August 2010 Archives

One of these people is a friend of mine:

No, not Kaptain Kool and the Kongs.

"The Brady Bunch Hour," of course, was... well, I was 17 at the time, and it was not for me. I'm not sure WHO it was for, but it wasn't for me. Then again, I wasn't a Brady watcher, and I wasn't fond of variety shows, and... Kaptain Kool and the Kongs? Strike three. (And we're not even talking about Rip Taylor, Lee and Farrah, and the "Water Follies," whatever that is, and the fact that this was a Sid and Marty Krofft show, which to me always meant "awful." Plus Robert Reed singing and dancing, which was just unfair) This was the debut episode, January 23, 1977, ABC.

My Lord, there's a whole website devoted to the Hour! And here's a whole page on that episode! It had a plot and everything! Rip Taylor played a moving company guy, in an orange jumpsuit! A faux Jan! Production numbers like "Car Wash" (!), "Razzle Dazzle," and "Send In The Clowns"! Priceless!

Kaptain Kool and the Kongs, of course, were the pre-fab "band" from "Krofft Supershow." Michael Lembeck, actor, Harvey's kid, and now director, was "Kaptain Kool," Louise DuArt, impressionist, was "Nashville," the singer; she's still around doing both secular and religious stuff, I believe. They even put out an album, or, more likely, session musicians put out an album in their name. You can find it here, although I can't imagine why you'd want it.

I have yet to see more than a few minutes of the show. That's all I can take.

SANTA DOG

One question about this 1974 ad:

Why?

Why would you do that?

Even for $1.19 plus 35 cents postage and handling?

Your dog is not a "living ornament."

HAT TRICK

Oh, come on, I posted nothing all weekend and you expect me to post something now?

Please. I needed the time for fun things like working, and, um. working, and working some more. The results are at Talk Topics.

Yeah, I saw "Mad Men." Peggy got naked. Don got blackout drunk. Much fun was had.

NO TIME AGAIN

No. Not today. Just... no. I'm sure you understand. Too busy again. Sorry. Maybe tomorrow.

I'm considering just not posting anything on Fridays.

I mean, it's the weekend. You shouldn't be reading this, and I shouldn't be writing this.

Go, have fun. Really.

It occurred to me that since I'm working on a project that's targeted towards nerds (that's not being used as an insult; it's all part of Nerdist.com, Chris Hardwick's empire), I should do a nerd-friendly TV Guide scan. And, lo and behold, I ran across this, from October 27, 1967, in the Southeast Texas edition:

That's how "Star Trek" was promoted by the local Lake Charles, LA NBC affiliate. Nothing special, just Kirk and Spock looking serious with the Enterprise overhead. Here's the episode that ran for the very first time that day:

Episode 36, production number 30, second season. Technically the first episode with Chekov, shot first but held back a month to air close to Halloween, so it aired out of sequence and after other Chekov episodes aired. The episode was about, um, well, I have no idea. See, assuming that I was watching TV that night, and that's a very safe assumption, I would have been watching "Gomer Pyle, USMC." Come on! Gomer and Carter in Washington! How could I pass that up?

I do have nerd credentials, in case any Nerdist/Node folks stray here to find out who the hell I am and why I'm working with Chris. I even saw the first "Star Trek" movie on opening day, standing on a long, long line outside the Fox Theater in Philadelphia (December 7, 1979) and ending up in the last row of the orchestra, hearing and feeling the Market-Frankford subway rumbling underneath while the Enterprise debuted on the big screen. But I was never a Trekkie. I was a little kid when it originally aired, and in high school and college, I just never really, um, liked it much while it aired ad infinitum on channel 48. I did watch some of "The Next Generation" and "Deep Space 9," but, still, it didn't do much for me. I'm not against science fiction in general, and if it's a crime not to be a big Trek or "Star Wars" fan, I'm pleading guilty.

So, yes, in 1967, I was almost certainly watching "Gomer Pyle." Doesn't mean I'm insufficiently nerdy. If you don't believe me, ask anyone who's ever known me.

PROMISE KEPT (SORT OF)

I promised myself that I would get away from the computer by 8:00 tonight.

It's 8:02. Close enough.

BEAVE'S NOT HERE

It's November 1967. You have a TV station in Rochester, New York, and you're airing "Leave it to Beaver" at 4:30 every afternoon. But the kids, they're into something else these days. They're wearing their hair long -- longer than the Beatles! -- and they're dipping their shirts into dye and wearing beads and even taking the drugs. How to get them to watch "Beaver"? Try this:

How wrong does this ad go? Let's see: There's the "Tune-In" thing, a call-out to Timothy Leary that no viewer would think is cool or clever. There's the disconnect between the "grooviness" of "Tune-In" and "Leave it to Beaver," which even in 1967, a few years after its demise on the network, was hopelessly dated. There's the 1965-attired model, hardly a hippie (I guess the braid was supposed to make her look San Feancisco). And there's "The Full Color Station" in a black-and-white ad for a black-and-white show.

Other than that, it's perfect. Groovy, even.

Limited time today, so here's a word from Yankee slugger Roger Maris in 1962, a year after 61*:

Aqua Velva was, like the presently resurgent Old Spice, your dad's go-to after shave. If he used a Remington or Norelco, he'd almost certainly use Lectric Shave, and you'd remember the commercials -- "LlllllECTRIC SHAVE!!!!" Dads always used after shave.

I've been shaving for about, what, 35 years or more? I never use after shave. Never. Doesn't seem to make a difference, except I never have a "Home Alone"-style stinging incident. I'm fine with that.

Wait, you thought "Anchorman: The Legend of Ron Burgundy" was fiction? Here's proof that in every mid-sized American city, a Ron Burgundy and his Channel 4 News Team really did exist:

That's an ad for the WIVB-TV/Buffalo news team in 1978. I'm not sure why the guy in the middle -- I think that was supposed to be anchor Steve Rowan -- was wielding a rolled-up paper. The two-fisted guy on the right was, I believe, John Beard, later an anchor at KNBC and KTTV (Fox 11) in Los Angeles (and on "Arrested Development"!), who's back in Buffalo now at WGRZ-TV.

Stay classy, Buffalo!

THAT THING ON ABC

Here's a show that I vaguely remember seeing:

There were two of these; this one, the first, aired on January 4, 1978. It was a cheesy sketch comedy show with a cast of then-largely-unknowns. The ad shows a few of them: That's Shelley Long up top, Andrea Martin on the left (a couple of years into "SCTV"), Mandy Patinkin in the middle, Marsha Warfield on the right. Judy Carter, the one who wrote those "how to do standup" books, was on the show.

But the really interesting part is that someone wrote and approved copy for this ad that includes "Henny Youngman" and "a zany hour of fresh, new comedy" in the same sentence. John Cameron Swayze was also on it, and in 1978, John Cameron Swayze wasn't synonymous with "fresh," "new," or "comedy." The show, according to the TV Guide listing, included "a sendup of Bigfoot sightings, a takeoff on the movie 'The Exorcist' and a spoof incorporating a beauty contest, the energy crisis and impersonations of Groucho Marx.

Oh, as I recall, it wasn't funny at all. But you could have figured that out yourself.

It was a lovely evening with friends at the Orange County Flyers minor league baseball game tonight, but that means it's waaaaay past my bedtime.

Tomorrow should (finally) be more substantial here.

WATCH WITH MOTHER

I wrote something, I was not happy with it. I deleted it.

Here, then, are Bill and Ben, the Flowerpot Men:

It's not punishment, it's TV history.

OW

Typing this with my left hand because....

Well, it's a boring story. Let it suffice to say that a sprung leak led to a sprint and trip and fall, broken by my hand and legs. I'm icing everything and hoping for the best, but... ouch.

So this has to be short. Can't type all that well at the moment.

BEGGING OFF

My work days are getting impossibly long. I... gotta go.

Maybe something will be here tomorrow.

SUPREME EVIL

Too busy today.

Here, a classic mashup from Mark Vidler, the genius behind Go Home Productions:

I think I might like this better than the originals...

PLUNDERING THE PAPERS: FISH STORY

I saw this movie when I was 4 years old:

I remember exactly where I saw it. I think my sister was there, too. Plaza Theater, Paterson, New Jersey, a Saturday matinee. The theater was packed with kids, few, if any, adults. I think my parents dropped us off. That wouldn't happen today, leaving a 4 year old and a 6 year old at a movie theater, unaccompanied and unsupervised. But in 1964, at least, it was common and never posed a problem.

The movie? All I remember was Don Knotts turning into a fish with glasses and winning World War II or something. It was complete eye-candy-for-kids drivel, in Technicolor with lame songs. To a 4 year old, though, it was "Citizen Kane."

By then, we'd been to a lot of movies, mostly in drive-ins. I remember seeing "It's A Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World" at the Cinerama theater (the Claridge?) in Montclair, "Bye Bye Birdie" and "A Hard Day's Night" at the Paramus Drive-In, and I'm sure there were others. Our parents took us all the time. I'd like to think that it led to a lifetime of cinematic appreciation. And a love of popcorn.

SMELLS LIKE ROCKIN' ROBIN

Another classic mashup:

(HT: Harv Blain)

I know, it's old hat by now, but when it's this perfect, how can you resist?

BEST MASHUP YET

I know it's a year old, but it's brilliant (HT: Johnny Angel Wendell):

MY OWN WORST EDITOR

I just wrote a column, and once it was done -- it's a long one -- I read it and once again, I'm... not sure.

I'm never sure. Sometimes, it all seems like inane blather. And that's when I say, well, screw it, I'm gonna sleep on it. And then, invariably, I throw it all away and start over, and hammer out a replacement at warp speed before deadline. Maybe that'll happen with this one, maybe not. I hope not. I could use an easy Friday.

But all the drama has me needing a break, so I'm taking one. See you tomorrow.

PLUNDERING THE PAPERS: CROONER QUITS

This was in the Ottawa Citizen on March 24, 1971:

Now, wait. Who in 1971 would reduce Frank Sinatra to a headline "Bobby sox idol retires" and would bury it on page 66 of the Wednesday paper? The article notes that he was, at the time, "one of the most successful recording and nightclub artists in history," and, while the "retirement" obviously didn't stick, he was a household word in 1971. "Bobby sox idol retires"?

I imagine some editor just wasn't hip to the pop scene, man. He (probably a he) saw the story over the wire and said "I'm not giving that trash any publicity." He probably rued the day that "good music" -- Classical, I'd guess -- was overrun by that "swing" garbage. Sinatra? Strictly for the bobby soxers.

But in 1971, he was probably alone. Everyone else over the age of, say, 30 at the time revered him. Many still do today. It's amazing to see a paper just minimize the Chairman of the Board like that. You don't disrespect the Chairman.

OLD NERD JUBILEE

The new project in which I'm involved has launched in beta, and I'm not even sure I'm supposed to say anything about it; that's how top-secret it's been. But it's connected to a popular nerd culture website created by a celebrity who is known to several small children as the voice of Otis the Cow on the animated TV series "Back at the Barnyard," who, like the human whose voice he (a cow? "He"?) shares, bowls.

But it's both exciting and a little scary, because the user base for this thing is smart. Really smart. Ultra-smart nerd folks who know how to code and are creative to the extreme and stuff. I'm technically adept -- well above average, if I do say so myself -- but these folks leave me in the dust. That's intimidating. I feel like the shy, weird kid who just showed up at a new school, doesn't know anyone, and likes stuff that nobody in the class seems to even recognize.

That's not true in this case, of course. The primary difference between them and me, besides their intelligence and ability (ouch), is probably age. I was nerd before nerd was cool. I will be having to suppress my instinct to write things like "why, when I was your age, we had cell phones as big as phone books! Phone books... you know, the Yellow Pages. Um... big books filled with phone numbers that... books. On paper. Oh, come ON." But, what the hell, if Leo Laporte can still be relevant to Those Young Whippersnappers, so can I.

And if you're one of the folks from the site who clicked on my name and found yourself here... I'm terribly sorry. But you'll grow to tolerate me somewhat.

CONTENT IS FREE, DAMN IT

I'm involved with some cool stuff coming up, and while I can't really say much here, I can say that it might have something to do with this fine website. No, not this one. This one. The one that's linked here. If you could figure that out yourself, you might be interested. Also if you're creative and/or technically adept, and love to get involved in things that don't pay but do have a fun, fulfilling payoff... well, we'll get to that when it's time.

But, yeah, pay's not on the table for most projects these days. It's something to which creative people will have to adjust. You're doing more on spec and more for just the love of being creative, and less for actual cash. And it's all because we're in the twilight between the old media world -- you create something, someone pays you for it, they sell it or sell advertising on it, profit -- and the new media world, which is, um, developing. Advertising support is not what it was, and it may not ever be that again, so websites and streaming audio and podcasts need another business model, and, so far, none really seem to work (no, paywalls are not a good idea) unless what you have is so specialized that people HAVE to come to you. Otherwise, there's too much content available. No scarcity. And with that, advertisers are just sitting it out.

I talked myself into a pretty strong depression over this, but then I reminded myself of a few things. First, people still use radio, and television, too. Broadcasting still delivers the lion's share of audience, and while it's not as finely targeted as, say, a podcast or a customized stream, here's the other thing: It works. It doesn't matter what the metered ratings say. A good radio ad will work. It will deliver customers, maybe not in a way that you can identify them as customers, but the customers will show up. As much as, say, car dealers want to believe that restricting their ads only to the very specific people who are identifiably ready to buy, and measuring that by clicks leading to actual purchases, that's not necessarily the smartest way to sell cars. Repetition of a creative, effective spot, on the other hand, still works. If I was buying ads, I'd keep radio and TV in the mix and add in a lot of Internet marketing (especially "live spots" on podcasts), because they all work. If traditional media is dying, it's not dead yet, and there's still a lot of utility in them.

But as long as marketers are holding out -- on everything -- we're still in the twilight, and it's hard to see when and where the money will be flowing again. And while that's happening, you might as well keep active, even if there's no paycheck involved, as long as nobody else takes that work and makes money from it themselves. Yeah, Arianna Huffington, you heard me.

WALKING THE ROOM

No, I didn't see "Mad Men" tonight, because we had dinner with this guy and this guy, dear friends both. I love watching TV, but I occasionally enjoy venturing out of the house for a bit as well.

That means I just got back, and with an early (earlier, as if the usual 3 am isn't "early") day tomorrow for reasons best left unsaid, all I can muster is this clip from Greg's latest DVD/Comedy Central special:

Dave doesn't have standup video, because he's that aggravating. But he's the first guy in this clip from a comedy series online, so there's that:

Oh, and go subscribe to their podcast "Walking The Room" via itunes or otherwise. Not even remotely safe for work, but you wouldn't want it if it was.

Busy today -- I know, I said I wouldn't do this anymore! -- so here's something that interests me and perhaps nobody else:

I always wonder where this stuff comes from. There were no home VCRs then, and local stations like CKLW-TV didn't save much of their own 2-inch tape or film.

CKLW-TV was run by RKO General at the time (that's the logo in the "9"); at some point, the Canadian government decided that an American company couldn't own a Canadian station, and CKLW-TV became Canadian-owned, and, ultimately, the CBC's own station in Windsor. But, once upon a time, it was a big deal in Detroit.

PRESBYOPIC PERRY

Today's monumental occurrence: new glasses. Got a backup pair of prescription readers from Costco, and they're "progressive," meaning bifocals. I've never had bifocals before, and I'm going to have to get used to them. For reading and the computer, you have to look at just the right angle, which is a tough call for me. I turn my head a lot while typing and reading and doing everything else, so these will be a challenge. But I got tired of having to take my glasses off and put them on again all day long, so bif... er, progressives it is.

I'm not crazy about having to wear glasses to read, not after almost a half-century of excellent vision, but them's the breaks, or, more precisely, that's aging for you. My close-in vision, reading vision, dropped off a cliff a few years back, and after a short period of denial, I gave in, got my eyes checked, and got glasses. Readers. Cheaters. Yes, I feel very old.

No, I'm not going to post a picture. They're nice frames, though. Fashionable, and, as my wife says, they "go with" my coloring. I do, however, miss not having to wear glasses at all. Life was much simpler way back then, four years or so ago. No way will I do Lasik, though. Nobody's cutting anything in my eyeball. I'd rather... I'd rather....

I'd rather have to wear glasses to read stuff up close. And so I do. Get off my lawn.

ONE MORE PITIFUL EXCUSE

I promise that I will from here on out be more diligent, and I'll post actual content here. It's just been a week of long work days, and today was a column day. This week's column is about when talk show hosts cross the line into shilling for a candidate, and what hosts should be doing instead. You'll see it at All Access and, if you subscribe, in your e-mail tomorrow.

But that took up all my time today. So... okay, enough excuses. More real content tomorrow.

'THE SITUATION' IN THE WEIGHT ROOM

This is how disinterested I am at the moment: I'm done a few minutes earlier than usual tonight, and I have absolutely no interest in writing any more this evening. Not a word.

Okay, just a few, to let the kid at the Torrance Y today know that patent-leather long gym shorts just... no. Say no. They don't work. What does he do, hose them down? Once again, it's a little slice of "Jersey Shore" here in Southern California: muscle T, chains, flat-brimmed black baseball cap, long leatherette shorts. I'm guessing he's pre-med. And I don't want to know how he cleans those shorts. Ew.

And that's enough for now.

SOUP'S ON

The work days are getting longer, and I don't know why. I just find myself working from 3 am to 9 pm. Not whining, at least not too much, but, geez, I could use more down time. Good thing I'm adding more work soon.

And because I have no time, here's Soupy Sales and Pookie dancing to Stevie Wonder's "High Heeled Sneakers":

They definitely don't make TV like that anymore. But this was the ultimate when I was, like, five or six.

SLIM GYM

Today's aggravation: the guy who spent more than a half-hour on the weight machine I wanted to use at the Torrance Y. He'd do about 3 or four minutes on the machine, then he'd leave his stuff -- the towel, the weights, all that -- at the machine while he walked around or used another machine, then he'd come back. The protocol is that the waiting party asks if it'll be long, and the user offers to let the waiting party cut in for a few reps. I asked this guy how long he'd be, and he shrugged. No offer, nothing. But he was someone who could probably, in a fight, pound my head through the cinder block wall, so confronting him was unwise, and running to the trainers would be baby-like. So I ended up leaving without completing my workout.

That's a good argument for having exercise equipment in the house. But that's expensive, there's no room, and when you have the stuff in your house, you never use it. Going to the health club or gym kinda forces the issue. Besides, I've been going to gyms since I was a toddler, and I like the experience, except for guys like that. But I swear, if I run into this clown again, I'll... I'll....

I'll probably do nothing. I'd rather quit the gym than ignite a confrontation. I think most people are like that. Life's unfair that way.

Just finished another radio appearance, another shot on Johnny Wendell's show on KTLK in Los Angeles, talking about the Bell, CA scandal and how a lack of local media coverage contributed to the ability of the town leaders to rip off the taxpayers. There's more in this week's All Access column here.

"Mad Men" this week? Another Don-Is-An-Asshole special, this time with a Christmas theme, and it included Don using his secretary and then trying to act like it never happened, the return of a blowhard client, the return of Freddy (who's now in AA, which he only refers to as a "fraternity" when explaining how he got the Pond's Cold Cream account), some uncomfortable looks at Peggy's relationship with her non-fiance, and Christina Hendricks leading a conga line, which could in itself be a series. Plus the creepy kid returns to focus on Don's daughter Sally (and vandalize every room in the house except Sally's).

But it's all about Don, who's getting more and more pathetic (a word used directly to describe him in this episode). He even gets rejected by the marketing expert whose presentation he walked out on when it got too personal, and by the nurse across the hall. It's interesting to see Don be treated more as a target of derision than a hero, and it will be interesting to see how far they take this in this season.

And with that, it's time to start another work week.

March 2012

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Who?

    Perry Michael Simon. Talk radio guy. Editor of the News-Talk-Sports section at AllAccess.com. Editor and writer at Chris Hardwick's Nerdist.com. Former Program Director, Operations Manager, host, and general nuisance at KLSX/Los Angeles, Y-107/Los Angeles, New Jersey 101.5. Freelance writer on media, sports, pop culture, based somewhere in the Los Angeles area. Contact him here. Copyright 2003-2012 Perry Michael Simon. Yeah.

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