My Life is in “Jeopardy”

Randy Leonard

Spideyken_jI would be in Irving Park notching up another ping pong victory over another of my many challengers. I would ask someone for the time, hear something close to one o’clock in the afternoon, and I would take off in a dead run. Stay out of my way, I am not slowing down.

“Randy, its summer and one o’clock in the afternoon, get outside and play with your friends.”

“All right, Mom, as soon as “The Fugitive” is over”.

Dr. Richard Kimble (David Jannsen) was falsely convicted of murdering his wife. Lt. Phillip Gerrard (Barry Morse) suspected as much, but his duty required him to chase Dr. Kimble from town to town, episode to episode. Even though it was August in Portland and I was 12 years old, I couldn't get enough of “The Fugitive”.

The same went for the 60’s TV version of “Mission Impossible”. “The Fugitive” and “Mission Impossible” remain my all time favorites, until, well, umm, Ken Jennings.

Yep. Ken Jennings. While you may argue Ken is no Dr. Richard Kimble or Mr. Phelps, he is just as captivating. Ken is the all time record holder in every category on the TV show “Jeopardy”.

He isn't running from town to town to clear his name or getting his next impossible mission on a small tape recorder that then self destructs. But he is beating the odds and every wanna be trivia expert with titles such as “Professor” and “Doctor”.

It isn't that he just gets most all of the answers right, he does it in kind of a Peter Parker, a.k.a. “Spider Man”, kind of style. He is just plain old Peter Parker until Alex gets the "answer" out of his mouth, then welcome “Spidey”. He jumps from answer to forming the question with a bound, twist and tumble that creates a thrilling confidence in the strength of quiet determination. He accomplishes mesmerizing his fans as his opponents fingers are still fumbling for their button with looks on their faces like they are not quite sure what is happening. Though he is nearly always right, the one half hour show is not boring. He is, I suspect America believes, the mild mannered Peter Parker who at any moment will turn his hands palm sides up, skirt some Spidey goo, and start swinging from the rafters.

So tonight at 7 be advised…don’t call ‘cause I am not answering. Not until 7:30 when Ken will be dusting himself off, replacing his Spider Man uniform with his civilian clothes and he and I will begin again getting ready for tomorrow night...same Bat Time…same Bat Channel.

  • Tenskwatawa (unverified)

    TV doesn't hold my interest anymore, as much as it did. When my work was making TV and TV commercials. In this case, familiarity bred contempt. TV is physically (and psychologically) addictive, and impairs mental development really no different from alcohol or a general category of 'downer' drugs, narcotics (not stimulants) so-called because of soporific or sleep-inducing effects.

    It's understandable why people don't stop watching TV and pay $600 or $1000 a year to have more channels -- it's addictive. There are measurable 'delerium tremors' to stop cold turkey. Studies document this, brain MRI's show proofs.

    There is a different way of thinking which the mind employs when it gets out of practice in the TV mode. It's subtle to express. TV mode controls the speed and frequency of thinking (seeing), it's like: look here, look here, notice this, focus there, look here linger linger, cut away look there ... and so on. Without that entrainment practice, the mind works with different rhythms in its informations and awarenesses. One of my favorite senses of it is when I'm reading and some sentence goes some way I wasn't expecting and I back up and re-read the sentence and get a new view of things because the writer wrote it in a styling new to me. It's like a two-fer, cake AND frosting -- I get new information AND I get a new perspective on information.

    In thinking about things, over the years, it is clear to see that the ruin and decay of American life, and the sickmind Republican brain damage, (you know what I'm trying to describe: people actually blocking out information, like Christians refuse science, in order NOT to know stuff -- or as Dumbo said: "I don't read the papers"), so much so much that is perverse and destructive comes from the addiction of TV-watched information and could heal by stopping taking it, I think.

    Anyway, this springs from Randy mentioning "Mission Impossible." You know that part where they always say "Jim, if you are caught, the government will deny you were working for them and following orders"? Well, I was thinking about it lately, (with all the news stories of Pakistani double-agents and Iraqi prison murders and tortures and, oh, I don't know what all the pieces were that fused into the thought): The logic of the sentence is coherent going backward, meaning WHEN the government denies someone was working for them the denial proves that the person WAS.

    This way: So somebody somewhere in the world gets caught and says they are on assignment, a mercenary 'mission' paid by American taxpayers. The government has three choices: agree, deny, or say we don't know them (who they are, how they got there, or what they're doing). And all summer, the government NEVER said c.) we don't know them. EVERY time it said b.) we deny what they claim.

    There's all the difference in the world between saying 'No' and saying 'Don't know.'

    Maybe it's the same difference to see between when the government says 'That information is classified secret, we can't tell you' and when it says 'We don't have that information, we can't tell you.'

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    Yup, TV = bad, most of the time. And yes, it is addictive as all hell. But Ken Jennings rocks, and thanks to Randy for explaining his fascination far more eloquently than I could.

  • randy (unverified)

    Has anyone seen "Stump the Schrempf" or whatever it is called on ESPN?

    I had seen promos for it and had heard about it from my son -- but one day I watched it.

    I couldn't believe it. This guy (the Schrempf or whatever his name is) knew everything about sports - teams, individuals, years, records. I mean, he was the original Wide World of Sports brainiac (anyone else miss that show?).

    Like the Dustin Hoffman character in Rainman -- these guys are geniuses in a strange way and I just have to admire their particular genius, whether it is something I would personally aspire to or not.

  • Javier O. Sanchez (unverified)

    I must agree with the Councilman and throw in my utter fascination with the "Jeopardy Dude', though he doesn't completely satisfy my spidey jones or actually get my cosmic spidey senses humming like a good IPA or Emannuelle Beart.

    I wait for the moment when he gives his fellow Jeopardy peeps a little room and inkling of hope ("..I think I can take this damn mormon geek.." the inner voice of the prey muses as they close in.") and then proceeds to go on a category clean, throwing rapid-fire responses and creating a seamless repartee with Alex that borders on homoerotic kismet. He sometimes crinkles his face in agonizing I-have-a-big-loaf-I-need-to-pinch mode in the midst of a daily double or obscure category like "Doc Talk" or "21st Century Wet Hungarian Nurse Mythology" and then throws out the answer (always right), toying with us mere mortals and teasing the masses--what a naughty LDS he is! I am at odds with myself--I want him to lose, but I will miss him. DAMN!

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    The only chink in his armor is when he's asked to bet, as in Daily Doubles and Final Jeop. It doesn't matter now, because he's never had a close game. But the minute someone can keep pace with him 'til the end, and be well within range at Final, the King will be dead. 'Cause they'd have had to get there by doubling up at every opportunity.

    The clue is his penchant for the nice, round number -like when he wagers $2766 to total EXACTLY 20 thou in the middle of the game. It's not cute, it's a sign that he's not looking to drop the hammer.

    But if you've got a gambler's mind, and know which categories you can bet the ranch on, you could take him, despite being massively outgunned in such subjects as Medieval French Poetry, or Characters from the Book of Mormon.

    Anyway, I'm already tired of him. Bring on Charles Van Doren.

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