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.
UPDATE 9:57 A.M. FROM CHRIS
1. Eating dinner with everyone on the set including Pat and Vanna.
UPDATE 11:55 A.M. FROM EDDIE
"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."
"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."
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."
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.
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- Dan Dorfman
See the whole 3 a.m. series, exclusively from the Beachwood!
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Posted on March 6, 2008
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