December 26th, 2010

krazy koati

Then severe financial penalties shall come to you; then severe financial penalties to you

I was getting to wonder if The Price Is Right would ever play Pay The Rent again, but it broke one out for the Christmas Eve show. It worked out as kind of a surprise in that I'd have guessed completely wrong about one item, but the contestant bombed out anyway on a decision so wrong people from adjacent stations were popping over to tell him it was wrong.

The small prizes this time: a box of Turtles candies, which at $7.99 were the priciest item, although I'd have guessed them near the midpoint, which is where I would have gone wrong; then, Christmas cards ($4.99), curling ribbon ($0.79), plastic bags ($3.49), gingerbread treats ($3.39), and powder for making wassail ($7.00), which I thought existed only in a Mystery Science Theater 3000 sketch. I admit having only the faintest idea what wassail is or where it's from, but to classify it as part of the same kind of beverage as Ovaltine or iced tea throws me off.

The contestant placed the ribbon at the lowest level, which would be a way of playing it very safe ($0.79 for the level); on the second level, the gingerbread and wassail ($10.39 for the level); on the third, the cards and bags ($8.48 for the total); and at the top the candy ($7.99). Despite the revelation on the second level the total was over ten dollars the contestant defied sense and reason and plunged ahead, losing the $5,000 he could have got for walking away.

It looks like they've gone back, deliberately or not, to price ranges with a single correct order: the cards; the bags-and-gingerbread; the wassail-and-ribbon; and the Turtles. Again the cheapest item in the penultimate level pays off.

Trivia: Included in Tom Watson's severance package from National Cash Registers in 1913 was $50,000 in cash and a Pierce-Arrow automobile. Source: The Maverick And His Machine, Kevin Maney.

Currently Reading: Watchers Of The Skies: An Informal History Of Astronomy From Babylon To The Space Age, Willy Ley. Rich in 1963/66-level pop-sci goodness, and I do see why Asimov and Clarke felt they were working in Ley's shadow.