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Trivial Pursuits… Ken vs James … A David and Goliath Moment?

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Jennings and Holzhauer

… In the red corner, checking in at 162.5 pounds, soaking wet … undisputed champion and winner in 74 rounds of nerdish intellectual battle …

Kennnnnn Jennings (and the crowd roars…)

 

… and in the blue corner, weighing 165 pounds… the up and coming contender, the king killer from Las Vegas, Nevada…

Jamesssss Holzhauer (another sizable roar…)

JEOPARDY

The regal sport of trivia nerds and Alex Trebek groupies.

If you’re of a certain age… you might remember when Muhammad Ali was at his peak of boxing perfection and popularity. Everyone oohed and ahhhed when he’d “float like a butterfly, sting like a bee” in the ring. He was brash, loud and seemingly invincible.

In 1969, some promoter dude concocted a “reality show” where he spliced together a fictional dream boxing match, titled The Super Fight, between 2 undefeated pugilists from different eras – Ali (31-0) and Rocky Marciano (49-0).

At the time, Ali and Marciano were the only undefeated heavyweight champions in history and fans often debated who would win had they met in their primes. Ali and Marciano were filmed sparring for 75 one-minute rounds producing several possible scenarios for a genuine fight, with the result claimed to have been determined using probability formulas entered into a computer.

Who won? Drum roll….. sorry … no spoiler alerts here…. head to the GOOGLE for your answer.

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And today, we could see another Super Fight, a match of kings-at-their-trade with Trebek in his role as the referee.

It’s been 15 years since Ken Jennings packed his big punches while James Holzhauer (at this writing), remains on a roll like a hot bettor at the craps table in Vegas.

Jennings and Holzhauer are freaks of trivia nature. The hard drives inside their heads are multiple times larger than 99% of us. Their ability to retain gigs of data, access it quickly, and then skilfully out-click all of their opponents consistently is … well … mind boggling.

So, for those of us who enjoy the sport of watching excellence vs excellence in any arena, a pitched match between these 2 trivia superheroes might be just the thing to take our minds away from the 10,000 lies and Congressional hearings and Venezuelan coups.

OK, it may not attract the feverish crowds that slurp at the trough of Game of Thrones or Avengers: End Game and their huge markets of physical battle-related contests and the endless speculation of who will be having sex in next week’s episode.

I’ve yet to see anyone naked on Jeopardy, much less have a sexual encounter, but intellect can be sexy, don’t you think? Ohhhh hunny, it makes me so hot when you know the capital of Lithuania…

I admit that I’m a Jeopardy fan… a trivia nerd if you will.

I shout out my answers (sorry, questions) at the TV with no buzzer button to handicap my responses. I play my Walter Mitty part and accept Alex Trebek’s congratulatory handshake at the end of the episode.

I’ve dreamed of becoming a contestant – to match wits and tidbits of esoteric info that float through my head.

Yes, I even took the online qualifying test, but alas, have never heard back.

I harbour no illusions that I would ever make a close battle with James Holzhauer… the friendly, little daughter-loving, quiet but clever-spoken whiz kid.

I’m just hoping for a Super Fight between old master Ken and young grasshopper James.

And the winner is … Who is Sean Connery? No, I mean Turd Ferguson….

Nope, these days it’s always James Holzhauer.

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My Trivial Mind and How I Came To Love Alex Trebek…

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jeopardy-contestants

I’ll take STUD MUFFINS for $600 please Alex

(Who is Tom Cruise? Wrong! Liam Hemsworth? Sorry!! Larry Green? In your dreams MAN ON THE FRINGE!!!)

If I were GOOGLE and you asked me that JEOPARDY question… you know I’d say, “I’m feeling lucky.

Hi… my name is Larry and I’m a… Jeopardyaholic. It’s a sickness I’ll never fully overcome, HIV of the trivia mind.

As Mini-Me I loved staying home sick from school (“Mom, my tummy hurts, do I have to go to school today?” … it rarely worked) watching old time game shows like What’s My Line, Password, Concentration, The Newlywed Game and The Dating Game (I fell in love with a new young Miss every episode).

I liked them all but my very very favourite was always… you guessed it… JEOPARDY!

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Jeopardy was Trivial Pursuit long before that board game was ever in diapers.

First aired in 1964, Merv Griffin was Jeopardy’s creator and Art Fleming was the host in those days.

I know I’m not alone in my dependency. Like alcoholics and gamblers and sex addicts, there are millions of us Jeopardyaholics out there.

It’s been building for years… like booze and drugs it’s a nasty disease that the TV networks won’t remove from the air because there’s too much money to be made.

Just look at Ken Jennings (whaddya mean, who the hell is Ken Jennings?)… he triumphantly made over $2.5 million in winning 74 consecutive matches. He’s a very sick man who will never recover.

Of course today’s 74 year-old host Alex Trebek cheats… he’s given all the answers (sorry, QUESTIONS!) and he still makes $10 million per year.

trebek and jennings

Alex and the Big Kahuna winner Ken Jennings… Mahalo nui loa!!

When I hear the “THINK!” music – you know the Think music… that 30 second ditty that carves its way into your cerebral cortex like the little slime-covered larva (Ceti Eel) from some Star Trek movie – I immediately begin sweating in wonder worry, the anticipatory fever of second guessing my final answer.

I’ll not be modest here. I have a pretty good head for trifles and non-essentials.

Important stuff? Not so much.

I hold in high esteem the minds of those who can remember, assimilate and understand gene patterns and physics laws and philosophical treatises. I do.

In my previous lab life, I had swollen hot-air balloons full of respect for the scholarly genius of some of the technologists and physicians I worked with over 37 years.

I suffered from IS… Impostor Syndrome.

I felt like a white-coated fraudster when I compared myself to many of my colleagues. I was a rocket scientist who doesn’t know the sea from the sky.

Our world would be The Planet of the Apes if it weren’t for advanced thinkers.

 We are just an advanced breed of monkeys on a minor planet of a very average star. But we can understand the Universe. That makes us something very special.

Stephen Hawking

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No Stephen, I can’t understand the universe.

I get the simple stuff.

I’ve always been pretty good at remembering and storing trivia, then regurgitating it back up.

I am the perfect Jeopardy contestant.

I can dress pretty and enter the swimsuit portion of the “Brain Game” of life’s pageant, but please don’t ask me how we’ll bring about World Peace.

The important, complex facts and ideas never seem to get enmeshed in the glomerular kidney filters of my mind… instead there are simple rainbow fields of delicate, spice and honey-scented flowers where upright architecturally-firm buildings should stand.

Stephen Hawking’s A Brief History of Time became an extremely brief history of reading and remembering for me. A fleet enema of incomprehension rushed like a raging tsunami through my brain and absolutely nothing remained in its after-flush.

Merely knowing that I’m writing about a game show this week shows how superficially shallow my mind surfs the much deeper waves of our ocean.

The bottom line here is that in the past year or so I’ve entertained the nutty notion of applying to be a contestant on Jeopardy.

I’ve seen many Canadians (including Alex Trebek himself) standing onstage going toe-to-toe with the more-typically American contestants.

Even one of my Hamilton Tiger Cat football players was a contestant recently (he was viciously mowed down by the knowledgable rush of the other players… Yup, smoked!).

But now, in a Trump-like gesture, an American version of Checkpoint Charlie has set up a wall to us friendly Canadian “eh-sayers”.

In the past few months, the producers of Jeopardy – in perhaps a “saving grace” action, saving my and my family’s personal red-faced embarrassment – have disallowed Canadians from applying online, citing new Canadian privacy rules regarding personal information on the Internet.

Nope, Canadians need not apply.

I feel hurt, unloved, ditched in the dumpster heartbroken… but perhaps… just a teensy relieved too.

But will I give up the fight? Nope…

It’s time to make lemonade from lemons.

If they don’t want this poor small peanuts Canadian competing against brilliant hordes of American experts? Fine.

flash forward

*FLASH FORWARD A COUPLE OF YEARS*

Alex Trebek looks tired and weary, like an aged prize fighter in the later rounds; remarkably robust yet worn down from too many answers and not enough questions.

It’s his time for Freedom 75.

So one day soon you’ll set your dog-tired ass down after dinner and flick on the TV set to catch a little R&R at the end of a trying workday.

Hmmmmm… Jeopardy? Why not?

The opening music swells as Johnny Gilbert eagerly announces the names of today’s 3 contestants … and then…

and here’s your NEW host… Larry Green”

Together, hand-in-hand, Alex Trebek and I stroll onto the stage, resplendent in our pressed and starched tuxedos…

… after a few fond words of congratulatory celebration… I give Alex a big farewell kiss on the lips – he’s still a handsome, sexy man after all, and I don’t mind kissing him since he’s shaved off his moustache…

… and then, I take my rightful “Walter Mitty” position behind the host’s lectern, breath a sigh of satisfied triumph, then read out the first category title… CANADIAN STUD MUFFINS

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Postscript: Wanna test your Jeopardy trivia skills online daily? Try this link