Monday, November 9, 2020

Alex Trebek


As we left church Sunday, I got a text from Josh. It simply said “Alex Trebek :-(“ Another one of my all-time favorites was gone. Alex had been suffering from pancreatic cancer for about a year and half. Despite it’s poor prognosis, he continued to host Jeopardy. And now, he had finally succumbed to it.

I have watched Jeopardy in both its iterations. I grew up on the Art Fleming version from the mid-60s to mid-70s. This was the golden area of game shows. In the summer, I spent many a morning watching game shows all morning long. There were even a few that ran in the afternoon. Jeopardy and Concentration were my two favorites. I had home versions of both of the games.

In what seems almost ironic, Jeopardy came back to TV in 1984 right after Weird Al Yankovic released his parody of the Greg Kihn song Jeopardy. His song was called “I Lost on Jeopardy”. Art Fleming reprised his old role as host in the video for the song. A few months later, Jeopardy reappeared on TV with a host named Alex Trebek. I remembered him doing a few shows that didn’t last long (“The Wizard of Odds” and “High Rollers”). However, he seemed perfect for the show. I’ve watched the show almost continuously since then. When our local NBC affiliate could be heard on FM radio, I would listen to the show while I ran. I had multiple video game and computer versions of the game. Alex Trebek even hosted a resurrection of the old Concentration show I liked called Classic Concentration from 1987 to 1991.

The best times I’ve had watching it are over the past few years. Since I’ve retired, it’s become Donna and my afternoon habit to sit down and watch the show together. We often surprise ourselves with what we know. Donna is really good at the game. Her working of crossword puzzles gives her a bunch of knowledge. She’s especially good at categories concerning anatomy and medicine and anything to do with words and anagrams. I’m good at US History, US Presidents and Sports. We especially enjoy when there are Bible categories. I did well recently in a category I thought I knew nothing about. I got all of the Opera “questions” right strictly from watching Bugs Bunny cartoons. I’ll answer some obscure question and then Donna has to endure the story I tell how in the world I know the answer. For example, a few weeks ago there was a question about a British medical journal. I knew it was “The Lancet” from reading Sherlock Holmes. Dr. Watson regularly read “The Lancet”. It can make my day when I get Final Jeopardy especially when no one on the show gets it. I remember being in disbelief that no on knew the Final Jeopardy when it was "This American Folklore Legend came from Cayce Kentucky".

I’ve always loved trivia. I was an avid player of Trivial Pursuit in the 1980s. Both Jonathan and Josh played on Quick Recall teams when they were in school. I even became an official and got to read questions and judge those events. I’ve recently (well until coronavirus) gotten more involved in playing on trivia teams in trivia matches. One of the things I’ve always wanted to do is be on Jeopardy. I’ve taken the online quiz more times than I can count. I’ve usually done well on it. My understanding is that even if you get enough questions right, it is still random process to advance to the next round. I actually met a young man at my nephew Tim Lanier’s wedding a few years ago who was a four time Jeopardy champion. His name was Kyle Becker. I finally worked up the nerve to talk to him. He was very personable and nice. He said it was a wonderful experience. He told me he had taken the test multiple times as well and encouraged me to keep trying.

I’ve read that there are enough pre-recorded shows with Alex Trebek to last til Christmas. I have no idea who could possibly take Alex’s place. He was like a good friend that came by every afternoon to just visit and relax. I still can’t watch “The Price is Right” with Drew Carey even though he’s been the host since 2007. “The Price is Right” will always be Bob Barker to me. I don’t know what will happen with Jeopardy. There will be an enormous amount of pressure on whoever takes his place.

Thanks for the memories and good times Alex.