Friday, April 17, 2009

Winner! Round 9 - Grand Prize and Short List


Revealed !! The item in the box for Round 9 is

ORNAMENTAL CASE OF SOUVENIR COASTERS OF SCOTLAND

The case is very pretty, with a cloth covering over the wooden box. The cloth is padded and has gold and silver threads in a diamond pattern. There is a gold-toned metal latch on the front of the case. There are four souvenir coasters inside, each with an image of a famous Scottish site on it. Stamped on the felt backing of each coaster it says WIN-EL-WARE MADE IN ENGLAND and (I have assumed) the name of the place pictured on the front. I checked with Wikipedia for more information about the places pictured. I hope that both the place names stamped on the backs of the coasters and the information I found are reasonably accurate.

The Scottish scenes pictured are: 1: (visible in the picture) Eilean Donan Castle; 2: Blaven and the Cuillens [sic], Isle of Skye; 3: St. Fillans, Loch Earn, Perthshire; 4: River Dee, Aberdeenshire. Eilean Donan Castle has its own website. Blaven is a mountain and the Black Cuillen a range of mountains on the Isle of Skye. St. Fillans is a village on Loch Earn (apparently there are fairies nearby). The River Dee in Aberdeenshire, one of several rivers Dee, flows from mountains in the eastern Highlands of Scotland toward Aberdeen.

Yet again, and probably especially appropriate this round, the Grand Prize First Place guess is from an entrant in the U.K. without a mailing address in the continental United States, and who will therefor receive a suitable certificate proclaiming him the GRAND PRIZE FIRST PLACE HONOREE. I examined the remaining short-listed guesses for a runner up, and the First Place runner up does appear to live in the U.S. and will receive the actual Grand Prize.

@robinmatthewfry: A canister of earth from Omaha Beach, as collected by Tom Sizemore in Saving Private Ryan
- FIRST PLACE Grand Prize Honoree. This set of souvenir coasters presumably came “pre-collected” for the discerning tourist, but it is nontheless essentially a memorial bit of Scottish earth symbolic of the conquest of yet one more foreign shore by someone very far from home.

@cawcaw: A pair of bookends made of glass bricks with a Scottie dog etched into them.
- FIRST RUNNER UP, Grand Prize. As in the past couple rounds, here is an excellent runner up guesser who lives in the continental United States. I was actually dumbfounded that any guess mentioned specifically anything remotely Scottish, particularly something both decorative and useful for the home. This guess did not take first place because of the compelling symbolic resonance of the First Place guess.

Grand Prize Short List, In Order of Entry:

@AndrewLoeb: A box of matzah. Pretty much everything in my world right now is matzah. Bland, tasteless, and completely lacking in fiber. Matzah.
- A stack of square, cardboard-ish coasters is kind of like a stack of rectangular matzah. There is the additional connection of things existing for the memory of other things, although the memorial aspect of matzah is more important and symbolic than pictures of famous Scottish tourist sites.

@odat: A memento of the sea.
- This guess is on the short list for a simple reason. Memento = souvenir. Sometimes it is just as simple as that. There is some water in the pictures, a couple of lochs and a river, and the Isle of Skye is, of course, out in the ocean, but the power and specificity of the winning guesses edge this one out.

@suelyn:It is a heart shaped box filled with desire or perhaps just dark chocolate with cream centers.
- As I am sure many will notice, this round has a lot of guesses that come pretty close to being both metaphorically connected and literally connected to the Grand Prize. This guess is a guess about a box with things in it, and the Ornamental Case of Souvenir Coasters of Scotland is a box with things in it.

@snoozingdog: A brick of loose stale tea suited for tax tea parties in past 8 years; good for brewing at home today while sitting today's one out.
- Another simple connection. I, foolish American, rather loosely associate Great Britain with the consumption of huge quantities of tea. Furthermore, the whole tea party concept is connected with the separation of America from Great Britain. Now Americans who go there are tourists. And, one might need a coaster to put under a teapot.

@TheStepster: Made in China.
- This connection is a bit convoluted. Many of the Grand Prizes so far were made in China. It states quite emphatically on each of the four coasters in the set that it was Made in England. So, the reasoning is this: items made in China that say “Made in China” in roman script in English are items made in China to be sent somewhere else and to be used for purposes wholly unrelated to China. These are coasters made in England to be sent to Scotland for tourists there to remember Scotland, which (some would say) is not necessarily related to remembering England.

@KT30003k: Item is sold in multiples only. One *could* sell individual units, but it never happens, at least in the First World.
- Like @suelyn’s guess above, this comes close to being a fairly literal description that could apply to the Ornamental Case of Souvenir Coasters of Scotland. I am sure there are coasters sold individually somewhere, even in the First World, but it seems unlikely. One never buys a single coaster hoping one will only ever be drinking cold beverages alone.

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