Some final thoughts on ‘Jeopardy!’

Portrait of Martin Luther (Wikimedia Commons)

Now I know how Weird Al felt.

The one thing I couldn’t talk about in the interview I posted in this space Tuesday night about my experience on “Jeopardy!” was what actually happened on the show.

Honestly, I had forgotten some things until I watched Wednesday night, such as how well I knew my six-letter anagrams. (Watching myself on television was kind of surreal. My family would cheer when I got answers right and groaned when I missed. “Don’t worry,” I said after a wrong answer. “Plenty of time for a comeback.”)

But I remembered exactly how the game ended. I was slightly disappointed to get the Daily Double on the second-t0-last clue in Double Jeopardy! because a) Astronomy is not my best category; and b) I wanted to make sure I had enough money to have a shot in Final Jeopardy!

I guessed right and was able to close the gap between first place and myself to under $3,000 before Final Jeopardy!

And then 16th Century People happened.

When I saw the Final Jeopardy! category, I immediately thought, “This is going to be either very easy or very hard.” A couple of explorers’ and artists’ names crossed my mind, but not the person who ultimately turned out to be the correct answer. (He-Who-Shall-Not-Be-Named is pictured above.)

Once the clue was revealed, all I could think of was, “The pope.” I figured that would be too generic but nothing else came to mind, so I went with my first instinct. (Most people I’ve talked to since the show aired said they thought of the pope as well. Even Alex Trebek told us after the show that was a hard question.)

I also knew, once the clue was revealed, that I would lose. In my preparation for the show, I decided that I was going to bet on myself in Final Jeopardy! That is, I didn’t want to bet $0, get the answer right and lose because I didn’t add to my total score. So I assumed both myself and the person in first place would get the answer correct and that I could go over-the-top with my bet.

My wife and a friend who is a professional poker player both pointed out that if we both were to get the question right, I would probably lose no matter what. This would mean I should bet a small amount of money (say, under $1,000) and assume first place would get the answer wrong, with my response not being a factor.

I had not thought about that, and that was the right strategy. But in the heat of the game, and with only a few minutes to figure out my gameplan, I decided to go big.

And I would probably do it again if in the same situation.I went to California with nothing and came back with a tote bag, a hat, $2,000, no regrets and the experience of a lifetime.

In related news, I’m now accepting offers to join Trivia Night teams.

Two ‘Jeopardy!’ contestants with all of the answers

Emily Goodlander Jeopardy!

Emily Goodlander with Alex Trebek. (Courtesy of Emily Goodlander)

Here’s the full transcript of a conversation I had last week with Emily Goodlander, my fellow contestant on an episode of “Jeopardy!” that airs Wednesday night.

Danny Jacobs: Why did you want to be on “Jeopardy!”?

Emily Goodlander: I think that every attorney secretly has this desire to be on “Jeopardy!” one day. It could just be me, but when you see the number of attorneys on each year, I think it’s a real high percentage.

DJ: Do you think it helps being an attorney?

EG: No. And I’m so glad they didn’t have a question or a category about law because those are the ones the attorneys always bomb in because we always overthink everything.

DJ:That was my worst nightmare, having a category I should know about, like the Ravens, and miss the question, that would’ve killed me. I think journalists are the same way. I think a lot of us spend every day being an expert on different topics and so we think that we’re just going to go on and know everything.

I’ve wanted to be on [“Jeopardy!”], I think for a while in the back of my mind. I’ve always liked trivia and game shows and news quizzes and filled my mind with a lot of useless information. It was only my girlfriend, now my wife, who pushed me to try out. And when she did that, it kind of all just happened.

DJ: It happened really quickly, too, I was surprised.

Did you get the call in September?

EG: I did. It was the best of times it was the worst of times because I was coming into work and getting onto the highway ramp and I rear-ended the car in front of me. And, full disclosure, this has already been adjudicated and everything. So I messed up the front of my car, her car is OK but I can’t move my car and I’m blocking the on-ramp, which makes morning commuters very happy, as I’m sure you can imagine. I’m waiting for the police and tow truck and I’m standing on the side of the road, emailing work “Hey, I’ve been in a car accident and I’m going to be in late.” And my phone rings with a number I don’t know and I think it’s the tow truck and I answer and it’s Glenn [Kagan, a “Jeopardy!” producer]. He’s like, “Hey Emily, it’s Glenn. How’s Baltimore?” And I’m saying, “Baltimore’s great.” I have no idea who Glenn is. And he says, “Are you still available to do “Jeopardy!”? It was really funny.

DJ: Wow, I had kind of a similar… it was actually just a best of times day because we had just closed on our house and so we’re moving in, we just got there, we’re just getting situated. And I get this call from California on my phone. And I’m thinking, “Who is calling me from California?” And it’s “Hi, it’s Corina [Nusu, another “Jeopardy!” producer] you’re going to be on the show.” I was like, “Wow! That’s great!” And I told my wife and she was ecstatic and she called her family but I was like, I want to get moving. I have all of these boxes here, I have to put stuff together, I kind of just forgot about it. I made a couple of calls and then went right back to work.

How was your studying or “studying”?

EG: It’s funny when I think about it because I right now, in addition to working a full work week I’m preparing for the Maryland Bar, which is a lot of studying. And studying for “Jeopardy!” is much more pleasurable. It’s slightly harder because it’s a completely open universe. At least for the Bar exam I know what to expect. But I sort of enjoyed studying. I think I picked out key categories that I thought would come up.

DJ: Did you watch a lot of shows?

EG: I didn’t have time to, which I was sort of… well, I don’t want to say I was upset about. I think watching the show gets you into the rhythm of it and helps you figure out what they’re looking for in the various categories.

DJ: I hadn’t watched much after I did my audition, I mean when it was on I would watch occasionally but I wasn’t glued to the television. Once I found out [I was going to be on], I DVR’d it and got, like the season pass. I was watching every day, taking notes. I was using the remote as a buzzer to try to practice.

EG: That is really smart.

DJ: It didn’t really help but… there was a website that has all these old “Jeopardy!” games catalogued, so I would go on there, during work hours, and play 2-3 games at a time just to, like you said, pick up on hints. A lot of categories repeat themselves, a lot of clues are the same. But I felt like… you can’t really study. You just have to know what you know.

EG: Yeah. You just have to fill your brain with information and take it from there.

DJ: When did it hit you that you were going to be on the show?

EG: Probably when I got on the plane to go to L.A. I had a very, very busy month during September and October, so I was working 60-hour weeks and I didn’t really have time to stress about it or get anxious about it. So I was on the plane to L.A. and had packed some books and things to review and I was like, “Oh my gosh, this is tomorrow.”

DJ: – Yeah, when I got on the plane, that was the first time, when I got to the hotel and they said, “You’re here for ‘Jeopardy!’?” and I said, “Yeah, that’s me.” And then the last time was when we walked and saw the stage. It was like, ‘Here we are, this is actually happening.’

EG: Yes, it’s very cool. I kept expecting to show up at the hotel and, “I’m sorry, “Jeopardy!”? We don’t have you on the list for that,” one of those things.

DJ: Were you nervous at all up there?

EG: Once I got to the show? I think it was a bit different for me because I was there Tuesday and of course they pull the names randomly, so you’re in this state of chronic anticipation. [Note: The show tapes five episodes per day, Tuesdays and Wednesdays.] Am I next? Am I next? And then it’s the end of the taping for the day and you haven’t gone. So you have all of this built-up anticipation and then it’s the next day and am I going to next? Am I going to go next? So I think more than anything, rather than being nervous, it was just exciting. It was just fun. I was so ready to get up there and take my turn.

Danny Jacobs Jeopardy!

Danny Jacobs with Alex Trebek. (Courtesy of Danny Jacobs)

DJ: I felt the anticipation, too. I didn’t want to be on the first show Wednesday, I to be able to at least see a show and… you got a whole day of watching, I wanted to see one and get a feel for it. I felt bad for the people who went on the first taping, that’s got to be rough.

EG: It is rough. And I remember sitting in the audience, because I didn’t know if we would be in the audience or be in the green room during the taping of the show. And I remember being in the audience watching some of these tapings and thinking, “Thank God I’m not on this show.”

DJ: Yes.

EG: Because I know nothing about the history of the Cadillac or one of those categories that was on there.

DJ: What’s the question people have been asking you the most since you got back?

EG: “Oh, can you tell me what happened?”

DJ: I get that and I also get, what’s Alex like?

EG: The “what’s Alex like” definitely. And “Did you meet Alex?” Which I think is a funny question to ask because if you’ve seen the show clearly there is interaction between you and Alex on the show.

What do you think was the most surprising thing to you?

DJ: How fast it went but how slow it went. …When we got up there and they started taping, I was like, “Here we go” and this was my last “This is happening” moment. Once they read the first clue and we started going, I felt better, like, I can do this. And then in the game, I felt like I could read everything and focus and answer and sort of process everything. But when it ended, it felt like it happened in five minutes.

EG: Exactly. I was really surprised by how small the stage was. It looks really massive on TV. The miracles of cameras I guess. I had no idea. I thought there would be a football field between us and the screen with how it looks on TV.

DJ: It can be very low-tech behind the scenes. I also didn’t realize the pedestals behind move up and down. I was always wondering how they get everyone to be the same height.

EG: Yes, I was wondering if they would bring out an apple crate or something since I’m on the shorter side.

DJ: Have you watched since you came back?

EG: I’ve watched a little bit but again I rarely get home in time to watch. But it’s been fun, especially during this past week to see a little bit of the show. Or hear people talk about it because those are the people I was out there with.

DJ: That’s right, you saw two weeks’ worth of shows.

EG: I know everything that happened. I know the person they’re talking about, the stories they’re talking about.

DJ: I have not watched since we were out there. And not because I’m bitter or upset or just – after that day, maybe you experienced this twice, I was so drained. I just wanted to do nothing. I know I saw you afterward and you looked spent as well.

EG: I was ready for a major nap.

DJ: And I had just no interest to watch. So I’ll tape next week because I know, like you said, what happened. So I haven’t watched, haven’t really paid attention. But as we’ve gotten closer, I’ve been getting excited.

EG: I’m really excited to watch because I think I’ve forgotten even the things I even rang into.

DJ: Yeah, I remember certain things but not the full day.

Have you gained any newfound appreciation for “Jeopardy!” contestants or the show?

EG: Absolutely. It’s tough. Watching “Jeopardy!” from home, it’s easy to say, “Where did they get these contestants? These people are idiots.” But being able to manage the buzzer very well is a huge, huge deal, and working under that pressure. And for returning champs, too. When you have 10-15 minutes between tapings, that’s exhausting.

DJ: People were asking me before I left, “What’s your buzzer strategy going to be?” kind of half-jokingly, but it really is. You really learn how much of it is about being able to buzz in. I don’t know about you, I felt like I knew the majority of the clues on the board, it was just a matter of being able to get in on time.

EG: I started thinking I should have worked on my thumb reflexes as much as the studying.

DJ: And you’re just kind of at the mercy as to how quick as you buzz. So watching now, I think I’ll understand that a lot of is, not luck, but a little bit of it is luck.

EG: You know, I think that probably when the three of us were finally up there on stage, the three of us shared likely 95 percent of the same knowledge base, and if [the clues] were given to us in the format of a test that we would have achieved probably the same score. It just really comes down to who’s buzzing in the fastest.

DJ: And when I was watching to prepare, I notice the people that were calm did a better job and were able to get their answers out. And watching people now, people that look nervous now I’ll understand why they look nervous. It’s not just flop-sweat. It’s intense.

EG: It’s definitely nerve-wracking. One of my personal strategies – not that it played out much to my advantage necessarily – during the taping was unless it was a Daily Double I didn’t look at the money that was on the board. I think that’s really dangerous. Because once you look up there and you start thinking, “I’m behind by this,” “This person is catching up by this,” I think you psyche yourself out.

DJ: That’s smart. I think I did that subconsciously. …And you have to remember, too, the money is real but it’s not real. You don’t have it yet.

EG: Oh, yeah, it’s the house money. That’s definitely the mindset that I went in with, that this going to be a great, fun experience and I can’t lose anything. Other than my dignity.

DJ: Well I think we both kept it, a little bit.

EG: As long as I was excluded from Final “Jeopardy!” for being in the hole.

DJ: Yes, once we got to Final “Jeopardy!”, I said, “We’re good.”

Has it been hard to keep the results from people?

EG: People have respected it pretty well, and being an attorney I think I’m inherently able to lock bits of information away and don’t have the impetus to shout them from the rooftops. …For me, it hasn’t really been difficult.

When I got home, my mom wanted to know immediately and my dad was on the other side. He wants it to be a completely exciting episode for him.

DJ: Oh, really? He doesn’t know?

EG: Anything, which I think is really fun.

DJ: Good for him. I talked to family after we were done that taping day, and that was really good to get it out. I told a couple people at work because I couldn’t last that long. But after that people have been kind of cool and they understand you can’t talk about it. I think they want to be surprised, too, and see how it goes.

EG: I haven’t told a single soul unless they were in the taping room.

DJ: Have you been invited to a lot trivia nights and quiz competitions by people?

EG: I have, sort of informally… “Emily’s been on “Jeopardy!”, we have to have her on our pub trivia night team.”

DJ: Yeah, I feel like there’s so much pressure on us now to be on these teams, and to win now, too.

EG: The funny part is, ever since the online test commercials have been airing, I’ve been getting random emails and Facebook messages from people I haven’t spoken to in years. [Note: Contestants at Tuesday’s taping filmed a commercial encouraging people to take the “Jeopardy!” online contestant test]  …The most frequent response from them, when I tell them that I am [going to be on “Jeopardy!”] is you have officially satisfied what I thought a smart person was in fifth grade.

DJ: A lot of people have told me they figured I would be on the show one day. I think no matter what happens [on the show], a lot of people will say, ‘Wow, that’s so cool, you were on “Jeopardy!”.’

EG: Exactly. Well, if you come in third in the New York Marathon, not too shabby.

Law blog roundup

Welcome to Monday, the 85th anniversary of the premiere of Steamboat Willie (aka Mickey Mouse). Here are some news items to get your week started.

Steamboat Willie
– Are you banking on the Volcker Rule?

– Will California toss out law permitting “no fault” evictions?

– Litigation means never having to say you’re sorry.

– Washington attorney manages scandal and law firm.


Law blog roundup

RockwellA happy soggy Monday to you on a week where many of the state’s lawyers will be heading “downy ocean” and we all celebrate Old Glory. Here are some law links to chew on:

– As online privacy dominates the news, Ron Miller of the Maryland Injury Lawyer Blog has details on a new Maryland Rule concerning personal information and court records.

– Why some lawsuits over Obamacare will come from the health care legislation’s supporters.

– “A Cuyahoga County prosecutor was fired this week after he admitted posing as a woman in a Facebook chat with an accused killer’s alibi witnesses in an attempt to persuade them to change their testimony.” (HT: Above the Law)

Steve Martin and his banjo (HT: Lowering the Bar)

Chewbacca and his light-saber cane

Law blog roundup

George JonesWelcome to the final Monday of April, a day to recall singing siblings. Here are some news items to get your week started.

– Russian parole hearings can get messy.

– Michael Jackson’s family heads to court in case against concert promoter.

– Fired football coach wins nearly $3.5 million court award — in England.

– Justice Clarence Thomas was a fan of country crooner George Jones.

Law blog roundup

Dzhokar TsarnaevWelcome to Monday, and the 110th anniversary of the first game played by the New York Highlanders (later, and better known, as the Yankees). Here are some news items to get your week started.

– Where should Boston bombing suspect Dzhokhar Tsarnaev be tried?

– Should Connecticut Gov. Dannel P. Malloy apologize to gun makers?

– Does a car passenger have the right to leave the vehicle after the driver’s arrest for alleged drunk driving?

– Justice might be delayed but not denied in Brazil.

Law comes to the Stoop

Fred BealefeldThe legal system will get a public airing next Monday as the popular Stoop Storytelling Series trains its spotlight on the law.

The show’s theme, “Justice Talking: Stories about crime, punishment, and life (and death) in the legal system,” will draw personal essays from a panel of locals at Centre Stage.

Story tellers include former Baltimore Police Chief Frederick H. Bealefeld III (pictured), Fox 45 producer Stephen Janis, public defender Carol Dee Huneke and Mark Farley Grant, whose life sentence for murder was commuted last year after he spend almost 30 years incarcerated.

The show is a tribute to the 50th anniversary of the landmark Supreme Court case Gideon v. Wainwright and is co-sponsored by the Open Society Institute-Baltimore.

Prior to the stories, author Karen Houppert will present her new book, “Chasing Gideon: the Elusive Quest for Poor People’s Justice” at a launch party at Centre Stage.

Law blog roundup

david petraeusWelcome to Monday and a week that features Thanksgiving, a holiday dedicated to family, food and football.

Speaking of which, the Dallas Cowboys will play Washington’s football team on Thursday, which reminds me of a similar game in 1974. Two words: Clint Longley.

But I digress. Here are some news items to get your week started.

– A desperate housewife loses her appeal.

– A retired general hires an attorney.

– A California slaughterhouse agrees to a $300,000-plus settlement.

– A former Chicago detective gets an eight-year prison sentence for two drunken-driving deaths.

DLA Piper: Hollywood hot spot

On the set of "Whirlwind" at DLA Piper's Baltimore office. (Photo courtesy of DLA Piper.)

Hollywood is back in Baltimore.

Clayton LeBouef, an actor from “The Wire,” filmed scenes from his new movie, called “Whirlwind,” at DLA Piper’s Baltimore office last week in the main reception area.

On “The Wire,” LeBouef played Orlando, a front man who ran a strip club for the Barksdale drug organization. LeBouef is also known for his role as Col. George Barnfather in “Homicide: Life on the Street.”

DLA Piper’s glass office building has been a Hollywood hot spot in recent years. Julia Louis-Dreyfus’s HBO comedy, “Veep,” shot several scenes for its pilot episode at the building. Several scenes in the 2005 movie “Syriana,” starring George Clooney, also were filmed at The Marbury Building at 6225 Smith Ave.

The recent movie shoot at DLA Piper is just one of a number of Charm City’s recent forays into the film industry. In addition to “Veep,” the HBO movie “Game Change,” about John McCain’s and Sarah Palin’s 2008 bid for the presidency and vice presidency, was filmed in Baltimore. (Both “Game Change” and “Veep” won awards at Sunday’s Emmys.)

The Netflix show “House of Cards,” starring Kevin Spacey has also been around town, filming at a sound stage in Edgewood, as well as in the city in places like the Peabody Institute in Mount Vernon.

All are part of an effort by Maryland to boost the film industry in the state.

Ben & Jerry’s fights for naked truth

Ben & Jerry’s Ice Cream is not being so sweet to a film company it says is infringing on its trademarks.

A Massachusetts court has granted a request from Ben &  Jerry’s for a temporary restraining order against a company that makes pornographic films.

The ice cream company took issue with Cabellero Video for giving its films titles that were a little too similar to trademarked ice cream flavors.

The film company took names like “Chocolate Fudge Brownie,” “Peanut Butter Cup” and “Boston Cream Pie” and gave them a racy twist — “Chocolate Fudge Babes,” “Peanut Butter D Cups” and, yes, “Boston Cream Thighs.”

Whether ice cream plays a role at all in these cinematic endeavors is unknown but, needless to say, the Vermont-based ice cream company is not pleased about the 10 DVDs that Cabellero has released in its series.

Ben & Jerry’s argues that the porn packaging even sports the company’s signature cows and clouds design from its ice cream cartons. The ice cream maker said in a statement that it

acted to protect its company, brand, products and image. This is a clear cut issue where the video company is imitating Ben & Jerry’s logo, flavor names and trade dress to sell their products. We have taken prompt legal action to stop the manufacturing and sale of these materials.

The film company is due in court Tuesday to show cause as to why a permanent injunction should not issued.