December 3, 2005
Chico: ... Good television!
Bill: I'm going to introduce myself from now on as Leopardy Gore-Timex Crampion
Pill The Donald!
Jason: He gets us!
Chico: Bill, you rock.
Bill: No, you rock.
Chico: And now you get to rock even more, because we're about to ask you 20
Questions. Order, BTW: Jason, Gordon, me.
Jason: Ok. Very simply...#1. when did you audition and when did you get the
Bill: Oooh, an easy one. Well, *this* time I auditioned in April 2005, when the
Brain Bus cam to Naples, FL. I got the Call in late July. But it was my fifth
audition and second Call.
Jason: Wow. So you have been in the pool once before.
Bill: I've made into the pool every time I tried out, but I didn't get the Call
until after my third try. Unfortunately, between that tryout and that Call, I
was on WWTBAM, and disqualified myself for J!
Chico: Always a hard choice to make.
Gordon: 2. For those of us who aren't familiar with your previous outings, how
did you do on Millionaire?
Bill: I scooted into the Hot Seat when I was the only one to answer Fastest
Finger correctly and I made it to the $250,000 question before I decided not to
listen to my Phone-A-Friend with the correct answer.
Jason: uh oh
Bill: and I cut aff and ran with a check for $125,000.
Jason: You and me both brother.
Bill: We are birds of a feather.
Jason: We pretty much have the exact game show stats on both shows.
Chico: Okay, Bill. #3. You said you were in Japan for a while, having many an
anecdote to that fact. What brought you there?
Bill: I had been thinking about law school, but wasn't quite ready to commit.
And I'd never lived outside of Massachusetts. So when an English-teaching
company came through Boston recruiting, I signed up so I could see a bit of the
Chico: And Japan just came up then.
Bill: This was back when Japan was booming, so it was easy to make decent money
teaching. But after I'd been there awhile, I moved into a different job, one of
the coolest ever.
Jason: #4. What was your playing strategy during your run?
Bill: I didn't really develop a strategy until halfway through my second game.
By then I'd realized that, at least when I wasn't nervous, I was comparatively
good on the buzzer. So I didn't feel like I had to worry about getting points so
much as not losing them. I'd just try to build up a solid lead, and from then on
only answer questions I was 100% sure of. The competition, trying to catch up,
more often than not self-destructed.
Gordon: Following up on that - #5 - In your letter to us, you said that you
credit someone on our show to your success. Who was it and how was it credited?
Bill: It was another mystery guest, Madden-masher Victoria Groce. Before I left
for Culver City, I'd wanted to play one game at Mike Dupee's Vortex Jeopardy
site, because I knew the folks there were ex-contestants and the like, so I
signed up for a game Victoria was hosting but was accidentally bumped. She felt
bad and went to a lot of effort to set up a match for me, at like 1 am. I don't
remember who I played, but they were beating me until FJ. But I bet right and
pulled out the win at the last second. That gave me the insight to realize that
the game could really go any way, and I should never give up.
Chico: A good lesson.
Gordon: That it is.
Chico: 6) Victoria was on this show a while back. How did you run into this?
Bill: Between my last tryout and the Call, I pretty much figured I had a good
shot at getting called, so I began to really take my research seriously. I read
all the J! books, checked out the J! boards, and looked for every game show site
I could find on the net for clues.
Chico: You know, Gordon has betting down to a science.
Bill: Betting could fill a book.
Gordon: Did you see my State of Play on the subject of betting?
Bill: I believe I did, though it's all mashed in with all the other stuffed I
Chico: Just incredible math there.
Gordon: It's complicated - which is part of the fun.
Bill: Once you begin to pay attention, you realize how little other contestants
do pay attention to betting.
Jason: #7 - What is the best advice you got while preparing to play?
Bill: Hmmm. I'd say there were three things. First, vis a vis betting, learning
the existence of the 2/3 Rule opened my eyes to how you can work not only with
your strenghts but also your opponents' weaknesses. Second, the recommendation
at the J! boards to keep track of my own score for a while while watching TV
really opened my eyes to how much you can lose through wrong answers. I learned
to keep my mouth shut that way. And third, several folks pointed out that the
best players forget their playing for money and just have fun. Once I loosened
up in the first game and did that, everything went my way.
Gordon: I know from the gambling tournaments that you are much looser in play
once you have coin. #8 - What are you going to do with all of that money?
Bill: Boring stuff. Saving for my kids' college, that kind of thing. I'm keeping
my fingers crossed for more money to play with in the future.
Gordon: Like a Tournament of Champions invite?
Chico: I can see a TOC invite.
Bill: Yeah, like that. :-) It all depends on when they choose to have one. If
it's sooner rather than later, I have a shot.
Chico: Cool. 9) Favorite players watching over time, any names just stick out
into your mind?
Bill: Well, Victoria Groce is hands-down my favorite to watch this season --
there, she gets two mentions in this edition. She's got such presence, and a
good aggressive DD bent.
Chico: We heart Victoria.
Bill: I admire players who can win, but they're not always my favorite to watch,
because they seem too inside themselves. Ken Jennings and Brad Rutter are
notable exceptions -- they play as if they're having a conversation with you,
and that's what I tried to visualize when I was playing. But Victoria really
Jason: #10 - Do you think you could beat Ken or David if you had a shot in the
Bill: Could? Yes. Likely to? I'd say 50/50 vs. David, 25/75 vs. Ken. I'd like to
say I could take Ken, but you can't argue with his stats.
Gordon: #11 - Are you familiar with this little thing called the Game Show
Congress? Is this something you would want to go to?
Bill: Well, now I'm familiar with it, as is Alex Trebek. :-)
Jason: He knew it...he was just toying with us. He sent a video to us.
Chico: A very well prepared video.
Bill: It sounds like a great time, and I'd love to go sometime.
Jason: This summer---GSC5. Come on in.
Chico: Good times.
Gordon: We'll be endlessly harping GSC 5 between now and the Summer, just to
remind you =).
Chico: 12) What does Bill MacDonald do on his off hours?
Bill: I have off hours? When I'm not working or paying half the attention I
should to my family, I publish a cryptic-crossword magazine at
Chico: Nice plug, there :)
Bill: People more talented than I construct the puzzles, and I edit and publish
Chico: Ah. Cool stuff.
Jason: Ok to switch it up a bit. #13 - Do you think Deal or No Deal with succeed
or fail? and to followup... why aren't there that many new classic game shows on
Chico: Two questions... I'll allow it :)
Bill: That's okay, I'll just give one answer. : ) I'm sure the show itself will
be entertaining, but Americans tend to think in categories. Like, a huge part of
the population won't watch, say, a Miyazaki film becuase it goes in the
Jason: That's anime. :)
Brian: I've got to help get some propane for Eldwyn, BRB.
Chico: And Miyazaki is a God :)
Bill: So, while WWTBAM was a phenomenon mostly because it broke out of the
game-shows-are-for-stay-at-home-moms-between-soap-operas-or-after-dinner mold, I
think Americans still consider gameshows to be a separate category. And people
won't watch them -- even Deal or No Deal -- because they think, "I don't like
Chico: Yet they will watch Survivor, which is still technically a game show. If
I can follow up with that, Gordon... #14 - Why is that?
Bill: Average people don't think of it as a game show -- they think it's
Chico: So they're cunningly fooled :)
Bill: A different category, and therefore something worth trying.
Gordon: #15 - Going back to the December 1 theme, is there any one move on
Jeopardy, that if you could take back, you would?
Bill: Take back? Yeah, I'd have taken a deep breath and given myself five more
seconds to think about my DD answer on Friday's show. I bet $9000 and it made me
nervous -- as soon as I'd been told I was wrong, the answer came to me.
Chico: That always hits a nerve, you know...
Bill: I'd also like the chance to race Vik to the buzzer again on the "Pinatubo"
question on Monday's show -- he got it, but if I'd gotten it, I'd have won the
Chico: And then you could've said "Royal Dutch." :)
Gordon: lol. Now it's time for the 5 Questions that we ask everyone. Starting
Chico: #16 - Favorite game show, past or present?
Bill: Too easy. Jeopardy! Can I write here what I wrote to you earlier?
Chico: You can.
Bill: Jeopardy! is a lot like sex. There's the same mixture of intimacy and
selfish hedonism, the same alternation of rushing forward and pausing for
breath, and the same mounting intensity to a climactic finish. Even bad
Jeopardy! is better than no Jeopardy!
Chico: That's better than the pizza analogy! Okay..
Chico: 17) Favorite host, past or present.
Bill: I have a soft spot for goofy hosts like Gene Rayburn and Richard Dawson --
folks who didn't take themselves, or even the contestants, too seriously. I must
say I liked Alex better in person than on the show for that reason.
Chico: Rayburn is the man. 18) If you could bring back one show from the past,
what would it be?
Bill: I get so confused about what shows haven't been brought back already. I
was all set to say "Pyramid" until I realized it had been brought back. Wait,
did it go away again? If not, then "Password" would be next on my list.
Chico: It went away again. But Password's been away longer.
Bill: Then Pyramid. Hey, do you guys get the Comcast commerical?
Chico: We got it. It was creepy.
Bill: I love it! I have to watch it every time it's on.
Chico: 19) What game show would you like to challenge next?
Bill: You mean besides Jeopardy! :-) The only thing out there now that really
appeals to me on a gut level is The Amazing Race. But I can't convince my wife
to fight with me on national TV.
Chico: Nice... And finally... The Create-a-Question. Basically, if you have
something to get off your chest, now would be a good time to do it.
Bill: Oooh, I've managed to slip in everything I wanted to get off my chest.
Let's see: mentioned website, pointed out lost to Vik by one question, boasted
about WWTBAM appearance . . . oh, wait! I forgot to mention my contribution to
American culture: I was the first person to ask his phone-a-friend to estimate
how sure he was percentage-wise. Is that significant or what?
Jason: very cool
Chico: I'd say it was 78% significant.
Bill: I'll take that.
Gordon: Are you 100% sure?
Bill: It's my final answer . . . literally.
Chico: Congratulations, Bill MacDonald, you survived the 20! *plays WWTBAM win
cue* And we go to break in time for Vs, next!
Gordon: No, that's a different game.
(Brought to you by March of the Wooden Media Hoes, narrated by Gordon Pepper.
Now available on DVD)