The Final Countdown (dooduh doo doo… dooduh doo doo doo)

I have added a little countdown widget to the blog to count down to my Jeopardy! appearance on January 14, 2014.  Check the Jeopardy! website to see what time the show will air in your area!

Here is some history on my road to Jeopardy!:

1999

Jeopardy! Brain Bus, 1999

Jeopardy! Brain Bus

Over my spring break in my freshman year at Albion College, the Jeopardy! Brain Bus came to Ann Arbor to recruit students for College Jeopardy!.  If I remember correctly, we had to fill out some questionnaires with information about ourselves, then take a 50-question quiz on paper.  The Jeopardy! staff reviewed these quizzes on-site, then called the names of those people who were invited to audition and play a practice game.  I remember being totally blindsided by the idea that I would need to come up with interesting facts about myself, and having no idea what could possibly be interesting to talk about.

2000

My friend Kurt was selected to play in the 2000 College Jeopardy! Tournament, which was exciting for two reasons:  Someone I knew was going to be on JEOPARDY! and little ol’ Albion College was going to be represented in the tournament!  Kurt performed admirably, thanks (I’m sure) to all the Trivial Pursuit we had played together.

2009

I took the online test every January for several years in the hope that I would get picked that year, and in 2009, I got an email inviting me to an audition.  I auditioned in June 2009 and was in the contestant pool for the next 18 months, studying all the topics I could think of.  Unfortunately, I didn’t get picked that year, but I wasn’t too disappointed, because every audition meant a little more practice with the signaling device and a little more time spent hanging out with my fellow Jeopardy! nerds.

2013

I wasn’t eligible to take the online test in January 2010 (because I was in the contestant pool for 18 months following my audition), but I took it in 2011 and 2012 with no results.

Ken Jennings came to town in April 2013 to give a lecture and play a mock game with some MU students. During the Q&A after the lecture, he called on "the girl in the blue hoodie" and I looked all around me, because I was not wearing a hoodie. In the autograph line later, Ken admitted that my sweater did not actually look like a hoodie. This story is pretty pointless, and I only tell it to you in the hope that Ken will see this and remember me.  HI KEN!

Ken Jennings came to town in April 2013 to give a lecture and play a mock game with some MU students. During the Q&A after the lecture, he called on “the girl in the blue hoodie” and I looked all around me, because I was not wearing a hoodie. In the autograph line later, Ken admitted that my sweater did not actually look like a hoodie. This story is pretty pointless, and I only tell it to you in the hope that Ken will see this and remember me. HI KEN!

I took it again this year and got the magical email in May, inviting me to an audition in Detroit on July 13.  Hooray!  The only problem was that I had plans that day that would be kind of hard to reschedule (getting married).  Fortunately, Jeopardy! was flexible and offered me the option of auditioning either the day before or the day after the wedding.  I decided I would be more relaxed afterwards, so I picked the 14th.

The morning after our wedding, Jason and I had breakfast with family then headed off to Detroit, where one of the stories I used in my audition was that I had gotten married less than 24 hours before.  Jason got to spend the earliest part of his married life riding around in circles on the People Mover and gambling away $20 at one of the Detroit casinos.  I felt good – more confident than I had in 2009, and certainly much more confident than in 1999!

I didn’t think a whole lot about Jeopardy! for a while, because my mother’s battle with Acute Myeloid Leukemia got a lot tougher after the wedding, and I also had the challenges of moving to Iowa and starting a new job.  On September 27, I got a call from a number that my phone identified as being in Culver City, CA.  Culver City means only one thing to me, so I started to get nervous and excited even before I answered the phone.  I’m glad that they email you all of the important information, because I did not retain a whole lot from my conversation with Corina, with so much flying around in my head.  I’m sure she gets that a lot!

Now it was time to finally study and prepare for Jeopardy!  In my area of Iowa, Jeopardy! comes on at 4pm, during my work day.  Jason’s TiVo broke right around the time I moved in, so we had no way to record it.  Fortunately my supervisor allowed me to move my time around a bit and either take a shorter lunch or stay late when I wanted to take a half-hour off to watch the show.

Now that I had the time, finding a way to watch the show was the next hurdle.  You wouldn’t think it would be that difficult, but there are no televisions (that I could find) in my building that connect to cable or network TV.  There are a lot of monitors in the building that connect to the Internet, but – alas – Jeopardy! is a syndicated show and is not streamed online.  I asked at one chain restaurant that shall not be named if they would be willing to let me watch the show on one of their millions of TVs, but I was told that they were only allowed to show sports, news and weather.  Finally I reached out to the Learning Commons in the Main Library, where there are study spaces, a café and a number of televisions.  They agreed to switch one of the TVs over to Jeopardy! for a half hour each day, and I ran down the hill a few days a week to watch and prepare.  Thank you, Brittney!

Jason also helped me prepare by quizzing me from the various trivia books that I still had lying around from 2009.  When you are watching the show, you should probably be aware that my knowledge of topics like, say, sports, all came from books that were at least 5 years old.  (That doesn’t really excuse my shortcomings, but I wish it did!)

I could bring up to 6 guests to the taping, and I offered these spots to Jason, my parents and sister and Jason’s parents.  Even in October, I still held out hope that my mother might be able to make the trip to California, which her doctor had told us might be a possibility.  Unfortunately, she took another turn for the worse.  I thought that I might need to cancel my trip to California in order to stay with her, but she passed away on October 22, two weeks before my taping date.  My father and sister decided to come to California, and I think it was good for us all to have something positive to look forward to.

Jeopardy! set

Jeopardy! set

When it comes to the actual taping, my father took detailed notes and is the best source for information.  I am sure I’ll have some thoughts once I’ve seen myself on TV, but for now, you can check out his posts about the visit to the studio:

Dad has some more notes that have to wait until after the episode airs, because we’re not allowed to talk about specific clues, responses, interview content or results.  I’m sure he’ll be writing more soon!

And for now… we wait.  It’s not long now, but it’s been a long time since November to keep it all in!  There are so many things that I want to tell people and so many sentences that I begin, then realize I can’t finish.  I look forward to everything being out in the open!

11 thoughts on “The Final Countdown (dooduh doo doo… dooduh doo doo doo)

  1. Pingback: Sarah and Jeopardy! | Maintaining Marilyn's Memory

  2. I don’t find myself starting sentences that I can’t finish, but frequently I am thinking ahead about how much I can say about Jeopardy! without revealing outcomes or specific questions.

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  3. Hey Sarah, I saw you mentioned on FB. Maybe you remember me from grad school? Congrats on Jeopardy! My mom also recently passed away and my parents had a ritual of watching the show every evening. Thinking of you on Jeopardy and about your mom.

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