I was dismayed when I got the e-mail at the end of March telling me I'd qualified for the Jeopardy! auditions in Chicago--because the date of the auditions coincided with Yearly Kos in Las Vegas, to which already had reservations. As it happened, circumstances prevented me from going to Vegas this month. But that meant I could go to Chicago and try out for Jeopardy! after all.
And that's how I spent my morning today. I didn't much care for having to get up before the butt crack of dawn, and the trip to the train station was a bit on the aggravating side. But from there, it was smooth sailing. Well, apart from having to walk the entire length of Navy Pier to get from the door where my cab dropped me to the audition room.
I can't go into details about the testing process, but I will say it was a lot of fun. There were 19 of us at my session, and four members of the contestant search staff. We were routinely in stitches throughout the two and a half hours of the audition, and I learned quite a lot of new trivia information. (No, I'm not sharing!)
The good news is, I made the cut. I'm in the contestant pool for the next 18 months, subject to call at any time. About four times as many people qualify in any given year as they can actually use on the show, so it's not certain I'll get there, and also not guaranteed that I'll win if I do. Still, I'm happy to have gotten the chance. I wish all of my 18 fellow aspirants luck--unless they're on the same panel as I am, in which case, watch out.
Via Wil Wheaton, I see that a gaming group has gotten together to sponsor libraries who want to offer after-school D&D* programs. As a non-practicing librarian and D&D buff, I'm with Wil: this is a very cool thing. Anything that gets kids interested in doing things with other people that aren't illegal, and which involves reading, fantasy (good for developing imagination and creativity), research, and math skills is a big plus in my book. That it will also get them into a public library, where hopefully they will remember they can do other things besides game, is even better.
But I can also see the potential for backlash. The fundagelical set will of course be up in arms if this gets widely publicized (and even more so if it proves popular with the kids). Can't have our impressionable youth out fantasizing about witchcraft and Satanism when they should be sitting at home being force-fed with consumerist advertising and right-wing politics via Faux News, can we? (That last sentence was snark, just in case anybody thinks I've temporarily wigged out.)
There's also a possibility that other patrons of the library might not be so enthusiastic about having a group of young people filling up a table with books and charts, lots and lots of dice and other paraphernalia, and having a good ol' campaign. At least when I was still playing, adventures tended to get a little wild and crazy, and were almost never quiet enough for library environs. Much though I want to support anything that will get a kid through the doors of a library (once we get 'em hooked, they'll keep coming back, after all), I also have to be concerned about the patrons who are there using it for its main purpose--doing research. Many's the time, in many a library, when I've wished for a Cloak of Silence, or the ability to cast a "Shut the fuck up!" spell on someone.
I hope I'm proven wrong, though. Because this program is just too cool not to be a huge success.