By Ken Jennings
Sooner or later again in 2003, Ken Jennings and his university blood brother Earl did what thousands of individuals had performed earlier than: they auditioned for Jeopardy! years, seventy five video games, 2,642 right solutions, and over $2.5 million in winnings later, Ken Jennings emerged as trivia’s undisputed king. Brainiac strains his upward thrust from nameless computing device programmer to nerd folks icon. yet alongside the way in which, it additionally explores his newly conquered state: the area of trivialities itself.
Jennings had regularly been minutiae-mad, poring over almanacs and television advisor listings at an age while most youngsters are nonetheless staring at Elmo and placing beans up their nostril. yet minutiae, he has discovered, is centuries older than his formative years obsession with it. Whisking us from the coffeehouses of seventeenth-century London to the net age, Jennings chronicles the ups and downs of the minutiae fad: the quiz e-book explosion of the Jazz Age; the increase, fall, and upward thrust back of television quiz indicates; the nostalgic campus minutiae of the Nineteen Sixties; and the Nineteen Eighties, while Trivial Pursuit® back made it stylish to be a know-it-all.
Jennings additionally investigates the shadowy demimonde of today’s trivialities tradition, guiding us on a travel of minutiae hotspots throughout the US. He is going head-to-head with the blowhards and diehards of the school quiz-bowl circuit, the marginally soused trustworthy of the Boston pub trivialities scene, and the raucous contributors within the annual Q&A marathon in Stevens element, Wisconsin, “The World’s greatest minutiae Contest.” And, in fact, he's taking us behind the curtain of his unbelievable 75-game run on Jeopardy!
But certainly, Brainiac is a love letter to the dead truth. What marsupial has fingerprints which are indistinguishable from human ones?* What planet has a crater on it named after Laura Ingalls Wilder?** What comic had the misfortune to be born with the identify “Albert Einstein”?*** Jennings additionally ponders questions which are a bit extra philosophical: What separates minutiae from meaningless evidence? Is being solid at minutiae a mark of intelligence? And is minutiae only a waste of time, or does it serve a few not-so-trivial goal after all?
Uproarious, foolish, attractive, and erudite, this publication is an impossible to resist get together of nostalgia, interest, and nerdy obsession–in a be aware, trivia.
* The koala
*** Albert Brooks
From the Hardcover edition.
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Additional resources for Brainiac: Adventures in the Curious, Competitive, Compulsive World of Trivia Buffs
His speech is peppered with squeaky-clean intensifiers like “Jiminy Christmas! ” and he dutifully says grace over dinner, even in the course of a boisterous power-player crowd on the Palm steakhouse. Thom and that i bond simply, each one nodding in surprised popularity because the different describes a few curve of the emotional curler coaster of a record-breaking quiz convey visual appeal, a few subtlety that few folks could comprehend. so much comforting of all, he reassures me that nobody has well-known him in the street for over a decade. Ruth Horowitz is one other member of our little membership. Her uncanny rebus-solving talents gained her twenty instantly video games of focus again in 1966, prior to the convey retired her, undefeated. She e-mails me from Florida with grandmotherly affection and congratulations, nonetheless jam-packed with forty-year-old focus battle stories—how Hugh Downs could scold her for fixing puzzles too speedy, ahead of the high-ticket prizes will be published; how being on television made her so frightened that she misplaced ten kilos in the course of her weeks of taping; how an FCC lawyer confirmed up at her entrance door and established her on rebuses to make sure for himself that her indicates hadn’t been rigged. in addition to Thom and Ruth, prior Jeopardy! all-stars whom I’d idolized due to the fact that adolescence pop out of the woodwork in addition. i admire the sensation of getting joined a noble fraternity that stretches again to the times of kinescope—it’s natural want achievement to be within the comparable pantheon as all my video game exhibit heroes. I hold watching for the reclusive Charles Van Doren to seem underneath a highway lamp one evening and silently educate me the key game-show-celeb handshake. unfortunately, Chaz by no means indicates. My new lack of ability to move out in public unrecognized is why I’m at the moment within the car parking zone of a bar in Weymouth, Massachusetts, simply south of Boston, attempting on a number of disguises because the solar sinks at the back of the timber. “We introduced you a crimson Sox hat,” says Cherie Martorana. “And those! ” She palms me a package of funny-nose-and-glasses innovations. “Too a lot? ” the newness mixture on best is whatever referred to as “Chop Suey Specs,” which might most likely violate federal antidiscrimination legislation have been I to place them on. “Wow, they nonetheless make those? ” I ask, a bit stunned. “Yeah, an excessive amount of. I’ll simply pull down this pink Sox cap genuine low. ” “If someone asks, you’re Sully from Southie. ” The bar is Hajjar’s, a semi-dive that also boasts the dated décor marking its 1983 conversion from a roller-skating rink. The partitions, alternately and unaccountably shiny purple and kelly eco-friendly, are adorned carefully with gaudy bar mirrors: Miller, Bud, Heineken. On a television within the nook, the Sox are down through one run to the last-place satan Rays. We—Cherie, her mom and dad, and I—slide right into a burgundy padded sales space close to the tiny nook level. “This is the Trolls’ fortunate booth,” says Cherie fortunately. The Trolls are Cherie, her dad, Albert, and mother, Sarah, her brother, Al Jr. , and his fiancée, Danielle—and me, Sully from Southie, hunched low within the sales space, hoping not anyone notices the Jeopardy! ringer filling out the Trolls’ roster this night.