Slouching toward Jeopardy!, part 8:

There is no part 8.

Just kidding.  Actually, I have just finished sending out emails to all the people who applied to the Napa Valley Writers’ Conference by the priority deadline of March 31.  We had a lot of applications, which is great, but I could not offer everyone a place at the conference, which is not, and I had to disappoint a lot of people today.  So I’m in a restless frame of mind that is not soothed by thinking of the people who were probably made happy by being offered places in one of the four poetry workshops.

I always want to tell the people I have to reject that I do get how lousy it feels, and that it’s not personal, and that it’s not even a commentary on their work.  Most years, I am receiving my own rejections for summer writing residencies around the same time I’m sending out the Napa emails.  (In fact, I’m expecting one any day now.)

AND HERE’S THE KIND OF SEGUE I COME UP WITH AT 10:30 PM:  Did you know that about 100,000 people take the Jeopardy! online test every year?  And that only a few thousand are invited to in-person auditions in Los Angeles and a handful of other cities (which are changed up from year to year)?  Talk about impersonal rejection!  I know a lot of people, including some pretty formidable trivia players, who have been trying to get on for years.

So I know there was some luck involved when, flush with six months of successful pub trivia nights in which I more or less held my own against a couple of past Jeopardy! champions, both of whom encouraged me to try out, I signed up for the online test in April of 2015 and actually made it through to a live audition that summer.

You might get lucky, too.  The online test is being given again at the end of May and the beginning of June.  You register, and then you’re allowed to log in on one of three consecutive nights–whatever time works best for you; they’re being offered at 5 P.M., 6 P.M., and 8 P.M. Pacific time.  This page has pretty much everything you need to know.  The test launches and the 50 questions appear one at a time, at the same time for everyone taking the test in the same time slot.  You have 15 seconds to type your answer into a box–not in the form of a question, and spelling doesn’t count as long as they recognize the answer.  The next question follows automatically, and 12.5 minutes later, you’re done.

I took the test by myself and wanted to keep track of my correct answers without having to pick up a pen, so I put a pile of paperclips by my right hand and each time I got a question right, I flicked a paperclip to the other side of the desk.  When the test was over, I’d flicked 42 paperclips, which seemed like a solid number of right answers.  No one outside the show knows what the cutoff number is or if it changes from one online test to the next.

You can actually look at one set of those questions on the Jeopardy! Facebook page–they are in the Photos, but you have to scroll down to get to 2015.  There are also videos online of people filming themselves as they take the online test.

The next step is the in-person audition.  Auditions seem to be held in the summer, when the show is on hiatus and the contestant coordinators are able to travel.  If you’re the obsessive type, you could start following the conversations on the JBoard, where people discuss the game and also share news about all stages of the contestant experience.

am the obsessive type, but I didn’t obsess about this particular part.  Really quite uncharacteristic of me, but then I generally tend to obsess about things about which I have at least the illusion of control.  I figured I’d either hear or I wouldn’t.  (Those are the choices, right?) And I did: in early June 2015, I got an emailed invitation to attend a live audition in Los Angeles in mid-July.

Okay, off to bed now.  Audition next.

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