The Quick 10: This... Is... Jeopardy!

It is a momentous occasion, fellow_flossers, perhaps one that isn't that important to those who aren't inclined toward somewhat educational trivia. Yes: it's Alex Trebek's birthday. OK, maybe I'm exaggerating about the importance of the day, but what would Jeopardy! be without Trebek's more-than-slightly condescending tone? To acknowledge the birth of everyone's favorite foul-mouthed mouthpiece (more on that in a second), here are a few fascinating facts about the show that made trivia a little less trivial.

trebek 1. Merv Griffin was trying to think of game show ideas while on a flight with his wife Julann. She mentioned that since the quiz show scandals of the 1950s, there had really been no simple question-and-answer game shows on T.V. She suggested switching it up and giving the answers instead of the questions. "She fired a couple of answers to me: '5,280' and the question of course was 'How many feet in a mile?'. Another was '79 Wistful Vista.' That was Fibber and Mollie McGee's address," Griffin later said. "I loved the idea, went straight to NBC with the idea, and they bought it without even looking at a pilot."
2. Despite Ken Jennings' impressive run, the highest cumulative amount won by a single contestant belongs to Brad Rutter, a player whose combined totals of his 2002 streak and 2005 "Ultimate Tournament of Champions" streak netted him $3,255,102. Ken Jennings has racked up $ 2,520,700 thus far. Ken does, however, hold the highest one-day total record: $75,000.

3. Merv Griffin wrote the famous (or infamous, depending on how susceptible you are to earworms) theme music himself. When the show was first on the air in the 1960s, the tune was only used for the Final Jeopardy round. It wasn't until Alex Trebek came along that it was used to represent the entire show. The song actually has a name "“ it's called "Time, For Tony," and is named after Merv's son.

4. A few stars who have won Celebrity Jeopardy!: Carol Burnett, Luke Perry, Rosie O'Donnell, Dean Stockwell (Al from Quantum Leap), Stephen King, LeVar Burton, Laura Innes, Isaac Mizrahi, Brett Butler, Alicia Witt, Mark McEwen, Sam Waterston, Chris Hardwick (remember him? He used to host MTV's Singled Out), Benjamin Salisbury, Mike Piazza, Tim Russert, Dee Dee Myers, Andrea Mitchell, Patricia Schroeder, Robin Quivers, Sinbad, Fred Savage, Thomas Gibson, Bob Costas, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Wallace Langham, Graham Nash, Andy Richter, Nathan Lane, Jon Stewart, Martha Stewart, Eric Idle, Jodie Foster, Peter Krause, Wayne Brady, Hal Sparks, Tucker Carlson, Anderson Cooper, Ari Fleischer, Al Franken, Neil Patrick Harris, Regis Philbin, Harry Shearer and Aisha Tyler. Whew.

5. Three stars who have never been on Celebrity Jeopardy!: Burt Reynolds, Sean Connery and Sharon Osbourne. Trebek and the Jeopardy! crew must have a good sense of humor about the whole thing, though, because the SNL version is occasionally referenced on the real thing, even using some of the categories "misinterpreted" by Sean Connery. In 2001, Double Jeopardy! categories included, "Sean Connery," "Surprise Me, Trebek!," "Therapists," "Things You Shouldn't Put in Your Mouth," "The Number After 2," and "Rhymes with Dog." A 2006 episode played off of another of Connery's misreadings - "Japan-U.S. Relations," which Connery read as "Jap Anus Relations."

6. During Trebek's first season, contestants could buzz in to answer the question as soon as the answer was revealed, giving the advantage to fast readers. After that, it was changed so they had to wait until Trebek finished reading the answer out loud or be penalized.

7. During one episode of the original series, which began in 1964 and featured Art Fleming as the host, all three contestants failed Double Jeopardy! by ending the round with $0 or less. The Final Jeopardy! round was filled by having Fleming chat with the contestants.

8. Just the opposite happened on March 16, 2007. All three contestants ended Final Jeopardy! with the exact same dollar amount - $16,000. They answered the final question correctly and all managed to bet an amount that would even them out. After the show, Jeopardy! execs contacted a Game Theory expert who calculated the odds of such a thing happening at 1 in 25 million. All three contestants returned the next day to face off again, the first time all three contestants had ever returned the next day in the show's history. Let's see if you know the answer to the question they all got right:

The clue: Women of the 1930s
The answer: One of the men who shot her realized when he saw her body that she'd often waited on him at a cafe in Dallas."

9. Many television shows and movies have featured Jeopardy!, as a key plot point. Among them: Mama's Family, Cheers, The Simpsons, The Nanny, White Men Can't Jump, and, of course, Rain Man.

10. Alex Trebek has a pottymouth. This is an old YouTube sensation, so you may have already seen it. There's definitely some language, so watch at your own risk, and don't do it without headphones if you're at work. Unless you have a really cool boss, I guess. By the way, I don't think he's really drunk. But I could be wrong.

Today's pressing Quick 10 Question: Who misses the mustache? C'mon.

10 Sweet Facts About Candy Canes

The sweet and striped shepherd’s hooks can be found just about everywhere during the holiday season. It's time you learned a thing or two (or 10) about them.


While the origins of the candy cane are a bit murky, legend has it that they first appeared in hooked form around 1670. Candy sticks themselves were pretty common, but they really took shape when the choirmaster at the Cologne Cathedral in Germany got the bright idea of twisting them to look like shepherd’s hooks. He then handed them out to kids during church services to keep them quiet.


It’s no surprise, then, that it was a German immigrant who introduced the custom to America. The first reference we can find to the tradition stateside is 1847, when August Imgard of Wooster, Ohio, decked his home out with the sugary fare.


Candy canes without the red don’t seem nearly as cheery, do they? But that’s how they were once made: all white. We’re not really sure who or exactly when the scarlet stripe was added, but we do know that images on cards before the 1900s show snow white canes.


Most candy canes are around five inches long, containing only about 50 calories and no fat or cholesterol.


The world’s largest candy cane was built by Geneva, Illinois chef Alain Roby in 2012.  It was 51 feet long, required about 900 pounds of sugar, and was eventually smashed up with a hammer so people could take home a piece.


Fifty-four percent of kids suck on candy canes, compared to the 24 percent who just go right for the big crunch. As you may have been able to guess, of those surveyed, boys were nearly twice as likely to be crunchers.


According to the National Confectioners Association, about 1.2 billion candy canes are made annually, and 90 percent of those are sold between Thanksgiving and Christmas. Which honestly begs the question: Who’s buying the 10 percent in the off season?


Bobs (that’s right; no apostrophe) Candies was the first company to really hang its hat on the sweet, striped hook. Lt. Bob McCormack began making candy canes for his kids in the 1920s, and they were such a hit he decided to start mass-producing them. With the help of his brother-in-law, a Catholic priest named Gregory Harding Keller (and his invention, the Keller Machine), McCormack was eventually able to churn out millions of candy canes a day.


December 26 is National Candy Cane Day. Go figure.


Here’s how they make candy canes at Disneyland—it’s a painstaking (and beautiful) technique.

10 Actors Who Hated Their Own Films

1. Sylvester Stallone, Stop! Or My Mom Will Shoot. Sly doesn’t pull any punches when it comes to his film career. Despite co-starring with the delightful Estelle Getty as the titular violence-prone mother, Stallone knows just how bad the film was:

"I made some truly awful movies. Stop! Or My Mom Will Shoot was the worst. If you ever want someone to confess to murder, just make him or her sit through that film. They will confess to anything after 15 minutes."

2. Alec Guinness, Star Wars.

By the time he played Obi-Wan Kenobi in 1977’s Star Wars: A New Hope, Guinness had already appeared in cinematic classics like The Bridge on the River Kwai, Great Expectations and Lawrence of Arabia. During production, Guinness is reported to have said the following:

"Apart from the money, I regret having embarked on the film. I like them well enough, but it's not an acting job, the dialogue - which is lamentable - keeps being changed and only slightly improved, and I find myself old and out of touch with the young."

The insane amount of fame he won for the role as the wise old Jedi master took him somewhat by surprise and, ultimately, annoyed him. In his autobiography A Positively Final Appearance: A Journal, Guinness recalls a time he encountered an autograph-seeking fan who boasted to him about having watched Star Wars more than 100 times. In response, Guinness agreed to provide the boy an autograph under the condition that he promise never to watch the film again.

3. Bob Hoskins, Super Mario Brothers. He was in Who Framed Roger Rabbit?. As far as I’m concerned, Bob Hoskins is forgiven for Super Mario Bros. Hoskins, though, doesn’t seem to be able to forgive himself. Last year the Guardian spoke with the veteran actor about his career and he summed up his feelings rather succinctly:

What is the worst job you've done?
Super Mario Brothers.

What has been your biggest disappointment?
Super Mario Brothers.

If you could edit your past, what would you change?
I wouldn't do Super Mario Brothers.

4. George Clooney, Batman & Robin. Sure, Batman & Robin made money. But by every other imaginable measure, the film was a complete failure, and a nightmare to the vast majority of the Caped Crusader’s most fervent fanatics. Star George Clooney recognized what a stinker he helped create and once plainly stated, “I think we might have killed the franchise.”

5. David Cross, Alvin and the Chipmunks: Chipwrecked. When actors have a movie out, it's customary that they publicize the film by saying nice things about it. Earlier this year David Cross took a different approach. When it came to describing his new film Alvin and the Chipmunks: Chipwrecked, the veteran comedian — better known for Mr. Show and Arrested Development — went on Conan and called the film a “big commercial for Carnival Cruise Lines” and told people not to go see it.

6. Katherine Heigl, Knocked Up. Judd Apatow’s unplanned pregnancy comedy was a huge hit and helped cement her status as a bankable film actress. After the film’s release, however, Heigl didn’t have all good things to say. In fact, what she specifically said about it was that the film was:

"…A little sexist. It paints the women as shrews, as humorless and uptight, and it paints the men as lovable, goofy, fun-loving guys.”

7. Charlize Theron, Reindeer Games. The 2000 action film Reindeer Games starred Ben Affleck, Gary Sinese and Charlize Theron and was directed by John Frankenheimer. But it all somehow failed to come together. In the end the film lost a lot of money and compiled a wealth of negative reviews – including one from its star actress who simply said, “Reindeer Games was not a good movie.”

8. Mark Wahlberg, The Happening. Mark Wahlberg doesn’t exactly seem like a guy who lives his life afraid of trees. But that is the odd position M. Night Shyamalan’s 2008 film The Happening put him in. Wahlberg, as it turns out, doesn’t look back too fondly on the film. He went on record during a press conference for The Fighter when he described a conversation with a fellow actor:

"We had actually had the luxury of having lunch before to talk about another movie and it was a bad movie that I did. She dodged the bullet. And then I was still able to … I don’t want to tell you what movie … alright “The Happening.” F*** it. It is what it is. F***ing trees, man. The plants. F*** it. You can’t blame me for not wanting to try to play a science teacher. At least I wasn’t playing a cop or a crook."

9. John Cusack, Better Off Dead. John Cusack reportedly hated his cult 80s comedy so much that he walked out of the screening and later told the film’s director Steve Holland that Better Off Dead was "the worst thing I have ever seen" and he would "never trust you as a director again."

10 Christopher Plummer, The Sound of Music. The Sound of Music is considered a classic and has delighted many generations of fans. But the film's own lead actor, Christopher Plummer, didn't always sing its praises. Mr. Von Trapp himself declined to participate in a 2005 film reunion and, according to one acquaintance, has referred to the film as The Sound of Mucus.



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