“I would eventually know everything”

Joni Mitchell and Joe Rogan

World Almanac 2016Once upon a time, as I’m sure I’ve told you, I thought that, if I kept learning, I would eventually know everything I wanted to know. I read the local newspaper and watched the local and national news, first Huntley/Brinkley on NBC, then Cronkite on CBS.

Mostly, I read reference books. A lot. The Encyclopedia Americana, which my parents bought and probably couldn’t afford, I devoured over maybe three years. There was also an annual, updating the information.

Also, from about when I was nine, and for more than a half-century, I would receive the World Almanac for Christmas, and I would read it. Early on, it was cover to cover, but even after I’d largely mastered the tallest mountains, longest rivers, and whatnot, I would read the Year In Review material of the most important stories. It was largely November to October, actually, for its publishing deadline, but it would always capture the Presidential and Congressional elections.

Of course, information exploded. Three TV networks became 373. They keep discovering more moons in the solar system, and more elements for the Periodic Table. Of course, the Internet. The World Almanac used to have a list of Celebrities and I knew who most of them were. If there’s such a list now, I have no idea how they would limit it.

Joe and Joni

All of this to say that, until a couple of months ago, I had no idea who Joe Rogan was. My daughter tells me that she has been listening to lots of podcasts to understand different points of view. This is like when I would read William F. Buckley or watch George Will on TV. So SHE knew who Joe Rogan was and, in fact, says she recommended him to me – this is possible. But she says I said, and this sounds accurate, that I didn’t have time for more podcasts.

NOW I know who he is. Recently, my daughter asked me if I knew who Joni Mitchell is. Oh dear, I have failed this child. I told her that I’d seen her twice in person and bought four of her CDs in 2021. Obviously, she brought her up over Neil Young (who she also doesn’t know) wanting to be removed from Spotify because of the info about vaccines on Rogan’s platform, and Joni following suit.


One of the interesting things I learned about Amy Schneider, 40-time JEOPARDY champion, is that she has a younger partner, which is how she knows more current popular culture references.

I’m fascinated how she missed her last Final. COUNTRIES OF THE WORLD: The only nation in the world whose name in English ends in an H, it’s also one of the 10 most populous. One of my friends deduced, “I thought about what might precede ‘h’ and could only think of ‘s’. From there, my brain ambled over to Asia and found Bangladesh.”

My process was more mundane. I mentally traveled around the globe for the most populous countries, besides the US (#3). Mexico (#10), Brazil (#6), Nigeria (#7), Indonesia (#4), Japan (actually #11 because of a declining population), China (#1), India (#2). Oh, what’s near India? Pakistan (#5). And Bangladesh (#8). (I forgot Russia, #9.)

I have to conclude that Amy did NOT read the World Almanac every year. But she learned a LOT of other info, mostly of recent vintage, that my brain just doesn’t absorb.

The Amy Schneider JEOPARDY run

The Tournament of Champions will be fascinating

Amy SchneiderI knew it would happen. Before I had a chance to watch the 41st Amy Schneider match, I got an email from The Hollywood Reporter indicating How ‘Jeopardy!’ Champ Amy Schneider Fared in Her 41st Match. This arrived at 7:34 pm EST. The show airs at 7:30 pm on WTEN in the Albany, NY market. And people on the West Coast were even more peeved.

The actual headline, which I didn’t read until after I actually watched the episode, was even more explicit. “Jeopardy! Champ Amy Schneider’s Win Streak Ends. Chicago librarian Rhone Talsma dethroned Schneider after 40 games on Wednesday’s show.”

I note in the article that audiences seem to like these long runs. “Schneider’s winning streak — along with [Matt] Amodio’s [38 wins] earlier in the season — has been a boon for ratings on Jeopardy!” I’ll admit that I have been watching these shows as soon as they record, in the obviously futile attempt to not find out beforehand. It’s funny. I managed to watch all four NFL playoff games and never knew the score before I started viewing, though I did avoid the email and phone.

Looking back at her run, I had forgotten that, in her initial appearance, Amy was in 2nd place going into Final Jeopardy, but she got it correct and Andrew He, in his 6th game, did not.

Same as it ever was

She played a bunch of lock games, i.e., she couldn’t lose after Double Jeopardy, no matter what she did in the Final. Starting in game 12, she began to make large bets in FJ, $25,000 of her $36,800. I wondered if host Ken Jennings hexed the champion by stating that she “never” missed in the Final. She didn’t get the Final in game 16 and some games thereafter.

Frankly, all of those big wins became boring to me. Jennings reiterated some of Amy’s biographical points. The interview segment wasn’t designed to see the same person 20 or 32 or 38 times. And keeping the secret of the streak must have been tough.

But there were some things that I suppose helped me to find her appealing even after such a long run, some external. For game 20, she wore a sweater in honor of her favorite player, Julia Collins, who had won 20 games. I remember some of the right-wing press mocked Amy’s gender identification, writing that “she” broke Collins’ record.

And Amy was robbed at gunpoint over New Year’s weekend in Oakland, CA. She was shaken though otherwise fine, but she had to replace her ID, credit cards, and phone.

I got these right!

Still, the only sport for me watching the games was when Amy would get FJ wrong and I got it right. You can find the answers here.
Game 18: INTERNATIONAL LANDMARKS – In December 2020 an international agreement added nearly 3 feet to this; one surveyor lost half a toe in the effort
#23: MUSIC LEGENDS – Of their July 1957 first meeting at a church fair, one of this pair recalled: “I was a fat schoolboy and… he was drunk”
#29: 19th CENTURY NOTABLES – On his deathbed in France in 1890, he told his brother, “The sadness will last forever”
#33: CEMETERIES AND MEMORIALS – 60,000 are at rest in a National Memorial Cemetery opened in 1949 in the crater of an extinct volcano in this state
#36: FILMS OF THE 2000s – One of the screenwriters of this 2001 film described it as “‘Clueless’ meets ‘The Paper Chase”‘

The last game (so far)

The key to Game 41 was that Rhone Talsma, a LIBRARIAN, thank you, from Chicago, IL had to hit the second Daily Double in the DJ round. He had to bet a lot, and in fact, bet all $7800 and got it right. This was gutsy, especially since he wagered it all in the first round’s DD and lost $1400. This latter wager got his score well above half of Amy’s, where he was at the end of the round. $27,600 for Amy, $17,600 for Rhone, and $3,200 for Janice Hawthorne Timm.

As noted, he had to get FJ correct and Amy had to miss it. COUNTRIES OF THE WORLD: The only nation in the world whose name in English ends in an H, it’s also one of the 10 most populous. I figured it out myself at the last second.

But Amy will be OK. She’ll be in the next Tournament of Champions against Matt Amodio, Jonathan Fisher (11 wins, including dethroning Amodio), Tyler Rhode (5 wins), Andrew He (5 wins, beaten by Amy), Sam Buttrey (the inaugural Professors Tournament winner), and others. And she’s signed with  CAA.

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