Dazed and confused? Not me. I’m just Lost in the Cheese Aisle.

Thursday, November 8, 2012


I don’t watch a lot of teevee these days, aside from the morning news and the Food Network and the occasional movie or series on HBO. Nevertheless, the local NBC affiliate is gracious enough to broadcast a couple of classic game shows in the evenings, right about the time the Missus and I are taking our supper.

“Jeopardy” is always fun to watch, given that the questions usually require that the contestants have a fairly good breadth of knowledge: It’s not a game for clowns and idiots. Who among us does not like to play along, shouting out answers at the screen? I would almost feel cocky about my chances of winning were I to be a contestant, except I have firsthand experience being on a quiz show. There is no overestimating the “Sweaty Nutsack Factor,” i.e., the knowledge that a metric assload of people are going to be watching you, so GOOD GAWD, DON’T SCREW IT UP! I hate to think of how I would humiliate myself on national teevee were I to be on “Jeopardy.”

Vanna White and Pat Sajak on the set of “Wheel of Fortune.” Based on Vanna White having her original skin, the photo was most likely taken circa 1963.  Image credit: TV Guide.

“Wheel of Fortune,” a tricked-up video version of Hangman, airs right around the same time. Now, there is a show that allows you to feel superior to (most of) the contestants, especially the ones who insist on buying EVERY FUCKING VOWEL.  And in addition to allowing the viewer a bit of ego-massage, WoF offers the spectacle of the amazingly well preserved Vanna White gesturing to the bank of touch screen monitors wherein the Magickal Letters are contained.  No wonder it is the longest running syndicated game show in U.S. television history.

There are several different categories of puzzles in WoF, such as Name, Place, Phrase, Quotation, Food & Drink, et alia.  There’s one called Same Name, which combines two people who share first or last names, e.g., Aretha & Benjamin Franklin or Elvis Presley & Costello.  But my personal favorite - possibly because of the wordplay involved - is the Before & After category, which concatenates two well-known phrases that share a common word.  An example: Wheel of Fortune Cookie (= Wheel of Fortune + Fortune Cookie, in case this isn’t obvious.)

Years ago, I found myself wondering about those Before & Afters.  Who writes ’em?  And what happens to the ones that never make it onto the show, for whatever reason?  For it occurred to me that there are all kinds of B&A’s that are unlikely to ever see the light of day or the gentle touch of Vanna White’s wrinkled claw.

Submitted for your delectation, here’s a (partial) list of Before & After puzzles most likely to be deemed unsuitable for use by the producers of “Wheel of Fortune.”  (Asterisked items have appeared previously in the Lists feature at McSweeney’s Internet Tendency.)
    Nuclear Winter Wonderland*

    Olympic Village Idiot*

    Banana Nut Sack*

    Plumber’s Crack Whore*

    Vanna White Supremacist*

    Wurlitzer Organ Meat

    Gaza Strip Poker

    Butt Crack of Dawn

    Baseball Bat out of Hell

    Chow Mein Kampf

    Victory Lap Dance

Got any of your own? Stick ’em in the Comments!

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