We are one week closer to someone winning a million dollars and then quickly spiraling downwards into reality-television obscurity. I’ve decided to put this week’s “inventions” to the wedding gift test: If this show claims to choose an invention that will change America, each of these products could potentially be a great wedding gift, right? I’m going to my first wedding of the post-college years today and I would sure as hell not get them anything I’ve seen on this show. Prior tests of the invention’s merit: “Would I be surprised if my dad (a man addicted to ordering random things like fake bronze busts of jazz musicians from catalogues) bought this?” and “Is this something I would regift immediately, complete with its original wrapping?”
Available at Urban Outfitters?
The answer is yes, ’cause this is American Inventor! So guess I’ll just buy them something off their Crate+Barrel registry. Congratulations Sarah and Andrew, I just got you a French press. May you have many joyful mornings of bickering over whose turn it is to make the coffee.Houston and Tampa’s finalists will be selected this week, as we quickly pan over images of our four judges, sans descriptions and net worth. Even Nick Smith is tired of introducing them.
Today in Tampa:
A post-menopausal Pippi Longstocking who goes by the name of “Rose Feller” hails from Ogden, Utah. This 45-year-old inventor has invested $3K in something she claims will eliminate stress. Post-menopausal Pippi really likes to wear sparkly sequins, and her pigtails are no longer perky, along with other formerly perky things. Pippi presses a boombox and out blares “The Love Test,” a song that she’s presumably written herself. She sings along, throwing in weak choreography and hand motions. It’s like someone’s compiled all the rejected ABC TV-show theme songs into her tune, like the songs that never made it for Full House and Family Matters.
The ditty goes something like this:
“I dare you to take the love test! Take the love test! / See how much he loves you / when he helps you clean up. / Is he kind to your pet / from the first day you met? / Hold on tight, he’s Mr. Right./ This is your love test if you pass this, uh huh, you can be with me!”
Dontcha wish your girlfriend was hot like me?
I have to say that even those lame “Maybe he’s just not that into you, you ho” magazine tests in Cosmo are better than this song. The judges unanimously reject her for the lack of jazz hands, and inform her that she’s auditioning for the wrong show. How many eHarmony rejects have we seen on American Inventor? Too many to count.
Next up, 55-year-old Shirley Blount has sunk 14 years and $2K into something she proclaims is a solution for families – Smarty Potty is no mere training potty, it’s a “child development concept.” When a child makes a “deposit” the lights on the potty flash. When the kid flushes, he’s treated to the never-ending strains of “London Bridge is Falling Down.” How appropriate.
Don’t play with your food, especially after it’s been digested.
And the lights flash again. I suspect she’s shoved a music box into the bottom of her training potty, as the thing won’t stop playing, preventing Shirley from explaining her concept.
What do you think British Man said about another poo-related invention? Seriously. Rejected!
Meanwhile, in Houston, a man believe there’s nothing like his invention out on the market. What do you mean by that, Mr. Crazynuts?
Kevin Gilg, a certified prostheticist, graces us with his electric fingernail cutting/shapping tool. A $4K investment that’s been developed over 20 years ago, the prototype is about nine years old. He plans on changing the way the world grooms itself.
His invention looks like something from the welder-stripper from Flashdance used, a belt sander that lets you kiss your hands goodbye. I guess he does specialize in prosthetics, which is why he’s not afraid to stick his hands in the thing.
“You can do all ten fingernails in less than one minute,” boasts Kevin.
“Go ahead, stick your fingers in there,” replies Pat.
“I have always hated clipping and filing,” Kevin continues.
“Just stick it in!”
He claims it’s safe, but I expect blood to spurt all over the place very, very soon. Maybe he’s got a fake hand?
C’mon guys, like, everyone is doing it! My nails are so sparkly!
“So you and your buddies hang around and do your nails in the garage?” asks Pat.
“Um…” stammers Kevin. Gotcha.
Is Pat implying that it’s gay to keep your nails trimmed? This is the age of the MAN-icure! This invention might look appealing if it was redecorated in hot pink and Bedazzled to look less industrial. Kevin starts blabbering about how he’s used it for nine years “Will you shut up already?” yells British Man. All the judges reject Kevin’s invention and end his quest to put Vietnamese nail salons out of business. Even George says no.
Don’t worry, hon. He blew it.
We haven’t had a cop on this show yet right? We’ve had firefighters, poor people who survive on only eggs and beans, and certified psychotics, but I don’t remember any po-po’s.
51-year-old Marcus “Sandy” Wall is a 28-year vet of the Houston police force. Cue the obligatory shooting/gun montage.With 21 years on the SWAT team, he demands you respect his authoritayyyy. I would, but you’re wearing a denim button up shirt, buddy.
His invention looks like a huge boom stand with wheels. I assume it is a tool of destruction and responsible for the decay of civil liberties. My hearing is damaged from years of drumming, but I’m 80% sure that Sandy’s invention is called the Wall Banger. That also happens to be a category on the show Most Extreme Elimination Challenge which dubs over Japanese game shows with painful tasks named “Pole Riders” and “Sinkers and Floaters.” Who doesn’t love MXC?
Mmm…smells like Compton.
Cut to police video of soldiers banging down walls. Sandy explains that the Wall Banger is not highly explosive, and user-friendly. If you say so. This alleged brand-new technology can be made compact, to fit in the trunk of a squad car, and it will save the lives of countless police officers. I’m pretty sure this already exists. So this invention basically blows doors open with a small charge and a flash bang/blast chamber and then guys holler “POLICE!” in slightly menacing tones. Aw. This will make those entry scenes in COPS less entertaining.
How can the judges say no to a cop?
I know Chuck Norris. Respeck mah authoritayyy!
SPANX: Did you lose friends that were in door frames?
Thanks, Captain Obvious! British Man alone says no, due to the lack of mass appeal (although I am sure would-be hooligans/looters would love to get their hands on this) — hallelujah for some common sense. And cue the swell of heroic piano music.
Bill Guess is from Baton Rouge, with the appropriate Louisiana accent to boot. With 15 years and $7K invested into his invention, he’s convinced that he’s going to change the future of cooking. Gourmand Anthelme Brillat-Savarin inspired him (you know, the guy whose quotes are splattered all over the intro for the original Iron Chef series) — I can’t catch the beginning of the quote, but it ends with “you must be born a rotisserie.” Something is definitely lost in the translation.
I’m going to pretend and be interested in your meat toaster, but I’m GEORGE FOREMAN, beeyotch!
His machine has a pretentious French name, but it’s an automatic meat cooker. It will cook a steak perfectly, Bill claims. You hit “rare” and that’s what you get. “Medium” and “well done” are other options. It’s like a toaster for a steak, Pat chimes in. The slab of meat goes on the skewers and sends the internal temperature to the meat to the control device.
Bill’s fatal mistake is offering to demonstrate his meat toaster: “I’ll do it for you live, it works every time.”
“I want it medium rare,” demands British Man. “How long will it take?”
“About ten minutes.”
After roughly ten minutes the meat toaster beeps, but the beep apparently doesn’t mean it’s done. So what’s the point of the beeper? Geez.The William Tell Overture plays as our judges hem and haw, wriggling around in their seats.
Time elapsed: 16:00
“Oh boy,” says George.
Everyone’s yawning as a lullaby plays.
Definitely not a good sign.
Time elapsed: 24:33
“Can we go outside? Let’s take a quick break.”
Time elapsed: 35:51
Man vs. Machine: Steak Royale
Bill murmurs encouraging words to his steak, alone in the room.
The judges come back.
Bill: “We’re getting to the exciting part!”
British Man: “What, you’re leaving?
Bill: “It’s rare.”
Judges: “Not medium rare?”
Bil: “Um, Perfect medium rare, it is.”
Rare or medium rare? Chicken or fish?
BM eats it: “I’ve got to say, after 40 minutes, that was worth the wait. That’s a medium rare steak, a very good steak.” Evidence that cranky robots do eat after all!
SPANX: “If Peter thinks it’s that good, I say yes.”
Pat: “Patience is not my virtue. No.”
George: “No, my Foreman Grill pwns you.”
BM: “The length of time it took is why it failed, it’s too long, I say no.”
“Sorry I blew my load, I mean, shot,” apologizes Bill.
Goodbye, meat toaster!
Hello again, Tampa:
Lovey-dovey couple George and Denise Tucker, 63 and 55, truly want to make a difference in the world with EZT4U. Not to be confused with EZY4U, EZT4U was the runner up name for Kelly Clarkson’s next hit single, which Clive Davis probably shot down and proclaimed as “too sucky to sell to the masses.”
These two New-Age hippies used to have a tea shop, and found that brewing the perfect oolong was just no cup of tea. Worst. Metaphor. Ever. Green tea grew bitter from water that was too hot, that sort of thing. So they created a modified swing-out basket that can fit into any one of millions of coffee makers (over 100 million, they say). With looseleaf tea and their brewing basket, the world will never be the same. They’ve patented their invention for basically every make and model, because they’re overachievers like that.
Kathy Griffin: I found your biological mother.
Pat: “I know tea’s a giant market. That’s genius. I have to say yes.”
SPANX: “I don’t drink tea…But if this fits on everyone’s existing coffee maker, you have something here — I give you a yes.”
BM: “It’s potentially one of the best things I’ve seen. Yes from me.”
George: “I’ll just give you my token because I’ve seen what a million dollar market these tea brewers are making.”
You’re a Tampa Tea Finalist!
They frolic, kiss and run off into the distance like the crazies they are.
Cafeteria Manager Bobby Lee Grissett has been nurturing his dream for over 20 years. He’s never met a cake that he didn’t like — hence, the 54-square cake cutter. Standard for sheet cakes, the cutter cuts your cake, cornbread, brownies, and even pie into even squares. It’s washable, it doesn’t rest, and it’d be a godsend to cafeteria ladies everywhere.
I am le tired. Fire zee missiles!
“I was a baker, cooker, and baked tons of sheet cakes, and we could never get it too even. Portion control would help, for catering people, schools, prisons,” he insists, his eyes pleading.
The judges ask him how much he spent, and he admits that $11K went in, and he paid back $33K out of his retirement fund. “That’s my dream, to support my family. We don’t have much but we love and appreciate what we got.” Aww. Ah, the American Dream. Founded on baked goods.
George: “Family reunion, those would really work out fine. I’d like to have one of those, I’m gonna vote yes.”
SPANX: “I give you credit for coming up with a creative solution, and I say yes.”
BM: “I get the convenience factor, but not the mass appeal. I don’t think this will sell. No.”
So you like your cake slices jagged and misshapen, British Man? What a sadist.
“This will save the workload, manpower, I know this is what they need,” implores Bobby Lee. He’s about to cry. My sympathy gene kicks in, and I’m starting to feel for the guy.
It’s down to Pat: “I would love to give you a yes, but I have to agree with Peter. I don’t see mass appeal, I say no.”
Um, is America not the most obese country in the world right now? George tries to reassure Bobby Lee: “It’s not your day today, but you have another day tomorrow.”
What happens to a dream deferred?
Let them eat misshapen cake!
Sorry! Back to work, lunch lady!
Finally, our Lifetime for Women/Hallmark by Maya Angelou-inspired moment of the day:
We’re in Texas, where the final inventor of the day is Chris Kanoyan. This young Austin native and his mom Linda are here to present his idea. Cut to background footage of his home and a family eating at the dining table. They found out he was deaf at 3 months old, and he lives in a hearing home with four hearing people. Yet his mom is the only one who knows sign language. Whaaa? What kind of effed up family doesn’t bother learning sign language in order to communicate with their own loved one? This one, apparently.
Three of these people suck.
“I miss my family’s emotions and faces. This is enough! I want to make something I can develop, and to be independent.”
That’s what “hi” in sign language looks like to me.
His invention is The Voice Inside, an electronic device equipped with voice recognition software to help deaf people communicate one on one. It’s currently in posterboard mode. Ideally, the souped up Blackberry/PSP/Sidekick-looking gadget will translate voice into text on the screen for the deaf person to read. In turn, the deaf user can type back a response with the keyboard on the device. While I believe the idea has merit, it just has a lot of R&D to go.
Obligatory “deep thought” shot.
“It would mean everything to me,” Chris says. “I still have a hard time hearing people. I would be the last one to laugh at jokes…I go out and meet a beautiful woman and can’t have a conversation with her. I want to have younger deaf children growing up with an easier life than I did.”
Not to be the resident asshole, but Helen Keller had it harder than you. I can understand how disempowered he must feel because he relies on his mother so heavily. Can you imagine trying to pick up chicks with your mom in tow?
She’s my mom, my translator, and my wingman.
And what would it mean to the mother? “It would mean so much because I know in his heart he has so much to give the world.” That, and she wouldn’t have to be there asking girls out for her son. Awkwardness averted. Definitely a plus.
Okay, how do you say no to a deaf, I mean, hearing-impaired person? You don’t.
SPANX: I would love for you to have the funding to make this affordable device.Yes.
George: I’mma say yes.
Pat: I hope one day your dream comes true. Unfortunately, I think it requires a lot more development. And even becoming a $50K winner wouldn’t be enough.
BM: I don’t know whether $50K is going to go anywhere near the amount that you need.
George (to BM): Remember, you don’t know. Maybe it’s all, or maybe too much.
BM: I’m going to say yes.
When did British Man grow a heart bigger than Mr. Burns’? I was kind of expecting the, “Look, I’m going to talk to you the way I would a non-deaf person, only like, wait, that doesn’t work since your mom has to translate anyway. It’s a no. Yeah, head-shaking is synonymous for rejection in both the hearing and non-hearing worlds.”
And now the tinkly piano strains of Five for Fighting’s song “Superman.” The producers are really outdoing themselves this week. What next, Bette Midler shows up to sing, “You are the wind beneath my wings”? That’d be pretty sweet.
It’s about a 5 on the ugly shirt scale.
It’s deliberation time for our three monkeys and George Foreman.
Our Houston Finalists are:
- Joe and Mike Miller with Wrap Away, the handy dandy wrapping dispenser.
- The Voice Inside, the hearing-impaired communicator/chick picker-upper.
- The Wall Banger by Sandy Wall, a tactical utility pole used by law enforcement to infringe upon our privacy.
SPANX desperately wants Chris to have a chance to impact the lives of deaf people across America, but Pat and British Man doubt that a prototype can be made with just $50K.
George: The Wrap Away – that’s my Houston winner.
BM: It’s just a compartmentalized drawer.
George attacks British Man for insulting his favorite product, and we switch to Tampa:
- Carlos Reid and his Reid Building Blocks/Lego house
- Furney Eubanks and the EZ mower
Old people are funny.
The tea industry is a multi-billion dollar industry. But not everyone has a coffee maker in their home, says British Man. That’s right, some of us are lazy and go to Starbucks. Carlos had passion, but it’s a concept, without a prototype. Plus, I’m pretty sure those plastics aren’t biodegradable. Furney and his lawnmower are entertaining. They like him, but aren’t sure it’s going to fly off the shelves. Ruh roh, who’s it gonna be?
Nick Smith, of course, is at the ready with posterboards and the friends and families of the finalists. And…it’s EZT4U in Tampa — are they at a tea shop? Nope, it appears to be a “Psychic Emporium” which confirms my notion that these people are just a couple crystals short of sane.
Have you cleansed your aura lately? I sure haven’t.
That’s right, Nick Smith just crapped himself.
In Houston, our finalists are.. the brothers of Wrap Away! These Catholics can’t believe the amount printed on the check, though it’s certainly less than the 1+ million dollar settlements the abuse victims of the Church got recently. Oh snap, I went there. Then they’re ceremoniously sprayed with champagne.
“…and that’s how I got your mom pregnant twice in a year.”
The Wrap Away brothers: “We’re a couple of country bumpkins, but we’re gonna show ‘em what Wrap Away’s all about.”
EZT4U Crazies: “We know what’s next, because our astrologer told us. Were gonna be the next American inventors! Yay!”
Not if you’ve been calling Miss Cleo, suckas!
The Six Horcruxes of Voldemort: Destroy them all!
NEXT WEEK: A two-hour special? I can’t wait.