The Price is Wrong

Some of you will remember the above line from the movie, Happy Gilmore. Bob Barker, yes – the real Bob Barker playing himself, has grown quite angry with Happy Gilmore, hockey player turned golfer played by Adam Sandler. Bob and Happy are playing in a pro-am tournament, and Happy can’t seem to hit any good shots. As they move from one hole to the next, the exchange between the two become more chippy. Clearly they must come to blows. The fight scene is very funny. Just before Bob punches Happy in the face Bob declares, “the price is wrong…” Well, in early June I was in Los Angeles and at the CBS studios where the Price is Right and many other T.V. shows air and are filmed. I was lucky enough to visit the Bob Barker Studio, the home of the Price is Right (no I was not on the show). As we walked around the studio, I would not help chuckling to myself as I remembered the punch and fight from Happy Gilmore. I was also reminded that one of our colleagues, Mary Landholt, was once on the Price is Right. She won The Showcase! By the way, the Price is Right can never be the same without Bob Barker as the host.


Southern California is a most interesting, although I should note that southern California is not just one place. The lure of the movie and television industries, the U.S. Navy, including the Marines, along with the best weather has brought together a collection of innovative and intriguing people from all over the U.S., including Nebraska. Dress and hairstyles vary from early 20th century circus to 21st century other worldly. The best hair colors are available too, including some reds and purples that will spin your head (think Linda Blair). Lives are ruled by traffic, including a strange definition for a high occupancy vehicle (HOV), two persons. When I think of high occupancy I think of high school and college when the goal was to get as many people, perhaps eight or nine, in the car as possible (and a few in the trunk of the car if you were going to the drive-in movie). The freedom of the HOC lane is exhilarating. The opportunity to drive 20 mph versus the 5 mph driven by those in the regular lanes is a fine reward for good behavior. Some of the best stories I have heard involve the HOV lane—using a very well tricked out inflatable as the second person in the car. Should you be able to drive the speed limit (80 mph) in the HOV lane, your day is made.

The drive from LA to Santa Barbara is very picturesque. Highway US 101, also known as California State Route 1, runs right along the coast. The rocky hills border the highway, sometimes giving way to small valleys. Groups of surfers can be seen below from the elevated portions of the road and off in the distance are a series of oil platforms. The oil under the seabed near Santa Barbara is close enough to the surface that lumps of oil washed on shore even before the offshore wells were drilled (report from longtime residents). There was a significant spill in 1969, leaving the usual collections of dead birds and blackened beaches for some time.


LAX is an odd airport. It is very old and has a very high “persons in pajamas” ratio. There are plenty of characters that could be stars in zombie movies or in the next rendition of Sharknado. My grandmother would have called it a madhouse, especially on the afternoon I was flying out. I saw the longest Southwest Air check-in lines that I have ever seen, a conga line it was. Gates C28-C31 are tucked together down in one of the dead ends of concourse C. Every, yes every, seat was occupied at several junctures during my wait to board. One flight to Las Vegas was delayed due to mechanical problems. Most of those booked to Las Vegas were connecting to other flights, flights that would be missed because of the delay. So the scrum was on as people piled into two lines to rebook flights. I suppose some were irked by the fact that a broken jet would result in lost gambling time. There was the usual collection of cranky/winey folks – no ranting was observed – and a few zombies, but for most the drudgery of frequent flying had already dulled their senses and they were calm.

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