My Week 254: I Invent More Reality Shows and Alex Trebek Hosts Them

Lately, Ken and I have been consumed with watching reality shows. No, not reality shows like The Bachelor or Big Brother, which we have never watched because, let’s face it, even if you like those shows, you have to admit they’re pretty dumb:

The Bachelor

Bachelor Guy: I was going to give you a rose, but then you ate sushi in a weird way.
Girl: I’m so sad now.

Big Brother

House Guy: I was going to save you, but then you ate all the sushi.
Girl: I didn’t eat all the sushi. It was Bob! And he ate it in a weird way!
House Guy: Bob! I might have known. You are evicted!

And please bear in mind that I have NEVER watched either of these shows and just made the previous sh*t up based on what I’ve seen on Twitter. I have no idea if I’m even close.

Ken and I, however, have been watching these very avant-garde-y reality/competition shows. The first thing we really got into was Forged in Fire, where 4 blacksmiths faceoff against each other to create knives and daggers and swords and whatnot. In the first round, they have to make a weapon and then test it on stuff like dead fish and sheep carcasses. Then it’s narrowed down to two finalists who go back to their “home forge” to create a super-weapon and isn’t a HOME FORGE the most incredible thing that you could possibly have? Like, “Hey honey—I might be late for dinner because I’m making a giant f*cking sword in my HOME FORGE”. Anyway, it’s a very cool show, with a judge whose only job is to attack things with the contestants’ blades and then say, very proudly like a happy dad, “Your blade will cut. Your blade will kill.”

The newest show we just watched on Netflix is called “Blown Away” and it’s a glassblowing competition, which might sound kind of tame, but BELIEVE ME, it’s very awesome and also the glassblowers get quite bitchy with each other. It started with 10 competitors and every episode there was a challenge, with one person “blowing the judges away” (I’m sure EVERYONE is glad the word ‘away’ is in there) and one person being sent home for being an utter disappointment. Spoiler Alert: I’m going to give away the ending so don’t read this if you’re planning on watching the whole season. In the last episode, it came down to Janusz, a very experienced glassmaker who was very technical and talented, and Deborah, a rather nasty person who was not quite as talented, but who talked a good game. They were tasked with filling a gallery space with something “immersive”, whatever the f*ck that means. Janusz did a whole series of pieces on climate change and hope for the future, and Deborah made a giant fried egg, a frypan, and a bunch of very phallic sausages. The judges were struggling with the whole thing, but then Deborah cried and said that her piece represented the way she’d been marginalized her whole life and SHE WON. With BREAKFAST. And there is literally a petition on Change.org to award the $60 000 prize to Janusz, so you can tell how much people were into this show.

Which got me to thinking. If I could create a new reality show, what would it be? Here are a couple of thoughts. Also, for the purpose of this post, Alex Trebek is the host of every show, because he is the best host of everything and I love him.

Show 1: Tanked

This show is a fish tank decorating competition. Every week there’s a new theme.

Alex Trebek: All right, contestants! This week’s challenge was “The 19th Century”. First up is Donna. Tell us about your tank, Donna.
Donna: Well, Alex, I tried to capture the essence of The Industrial Revolution by pumping coal dust into the water. I think I killed all the fish, but the concept is pure.
Alex Trebek: Interesting. Bob, tell us about your tank.
Bob: All my fish are wearing bustles and bonnets. It’s a signature 19th century look.
Alex Trebek: The judges have made a decision. Bob, please hand in your scuba diver ornament.

And take the corset off that scuba diver, damn it!

(*It’s been pointed out to me by a couple of people that there was already an American reality show called “Tanked”. I’d never heard of it, but apparently it aired on the channel  ‘Animal Planet’. To clarify, their version was about INSTALLING giant fish tanks; mine is about DECORATING little fish tanks. Plus my show has Alex Trebek while their show’s hosts got divorced and the show got cancelled.)

Show 2: Stick It To Me

In this show, the competitors have to make everything out of popsicle sticks.

Alex Trebek: All right, contestants! This week’s challenge was “Iconic Buildings”. Donna, what happened here?!
Donna: Well, Alex, I tried to recreate the Eiffel Tower, but as anyone who’s ever participated in a team-building exercise knows, popsicle sticks aren’t stable at great heights, especially when all you have to attach them together is masking tape.
Alex Trebek: That’s a shame. Bob, tell me about your structure.
Bob: I built a scale model of the Globe Theatre.
Alex Trebek: Didn’t the Globe Theatre burn down?
Bob (*lights match ominously*): That’s right, Alex.

This is how the Great Fire of London started, Bob.

Show 3: In the Bag

Who doesn’t love homemade purses?

Alex Trebek: I don’t understand what I’m still doing here.
Mydangblog: You’re the host of a reality show that I made up about people creating purses out of everyday household objects.
Alex Trebek: But–
Mydangblog: Shhhh. Everything is all right. Just ask about the purses.
Alex Trebek: So the challenge you were given was “purses made from clothing”. God, this is dreadful. Donna?
Donna:  I cut the bottom off the sleeve of a sweatshirt and hemmed it, adding a piece of cord. It’s now a cute satchel.
Alex Trebek (sighs): Bob?
Bob: I made a cunning “manpurse” by cutting the legs off these jeans and hemming the thighs. You can wear it as a fanny pack OR a courier bag.
Alex Trebek: Can I please go back to Jeopardy now?
Mydangblog: OK, but I want to be an answer in the Potpourri category, like “Who is a funny Canadian blogger?”
Alex Trebek: You mean “Who is a WEIRD Canadian blogger who keeps breaking the 4th wall?
Mydangblog: I’m good either way.

Is that a wallet made out of a tube sock?

We now return to our regular program.

My Week 245: It’s Questionable

This week was insanely busy, and I didn’t know what to write about so Ken suggested that I answer questions from my fans, to which I replied, “I don’t have any.”

Ken: Fans or questions?
Me: Some of the former, but definitely none of the latter.
Ken: I’m your fan. Here’s a question: What would you NOT want to find in your house?
Me: What? Why are you asking me that?
Ken: Because a Florida man–
Me: ALWAYS the Florida man. What did he do this time?
Ken: Found an eleven foot alligator in his house.
Me: That. Definitely not that. What about you?
Ken: Ummm…snakes.
Me: You don’t like snakes? Since when?
Ken: Since always.
Me: 30 years and I did NOT know that.
Ken: I’m an enigma.

At any rate, I have no actual fan questions, so I’m going to make some up based on the notes and photos I found on my phone:

Fan Question 1) Is physics always right?

No. And my answer is in direct contradiction to a Jeopardy contestant who appeared a couple of weeks ago. Ken and I are currently obsessed with Jeopardy because there’s a guy on right now who’s won over 2 million dollars. AMERICAN dollars. That’s like 7.5 gazillion Canadian dollars, although I might be slightly wrong on the conversion rate. I’m no longer overseeing math people—now I have a really big team that specializes in language, so my math skills are getting a little rusty. Anyway, we feel sorry for the people who have to go up against “James” since he always rings in first and usually gets the answer right. If you ever watch Jeopardy, you know that after the first commercial break, Alex Trebek always asks the contestants questions about themselves—the questions are cheesy and the answers are sometimes cringe-worthy. So Alex asked this poor woman, “I understand you’re a physicist. Why do you like physics so much?” and she said, “Because physics is always right.” And I was like, “That’s BULLSH*T, BRENDA. Schrodinger’s Cat is not BOTH alive and dead. A cat is EITHER alive or dead, whether you can see it or not!” See, this is my issue with physics. You can’t claim that just because you put something in a box, that it exists in two simultaneous states. I mean, you can CLAIM it, but just because you say something doesn’t make it true. You can SPECULATE on the state of the cat, but that doesn’t change the fact that a cat isn’t f*cking magic. As you can see, I would have made an awesome physicist. And I would NEVER put a cat in a box, although if you’ve ever owned a cat, you know that they do love being in boxes.

Also, on the same show, Alex asked the other challenger, who was a Science teacher, this: “I understand that you use an unusual method to explain nuclear force to your students” and she said, “Yes, I tell them that protons and neutrons are attracted to each other the same way I’m attracted to Chris Hemsworth. Yowza.” OK, she didn’t really say ‘Yowza’ but as a former high school teacher, let me tell you that it’s completely inappropriate to talk about your imaginary love life with your students. EW. Just ew.

Fan Question 2) Who do you call if you have a noisy bathroom fan?

Apparently you call this guy—talk about a niche market. I can picture the high school Careers class with the teacher asking everyone, “So what do you want to do when you get out of high school?” and the one guy just lighting up: “I want to fix noisy bathroom fans!” and the teacher saying, “Amazing—there’s a school JUST for that! It’s called Hogwarts!” (I don’t know why I thought of Hogwarts, but it made me laugh so hard picturing this guy at a school for magic and wizardry pointing his wand and yelling ‘Reparo’ at bathroom fans. Also, his name in this strange divergency is ‘Tim’ as in the following conversation:

Dumbledore: Hmm. My bathroom fan seems to be on the fritz. Someone get Tim—he’s the best at repairing noisy bathroom fans.
Tim: Reparo!
Dumbledore: Thank you, Tim. Have a lemon drop.).

Fan Question 3) What has disappointed you most this week?

In the bathroom at work, there is a noisy bathroom fan—no, just kidding. There’s a plastic bag hanging off the tampon dispensing machine full of brightly coloured things. For weeks now, I’ve been speculating about what might be in the bag. Balloons? Toys? Tiny kites? Special prizes like you would buy at the dollar store and give to kids at a birthday party? I finally decided to end the mystery by looking into the bag. And lo and behold, it was full of feminine hygiene products wrapped in different colours according to size. Apparently , the dispensing machine was broken, so they just put all the stuff in a bag and hung it off the handle. It reminded me of the time when I was 8 and I had red measles (because I was vaccinated too early). I was feverish and delirious, and my brother went to the store and bought me a present with his own money, which was very sweet. I opened my eyes and thought it was a super-cool fancy water gun, but when the delirium broke, I realized it was just a long stick of bubble gum. At least in my brother’s case, it was the thought that counts, but the bag full of pads was just mean.

Fan Question 4) Are you a professional antiques appraiser?

Yes, apparently I am. A while ago, I was asked by the local Heritage society to act as an appraiser for their local “Antiques Roadshow” because Ken and I used to own an antique store. I hadn’t done any appraising for a few years, and I was super-nervous, but I had a lot of reference books and I knew a couple of the other appraisers. I held my own, being able to recognize a Parian statue, and accurately date a powder flask etc., and then a reporter from the local paper asked for a picture. It came out last week, and there I am, using a magnifying glass on the bottom of a pewter tankard and looking like a slightly maniacal detective, but the description refers to me as a “professional appraiser”, so now I know what I can do when I retire.

Fan Question 5) Did you recently buy a velvet dress from a thrift shop?

I had to. See, two weeks before, I was going through my closet and taking out all the stuff I never wear. I loaded up everything into several bags and took them to the local Goodwill. Then I came home and started to feel terrible because there was a particular blue velvet dress that I really should have kept. It was bothering me for a while, so last week, I popped into Goodwill, went to the dress section and there it was! I was so thrilled, and the best part? It was only 8 dollars. So I took it to the counter:

Cashier: That’s a really nice dress.
Me: You won’t believe it, but I donated this dress a couple of weeks ago, and I just had to buy it back.
Cashier: Why?
Me: Because I was wearing it on New Year’s Eve a little over 20 years ago and I had just found out that I was pregnant with my daughter. I was so incredibly happy, and we have photographs of me in it with a huge smile on my face. I really needed to get it back.
Cashier: Aww! That’ll be 8 bucks.

Money well spent.

My Week 132: Jeopardy! Real Estate Deja Vu

Tuesday: Jeopardy!

I’ve always been a huge fan of Jeopardy!. We used to watch it together as a family when I was younger, and like all the other games we played together, there were some pretty specific rules. In Trivial Pursuit, my dad had to answer every single question in all the categories for the win, instead of us just picking one, because he’s like the master of trivia AND strategy, and got all the pie slices before most of us even had ONE. In Monopoly, Dad wasn’t allowed to own either Boardwalk or Park Place, because as soon as he got it, he would immediately spend all his money on building hotels, and bankrupting the rest of us. For cruise ship trivia, we always have to wait for my mom’s final approval, because she does a ton of crossword puzzles, and she’s pretty clever with the cryptic clues. Jeopardy! was no different, except we were all bound by the same simple rule–your answer only counted if you phrased it in the form of a question. This was hard and fast—even if you were right, you got “No. You didn’t say ‘Who is…’ so your brother gets the $200.” Of course, this was engrained in my mind, and even today, when someone asks “Who’s responsible for changing the toner in the printer?”, I have to stop myself from saying, “Who is Robert?”

Ken and I always try to watch Jeopardy! together when I’m home for the weekend, but even when I’m in Toronto, we sometimes both watch it, then madly text each other the answer to Final Jeopardy before the Jeopardy! theme song is over and time is up. Last week, I texted him “Godspeed! Godspeed!”, which freaked him out until we were talking later and I clarified that I wasn’t sending him into either the next life or space (This 8 letter word is what NASA said to John Glenn the first time he departed from earth and the last time, when he died. I’m paraphrasing—Alex always says it in a much more elegant way). Of course, I lost all my money because I didn’t phrase it in the form of a question…

I usually manage to do pretty well though, having a semi-eidetic memory, and I sit in my condo, shouting out answers to the different categories whether I’m watching it with my roommate S, or whether I’m all by myself (I had to explain to her that I always yell the answers out so if she heard me doing that, I wasn’t technically ‘talking to myself’ like a crazy person would. I just think that Alex Trebek will hear me better if I say it out loud).

Anyway, I’m pretty solid on any categories involving literature, history (unless it’s US history), popular culture, science, and general knowledge, but I’m pretty weak on geography (except for Canadian geography). I keep meaning to look at a world map, but then I always get sidetracked by more important things, like laundry, or opening another bottle of wine. The other day, the category was “Poison”. This was the resulting text conversation between Ken and me:

About 6 months ago, I saw an audition notice for Jeopardy!, and I immediately signed up. The audition was online, and you had to answer 30 questions with 15 seconds for each one. I did pretty well, and ended up with a score of 24. But I can’t brag too much because I was pretty lucky with the categories. I took a break from writing just now and went to the Jeopardy! website and tried their online practice test, but this time, there were a lot of questions about US sh*t, country names, and mountain ranges, so I got a much lower score, but then to make myself feel better, I took the College Jeopardy! version and scored almost perfect. So yay me—I’m smarter than a teenager. I was actually on a REAL game show once, a Canadian show called “Definition” which was kind of like Wheel of Fortune but without the wheel OR Vanna White. You played in teams, and you were given clues and then had to solve a fill-in-the-blank puzzle to win. I went on with my brother, who has a PhD., and we actually solved several puzzles and got some amazing prizes, like a rocking chair, two Royal Doulton figurines, and 300 bucks. It was a Canadian game show, remember? Second prize was maple syrup so I think we did pretty well.

But as much as I love Jeopardy!, I really don’t want to go on the actual show, mostly because after the first commercial break, Alex introduces the contestants by asking them questions and they have to answer using a super-cheesy anecdotes:

Alex: So, Marjorie, I understand that you have an interesting collection.
Marjorie: Yes. I collect tortilla shells with the faces of famous people cooked on them. You’d think Jesus would be the most common, but I have several featuring Johnny Depp. The Edward Scissorhands one is my favourite.
Alex: I see. How do you keep them from getting moldy?
Marjorie: Well, a lot of them are from Taco Bell, so they last a while, but I also shellac them.
Alex: So they’re “tortilla shell-ACS”. Very good. You have control of the board.

I keep trying to imagine how I WOULDN’T totally embarrass myself…

Alex: So, mydangblog, I hear that you had an exciting encounter with a shark.
Me: That’s right, Alex. I was in Turks and Caicos, canoodling with sting rays, when suddenly someone yelled, “Shark!” Sure enough, there it was. I was all like, “Oh, it’s so cute” but our snorkelling guide was screaming “Get back onto the beach!” And I was like, “Dude—I saw Sharkwater. Sharks are our friends.” I got a good picture of it with my underwater camera before it started coming for me.
Alex: Well, all right then. Sounds like you ‘jumped the shark’.
Me: I don’t know what that actually means, Alex, but OK.

See? I’d come off like a total idiot under the glare of the studio lights and the intense pressure of Alex’s silver-haired gaze. I’ll just keep playing at home, where I can bet $10 000 on Final Jeopardy whether I have that much money or not.

Thursday: Déjà vu

On Thursday after work, I went to look at a condo in my complex. The agent didn’t speak English very well, but told me, “Just go knock door”. Which I did, but it was opened by a half-naked girl. AGAIN. Not the same one who was in the condo I have now when I first went to look at it, but ANOTHER half-naked girl. Is this a Toronto thing, where you take off most of your clothes when you know people are coming over? Anyway, she seemed completely disinterested in me being there and went into the main bedroom, where she sat at a computer in her half-naked state, then began to wander around the apartment like a scantily clad ghost. So I have zero pictures of the place to show anyone, because I was NOT taking shots of the room with this girl in the background, like she came WITH the place or something. I’m still waiting to hear from the real estate agent, because I had to put in an offer (yes, to RENT) and he was having trouble with the paperwork (‘You initial arrow circle checkmark’), and kept sending me new papers to sign every time he forgot an arrow/circle/checkmark. But I’m holding out hope, because the only other unit available in my complex was an absolute dump. It had been empty for a while (I can see why), and the carpets were filthy, the walls were gouged, and the second bedroom had a curtain rather than a door. The best part was when I asked their real estate why the microwave was listed “as is” and she explained that the handle had broken off, but “it still works fine—you just have to pull the door open from the bottom”. My response was, “Well, I’m an adult, so I’m going to pass.” Seriously, for over 2 grand a month, they couldn’t replace the f*cking microwave? Not the landlord for me. The unit I’m waiting on is very nice though, so here’s hoping that girl puts on some clothes, and then I can show you.