Practice Makes Prefect

That's right, Allen!  This week, we gon' be talkin' 'bout practice!

That’s right, Allen! This week, we gon’ be talkin’ ’bout practice!

Poor August.  It gets such a bad rap because it’s the only month on the American calendar without any special days that fall within it.  Plus, it’s about that time of the year when all those warm weather people begin to realize that hot and muggy summer isn’t really all it’s cracked up to be.  But there are many reasons August should be celebrated!  Kids are swept up off the street and put back into school where they belong, about ten billion people I know have a birthday this month, and best of all, there are 5, count them, FIVE Fridays in August!  And you know what that means…

Accordin' to this here chart, we're gonna git 25% more Millunaire Journey this month!  Yeehaw!

Accordin’ to this here chart, we’re gonna git 25% more Millunaire Jerney this month! Yeehaw!

And I promise you, by the end of this month we will finally be ready to get this party started!  But first, we still have many things to learn.  Last week, we practiced going Bendy Side Out and sitting in the High Chair Hot Seat.  This week, we’re going to actually see if we have what it takes to be a contender, and run off a few just-for-fun Fastest Finger questions!  This is going to be a blast!

If we don’t fall asleep during the legal briefing, that is….

And we can use your image and likeness across all media present and future throughout the universe in perpetuity... just like how long this briefing is going to last....

And we can use your image and likeness across all media present and future throughout the universe in perpetuity… which is about how long this briefing is going to last….

In between learning how to walk and sit, and how to push buttons on a machine, we have to listen to the show’s crack lawyer bore us to tears.  At least it wasn’t some stuffy barrister who was going to utter legal words that are never used in the English language.  ABC’s attorney who was going to go all legal on us and guide us through our Fastest Finger practice was a young woman with short, legally blonde hair.  One of the other contestants compared her looks to Meg Ryan at that time, and I’d say that’s a pretty spot on comparison.

This image actually has the closest resemblance to our legal briefer that I was able to find on Google.  Boy, has Meg gotten old lately or what?

This image actually has the closest resemblance to our legal briefer that I was able to find on Google. Boy, has Meg gotten old lately or what?

The most important piece of advice Meg gave us was to let them know if they fucked up (I tried looking up the legal term for “fucked up,” but came up blank.)  If we think there’s a problem with one of the questions we get asked, LET THEM KNOW.  If we need clarification on a question, LET THEM KNOW.  If Regis can’t pronounce an eight-bit word correctly, and we’d like an official pronunciation along with the word’s use in a sentence, LET THEM KNOW.  If our Fastest Finger machine goes on the fritz or electrocutes us on contact, LET THEM KNOW.

And what happens if you don’t LET THEM KNOW about something that isn’t right…?

That's right, Judge Wapner.

That’s right, Judge Wapner.

Each Fastest Finger and Hot Seat question result wasn’t final until the show’s judges declared it so… and once they made their final decision, the time to LET THEM KNOW had come and gone.

Oh, and Meg told us not to listen to Regis when he inevitably tries to guide us on a question while in the Hot Seat, because he doesn’t know Jack Schitt…

Well... officially, that is.

Well… officially, that is.

Next, we’re told how to work our Fastest Finger machines.  This is great since my group is now sitting in the bleachers while the second taping group is actually down in the Ring of Fire with access to the devices, so I can’t actually look at the layout while it’s being described.  If you ever wondered what the control board of these FF machines looked like, here’s a diagram someone from my message board made a long time ago:


Obviously, the four purple buttons were for entering the order of the choices for the Fastest Finger question.  The red button allowed us to go back and delete the last letter we entered, and the green “OK” button officially submitted our answer and registered the time it took for us to enter it.  What we entered would show up on the LCD display over the buttons, with a “>” symbol appearing when we pressed OK.  Once we pressed OK, we could not go back and change what had been entered.  Seems pretty simple, doesn’t it?

So simple, even an idiot trying to buy a pie without any money could do it!

So simple, even an idiot trying to buy a pie without any money could do it!

Yeah, about as simple as a man with no arms trying to get money out of an ATM.  The buttons were extremely finicky.  They had to be pressed down with the kind of firm pressure you would normally use on someone who is bleeding to death, or the choice would not register.  You also had to fully depress one button before you could press the next button, or risk not having the second entry register.  Check the LCD screen to make sure all four choices have been entered, and are in the correct order, and then make sure to push the OK button to stop the clock.  In fact, feel free to hammer at the OK button until Regis stops you just to make sure…

smashing smartphone

OK! OK! OK! OK! OK! OK! OK! OK!….

And to top it all off, here is what you would see on the screen in front of you when a Fastest Finger question was asked:


So you have the choices show up in 2X2 rows, and you have to try to enter them on a 4X1 row of buttons.  The appeal of this game show was based on its relative simplicity, but they sure as hell made it as insanely difficult as possible behind the scenes to play the damn Fastest Finger questions!

Speaking of… let’s begin, shall we?

squirrel with gun

Fire away!

Each of our groups was going to get five Fastest Finger practice questions.  Since the second group was already seated on stage, they got to go first.  They had a mixed bag of results, but one person from that group emerged as a clear favorite after winning three of the five practice questions… Claire Edelstein, who would indeed make the Hot Seat on her show and win $32,000.

But enough about those guys… they’re only entangled in my saga due to the Millionaire crew wanting to take Fridays off and smashing two tapings together on Thursdays.  Now it’s time to switch places again and see what this squirrel can do with this medieval contraption that will stand between me and the big bucks…

Whammies are slightly easier to operate due to their possum-like squishability.

Whammies are slightly easier to operate due to their possum-like squishability.

Unfortunately, time and the fact that there is no official record of FF practice has caused me to forget the exact choices that were attached to these rehearsal questions.  But at least I had jotted down what the theme of each one of them was…

First up was money amounts in order from smallest to largest.  Pretty easy question… my fingers do the walking to enter each choice in correct order, I smack that OK button, and then look at the LCD screen to see something like this…


homer doh

One question in, and already I’ve had one of my choices not register.  The fingers were fast, but apparently too fast for this machine that was probably built from recycled parts of the Titanic.  Once the 20 seconds is up, I look up to the big board and see that seven of my ten contemporaries had no problems entering all four choices in correctly.  And the winner is… Amy Turner!

a.k.a. Ethel Merman.

a.k.a. Ethel Merman.

So now I’m a bit worried my button pushing technique is not going to jive with this stupid computer in front of me.  Had I known at the time how incredibly inept I’d eventually be at trying to work a smartphone, I’d have probably just thrown up the white flag to all technology right there.  But no, I don’t have time to worry about how much machines hate me, the next question’s coming up…

The machines are evil.

The machines are evil.

It’s units of length in order, and there are three American units along with one metric unit thrown in to make us actually have to think while we press and depress buttons.  Just like last time, I don’t take time to think about how I’m entering the answers, I just do it.  This time, after hammering the OK button, I see four letters followed by a “>”.  Ha, take that, you stupid Jumbotron reject!

I look up to the big board, and eight names light up.  Damn, my bunch is hot.  Then the winner’s name starts flashing.

It’s me.

The only ready artwork I have of ES with his arms raised in celebration.

The only ready artwork I have of ES with his arms raised in celebration… and it’s at a urinal.

If there is one thing I remember better than anything else that went on that day, it is that when I found out I had won that practice question, I instantly raised my arms up and let out a “YES!”  I was so fucking excited, that even my natural shyness couldn’t be contained.  I only wish my pathetic nearsighted eyes could have made out what winning time I had registered on the big board that may as well have been on Long Island for how well I could see it.

Practice question number three involved putting parts of a bee in order from top to bottom.  I get this one right as well…. in fact, EVERYONE got it right.  But only one name flashes…

It's me again!

It’s me again!

Yes, a second win for Amy.  The fourth question was a simple put in order question… the title “Lord of the Flies” in correct order.

Which conjures up images of the wrong reality show of that era...

Which conjures up images of the wrong popular reality show of that era…

I’ve got this whole button this down now, as I once again enter the choices in correctly… as do seven others.  This time the celebratory holla is from my left, as the mad teletypist Andrea Carla Michaels is in with the fastest time.

One last question… and an odd one.  Liquids in order of their acidity from most acidic to least.  Fortunately, those chemistry classes weren’t all that far off in my past, and I get the last four questions correct after FUBARing the first one.  But there were seven of us who got that question right, and only one winner.  And who do you think that’d be….?

Face it, you guys are toast in a few hours!

Face it, you guys are toast in a few hours!

With three wins under her belt, Amy has certainly become the favorite to make the Hot Seat on our show.  But given the overwhelming amount of green my entire group painted on the monitor, I had certainly underestimated the prowess of what seemed like a gang of misfits.  We had just gone a collective 40/50 in Fastest Finger practice, which is a remarkable total given that probably half of those scant ten misses were not due to brain farts, but rather entering problems like I had with the first question.  Make no mistake, I was going to have to be damn good… and lucky if I wanted to beat out this crowd for the Hot Seat…

I'm feeling lucky tonight!

I’m feeling lucky tonight!

Oh, and just to make it even harder on my group, while we were taking our practice, the carryover contestant who would be starting out in the Hot Seat on our show entered the studio to mingle with the second-tapers.  It’s Ed Toutant from Austin, TX, who just barely made it to the chair at the end of the previous taping.  He’ll be starting our show off with the $300 question… the earliest in a Hot Seat run that contestants were allowed to carry over with…

So much for getting many chances at the Fastest Finger.

So much for getting many chances at the Fastest Finger.

Well, that news has pretty much killed my appetite.  But that may be a good thing, because now that rehearsal is over, it’s time to break for whatever New Yorkers consider to be lunch.  That means a trip upstairs to the ABC commissary.  Join me here next Friday for yet another fun culinary adventure in the cafeteria of the stars….

This is how we should be competing for the Hot Seat...

This is how we should be competing for the Hot Seat…

About evilsquirrel13

Bored former 30-something who has nothing better to do with his life than draw cartoon squirrels.
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16 Responses to Practice Makes Prefect

  1. NotAPunkRocker says:

    Fortunately for you, I am too sleep deprived to make any disgusting Fastest Finger rehearsal jokes.

    Commissary? Lunch? Will there be.. . Fried chicken?! 😀

  2. 1jaded1 says:

    Mmmm? Was it a continental lunch? Ha at don’t listen to Regis…

  3. draliman says:

    I too am eager to find out what’s for lunch, especially after your earlier dinner debacle. Careful not to have anything too greasy – wouldn’t want your finger slipping of the crappy fastest finger machine (or have I just ruined the end?) 🙂

  4. I am just tuning into to this Millionaire thing – I have some catch up to do. Tell me more about Regis. I have to know. I have a strange Regis obsession. Regis.

    • I’ll definitely be talking more about Regis once the actual taping parts come up in a few weeks. One of those posts will even contain a really wonderful anecdote about Da Reege that really endeared him to me! Stay tuned…

  5. markbialczak says:

    You’ll always have FF rehearsal Q2, ESN. Lunch, let’s see. Saltines and tepid water.

  6. PigLove says:

    NNNOO!!! I’m like the squirrel in your picture above. You can’t stop there. I won’t be able to sleep or eat or drink or potty until I hear more. I would hold my breath but I gotta draw a line somewhere my evil friend. Snorts. XOXO – Bacon

    • Stay calm, my friend! The longer I drag this out, the longer you can enjoy getting a bit more of the story every Friday!

      • PigLove says:

        Okay. I’ll stop squealing now – snorts. Patience… tapping hooves… patience. I’m a pig – I don’t have patience! Snorts. I’m okay now. Really I am. Let me go find Mouse Girl and watch her for a bit. That’ll help. XOXO – Bacon

  7. Just as I suspected, answering the questions is hard enough but nothing compared to the finger hoops they have you jumping through!

    • Yep, I think every game show has some hidden trick to it that makes it harder than it looks on TV. I know on Jeopardy (Not sure if they have a version of that show on Dinkum Island or not) if you hit the buzzer before a light only the contestants can see goes on after the host finishes reading the question, you get locked out. This is the cause of a lot of those questions on the show that seem so easy, but nobody rings in to answer…

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