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After surviving brain and heart surgery in recent years, Alex Trebek has announced that he has stage 4 pancreatic cancer. His life expectancy can now be measured in months.
If Alex Trebek was really the comic book super hero I've made him into over the years, he would die. But then he would get better and continue filming Jeopardy episodes until the end of time.
Sadly, life is not a comic book.
Good luck, Alex.
Alex Trebek is on medical leave from Jeopardy! as he recovers from what he called a "slight medical problem." The rest of us call it brain surgery!
Apparently, Trebek was standing on his toilet and hanging a clock. The porcelain was wet. He slipped and hit his head on the sink. When he came to, he had blood clots in his brain! (That's what I heard, anyway.)
Fortunately for us all, Trebek announced he's making a full recovery and will soon be back on set giving answers to questions no one has asked yet. I hope by then, they've covered his podium with bubble wrap.
I'm not ready for a world without the exploits of one George Alexander Trebek, Member of the Order of Canada.
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Those who warned that 2012 would see the end of the world may have been more right than I would have guessed. The world dodged a bullet last week, as Alex Trebek had a heart attack!
Reports say it was a minor heart attack, and he'll be back at work in time to start filming next season's Jeopardy! episodes on schedule. But I consider this a wake-up call. It's time for the world to pull its head out of its ass and put real effort into Trebek conservation.
We shouldn't selfishly consume all of Trebek and deny future generations access to his uniquely endearing smugness. At the very least, we owe it to our children to ensure that there will be Trebek around for years to come!
I call for America's politicians to put aside petty squabbles about universal healthcare and focus on the health of one man that really matters. If we work together, we can ensure a brighter future for all mankind, especially Alex Trebek.*
*Paid for by the Committee To Ensure Eternal Global Jeopardy!
I love game shows, especially the classics. This genre was "reality" television before Jersey had a shore. Obviously, Jeopardy! is my favorite, but I also like Password, Match Game, and Family Feud with Richard Dawson not Ray Combs, Louis Anderson, Richard Karn, or Steve Harvey. (John O'Hurley is okay.) One show I cannot stand is Wheel of Fortune.
Wheel of Fortune comes on immediately before Jeopardy!. Since I don't care to watch Entertainment Tonight, Inside Edition, or TMZ because I have the un-American attitude that celebrities are people too, this means that I get my share of watching poor Pat Sajak being subjected to a series of idiotic stutterings from contestants who have already over-taxed their brains by thinking of an adjective to describe their family during the brief interview segment. Sajak is a Real American Hero considering the amount of stupidity he has to wade through.
True example of why Wheel sucks: For the first week of May, the show is "Going Green" by moving its production from Los Angeles to Portland. (How trucking tons of energy-sucking equipment hundreds of miles up the Pacific coast encourages environmental conservation is a thought-exercise left for the viewer, apparently.) The first show of the week features three contestants who are, respectively, a recreational fire-eater, a Bigfoot enthusiast, and a girl who enjoys inhaling nail-polish remover fumes every night. During an early puzzle, the Bigfoot enthusiast spun the wheel and landed on a trip, but lost the opportunity when the letter "D" she asked for was not on the board. The paint-thinner sniffer then spun the wheel and landed on the "Jackpot," but lost the opportunity when the letter she excitedly shouted wasn't on the board, either. That letter? "D". This is not what I call entertainment.
Both Jeopardy! and Wheel of Fortune actively test potential contestants to see if they qualify for an appearance. I suspect that Wheel auditions only Jeopardy! losers. It seems that the ability to think is actively discouraged for Wheel contestants.
Wheel has a strictly "once-in-a-lifetime" appearance rule, preventing contestants who are actually good at the show from having a second chance at playing. On the surface, this is a good rule because, believe it or not, watching people spin a wheel once, ask for a "T", then shout a common phrase to win the puzzle is every bit as boring television as watching every contestant ask for the same letter. The side effect of this policy of eliminating the competent players is that you end up with a contestant pool filled with people whose hobbies include swallowing fire, chasing Bigfoot through the woods, and hufffing acetone; exactly the same cross-section of America that loves Wheel of Fortune.
Earlier this week, three years to the day since I ran a blog post substituting him as the comic book hero Sub-Mariner, Alex Trebek injured both of his legs -- including a torn Achilles tendon -- while running down a burgler. Coincidence? (It was also 5 days after his 71st birthday.)
There are two ways to approach this story. Either heroic Alex Trebek was foiled during his valiant attempt to apprehend a crafty purloiner, or septuagenarian Alex Trebek was injured during a bungled try at catching a petty crook. I'm pretty sure you know where I stand on this issue.
I pity the poor contestants in next year's Jeopardy! episodes. "Oh, you ran a marathon? Well, I was in a footrace last year to catch criminals." "Bone marrow transplant, you say? During the surgery to repair my torn ACL, I distracted myself from the pain by giving the surgeon French elocution lessons." "You solved the national debt crisis? When I was in court for burglery, not only was I the expert witness, I was also the arresting officer, bailiff, and court stenographer."
That burgler must not have know from whom she was stealing. Alex Trebek is a national treasure.
This week, humanity lost on Jeopardy!. IBM's latest game bully, Watson, defeated Ken Jennings and Brad Rutter to claim the title of trivia champion. The three-day affair that passed for "info-tainment" was little more than a glorified commercial for IBM. The event was hosted by IBM and promoted by IBM, so it should be no surprise that it was won by IBM. Anything less would have been rude.
I don't mind that a super-computer knows more trivia than any single human does (Google is my friend), but I do have to wonder why all the theater is necessary. Back in my day, encyclopedia salesmen used to go door to door. I guess it just never occurred to any of them to go shilling on game shows.
Certainly, host Alex Trebek spent a great deal of time talking about all of Watson's many other, fine aspects for three days, but he carefully omitted the one aspect of the show that gave Watson a far superior advantage over any other Jeopardy! contestant has ever experienced. Watson is deaf and blind and has to be given the clue digitally. In order to buzz in, Watson is given an electronic signal when Trebek is done speaking and the buzzer is activated. Human contestants have to wait for the "buzzers enabled" light. If Watson feels confident that it has calculated the correct answer -- and more often than not it will given that it reportedly processes 200 million "pages" of content per second -- Watson can immediately depress the plunger with a far quicker reaction than a human.
The average human visual stimuli to physical response reaction time is somewhere in the neighborhood of 200 milliseconds. Watson's CPU is capable of over 80 billion operations per millisecond, making it just a little bit faster than a human. The only way for a human to beat Watson to the punch is to anticipate the buzzer activation and jump the press. As we know, that ability to anticipate is, like all human abilities, erratic at best. So in a contest of even equal intellect, one should expect the computer with a digital start signal to win most if not all of the time. It would take a super-human performance to even hope to equal Watson's response time.
I don't mean to suggest that the construction of a computer that can dynamically interpret puns in the English language and then provide obscure bits of corresponding responses isn't a major technological feat. It is very impressive. I just mean to say that watching humans playing against it makes for some pretty boring television.
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I love Jeopardy!, but I'm becoming a bit disenchanted by host Alex Trebek's attitude. Each episode, in my least favorite part of each show, Alex responds to almost every contestant's story with what amounts to a pissing contest about how much bigger, better, stronger Alex's life is than the contestant's.
Yes, Alex, you're no doubt much more learned than all but the most hardcore trivia buffs. Yes, Alex, your status as the television icon of the trivia elite has no doubt provided you with many great experiences. And yes, Alex, your family and lifestyle have created many enriching moments to fulfil your grandest hopes.
But, Alex, when a contestant tells you that she prefers Batman comic books, there's simply no need to respond with, "that's too bad, I like Sub-Mariner."
And just like that, Alex found a way to insult the contestant, Batman, and Aquaman in a single snide comment. You'll pay for this, Trebek.
On today's very special semi-final "Teen Tournament" episode of Jeopardy!, none of the brainiac children knew that the imperfect foe of Superman with two consecutive "r"s in his name was "Bizarro." What is America's youth coming to when no one knows who Bizarro is? (The one kid brave enough to buzz-in guessed "Who is Lex Luthor?" Great Caesar's ghost!)
On the upside, I did get to hear Alex Trebek pronounce the name of Bizarro's home planet, "Htrae."