AS IF YOU DIDN'T NOTICE, television game shows are starting to spring up like herpes sores on Charlie Sheen. (Only 447 words until an insufferable plug for my game show Arena of Brains.) And it all started with that goddam Regis Philbin and his Who Wants to Be a Millionaire (ABC, Thurs & Fri 8:30 pm, Sat & Sun 8 pm). Suddenly, just because the show got a few measly hundred thousand rating points, all the networks are scrambling to find their own game shows, and they're canceling perfectly nondescript situation comedies starring Jaleel White (formerly the beloved Urkel -- sniff!). For those who may be saying, "Wha... who? Millionaire? Regis Philbin? WHA...???" -- here's the Who Wants to Be a Millionaire breakdown.

Let's imagine you (for some unearthly reason) want to become a contestant on the show. First, you dial a special phone number where you hear the voice of sexy grandpa Regis Philbin (also co-host of Live! With Regis & Kathie Lee), who asks a series of questions. If you get those right, your name is tossed into a hat. From this pile of America's finest minds, 10 people are chosen. These 10 gather together onstage, and have to answer a single question -- usually something like "Put the following examples in order, from least disgusting to most disgusting: A. French-kissing Barry Manilow, B. Eating a pear that's been sitting in Dom DeLuise's toilet for three days, C. Juggling someone else's used condoms, or D. Licking Burt Reynolds' underarms for 20 minutes." Okay, that isn't an actual question, but -- c'mon! Their questions are so BORING! (Only 202 words until an insufferable plug for my game show Arena of Brains.)

Anyhoo, if you happen to answer it correctly and in the shortest amount of time, you receive the ultimate compliment of going one-on-one with Regis. As you sit centerstage, blinding lights flash and overly dramatic music blares. BA-BA-BAAAAAA!! At this point, Regis asks you a series of 15 questions, each worth a different amount of money, all the way up to one million smackers. However, unlike most game shows, here Reg gets to screw with your brain by saying, "ARE YOU SURE? IS THAT YOUR FINAL ANSWER??" Luckily for you, the early questions, until you get up to around $32,000, are idiotically easy. For example, here's a recent $4,000 question (and this time I'm not joking): "What condiment shares the name of a Spanish style of dance? A. Salsa, B. Ketchup, C. Mustard, or D. Mayonnaise?" I mean, what does he expect us to say? "Hmmm... gee, I don't know, Reg. I don't hablo español, so I gotta go with mayonnaise." (Only 24 words until an insufferable plug for my game show Arena of Brains.)

So it's settled: Who Wants to Be a Millionaire is stupid. However! Though I am loath to use my column to trumpet my own self-interest, I consider it a "public service" to let my readers know that I will be hosting my OWN game show tonight (Thursday, November 18 at 9 pm) at the fashionable Crocodile Cafe (2200 Second Ave.). I'd also like to offer the humble reminder that I make Regis Philbin look like a runny pile of dog droppings. My show is called Arena of Brains and, as God is my witness, a finer game show you shall never see. MY show has it all... local rock 'n' roll celebrities (Jason Finn, Kim Warnick, and Sir Mix-A-Lot) teaming up with three lucky Stranger readers, fabulous prizes (including a trip to Puerto Vallarta, Mexico), and perhaps most importantly, ME asking brain-stunning rock 'n' roll trivia questions, and intermittently singing John Cougar Mellencamp covers. Sure, it's like a beautiful dream -- but it's true.

So if you wanna see a real game show host in action, come on down to Arena of Brains. It's gonna be better than licking Burt Reynolds' armpit -- and that, my friends, is my final answer.