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RIP Quizmaster 72: Ken Ober 1957-2009

Posted by evankessler on November 17, 2009

Li’l Evan Kessler wasn’t like the other kids.  MTV mattered and not much else did.  Sure, I watched shows like Perfect Strangers, Family Ties, and Growing Pains, but between episodes of Pinwheel, You Can’t Do That on Television and network appointment TV, most of that broadcast space was filled in by one channel.  That channel was MTV.  As one of the first kids on my block to have access to Music Television, I was transfixed by the endless stream of videos that would forever retain classic status and satisfy my need for nostalgia nearly 30 years later. From pop music stalwarts like Talking Heads and Madonna to lesser known one hit wonders like Luis Cardenas, I loved it all.

While most of the airtime over the first couple of years on the fledgling, soon-t0-be- iconic pop culture network was reserved for a steady stream of videos, band interviews and bantering VJs; perhaps my favorite half-hour in early days of MTV was the game show known as Remote Control.

Featuring unassuming host Ken Ober, the gruff announcing voice of Brooklyn-native Colin Quinn, comely Kari Wuhrer and budding talents like Adam Sandler and Denis Leary; MTV’s first original non-musical program was reflective of the off-the-cuff attitude embodied by an idea as crazy as “Music Television” was at the time.  Whether contestants were choosing to answer questions from silly categories like “Dead or Canadian”  ( I swear I remember someone answer Canadian for Elvis Presley once) and “Leave Out The Beaver”; listening to character driven soliloquys from Stud Boy or just singing along with Colin; the show reflected the notion MTV was an experiment that didn’t take itself too seriously and was more concerned with celebrating popular culture than being it’s sole arbiter.

Remote Control was a shining example of the MTV I fell in love with.  Between the snack breaks and losing contestants being sent hurtling through the backdrop still attached to their la-z-boy chairs, there was a clumsy charm, a tongue in cheek sense of humor, and ultimately MUSIC VIDEOS!

The people weren’t all pretty, but they were having fun.  I’m not sure when the current, glossy, self-important sheen that’s depicted in shows like “The Hills” took over the network (though my semi-guess is when the sex and immaturity based humor of ‘The Jenny McCarthy Show’ took the place of actual humor produced by “The State”) and maybe with the vain nature of the pop star it was there all along. But for me early MTV’s devil-may-care attitude  never shone as brightly as it did in those 30 minute romps from 1987-1990 hosted by Ken Ober.  Sure there were plenty of great videos that came after and a few great shows as well, but Remote Control might just have been the program that showed me just how fun it could be to watch TV.  So when I heard last night that the host of my favorite late 80’s game show had passed on before his time, I didn’t shed a tear, but I certainly felt like a small part of my childhood had died with him.  Rest in peace Quizmaster 72. You will be missed.

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Palin Bids Alaskan Responsibilities Adieu

Posted by evankessler on July 27, 2009

Fans of the political process from sea to shining sea got a big boost of confidence Sunday when Sarah Palin formally stepped down as Alaska Governor. In traditional gubernatorial fashion, the former head of the Alaskan state, showed she was one of the greats, by accepting no responsibility for any of the misfortune and scandal that befell during her abbreviated reign as its supreme leader– most notably the negative attention she and her family garnered as John McCain‘s running mate in the 2008 Presidential election.

In one of her trademark rambling, incoherent speeches,Palin railed against obvious foes such as “the media” who so infamously engaged in their “gotcha journalism” when Palin repeatedly made it obvious that she knew precious few details about government at the federal level, (and god only knows the state level) while being asked simple questions that most people that might be in the position to run the country should be able to answer.

The media wasn’t the only one to blame for Palin’s more than numerous ethical transgressions and personal embarrassments.  SP also hung the heavy burden of her own failure to not engage in scandalous activity on the dainty shoulders of “Hollywood starlets” who “rail against gun rights.” Palin was most likely referring to Ashley Judd who raised a stink when the knowledge arose that the governor had engaged in the inhumane act of aerial wolf hunting.  The ex-governor cited those with Judd-like characteristics as tools of “anti-hunting, anti-Second Amendment circuses from Hollywood.”  Ironically, if the governor had ever seen any Ashley Judd movie she’d know that 50 percent of them end with Ashley gunning down an ex-husband who wronged her.  She went on to justify her gun happy ways with the new motto for her line of fox jerky snacks, “We eat therefore, we hunt.”

Much to the equal delight and chagrin of her Alaskan constituents, Palin promised to continue “charting a new course to advance this state,” one that can most likely only be carried out only from the backrooms of Wasilla bars by an elite force of Snow Machine racers more powerful in scope than a thousand governors.

In closing, what a long strange trip its been for the people of the Alaska, the United States and this sprightly, yet offensively
conservative point guard from Wasilla.  We’re going to miss all of your antics and your gee whiz, you betcha attitude.  The Joe six-packs and plumbers showing their cracks are going to miss your down home style of politickin’ straight talk.

Sarah Palin you’ve served as a model of ineptitude the likes of which haven’t been seen since Dan Quayle helped out with an elementary school spelling bee. When kids see the former governor of Alaska, they’ll see a role model that says, when the going gets tough and you’re really not qualified to deal with it–step down. It’s been refreshing and nauseating all at the same
time.

While we don’t think this is completely the end of the line for the Palin news cycle, we could all use a rest for a while.  Oh well, we hope to see Mrs. Palin on the Republican ticket in 2012, if just for the wealth of material she’ll provide.

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