Stand-up guys

     Today was the reason most everybody else is here: the National History Bowl. This morning, I got to keep score where Jerome Vered read. That went very, very well. Jerome at first, understandably, seemed nervous about everything running smoothly and in a timely manner. But the longer he read, the looser he became, to the point where he was sort of providing “commentary” to the clues and bantering with the players. He read well too, even the very tough foreign words from all kinds of languages. At one point when David Madden walked in to write down scores, he and Jerome began to converse in German.

     It went so well in fact that Jerome told my sister “You’re the best.” And she is! I’ve been saying it for a very long time. (By the way, she lives nearby and has joined me for the weekend even though she is not a regular fan of Jeopardy!) By the end of the morning, Jerome didn’t want to lose us. I don’t know that it was us, as much as it was someone to keep score and keep track of a stopwatch when it was necessary. In any case Jerome was emphatic that we stay in the afternoon. He went so far as to call Bob Harris, who we were to keep score for in the afternoon. And we were right there when he did it! Our arms could’ve been twisted but we didn’t know whether Bob would be expecting us, and we did not hear from Jerome again before the afternoon began. I saw Jerome again tonight, and he said it went well for him in the afternoon. So confident was Jerome tonight that when my sister and I joined him expecting to keep score, he waved his hand and said, “You have fun,” meaning he could handle it. We were happy to keep score anyway!
     Now that the Bowl has begun, everyone’s scattered in different directions. As a result it’s tougher to even see Jeopardy! types, and even moreso to hook up with anyone. For example, I saw Roger Craig all over from Thursday evening all through Friday, but today I only saw him once when my sister and I passed by him (and his girlfriend and John Krizel) during the break for lunch. My sister and I ate lunch just the two of us. Don’t get me wrong; I’m not complaining about that! She is excellent company.
     Speaking of excellent company, keeping score where Bob Harris read was as great as you’d expect. This just in – Bob, who has a background in stand-up comedy, is a funny and smart guy. He was the champ he’s been, all afternoon. There was some tension at first (more on that in a second), but like Jerome, Bob loosened up. Eventually he added commentary of his own to the Bowl questions, including truly worthwhile anecdotes of his own very extensive travels. Name a place and Bob’s probably been there, including all 50 states. He is a pro and just a good guy. Count me as a fan. Bob, by the way, is hard at work at a new book, so look for that. I wish I could tell you when, though! Last year at the Bowl, he gave a talk about this book, but it is not out yet.
     The afternoon did started a little rocky, though, and it’s got nothing to do with Bob. This event is a chaotic, disordered one, a fact I virtually ignored when I blogged about it last year. It’s tougher to ignore this year since it played a significant part in today’s events. There was a still-unspecified issue that caused a delay. A long one. Okay, a very long one. For sure, no one knew where to be and when. This includes Bowl staffpeople, and it includes people who had to be somewhere like readers and scorekeepers. As a result, Bob and I didn’t even have six teams with which to start until around 3 p.m., which is very late. This of course pushed the whole schedule back. Since there’s no system in place for Bowl staff to inform everyone of changes, an announcement came via the assistant director, yelling to everyone lucky enough to be withing earshot. We were told to be at the ballroom at 7 p.m., but by this time it was 6:45! I know many of us had not eaten. I started to go somewhere but came back, unwilling to miss anything since this is why I’m here. Anyway there was nothing open as far as the eye could see.
     At 7:56, David finally said from the podium, “We are ready!” Til now, I’ve been looking around a ballroom full of people, but I’m still worried that I’m missing something Jeopardy!-related somewhere! On the plus side, this was a solid chance to upload the panel discussion. Or more like a chance to see it’s almost certainly not gonna happen while I’m still here. I have no idea how long it will take, except it’s big enough that I won’t have a chunk of time big enough to idle where there’s wifi. The file is admittedly huge, and I don’t know enough about this to determine how long it will take to upload. This may well be laughable: 163,595 KB? If anyone has any insight, I’ll take it! Next year, I’ll break it down into two or three parts.
     I hadn’t planned to work tonight, but as I said we wound up scorekeeping with Jerome. By then he was REALLY relaxed. He was the cut-up of the room! Adults and kids alike were laughing, which seemed to encourage him more. Tonight as we were walking out of the room, he said, “Now you have stories for your blog.” I have to be honest: I didn’t know he knew I had a blog! But scorekeeping is easy but just involved enough that you can’t really do anything else at the same time if you want to make sure you’re right, and at these late rounds it was very important. (Trust me, these people take this very, very seriously.) It hadn’t occurred to me to write down any of what he was saying anyway!
     I learned something I didn’t know about Jerome (I’m sure there’s a lot): he has a degree in film from USC! I am fascinated by this and could talk to him for a long time about it. I’m gonna ask him tomorrow what he does for a living, which is something I’d never considered.
     It dawned on me that, since my hotel is connected by tunnels to the event hotel, I have not been outside even once today. That’ll change tomorrow as, like last year, the Bee portion of the event will take us all to Mount Vernon. Last year, Sunday was more low-key and peaceful than Saturday. Let’s see if this year’s the same way. As of the end of the night, I didn’t know whether they were expecting me to help, and I wasn’t the only one! Also, I’m dying to find out what time they actually wrapped up last night. I had planned to draw the line at 11 p.m., but I was completely out of gas before that hour.
     Unfortunately I got neither a picture of Bob nor one of my dress, which I would’ve liked you to see! Hopefully I’ll get one of Bob tomorrow.

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