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Three Roads in Italian

Those people who have been following this journal for the long haul, and I know there are a few people that are still here now that were then, know that exactly ten years ago this month, I appeared on a game show, called "Who Wants to Be a Millionaire." It was a fun experience and the profit I made from it helped me get acquainted with some more El Jay people along the way. If you want to have a look at those moments, you'll find them listed under "wwtbam" on my tags.

And here we are, September 2013 and here I am, trying to play another trivia (that's three roads in Italian) game!

It's called "The Million Second Quiz," hosted by Television's omnipresent Ryan Seacrest.



The concept of the game is deceptively simple. Two players face off in a series of trivia questions. One player sits in what's called "The Money Chair," where they earn 10 dollars a second for every second they sit in the chair. The challenger is trying to knock that player out of the chair and earn money for themselves, by winning these timed trivia question contests.

The "Million Seconds" refers to the fact that the game is played over the course of 11 consecutive days, 24 hours a day. That's not entirely true, and I'll come back to that point a bit later in the story. But the ultimate goal is a cash prize bigger than any in television history... it was suggested 10 million would be available but others put it closer to a much more modest two million. I’m still not sure.

But either way, since I'm a self-proclaimed trivia expert and pop culture fan, I decided to audition for the show. After all, who wouldn’t want a few million?

I started by playing the online game where you get to play against your friends on facebook or against any random person who is available. And you can download an app for your phone from there via android or iPhone. I did really well there.

Also, there was an open call audition at NBC's famed "30 Rock" headquarters, so I went down there on August 24th to see what it was all about. I met with a couple of the producers, had my photograph taken, did an on camera interview and left. Apparently they weren't that interested in me, because I never got called.

But I kept playing the online game, and shortly, a different producer contacted me because I was playing so well, and invited me to come to an open call for players on Tuesday, September 10th, at 6:45am.

6:45am?!?!

The weird thing was it was almost like all the stuff I did previously for this show didn't exist...the meeting with some of the people on the game, my application and all the rest... they never connected those elements with my online skills, and I wound up filling out a whole new set of applications as I stood in the diesel fumes of the Lincoln Tunnel entrance, while bus after bus headed to New Jersey during the early part of that morning's rush hour.

Meanwhile, I was surrounded by some rather curious characters, including a guy I'll call "Mel" (not his real name). Mel had some unusual plans for the money if he won it, including buying a robotic body to move into so he could live for 300 years or longer, and a new laptop that wouldn't crash when he played the quiz.

A camera crew came out and interviewed him and he did a lot of stuff like kung-fu kicking where he nearly hit my head, even as I was standing to the side, and some vocal shouting in addition to his explanation of robot tech and humanity. I think some of it got used on the MSQ website.

It wasn't until 9am that anything actually happened, and the line of people were finally admitted to the building and out of the carbon monoxide.

More to come.

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