Last week's Mensa adventure left Unreal restless. The test somehow lacked drama. Nobody can tell you're a Mensan just by looking at you. But if we could become famous for our intelligence...
And so when we hear that the Jeopardy! Brain Bus is passing through St. Louis, we head over to Harris-Stowe State University, where the brainiac action is.
Here we meet Cheryl and Jimmy, two minions on Alex Trebek's Clue Crew, who instruct us to help ourself to the free food — God, we love this show! — and get in line for the pre-test. Judging from the turnout, St. Louis is full of Jeopardy! geeks. The guy ahead of us shouts out all his practice answers (well, questions) with gusto. His fanaticism rattles us, but we get our revenge: he fails to make the cut...but Unreal does!
While the losers file out, we stay behind with fourteen fellow aces to practice the two essential Jeopardy! skills: buzzer-pressing and gusto. And now we wait. Sometime in the next eighteen months we might get a call to fly to LA.
Sock It to Unreal
Unreal nearly fainted when we received an invite to a press conference for the March 27 Pride of St. Louis boxing match featuring local pugilists Cory Spinks and Devon Alexander.
"How exciting!" we thought. "St. Louis' largest gay-rights organization is having a fight night! Talk about your hot man-on-man action!" While we've never heard of gay boxing, or even an openly gay boxer for that matter, Unreal's not one to discriminate. In fact, a little flamboyant flair might go a long way in the troubled sport A.J. Liebling prophetically dubbed the Sweet Science. Perhaps most impressive was the fact that the folks at Pride hired the legendary Don King to promote the fight.
To our great joy, the iconically coiffed King took the podium clad in a sequined denim jacket that would make Liberace blush. The coat was designed with an "Only in America" motif, the front featuring airbrushed pictures of Mount Rushmore and the Statue of Liberty, the back a map of the U.S. with a dollar-bill logo. While fussier types might invoke the word "tacky," Unreal thought the sparkling red and silver sequins on the sleeve coupled with a matching assortment of America-themed bling really tied the outfit together.
"Get ready, March 27 here at the Savvis Center," 76-year-old King said, then changed course after being interrupted with a reminder that the venue is now known as the Scottrade Center. "Well, Shakespeare was right, a rose by any other name smells just as sweet. This will be our virgin voyage here at the Scottrade Center."
King introduced the fighters. The hometown heroes, Spinks and Alexander, were dressed to impress Unreal, Spinks in a very GQ black sweater, Alexander going with a brown leather sport coat. Both rocked designer shades. In the challengers' corner, Miguel "Miguelito" (it means "Little Miguel" — how cute!) Callist wore a gray flannel suit with a dashing purple tie, while Spinks' opponent Verno Phillips looked the odd man out, having rolled out of bed in a black beanie and jeans. Unreal anxiously awaited the requisite (and sexy!) stare-downs to come.
Spinks took the microphone.
"I'd like to have a brief moment of silence," the boxer said, then paused. "That was for Verno's career, 'cause come March 27, it's over."
"Talk to him!" King enthused. "We don't be pussyfootin' around. It's a Lou thing! In Missouri they say, 'Show Me!'
"It's boxing — there's no other sport where you beat a guy into submission, you beat him into oblivion and then grab him in the middle of the ring and say, 'I love you, man,'" King continued. "You can't do that in football. It's pure sport. It's mano a mano. That means man to man!"
Now we're talking!
[Insert Uranus Joke Here]
Unreal was hustling through the Delmar Loop one clear, cold night a couple of weeks ago, intent upon reaching the warmth and safety of our car, when we stumbled (almost literally) across Randy Gibbs.
Gibbs, 54, had set up two telescopes in front of the trolley outside Commerce Bank, one trained on the lunar eclipse, the other on Saturn, and invited us to take a look. Through the telescope, Saturn was very tiny, but we could see its rings. "This is so cool!" we cried, while Gibbs smiled happily. He comes here often, he told us, and in the summertime, he has people lined up for hours to look through the telescopes. We were too frozen to chat much, so we got in touch with Gibbs by phone a few days later.
Unreal: Why on earth do you stand outside in the freezing cold in order to show people Saturn?
Randy Gibbs: I'm a member of the St. Louis Astronomical Society, and sidewalk astronomy is one of the things we do. I come out here four or five times a year. I picked the Loop because it's close to where I live and a lot of people go by. Most of my enjoyment comes from observing and sharing with other people.
What's your favorite thing to look at?
I like Saturn. Everybody does. The rings make it special. Jupiter is special, too. Right now it's only visible in the early morning around 4 a.m. When I first saw it, it looked like a white dot with little lines on it. So I e-mailed somebody at NASA. I got a response the same day — it blew me away — and they said it was Jupiter. My telescope wasn't powerful enough to see it in color. That got me excited. My other favorite thing is M31, the Andromeda galaxy. It's the galaxy closest to us and it's 3.3 million light-years away.
Do you believe there's life out there?
I do, but what kind of life I don't know.
Little green men?
[Laughs] Maybe. Who knows?
Town Talk: Unreal Responds!
This week Unreal talks back to the following item, published in February and titled "Weather whirlwind":
I have tried to watch [KSDK-TV Channel 5 meteorologist] Mike Roberts give a weather forecast. This man goes all around the country then he comes back to St. Louis. I have no idea what he talks about. How this man won an Emmy as a good meteorologist I have no idea. By the time he gets done with a weather forecast, you don't know where you're at, what state he's in or what. The other weathermen come out, give the weather forecast and what the day is going to be.
Unreal responds! Funny you mention this. Unreal has long been bemused by Roberts' weathercasting, especially the way he rewinds to what the weather was. Must be that Roberts, like many a St. Louisan, wishes he'd woken up to weather — whether good or bad — somewhere else. Can't wait to see what you other Town Talkers think — ;-), ;-).
Sometimes Unreal can't resist talking back to the South Side Journal's reader-generated "Town Talk" feature.Fight hype: Don King and Cory Spinks.