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Test Pattern: Five-link Friday

Johnny Carson's farewell monologue; Bette Midler's goodbye song; "Family Circus" parodies, "Sideways" real-life locations, find out who's taller than you. By Gael Fashingbauer Cooper
/ Source: msnbc.com

Five-link Friday

Still mourning Johnny Carson, still thinking about comic strips. What a combination.

• The New York Times (free registration required) printed . Be prepared to get a lump in your throat.

• Ready for another lump? Here are the as sung to Carson by Bette Midler on the second-to-the-last show (the last one with guests). Forgive the somewhat annoying all lowercase letters.

• We've been having a bit of fun at the expense of the "Family Circus" recently. Did you see Sunday's strip? A really odd one where Bil Keane apologized for a strip in which Dolly piles her toys by the front door in case of fire. Apparently fire fighters were not pleased with the message that people should be trying to get personal possessions out of the house when it's on fire -- they want you to just grab your family and run. But still, the apology, which featured the Family Circus dad (a Bil Keane stand-in) sitting in the corner, seemed bizarre. That said, I do like the page of by other cartoonists that are posted on the FC official site. There's even a , for the millions of us that miss that little world ("Opus" is just not the same).

• Have you seen the Oscar-nominated movie "Sideways"? If you were sucked into the world of Miles and Jack and their little bachelor-party tour through California's wine country, you might want to check out this (it's a .pdf, by the way). Thanks to for the link!

• Need a random time-killer? lets you type in your height, then select various famous people from a chart to see if they're taller or shorter than you are. At almost 5' 9", I'm taller than Al Pacino, Alfred Hitchcock and Audrey Hepburn, but shorter than Allison Janney, Frank Zappa and Czar Peter the Great, among others. (Via .)

Goodbye, Johnny

Damn. Damn, damn, damn. I was baking bread and reading the Sunday New York Times yesterday when the MSNBC.com newsroom called me at home. That can only mean major entertainment news, and it was the story we'd been bracing for for some months: .

Do check out the by writer Mike Ventre. It put a lump in my throat. There are also some fascinating memories of the man in our .

Johnny's was a show I remember more through watching my parents tune in than through watching it myself. I agree with the reader in our feedback story who says getting to stay up to watch Johnny was a passage to adulthood (much like not having to sit at the kids' table at Thanksgiving).

Johnny's show was one of the few shows I remember my parents watching together, and when Johnny stepped down for Jay Leno, it was more of a generational shift for me than when Clinton became the first Baby Boomer president. The most important event in my parents' lives was undoubtedly The War, World War II. It shaped them, and it shaped their generation, of which Carson was a part.

In simplest of terms, as funny as Jay Leno is, he didn't remember The War. To pass the “Tonight Show” tradition into the hands of a man for whom this was not life's defining event was a sea change indeed.

Coming when it did, in an era before "500 channels and nothing's on," Johnny and his show had almost a universal reach. I once interviewed the inventor of the Nerf ball and the board game Twister, and he told me, still marveling, that Twister didn't take off until Johnny and Eva Gabor demonstrated it on the "Tonight Show." Everyone watched, of course, and the next day, everyone wanted his game. (It helped that Gabor played in a low-cut dress.)

His show truly was a backdrop to our lives, and in this era of 500 channels and nothing's on, we really shall not look upon his like again.

A sad day for television, and for all of us.