Thursday, December 12, 2013

What is "Jeopardy?"

Sure, I'm smiling in the photo, but did I go home in tears?


I have some exciting news to share with all of you: tomorrow you can see me on the game show Jeopardy! I have been wanting to tell you sooner, but didn't want to post anything until I got the photo of me with Alex Trebek so you'd know that this is real. I think on of the most exciting parts of my experience was being introduced as "an abstract painter from Chicago" by the announcer, Johnny Gilbert. It sounded so official.

I'm not allowed to say what the outcome of the game was before it airs, so all I can tell you is to watch it or DVR it or tape it. If you miss it, you can also check out j-archive.com, the unofficial Jeopardy! site, to find out how I did. (The site is usually updated each day, so perhaps on Saturday the 14th you can take a look at it.)

What I can tell you, though, is how I got on the show in the first place. They held auditions here in Chicago in April, and I tried out in person. There was a written test, then a simulated game, and then they told us that we'd get a call in a few months if they wanted us to be on the show. Several months went by, and since I hadn't heard anything, I thought I wouldn't get a chance to be on the show. But then, out of the blue, at the end of August, I got the call. With a month to prepare, I devoted all my spare time to studying, reading tons of trivia books, playing Jeopardy! on my smartphone, and watching documentaries and listening to educational podcasts while I painted.


Most of my reading materials came from the Chicago Public Library
But was it even worth it?


How do you study for Jeopardy? Is it even possible? Did it pay off? I can't answer that last question, obviously. But I can tell I learned a lot of interesting things from trivia books and documentaries. The Mental Floss books became my new favorite thing. This may sound funny, but I think I learned the most from "edutainment" programs for kids, like Beakman's World (I watched every episode on Netflix) and songs from Animaniacs, Histeria!, and Pinky and The Brain. If I can get a song stuck in my head, it's hard for me to forget it. I have learned so many things that way.




Here's my playlist on YouTube. Was watching it repeatedly a waste of time?



The For Beginners series is one of my favorite nonfiction series to read. Each title is a "documentary comic book," and they make learning new information interesting and entertaining. They were a great resource to me when I was in college and wanted to get introductory material on the concepts we were learning about in my humanities classes. I found them just as helpful this time around.

While I was reading The Olympics For Beginners, something amazing happened. I started reading it the weekend of the big Expo Chicago art show at Navy Pier. I like to take the bus to Navy Pier and when I take public transportation, I often read to pass the time. I had just gotten to the part about the 1968 games in Mexico City. When I arrived at Expo, I overheard a man talking about running. He had a microphone and a small audience had gathered to hear him speak. As he continued his story, he talked about winning the race but being spat upon by the audience. When he received his medal, he was angry. And so he raised his fist in the Black Power Salute. And I realized that this was the very same athlete I had just read about a few pages ago in The Olympics For Beginners, Tommie Smith!




It turned out that artist Glenn Kaino's sculptural installation modeled after Tommie Smith's fist was on view at the show, and they wanted to tell the story behind it.







 After the artist talk was over, I had the opportunity to shake Tommie Smith's hand and tell him how much I admired what he did. The synchronicity of the whole experience still gives me chills. Reading trivia isn't so trivial after all.

Before I knew it, I had read most of the books in the pile and it was time to go to Sony Picture Studios in Culver City, California for the taping. Everyone working for the show was very friendly, professional, and positive, and I enjoyed meeting all of them, as well as seeing a few familiar faces from the auditions. It was nice meeting the other contestants as well. They came from all over the United States and Canada. And Alex Trebek is a very interesting man, not unlike the gentleman from the Dos Equis commercials. In between tapings and during commercial breaks, he let the audience ask him questions. He really seemed to enjoy answering them, too.

What happened there? Was reading all those books worth it? Did I forget everything I learned? Did I forget to answer in the form of a question and lose all my money? Did I make a fool of myself? Did another contestant beat me by one dollar? Are artists stupid? Like I said before, I can't tell you anything. I am sworn to secrecy. No, seriously, I had to sign a contract. But I hope you will watch the show and see what happened.




27 comments:

  1. Haha! Great job Tiffany! Your smile won me over and I was rooting for you from the start. I had recorded the show and fast forwarded through the intro so I didn't know that you were "an abstract artist from chicago." I had to look you up on the interwebs. I'm looking forward to modays game. I'm sending you good luck from the future!
    -P Renaud chicago

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    1. Thanks so much, Peter! I really appreciate you taking the time to look me up online. I'm glad you enjoyed watching the show.

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  2. watching now- rooting for you (fingers crossed)

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    1. Thanks so much, magpie. I looked at your blog and I really like your work, so I subscribed to it on Feedly. I love meeting other artists on here. :)

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  4. As an avid Jeopardy fan from NC, I was pleased to meet you there. As a double minority Jeopardy contestant, you were queen of the night. Great job and congratulations! See you on Monday!

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    1. Thanks. I feel like that episode was a dramatization of the battle I fight every day as a gifted woman of color, to be taken seriously, to be respected, not to be stereotyped.

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  5. Cyberial cigar uno for Tiffany for winning her first game. Well done my dear(lights Tiffany's portofino)

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  6. So what can I tell you is that I got all excited watching Jopardy when they announced that you were an abstract painter, and from then on I was rooting for you all the way, and you showed them that artists are smart, yes you did! By the second round I was perusing your blog, and read your post "Supporting artists is a good cause, too" with the wonderful quote, thinking it a shame that there were no comments when you have such interesting things to say. Your work is varied, interesting, and quite creative. I am glad I was watching Jeopardy last night. :)

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    1. Thanks so much for your kind words, Dan. I really appreciate your comment. I used to get a lot more comments on here, but I don't know what happened. But who knows, maybe being on TV will help me get some more readers who actually leave comments.

      By the way, I got a chance to look at your blog and I really like your work. I started following it on Feedly. :)

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  7. Congratulations on your win! You seemed very relaxed and played the game well. Good luck next week.

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  8. Tiffany congratulations and your art is fantastic!

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  9. awww shoot. well you were great while it lasted. I've feedlyd (feedlied?) you as well.

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    1. Yeah, I have to admit I was pretty disappointed, too. But at least I will have enough left after taxes (California, federal, and possibly Illinois?) to pay my art studio rent for a year, which is a blessing. And another great thing is that it has gotten me a lot of cool new contacts on social media, like you! :)

      (Not to mention the random dudes following me on Facebook now, some of whom have tried to convince me that they're not stalkers and weirdos. lol)

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  10. Wonderful job Tiffany. Sorry your journey came to an earlier than expected end, but your presence on the show was a blessing and a delight.....many continued blessings with your art and life, and by the way, you're gorgeous!!!

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  11. Congrats from a fellow artist turned pseudo intellectual :)

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    1. Thanks, Mike. It's nice to know so many fellow artists were watching the show and rooting for me. :)

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  12. it does seem as though jeopardy attracts a preponderance of librarians and teachers. you represented. how cool that it will pay studio rent!

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    1. Thanks! Yes, there are so many librarians on there that when I asked one I knew about books she would recommend, she was able to get advice from two of her coworkers. But I have to admit, I did once consider getting a day job as a librarian, but I was worried that it wouldn't work out.

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  13. I can see why you have random dudes following you on Facebook, because I'm guessing you are the best-looking contestant Jeopardy! has ever had :) I'd probably follow you, too, if I had a Facebook account...what a great smile! You did great on the show, and I wish you all the best from Texas. Take care!

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  14. Hey Tiffany! Congratulations! I just want you to know that I watch Jeopardy with my 8-year-old daughter who is an abstract artist as well. It was very special for her to see you. Thanks!

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