Saturday, April 21, 2012

My Tribute To Dick Clark

During a period of my life, I would spend much of my day watching game shows on the Game Show Network. I've been a game show enthusiast for longer than this, but then I realized that the Game Show Network was beginning to operate on my television. The first game show that caught my attention on this channel was the $100,000 Pyramid hosted by Dick Clark. I found heavy interest in the guessing game element to the show where celebrities would have to describe clues to the contestants and vice-versa. Plus the winner circle opportunity put another good twist to the show. Dick Clark was a natural as a host, as he kept the game under control and at the same time entertained us just as a host should. Then I realized that not only was he the host of the $100,000 Pyramid, but he had created an empire. I learned about Dick Clark's American Bandstand a few months later and watched him host New Year's Rockin' Eve on that given holiday. Goes to show you how accomplished he was. With that being said, his death was clearly shaking to the entertainment empire. A piece of our culture has gone.

Dick Clark began hosting American Bandstand in 1956, becoming the show's third, but most memorable host. During his time, all of the biggest, hottest acts went onto American Bandstand. You name it, chances are they were a part of the experience. The show was primarily focused in Philadelphia before moving to Los Angeles in 1964. It remained here until the show ended in 1989. Another empire of Dick Clark's was his annual New Year's Rockin' Eve shows that would ring in the new year. It began being held in Times Square in 1974, in order to ring in the year of 1975. Originally, the show was hosted by acts such as Three Dog Night and George Carlin before Dick Clark assumed duties himself. It was New Year's Rockin' Eve that created Dick Clark's impression on today's generation.

In December 2004, Dick Clark suffered a stroke that left him unable to host the New Year's Eve celebration. Regis Philbin took over as the host for this gig to ring in 2005. The next year, it was announced that Dick Clark would return to the show. Ryan Seacrest, American Idol's very own, would help Dick Clark out as the host in the crowd as Dick Clark would remain in the booth. Recovering from a stroke, it was evident that Dick Clark was not in the same shape. More evidently was the way he talked, but it was still incredible progress. Dick Clark was continue to ring in the new year until just this previous year. He died from a massive heart attack on Wednesday at the age of 82.

There's a ton to remember Dick Clark by. He was a successful host, an excellent personality, a sharp businessman, and the face of a franchise. As active as he was in front of the camera, he was also active behind it. He created several award programs and also created So You Think You Could Dance. Another thing that really shocked me was his age. He always came off as being incredibly young and it was obvious that he was already young at heart. Learning he was born in the 1920s was an interesting thing I had learned. While there are obvious pointers as to how someone could keep young in show business, there are plenty of people that were eventually caught up by age. Another unforgettable signature for Dick Clark was his salute as he ended programs, especially the Pyramid ones, where he would precede by saying "For now, I'm Dick Clark" and succeed with a so long. 

These are the things I'll remember about Dick Clark. A piece of the world of celebrity personalities has faded, but the legacy will continue to live on. Rest in peace, Dick Clark.

Saturday, April 14, 2012

Book Review: "The Cellar" By Richard Laymon

Richard Laymon's novels are to my reading habits as Burger King is to my dietary habits. While his work may not be appreciated by certain groups of people due to the fact he puts his pedal to the metal and doesn't let go, to me, it makes up a special portion of my reading list and I enjoy what he writes. He mixes blood, gore, shock, sex, drama, character development, setting, plot development, and hard core horror together to come up with a good quality finished product. While he considered himself a crime writer, I would definitely feel that there is a strong portion of horror element to what he writes.

This year, I decided that I would indulge into his Beast House Series and start with the story that started it all, The Cellar. This novel introduced the Beast House and painted the picture to what would eventually build for the remainder of the series. Donna Hayes lives with her daughter, Sandy, in California. When Donna finds out her husband, Roy, has been released from prison after serving his sentence for raping his own daughter, Donna scoops Sandy up and escapes. They head northward toward California and find two guys named Jud (short for Judgment) Rucker and Larry. The two are attracted in some way or another to Donna, and Jud is fortunate enough to take the extra step to expressing his affection. It's then they're introduced to the Beast House.

The Beast House is a tourist attraction in which an elderly woman lost her immediate family to the beast in the cellar. It's extremely scary and heinous, but there's a reason she continues to allow people to tour the residence. That reason is money. While Donna and Sandy enter this horror, Roy is on the hunt, looking for Donna and Sandy. He wants a piece of them; and he'll go through just about anyone to get there. He goes through a neighbor, he goes through Donna's very own sister, and he doesn't mind tagging the neighbor's child with him. He is clearly the human monster in this story, but it's either him or the actual beast that could be deemed the real monster.

I see this novel as a warmer for the remainder of the series. I felt Donna and Sandy were strong enough characters to connect with and Roy was immoral enough to despise. I could easily imagine the struggles of these characters and the monsters that existed, natural or supernatural. I would definitely pick it up at the right price and it would be something that could be made into a film... that is, if people could handle horror to the extremity. Though with the concepts I've seen in film, this should do fine with the right director.

This series has been deemed as a "cult classic," which I could see where the term fits. I have not really been one to become a cultist for any specific series. I find fascination in specific authors and in literature in general. I am definitely an enthusiast for Richard Laymon and his work, and The Cellar, written in 1980, was his debut novel. If you're a horror fiction fan, definitely read this. If you're looking for a read and you're a fan of another genre or just reading in general, it would be up to you to make the call. To me, I was satisfied.

Verdict: 8/10

Shark Tank Season 3, Episode 11

In this episode of Shark Tank, there were no fish that swam successfully among the sharks. Anyone who came out with an idea simply tanked. Sitting among the panel, like during the majority of the season, were Mark Cuban, Daymond John, Kevin O'Leary, Barbara Corcoran, and Robert Herjavec. The four entrepreneur wannabees who entered the tank had one thing in common: they wanted too much money for too little a product and too little an exchange. They went over their heads and they came out gutted and soaked in shark terms.

The first one to enter the tank was a woman named Brenda Coffman, also known as Blondie, who had a brand of cookies and brownies. Her cookies were a hit among the sharks, but she wanted $200,000 for just 3% of the company. While she came off as a sweet woman who made a good impression, she didn't have enough of a business for the sharks to invest in. Like several other people who have entered the tank with their own food brand, she came out without an offer.

Ben Wood was the next person to offer his product to the sharks, a workout product known as Viewsport. Asking for $500,000 for 20% of the company, the product was a workout shirt in which a motivational message would appear when enough sweat was accumulated by the person working out. It took several splashes of water to speed the pace. As the sharks saw, the product was a key subject to being flawed. It could only be inevitable where someone works their tail off and comes out with a message that's too faded to contribute to good sales. It would fall under the class of the Marvin's Magic Drawing Kit, only with clothes. Plus the clothes are prone to wearing out quickly.

The most fascinating character to enter the tank on this episode was a man named Mark Sullivan. Already an inventor of so many other inventions, he wants the sharks to invest in his generator. Asking for $1,000,000 to exchange for 10% of the stake, the generator produces electricity and a waste product of gold. The sharks don't grasp the product and go out, though Robert opted to offer $50,000 if Kevin would offer $950,000. Obviously, that doesn't happen. The way Mark Sullivan presented himself made the whole thing hysterical, but he could be someone who holds a hidden genius. I still was laughing at the concept.

Last season, James Martin came into the shark tank with a brand of wine in which you simply peel off the top. This product was Copa Di Vino and he was asking for $300,000 for 5% of the company. He returns to the tank with a more successful company, but needs to keep up with his demand. Kevin, who was upset with the fact he lost out on his offer of $600,000 for 51% of the patenting last season, made the same offer again. Later, he makes a compromise and lowers his offer to $300,000 for 12%, because he believes that's what the company is worth. When James is told to step out for a moment, he gives Jim Koch, founded a Samuel Adams beer, a call and discusses the game plan. While he's willing to do $300,000 for 8%, Mark, Robert, and Kevin are willing to make an offer of $600,000 for 30% of the company. James arrogantly hesitates by cracking open a glass of wine. Agitated, Mark goes out, Robert goes out, and James leaves the tank with nothing. He mentions that he will not return to the tank. Goes to show you how he is one of the greediest entrepreneurs the tank has to offer, but that's business for you.

Those who entered the tank on this episode were victims of wanting more than they were worth. Everyone who entered the tank wanted at least six figures for a company that wasn't worth six figures, and no one walked out with a deal from the sharks. On the next new episode, that notion may be able to change, and we may get somebody who's able to strike a deal of some sorts with one or more sharks. We'll just have to see who wins the battle of greed.