Why Those Jeopardy! Buzzers Are Even More Anxiety-Producing Than They Look

Jeopardy Productions via Getty Images
Jeopardy Productions via Getty Images

Excelling at Jeopardy! isn’t just about knowing an endless array of trivia and bantering well with Alex Trebek. It’s also about having lightning-quick reflexes. There’s a reason why some contestants push their buzzer, only to have Trebek call on a competitor for the answer—and it’s all in the timing, Mashable reports.

Jeopardy! contestants can’t just hit their buzzer midway through a clue. There’s an indicator light they have to wait to see, one that only goes on when Trebek has spit out the last syllable of whatever clue he’s reading. Any button action before that point is moot.

“In the early days of the show, contestants could ring in at any time and that led to a lot of quick guesses, negative scores, and general confusion,” according to a blog on the show’s website.

These days, a Jeopardy! staffer sits offstage and monitors exactly when the host finishes reading out the clue. He or she then clicks a button to illuminate a set of blinking lights on either side of the game board, giving the contestants a visual signal to jump in if they know the answer.

The signaling device system is designed to only register the first buzz it gets after it turns on, so if you’re a split second behind your competition, all the button-pressing in the world won’t help. Based on whichever buzzer came in first, the digital system illuminates that podium. If the first contestant to respond gives an incorrect answer, the remaining two contestants get another chance to buzz in.

If you’re too quick to mash that button, though, you’ll be penalized. For anyone who buzzes in before the signal lights go on, there’s a quarter-second wait period where you’re locked out from buzzing in again, giving your competitors an edge to get to answer first. The show is accustomed to people buzzing in too early, though.

“With such critical timing and so much at stake, there’s always a chance that all three contestants may attempt to ring in before the system is armed,” the blog explains. “That’s why we instruct contestants to keep hitting the buzzer until they see the confirmation light on their podium or until Alex calls on one of them.”

Appearing on Jeopardy! already seemed stressful. Flashing lights and timing your moves within a syllable’s time? We have even more respect for the show's champs now.

[h/t Mashable]

George R.R. Martin Doesn't Think Game of Thrones Was 'Very Good' For His Writing Process

Kevin Winter, Getty Images
Kevin Winter, Getty Images

No one seems to have escaped the fan fury over the finals season of Game of Thrones. While likely no one got it quite as bad as showrunners David Benioff and D.B. Weiss, even author George R.R. Martin—who wrote A Song of Ice and Fire, the book series upon which the show is based, faced backlash surrounding the HBO hit. The volatile reaction from fans has apparently taken a toll on both Martin's writing and personal life.

In an interview with The Guardian, the acclaimed author said he's sticking with his original plan for the last two books, explaining that the show will not impact them. “You can’t please everybody, so you’ve got to please yourself,” he stated.

He went on to explain how even his personal life has taken a negative turn because of the show. “I can’t go into a bookstore any more, and that used to be my favorite thing to do in the world,” Martin said. “To go in and wander from stack to stack, take down some books, read a little, leave with a big stack of things I’d never heard of when I came in. Now when I go to a bookstore, I get recognized within 10 minutes and there’s a crowd around me. So you gain a lot but you also lose things.”

While fans of the book series are fully aware of the author's struggle to finish the final two installments, The Winds of Winter and A Dream of Spring, Martin admitted that part of the delay has been a result of the HBO series, and fans' reaction to it.

“I don’t think [the series] was very good for me,” Martin said. “The very thing that should have speeded me up actually slowed me down. Every day I sat down to write and even if I had a good day … I’d feel terrible because I’d be thinking: ‘My God, I have to finish the book. I’ve only written four pages when I should have written 40.'"

Still, Martin has sworn that the books will get finished ... he just won't promise when.

[h/t The Guardian]

Attention Movie Geeks: Cinephile Is the Card Game You Need Right Now

Cinephile/Amazon
Cinephile/Amazon

If you’ve got decades worth of movie trivia up in your head but nowhere to show it off, Cinephile: A Card Game just may be your perfect outlet. Created by writer, art director, and movie expert Cory Everett, with illustrations by Steve Isaacs, this game aims to test the mettle of any film aficionado with five different play types that are designed for different skill and difficulty levels.

For players looking for a more casual experience, Cinephile offers a game variety called Filmography, where you simply have to name more movies that a given actor has appeared in than your opponent. For those who really want to test their knowledge of the silver screen, there’s the most challenging game type, Six Degrees, which plays like Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon, with the player who finds the fewest number of degrees between two actors getting the win.

When you choose actors for Six Degrees, you’ll do so using the beautifully illustrated cards that come with the game, featuring Hollywood A-listers past and present in some of their most memorable roles. You’ve got no-brainers like Uma Thurman in Kill Bill (2003) and Arnold Schwarzenegger in Total Recall (1990) alongside cult favorites like Bill Murray from 2004's The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou and Jeff Goldblum in The Adventures of Buckaroo Banzai Across the 8th Dimension (1984). Of course, being a game designed for the true film buff, you’ll also get some deeper cuts like Helen Mirren from 1990’s The Cook, the Thief, His Wife & Her Lover and Sean Connery in 1974's Zardoz. There are 150 cards in all, with expansion packs on the way.

Cinephile is a labor of love for Everett and Isaacs, who originally got this project off the ground via Kickstarter, where they raised more than $20,000. Now it’s being published on a wider scale by Clarkson Potter, a Penguin Random House group. You can pre-order your copy from Amazon now for $20 before its August 27 release date.

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