I watch Jeopardy! almost every night. I enjoy it very much. My favorite thing to do is to try to guess the correct response to Final Jeopardy before the clue; sometimes the category is so slim you can actually figure it out just from there. But there is one major pitfall to watching Jeopardy!, and it’s forgetting to turn off the TV and getting Sajaked by Wheel of Fortune afterward.
This is really only a problem in certain markets, because Wheel airs before Jeopardy! in many places. (Both are distributed by the same syndicator.) But whenever it airs, I don’t really want to watch. Jeopardy! is a trivia game, which I much enjoy; Wheel is hangman, except you can buy a vowel. And so I only experience Wheel of Fortune through viral clips of contestants being idiots.
Earlier this month it was the puzzle “FEATHER IN YOUR CAP,” where one contestant guessed “HAT” and “LAP” and others guessed incorrect letters. Despite the fact Wheel of Fortune promoted the episode during Jeopardy! with a montage of bad guesses, host Pat Sajak chided everyone for making fun of the players. But what else am I supposed to do on the Internet, Pat??? Oh, really, people were mean on Twitter about it? It is literally a website for being rude to strangers. Come on.
Anyway. Last night I watched Jeopardy!—final was incredibly easy—and then tuned in to the Sixers game. But what I missed on Wheel was this moment:
A friend texted me the video last night, despite knowing my anti-Wheel stance. It may be going viral as I write this. (I saw it from Ross Tucker on Twitter.) The puzzle is obviously “RENTING A PEDAL BOAT.” But several constants guess “RENTING A PADDLE BOAT.” Once that’s out, the game is thrown into chaos, with constants just guessing letters at random, including a “W.”
When I dropped this video in Slack, an argument erupted among the Defector staff. Billy wondered what the hell a pedal boat is. “No one calls it a pedal boat come on,” Drew said, confident as always. Barry attempted to be a huge fucking nerd: “Nerd take is that pedal is from the latin root for foot, ‘ped,’ so pedal can only refer to one you drive by your feet.” As a former member of the National Junior Classical League myself: Silentium!
Billy broke out M-W.com and looked up paddleboat:
Definition of paddleboat 1: a boat propelled by one or more large paddle wheels typically powered by a steam engine … a new sidewheel paddleboat of the sort that once carried New Yorkers on harbor and Hudson River trips — Richard F. Shepard
2 US: a small recreational boat powered by pedals that turn a paddle wheel Paddleboats are curious vessels. They can be steered and they’re powered by foot pedals so the effect is something like riding a bicycle on water. — Daniel Chang — called also pedal boat, (British) pedaloMerriam-Webster dictionary
OK, so: The Defector paddleboat bros do have points here. It is a little confusing! “Is it a pedal boat or a paddle boat?” reads a page on Quora. Website Boating Buds seems to say they are very different things, with paddle boats being boats powered by oars while pedal boats are powered by pedals. But the pedals, as Billy pointed out, also turn a paddle. One of the answers on Quora, from yachtmaster Donal Clancy, explains it thusly:
A Pedal boat uses foot pedals to drive the power shaft, but the power shaft can be attached to a number of different types of power output including a paddle wheel or a screw.
A paddle boat is a vessel driven by a paddle as opposed to a screw.
A pedal boat with a paddle drive is therefore both, a pedal paddle boat.
So not all pedal boats are paddle boats. But people obviously call all pedal boats “paddle boats” enough that it is also basic general usage. I even found a usage of “peddle boats,” which to me would be that guy who sails around and sells you items in The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker. Great game, by the way.
None of this is completely applicable here, of course, as paddle is not spelled padel. What I’m trying to say is the Wheel of Fortune producers simply must be doing intentionally confusing puzzles to get viral moments that Pat Sajak can then get upset about. I have no proof of this, and it may not be true, but if questioned I will simply pedal away. Or paddle away. One of the two.