Saturday, July 9, 2016

Concentration! #socs

Did you ever play Concentration when you were younger? You deal out the cards in a deck face-down, then flip over two cards at random. If they’re the same rank (e.g. two 2’s or two Kings), you take them off the board. Otherwise, you flip them back over and do it again. Eventually, you collect all the cards in pairs. I know, not especially exciting, but when you’re a kid, it doesn’t take much to entertain you. Especially those of us who grew up in the days before all the electronic gadgets. That was when we walked ten miles to school, barefoot, uphill both ways, in the snow.

I never really liked the layout of Concentration, because, with 52 cards in a deck, you either laid them out with four rows of thirteen or you ended up with a couple of short or uneven rows. I figured out that, if you included the two jokers in the deck, you’d have 54 cards, and you could lay them out in six rows of nine or nine rows of six. I figured that out later, when we stopped putting the jokers in the spokes of our bicycle wheels to make a racket whenever we rode. Maybe that’s how the US Playing Card Company of Cincinnati, Ohio came up with the name of one of their most popular decks, “Bicycle.” They also make “Bee” and “Aviator” decks for bridge, poker, euchre, and pinochle, and the ever-popular “Gypsy Witch” fortune-telling cards.

I know all kinds of weird shit. I mean, real esoteric stuff that no one else cares about.

NBC used to have a game show named Concentration! that was designed after the card game. It was hosted by Hugh Downs and others (including Alex Trebek from 1987 to 1991). It had the same general idea as the card game, except there were thirty numbered spaces. You’d tell Hugh “Seventeen and twenty-three” and those two spaces would be exposed, showing the names of two prizes, usually things like refrigerators or RCA TV’s (RCA owned NBC then). If they didn’t match, they’d cover the spaces and give the next player a chance. If they did match, that prize would show up on your side of the scoreboard and they’d show you a piece of a puzzle, given in rebus format. If you figured out the rebus, you won all the stuff you accumulated and your opponent got the home edition of the Concentration! game, a year’s supply of Rice-A-Roni, or some other silly thing. And it was all fun and games until the guy from the IRS showed up and handed you the tax bill for all the stuff you won.

Some people take the fun out of everything.

I miss the old game shows. Actually, there are a bunch of nostalgia TV stations that show reruns of a lot of them, like Password with the late Allen Ludden (who was married to Betty White for years; he met her when she was a contestant) and Family Feud with the late Richard Dawson. Now, there are Wheel of Fortune and Jeopardy! and that’s about it. No, wait, The Price Is Right is still on with Drew Carey hosting, and they rebooted Let’s Make A Deal with Wayne Brady as the host. But that’s really it anymore. Now it’s all talk shows in the morning and court shows and Jerry Springer in the afternoon. A couple of soaps are still on, but they’re starting to give up the ghost. My guess is no one’s home to watch them anymore.

You know all that esoteric stuff I was talking about a few minutes ago? I learned a lot of it from game shows.


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Stream of Consciousness Saturday is on every week at this time, hosted by the lovely Miss Linda Hill, who has the rules and pingbacks at her blog.




from The Sound of One Hand Typing

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