Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Jeopardy! or...Shakespeare sucks

Well, after 10 years, I finally did it: I tried again to get on "Jeopardy!".

The last time I tried, I didn't get on, but I did get invited by them to appear on Inquizition, the Sci Fi Channel's version of "Jeopardy!". Why does the internet say that Inquizition was on the Game Show Network? Hmph. Whatever. Bottom line is that I won first place, there, and used the money to go birding in Canada, eh.
My friends saw that episode, but I never did.

Back then, the way you tried out for "Jeopardy!" was to show up in person at the Sony Paramount Studio in Culver City, and take the written test. I wore a suit & tie.
Now they have this thing called the internet, so the way to try to get on Jeopardy is to take their on-line test. Knowing that I had to park my ass in a chair, and seriously study because of today's deadline was good. I needed that kind of pressure.

What I studied to get onto "Jeopardy!"

1. United States capitals

2. Canadian Capitals

3. the Baltic states: Estonia, Latvia, & Lithuania. Oh, and you need to know their capital cities.

4. British monarchs: you need to know the difference between Edward VIIth and Edward the VIIIth.

5. Henry VIIIth's wives: (a) their names, (b) who lost their heads, (c) who he divorced, (c) who died horizontally.

6. the Great Lakes

7. United Stats presidents

8. the Civil War

9. the War of the Roses (the Lancasters vs the Yorks)

10. Shakespeare

Oh shit, Shakespeare.

Here's the deal: the people who run "Jeopardy!" looooove Shakespeare's plays. If you don't know the plots and characters of all of his his plays, don't bother to audition. Period. All of them. Period.
So tonight, despite the fact that I have been studying Shakespeare's plays, they got me with Banquo. Shit, they nailed me.

I hate Shakespeare

Okay, here's the deal: the Tragedies? Good stuff. Hamlet? Strong shit. Did my uncle kill my dad so that he can become king, and sleep with my mom? Is my mom in on it? Amazing.  But the comedies? Gag me with a thesaurus. Shakespeare's comedies are way the hell too complicated.
And contrived.
And confusing.
Shakespeare was so lazy that he just used the same names over and over again in various plays, and these characters were not the same character. He's got guys named Antonio and Bassianus and Bassiano all over the damn place.
So...did I get onto "Jeopardy!"? Honestly, I have no idea. I don't feel too good about my score. But then again, when I took my board exam in Nuclear Medicine, I was worried that I had failed, and I got 94%.

They don't tell you your score. I just sat there, staring at my computer screen, and their web site informed me that nobody ever gets told their score, and that even if I got a passing grade, I would have to get selected randomly among those who passed the test, then drive in to Culver City for a written test, an on-camera fake Jeopardy game, and an interview to make sure I don't come across on camera like a pervert with a criminal record.

Friday, March 2, 2012

Chattanooga, day 5: Tornado Day

Well, things aren't working out as I expected.
I'm trying to go home to L.A., but I'm not doing do a very good job.
Tornados within Hamilton County (the greater Chattanooga area) closed the airport.
We had to go back to the hotel that we had checked out of, this morning, and get new rooms.
So I took a 4 mile walk while black clouds gathered overhead.  There aren't all that many Confederate flags around, these days.  And that's a good thing.
Actually, Tennessee has been rather cosmopolitan and sophisticated.  I have a couple of ideas as to why:
1) According to Wikipedia, 20% of Tennesssee's residents are from outside The South.
2) Whenever you get any group of people isolated from the outside, world, things get ugly.  Modern Southerners travel the country, and the world, and bring new ideas and viewpoints home.  The South isn't the same place it was in the 1980s when I was in the Army, down here. 
The only Cardinals I saw, today.
By the time I was getting close to my hotel, the lightning was shooting sideways, with one bolt that struck the ground not too far away.  This lady with her 2 little girls in the car offered me a ride to safety.  I thanked her, and asked how much further it was to my hotel.  She insisted that I hop in.  Her two kids sat in the back of what was some sort of over-sized American car from the 80s.  They were like my kids: one was the friendly, outgoing one, while the other eyed me suspiciously.  I explained to them that I was really unhappy about not being home in L.A. tonight, since it's my son's birthday.
So I hopped out of the car, and walked into the lobby.  I told Rebecca, the porter, that I had just walked the 4 miles I had planned with her.  She indignantly drawled, "No, ya'll didna!  Ya'll just got outtava cah!"
My eyes bulged, and I stuttered, "No! Really!"

Thursday, March 1, 2012

Chattanooga, day 4

Thursday Morning
Class is killing me.  It's killing all of us.  Flying 2,000 miles east, and taking a hard class while our bodies deal with the 3 hour difference between the Pacific Time Zone and Eastern Time (why isn't it called the Atlantic Time Zone???) is too much.
Blue Jay
Once again, these guys do not occur in California (except for that one vagrant that showed up in Chico, this winter)!
female Red-bellied Woodpecker

Look!  They actually have red bellies!

After class, Marty Paige picked me up.  On the way to his house in the countryside we passed the Volkswagen factory, where they make the Passat.
The Wild Turkeys wanted nothing to do with me.
Neither did the Black Vulture that disappeared over the hill.

Marty was amused by the wimpy recording of Barred Owl on my cell phone, so he got his wife Janet to play Barred Owl calls on their boom box.
While they cranked up the stereo, the Field Sparrow in his yard was another lifebird.  Also seen: Northern Cardinals, Eastern Bluebirds, Common Grackles, White-throated Sparrows, Red-winged Blackbirds, Mourning Doves, and Carolina Chickadees.

Wow!  Barred Owl!
Very cool.

Now the only North American owl that I haven't seen is the Northern Hawk Owl.  Shhh!  Don't tell my wife!