Print’s not Dead

But Betty White is. Before she turned 100.


To be fair, People Magazine isn’t the only one left holding the Betty bag. A movie called Betty White: 100 Years Young — A Birthday Celebration was slated to be shown at more than 900 theaters on January 17th (which would have been Betty’s 100th birthday). It was originally going to show live footage of Betty’s actual BD party. In true show biz fashion, the show will go on.

“We will go forward with our plans to show the film on January 17 in hopes our film will provide a way for all who loved her to celebrate her life—and experience what made her such a national treasure.” 

Film producers Steve Boettcher and Mike Trinklein

You can cancel that order for a birthday cake. Especially if Sue Ann Nivens was going to bake it.

Just wiser, that’s all

I don’t have any Ojibwa blood in me, but today I feel a bit Ojibwa…

The Ojibwa people called old people “wisdom keepers.” They are treasures. They’re also the funniest people in the community. Elders have the freedom to tease anybody.

author Louise Erdrich

“Wisdom keepers”…. yeah, that’s the ticket! Not over-the-hill, or outdated, or just an old fart. I’m a “treasure.” And I can tease you all I want.

Very grown-up of me to say that…

The quote above (uh, the Ojibwa one, not the nanny nanny boo boo one) came from the November AARP Bulletin… which showed up in MY mailbox for some inexplicable reason. Oh wait, I know the reason… it’s because I’m OLD full of wisdom!

But that beats the intro from a Golden Palominos song:

Now if only I could find a receptive audience for all the wisdom I’ve accumulated.

Say it ain’t so, Joe

Cincinnati Bengals quarterback Joe Burrow recently gave his city (and mine!) a backhanded compliment, by saying this:

“Fortunately, there’s not a ton to do in Cincinnati. Nobody is going out to clubs and bars and getting COVID every weekend.”

Joe Burrow, Bengals QB (not a member of the tourism board)

As someone who has lived in Cincinnati for 30+ years and loves this city, I’m slightly offended. But as someone who could gladly go the rest of his life without going to a “club,” I’m fine with his comment.

And as someone who doesn’t want to see our fair burg turn into a “destination” city that folks move to in droves, creating traffic headaches, killing the “vibe” and making home ownership unattainable for the “Average Joe” (looking at you, Austin, Texas), I’m secretly thrilled with what Joe Burrow said.

Let’s keep that “sleepy town” perception in the national media.

Cincinnati Convention & Visitors Bureau rep

That way we Cincinnatians can enjoy all the amenities that the area has to offer — the wonderful parks system, a thriving arts scene, the pro sports teams, the great universities (Xavier is at the top of that list, of course), the extensive hike/bike trail system, the scenic rivers, the easy commutes, the unique neighborhoods, the amazing architecture, the affordable homes, the Midwestern friendliness, etc. — without a bunch of turistas getting in our way.

Thanks for keeping Cincinnati off the radar, Joe!

Alive and (not) Kicking

One week ago, Florida State played Florida in their annual college football rivalry game. With a bowl game on the line for the winner, Florida State mounted a 4th quarter comeback and was trailing by just three points, 24-21, with 49 seconds to go. They needed to try an onside kick. Here’s what happened:

Florida State kicker Parker Grothaus nearly whiffed on the ball. Very Charlie Brown. Because the ball didn’t travel 10 yards (heck, it barely traveled 10 inches), Florida took over and ran out the clock.

If anyone feels Parker Grothaus’ pain — other than the Florida State faithful — it’s me. And I’ve got the trophy to prove it.

Return with me now to those thrilling days of yesteryear… the summer of 1972, to be specific. A bright-eyed, bushy-tailed, 8-year-old Dubbatrubba entered the Punt, Pass & Kick competition in Clarksville, Arkansas.

Because 1972 was the first year for the national Punt, Pass & Kick competition, and because Clarksville was (and is) a podunk town, there were only two contestants in my age bracket. Winner moves on to regionals. Gotta like those odds.

True to its name, the competition involved each contestant taking a turn punting the football, then throwing a pass, then kicking. In that order. The attempts were measured by distance, but also had to be in a straight line. For example, if your pass went 25 yards but landed 3 yards away from the tape, you’d get 22 for that attempt. Punt, Pass & Kick yardage was combined. High score wins. Got it? Good.

I went first in each round. My punt went considerably farther than my opponent’s. Ditto for my pass. All that stood between me and gridiron glory was a simple kick. I put the ball on the tee, lined up several yards back, got a running start… and pulled a Parker Grothaus:

There weren’t many “fans” in attendance, mostly just family members and other contestants in the higher age brackets. But as soon as I whiffed, I could hear nothing but laughter.

The loudest laughs were coming from the older brother of my opponent. He happened to be the placekicker for the local high school’s football team. And clearly his younger brother had learned a thing or two from him (nature AND nurture), as he proceeded to kick his football a country mile. Game over.

The only thing that could’ve possibly made it more humiliating would’ve been if Lucy Van Pelt were holding the football for me.

Some wags like to say that “second place is just another name for ‘first loser.'” In this case, that was completely accurate.

I was the walking, talking, non-kicking embodiment of the Ricky Bobby motto:

I still have my trophy. It’s one of the few mementos I have from my Arkansas childhood. As much as I’d love to tell you that I use it to motivate me to try harder and do better in all aspects of my life, that’d be dishonest.

The truth is I probably keep it around because it helps me realize that with time and perspective, even the biggest humiliations aren’t that big of a deal. And because a good story beats a gold trophy every time.

Besides, my opponent probably went up against some freak of nature behemoth like Andy Reid in the regionals.

The Fallon Failing

Jimmy Fallon was on the cover of Parade magazine this past weekend. (Yes, I’m the old guy who still gets a Sunday newspaper… now get off my lawn!)

He’s a funny dude, and quite talented. The Parade article sums up his appeal nicely:

This combination of unfailing humor and heart has endeared Fallon, 47, to millions of fans. More than seven years into his plum Tonight Show job, the SNL alum has made his mark by eschewing smart-alecky barbs in favor of old-school variety-show-style entertainment. “I like that we mix it up so I can go out and sing a song with someone or dance and do sketches,” he says.

from the Parade profile by Mara Reinstein

That said, Jimmy can be… how can I put this gently? He can be a bit too much. “Extra” as the kids say (or used to a couple of months ago – I can’t keep up). This clip is a perfect example of how to NOT be a good host:

Instead of letting Fred Armisen do HIS bit, Jimmy tries to sing along… when he doesn’t even know the bit. And he practically ruins the enjoyment of it for the audience.

It’s not just me saying this – check out the YouTube comments:

It’s your show, Jimmy. Your name is on the marquee. So it doesn’t always have to be about you. It’s perfectly fine to let your guest have a couple of minutes in the spotlight. Follow the Jack Benny rule:

Benny knew he could be funny by following one simple rule: Let others deliver the punchlines. He discovered early that it didn’t matter who got the laughs on The Jack Benny Program as long as people were talking about how funny it was.

From this Oct. 23 Montreal Gazette article

Did Johnny Carson try to work his own punchlines into a Rodney Dangerfield rant? No. He just sat back and let Rodney roll. It’s funnier that way. Be a gracious host, not a grubby one.

A Fascinating Life

While he was still in high school, he was the lead actor on a radio show that aired in Cincinnati and later nationally on NBC. One of his high school friends was crooner Andy Williams.

In college, he was a drum major who gained renown for twirling lighted torches.

He toured the world with the Harlem Globetrotters, and was roommates with Olympic gold medalist Jesse Owens for a few days.

He made and operated puppets on a kids TV show.

He worked in advertising and directed the first TV commercial for the Easy-Bake Oven… and cast his daughter Molly in it.

He borrowed $10,000 from a college fraternity brother to make whiskey-flavored toothpaste, and wound up on “What’s My Line?”

Life magazine sent a photographer to his assembly line, but Poynter didn’t have one. He was mostly a one-man operation. So, he enlisted some friends to play-act in a warehouse with empty boxes in the background because he had nearly sold out of the toothpaste.

Source: this article

He invented dozens of novelty toys, including a Little Black Box – when you turned it on, gears would move inside the box and a hand would emerge to turn it off… this same mechanism was later used to make a hand that grabbed coins, marketed as “Thing” from “The Addams Family” TV show.

He dreamt up dry cleaning bags printed with dresses from Disney Characters so kids could use them as costumes. Walt Disney called it “the best promotion I have ever seen.”

He invented this:

And this:

His toys were featured on The Tonight Show and Late Night with David Letterman.

“Almost everything I’ve ever done is either making someone laugh or giving them pleasure, and if I didn’t, I’d be out of business.”

Don Poynter, in a 2015 interview.

Don Poynter passed away in August of this year, at the age of 96. He said “I’ve had a fascinating life” and he wasn’t kidding.

You can read more about Poynter and his inventions in this article and two Cincinnati Magazine articles, here and here.

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