BY BOB SMITH
Lately, we’ve been watching Jeopardy almost every night. It’s broadcast every weekday at 7 p.m., but we program the DVR to record it so we don’t have to watch any commercials. This has the added benefit of skipping a couple of days and then go on a mini Jeopardy binge – watching two or three shows in one evening. Modern technology can be a great thing.
I can’t recall having watched the show regularly when I was younger, so I’m not sure if I could ever have gotten all, or even most of the answers correct. But it’s clear there would be one of two results if I were to get on the show today:
a) I’d end up with zero dollars because I’d never figure out exactly how and when to push the button on the “signaling device.”
b) I’d somehow master the signaling device, but I’d answer so many questions wrong I’d end the show in negative numbers.
The last episode we watched was part of the Teen Tournament, in which the three contestants were in 7th, 9th, and 11th grades, which makes me at least 10 years older than their combined ages. The winner was the 7th grader, a bespectacled boy wearing his Dad’s best tie bunched up in a lumpy knot. The kid had barely begun puberty, but when “HE WAS PRESIDENT DURING THE WAR OF 1812,” flashed up on the screen, he promptly buzzed in and correctly replied “Who is James Madison?”
Alex Trebek always talks briefly with the contestants about an interesting fact from their lives. This 7th grader told the story of how, during his first confession (what – four years ago?), the priest had addressed the assembled prospective penitents before taking them aside individually to hear their sins. Once the priest’s speech was done, this lad was first in the confessional booth.
However, the priest forgot to disengage his lapel microphone before settling down in the confessional, so this kid’s entire first confession was broadcast to his, no doubt, delighted classmates waiting in the pews outside.
Which normally would be a pretty embarrassing event, but as Alex Trebek observed:
“And they heard everything? But this was your first confession, right? So how bad could it be?”
I suspect he was confessing to having a secret system for cheating at Jeopardy. How else would he know about things like “MOZART’S LAST AND PERHAPS MOST POWERFUL SYMPHONY SHARES ITS NAME WITH THIS PLANET.”
My answer (a wild guess, just for laughs): “What is Uranus, Alex?”
But the correct response, from the mouths of babes: “What is Jupiter?”
I certainly didn’t know that in 7th grade. In fact, I wasn’t aware of it until yesterday. And there’s a pretty good chance, given the way my memory is drying up, that I won’t know it next year either. Or even tomorrow.
The kid won more than $19,000, and qualified to compete in the quarterfinals of the tournament against other freakishly knowledgeable teenagers. I’ll watch, and try to keep up with them, but I don’t have much hope with categories like “NEW TESTAMENT GEOGRAPHY;” “PHYSICS;” and “KATY PERRY VIDEOS” on the board.
I might fare better if they had Geriatric Jeopardy with categories like “PAIN RELIEVERS;” “FLORIDA GOLF;” “SINATRA SONGS;” “NEW HIPS;” “OLD HIPPIES.” There’d be a pee break before Final Jeopardy, and if you’re lucky, you’d get to say “Make it a true Daily Double Knee Replacement, Alex.”
Oh yeah, that’s my kind of game.