JEOPARDY! Part 4

Continued from Saturday, June 11.

It was five weeks from the time I was notified that I would appear on JEOPARDY! until the taping of the show.

One week later, our office received some devastating news: the contract that all but one of the librarians was working under for the last six years was going elsewhere, meaning the very real possibility that most of us were going to be out of a job! This was VERY disappointing because, by all accounts, we had been doing very good work; we were apparently underbid. So much for relaxing.

Meanwhile, I run into a woman who works in my building. She and her sister are about to appear on Wheel of Fortune. There’s a nice story about them in the August 17 Times Union. I talked with her a few times. (If memory serves me, they won, but they got lots of prizes instead of cash and had to sell a car they got so that they could pay their taxes.)

One of the semi-cool things about the show being taped in Boston is that there are certain things JEOPARDY! will pay for that they would not otherwise. When the show is in Los Angeles, you pay to get there and back (which is why there are so many Southern California contestants), and you pay to stay there and eat there. (Tournament play, though, has different rules, I’ve been told.) In Boston, I had to get there and back on my own, but it’s easier and cheaper to get to from Albany, of course. However, JEOPARDY! was putting up the contestants for this special “thirteen colonies week” in the Boston Park Plaza Hotel for two nights, September 17 & 18 – sweet! And while dinner was on our own, the show did provide two breakfast vouchers for September 18 and 19. This is because the SHOW is “on the road.” This makes no real sense to me, but I am not complaining!

I went out with my friend Lori and bought a suit and a pair of shoes to wear on the show. (I seldom wear shoes unless they’re required, and at the time, it was Chuck Taylors of various colors that was the footwear of choice.)

I get a Federal Express package on September 4 with further instructions that include:
Wardrobe : Bring with you two changes of clothes for a total of three outfits.
Men : Dressy casual, suit, sport coat, sweater. Any of the above looks are fine. If possible, bring an additional sports coat or sweater (with tie) to see what looks best on camera…
Please no jeans or sneakers (men and women.)…no black/whiteprints, no busy prints.
WE ALSO NEED TO REMIND YOU THAT THERE IS NO GUARANTEE OF AN APPEARANCE ON THE SHOW. SULLIVAN COMPLIANCES HAS THE FINAL SAY IN THIS MATTER.
All in CAPS. (Of course, most of the sheet was in caps.) But this jumped out at me- one more way I WON’T make it on the show? Paranoia strikes deep in the heartland.

Around this same time, I developed what can only be described as the worst toothache in the world. I went to the dentist three times in a week and a half. He prescribed pain medications, but I still felt lousy. Worse, I felt logy and dopey and in no condition or mood to study. Whatever last-minute cramming I might have done – I used to be good at last-minute cramming“ went out the window.

I went to work that Monday and Tuesday before the taping, but on Tuesday, I asked to take off the next day, Wednesday, September 16, so that I could pack and rest, and perhaps even study. My boss, the Hoffinator, was usually pretty good about these requests, but on this particular day, she became slightly blanched. “OK”, she said, “but you have to come in at 3 p.m.” 3 p.m.? Then I figured it out.
I came in at the appointed hour, and there was a “surprise” send-off party for me, complete with cake with wording like: A: “The next Jeopardy champion.” Q: “Who is Roger Green?” Someone made me a sheet that said “ROGER GREEN, JEOPARDY! wants YOU!”, with Alex Trebek’s visage on it.

The next day, my friend Judy Doyle and her son Max picked me up. I knew Judy from college in New Paltz (c. 1977), and she briefly worked at the SBDC with me some 20 years later. She was then living in Corning with her son Max. She drove from Corning to Albany, some 210 miles, and picked me up with my requisite three suits (including the new one), five ties, two shirts, and my new shoes. After a brief respite, we traversed another 175 miles to the Massachusetts state capital. (“State capitals:” a popular JEOPARDY! category.) Even before I got in the car, I pulled out my World Almanac, hoping to read something that might come up, assuming that it would stick to my brain. For some reason, I focused on the levels of the atmosphere: stratosphere, ionosphere, and so on.

We get to the Boston Park Plaza Hotel, a very nice hotel. It was oddly shaped to fit the space that was available, I gather. (The alternative is that it was already oddly-shaped and they built the streets around it!)

There are several television trucks from different stations in front of the building. Since JEOPARDY! is only on one station in this market, something else important must be happening. What the heck is going on?

Continued on Saturday, June 25.

Father’s Day

The first Father’s Day without my father, in 2001, was the hardest time I had since he died in August 2000. Harder than his funeral (when I went on autopilot), Christmas, or my parents’ anniversary or even his birthday (which came only a month and a half after his death, so perhaps I hadn’t fully absorbed it.)
That first Father’s Day, the world seemed to prattle on, like verbal bullies on the playground, “We have a father, and you— don’t.”

Father’s Day 2002 and 2003 were somewhat better, though I found myself occasionally jealous of people with fathers.

Father’s Day 2004 was definitely a mixed bag. It was the first year I was a father and I got a lot of affirmation, especially from my mother, my sisters, my fellow church members, my friends.
Still, I was missing my father in a whole new way. I wondered, “What kind of advice would he have given me?” and “Would I have accepted it?” I felt that whatever he might have said to my sisters when they were raising their daughters wouldn’t necessarily apply to me. It was a “guy thing”, but I don’t know how that would manifest itself in this situation. And, of course, I wish that my father had been able to see my daughter. (A belief in an afterlife assuages this only marginally.)

As another Father’s Day approaches, I hope that Lydia will give me socks, like I gave my dad. I think that this year, I’ll be able to concentrate on the joy instead of the sorrow. Indeed, I know that I’m feeling easier now about being a father. It’s not that I know much more; it’s that I’m not so concerned about not knowing what I’m doing like I did last year. (This may be a function of the fact that I have had somewhat more sleep in June 2005 than in June 2004.)

And I hope that if someone reading this has a living father with whom he or she is estranged, reconciliation may be found. Despite our occasional turmoil, my father and I ended up in a pretty good place with each other. For that, I do feel very fortunate.

Non-matriculating

I have never seen “The Graduate.”

I’ve never seen lots of movies in my time, but “The Graduate” was supposed to be one of THE movies of MY generation.

In the summer of ’68, I was at a Christian summer camp. I was at a theological crossroads that I will explain some other time. In any case, the folks at this particular facility considered themselves more enlightened than some other Christian folks. So, while other church groups forbade ever seeing ANY movie (except, I’d guess, “The Ten Commandments” and “The Robe”), this body was “liberal” enough to permit the viewing of some movies. Disney movies, which, at the time, was synonymous with “family movies.”

I wondered aloud about what the meaning of the line “Jesus loves you more than you will know,” in the Simon & Garfunkel song Mrs. Robinson, which was featured in the movie. “Ooh, no, you don’t want to see THAT,” one of the adults proclaimed. So, I didn’t. My views on the world evolved, and I later decided that it would be all right to see “The Graduate.”

I have The Graduate soundtrack, an odd item that, with all those somewhat schlocky Dave Grusin instrumentals, and at least three variations on Mrs. Robinson. And I love the extended version of Scarbourough Fair/(Canticle). That album (9 weeks at #1) and Bookends (7 weeks at #1, also featuring Mrs. Robinson) both dominated the charts in the spring of 1968.

I have seen movie clips such as “Plastics” and “Mrs. Robinson, you’re trying to seduce me, aren’t you?”, the latter delivered by Dustin Hoffman to Anne Bancroft. I probably saw them on the Oscars or one of those American Film Institute shows. Not so incidentally, there’s another AFI program, on Movie Quotes, Tuesday, June 21 on CBS at 8 p.m. EDT. Both quotes are on the list of the 400 nominated quotes, and I wouldn’t be a bit surprised if one or both appear on the final list of 100. Yet, somehow, in nearly 40 years,I’ve never actually seen The Graduate, though I’ve watched the last scene, on the bus.

The movie has been on TV, available on video, and for the last year, on DVD. Anne Bancroft, who died June 6 of uterine cancer, expressed surprise that The Graduate is the movie by which she was most remembered, rather than The Miracle Worker (1962), which I also haven’t seen. But I have seen her in The Turning Point (1977), Agnes of God (1985), How to Make an American Quilt (1995), G.I. Jane (1997), and probably others, plus I heard her in Antz (1998).

Mel Brooks once said in a 60 Minutes interview that God gave him one great gift and that was Anne Bancroft. My condolences to Mel. So here’s to you, Anne Bancroft: I’ll go out and see The Graduate AND The Miracle Worker this summer.

Don’t care

If he were found guilty, you would have gotten, “We always knew that.” And since he was found not guilty, you’ll get, “The D.A. put on a poor case” or “His expensive lawyer got him off.”

But if YOU care, go here-June 14. You’ll also find a link to yesterday’s blog on THIS page. In other words, you’ll go ’round in circles, get dizzy and fall down.

Lunaversary TM

lunaversary (loon’ a ver’ sah ree) – the monthly recurrence of a notable event. At the half-year point in their relationship, Roger chimed, “This is our sixth lunaversary!”

“Six month anniversary.” Something is just linguistically WRONG about that. Anni- refers to year. Now semi-anniversary, or some variation, maybe.

You may have read about the recent study about the “swooning magic of head-over-heels love.” Researchers “found high amounts of activity in a ‘reward’ part of the brain when the smitten subjects were shown photos of their honeys. That part of the brain has previously been linked to the desire for cocaine, chocolate and money. ‘It shows us exactly why love looks so crazy. It’s activating these circuits that are associated with very intense desire,’ said SUNY Stony Brook psychologist Arthur Aron, who [helped lead] the study.”

Well, luna- is the prefix, not just for moon-based objects, from which the word “month” comes, but for “lunatics” and “lunacy,” all the things “early-stage intense romantic love” is.

I sent this word to William Safire’s “On Language” column in the New York Times about a dozen years ago. Safire thought it was interesting construction, and wrote that he considered using it in his column, but never did. (But a question I had about “Joe Sixpack” did appear in a Safire column.)

Use at will. Tell them when they say “fifth month anniversary” that the PREFERRED term is “fifth lunaversary.”

You never heard of lunaversary before? That’s because I created it. Impress your friends, and confound those who aren’t.

This would be Carol’s and my 73rd lunaversary, except that it isn’t really the way I envisioned using the term. We have a more stable, MATURE love. But we do try to go out to a dinner date once a month around the 15th (sometimes two days early or three days late.) Maybe we CAN still use lunaversary…