Uncle John's Presents Book of the Dumb 2

Uncle John's Presents Book of the Dumb 2 by John Michael Scalzi

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Authors: John Michael Scalzi
programming at CBS when Sonny and Cher did their popular show. Pink Lady was a massive success in their homeland of Japan (the kids loved them!) and Silverman was absolutely sure they would be the next big thing here in the States. One minor problem: neither member of Pink Lady spoke a word of English. Enter comedian Jeff Altman, as their “guide” to all things American.
    It Seemed Like a Good Idea at the Time Because: You got us. Two of your three stars can’t speak a word of English? What could possibly go wrong? On a bright note, each episode ended with everyone in a hot tub.
    In Reality: First mistake—cute as the members of Pink Lady were, there’s only so far you can go with “Japanese vixens who don’t speak a word of English being led around by acomedian” shtick. Second mistake—the show was scheduled opposite The Dukes of Hazzard, a show popular with boys in full flower of pubescence, so a key demographic was already otherwise engaged. Third mistake—the variety show format had already been brutally murdered in the late ’70s. TV audiences were no longer willing to accept show that feature both Red Buttons and Alice Cooper in the same zip code, much less the same stage.
    How Long Did It Last? Five episodes; a sixth was filmed but never aired (it is, however, available on DVD). It’s a testament to how forgettable the series was that most people today know of it not from its original run but from a Saturday Night Live satire of it called “Pink Lady and Carl,” in which pop scientist Carl Sagan is substituted for Jeff. That one SNL sketch was funnier than the entire run of the Pink Lady series.
    Were Those Responsible Punished? Were they ever. NBC honcho Fred Silverman got the boot ( Pink Lady . . . and Jeff was just one of many horrifying NBC flops that year), while Jeff Altman’s career was sucked into a whirling vortex of obscurity from which it has yet to emerge (he is, however, available for your next special event—really, that’s what it says on his Web site). Pink Lady returned to Japan and broke up in 1981; both tried their hand at acting in Japan but reformed in 1997 and in 2003 to release singles and tour Japan.


Hi-tech Half-wits
    People sure have a love-hate relationship with technology: when we score something sweet on eBay, we love it. When the computer swallows half of our book manuscript and we have to make up a barely-plausible lie to our editor about what happened to the half of the book we owe her, well, then, quite obviously, we hate it (please don’t tell our editor about the lie about the manuscript. It’s just between us).
    Just because something is hi-tech and gee-whiz, doesn’t mean that it can’t be used stupidly—which brings us to this chapter, in which technology is used in ways that would shame those that thought it up.

And Yet, Almost Nothing of Any Value Ever Gets Said That Way
    W e’ve long passed the point where the Guinness World Records have simply become utterly ridiculous; when there is an actual world record for Farthest Spaghetti Nasal Ejection (7.5 inches, held by one Kevin Cole of Carlsbad, New Mexico, whose mother, we’re sure, must be prouder than spit), it may be time to pack it in.
    Nevertheless, a new and particularly useless world record caught our eye recently: the world record for SMS messaging—that’s sending a message using the keypad of a cellular phone for those of you who are still living in the age where all phones did was transmit voices. Today’s kids spend a lot of time bumping into things because they’re trying to send text messages and walk at the same time.
    In June 2004, Singapore (where four out of five people have a cell phone, and that fifth person is talked about disparagingly) hosted 125 competitors who limbered up their fingers to tap out the following 160-character message in the shortest amount of

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