Saturday, July 31, 2010

Jason on Jeopardy

Sorry I haven't submitted in a while, busy summer. The following is a colomn from earlier this year...

A relative of mine was on Jeopardy recently. Jason won a bunch of money in less than a week. His mother Kathy and I share grandparents and half a century of friendly camaraderie and light spirited conversation. Kathy is clever and funny and she, Emmy, and I have made each other think and laugh through the good and bad years. It is no surprise that all three of her kids are super smart. Jason’s father is no slouch when it comes to mental dexterity either.
I suppose it is a bad habit, but I comment or talk to my TV, usually but not always in a derogatory manner. From my living room chair, I talked at Jason while he was on Jeopardy, trying to be helpful. In the beginning, he didn’t seem to be pushing the button to answer the questions. I mostly yelled, “Push the button” then louder, “PUSH THE BUTTON”. It didn’t seem to have any effect on whether or not he pushed the button, no matter how loud I yelled.
I always knew Jason was a smart young man, but as I watched the show, I couldn’t believe just how smart and fast he is.
In any conversation that turns adversarial, or in any argument, my snappy retorts make less and less sense along the lines of, “so is your mother” or “up your nose with a rubber hose.” Sometimes I just slip into overused repetitive profanities. If given the chance to sleep and regroup my thoughts, muttering to myself overnight, I can come up with a great reply. They don’t give you that much time on Jeopardy.
As I watched the show, I knew few of the answers. When I did know answers, the contestants had pressed their button and replied (in the form of a question), long before the answer made it from the ‘I know that’ stage in my brain to actually verbalizing the words with my mouthparts.
Early on, I was pretty happy with myself and a bit disappointed with Jason because I knew the answer to a question having to do with the planting of our flag on Iwo Jima and an old Johnny Cash song. The song is about superior achievements of persons from which the rest of society would not expect that much. The answer was “Ira Hayes”, more appropriately, “Who was Ira Hays.” It was one of the few questions to which Jason didn’t have an answer.
A line from the song in a time when political correctness was a bit less correct than it is today is, “…call him drunken Ira Hays, he won’t answer any more, not the whiskey drinkin’ Indian, or the marine that went to war.”
That turned out to be the only answer I knew well enough to have pushed the button first and placed in the form of a question.
After that, the questions got harder. Jason won Jeopardy money knowing the names of various Norse characters, some of which I thought he made up. He knew lines from George Washington’s inaugural speech and sports terms I never heard of. He also showed a wealth of knowledge from movies, the serious to the amazingly frivolous. In the TV department, he knew three stooges trivia and daytime soap opera characters. He knew the answers to questions when I didn’t even understand the question.
Jason’s education has been and still is, his own hunger for knowledge. On Jeopardy, most of the competitors Jason knocked out were well-educated, degree holding professional types. He won over $150,000, not bad for an engine assembler from right here in Western New York.
I always wanted to be on a show like Jeopardy, maybe I could do well if they limited the questions to old Johnny Cash lyrics..
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