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Posted on April 27, 1999

One big disadvantage working at night is the television quality when I arrive home. Sometimes there could be a "Perfect Strangers" rerun or two, and possibly an old game show, but most channels are overrun by infomercials.

Webster defines an infomercial as "a long television commercial, often made to resemble a talk show, educational demonstration, interview, etc." Kudos to Webster's assessment. The only words missing from the definition are "trash," "ridiculous" and "cheap."

I would rather watch the grass growing channel than watch a full infomercial. However, for this column's sake, I jotted infomercial notes for 10 minutes. It was the only way to keep from doing something more interesting, like counting silverware.

Big Rock hits, a collection of music from God knows when, happened to be the first offer I found. Do they just change the collection's names, or are there really 45,109,366 different compilations of bad rock? Instead of "One Night in Bankok" by Murray Head, this one had "Sister Christian" by Night Ranger. Not a good trade.

I flipped to the next channel to see George Foreman cooking swordfish. He is trying to sell his grill by showing perfect lines on steaks. Actually, I'm trying to remember if I've ever seen grills with imperfect lines. Do chefs take pictures of perfectly lined meats? Seems unlikely.

My second favorite infomercial type appeared on the following channel: psychic readers. People put so much stock into horoscopes and tarot cards, it's crazy. Psychics realize people who call are probably in distress. They aren't going to guess "Oh, you must be happy. You have a perfect family and everything? Maybe you meant to call for the George Foreman grill." A trick could be to call a psychic reader and just tell her everything she's saying is wrong. But for some reason, the psychics might catch on using supernatural powers. All readers and operators are aliens anyway.

I really couldn't decipher the next item. It looked like a little house for food. Plus, you could make shapes out of your vegetables absolutely free. And you could return for a full refund. But could the company give your dignity back for trying it in the first place?

The last infomercial was the Body Block. Again, I have no idea what was going on there. Arizona Diamondbacks pitcher Randy Johnson appeared to be simulating flying. He held what could have been part of a helicopter or a hand glider. And supposedly, it was helping his back.

There are plenty of other infomercials on daily. I failed to mention my favorite, Don Lupree, the Tiny Classified Ads guy. I guess he was taking the night off. Maybe he was busy listening to Big Rock hits.