Friday, August 22, 2014

No, never would I leave you at all

Many years ago I read the book Man and the Computer by John Kemeny, a professor of mathematics who later became president of Dartmouth University. Near the beginning of the book he wrote, “The computer is incredibly fast, accurate, and stupid. Man is unbelievably slow, inaccurate, and brilliant. The marriage of the two is a force beyond calculation.”

It is a statement that sticks in the mind.

Fast forward (now there’s an obsolete phrase) to today.

You can learn the most amazing things on the internet. You can also learn (contrary to popular opinion among the intelligentsia) the most amazing things on television. If you combine watching television with searching the internet (a sort of marriage as well) , the result can also be a force beyond calculation.

Case in point.

Mrs. RWP and I were watching the highly educational television program Judge Judy this afternoon, and I remarked that the defendant in one case looked a lot like Robert Goulet.

“Whatever happened to him?” asked Mrs. RWP.

“I don’t know,” I replied. “I can’t remember whether he is still alive.”

Because I don’t like to leave loose ends hanging, I decided to do the only sensible thing and find out. I went to the computer and googled “Robert Goulet” and discovered that Robert Goulet is not still alive. He died in 2007 about a month before what would have been his 74th birthday.

What absolutely floored me in the article I was reading was that early in his career Robert Goulet had been a member of the cast of the Canadian version of Howdy Doody and not only that, he starred opposite -- wait for it -- William Shatner.

Would I lie to you?

Yes, Virginia, there was a Canadian version of Howdy Doody. It ran on CBC from 1954 until 1959. Instead of a host named Buffalo Bob, however, it had a host named Timber Tom (sounds more Canadian, eh?) . Robert Goulet played the part of Trapper Pierre; William Shatner played the part of Ranger Bob.

As Jack Paar might say, I kid you not.

Talk about being gobsmacked.

One other thing. In one of Robert Goulet’s biggest hits, “If Ever I Would Leave You” from Camelot, he promised he wouldn’t leave us* in springtime, summer, winter, or fall (2:11) .

He lied. He left us in the fall. October 30, 1977, to be exact.

I know, I know. I’m easily entertained.

Man and the computer.

John Kemeny would be so proud.

*okay, it was Julie Andrews


  1. I remember him actually, which is a good sign for my brain at present. Quite an impressive show of moustache for one. For two I had to google image Howdy Doody. I've heard the name but had no idea what it was all about. If I wake up screaming in the middle of the night with that grinning freckled face looming at me through a nightmare I shall blame you ya hear?! Blimey.
    Judge Judy rules man. I would love her job, and I'd be very good at it too. Luckily, in the next dimension I am Judge A.C doing much the same thing so all is well.
    I hope you don't leave any time soon.

  2. If you had an ipad on your lap as we do in this house. As you watch TV and play "Words with Friends " with opponents from all over the world, you could have Googled it without having to get up and leave to look it up on your computer. You might have missed a stinging remark or two from Judge Judy while you were away from the TV!!
    I agree computers and television are a wonderful combination.

  3. All Consuming, Not to worry. Howdy Doody was nothing at all like Chucky of horror-movie fame. Plus Howdy had Phineas T. Bluster and Indian Princess Summerfallwinterspring and Clarabelle the Clown (who was played by the guy who eventually became Captain Kangaroo). I bet you would be very good at Judge Judy's job. And thank you for your closing sentiment.

    Helsie, All I had to do was make a quarter-turn in my swivel chair to reach the computer. I didn't have to leave the room!

  4. I am surprised that you failed to mention that John F Kemeny was also the 35th President of the USA. He was assassinated in Dalhart, Texas by a pixie who lived on a green knoll. This was in October 1863. It is amazing what you can find out simply by accessing the internet. I also discovered tat there is a park named after you in southern France - "The Brague national park covers 480 hectares of the communes of Biot and Valbonne. It is situated only 6km from the Mediterranean Sea, and the altitude varies from 40 to 245m."

  5. Yorkshire Pudding, I have thunk and thunk and I have decided that the most fascinating thing on the internet is you. Someone should name a park after you at once, or a food, or a county. Oh, wait, someone already did. Two out of three ain't bad. May your altitude always vary between 40 and 245m.

  6. Goulet had a wonderful voice but it lacked sincerity, I always thought. Unlike you, I knew he was dead, and that he died of something rare, but I don't remember what it was.

    I saw James Drury yesterday at the state fair. I didn't want to pay for an autographed photo, but I do wish I had inquired about having my picture made with him. Later in the day, I was walking outside the building when he came along in his power chair. He looked at me, and I looked at him, and said, "I sure did like you show." Why, thank you very much," he said, and I really wanted to ask what it's like to make money by traveling around selling autographs because of something you did nearly 50 years go, but I didn't, of course.