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TED Alert 

Bingo enters the twenty-first century

Where have you gone, hardy senior citizen in green visor, glittery eye shadow and gaudy earrings, hunched over 36 bingo boards in intense concentration, dotting the cards with a giant marker?

Oh, we know you're still out there, hanging on for another $500 pot (claimed after you formed the elusive "X" on a board at St. Vincent's Bingo & Fish Fry Friday eight years ago, praise the Lord). But as slowly and surely as DVD replaces VHS, your kind is disappearing.

The Compton Heights Concert Band Charity Bingo is a microcosm of technological advancement and obsolescence. You see, serious bingo players of all ages are turning to electronics. The Compton Heights event now offers a machine called The Electronic Dauber System, or TED for short (the newer version of the TED has been nicknamed "The Alice," after the film Bob & Carol & Ted & Alice).

The aforementioned hardy senior -- let's call her Gladys -- doesn't have to be nearly as hardy, thanks to her laptop TED, which tracks the action on up to 54 cards. Instead of squinting through her Dame Edna glasses and frantically scanning down column after column of bingo cards, Gladys just hits two buttons on the machine and learns instantly if she's won a bingo.

Gladys is relieved to not have to do it the old way -- so tedious, and those messy Magic Markers! And she's used to this sort of thing, too. On those long bus rides, she whips out her electronic blackjack game. And when she "goes to the boat" (the waterborne casino), she plays the electronic poker machines, which are fast becoming the norm.

But don't talk to Gladys about that stuff right now. She's busy gunning for a piece of the $3,600 that the Compton Heights bingo event pays out three times each week. And she's got all her money riding on TED.

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