Classic Dishes...

That’s Not Glaze

It’s my goal to acquire national fame for Chez Fred by becoming a clearinghouse for video clips of news broadcasts that have screwed the pooch. Sadly, the bastards at KTVU made YouTube take down my clip heralding the comic genius of Mike Litoris, so you may want to watch this one while you can.

First, a little background. I frequently read a website called Fark. They basically feature discussion threads on news stories that people submit, along with a funny headline. Similar goings-on happen at another website, Something Awful.

One feature occurring on both sites is the occasional Photoshop contest; a topic or source picture will be thrown out there, and people will use their favorite image-manipulation software (open-source whoring time: my favorite is the GIMP) to create a funny image based on that. Then everyone votes for the one they like best.

That’s where the source for the following came from:

For those who still can’t quite make it out, here’s the original source image:

Magical. Part of me feels for the poor technical director who made that graphic, and the other part wonders what the hell they were doing searching the open Internet for source images…

Backs Against The Wal

In the mornings, while I’m getting dressed, I usually turn on the TV to one of the morning shows, just to make sure that the Apocolypse hasn’t kicked in or something.

Today it was The Early Show, which I don’t usually watch, but there’s been some rumbling in the game-show-geek world about their weather guy, Dave Price, taking over for Bob Barker on The Price Is Right when the latter retires next year, and I’m curious to see him.

So I flip the TV over to KIRO, and we’re in an ad break. The final spot in this ad break happens to be one for, which is apparently a group that is protesting the way Walmart treats their employees. I check my watch to make sure it isn’t election time, confirm that it in fact isn’t, the spot ends…

…and we’re back. A couple of chicks who were not Hannah Storm or Julie Chen do the pitch to the weather segment, and the picture dissolves to the sponsorship plug:

“This weather segment is brought to you by Walmart! Always low prices.”


Hey, look…NASCAR!

Just a quick observation on a Sunday night: Once you have a high-definition television, it’s amazing the utter crap you will watch just because it’s in hi-def.

I’m hoping it passes.

I Get Letters, Small World Edition

The Four Of You will remember that the other day I wrote about a guy who totally got one over on KTVU’s Ten O’Clock News.

Well, check out what I found in my email this morning:

thanks i am really glad people get it / i was just having fun / went down exac as you put it / spelled my name and everything. thanks for getting it

(name withheld) / AKA Mike Litoris

Ain’t that somethin’? We’re famous, kids.

“Sure, anyone could have sent you that,” you say. Well, yeah, that’s what I thought, too. But I did a little digging, and I think he’s for real. Without revealing too much, “Mike’s” email came from, and they’re in bed with Yahoo.

So I did a search on Yahoo for “Mike Litoris”. At the time of this writing, I was the sixth hit. (Technically I was the third, too, as I was the one who posted the clip on YouTube, mainly so I could write about it here.) So it seems completely reasonable to me that it could have gotten back to him, especially when he realized that he was officially On The Clock for his fifteen minutes of Internet fame.

Apparently the bit was featured on Jimmy Kimmel Live! the other night, and he’d be anxious to see it. So in gratitude for totally making my day by stepping forward, I’ll put the request out to The Four Of You…anyone know where we could get hold of the Kimmel clip? If you do, let me know, and I’ll put you in touch with him.

Wow. “Mike Litoris” has read my site. I truly feel like I’ve made the big time now. Kibo ain’t got NOTHIN’ on him.

POSTSCRIPT, 11:12P, 7/20/05: Someone posted his Kimmel clip on YouTube: Thanks again, “Mike”. :)

From The Can’t Win For Losing Department

Some folks I know went to go see a game show taping the other day, a perfectly-awful-sounding new GSN offering called Starface. Unremarkable in and of itself, I realize, but stay with me.

Now, I know a few of The Four Of You know how these things go, but for the benefit of those who don’t: usually, there is some dead time between when a studio audience is seated for a taping of a television show and when the show begins, and more and more often, dead time when the show has to stop tape to do something like make a change to the set or redo a shot or something like that.

Anyhow, to fill that time and get (or keep) the audience hyped up and ready to applaud and hoot and holler wildly when the situation calls for it, the production will employ what is known in industry parlance as a “warm-up guy.” Often, and especially in the case of game shows, this is a second hat worn by the show’s announcer (when there is one; the traditional game show announcer is a dying breed these days, it seems), but just as often they will hire a separate person for this role, oftentimes a comedian looking to supplement their income between their standing gigs at Chortle’s Laugh Emporium and Guffaw’s Comedy Showcase.

In fact, on this day, they did have a “comedian” on hand to do the warm-up. I use the Finger Quotes Of Extreme Anal Chafing in the previous sentence because it was reported to me that apparently nobody told this particular “comedian” that it was his job to be, ya know, funny. The guy was flopping hardcore. To draw an analogy for The Two Of You among the Four who watch WWE wrestling, this guy was jobbing to the Brooklyn Brawler.

So, as the poor sap felt the rivulet of flop-sweat meander down the back of his neck, he decides to go to the tried-and-true bailout for comics whose material isn’t working: self-deprecation. Unfortunately, here is where he makes his fatal error:

He admits that he’s bombing, but that it’s par for the course, as he can’t win at anything. And now, since he doesn’t have any material on bombing, he goes to the comedian’s OTHER well: audience participation. He directs his mic to one of my associate’s associates, sitting in the front row. “Sir! Yes, you, sir, you’ve got to know where I’m coming from; what’s the biggest thing you’ve ever won?”

Normally, not a problem, except the person he pointed his microphone at happened to be Kevin Olmstead, who won $2,180,000 on Who Wants To Be A Millionaire.

Oops. Good night, everybody. Drive safely.

Good Evening, I’m Dick Hertz

Those among The Four Of You who know me personally know that for a few years I worked at a couple of television stations. Well, when I first started there, my job title was basically “Chyron Boy”. I was the one responsible for typing in the graphics that appear at the bottom of the screen to tell you someone’s name, and the sports scores, and stuff like that, and then making sure they were displayed and ready to go at the appropriate points on the actual newscast.

Which, for me, makes this bit all the funnier: This aired last night on KTVU‘s (the Fox affiliate out of San Francisco) 10:00P newscast. The part we’re interested in comes at exactly 2:04 into the video:

Mike Litoris. Comic GOLD.

But gather ’round, kids, because here comes a Chez Fred Extra: Picture the scenarios leading up to this moment that don’t make it into the finished story:

  • The reporter stood there with her pad, and asked for his name. He gives it, and she, without missing a beat and probably not even looking up from her scribbling, asks him “Okay, is that spelled L-I-T…?”
  • The videographer is talking to the guy while the reporter is off doing something else. He asks him to state and spell his name, and Mike looks into the camera, keeps a stone sober straight face, and says “Mike Litoris. L-I-T-O-R-I-S.” Later, the reporter is writing her story, sees this guy claim to be Mike Litoris, and then never even questions it.
  • If KTVU has a Chyron Boy (which I doubt, seeing as I was automated out of a job in 1995), they saw the list of Chyrons, saw this name, and loaded it in without even suspecting something to be amiss.

Anyhow, all props to ol’ Mike, who not only pulled this stunt off, but managed to conduct the interview that followed with a completely straight face. I imagine it took some time to get home. It would be hard to walk quickly when you’re carrying around two GIANT BRASS BALLS.

Why, Yes, Yes They Do

Earlier today I had the TV on, and I came across an ad for Charmin.

Gone are the days of Mr. Whipple, to be replaced by animated bears. Discussing the merits of toilet paper. In a forest.

You don’t have to be Fellini to figure that one out, kids.

It was, however, the subtext of the ad that I enjoyed most. Basically the bear is concerned that he might not have enough toilet paper for the deuce he’s about to drop, so Mom gives him the new Charmin Big-Assed Roll, which, in a major feat of bung-wipe technology, combines the number of sheets found in four mere mortal rolls of toilet paper into one huge roll of extended starfish-cleansing goodness.

Because bears apparently not only…um, do that…in the woods, but apparently they do so in a fairly voluminous fashion, as well.

Good to know.

Beaten Like A Rented Mule

In yet another example of a sports franchise being woefully out of touch with their fans, the Pittsburgh Penguins’ longtime play-by-play announcer, Mike Lange, was let go today.

Most of The Four Of You have no idea who Lange is, so take it from me that one of the top five hockey broadcasters in the world is now looking for work. He was known for his colorful catchphrases when a Penguin would score, such as “HEEEEE SMOKED HIM LIKE A CHEAP CIGAR!” and “GET IN THE FAST LANE, GRANDMA, THE BINGO GAME’S ABOUT TO ROLL!”

Maybe you have to be there.

Anyhow, one of the nice things about having NHL Centre Ice was that I could be…it allowed me to get the out-of-town games on TV (of course, when you live in Seattle, EVERY NHL game is out-of-town), and more than a few times I’ve found myself on the Penguins game just to listen to Lange work. (He was also the play-by-play announcer for Midway’s 2-On-2 Open Ice Challenge.)

So I was bummed when I heard this, because I wasn’t gonna get to enjoy Lange’s work anymore, until a friend pointed out something I missed: OLN, the network that currently airs the NHL on nationwide cable, is going to be turning into a full-blown sports channel called Versus in the fall. Ostensibly, along with this will come an expansion in their hockey coverage.

Memo to OLN, if they are listening: Sit Mike Lange down, put a blank check in front of him, and start drawing in zeroes until he smiles.

Coming Soon

We have a new winner of the Ron Popeil Award for Bad Product Design, the Super Soaker Oozinator:

Mmmm, yeah. ‘Cuz nothing says Good Clean Wholesome Family Fun than getting shot with thick, ropy globs of gooey bio-ooze.

Could have been worse, I guess. They could have brought in Pee-Wee Herman to be the spokesperson…

Do over…and over…and over…

Now that my Lakers suck again, watching the NBA has kinda lost it’s luster for me.

However, I’ll usually try to watch the All-Star Saturday events. Not the All-Star Game itself; I could give a rip about that. But I LOVE the Three-Point Shootout, and I USED to enjoy the Slam-Dunk Contest, to a point. You can only watch so many behind-the-back two-handed gorilla jams, and I’m not the type to jump off of my couch and yell “OH NO YOU DIN’T!!!” at each successive defiance of gravity.

So in all of the Olympic hubbub I totally forgot that yesterday was NBA’s All-Star Saturday, until someone online who happened to be watching mentioned it, and I turned it on right at the end to discover that Nate Robinson and Andre Iguodala (whoever they are) were tied at the end of the contest, and that a Dunk-Off would determine the winner. Okay, nothing else on, so I’ll keep watching.

And Robinson goes first, and he’s got some ornate dealie where he passes the ball under his legs a couple times, throws up an alley-oop, and jams it home. So he sets up, under the legs, and tosses….too hard. Whoops.

Reset, try again. Dribble, jump, under the legs, toss….over the backboard. D’oh.

Third time’s the charm, right? Dribble…jump…the toss…oh, too hard. Rerack the tape.

This went on FOURTEEN TIMES. And to their credit, they had lost the crowd of 18,300 (probably a few more, they usually find a way to shoehorn in some extra seats at thoe prices for events like this) in Houston after about the fifth. At the end, Cheryl Miller comes out to interview this guy (who won, by the way, despite Iguodala only needing a couple of attempts to make his dunk), and fires off a desperation “Let’s hear it for him, Houston!” at the end, and we heard…crickets. Nothing. Nada. That sound you heard was 18,300 cars starting, because everyone might as well have left.

This made my night. I love when stuff like this happens; you see it every so often on wrestling shows, too, when the reaction of the live crowd is the exact opposite of what you know the producers were hoping for. It amuses me when you see irrefutable evidence that an event’s producers are totally out of touch with their audience.

So I offer up a Well Done to the fans in Houston last night. Good on y’all for not being mindless sheep and cheering when the scoreboard flashed a “WOW!!!!!!111!!ELEVEN”, when you were watching a stinker.