy harrow bar and tine dropped on my foot.
    'Good, sturdy exclamation, that' one.

    Damned right.

  22. You don't know what's going on in 'The Young and the Restless', but I can find out, from my wife. Hah!
    Computor wiz that you are, you can check the show's web site.

  23. Rufus

    re: The Telecom Bill

    "Nobody knew what was in the legislation even when it was signed."

    Now, if that isn't a confidence builder, I don't know what is.

  24. Take This, combine it with kilmer4's excellent link on the prior thread dealing with Desalinization, combine that with Jake's link to = the "Drip" Irrigatiion Co. Mix it all together with all that stuff I've been putting up these last few months about BIOFUELS, and Bubbas

    You're onto somethin

    I thin

  25. You gonna BE thin trying to farm on Desalinated Water, LeRoy!

  26. BTW, you could run all of the wastewater from Tucson through an anaerobic digester, and have enough energy to run half the cars, and water enough to irrigate the whole valley.

  27. I don't thin so, Doug. The key is that "Drip-Irrigation." If I can get eight gallons for a penny I can probably raise a bushel of corn for fifteen or twenty cents worth of water. That's about a nickel for a gallon of ethanol.

    I believe that's "Fat City," Bubba.

  28. I'm getting worried. If nobody knows what's in the legislation, even when it's signed, we may wake some morning and find out we've sold Alaska back to the Russians.

    Then we're going to really need the bio-fuels.

  29. BTW, after I've spread BioChar (which I get from my ethanol refining process) on the field a couple of times it will hold that expensive desalinated water that much (a lot) better.

  30. "As a farmer, Trish, I can state, I've never sworn in my life, even when the heavy harrow bar and tine dropped on my foot."

    Same with my father-in-law and paternal grandfather. Maternal grandfather and uncles were partial to goddamn. Farmers all. My own father NEVER swore. Husband rarely, and then absentmindedly, in the couple of weeks upon returning from whatever merry pest hole.

  31. Wow, that's some kind of beautiful stuff, Bob.

  32. Rufus, I wish I could transpose some of those to canvas and oil, and hang them on my wall.

  33. And I have no idea what a harrow bar and tine are.

  34. Me too, Bob. Well, that does it. I'm going to bed and dream about Stars. Nite all.

  35. All for Naught, AlBob:
    Them stars and such got another 50 years at best:
    Astrological Warming, you know.

  36. Trish, if you drop a section of This on your foot, you will swear, even if you swear later that you haven't;)

  37. The tine as it is called around here, is the sharp pointed metal piece that goes through your boot into you foot when you drop it.

  38. Guy I worked for got up close and personal with a Disk Harrow, Trish.

    Happened right after he fell off his tractor.

    That was BEFORE I worked for him, so he was only partially "Harrowed In."

    Rufus would call him a bionic soil ammendment, or some such.

    Then his young nephew just about took my head off with a D-6 and a shaker rig which used a steel cable.
    ...until his rewelded hook broke and all Hell broke lose.
    Those poor Mexican Farmhands probly thought they had been sent to 'Nam when they saw me out there oozin life.

  39. It is a harrowing experience I'll say that.

  40. Well, then, bob, I HAVE seen, and crawled over, many a harrow bar and tine. Without ever knowing it.

  41. The purpose is to bust up the smaller clods and make things smooth for planting. Also sometimes we pull them behind the planting drills to the same purpose, and to make sure the seed gets a good smooth covering. And, there are certain chemicals, for wild oats for instance, that are incorporated into the soil in the spring, usually, before planting, and it's used for that purpose too.

  42. You grow wild oats as a cover crop?

  43. Avena species, including cultivated oats, are used as food plants by the larvae of some Lepidoptera species including Rustic Shoulder-knot and Setaceous Hebrew Character.
    Gotta look out for them Setaceous Hebrew Characters.

  44. "Then his young nephew just about took my head off with a D-6 and a shaker rig which used a steel cable.
    ...until his rewelded hook broke and all Hell broke lose."

    Gotta picture?

    Honestly, Doug, you might as well be speaking Greek.

  45. The Dr had a bunch of pictures on the receptionist counter!

    I was less than pleased when I first returned and saw that.
    Said the experience was bad enuff but this was ten times worse.
    Dylan stole that line from me.

    I'm thinking of the easiest way to picture a shaker rig.
    Nothing religious, so don't worry.

  46. Anyhoo:
    It's a machine on the front of the tractor that occilates back and forth, pulling on the cable all the while.
    You hook the cable to a sling around the Walnut tree, the guy puts tension on the cable with the tractor, then shakes the Walnuts down.

    In my case, he slipped the D-6 down the hill enough to snap the hook. The cable then acted like a giant rubber band, or more accurately, like a restraining cable snapping on a carrier.
    Not Good.

  47. You grow wild oats as a cover crop? You must be flippin' my ear again, but the answer is Lord No. But those Hebrews sound tough.

    Doug's description sounds clear as a bell to me, Trish. For once:)

  48. Probly don't use those much anymore, as they have hydralic ones that grab the tree and shake it.
    ...a bit safer and saner.

  49. So why did you bring up Wild Oats?
    To poison them, no doubt, you killer you.

  50. "certain chemicals" Hitler used "certain gases."

  51. I'm following Rufus to bed.

    Not the same bed of course.

    By the way, I learned reading about John Donne--back in that day it was an accepted custom for young men to sleep together--housing space being at a premium--and to show affection--kissing(on mouth or cheek I don't know) or hugging in public, no sexual intentions at all. Styles change.

    Wild oats are darn hard to get rid off. The seed lasts for years. Don't ever plant a field of regular oats, while sprayig for the wild oats. You ain't gonna get much.


  52. Beautiful Plant However.
    Much nicer picture than them guys doin that stuff.

  53. "sexual intentions at all."
    That's what they all say.

  54. "You hook the cable to a sling around the Walnut tree, the guy puts tension on the cable with the tractor, then shakes the Walnuts down."

    Gotcha. Much clearer, thanks.

    In northwest Illinois, it's just corn, soy beans, and winter wheat.

    My brother and I spent lazy summers there - as Army brats, the only "home-home" we had. One of the biggest thrills was always checking out our beloved uncle's tractor barn for the newest combine and climbing up in the cab. Then it was hide and seek in the hayloft - until the snakes were discovered.

    It's the small things in life.

  55. This comment has been removed by the author.

  56. "In Scotland a dish called Sowans was made by soaking the husks from oats for a week so that the fine, floury part of the meal remained as sediment to be strained off, boiled and eaten (Gauldie 1981)."

  57. Olathe has real-estate prices almost in Calif league now!
    Or did, a year ago.
    They brag that it's not more than 3 hours from almost everywhere!

  58. Gee, Doug, when I turn off the interstate just outside Peoria, I roll down the window for that smell. Of Illinois soil. Bittersweet.

    I never had to farm it. I never would. But I greatly enjoyed, while it lasted, the company of those who did.

  59. Yeah, I just liked farming where the soil didn't freeze in the winter!
    Like I say, spoiled.
    Can't bitch too much from Hawaii about the weather, tho!

  60. Beats haggis, sounds like.

    Have to be up in three hours.

    Shut out the light at the Rose and Elephant when you turn in.

  61. U.S. Arming Sunnis in Iraq to Battle Old Qaeda Allies
    Commanders are arming groups that have promised to fight militants who have been their allies in the past.
    Iraq’s Parliament Leaders Agree to Remove Speaker
    Go to Complete Coverage »

  62. The Lights never out where they serve Haggis with the Beer and BS.

  63. "Can't bitch too much from Hawaii about the weather, tho!"

    No, you can't bitch at all. And I'm interested to know how you ended up there.

    Nite, Doug.

  64. I tell you what. I never could quit drinking or keep a new year's resolution for very long either.

    The click of a zippo lighter would have me buy one more pack of Winstons, but I must have been able to shake some vices.

    This has not been one of them. Dang me...dang me...they oughta take a rope and hang me.

  65. The more I think about the ending, the more I like it. Life ends for one person at one moment. It is always incomplete. It never ends at the right time. In fantasy and books it can come to a neat ending, but in real life and good writing it can end otherwise.

    The question remains, did Tony's life end at that moment or did the coverage of his story end at that moment? Was he arrested, shot, or asked by a waitress if he needs anything else? True to life, we will not be sure.

  66. 2164th: The question remains, did Tony's life end at that moment or did the coverage of his story end at that moment?

    Usually, the music runs over the end credits on a Sopranos episode. This time it was cut short, which favors the death theory. But at least Tony died while sharing a meal with his family, rather than alone.

  67. Doug: Deuce made two valiant attempts, but like women's attempts at suicide, they were half-hearted affairs.

    Cleopatra would say you were a pain in the asp, Doug.

  68. Brilliant show, the Sopranos, and a great ending. Totally surprised me and it keeps you thinking - just as you mused duece. I'm thinking life continues on in the Sate of Jersey, the same only different.

  69. This comment has been removed by the author.

  70. I Hurt her Active Server Pages?

  71. I have given 8 yrs to sopranos and after watching the finale I felt sick. I wanted a definitive answer and I felt that it wasn't delivered. What are these writers payed for? If I was always supposed to think the ending up myself then I could have done that with all 86 episodes beforehand. In conclusion I now hate the sopranos!

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