In Jeopardy

Has anyone been watching Jeopardy for the last three weeks?  As I am writing this, a contestant named James Holzhauer just finished his 22nd straight victory, with an accumulated winning of $1,691,008. In addition to the long run on the show, he’s broken several records previously held by other “Jeopardy!” champions.  His total winnings make him the third-highest earner in the history of the game, after Brad Rutter’s $4.6 million and Ken Jennings’ $3.2 million. Rutter and Jennings, though, both played in tournaments and special matches outside of regular season play.

As great as this winning streak is for TV ratings, I have to admit that I’ve had enough of James.  For the past week I have been actively rooting against him.  Earlier this week I thought he had met his match, but he managed to pull out victory by $18.00.  Every other night his conquests have been runaways.  Nobody should be that smart.  The guy knows everything about everything and rarely misses an answer.  And he’s become annoyingly cocky.  (Of course I suppose I might be somewhat cocky, too, if I had accomplished what he has).  Nevertheless, I’m ready for him to lose.  Apparently I’m not the only one who thinks so.  According to the internet, despite seeing historic, record-breaking scores, Jeopardy fans are getting bored with its newest star.  Here are some of their comments:

“I’m starting to think #Jeopardy is rigged. Day 15 of the James Show. 😐 #boring.”

“I refuse to watch #jeopardy. There’s no competition.”

“Jeopardy needs to bring back the 5 game limit for champions! This is boring.”

“This is boring #Jeopardy #jeopardyjames.”

“This guy on #Jeopardy makes the show boring to watch. No personality whatsoever.”

On CNN, former Jeopardy champion Tom Nichols says James Holzhauer’s mastery of controlling the buzzer is making the game unfair for his competitors and unenjoyable to watch for viewers.

Opinion writer for The Washington Post, Charles Lane, says “James Holzhauer is a menace to Jeopardy.  Holzhauer’s streak reflects the same grim, data-driven approach to competition that has spoiled (among other sports) baseball.  He does not so much play the game as beat the system.  What’s entertaining about that?  And beyond a certain point, what’s admirable?” 

(Wow, although I think he’s cocky, I’d not call him a menace).

 Stephanie Stein, who competed against Holzhauer says, “ Most of James’s strategies aren’t new to the show — starting from the high-value clues at the bottom of the board, jumping from category to category, hunting for Daily Doubles. What makes him a “Jeopardy!” machine is all of that and his impeccable timing on the buzzer. It’s unreal.”

I don’t know why, but it seems like the contestants whom I dislike always do the best.  But at least on Wheel of Fortune, I only have to endure an obnoxious contestant for one show.  Who knows how long we’ll have to put up with James? But I can’t not watch Jeopardy on the chance that he’ll finally be defeated.  This stress may just push me over the edge to the point of binge watching The Gong Show.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

There is TOO a doctor in the house

My younger son has always been somewhat of a drama king whenever it comes to some minor little ailment.  When he was little, a scratch small enough to require a magnifying glass to see was a major ordeal, requiring a band-aid and lots of “poor babies.”  A bump or bruise could give him reason to whine for sympathy for days on end.  When he was about three, he went around saying his trachea hurt.  I’ve heard a lot of people complain about pains in various body parts, but never one in the trachea.  I sincerely doubt he even knew where his trachea was.

For some reason, when he was about eight, he escalated into “attacks.”  He would deliberately act as if he couldn’t catch his breath, hyperventilating and making dying moose noises.  His father and I would just tell him to knock it off, which generally stopped the “episodes.”  If he still persisted, I would tell him the way to stabilize his breathing was to run as fast as he could for as long as he could until he was better.  Back then he believed everything that came out of my mouth, so this usually worked.  Then his third grade teacher emailed us saying he had done this at school and frightened her to death.  I wrote back, assuring her he was not dying, and suggested ways to “deal” with his attention-seeking drama.  She was immensely relieved and amused at the same time.  He also put on a “performance” at his piano lesson, which had nothing to do with his music.

Finally, I had had it.  As he complained about all his physical maladies, I told him, “Honey, you have hypochondria.”  He was thrilled to have a real medical term for his vast ailments.  For at least two years after that, whenever people would get irritated by his dramatics, he would rise to his own defense by declaring, “I can’t help it!  I have hypochondria!”  He had no idea why this was so amusing to other people.  When he finally found out what the word “hypochondria” meant, he was not happy with me, to say the least.

It was my older son, however, who put me in my place where his healthcare was concerned.  He, too, was a bit of a drama king when he was little.  When he was about three, he got a little boo-boo of some kind.

“I need to go see Dr. Rigby,” he told me. Dr. Rigby was his beloved pediatrician who made chirping bird noises when he looked in his patients’ ears.

I replied, “Oh, honey, I don’t think that’s serious enough to bother Dr. Rigby about.  Besides, Mommy is a doctor.  I can take care of it.”

“You’re not a doctor,” he shot back.  “You’re a veterinarian!”

Ouch!  Out of the mouths of babes!

 

 

 

 

OUR LIVES HAVE BEEN TRANSFORMED

Our youngest son recently turned thirteen and my husband and I have undergone “The Transformation” yet again.  If you don’t know what “The Transformation” is, you obviously have never had teenagers.  It’s when parents who were previously the most beloved, trusted, and smartest people in the child’s life suddenly morph into the most embarrassing, ignorant, clueless, and boring people on the planet.  The sad thing is we don’t even realize we’ve changed.

I honestly don’t know how we went from knowing everything to knowing nothing.  We used to be omnipotent; now we’re useless. Everything we used to say was taken for gospel; now if we make an innocuous comment such as, “Good morning,” we get an argument. Nor do I understand why the mere fact that we breathe in the vicinity of our son causes him such humiliation.  We have ruined his life simply by existing.

In his mind, merely asking him politely to pick his clothes up off the floor or return dirty dishes to the kitchen is merciless nagging.  And requesting he go above and beyond by setting the table, taking out the trash, or emptying the dishwasher is tantamount to child enslavement.  Taking away privileges such as TV or Wii because he hasn’t completed the unreasonable demand of doing his homework subjects him to full-fledged child abuse.  I won’t even go into the injustice of not getting him his own cell phone when everyone else has one.  Dropping him off and picking him up from school is mortifying for him, even when his friends don’t see us.  Speaking of his friends, they are all infinitely wiser than we are—what do we know, after all, when there are young teens to dispense sage advice?

We dutifully attend all his extracurricular activities, but we’d better not cheer for him, or for that matter, acknowledge him in any way.  Nevertheless, we are expected to be there.  I’m convinced, however, that our required presence to watch him perform as the water boy at Rocky’s Bayou Christian School football games is for the sole purpose of sending us to the snack bar to fetch him refreshments.  This is the only time he deems to speak to us.

We always know when he wants something because his snarly, combative attitude changes to almost civil, catching us completely off-guard.  Not to worry, however, as if his demands are not met, the attitude returns with a vengeance.  We are the worst parents on Earth and he wishes he could go live with someone else.  If we respond with, “Go with our blessings,” he stubbornly refuses to leave.  He truly needs to go out into the world while he knows everything.  Unfortunately, he is still attached to us by our purse strings, so he is hopelessly trapped in our house of horrors.

I realize in about fifteen or twenty years, we will morph back into the people we were before our son turned thirteen.  The problem is we may not live that long to survive another teenager.  However, the flip side is that maybe we will manage to hang in there, but by that time we will have become old and crotchety.  Then he’ll have to put up with us!  You know what they say about Karma!

(I know he’s not reading this, but, I love you Darion, my little chocolate doodlebug)!

Anyone Game?

One of the items on my bucket list is to be a contestant on Wheel of Fortune.  I have always loved game shows, although the only three I watch are Jeopardy, Who Wants to be a Millionaire, and Wheel of Fortune.  There is no way I could ever be on Jeopardy.  The only categories I’m good at are the Bible or medical related questions, and the chances of getting both those categories on the same show are slim to none.  It amazes me that people even know the answers to some of the obscure categories, like libraries in the ancient world or rivers in Lithuania.  Questions about art/artists, Shakespeare, and geography—things I know little about— are frequently featured.  Sports, forget it.  Rappers, no way.  Even a lot of the literature questions are about books and authors I’ve never heard of.  Plus if I actually knew the answer, I would still have to ring in before the other two contestants, and I’m sure my brain would freeze up under the pressure.  Besides, at the end of the show, the only contestant who gets to keep his/her money is the winner.  The second and third place contestants get a lousy $2000 and $1000 even if they end up with $20,000. That’s a lot of work and a lot of stress for such a little bit of money which probably doesn’t even cover the costs of transportation and lodging for the contestant to get to the studio.  So Jeopardy is out.

Millionaire is fun to watch, but the problem is you have to take the questions in order.  There are a lot of times when I know the answer to the $10,000 and $20,000 questions, but not the $7000 question.  Sure, I know that’s why the lifelines are there, but they aren’t always that helpful.  I can guarantee the 50:50 will take away the easiest answers to eliminate, leaving the two most difficult choices.  Of course a lot of contestants sabotage themselves by announcing which answers they’re debating between, so naturally those will be the two answers left.  The audience is generally good for anything having to do with pop culture, but not so good at other information. The plus one is a toss up depending on the category.  But I’d probably get stuck on an easy question or give a wrong answer to something that everyone in the world except me knows, so Millionaire is out, too.  Besides, I’m a terrible gambler.

That brings me to Wheel of Fortune.  I have to say as a couch contestant, I rock at solving the puzzles.  This is why I need to get on that show.  I’m a lot smarter than those dummies who stand there clueless when the answer is so obvious!  I even shout the answer at the television, but they don’t get it. Of course if I actually do make it as a contestant, I will probably spin nothing but “bankrupt” or “lose a turn.”  Or I will know the answer when it isn’t my turn.  Or my brain will go into stage fright mode, rendering me a blathering idiot unable to remember the alphabet.  Or—and this is the worst scenario of all—I will actually make it to the bonus round with the million dollar wedge, get the million dollar card in the spin, and blow the answer.  Of course if I did get the correct answer and win a million dollars, I would be so shocked I would likely have a heart attack and keel over right there on national television, leaving my winnings to my greedy and wasteful heirs.

Nope, it’s not worth the risk.  I may as well just stay on my couch and solve all the puzzles.  This way I can’t possibly lose.

 

 

 

Writer’s Block

I recently attended my third Christian writers’ conference in Blue Lake, Alabama.  Every year has been a huge blessing with inspiration and workshops not only to help me become a better writer, but to encourage and strengthen me along my faith journey. I have learned so much on improving my writing  from successful authors, editors, and agents.  Last year I took a workshop from an agent who outlined  step-by-step what agents and editors are looking for in a book proposal—at least what he was looking for.  Every other agent and editor has his/her own guidelines.  So I came home, went over my notes, and painstakingly composed a several page book proposal on which I spent more time than I did writing the actual book.  On top of that, it wasn’t any fun.  But I wrote it, just as instructed in order to provide this agent with a fantastic proposal which he couldn’t refuse.  Then I presented it to him and sat quietly while he perused it.  Sitting quietly while an agent reads through your work is sheer torture.

The first few pages he nodded, and I thought I had nailed it.  Then he turned to my sample chapters.  In fifteen seconds, he destroyed half of my work in the first three paragraphs with vicious strokes of his pen.

“Here,” he said, “resist the urge to explain.”  He marked RUE in several places.

“Here, show, don’t tell.”

“Here, you are not in the character’s point of view.”  POV was scratched in other places.

Well.  Shoot.  My Word Weaver’s Christian writing group had already critiqued this chapter and they liked it.  I have struggled very hard to stay in my character’s point of view, to use strong verbs, to show instead of tell, to fire the narrator and let the characters tell the story, and to remove superfluous words.  What I want to know is why I get black marked for every little nit picky (in my untrained, amateur, humble opinion) word while famous authors can break all the rules and get away with anything.  Plus, having to keep all these editing faux pas in my brain ruins my enjoyment of reading for pleasure.

For example, in the book I am currently reading by a well-known author, she used four unnecessary “thats” in two pages!  And in the same two pages she started two sentences with “ing” verbs, which for some reason I have yet to understand is a sign of an amateur writer.  I find I’m editing this book, rather than reading it, which totally defeats the purpose of enjoying the story.

There is another best-selling author who “head hops” with abandonment.  First he’s telling the story from “character one’s” perspective, then without switching scenes, he’s suddenly in “character two’s” perspective.  Yet he’s rich and famous and I’m not!  How did he get rich and famous?  Why didn’t his agent or editor reject his manuscripts for violating rules on point of views?

How about run on sentences?  I can’t even read a third best-selling author’s books because of her run- on sentences which don’t connect anything.  She writes sentences like, “Tom was very handsome and his mother made cakes to sell at the rummage sale and there was a fire down the street at the abandoned warehouse and Susie disliked her new teacher and Fido, was run over by a car.” This author is also not a big fan of commas.

But as bad as these sentences are, I’ll tell you who was the worst at run-on sentences—the apostle Paul.  Yes, the apostle Paul who wrote over half of the New Testament.  Perhaps run-on sentences were more acceptable in the Greek.  He was also careless about telling rather than showing and author intrusion.  Yet with all his writing flaws, God used Paul to record His inspired words.  These are published in the best selling book of all times, the Bible.  Hmmm.  I wonder if Paul would have made it by today’s editing standards.  Just sayin’.   😊

 

Ephesians 1:3-14 (202 word sentence in the Greek.  Look it up.  It’s too long to print).

 

 

 

Don’t Change Me

The other day, I made a few simple purchases at a local shopping place which shall remain un-named.  You can probably figure it out, however, if I tell you it is a big chain store around which every town revolves.  I hate to shop there, but don’t have any other alternatives, as this store has run all the other businesses in town out of business.  Anyway, I stood in line in one of the three open registers (out of 25) with a small crowd in front of and behind me.  I finally made it to the cashier and handed her my money.  This is where things got difficult.  Although up to this point she had moved at the speed of a hibernating tortoise, suddenly, without warning, she stacked my receipt, bills, and a mound of coins into my left hand faster than I could blink, and shoved my bag into my right hand.  Then she started scanning the items from the person behind me.

What was I supposed to do?  I knew I needed to move out of the way, but I stood helpless with a pile of change in one hand and my bagged purchases in the other.  If I tried to separate the coins from the bills with the hand holding my bag, the bag (or my purse) would knock into my hand balancing all the change and cause me to drop coins everywhere.  Then I would be down on my hands and knees trying to catch the rolling coins while the customer behind me was forced to step over me.  Or, with my luck, he would be texting and trip over me, causing severe bodily harm to us both. Besides that, I still held my wallet in my right hand, so I didn’t exactly have free fingers. I suppose I could have laid my  bag down on the counter while I dealt with putting my change into my wallet, but then I would still be in the way of the person behind me.  Plus, knowing myself all too well, I would have walked off and left my bag on the counter.  But even without the bag in my right hand, it’s still hard to sort through the coins and bills.  If I put all the coins in my right hand and leave the bills and receipt in my left, I’m not dexterous enough to open my wallet, unzip the coin pouch and deposit the coins with two occupied hands.  I guess I could have just dumped everything into my purse or shoved it all in my pocket to be sorted out later so I could move quickly out of the way.  However, again, knowing myself, the sorting out would never come.

I really don’t understand why cashiers render people powerless to deal with their change.  Cashiers must have to go through rigorous training in how to return change in the most awkward way possible.  I can just envision them undergoing exercises in piling up receipts, bills, and coins into a customer’s hand.  “No, Susie, you are supposed to dump all the coins at once.  Do it again until you get it right!” Maybe the management figures if enough customers drop enough change on the floor, the business can rake in another few dollars from the coins that roll under the cashier desk.

I have been known to snatch my hand away after the cashier lays bills in my hand before she can load me up with coins.  This way I can easily put my bills into my wallet first.  Sometimes it backfires and she releases the coins into the air.  But then she has to chase them.  As aggravating as this situation is, I think I have finally found the solution.  From now on, I’m only paying with credit or debit cards—assuming the card machine can read my chip.

 

Thumb Exercising

I love it (not) when I get Facebook messages saying So-and-So is at the gym.  My first thought is who cares?  My second thought is why is So-and-So posting selfies of himself (herself) at the gym instead of actually working out?  I don’t know about you, but when I go to the gym—which takes a tremendous amount of willpower just to force my contented body off the sofa, into exercise clothes, and out the door—I want to get in, do what I have to do, and get out so I can get back to the sofa as soon as possible.  I don’t want to spend time texting or posting selfies.  Besides, who wants to receive pictures of sweaty, out-of-shape people in skimpy work-out clothes?

Yes, I have ventured back to the gym after my disastrous run-in with the stair stepper from a few months ago.  It seems I need to work on strengthening my back and my quads, along with every other pitiful flabby part of my body.  I just avoid the stair stepper.  But just because I have gone back to the gym doesn’t mean I have to like it.  Yes, I admit I always feel better after working out (unless I fall down the steps of the stair stepper).  However, I don’t particularly want to spend any more time there than I absolutely have to.   As I leave the gym and see people coming in, I always think to myself, ha ha, I’m done and you’re not!

So it boggles my mind when I see people sitting around on the Nautilus equipment wasting time texting instead of working out.  Especially if I want to use that particular piece of equipment.  Seriously, what is so important that must be posted right at that particular minute? Then I receive messages that So-and-So is at the gym.  Obviously So-and-So is just sitting around on the Nautilus machine sending texts or selfies rather than exercising.

This morning I went through the entire Nautilus room full of equipment while I waited for one dude to get off the one machine I wanted to use in order to finish up and get the heck back to my sofa. He was just sitting there with his phone.  If I was less of a pacifist introvert, I might have been tempted to march over and say something snarky to him.  As it is, I resort to venting my frustrations by writing about them.  Because of that guy my hamstrings and gluteals didn’t get their turn to cry out, “Enough already!  Have mercy on us!”   So now I am walking around with unbalanced muscles.  My quads got a great work-out, but my hamstrings, zilch.  Can you just see my legs?  I probably look like that guy in the Liberty Mutual commercial with the bulging calves, except my bulges are above my knees.  All because some nig-nog was hogging the hamstrings/gluteal machine by not actually working out, but sitting there posting he was at the gym.

There has been a huge push to stop people from texting and driving, which should really be a no-brainer, but apparently isn’t to some folks.  I say we take that one step further.  No texting while working out (or pretending to be working out).  Thumb exercises don’t count.