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No sooner had the pay dispute involving Paulie Walnuts and Silvio been resolved, the curse of The Sopranos' final mini-season strikes again. This time, it's a production delay due to a surprise knee surgery for James Gandolfini:

Because of "unexpected" knee surgery for series star James Gandolfini, the concluding episodes that were expected to begin in January will be delayed about two months, HBO Chairman Chris Albrecht said.

The surgery alone would have pushed the season start back just a few weeks, but that would have put "The Sopranos" up against the football playoffs and the Super Bowl...

The news reminds us of an old Ojibwe saying we keep pinned to our wall: "Sometimes I go about in pity for myself, and all the while a great final eight episodes carry me across the sky." And while we suppose we can wait two more months to find out how it all turns out, there better be a lot more whackings and naked Julianna Margulies and a lot less droning on about restaurant credit card theft to make up for the delay.