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Sunday, June 28, 2009

I Lost on Jeopardy, Part V


(One paragraph from the last entry:)

The week before we left, I did some research on vegan restaurants in the area. I found one that was perfect for me – since, besides being a vegan, I can’t eat grains or sugars or soy it was hard even with vegan restaurants – it was a raw food restaurant, called "Leaf Cuisine", that had a number of soy free dishes. I called them and found out that I could get food delivered from them if I contacted a food delivery place they deal with. I ordered a lasagna type dish called "rawsagna", a kale salad, a wrap type sandwich (make with greens on the outside instead of bread) and carrot juice (the carrot juice was a mistake – it got all over the bag, but it was delicious). There were some more arrangements I had to make (since I wanted the food to be there when I got there) but this all worked out rather well and the food was delicious. But my Mom didn’t want anything from a place that said it was raw food (turned out she liked the food too, but neither of us knew what would happen). So the Sunday before we were leaving (we left Monday afternoon), I spent about 8 or so hours on the phone trying to find an appropriate kosher restaurant (that also had food I could eat). I found one called "La Gondola" on Wilshire Boulevard in Beverly Hills and I ordered some stuff for my Mom for Monday night (when we got there). The food was there when we got to the hotel.

But I’m jumping the gun. Monday, my friend Tasha took us to the airport (she had also had taken me to buy three new outfits for the show – all were sleeveless tops with a long sleeve stretch top underneath and leggings "down below" – one was actually appropriate for me to wear to my nephew’s Bar Mitzva – without the leggings). The first leg of our trip was down to North Carolina. It was a very short flight (possibly even shorter than going to Chicago). We didn’t have a long layover, so the long flight came next. That flight took us to Los Angeles (LAX).

After getting our bags (mostly carry-on – there was an extra charge for a checked bag so we managed to work it out with only one check-on bag), we went looking for the shuttle to take us to the hotel. Someone (one of the drivers of the other shuttles) told us we would have to call the hotel, which we did. The shuttle was only a couple minutes away. So we got on the shuttle (the driver helped with the bags without our asking him) and were driven to the hotel.

The woman at the desk was the one I had spoken to about the food, and she remembered me and gave us our food, checked us in, and gave us a room with two beds (we were told we might have to stay in a room with one big bed). The room was ok – the TV didn’t have many channels (and CBS didn’t come in clearly). It also was in a cabinet that made it hard to see. But the bed was big and comfy and I was SO tired (and I had to be up early the next morning) that I just ate and went to sleep.

I had asked for a wake up call at 5:45. I’m a real night owl and usually the only reason I’m up at 5:45 in the morning is if I haven’t gotten to sleep yet (this happens rarely, but it happens on occasion, way more often than how often I’m up at 5:45). But I had so much on my mind that I got up at 5:30. So I got dressed and went downstairs and told them not to call (I think that I got up that early because I didn’t want to wake my Mom). I then got a bowl for my breakfast (I had brought some cereal – sprouted grain cereal – and almond milk and almonds and chopped walnuts and pecans and some pumpkin pie spice and stevia – a natural sweetener ok for diabetics).

After getting dressed (and telling my Mom what to do about getting to the studio, which she never did, BTW), I went down to the lobby to wait for the shuttle to the studio. The shuttle left at about 7:15, I was told, to get us to the studio before 8 am. So I wanted to make sure I got there in time (I was nervous about being in Los Angeles – I had never been to California before and I didn’t know my way around and I was a bit freaked out by being alone in LA). But the van didn’t leave until 7:30. I had introduced myself to a few of the other contestants at that point. I had always wondered how it would be competing against people that you get to know a bit before the taping, but that wasn’t a problem.

We got to the studio and didn’t know where to go, so we waited. Someone eventually came and got us. As I was walking toward the door, Robert was standing there. He called out to me, "you must be Debbie" and I looked down at my leggings and flip-flops and said, "the leggings and flip-flops are a dead giveaway, right?" and he nodded.

We were brought in to a big building and then into a room. The room had a big table, a couch, some food, two bathroom doors, and an area off on our right to have make-up put on. Robert and Maggie (who I had met in NY at the original audition) briefed us (well, briefed may not be the best word – it wasn’t brief). Maggie is full of energy and lots of fun. She’s the kind of person who I wish I could be friends with, but being that this was my only trip to Jeopardy, I doubt I will ever see her again. Robert is more low key, but also very nice and he was just a phone call away every time I had a question (well, a voice mail message away?). For example, when Tasha and I went shopping for Jeopardy clothes, I called Robert several times, "is it ok for me to wear leggings?" or "is this or that color ok?" or the immortal "can I wear nice flip-flops?" This, of course, is why he knew who I was when he saw me in leggings and flip-flops.

During the briefing, we filled out some forms, picked something to have Alex talk to us about (this is one thing I keep second-guessing myself about), heard rules, got advice for doing our best (advice which went totally out of my head the second I got in front of the camera – I just went into "automatic pilot" and played as though I were in my living room), and had make-up put on. We were then taken out to the studio and given the opportunity to stand at the podiums and try out the buzzers. We had mock games at the audition, but that was already over a year earlier and, if I recall correctly, it was a bit easier in the studio than in NY. Oh, BTW, if you are a Jeopardy watcher, you will notice that the players repeatedly hit their buzzers (like we’re punching out a Morse Code signal). This is because we’re told to do that.

The first mock game we did, I had the buzzer nailed. I knew the answers to the questions (or the questions to the answers????) and focused in on the lights (you can’t buzz your buzzer until the lights go on). I felt good and for the first time thought I might actually be able to win. I’ve always said that most (if not all) of the people who are on Jeopardy know at least 1/2 to 2/3 of the material (I kind of "prove" that by counting the number of clues I know and 20 out of 30 is good, under 17 is bad, over 20 is great – I only got 30 out of 30 twice – and once was a teen tournament, though those can be harder because of the pop culture questions). Sometimes even if you know the "answer" it can totally fly out of your head (this is true at home as well as in the studio – strangely enough, I think it happens more when I’m at home!)

After the second rehearsals, we went back into the room and we were told that this was it; the shows would be starting. I went to use the "ladies’ room" and when I came out, I was told I’d be on the first show! (5 Shows are taped per day, so two week’s worth of programs would be taped in the two days I needed to be in Los Angeles).

We were brought out to the studio – Jack, the champion, in the champion’s spot, Pat on the first lectern and shrimpy 5'4" me in the middle. They have to have people’s heads at about the same height, so they have platforms for shorter people to stand on – I got 1-1/2 platforms. Pat, the guy on my left, had to put a sweater over his shirt because the shirt was a problem with strobing (I was a TV/Radio major in my college days and I knew all about strobing colors). Alex Trebek came out and we were on our way.

I was rather surprised at how calm I was. I was frustrated at being buzzed out a lot (as in the guys beat me to the buzzer), but I apparently did myself proud. It was a great experience (Robert and Maggie were wonderful, Alex is a doll, really. I’ve had a major crush on him since my teens and he didn’t disappoint). One thing I have to say about Jeopardy, they are really hyper concerned with everything being fair and accepting alternative answers that are correct but weren’t what they expected. At one point during the game, Pat buzzed in with an answer that was ruled wrong; I buzzed in and blurted out the correct answer, though Alex never called on me (and my time apparently expired before I blurted out the answer). The reason Alex never called on me was that they were signaling him that there was an issue they needed to check out. Pat’s answer, though eventually ruled incorrect, was thought to have been a possible alternative version of the correct answer. So they stopped the "action", turned us around (so we didn’t have a chance to look at the board) and Maggie and Robert came over and started talking to us, first telling us what was going on, then relaxing us with friendly chatter). Eventually, the ruling was made and they then told me I should ring in again, Alex would call on me, and I should re-give the correct answer so they could splice that version. It worked so well that when the program was on you couldn’t tell.

Because we were told about things like what I just described (we were told during the briefing that things like that happened with some regularity and we shouldn’t get thrown by it, which, thanks to Maggie and Robert I didn’t get thrown), when I was called incorrect in one place on something that I was pretty certain was correct, I expected they’d get back to me on it. But they never did. (More on this later…)

After the taping of our show ended (I came in third, so I would get $1,000, not the $6,300 on my lectern at the end of the game, Pat came in second, so he would get $2,000), Pat and I were told we could stick around for the taping of the next show or go back to the hotel. Pat decided he’d like to stay for the next show and I didn’t want to go back to the hotel alone, so I stayed too. After the next show, Jack (who had won our game but lost the next, so he won two days all told) and another man (who’s name I can’t recall – oy! – I feel bad because he was really nice and I introduced him to my Mom in the hotel later on – he was a tall handsome African-American man who I think was in his late 30s to late 40s – I’m a terrible judge of age, though) lost to Samantha, a local who wasn’t staying at the hotel. So the four of us went back to the hotel (we split the cab 4 ways and it came out to, with tip, about $4 a person).

Because I now had a lot of time and nowhere to go, I called my cousin who lives just outside Los Angeles (we had spoken on Monday night about her taking us out Tuesday night) and she told me when she’d be there (and I told her the address of the restaurant we wanted to go to – it was the same kosher restaurant that sent food for my Mom when we got there – it was the only kosher restaurant I had called that had food on the menu that I’d be able to eat with my restricted vegan diet rather than them saying they’d make something for me). My Mom and I hung out for a while until she got there. It was a lot of fun going out with my cousin (who I think I’d only seen once in 20 or so years) – she also took us grocery shopping.

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Israel and it's Place in the World
Jewish Singles
Strong Jewish Women

Check out my squidoo lenses (articles):
Strong Biblical Women
Strong Biblical Women 2
Strong Biblical Women Part 3
Ruth and Naomi
Strong Biblical Women 5: Tamar -- Mother of Kings
Strong Biblical Women 6: Yocheved -- Mother of Moshe (Moses)
Strong Biblical Women 7: Miriam
Why Be Vegetarian
Vegetarianism: Getting Started 1
Vegetarianism: Getting Started 2
Rosh Hashana
Quick Vegan Cooking
Creating new recipes from old
About the Jewish Calendar
Witches and Morality
Presidential Trivia Quiz
Christmas and the Jewish Single
Math Hints 1 -- Adding Fractions
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Passover: Holiday of Freedom
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Being an internet small business owner
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Pythagorean Theorem
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One Actor, Two Shows (TV Quiz)
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Why Should anyone hire Me?
Eat a Healthy Breakfast
My experience on Jeopardy
Project:Runway and how it got me excited about designing again
Who's Buried in Grant's Tomb?
My Vocational Experiences
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