Bob & Dick


I’ve noticed quite often that when someone, say, at church dies, who I might have known for a couple decades, they always have a back story revealed at the funeral I would not have imagined. Whereas the stories of public figures – actors, singers, and the like – are usually well-known to me.

So I was surprised that I was surprised to learn much more about Robert Culp, the actor who died last week at the age of 79. Not only was he a performer but also a writer and sometime director, often of the series on which he was performing at the time.

I knew Culp him best as Kelly Robinson on I Spy, partnering up with Bill Cosby’s Alexander Scott. Cosby was a well-regarded young comedian, but known for his stand-up routines, not dramatic performances. Yet Sheldon Leonard gave him the job, Cosby got three Emmys in three years, and Cosby and Culp became good friends.

But what struck me when I get to Gordon’s very nice obit of Robert Culp was this book cover of the Whitman novelization Message from Moscow by Brandon Keith (1966). I read this story at least a few times in my early teen years, but oddly I don’t remember that much about it, except for one thing: the villain was quite literally “hoist by his own petard.”

I Spy: I watched that show religiously for the three years it was on. I venture to say 90% of black Americans watched it, just like most black folk watched Nat King Cole’s short-lived variety show a decade earlier. There just weren’t that many opportunities to see people of color on the screen – and when you did, they were often in minor, often demeaning roles. I appreciated how both Culp and Cosby demanded that Cosby’s race not be a centerpiece of the show. I may have to go to HULU and catch an episode or two to see if it is as good as I remember it.
***
I should mention the passing of Dick Giordano, whose ascension to the position of DC Comics’ editor-in-chief corresponded to me starting at the comic book store FantaCo, in 1980. I wasn’t a big DC fan, but I did find myself picking up more of their books in the decade or so he was in charge far more than in the period before. I have a vague recollection meeting him once very briefly at the San Diego Comic Con, and he didn’t SEEM like a corporate stuffed shirt. I suspect that was because, most of all, he was an artist, specifically a quality inker, so he was inclined to try to undersand and appreciate the artist POV. A much better remembrance here.
***
Oh, and this is coincidentally related. My buddy Steve Bissette has been musing at length about Forgotten Comics Wars of the mid to late 1980s. Subtitled How Angry Freelancers Made It Possible for A New Mainstream Comics Era (Including Vertigo) to Exist, it is a very interesting take on an era when I was actively involved in the retail comics biz. I was going to compile the 12 parts once they were all released, but Mark Evanier, bless him, beat me to it. And ME notes: “That last installment has bittersweet meaning because of the recent passing of Dick Giordano, who was in the midst of the controversy.”
ROG

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K is for Kindergarten


When my wife and I went to kindergarten in the 1950s (me) and 1960s (her), it was designed to acclimate us to going to school, learning how to be away from home, and an attempt to teach rudimentary things such as learning songs and telling time.

I still remember the Roman-numeraled clocks in my classroom, and the yellow rug that I, and a year later, my sister Leslie used to take our naps. In fact, I specifically remember once waking up at 11:45 a.m. and realizing that no one was there. I actually fell asleep at naptime, and Miss Cady let me sleep, knowing I would just get up and go home afterward. (If a teacher did that now, he or she almost certainly would be fired.)

The book pictured in this post above was/is actually a gift to my wife Carol from her family just before she actually went to kindergarten. The lead character in the book is coincidentally also named Carol.

But now my daughter is now in kindergarten, and it is far from the “children’s garden” its name suggests. In the United States, it has evolved from that “transition from home to the commencement of more formal schooling” to the “first year of compulsory education.” Where once kindergarten was where kids learned skills through creative play and social interaction,” in half-day increments, it is now often the full-day entry level to the standard curriculum.

I mean, my daughter has HOMEWORK! Not just learn the numbers and letters, but adding numbers and combining letters to make words. It’s far more rigorous than her mother and I experienced in the day.

There is this 87-page PDF from early in this century called Original Purpose and Development of Kindergarten in California, which addresses these issues

…kindergarten, inspired by precursor early childhood education concepts, included children from ages six and seven to as young as two and three. It sought to lead children gently “over the threshold of learning by the seductive charm of music, flowers, games, pictures, and curious objects.” Later, kindergarten was integrated into the first to 12th grade system, gradually and subtly changing its focus to emphasize emergent literacy and early academic skills. An apparent consequence was that the minimum entry age was raised several times to its current level. This philosophical divergence is still not fully resolved.

The daughter got a note home from school at the end of the semester, noting that she missed nine days from school, mostly for illness. We were informed that she won’t pass into 1st grade if she misses more than 28 days for the year. Could she “fail” kindergarten? She IS graded on concepts such as “identifies sight words in text”, “interprets data from graphs”, and “communicates ideas, feelings and elements of design,” and is doing well.

This is NOT her parents’ kindergarten.

I’d write more, but I have to go help her with her homework now.


ABC Wednesday
ROG

Eight Ten Meme

Sunday Stealing, yet again:

TEN TO START.

1. Are you single?
No, married.

2. Are you happy?
Sometimes. Not as much as I could be.

3. Are you bored?
Almost never. In fact, if I have something to read, I’m never bored, even waiting in line.

4. Are you naked?
Not currently.

5. Are you a blonde?
Actually I was for a very brief time when I was 2 or 3.

6. Are you moody?
Occasionally. OK, maybe more than occasionally. But usually I hide it well.

7. Are you a lover/hater?
Try to be/try not to be; doesn’t always work.

8. Are you hot/cold?
I tend to be too cold a lot more than I’m too hot.

9. Are you Irish?
I don’t know. Quite possibly.

10. Are you Asian?
Probably not.

TEN FACTS.

1. Name:
Roger Owen Green.

2. Nicknames:
Rog; beyond that, I tend to avoid them, or actively reject them outright.

3. Birth mark:
None that come to mind.

4. Hair color:
Gray.

5. Natural hair color:
Gray; I’m just not that vain about it.

6. Eye color:
Brown. Or bloodshot.

7. Height:
5’11 5/8″

8. Facebook Mood:
Never set it. Don’t even know where to set it. Don’t care.

9. Favorite color:
Blue. Or green.

10. One Place to Visit:
Paris, France. As opposed to Paris, Texas.

TEN THINGS ABOUT YOUR LOVE LIFE.

1. Do you believe in love at first sight?
No. Lust, yes.

2. Do you believe in soul mates?
You mean the notion that there is just one person out there among the seven billion for you? No.

3. Ah, a missing question, where we get to speculate on what was so personal that the blogger declined to note it.

4. Have you ever been hurt emotionally?
Oh, goodness yes.

5. Have you ever broken someone’s heart?
Undoubtedly. That Neil Young song is running through my mind, only love can break your heart.

6. Have you ever been cheated on?
Yes.

7. Have you ever liked someone and not told them?
More than once.

8. Are you afraid of commitment?
All things considered, I’m better in a committed relationship than not.

9. Who was the last person you hugged?
My daughter.

10. Who was the last person you kissed?
My wife.

TEN THIS OR THAT.

1. Love or lust?
Yes.

2. Ah, another missing question.

3. Cats or dogs?
Cats. My daughter is wary of dogs. Actually she’s wary of cats too, but not as much.

4. A few best friends or many regular friends?
A few best friends.

5. Television or internet?
It was TV for SO long, but I find I watch less and less.

6. Chinese Or Indian?
This is in reference to? If it’s food, Indian.

7. Wild night out or romantic night in?
Romantic. I just never was that wild.

8. Money or Happiness?
Money won’t make you happy. Happiness.

9. Night or day?
Day, about 10:15 a.m. Hey, Joe Jackson’s album Night and Day I haven’t listened to for a while.

10. MSN or phone?
Phone.

TEN HAVE YOU EVER.

1. Been caught sneaking out?
No, but I was caught sneaking back in.

2. Been skinny dipping?
Yes. This question seems to show up in these things. A lot.

3. Stolen?
Gum when I was seven.

4. Bungee jumped?
No.

5. Lied to someone you liked?
In all likelihood. Wait – yes.

6. Finished an entire jaw breaker?
Have no idea.

8. Wanted an ex bf/gf back?
Actually have dated exes.

9. Cried because you lost a pet?
Yes. My cat Tiger got run over by a car when I was about 12.

10. Wanted to disappear?
And sometimes did.

TEN PREFERENCES IN A PARTNER.

1. Smile or eyes?
Eyes.

2. Light or dark hair?
Dark.

3. Hugs or kisses?
Hugs. well, if she’s a really GOOD kisser…

4. Shorter or taller?
Shorter or the same.

5. Intelligence or attraction?
If not intelligent, not all that attractive.

6. Romantic or spontaneous?
Spontaneously romantic.

7. Funny or serious?
Meh. Both, at the right time.

8. Older or Younger?
Doesn’t matter.

9. Outgoing or quiet?
Mix.

10. Sweet or Bad Ass?
Sweet.

TEN HAVE YOU’S.

1. Ever performed in front of a large crowd?
Define perform and large. Maybe 400 singing. About 700 acting. About 3000 when I was on JEOPARDY!

2. Ever done drugs?
Sure. I’m weaning myself from caffeine currently.

3. Ever been pregnant?
I never was one of those guys who said “we’re pregnant”; that stuff bugs me. So, no.

5. Ever been on a cheer leading team?
No.

6. Ever Been on a dance team?
No, though I have danced n a performance a couple times.

7. Ever been on a sports team?
No, tried out, didn’t make it.

8. Ever been in a drama play/production?
Several in high school, usually in small roles. Only three since then.

9. Ever owned a BMW, Mercedes Benz, Escalade, Hummer or Bentley?
No, and wouldn’t own a Hummer.

10. Ever been in a rap video?
What? No.

TEN LASTS.

1. Last phone call you made:
To my wife.

2. Last person you hung out with:
My wife and daughter.

3. Last time a question was dropped.

4. Last time you worked:
Friday.

5. Last person you tackled:
My daughter.

6. Last person you IM’d:
n/a

8. Last person(s) you went to the movies with:
My wife

9. Last thing you missed:
A bus.

10. Last thing you ate:
A banana.

ROG

Was Jesus Homely?

There was a piece in a Times Union blog written by high school student Allison Moss a few weeks ago, addressing the question “Was Jesus Gay?” This was based on something singer Elton John reportedly said. Well, Jesus Christ Superstar suggests that he (or He) was bisexual. Of course, as much as I adore JCSS, I never considered it theologically authoritative.

It was that question that prompted me to revisit the notion, “Was Jesus homely?” As I understand it, we really have no idea about the physical characteristics of Jesus. He was not depicted in art until decades after walking the earth. Looking in the Bible, there appears to be no description whatsoever, except an interpretation of Isaiah 53:2, which says, “He has no form or majesty that we should look upon Him, nor appearance that we should be attracted to Him”. If this is in fact referring to Jesus, and the subsequent verses of the chapter are used in Messiah (Handel) as Jesus verses, then this Jesus fellow was rather plain-looking.

There’s a lengthy Wikipedia description about the depictions of Jesus, which I don’t treat as gospel either, but it IS interesting. My favorite section is on this point: “But when the pagan Celsus ridiculed the Christian religion for having an ugly God in about 180, Origen (d. 248) cited Psalm 45:3: ‘Gird thy sword upon thy thigh, mighty one, with thy beauty and fairness.’ Later the emphasis of leading Christian thinkers changed; Jerome (d. 420) and Augustine of Hippo (d. 430) argued that Jesus must have been ideally beautiful in face and body. For Augustine he was ‘beautiful as a child, beautiful on earth, beautiful in heaven’.” So humans, using their own sensibilities, created the appearance of Jesus in their own image of what he (or He) must have looked like. The beard and long hair was copped, ironically, from the image of competing “gods”.

In other words, early depictions of Jesus suggested that He was plain-looking, but other religionists stuck their thumbs in their ears, wiggled their fingers, and chimed in a sing-songy voice, “Nyah-nyah-nyah-nyah, nyah, nyah, your God is ugly!” So Christians made THEIR manifestation of God look more like OTHER people’s manifestation of the gods. Given the Biblical directive way back in Genesis that God made humans in God’s image, it seems as though people feel compelled to return the favor.

Moreover, He was probably short. How else does he evade the madding crowd that wants to throw him over a cliff?

So eventually, Jesus started looking, more or less, like this guy:

Theologically, it would make more sense to me if Jesus was less than handsome. It is now well documented that tall, handsome people fare better in social interactions than others. What would be the theological point if Jesus were physically appealing? One might ask if people were following Him for shallow reasons based on His countenance rather than for his message.

When images of “black Jesus” became popular four or five decades in some households, people were shocked, SHOCKED. “THAT’S not what Jesus looked like!” Maybe, maybe not. He probably looked more like that than this, given the geography:

I think this Time magazine cover is a fairly accurate representation of what Christ, and indeed Christianity, looks like; it depends on the point of view.

***
Yes, this is a rewrite of a post from six months ago. It just felt like a Holy week piece.

ROG

Changing the Rules in Sports QUESTION

The NCAA Men’s Basketball tournament is thinking about expanding from 65 teams to 96, which I happen to think is a terrible idea. The Wall Street Journal wrote a snarky article, Hey NCAA, No Need to Stop at 96 Possibly Expanding the Tournament by Nearly 50% Is a Cop-Out; Let’s Let Everyone in,where they sarcastically suggest inviting “every one of the current 347 NCAA Division I schools. That’s right: The Magnificent Three Hundred and Forty Seven. Catchy, right? It just rolls off the tongue…One school will be crowned
the champion, but everyone will be considered a ‘winner.’ The idea is to replicate the drama, energy and positivity of a third-grade gingerbread-house-making contest.”

Meanwhile, the NFL has changed the rules regarding ties in the playoffs, which seems reasonably fair.

So what rule changes in sports would you like to see? How about:

Electronically-called balls and strikes in baseball?
Going back to the 6.0 scale in figure skating?
Actually calling traveling in NBA games?
(I’d say no, no and yes.)

ROG

The Lydster, Part 72: Lydia is Six


Here are some things about the daughter that I think I’ll remember forever, but fear that I will forget:

*She’s 50 inches tall, weighs at least 65 pounds. I can still lift her, though I prefer the over-the-shoulder method of transportation.
*She’s in kindergarten, going to school with the wife.
*I make her lunch four days out of five. She eats a cheese sandwich (sharp cheddar) on whole wheat bread, with the crust cut off. Every day. That’s what she wants. She’ll get carrot or celery sticks, fruit cup or apple sauce, pretzels or fig bars, and a juice.
*She has developed a bit of sweet tooth, but she’ll eat yogurt as often as ice cream, and seem to find them each acceptable.
*Her favorite cereal used to be Cheerios, but when she tried Froot Loops when we visited my mom in Charlotte in June, that was the only cereal she’d eat for about six months. Lately, she’s really into Life cereal.

*She was the fastest girl in her class this fall in the Apple Run, by a considerable margin.
*She dances to EVERYTHING – TV theme music, especially the outro. She’s taking ballet once a week, and she likes to choreograph her parents.
*Her favorite show is Martha Speaks (PBS), about a talking dog, though she’ll watch her Nick Jr. favorites such as the Backyardigans, Ni-hao Kailan, the Fresh Beat Band and the Wonder Pets.
*She hates it when I pretend I don’t remember her name, or make a variation on it. Yet she often makes a variation of MY name or title, and THAT’S funny.
*She doesn’t seem to have a single favorite book. Carol’s reading the Little House on the Prairie books to her, while she prefers that I read the Dr. Seuss books or other texts. She can read Green eggs and Ham herself; we tend to take turns reading it.
*She’s somewhat less shy than she was last year.
*She still covers her ears when she sees conflict on a TV show or movie.
*She’s lost at least seven teeth; I believe she ahead of schedule. And she’s gotten five back, four lower and one upper.
*Usually, I dress her in the morning and put on her pajamas at night, except Thursday night, which is my choir night.
*She’s increasingly more helpful, putting away her clean clothes in the drawer. she also has this system to pick out her clothes for the week.
*We bought her trucks and blocks and other gender-neutral items, and she still is more a girly-girl than I would have anticipated. She likes pink and purple. Someone in Salon was fretting about her girly-girl daughter, who to be fair is even moreso than Lydia. Lydia will wear pants.
But I guess I don’t fret about it. If she wants a Disney princess tent and sleeping bag for Christmas, I don’t object. I may cringe a little on the inside, but she is who she is.

I love the girl.

ROG

March Ramblin’


Anyone out there on Posterous? I had never heard of it until very recently. I posted something the other day via e-mail, because I could. One can also post a variety of other ways. I’m not seeing the need, but then again, I didn’t get Twitter or Facebook initially either.
***
It’s not coming out until May 25, but I’m looking forward to Interpretations: The British Rock Songbook by Bettye LaVette. This great singer who was in the Albany area recently – no, didn’t get a chance to see her – is covering a bunch of songs, many that I know well. It has a definite Beatles tinge.
1. The Word (Beatles)
2. No Time To Live (Traffic)
3. Don’t Let Me Be Misunderstood (Animals)
4. All My Love (Led Zeppelin)
5. Isn’t It A Pity (George Harrison)
6. Wish You Were Here (Pink Floyd)
7. It Don’t Come Easy (Ringo Starr)
8. Maybe I’m Amazed (Paul McCartney)
9. Salt Of The Earth (Rolling Stones)
10. Nights In White Satin (Moody Blues)
11. Why Does Love Got To Be So Sad (Derek & the Dominoes)
12. Don’t Let The Sun Go Down On Me (Elton John)
13. Love Reign O’er Me (The Who – live from the Kennedy Center Honors)

That last song, sung to Pete Townsend and Roger Daltry, seemed to have them in tears, especially Townsend.

Check out Bettye’s website for her performances with Paul & Ringo, with Jon Bon Jovi, and her stellar Who cover.
***
SamuraiFrog informs me that there is a Soul Train YouTube channel, which is very cool.
***
I was listening to Les Brown this week. He had a big hit in the 1940s with Bizet Has His Day, an adaptation of Farandole from L’Arlésienne.
***
Ever get a song stuck in your head, but you CAN’T REMEMBER the title? This happened to me the other day. I called up a librarian friend who wasn’t working that day. Then I called a violinist friend of mine; she knew the song I hummed, but couldn’t remember what it was either. She called her sister, and she identified it as In The Hall of the Mountain King from Peer Gynt, music by Edvard Grieg. Don’t think you know this piece? I’ll bet you do, especially if you play any of the three dozen versions from Duke Ellington, Erasure and ELO to Rick Wakeman and the Who. I’m rather partial to the ska version. Somehow, I have it in my mind that this music also inspired the Sugar Crisp commercial theme.
***
As a reaction to the Tea Baggers, there is now a Coffee Party. I’m only slightly conflicted in that I really like tea and really don’t like coffee.
***
Have I mentioned lately that I really love Betty White? I’ll even record Saturday Night Live on May 8, and I only watched it in 2008 for “Sarah Palin”.
***
The greatest 9,331 movies of all time.
***
Is my cellphone frying my brain?
***
Don’t know why I do that March Madness thing. This year’s results have been worse than ever, thanks to the upsets. Yet I can still win.

For the games today and tomorrow:
I picked: Kansas over Michigan State.
Who’s actually playing: Northern Iowa and Michigan State.
I’m rooting for: Northern Iowa. Their colors are purple and gold, just like my graduate school alma mater. What the heck; I hope they get to the Final Four. Go Panthers!

I picked: Georgetown over Ohio State.
Who’s actually playing: Tennessee and Ohio State.
I’m rooting for: Tennessee. The leader in our group picked Ohio State to win the whole thing.

I picked: Syracuse over UTEP
Who’s actually playing: Syracuse and Butler.
I’m rooting for: Syracuse, who I have going to the Final Four.

I picked: Pittsburgh over Kansas State.
Who’s actually playing: Xavier and Kansas State.
I’m rooting for: Xavier.

I picked: Baylor over Villanova.
Who’s actually playing: Baylor and St. Mary’s.
I’m rooting for: Baylor, who I have in the Final Four.

I picked Louisville over Siena.
Who’s actually playing: Duke and Purdue (yikes).
I’m rooting for: Purdue. Actually, I’m rooting against Duke every round.

I picked: West Virginia over New Mexico
Who’s actually playing: West Virginia and Washington.
I’m rooting for: West Virginia, who I have winning the tournament over (oops) Kansas.

I picked: Kentucky over Cornell.
Who’s actually playing: Kentucky and Cornell!
I’m rooting for: Kentucky on my sheet, the upstate New York team in my heart.

ROG

VIDEO REVIEW: Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs


Here’s an interesting experiment; go with your spouse and child to an elementary school gym, along with four dozen other elementary school kids and their parents to see a 2-D version of a 3-D movie based on a 30-page book. That’s what we did a couple Friday nights ago as we viewed Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs.

I had no preconceived notions about this film. I hadn’t read the book, first published in 1978, written by Judi Barrett and illustrated by Ron Barrett. In fact I never even heard of it until the film was being promoted.

This iteration tells the story of Flint Lockwood, science nerd, whose mother (Lauren Graham) believes he’ll be someone special; she dies early on, and his monosyllabic, unibrow fisherman-father (James Caan) believes in more practical efforts, wanting his son (Bill Hader) to work at the sardine store with him. Everyone on the island of Swallow Falls eats sardines.

Flint is tortured by an annoying character, Baby Brent (Andy Samburg), who was famous as the Gerber baby, and keeps milking his fame. (Independently, my wife and I thought he was very much like the character in the Back to the Future movies who kept harassing Marty McFly’s father.)

Flint, undeterred from his dream, manages to invent a machine that converts water into food. Needing to hide his creativity from the local policeman (Mr. T), he accidentally launches it into the atmosphere. Instead of rain, food of every sort starts falling from the sky. This phenomenon inspires a television station to send a weather reporter trainee (Anna Faris) to cover the phenomenon.

I laughed out loud several times in the first half of the movie at lines that probably went right over the heads of the purported target audience. At least once, I swear I was the ONLY person laughing.

At some point, the movie becomes some illustrated cross between the movies Twister (which I saw) and 2012 (which I did not). This part was less interesting to me, though not without its charms, and frightened the daughter some to boot.

Still, I enjoyed the intelligently-made film overall, and it reviewed well enough. Within the film of writer-directors Phil Lord and Christopher Miller were none-too-subtle digs at the food industry (processed foods with no connection to the source, a la Fast Food Nation), gluttony (see also: the latter part of WALL-E), environmental destruction, and sexism in the entertainment industry.

I finally got around to reading the book this week, and while there were nods to the source material (food as rafts, yellow Jell-O, and of course a spaghetti storm), the movie is a whole ‘nother animal altogether. Friends of friends of mine who are devotees of the book often HATE the movie because it’s not the book; I think the movie should be appreciated on the merits of what’s on the screen, NOT based on how it is or is not true to the source material.
***
The movie trailer.

ROG

J is for JEOPARDY!


For reasons I will explain later, this is my favorite Final JEOPARDY! answer- the category is SISTER CITIES: San Francisco, California is a sister city to this one in Italy.

I started watching the game show JEOPARDY! fairly early on. It started in 1964 as a noontime show on NBC-TV. Art Fleming was the host; you can see some of his 1970s work here. I would stop at the home of my maternal grandmother and great aunt Deana; Deana and I would watch the show while we ate lunch, which grandma Williams usually prepared, and then I would return to school. The show lasted for 11 years, and I probably watched it for the first four regularly, until I went to high school, and again as often as possible once I got to college in 1971.

It is the Fleming version of the show that shows up in the film Airplane 2 (about the only original bit in that movie sequel), and in the “Weird Al” Yankovic video I Lost on Jeopardy.

Then, after a short-lived version in 1978, JEOPARDY! returned in syndicated (non-network) television in 1984 with Alex Trebek as host. I recognized Trebek from a game called High Rollers, which involved answering a couple questions then using these oversized pair of dice.

The other thing that was different from the original game, is that the values of clues had increased tenfold, from $10-$50 in JEOPARDY! (and twice that in Double JEOPARDY!) to $100-$500 in JEOPARDY! (The values doubled in the beginning of Season 19, in the fall of 2002, to $200-$1000 in JEOPARDY!) Not incidentally, in the current game, “the minimum wager on a Daily Double is $5, which was half the smallest clue value on the original version of Jeopardy! that premiered in 1964 with Art Fleming as host.”

I always love the story about the creation of JEOPARDY! After the game show scandals of the 1950s, where certain players were leaked the answers, rigging the results, the late entertainer Merv Griffin was having a meal with his then-wife. He was musing about how he could put together a show in that atmosphere of distrust. She suggested giving the contestants the answers. He said something equivalent to “Are you crazy? That’s been the problem!” She responded, “5280”; he said, “What is the number of feet in a mile?” The ah-ha moment arrived.

Merv Griffin also wrote the Think Music that plays for thirty seconds while the contestants are writing down their Final JEOPARDY! responses.

***
Oh, that question at the top: What I loved about it is that, obviously, the JEOPARDY! folks wouldn’t expect you to KNOW San Francisco’s Italian sister city. So there must be some linkage between SF and one city in Italy. And I figured it out. Any guesses?
***

One of the things people occasionally ask me when they try out for the game show JEOPARDY! is what sources they should use. Sure, there’s the official JEOPARDY! site. But THE most valuable tool, I think, is the JEOPARDY! archive, specifically the help function.

Some intrepid JEOPARDY! fans have gotten together to archive almost every show in the past 13 years, and have captured some earlier episodes as well. If one can’t watch the show, then reading the answers and questions will help prepare you for playing. There is also information about wagering, a LOT of info I think, other than general knowledge, waging is the most important aspect in the game. The site even describes the episode on the TV show Cheers when postman Cliff Clavin was on JEOPARDY!, had an insurmountable lead and still managed to lose.

Karl Coryat, a two-day champion back in 1996, has some good tips for what to study: “…there are a few things you absolutely must know. These are, in order of importance: State and world capitals; U.S. presidents (order, years of office, and general biographies); state nicknames; and Shakespeare’s plays, including basic plot lines and major characters.” I might have put Presidents first, but I don’t disagree with his general premise.

“Prior to a rule change that went into effect at the beginning of the 20th Season [2003-2004], a champion could win a maximum of 5 games, whereupon he/she would retire and later return for the next Tournament of Champions.” It was the rule change that allowed Ken Jennings to win 74 games in a row. It was great for Jennings, but I’m still not convinced it was great for JEOPARDY! The Tournament that year, instead of having a bunch of 5-time champions, and maybe one or two 4-timers, actually had a 3-day champ, diluting the process.

One variation on JEOPARDY! you may or may not remember was called Rock & Roll Jeopardy. It ran from 1998 to 2001 on VH-1 and was hosted by Jeff Probst, who would later host a reality show called Survivor. I thought it was a lesser program, in large part because, for most of its run, one played for “points” rather than dollars, with the person with the most points getting $5,000.

You can read about my JEOPARDY appearances here; the Boston shows in 1998 were the first non-tournament games ever played outside the Los Angeles-area studio. I only discovered recently that I had the second highest one-game dollar amount in the 1998-1999 season.

***
The question: What is Assisi? San Francisco is named for Saint Francis of Assisi.


ABC Wednesday


ROG

Judd’s Merged Meme

Sunday Stealing again

1. What were doing 10 years ago?

In the process of buying the home we now live in; the closing was May 8.

2. Five snacks that you enjoy in a perfect, non weight-gaining world

Banana splits
Oatmeal-raisin cookies
Strawberry milk shakes, the real kind, not the McDonald’s kind
Carrot cake
Apple pie with vanilla ice cream

3. Five things you would do if you were a billionaire:

Pay off the mortgages for my mother, sister and brothers-in-law. Oh yeah, and ours.
Buy a building for the local food pantry.
Keep open the local YMCA that’s closing on March 31.
Give $1000 each, maybe to a whole bunch of arts/music related entities.
I suppose I’d buy a house with an in-house theater, although renting out the local theater from time to time seems just so much more fun!

4. Three of your habits:

Overanalyzing
Avoiding talks about money; they tend to give me a headache
Blogging

5. Five jobs that you’ve have had:

Janitor (twice)
Bookkeeper/operator of an Artisans arcade
Manager of a comic book store
Customer service representative for an evil health insurance company
Ticket seller for college concerts

6. Five places that you’ve lived:

Binghamton, NY
Kingston, NY
New Paltz, NY
Jamaica (Queens), NY
Charlotte, NC

7. Five things that you did yesterday:

Went to church
Worked on my blog
Watched taped television news
Worked on the daughter’s homework
Made the daughter’s lunch for today

8. Five people you would want to get to know more about:

Bill Moyers
Joel Whitburn
Miriam Makeba
Peter Gomes
Jesus – especially that 18-year gap between hanging out at the temple when he was 12 and the beginning of his ministry

9. Abortion: for or against it?

I seriously doubt that most people are FOR abortion. I believe it was one of the Clintons who said “safe, legal and rare.”

10. Do you think the world would fail with a female president?

Do you think the world isn’t failing already? The number of female heads of state in other countries makes the dearth in the United States all the more embarrassing.

11. Do you believe in the death penalty?

No. Besides the inequity of its application by race and class, and the very real probability that innocent people have been executed in this country, there’s another reason. It’s Biblical interpretation that my Jehovah’s Witness buddy talks about. There’s a commandment, “Thou shalt not kill.” How is the state killing, and on my behalf, no less, acceptable?

12. Do you wish marijuana would be legalized already?

Taxed and regulated, yes.

13. Are you for or against premarital sex?

I’m in favor of consenting adults doing what they want.

14. Do you think same sex marriage should be legalized?

Yes. I may have mentioned this recently.

15. Do you think it’s wrong that so many Hispanics are illegally moving to the USA?

I think it’s more wrong that over the centuries, the US immigration policy has been so arbitrary, discriminating against certain ethnic groups. Besides, depending on the version of history you read, who are the real illegals?

16. Should the alcohol age be lowered to eighteen?

Probably. I mean, I drank when I was 18. The prohibition doesn’t work, a number of college presidents suggest. In college, you have two different classes of people, and it’s darn easy for a senior to buy a sophomore illegal booze. Better to have supervised settings.

17. Should the war in Iraq be called off?

The U.S. participation in the war in Iraq, at this point, will end sooner rather than later.

18. Assisted suicide is illegal: do you agree?

No, I don’t. It happens anyway, you know. Doctors giving massive doses of morphine for “pain management.” I’d rather it be above board and open, in a medical context.

19. Do you believe in spanking your children?

My father spanked us. My sisters and I have had a number of conversations about what it was we did to warrant it; we have no idea. (Except once.) It made us fearful, but it didn’t make us better. So, generally not.

20. Do you worry that others will judge you from reading some of your answers?

That assumes 1) anyone actually reads what I say and 2) anyone cares. If so, no I don’t worry. To quote the great philosopher Popeye: “I yam what I yam.”

ROG