Throwing in the Vowel

Pat's Wheel Stops, Weekend Whats, Feel Good Friday

When I was a kid, we had very few hardfast rules in my house. One of them was no TV during dinner. That rule was obliterated when the syndicated evening version of Wheel of Fortune entered our kitchen on a nightly basis in the eighties. In the early days, contestants would use their puzzle winnings to buy prizes that were featured on the stage. Eventually, that aside was dropped so the show could squeeze in more of what viewers really wanted: the hangman-like puzzles. My main memory from my early Wheel years was my dad getting irritated by contestants who would say, “I’d like to buy a vowel,” when they already knew the solution to the puzze. Looking back, I learned everything I know about business from these nightly commentaries about unnecessary vowel purchases. The vowels were at least inflation-proof. They cost $250 then and they cost $250 now. About six years ago, Pat Sajak, the longtime host of Wheel, passed Bob Barker of The Price is Right as the longest running host of any gameshow. I watched Sajak host the show with my parents when I was in high school and I could still watch him hosting episodes when my own kids were in high school. The wheel in the sky keeps on turning and Vanna keeps on turning letters (at least until 1997 when she started just touching them instead). And Pat Sajak has hosted for 41 seasons, 8,010 episodes, and about 50,000 puzzles. That’s a lot of blanking puzzles. Today, that run comes to an end. Sajak will step down and Ryan Seacrest will take over. Sajak was originally selected as host by the show’s creator, Merv Griffin (who also created Jeopardy). In addition to hosting Wheel, Sajak had a brief stint as a late night talkshow host and now that he’s retired, I have a feeling we’ll be hearing more of his political views which many of us won’t like much. But that’s not a puzzle I care to solve today. Pat Sajak let me watch TV during dinner and, for that alone, I salute him. Here are few articles to fill in the blanks on a long career. NYT (Gift Article): En_ of an E_a: As Pat Sajak Signs Off, a Look Back at Wheel of Fortune.

+ NPR: Pat Sajak departs ‘Wheel of Fortune’ as TV’s last old-school game show host.

+ “In voice as in other ways, Mr. Sajak seemed to have been born for the role. For a start, there are his generically agreeable features: a symmetrical face with apple cheeks, a wide brow, deep-set eyes and starkly white teeth displayed in a smile that resembles a quarter moon hung sideways. Throughout his tenure, serving as host of the Emmy Award-winning show for 41 seasons, he and Ms. White stood as two of the longest-serving faces of any television program in game show history (and somehow he kept his modified feathered ’80s hairstyle throughout).” NYT (Gift Article): Pat Sajak, the Cool, Unflappable, Reliable Host, Signs Off.

+ Next for Sajak, a regional play.

+ Maybe the bigger goodbye will happen when Vanna White leaves the show. After all, it didn’t really take off until she joined. When Sajak first took over the hosting gig from Chuck Woolery, he “did not have big expectations for the low-rated show, expecting his stint to last maybe two years. But ‘Wheel’ started gaining momentum. White replaced Stafford in 1982, and the next year, the show began its evening syndicated run on local stations.” Pat Sajak set for final ‘Wheel of Fortune’ episode after more than four decades.


A One Source Town

“It’s like talking to that wall right there. I’ve given them every fact and document known to mankind, and none of it matters. They’re too busy chanting their mantras to stop and listen.” The always-excellent Eli Saslow in the NYT (Gift Article) with a look at how the relentless self-serving lies from the top can infest rural corners of America, including towns so small they don’t have a high school or a stoplight. A Republican Election Clerk vs. Trump Die-Hards in a World of Lies. “Trump won the county with 82 percent of the vote despite losing Nevada. In the days after the election, some residents began to suspect that he should have won by even more, and they parroted Trump’s talking points and brought their complaints to the county’s monthly commissioner meetings.” And then it got worse.


Sooner Said Then Done

“I think about them more than I ever have because I know that this is the end … It is the end of one of the most elite classes that has ever — and may ever — play softball.” Oklahoma just won its unprecedented fourth consecutive Women’s College World Series championship. Those lifting the trophy included the “Core Five” – a group a seniors who completed an absolutely remarkable run of success. The incredible ride of Oklahoma’s core seniors and their four titles.


Weekend Whats

What to Watch: Albert Brooks is one of America’s great comedic talents. In this HBO doc, he looks back on his career from being a standup prodigy to some very memorable movies. The core of the documentary is a conversation between Brooks and Rob Reiner, who has been his best friend since high school. Albert Brooks: Defending My Life.

+ What to Doc: “MoviePass was a movie lover’s dream, offering access to movie theater tickets at a discounted rate. But in just eight years, it went from being the fastest-growing subscription service since Spotify to total bankruptcy.” It was a scheme made for the movies. Check out MoviePass, MovieCrash on Max.

+ What to Hear: My wife is the master of the playlist, and she just posted The What Playlist for Summer 2024. Pull up a beach chair and enjoy.


Extra, Extra

A Job to Do: “They’re not asking us to do their job. They’re asking us to do our job. Protect freedom in our time, defend democracy, stand up to aggression abroad and at home, be part of something bigger than ourselves.” Biden offers forceful defense of democracy in Normandy speech aimed at American audience. (If the greatest generation can storm the beaches of Normandy to save democracy, our generation can certainly storm the ballot box to do the same.)

+ The Book of Jobs: “Data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics released Friday showed the labor market added 272,000 nonfarm payroll jobs in May, significantly more additions than the 180,000 expected by economists.”

+ Signed, Sealed, Delivered: “The research offers the first genetic and epidemiological evidence of bird flu virus transmission among mammals. And the findings hold a warning: The virus, called H5N1, may similarly transform to cause large-scale infections in other mammalian species, including people.” NYT (Gift Article): The Bird Flu Virus Adapted to Elephant Seals. It May Not Be Done Yet.

+ Emptying the Kitty: “I have different questions: Is GameStop — a company with a very cloudy future — really going to make billions of dollars from its latest meme stock run? And if it does, what will it do with that money? Also: Doesn’t this feel very wrong? We can answer some of this now: GameStop has already made $1 billion by selling 45 million shares of its stock last month, when Keith Gill/Roaring Kitty sparked another meme run.” GameStop’s meme stock run makes no sense — and GameStop may turn it into a $3 billion windfall. However it goes, it’s gonna be weird. (Again.) Roaring Kitty’s GameStop holdings dropped by $235 million during a chaotic livestream.

+ A Moving Story: About 3 million Americans are already “climate migrants,” analysis finds. Here’s where they left.

+ Drain the Swamp: Alex Jones agrees to liquidate his assets to pay Sandy Hook families, in move that would end his ownership of Infowars. (We’ll move this down to Feel Good Friday as soon as his money actually hits the plaintiffs’ accounts.)


Feel Good Friday

“After decades in development, cancer vaccines now show signs of efficacy and potential to help patients fend off the disease for good. The world’s first personalised mRNA cancer vaccine for melanoma halves the risk of patients dying or the disease returning, according to trial results doctors described as ‘extremely impressive.'” Melanoma jab trial results excite doctors.

+ Three boys discovered teenage T. rex fossil in northern US: ‘Incredible dinosaur discovery.’

+ “Since 2020, he’s posted hundreds of videos showing him surprising workers and street vendors — many of whom are Spanish-speaking immigrants — with grand gestures such as $1,000 tips and trips to Disneyland. And viewers of his videos have donated hundreds of thousands of dollars to help his cause.” This 27-year-old keeps taking day laborers to Disneyland.

+ On Thursday, Team USA pulled off a stunning upset in cricket, defeating Pakistan — a cricket powerhouse — by five runs. BBC: Sensational upset awakens USA from 100-year cricketing hibernation. (And from most sports sites, crickets.)

+ “The UK-based women’s team woke on Friday morning to discover all 14 of their Ribble Endurance SLR bikes had been stolen from their mechanic’s van.” That’s not feel good. But what happened next is. The Lifeplus-Wahoo cycling team were able to continue in the Tour of Britain on Friday after the generosity of their rivals.

+ Chobani founder and CEO buys Anchor Brewing which had been shut down.

+ And finally … Phish Fan Banned from Sphere for Taking Bong Rip: ‘No Regrets.’

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