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What the . . . Mr. Wizard is a Dick?

July 27, 2012

*What the…Friday? is a weekly Friday feature in which I resuscitate a video relic from the swampy pits of Pop Culture Wasteland.*

Today:  What the Mr. Wizard is a Dick?

Oh, science.

I remember science.

I remember lighting off rockets and looking through microscopes.

I remember growing mold in a petri dish filled with bouillon.

I remember a kid passing out during 9th grade biology class.

He cracked open his chin on a lab table.  Right as we cracked open a fetal pig’s skull.

I was more disgusted by Matt’s chin than the pig’s skull.  But ultimately I preferred the kind of science that didn’t require me to scoop out innards.

The kind of science on Mr. Wizard’s World.

Back in 6th grade, I liked to hang with Mr. Wizard after school.  Gee whiz, it was fun.

He taught me about sound waves.  He taught me about ant farms.  He never dissected a fetal pig.

And yet he scared me.


I always sensed that just one wrong answer and he’d start hitting me.

Just look at him.  He could go off at any moment.

Though I loved the man, I won’t deny it.

Mr. Wizard was kind of a dick.

131 Comments leave one →
  1. July 27, 2012 5:53 am

    I always suspected that if the cameras kept rolling by mistake we’d be entertained by outtakes of Mr Wizard ranting about ‘which one of you little punks touched my flask- I’ll kick all your asses?!’

    • July 27, 2012 8:55 pm

      That is AWESOME. I’ll go to sleep tonight dreaming about this, and I’ll wake up happy.

    • Melanie permalink
      July 27, 2012 9:11 pm

      I am laughing so hard at this!!!

    • July 28, 2012 10:22 am

      OMG- prttynpnk- you are so on the money! HA HA HA

  2. July 27, 2012 6:23 am

    LOL! he’s not exactly the nicest bloke on the planet!

    • July 27, 2012 8:55 pm

      Yeah, he gets pretty snippy about things like numbers that aren’t random and answers that aren’t right.

  3. July 27, 2012 6:25 am

    Angie, once again you have shown me what I missed during my childhood. Mr. Wizard was a turtle, not a mean science guy. Now you have me very confused.

    Bill Nye the Science Guy, whom I love, was on PBS when my son was little. He was crazy and fun, but I think your Mr. Wizard probably a better teacher. Learning takes a little smack on the head now and then, don’t you think?

    • July 27, 2012 8:57 pm

      Absolutely. I personally love his approach. I hope one day these videos will slap some sense into my own kids noggins.

      You’re not learning if you’re not scared.

      • July 27, 2012 8:59 pm

        Just as long as you aren’t the ones smackin’ the noggins. By the time your kids really need it (the teen years) it will be a death penalty issue.

      • July 27, 2012 9:02 pm

        I grabbed my daughter’s arm so hard once that she said she felt as if I was applying some mild pressure to her skin. It was a sad day in our household.

  4. July 27, 2012 6:31 am

    I never watched that show, but if I knew what a dick he was, I would have for sure! For reasons known only to me, I kept expecting him to utter some of Peter Graves’ dialogue from the movie “Airplane”.

    “Have you ever seen a grown man naked Timmy?”
    “Have you ever been to a Turkish prison Bobby?”

    I realize those aren’t likely the exact quotes from the movie, and I apologize to all the people who have every line memorized, but you get the idea.

    Maybe those aren’t actually lines from “Airplane” at all, maybe I’m more messed up than I thought…those demons in my head…ohhhh…make them stop!

    • July 27, 2012 6:47 am

      My husband and I often throw out the line, “Have you ever seen a grown man naked?” at the oddest times, just to crack each other up. Yeah, we’ve seen Airplane a few times in the past.

      • July 27, 2012 9:46 am

        I LOVE when you say stuff like that and somebody knows just what you’re talking about. My husband calls it the joys of recognition. And don’t call me Shirley.

      • July 27, 2012 9:00 pm

        Insert another quote from Airplane here.

      • July 27, 2012 6:39 pm

        “Cut me some slack, Jack! Chump don’ want no help, chump don’t GET da’ help!”

        Nope, never saw that movie! Buwahahahahahahaha

      • July 27, 2012 9:01 pm

        Insert quote from Airplane here too.

      • July 27, 2012 8:59 pm

        Insert quote from Airplane here.

      • July 28, 2012 2:50 pm

        Perhaps I can help; I speak jive. (Angie says jump; I say how high.)

      • July 29, 2012 8:20 pm

        I feel so much power right now. This is not good. I typically like to abuse power.

    • July 27, 2012 8:59 pm

      I don’t see much difference between Mr. Wizard’s World and Airplane. And I would love to see Mr. Wizard’s reaction to a hari krishna.

  5. July 27, 2012 6:40 am

    In his defense, he was clearly a man of science. He’d undoubtedly studied for decades and by rights should have been working on splitting the atom or developing a cough medicine that worked AND tasted good. Instead, he was relegated to trying to teach the unteachable – goofy kids in Banlon shirts who would one day benefit from orthodontia. Was it any wonder he drank himself to sleep each night and was secretly thrilled when the show was finally replaced by Zoobilee Zoo?

    Sadly, his comrades in science did not welcome him back with open arms. They turned their backs on him, locking the lab doors and putting construction paper on the safety glass windows so he couldn’t see what they were doing.

    Broke and alone, he spent his golden years living off of pitiful residual checks from PBS and touring state fairs, working as a celebrity livestock judge.

    • July 27, 2012 6:48 am

      So I take it this guy never had any kids of his own? If so, I’d love to see their therapy bill.

      • July 27, 2012 9:10 pm

        He reminds me of my grandfather — ready to blow his top whenever Nonsense and Shenanigans showed their bratty little faces around his living room.

    • July 27, 2012 9:04 pm

      Sometimes I feel like my blog posts are just soft balls that I’m pitching to you to knock out of the park. And then I crumple into a ball of mediocrity and weep.

      • July 27, 2012 9:18 pm

        Now you stop that kind of talk right now, young lady! If your blog posts sucked, no one would read them, including me.

  6. July 27, 2012 6:45 am

    First off, thank you for this, I don’t think I’ve laughed this hard this early in the morning before.

    “blow up babies nursing nipple”–say whaaaaat?

    My brothers and I loved that show. Ah, the tough love of the ’80s. Nothing like a good combination of teaching mixed with scolding someone in public to the point of humiliation. Kids today have it so easy.

    • July 27, 2012 6:40 pm

      My kids got love and tough love. They were that in between generation from today and yesterday. Wow, that is really obscure!

      • July 27, 2012 9:08 pm

        My kids get just the right dose of love, with just a touch of appropriate berating, topped off with a smidgen of exasperation. My parents taught me well.

      • July 27, 2012 9:24 pm

        I put the “tough” in tough love. If by “tough” you mean, my daughter has spent much of the past two afternoons confined to her bedroom. I do allow her snacks, books and bathroom breaks.

        Shhhhh….please don’t tell Social Services.

    • July 27, 2012 9:03 pm

      Hey. Yeah, me again. I had to show Jim this video. Then I thought, since I’m here, I’d let you know that I think the title of this post is the best one I’ve ever seen. When I first saw it in my reader this morning, I spit my coffee all over the screen. Well done, Angie.

      • July 27, 2012 9:06 pm

        Aw, DarDar — thanks for coming back. I think the word “dick” goes a long way in comedy. It’s really quite underused on my blog. (You’re welcome, Mom.)

      • July 27, 2012 9:10 pm

        I have to admit, I did a double take. Don’t feel bad, I’ve used much worse on my blog. My Family blog.

        Besides, the word dick is just funny.

      • July 27, 2012 9:12 pm

        It is funny and it’s the name of our 37th U.S. President, for poop’s sake. How can that be bad?

      • July 27, 2012 9:19 pm

        Yeah! And why did I tell you to not feel bad? I know you don’t. I have no idea why I wrote that. I’ve been commenting on blogs for a half hour and my brain
        is fried.

        37th prez? are you sure?

        I personally think the term ‘dink’ needs to make a comeback.

        I can’t believe I just wrote that.

      • July 27, 2012 9:21 pm

        What about dickweed? That’s still one of my favorite words of all time.

      • July 27, 2012 9:24 pm

        Ooh. Yeah. See, I was gonna go with dillweed. But dickweed is better. My brothers used that one a lot. Also numbnuts. The companion to dickweed.

      • July 27, 2012 9:26 pm

        I love the word “companion” in that sentence. It took the “funny” right up the stairs to “funny as f—“.

        Oh, no. Now I’m definitely in trouble here.

      • July 27, 2012 9:33 pm

        I knew you might appreciate that.

        I am laughing so hard right now I am crying.

      • July 27, 2012 9:37 pm

        Will you still be laughing when the FCC shuts down my blog?

      • July 27, 2012 9:39 pm

        Oh well when you put it like that, sure.

      • July 27, 2012 9:48 pm

        This post marathon has prompted me to go to my site settings and change the comment reply setting so I won’t keep seeing these straight lines of text that look like Encyclopedia Brown code.

      • July 27, 2012 9:38 pm

        Or maybe Al Gore? Tony Danza? I’m not really sure who’s in charge here.

      • July 27, 2012 9:43 pm

        Charles. Duh!

      • July 27, 2012 9:45 pm

        What about Byronic Man? He’s definitely in on it somewhere.

      • July 27, 2012 9:46 pm

        I’ll leave you tonight with a song, “Charles in charge…of our days…and our nights….Charles in charge of our wrongs…and our rights…and I see…I want, I want, I want Charles in charge of me!”

      • July 27, 2012 9:48 pm

        This is the way I always want you to sign off from my blog.

      • July 27, 2012 9:52 pm

        yeah. B-man. He’s in on everything. Much too clever for his own good,
        that guy.

      • July 27, 2012 9:55 pm

        ok…one more I SWEAR:

        “There’s a time for love and a time for livin’…so take a chance and face the wind…. and open road and a road that’s hidden, a brand new life, brand new life, a brand new life around the bend….”

      • July 27, 2012 9:56 pm

        I loved that song. You couldn’t have picked a sitcom theme song I loved more. It’s so…whimsical.

      • July 27, 2012 9:58 pm

        I often sing theme songs. It’s a hobby of mine. My fave is Alice. “early to bed….early to rise….” and Laverne and Shirley of course.

      • July 27, 2012 10:00 pm

        What about the ending of Alice? “Buh, buh, buh, buuuuuuuh.” And it shows her sticking her feet in a pot of hot water. And then immediately later she’s falling onto the floor as her friends fail to catch her.

      • July 27, 2012 10:04 pm

        That’s my favorite part! I have it in my head right now…buh,buh buh buh buuuuuhhhh……I often sing it while doing the dishes. “there’s a new girl in town and she’s feeling GOOD!”

      • July 27, 2012 10:05 pm

        Oh, DarDar. I think you own a piece of my heart.

    • July 27, 2012 9:22 pm

      I think he might’ve tried to say “rubber baby buggy bumpers” and this came out instead.

  7. July 27, 2012 7:02 am

    Ah, so this is the Mr. Wizard I’ve heard people talk about. He’s a jerk, but I kind of like him. He doesn’t tell kids they’re great when they’re not. They should start replaying old episodes on Nickelodeon. Kids everywhere will realize how good they have it with their crap TV shows that tell them how amazing they are.

    • July 27, 2012 6:41 pm

      CC, don’t forget to give each kid a certificate or trophy telling them how good they are. :)

      • July 27, 2012 9:20 pm

        Right?! And not just the winners. The losers have to get prizes, too. We don’t want anyone’s feelings to get hurt. That’s probably considered child abuse to some.

      • July 27, 2012 9:34 pm

        You’re pushing me dangerously close to stepping upon my soap box about ridiculous self-esteem-building attempts. Must not go there. Must not be controversial. Must fight against the urge to go there.

      • July 27, 2012 11:07 pm

        I’m sorry, I know it’s hard to resist. I don’t even think the concept of building self-esteem existed until the ’80’s or something. I guess back in the day people were more concerned with putting food on the table. Ok, time for my daily self-affirmations.

      • July 27, 2012 9:31 pm

        Ugh. Don’t even get me started about this nonsense.

    • July 27, 2012 9:15 pm

      I think I like him more now than ever. Especially now that I’m pushing 40 and suffering from Old Man Syndrome. Dammit, those kids are brats, and I have no patience for them at all, Carly. None. Especially ones who have never peeled a banana. What’s wrong with using those brains in their heads?

  8. July 27, 2012 7:53 am

    “Haven’t you ever peeled a banana before?” Just a hint of simmering rage underneath that comment.

    • July 27, 2012 9:18 pm

      I get the feeling he would’ve smacked me in the mouth had I told him about the time I threw away a half-eaten banana.

  9. July 27, 2012 8:22 am

    Mr. Wizard actually did a show when I was a kid too… he’d been around being a dick for a very long time. But you know, I LOVE to hear an adult tell a kid, “WRONG!”
    Most kids are told that they fart perfume.

    • July 27, 2012 8:26 am

      You mean they don’t?

    • July 27, 2012 9:47 am

      That last sentence is a very beautiful line.

      • July 27, 2012 9:43 pm

        I agree. It says so much about what I feel in my heart. Why is this sentence not embroidered on pot holders and sold at craft fairs?

    • July 27, 2012 9:43 pm

      Mr. Wizard once told me my farts smelled like sulphuric acid. Please note this was 25 years ago and a lot has changed.

  10. July 27, 2012 8:26 am

    I was always afraid of Mr. Wizard, like he was going to berate me through the screen. I wanted to watch it because I loved learning and science and gee whiz, but I always changed the channel before the end of the show.

    • July 27, 2012 9:48 am

      Mr. Wizard was not there to be your friend, he was there to school you, damn it! If you kids had paid better attention the rest of the world wouldn’t be wiping the floor with America, science-wise!

      • July 27, 2012 9:50 pm

        This comment is funny but the bitter truth of your words stings me like a bee.

        And speaking of bees, I know nothing about bees since my own science teacher never whipped me with his belt.

    • July 27, 2012 9:51 pm

      I know what you mean. I wanted to please him so badly. He always seemed so disapproving, which made me want to try even harder to earn his praise. This is the way learning succeeds. Wow. Epiphany!

  11. July 27, 2012 9:58 am

    He reminds me of someone and I can’t figure out who… but I like him!

  12. July 27, 2012 10:08 am

    I remember he was always telling the kids about cool sciencey tricks they could use to trick their friends–clearly aiming to perpetuate the dickery in a new generation!

    • July 27, 2012 10:01 pm

      Ha! Fantastic! I never even thought of that. This new insight might’ve made my whole day.

  13. July 27, 2012 10:25 am

    No trophies just for participation with that guy, and try not to hit the table. :D And I agree, I’m generally more fond of science that doesn’t involve scooping innards, myself.

    • July 27, 2012 10:05 pm

      I bet he’d tell the kids why next time they should try to avoid hitting their chins on the table on the way down. That’s an expensive table, for pete’s sake!

      • July 27, 2012 10:23 pm

        Sage advice, really. He’s not a dick, per se, he’s just excessively pragmatic. ;)

  14. July 27, 2012 11:06 am

    Any moment. He could go off at any moment.

    • July 27, 2012 10:08 pm

      Perhaps a scientific experiment should’ve been conducted to see how long it takes for the old man’s top to blow.

  15. July 27, 2012 11:46 am

    I can see how you reached that conclusion, Angie, but you’re wrong. Yep. You did that analysis all wrong. You know what? Just give me the blog, I’ll do it right.

    • July 27, 2012 10:13 pm

      I’m laughing at this comment — but I can’t really tell if I’m laughing with me or at me.

  16. July 27, 2012 3:06 pm

    OMG! You are so right! Or is that correct? I wanna be right….

    • July 27, 2012 10:15 pm

      If you’re questioning yourself, you must’ve learned something. Mr. Wizard would be pleased.

  17. Melanie permalink
    July 27, 2012 9:09 pm

    OMG, the kids are going to make cards for their aunt’s birthday tomorrow. I cannot wait to throw down with, “You call that a fold?” — then piss myself laughing while they look at me like I’m a lunatic.

    • July 27, 2012 10:17 pm

      You are my kind of parent. And I have to admit I have strong feelings about the way a homemade card is folded.

  18. July 28, 2012 9:51 am

    I would just like to state, officially and on the record, that however long it took them to splice this whole thing together: It was worth it.

    • July 29, 2012 8:10 pm

      I totally agree. I want to find those people behind it and give them an award for making fabricated YouTube clips not suck for once.

  19. July 28, 2012 10:24 am

    One day we will be treated to the ugly scandal of him being found drunk and naked pooping on Bill Nye’s Prius……

    • July 29, 2012 8:11 pm

      Except Mr. Wizard is dead now — *sniff, sniff* — why did you have to remind me, prttynpnk? Now I feel like I’m mourning him all over again.

      I’m seriously nuts about the guy. So I’m not altogether joking here. My eyes are misty.

  20. July 28, 2012 12:25 pm

    I love how Mr. Wizard is holding that hammer in that pic with the guy in the green shirt. He’s poised and ready to attack should a wrong answer be uttered. Grumpy Old Man.

    Couldn’t agree with you more! But man, how I loved that show! :)

    What about Bill Nye The Science Guy? He was more in the 90’s though, I think…

    • July 29, 2012 8:13 pm

      I loved Mr. Wizard and his show. I don’t think I made that clear in my post but I really did love the guy. I wanted so, so badly for him to love me back — but I think he was always disappointed in me instead.

      I was too old for Bill Nye but a couple other commenters mentioned him. I heard he was the heppest science cat around.

  21. July 28, 2012 10:35 pm

    Oh that’s funny! I don’t remember Mr. Wizard. At all. What was I doing in those days? Oh right. Playing in the dirt.

    You’re so right…he’s kind of a dick, based on that video rep. The banana peeling comment was a bit over the top, the ending words missing being “you little brat.” Or maybe he muttered it and I missed it. He cracked me up with the finger-on-the-forehead trick and taunting the girl to stand from sitting (which she can’t do). That’s a great one! I must try that on my kids tomorrow. I need some mommy points. And a good laugh.

    No, we prefer a more Howie Mandel approach to learning science. Goofy, funny, laughing, and even the wrong answers elicit some kind of silly enjoyable outcome – yes, even when they’re wrong they learn something. What’s the point of making the kids nervous about giving the wrong answer? Geez.

    • July 29, 2012 8:15 pm

      Sometimes I don’t believe you really exist, Shannon, and are instead just a conglomeration of all the coolest TV sitcom moms in history. You do science experiments at home?! You teach your kids things?!

      • July 30, 2012 7:18 am

        Oh then like the McNugget-in-the-van, you totally won’t believe this.

        Just yesterday, Angie asked her father what fire is and why the different colors (blue on the stove, red and yellow with wood). So he told her — using a chart of the elements, drawings of molecule chains with resultant photons, colored pens for light spectrum, etc. She got to do the “coloring” which, of course, told her the answer. And she totally got it, too (we quizzed her on it later).

        This is why having two science-and-math-and-nature-minded parents at home can be a good thing. Of course, I haven’t been able to convince my kids of this…

      • July 31, 2012 5:58 pm

        You are the ultimate nerd mom. I love it!

      • July 31, 2012 5:59 pm

        And your husband definitely has some Mr. Wizard in him. Maybe with just a touch of Bob Ross.

      • July 31, 2012 8:24 pm

        Shannon, you convinced me. I would have loved to have you teaching me science! It is fascinating and I wasted about 25 years being afraid of it! You go girl! And your husband, too!

      • August 2, 2012 3:06 pm

        It’s never too late to learn. And since my science is now a bit rusty, maybe Shannon will teach me too?

      • August 2, 2012 4:29 pm

        Actually I get paid to learn about science. I just don’t get to blow up stuff.

      • August 2, 2012 4:35 pm

        I didn’t know I could eat if I found a Do Not Eat packet in my pills. Is that science? I learned that from you, Elyse. Thank you, professor.

      • August 2, 2012 6:31 pm

        You’re welcome, Angie my girl. Use that knowledge wisely.

      • August 3, 2012 8:16 pm

        What a shame, Elyse.

      • August 3, 2012 8:40 pm

        It is sad but profitable.

      • August 3, 2012 8:41 pm

        And blowing up stuff isn’t?

      • August 3, 2012 8:42 pm

        It would be if the blow-er didn’t have to pay for the clean-er.

      • August 3, 2012 8:43 pm

        Fair enough.

      • August 3, 2012 8:46 pm

        I thought this would go on through the second bottle, Angie. I am so disappointing.

      • August 3, 2012 8:50 pm

        Ha! The second cork was popped long ago. I’m beating you.

      • August 3, 2012 8:51 pm

        Angie, I have always wanted to spend an evening with you, I just thought it would be in person…

      • August 3, 2012 8:53 pm

        Hey, whenever you want to come visit a redder state than yours, just let me know.

      • August 3, 2012 8:55 pm

        As long as it’s not a dumber state. VA rocks!

      • August 3, 2012 8:59 pm

        No comment.

      • August 4, 2012 6:06 am

        Sorry I cut off our chat so abruptly, Angie. My internet went out … so I actually had to sleep!

      • August 5, 2012 8:53 pm

        Sleep is overrated. Although, so is blogging.

      • August 3, 2012 8:47 pm

        I thought this would go on through the second bottle, Angie. I am so disappointing.

        Disappointed. Apparently I am well into the third bottle.

  22. July 29, 2012 9:33 pm

    Saturday Night Live’s take on Mr. Wizard:

  23. August 11, 2012 2:30 pm

    The ‘like’ button is so insufficient here. Can I LOVE this post? I watched Mr. Wizard nearly every day after school, but somehow it escaped me that he was such a jerk! This video is like the nostalgic, G-rated version of the Winnebago man. So much love in my heart and soul for this montage! Totally made my day (despite the fact that it took me WEEKS to finally read this post!) ;)

    • August 20, 2012 11:06 am

      I wish I could take credit for putting together that video. When I saw it, I laughed so hard I cried. He was such a dick. Yet I loved him dearly. Somewhere, way up in the clouds, maybe he’s still performing science experiments and yelling at people. I’d like to hope so.

      • August 20, 2012 9:11 pm

        Me too. I still can’t get over the fact that I never clued in to his ornery nature as a child. Looking at that video in particular, it’s pretty obvious. :)


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