Classic Dishes...

Can You Field Me Now?

See that over there? On the right? That’s the Golden Slurpee. Nice, isn’t it? We’ll come back to that in a little bit.

This morning, I wake up, and turn on the TV, and discover the Mariners / Indians game is on TV.

So, top of the sixth, and the leadoff batter is Adrian Beltre. He takes the first pitch down the left field line, fair ball, and as it heads into the corner a fan reaches over the fence along the line, with a mitt on one hand, and a cellphone firmly attached to his ear in the other.

And the ball skips out of his mitt and skitters away. Since a fan interfered with a live ball, it’s a ground-rule double. No problem so far, and no real harm done in the game, since Beltre was very likely going to pull into second with a double anyhow. But here’s what makes it Chez Fred-worthy:

They go back to the guy who interfered, who is now pleading with the cop there for security to toss him the ball that he muffed. To his credit, the cop ignores him. And the guy sits back down, visibly miffed that this cop is denying him a souvenir.

And through this ENTIRE incident, the cellphone never once leaves the guy’s ear.

So, it is with great fanfare that I present the first winner of the Golden Slurpee, Chez Fred’s new “You Just Suck” award, now sponsored by our friends at 7-Eleven.

Boardwalk With Four Houses: Priceless?

Before we start, here, let me state that I used to be a big Monopoly fan. A lot of my childhood memories focus around weekends sitting around the board with my friends, playing the game with MTV on in the background. (You know, back when MTV played music.) I even have a couple of books on Monopoly strategy. Eventually, though, I got turned on to European-style board games and realized that there was a whole world of decently-thought-out games that I was missing out on. So I don’t play Monopoly anymore.

That said, I offer this, from the Signs Of The Apocalypse Department: Monopoly is getting rid of the money.

Yep. In a special version of the game coming out soon, the $15,140 ($30,280 in the Deluxe Editions) in that classic paper money will be replaced with debit cards and a calculator doohickey that the Banker will use to perform all monetary transactions. Oh, and all of this is sponsored by your friends at Visa, who are Everywhere You Want To Be. (Page…two!)

Now, Monopoly isn’t a good game anyhow, but I don’t see this doing anything other than making it worse. Consider the following scenario: I land on the Reading Railroad, which is owned by Bob, and Bob owns a total of three railroads. In the classic game, here’s what happens:

  1. I hand Bob a $100 bill.

In this version, here’s what happens:

  1. I hand the Banker my debit card.
  2. Banker plugs my card into doohickey, deducts $100, returns card.
  3. Bob hands the Banker his debit card.
  4. Banker plugs Bob’s card into doohickey, adds $100, returns card.

Because Monopoly needs MORE bookkeeping. I know when I’m sitting around the table, I think to myself, “Ya know, I’m enjoying this utterly random, overly political, completely fiddly game, but there just isn’t enough tedium in the financial transactions! If only there were a way we could make an annoying process even more painful!”

On the upside, I suppose this could potentially have a hand in killing off the Free Parking jackpot

Sonics, Boom

As a sports fan, and as a resident of the city of Seattle, I guess I’m kinda obligated to write something about the situation with the Seattle Supersonics.

For the majority of The Four Of You who don’t follow such things: the Sonics, like almost every sports franchise that plays in an arena more than ten years old, want a new arena. And, again, like every other sports franchise in this situation, they don’t want to pay for it.

Mind you, in this case, they’re right: KeyArena is a pile of crap. It’s uncomfortable, inconvenient to get to, has next to none of the modern amenities that people come to expect from an arena sports experience today, the food sucks, and it was built for one single purpose, basketball, and that intentionally. See, back in 1994 when Barry Ackerley owned the team and was remodeling Seattle Center Coliseum into what would eventually become KeyArena, he was petrified at the thought of having to share the arena’s profits with a second major tenant, like an NHL team. So he intentionally had the arena remodeled for basketball, and only basketball. Yeah, they play hockey in there, but the rink sticks into one end of the seating bowl, making the seating capacity for the building in a hockey configuration just a skosh under 11,000, as opposed to the 17,072 they can get in there for basketball, and also making it completely inviable as an NHL arena. Thanks for that, Barry. Jackass.

Anyhow, it’s an awful building. HP Pavilion at San Jose kicks its ass around the block, and it opened its doors more than two years prior.

I love going to watch arena sports. I hate going to KeyArena. That should tell you something.

(And here’s a kick: the link to the Key above touts the building as “award-winning”. I had no idea they gave out an award for Crappiest, Most Uncomfortable, Least Amenity-Laden Modern Arena. I wonder what the trophy looks like. A golden, shiny dog turd would be most appropriate.)

Naturally, the people of Seattle, having already been railroaded into building Safeco Field for the Mariners and Qwest Field for the Seahawks (well, not me personally; I was in favor of both projects, having had the misfortune on two occasions of sitting through events inside of the Kingdome), are not particularly interested in funding yet another arena for a sports team who is perfectly capable of paying for it themselves if they really want it. And, as a result, the Sonics had been threatening to sell the team and/or relocate if it doesn’t happen. And, with the exception of a few straggling basketball fans, the reaction has been pretty apathetic, and I think one of “Oh yeah? Let’s see you do it.”

Well, on Tuesday, they did it, and sold the team to an ownership group from Oklahoma City. The same Oklahoma City that has been looking for a major tenant for Ford Center for over a decade. The same Oklahoma City who has enjoyed a taste of the bigs for the last season when they shot their hands up like Arnold Horshack and said “Ooh! Ooh! You can play here!” when the New Orleans Hornets needed a temporary home following the devistation of Hurricane Katrina.

And, like all good new owners, the head of their group, Clayton Bennett, stood up and waxed eloquently about how they intended to keep the team in Seattle. Then, two days later, he went back to Oklahoma City and told the people there that he would move the team in a year if he couldn’t get an arena built for him here.

Which means they’re gone, because the reaction of the city, even following all of this news, has been “enh.” And I’m not sure how I feel about that. On the one hand, if the Sonics do leave, there is no way a decent arena is going to be built in this city. The NHL is never going to come here, since the NHL has been trying their damnedest to get a team in Portland for years now. No ownership group is going to move a preexisting team to or locate an NBA expansion team in a city where the people have proven to be unextortable. And that bums me out, because I would love to see Seattle get an Arena Football franchise, or even a National Lacrosse League franchise, but neither are sustainable by themselves; they need a major tenant in the building first.

On the other hand, good on the people for putting their foot down and not letting themselves be bullied into paying for something they shouldn’t be paying for in the first place.

The saddest aspect of this story is this: the team could be saved if New Orleans were to get decimated by another hurricane this season, because in all likelihood the Hornets’ temporary relocation to OKC would become permanent, and the Sonics would have nowhere to bolt to.

Do I wish ill on the people of New Orleans? For the most part, no. (The people who went looting, who shot at people trying to help them, who have done nothing since but relocate to other cities and stick out their hands out of some sense of entitlement; they can die in a fire.) But at the same time, I have to say I’d love to see Clayton Bennett get stuck with a basketball team and no new home to move it to.

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.


At noon I went out to get some Chinese food for lunch, and on the way back I drove past the Metro Cinemas here in the University District. And on the marquee, they proudly crow:

Now Serving Popped Corn!

Thank Gawd for that. I wonder if they got one too many dental bills.

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.