This Just In: May 16 - 23 | This Just In | Pittsburgh | Pittsburgh City Paper

A B-9 Look at Bingo

Summary: An "Action News Extra" aims to reveal the secrets of successful fire-hall gambling. Station: WTAE Channel 4 Reporter: Ari Hait When it Aired: May 8 Running Time: 2 minutes, 59 seconds Visuals: * Inside several bingo halls, where people are intently daubing or placing chips on their playing cards. * Some relatively new, high-tech gadgetry that has been incorporated into bingo culture. Highlights: * When Hait proclaims, "It's one of the most popular games on earth. Millions of people play for the chance to say that magic word. But did you know the magic word was first said right here in Pittsburgh? Back in the 1920s, a Pittsburgher named Hugh Ward brought the game home after seeing soldiers in Canada playing, using beans to mark their numbers. * When Andy Masich, Heinz History Center CEO, enlightens us: "Originally, people yelled 'beano' when their beans where all in a row and, uh, sometime along the way, the word was corrupted." * When Hait maintains, "But we all know the fun really isn't the playing -- it's the winning. And all bingo players have their theories on what it takes to win. Most revolve around good-luck charms." * When a female player introduces us to her "charms": "Froggy, Petey, um, this is my lucky troll and my luck-gerbil." * When Hait reports, "There are some things you can do to improve your chances in this game of chance. There's no way to calculate your odds of winning a game. It all depends on the number of players and the number of cards you're playing." * When he cautions, "But there comes a point when you can have too many cards, and you can't keep up. ... So the trick is speed ... or you have to have good technology. Bingo at the West Deer Volunteer Fire Hall is visually enhanced. Each ball that pops up goes in front of a camera which shows the number on monitors around the room. Most players are finished daubing before the number's even called." * When Hait says, "But even with the monitors, most players here max out at around 40 cards per game. Even the newbies play more than that at [this] fire department. Sure, they're daubing away at 40 cards on paper, but they're also armed with computers, which contain an additional 108 cards. So if you're scoring at home, most of these people are playing about 150 cards per game. With about 100 people here, that's some serious prize money. And if you're worried about duplicate cards" -- how did he know? -- "don't. Check this out. This is half an octillion. That's a real word -- I looked it up. It's a five, followed by 26 zeros. According to statisticians, that's how many different bingo cards there are. So daub to your heart's content. Paper or plastic, it's all about the magic word." What We Learned: Where all the troll dolls go ... Unanswered Question: Who knew bingo was one of the most popular games on earth? News Value: 4. No real "tips" here, but some fun history on the game's past and an interesting look at its high-tech future.

Man in Tights

Summary: A reporter works with the Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre in yet another installment of "Larry on the Job." Station: KDKA Channel 2 Reporter: Larry Richert When it Aired: May 11 Running Time: 3 minutes, 40 seconds Visuals: Richert practicing and performing with professional ballet dancers in a pair of black tights and a plain, tight white T-shirt. Highlights: * When Richert waxes poetic, "The beauty of ballet. Man and woman moving in perfect harmony. It takes years of practice to perform like this, and it all starts in rehearsal, to transform an ugly duckling into a swan." * When Richert tells us, "Time to meet my dance partner, Maribel Modrono. [Those also rehearsing with me are] all under the direction of ballet master Steven Annegarn. I'm really tryin' my best to keep up." * When, after a few "down and ups," Richert remarks, "That's about when I felt something pop." * When Annegarn warns the dancers, "Spread out just a little, I don't want anyone getting hurt in case someone's not quite on the music," and Richert inserts, "Gee, I wonder who he's talkin' about." * After a series of instructions using French ballet terminology, when Richert looks directly at the camera and whispers, "If he would only speak English." * When Maribel gleefully assesses Richert's performance, "I would say, that, considering it was your first time, I would say 7.9." She is, as Richert says, too kind. What We Learned: That Richert is full of ballonné. Unanswered Question: Next, Larry, why don't you be a soccer mom? News Value: 3.9, because I'm not as kind as Maribel. I love Larry's concept, but this one doesn't work so well. This piece relies mostly on visuals, and the gag -- Larry in tights -- wears out pretty quickly.

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