Thursday, August 16, 2012


I’ve finally found a quiz show on TV that makes me feel as smart as Albert Einstein.  It’s called “Repo Games.”

Every week, the host of the show, a hulk of a guy, arrives at some poor, unsuspecting person’s house to repossess his or her vehicle.  He makes sure the vehicle is securely hooked up to the tow truck, then he knocks on the owner’s door and says, “If you can answer three out of five trivia questions correctly, I’ll not only let you keep your car, I’ll pay it off, free and clear!”

Having nothing to lose at that point, the victims usually agree to give the trivia game a shot…and make complete fools of themselves on national TV.

On the show the other night, the repo guy asked a woman, “Which US president is known as the father of our country?”

“Bill Clinton!” she enthusiastically replied

“San Juan is the capital of which US. Territory?” he then asked.

“California!” she said.

With each trivia question, depending on whether the contestant answers correctly or incorrectly, the tow truck slightly raises or lowers the vehicle.  When the vehicle finally touches the ground, the owner is allowed to keep it.  This woman’s car was raised so many times, it could have doubled as an airplane.

Another woman and her boyfriend, desperately trying to save her car, were on the show a few weeks ago.

“The popular band called ‘Boston’ hailed from that city,” the host said to them. “Tell me, in which state is Boston located?”

The woman shrugged. “Boston is just Boston.  It doesn’t have a state.”

When the host told her she was incorrect, she exploded, “You’re purposely giving me really hard questions!”

Her statement reminded me of something my dad always used to say: “You think a question is hard only when you don’t know the answer.  If you know it, then it’s easy.  So don’t blame the question!”

If watching Repo Games makes me feel intelligent, all I have to do is switch to another quiz show, “Jeopardy,” and I’m instantly made to feel as if my brain is on vacation, lying on a beach somewhere in Hawaii.

The other night, my husband and I watched the show as we ate dinner.  For one thing, I think Jeopardy purposely tries to confuse us non-brainy people by doing things backwards.  The host, Alex Trebek, gives the answers to the questions, and the contestants then have to provide the questions. Talk about weird.

“The three main stages of this art movement are: facet, analytic and synthetic,” Trebek said.

Immediately, one of the contestants buzzed in. “What is the Cubist movement?” he answered.

His answer was correct.  My husband and I just stared blankly at each other.  I felt my IQ instantly drop about 50 points.

“Robert Rossen was the producer and director of this 1949 Academy-Award winning film,” Trebek continued.

“What is ‘All the King’s Men’?” came the answer.

My husband changed the station.

About five years ago, when a new quiz show, “Are you Smarter than a Fifth Grader?” first aired, I was certain I’d finally found a show where I’d be able to answer every question with ease.  After all, I reasoned, the show’s description said the questions would be taken directly from textbooks used in grades one through five.  What could be easier than that?

“I’m going to ace all of these questions!” I said to my husband as we prepared to watch the show.

“Don’t be so sure,” he said. “Things have changed a lot since we were in grade school.  Back in first grade, we were learning to read stuff like, ‘See Spot run!’  Nowadays, first-graders are reading the Wall Street Journal.”

I eagerly awaited the first question on the show, which, according to the category, was second-grade history.

“What is the largest manmade structure on earth?” the show’s host asked.

“The ancient pyramids of Egypt!” I shouted.

“The Great Wall of China,” the nine-year-old wrote on his answer pad.

He was right.  I felt my IQ drop another 50 points.

The next question was from third-grade science. “What kind of rock is created from lava?”

“Volcanic!” my husband said.

“Igneous,” the smart-aleck kid answered…correctly, of course.

“Iggy who?” my husband asked.

I shrugged. “Don’t ask me – I thought he said ‘icky knees’!”

I hate to say it, but I think I’ll stick with watching Repo Games.  I really can relate to someone who thinks spaghetti comes from underground mines in Italy.

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