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MARINATING

Stupid tricks giving TV viewers to new ‘thrills’

Saturday, November 10, 2012 - 12:01 am

Roughly 30 years ago, David Letterman aired a bit called “Stupid Pet Tricks” on his old NBC show. That segment became such a hit, he later expanded it to include “Stupid Human Tricks.”

Teaching a dog how to jump rope is one thing, but having a man stop an electric fan with his tongue is quite another. Yes, an honest-to-goodness electric table fan ... with three, 8-inch metal blades rotating over 1,000 rpm. Scott Vassil actually did this on Feb. 25, 1987.

Need I point out that Scott was a college student at the time? Sounds as if someone took those Charles Bronson movies to heart.

Jay Leno and “The Tonight Show” are now getting in on the act. Avoiding any “intellectual property” controversy, Mr. Leno calls his section “Does This Thrill Bill?” — the “Bill” being William Shatner.

The name of the skit may have changed, but the premise is the same: A “human” does a “stupid trick.” Only this time, they look for Captain J.T. Kirk, Sgt. T.J. Hooker and Denny Crane's stamp of approval.

Several weeks ago, a contestant tried to impress Mr. Shatner by doing a one-handed push-up. That, in itself, is not a big deal. Heck, 73-year-old Academy Award winner Jack Palance did a series of them on the 1992 Oscar telecast.

In this recent case, however, Mike Koch, another college student (are you detecting a pattern as to which segment of society has a lot of free time on its hands?), not only did some one-handed push-ups, but with his free hand, solved a Rubik's Cube!

Now, I can still do a one-handed push-up (with an elaborate set of ropes and pulleys), and I can decipher a Rubik's Cube (if you give me a few days ... and a cheat sheet). But both at once?

Who thinks of this stuff?

Mike Marin is a cranky curmudgeon who, when he’s not yelling at kids to get off his lawn, likes to complain about the sad state of popular culture, especially as seen through a TV screen. His email address is marinating@tribune.com. This column is the personal opinion of the writer and does not necessarily reflect the views or opinion of The News-Sentinel.