T’was The Night Before Showtime


Woohoo!  It’s Friday again!  All week long you’ve just been dying to read the next exciting chapter in my Millionaire saga, featuring more cliffhangers than an episode of American Idol and more pregnant pauses than a valedictorian speech by William Shatner.  We hope you’re enjoying being strung along the epic story!  Last week we all had fun chilling out at the contestant meeting held high atop the Dumpire Empire Hotel, and I promise you that this will be the sixth and final installment of my Millionaire series that will take place on the day before the main event.  You probably feel like you’ve been stuck in January 17th, 2001 for longer than Bill Murray had to put up with February 2nd.

Just drive right into that market there by the hotel.  I hear they need to refill the mystery meat.

Just drive right into that market there by the hotel. I hear they need to refill the mystery meat.

During its several year run in ABC’s primetime lineup, Who Wants To Be A Millionaire had a variety of different weekly schedules.  There was only one brief window in that time when the show regularly aired on Wednesdays, and that was in early 2001.  This meant that I would get to watch an episode of the game show the night before I was to participate in a taping of it.  This was an excellent way to test my gameplay, trying to simulate what I would do were I actually in the Hot Seat answering the questions for money rather than at home in my risk-free comfy chair.

Sit down and answer a few questions for cash and fabulous prizes!

Sit down and answer a few questions for cash and fabulous prizes!

Although I’ll get into it more in a future installment, there really is a world of difference between playing a game show for real and playing to show off how smart you are in a living room full of people who don’t care.  Over the many years my message board has been around, we had numerous people who were quite obviously very trivia smart, and who were always critical of the “stupid” contestants who’d bungle the simplest of questions that a five year old could probably answer.  Every once in a while, one of these self proclaimed “jeniuses” would actually make it to New York for their chance to show the world how easy the game is… and for every one who managed to back up the talk, there were many more who wound up getting a bellyache from all the crow they were forced to eat when they got bounced early.

Now I think I know what those mystery wings were from the Empire Market!

Now I think I know what those mystery wings were from the Empire Market!

The show airing tonight just happened to be the first of the thirteen shows ABC was filling with contestants chosen from my round of auditions.  It didn’t take long for me to spot a familiar face… there was Jason Key, one of my interview session partners.  I knew he was a lock to get picked…

Key... lock... picked.... ha!

Key… lock… picked…. ha!

The first contestant of the evening is the carryover from Sunday’s show, Yona Eshkenazi from Los Angeles, and she is starting with the $2,000 question.  No problem for me there.  The $4,000 isn’t a problem either, though Yona doesn’t seem to know it…

$4K What color is the center line on an NHL ice hockey rink?
a. Blue        b. Green
c. Red        d. Yellow

I’m not the world’s biggest hockey fan, but I’m pretty sure it’s blue.  Yona calls her phone a friend who says with 80-90% confidence that the answer is red.  And Yona’s going to listen to him!  Big mistake Yona, your friend was…….. right.

Shows how much I pay attention to stupid hockey lines...

Shows how much I pay attention to stupid hockey lines…

Two questions into the warmup show, and already I’ve just felt absolutely sure of a question that in reality I didn’t know.  That’s a $1,000 payday for me in real life… not that a grand is anything to sneeze at, but let me remind you I’ll be playing for 1,860 times that in less than 24 hours!  I can’t let questions like this that I’m not 100% confident in trip me up!

Yona missed her next question involving basic Civil War history, so next up in the Hot Seat is Paul Rees from beautiful Sacramento, California.  Let’s see what he got for his $8,000 question…

$8K A Panama hat is traditionally made of what?
a. Canvas        b. Leaves
c. Beaver skin    d. Cow leather

I’m breezing through this stack quite nicely, and this one is pretty easy to figure out too.  I’ve probably never seen a real Panama hat before, but my junior high and high school years were in the late 80’s and early 90’s, and it was absolutely impossible for me to have lived through that time and not have the image of this guy burned into my brain:

What everyone was wearing on their shirts when they weren't going co-ed naked...

What everyone was wearing on their shirts when they weren’t going co-ed naked…

The only answer that makes any sense when comparing it to the image of Panama Jack is canvas.  Paul wanted confirmation from the audience poll, and they were quite obviously using the same line of thought I was:

a. Canvas (57%)        b. Leaves (31%)
c. Beaver skin (6%)    d. Cow leather (6%)

And of course, the answer was fucking leaves.  Panama Jack, you bastard!  That hat you flaunted for all those years is NOT made out of leaves!  I know what leaves look like, I have a whole yard full of them!  You tricked us all!!!  Paul should sue your monocle off for lost winnings…

This man is wearing a genuine Panama hat.  Accept no substitutes...

This man is wearing a genuine Panama hat. Accept no substitutes…

So we go to the second Fastest Finger of the night, and that brings Laeki Harris from the Motor City into the Hot Seat (Can I get a holla from my Detroit peeps?).  Alas, she wasn’t going to get very far either….

$4K In the logo for Apple, the computer company, what part of the apple is bitten?
a. Right side        b. Left side
c. Leaf            d. Base

Seriously!?!?  These logo detail questions were rampant on Millionaire back in the day… and even my strangely detailed mind didn’t pick up the trivia tidbits the shows usually inquired about.  I know it’s either right or left, and I’d be leaning towards right, but after those previous two questions I was so sure about, who knows what I’d do with this question had I gotten it during real gameplay.  Watching this show that night has done absolutely nothing but put even more cracks in my confidence!

I feel like worms are munching on my brain now...

I feel like worms are munching on my brain now…

Laeki did not guess the right correct side, so she would yield way to the fourth contestant of the night, Jack Martin from Medford, Massachusetts.   Unlike the previous three players, Jack would not get hung up on a tricky low value question and leave with one thousand smackers in his pocket… he would cruise all the way up to the $250,000 question, and would be going for the half a million dollar question on tomorrow’s show (Which he would walk away from with his 50/50 lifeline still on the table!).

The show has ended.  My buddy Jason Key will go home with lovely parting gifts….

How about a nice, taxable edition of the home game?

How about a nice, taxable edition of the home game?

Though I am happy to report that Jason Key would make it back on the syndicated version of Millionaire hosted by Meredith Vieira a few years later (I can’t find the exact date, though I believe the show aired in 2004), and I believe he wound up winning $64,000!



I was already worn out from the hectic day that I managed to spread out into 6 weeks’ worth of posts, and even gaining the hour on the flight, I was still exhausted when the show ended at 9:00… so I went ahead and called it a night.

My Dad was not ready to hit the sack yet, so I had to try to sleep through this on the TV:

Nobody goes to bed until The Rock says so!!!

Nobody goes to bed until The Rock says so!!!

The WWF….. Dad, seriously!?!?

I did finally fall asleep, though as you can imagine it wasn’t a very restful night… what with visions of hockey rinks and Panama hats dancing in my head.  But regardless of the state my mind is in come tomorrow morning, the show must go on.  And I have to be bright eyed, bushy tailed, and in the Empire lobby absolutely no later than 6:45 AM.  Join me next Friday, as we finally travel to the ABC studio!  And don’t forget to leave those electronics devices at home….

smashing smartphone

Don’t say I didn’t warn you!

About evilsquirrel13

Bored former 30-something who has nothing better to do with his life than draw cartoon squirrels.
This entry was posted in Millionaire Journey and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

30 Responses to T’was The Night Before Showtime

  1. NotAPunkRocker says:

    Unicorns have only been around since the 80s? Boy do I feel stupid.

    I saw an episode where the guy lost on his first question. “________ Haze is a famous song by Jimi Hendrix” or something like that. I think he may have used two lifelines and just didn’t think purple was the right answer.

    I felt bad for the guy. Who hasn’t jammed out to Hendrix before?

    • You will be surprised at some of the extremely common things that some people don’t know about which can get exposed on shows such as this. I think we all have these black holes in our knowledge… and Millionaire has had its share of people miss the very first question over its many years and incarnations.

      I just wonder which black holes I’m going to get sucked into……

  2. ksbeth says:

    so far, so good, fellow motor city squirrel. no money lost when playing in your room. can’t wait to see what happens next week )

  3. PigLove says:

    Oh dear piggy heavens – the suspense is killing this oinker!! XOXO – Bacon

  4. Twindaddy says:

    Augh!! I can’t wait!!

  5. markbialczak says:

    Panama Jack felt far less worse when he had to wipe with his silly hat because it was made with leaves. Out in the jungle, you know … I would have said canvas, too, ESN.

    Next week, the studio. Maybe. Perhaps just the trip to the studio, knowing you. Maybe a search for a bagel before the 6:45 a.m. meet to get to the studio … Loving it regardless.

    • LOL! It would serve Jack right… and I hope a little poison ivy got weaved into that hat as well!

      You never know… it might take me another month to get to the studio. I’ll have to search for more digressions…

  6. The only answer I DID know what the Panama hat question. I coulda been your lifeline. You coulda been a contendah. Instead of …. (hook comes out and pulls me off stage) …

    • LOL… the infamous hook is about the only thing missing from my story. I can promise you, though, we will see what happens in a few weeks when lifelines go horribly wrong (Yes, I’m adding even more suspense for my impatient audience!)

  7. The Cutter says:

    I would have been right with you on the canvas answer. That Panama Jack is a poser!

  8. goldfish says:


    (from your Detroit peeps.)

  9. I am reminded of why there are not many unicorns around everytime I sit in my car waiting for children who are mucking about “playing silly games!” 😀 (Irish Rovers)
    Xavier Roberts. HaHa!!!
    I have been told I would make a good “phone a friend” because of knowing so much about nothing!

  10. draliman says:

    So… close. We’re… so close…

    • Yet….. so far….. away!

      Seems like I spent April qualifying for the show, May preparing and traveling to New York, June bitching about New York, and now I think July’s going to be dedicated to all the fun pre-show behind the scenes stuff. Hopefully August will finally be dedicated to the really good part!

  11. I’m guessing we’re going to be getting at least 10 more posts out of you about this! Because we’ll obviously need to know about your journey home too, and how you responded to people once you’d **been**on**TV** and had become a *s*t*a*r*. 😉

    • Oh, I have a feeling this is going to be chugging right on into October because there’s probably at least 5 more segments once the show is over. I really never thought I had as much to work with as I did, but apparently I had a whole blog novel on my hands!

      • Maybe when you’re done, you could turn your posts into a book and try it on a publisher?

      • I think I “write” better with the blogging format, where I can stick in images with funny captions between every paragraph. But it will be there for whatever random strangers happen to find it for as long as the internet exists….

  12. 1jaded1 says:

    Whoo hoo from another Detroit peep. I would have been disowned if I got the red line answer wrong. I would have disowned myself…see you next week!

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