Tuesday, September 11, 2012

That Time I Tried Out For Jeopardy!

Yesterday was my second in-person audition for the U.S. game show Jeopardy! I'd tried out before in 2004. To accomplish this, Tit Elingtin and I had to travel the short distance to Chicago, which we did by commuter train. I brought the New Dictionary of Cultural Literacy to read on the train (and was, therefore, stuck carrying this rather ponderous volume the rest of the trip).
We stayed at the same hotel where the tryouts took place, the Sheraton Hotel and Towers. It was ridiculously expensive and not even the nicest hotel we've ever stayed in. (Nicer that the Congress Plaza, though, and the Congress Plaza's pretty nice, with that fantastic view of Grant Park.) Most of Sunday night was devoted to studying, but we did some exploring, too. We went to a mall and ate at Coast Burger, then had a beer at a bar called Canteen (which used to be Grami). The bartender bought us each a shot of Jameson, so obviously, he is my new best friend. But that's all - one shot and one beer. Then, right back to studying.
Public domain
The next morning, after a cup of coffee that I still contend was brewed the night before and a breakfast at Subway - falafel. Whoever thought of selling falafel at Subway is a genius! It goes great with flatbread - I headed down to the morning audition. I passed the online test to get there, but they retested us in person. I can't tell you anything about any of the questions, but then I got to play the mock game with two other players. It's fun, but harder than it looks on TV. I think the interview went well. I hope I'll be getting my call to come out to LA soon. 

Then the pressure was off, and we could go play. We hopped on the subway and went to Wicker Park. This is the first time in many visits to Chicago that I've ever been to the Wicker Park neighborhood. I was intent on visiting Quimby's, the bookstore famed for its graphic novels, comics and zines. The problem was, there were TOO many comics and zines. I ended up not buying anything because I was so overwhelmed by all the choices. Sorry, Quimby's. Wicker Park wasn't a total waste of time, though: we ate at the Thai/Japanese restaurant next to the bookstore. I had the Chicago maki, and it was pretty good, even though the spicy mayo was a little too spicy for my personal taste. (Just a little too spicy, not a lot.) Tit had steamed chicken dumplings and miso soup - the best miso soup I ever tasted. 

When we got off the subway, it was time to make arrangements to get back on the commuter train out of town. We did have time for one more Michigan Avenue stop, though - the Fine Arts Building. We had a beer at The Artists' Restaurant, then went up the second floor in what, I'm sure, is the oldest elevator I've ever ridden. It even had an attendant. 
A Russian blue cat. Photo by Kabir Bakie, 2005. Creative Commons license. 
On the second floor is Selected Works, a used book store run by Keith Peterson and his bookstore cat. Keith is an author; his book is called, appropriately enough, The Body in the Bookstore Sink. I don't know if the big, blue bookstore cat (likely a Russian blue) had ever written a novel. 

My fascinating find at Selected Works was Ernest Hemingway and the Movies by Frank M. Lawrence. I couldn't resist it because it has a side-by-side comparison of Hemingway's short story "The Killers," the 1946 film and the 1963 remake (with Lee Marvin and Angie Dickinson in place of Burt Lancaster and Ava Gardner). 
Because, you know, I can't just watch a movie based on a book. I have to get obsessive and read more about it. If Keith had any nonfiction books on the subject of James Jones, I would have had to buy those, too. 

We took the time to look at and appreciate the turn-of-the-19th-century building - its murals on the highest floor, its terrazzo floors, its iron and brass railings. It used to be the showroom in which the Studebakers sold horse-drawn carriages before they took to making cars. Then we had to get back on the train. 

Freed from having to study for my audition, I was able to return to Patricia Bosworth's biography of Montgomery Clift on the train. It's a fascinating and disturbing read. Bosworth mentions (and, I think, kind of glosses over) Monty's arrest in New Orleans for allegedly soliciting "a young boy" for sex. Apparently, charges were never filed, so there's no evidence to say what, if anything, ever happened. In colloquial use, "a young boy" could mean anything from a very small child to a 17-year-old - and, depending on the state law of Louisiana at that time, a teenager might have been above the legal age of consent. Keep in mind, too, that it wasn't uncommon in the pre-GLBTQ civil rights days for police to arrest men just for being seen in public picking up other men, so it may have been a completely false charge initiated by a cop who just didn't like the way Monty walked or something. 
Public domain
On the other hand, people saw the 29-year-old Monty kissing Elizabeth Taylor when she was 17, and Judy Balaban (her father was the head of Paramount) said she dated Monty when she was 16 and he was in his 30s. Balaban never explicitly says that their relationship was sexual, but she does imply it, saying that one weekend, given the choice of whether to share a bed or stay in separate rooms, they choose to stay in the same bed. Again, 16 may have been legal at that time and place, but by modern standards we'd almost certainly consider that emotionally unhealthy behavior - and potentially abusive, because of the huge difference in experience between them. 

So again, I think Bosworth is glossing over some of the more problematic facts, but I also have to consider the context, the fact that this happened 50+ years ago and the fact that it may be too paternalistic of me to suggest that 16- and 17-year-old young women shouldn't claim the right to make their own sexual decisions. See also "Reviving the Runaways: Who Should Rule When Law, Psychology and Teenage Hormones Collide?" 

The not-problematic part I learned was that Monty and James Jones met at a party, at which Jones personally hand-picked Monty to play Prewitt in From Here to Eternity. Monty studied Jones' mannerisms, and Jones was found of telling people that Monty's performance as Prewitt was, in a sense, an impression of Jones himself. 

Today I received a royalty check for a reprint of an article I'd forgotten I'd even submitted to a small regional magazine. I used it to purchase the Season One boxed set of Person of Interest. Triumph! Every time I get a double-digit royalty check, I feel like I'm Ernest Hemingway. 


Andrew Leon said...

Wow! Good luck with the Jeopardy thing! I don't know how you'd even begin to study for something like that. Do you they tell you the categories so that you can get familiar with them or do you have to just know... everything?

Erin O'Riordan said...

Everything! I studied the state capitals, the provinces of Canada and their capitals, the U.S. presidents, science terms, world history and The New York Public Library Literature Companion.

Anonymous said...

Good Luck... I could never go on Jeopardy - I pause to long to honestly trivia is not my thing unless it is about certain areas I have read about...which typically I am lucky if they put one catagory of my knowlege in an episode :)

Erin O'Riordan said...

Thanks for the well-wishes, Natasha!

Ryshia Kennie said...

I hope you make Jeopardy. Your post is as close as I'll get to trying out :) but I enjoyed reading about it.

Erin O'Riordan said...

Thanks so much, Ryshia!

Yvonne said...

Good luck with Jeopardy!

Erin O'Riordan said...

Thanks, Yvonne!

Beck Valley Books said...

Fingers crossed !! Being in the Uk i've never seen Jeopardy. Thanks for popping over to the weekly book blog hop this week xx