Thursday, July 11, 2013

As Seen on TV

The Blog is not, generally, disposed to by shit that is advertised on "late night" TV.

Frankly, The PC has always found absolutely everything about infomercials disturbing.

The loud, overly enthusiastic "hosts."

The expert/ inventor/ doctor/ make-up artist, etc. who has leased their name and/or professional reputation to the infomercial company.

*Full Disclosure*

The Blog has several dear friends who are now, or have in the past, put their names and reputations on the line for these late-night hucksters. Past results tend to trend toward the infomercial company fucking over the expert, etc. by the third quarter of their million dollar contract, when the product doesn't catch fire.

*End Disclosure*

The disturbingly overly enthusiastic audience.

(Seriously. Who the fuck gets that excited about a food dehydrator or acne treatment, just so they can be seen in the TV audience? Who are these people?)

And, the just barely "A- List" celebrities, hanging on for dear life to their declining "Q Ratings," who jump on board with testimonials for the products.

Off the top of my head, here, I'm thinking Pamela Anderson, Cher, and Minnie Driver.

*Disclosure #2*

The current infomercial featuring Minnie Driver is promoting a product, that if it works as claimed, is some sort of fucking miracle, and the doctor that has lent his name and reputation to the product is a close friend of The Blog, and had damned well better hand over some free samples. If the product is all that it claims, The PC will be it's #1 cheerleader.

*End Disclosure #2*

But, when did "As Seen on TV" become such a thing?

And why should anyone give a shit that a product is worthwhile just because they have the budget to by air time?

The original seeds were planted back in the late '60s, early '70s, by companies called "Popeil," RonCo," and "K-Tel."

Way back then, the face of the original TV infomercial was Ron Popeil,

Salesman, investor, alleged inventor (although, I have my doubts.)

Son of businessman Samuel or Seymour Popeil, (there is conflicting documentation regarding his name.)

The thing is this...

All three of the above mentioned companies enjoyed a somewhat incestuous relationship.

Sometime in the 1960s the Popeil pere jumped into bed, business-wise, with the Canadian company K-Tel and it's founder Philip Kives to sell kitchen products like the "Slice-O-Matic" and the "Veg-O-Matic." Pre-cursors to modern food processors and the current infomercial throw-back...

                                                                     The Slap Chop.

Eventually, K-Tel moved into the record business, marketing recorded music compilations of all sorts, as well as record sorters and players, to the television viewing public.

*Disclosure #3*

In the late 1970s, The Blog owned a K-Tel Record Selector, a rack that used the "domino theory" to display record albums, one at a time, until his collection of vinyl exceeded it's twelve album capacity. At which time, The Young PC discarded it in favor of an apple crate that he liberated from a dumpster behind his local I.G.A. grocery store.

He also owned the K-Tel record "Goofy Greats" and probably a couple of other "novelty record" compilations, which fueled his future love for the work of novelty D.J. Dr, Demento.

*End Disclosure #3*

The spawn of the elder Popeil...

...Ron Popeil...

...followed in his father's footsteps and branched out with his own company...


Daddy must have been proud!

Ron appeared in most of his own commercials.

Selling, mostly, kitchen utensils and toys.

Every one, "The perfect Christmas gift."

He borrowed phrases from the state and county fair hucksters that came before him.

"How much would you pay?" and "But, wait! There's more!"

Most of his products were named "Mr. Something."

"Mr. Fisherman."

"Mr. Chef."

"Mr. Knife."

"Mr. Dentist."

(Seriously? The Blog is not buying into anything called "Mr. Dentist." The Blog needs his dentists to be called "Dr. Dentist.")

The Blog is reminded of an old George Carlin line...

"If you nail two things together that have never been nailed together before, some schmuck will buy it from you."

And, who of a certain age, can forget Mr. Popeil's greatest innovation?

"Mr. Microphone."

"Hey, good lookin'! I'll come back for you later."

Did this particular pick-up line work for anybody, ever?

The PC doubts it.

But, the man sold a shit load of "Mr. Microphones."

In the 1980s, the infomercial took it to the next level.

Full half hour (and, sometimes even hour long) "paid programming" infested the late-night and, even, weekend daytime, airwaves. And, later, our email inboxes.

Who is to blame?

The PC doesn't know.

It may have been Tae-bo workout guru Billy Blanks, make-up artist Victoria Jackson (not to be confused the with former SNL member and right-wing nutzoid by the same name,) or the noisy Aussie who is no longer with us, (may he rest in peace,) who rammed "Oxi-Clean" down our throats.

The fact is, the infomercial is now a ubiquitous reality in our culture.

We have, at least, two cable networks, "QVC" and "HSN" that depend on "B-List" celebrities like Joan Rivers and "celebrity experts" like former porno make-up artist Alexis Vogel to power their 24 hour programing schedule.

Credit card in hand, the insomniac, late-night viewers buy, buy, buy the crappy jewelry, cosmetics and chtotskies that they sell.

So, what was my point?

*Deep breath*

Oh, right.

It was this...

In the last month or so, The Blog has purchased not one, but two, "As Seen On TV" products.

And The Blog is okay with that.

About a month ago, The PC found the "Topsy-Turvey Tomato Planter" at the "99¢ Only Store."

The Blog loves growing his own tomatoes. But, it's a serious hassle.

Tying up the vines kind of sucks. And, since his local grocery store now carries organic, heirlooms, why bother?

But, for less than a dollar, (if you don't count the $3.00 cost of the plant,) growing an heirloom tomato plant upside down seemed like a worthwhile investment.

The Blog thinks that the fact that a planter that was once priced at $19.99 is now being sold for less than a dollar is not a good sign. But, so far, his tomato plant seems to be thriving. I will let you know if it eventually bares fruit.

The Blog also purchased a "Pocket Hose."

A ten foot hose that expands to fifty feet when the water is turned on.

So far, it seems like a pretty great product.

But, from it's very name to the reality of it's function...

Everything about the "Pocket Hose" feels like a sophomoric sex joke.

Short and wrinkled in it's flaccid state, it grows to five times it's original size.

The Blog could describe what happens when the "Pocket Hose" is "turned on. "

But, that description would read like bad "Mommy Porn."

The "Pocket Hose" is a good, no, great, product.

But, The Blog gets totally weirded out, every time that he uses it.


  1. I enjoyed this post. I also owned one K-Tel record in my life. I was about 5 when I received Dumb Ditties as a gift. This record got much more play time when I was in about 5th or 6th grade and I finally figured out what the song My Ding-A-Ling was about. My friends and I thought it was hysterical.

    And anyone who knows me knows how I feel about most things that are advertised on TV: It's either shit that you don't need, shit you can't afford, shit that doesn't work, and/or shit that's bad for you. I'm usually pretty vocal about it too (don't get me started on pharmaceutical ads or advertising aimed at kids!). So I usually get the hairy eyeball from folks when they find out about my secret As Seen On TV/infomercial problem. Yes, I have a tendency to fall for the cheeziest form of TV advertising, and it started in my teenage years with this:

    The Caruso Molecular Hairsetter.

    Now, back in the late 80s/early 90s, there was no prepaid Visa/MC and I wasn't quite old enough to have a credit card, so in order to get my hands on this hairsetter and finally get those bouncing beautiful spiral curls (lol - did you see video? - they were awful!), it took MONTHS of begging my mother and trying to convince her my life was not complete unless she ordered this product. I finally got it for Christmas. Did it work? Yes. But it only came with about 8 to 10 curlers, and since I had the typical HUGE hair at the time, these were enough curlers for only a small section of hair at a time. This meant begging my mother to order extra curlers, which she never did. What a huge friggin teenage disappointment.

    Over the years since, I've bought tons of ASOTV crap... hating myself a little more after each purchase. Then finally there was a product that was going to change my life! Now, I'm a cat person. I'm not a crazy cat lady since I'm not a lonely shut-in, only have 2 cats (which is far from a collection), and don't stink like cat piss, but I've been told that CCL potential is there. I really don't like most dogs, and obnoxious dogs really irritate me. Anyhow, I thought that Bark Off was going to change my life for the better and finally get the 2 asshole hounds that live behind us and bark CONSTANTLY to shut up. And, yes, I got the 2 (just pay S&H which is a total screwing), figuring that would really get them to shut up. I hope you don't mind that I'm using your blog to finally give a public FU to Bark Off because it DOES NOT WORK! Bark Off didn't even phase them a bit. And while I'm at it, let me give a nice big FU to Furniture Fix which DOES NOT WORK! Holds 2 sumo my ass... all it does is slide around under the cushions. I could go on and on about my ASOTV failures, but I'm already rambling enough.

    And I continue to hate myself because instead of learning a lesson from all of this, the CCL in me needs the Cat's Meow (formerly the Cat Carousel or the other way around) even though I know this thing is most likely a POS and will probably be destroyed within minutes. I haven't ordered it yet... I'm waiting to spot it in the ASOTV section of a local store to avoid the S&H screwing. But I reserve the right to come back here and bitch after I get it and my cats shred it apart - lol

  2. Hi Joe! Nice to have you back!

    Ah, yes. The Caruso.

    Even though I make my living as a make-up artist, I am a licensed cosmetologist, and for the first decade or so of my career, I worked for low end productions that required me to be both make-up artist and hair stylist. That was in the 1980s. And, while I resisted, (as I do to this day,) trendy, gimmicky products, I often found myself having to cater to the whims of impressionable young models and actresses.

    To that end, I was sometimes forced to have items on hand that I could have done my job without. The Caruso was one of them.

    To be fair, I had one or two regular clients with baby fine, stick straight hair, that could only maintain that big '80s hair look for more than an hour or two thanks to The Caruso. But, not only did it not come with enough rollers, dragging that contraption (and a box of salt, remember!) around from location to location was a major pain in the ass.

    It is probably currently collecting dust in my garage along with the crimping irons and deep wave irons that I have long had no use for.

    I have only had dogs for pets, in my lifetime. But, neighborhood cats come running when they see me, knowing that I am good for a belly rub. Those who know me well have sometimes described me as an "animal and baby whisperer."

    But, between you and me, I have the sure-fire solution for your dog problem.

    Over the years I have had neighbors with noisy, often vicious, dogs who growl, bark, scratch and scrape at the fence between our yards. A dog trainer "to the stars" turned me on to the answer.

    Fill a water spritzer with Listerine. When the barking or aggressive dog gets it's nose in range, give it a spritz.

    It is harmless to the dog, but will send it into an epic sneezing fit. Repeat as needed until the dog gets the idea. Once that is done, a spray of Listerine around the perimeter of your yard will serve as a friendly reminder to them.

    I have successfully "trained" neighboring dobermans, rottweilers and pit bulls with that little trick!

    I don't know about the other products, but you are welcome to use my blog any time to sound off about anything that is bugging you!

    To quote my own "About Me" profile...

    "This is a place of spleen venting, kvetching and pontificating. Feel free to join him in the comments section."

    And, who knows? You might supply me with a topic for a future post!