Via Tengrain, we have the news of the passing of Ron Popeil, who was half P.T. Barnum and half Rube Goldberg. Popeil was an evangelist of consumerism, his particular genius lay in inventing wacky solutions to non-existent problems. In a typical Popeil commercial, routine tasks were portrayed as ordeals which could only be overcome through the use of a 'Ronco' product. Not everyone can be a Jacques Pépin, for those people, there was Ron. In my recollection, this portrayal of haplessness reached its apotheosis in the Pure Comedy Gold of his 'inside the eggshell egg scrambler':
The bar of 'Deck the Halls' at the end knocks it out of the park.
Not all of Ron's products were useless, there's plenty of utility in a fishing rod you can fit in your briefcase so you can catch sunfish in the Corporate Park pond during your lunch break:
Apparently, it even works.
Later in his csreer, Ron went long-form, creating half-hour infomercials to appeal to insomniacs, stoners, and the unemployed. His best infomercial, with its clever 'set it and forget it' slogan, was for a not-all-that-ridiculous home rotisserie:
Again, I watched a review to see that it doesn't suck, though I imagine it uses a lot of electricity. It seems like the perfect appliance for a stoner who bought it as an impulse purchase, involving no guesswork about temperature settings. Set it and forget it, indeed!
One indication of Mr Popeil's greatness is the fact that Weird Al sang a song about him, oddly enough with Ron's half sister Lisa singing backup vocals:
Who among us hasn't wanted to shine some pennies, mend some leather, or Krazy-glue their head to the bottom of a big steel girder? For all of those not-necessarily-necessary desires, Ron Popeil had a wacky solution. Thanks for all the years of honest entertainment and occasional useful gadgets, Ron-even after they set you in the ground, we won't forget you.