Monday, November 23, 2015

Monday, November 02, 2015

Thursday, May 14, 2015

Blank On Blank: Ray Bradbury

Los Angeles, CA

I'll listen to any interview with Ray Bradbury. Funny thing... I'm more influenced by the things he's said about writing, philosophy, and creativity more than his actual stories and fictional characters. A true thinker. Here's something from the Blank On Blank series, which animates interview clips...

Friday, March 20, 2015

RIP Dan Feldman

Los Angeles, CA

I attended college with Dan Feldman. We were friends, fraternity brothers, and business partners. At one point in our lives, we were that cliche "thick as thieves" and/or "two peas in a pod."

The summer of 1992. I was still 19 years old and utterly clueless. That summer the Dream Team crushed opponents in the Barcelona Olympics because it was the first year NBA pros could play. I'm bombarded by vivid flashbacks of the Dream Team because our ice cream truck was littered with giant McD's souvenir cups featuring Dream Teamers like Michael Jordan and Larry Bird.

One item on my resume was always a conversational piece...
ENTREPRENEUR - Tasty Ice Cream, Atlanta, GA
"Wait... you were the ice cream man?"

TASTY ice cream was an instant ice-breaker during every single job interview in my adult life. It was always fun to talk about. I had crazy stories. Heck, I had an even crazier partner. How did I get into the ice cream business? Dan Feldman invited me in.

Feldman drove an ice cream truck in his hometown on Long Island, but in the summer of 1992 he wanted to do the same thing in Atlanta. I needed a job and so we wet into business together. We lived in our fraternity house (a handful of guys in one of those gigantic southern mansions) and parked the ice cream truck out back and kept the freezer running using a series of industrial extension chords. The truck was really a van with a freezer in the back. Our stoner friends raided the van late nights and left pocket change on the front seat. We drove one truck but alternated work days. It was fun, but arduous work. The city was nicknamed HOTLANA for a reason... hellacious heat, sweltering, irritating, disgusting summer days in Atlanta. I'd come home every night drenched in sweat because the van truck was more like a sauna.

Twenty years later, I can easily say that the summer of 1992 was one of the all-time greatest summers. In the high-water mark of life, Feldman and I surfed the crest of that wave.

Feldman's initial business plan entailed renting a van from TASTY Ice Cream, an independent business run by a Persian that everyone called The Shah. The Shah was a fair man, but he wouldn't rent to us until we had proper credentials. He told us to get experience at HAPPY ICE CREAM, the largest company in Atlanta. HAPPY'S portly owner looked like a character from The Sopranos and he hired me on the spot. He briefly showed me a gigantic map of Atlanta and its sprawling suburbs. He boasted about his vast territory, much like a king bragging about the size of his kingdom  The hot spots were in yellow. I always had a bit of a photographic memory, so I studied the map.

The HAPPY ICE CREAM training program included sitting in a dark room to watch a series of grainy training videos from the late 70s and early 80s. I was one of three other trainees. Both of them fell asleep within an hour. In all fairness, one of the guys was riding the H train and nodded out. I passed the training/safety exam and got sent out on a test run with one of the veteran drivers. The guy had a ghostly, gravely voice like Miles Davis, and he gave me a crash course in the ice cream biz. Miles said the best part of the job was "getting hit on by single moms." Once my HAPPY training was complete, I graduated and was assigned my very own truck.

The plan with Feldman was to alternate days. On his first day on the job, he crashed HAPPY's truck. Drove it right into the front of a liquor store near the old Techwood projects (that got razed to build the Olympic Village). At the time, it was scary. Luckily Feldman escaped without a scratch on his head. But the truck was totaled and our future with HAPPY ICE CREAM looked bleak.

We returned to the Shah and sorta begged him to let us work for TASTY. I showed him my photocopied diploma from HAPPY ICE CREAM that said I was a certified ice cream truck driver. Feldman was a natural born salesman and pretty much told the Shah that we'd have a truck out 7 days a week and we were young, eager college kids who could log long hours because we switched off days. Feldman told him we'd be the Shah's top earners and driving his #1 truck. Truly a bold statement, but by the end of the summer we were at the top of the Shah's fleet of trucks. Besides, how hard could the competition be? The Shah's main competitor HAPPY hired ex-cons and junkies.

Every morning one of us would drive the van from Emory University to MLK Blvd, where the Shah's shop was located. We were a McCatholic kid from the Bronx and a Jewish kid from Long Island working on a fleet comprised of Middle Easterns and Haitians. We bought inventory (usually whatever we sold out from the night before) and dry ice. We needed the dry ice to keep the goods cold. The kid who worked the freezer was barely taller than Kevin Hart and he wore a jumpsuit that looked like he was climbing Mt. Everest. He spent 10-12 hours a day inside a gigantic walk-in freezer.

The Shah didn't even give us a map. He threw us head first into the ice cream pool, but I memorized HAPPY's route and their top areas. Feldman's business model was simple: undercut HAPPY's prices by a nickel. After a week or so, we developed multiple routes and started out in Atlanta and made out way out to the burbs, before circling back toward the city at the end of our shift.

One day I blew a red light and got pulled over by ATL cops. I apologized and the cop let me off with a warning because his kid would never talk to him again if his kid found out he gave the ice cream man a ticket. I thanked the cop and comped him a red, white, and blue Bomb pop. A couple of weeks into the summer, someone driving a HAPPY truck nearly sideswiped me. He chased me down to a cul de sac. The redneck looked like a mean roadie from the Allman Brothers. He pulled out a baseball bat and threatened to beat my ass and slash my tires if I was ever on his turf. That was the last time we worked in Marietta.

Gas was cheap back then and only 79 cents/gallon at the QT, but the van had its flaws: no AC and a busted radio. We utilized a small booxbom and played nothing but Grateful Dead and Phish bootlegs. Feldman was one of the biggest Deadheads in our fraternity. He also gifted me my first Phish bootleg and he once spent two hours lecturing to me about the beauty and simplicity of Contact. I was a staunch Deadhead back in those days, but thanks to Feldman (and other friends like Wilkins, Lerm, Dave Pizza, and Chicago Bob)... I slowly started appreciating Phish. Twenty years later, I always think about Feldman whenever I hear Contact.

It goes without saying that I always think about Feldman whenever I see an ice cream truck. Instant flashback to the best summer of my life. You'll never ever forget the summer you were 19 years old. Those cherished memories were filled with Feldman's laughter. Heck even a couple weeks after he crashed the HAPPY truck, we were joking around about it. I dunno how many times I uttered the line: "Remember the time Feldman crashed the ice cream truck into a liquor store?"

I always wanted to share a story at a MOTH Storytelling. If I ever got a shot, the summer of 1992 and the ice cream truck was going to be one of my Top 3 stories. It's strange that your memory is fickle... I couldn't even tell you what I ate for breakfast the other day... yet memories from the summer of 1992 were vivid and fresh. Those memories were burned into my skull and etched into stone in perpetuity.

Dan Feldman will always be part of the internal hieroglyphics chiseled into the hallways of my mind.

A couple of months ago, I sent Feldman a message on Facebook. My friends will tell you that I'm NEVER on Facebook, so it was a huge deal that I actually logged in. I posted something on Feldman's wall that I always thought of him whenever I spotted an ice cream truck. He reminded me something I totally forgot: I made up a special song to sing whenever I rang the bell. The van didn't have a fancy sound system but had an old school bell attached to a piece of string. You had to hold onto the steering wheel with your left hand and reach above your head with your right hand to ring the bell on the top of the truck. The string went through a hole in the roof, so if it rained, the ceiling leaked and the rope got soaked.
I am the ice cream man
I drive as slow as I can
That's the chorus. I don't recall any other verses. But that's the kind of goofy stuff we used to do.

Feldman turned me onto amazing music. Feldman showed me how to be an entrepreneur and work for yourself. Sometimes someone has to leave your life before you can fully appreciate their impact. I've always been lucky that Feldman was an integral part of the summer of 1992. Between music and business acumen, Dan Feldman impacted me in more ways that I can count.

RIP Dan Feldman. One of a kind.

Thursday, March 19, 2015

Binge Watching: Sopranos, Season 6, Part 2

Los Angeles, CA

I spent the last few weeks binge watching every episode of The Sopranos. It was a fun project but I had limit how much time I devoted to recapping each episode. There was so much to talk about. Each season could have inspired its own book, but in the end, who wants to read six books filled with my half-baked analysis? The beauty of The Sopranos is that it could be enjoyed on multiple levels by both the low brow and high brow. It seemed so simple for a complex narrative structure.

I wrote about the previous seasons: Season 1 - Season 2 - Season 3 - Season 4 - Season 5 .

I completed the second batch of the final season of The Sopranos. I broke up the final season recap into two parts. Season 6, Part 1 covers episodes 1 thru 12. This recap covers Season 6 episodes 13 thru 21...

S6, Episode 13: Soprano Home Movies... 6am at Castle Soprano. The King and Queen were awoken by the Man banging on the front door. Not the FBI, but Essex County cops hauled Tony off for a gun with hollow point bullets. Flashback to 2004 when Johnny Sack got pinched. Neighbor kid saw Tony ditch the gun and he retrieved it from the snow later that night. Few years later, the kid got pinched for cocaine possession but tried to weasel out of it by claiming the gun belonged to Tony Soprano. The Feds pressured Essex DA to drop the charges because they spent 5 years on building a RICO case... Janice and Bobby invited Carmela and Tony to the Bacala family lake house in upstate New York. You can take the Sopranos out of NJ, but you can't take NJ out of the Sopranos... Bobby gifted Tony an AR-10 assault rifle for his 47th birthday and commented how he only used bow/arrow to hunt deer.... Carmela gifted Tony a b-day BJ (and a set of new golf clubs)...  Meanwhile, AJ and Blanca hosted a raging pool party at Castle Soprano... Bacala revealed he never whacked anyone because his father didn't want him to go that route. Tony mentioned that Old Man Bacala, a barber by trade, was the Terminator and a stone-cold contract hitman for the mob. Tony offered Bobby a new position... At birthday dinner, Tony said his father's line: "no presents, just a few kind words." Janice gifted Tony old home movies transferred from Super 8 to a DVD... They cranked out drunken karaoke and played Monopoly (with Dave Brubek playing in background). Bobby wanted to play by the exact rules, but not the way The Sopranos played ("free parking rules")... Janice told embarrassing family stories like time Tony ate a milk bone and the time Johnny Boy and Moma Soprano were driving back from the Copa, and Johnny Boy shot a bullet thru Moma Soprano's beehive when she wouldn't stop nagging him... When Tony made fun about Janice sucking off dudes under the boardwalk, Bobby took offense. Tony an Bobby rumbled in the lake house. Like two bears brawling. Bobby won the fight and Carmlea got knocked around trying to break it up. Tony had a bloody hotel stuck to his face. Bobby crashed his SUV into a tree. In middle of night, Tony woke up Bobby and admitted he won fair and square, but he cited falling on a rug the reason he lost... The next morning, Carmela wanted to leave. Bobby tried to make up and reminded Tony they had a meeting with the Quebe mobsters. Plus, Janice (via the maid) made egg frittata. Eggs always foreshadows death... TONY'S DUCKS: His niece sang a song about ducks, which drew Tony's interest... Tony made up excuses for losing the fight... CATTY CARMELA: Carmela called out Janice for comparing Tony to Moma Soprano... During the meeting with the Quebes, the French-Canucks pitched a prescription drug scam and casually mentioned they needed someone rubbed out. Tony offered to do the hit if the Quebes lowered the price on the pharmies deal. Tony sent Bobby to do the hit (his first-ever hit). Bobby went to Montreal and whacked the guy in a laundry room while white high top sneakers were tumbling in a dryer. When he returned to the lake house, he hugged his daughter and gazed out at the lake... Tony watched the home movies of halcyon days of yesteryear while Ben E. King's This Magic Moment plays as the credits roll.

S6, Episode 14: Stage 5... Chris and Lil Carmine screened a rough cut of Cleaver. One of the lesser known Baldwins took over the lead role as mob boss. The NoJer crew assembled in NYC for a premiere of Cleaver. Chris gave Tony a shoutout for being a main investor. Paulie kept getting phone calls during screening. At the party, Tony told Chris he was proud of him. Larry Boy got pinched by marshals because he was under house arrest... CATTY CARMELA: She was pissy about how Tony was portrayed in Cleaver. Tony was clueless until she it pointed... Chris stopped by Joe Hollywood's apartment and asked him to take credit for some of the stuff that made Tony look bad. Joe Hollywood dropped by Bada Bing and chatted up Tony about Cleaver. Joe Hollywood said he lifted most of the ideas from a William Holden movie... Tony told Dr. Melfi that he always treated Chris like a son, but he felt betrayed by his portrayal of an "asshole bully" in Cleaver. Tony said that Chris' father Dickie was like father-figure/older brother to him so he tried to do the same for Chris. Alas, Tony is well aware that Chris used art to retaliate against Tony for past transgressions... Tony chatted with Phil Leotardo, who finally recovered from a massive heart attack, but he's a kinder and gentler Leotardo, which created a power vacuum in the Lupertazzi family. Leotardo wanted to promote his protege Gerry, whereas Doc Santoro was jockeying for position... Silvio had dinner with Gerry. All a sudden, there's blood splatter on his face. Gerry got whacked, but the sloppy hitman (in black Fila sweats) required multiple shots. Silvio was untouched and he rushed out of the restaurant.... Later on, Silvio said he never saw the hit coming. Was that a little foreshadowing for the final episode? Tony always thought he would either die in prison or get whacked. In this episode, Johnny Sack died in prison while Gerry got clipped in public... Lil Carmine met with Tony, who was pissed that Doc Santoro ordered the hit and Silvio was used as bait. Tony told Lil Carmine to step up and they'd support him. Lil Carmine told Tony about a dream he had about his father and an empty box, which inspired him to stepped aside from head of the family... Incarcerated Johnny Sack developed stage 4 lung cancer and the doc gave him 3 months to live. So he started smoking again. In prison med unit, Sack met a former oncologist who murdered his cheating wife. That doc told Sack that he had at least a year to live because his own doc lowballed his number in order to make himself look like a miracle worker. However, Sack's condition took a turn for the worse and he passed away. Johnny Sack's brother-in-law stopped by Satriale's to inform Tony and the crew... Phil Leotardo had a special party for his dead brother's birthday. The family kids blew out candles on a cake, but they knew very little of their Italian heritage (one of the morons thought Leonardo da Vinci was famous for writing The Da Vinci Code). Leotardo said immigration officials at Ellis Island changed their family name from Lenonardo to Leotardo (shades of Godfather II, when Vito's name was changed from Andolini to Corleone). Leotardo got emo over never properly avenging his brother's death and decided to shed his kinder/gentler ways... FBI special agent Harris stopped by Castle Soprano and asked him to rat out on any terrorists... Episode ended with the christening of Chris' baby daughter, with Tony as the godfather.

S6, Episode 15: Remember When?... The Feds got a tip from a rat and dug up corpse of a dead bookie in basement. The hit happened 25 years earlier. It was Tony's first hit in the early 80s and he did it with Paulie, an order from Johnny Boy Soprano himself. They went on the lam by driving to Miami.. Junior paid off the orderlies (with a Bulova watch) and he ran a high-stakes poker game in the craft room and sold contraband like candy and real soda. He cracked jokes, but the game got busted up. Junior befriended Carter Chong (MIT grad with serious anger issues and overbearing Asian parents), who helped run the game and helped him write letters to Dick Cheney. Junior signed autographs for the orderlies, who sold them for huge profit on ebay... Junior got into a fight with a fellow patient, who ratted out his poker game. The doctor fired the orderly on the take and prescribed him new meds, which made him sleep all day and piss himself. The doctor made Junior wear Depends... Carter Chong was angry that Junior took the new meds, because he didn't have someone to goof around with. Junior gave Carter a Hootie & Blowfish CD... During music class learning a John Denver song, Carter Chong jumped Junior and tried to strangle him. He broke Junior's glasses and broke his arm... Paulie tilted Tony with stupid banter during the roadtrip. They went to crash for the night in VA at an old inn, but it was shut down and replaced by a corporate chain hotel that didn't even serve room service after 11pm. Tony as pissed that Paulie told a guest they were headed to Miami... Paulie told story about him and Johnny Boy getting pulled over by state trooper in the Deep South and they had to pay off the cop $100 to get out of a ticket. Paulie told Tony that the only time he saw his father cry was the night he was born... In Miami, Tony and Paulie met with Beansie the pizza shop owner. Beansie gave them old black and white pics, including a young tough guy Paulie and Junior/Johnny Boy in front of Satriale's. Paulie was telling too many stories. Tony chastised him, "Remember when is the lowest form of conversation"... Tony ordered in a hooker, who thought Paulie was his father. He told her he used to work for Johnny Boy... Beansie set up Tony/Paulie with Cuban wiseguys. Paulie acted like a mook at the meeting, which irked Tony.... Tony bitched about Paulie to Beansie about the Napoleon painting and other stuff, who said he's always been a little off because he never had a wife/kids. Beansie reminded Tony that Tony was all Paulie had in life... Silvio called Tony to reveal that the Feds attributed the corpse to Jackie Aprile, so he was off the hook and could go back to NJ. Tony overheard Paulie watching Three's Company by himself and he felt a lil sorry for him. He suggested they rent a boat (See Vous Play) and go fishing to celebrate, but Paulie was a little spooked and paranoid. He thought he was gonna get whacked. He had visions of the time the crew whacked Big Pussy on a boat. Paulie made lunch, Paulie Rigatoni. Tony tried to get Paulie to admit he told Johnny Sack about Ralphie made fun of his wife. Tony kept looking at different possible murder weapons and considered whacking Paulie... Paulie had a dream that he returned home and found Big Pussy cooking in his kitchen. Paulie asked, "When my time comes, tell me?"... Tony asked Hesh for a bridge loan of 200K, to cover the money he donked off betting NFL... Phil Leotardo had a meal with new boss Doc Santoro. When Doc ate some of Leotardo's sausages, he decided to whack him. Doc Santoro got shot in the eye in front of a massage parlor... Paulie sent Tony and Carmela a pricey espresso maker. Tony walked into the office and overheard Paulie running his mouth and told Chris old stories about fading the Jets during his hottest streak as a gambler... The episode ended with a faded Junior sitting outside barely awake and petting a cat. Shades of both Godfather flicks (Vito petting a cat in beginning of first movie and Michael Corleone sitting in chair at end of second one).

S6, Episode 16: Chasing It... Opening scene: the crew stood around the roulette table at Borgata and watched Tony donk off chips. Tony's losing streak continued with another bad weekend betting the NFL. Tony trashed his office... Tony visited Hesh, who complained about his health issues. and Hesh wondered when Tony was going to pay him back the 200K he loaned him. Tony offered to pay the vig at 1.5 points... Tony spoke to Dr. Melfi about his losing streak. She asked him why he gambled and why he missed his therapy sessions... Hesh stopped by to collect his weekly vig, and Tony was a dick about it. Hesh mentioned to his son-in-law that it would easier if Tony whacked him than paying him back. "Never lend friends money," advised Hesh... Tony went on a temporary rush winning 18K at blackjack in AC, but he donked it all off on a horse named Meadow Gold that woulda paid out 2/1 odds. Alas, Meadow Gold finished in second by a "cunt hair"... Carmela sold her spec house to her cousin Brian. She made 600K on the sale. Desperate Tony suggested she bet on the Jets because he got a tip that the Chargers QB had an injury that Vegas didn't know about it. She refused to give him any cash to gamble because it was "her money." The Jets won big, but Tony only bet 10K because Carmela wouldn't bankroll him. He flipped out on her... Bobby and Carlo suggested that Tony stiff Hesh for the 200K, but Tony refused to do that.... Vito Johnnycake's kid, Lil Vito, turned into a Goth kid, who trashed a cemetery and killed neighborhood cats. Vito's wife asked Tony if he could give her 100K to move to Maine. Silvio suggested a pet dog would be better (and cheaper). Tony thought Phil Leotardo should pay the 100K since he whacked Vito and he was family with Vito's wife... Nancy Sinatra performed at Phil Leotardo's party to celebrate him becoming the boss of Lupertazzi family. Tony told Leotardo about Lil Vito's problems, who agreed to talk to him. Both Tony and Leotardo chatted with Lil Vito, but he wouldn't give up his Goth ways. Leotardo said he looked like a "Puerto Rican whore"... Lil Vito got made fun of in gym class, so he took a shit in the shower and stepped in it... Tony took up a collection and got 100K from his crew, but instead of paying off Vito's wife, Tony chased his gambling losses by betting the 100K on the Eagles. Alas, Tony donked it all off and told her he couldn't give her the funds to move. Instead he paid for a boot camp in Idaho which only cost 18K... AJ popped the question to Blanca. She initially said yes, but then she gave the ring back and broke up with AJ... Tony apologized to Carmela for his weird behavior because he was chasing his gambling losses... Hesh's girlfriend died unexpectedly and Tony brought him the rest of the money he owed.

S6, Episode 17: Walk Like A Man... Tony was singing Pink Floyd when he found heart-sick AJ awake early watching Tom and Jerry cartoons. AJ visited Blanca at work, but got jealous because she moved on. When AJ saw a couple cuddling at the pizza shop, he quit on the spot. Meadow told her parents that she was worried about his suicidal tendencies...Tony dropped a dime on two Muslims, former associates of Chris, who were spotted in front of a mosque. Tony asked Special Agent Harris if he got a "get out of jail free card" but he was told he'd only get a special note in his permanent file that might sway a judge during his inevitable sentencing... Paulie busted Chris' balls because he toasted to him without liquor in his glass. Chris didn't think it was funny... Chris' father-in-law Al Lombardi owned a hardware store and sold boosted power tools via Paulie's deal with Beansie's Cubans. Off-duty cops were their biggest customer. Al Lombardi nearly shot Lil Paulie when he caught him boosting tools for the pipe fitters union. Chris went apeshit, but Tony dismissed him... Chris hosted a huge housewarming party with his wife. Tony gave him guff for drinking non-alcoholic beer. Tony and Chris butted heads over. Tony thought "alcoholism is a disease" was bullshit, but Chris felt otherwise. He told Tony that his father was a low level junkie... At AA, Chris complained about his growing rift with Tony... Patsy Parisi gave Tony a huge-ass envelope because his son Jason booked NFL bets on Rutgers' campus. Patsy bragged about his tech-savvy bookie son, who just built his mother a website. Tony was jealous because his spoiled offspring AJ was an inept, heartbroken, emo college dropout.... Tony told Melfi that his therapy was "a jerkoff" and he wanted to stop seeing her, but he's worried that AJ was considering suicide. "My rotten putrid jeans have infected my kid's soul"... Tony tried to watch a John Wayne movie with AJ. Tony told him he should go hang out at his friend's Jason party at the Bing...  AJ went to a therapist. He thought she ended the relationship because his family was wealthy. He admitted to some suicidal thoughts and his new shrink prescribed him happy pills.... AJ went to Jason's party at the strip club. Jason invited him to join his campus bookie biz, but AJ initially declined... CATTY CARMELA: She was pissed that Tony allowed AJ to drink at his strip club. Tony said it was cool because he got AJ to finally leave the house and some boobies in his face did him good. Besides, hanging with frat bros might entice him to go back to school... AJ hung out at Jason Parisi's frat house. They ran into a degen student who owed them money. Jason used AJ to scare the broke dick and said he was Tony Soprano's son, but the broke dick never paid up. They tracked him down at a party. AJ helped them snatch the kid and they drove out to the woods. AJ held down the mook while the frat bros poured acid on the mook's bare feet. AJ kinda liked being the muscle... At a card game, Chris jumped Lil Paulie and chucked him through a two-story window. Tony told Chris he had to pay for Lil Paulie's hospital bills. Paulie retaliated by doing donuts on Chris' front lawn. Tony smoothed out their drama. Chris apologized to Paulie but he started drinking again. He got shitfaced and stumbled over to Joe Hollywood's house, who was in the middle of writing a Law and Order script. Joe Hollywood was pissed that Chris fell off the wagon and told him to call his wife and go to an AA meeting. Chris rambled on about the mafia life and he threatened to bring down the entire empire including Castle Soprano by dropping a dime on everyone. He mentioned that the crew whacked Adriana and Ralphie, but Joe Hollywood told him he shouldn't say anything. When Chris realized he said too much, he put a bullet in the writer's head... Tony heard a car tearing up the driveway at Castle Soprano and grabbed his shotgun. He was happy it was only AJ.They went inside to find Meadow and Carmela having a late-night meal. Tony and AJ joined them. The episode ended with a brief moment of happiness and togetherness at Castle Soprano.

S6, Episode 18: Kennedy and Heidi... During a meeting with Statue of Liberty in background, Phil Leotardo wanted a 25% cut of Tony's asbestos dumping biz. While jamming out to Pink Floyd in the car, Chris suggested Tony should accept the deal because life was too short and they had to dump it somewhere. "Each day is a gift,"remarked Tony. Chris almost crashed into two girls, Heidi and Kennedy, but drove off the road. Chris admitted he'd fail a post-accident drug test. Tony held his nose and he suffocated Chris death. Murder or mercy killing? At the ER, a nurse informed Tony that Chris died in the crash. Tony called Carmela from the hospital and told her the bad news... The crew visited Tony at Castle Soprano. Tony suggested he was speeding, not wearing his seatbelt, and back on the sauce... The next morning, Tony went downstairs and asked Meadow to bring him scotch. Paulie felt guilty over their petty arguments over money... The hospital informed the family that Chris had cocaine in his system. More bad news when Paulie mother/aunt Nucci passed away... TONY'S DREAM: During a therapy session, Tony told Dr. Melfi that he felt relief that Chris died because he was no longer worried about junkie ratting him out. He said that he killed other relatives and friends before and then he woke up... Tony went to get coffee and saw a Cleaver mug. He walked outside and threw it in the woods. Tony had a real session with Dr. Melfi and mentioned Chris' harsh portrayal of him in Cleaver. Tony spewed lots of cliches and didn't real say anything coherent aside from the fact he didn't feel sorrow or grief... Jamba Juice junkie lady showed up at Chris' wake, which was well attended by the crew. Tony was visibly irked by everyone's public display of grief. The two Jasons (college bookies) showed up to pay their respects to AJ and told him to stay strong... Even in death, Chris upped Paulie. Mostly everyone attended Chris' service compared to the low turnout at Paulie's mother/aunt Nucci's service. Carmela and Tony showed up, which pleased Paulie... In therapy, AJ told his therapist that he enrolled in a few classes and wasn't thinking about Blanca as much... AJ hung out at Rutgers with Jason Parisi. They saw the degen mook, who told a female student that car battery burned through his shoe and he had two toes amputated... AJ was shocked when his friends beatdown an exchange student from Somalia and called him the N-word. AJ refused to participate, but he didn't stop them. The incident sent him spiraling back into a deep depression. He angrily ranted to his shrink that "everything is so fucked up"... Chris's wife and mother stopped by Castle Soprano. She breastfed in the living room, which irked Tony. He decided to rage solo in Vegas. The VIP host at Caesar's sent him a plane. While in Vegas, Tony hung out with a local stripper named Soyna, who knew Chris and was saddened by news of his deadly car crash. She said that it was good he left something behind, his daughter. Tony got a flurry of calls pertaining to the asbestos disposal including Phil Leotardo was a dick when offering condolences over Chris' death then hung up on Tony... Tony's sanitation crew dumped the asbestos in the marshes of the meadowlands... Tony and Sonya went on a classic Vegas bender. They also went down the rabbit hole after eating a couple of peyote buttons. Tony puked his guts out and then tripped out on the lighting fixture. While tripping balls, Tony and Sonya wandered through the casino admiring all the pretty lights and other sparkly things like a devil on a slot machine. Tony walked into the pit and told Sonya that roulette had the same principles as the solar system. He went on a sick, sick rush at the roulette table betting the ages of his kids. His horrendous losing streak final came to an end. Chris was his jinx, he deduced. His death ended his bad streak. "He's dead," said Tony. He rolled around the casino floor during an uncontrollable laughing fit... Tony and Sonya drove up to Red Rock Canyon to watch the sun rise. Tony finished up the tail end of his trip and slowly returned to Earth's atmosphere. During a moment of clarity, he finally figured it out, "I get it!" he exclaimed while looking directly into the sun. I've been there man. It's a glorious feeling when you reach that impasse.

S6, Episode 19: The Second Coming... Pile of asbestos rotting away in the meadowlands was intercut with a depressed AJ rolling around in bed.. Bobby checked in on the asbestos removal project but Stefano the subcontractor was so cheap the cleaning crew did not wear any protective gear... AJ asked his shrink why the happy pills weren't working. His class on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict was depressing. The shrink suggested he write a short story about the Somalian kid to try to make sense of his feelings. AJ loathed his parents materialism... Tony returned from Vegas and told the crew he did peyote which he described as "nutty shit" and failed to properly describe his transcendental experience. Paulie said he got dosed once at the Copa in 1968 and it looked like Uncle Junior "had laser beams shooting out of his eyes"... Chris' wife and daughter ate dinner at Castle Soprano. Super-emo AJ spouted off environmental hippie bullshit about the beef industry... In English class, AJ studied the W. B. Yeats poem The Second Coming... FBI Special Agent Harris stopped by Satriale's to show Tony pictures of the two Muslims he ratted out... During a meeting in Brooklyn, Tony counter offered 15% of the asbestos biz, but Phil Leotardo wouldn't budge on 25%. Tony reminded him about their tender moment in the hospital when Leotardo had a heart attack, but Leotardo made fun of him when he asked for a compromise... Tony retaliated. Silvio pulled some no-show jobs from Leotardo's crew. They beatdown the foreman and robbed him... Meadow thought she caught AJ watching porn, but he was watching depressing news on Al Jazeera's website. She tried to chat with AJ, but he was nothing but a Debbie Downer. She reminded him that the son was always more important than a daughter in an Italian family... The pool was covered for the winter, but AJ tried to commit suicide by tying a cinderblock around his feet and wrapping a plastic bag over his head. It didn't work, or he chickened out. He actually botched the suicide attempt and got the bag off his head, but got stuck and couldn't get out of the pool because the cinder block anchored him down. Tony dove into the pool and pulled him and the cinder block out. "What's wrong with you!" screamed Tony before he held a sobbing AJ... AJ's shrink checked him into the psych ward at the hospital. Carmela and Meadow sobbed as they wheeled him away... The crew was awkwardly silent when Tony showed up at work. Tony told everyone to talk about it instead of avoiding it. He asked, "What did I do wrong?" The rest of the crew shared their own difficult experiences raising kids in the wise guy world... Carmela and Tony had a fight the next morning. She and reminded him that AJ didn't inherit the craziness from her side of the family, whereas the Soprano Curse affected both his parents, Uncle Junior, and the great-great-grandfather who drove the donkey cart off the cliff. She said it was bullshit that he constantly played the "depression card." She threw her engraved watch at Tony... During a session with Dr. Melfi, she said the botched suicide was a cry for help. Tony blamed Carmela for coddling AJ... Coco from Leotardo's crew intimidated and insulted Meadow while she was on a secret date in Little Italy. She told Tony about how he made lewd remarks and wanted to tuck her in at night. She finally revealed that she was dating Patrick Parisi, Patsy's oldest son. Plus, she revealed med school was too hard and that law school was a bigger passion... Dr. Melfi went to her shrink who told her that talk therapy did not work with sociopaths, in fact they used therapists to hone their con man skills... Tony paid Coco a visit in NYC and beat the piss out of him and knocked out all his teeth. One of them was still lodged in his cuff and he didn't notice it until AJ's group therapy session... In the session, Tony called him a "moma's boy" and AJ revealed a pearl of wisdom from Moma Soprano, "Life is a big nothing" and that "your friends and family let you down"... Lil Carmine paid a visit to Tony and suggested they have a sitdown with Phil Leotardo. When they went to Brooklyn, Leotardo refused to meet with them and instead told them to fuck off from a darkened upstairs window... In a session with Melfi, Tony revealed he took peyote and he experienced there's something larger than life but he couldn't explain what it was. Plus, he saw all mothers are bus drivers, they are the vehicle that gets us there and drop us off, but we keep trying to get on the bus. Melfi was surprised and thought it was highly insightful... Tony visited AJ with a pizza, but they wouldn't let him bring in any outside food.

S6, Episode 20: Blue Comet... The cold open: Silvio strangled Burt Gervasi at his home because he was going to jump ship to the Brooklyn family... AJ's old friend Rhiannon showed up at the psych ward, which cost over $2K per day. AJ finally returned home to Castle Soprano but he loafed on the couch and watched an Iraq war documentary... Phil Leotardo, against the advice of his consigliere, wanted to wipe out the entire DiMeo family including Tony because the "Sopranos are nothing more than a glorified crew." He gave the assassination order to his top henchman Butchie, who in turn set forth a coordinated hit on Northern Jersey's Top 3 inside of 24 hours: Tony, Silvio, and Bobby Bacala... Special Agent Harris stopped by Satriale's and suggested it's "the end of times" and we're all just waiting for the rapture. He tipped off Tony that Brooklyn was planning on taking them out.... Tony ate dinner with Silvio and Bobby Bacala, and everyone agreed that Phil Loetardo had to go before he got to them. Tony and Silvio pantomimed Raging Bull. Tony told Silvio to import a hit crew from Italy. When they brought Paulie in on the plan, Paulie voiced concern because he barely survived the big war in the 1970s... Dr. Melfi's shrink Elliot told their snooty social circle that Tony Soprano was Mefli's patient. During their next session, Tony asked how much she earned a year. Tony said that Meadow decided to not become a pediatrician and opted for criminal law and civil rights instead. Tony and Mefi butted heads and he suggested she sounded like his wife, while she suggested he needed to see a new therapist. After 7 years, she finally dumped him... At Vesuvio, Artie Bucco introduced Tony to the NJ Jets head coach (Mangini)... The Italian hit crew planned to take out Phil Leotardo at his side piece's house. They shot an old man with white hair (father of the side piece and not Leotardo) and they also killed the side piece. The Italian hitman noticed they spoke Ukrainian, but they incorrectly informed the Jersey crew that Leotardo was dunzo... Silvio and Paulie realized the crucial mistake when they saw the shooting mentioned in NY Post and the Italians whacked the wrong guy.... Silvio told Tony about the misfire, but they missed their chance because Leotardo had gone into hiding... Janice stopped by Castle Soprano to inform Tony that Junior ran out of cash and they had to move him to a state mental facility unless Tony helped out. He told her to fuck off and made an Exile on Main Street crack about Janice blowing roadies from the Stones... Bobby stopped by a train store to buy a vintage Blue Comet train set. Two guys whacked him and he collapsed on the train display... Silvio and Patsy Parisi were jumped outside Bada Bing by Leotardo's crew. During the ensuing firefight, Silvio got clipped while Parisi safely got away... Silvio did not die, but he was in a coma in the hospital and the outlook was grim... Tony informed Carmela that she had to evacuate Castle Soprano immediately as a precaution. Tony told AJ that Uncle Bobby was killed and they had to leave the kingdom until things settled down. He asked AJ to not be a pain in the ass, but AJ said he was even more depressed. Tony snapped, dragged him out of bed by his balls and told him to pack. Tony tossed AJ around his room and knocked over a bunch of his old toys... Paulie showed up at Castle Soprano to help Tony pack food and weapons. The remaining crew holed up together at a safe house. Tony unwrapped a weapon, an AR-10, which was a birthday gift from Bobby. Tony had a flashback to the lakehouse with Bobby, who said "you'll probably won't hear it when it happens."

S6, Episode 21: Made in America... The series finale...Tony looked like he was in a coffin, but he woke up at the safe house. A stray orange/white cat randomly showed up at the house. It was the ghost of Adriana who wore a lot of animal prints... Tony and Paulie waited at the airport for Special Agent Harris. He asked him if he knew where Phil Leotardo was holed up, but no dice... Tony visited where Carmela was holed up down the shore. Tony told AJ that they had to go to Bobby's funeral, but AJ was worried he'd get whacked. Tony said they'd be safe because the FBI had everyone under surveillence at mob funerals... The post-funeral meal was hosted at Vesuvio. AJ was all Debbie Downer and chastised everyone for discussing the Oscars when the world was going to shit. AJ quoted Yeats poem, "what rough beast slouches toward Bethlehem." He also said that America was bullshit because everyone comes to America to work hard to buy bling and shit they don't need... Tony visited Janice, who was in mourning and trying to figure out what to do with Bobby's two kids, who don't want to live with her... AJ and Rhiannon listened to Bob Dylan's It's Alright Ma. They hooked up in the front seat, but his SUV caught on fire because he was parked on a pile of leaves... Tony flipped out on AJ. He said it was good because he could take the bus to help end their dependence on foreign oil... Phil Leotardo called Butchie's cell phone to tell him he botched the job and shoulda whacked Tony first. Butchie suggested they have a sitdown with Tony, but Leotardo hung up on him. He started the short call in Little Italy and by the time he walked to the end of the street, he was surrounded by Chinese people in Chinatown... Special Agent Harris tipped off Tony that Phil Leotardo made calls from a gas station in Oyster Bay... Tony called Lil Carmine to arrange a sitdown with some of Leotardo's crew. Tony and Butchie reached a deal in which Brooklyn would back off and look the other way when Tony clipped Leotardo. In addition, they'd pay Janice money for whacking Bobby.... With the big dogs called off, Tony and the crew returned from hiding out. The crew brought the stray cat to Satriale's, but Paulie wanted it gone. All day long the orange cat stared at a portrait of Chris... Paulie went to the Bada Bing to meet Carlo, but he was a no show... Tony gave Paulie a huge promotion as the new head of the Aprile crew, but he had to think about it, which irked Tony... Lil Paulie and Vinny Delpino staked out gas stations near Oyster Bay looking for Leotardo... Janice visited Junior at the looney bin, but he was more senile than ever... AJ saw a new therapist. He said he felt cleansed after his SUV blew up... Meadow's old friend Hunter stopped by Castle Soprano. She was in her second year at med school... Tony and Carmela invited Patsy Parisi and his wife (who can't tell jokes) to dinner at Castle Soprano... Tony saw AJ jogging and started singing the Rocky theme song. AJ mentioned his intentions to join the Army (helicopter pilot training)... Tony told AJ's new therapist about AJ's sudden interest in the army. Tony was conflicted because the military could finally discipline him, but there was a war going on and he didn't want to see him get killed in Iraq... Tony ate sushi with Meadow and he asked her why AJ went off the rails and why she wanted to be a lawyer. "The state can crush the individual," said Meadow. She hated seeing how the Man treated Italian-Americans... Tony's crew finally found Phil Leotardo, who got whacked with his grandkids in the backseat. His wife locked the keys in the car and the SUV accidentally drove over his head... Special Agent Harris was more excited than he shoulda been when he got word about Leotardo's assassination... Carmela and Tony shot down AJ's plan to go into the CIA after his stint in the army. AJ said Rhiannon didn't want him to go either. Tony offered AJ a job as a development executive on Lil Carmine's new film project. If he did a good job, then Tony would invest in a club for AJ... Tony ate a meal with his attorney Mink, and they think Carlo became an informant because his son was arrested for slinging E. Tony's attorney said an indictment was imminent... Tony visited Silvio in the hospital, but he was still in a coma... Tony and Paulie sat in front of Satriale's. Paulie turned down the promotion to run the Aprile crew because the job was jinxed. Everyone who held the position ended up dead. Paulie told Tony about the vision of the Virgin Mary at the Bad Bing. When Tony said he'd give the job to Patsy Parisi, Paulie finally accepted the job. The orange cat sat down in front of their table... AJ got a new BMW and picked up Rhiannon at school. His depressed seemed to magically disappear and he was eating junk food and watching bad TV... Tony raked his leaves and stared up at the trees.... Tony visited Junior at the looney bin. He told Junior that if he ever remembers where he stashed his hidden cash, that the entire proceeds would go to take care of Bobby Bacala's kids. Tony told demented Junior that he used to run all of New Jersey with Johnny Boy Soprano, but he was unresponsive. Tony walked out... Carmela arranged dinner at Holsten's... Tony arrived first. He sat down and looked up at the door whenever it opened and he heard the bell. He browsed the jukebox and put on Journey's Don't Stop Believing. Carmela, wearing a red jacket, sat down in the booth across from him. Guy in a Members Only jacket (looked like a bloated Johnny Boy Soprano) walked inside in front of AJ. He looked like Geno and sat at the counter. He kept clocking Tony. AJ sat next to Carmela and said to Tony they should "remember the good times," advice he once dispatched. Tony ordered onion rings for the table. There was an empty spot next to him, where Meadow was going to sit but she was late because she had problems parallel parking but got it on the third attempt. Members Only guy walked into the bathroom and two black guys looked at the dessert display. Meadow was about to walk inside Holsten's. The bell rang. Fade to black. No music, nothing but blackness. Ten seconds of dead air before the credits rolled. Tony got whacked.

Epilogue: Final Episode... Tony got whacked. Like Bobby Bacala said "You'd never hear it coming." Very similar to the scene when Phil Leotardo got whacked at the gas station and the time when Silvio never saw Gerry's murder coming until the blood splattered on him and it was too late. Even in Goodfellas, Henry Hill noted that he knew he was getting arrested by cops because they were screaming at him. If it was a mob hit, he never woulda heard it.... There's also a heavy 9/11 theme throughout the episode. Never saw it coming.

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Season 6 is dunzo. Thanks for wasting your time with me. Here are other binge-recaps from The Sopranos:

Season 1
Season 2
Season 3
Season 4
Season 5
Season 6, Part 1
Season 6, Part 2

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Binge Watching: Sopranos, Season 6, Ep. 1: Members Only

Los Angeles, CA

I re-watched The Sopranos over the last few weeks... grand total of 86 episodes spread out over six seasons. I posted season-by-season recaps...  Season 1 - Season 2 - Season 3 - Season 4 - Season 5.

 The initial recap from season one started out as brief rapid-fire observations, but as I got deeper and deeper into the series, the recaps for each episode grew longer and longer.

The final season of The Sopranos consisted of 21 episodes (versus the standard 13), which HBO spread out over two years to bilk the conclusion of the series. The first batch included 12 episodes and the second batch had the final 9 episodes.

I considered splitting up the final season into two recaps covering Season 6A and 6B. Alas, the final season was so dense and intricate that my long-winded, egomaniac self could not squeeze everything into two blog posts. Instead, I decided to spread out the final season into 21 individual posts.

Here are my half-baked thoughts on the first episode of the final season of The Sopranos...

S6, Episode 1: Members Only... The final season commenced with a William S. Burroughs narration about Egyptian mythology's seven souls that depart the body before death. Burroughs' spooky, haunting voice hung heavy over a montage of characters: Bobby Bacala played with toy trains, Janice had a baby, Vito Johnnycakes dropped a ton of weight, Geno and his wife found out great news, Meadow gave Finn a sultry dance, FBI snitch Ray Curto exercised, long-haired AJ dicked around in college, Adriana visited Carmela in a dream, and Uncle Junior made Tony dig for buried loot in his backyard... Junior, supposedly in the late 1970s, buried cash in his backyard, but he could not remember where he stashed it... Carmela told Tony about her nightmare with Adriana showing up at her spec house. Carmela pressed Tony if he knew where Adriana ran away... Carmela's spec house was in limbo because she and her father were shaken down by the building inspectors... Phil Leotardo, the new acting boss of the Lupertazzi family, visited Johnny Sack in prison. Sack griped about cash flow issues after the Feds froze his bank accounts. Leotardo was still bitter at Tony (Tony Bwhacked his brother), but he buried the hatchet for business purposes and to keep things running smoothly between NJ and Brooklyn... Geno inherited $2 million from his aunt and he wanted out of the mob life. He asked Tony's permission if he could retire to Florida. Tony reminded him that a Made Man couldn't walk away from his obligation, but he'd consider his request. Geno tried to bribe Tony with pricey watches and a cut of his inheritance... The crew gave Geno shit for wearing a Members Only jacket, which went out of style 20 year earlier... Hesh and his son-in-law, Eli the shylock, got jumped in Brooklyn in front of a Kosher Chinese. The Hairdo's mooks. beat down Eli, who got hit by a cab while trying to get away. The Hairdo (from Phil Leotardo's crew) thought Eli was moving in on his turf. Phil made the Hairdo apologize, plus he had to pay Eli $50,000 for his pain and suffering... Chris finally got bumped up to Capo.... FBI Special Agent Harris visited Tony at Satriale's. He got transferred to terrorism... Before he croaked, Ray Curto (former capo turned rat informant) provided tapes to Adriana's former FBI contact... Tony and Carmela fell in love with a new sushi joint, which attributed to his weight gain. Tony gifted Carmela a Porsche SUV... Tony dispatched fatherly wisdom to AJ: "Your friends are gonna let you down. Your family is the only ones you can depend on"... Chris dispatched Geno to Boston to whack a broke dick who owed them money. When Geno returned, Silvio informed Geno that his retirement request was denied... Geno's bitchy wife was super angry they couldn't move to Florida. She asked why he couldn't whack Tony. Meanwhile, their son was shooting smack again... We found out that Geno was also a rat! He was a low-level FBI informant, but he still had a shred of loyalty and wouldn't rat out Tony. Instead, Geno hung himself in his garage after looking through family photos... Tony's sister Barb had an emergency and she couldn't watch Uncle Junior, who needed round the clock supervision. Janice was also busy (looking for preschools for her daughter), so Tony picked up the slack. Junior's mental state deteriorated. He was so paranoid that he wouldn't answer his phone. He also thought "Little Pussy" was trying to whack him. When Tony was in Junior's kitchen cooking pasta for them, Junior thought Little Pussy broke into his house so he pulled out a gun and went into the kitchen with guns blazing. Demented Junior shot Tony, who he mistook for Lil Pussy. Junior stashed the gun and hid in the upstairs closet. Tony lost a lot of blood but somehow crawled to the phone and dialed 911.

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All of Season 6 recaps can be found searching through the Season 6 tag.

Previous recaps: Season 1 - Season 2 - Season 3 - Season 4 - Season 5.

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Binge Watching: Sopranos, Season 5

Denver, CO

Deep diving and binge-watching The Sopranos over the last couple weeks. My thoughts on previous seasons: Season 1 - Season 2 - Season 3 - Season 4.

It's finally time for the fifth season of The Sopranos and my half-baked thoughts...

S5, Episode 1: Two Tonys... Meadow drove over the Star-Ledger in the driveway. Tony was kicked out of Castle Soprano, so he wasn't there to pick up the paper, which is how the first episode of each new season began... Sunday dinner, hosted by Janice, recently married Bobby Bacala. Tony and Bobby watched the news (cameo by Matthew Weiner as a mob expert), which aired a segment on the release of several mobsters who went to jail in the 1980s. The "Class of 2004" included Tony's cousin Tony B, Angelo (Carmine's consigliere), Feech LaManna, and Phil Leotardo... Feech stopped by Junior's house and asked if he could return as a bookie. Feech told a story about picking a fight with the biggest motherfucker on his first day in jail... Chris pissed off that he always paid for the crew's dinner. Tony reminded him picking up the tab was tradition and sign of respect... AJ nearly shit himself when he saw a black bear in the backyard. He cried out to his mommy, who scared off the bear with pots and pans. Wildlife cops suggested the bear was attracted to Tony's duck feed. You don't need a degree in English lit to know the bear represented Tony, a menacing predator lurking in the suburbs... Tony watched the Prince of Tides and sent Dr. Melfi flowers (and box of Tide) with a signed card: "Prince of Tide." Tony wore a nice suit in order to ask out Dr. Melfi. Tony said there were two Tony Sopranos: the ruthless mobster and a sensitive caring guy. He wanted to show her the other Tony. Although they kissed, Melfi shot him down... Chris and Paulie told the infamous Russian pine barrens story, which quickly escalated into a near altercation when they blamed each other for the mess... The black bear returned. Tony dispatched Lil Paulie and Vinny Delpino for an all-night bear watch. Vinny asked Carmela for the big guns and she opened up a hollow column with the weapons cache... The crew partied in Atlantic City and Chris had to pick up the tab of $1,184. He left $1,200 and the waiter whined about the paltry $16 tip. Chris threw a brick at the waiter's head and he went into a seizure, so Paulie and Chris shot him (and took the cash too). Later on, Paulie called Chris to bury the hatchet and offered to split the tab... Carmine was eating egg salad when he had a stroke during lunch at the golf course. Eggs = death in Sopranos vs. oranges for The Godfather.... Johnny Sack was still salty that Tony didn't whack Carmine like he promised... Tony tried to woo Dr. Melfi's with two tickets to Bermuda. She told him the truth why they couldn't date: he was a liar and prone to violence. Tony called her a fucking cunt and stormed out... Tony took over on bear watch at Castle Soprano with an AK-47 in one hand and a cigar in his mouth.

S5, Episode 2: Rat Pack... On a dark, rainy night, Tony met Jack Massarone at a diner. Jack gifted Tony a painting of the Rat Pack. Turned out that Jack wore a bug for the FBI. Capo Ray Curto was also a rat, who helped translate wire transcripts.... FBI planted a surveillance camera on Crazy Horse parking lot. Adriana nearly suffocated from in existentialist angst over her being an FBI snitch. Her FBI contact reminded her that she's with the "good guys" now... Carmine passed away. Various crews paid their respects, but Little Carmine felt disrespected that wiseguys offered condolences to Johnny Sack (the assumed successor as head of one of the five families). At the funeral, Junior mentioned that Carmine invented point shaving and alluded to his involvement in a real-life point shaving scandal with CCNY in the early 1950s... Tony visited his cousin Tony B (Steve Buscemi) fresh out of prison. Tony hosted a surprise party where Tony B wore a Miami Vice suit with rolled up sleeves. Artie Bucco asked "Where's Tubbs?" Tony B felt out of place but zinged everyone with one-liners, using comedy to mask his uneasiness.Tony B was bummed out that his twin sons and daughter (goth girl who ran away) did not show up at his party... Tony B seemed bitter that Tony was the boss and cracked fat jokes. Tony B expressed his interest in becoming a licensed massage therapist and didn't want to get back into the mob game. Tony got Tony B a straight job delivering linens... Lil Paulie's girlfriend Tina Francesa told Adriana about stealing money from work, when she wasn't hitting on Chris. Chris didn't like hanging out in clubs as a sober guy... Carmela hosted a film club in Tony's movie room. They watched Citizen Kane on VHS tape. They all got silent when they saw the FBI logo flashed on screen before the film began. They barely discussed Kane for a few seconds before the went into full-blown mob wife gossip... Tony B stopped by Satriale's and made fun of everyone (alluded to Paulie looking like Grandpa Munster). They saw Tony B's massage chair and asked for massages. Tony reminded Tony B that he was the boss and couldn't be made fun of in front of the crew.... Paulie referred to Sun Tzu as "Sun Tizzu"... Patsy Parisi told Tony that someone followed them to his meeting with Jack Massarone. Tony met with him again, but didn't feel a wire. He couldn't tell if he flipped or not... At the Mob Wives Film Club, Rosalie Aprile said Big Pussy's wife was shunned from their social circle after he became a rat. She compared him to Judas. Adriana broke down and almost revealed that she was a snitch. She tried to leave, but tripped in the driveway... Tony threw the Rat Pack painting off a bridge. Quick cut to FBI crime scene team snapping photos of Jack Massarone's corpse in the back of a trunk... FBI pressured Adriana for intel, so she ratted out Tina Francesca's embezzlement scam.

S5, Episode 3: Where's Johnny... BEATDOWN OF THE WEEK: Feech smacked around Sal the landscaper and grabbed him by the balls because he was his nephew's competition... Junior grew so demented that he thought Curb Your Enthusiasm was a reality show about himself (Larry David) and Bobby Bacala (Jeff Garlin)... Paulie's Aunt Mary told Paulie that Feech beat up her gardener. Paulie retaliated by knocking his nephew out of a tree. Paulie also stole his the lawnmower... Tony lived alone in his mother's house, but offered Artie Bucco one of the empty rooms... Paulie listened to a book-on-tape version of Sun Tzu's Art of War... Phil Leotardo fake-whacked Lorraine Calluzzo because she was kicking up cash to Lil Carmine instead of Johnny Sack. He put a phone book over her chest and said it would muzzle the sound. She lived because the bullet only penetrated as far as the Rs... Tony, Junior, Angelo (Carmine's consigliere), and Lorraine had a sitdown. Since the Lupertazzi family never named a successor when Carmine died, Tony suggested a triumvirate leadership between Lil Carmine, Johnny Sack, and Lorraine... Sack and Tony had a meeting in front of Shea stadium. Tony floated his power sharing concept and Sack didn't want to hear it... At a meeting in NYC, Chris spoke out of turn and Johnny Sack flipped out. Tony told Chris to chill out because the Jersey crew could take advantage from in-fighting between Lil Carmine and Johnny Sack... Uncle Junior kept busting Tony's balls at Sunday dinner about failing to be "varsity material." Tony lost his shit and stormed out... Junior wandered off and drove his car to an old joint in Newark where he stashed vending machines with Tony's father. Toothless homeless lady offered to give Junior a half-n-half in the backseat of his car... Junior tried to hide from cops, who mistook him for a homeless guy even though he said his name was Currato Soprano. They didn't believe him but drove him home and made Janice show them his ID... FBI tried to figure out the exact lineage of the Sopranos. Adriana tried to explain that Chris was not Tony's nephew, but cousins via marriage (Carmela was cousins with Dickie Moltisanti)... Tony blew up at Janice and called her out for leaving home at 18 to drop acid and blow roadies, which left 16-year old Tony stuck at home with bat-shit crazy Moma Soprano... Tony mediated the landscaping dispute between Paulie and Feech. Told them to split the neighborhood and to cut the lawns of the local wiseguys like Castle Soprano and Johnny Sack... At the golf course, Tony ran into a neurologist who treated Junior. Doc explained that Junior's mini-strokes caused irritability and short-term memory loss. Tony stopped by to chat with Junior, who alternated between coherent thoughts on the biz and meaningless babble.

S5, Episode 4: All Happy Families... The title was from Dostoevsky's Anna Karenina. Tony's own family and crew were being torn apart by mutiny... Tony B took his twins boys swimming at Castle Soprano. Supposedly, Tony smuggled out of prison Tony B's sperm so his wife could get pregnant... Phil Leotardo dispatched Joey Peeps to whack Lorraine and her fuckbuddy when they refused to kick down cash to Johnny Sack... Chris said it was a declaration of war by Johnny Sack, yet Tony advised his crew to not intervene in the Brooklyn mess... Feech LaManna regaled stories from the old days (as Tony Pinto's driver), including the time Jackie Aprile and Tony were young punks who knocked off his high-stakes poker game. Feech asked Tony if he could have a piece of the Big Game again, even though it was run by Junior's crew. Tony gave Feech a 20% cut. Silvio thought it was a bad idea because Old Man Feech was a douchey egomaniac... The Big Game included Lawrence Taylor and Bernie Brillstein. Feech staked Tony B in the game... AJ wanted to go to college in Arizona, but he had shitty college boards (930 total) and bad grades. He tried to angleshoot an ADD diagnosis so he could have unlimited time to take his SATs... Tony bought AJ a new yellow SUV. Tony said the SUV would stay in the garage until AJ improved his grades to a C-average... Carmela told Tony he never really had legit friends, just flunkies and mooks who laughed at his jokes out of fear... At another Big Game session with David Lee Roth, Tony grew jealous that Feech made everyone laugh while his crew only laughed out of fear... AJ went on a bender in NYC after a Mudvayne concert. They partied in a hotel and made a makeshift bong using a 2-liter bottle and an ice bucket. His friends Krazy-glued his face to the carpet and shaved his eyebrows. Carmela overreacted when he finally came home. Tony noticed AJ didn't have eyebrows and thought he was doing "poppers and weird (gay) sex"... CATTY CARMELA: Carmela was pissed that she was pegged the bad cop, while Tony was the good cop... Carmela told AJ to move in with Tony (and Artie Bucco)... Feech's crew boosted luxury cars at a Jewish wedding and tied up the valets. The prick doctor asked Tony to find one of the cars. Tony reamed Feech for boosting cars without his consent (plus selling them to Johnny Sack)... Tony told Silvio he was worried Feech would turn into another Richie Aprile situation, so they needed to nip it in the bud. Instead of whacking him, Chris set up Feech with stolen goods and he got busted by his parole officer... AJ had fun living at Tony's bachelor pad, where they ate chicken wings, cracked fart jokes, and watched baseball... On a date with AJ's counselor, he suggested Carmela read Madame Bovary because she went crazy after an insufferable marriage... Carmela was conflicted when she came home to an empty house and had a flashback when adolescent AJ rode his big wheel into the street.

S5, Episode 5: Irregular Around the Margins... Meadow bumped into Tony at Crazy Horse, who  had just railed a couple lines in his office in the back... Adriana got the liquid shits because she was stressed out being the FBI snitch.... Tony had a mole removed from his head, but it was not cancer... Tony and Adriana grew close while Chris was on a business trip (acquiring bootleg cigarettes from the south). Adriana revealed she used to be deathly afraid of Tony. They hung out at Crazy Horse and bonded over med issues, snorted copious amounts of blow, and poked fun at Chris' owl face. Oodles of sexual tension accompanied a game of darts. Adriana dropped the darts and bent over in front of Tony. They were about to hook up when they were interrupted... Tony returned to therapy and told Dr. Melfi he had feelings for Adriana. She commended him for not acting on his impulses... TONY'S DUCKS: Adriana fed ducks during an outdoor meeting with her FBI contact. She mentioned her attraction to Tony. The FBI contact made a funny impression of dumbass Adriana behind her back... Tony asked about Danielle (the undercover FBI agent) but Adriana said she drowned. On the way to a coke dealer's house, they got into a car accident when Tony swerved to avoid hitting an animal in the road. Tony survived without a scratch, but Adriana was held overnight for observations... Chris was livid that she drove around with Tony at 2am. He worked hard doing deals with rednecks so she could have money for booze and coke... Tension escalated between Chris and Tony... The crew acted like knitting circle and spread rumors about Adriana was sucking off Tony, which is why they got into an accident. Chris exploded when he heard the blowjob rumors. He thought Tony sent him to North Carolina so he could fuck Adriana... Chris confronted Adriana, smacked her around, and called her a whore. He tossed her out of the house then chugged a bottle of vodka... CATTY CARMELA: Carmela heard the Adriana hummer rumors and took it out on Tony... Chris was shitfaced and unloaded his clip at Tony's SUV at Bada Bing. He walked into the Bing waving a gun but the bouncers dragged him out... Tony and Paulie took Chris out to the weeds. Chris accused him of sleeping with Adriana. Tony was about to whack Chris, but Tony B talked him out of it at the last second... Tony drove to the ER and found the doctor who worked on Adriana. Tony B and the doctor explained to Chris that Adriana had injuries consistent with sitting up (which was proof she did not give Tony a hummer). Chris said it didn't matter. The perception was that she banged Tony and everyone thought he was a jerkoff... FBI asked Adriana if they could put a wire inside the Crazy Horse. She told them to fuck off... Everyone at Vesuvios saw Tony and Chris having dinner with Carmela and Adriana, an obvious attempt to show the public that the hummer rumors were false.

S5, Episode 6: Sentimental Education... AJ butted heads with Tony when he mouthed off and Tony grabbed him by the throat. AJ said someday he'd kick Tony's ass and Tony said BRING IT you spoiled shithead! AJ begged to move back into Castle Soprano with Carmela, but Carmela set forth strict guidelines... Carmela went out with AJ's guidance counselor and said she didn't understand  Madame Bovary, which he told her to read. Counselor banged Carmela, but Carmela was mostly concerned with getting home before AJ woke up. She slept with a gun under her pillow over a legit fear that Tony would discover her tryst, which Father Phil reminded her was adultery because she was still married to Tony.... The counselor realized he was being used to convince teachers to give AJ better grades, especially after he plagiarized a paper on Lord of the Flies. English teacher referred to AJ as Fredo Corleone due to his lack of intelligence and quoted Caddyshack "the world needs ditch diggers too"... Carmela got dumped by her new fuckbuddy and she realized she could never get out from under Tony's shadow... Tony B passed his massage exam, much to the delight of his new girlfriend, whom he met on the internet when he was in jail... Tony B scrapped his leg when someone boosted his linen truck. Kim the owner was irked and thought he stole the truck himself. When Kim learned couple kids did it, Kim sorta-apologized by saying he'd stake Tony B's massage business... "Why do piss, shit, and fucking happen all in the same area?" wondered Paulie... Tony B found a bag of cash and crack when drug dealers ditched it during a police chase. Tony B tossed the crack and kept the $12K in cash. He went on multiple gambling benders, bought gaudy clothes and gifted video games for his twins... When Tony B realized he did all the work setting up the massage biz in Kim's storefront, he confronted Kim and beat the living shit out of him with a 2x4 and heavy fish imagery (koi flopped around on ground from an indoor pond inside the storefront)... Tony B finally gave up the straight and narrow life. During a dinner with Tony, he asked if he could get in on Tony's airbag scheme.

S5, Episode 7: In Camelot... Tony went to his aunt's funeral and stopped by the tombstones of his parents. An old lady sat on a bench in front of his father's grave. We got introduced to Johnny Boy Soprano's side piece: Frannie Felstein, the lady from the fur department... Tony was infuriated because Moma Soprano made his old man give the dog away. She said it went to live on a farm, when in fact his father gifted it to his side piece... Frannie told Tony a lot of old stories including banging JFK in 1961 before the Cuban Missile Crisis. Yeah, Frannie was also Jack Kennedy's side piece. Tony gifted Frannie his JFK's captain's hat and she sang a disturbing rendition of Marilyn Monroe's Happy Birthday Mr. President... Frannie was supposed to get a cut of a midget auto raceway, but Hesh and Phil Leotardo stiffed her. Tony had a sitdown with Johnny Sack, Hesh, and Phil Leotardo over the sale of the track. Sack mediated that the proceeds ($150K) were given to Frannie, yet Leotardo was irked he had to pony up $40K... Leotardo didn't pay up. When Tony found him, a car chase ensued with Rock the Casbah cranking out of Tony's SUV. Leotardo crashed into a Boar's Head truck... Uncle Junior said he was in love with Frannie. The reason he never married because he wanted to propose to her. Alas, his brother Johnny Boy banged her instead, so he never had a chance... Tony told Dr. Melfi that Moma Soprano was so batshit crazy that he drove his father into the arms of other women. Moma Soprano never visited Johnny Boy's grave, whereas his side piece visited frequently...  Chris made friends in rehab with TV writer and ex-junkie (who lost his job when he blew a deadline on Nash Bridges). Joe Hollywood was sober and seeking a writing gig on Law and Order. Chris bitched about Jon Faverau to his friend and called Faverau a "faggot cocksucker" who "stole his ideas." Chris admitted that he slipped with "some wine" and a lil weed. They agreed to look out for each other.... Chris offered to book Joe Hollywood's betting action and Chris got him a seat in the Big Game. Joe Hollywood donked off $57K. Chris took over the debt. When he missed a payment, Chris and Lil Paulie gave Joe Hollywood a beatdown. He tried to pawn off his Emmy, but it had no value (unlike an Oscar). He sold his laptop instead. Joe Hollywood fell off the wagon and spiraled into the junkie abyss. Chris seized his BMW as partial payment... 70s FLASHBACK: Moma Soprano had a miscarriage and teenage Tony covered for Johnny Boy, who was banging Frannie at the time... Tony got fed up with Frannie over the dog, the miscarriage, and because she kept smoking after his father died of emphysema...Episode ended with Tony bragging to his crew that his father shared a mistress with JFK.

S5, Episode 8: Marco Polo... Well-tanned Little Carmine moved to New York. He showed off a gaudy "fool the eye" painting while his boat mysteriously sunk... Grandpa Hugh tumbled off the roof while AJ practiced drums. Luckily, Hugh fell in the bushes and escaped with minimal harm. Carmela and her mom planned a surprise party for Grandpa Hugh's 75th birthday. They didn't want to invite Tony... Junior ruined the surprise party when he called Hugh to tell him he couldn't go due to house arrest (and added that his family sedated him)... Hugh thought it was bullshit that Tony wasn't invited to a party at Castle Soprano. He wouldn't go unless Tony was invited... Johnny Sack showed Tony his new $99K Maserati. After causing Phil Leotardo to crash his car, Tony agreed to fix Leotardo's car at Big Pussy's wife's auto body shop. Leotardo didn't like the way Big Pussy's wife fixed his car. Tony sent Tony B to smooth things out, but Leotardo was still a douche... Tony B's cell mate from prison, Angelo (former consigliere to Carmine Sr.), offered him a contract to take out Joey Peeps from Johnny Sack's crew (retaliation for whacking Lorraine). Tony B declined but said Tony didn't want to get involved in a NY dispute... Tony B showed up early to the Hugh's jubilee party and Carmela was already drowning in stress. Tony B and Meadow briefly chatted about his missing Goth daughter... Tony finally showed up with Hugo's favorite sausages dangling around his neck... Grandma and her snooty friends were not impressed, but Hugo was thrilled that Tony showed up... Tony B ended up as Carmela's personal photographer, but he got shitfaced drunk and whined about being the Soprano's slave... Tony gifted Grandpa Hugo a Beretta shotgun... Hugo's old army buddy wanted to hear tales about Hugo's heroics in WW2, while his other pompous friend was a pompous ass. Grandma apologized when Hugo got shitfaced and had to be carried out of the party. Grandma really didn't want Tony at party because she wanted to impress her pompous friends. Carmela went to bat for Tony, because her mother was always embarrassed about being Italian. Meanwhile, she acknowledge that Tony saved the day, manned the grill, and made her father happy... Late night, Tony and AJ threw Carmela in the pool and everyone played Marco Polo. When everyone left, Tony and Carmela hooked up in the pool... Tony B's twins stole AJ's pin collection. They were jealous of AJ's wealth and never wanted to leave Castle Soprano. While making a batch of shitty Tang at his mother's house, Tony B finally gave up on the square life and wanted back into the mob game to earn more cash. He called Angelo and agreed to do the hit for Lil Carmine's crew... Tony B waited outside a brothel and clipped Joey Peeps and a hooker, but the car ran over his foot while the Bad and Ruin played (song from Rod Stewart's band The Faces).

S5, Episode 9: Unidentified Black Males... Heat wave... Finn tried to pay for steak dinner, but Tony was insulted and got pissed off. He later apologized for blowing up... Tony and Johnny Sack played golf and Sack complained about the hit on Joey Peeps. He said a homeless guy saw the killer limping away. After launching a decent tee shot, Tony collapsed due to a panic attack... Finn and Meadow sweated their passive-aggressive asses off in a hotbox NYC apartment. They couldn't decide on movie, let alone their future. Finn graduated and didn't want to mooch off his parents for the summer. He considered blowing off dental school for a job in LA as a photographer's assistant. Meadow hooked him up with a construction job in NJ at $20/hour... Finn got a no show job. Paulie didn't know who he was and made him clean up dogshit. When Paulie found out he was Meadow's boyfriend, he gave him wad of cash... Finn got freaked out by a huge fight between Lil Paulie and Geno. Finn was horrified at the violence. Vito Johnnycakes concocted a story that two black guys jumped Lil Paulie. The "two black guys" was a running theme that the crew gave as an excuse to the cops... Finn told Meadow about the beatdown. He wondered about her life as a mafia princess. She reminded him that her ex-boyfriend was shot dead by "drug dealers"... Tony figured out a limping Tony B clipped Joey Peeps. Tony B said he hurt his foot because two black guys jumped him outside a bar. He also hypothesized that if he was involved, then Tony wouldn't want to know... Tony B begged: "Put me in coach!" Tony assigned him to run the casino on Bloomfield Avenue and he'd finally get him a made man... Tony was impressed that Tony B supposedly got a 158 on an IQ test... Tony told Dr. Melfi that he hooked up with Carmela... Carmela searched for a divorce attorney. She finally informed Tony she wanted a divorce. Tony realized it was about money. He told her she was entitled to shit... CATTY CARMELA: Carmela bitched to Meadow that Tony cut off her credit cards. Meadow called her out for being a materialistic hypocrite... At Joey Peeps' funeral, Johnny Sack was pissed that Tony B clipped Joey Peeps and Tony protected him. He told Tony that he was gonna whack Carmine and Tony B. Tony told him that he should hug it out with Lil Carmine. Tony made up an alibi for Tony B. (they were looking for his runaway Goth daughter)...  The no show crew wanted Finn to hang out with them, chow down on donuts, and bullshit about boxing. He finally gave in... Chris uber-upset that Tony B was now the "number one cousin" because Tony B was awarded the underground casino over him... Meadow went to a beach party with Ivy Leaguers, where two recent grads decided upon film school and one opted for the CIA. Instead of going back to NYC, Finn decided to crash at the NJ construction site.... Finn caught Vito Johnnycakes blowing a security guard. Vito tried to intimidate Finn by calling him an arch nemesis. Vito gifted him a ticket to Padres/Yankees game and said he'd meet him at the stadium at 7pm. Finn told Meadow that Vito hit on him or wanted to whack him. She thought he made it up. Finn was a no show at the baseball game... Finn stayed up all night arguing with Meadow and even dozed off. They apparently broke up but he was sleep deprived and suggested they get married... Carmela's divorce attorney tried to hire top notch forensic accountants, but Tony beat her to the punch. Without a huge payday, the attorney dropped Carmela's case... Tony told Melfi that Tony got jumped by two black guys on the night he was supposed to hijack a truck with Tony B, which inevitably got him imprisoned for 17 years. Tony had a panic attack during the therapy session and he revealed that he really had a panic attack the night he was supposed to steal the truck. Moma Soprano induced the panic attack and Tony passed out and cut his head. He was guilty he could never reveal the truth and that Tony B's life was a mess due to prison, while he rose to the head of the family... SELF-AWARE TONY: "I'm a robot to my own pussy-ass weakness." Dr. Melfi referred to therapy as childbirth, whereas Tony said "it's like taking a shit"... Carmela came home and found Tony floating in the pool. Meadow called home to tell her mother about her engagement, and Carmela was all tears.

S5, Episode 10: Cold Cuts...Johnny Sack stiffed Tony in a delivery of scooters, citing port security issues... BEATDOWN OF THE WEEK: Janice turned into a self-righteous soccer mom. She busted the nose of a loud-mouth mom... Janice got arrested and mocked on the local news... Tony reminded her about her mean temper and subtly alluded to the Jackie Aprile incident...  Chris was jealous about Tony B running the underground casino. Paulie told him it sucked because he too got constantly passed over... Uncle Pat (with the hiccups) sold his farm where the crew buried all the bodies, so Chris got sent up to the farm to clear one of his bodies and a couple of Johnny Boy Soprano's cadavers. Tony B went along, but the ride upstate was full of tension... Chris was emo over the time Tony tied up Lil Chris in the orchard... CATTY CARMELA: The Cold War of the Roses continued when Carmela drained the pool... Janice attended group therapy and took it over... Tony told Dr. Melfi that "revenge is like serving cold cuts." She said that both him and his sister had terrible anger issues... Melfi said, "Depression is rage turned inward"... Uncle Pat couldn't recall where Johnny Boy buried the Johnson Brothers...  Chris and Tony B bonded by poking fun of Tony while digging out Chris' first hit (the Czech who gave him nightmares)... OBSCURE SHAKESPEARE REFERENCE: Digging up the body was reminiscent of Hamlet's "to be or not to be" speech using the exhumed skull belonging to Yorick the court jester... Vinny Delpino beat down the security guard at the docks who confirmed that Phil Leotardo and Johnny Sack took the Vespas to retaliate over Tony B whacking Joey Peeps... Tony got pissed when he realized Johnny Sacks was gonna boost his special shipment of imported provolone... Carmela stalked the guidance counselor and told him that she's getting back with Tony, whereas she bullshitted Rosalie Aprile... While fishing, Uncle Pat recalled where Johnny Boy's cadavers were buried. Tony drove up to the farm and helped get rid of the bodies... Tony, Chris, and Tony B went out to dinner, but Tony B cracked one too many fat jokes. Tides turned and the two Tonys started bullying Chris, just like when they were all kids. Chris was still super-emo the next day and he drove home by himself and cried the whole way... Janice seemed reformed during a family dinner, but Tony pushed her buttons by bringing up her estranged son. She flipped out and chased him around the house with a fork.

S5, Episode 11: The Test Dream... Tony's spicy side piece badly burned herself while cooking eggs when her robe caught fire during an argument. Yeah, eggs were a harbinger of doom.... Former prison cellmate Angelo paid Tony B a visit at the underground casino and gave him partial payment for the Joey Peeps' hit. Angelo gifted him a plaque "Because I'm the boss... that's why!"... Phil Leotardo and his brother whacked Angelo... Tony stopped by Tony B's house, who was all antsy and not even listening to Tony, who hinted that he had the hots for Artie Bucco's wife... Tony checked into the Plaza under a fake name, saw Dr. Melfi walk through the lobby, and later drunk dialed Artie Bucco's wife (but afraid to talk, so he hung up)... Tony got a message that Angelo was whacked. Tony B refused to answer his phone because he went AWOL...Tony called Jade Escorts and ordered in an Asian hooker, then fell asleep... TONY'S DREAM: It was a 20-minute dream sequence that featured 8 different segments with a shit-ton of dead people...
DREAM PART 1: Tony woke up next to Carmine, who complained he missed his wife. The phone rang with an order to rub someone out...

DREAM PART 2: Tony went to therapy, but Mercedes Lady sat in Dr. Melfi's chair. They joked about how Tony killed her and they repeated the childbirth/taking a shit therapy banter...

DREAM PART 3: Tony saw his father on a TV set in Melfi's office. Johnny Boy Soprano drove his old Caddy. Tony sat in the back. Big Pussy rode shotgun, then it was Ralphie in the front seat. In the back seat were Artie Bucco and Mikey, Junior's former henchman...

DREAM PART 4: Tony thought he woke up from his dream. He stood in the kitchen at Castle Soprano wearing a black Fila sweat suit. Carmela, also dressed in black, bitched at Tony that they were late to meet Finn's parents. Chinatown and Scrooge was on the TV. Tony spotted himself and Carmela arguing on the TV screen. He spit out a rotten tooth. They went to dinner at Vesuvio. They met Finn's parents but the father was played by the crooked ex-cop that used to bet heavily with Tony before he killed himself. The mother was portrayed by Annette Benning. Tony pulled a rotten tooth out of his pocket and spit out another bad tooth. Finn morphed into AJ. Finn's father started singing Three Times A Lady and Tony realized the mother was Annette Benning. Tony warned them that something bad was gonna happen. Tony and Finn's father went to the toilet. Tony looked for a gun in the stall (just like the Godfather). At the urinal, Tony revealed his copy of The Valachi Papers and Tony heard gunshots...

DREAM PART 5: Tony B shot up Phil Leotardo in the middle of a crowded street. Mercedes Lady showed up with a microphone to interview Leotardo. A black kid asked Tony something. Annette Benning mentioned that Tony had a Bugsy thing going. When the crowd moved in, Tony ran off. Just like a scene from Frankenstein, the angry crowd of villagers and dogs chased him down an alley with torches and pitchforks. Lee Harvey Oswald took a shot at him. Artie Bucco helped him escape...

DREAM PART 6: Artie Bucco drove a getaway car. Tony rode shotgun with Richie Aprile and Gigi in the back seat. Artie watched Tony bang his wife, while he heard horse sounds...

DREAM PART 7: Tony sat on Pie-My-O in the living room of Castle Soprano. Carmela said he couldn't have his horse inside, but she said "whores." Tony had a gun in a holster. Carmela wondered if he took care of his hit job...

DREAM PART 8: Tony walked through empty hallways of a school. He stopped in front of trophy case and put a silencer on a gun. Tony found Coach Molinaro in the gym teacher's office. Coach said Artie Bucco was a tool and gave Tony guff over seeing a shrink. Tony tried to shoot his coach, but his gun fell apart...
Tony woke up in his bed at the Plaza. Chris stopped by to see Tony and told him that Tony B tried to whack Phil Leotardo, but he killed his brother instead. Tony called up Carmela and told her about his recurring Coach Molinaro "unprepared dreams."

S5, Episode 12: Long Term Parking... Random body washed up on the beach and found by kids... Tony and Carmela tried to patch things up. Carmela asked Tony to fund a new property so she could build a new house with her father... Tony's spicy Latin side piece got out of the burn ward, but he had to tell her that it was called off because he was going back to Carmela... Adriana's stress-induced health issues continued and Chris poked fun at her calling her "My Smelly Valentine"... Chris dropped a Bruce Springsteen reference to why he was late to a meeting. He also started drinking again... Chris super pissed that Tony gave him guff over the cigarette scam while Tony B went off the reservation... FBI had the Crazy Horse under surveillance. They saw Long Branch cops stop by the club and decided to bring in Adriana, who was clad in animal prints most of the episode. Turned out the washed up body had a stamp from Crazy Horse, and that he visited the club the night he was whacked. Adriana told the FBI that the Israeli dealer did it. They ripped off some mook and he wanted his money back, but a fight ensued and the Israelis stabbed the mook. The FBI called her out on giving them crappy intel and forced her to wear a wire. She finally asked to speak to a lawyer, which she shoulda done a long time ago. The FBI stalled on a lawyer. They convinced her to try to flip Chris... Tony, Silvio, and Chris went to Brooklyn for a sitdown with Johny Sack and Phil Leotardo, but surly Leotardo walked out because he wanted to avenge his brother's death. Johnny Sack told Tony that he had to deliver Tony B, otherwise it was war... After the body count piled up, Lil Carmine decided to pull out of the race for contention of head of the Lupertazzi Family... Tony got several hang up calls. He assumed it was Tony B and asked Silvio to trace his calls... Tony officially moved his stuff back home. AJ helped. Tony gifted Carmela a Hermes scarf. They had a quaint family dinner. AJ thought it was "fucking weird." Tony said they should celebrate with champagne... Tony B called Tony. Tony finally told Tony B about the panic attack the night he got pinched. Tony used a trace to find Tony B near their Uncle Pat's farm, which was empty after he moved to Florida... Adriana finally told Chris that she was a rat for the FBI. Chris flipped out and nearly strangled her to death. Hours later, he settled down and Adriana had him convinced they should turn themselves in. Chris thought he could finally write his memoirs once he was no longer in the mob... Chris went out to buy cigs and saw a poor family at a gas station. He glimpsed his brokedick future... Tony called Adriana and said that Chris had a failed suicide attempt and that Silvio would come get her and drive her to the hospital. Adriana had a daydream in which she had packed her things and drove solo to California. In reality, Silvio picked her up and she cried the entire way. She had a moment of clarity in the car and realized she was gonna get whacked. Silvio drove her to the woods, she tried to crawl away, but he put two bullets into her (although the camera panned up to the treetops)... Chris tossed her suitcase and drove her car to Newark Airport's long term parking... Tony found Chris at the Bing watching Three Amigos. Chris was loaded on smack so Tony beat him down... With Johnny Sack officially the Boss, Tony went to pay him a visit underneath the Brooklyn Bridge. Tony asked to take out Tony B, so he wouldn't suffer. However, Phil Leotardo had other plans. Tony was irked, so he left and told Johnny to go fuck himself... Tony agreed to throw money at Carmela by buying her a 600K empty lot to build a dream house.

S5, Episode 13: All Due Respect... Tony thought he and Carmela spoiled AJ too much. He spent his entire waking existence on the phone... Ray Curto, FBI rat, had no clue Adriana got clipped... Chris told Carmela that Adriana broke up with him and left abruptly. Carmela told Tony, but he was aloof... During a birthday dinner for Ray Curto with all the Capos, Tony gave a speech and said he was protecting Tony B in the same manner he'd protect all of them. Tony went home early and watched WWII shows on the History channel... Chris went into hiding after Phil Leotardo went to his mother's house. He bitched to Silvio that Tony unfairly protected Tony B. The other Capos had similar feelings... Silvio reminded Tony that his crew was unhappy and that he should not have told Johnny Sack to go fuck himself. He called him out with his problems with authority. Out of the seven deadly sins, Tony's was pride. Tony said that it wasn't easy making decisions that affected everything else. He set his course and his crew was either with him or against him... Vinny Delpino spotted Phil Leotardo at the Crazy Horse. He tried to leave, but Phil and his crew jumped him in the parking lot. Phil gave Vinny a severe beatdown... Eugene and Vito Johnnycakes questioned Tony's leadership. Vito even suggested they take out Tony for putting them in danger... Johnny Sack took the provolone shipment for himself, which irked Tony's Capos... Uncle Junior found out that his trial might get delayed. Tony asked him for advice on the Tony B/Phil Leotardo rift. Junior was ineffective dispatching advice... Tony told Dr. Melfi about his recurring dream about his HS coach... One of AJ's friends hosted a party and sold beer cups for $5. When rival HS kids showed up without paying (brought their own cups), AJ told them they had to leave. One of the rivals tussled with AJ's friend, but AJ stayed out of the fight... Tony stopped by Paulie's house and called him out on his beefs. Tony flipped out when he saw the Pie-My-O painting. Paulie said Tony never came by his house, so he didn't think it was an issue. Paulie said he made Tony look like a general out of respect. Tony took down the painting and stormed off. He was about to trash it, but reconsidered... Tony drove up to Uncle Pat's farm and shotgunned Tony B. Tony called Phil Leotardo and told him where Tony B was hiding out, but never mentioned that he already whacked him. Leotardo found the corpse on the front porch... Johnny Sack said their problems were not solved even though Tony offered to give Leotardo some points on his underground casino. Johnny Sack asked Tony to come to a sitdown at 6:30am... Tony asked Chris to go up to the farm and bury Tony B's body. They finally discussed Adriana. Tony called her a cunt. Chris told Tony that he was clean and only went back to the H over the Adriana fallout... Carmela irked that AJ was on the phone and threatened to cut off his allowance until he finished a clown college applications. AJ claimed that he made $600 throwing house parties. Tony told him to do the applications or else. Carmela said that AJ was obsessed with the Studio 54 movie. Tony was worried about the homo-themes of the movie, but he thought it was good he was passionate about something even though it was party promotions... Tony went to Johnny Sack's house and sought to bury the hatchet and move forward. Johnny Sack was a douche about it, but they hugged it out. Tony thought he was getting whacked when he saw two guys with shotguns, but they were FBI. The Feds raided Johnny Sack's house and Tony successfully ran away. He called his attorney, who told him that old man Petrille flipped and ratted out the Brooklyn crew. Tony walked several miles all the way home back to his house. Van Morrison's Glad Tidings played in the final scene and was woven throughout the episode.

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Season 5 is dunzo. Here are other binge-recaps from The Sopranos Season 1, Season 2, Season 3, and Season 4