Monday, January 22, 2007

Jeopardy! Champ Jennings Reveals Trivia of Trivia

Ken Jennings has at least two major talents.
First, and most famously, he, to use his own words, "Knows Weird Stuff." He is a master of trivia and the all time Jeopardy! champ with seventy four wins.
Secondly, and somewhat unexpectedly, he can write, as he proves in his book Brainiac: Adventures in the the Curious, Competitive, Compulsive World of Trivia Buffs, an account not only of his record breaking Jeopardy! stint, but of the history, subculture and even the psychology of trivia. He traces the national, even international, obscession with obscure facts from the 17th century to the Internet, with stops at College Bowl competitions, bar trivia contests and, of course, game shows. Jennings writes with a self-deprecating and endearing sense of humor, and peppers his narrative with trivia quizzes for the reader. (I was kicking myself for not knowing that Ohio is the only state with a non-rectangular state flag, since I live in the capital of Ohio, or the color of the G's in the Google logo, considering the amount of time I spend on a computer.)
The former game show phenom has penned a book that will delight TV addicts, trivia buffs, and even historians. In it, he admits that as a computer programmer he was "lousy" (p. 185), but Brainiac demonstrates that he's got a promising career ahead of him as a writer should he decide to pursue it. Truthfully, I wasn't expecting much from the book, when I picked it up, but after finishing Brainiac, I'd certainly be willing to read Jennings' next book.

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