Saturday, February 17, 2007

I'll Take "Stuff Len Created" For $1000, Alex

In case I've never mentioned it, my wife Christine is somewhat Catholic and I'm peripherally Jewish. This might be a cause for friction in some households, but not in ours. That's because my wife and I share the same faith. You see, we watch Jeopardy! Religiously. When we're home, we watch it over dinner. When we're out, we Tivo it and watch it when we get home. If we're out for some prolonged period of time, away at a convention, for example, we Tivo it, then prop our eyelids open with toothpicks when we get home, and watch an Alex Trebeck marathon.

We are so committed to the show that, a number of years ago, when I was stuck in an airport, waiting to board what becoming a long-delayed flight, and Christine was still living in Cleveland, attending law school, I called her at home when I knew the show was about to begin, and she relayed the entire episode to me, answers and all, over the phone. Hey, stop looking at me like that. I know what that sounds like. But it is, as I've said, our religion.

We each have our own strengths and weaknesses in the game, of course. I tend to excel in categories relating to the Arts and Media, anything involving TV, Film, Literature, Poetry, People and Places in the News, and any of the trick categories, things like Before & After, Rhyme Time, Stupid Answers and the like. My single worst category, bar none, is Colleges and Universities. For Christine, on the other hand, C&U is arguably her best category, and she's terrific at Geography, History, Math, and anything that requires an actual education.

For years, Chris has been pushing me to take the test and try out for the game. I decline vigorously, telling her that the night I actually got to be on the show, the categories would inevitably include things like Famous Left-handed Plumbers, The History of Lint, Nuns' Shoe Sizes, Native Cheeses of Saskatoon, Things Len Has Never Even Heard Of and, of course, Colleges and Universities. Never one to be put off by my cowardice, Chris tried out for the show and is now on a waiting list to actually appear on the air. And yet, she still keeps pushing me to try as well.

I thought the problem was solved for good and all last year when I was one of the recurring panelists on the Live On Stage revival of the classic TV game show What's My Line? I promise a discussion of that as a separate blog post real soon. Even on nights when I wasn't on the panel, I'd be in the audience of the show. On the evening in question, we had a quartet of contestants, three men and a woman, whose line turned out to be that they were the question writers for Jeopardy! After the show, our dear friend, the lovely and talented Lisa Jane Persky, of whom I've spoken here before, brought me over to meet one of the writers. The moment we were introduced, the guy freaked. He started shouting to his friends, "Quick. Come over here. You've got to meet this man. You'll never believe who he is." Turns out the three guys, at least, were all fans of mine. We shook hands, exchanged pleasantries, and I figured that was it. I was finally off the hook. There was no way they would ever let me be a contestant on the show if I personally knew the people who write the questions! I figured that was as involved as I would ever get with the show and I breathed a great sigh of relief.

Thus it is, with no small scintilla of pride but with an overwhelming amount of astonishment, that I'm here tonight to suggest you all Tivo, tape, or otherwise record this Wednesday's episode of Jeopardy! That's Wednesday, February 21st. Check your local listings for the correct time and channel. Why, you may ask? Lemme tell you.

According to a super-secret inside Hollywood source-type person, the names of all the categories for Double Jeopardy are the names of some of our favorite mutants. I know for certain that two of the categories are Wolverine and Storm. I can't wait to discover what the others are. "Night"Crawler, perhaps? At the end, after listing all the category but one, I expect Alex will say something along the lines of, "And what do all these categories have in common?" at which point, he'll reveal the final category: The X-Men.

Now keep in mind that none of the earlier categories will actually be about the X-Men. Storm, I expect, will be about hurricanes and typhoons and their ilk, Wolverine will probably be about the Mighigan sports team, and the same sort of thinking goes for the other categories. Only the X-Men category is likely to actually be about the X-Men. Still, I've somehow managed to avoid being a contestant on Jeopardy! and gone straight to being a topic. Frankly, I couldn't be more proud.

So tune in on Wednesday and let me know what you think of the show, okay? I promise to be sitting right there next to you in spirit.

And, hey, will you please stop hogging the remote?


Anonymous said...


I always thought how cool it would be to create one of those catchphrases that becomes everyday jargon (e.g. "Make My Day"). But you've skipped straight to a higher level of cultural saturation. Who would even think to dream of becoming a Jeopardy topic?!

This'll be a keeper!

Michael said...

Judging by what I recall of your track record as a member of the Purple Pros at answering "Stuff Len Created (or Wrote)" questions at San Diego - at least during the late 90's and early 00's when I went - I don't think you'd actually do that well at a "Stuff Len Created" category. Maybe you ought to get Mark Waid or Tom Galloway to answer that category for you.

(Of course, my one year as a member of the Black Ink Irregulars, in 2001, we got beat by the Pros, so I shouldn't talk.)

OneL said...

And if you ever get a Jeopardy answer in the category "Shoe Sizes," the probable correct response is: "What is an 1/8 inch?" (That's the difference between shoe sizes).

Eliot, who spent many a Saturday afternoon in Grandpa's shoe store.

Unknown said...

Hallelujah, Brother!

Carmela and I also follow the video ministry of Father Trebek. (In fact, there've been at least a couple times when she's guessed Final Jeopardy even before Alex gave the answer.)

We'll be watching.

(Can I get an amen?)

-- Roger Stern

Anonymous said...

Actually, you may still be in the running for contestant status. A few years back at San Diego, I happened to be chatting with artist Steve Leiber, when someone else he knew came up. And to my horror, I was introduced to her...since I'd recognized her name as both a relatively frequent letterhack *and* a J! researcher.

I explained how I wished it hadn't happened, and was told that such in passing at a public event meetings didn't count towards disqualification.

And yep, I'd be more than willing to go up against you on "Things Len Wrote". : -)

Good luck to Christine on getting on. Hopefully she put down "photographer" as profession rather than "lawyer"; was told a few years back that five professional categories are overrepresented in pool, making it less likely to be chosen if in one of them. Said five being lawyer, librarian, teacher, writer, and computers.

I'm still in the pool for a few more months (12 times and counting...), but due to their putting the online test up this time less than a year after the previous one, I'll then be out for a year or so unless they do another online test sooner than expected.

M. C. Valada said...

Actually, Tom, I put down photographer, lawyer, adjunct professor and college administrator and told them I was simply overeducated and couldn't keep a job! Len didn't mention that they've called me once already, but I made the mistake of honestly filling in the form to say that a friend was doing special effects editing on Spiderman, which does disqualify me until Becky finishes in April, dammit. Even though she doesn't even work on the lot, it is a Sony picture.

I did get on the list from taking the on-line test last January and the timing (by two weeks) prevented me from retaking the test this January. Len could have, but he's a chicken.

Len also forgot to mention that he's very good at contemporary music. Since for me the music died in 1997, I've got no clue.

SwanShadow said...

Where were all of those X-Men questions in the Jeopardy! games I've played over the years?

Heck, I might still be undefeated! :)

Anonymous said...

Btw, Chris, if you get the call again, let me know if you'd like to use the Chuck Forrest and Mike Dupree J! books to study from. I've got both, as well as Bob Harris' (not so much raw facts, but an interesting and probably unique approach to prepping for the show) that I'd be glad to lend out if needed.

M. C. Valada said...

Thanks, Tom. But if I get called it will be to show up today or tomorrow, since they use LA based folks to fill-in in emergencies first. So I probably won't have time to read the books. We have several at home as well, since this is our religion and studying texts is often in order.

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