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The [Thursday] Papers

With Wheel of Fortune in town and taping shows at Navy Pier, I thought I'd tell a little story today before getting to the news.

When I was in college at the University of Minnesota in the 1980s - I was there most of the decade because I was having too much fun to leave - one of my buddies got our circle of friends hooked on Wheel for awhile. We would hunker down every night at 6:30 p.m. for 30 minutes of puzzle-solving and hijinks, before moving on to mere hijinks.

When word came that the Wheel was coming to Minneapolis to audition contestants, my enthusiastic friend, Eddie, gathered us together in a mission to get one of us on the show. So we went to the tryouts.

The first thing they had us do was to basically fill out hangman-type puzzles. This, oddly, eliminated five or six of us. I say oddly because, well, we weren't idiots!

Then the show staff had the remaining competitors play a mini-game of Wheel, with a, um, mini-wheel.

Two of my friends made the cut and I flew out to L.A. with them to watch them tape the show.

My friend Chris was a geography major at the time, and when Pat Sajak asked him what he planned to do with a geography degree, Chris said, "Make maps, I guess."

Chris didn't fare well on Wheel, ended up in business school and has worked for a major credit card company for many years. Maybe Sajak spooked him.

Chris's cousin, Bob, on the other hand, won a tropical vacation, some furniture, and a lifelong supply of something or other, maybe breath mints or some type of household cleaner. In the finale, Bob stood alone with Sajak trying to solve the big bonus puzzle and kept saying, "Seven . . . seven . . . seven . . . " The answer was "Seventh Heaven," but Bob never quite got there.

A few years later, Eddie dragged me to a taping of The Jenny Jones Show, which wasn't nearly as much fun. But you need someone like Eddie around to corral you into things like that you might not otherwise do. (His latest is writing crossword puzzles; he recently had one accepted by the New York Times.) I love telling people I had a couple college friends who were on Wheel of Fortune.

My goal now is to someday make it to Celebrity Rehab With Dr. Drew. I'd like to go to group in the mornings, ride horses in the afternoon, and drive the Pasadena clinic staff crazy at night. Then my life will truly be complete.


The only other thing I would add would be how they screwed up on that one game, made us wait a 1/2 hour while they got an official ruling from the Merv Griffin Enterprises rules committee, and then threw out the game I was just about to win. That scarred me.

Other nuggets:

1. Eating dinner with everyone on the set including Pat and Vanna.
2. In the bonus round, Pat spun the wheel, landed on $5000. I guessed "L", there were 2. I guessed "BULL HORN". Answer was "FULL MOON". Almost got $10,000!!!
3. How cheesy the set was.


You forgot to mention how I made you house me while I tried out for Jeopardy in Chicago a few years back. Though I get rejected for many things, I still get back up on that horse, baby!!!!!


"Wheel, you have let me down," our very own Leigh Novak writes in A Wheel-Watcher's Lament. "You aren't what you used to be.

"I understand the need to adapt. But you have gone too far with your fancy-dan graphics and ridiculous new puzzle topics - not to mention your lewd sponsorship stroking. The only thing worse than Pat Sajak deliberately fondling the cute female contestants is the constant fondling of product placers."

Site Note
If you've had sporadic problems getting onto the Beachwood (or our sister site, Ferdy on Films) this week, it's because our hosting provider, Media Temple, is once again providing the best service it can possibly muster.

Milk Bones
The Sun-Times editorial page at least acknowledges the irony inherent in its endorsement this morning of dairy magnate and immigrant-baiter Jim Oberweis for the U.S. House.

"The Sun-Times in recent months has made a point of returning to its political roots, speaking with a more progressive editorial voice than our competitor, the conservative Chicago Tribune," the paper says. "Yet now we find ourselves backing Oberweis, a rock-ribbed Republican, while the Tribune sides with Foster. Like all leaders, Oberweis has a point of view, which he argues forcefully and effectively.

"But after meeting at length with both candidates, this endorsement was not such a difficult call. Oberweis was forceful and informed, while Foster was a disappointment. Though a respected physicist, he failed to do his homework, unable to discuss important issues in anything but superficial terms."

That may be true; I wasn't there and I don't know much about Foster or his campaign. And there is some merit to the paper's concluding thought: "Our endorsement is a vote for competence, personal leadership and an individual who will effectively represent the 14th District in the important debates in Congress over issues that will mold our future. We believe those debates are the essence of our democracy and require well-informed and articulate people from both sides of the aisle."

But Jim Oberweis? The Milk Dud?

Don't take it from me. Take it from the Tribune editorial page, which writes today in a must-read editorial that "any similarity between the Oberweis campaign and the truth is pure coincidence."

News Bits
* "Beleagured County Hospital Chief To Quit."

His pension lets him keep the car though, and a lifetime supply of free gas.

* "CTA Forced To Cut $200 Million."

Will use new credit-card fare machines to pay for the rest of its budget.

* "Ald. Freddrenna Lyle elected city chairman of the Cook County Democratic Party."

But Vladimir Putin will continue to be the real power behind the scenes.

"Gov. Rod Blagojevich's administration presented a confusing picture Wednesday of what his office knew about a woman who received a criminal pardon from the governor in 2007, even as her school received a $1 million state grant to re-opened after being burned out of the Pilgrim Baptist Church," the Tribune reports.

Blagojevich insists he's not Pardon Official A.

It's 3 a.m.
The phone rings. It's Jerry Angelo. I know it's late, but can you play offense?

- Dan Dorfman


See the whole 3 a.m. series, exclusively from the Beachwood!

Dese Dose Dems
A Mayor Daley Impersonation Contest.

Team Beachwood?

Civic Building
"A lot of people apparently don't know the process of the trial - the fact that there is a defendant and plaintiff, what a civil trial is versus criminal, and what the judge's and jury's role is in the process," our very own Nikki Golden writes today in Jury Duty. "Thankfully, when you first show up, Lester Holt, who as far as I know hasn't been a Chicago anchor - nor had a mustache - since about 2000, narrates a video that describes to you the whole process so you will know what's going on."

The Beachwood Tip Line: On trial.


Posted on March 6, 2008

MUSIC - Lyric Opera Strike Settled.
POLITICS - USA Today's Op-Ed Disaster.
SPORTS - SportsMonday: Come On, Vic!

BOOKS - Chicago Book Haul: The Dial.

PEOPLE PLACES & THINGS - Chicagoetry: West Town Blues.

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