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Johnny LaRue's Crane Shot
Thursday, February 23, 2006
Odds 'N' Ends
For some reason today, I was thinking about THE MONEY MAZE, which is one of those TV shows that nobody would believe ever existed if it weren't for that handful of us who actually saw it. When I was a kid, game shows were huge on daytime TV, and whenever I was home sick from school (in the days before home video, home computers, etc.), I'd spend the day watching them. MONEY MAZE I got to see more often, because it came on late in the afternoon, and it was sometimes still on after I walked home from school.

MONEY MAZE is notable for three things: its unusual concept, its gigantic set, and its host. MONEY MAZE is the only game show hosted by Nick Clooney, then a Cincinnati news anchor whose son George reportedly often worked behind the scenes. Clooney became more famous later on as a personality for American Movie Classics, but he'll always be host of THE MONEY MAZE to me.

The setup was basically like this, best as I remember it. A married couple were the contestants. The set was a large maze, and within the maze were five buttons. The wife stood on a platform above the maze, and yelled at the husband, ordering him which direction to go. Four of the five buttons lit up a "zero" and the fifth was a "one". Within the time limit (60 seconds?), the husband had to run through the maze, following directions hollered by his wife, and find and press as many of the buttons as he could. The best you could do was to light up 1-0-0-0-0, which would win you $10,000. If you got only three, say 1-0-0, you won $100. Of course, you could get all four zeros, which would win you $0, so you had to get that 1 no matter what.

I believe you had to compete in a Q-and-A game with another couple to win the chance to enter the maze. Game shows aren't exactly known for having a lot of action, so it was fun as a kid to see people running around this ridiculous maze, especially when the husbands would fuck up and get reamed by their old ladies.

The ratings were apparently not that great, but few game shows were successful airing in the late afternoon. It was also an expensive show, because it was taped in New York City and other shows needed to use the studio. The time and expense of taking the massive maze set down and putting it back up to tape later shows was too prohibitive for a show that was not tearing up the ratings, so ABC cancelled the show after about seven months. I'm surprised no one has ever tried to revive it, because it's a great idea. LATE SHOW WITH DAVID LETTERMAN announcer Alan Kalter was the MONEY MAZE announcer; maybe he could even host a new version.

I also read online today that CBS News correspondent Christopher Glenn was retiring at the age of 67. As you can see at that link, Glenn covered many important stories in his 35 years at CBS, but I think the most important thing he ever did were the IN THE NEWS segments that used to air on Saturday mornings. Watching Saturday-morning cartoons was a big part of my life when I was a kid, but what sticks with me longer than most of those shows is IN THE NEWS, which were 60-second news segments that explained current events in a clear, precise manner than children could comprehend. They weren't dumbed down for kids, but Glenn's comforting voice and straightforward storytelling ability ensured that my brother and I didn't change the channel while "the news" was on.

I was thrilled to see Glenn speak once at an Illinois News Broadcasters Association convention. He, of course, led an interesting life and had much to say and to teach about news gathering, but I wanted to know about IN THE NEWS. I was happy to hear from him that IN THE NEWS was something he was very proud of and one of his favorite jobs at CBS. I wonder if he'll ever know how important it was to some of us.

I'm considering what would, for me, be a major lifestyle change, and that's an earlier bedtime. I've always been something of a night owl. Even in high school, I rarely got to bed before midnight on a school night. During most of my adult life, my working hours in radio took place after dark, so it was not unusual for me to go to bed anytime between 4:00-8:00am and get up after noon. When I began working 8-5 at Horizon Hobby five years ago, my sleep schedule shifted dramatically (my work hours at my previous job were 2:00-7:00pm), but I still hardly ever get to bed before midnight. I'm going to be 39 in April, and I notice that I'm often drowsy at work. Maybe it's just that the temperature is always too high or maybe it's the lethargy of sitting at a desk in front of a computer all day. Or maybe I should get more than seven (maximum) hours of sleep at night.

Oh, I don't expect to be hitting the hay at 10:30pm every night, not with so much to write, so many books to read, so many friends to hang out with, so many crappy movies to watch. But maybe an occasional early bedtime wouldn't hurt. I don't even remember the last "school night" that I got eight hours of sleep.

On iTunes shuffle:
"Crack in the Cosmic Egg"--Totty
"Mud in Your Eye"--Les Fleur de Lys
"A Question of Temperature"--The Balloon Farm
"Uncle Albert/Admiral Halsey"--Paul & Linda McCartney
"Good Connection"--Five By Five
"Norwegian Wood"--The Beatles
"Little Sister"--Elvis Presley
"Dracula Restored"--Hans J. Salter from HOUSE OF FRANKENSTEIN
LOST IN SPACE Season One theme--John Williams
"Peacefully Asleep"--Life 'N' Soul
"Blacula Strikes!"--Gene Page from BLACULA
"Idea"--The Bee Gees
"Prodigal Son"--The Rolling Stones

Posted by Marty at 10:56 PM CST
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Thursday, February 23, 2006 - 11:29 PM CST

Name: Tolemite

dammit, mckee...who am i going to talk about time travel and mantises and Larry Drake with on the phone at 11:30 or 12:00 at night if you start going to bed at a decent hour?

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