"Elias Nebula is practicing Japanese but no one knows."

Sunday, July 8, 2012

"Schmendricks Anonymous"

Jeopardy Brought Up-To-Date.  Alex Trebek had a heart attack recently, which was sad news, and I am sorry about that, but the thing also threw up a puzzling remark from the news agencies. They said that the heart attack "came at the end of the current season of Jeopardy." I thought: Jeopardy is filmed in seasons? It's an unceasing, ineradicable ("inalienable") and eternal flow of intelligent ("meaningless") questions. Seasons are as nothing to this trans-temporal juggernaut.

You might as well say that life occurs in seasons.

If that's so, my life must really be close to cancellation by the Network!


It's hard to work out when exactly Alex's coronary occurs in the televisual continuity. Alex occasionally drops in hints and allusions for future scholars that place the particular episode you are watching in a specific locus on the time-space continuum ("Thanks, Johnny. Hope you had a good President's Day Weekend") but he has said nothing on air about his recent "episode".

Guy's that rare thing a professional. He never lets his personality overwhelm him or the audience - keeps it cryptic. I wish that more people on TV -- and in life -- were like Alex Trebek in this respect. Small, light allusions to their private sphere. I hope that you my reader might conceivably insert here the thought, "Well as it happens, M. Nebula, you yourself fit this description almost exactly."

As a consequence of Alex's willful obscurity, I wasn't sure if I was watching pre- or post-coronary Alex. His references to major United States holidays, as noted above, could after all be pre-recorded. We do not expect veracity from our televisual entertainers.

The contestants yesterday were full of classic stuff and nonsense. "Susan" said that she had twice withdrawn her application to appear on Jeopardy because she "didn't have an interesting anecdote to tell after the first commercial break."

Here, on cue, I had the crystal clear thought: "That has never stopped anybody before."

Alex, meanwhile, was even more caustic. He said, "What kind of a mean, uneventful, humdrum existence must you have had that you couldn't come up with some facile dross for this segment?"

The next contestant along was a fat man in a suit jacket called Henry. His story really proved conclusively that Jeopardy contestants have nothing to report of a well-lived, eventful existence.

He prfaced his "story" by rambling on about Andy Warhol's remark about fifteen minutes of fame. He then revealed that he had been sat in a group at a table at a public event when Andy Warhol came and sat at their table and took Polaroid pictures "with his Polaroid camera". This piece of name-dropping of itself wasn't really an anecdote, so Henry rounded it off with a short and expensive comment from the hip on the talent in the room. He said: "After fifteen minutes in Andy Warhol's presence I can report that the man had no personality."

Alex twinkled wordlessly for a moment and then, crushing his microphone under a curled fist, rumbled: "Then what kind of lower pond-specimen does that make you?I merely wonder aloud."


Oedipus Schmendrick Rex.

Across the channel wavelengths, on Hip-Hop Squares, the contestants were waxing even more asinine.

This "tic-tac-toe"-based show usually features a male and a female competing for surprisingly meagre cash prizes, and nearly every episode you have to side with the girls  because the so-called males are such "Summer Break" M.O.R. collegiate gang-rapist bottom-feeders that you have no alternative. Anything else would amount to an alliance with Evil.

I watch the show chiefly to see what Ghostface Killah will say, but when he appears he is invariably in the bottom middle square (where they also put Biz Markie) which for some reason nobody uses. So he spends the whole episode in stoned silence or hollering something inaudible off-mic. They oftentimes put J.B. Smoove in the middle square and by God he drones on.

The people in the bottom line always make the same joke, that they are in the "projects." There usually also follows from this a joke essentially about close apartment living when the person upstairs makes too much noise. Lil Duval remarked that he was going to "snitch to the landlord" about the celebrity above him.

All the collegiate scumbags seem to like DJ Khaled the most. Fat Joe shines as the resident wit more or less by default; as I said in a private letter to an interested party, "the Algonquin Roundtable it ain't."

This week's contestant, "Kevin," unwisely revealed to the assembled Hip-Hop celebrities and the "studio audience at home" that he had his mother's nickname tattooed on the inside of his bottom lip.

You could hear everybody in the studio recoil in revulsion. Not only did he say this but this was indeed reckoned by Kevin himself the sum of what was worth knowing about him.

He should have shown the modesty of Susan on Jeopardy. Instead he actually pulled down his lip and showed his tattoo off to the cameras.

Potential snappy comebacks abounded and I counted them off in my head:

1. "You must really get laid a lot after you pull out your bottom lip in clubs."
2. "You must be really well-liked by girls you meet. Do you show them the tattoo before or after you tell them you prefer chicks with dicks?"
3. "Are you by any chance related to that guy on Jeopardy who baked cookies for each first-night date he had?"
4. "In other words, you're gay."

Even Mariah Carey's househusband-cum-butler, the greazy Nick Cannon, made a crack at Kevin's expense ("You got your mother in your mouth"). Kevin lamely grinned and pointed at him. What the fuck else could he do in those circumstances I suppose.

The upshot of this moral fable is that Kevin lost and that was that and I suppose he went back to his college dorm and folded up his underwear and put it carefully in the socks drawer and then he quietly committed suicide.

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