Ken Jennings


November 8, 2006

I’m typing this in a wind tunnel. We had a little washing machine leak this morning, so big industrial blowers are scattered along the laundry-room-adjacent wall to my office. The sound and breeze are oddly relaxing, perhaps because they used these same blowers in the winter to dry the carpet in BYU’s Talmage building, where the math and computer science departments are located. I wrote a Java version of Stratego to this same soothing soundtrack. But even the flood can’t dampen my spirits this morning!

Michael Jaeger, whom I played on Jeopardy!, e-mailed me the link to a new comedy project he’s working on. I mean, a new time travel project. Anyway, I haven’t looked at the clips yet, but Michael’s a nice guy, so feel free to check it out.

The cranky old-person emails from the New York Post fallout have mostly died out, but I got an unexpected sequel today. A Brainiac reader in Florida was enraged, he says, that I don’t go two sentences in the book without swearing. “Do you kiss your wife and kid with that mouth?” he scolds, apparently unaware that he slipped over the line into self-parody two sentences back.

I sent him the following convenient list to help him censor his copy, which I copy here for you:

  • “damn”: hasn’t been taboo since Gone With the Wind, but just for the sake of completeness: it appears twice. Page 25 and page 114.
  • “hell”: again, hasn’t really offended anyone since Victorian times, but I’ll play along. “Hell” appears twice! Page 37 and page 195.
  • “piss”: can be found in the Bible! (I Samuel 25:22) But in case you’re also offended by the Old Testament, there is one “piss” in Brainiac: Art Linkletter gets “pissed” on page 177.
  • “ass”: a particular favorite of mine, but I only see it in the book three times: asses get kicked on page 17 and page 89, and “bad-ass” is on page 87.
  • “shit”: the only word in the book that I personally find semi-profane, and try not to use in “mixed company,” whatever that means. But the expression “bat-shit insane” has always made me laugh, and I couldn’t find a good replacement for it, so it appears on page 51.

I’m hoping this list can also serve as handy one-stop shopping for my bishop at church, who called me in the other day and told me, to my great amusement, that he’d heard I’d been “using offensive language” on NPR. I’m not sure if he thought it was the swears that deserved ecclesiastical reprimand, or if just appearing on NPR is enough nowadays. I’m telling you, you can’t make this stuff up.

And today I started work on The Next Book. The Next Book (currently slated by Random House for early 2008, sometime after the Brainiac paperback) is a super-mondo-uber-trivia quiz book in a clever day-at-a-time format, so I can finally get out of my system all the annoying crap I picked up writing Brainiac. Um, I mean, “all the annoying poop.”

Posted by Ken at 4:19 pm