I've mentioned my friend Wally Podrazik here before, generally in regards to him being that person who as a little kid said to himself, "How can I make a career out of watching television my whole life and get paid for it." And he figured out a way.
Among many other things, Wally is curator of the Museum of Broadcast Communications in Chicago (which you can find here, with lots of interesting things online), co-writing (with Harry Castleman, another Northwestern compatriot from my student day) numerous editions of the the book, Watching TV -- see, I told you! -- and the book, Harry and Wally's Favorite TV Shows (seriously, is this guy brilliant or what, he gets paid for writing a book telling you about his favorite TV shows! When you do that, you're probably sitting in a bar paying for drinks); is an adjunct lecturer at the University of Illinois, Chicago, Communications Department; teaching people how to watch television; co-written numerous other books on watching TV (of course); was in charge of media logistics at the six Democratic conventions, and...well, watches television. All of these things he does under the pseudonym "Walter J. Podrazik" because I suspect if he just did it as "Wally" people would see through his trick and say, "Wait! We're paying you to watch TV??!!!!"
It turns out that Mr. Podrazik is here in Los Angeles for a few days. He's attending "The Fest," also known in its longer-form name as The Fest for Beatles Fans 2014, "The Original & Longest-Running Beatles Celebration, Since 1974!" He's not attending as a fan, though -- no, being Walter J. Podrazik, he's long-since figured out a way to make a career of this. He and Harry Castleman have written three books on the Beatles. (And no, one of them is not called, Harry and Wally's Favorite Beatles Songs.) He's part of the Fest, "conducting discussions, trivia, etc." he wrote to me in his expansive, over-the-top, bombastic style that is just so Walter J.
It's worth noting that on the Christmas card that he and his wife send out each year, there's always a trivia contest included, and he even has offered prizes. The only thing he leaves out is writing, "Come on down!!"
On the homepage of the Fest, they list all of confirmed celebrity guests. To their everlasting discredit, they do not list Wally there. Personally, I think that anyone attending the event would have a far better time and easily learn significantly more if they went to one of the sessions led by a Walter J. Podrazik that most anyone else.
The Fest runs Friday through Sunday, and you can find out more information here, if such things interest you and you live in Los Angeles. (They have other events discussed elsewhere.) If you do go, though, do yourself a favor and find the session lead by Wally Podrazik. I don't care how they officially list him. That's who he is.
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