News and notes from Reston (tm).

Friday, February 7, 2014

Despite Omission of Midscale Chain Eateries as a Topic, Another Reston Native Wins on 'Jeopardy'

Mark Lowenthal
With yet another Reston resident winning on Jeopardy last night, our beloved earth-toned community seems poised to hold on to its title as the uncontested Nirvana for "brainy" retirees. Our favorite correspondent, The Peasant From Less Sought-After South Reston, weighs in with this play-by-play of the teevee action:

"I'll take DRB approved color palettes for $800, Alex."

Even though that was not, unfortunately, one of the categories on Jeopardy last night, native son Mark Lowenthal nevertheless makes Reston proud with a death-defying, come-from-behind victory in the show's "Battle of the Decades." One of 15 Jeopardy champions from 1983 to 1993 brought back for this grand slam tournament pitting Jeopardy's best and brightest in mortal intellectual combat, Lowenthal finds himself up against lawyer Phoebe Juel and New York City police officer Frank Spangenberg, who is a Jeopardy legend of sorts.

Lowenthal, a 1988 Jeopardy Tournament of Champions winner, cleans up in the first round, especially in the category "Country Due South". No surprise there; Trebek describes him as "once the third highest-ranking official in the intelligence community." At the end of round one, Lowenthal is in first place, Juel in second, and Spangenberg in third.

In the second round, however, both of Lowenthal's competitors stage strong comebacks and overtake him as they repeatedly answer correctly in such categories as "Civil War Generals", "British Poets", and "Rhyming Song Titles". (Omitting "Macaroni Grill Specials" was an unfortunate oversight by the show's producers). Juel gets both daily doubles correct, while Spangenberg -- fortunately for him -- aces a $2,000 question on the NYPD's stop and frisk policy. At the end of the second round, Juel is in the lead with $17,100, Spangenberg second with $14,000, and Lowenthal third with $10,400.

The Final Jeopardy category, "Countries of the World", would seem to play to Lowenthal's strengths:

"Once a poor British protectorate, in 2012 this peninsular country ranked as the world's richest per capita."

Lowenthal crosses out Singapore and writes UAE. Neither is correct, alas, and our dream of organizing a ticker tape parade through the canyons of Reston Town Center for the returning hometown hero begin to fade. But just as all hope seems lost, Spangenberg's answer is revealed to be Bahrain and Juel's as Singapore. Both answers are also wrong (correct answer: Qatar), and both contestants have bet big...meaning Lowenthal, who bet only $1,400, emerges victorious with $9,000 and guarantees himself a spot in the semi-finals this May.

Far be it for us to offer Lowenthal advice for his next appearance, but we do have one humble suggestion: if you're a Restonian appearing on Jeopardy, just remember that a mauve shirt is a lucky shirt.
Lowenthal will return to the teevee in May.

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