Ken Jennings


March 18, 2011

As previously reported in this space, I felt pretty smug when a crude Sharpie doodle by myself of me and Watson enjoying a tender moment of erotic asphyxiation on the Jeopardy! set (true story!) got posted to and somehow received 2,100 net upvotes.

In hindsight, I should have been able to predict the next horrifying development: an avalanche of people wanting their own increasingly eccentric personalizations for Brainiac. Now a sale is a sale, and I’m always happy to have someone new reading something I’ve written. But some of these requests tested my (obviously pretty limited) artistic and literary acumen to the limit. A random sampling of 100%-absolutely-real requests:

“Could you draw a picture of the 3 best androids ever (you, Watson & Data) having tea?”

“Can you write the personalization in Cyrillic?”

“Could you write the first three things that your mind relates the letters HF to?”

“I was wondering if you could draw something involving my three majors in school. I’m a biochem/chem/environmental studies triple major. Also work in a unicorn if possible.”

“Can you draw you, from the future, going back in time to stop Watson before he destroys humanity as we know it?”

“Any advice for a college kid embarking on a research career in bio-informatics?”

“Could you draw something awesome inside? Like Charlie Sheen fighting a dragon?”

“Along with the autograph, can you please draw a flipbook style comic somewhere in the book of whatever with your initials at the end?”

“My request is in renga form…”

“…something that everyone thinks is retarded but you think is hilarious?” (I hope this person wanted a book whose cryptic title page reads only “Benny from L. A. Law.”)

“Ken Jennings riding a dinosaur fighting Watson on a shark, using whatever weapons he sees fit to defeat the AI menace.”

“…the two of us flying on a unicorn, with arrows designating us by our names?”

“…yourself, Kevin Bacon, and a zombie Paul Erdos in a Terminator-style face-off against Watson?”

“I’d like the personal note to be in Chinese…”

“…your favorite C. S. Lewis or Winston Churchill quote?”

“…a Fortran-related joke?”

“…a limerick about my marriage?”

“…a scene from the sitcom My Favorite Mormon, starring Ken?”

“…your favorite piece of Vermont trivia?”

“This is for my daughter, per her request. She was also very specific on the personalization request: ‘In the notes, please request that he draw two dinosaurs fighting. He’ll do it.'”

“Could you also include a drawing of yourself locked in mortal combat with a team of ninja assassins?”

“…perhaps draw a picture of you and a bear eating candy?”

“…a unicorn and a narwhal fighting over a plate of bacon?”

“…a cat holding a light saber with a quote bubble saying, ‘No, Luke, I am your father'”

“…of Ken Jennings, Jeopardy WINNER, as interpreted by Woody Allen?”

“…you using Watson as a basketball hoop?”

“…you riding a t-rex wearing a bowtie?”

“…pruning a bonsai tree?”

“…swimming in a pile of money like Scrooge McDuck?”

“…signed with your right hand…”

“…in blue ink and notarized?”

“Include you, coffee, and Lord of the Rings.”

“Can you write a few lines of a Java virus that would crash Watson?”

“A doodle would be awesome. Anything at all. Maybe an octopus, or Trebek, or a Trebektopus.”

I dutifully sat up late into the night, signing every single one until I was weak from the Sharpie fumes. I am the Neil Gaiman of Trebektopus doodles.

Posted by Ken at 12:11 pm