When Roger Ebert died in 2013, America was deprived of one of its finest film critics. But reviewing his body of work shows we also lost one of our best writers on addiction.
Chicago is just that kind of place, too.
“I got challenges, yes,” he says, and he knows, better than anyone, how much is at stake. “The next two years will decide whether or not Chicago will be in the top tier of twenty-five global cities or not. London is secure. New York. Tokyo. Chicago could go up or down.” And for the mayor of Chicago, a man who, like countless others before him, arrived at his dream job only to find a godforsaken mess, the next two years will determine whether he’s the savior that he so desperately wants to be or just another politician who gets heckled at Walmart.
The uncut version of my triptych poster for a three-night stand of Umphrey’s McGee at Chicago’s Riviera Theater.
The design was conceived as three embodiments of the widely-reputed harshness of Chicago, all rampaging at the corner of Lawrence and Broadway. At the time I was sure Winter would embarrass me by being lame. But no! 5th snowiest winter on record and counting! Thanks, Winter! Keep it up!
The skyline at sunset, 1964, Chicago.
Notice anything missing?
The Chicago Auto Show had everything—including insight as to which car is best for the zombie apocalypse.
You may have seen me before. My name is Laurie Beckoff and I represented the University of Chicago in the 2014 Jeopardy! College Championship. My quarterfinal match against Ben Juster of UCLA and Cameron Kim of Duke University aired this past Tuesday, February 11. Ben won with $16,400, I came in second with $13,400, and Cameron came in third with $10,800. A fairly high-scoring and well-played game! It was a pleasure to play against the talented Ben and Cameron. Here are some reflections.
I had a bit of a slow start, but I feel like Double Jeopardy was a large improvement. There were definitely a few times that I had a guess that was right but I wasn’t sure so I didn’t ring in (don’t know why I didn’t say “genius”). There were also some answers I definitely knew but completely blanked on (how did I not remember Northanger Abbey?). And then the interview. It’s funny how you can consider yourself well-spoken and then when Alex Trebek starts talking to you in the middle of the game you just keep saying the words “interested” and “foundations” with a sheepish smile of nerdy indulgence. I was caught a little off guard when Alex asked me if I had a favorite character in Arthurian legend. I shouldn’t have been, seeing as I included when I wrote down my fun fact that I wrote my Arthurian legend final paper about Merlin. But I blanked and went with Gawain. He IS a complicated character…
Other than the Jane Austen clue on which I blanked, I was so ready for the 19th Century Books and Authors category, but I could never get in fast enough on the buzzer! (I will have both sweet dreams and beautiful nightmares about buzzing in, with the Jeopardy! think music playing the background.) Cameron’s Daily Double was killing me. And it could have been mine if I had remembered Northanger Abbey! As for my Daily Double: I didn’t remember until watching the episode just how long it took me and how unsure I was. I had myself on the edge of my seat waiting to see if I’d say anything. I wasn’t particularly confident in the category, King Me, and when it started talking about Italy and a king I’d never heard of, I thought I was done for. I just went for the only Italian I could think of from that time period: Mussolini. Alex accurately noted that I “pulled that one out of thin air.” Oh yes I did.
There were a few answers I honestly only got because Cameron gave me more time when he rang in and got them wrong. I basically gave up when I saw the math category, not because I can’t do math, but because I wasn’t very confident in my ability to do mental math correctly that quickly. The extra moment I gained by someone else guessing gave me enough of a chance to figure it out. Overall, the game was a bit of a blur. I had people complimenting me on certain answers I didn’t remember giving. I apparently had three Rhyme Time answers? That’s good to know. I feel like Poe! (Sorry, I couldn’t resist throwing in a rhyme. In iambic dimeter.)
Let’s just put this out there: I did not make the wisest Final Jeopardy! wager. I had my reasons for it at the time, and I still feel somewhat justified based on what was going through my head, but yes, I probably should have just bet it all, or at least more. Even if Ben had wagered a dollar to win even if I doubled, I would have gotten to semifinals, and been in a more comfortable position to take a wildcard spot, rather than having a nervous breakdown throughout the rest of the games. Or I might have tied and that would have been interesting and led to a sudden death tiebreaker. Honestly, even though I’d do it differently now, I probably would do the same thing in that situation again. Oh well. I’m not a game theorist.
My goal during Final Jeopardy! was to make it to semifinals. I wasn’t really thinking about winning going into it because I was so far behind Ben. I wanted to have enough money to have a good shot at a wild card spot, and I was afraid that if I risked it all, I could lose it all and knock myself out completely. Yes, I was confident that I’d know Social Media, but every college kid thinks they know everything about the Internet because we spend all of our time there, and I anticipated that it might be more complicated than that. I was hoping that my wager might possibly make me a contender for a wild card spot even if I was wrong – which I should have realized was extremely unlikely ($3200 would not have cut it unless the games were unusually low-scoring, like the first had been, which I did not know when I played). We all make mistakes. It’s much easier to make them when you’re on stage with Alex Trebek, have an audience and cameras staring at you, and are running through everything you know about Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr, Myspace, and YouTube. I was not particularly logical. But I lucked out and made the third wildcard spot, so it’s time to move on to semifinals! Watch me on Monday!
BREAKING: The carillon at Rockefeller Chapel is currently playing Amanda McBroom’s “The Rose,” better known as the song that the Happy Hands Club signed in Napoleon Dynamite. Hard to control our laughter picturing this face:
Official video for “The Rose”; image from Random Gif Folder.
Happy Valentine’s Day from Hyde Park!