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What I Did On My Summer Vacation...
Chico Alexander

(C-Note: It's cold out, I know. Nothing like the thought of summer to warm you up. And this summer, I had the pleasure of attending the Game Show Congress. I had planned on going threesies with Jason and Gordon, but they never got back to me about it, so because I wanted to share a warm memory - and the fact that we have zero material... I'm saving Cash Cab and Deal or No Deal opinions for tomorrow's Numbers Game - here it is, dug up from the archives that is my memory key... Game Show Congress Week... Day 1)

Chapter 1: 40 Hours in Hell

Los Angeles... The last time I was there, I was eight years old (technically eight years, 11 months, and 12 days). Needless to say that it's been a while since I have been out to the west coast.

Not for Gordon, though. He went out last year with Jason Block for Game Show Congress 3. This year, there were four of us: Gordon, Jason, myself, and Ryan Vickers.

The flight from Raleigh-Durham to LA (with a layover in Dallas) left in the wee hours of Wednesday the 17th, but the adventure began some 18 hours earlier where, after a bout with packing, getting as much sleep as I could given my hectic schedule, and of course finding someone to keep my mom out of trouble for a week or so, I headed to work, with the plan that afterwards (I get off of work at 11p) I was going to drop my car off at my girlfriend's in Chapel Hill, then taxi over to RDU after sneaking in four hours of sleep.

Of course, such is not the case. I ended up in the parking lot, paying $80 for the week in parking fares and keeping awake since noon the previous day. Oh well.

At around 7a that morning, I was off, six hours away from meeting up with some of the people that I have had the infinite pleasure of working and writing with for the last five years that this site was in existence. A quick layover in Dallas and I was headed for LA for my first Game Show Congress.

Upon arrival, I noticed a) some guy that looked like some other guy that I went to high school with, b) a dude in a TPIR ballcap that I instantly recognized from his episode of Russian Roulette, and c) a placard with my name and the WLTI logo on it (there was another placard with GSNN handwritten on it as well, just in case I happened to be asleep from jetlag). Immediately I thought... Joe and Ryan.

After what Jack Barry would term "a most cordial welcome" and bag claim, the three of us returned to the gate to welcome the final two players in our weeklong party, Gordon and Jason. Joe had the WLTI placard. Ryan had the GSNN placard. I had "Casino Night." Surprisingly, I wasn't killed by either Gordon OR Jason when they arrived. Gordon I recognized as looking like Bren from "The Apprentice", and Jason... well, his $125,000 win on "Millionaire" spoke for itself.

So the five of us were off, ready to begin our adventure. Along the way, we played an interesting find indeed. Earlier this year, we reported on a series of CD games written and produced for the Canadian market by Jeopardy! superchamp Ken Jennings.  The CD series Quizzology plays in about 90 tracks, each track either a question or a series of short questions. Not a bad little setup, especially with some words of (trivial) wisdom from the almighty Ken himself.

After leaving LAX, the unofficial "Ewie" count began, having made two wrong turns to get to the Avis to rent our car. We hadn't any time to waste, though. Shortly after we secured the Chevy Impala, which we dubbed "Texas Justice" due to its Texas license plate, we were on our way to our first GSC excursion: a taping of two "Jeopardy!" shows at Sony Pictures Studios.

The myth is true... the set really IS smaller in person.

Making our way to the right side of the studio, we noticed several things, such as the play-testing of the buzzers, the "hometown howdies" (for those who don't know what one is, I'll demonstrate... ahem. "Hey, Raleigh! I'm Chico Alexander of Fayetteville. Carolina is known for more than just basketball and barbecue. Watch me prove it tonight on Jeopardy!"), and the new season title graphics (which, by the way, are probably the best I've seen since Sony began yearly title changes). Of course, given that the five of us - one being a former Jeopardy! champion himself - were high arbiters of useless knowledge, we had to control ourselves during the taping. To that end, every time we knew the answers, we just slapped our knees.

Our knees were very tired that day.

Unfortunately, Alex could not make it to the Congress, as he would be away on business that weekend, but he did comfort me in knowing that he listens to Sinatra. Just great... Something ELSE that he and my sister have in common.

As for the shows, I refuse to play spoiler, but the GSC episodes of "Jeopardy!" will air Thanksgiving weekend. Expect two very good games. (C-Note: These were the Bill MacDonald games)

From there, the Ewie count reached about six until we got to the Hilton Glendale, home of GSC4. After checking in and validating parking, we made our plans for that night: a) head to the Acme Comedy Theatre for "What's My Line? Live on Stage" with former "Beat the Geeks" host J. Keith van Straaten, and b) the Commerce Casino to pester Joe on the job.

First, though, the live show. Here, Jason, Gordon, Ryan, and myself met up with other GSNN semi-regs Jason Hernandez, Travis Schario, and Mike Klauss. Also on hand (and if I forgot your name and you're reading this, e-mail me telling me how bad of a person I am) were Matt Martin, "Lingo" champion Ben Ziek, prominent webmaster Matt Ottinger, and "Jep!" host Bob Bergen. I started talking to him about that missing second season of UPN's anime drama "Teknoman/Tekkaman Blade" which he voiced, but that's another story for another day.

But back to the show itself. The panel was a mix of current and old school game show favorites. There was Andy Zax (of "Beat the Geeks"), Teresa Strasser (writer for "Win Ben Stein's Money", host of "While You Were Out", and frequent guest on "Pyramid"), Frank Nicotero (the "Street Smarts" dude), and Teresa Ganzel (of the Carson "Tonight Show" and numerous "Pyramid" appearances). First thought through our minds: the years were not kind on panelist number 4.

The main games played featured a tap dancing teacher (as in one who teaches tap dancing) and a man who makes fake teeth for movies, but the REAL treat for us gamers was game 2, which featured as guests three of the writers for "Jeopardy!" Jason couldn't put the names together at first, but after I noted to him that "we saw their work today," the lightbulb came on.

And another treat was the mystery guest, none other than Ed Asner. Probably the ice water on a very amazing show. We met many of the cast later that night. Frank (who by the way is probably the exact same person off-camera as he is on) admitted that he should've recognized us by the way we introduced him (for the record, we gave Frankie Mic the Wayne's World "We're Not Worthy" Salute). Andy & J. Keith said that they would put in an appearance at the Congress over the weekend. 

After the show, we headed over to Commerce Casino and started on a mission, make enough money to afford to go to Disney the next day. Gordon got wild with "wild Asian women" at the Pai Gow tables, while I managed to double up playing no-bust blackjack with the help of Ryan, who was, at the time, designated "my lucky Canadian". After a while on an upswing, I would turn to Ryan and just utter, "Mr. Vickers... we're done here." Three or four "Mr. Vickers, we're done heres" later, I managed to double, more than what was needed for the next GSC excursion: Disneyland/Disney's California Adventure, where the four of us would meet up with fellow GSNN cohort Julie and her two girls. But that's tomorrow's chapter.

For now, we end on this note of some relief... At around 12:55a PT, after 40-some-odd hours of straight activity getting from North Carolina to California and around the Glendale area, making no less than six wrong turns... I finally fell asleep.

Somewhere in Chico Alexander's memory, Christmas joys all around him. E-mail him the rest of the lyrics to "Somewhere in My Memory" at chico@gameshownewsnet.com.

 

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