Thursday, October 27, 2005


One night, when I was around 14 years old, my family and I were all gathered around the television watching Jeopardy. Despite the fact that most members of my family enjoy watching Jeopardy (we like to feel smart), this was not a nightly ritual, or even a usual occurrence. It just happened this night.

At the beginning of the game Alex Trebek was reading over the cleverly written category titles as always, when he read a title about religion. I wish I remembered the title, because I am sure that there was some brilliant play-on-words in it. Anyway, we watched intently because we knew, as you faithful Jeopardy watchers may also have noticed, that there is often a question about the LDS Church in Jeopardy's religion categories. Sure enough, there was one. It went something like this: "It is the age at which young men become Elders in the Mormon Church." None of the contestants knew the answer, which was not surprising. What was surprising, however, was that Alex and the oh-so-clever Jeopardy writers also didn't know the correct answer! The answer given was "What is 19."

Now, obviously, they are referring to missionaries, who are given the title of "Elder" once becoming a full-time missionary--and this usually occurs at the age of 19. However, young men most commonly become ordained to the office of Elder at the age of 18. I was excited that I knew something that smug little Mr. Trebek didn't, so I decided to write a letter. (At this point in the story I planned to say "The letter I wrote went something like this... and then provide an abstract account of the letter I wrote. However, I now realize that I have no idea what I wrote--but whatever it was, it was probably pretty boring and already summed up in the preceding paragraphs. So I will not say that here.)

Two weeks later, I received a postcard in the mail with a picture of Alex Trebek's giant moustache-clad face and poodlish grey hair on the front (see the above image). It might have been autographed. But I doubt it. On the back, there was a typed response to my letter. It went something like this:

Thank you for your letter.

The question you were referring to was the age at which Mormon young men become Elders. Because of your letter we have done more research and found that, as you said, Mormon young men become Elders at the age of 18. However, we also found that they receive the title of Elder at the age of 19. So technically, we are both partially right.

Thank you again for your letter.

The Jeopardy! Team

Ha! Would you have expected anything less from Jeopardy? "We're both partially right." Anything to be smarter than anyone else--including a 14 year-old boy! Oh, good times.

So that's my story.


Stupidramblings said...

I have a friend who wrote a fan letter to Evil Knievel when he was five. EK responded with an autographed, glossy, color 8x10. The envelope was hand addressed.

My friend had it matted and framed. He hangs it in his home office where he works full time.

My point: If Evil Knievel can respond personally to a letter from a five-year-old, so can that smug, slimey bat terd Alex Trebek...

(word verification: omaaeuyl)

FoxyJ said...

I still treasure the time that I wrote a letter to President Reagan when I was about 6 or 7. I invited him over for dinner, and I really thought he would come. He didn't, but I got this really cool paperback book about the White House. I saved it for years, but it eventually managed to get lost with all the moving we did.

daltongirl said...

My best friend invited John Denver over for dinner. I had these visions of him driving up in a big limo and me being there at her side to greet him and possible agree to have his children (at age eight). Then my "friend" told me I probably couldn't come to the dinner, because it was just going to be her family. The thing is, she didn't even love John the way I did. She only invited him because she knew it would make me mad.

Then he sent her about six glossy, autographed photos, which I felt was over the top. She didn't even give me one.

I was smug and secretly happy he was busy that night and unable to attend their stupid family dinner. If I had invited him, he probably would have been free.

Th. said...


According to Frazz, about one in three fan letters is answered. I've written two quasi-fan letters in my life. If they each count as a whole, I only need to write one more to get a reply.

Who should I write?

daltongirl said...

Th.: you should write to Leonard Nimoy. But first, you need to listen to the LP we bought last week: Mr. Spock's Music From Outer Space. That will give you a true appreciation of his talent, and you won't be able to procure pen and paper fast enough.

And about Alex Trebek. It really bugs me the way he wears glasses and tries to look all smart on Jeopardy! and then dumbs down his look when he hosts Concentration. It's like they think people who memorize meaningless trivia are smarter than people who can remember where things are placed, even when they're not visible. Two different talents, two different types of intelligence.

Th. said...


I have heard Shatner's latest and I WANT it.

daltongirl said...

What is it you want? Shatner's or Nimoy's? Because it is in my power to provide you with some excellent space music from Mr. Spock if you like.

Limon said...

My dad was on Jeopardy and didn't even win. He was on two or three other game shows back in the day, too. I guess he thought doing dinner theater and game shows counted as a career. Right. At least they had to be supportive when I chose music as my major.

christovich79 said...

in related to this post:
hey coop,

who did you have an easier time working with at IS: j-secretary or k?

Coop said...

CJ: I worked fine with J. Though I thought she was a bit strict and sometimes overbearing, I worked fine with her. I thought K was better--more hands off. I was wrong. She was just hands off to our faces.