The grinch who stole “The Price Is Right”

This is supposed to be a happy game-show story:

It was on “The Price Is Right” yesterday. The winner is a woman named Sheree, who’s from Washington. Her wish was to win a big prize. She did. An Audi worth almost $160,000 and $10,000 in cash.

Should I break it to her that she’s not going to keep the car? I mean, she looks so happy.

I’m just going with the odds here. I was on a game show once. Won a significant chunk of money and a trip to Europe. I also had to pay taxes on the winnings. Federal tax, taxes to the state I lived in, and California taxes, because that’s where the show was taped.

Now, for argument’s sake, I’m guessing the taxes all together are going to be AT THE VERY LEAST 30 percent of the total, so somewhere in the vicinity of $60,000.

She doesn’t have that kind of money. She said so. Remember when she turned over the first card and got $4,000, and she yelled to her significant other in the audience, “$4,000 is a lot of money.” Yes, when you don’t have a lot of money, $4,000 is a lot of money.

And $60,000 is a lot more money. I’m not going out on a limb here when I say she doesn’t have $60,000 laying around to pay the taxes on $170,000. The $10,000 in cash she won isn’t going to cover it.

So, she won’t keep the car. She’ll probably turn it over to an Audi dealer, who will take it off her hands for far less than the retail price, because as an owner, she now makes it a used car (pre-owned as they say in the classy television ads). And I’m not a tax lawyer here, but she still did get $170,000 from “The Price Is Right.” That’s income. Income is taxed. She still owes about $60,000. All told, she might walk away with cash in the low five figures. But nowhere near this “Price Is Right” moment. Maybe “The Price Is Right” folks have this all figured out and they’ll offer her a cash deal that covers everything. I doubt it, though.

I guess this dose of reality makes me the grinch who stole “The Price Is Right.” But I didn’t steal it. The tax man did. And the folks on “The Price Is Right” know this is going to happen. They also know this is great television. That means higher ratings. That means they can charge more for ads. You know, like giving Audi this six-minute ad for a car that’s never going to go to the contestant who won it.

Oh, you thought Audi gave “The Price Is Right” the car, or the show bought the car from Audi? No, this is product placement. The car will be back in the showroom next week. No cost to Audi. No cost to “The Price Is Right.” A $60,000 cost for the poor lady who’s having the happiest moment of her life.

(By the way, I did pay the taxes on my game-show winnings. Spent Easter in the sun in southwestern Europe. It was very nice.)

Good Friday: Don’t believe your eyes

This isn’t what you think it is:

There is a photo of me floating around where I’m standing in a crowd of people dressed just like this. They’re robed, hooded and carrying a cross. If it took place in America, I would be beaten up or dead.

But this isn’t America. This is Spain. And it’s a procession for Holy Week.

I’ve witnessed three processions like this in the village of Sineu, in the center of the island of Mallorca in the Balearic Sea off the east coast of Spain. Tonight, at dark, hundreds of people are going to gather for a procession that depicts the crucifixion and resurrection of Jesus Christ. The outfits, which come in different colors but have the same pointed hood and flowing gown, symbolize the people of Nazareth. The different colors of outfits represent different community organizations. I’ve seen red hoods on blue gowns. Outfits that are all black, yellow or white. I’ve taken a photo surrounded by red and blue cloaked worshipers who were members of the local Red Cross.

Men, women and children will form a parade that will stretch throughout the village. There will be floats with sequential imagery of the crucifixion and the resurrection. A man in the role of Christ will carry a cross.

The procession will pass through the town square in front of the church, then continue to the edge of the village. Residents will have their doors and windows open so people can see inside their houses. At the end, people will break their daylong fast and have a feast that will go well past midnight.

It’s odd. In Spain, the colors indicate the community services you perform for the benefit of your neighbors. In America, the colors symbolize a rank in the promotion of hatred. How did an outfit used by Roman Catholics in Spain for centuries to express their love of God, become bastardized by a bunch of dangerous lunatic Americans who target Catholics, blacks and Jews?

According to the Valencia (Spain) City Guide:

It is a very unfortunate confusion of the imagery. Some people are interested in how the KKK came to use these costumes, so we decided to write a word on that.

It appears that there is no connection whatsoever. The KKK were not in any way affiliated to the Nazareno tradition of Roman Catholic, which has used this costume for many centuries. The costume itself does not carry any message.

They chose it simply for the visual effect. Apart from having a Christian connotation and white colour symbolising white race, the costume makes a ghost-like figure and provides disguise, which is exactly how the KKK wanted to appear. It is possible that some of the more imaginative and intellectual members of the Klan (without pointing fingers), familiar with Easter celebrations in Spain, were inspired by the image this costume would create and suggested it to the Klan’s more moronic members.

The origins of the pointed hat in Spanish tradition are unknown, but the face is covered as a sign of mourning for the death of Christ.

On Easter Sunday the hats are taken off in the jubilation for the resurrection of Jesus.

I wish I could be in Sineu tonight, enjoying the Easter celebration with the villagers and joining in the feast at the end of the parade. If you ever see a photo of me amid a crowd of robed figures in pointed hoods, just know that I’m in Spain with the children of God, not in America with the scum of the Earth.