Monday, Apr 14, 2014
by Ned Wazowski
There are plenty of people famous for rather dubious talents on television, with “nice guy” perhaps the most dubious.
With the recent news that Stephen Colbert will be taking over when David Letterman retires next year, we’ve been thinking a lot about the backgrounds of TV celebrities. Although he started his career as a newscaster, Letterman caught the attention of the studios through his stand-up comedy. His successor Colbert also has a background in comedy, having got his big break with Chicago improve troop The Second City.
While most late night hosts share similar backgrounds, there are plenty of daytime hosts with more dubious histories. Some of them are journalists, certainly, but many blur the line between “famous on television” and simply being (thanks to reality TV) “famous for being on television.” Celebrity rosters filled with “reality stars” is kind of a recent phenomenon, but television (and radio before that) has always given us celebrities we didn’t quite know how to categorize – we called them “personalities.”
TV personalities sometimes hosted or presented shows, such as Bob Barker, Chuck Woolery or Dick Clark. But many were famous simply for being charming, witty and good sports, like Ed McMahon or Shadoe Stevens (from the center square).
Art Linkletter is one TV personality who parlayed his good-naturedness into an interesting career. He started rather straight-forwardly in radio (KGB in San Diego) doing some acting but mostly presenting programs. His most well-known programs – Kids Say the Darndest Things and People are Funny – started on radio and continued on television, even expanding into books and comics. Known for his approachable demeanor and his witty repartee, Linkletter made his personality a household name, even licensing his name and likeness to Milton Bradley to endorse their ‘Game of Life’. (Does your version in the family game closet have his picture on the money? Ours does.)
Since it’s being reported that Stephen Colbert will leave his larger than life fictional persona behind when he moves to network television, it’s hard to know what to expect from him as a real-world host. Perhaps he too will make the time-honored transition from comedian to simply, “personality.”
Monday, Apr 07, 2014
by Ned Wazowski
For parents, experiences with sweet candy can tour sour pretty fast.
Candy companies seem to be especially out to get parents. It’s bad enough that they get kids sugared up to the point that they’re practically bouncing off the walls, but some of the stuff is just downright obnoxious. Gummy worms. Gummy boogers. Gummy earthworms in a chocolate ‘dirt cup.’ Yuck.
The stuff I ate as a kid was just as bad, and some of it I probably liked only because my parents thought it was gross – after all, as Shakespeare might have said, “a gummy candy in any other shape would taste the same.” Parents were always trying to serve us food that we thought was disgusting: broccoli, spinach, Brussels sprouts. It was fun to gross them out for a change.
Of course, candy from our parents’ generation wasn’t any better. I think it’s fair to say that they must have had a very different palate, because there are certainly some questionable flavors from back then: a lot of black licorice, chalk-like Necco Wafers, and whatever those Circus Peanuts were made of (Styrofoam?).
However, the most obnoxious candy – hands down – had to have been Rooty Toots Candy Blast.
I bought some this weekend at one of those specialty candy stores selling nostalgia sweets popular in days gone by. Rooty Toots look innocent enough – little candy horns, what could go wrong? Well, those candy horns are real horns, and they don’t toot as much as they squawk, like off-key noisemakers. Loud, off-key noisemakers. Through some magic of their sugared construction, they retain their ability to pierce ear drums even as they get smaller and smaller as you suck away their shape. In fact, you can get one last squawk out of a Root Toot just before you finally crunch it to nothing.
And this must have been the final nail in the coffin for parents in the past: to get all of those horribly loud squawks and screeches out of the candy, you’ve got to hold them carefully. This means melting candy-covered sticky fingers. Seriously sticky. I dropped one on the kitchen floor and despite my best scrubbing, that spot is still attracting every fly for a ten-mile radius. If you were a supermom in the 1960s – Rooty Toots were your kryptonite.
I’m not going to tell you exactly where I bought my Rooty Toots, because there are some things that should probably stay in the past. Heaven help us if today’s sever-year-olds get their hands on a box of Rooty Toots!
Monday, Mar 31, 2014
by Ned Wazowski
Will future generations be able to watch black and white films at all?
It’s interesting to go back through film history and see how the art form has changed with the development of new genres and technological advancements bring about new ways of making and watching films.
One of the most noticeable differences about the way films were made in the past seems to be the pacing. Some stories – as fascinating as the plot might be – are just too slow for today’s tastes. Do we simply not have the patience that previous generations had?
It’s true that films today are often longer than they were in the golden age of Hollywood, but the average length of a shot is much shorter. Although perhaps that’s due to advancements in editing or special effect more than attention span. But even though the film s were shorter back then, some of them feel like they drag on and on before finally getting to the point.
We’re proud of the multi-tasking we’re able to do in our daily lives, and with microwaves, internet, short tweets and status updates, we’re used to processing information in smaller and smaller bits. Who knows, maybe future generations will find our 140 character tweets much, much too long?