Partial Jeopardy

Trivia monacha - found on Greater Cumbrae, Sco...
Trivia monacha, found on Greater Cumbrae, Scotland--Image via Wikipedia

Jeopardy! wants me.

Sort of. Maybe.

I’ve received an invitation to audition for the show.

In Kansas City.

I took the online test for fun. I didn’t expect to be summoned. There’s an element of chance in that process. Not everyone who passes the test is called in.

Those who know say prospective contestants are evaluated on their ability to behave as if they wouldn’t look scared to death on camera. It certainly takes more to qualify: appearance, general demeanor, and so forth. But it probably boils down to acting cool but not frozen.

I am practiced at appearing before an audience, though not a camera, and at answering Jeopardy! questions in the privacy of my home. I am not practiced at answering them in front of people I don’t know. Playing against people I don’t know. With a buzzer in my hand.

Think how embarrassing it would be–to go through an entire show without ever being first to buzz in. Or to buzz in but not be able to think of the answer you know you know.

A relative says I could answer questions other contestants get wrong. That way, I’d have more time to think.

The writer of one of the articles cited below suggests there should be an edition of Jeopardy! for people with fibromyalgia.

I think there should be an edition for people whose brains freeze.

Without questions about sports, geography, or popular culture after 1970.

The issue is moot anyway. I have a conflict on the date of the audition.

I’m a little sad about that. If I were going to Kansas City, I would need a whole new wardrobe. I would like a whole new wardrobe.

But the most important thing here is that I have received validation, not for a head filled with junk, but for my philosophy of education, which I shared with all my students, and which I set forth in a previous post:

You study literature so when Alex Trebek says, “‘The blank ‘for all his feathers, was a-cold,'” you will buzz in and put the answer in the form of a question and walk away with a pile of money.

It is, after all, the duty of the student to outperform the teacher.


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Image of Trivia monacha by Mark Blaxter [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

Just Wo-ahn Out

The snowy owl
Image via Wikipedia

Sometime back in the 1930s, my grandmother picked up the telephone receiver just in time to hear the Methodist minister’s wife, on the party line, drawl, “I am just wo-ahn out. I’ve been waterin’ the yahd.”

The statement might not seem significant, but my family has its own criteria for significance. And so those two sentences entered the vernacular.

They were used under a variety of circumstances: after stretching barbed wire, frying chicken, mowing the lawn.

My father would fold the newspaper, set it on the table, and announce, “I am just wo-ahn out. I’ve been waterin’ the yahd.”

I am wo-ahn out, too. I’ve been taking the Jeopardy online test.

Fifty questions, fifteen seconds to type each answer. Spelling didn’t count but was appreciated. Short answers were accepted, not in the form of a question.

I didn’t do too badly, I think. Better than last year. Last year was a mess.

I won’t include specifics, but I did okay on questions related to literature, biology, and chemistry.

But I won’t be called in for an interview. My natural distaste for geography and abject ignorance of popular culture took care of that.

Katie Who?

And there was the What’s-His-Name problem. I can see his face but–

Time is up. Proceed to the next question.

Students used to say, Why do we have to study literature? Why do we have to read Shakespeare? Beowulf? Canterbury Tales? All this stuff?

I would say, So you will know the pleasure of beautiful words and elevated thoughts. So you will understand literary allusions. So you will be culturally literate. So you will be educated.

So when you see an ad for fat-free cheese with a caption reading, A lean, not hungry, look, you will recognize the copywriter has read Julius Caesar.

Finally–finally–I came up with the right answer: You study literature so when Alex Trebec says, “The blank ‘for all his feathers, was a-cold’ you will buzz in and put the answer in the form of a question and walk away with a pile of money.

That got their attention.

I don’t know that it’s actually happened for any of them. But I fully expect to turn on the television someday and see one of my students clicking away.

It hasn’t worked for  me. But that’s all right. It is the student’s job to surpass the teacher. I shall have a vicarious victory.

Now it’s almost midnight. I must post and then retire.

Because I am just wo-ahn out. I’ve been waterin’ the yahd.