One year later

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Bunkie
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One year later

Post by Bunkie »

It's now been a little over a year since I was part of the first group taping for the 2012-2013 season. I've had some time to reflect on the whole experience and how it changed my outlook.

Like most people who aspire to be a contestant, it's the fulfillment of a long-held dream. Mine goes back to the Art Fleming days of the original show. It's an absolute rush to stand there at the podium and realize that it's happening to you.

First, no one can prepare you for the experience. No matter how good you are, there's quite a bit of luck and timing that affect how you do. Second, it's over so fast that if you can't learn very quickly as you're actually playing, you will, most likely, do poorly. Do not underestimate the luck of it. I dreaded getting The Oscars for final and that's exactly what happened. I watched four other shows taped that day (each set of contestants is selected by drawing cards) in which I believe I would have outplayed the other contestants as the categories were all better for me than the ones I actually dealt with. Then there's the luck of who you will be competing against. In my case, I ran up against a champion who the other players she had beaten described as a "demon on the button". She was also a very strong player. I did give her a serious run and almost pulled it off at the last minute.

I view the game differently now. In the past, I always believed that I would be a champion and I damned near became one as the correct FJ answer came to me just a second too late and none of us got the right answer. That haunted me for a few weeks. I didn't get much sleep in the two or three days following as I couldn't get it out of my head, replaying it over and over. I'm happy that, despite a silly mistake I made on one question which got a good laugh, I didn't make a fool out of myself. I watched a former champion leave in tears after being defeated, I watched a contestant incorrectly answer a daily double in his field of expertise (although, to be fair, the question was actually only tangentially related to his work) and lose it all. I watched smart people freeze, make dumb wagers and flame out. Prior to actually being there, I felt that I would certainly do better than such contestants. Now I know better. The game can be brutal and what you see on TV is not necessarily a reflection of the knowledge or intelligence of the contestants.

The biggest change comes out of that. I rarely watch the show any more. I *know* how hard it is. I know the risks that contestants take putting themselves in front of 6-7 million viewers and I really don't like watching people who I know are smart coming off as less than they are. I've been asked whether I want to be a contestant on other game shows. First, Jeopardy! is the Mt. Everest of game shows and anything else wouldn't measure up. But the real reason is that I no longer have the desire. I was a formidable contestant. The champion told me that she thought I was going to beat her. I did well and I'm proud of my performance. I do recommend the experience, but caution that it might cost you more than you expect.

I did have a great time. As I said, it's thrilling. More importantly, fulfilling a dream of almost 50 years showed me that anything is possible. I decided that there was more I wanted to do, so I took up learning to fly, another life-long dream. I'm making plans to start building my own airplane. I'm grateful to the producers for selecting me, it was a transformative experience.

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MDaunt
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Re: One year later

Post by MDaunt »

It's definitely a different experience watching after you've been on, and very difficult after you've lost.

Building your own airplane, though, sounds like suicide by hobby.

harrumph
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Re: One year later

Post by harrumph »

Very good reflective essay.

CoachP
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Re: One year later

Post by CoachP »

Nice reflection Peter, I think it helps folks reading these boards to know that the aftermath of the experience is not always completely positive for everyone. It certainly wasn't for me, although I'd do it again in a heartbeat! I also admire your courage in writing and posting this.

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Case
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Re: One year later

Post by Case »

I agree with everything you said, Peter! Well, except for how long I've wanted to be a contestant. I just don't watch the show anymore, either; I'm not that interested. It really was my Mt. Everest, too. And so many of us were brilliant players, but the timing wasn't there, or the questions weren't our bag, or the dreaded buzzsaw competitors got in the way. Just getting to be there, and actually getting to see so many shows (for which I thank Erin; if she and I hadn't known each other here on the boards, I would never have waited so long for my turn) helped me soak up the experience. Honestly, by the time Erin finally lost and Robert turned and said to me, "Sticks, you're up!", I was really ready to be done watching and waiting. Too much of a good thing, you know?

So much of my 20 minutes on stage is a blur, but just thinking about it brings a huge smile to my face! *I* got to be a Jeopardy contestant, and I didn't embarrass myself. And Peter, you and I got to be spoken to sternly by John Lauderdale for whispering together during his presentation while we were all standing onstage (Remember? Or was that Brandon?) How many people can say that? Johnny Gilbert said OUR NAMES. I danced a little softshoe on that stage. Life is AWESOME.

And please be oh-so-careful with that building an airplane thing. I need a hobby too, but that sounds very dangerous, my friend.

Alison, how are you? I think about you when I'm exercising at the Y; hope all is well. :)

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ihavejeoprosy
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Re: One year later

Post by ihavejeoprosy »

Wow, great post. I really appreciate it because as someone in the contestant pool, I have these thoughts myself.
I always wonder if quizzing, a lifelong hobby, will be the same or will be possible to enjoy after appearing on Jeopardy.

I also feel for people who are smart but get tripped up because of the moment or just run into questions that they cant figure out.

At the end of the day, its called jeopardy for a reason. Regardless of the outcome, I would love the opportunity to put myself in Jeopardy :D
Please follow me on Twitter @Cinjeopardy
Total game show losings: $25 K

OurDailyFred
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Re: One year later

Post by OurDailyFred »

MDaunt wrote: Building your own airplane, though, sounds like suicide by hobby.
Rest easily, the FAA (in the USA) and other aviation authorities in other jurisdictions perform a very thorough inspection of everything before issuing a Certificate of Airworthiness.

Hope that puts your mind at rest ;)

Fred
The early bird gets the worm, but the second mouse gets the cheese.

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BADuBois
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Re: One year later

Post by BADuBois »

Wonderful essay, and I'm enjoying the replies. Appearing on "Jeopardy!" was a dream I've had for a while, and when I got The Call, I entered what I called "surreal land." I literally could not believe I had made it to be a contestant, and to step out on that sound stage for the very first time, it was literally an out-of-body experience.

And yes, it goes by *so* fast... I was fortunate that I was taped in the fifth show of the day, so I could see how other players did, and I could compare how I would do... but to be on stage and to hear Johnny Gilbert read out my name, it was like jumping out of an airplane... so fast, so very very fast... and I didn't want to freeze or crash and burn... and I was so stunned and thrilled when I became a champion. Of course, when I came back, I had my proverbial butt handed to me (Damn that Barbra Streisand...) but yet, it was an experience I'll never, ever forget, and I met so many wonderful people, the crew and the fellow contestants, that thinking about it still brings a smile to my face.

Good times, good times... and nice seeing you here, 'Sticks'.. :D
Award-winning author of "My Short, Happy Life in 'Jeopardy!'"
http://tinyurl.com/btax4xp

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dhkendall
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Re: One year later

Post by dhkendall »

Whenever my wife complains about how much I watch Jeopardy!, I just assure her my viewing will drastically reduce after I'm on. This is practice for getting on.
"Jeopardy! is two parts luck and one part luck" - Me

"The way to win on Jeopardy is to be a rabidly curious, information-omnivorous person your entire life." - Ken Jennings

Follow my progress game by game since 2012

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Linear Gnome
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Re: One year later

Post by Linear Gnome »

Great thread. I can certainly relate to the surreal feeling--on my tape day, I think I made comments to the effect of "I think this is happening!" two or three times.

Unlike some of the people in this thread, I still watch the show every day (well, I'm skipping the reruns). I love trivia, and J! is fun. The main change from "before" is that I used to fast forward through the interview segment--now I watch it. Every contestant, every show. And I'm probably a bit more sympathetic about the suboptimal things that can happen under the lights.

I took my third audition in 2012 mainly because I enjoyed my 2007 and 2009 auditions so much. At my third audition, I knew that I did all aspects (written test, mock game, interview) to the absolute best of my ability, but I still never imagined that anyone would put me on national TV.

Despite the frustrating aspects of my game, the whole experience was irreplaceable. I have no particular desire to try to get on any other game show, but I'm so grateful that I had this opportunity.

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jfrumkin
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Re: One year later

Post by jfrumkin »

I've been thinking about it a lot lately because the anniversary of my tape date is in a few weeks (and the anniversary of "The Call" was a couple of weeks ago). I also don't ever watch anymore unless there's someone on there that I know peripherally. The few takeaways for me: I got to live a surreal dream that is great conversation fodder if it ever comes up (or when people I know come to me like crazy to ask how I feel about some kid misspelling "emancipation") and I got to test myself against immense pressure and great competitors and it gives me immense confidence in situations like a job interview (in which the mention of Jeopardy on my résumé does not hurt a bit). Most, way most, importantly, I got to meet a group of people who were also living a dream and were intelligent and personable enough to be given a role on a cultural institution on national TV. Those are the kind of people you want to know in life and I am most fortunate to have made such great friends, with whom I have a shared experience to which most people I know or meet can't relate.
Twitter: @jfrumkin

John Boy
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Re: One year later

Post by John Boy »

Thank you for one of the best threads in a long time. Your insight on the experience can't be unique, but I don't believe anyone has ever taken this kind of look at the experience, at least on this board.

I feel honored you let us in on this, and I feel quite a bit more humble about the prospects of getting there. I still don't subscribe to the theory that J! is "two parts luck and one part luck." That's just too grim to contemplate. But there's way more than just knowing a bunch of stuff. I knew that, and you have crystallized the point.

Thanks for sharing, and forgive me if I still really really really really want my turn to come some day before all my neurons turn to mush.

harrumph
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Re: One year later

Post by harrumph »

The message board is a better place for having players post on it during their run and then become regular contributors. I understand how some people just want to let go of the game after their appearance, however I also appreciate how our player contributors show a love for the game, without the spur of ambition of "waiting for the call", with a continuing interest in the discussion that the game inspires here.

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MDaunt
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Re: One year later

Post by MDaunt »

OurDailyFred wrote:
MDaunt wrote: Building your own airplane, though, sounds like suicide by hobby.
Rest easily, the FAA (in the USA) and other aviation authorities in other jurisdictions perform a very thorough inspection of everything before issuing a Certificate of Airworthiness.

Hope that puts your mind at rest ;)

Fred
Tell that to John Denver.

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econgator
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Re: One year later

Post by econgator »

MDaunt wrote:
OurDailyFred wrote:
MDaunt wrote: Building your own airplane, though, sounds like suicide by hobby.
Rest easily, the FAA (in the USA) and other aviation authorities in other jurisdictions perform a very thorough inspection of everything before issuing a Certificate of Airworthiness.

Hope that puts your mind at rest ;)

Fred
Tell that to John Denver.
His death had nothing to do with the airworthyness of the craft and pretty much everything to do with pilot error.

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Re: One year later

Post by bpmod »

MDaunt wrote:Building your own airplane, though, sounds like suicide by hobby.
econgator wrote:
MDaunt wrote:
OurDailyFred wrote:Rest easily, the FAA (in the USA) and other aviation authorities in other jurisdictions perform a very thorough inspection of everything before issuing a Certificate of Airworthiness.

Hope that puts your mind at rest ;)

Fred
Tell that to John Denver.
His death had nothing to do with the airworthyness of the craft and pretty much everything to do with pilot error.
Beat me to it. John Denver died because he was a much better singer than he was a pilot.

Brian
...but the senator, while insisting he was not intoxicated, could not explain his nudity.

If I had 50 cents for every math question I got right, I'd have $6.30 by now.

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marpocky
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Re: One year later

Post by marpocky »

Very, very nice post. Thank you for sharing that.

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Volante
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Re: One year later

Post by Volante »

harrumph wrote:The message board is a better place for having players post on it during their run and then become regular contributors. I understand how some people just want to let go of the game after their appearance, however I also appreciate how our player contributors show a love for the game, without the spur of ambition of "waiting for the call", with a continuing interest in the discussion that the game inspires here.
Plus you get groupies here!
The best thing that Neil Armstrong ever did, was to let us all imagine we were him.
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opusthepenguin
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Re: One year later

Post by opusthepenguin »

bpmod wrote: Beat me to it. John Denver died because he was a much better singer than he was a pilot.
He couldn't have been that bad! :lol:

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Bunkie
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Re: One year later

Post by Bunkie »

Thanks so much for the nice responses. I've been thinking about this for quite some time and needed a way to express my thoughts.

If the truth needs to be told, it is this: being a former contestant incurs a kind of loneliness. After all, only another contestant can know what you've gone through. It's the biggest game of your life (it really *is* a game, that's not a metaphor) and you only get one shot at it. Sheri, you and I sat in the contestant section of the audience and went through the emotional rise and fall as we first relaxed after not having been called for a game and know what it feels like to have the anxiety build as each game progresses thinking that you might be next. You had it worse than me because you had to wait for the following day of taping. We sat there, a group of ten watching game 1, then eight watching game two and so on and the group got tighter and tighter as it went on. We were almost clinging to each other there at the end. It's such a contrast to how it started, a large group of people in the green room high on the excitement and the fun. I actually burst into song when Maggie mentioned "Tiny Dancer" and everyone joined in. We had been strangers only minutes before eyeing each other as potential competitors. To go from there to a feeling of family in such a short time is like nothing else. The best description I can think of is that it's a highly compressed peak experience.

Afterward, you go home, everyone asks you how you did and you either keep it a secret or you tell the story over and over until it becomes a kind of fable or saga. Then the air date comes and you get all nervous again just because you worry about how you will be judged by your family and friends. And, assuming you don't become a champion, there's that weird feeling of having everyone telling you how great you were while, at the same time, the mistakes loom large.

I know this sounds somewhat negative, but nothing could be further from the truth. I'm one of those people who tries to cherish all the aspects of what I go through. Fear, anxiety and other "negative" emotions color and enhance our lives giving meaning, depth and, hopefully, wisdom. At least that's what I believe. I do hope that we can keep this conversation going, I'm really enjoying reading every single post.

And, finally, as intense as Jeopardy is, learning to land an airplane gives it a serious run for the money, especially in a crosswind. I'm having an absolute ball learning to fly. If anyone is interested, I've posted my experiences on an aviation discussion forum here:

http://eaaforums.org/showthread.php?383 ... e-50-to-go

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