Here we go! We'll start with Richard:
How did you feel about the "Cable" category? Those clues tripped up a lot of people.
Richard: I was 0 for 5, didn't even try buzzing in — but I expected to face TV questions and not know the answers. I was relieved, and mildly surprised, that other people also found them difficult. I mostly only watch soccer and Jeopardy! on TV, and when I do watch a show, it's always on DVD or Netflix, all at once in a marathon TV binge, and I'm always at least a couple of years late to the party. I had just accepted in advance that that was a weak spot for me, and I figured I'd make it up elsewhere, or not.
Q: How did you wind up teaching in France? How long did you live there? (I took French in high school and college, and have been there a couple times.)
Richard: I was working as a reporter, and I loved it, but it had been a life goal ever since I left high school to pick French back up and learn to speak it well. I'm not the most disciplined student, and I felt that I would never get around to it unless I basically dropped everything to make it happen, so I decided that it was time to do it while I still could. I applied for a job as a teaching assistant in the public schools in France. It was also a chance to see if I liked teaching, as at the time it looked like a career option with good prospects of security that might also be fun. I got stationed near Nice, and I quit my job and moved out there. I wound up living there two years in total, though not quite all at once. The best part, even better than the learning and the cheese, was the wonderful people I met, and they are still very dear to me. It turns out I liked teaching, too, but by the time I was done, the situation with public education in California had changed for the worse, so I have held off on studying for a teaching credential. I'm contemplating getting into translation instead.
Q: Did you study or practice wagering strategy?
Richard: Yes. When I asked what he would study if he were going to be on Jeopardy!, a friend suggested betting strategy. (Thanks, Nelson!) I hadn't even thought about that but it sounded like a very good idea, so I got another friend, an engineer who's really good at math, to tutor me. (Thanks, Ravinder!) He helped me try and understand this academic article about logical betting in various scenarios. Most of the explanatory math was over my head, and I wound up not memorizing all the conclusions I was trying to remember, but it definitely helped. I also compiled wagering-strategy entries from the J! Archive glossary and read an article from Slate.com about wagering in Jeopardy! that was really helpful.
Because you've been on the show, you know that that long commercial break before the final round is in real time, that the contestants have that whole time to make their bets. I used it all doing and double- and triple-checking math, all three games. The morning of taping, I didn't at all expect to win one game, let alone that second one, but I'm really glad I took the trouble to think about this.
Q: Anything else you're dying to say?
Richard: To anyone who likes Jeopardy! enough to read about it on the Internet, I recommend giving it a shot yourself. If you get on, it's a lot of fun, you get bragging rights, you will profit even after your friends make you buy them beer, you will likely surprise yourself by doing even better than you'd expected, and the staff at the show are really great — I owe them lots of gratitude for lots of reasons.
Thanks to everyone I know for being so supportive and for letting me spam their Facebook walls with reminders to watch me on TV. Thank you, Sonja, for listening happily when I go on and on about this. Thank you, Jenny and Lauren, for coming to the taping. Hi, Mom and Dad. :)
Did you know you said "Spinal Tap" instead of "This is Spinal Tap"? I had to look up my response later, to make sure it was acceptable.
Susan: Somebody on Twitter called me out on the Spinal Tap answer too! I absolutely knew I hadn't said the full movie title, as soon as the words came out of my mouth. I was sure a) I wasn't going to get credit and b) I had just given the answer away for one of the guys. Hooray for whatever lenient judge decided to let that slide :o)
(That same sort of concern kept me from answering the LRA question -- I was waffling on Rwanda v. Uganda & figured if I guessed wrong, I would've given the correct answer away for somebody else. And yes, our taping was before any of the Kony stuff; makes you appreciate the abbreviated life cycle of the internet meme. Or the crazy amount of lead time Sony runs.)Q: Is your consultant work in biodefense? How did you decide to study that?
Susan: I do consult on biodefense issues sometimes, but my current work is in emergency management. I studied WMDs and security issues as an undergraduate, and was always better at biology than physics or chemistry, so when this graduate program came along it was a natural fit.
Q: You had some tough clues in your game. Alvin York? Louveciennes? Locksley Hall?
Susan: Yes, we definitely had some tough clues. I was thoroughly envious of the earlier taping group with the Johnny Depp category!
Q: I said what you did for the final.
Susan: Richmond was my first instinct for FJ, but then I started thinking "oh, but Washington's buried at Mt. Vernon, and Wilson's at the National Cathedral, and Jefferson's either at UVA or Monticello..." Instead of worrying about how I was running out of Virginia-based presidents, I should've focused on how I only needed two of them to be buried in the capital city :o)
Q: Anything else you're dying to say?
A: Upon seeing it, I was totally embarrassed to have missed the Louis CK question. But at the time, I thought they were asking for his actual, Hungarian surname (which I knew I would butcher), instead of what they were actually asking: "hey, who's the guy in this picture?"
Thank you, Susan and Richard!