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Posts Tagged ‘jeopardy’

Why I’m not watching much TV these days

In behavior, culture, domestic life, entertainment, family, television on December 2, 2012 at 5:07 pm
NBC Nightly News broadcast

NBC Nightly News broadcast (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The TV listings in my local paper, The New York Times, have 106 channels, including nine premium cable.

In the past month, I’ve turned the television on maybe four or five times. I wish I could say I miss it terribly, but I don’t. My TV fast began in June when I house-sat in Vermont, with a screen that needed three remotes, none of which I understood. Instead, I went to a barbecue, a minor league baseball game and read.

You know, books.

It continued at my Dad’s house when I was house-sitting in late September. I’d light a fire — a luxury we don’t have at home — eat dinner on the coffee table and settle in with a huge stack of unread magazines. I didn’t miss TV at all.

I normally watch NBC Nightly News every evening at 6:30, fully aware that it’s a narrow, slick, over-produced reduction of what’s happening in the world. Foreign news is almost unheard of in the United States, except for wars affecting U.S. interests and huge natural disasters. If you want a clue that the world beyond the U.S. exists, you need to follow  BBC and consume on-line media from other countries.

I often follow the news with Jeopardy, (a quiz show in the U.S., for which I qualified in 2006, but was never called to appear.) My granny used to watch it, so it’s something of a tradition. I also want to stay in trim as I plan to try out again on my next visit to L.A. The host is Alex Trebek, a fellow Canadian, who once hosted a Canadian quiz show for high school students called Reach For The Top. I was on our school’s team two years in a row and helped take us to the quarter finals.

I enjoy What Not To Wear (which helps you figure out how to dress better) and Project Runway. I avoid all talk shows and political coverage, as I get plenty of that from my print and on-line sources already. How many opinions do I want to hear every day?
The TV stays dark most of the time right now because I’m burned out on the hyper-stimulation, the silliness, the repetition and its incredible time-suck.

I do watch movies, often, and eagerly await the January start, here in the U.S., of the third season of Downton Abbey.

I recently discovered “Wallander”, the original series in Swedish, shot in a town of 18,000 in southern Sweden, and loved it. I was so struck, in one episode, by the dominance of a very specific color, a deep teal — in clothing, wall colors, the evening sky, upholstery. I love the differences in every detail: the cars, the light, the landscape, even the electrical outlets. (I think I need to do some overseas travel soon!)

I had seen the British version, starring Kenneth Branagh, but much prefer the Swedish one.

But here’s a sampling of shows on offer — and why I’m able to resist:

The American Bible Challenge

Jersey Shore

Shocking Hip Hop Moments

High School football

Death Row

Annoying

The Real Housewives of Miami

I’m reading a lot more books. Talking to my husband and friends. Calmer and less distracted.

One friend, whose boys are two and six, limits their entire weekly screen time — including anything with a screen — to one hour every Friday night. Imagine.

Inspired by her discipline, I’m also trying to severely reduce the time I spend staring into any screen, whether phone, Ipad, computer or TV.

In the past few weeks, I’ve re-discovered a lost pleasure, that of diving into a book and disappearing in it for uninterrupted hours. I read, and loved two novels, “The Expats”, by Chris Pavone and Richard Ford’s newest, “Canada.”

Here’s a review of the season’s hottest three new shows, according to New York magazine. I haven’t seen any of them.

Do you watch much TV?

What are you watching these days?

We won! Take the trivia test The New York Times team killed this week

In design, entertainment, journalism on May 20, 2012 at 2:58 am

So much fun!

On Friday night — in the same ABC TV studio on West 67th. where “Who Wants to Be A Millionaire” was once shot — I joined The New York Times trivia team in the 16-team competition for Trivia Bowl, created in 1994 by the Los Angeles chapter of the Asian-American Journalists Association.

My husband, who works at the Times, told me they were seeking competitors and I had qualified for Jeopardy (a popular American quiz show), back in 2006, so what the hell?

Our team of 10 included a copy editor, a former page designer, a reporter and me, a 20-year Times freelancer. I knew only one person on the team, who I’d met a decade earlier at a picnic and hadn’t seen since.

This was the first time the contest was held in New York, and teams came out from CNN, ABC, The Wall Street Journal, Newsday, Time and others. It was fun to see colleagues…as I reached for a spring roll in the food line-up, a man reached in front of me — the former national editor at the New York Daily News, now at ABC. I hadn’t seen him since 2006.

We’d worked together on a bunch of stories, including one that the Times’ kicked our ass on, but we kicked back. (A helicopter had fallen off a mountain in Afghanistan and the Army refused to give the News access to the military base in NY where many of the soldiers’ families were from. There are few American cities as competitive for news than New York! I once did a stake-out for 12 hours in 80 degree heat outside a midtown hotel and it was crazy. The Times guy even followed me into the elevator to see where I was going.)

So you can imagine the geek-fueled adrenaline in the room on Friday. Of course, no tools or aids were allowed.

I loved that our judges were, in their daily life, professional judges — six men and women who adjudicate cases in housing court and even the Supreme Court of New York. Cool!

We competed in five rounds: Entertainment; Geography/Science/Literature; Current Events/Sports; History/Elections;Presidents; New York.

Yes, the questions are both North America-centric and New York-centric. Good luck!

So, (working from memory!) here are some of the 80 questions. The ones I knew are marked with a C:

What was the original name of New York City? C

Name two musicals that won both a Tony and a Pulitzer prize

Name the two men who won Oscars in successive years

What do you call someone who studies dinosaurs? C

In which state is the town of Truth or Consequences? C

Which president was born in New York City?

Of the city’s five boroughs, which is the smallest in area?

What is the name of Kate Middleton’s dog?

What is the title of JK Rowling’s newest book?

Which Presidents are on Mt. Rushmore?

Which magazine sparked the Occupy Wall Street movement? C

On the 1970s television show All in The Family, which Queens neighborhood did they live in?

Which Asian designer created Michelle Obama’s dress for the inauguration ball? C

Two First Ladies have graced the cover of American Vogue. Michelle Obama was the second — who was the first? C

Which two countries lie directly below Saudi Arabia? C

Which is the third most-spoken language in Canada?

Who first recorded the song “New York, New York?”

Which hockey team has won the most Stanley Cups? C

What is the chemical symbol for salt? C

Who were the Three Musketeers? C

No Googling allowed!

Your answers….?

Men Won't Shut Up — Women Hesitate To Speak Up — Why Men Blog More

In Media, men, women on March 19, 2010 at 8:48 pm
Causerie / something to talk about

Maybe we're just talking to one another? Image by prakhar via Flickr

Are women less likely to blog than men?

So says Globe and Mail columnist Margaret Wente — hardly someone known amongst her colleagues in Canada for faint-heartedness:

People often ask me why I don’t start a blog. After all, it seems almost everyone else has. Thousands of new blogs spring up in cyberspace every day. All the mainstream media have added bloggers to their websites. Andrew Sullivan’s blog, The Daily Dish, can get 20 million hits a month, and has made him one of the most popular opinion-mongers in the world.

The answer is pretty much the same as why I don’t get a souped-up snowmobile and drive it straight up a mountain at 120 kilometres an hour into a well-known avalanche zone. It’s more of a guy thing.

Guys seek thrills and speed. They go for the adrenalin rush. They get pumped by going higher, faster, farther than anyone else. They want lots of action and instant gratification. That’s also why guys like blogging – instant opinions, and lots of them.

Wente thinks many/most women lack the confidence to speak out publicly — is this true? Really? Still?

There are many female bloggers. I don’t read many of them, because so many blog about mothering (I have no kids), marriage and/or relationships (not terribly interesting to me, compared to other topics), politics (not my thing.)

At True/Slant I have indeed noticed that the most frequent bloggers are always men, except, usually, me and Sara Libby. I can’t possibly keep up with the men’s verbal Niagara, and don’t even try; I do follow a few T/S men, and they tend, for whatever reason, to post infrequently. They’re more modest? Busier? More thoughtful?

I don’t think it’s because they lack confidence, at all.

Even my Dad (not a compliment, it’s OK) has noted my lack of fear about speaking my mind, and wonders where I get it. Three places.

The first, and — hello, Hillary! — not unsurprising, was attending single-sex schools, as she did in college. From Grade 4 to Grade 9, I was surrounded by smart, competitive girls and taught by smart women. Smart, verbal and articulate counted — n0t being skinny or pretty or popular. We all wore uniforms, so  clothing was comfortable camouflage.

I also attended, ages eight to 16, all-girl camps every summer all summer. Same thing: the leaders were women, the cool kids were female and no one worried about speaking up or out. The counselor who could get us across a wide, windy lake in a rainstorm, motivating weary teens to keep paddling hour after hour, had the right stuff. The girls who were fun and brave and led the rest of us won respect.

The second — smart, confident and  accomplished female relatives. One flies a Cessna. One imports Moroccan rugs after living there for years. One was leading a local environmental movement, and organizing protests, back in the 1960s. My granny was always up for a good rousing argument and my Mom, a journalist and film-maker, covered some tough and scary stories.

I also grew up the only child in a family of professional communicators: film-maker, television and radio stars, television writer, TV host, magazine editor and writer. We made our livelihoods, and good ones, by taking the risks to share our ideas with millions of people. Seemed fun and cool to me.

Our family is so verbally ferocious and competitive — high-volume, too — my quiet, modest sweetie, during his first Christmas dinner with us all (I have two younger step-brothers) 10 years ago, bamboozled by the table-pounding and chest-beating, shouted — “Quiet! Everyone speak in turn.”

Our jaws dropped open. It was like turning the hose on fighting dogs. Shock! It worked for….ten minutes.

So, you know, I’m fine being a mouthy broad. I’ve traveled widely, speak two other languages, consume a pile of other media (and ideas) daily, am fascinated by the world and how it works, or doesn’t.

Since January, 10,000+ unique visitors/month are stopping by this site, none of them related to me, so someone’s finding it worth their time. I’ve even been asked to write for a new Australian blog, plucked from amid the gazillions of bloggers out there to join a small group of 12, all of us without kids.

Women have plenty to say!

But, if you read the letters pages of most newspapers and magazines, let alone the comments boxes of most blogs — they’re staying quiet.

I don’t think they lack confidence. I think most of them are too damn busy.

What do you think?

Geek History — Jeopardy Replays Ken's Legendary Loss

In culture, entertainment on September 10, 2009 at 9:49 pm
Ken Jennings (up close)

Image via Wikipedia

If you’re a Jeopardy geek — guilty! — you know who Ken Jennings is, the guy who won $2,520,700 playing 75 games. Poor old Alex Trebek (who I met when I was a competitor and, pre-Jeopardy, he hosted “Reach For The Top”, an Ontario-based high school TV show based on general knowledge) practically ran out of things to ask him during the show’s chitchat segment night after night after night. It was something else, watching Jennings mow down opponent after opponent in his polite, Utah computer programmer way.

And then, he lost. I missed it! They replayed it tonight, and I got to see Jeopardy history — when realtor Nancy Zerg answered final Jeopardy with the right answer (H & R Block) and he said Fed Ex. Ba-boom! Ken Jennings, de-throned.

He’s a nice guy, (and his daughter has the same name as mine); I interviewed him earlier this year for The New York Times business section:

“For a long time, I was paralyzed. I didn’t know what to do. I was depositing a $1.5 million check into an account that had never had more than $5,000 in it. Even if it was FDIC insured, it was only insured up to $100,000. That was the fun part for me, seeing my face with some seven-figure number below it. It was like playing Pac-man. It never felt real, but when Alex Trebek pulled a seven-figure check from his pocket, I almost fainted. It wasn’t a videogame score. I was now ‘the millionaire guy.’”

Jennings quit his job, moving his family to a larger home in the more expensive city of Seattle, bought a wide-screen television, and has become an author and developer of board games.

I qualified for Jeopardy in March 2006, at the Javits Center in Manhattan, an absurdly thrilling moment for someone who’d dreamed of that chance for years. You answer 10 qualifying questions, then another 60 more, with barely a minute for each one. Then you stand up and compete against other people, holding a buzzer, so producers can see, and decide, if you’re camera-ready. Some really smart people, we saw that day, make for really lousy TV. If they don’t call you back within 12 months (they didn’t, sob), you can try again.

In the meantime, I’ve got my souvenir cap and pen, and Ken’s home number. I’m set.

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