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It's all about Stuff

Answer: He hosts a game show that requires brains to play

My nearly 89-year-old mother-in-law moved in with Sherry and me a few months ago. As might be expected of someone who lived by herself for several years after her husband died, she watches a lot of television. Most of it I can block off as background noise, except for that bitch Nancy Grace, who drives me into my home office to put the headphones on and either practice playing my bass or listen to music.

Four game shows also are a part of every day: Let's Make a Deal and The Price is Right in the morning; Wheel of Fortune and Jeopardy in the evening. I find the two morning shows to be the most bothersome, because they all involve Stuff. Contestants win Stuff and are given the opportunity to win More Expensive Stuff like cars, motorcycles, exotic vacation trips and the like.

The Price is Right involves contestants who win or lose depending solely on how well they can estimate the price of Stuff. Again, they have opportunities to win More Expensive Stuff after they win lower-priced Stuff.

It says something about America when popular game shows are built around owning Stuff. Can't you imagine the viewers at home saying, "Oh, I wish I had that Stuff" or "Wouldn't it be great if someday I could own that More Expensive Stuff?" This is akin to idolatry. The North Korean government forces its people to watch these shows to see just how decadent the West is.

Another annoyance about those two shows is audience reaction. People applauding used to whistle to boost their applause. Today, people scream, and I mean scream: "A mugger is chasing me with a machete and is going to hack me limb from limb" scream. As my friend once observed about contemporary America, "It's louder, meaner and dumber." Game show audiences seem to fit the "louder" part of that formula, anyway.

Wheel of Fortune also worships at the altar of Stuff and More Expensive Stuff, but at least the show involves a degree of contestant cleverness: the ability to guess what a phrase, activity, or thing is based on the revealing of vowels and consonants.

Jeopardy, in its own way, involves the promise of winning Stuff, in the form of money. And Jeopardy contestants win or lose based on their knowledge in a variety of categories. Jeopardy is a guilty pleasure; I watch it about every other night. Some nights the categories are good ones for me; some nights, they leave me with the big cartoon-strip question-mark-in-a-cloud" over my head. I could never be a contestant, though, because every time I miss a question, I hiss the word "shit!"

At least with the latter two shows, the audience scream is less bothersome. On Wheel of Fortune, when somebody has won tens of thousands of dollars' worth of cash and merchandise, there's occasional screaming when the contestants' family members rush onto the stage at the end of the show. I've heard no screaming on Jeopardy. And I'm impressed with host Alex Trebek's ability to come up with different words or phrases to tell the contestants they've answered a question correctly.

So there's part of my new life with my mother-in-law living with us. I don't begrudge her when it comes to watching her game shows. But Nancy Grace is another matter. Thank God Jane Velez-Mitchell's show, which used to run for an hour before Nancy Grace, was canceled.


( 11 comments — Leave a comment )
Jan. 11th, 2015 01:55 am (UTC)
Ah, the perils of stuff. I think, though, that the pendulum is swinging...I've worked with a number of young families lately who are saying, "No more stuff. We need to pare down, thin out, prioritize." It's hope-inducing.

But money, now that's stuff you can do good stuff with, so I'm all for gathering more if it.

Edited at 2015-01-11 01:56 am (UTC)
Jan. 11th, 2015 04:50 am (UTC)
Plus, money doesn't take up a lot of storage space.
Jan. 11th, 2015 05:50 am (UTC)
When I was a teenager I walked into the living room where my father was watching a game show. "Who is that?" I asked. "Wink Martindale," my father said.

For some reason that really, really bothered me, that my father would watch a show hosted by someone named Wink and that he knew his name.
Jan. 11th, 2015 03:20 pm (UTC)
Jan. 11th, 2015 05:43 pm (UTC)
Even in the 1970s this was terrifying.
Jan. 11th, 2015 11:52 pm (UTC)
A Pharmacist I knew from Buffalo went on Wheel of Fortune in the '80's. At that time cash wasn't a prize, but lots of stuff was. He won trips, motorcycles, a replica Model T, and the value was pegged at just under $200,000. He left almost all of his winnings at the show, he told me the taxes on THE STUFF would have made him sell most of the stuff to keep it-Holiday
Jan. 12th, 2015 01:09 am (UTC)
As the Beatles sang:

Now my advice for those who die
Declare the pennies on your eyes
'Cause I'm the taxman
Jan. 12th, 2015 02:20 am (UTC)
You're giving us bitches a bad rap comparing Nancy grace to us. tc
Jan. 12th, 2015 01:36 pm (UTC)
There's no comparison. No-class Nancy is in a class by herself, with a capital B to boot.
Jan. 13th, 2015 08:12 pm (UTC)
One of last night's categories, in case you missed it - The Who. I nailed it.
Jan. 13th, 2015 08:27 pm (UTC)
I did too. The category on Turkey was a big Zero for me, though.

Beer-pouri in the opening round also was easy.
( 11 comments — Leave a comment )

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