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Since Kel's computer was destroyed by the Y2K bug (bloody musicians), we dug out an old column from our secret mystery archives. Enjoy!

Horizontal Hold: The Beginning

By P. Kellach Waddle


January 1952

    Woo hoo!!! Happy new year to YOU! And welcome to 1952. 

    For those of you that have been faithful followers for the past many 
years of my radio column, "Wave-ing Hello," welcome to the new year and the 
new medium the editors here at The Shrub have asked me to write about. 

     "These pictures coming out of this new box, some of these things are 
amusing...but you expect me to find something to write about EVERY issue? 
Will there be enough to write about?", I fretted to TPTB here.      

    What do I call this ditty? I took a survey of the buttons on my new 
Columbia Television Model 12cc2 (which by the way, seems to weigh more than 
a car), and found a button hat makes the new "living picture in your living 
room" move herky-jerky side to side (Ostensibly this button is to STOP 
making the picture do such should it be erratic, but there is some sort of 
cool power about making all the heads and bodies on screen spin around at the 
touch of my finger.) So welcome to said Button's namesake-" The Horizontal 
Hold". 

    So, now I figured might as well just take a look across the dial and see 
what there is to see.  Recently, the man who is called "Mr.Tuesday Night," 
Milton Berle, is evidently prevaricated by the most powerful network, NBC, to 
be a star on this new medium for decades because  they have just signed him 
to a THIRTY year contract!! What if this TV thing is a passing fad as many 
say? What if we have better things to do by the 1980's?  

    Even more than the radio, those of us with one of these TV's seem to now 
plan our lives around when our particular program is on because we just can't 
miss it, because with everything be done live as it happens, if you miss said 
show, it is gone forever. (Wouldn't it be wonderful if WAY in the future, 
maybe by 2020, we had some way to SAVE what we are watching on some sort of 
tape for later viewing?) 
    
    To subvert this "Miss it and it's gone" problem,  those of us following 
this new medium have just learned that the makers of one of the most popular 
things on TV now...a comedy entitled " I Love Lucy"  starring former Movie 
actress Lucille Ball and her Cuban real-life Husband Desi Arnaz are actually 
FILMING each episode for repeat viewing later. America loves Lucy now it 
seems, but are we really going to watch these shows over and over and over?  
    
    Besides a lot of loud, busy comedy done on Uncle Milty's show and others 
like "Your Show Of Shows," and these "home life" comedies such as Lucy, there 
seem to be three other basic genres for your viewing pleasure. You can watch 
people play games such as famous people guessing soemeone's job on "What's My 
Line?" or everyday folk complete with jackets ties and evening dresses 
attempt to do odd STUNTS on "Beat The Clock." You can watch wonderful 
plays from your own home as shows like "Kraft Televsion Theatre" and
"Playhouse 90" save you a trip to the theater (they don't appreciate it 
when you come barefooted with your shirttail hanging out to the theater with 
a wad of potato chips in your hand...at home this is all fine and dandy). 

    Finally, you can also save yourself a trip to the stadium with the
plethora of sports shows. As matter of fact new-network-kids-on-the-block
ABC and DUMONT have in the past few debuting years sometimes have taken up
as much as ONE THIRD (!) of what is now called " Prime Time Hours " with
sports.  
This prompted me to say, "Geez...all of this Wrestling and Roller derby and 
Boxing and Basketball...you would think SOMEONE would think a channel where 
there is NOTHING BUT SPORTS!" Everyone got a big laugh out of considering
such an absurdity.

    That pretty much covers the nighttime. The three main kinds of fare in 
the sunlight hours are...more games to watch people play, VERY long
talk-chat-demonstrate-products-pet-demonstration-commerical-whatever shows
(This type of show, which changes titles every 2 weeks it seems, is currently 
called "Live From Hollywood" and takes up FIVE hours of NBC's daytime
schedule. One of the main stars of it is a lovely  girl named Betty White
who I hope is around for a long time.) Finally, a stalwart of Radio many have 
followed for years, The Soap Opera. 

    On the two present mainstays of this genre- CBS's "Love of Life" and
"Search For Tomorrow"- poor nice ladies seem to have more problems thrown at 
them in 15 minutes a day then some of us have seen in a lifetime. However, 
when we listened to Stella Dallas's horrors on the radio we always imagined 
her sobbing in grief collapsed like a modern Anna Karenina in some sad corner 
of her house. But oddly, even when Jo's husband died on "Search" and when 
Vanessa's evil sister Meg cavorts luridly and ignores her son, Benno on
"Love of Life" .. these women seem to stay perfectly coiffed and made up. 

    What's up with that? Also, I have never known a mobster or know anyone
who did...but as soon as Poor Jo's hubby died she's been bombarded with
organized crime baddies trying to both woo her and take her hotel away, and
Vanessa's evil sister Meg seems to have a fetish for them since she's
taking up with new ones every week. 
(TRIVIA TIDBIT: For those faithful followers of The Horizontal Hold for these past 5 decades who are enjoying this reprint of our first issue.... the dead Jo's husband from "Search For Tomorrow" was later harassed by sweathogs...poor dead Keith Barron was later Mr. Woodman of Welcome Back, Kotter)

    Lastly, something in common with both nighttime and daytime fare on our 
new medium seems to be the pressurization to BUY things. Somehow, on the
radio, hearing Ma Perkins talk about how she uses Oxydol wasn't as jarring
as much of our SIGHT time taken up by salespeople.  I personally am always
screaming at my TV  "I don't care about how Anacin goes throguh the whole
body !!!  Is Vanessa going to Marry Paul Raven?" However many of my TV
owners don't seem to mind that sometimes a full FIFTEEN minutes of Uncle
Milty's show is compelling them to buy Texaco Gasoline or that it seems you
simply aren't WORTHY to enjoy the plays on "Lux Theater" unless you wash
your dishes with their eponymous product. There are hours and HOURS of
these "commercials." Surely in the future these spots will be toned down if
not completely done away with.  

    When a pal just barreled out on Wednesday morning to get Texaco Gas
after watching Milty's pals dancing aound the gus pumps the night before I
said "You know...you're going to buy this just because on TV it said to do
so... Isn't that a tad Big-brother-ish?" 

    "Milty told me to go buy it, not my Big Brother"

    "NO NO!!. you Know Big Brother.. from 1984?"

    "??????"

    "1984 man!! Its a book!!  Ya know, to READ?  Huge political
statement... came out three years ago?...(still getting glazed
looks)...didn't you 
read it?? (More glazed looks) Oh never mind."

    Surely to goodness this box of moving pictures won't make everyone stop 
reading, will it? 

    Surely not.

    In the meantime, I will be here in the former "Wave-ing Hello" spot, 
writing something about this TV stuff every issue... 

    Even if i have to make stuff up.

    Happy Viewing and New Year!







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