RANDOM MISTAKES, 2000-2004 (this was to be called “A Series of Unfortunate Events,” but that was taken)
The following are five ideas/situations that Frank was involved with during the years 2000-2004. The results are below.
A game show based on the popular icons used by e-mailers and instant messengers as a shorthand form of communication. Tech-savvy contestants would solve puzzles built from the emoticons to win great prizes.
SLOGAN: The Game Show the Unabomber Loves to Hate!
FRANK: I got a start-up company (Hotspur Technologies) to sponsor the show. We filmed five test episodes and were going to try to sell it to The Learning Channel or Discovery or something like that. I was the emcee. The Game Show Network had passed sight-unseen. Maybe that should have been a sign.
PROBLEMS: Only a limited number of emoticons meant a limited number of questions. Frank was constantly confused as to which emoticon was what, leading him to say during the middle of show four, “I don’t know what in the hell I’m talking about.” During the Lightning Bonus Round portion of the show, in which contestants had to name as many emoticons as possible off of a flashing screen, three contestants received seizures from the array of bright flashing lights.
FRANK: I don’t know why we didn’t stop after the second one. Twice isn’t a fluke.
THE RESULT: The financial settlements for the three stricken contestants was the beginning of the end of Hotspur Technologies, who filed for bankruptcy six months later.
SANDS AND HANDS
THE CONCEPT: What do you get when you combine a world-class sandwich shop with the state of Nevada’s legalization of prostitution?
THE SLOGAN: Come from the hand jobs, stay for our fresh baked baguettes!
THE LOGO: A buxom brunette waitress with an oversized right hand holding a tray with a French Dip sandwich.
FRANK: I thought that it was a good idea. Let’s face it, after a guy has sex, wouldn’t a lot of them want a great sandwich? I know I would! And that’s the key to the place – really great sandwiches. We even had a room planned with comfortable couches and ESPN on all of the time, so you can take a nap afterwards. A hand job, a great sandwich and a place to nap – that’s like a trip to Mecca.
PROBLEMS: Health code violations aplenty. Said one Nevada health official, “Any time you mix ejaculation with condiments, you’re going to have problems.” Also, as one prostitute said, “I do tricks so I can avoid waiting tables.” This led to only older professional women applying for the jobs.
FRANK: There was one woman who applied for a job who looked as though she whored during the Coolidge administration. Let’s face it; if you are at a place that specializes in hand jobs, and you have a middle-aged mother of three giving it to you, it takes some of the magic away. I don’t care if you’re eating filet mignon.
PROBLEMS (cont.): Women’s groups protested, some because of moral issues, some because there was no place for women to get the same treatment.
FRANK: I was stumped. What would be a comparable place for women? Gelato and Thigh Massage? I had no idea.
THE RESULT: The place never opened.
THE CONCEPT: Frank, on advice from a political organization called Liberals No More, considers running for Congress as a Republican in the 30th District of California, running against Democratic stalwart Henry Waxman.
PROPOSED CAMPAIGN SLOGAN: True Values.
PROBLEMS: A simple background check revealed Frank’s time in a rehabilitation facility, his brief porn career and his joining a cult. A sample poll of 100 people had Frank losing to Waxman by a result of 97-3.
FRANK: And that poll included votes from me and Hawley. The third was a guy who was a big fan of my song “Hot Ass Baby”.
VINCE BENTON, POLITICAL ADVISOR: I think that David Duke would have gotten four votes, and that’s without him voting for himself.
THE RESULT: Frank drops out of the race before officially entering it. Nobody notices.
THE CONCEPT: Frank agrees to host a telethon for C.H.E.E.S.y., the California Hospitals Eczema Eradication Symposium, on a local public access station.
THE PROBLEMS: Frank is unable to make any of the rehearsals and does not bother to read any of the literature sent to him regarding eczema and the work of the symposium.
FRANK: I was going to read it, really I was, but then I got called to play in a foursome at the Riviera Country Club. I had never gotten to play there before.
So, I get to the telethon thirty minutes before it begins – car trouble – they’re all panicking and they only have time to do hair and makeup, that’s it. They then tell me that I’m supposed to open the show with a song. Are you kidding me? Granted, I know that I should have been at rehearsal, but…anyway, I get one of the stagehands to grab this cassette tape of karaoke instrumentals that I use to practice with out of the glove compartment of my car and tell them to play the first song that they can cue up on the tape. I can just roll into it, I tell them, I’m a professional and I know all of the songs on the tape. Now, in hindsight I realize that “I’ve Got You under My Skin” was an unfortunate choice, but I think I really nailed it, if that means anything.
The song ends, and everybody’s looking at me with stunned looks on their faces. I thought they were really impressed. I introduce myself, tell a joke or two, and then I bring out the head of C.H.E.E.S.y. I make a joke, asking him, “Can I call you the Cheese Head?” He says no, all serious and that. So, then I say, “So, what is eczema, exactly?” At the time, I wasn’t only asking for the viewing audience’s sake, I really wanted to know.
DR. MARTIN FREUNLIND, HEAD OF C.H.E.E.S.y.: First, he couldn’t even pronounce “eczema”. He kept saying “ex-ZEE-ma”. After the tenth time he gets it wrong, a stagehand tries to correct him, and he goes, on camera, “Alright! I get it!”
FRANK: So, the doctor tells me what eczema is, and I just freeze. Disgusting! Just disgusting! After hearing that I just…I couldn’t shake anyone’s hand after that. I started doing that thing where people touch elbows with each other. I started telling people that it was “my thing”.
DR. MARTIN FREUNLIND: And then we show this medical video on eczema and the ways to combat it. It was a clinical tape, very graphic. The whole time that we are playing the tape, you can hear Frank gagging off-camera.
FRANK: I practically dry heaved. It didn’t help that I was hung over from the night before.
DR. MARTIN FREUNLIND: Then, Frank realizes the connection between our name and eczema and he goes on this five-minute tirade about it. Now, I admit that C.H.E.E.S.y. isn’t the best name, but…let’s just say that the name wasn’t my idea. I was out-voted.
THE RESULT: While very few people saw the live airing of the telethon, the tape became an underground bootleg sensation, one of the most downloaded videos on illegal file-sharing services. While the live telethon made less than $1,000 during the live broadcast, viewings of the bootleg gave C.H.E.E.S.y. several-thousand dollars in donations afterward.
DR. MARTIN FREUNLIND: While it wasn’t the perfect way to get our message across, the result has been certainly satisfying.
FRANK: Every once in a while, somebody will come up to me on the street and say, “Hey, you’re the eczema guy!” That’s not especially satisfying.
THE HUNTING TRIP
THE PARTICULARS: Frank, Hawley and friends go on a hunting trip in the Smoky Mountain region. Guns, alcohol and raw emotion rule the day (and night).
HAWLEY SMOOT: In continuing with our tradition of going together on hunting trips, I took Frank up to this little spot in the Smoky Mountains called—(due to special request by one of the people involved in the story and that person’s legal representation, that person’s name and the location of the hunting trip have been withheld. We have, however, been given the right to stay that the hunting trip was located in the Smoky Mountain region – Ed.). It was me, Frank, Wink Martindale, Bucky – a friend of mine who was a state trooper – and, let’s just say, this congressman from the state which we were visiting.
FRANK: We were hunting for deer that week. I had bought a new Winchester Model 70 deer hunting rifle just for the trip, and I was looking forward to using it. Unfortunately, we weren’t having much too luck the first few days, so spirits were a bit low. That’s when Bucky broke out the Peppermint Schnapps.
PHILIP “BUCKY” LITELLI, STATE TROOPER AND AVID SPORTSMAN: I know that it’s not overly manly to be drinking Peppermint Schnapps, but I’m not much of a drinker and at least there is a sweet taste to Schnapps so it doesn’t make drinking it unbearable. Wink kept calling me a pussy, but I kept reminding him that I could throw him in jail and then who would be the pussy? Huh? So that shut him up a bit.
WINK MARTINDALE, GAME SHOW HOST AND AVID SPORTSMAN: Bucky was a pussy. I’m not much of a drinker, but Peppermint Schnapps? Come on! But since it was the only drink there, we made do.
FRANK: Anyway, you get one or two drinks into Wink, and he’ll start telling stories. He can tell you tons of stories about the game show business, especially Tic-Tac-Dough. Did you know that there are game shows that have an I.Q. ceiling? That if you’re too smart, they don’t want you on their show? Wheel of Fortune is like that. That show looks like they grabbed a bunch of trade school dropouts. One time I was watching that show, and it was one of those weeks where they had siblings playing together. And I remember the puzzle ended up being “mannequin”, and they had everything but the “Q” and the “U”. The two brothers whose turn it was spin, confer with each other, and then they say “K”. I’m serious. And stop buying so many vowels, already! I hate when people do that. It’s not that freakin’ hard!
HAWLEY SMOOT: Wink and the congressman are completely blitzed. They start singing their college fight songs for crying out loud. Then I see Bucky sitting in a corner all by himself, and he’s actually whimpering. He was whimpering! I think the Peppermint Schnapps caused him to have some kind of self-realization at that very moment.
PHILIP “BUCKY” LITELLI: I had realized that my father had cheated on my mother when I was twelve. I had been denying it for the longest time. The whole moment was very cathartic.
WINK MARTINDALE: I told you Bucky was a pussy.
FRANK: So we’re in the cabin, and – actually, before I tell you what happened, let me set this up for you. Hawley’s wife, she’s a very, very large woman.
HAWLEY SMOOT: My wife is not large, per se. She’s completely proportionate for her height. She’s 6’2”, maybe 6’2 ½”. She played power forward at Rutgers. Four-year starter, twice all-conference, too.
FRANK: She’s large. Jealous, too, almost paranoid, really. She’s snap at you like a wildcat. Hawley, he’s a good-looking man. Women are drawn to him. He can’t help it. But he’s loyal to his wife. She can’t believe that, though, for whatever reason.
So, we’re sitting in the cabin, and there’s some rustling outside. Wink bolts right up and grabs his rifle. He’s out the door like one of those – who were those soldiers during the Revolutionary War who used to get ready in a minute? Anyway, Wink runs out to the porch, and there’s this large brown object between the trees. Wink thinks it’s a buck and he shoots. The thing drops to the ground and cries with this blood-curdling scream. The problem is, it doesn’t sound like an animal. We knew that there was something wrong right away.
IMELDA SMOOT, WIFE OF HAWLEY SMOOT: I learned two valuable lessons from that experience. First, I should be more trusting about my husband. Second, never wear a brown overcoat in the woods. That son of a bitch Martindale got me in the shoulder, hurt like hell.
FRANK: When we got over to Imelda and realized what happened, I had four guys panicking on me. Hawley had a wife with a gunshot wound; Wink was seeing himself in jail; the congressman was worried about his upcoming election, saying something like “Cabingate” over and over again; and Bucky was still dealing with his paternal issues. So I threw Imelda over my shoulder – and remember, she’s a large woman, must have been adrenaline or something – and I threw her into Hawley’s SUV and told them to all get in.
HAWLEY SMOOT: It was an unfortunate time for my wife and me to get into an argument on the ride to the hospital, but I believe that our fighting opened up a lot of issues that needed to be dealt with…it made our relationship that much better.
FRANK: Hawley kept calling Imelda “a distrusting whore” and Imelda called him “a skirt-chasing cocksucker”…yes, I believe that’s what she called him. They’re just like that. It works for them, I guess.
PHILIP “BUCKY” LITELLI: We get to the hospital, and I had calmed down from my experience. We had to deal with two issues: getting Imelda taken care of and keeping the congressman hidden from anyone who recognized him. We succeeded on one of the two fronts.
FRANK: We had kept the congressman hidden away in a private observation room, away from the public. That’s when Miguel came in.
MIGUEL PANZADILLO, HOSPITAL ORDERLY: Before I got a job as an orderly, I had a very rough life. One of the jobs that I had when I was young was as a…I am so ashamed to say this…I used to give men pleasure for money down by the lake. The man whose name I am not allowed to say because you told me not to, he was one of my biggest clients. He made me wear a cowboy hat. He would always yell “Yippee-kay-yay-ay” while sitting in the front seat of his car down by the lake. It was very shameful. I had gotten away from that life, and then I saw him there at the hospital. I felt that I had to express my feelings. I lashed out at him, that’s what I did. I was lashing.
News of the recent incident reached papers immediately as two reporters covering another hunting accident were at the hospital and saw everything.
BOB LACARDIE, NEWSPAPER REPORTER: I was one of the beat writers covering hunting accidents in the county. There are so many hunting accidents in this county each paper had to have a beat writer covering them. That night was a bonanza – Wink Martindale shooting a woman and a congressman’s gay lover announcing their tryst in the middle of the hospital? Oh, yeah, one of the other guys in the group was an actor of some sort, although I had never heard of him. I thought that I might get a Pulitzer for this one…or at least a cover on People magazine.
THE RESULT: The second reporter on the scene, Terry Wilcox, got the People cover story (“He just happened to be a better writer than me, I guess,” said LaCardie).
The congressman tried to rebound from the fiasco (“I had several public appearances where I was kissing my wife, but she had a hard time smiling”), but was forced to resign.
Bucky Litelli is seeking counseling and is feeling “much better”.
Wink Martindale received probation for Hunting While Impaired and has sworn off Peppermint Schnapps, or any other liqueurs, for good.
Hawley and Imelda are still together and Hawley has encouraged Imelda into coaching high school girls’ basketball. Led by Imelda’s coaching, her team finished third in state in 2004.
The whole incident affected Frank the most, though, as a person from his past read the People article and came to Frank with a plan…
(To see Chapter 17, click here)
(To see Chapter 17, click here)