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Posted January 23, 2012 | comments 1 Comment

Charles Pannunzio: Not just a trivial pursuit

Many Thursday nights I can be found playing trivia, and most times it's just for bragging rights. But this past Thursday, I made my fifth or sixth attempt at making that knowledge pay off by taking the "Jeopardy!" online test.

Let's just say I won't be showing up on your television screens again this year.

Oh, I did pretty well. Felt better about it than the last couple of outings. The rumor is you have to get 35 of the 50 questions right to even be considered for a tryout, and that's still a long way from trading stories with Alex Trebek.

For the online test, you have 15 seconds for each question, and then whatever you've typed is recorded and the next question is on the screen. Unlike the show, for the online test you do not respond in the form of a question, so that saves a bit of time.

Because one of the key traits of a copy editor is knowing a little bit about a wide array of subjects, a number of my brethren seem to show up on "Jeopardy!" And it's a lot of fun to play at home, something I have been doing with game shows for more than 40 years.

I remember being 4 or 5 and watching "Concentration" every morning. In fact, I found the big board more mesmerizing than "Sesame Street." And who needed Fred Rogers to teach me manners? Host Bob Clayton seemed awfully nice to the contestants, and helped me learn to count to 25.

Since there were no questions to answer, it was a good introduction for me. While I was little, I also liked "Password" a lot, especially the bonus game, when the clues would pop out of the desk in front of the celebrity partner.

By the time I started going to school, I liked the summer just like any other kid, but the reasons were different. To me, days out of school meant game shows in the morning and Johnny Carson at 11:30 if I didn't fall asleep too early.

For a while, when I would get home from school each afternoon, I could watch "The Price Is Right" and "Match Game" before getting started on my homework. Then soaps started to push into the afternoon hours and I was left with "What's My Line" and "To Tell The Truth" after supper. While they were fun shows to watch, the viewers already knew what the panel would be trying to figure out.

It was around this time that I started noticing the shows where you had to answer questions and how I was actually able to get more and more of them right. And I was able to answer them fairly quickly, which is, of course, a prerequisite for any success.

In high school and college I tried out for "Battle of the Brains" and "College Bowl," but came up just short each time. Still, competing for those spots was fun, and I like going out after work and playing trivia games whenever I can. It has helped me make lots of buddies over the years and led to me meeting my girlfriend, and there's nothing trivial about that.

So next January, I'll give "Jeopardy!" another shot. And if you need an extra player for a trivia game in the meantime, give me a shout. You want me on your team.

• Charles Pannunzio is assistant managing editor of the Northern Virginia Daily.

1 Comment | Leave a comment


    My husband also took the online test last week. He has such amazing recall powers that afterward, he was able to remember 48 of the 50 answers he had typed and research them to see if he got at least the rumored 35 correct. He's been upset all week that he hasn't been able to remember those last two questions. He did get over 35 right, so now he is hoping to get called to DC for the next round again. The last time he made it that far, they told him he could be called to LA anytime in the next 18 months to be on the show, but it never happened, so it is kind of stressful...

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