Which post title is not only the title of this book but also sort of kind of semi-autobiographical. Two years ago (April 23) I had an email announcing that I had (somehow) passed the online Jeopardy! test I had taken in January, and they were pleased to invite me to an audition. Please RSVP within 48 hours. Seriously? Who's going to wait longer than the time it takes to pick themselves up off the floor to respond? My audition was June 5 in NYC, and it was great fun, and ended up amounting to nothing.
A few weeks ago, the Saturday rerun of Jeopardy was one of Brendan Dubois's episodes, and since my laptop was in front of me I headed to Amazon when Johnny Gilbert introduced him as a writer. And lo, there was 'My Short, Happy Life In "Jeopardy!"', and I thought why not? and bought it. I had a blood drive soon after, and didn't feel like schlepping the huge Wheel of Time volume I was in the middle of, so I went back to my late lamented Kindle Keyboard for the first time in a while, and spent the ridiculously long time they make a walk-in wait grinning like a complete fool reading Brendan's account of his audition. If you put his side-by-side with mine, they're almost identical - except that he remembered more names and details. (Robert James! That was the name of the man who took that dreadful headshot!)
Then I broke my Kindle (yes, to those of you keeping score, again), and went without for a couple of weeks until payday.
Then this past Thursday evening - coincidentally, as I was watching Jeopardy, and the return of Ken Jennings for the Battle of the Decades - I opened up my email. The fact that there was one from Jeopardy! didn't fluster me too much - I'm on the mailing list, so I've learned not to get too excited after the last few turned out to be just reminders of the tournaments going on. And the subject line didn't entirely give me pause: "Jeopardy! Contestant Auditions in Boston on May 12th at 11:30 am". My thought was more "What about them?" It was when I opened it - abandoning my attempt to play against The Jennings - and read "Congratulations! You have been selected for a follow-up appointment at an upcoming Jeopardy! contestant search for the Boston area, exclusively for those who successfully passed the online test. This is the next step in becoming a Jeopardy! contestant" - that I started whooping.
(Is anyone reading this near Boston?)
And last night I went back to reading Brendan Dubois's account of his experience. And it was fun. Up to a point it is so very much like mine - and where it diverges it's so very instructive and enlightening. This book answered quite a few questions and concerns I had about the logistics of, say, being a New Englander called to Los Angeles for the show; Brendan Dubois was a New Englander called to LA for the show. The possibility of heading off into completely alien territory is less daunting with a really clear roadmap. And this book certainly gives an astonishing amount of detail, from an idea of what the Jeopardy studio smells like to exactly what you see from the player's podium to exactly what happens in the Green Room and on the sidelines. It demystifies the possibilities without detracting at all from the excitement.
And it was just a fun read, this tale of a man's attempts to get on the show, his achievement, his success - and his downfall, and the epilogue of watching himself on tv (or trying to). Brendan's buoyant enthusiasm over the whole adventure is contagious, and nothing like the rather jaded and cynical tone Ken Jennings adopts in his book about his experience. I can only hope to have as much fun as Brendan Dubois had - and at least as much success. (More would be nice...)