Tuesday, September 09, 2008


September 9

I’ve mentioned before that Greg Lindsay is a smart guy, and now we have documentation, as he is a Jeopardy! champion.
He’s also popular, and so despite the fact that Gawker insists on portraying him as an irredeemable dufus at every opportunity, he maintains very good standing among New York media and was able to fill the Barrow St. Alehouse (or at least the back half of it) with supporters (some, it’s true, who were not in the media) to cheer him on.
And boy did the show start out badly for him. The other two contestants were competing to answer questions (or, rather, provide questions for answers in Jeopardy!’s silly but signature gimmick) while he seemed to just stand there, finally jumping in with a guess to an answer he didn’t know, knocking him $600 in the hole.
He rallied with sports questions and a few other odd facts, but the champion was just a terrifying, vicious woman who seemed to have mastered the buzzer, and much of Double Jeopardy! was a relentless sweep by her. But Greg did manage to buzz in for an obvious question (the answer was a video one, had someone sitting in colonial-era stocks, which the contestants were supposed to identify, which was easy since Wall Street was mentioned somewhere in there).
And then came the final Double Jeopardy! answer, which was a Daily Double that Greg had all to himself. It was another video one: the interior of Virginia’s first legislature, which also was the first legislative body in the colonies, which Greg was required to identify (he had bet $6,000 of his $6,200, “to keep it sporting,” he said on the show).
The question is obvious — obvious! — if you remember your sixth grade American history, which Greg had temporarily forgotten.
The Greg on TV actually answered relatively quickly and with some confidence, but the Greg in the bar said they edited out the several seconds during which he just stood there, the answer shrouded in the deep recesses of his mind until, at the last instant, it sprang forth into his consciousness and he said "The House of Burgesses.” Right! That put him in second place.
Final Jeopardy category: The Vatican.
Commercial break, time to chat.
Greg’s bright, but his friends are no dunces either. I had spent the pre-show interval chatting mostly with his friend Dom, who used to be a physicist until he decided to go into finance. He said he didn't want to live in the small college towns where physicists live. Presumably, he also wanted to make money.
His specialty was solid-state physics. In particular, he had been working on dealing with the metal in electronic circuitry that soon would become so thin that quantum mechanics would have to be taken into account.
See, down at the quantum level, particles behave randomly — at least individual particles do. But as an aggregate, it’s possible to chart a curve as to how most of them are likely to behave. It’s also possible to change the shape of that chart based on what other materials are in contact with that metal.
Now, the metal in electronics isn’t thin enough (a few hundred angstroms, say) for us to concern ourselves with that right now, but it will be in the next couple of decades, and our scientists are getting ready. Which I think is really cool.
But now Dom is involved in debt structuring, which is of course very important these days. Among other things, he’s looking back on what assumptions were wrong that caused the current mortgage crisis — you know, like that it’s a good idea to lend money to people who don’t have a history of paying it back.
I believe one definition of insanity is believing you will get different results by repeating the same actions.
And now, Final Jeopardy!
The answer is:
I didn’t actually write down the answer, but it had something to do with a statue currently being built in the Vatican of someone who was imprisoned there in the 17th Century.
Any guesses? A good chunk of the crowd in the ale house suggested Galileo. Turns out they were right. So was Greg and, to everyone’s shock and delight, the crazy champion guessed Richelieu.
Richelieu? Really? What a bizarre guess, and of course it was wrong.
I mean, Richelieu?
And the crowd went wild!
It was a lot of fun.
People cleared out pretty fast after that, although I did have a chance to catch up with Lockhart Steele of the Curbed empire, which of course includes Eater, which was kind enough to link to this blog yesterday. That explains why yesterday’s visitors included riff raff making idiotic comments as opposed to the usually very fine visitors who stop by.
Then Greg and his wife, the excellent Sophie Donelson, were heading to Arturo’s for pizza and invited people to join them.
I was the only one who took them up on their invitation, which could have been awkward but I don’t think it was.
Among other things we discussed was pizza, and how, Greg observed, in New York we were minimalists: To us, pizza is about the sauce, the crust and the cheese. One extra topping is acceptable, or maybe two if we’re feeling a bit louche.
Greg, however, is from Illinois and wants more on his pizza, and so we had Arturo’s fiesta: sausage, mushroom, pepper and onion.

No comments: