The Cincinnati Enquirer from Cincinnati, Ohio on November 19, 1983 · Page 39
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The Cincinnati Enquirer from Cincinnati, Ohio · Page 39

Cincinnati, Ohio
Issue Date:
Saturday, November 19, 1983
Page 39
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I V I V ADVICE D-2 GAMES D-12,13 CHURCH D-7-9 PUZZLES. .. D-12,13 COMICS D-12 TVRADIO. D-10, 11 D EDITOR: JOHN KIESEWETTER, 369-101 1 THE CINCINNATI ENQUIRER SATURDAY, NOVEMBER 19, 1983 TIPOFF On People, Phenomena Looks Like A Fire Sale Wanna buy a mini-nuclear power plant? For the kids we mean . . . maybe dress up their train sets and all. Jersey Central Power and Light, it is announced, is selling a scale model of a nuclear plant, complete with network of pipes, itsy-bitsy valves, mini-machinery and 8-foot reactor. No uranium. The model, built in the '70s to depict a proposed facility, now abandoned for the usual reasons, gets auctioned off later this month. The bad news: It's going to go for a bundle, having cost $1 million to erect in the first place. The good news: Departing from electric company traditions, the price will not go up 14 times this week. Further departing from tradition, no one will be charged for it until the company delivers. A Slim Thanksgiving Well for goodness sake is this Monty Hall a cooking kind of guy or what? We now find Mr. Hall, noted former star, in the business of promoting Genesis, a diet and nutrition program using prepackaged foods, exercise and behavior modification. Born in a UCLA lab, Genesis is now a commercial project with the blessings of several doctors, Hall and one million global followers. Many of whom, we are given to understand, will do a 500-calorie Thanksgiving dinner which Mr. Hall found behind Door No. 2: Crudites and butteririlk dill dip; cucumber salad; dressed down stuffing; sherried consomme with rice; squash; cranberry relish and, get this, pumpkin parfait. Call (buO) 334-3438 for info. Dress like a kumquat and Mr. Hall himself might talk to you. MR. MONTY HALL Ceiling Decor What we'll do now is dress up like Heloise in this here jumpsuit we made from coffee grounds and recycled Pampers. Nice, 'eh? Now this ... the December Woman's Day has a tip for people who drag in the Christmas tree and find it's too tall for the room. First, hack some footage off the bottom. Then, take the discarded trunk, screw in a hook, decorate boughs with ribbons and whatnot and attach the whole mess to a ceiling hook with picture wire. Presto, the mag says, "flying greenery and a charming aerial room decoration." Honest. It says that. It does not say you should then invite tall people over for blind man's bluff, but it might be fun, you know? TV Marches Forward In the key of Muzak, please ... are we bluuuuuue? Over youuuuuuu? That musical interlude something we thought we'd do whilst you mopped that glob of breakfast off your chin-was to introduce the all new "blue tube" TV from GE. A genuinely blue screen, this, GE calls it Neo-Vision and says it's going to change the face of TV like now. It's blue because it contains neodymium oxide, an earth element which absorbs room light for higher contrast and brighter color. GE unveils the thing Sunday in newspaper inserts all over the place, announcing at the same time its Birth of the Blues Sweepstakes with such prizes as a blue Mustang, trips to Hawaii, blue tube sets and Wedgewood china. Unhappily, the set does not make TV shows any better or anything. Just prettier. By Jim Knippenberg Inside Poor, Hungry 3 Jerry and Betty Elkins' three children know what it's like to sit down to a meager meal. Their story is repeated all through the West Virginia coal fields. Big Welcome 4 Washington has welcomed the new Brazilian ambassador and his wife. The couple are in constant demand at a number of capital functions. Holiday Tale 5 "A Christmas Story" is about a little boy in pre-World War II Indiana who desperately wants Santa to bring him a genuine Red Ryder air rifle. Il'l WI"lll!lt"W)llllljtl1.1""1" " ".IIIJJIII WW 'I 11 I1 ". I P m RICHARD THALHEIMER decided his company BY MIKE CAPUZZO Knight News Service For the second day in a row, Richard Thalheimer is up before dawn in a strange town. The world's greatest mail-order microchip mogul, 35, bounds out of Room 1428 at the Eden Roc Hotel, a body electric: He swims 20 laps in the hotel pool, dons a pressed shirt and tie and sells the wonders of Chess Master over a ham-and-cheese omelette in the coffee shop of the Miami Beach, Fla., hotel. All by 7:45 a.m. Forget Willy Loman. This former door-to-door salesman has found fulfillment and $6,000 every 60 seconds peddling the wares in his Sharper Image Catalog: knives to skin alligators, machines to harness gravity, stones to light flames in lovers' hearts. He sells a meter to test the salt level in food ("Protect yourself against killer salt"). A $2,650 reproduction of a Spanish suit of armor ("The 15th century 3-piece suit"). A wood phone "Grown in a tropical rain forest. And signed by Oleg Cassini" ($159). Instant alcohol breath-testers ($54), blood pressure takers ($175), bulletproof raincoats ($400), 10-call-a-minute Demon Dialers ($199), the Grand Master Chess board ($495). The kings and pawns move themselves, says Thalheimer, flashing blue eyes and a natural smile, his hands fluttering like birds over the quarterly catalog shipped to 50 million Americans a year. "This is a great product," he said excitedly. "It counters your move with wandering magnets under the board. If you want to play with it and you're not sure what your next move is you press a button and it wiggles the piece that would be your best move. If you still haven't figured it out, you press a clue button and it moves the piece for you." Who is this California entrepreneur who foresaw that America's managers and professionals longed for a home Geiger counter to detect nuclear power jl ! r c 1 'HI (jff ' ..." ' .v--- t- - Enquirer photo BY DICK SWAIM CHRISTOPHER STEELE'S rather unusual collection of penny weight scales is on exhibit at Taft Museum. If you know your weight, the scale upon which Steele is seated will make you a penny richer when it returns your coin. l-.;.-v:'-- Ma A J 1 A I . VM. Iff,,- jIMi g needed a snappier name to sell the products plant leaks, or a James Bondian aluminum crossbow that fires 45-mph bolts? In the beginning (1892) was the Sears catalog, then the electronic revolution, and now comes Thalheimer, once a lawyer and door-to-door salesman, once Cosmopolitan's bachelor of the month, now sole owner of the specialty catalog whose average order-$150-is triple the closest competitor. "I know what makes people tick," Thalheimer said. "The lucky thing is I have a feel for what's coming next." None of Thalheimer's competitors needs to be told the secrets of his success: Sharper Image taps Americans' fascination with electronic wizardry, reaches into the pockets of two-income households that don't have time to shop in stores, is the first luxury mail-order catalog for professional men 30 to 50. "People tend to trade houses and cars less than they did five or 10 years ago," Thalheimer said. "They surreptitiously pick up the telephone during working hours and pull out a credit card and say, 'Send me a survival knife,' or 'Send me the ultimate rowing machine.' Every 60 seconds in a busy morning in Thalheimer's San Franciso offices, about a dozen customers from across the United States call toll-free to place an order to 40 sales people. Muhammed Ali calls. So does Marlin Brando, Charlton Heston, Burt Reynolds, Barry Goldwater. Three orders came in last week for RB5X, a $1,750 robot who walks, talks, vacuums ($595 for the vacuum cleaner) and says "Whoops. Excuse me," when he bumps into an obstacle. "It's an incredible sight, to watch about half a million dollars worth of orders come in on a good day," Thalheimer said. "Macy's does that, the big department stores. But consider this is a five-year-old business dreamed up in someone's imagination with no capital, no debt. It restores your faith in American entrepreneurship. You can still make a million." A BY MARGARET JOSTEN Enquirer Reporter Christopher Steele's quest for penny weight scales has taken him from the sophisticated canyons of New York City to some smelly wasp-infested chicken coops of the rural Midwest. If he has been stung in the process of purchasing 170 metal monsters for a collection he considers the finest in the United States, that's a minor consideration. "I'm willing to go anywhere in the country to get what I want," vowed Steele, 35, of Columbus, Ohio. Steele sported a natty costume consisting of brown corduroy suit, red tie, blue checked shirt, pink socks and beige loafers as he described his somewhat bizarre avocation in a first-floor gallery of the dignified Taft Museum. At the request of the photographer, Steele sat down upon the base of a penny scale offering a free weigh to those with the ability to guess their own heft. "Are you shooting in color?" he asked. Indeed, Steele is intensely interested in every facet of his whimsical exhibition that opened Friday at the Taft. He even engaged an architect he knows to design the installation of the 26-machine display that will run through Jan. 8 as the main attraction of the Taft's holiday activities. "The American Weigh: Vintage Penny Weighing Scales from the Collection of Christopher Steele, Columbus, Ohio" is the way Taft director .mi Kilt . - t it sells. The idea struck in 1977, when the peddler of Thalheimer Paper Systems, "supporting my law practice by selling office products door to door," was jogging in San Francisco's Golden Gate Park. The idea: A runner's watch. He bought 25 from a small manufacturer, took put a small ad in Runner's World and got 100 orders. The $200 profit prompted a second ad for a costlier wrist chronometer. The result: 1,000 orders and a $20,000 profit in three weeks. The ads-which he still buys in publications such as science magazines and the Wall Street Journal spawned the idea for a catalog. "Thalheimer Paper Systems really was a very unglamorous name if I'm going to be like Xerox," he said. "I thought, 'I want a sharper image.' " The Sharper Image image sends Thal-heimer ceaselessly scouting for something new. Newsweek 's international edition, one of 45 magazines he reads, sent him scurrying for calculator-size, flat-screen TVs. (The domestic Newsweek edition does not run the New Products and Processes page). He travels the nation for trade and gift shows and conventions. He listens politely to would-be inventors "Gee, do I have an idea for your catalog. Uncle Pepy's Clam Opener" knowing another Audiolite is just around the corner. The Audiolite sets all the lights in your house blinking at the sound of a burglar. Sharper Image sells up to 50,000 a month. "When (the inventor) first brought it in I didn't think much of it. It was dull, a little black box. But I took it home and tried it, and I thought, this is a miracle product," he said. "I have what most people think is the ideal life," Thalheimer said. "I get to try all my products, then show them. When I was a kid in school, my favorite day in school was show and tell. In fact, that's what I do still show-and-tell presentations." H in Scales Makes Cents Of American Weigh Ruth K. Meyer has chosen to title the unusual exhibition. Only once before has Steele's collection of penny weight scales some dating back to the earliest days of this century become the subject of an exhibition at an art gallery. That was in 1979, when a gallery at Ohio State University, his alma mater, generated a great deal of traffic from people of all ages and social stations with a showing of Steele's beloved artifacts from an earlier and less-complicated time. "A tremendous success," he remembers. Steele is rightfully proud of his accomplishments since the nights in 1969 when he would sit in the crumbling old railroad depot (since demolished) in Columbus to dream of being there at another, busier time for trains. "I was first struck by the silhouette of the Aristocrat Plus (one of the depot's penny weight scales)," he recalled. "When a coin dropped through the music was so beautiful. If you would hold your breath, a needle in the machine would show you how your heart was beating. "It kind of swept me away. I had to have it. Some force within me said I had to own that machine." After purchasing the Aristocrat Plus in early 1970, Steele was hooked. For years he bought every scale he saw. Some told fortunes. Others offered dream analyses or answers to historical questions. (See SCALE, Page D-2) Quiet Kids Need Help To Chatter BY TONY LANG Enquirer Columnist Dr. Robert Lupella's soundproof booths look like studios for extremely short deejays. The chair seats are downsized about a foot off the ground. Each booth comes equipped with electronic devices. Children do all the performing there. Their little headsets snugly in place, they are tested on hearing tones from an audiometer. Voices whisper out of stereo speakers, mechanical white doggies wiggle their ears and pink piggies light up all to test how Lupella's wee patients react. Other tests measure their speech skills. At Children's Hospital Cincinnati Center for Developmental Disorders (CCDD), Lupella watched through a screening window as a mother played with her blond 5-year-old daughter. The 5-year-old's total vocabulary consists of "Hi," "Mommy" and "Daddy." Otherwise, she communicates by 30 different hand signs. Dr. Lupella heads CCDD's speech and hearing clinic. If his zest for the miracle of speech could be bottled for patients and parents alike, his clinic could announce a wonder cure-the best medicine money can't buy. A veteran of 1,000 gabby Italian dinners, Lupella still finds it tragic to see stunted kids from depression-ridden homes who get no pleasure out of talk. "It's fun talking," he said. "Talking feels good. It sounds good. By talking, people respond to you. By talking, a tiny infant can control a big person just by saying "mama," no more. The greatest thing that can happen to a parent is for a child to say, 'I love you.' "Speech is the most intimate human act. It's phenomenal. We can talk to others and to ourselves. We can talk in the dark, upside down, sideways, we can talk in the shower, in cold and hot, it doesn't take much energy, our speech mechanism is well protected, it lasts a lifetime and talk doesn't cost anything." Yet talk isn't cheap or easy for Lupella's patients. Ages 8 months to 21 years, they may talk only gobbledegook or years behind schedule or not at all. Their parents may not be any motormouth Johnny Carson or Joan Rivers either. "In the waiting room," Lupella said, "some parents do not interact at all with their kids; they sit there like cigar store Indians." Lupella gets the tough cases-youngsters with multiple problems, maybe organic damage, hardly just kiddies with a lisp or stammer. Lately, CCDD specialists have seen heaps of cases complicated by abuse, neglect or home-stress. Even years ago, when he practiced in Evanston. 111., Lupella saw emotionally troubled youngsters with vocal nodules of the sort found only in veteran actors or singers a product of tension and constant voice strain. These were children of doctors, laywers, executives, professors. It's incredible what expertise CCDD marshalls to put the speech pieces back together again -learning disability specialists, nutritionists, physical therapists, neurologists, psychologists, speech pathologists. More than 7,000 of these specialists have swarmed into Cincinnati this weekend for the American Speech and Hearing Asssociation's national meeting. Some plucky parents undertake to cure their child on their own. The mother of one autistic child Lupella evaluated quit her job and the whole family pitched in. "And you know what?" Lupella said. "They cured him. The mother said she would never recommend it to others, because it really screwed things up for everybody else. But wasn't it beautiful they were willing to give that much?" aw- DR. ROBERT LUPELLA SHIR iff., ;

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