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I'm starting to get a handle on this television thing. I started out nervous, but I kind of enjoy the idea of sitting at a table and trying to banter with people like
James J. Cramer
The strangest thing about television is how few people pay close attention to what you're saying. When you write, every word gets analyzed, every sentence parsed. I find myself laboring over a phrase, or leaning on the backspace to inch back and do a few words all over again. But on television, you yack about for several minutes, come off the set and everyone says: "Hey, you looked great!"
My mom rarely comments on the substance of my discussion, but she sure doesn't like it when the camera sneaks behind me. When that happens, my boyish, round face gives way to a nice, shiny balding pate. But it doesn't bother me. Instead, I feel a certain kinship with
. Sometimes I think I should consider doing the full
Still, even as the focus is on how it looks, I'm always wondering about what I said on the little screen. Did I sound like a dork? Did I mess up my grammar? Did I mispronounce a word? It seems nobody really recalls. Even when you see friends, it's always the same. "Hey, you looked great!" Or, for the close friends: "Hey, you looked great, but you should smile more."
I spend most of the show in the green room, feeling the pancake settle into my facial pores. Being only on the final segment, I get to squirm while everyone else does their thing. It was great to see
on Stock Drill. Herb and Jim really went after him during part of that segment, but Ken -- famous for his role in the legendary Lost Episode of "TheStreet.com" -- held his own. (For those curious, Ken was the guest on our very first show. But the
tragedy pushed that one off the air.)
Sometimes I get nervous enough that I can't watch the show as it's taped. I try to engage other people in inane conversations about everything from the wallpaper to the day-old coffee sludging out of the nearby pot. Paying too much attention makes me more nervous for the show. Still, during the Chartman segment, Cramer loves to turn up the television so we all watch. He just loves to cackle at
Gary B. Smith
as they go at it.
In the final segment, when I'm on the set, I get the Goon Seat. That's what we call the flyaway seat occupied by the Stock Drill guest or the third panelist on the Word segment. With Herb and Cramer practically reaching into each other's throats, I have to almost dive across the space to get a word in edgewise. But I do my best to get my licks in on those guys. Not easy targets, but amidst all the hoopla, it's a little easier to come off as modestly wise and even-tempered.
One of the great secrets of television? You can make mistakes that nobody will ever notice. That's because a lot of mistakes are errors of omission. For instance, this week I was supposed to offer a prediction about gold prices. But I messed up, repeating the call on volatility, even though I had said that last week. We're going for the live feel, so we just keep on going. Brenda does a terrific job of easing us out of the segment, the producer of the show,
, barks in my earpiece that I missed my call, and I kick myself right to the close of the show.
I feel like a dunce, but you can't tell. The graphics people do a quick change, the Web site gets an update to show my pick as volatility rather than gold and for all those not wise enough to read The Cutting Room, it sure looks slick. Walking off, a little disgusted with myself, the wonder of television returns. Someone pats me on the back and says the magic words. "Hey, you looked great!"
Believe me, it is a heck of a lot easier to interview someone with stocks I don't like than I like. I am a combative guy, but what it is darn hard for me to start slamming around IBM when I own the darn stock.
Yet that was the dilemma I was faced with when we were drilling
, the incredibly smart and nice manager at
I feel I go way back with Ken, to the point where he guested on our now-infamous Lost Episode, the show that got axed because of the coverage of the
and I keep joking about offering that episode on
by the way, but it doesn't look like that's going to happen.
Anyway, he recommended
, a stock that I had said I was buying early in the week. Sometimes I think I should just recuse myself from the discussion when I am long, but I am a commentator, not a journalist, and I have a bias. Does
recuse himself from commenting on
George W. Bush
because he is a Republican? Disclosure solves the problem. But I think that predictably, I liked it and ended up taking a shot at
for knocking it.
In what is getting to be an old story, I came ready with fangs to the
American Power Conversion
table, but left thinking, Heck, I ought to buy some of this, it has gotten its act together.
? I don't know, good stock, but I just caught five points on it and I don't want to go back.
We then all broke to watch
go at it. I thought we had one of the most cogent explanations of charting I have ever seen from someone and I keep coming back to what a treasure Chartman is. If you are not a chartist, he will explain it to you in a way that you can at least understand why so many people are. I love this guy! Lashinsky? What can I say? This is the man who broke the
story that so many journalists shamelessly cribbed this week. He's money in the bank.
I realize that readers get the benefit of reading a Lashinsky story here and then investing on it and then making money when the shills in the rest of the media glom on to his stories unattributed. You can blow them out into the lesser journalists stories. But it would be nice to be credited now and then!
Finally, our mix-up segment was a blast as usual. Kansas, Herb and I all actually get along and Brenda keeps it plenty lively. Had to eat some crow on the blownout
position, but got saved by the Bank!
that is, in my negative bank call.
My prediction: Oil is going lower, because of Venezuelan cheating. The new government down there has to raise cash. It has only one viable asset: cheating on its quotas.
This weekend's show was our best yet. Enjoy.
James J. Cramer is manager of a hedge fund and co-founder of TheStreet.com. At time of publication, his fund was long IBM. His fund often buys and sells securities that are the subject of his columns, both before and after the columns are published, and the positions that his fund takes may change at any time. Under no circumstances does the information in this column represent a recommendation to buy or sell stocks. Cramer's writings provide insights into the dynamics of money management and are not a solicitation for transactions. While he cannot provide investment advice or recommendations, he invites you to comment on his column at