Saturday, May 19, 2012

Here We Go

Today is Friday, and the week of "Power Players" on Jeopardy ends tonight. Next week the shows airing will be the ones I was present for. How exciting! So what that means is, it's time for me to quit talking about preparation, and wagering, and start talking about the actual experience of being there.

I flew to LA on Monday afternoon, alone, since Morgan had to teach class. I caught the shuttle from LAX to the hotel. My plan was to relax a little, have dinner, go for a run, and then turn in early since the shuttle to the Jeopardy studios left at 7 am.

You know what they say about plans.

The relaxing went fine. Then I went across the street to get something to eat, which also went fine. Everything after that quickly became not fine. I was feeling a little icky, but an hour and a half or so after I ate, I went downstairs to the hotel gym for a run as planned. That did not improve the ickiness at all, and in fact, I felt flushed and in serious stomach pain. So I went back up to the room to lay down.

As if.
I'll spare you the blow-by-blow account of the evening and night, but let's just say that it passed in a haze of queasiness, pain, and lying on the bathroom floor. I estimate I slept for about 2 and a half hours. In the morning, I felt quite a lot more human, but I would not say I was at 100%, even leaving out the sleeplessness. Breakfast was free, but I gingerly ate some fruit and a bagel, and that was it. I wondered what would happen if I told them I simply wasn't well enough to play today. I figured I'd just have to see how it went.

I went back up to the room to get my changes of clothes (you're supposed to come with several outfits, not only in case you win but also in case one is terrible on tv - there are certain colors they ask you not to wear, and small or busy patterns can be a problem) and then came back down to the lobby where I got my first confirmed glimpses at my competition. (The nervous expressions and garment bags were dead giveaways.) We made small talk about where everyone was from, and the fact that we were all assured to actually make it to the shuttle since we were all together. Most people seemed pretty nice; a couple kept to themselves (which is not to say they weren't nice, of course).

The shuttle ride was pretty jovial. The topic of studying came up and a number of people said things like "I figure if I don't know it by now, I'm not going to be able to cram it into my head before the show." I assumed they were sandbagging. For my part, I just said that studying isn't as easy now as it was when I was in high school. Once we arrived at the studio, one contestant was already there who had a brother he was staying with somewhere in the LA area. Our pool was almost complete - we were missing one woman who lived in LA but hadn't arrived yet. Oh, and we were of course also missing whoever it was that was the current reigning champion!

We all got directed into the green room, and it's hard to explain exactly what a model of controlled chaos it is, but I'm going to try.

This? Slower than the pace in the green room.

In the green room, you have:

12 soon-to-be-contestants ...
2 contestant coordinators (one of whom is very loud, while the other one is merely quite loud) ...
2 makeup artists in a small room off to the side ...
a constant very loud rundown that is part pep talk, part everything you need to know about being on the show (buzzing in, answering, how much leeway there is for mispronunciations, what happens if your stylus doesn't work during Final Jeopardy, what to do if you feel there's been a judging error made, on and on) ...
a constant quite loud review one-on-one with each contestant in turn about the information you've provided on your forms ...
calls for contestants to go one at a time back to get their makeup done ...
contestants getting up to go to makeup, or to the bathroom, or to get some food or drink (I was still eating grains and fruit very carefully at this point - my stomach seemed to be recovering but I wasn't going to take any chances)
repeats of relevant parts of the rundown for anyone who missed them while getting makeup done or going to the bathroom ...
pen clicking (oh, the infernal pen clicking - just like at the audition) ...

Hopefully that gives you some idea.  And somewhere in the midst of all that, we got introduced to Jacob Silverman, our nemesis. He was a 3-day champion, and they told us he had had a bit of a break between shows because there were a couple of weeks of special shows that would be aired between his last win and what we were about to tape.

This is way too long already, so I'll save some things I was going to say for the next entry, which will be on Monday. I'll try to write something each day next week and get the rest of my story out there interspersed with whatever I have to say about the shows from the perspective of the audience.


  1. So did you tape on Tuesday or Wednesday, then? And, I don't suppose you went to the O'Brien's Pub Quiz on Wednesday night when you were out there?

  2. Tuesday. And no, it's not something I would have been interested in.

  3. I see on the Hometown Howdy page that a woman from Denison, IA is on this week. My dad grew up near there. What day does her episode air?

  4. Jeanie, I'm not 100% but I want to say she will be on Tuesday.