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Ken is the author of Because I Said So!, Maphead, Brainiac, and Ken Jennings's Trivia Almanac.

Timeline

Postby KeithP » Wed Mar 07, 2007 7:54 pm

Feb 11, 1957 Van Doren may be the only "quiz show" contestant to make the cover of Time, but not the only "game show" contestant. In 2000, Jenna Lewis of Survivor was on the cover in an action shot from the show during the first season craze, with the picture framed as thought someone was looking through binoculars.

Some may argue the distinction, but "game show guru" Steve Beverly has listed winners of "game opera"s on his site previously and it is a competition held by television producers for prizes, conducted outside the realm of organized athletics.
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Postby Ken Jennings » Wed Mar 07, 2007 8:06 pm

I didn't remember the Survivor cover; that's cool.

I think most people see a clear difference between "game" and "reality." The industry sure does; I always have. Other votes?
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Postby TheConfessor » Wed Mar 07, 2007 9:17 pm

I can't find the quote in the book. Is there any chance of adding an index when Brainiac comes out in paperback? Several times I've tried to go back and verify something that I thought I saw in the book, but couldn't find it. I didn't help that I read Brainiac and Trebekistan back to back, so in some cases I tended to confuse what I read where.

If Ken said Van Doren was the only "quiz show" contestant on the cover of Time, I don't see how a Survivor contestant on the cover would invalidate that statement. It could plausibly be called a "game show," but certainly not a "quiz show."

Edited comment:
Okay, I found the quote on page 256.
Charles Van Doren makes the cover of Time, a first (and last) for any game show contestant or trivia celebrity.


It's a matter of semantics, but I don't think most people think of Survivor or American Idol or Project Runway as game shows, just because they involve an element of competition. They are not game shows in the traditional meaning of the term.
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Postby econgator » Wed Mar 07, 2007 10:13 pm

TheConfessor wrote:I can't find the quote in the book. Is there any chance of adding an index when Brainiac comes out in paperback? Several times I've tried to go back and verify something that I thought I saw in the book, but couldn't find it. I didn't help that I read Brainiac and Trebekistan back to back, so in some cases I tended to confuse what I read where.

If Ken said Van Doren was the only "quiz show" contestant on the cover of Time, I don't see how a Survivor contestant on the cover would invalidate that statement. It could plausibly be called a "game show," but certainly not a "quiz show."

Edited comment:
Okay, I found the quote on page 256.
Charles Van Doren makes the cover of Time, a first (and last) for any game show contestant or trivia celebrity.


It's a matter of semantics, but I don't think most people think of Survivor or American Idol or Project Runway as game shows, just because they involve an element of competition. They are not game shows in the traditional meaning of the term.


I dunno ... I think the line can be kind of blurred at times. Think back to Beat the Clock. Most people would consider that a game show, but it really wasn't much more than contestants doing stunts. Similar things likely went on in episodes of Fear Factor or Survivor. What about shows like The Dating Game? Why is that accepted as a game show, but not American Idol?
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Postby Ken Jennings » Wed Mar 07, 2007 11:21 pm

I guess reality shows are like porn: you know it when you see it. Also the intense feelings of shame that follow every viewing.

I voted for an index in Brainiac and Random House was agin it. Maybe I should have stuck to my guns.
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Ch 13 pp. 187-188

Postby Chernobyl » Mon Mar 12, 2007 1:27 pm

Omission of a noun?
Chapter 13--What is Tradition? (Last sentence on page 187)

Ahead of us crawls a black-and-white ( :?: ) driven by one of Portage County's finest, red and blue lights flashing.

(Is "police car" omitted?)

~Brother Joseph.
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Postby bwouns » Mon Mar 12, 2007 1:49 pm

Saying "a black and white" is a colloquial way of referring to a police car
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Postby Vorotyntsev » Mon Mar 12, 2007 2:19 pm

bwouns wrote:Saying "a black and white" is a colloquial way of referring to a police car


A friend of mine is a policeman, and he calls his job "pushing a squad car." I doubt if he actually pushes it, though.
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Page 49: George McGovern

Postby ScarletKnights » Sat Apr 14, 2007 1:37 am

In addition to winning Massachusetts in his failed presidental bid, George McGovern also won the District of Columbia.
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Re: Page 49: George McGovern

Postby Ken Jennings » Sat Apr 14, 2007 11:38 am

ScarletKnights wrote:In addition to winning Massachusetts in his failed presidental bid, George McGovern also won the District of Columbia.


Yeah, that was abridged down from a quiz bowl question that phrased it as "Massachusetts was the only state..."
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Brainiac..

Postby shelberry » Mon Apr 16, 2007 8:06 pm

We just got back last night from our vacation to Seattle/Vancouver/Victoria. A long roadtrip, and as is our family tradition, we took a book with us to read aloud to pass the driving time. I was wandering around a Borders, saw your book and thought it sounded interesting, so I picked it up and figured that at least I would read it. I wasn't sure my husband would be all that interested. But, as it turned out, we all really enjoyed it. We are mild trivia buffs, (I say "mild" mostly because my brain doesn't do quick recall....sometimes it takes me a couple of days. It's all in there rattling around, but getting it out is the trick), and only saw a couple of your games as it comes on about the time we're having dinner and we don't do TV during dinner. Don't do TV in the car either, hence the book.

Anyway, to the point....we loved it! You had such great insight on the traditions and philosophy of quiz and trivia games. The people you interviewed were fascinating and the accounts of the different trivia venues were entertaining. You have now joined the ranks of Tolkien, Orson Scott Card and CS Lewis as one of our all time favorite vacation reads. My husband says you and your lovely wife seem like "our kind of people", lol. So, I guess if you're ever hankering to hang out in Monterey, come play T.P with us. You'll kick our keesters (sp?), but it'd be good for a laugh! We'll even break out the Martinelli's and green Jello salad for you. (You got me on that question, btw, I'd have sworn the answer to the Jello question was Utah...but Sam said they may buy more Jello per capita than anywhere else, but there's more "capita" in California)

And, I didn't find any mistakes. So there. Not that I'm likely to know either way, lol. Thanks for an entertaining read, and you should write something else, you have a great style!
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Postby Dave » Thu Jul 19, 2007 1:51 pm

I enjoyed your book "Brainiac." I especially enjoyed the first person behind-the-scenes view, and the accompanying observations about Alex Trebek and the staff. As I read your comments about Alex being aloof, it reminded me of what a baseball pitcher goes through if he starts to rack up consecutive perfect innings. As the game progresses his teammates start to ignore and then shun him out right - the old baseball thinking is that you can jinx the pitcher or take him off his game if you talk to him about potential perfect game underway.

One small, tiny, pedantic note - the very last word of the very last sentence of the book contains an error, or two. You wrote, speaking to your son (and I'm paraphrasing now as I don't have the book in front of me) that "Daddy is all done, we can go play Legos." The LEGO company always capitalizes all the letters and LEGO is never ever used with the English added -s plural form.
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Postby enielsen » Fri Jul 20, 2007 7:37 am

Dave wrote:You wrote, speaking to your son (and I'm paraphrasing now as I don't have the book in front of me) that "Daddy is all done, we can go play Legos." The LEGO company always capitalizes all the letters and LEGO is never ever used with the English added -s plural form.


Far be it from me to risk the wrath of the mighty LEGO empire, but I don't see how this is an error. You could maybe argue that the word should be capitalized, but since it's a quote of what he said to his son, if he added the 's' in the conversation in real life, it should be there in the book.

I don't know about you, but when I want to play with legos (sorry, LEGO brand building blocks) with my kids, I don't say "Hey kids, let's go have some wholesome and educational family fun with our creativity-inspiring and oh-so-affordable LEGO brand bricks!" I generally just say "Let's go play legos." I await my cease and desist letter from the LEGO company.
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Postby Dave » Fri Jul 20, 2007 11:51 am

I did say "mistake or two" implying that not using all capitals LEGO is not really a mistake.

And yes, since Ken was quoting himself to a child, perhaps it is not a mistake per se to write "Legos."

On the other hand, as a long time Lego builder (since 1961), I can say that it sounds wrong to say "Legos" and it is in fact incorrect.
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Postby cadams35 » Fri Jul 20, 2007 12:46 pm

enielsen wrote:"Let's go play legos."


That is the way I refer to them (as a noun), although I very rarely say that. I'm usually the only one that uses Legos, and I use them to build scale models of stuff (usually ballparks, though only half of what I build is actually in the stadium, as I prefer to be more creative).
This is not a signature.
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Typo / Error ?

Postby mwynter » Sun Sep 09, 2007 12:12 pm

Hi Ken - Congrats on Grand Slam - you were great. I really enjoyed watching this show and seeing you in action again. I did notice an error in Brainiac and appreciate you offering a place to reports these errors. On page 153, last paragraph "I wonder if there's a historian who studies the Civil War today because, as a kid, he was amazed by the remarkable story of Wilmer McLean...., and five years later..." The Civil War was only four years, not five. From April 1861- April 1865, almost 4 years exactly. Just a detail I thought you would want to know. I really admire you and the graciousness you show on your appearances. It is a joy watching you win!

Melanie Wynter
Charlotte, NC
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Postby Ken Jennings » Sun Sep 09, 2007 12:22 pm

Thanks Melanie! Ed Toutant himself pointed that out to me in New York during the Grand Slam taping. It should be changed for the paperback.

Hope you enjoyed the book, despite my obvious ignorance of basic facts about the "War of Northern Aggression," as you say in Charlotte.
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Postby Sequin » Mon Nov 26, 2007 2:23 pm

A very late correction after reading the paperback - re Chapter 14 - What is Recognition? While there have been claims that the Merseyside Quiz League (originally the Liverpool Quiz League) is the world's oldest (and I am proud to have been a member for the last 20+ years), the York CIU Quiz League is apparently recognised by Guinness as the world's oldest.

http://www.iqagb.co.uk/trivia/viewtopic.php?p=14479
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Postby Ken Jennings » Mon Nov 26, 2007 2:47 pm

I guess I should register for Quizzing.co.uk so I can see that thread. So does anyone know what the basis is for the conflicting claims? I got the Liverpool thing from a BBC radio program(me) about quizzing.
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Postby Sequin » Mon Nov 26, 2007 2:59 pm

The body of the post is as follows:

wiseoldowls wrote:York C.I.U. Quiz League, an introduction


The York CIU Quiz League was founded in 1946 and is officially recognised by the Guinness Book of Records as the world’s oldest quiz league. It comprises 26 teams in three leagues. As well as a league the season includes two team knockout competitions and an individual knock-out competition, which attracts entries of between 80 and 100 club members each year.

Each season the quiz league plays a challenge match against the Sunderland Quiz League. In a closely fought series of matches the score currently stands at Sunderland 4 York 4.

The quiz season runs from September through to May each year. Matches are played on a Wednesday night between teams of four. Players must be members of clubs affiliated to the York City Branch of the CIU (Club & Institute Union) and must hold the Associate and Pass Card.

The 50th anniversary of the league was celebrated in 1996 with a match using the original questions from the first fixture. Among the players that evening were that year’s Lord Mayor and three players who took part in the very first season.
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Postby grodney » Tue Nov 27, 2007 8:17 am

TheConfessor wrote:It's a matter of semantics, but I don't think most people think of Survivor or American Idol or Project Runway as game shows, just because they involve an element of competition. They are not game shows in the traditional meaning of the term.


I don't care one way or the other what Brainiac says, but thought I'd chime in with some interesting (for some values of "interesting") info about Survivor and whether it is a game show.

This comes up once in a while as it pertains to whether the producers "fix" the show, or "persuade" contestants to do certain things or vote certain ways. Or even if the order and nature of the "challenges" is pre-determined, or whether they are changed as the production unfolds.

The following article describes it possibly impacting the Stacy Stillman lawsuit from Season 1 (retronymed "Palua Tiga", re-retronymed "Borneo"). In the article, you have the VP from CBS saying "not" a game show. And you have Burnett being careful to "not" call it a game show. Yet apparently on the DVD for Season 1, Burnett says it "is" a game show, subject to FCC regulations.

So while it is semantics, it may actually matter when it comes to production and lawsuits. Reminds me of when Pro Wrestling had to declare themselves "entertainment" to avoid being regulated as a "sport", or however that went.

Article:
http://tv.zap2it.com/tveditorial/tve_main/1,1002,271|65592|1|,00.html

Hmmm, apparently the URL thingy in this message board doesn't like pipes. Let's try this:
http://tinyurl.com/2thm3s
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Nagorno-Karabakh

Postby Brian Ulrich » Tue Nov 27, 2007 1:23 pm

I've actually been meaning to mention this for almost a year now, and was just reminded by your November 26 post. Somewhere, I have no idea where to look now, you referred to "Nagorno-Karabash." It's actually "Karabakh." The last sound is actually usually written in English as "gh," which is similar to the French "r" and seen in other Middle Eastern languages. If you look at the Armenian spelling, it also begins with that letter, too, though the Azeris have a q. The "Nagorno" comes from Russian. According to my Lonely Planet guidebook, "Karabakh" means "black garden," while the Nagorno means "mountainous."
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Postby Ken Jennings » Tue Nov 27, 2007 2:00 pm

Argh, that was supposed to be fixed in the paperback and I just checked and it's not. Oh well. Maybe if there's ever another printing...
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Oh, well.

Postby Brian Ulrich » Wed Nov 28, 2007 5:43 am

You could always make sure to pronounced it correctly in the Brainiac TV miniseries. Unfortunately, my ghayn is so terrible Arabs usually can't even tell what sound I'm trying to make, so I can't help. There are, however, plenty of Russian prostitutes in cheap hotels who might be relieved to be hired for language tutoring instead of their usual work. According to wikipedia, there's also an actual Karabash region in Tatarstan, so you could always say you weren't actually wrong, but simply adhere to an extreme expansionist form of Armenian nationalism.
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Nobel Prize and Oscar

Postby TIE53 » Thu Dec 27, 2007 2:39 pm

On page 108, you say that Bernard Shaw is the only person to ever win both a Nobel Prize and an Oscar. Recently, the validity of this statement has been jeopardized (no pun intended). Al Gore co-won the Nobel Peace Prize in 2007 and his movie, An Inconvenient Truth, recently won an Oscar for Best Documentary. However, technically, Davis Guggenheim, won the Oscar for An Inconvenient Truth, as he was the director, but this statement is still misleading.
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