28 May 2007

And now, the bottom five

You think I'd forget? Five worst people ever to sit behind the podium of a game show:

5) PATRICK WAYNE. Son of John Wayne. Hosted the dreadful 1990 revival of Tic Tac Dough. Decent actor, horrible host. Two words: YOUUUUUUU WIIIIIIIIIINNNNN!!!!!!!!!!

4) ALEX TREBEK. From High Rollers in the 1970s to Classic Concentration in the late '80s and early '90s to his 23-year-and-counting role as host of Jeopardy!, Alex has never failed to keep the pompous arrogance from oozing through his Canadian cracks. Even today I cannot look at him without my mind adding his jet-black '70s-era curly-Q hair and bushy moustache ... and turning toward Ruta Lee to present her with the dice.

Eugene Levy did a beautiful job portraying parody host "Alex Trebel" on several SCTV skits in the late '70s.

Moustache'd or not, to paraphrase the horse in Ren & Stimpy: "No sir, I don't like him."

3) RICHARD DAWSON. It started with his violating the near-perfect comraderie of 1970s Match Game celebrities. As those of you who remember watching the show can recall, the final endgame -- the "one-on-one" -- allowed the contestant to pick the celebrity (s)he wanted to try and match. 90% of the time (like the sheep they are) they always picked Richard Dawson. And he ate it up like hot chicken on a buffet table.

The "star wheel" came about because the other members of the ensemble (!) wanted in on the glory. The contestant spun the wheel, and where it landed was the celebrity they had. Richard didn't like it. He began openly pouting and acting like a complete asshole on later episodes.

Then Mark Goodson in 1976 picked him to host a new game show, Family Feud. And most of us who watched it back in the day know how Richard used to kiss every female contestant on the show. Gran Lera had another name for Feud: "Kissy-Kissy." That's what she called it. As in, "At 10:00 I'll watch Pyramid and then change it over to channel 9 for 'Kissy-Kissy.'"

Feud ended its initial run in 1985, and was revived in 1988. However, Goodson didn't want Dawson for the gig; that honor went to Ray Combs -- whom I nominated for my top 10 best hosts list. Of course, when Goodson died and left the candy store to son Jonathan, he committed two mortal sins -- first was to ax Combs and bring back Kissyface Dawson, and the second was to remove all stops and governors from the ego of a certain other host, Mr. Spay-and-Neuter:

2) BOB BARKER. I've already ranted about Barker in this space. At first, he was a great host -- had a good, if impish, interaction with contestants. That did him very well on Truth or Consequences. And for the first decade or so of The Price is Right, he could do no wrong. Then came the his big "animal-rights" crusades, where he began using the show's closing as his own personal platform, and just plain developed a Superman complex when it came to TPIR in general. By the early to mid '80s, one could tell a definite condescending tone toward contestants, at times bordering on ridicule.

My final straw was one night during college when I saw him on Nightline debating the issue of animal rights and fur coats in general. His irrational tone and sheer intimidating arrogance is what I remember about Bob, twenty years later.

Bob Barker is not a nice man. Just ask Holly Halstrom, Dian Parkinson and Janice Pennington.

"CBS is paying tribute to MY 50 years on television."
Maalox, please!

And Talmadge's anti-nod to his worst game show host of all time goes to this, um, Real Person.....

1) JOHN BARBOUR. I can't put Barker at number 1, simply because at one time -- back when his ego was still humble -- he was a great host. But one personality (using the word loosely) whom I have no reservations about adding to the top/bottom of this list was the man whom Chuck Barris originally named to be host of his infamous program The Gong Show.

You know Chuck Barris. You know that any "amateur hour" style program HE created would be a parody of the form. And with a celebrity lineup such as Jamie Farr, Jaye P. Morgan, Arte Johnson, et al, how could it have been otherwise??

No matter how Chuck went over it with him, John Barbour stubbornly clung to his delusion that he was the newest incarnation of Ted Mack and that The Gong Show was going to be the 'American Idol' of its day.

One weeks' worth of programs were taped, and Chuckie Baby scrapped 'em every one. With no time to spare, NBC was getting impatient and finally blurted out that if he wanted to kill those shows, it's fine, but unless Barris HIMself put on the tux and hosted Gong, NBC was going to ax the program.

Chuck became host (clap!) and the rest (clap!) is history (clap!). For the next several (clap!) years, The Gong Show became (cl-- fooled ya!) what Chuck called in (clap!) his book, his "nervous breakdown on national TV."

I have a copy of one of the unaired Barbour Gong episodes, and yes - it's that bad. You know the whole routine when one of the celebrities pulls a J. Arthur Rank on the gong behind 'em. Chuck acts all indignant, saying "Jaye P. Morgan! Why did you gong that organ grinding act?", setting them up to retort with a one-liner, i.e. "Because he played with his monkey one time too many."

Not Barbour. His reaction to acts being gonged was along the lines of "Why did you do that? That was a rude thing to do, that act rehearsed and practiced for hours for their shot at fame, and this is the thanks they get? How dare you??!!"

I hate that a clip hasn't found its way to YouTube yet. Maybe I'll have to be the one to do it.

So there you go. The Five worst in my dog-ear'ed, moth-eaten pages.

Ciao for niao, and stay tuned for Tattletales, next over most of these CBS stations!

--Talmadge "No Rice-A-Roni for the losers -- give 'em a box of Ramen noodles!" Gleck

26 May 2007

You mean they actually use COW meat?

A lot of the recent Jack-in-the-Box commercials are on YouTube .... go there, plug in the name, and have at it.

One of the newer spots, in particular, has generated a bit of controversy. It's the one for JITB's new "sirloin burger", and the jokes they make about "angus" are priceless.

So 'priceless', in fact, that Hardee's and Carl's Junior (same company - same stupid "star" logo) have SUED Jack-in-the-Box, because ... get this ... those commercials imply their "Thickburgers" are made from a cow's anus.

Anybody with more than a few brain cells (read: anyone who wasn't born from inbreeding parents) knows that Angus is a breed of cow, not a cut of meat! What's more, Hardee's and Carl's Junior are not named. Burger King and Krystal, among others, also serve angus beef.

Talk about frivolous lawsuits........

Ciao for niao.

--Talmadge "Angus-retentive" Gleck

Come to think of it, I could go for a milkshake

I don't know why, but what the cheerleader does at the end of this commercial made me laugh so hard I was literally out of breath.

Ciao for niao.

--Talmadge "Leave." Gleck

25 May 2007

Wanna trade your MP3 player for one of these?

Seraphim, don't you think this would make a lively entertainment companion as you decorate cakes?

Found this on a site called shorpy.com. It also may be found on checkthecoolwax.com, as well.

Be careful, "Mrs. Audiophile"; you don't want to bump any of those vacuum tubes too hard, especially in that kitchen.

I love this picture. And names like Webcor and "Duette" just make my heart go a-flutter.....

"A novel idea for the audiophile who likes his music wherever he is. A household teacart can be used as a mobile carrier for any combination of audio gear." December 1954. View full size. Ektachrome by Ken Schmid Studio.

Components: Regency HF-150 high fidelity amplifier, Webcor "Diskchanger," Jensen "Duette" reproducer.

More from the original press release from Regency Inc.: "Most homemakers are used to wheeling their cleaning equipment with them from room to room -- why not do the same for the entertainment unit that helps to lighten her tasks as much as her vacuum cleaner or her floor waxer? Pictured are the essential ingredients for a simple portable hi-fi system that can be moved from room to room with ease. The idea is of interest to the audio dealer as an unusual and salable merchandising gimmick and to the audiophile as a convenient method of mounting standard components to provide portability to his hi-fi system. Before our eagle-eyed reader-technicians swamp us with letters pointing out the missing interconnections, may we say that Mrs. Audiophile has just been surprised with this exciting Christmas present from Hubby and he refuses to hook it up until he gets outside of his turkey dinner."

24 May 2007

M.C. = Men of Class

Back to game shows for a minute. Or two. Or even 29 minutes (with commercials).

Over supper at Zaxby's the other night, Seraphim and I were discussing game show hosts. The whole Bob Barker thing got us thinking about the worst hosts of all time .... but from there we went to an easier list to compile: the best.

Now you know those MCs on the bottom will be featured. You can count on that. For now, though, let's run down the Talmadge Top Ten Television Tournament Toastmaster Toteboard.

And now on with the countdown! [jingle: "Talmadge Coast to Coooooooast!"]

10) PETER TOMARKEN. One of the later school of hosts, his most famous show was my favorite one in the 1980s: Press Your Luck. Great voice, great personality and a sharp wit. Goodness knows, he needed it during that whole Michael Larsen debacle! His reactions as Larsen - who had the board pattern memorized - kept racking up "Big Bucks" without hitting any "Whammies" were beyond priceless. ("A trip to the Bahamas? With your money, you could BUY the Bahamas!")

Sadly, we lost Tomarken way too early. Died in a plane crash in 2006.

9) JOE GARAGIOLA. He was best-remembered as a sports commentator for NBC, and one of the most engaging baseball play-by-play announcers. Garagiola grew up in St. Louis, Missouri just down the street from another baseball icon, Yogi Berra. Ironically, scouts saw Joe G. as the more promising of the ballplayers .... but, after being signed to the St. Louis Cardinals, he wiped out; we all know what became of that Berra guy. Garagiola, to his credit, was always full of self-deprecating wit, poking fun at his own lackluster record. But "lackuster" did not describe his talents as a sportcaster, a radio personality .... and game show emcee. Several programs over which he presided were the original (1969-73) Sale of the Century, part of the '70s revival of To Tell the Truth, and had a stint as host of a 1969 game show called He Said, She Said (the early incarnation of what would become Tattletales). Joe G. was also one of a number of personalities who spent time hosting part of the long-form NBC radio program Monitor. It's hard to find 'em more gentlemanly than Joe Garagiola.

8) BUD COLLYER. One of an elite group of on-air personalities who wore bow ties, Collyer was all over television in the 1950s as host of Beat the Clock and later the original run of To Tell the Truth (1956-68). Before TV he was the voice of Superman on the '40s radio serials. Collyer parting words to every contestant was the phrase "God bless you." And for some reason, it sounds comforting ..... because he never beat his viewers or contestants over the head with religion; the line came from the heart (he was very active in his church as a Sunday school teacher). One need only watch the old kinescopes, and see him in action ... Collyer was a good and down-to-earth host. Another true gentleman.

7) RAY COMBS. A real tragedy. I don't give a hovering f(BLEEP)k what anyone thinks, the man was the best of all the Family Feud hosts. Yes, better than His Smoochy-ness, too. When Mark Goodson died in 1992 and left the company in the hands of his son Jonathan, it spelled the end of Ray's tenure on "The 'Feud." Jonathan replaced him with his predecessor, bringing back Mr. Ego, Richard "Kiss Me, I Have Herpes" Dawson. The show flopped. As well it should have.

Ray was a good, lively and fun person to watch host a game show. He had a great wit, and -- like Bud Collyer -- a very decent man without wearing it on his sleeve. Sadly, Combs took the fall from grandeur very hard. He ended up hosting Family Challenge, a short-lived 'stunt' program on The Family Channel (back when Pat Robertson still had it). Watching him host it is a memory I truly wish I could surgically remove from my brain. It was profoundly sad -- it was written all over his face: "It's come down to this??"

He'd kill himself soon thereafter. If you ask me, Jonathan Goodson has some of Ray's blood on his hands.

6) ALLEN LUDDEN. Mr. Password. But, unlike certain men (rhymes with "Bob Barker"), Ludden respected the franchise. And, when he was getting too ill to continue hosting, he called on his good friend Tom Kennedy to take the reins. A personality in the same vein as Bud Collyer, his type we'll never see again anytime soon. (by the way, his opening words - "Hi, Doll!" - were intended for Betty White's mother, his MIL)

5) WINK MARTINDALE. You've probably noticed a theme ... or, more accurately, the lack of one. The names you see here certainly don't fit into the stereotypical toothy, slick, smooth and smarmy GAME SHOW HOST (beautifully nailed by the late Jim Henson, with his Muppet creation "Guy Smiley"). Okay, Martindale at times has a tendency to come close. But when I think of his hard work over the last 15+ years as an ambassador and advocate for the TV game show, I quickly excuse any (tiny) shortcomings. Besides, he relates in a genuine way toward contestants.

Wink is a true Southerner, too! A native of west Tennessee who cut his teeth in Memphis, as the first morning drive jock on legendary station WHBQ when it began doing top-40 the late 1950s. A cool historical tidbit: 'The Winker' happened to be standing in the control room talking to night jock Dewey Phillips when he was delivered a newly-pressed recording from a guy named Elvis Presley - "That's All Right Mama."

Wink, of course, was best-remembered for hosting Gambit on CBS in the early '70s and Tic Tac Dough from 1978-1985.

4) GENE RAYBURN. Who else could handle a studio crammed full of six other celebrity egos, and make it hum like a fine timepiece? He did The Match Game for NBC from 1962-69, and the CBS revival -- the one most of us remember -- from 1973-82. Rayburn was a master at riding the edge of the envelope, knowing just how far to push it without going over the cliff. Oh, and he also hosted Monitor on NBC radio. Did so for more than 10 years, perhaps the most fondly-remembered personality on that program, holding down the Saturday morning shift -- Monitor's highest-rated timeslot. He was every bit as good a radio announcer as he was a TV host.

3) TOM KENNEDY. Best-remembered for the 1960s word game You Don't Say! ("It's not what you say that counts, it's what You Don't Say!") and the warp-speed Q&A game Split Second (1972-75). Kennedy was one of a small group of prolific game show hosts, who also did the 1980s nighttime Price is Right, Name That Tune in the '70s, the short-lived but cool game show Whew! (1979-80; "Tiiiiiiiiiime's uhhhhh-uuuup!").

One more person who loved the games he presided over, as well as the contestants. And it showed. Tom was a gentleman and a scholar, what more can I say?

Tom's brother was also a game show host. Remember Jack Narz?

2) ART FLEMING. Mr. Cordiality. Mr. Conviviality. Mr. Jeopardy! He hosted the original version on NBC from 1964-75. Also did the brief revival of the show in 1978-79. Anything else? Oh yeah - made two unforgettable cameos when he reprised his role as Jeopardy! emcee: 1) the 1982 movie Airplane II, and the 1983 Weird Al Yankovic video for "I Lost on Jeopardy" - a parody of the Greg Kihn hit song "Jeopardy" (unrelated to the game show). He also acted, was a radio talk show host, and - along with several other NBC game hosts - had a stint hosting Monitor.

Both cameos were made before the start of the Jeopardy! we know today, which debuted in September 1984 with Alex Trebek as host. Alex is okay, I guess, and even though he's presided over the show for twice as long as Art had it, he'll never come close to the sincerity and cordial personality of Art Fleming. You know how pompous Trebek can be ... Fleming didn't have a single bone of pomposity in his 6-foot-4 body.

What I wouldn't give to have been born with a voice like Fleming's. Authoritative, yet warm. There was a real chemistry between Art and announcer Don Pardo, and he'd sometimes drop in gentle barbs toward Pardo in the middle of frenzied Jeopardy! gameplay. And his commercial break intros were legendary: "Please watch ... thank you!"

Aaaaaand the number one game show host of all time. I don't think you even have to guess on this one, as it's clear as his sight was with his trademark glasses:

From shows like Eye Guess to Three on a Match to being ... pay attention, gang ... the original host of The Price Is Right (1956-1965), Cullen was - perhaps - the perfect game show host. His easygoing manner, wry humor and genuine personality made him a hit. His version of TPIR in the '50s and '60s was one of the top-rated games on television, and his style of hosting was widely viewed as a big reason. Yet, unlike OTHER Price emcees, it never went to his head. What's more, Cullen was also a likable radio personality. In the early '70s, he hosted segments of ... you guessed it! ... Monitor.

It's funny -- he's hosted many, many game shows over the years. Some time back, I'd gotten a batch of vintage, short-lived game shows in a video trade -- one of which had Cullen as host. Seraphim was watching 'em with me, and she asked, "So how many shows DID Bill Cullen host?" My response: "It would be quicker to tell you the shows he didn't host."

A couple of questions I'd like to ask God as soon as I have an audience with Him: Why did you give Bill Cullen polio when he was young? And why did you take Cullen away from us and leave us Bob Barker? What if The Price is Right were celebrating 35 years on CBS with Cullen continuing to host (with his pronounced limp, he never could've done the modern version of the show). Could you have imagined Bill Cullen trying to seduce one of his models? Would Bill Cullen have used his program as a platform for his personal views ("Help control the game show population ... spay or neuter your egotistical host.")?

And there you have it. Out of the above, only three are still alive as of this writing (Garagiola, Martindale, Kennedy). I salute all of you, departed or living. Thank you for giving one person a lot of joy in the midst of a far-from-perfect childhood.

This is Talmadge Gleck saying "Help control the daytime trash population. Spay or neuter all the TV courtroom judges and talk show hosts."

Ciao for niao.

23 May 2007

Should a license be required to have a dog?

Right now, I'm just about convinced of it.

On the way home this afternoon, we stopped at our Kroger for Seraphim to pick up some cake supplies, and such. I didn't feel like going in, so I stayed out in the car. The weather outside was beautiful -- nice and breezy, upper 70s -- so I kicked the seat back and copped a parking lot power nap.

Okay, I didn't nap so much as I nodded off here and there. I noticed a small SUV pull up beside me, which had two young women in it, the passenger holding a small chihuahua. I smiled at the dog as (she - we'll just assume) looked toward me. I nodded for another minute or two and then looked back toward the SUV. Nobody was in there, and all the windows were rolled up. Then I saw the little dog poke her head above the window level.

As I said, the weather was beautiful. Certainly not the depth of Summer. However, as I could attest, it was hot inside our car. It was breezy and comfy outside, but there wasn't a cloud in the sky, and the 630 PM sun was beating down on the wilds of Rincon.

I was getting hot, so I can only imagine how that dog was feeling next door. But at least I, as a human-esque lifeform, could crank the engine and start the A/C if I felt too stifled inside. Or rolled down the window. Can a dog do that?

I don't know how long they were in there, and I can only hope their grocery list was a short one. Seraphim got back outside very soon afterward and we left. I almost called Kroger to see if those two flighty twats could be paged on the PA: "To the two women in the Ford SUV, your dog is DYING."

Seraphim and I both said prayers for that sweet little chihuahua, hoping she didn't suffer too long, that her (undeserving) owners came back quickly.

Sorry, but that's Pet Rule Number One: no matter how long we're going inside, we always crack the windows so Puddy can get some fresh circulated air. It might be "just for a minute", but sometimes events inside beyond our control (e.g., bottleneck at the express lane) can keep us detained for longer than planned. We always find a shady spot. And better yet, if possible -- especially during the Summer -- we plan our errands to where we don't have to take her in the car at all.

Alas, not everybody subscribes to Pet Rule Number One. Dogs give us unconditional love. But sometimes I feel we, as a species, are not deserving of it.

Ciao for niao.

--Talmadge "Yo Quiero Greenhouse Effect" Gleck

22 May 2007

Losing horns for the Barker special

Bob Barker has just died. While standing in line at the Pearly Gates to be processed and admitted, a bespectacled guy comes toward him. A very congenial gentleman with a great, mellifluous voice. "Mr. Barker? You might remember me. I'm Bill Cullen, and what's this I hear about your claim that YOU were The Price is Right? Boy, I was hosting that show back when you were shining Mark Goodson's boots and kissing Ralph Edwards' ass to get your foot into the door of Truth Or Consequences! It's time you met my pals Jack Barry, Gene Rayburn and Allen Ludden. We're gonna spend the next 3,000 years teaching you a little humility." Meanwhile, Barker has moved to the front of the line. St. Peter has processed his application, given him his wings, harp and halo ... along with his assignment: To model fur coats for the Heavenly Ladies' Club. "Go see Mr. Cullen for your schedule."

I guess it was bound to happen sooner or later.

Not that Bob Barker is stepping down as host of The Price is Right. What I'm talking about is the chutzpah of hosting your own tribute special!

I should've known the moment I heard the words "....celebrating MY 50 years on television!", that I was about to watch what was easily the most conceited hour of TV I've ever seen.

Ever since Mark Goodson died, Bob Barker's ego has grown - completely unchecked - into a monstrosity that leaves Richard Dawson scratching his head and going, "Damn....."

Did Bob Barker pay homage to the other members of the team who have made Price the legendary game show franchise it's been since 1972? (Earth to Bob: TV productions are rarely about just one person) The announcers? Yeah, announcers are an integral part of such programs; just ask Johnny Carson! And the models? Oh yeah, Holly - due to side-effects from a prescription drug - gained 14 pounds. Horrors. Dump that fat-ass two hours ago.

And it all unraveled from there (I miss Holly Hallstrom. She was my favorite of the original "Barker's Beauties", but I digress). I won't go into all the model-purges. Frankly I don't want to get started.

And did Bob Barker have at least a shred of humility and thank some people around him who help make the show possible? Nope. It was all about BOB BARKER. Now I'll freely admit he is one of the most iconic television personalities in the medium's history. Barker was, and is, a classic. But so was Bill Cullen ... Jack Benny ... Johnny Carson .... the list goes on. Those performers had a sense of modesty about them. Bob does not. He may be a classic, but he's not the Game Show God.

The offstage Bob Barker appears to be an extremely vain, vindictive, self-centered, egotistical and condescending prima donna who ruled that show with an iron fist. Sorry if I see through all the adoration from his worshiping public; I just don't like big egos. Especially big egos who host their own tributes. That's tacky, you know?

And why didn't he have the common decency to groom a successor to the program?

The sad thing is, Bob Barker clearly wants The Price is Right to nosedive itself into a wipeout after he leaves. And - with the aid and comfort of the sheep who will not open their minds to anyone else on the stage of Studio 33 - that'll be a strong possibility.

Bob Barker will soon meet his Maker. And he'd better steer clear of that guy named Cullen.

Ciao for niao.

--Talmadge "Whatever happened to Zinman Furs of Camden, New Jersey, anyway?" Gleck

20 May 2007

More classics from the past...

Another little gem from this old CD:


13) La Travolta
12) The Pirates of My Pants
11) The Oozing Dutchman
10) Gallagher's Watermelon Lake
9) Il Deliveranze
[starring Ned Beatty as baritone in Act I, soprano in Act II]
8) The Barbara of Mandrell
7) Carmen II: Revenge of the Bull
6) Deflated Mouse: Tragedy at the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade
5) Cats II: The Spaying
4) Don Giuliani
3) Gotterdammerongnumber
2) How Othello Got His Groove Back

and the Number 1 Worst Opera...

1) Porky & B-b-b-b-bess

February 2000: Casey at the bat

Back in the late '90s until leaving there in 2000, I wrote a weekly newspaper column about music, radio and whatever back in Troy, Alabama.

After going through some old files on a CD dating back to that time, I found this. It was a column I intended to run, but for whatever reason(s) I went with something else. Suffice it to say I was "in a mood"..............



This is about love, comittment and pneumatic attraction. It's from a guy out on Pocosin Road, and here's what he writes:

Dear Talmadge: I am writing to you with deflated sadness and I feel as if all the air has been let out of my soul.

You see, I'm not a very social guy, and never dated much while in high school or college. People would make fun of me, calling me "Mr. Alone All The Time Cannot Get A Date To Save His Life So We're Going To Laugh At Him."

But deep inside, I dreamed of companionship. That special someone who would complete my life. I tried putting a personal ad in the Citizen, "Single Unsocial Recluse Outcast Male Seeks Woman To Have A Happy And Prosperous Life With." Unfortunately, as fate would have it, the ad ran next to Talmadge Gleck's "Disc-Claimer" column, and never got read.

Then one day, my life changed. I was checking the mail, and amidst all the pre-approved MasterCard applications and Have-You-Seen-This-Missing-Person postcards with pizza coupons on the other side, there was an unmarked package. I opened it, and found an inflatable life-sized female doll. At first I was hurt and angered over this cruel joke. Someone HAD seen that ad in the Citizen, I thought.

But I dug out my old bicycle pump and I gave this woman her life. And she gave me mine. I named her Ariel. But to me she was just "my sweet Air" Ariel and I did everything together. We took rides around the countryside, just my Ariel and me in my ‘91 Ford Tempo. It got to where Ariel was a big help flagging down tow trucks when the car broke down (an almost daily occurrence).

We first declared our love for one another on a picnic table down by the lagoon behind TSU. Well, actually she didn't say anything -- my Ariel was not much with words -- but her air valve popped out. For me, that was all I needed to know. She loved me just as I loved her.

All Summer, it was my Ariel and me. Two soulmates who had the world on a string ... and I was carrying the balloon.

Then, tragedy struck. Ariel and I had an argument ... I caught her one night trying to slip out the back door. I asked her why, but she just clammed up and wouldn't speak. Not a single word. Then, in a fit of rage, I plunged a bacon fork into her arm. At first, I figured I could patch things up with Ariel and, with a little more air and TLC, she would forgive me.

But it didn't work. Before I was able to reach for the duct tape, my Ariel zoomed out of my arms with the force of the expelled air. I tried reaching for her, but she got tangled up in the ceiling fan in the den. My Ariel ended up in about 238 pieces on my den's floor, right in the front of the TV.

I was stupid, I was a fool, and now I'm lost without my Ariel. I could get another one, but it would not be the same. She was literally the air that I breathed.

So, Tal, would you please play "Imaginary Lover" ... and dedicate it to Ariel, who has gone to that great air compressor in the sky. It was our song, and it will remind me of the great times we had.


Poindexter ... here is your longshot dedication!


18 May 2007

May 1975: The games people played

After my recent nod to The Price is Right, I began reminiscing about all the game shows which used to surround it on the daytime schedule.

If you've wasted your valuable time perusing all the crap I've written in this space, you know that I've always had a soft spot in my heart for the TV game show.

I got to thinking a bit, which as my wife will tell you is a dangerous thing and must be kept to a minimum. Anyway, my thoughts were drawn to 1975, the year agreed to by many fans of this genre as being the best year for game shows. There were more games on the daytime schedules of the big three networks than at any time before or since. And this was probably the only point where at least one of the networks was running a game show in every timeslot.

Let's go back to May 1975 and review what we had to watch on TV when we were out sick from school .... or, if you were a happy Suzy Homemaker, what you watched while cleaning the tops of the curtain rods in your nicest chiffon dress, waiting for the milkman to come over so you and he could Pasteurize some passion in the bedroom..............

All times will be in Eastern, although it looks funny to me seeing at it that way; all my growing up years were spent in the Central time zone, so I've always been used to the daytime schedule running from 9:00 a.m. through 3:30 p.m.

But since most of this small group is on Eastern time, that's how I'm gonna list it. The titles in red are the shows I watched.

Whooooookay, May 1975. Turn on that Zenith Chromacolor console TV and listen to the CLUNK-CLUNK-CLUNK of the channel selector as you go between ABC, CBS and NBC........

10:00 a.m.
ABC: [local programming]

ABC always began their daytime programming later than CBS or NBC. Typically ABC's day began at 11:00, but there were times they didn't program until 11:30. 1975 was one such time.
CBS: The Joker's Wild
One of the three game shows which debuted on the same day (09/04/1972), marking the network's reentry into game shows after many years of shying away from them. TJW was hosted by Jack Barry (he of Twenty-One fame), and was always a favorite of mine. Two contestants took turns pulling the lever of a giant onstage slot machine filled with category cards and "Jokers" which were wild and could be used for any category. One card = question was worth $50, Pair = $100, Triple = $200. Three jokers meant an automatic win.
JACK) "Jokerrrrr .... JOKErrrrr!!!!!!! ..... Famous Landmarks."
CONTESTANT) "I'll go off the board and take Stupid Blogs for $100, Jack."
Endgame was fun -- slot was filled with dollar amounts ($50, $100, $150, $200) and a couple of "devils." Object: accumulate $1000 without hitting a devil, which meant you lost. TJW's "Devil" was the "Whammy" of its day.
NBC: Celebrity Sweepstakes
It was the beginning of the end for NBC. Throughout the '60s and into the '70s they had a winning daytime schedule. Programs like Concentration, Hollywood Squares, Who What or Where, and the original Jeopardy! were unbeatable winners. But after much tinkering with the schedule, they emerged with programs like this. It was an attempt to cobble together a group of celebrities - trying to capture that Match Game '7x magic - and in this case put them into a horse track motif. Contestants wagered money on whether they felt a given celeb would answer a question. Each were assigned 'odds' by the studio audience and players were paid according to those odds.
This show didn't exactly hit a ratings trifecta. It lasted a year or two before being sent to the glue factory.

10:30 a.m.
CBS: Gambit

Two husband and wife teams competed in a game of blackjack with giant cards dealt by a model named Elaine Stewart (who would go on to marry co-producer Merrill Heatter). It was hosted by Wink Martindale. Along with Joker's Wild and The Price is Right, it was 1/3 of CBS' reentry into game shows in 1972. Gambit, as with most other Heatter-Quigley game shows, was announced with booming authority by Kenny "SECRET SQUARRRRE!" Williams.
NBC: Wheel of Fortune
Chuck Woolery was the original host, and the hostess/"letter-turner" was Susan Stafford. And, years later, I still think they both eclipse Pat and Vanna. WOF began in January 1975, replacing another Merv Griffin game, the original Jeopardy! hosted by Art Fleming.

11:00 a.m.

CBS: Now You See It
What had to be one of the coolest themes ever for a game show: "Chump Change" by Quincy Jones. This game was a variation on the time-honored word-search puzzle. Very modernistic neon-dominated set. "Now you see it .... and now you don't!"
NBC: High Rollers
The middle of three Heatter-Quigley game shows on the air in '75, it was the first major game hosted by Alex Trebek, complete with curly-Q hair and a bushy mustache. Actress Ruta Lee rolled the dice for the players. One of two programs on the schedule featuring giant dice. The numbers 1-9 are displayed on a giant board. Object is to roll the dice and try to knock the numbers off the board. If you can't make a mathematical combination (i.e. too many numbers off the board), you lose. Endgame was called "The Big Numbers." Self-explanatory.

11:30 a.m.
ABC: Blankety Blanks
Short-lived dud hosted by Bill Cullen. Never got to watch it when it was on because the ABC station we received in Tupelo preempted it for its "Dialing For Dollars" movie.
CBS: Love of Life
Turn on the bubble machine! CBS began the soaps first, and their lineup was a force to be reckoned with. Love of Life ran from 1951 through 1980.
NBC: Hollywood Squares
There's nothing like the original! Peter Marshall as host, Paul Lynde in the center square, and the inimitable voice of Kenny Williams. NBC debuted HS in 1966, and it put Merrill Heatter and Bob Quigley on the map.

12:00 noon
ABC: Password
It wasn't the best version out there. Allen Ludden looked positively befuddled up there as ABC kept monkeying with the format, adding new rules, taking away from what made the show great in the first place. Again, the original (CBS, 1961-67) rules, with the '80s NBC reincarnations holding their own, but the 1971-75 ABC run left much to be desired.
CBS: The Young and the Restless
On the air since 1973, and would expand to its present hour-long format in June 1981.
NBC: Jackpot!
One of the more interesting games on the schedule ... Geoff Edwards hosted, and it was a team game with lots of corny riddles. Most notorious moment was the riddle "First you make the sale, then you open my drawers, what am I?" The immortal response given: "A prostitute." (correct answer: a cash register.)

12:30 p.m.
ABC: Split Second
I loved this one! From the people who brought us Let's Make a Deal (Stefan Hatos & Monty Hall) came the most rapid-fire Q&A game show in the history of the genre. Nobody could host it like Tom Kennedy did. The bonus endgame was what I lived for. Five (5) cars sat behind the main set partition, and the winner of the day's game got to choose one, get in and then try and start it. Four had their starter cables disconnected, so if the car turned over, he won it. If not, he returned to compete again. If he won a second game, he'd choose from 4, and so on .... if still around and (s)he won game #5, they won the one remaining car by default.
CBS: Search For Tomorrow
Personally, I'm still looking. Have yet to find it.
NBC: Blank Check
Art James, one of the great MCs, presided over a game show I didn't really pay much attention to (I was too busy watching Split Second!). It was a very convoluted game, let's just leave it at that.

1:00 p.m.
ABC: All My Children
A part of ABC's schedule since January 5, 1970. Expanded to 60 minutes in April 1977.
CBS/NBC: [local programming]
One thing I've never understood is how the local gap in the daytime schedule (ABC had none) reflected 12:00 noon in the CENTRAL time zone, not Eastern! Many stations in the east preempted the 12:00 noon offering instead -- most tape-delayed that show to the 1:00 slot, but some just gave themselves another local slot to program.

1:30 p.m.
ABC: Let's Make a Deal
Dress up like a chicken and look like a total idiot on national television. Now, do you want to keep this can of B&M Baked Beans, or trade it for what's behind the box where Carol Merrill is standing? It was a classic, and Jay Stewart's versatility, Monty Hall's personality, and the cool loungey music from Ivan Ditmars' live ensemble truly made the show.
CBS: As the World Turns
My friend Birdman is a longtime devoted fan of this one. Debuting in 1956, it was the first 30-minute soap (to that time, all the other soap operas were 15 minutes). Went to one hour at the end of 1975. My mother always enjoyed this ... this is where she'd sit down to watch her "dramas." She was always into the Proctor & Gamble soaps, go figure.
NBC: Days of Our Lives
The sands through the hourglass first began pouring in 1965, and less than a month earlier, NBC expanded Days to become to second one-hour soap on TV. My MIL has been a fan since day one. Of course, in 1975 you didn't have exotic islands, dying characters due to budget cuts, or bizarre, out-there storylines either. Dr. Horton dispensed wisdom with his medicine, and Miz Alice always had fresh doughnuts ready.

2:00 p.m.
ABC: The $10,000 Pyramid
A year later inflation would catch up and it would become The $20,000 Pyramid. A fun game show and a durable concept. With OR without William Shatner.
CBS: The Guiding Light
The oldest soap opera in the history of the world. Debuted on radio in 1937. 15 minutes on TV until 1968, then 30 minutes until November '77 when it doubled to 60. Another P&G phosphate drama. 1975 was also the year GL debuted "Ritournelle" as its theme, perhaps one of the most beautiful melodies ever written.

2:30 p.m.

ABC: The Big Showdown
Like Split Second, a fast-paced Q&A show with a cool endgame: The winner rolled a giant set of dice (larger than those on High Rollers) -- the 6s were replaced: one die read "SHOW" and the other one had "DOWN." Roll the dice once - if "SHOW" and "DOWN" come up, you won $10k. Otherwise, you had 30 seconds to roll as many times as you could - if S/D came up it was worth $5,000. And whatever number you rolled that first turn earned you an extra five seconds each time it came up again on the dice.
CBS: The Edge of Night
It was no coincidence that the skyline shown in the opening sequence was that of Cincinnati, Ohio. Edge was a Proctor & Gamble production, and P&G was headquartered in ... guess where! NBC: The Doctors
It was no accident that makers of detergent had a hand in the production of these daytime dramas. They were called "soap operas" for a reason. This ran from 1963-1982 on NBC, and was owned/sponsored by Colgate-Palmolive.

3:00 p.m.
ABC: General Hospital
Did you know this was the first ever soap on ABC? It made its debut April 1, 1963. It would expand to 45 minutes a year later and then to a full hour in January 1978.
CBS: The Price is Right
Yes, you read right. For a couple of years, TPIR had an afternoon slot. It was still in a 30-minute format in May of '75 -- it wouldn't become a one-hour game show until November 1975 (at which time the famous "Showcase Showdown" wheel made its bow). Before then, there was no showdown round; simply, the top two winners of three appeared on the Showcase.
NBC: Another World
Mom switched to NBC just one time. This was the only non-CBS soap she watched. AW was the first ever one-hour soap (January 6, 1975 in case you're curious), and both it and Somerset were the only P&G soaps not on CBS. What I remember most about it was Bill Wolff -- one of the most gentle, yet authoritative, elegant and classy announcing voices I've ever heard. Each commercial was preceded by Wolff saying "We'll return to our story in just a moment....."

3:30 p.m.
ABC: One Life to Live
Debuted in 1968 ... followed General Hospital in the moves to 45, then 60 minutes.
CBS: Match Game '75
"Get ready to match the STARS!" Lightning in a bottle. A one-of-a-kind phenomenon. Six (6) celebrity egos and a host like Gene Rayburn. The double entendres were the stuff of legend. Why did CBS allow this stuff to air? Easy: Mark Goodson & Bill Todman said it would, or else they would take both this show -- AND The Price is Right -- back to NBC (which had both shows in the '60s).
I'm afraid we'll never again have such a perfect storm of celebrity chemistry as we saw on Match Game in the 1970s.

4:00 p.m.
ABC: The Money Maze
So ... did it fail because of ratings? Or because it was difficult to share studio space with other shows when the biggest element of your program's set was a 50' by 100' MAZE! One thing which helped me get through the school day was knowing The Money Maze was waiting on TV when I got home. Two married couples competed - the winner of each round got to "go to the maze" ... one stood in "the crows' nest" overlooking the maze and directed their spouse through it to find the lit square to activate in order to win the prize.
The endgame was called "The $10,000 Dash" -- five numbered squares scattered throughout the maze, one "1" and four "0"s. Whichever ones you touched counted toward your total. But if you didn't capture that "1", you pretty much lost.
CBS: Tattletales
Burt Convy hosted what amounted to a bastardization of The Newlywed Game, only played with celebrities.
NBC: Somerset
Spin-off from Another World. Also announced by Bill Wolff. "This is .... Somerset."

And, of course, after the daytime network shows were a plethora of syndicated comedy classics, cartoon shows and you name it.

Y'know, there was more to watch - more variety - back when we had a three-channel lineup, than it is today with hundreds of cable channels.

If you want some 'visuals' and more about the game shows in 1975 -- complete with rules and other information explained far better than I have -- go here:

'Till next time, help control the gene pool population -- spay or neuter the inbreds!

Ciao for niao.

--Talmadge "Chase Sequence Heart" Gleck

17 May 2007

Don't forget to spay and neuter!

This evening, CBS paid tribute to Bob Barker, who is hanging up his long, skinny mic after nearly 35 years of hosting The Price is Right.

And while watching last night's TPIR "Million Dollar Spectacular", I was again reminded of what reality might well face us in the near future: that the new host for Price will be rejected by the viewing public as if it were the wrong kind of transplanted kidney. I hope there is life after Bob on the show, that CBS and Freemantle will make a good decision on Barker's successor (Todd Newton, I feel, could pull it off), and the program remains a fixture of the 11:00 (EST) timeslot. Because if it doesn't work, TPIR will be toast. And that would mean, for the first time in television history, we'll have a daytime schedule without a single game show on it.

I had one of those 'wistful nostalgic' attacks while watching one of the "showcase showdown" segments. The wheel has seen only minor, cosmetic changes in more than 30 years (mainly adding the green color to "5" and "15" bookending the coveted "$1.00" space, when the 'bonus spin' was added. That would've been some time in the '80s, I think). That same wheel I watched being spun in March 1976 when I was laid up for a week with chicken pox and scarlet fever.

You think that's something? Ponder this: That theme you hear day after day at 11:00 in the morning is the same, identical recording produced by Score Productions for the show when it premiered on Labor Day, September 4, 1972. No changes in tempo, no rewrites, no rearrangements. The same recording, played for nearly 35 years.

Here's the opening sequence from Day One:

That voice you heard, of course, was legendary announcer Johnny Olsen. The audience is very sedate. Johnny says "Stand up!", not "COME ON DOWN!!"

Personally I think Bob Barker is an arrogant, egotistical radical ogre who wielded a little too much control over the show. The program -- the SACRED TABLET -- is bigger than who stands on the stage with that '70s style CBS mic. Most of us know the shady circumstances under which some of the so-called "Barker's Beauties" left. Vanna White and her multiple botox'ed face will never hold a candle to Janice, Diane and ..... (sigh) .... Holly.

TPIR is not a show I go out of my way to watch, but I do enjoy it from time to time. More than anything else, I take great comfort in that theme. In that wheel. In some of the basic formatics which have been little-changed since 1972.

I'm more than a little uneasy about what's going to happen after Barker's last show. A part of me fears the great unknown. I don't want to ponder an 11:00 timeslot without The Price is Right.

Most of all, I don't want to ponder a daytime without a single network game show on it.

Ciao for niao.

--Talmadge "Dammit! Why didn't I keep the first showcase? This one's full of FURNITURE!" Gleck

15 May 2007

One more time with feeling:


News release today from the University Communications Office at A-State, a/k/a Talmadge Gleck's alma mater.

It's looking as if the Indians' days may well be numbered. Arkansas State will soon be faced with a new team name, one that's "less offensive." (I blogged about this a couple years back)

How about the Arkansas State Amoebas? That way, nobodys' skin will be bruised and everyone will be happy. (Except, maybe, for a fingernail full of jealous paramecium)

Tonight on SportsCenter, a look at the come-from-behind win of the decade! The Arkansas State Mighty Amoebas, with seconds to go, defeated The Fighting Dustmites of Florida State this afternoon before a lackluster crowd of two dozen.

This means that Indian Mall will have to be changed to a new name. And half the streets on ASU's campus will need to be renamed, as well. What's Jonesboro gonna do? Next thing you know, you'll be able to buy some beer at the grocery store.

Somehow I don't think the Native Americans are the ones whose Fruit of the Looms are in a knot.

In many ways I am a progressive. But I also loathe political correctness, whether it originates from the left or the right.

Hmmm, and while I'm thinking about it, didn't I pass by a school of gamecocks this afternoon, all protesting USC because they're being "demeaned"?

Screw the NCAA and the high horse it rode in on.

Ciao for niao.

--Talmadge "Indian Joe, You're Still Not Forgotten" Gleck

14 May 2007

Trailer, trashed

Priceless roadside capture between Opelika and Phenix City, Alabama:

10 May 2007

Here's to Bolivar, good 'cue and great memories!

Good gawd, look at what I found on YouTube:

Talk about a twisted flashback to days of grape juice* and roses. (* = Jonesboro, a city of 50,000 fine folk, has the honor of being the largest 'dry' city in the U.S.)

But what about that guy on the left -- his face says "Okay, I don't want to be here, but I'll eat this stuff just so you two will leave me the --- HEY! This is good BBQ!!"

Terry Wood at the time was the station's main weather person. I was already gone from there by 1990 (when this spot aired), but this pretty much summed up the overall production values of the city's local TV station, KAIT channel 8 (ABC). And yes, he was as dorky doing the weather as he looks at the beginning of this commercial.

Many in that part of Arkansas and the Missouri bootheel loved him, while at the same time most of us RTV majors regularly made fun of KAIT. Commercials like this are why.

Bolivar, remember channel 8's gawdhorrible spots for Hay's Super Warehouse Foods? The one where Terry dressed up in leotards and, to the theme of Superman, became Super Warehouse Foods Man!

He was making an appearance at the restaurant ..... and I'll bet a dollar to a dozen Front Page Cafe rolls that it was SRO at Couch's that day.

Okay, okay ... "What about the barbecue??!!", I can hear you asking. Couch's is an institution in Jone'burr. Bolivar and I both have a solemn appreciation for its 'cue. It speaks for itself ... truly the best in northeast Arkansas. If not the entire state.

Ciao for niao.

--Talmadge "Good Neighbors You Can Chow Down With" Gleck