May 27, 2012

It’s Just A Click Away

Good morning and greetings, season finale fans. As some of my followers in cyber space may have picked up on, every once in a while I have to force myself to relax, which inevitably leads to some TV research. I try to limit myself to under 50 shows a week, which includes sports, sitcoms, dramas, late night, national news, fake news, and any news magazine program involving true crime. It’s a tireless, daunting task, but as I’ve asked myself many times as I zip through the commercials, “If not me, then who?” It’s like being on a mission from Neilson gods.

So when I read this story last week, it hit me like a ton of Philadelphia cream cheese bricks. In a article written by Carla K .Johnson for the Associated Press, Eugene Polly, who is credited with perhaps the world’s greatest invention besides the Slinky, died last Sunday in Chicago at the age of 96. His invention, the first wireless TV remote control, began as a luxury, but with the introduction of hundreds of channels, it became a necessity, much like my Ultra Plush electrically heated toilet seat.

Back in the black and white days in 1955, if you wanted to switch channels from the Phil Silvers show to The Honeymooners, you had to do what the early pioneers and Donner party did. You had to get up off the couch stroll across the room and turn a knob. For the youth of today, this would be considered prehistoric. It would be like living with a modern stone age family like the Flintstones, except there was no yabba dabba doo time.

But then came Eugene Polley’s miracle invention. Thanks to Geno, you could purchase a new Zenith television with a wireless remote control called the Flash-Matic. It was a green, ray gun-shaped contraption with a red trigger that was very temperamental, requiring precise angling to work successfully. It was a huge advancement from Zenith’s first TV remote, a device called the “Lazy Bones,” which was connected to the TV set by a wire cord. With the Flash-Matic, it was channel surfing city.

The advertising at the time promised “TV miracles.” Zenith and the Parent Televison Council claimed the “flash tuner” was “Absolutely harmless to humans!” And most intriguing of all: “You can even shut off annoying commercials while the picture remains on the screen.” Gadzooks and great balls of fire, this man was a genuis. Now if he had just invented something that could help me find my remote, I’d be in TiVo heaven.

Polley’s Flash-Matic pointed a beam of light at photo cells in the corners of the television screen. Each corner activated a different function, turning the picture and sound off and on, and changing the channels. This is beyond my realm of understanding, as I still don’t know how the TV picture gets inside the screen. Or how cell phones can work so quickly or computers come up with searches instantaneously. Or as George Orwell once told me, “He who controls the present, controls the past. And he who controls the past, remote controls the future.”

To wrap this up, here’s a thought from David Lazarus at “Gush all you want about Facebook, Twitter and other recent tech innovations. I’d stack Eugene Polley and his TV remote against all of them. After all, which would you be more willing to give up — Facebook or your remote? … Thought so.” Dave, I couldn’t have tweeted that better myself.

Moving along, last Wednesday, as I walked along West Cliff on a low tide morning, I spotted two great blue herons standing in the sea grass. I looked on in amazement, as over a period of 27 years, I could count on three fingers the numbers of herons I had actually spotted in the ocean. I didn’t have my camera with me, but I returned to one of the locations the next day and there it was (photo #1.) I’ve included three other photos of some great blues from over the years to keep this great bird company.

In other aviary news, the comorants have set up shop and built their nests at the end of West Cliff Drive (photos 5 & 6,) just outside of Natural Bridges State Beach. The females will lay their eggs, the babies will hatch and their will be new life along the cliff. It’s a reassuring sight to see on a daily basis, and I’ll keep you updated as to when the storks arrive.

On to some late night. “Here’s an election update. Today Mitt Romney met with a group of wealthy Latino business owners. Or as Romney calls them, ‘the Juan percent.’” –Jimmy Fallon “Mitt Romney and his family have a big two-day weekend plan. They’re going to hike to the top of his money.” –David Letterman

“I know why you’re happy. Facebook went public and you’re all billionaires now. It is worth one hundred and four billion dollars. There has got to be a cheaper way to find out if your ex-girlfriend got fat. For the first time in our history, more minority children were born in America than white children. And today the Octomom said, ‘I’m on it.’” –Bill Maher

“Mark Zuckerberg got married a couple of days ago. At their wedding, Zuckerberg’s wife wore a dress that cost nearly $5,000. That is until the dress went public. Now it’s worth $2,000.” –Conan O’Brien “There has been another new development in the Secret Service prostitution scandal… (Some agents) say this kind of thing is so common that internally they refer to it as the Secret Circus. Which explains why they were trying to pay the hookers peanuts.” –Jimmy Kimmel

So that’s our last blast for May 2012. Birthday wishes go out today to my lovely sister-in-law Wendi, who turns the big 50. She is the queen of comments here at Sunrise Santa Cruz and someone who really gets it. Who doesn’t love a woman whose wedding invitations were made out of chocolate?

And our Thursday, my snow boarding brother Brad’s favorite son Miles becomes a teenager. Congratulations and follow your shot.

So spend a moment today thinking what Memorial Day is all about and the sacrifices our military families make. We’ll catch you having your knee drained and then taking it to the hoop like a madman. Aloha, mahalo and later, Dwyane Wade fans.


  1. On your deathbed, you’ll be holding that remote and trying to rewind the TiVo back to your high school days. Imagine your success rate soaring with the middle-aged women you now chat with on the phone!

    Comment by Gil Scott Heron — May 28, 2012 @ 2:02 pm

  2. On the other hand, the Donner descendants were smart enough to have trademarked the phrase ‘Tastes like Chicken’.

    Comment by Billy Batts — May 29, 2012 @ 7:42 pm

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