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Bob Barker: Personal Childhood Hero...


Before you do anything else, just take a few seconds and listen to this.

If that just put a little lump of happiness in your throat, then you'll know what I'm talking about today. If it didn't do anything for you, go listen to it again and come back. Don't worry. I'll be here when you return.

The Price is Right, bitches. That's right. Smooth, old school, non-hair-dyed goodness.

If you still don't know what I'm talking about, just go read Slashdot or something. But if you're down with Bob Barker and you know what a Showcase Showdown is, keep going.

When I was little, my grandmother took care of me during the day while both my parents worked. My mom worked at an insurance company (I think it was an insurance company. They were called "Beneficial," so I suppose it might have been a health spa/gym, but I like to think it was an office); my dad was an Air Force recruiter.

A fool and his prize money are soon parted.

So every day, after school, my grandma would pick me up from school and stop at the little corner store where they sold really crispy fried burritos and then we'd go home.

The summers were even better. I'd just chill for the whole day. Sometimes I wouldn't get up until 10. I always knew it was 10, though because Johnny Olson would make people freak out and run down the audience on The Price is Right. "Gina Blofapattaman COME ON DOWN!" And there's be this lady with literally mountains of girth just crushing people in her row to get to the aisle and she'd boogie on down and there it would go until she was in front of the microphone in front of the stage, hyperventilating.

It was like the clock on my grandmother's house. When it was 10 a.m., it was The Price is Right time. When it became 11 a.m., it was time for The Young and the Restless, and that was the part that my grandma never missed.

And I grew up that way, watching people win money spinning that big-ass money wheel (which I always imagined would lose a bolt and come rolling out its holder, crushing a straight line through the audience beneath its mighty weight).

I watched people play Plinko. And the one where you toss the big red dice. And the one where you have to guess if a price of a can of Campbell's soup is too high or too low. And every game where they introduced the prize as, "A NEW CAR!" I watched people bid $1 over the person next to them, creating hugely bad karma; it was a direct precursor to people screwing each other over on Survivor.

The other night, we were watching TV and they were showing the prime-time Price is Right, a salute to the Navy. I think I may have actually exclaimed, "Oh, SNAP!" when I saw it on the TV listings. I recorded it and we watched it later. We both realized that we'd grown up having the exact same experience: Summers watching The Price is Right. And there was a moment where I said, "Hey, remember the carboard yodeler guy that went up the mountain and he went YO DEE DO DEE DODEEDOLEEDEE!" and we were both cracking up.

We watched the entire hour-long special where everybody won something. I know it was probably completely rigged. I mean who's going to make a Navy soldier look like a loser on national TV?

It's one of those little bookmarks of my childhood; a window to it I had forgotten even existed.

I remember when Bob Barker let his hair go from black to gray. And how there was this huge controversy, like he had to ask the viewer if they were okay with that. I remember thinking, even at that young age, that this guy had to be a big deal if people cared about whether his hair was black or gray.

And yeah, there was the sexual harrassment thing, which I mean, if you had to look at slinky women all day sliding all over cars and toasters and cans of Ragu, you'd go a little nuts, too.

But I'm not here to defend Bob Barker. He might be a complete asshole. But he is part of the landscape of my childhood, right there with Big Bird and Fraggle Rock and "I'm just a Bill on Capitol Hill."

He's important to me, an easily identifiable patch in the quiltwork of my past.

I love that this simple, cheesy show reminds me of my grandmother's house. And summer vacations. And Lik'M-Aid packets. And dry, brown dirt. And a mangy yellow dog tied outside. And the world outside grandma's house, which seemed so vast, so endless, so indescribably foreign.

And, I mean, who doesn't love the little yodeling guy?


New Smallville recap up directly. It's the second-to-last recap before the whole season is over! It's a good one! Check it out!

And, I reviewed the movie About a Boy for our paper. You can read that here.


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