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On a recent episode of Jeopardy the category was DROPPIN’ MAD BEETS. Alex Trebek showed a picture of beets and said, “Because of the concentric rings of red and white, the beets seen here also have this alliterative name.”
A contestant name Carl said, “What are BULL’S-EYE BEETS?” Alex told him he was incorrect. Then a contestant named Kristin guessed, “What are CANDY CANE BEETS?” She got it right.
But later in the show Alex said, “We have a change in scoring to announce that affects Carl. The response you gave in the BEETS category a little while ago of ‘bull’s-eye beet’ has been determined by our judges to be an alliterative, correct response, so you’re picking up $1200.”
Carl seemed pleased. Later on he wasn’t so pleased when Alex announced, “You’re in the lead with $14,800., but that score is about to change because in one of you responses a few minutes ago you changed the best-selling author’s name from Amy Tan to Amy Fan, so you’re losing $2400.”
This made me wonder how Amy Tan felt about all this. I decided she probably had mixed emotions. I know I did.
But Carl’s alternative correct, alliterative response also made me wonder: if the third contestant, Jody, had answered, “What are TARGET TAPROOTS?” would she have gotten it right, too?
But my wondering didn’t stop there.
Why don’t they have “Penultimate Jeopardy” for viewers like me who can’t take the intensity of “Ultimate Jeopardy”?
Do all contestants who get the Final Jeopardy question right but lose only because of a betting blunder kill themselves?
Is Alex Trebek a genius?
And we all know that a response has to be in the form of a question, such as, “Who is GEORGE WASHINGTON?” But why don’t contestants get more creative with their questions? Instead of “Who is GEORGE WASHINGTON?,” why not, “GEORGE WASHINGTON, perhaps?” Or how about, ”Is that GEORGE WASHINGTON at the door?” It's still a question, for God’s sake. Or even, “Who cut the cheese? Was it GEORGE WASHINGTON?”
Some other possibilities:
“Where is my HULA HOOP?”
“Would you care for a second helping of NEW ZEALAND?”
“Why is TEA LEONI following me?”
“Wow, is that URANUS?”
“Ou est JIMMY HOFFA?”
“What kind of idiot watches ‘THE VIEW’?”
“Is that a RUTABAGA in your pocket or are you glad to see me?”
“Whither goest thou, ICARUS?”
“Isn’t LITTLE SIR ECHO a pain in the ass?”
“Que pasa, ADLAI STEVENSON?”
“Say, are those PHYTOPHTHORA INFESTANS on your pants?”
“What is up with HERBERT HOOVER?”
“Et tu, BARNEY GOOGLE?”
“Why won’t U2 go away?”
Clearly, I was over-thinking the show, and I was having serious concerns about my sanity. So one night I decided to dumb things down a bit and watch Wheel Of Fortune instead, and I was sure my therapist would agree with the idea.
I found that when Pat Sajak looked at me through the camera lens it was a warm, friendly gaze, unlike Alex Trebek’s piercing look into the depths of my soul. And Vanna White’s blank stare was reassuring. It said, “Knowledge isn’t everything.”
Things were going well enough in this simpler world until they got to the BEFORE & AFTER category. The solution to the puzzle, DARRYL STRAWBERRY SHORTCAKE, made me question the very fabric of space and time. Is it a baseball player? Is it a dessert? Is it part man, part cake?
Somehow I made it to the final puzzle. “The Final Puzzle,” I thought to myself. I found that capitalizing the words made it more frightening. But I told myself that if I solved it correctly I would be OK.
The category was THING. There were seven words in the puzzle. Letter by letter, the contestants filled in the blanks until finally the puzzle read:
E_ES IN THE BACK OF MY HE_D
One of the contestants was ready to solve the puzzle, and the solution seemed obvious to everyone: me, the contestants, Pat, even Vanna.
This was my chance to start back on the road to recovery, and just before the contestant correctly answered, “EYES IN THE BACK OF MY HEAD,” I yelled out, “EWES IN THE BACK OF MY HERD”!
At that point I must have passed out. Six hours later I woke up on the living room floor in a puddle of urine and a scattering of cheese puffs.
I no longer watch game shows. In fact, I don’t watch TV at all. I listen to the radio.
Have you ever noticed how much Terry Gross sounds like Satan?