My political career peaked early. As a suburban D.C. kid, I spent much of my childhood training for the local industry, holding regular elections with my sister for our stuffed-animal government. (See photo to the right, which, to be honest, reveals evidence of irregularities that, if I were Sniky or Horsey, would have made me question the legitimacy of the process.) And in sixth grade I put that experience into practice, canvassing the playground asphalt with Tom Newby for votes to become president and vice president of Wyngate Elementary. Our ticket won, and although actually being president of the school was an anti-climax--especially after our principal, Mrs. Wire, introduced me at an assembly as "Tommy Nissley"--I wasn't done with politics. The next fall I started junior high as any humble public servant should, by running for class representative in Mr. Wynkoop's geography class. My resumé, I assumed, would make me a shoo-in for such a lowly post, but instead I lost in a landslide, to one of the Nafis twins. As I remember it, I only got one vote, from Jay Richmond (I'm still grateful, Jay). One of my best friends didn't even vote for me: being president, he later explained, had "gone to my head."
I should probably be grateful for that too, since it put a quick stop to my political pretensions. I never even considered running for anything again. Until now.
Jeopardy! is celebrating its thirtieth year with Alex Trebek as the host this season with the "Battle of the Decades": a tournament, spread throughout next winter and spring, that brings back forty-five of the best (or most interesting) players in the history of the show to play for a million-dollar prize. The producers of the show have already named forty-two of those players, but the last three, one from each decade, are being chosen in a "Fan Favorite" vote that works pretty much exactly the way baseball fills its last All-Star Game slot these days. And, to extend the metaphor, I want to be your Freddie Freeman. For the past two weeks the show has held voting for the first two decades, and this week, starting today, it's time for the last near-decade, 2004-2012, which means it's time to vote for me.
I haven't been able to say anything about it until today, but I'm one of the five candidates for the last '00s spot, along with Kara Spak, Erin McLean, Ryan Chaffee, and Joey Beachum. Kara and Erin were in my Tournament of Champions, and they are lovely people, smart players, and good friends; Ryan was one of the most entertaining players I've seen on the show; and Joey, the college champ before Erin, is I'm sure a fine person and an excellent player too. But you should vote for me, and as often as you can.
How can you do that? And how often? It's a little complicated, so I'll lay it out for easy access here. The voting is open for a week, from today, October 14, through Sunday, October 20 (actually, until 6:59 am Pacific time on the 21st), and you can vote three times a day, once on Facebook, once on Twitter, and once on the Jeopardy! site. Here's how:
- Facebook: Go to Jeopardy!'s Battle of the Decades Facebook page and vote for me. (You have to be registered on Facebook to vote.) If for whatever reason you end up on the main Jeopardy! Facebook page, you can get to the voting page by clicking on the Battle of the Decades link near the top of the page.
- Twitter: All you have to do (once you have a Twitter account) is post a tweet that includes the word "Tom" and the hashtag "#JeopardyVote" (make sure there's a space between "Tom" and the hashtag, and no space in the hashtag). Sample tweet: "Tom #JeopardyVote". Or: "Tom Nissley is the #3 Jeopardy! champ of all time (or #5, or #9, depending on how you count it). Let him play again! #JeopardyVote". Or, if you want to pay tribute to the excellent five-time champ Tom Kunzen (of the famed solo FJ), feel free to tweet "Tom Kunzen should be in the Battle of the Decades #JeopardyVote"; I'll humbly accept credit for that vote too.
- Jeopardy!: And of course you can go to Jeopardy!'s own Battle of the Decades '00s page to vote, where you can also watch Alex's not-unfunny Battle of the Decades video and see a nice Tournament of Champions yearbook, with photos of every ToC player since 1985, including Reader's Book of Days copyeditor India Cooper, who's already been chosen for the '80s part of the tournament.
- Share!: And the fourth step each day, for an above-and-beyond-the-call-of-duty campaign volunteer, is to spread these links wherever you can: email, Facebook, Twitter, posters on telephone poles. I'll be embarrassed and grateful for any way you can help.
So that's how you do it, and you can do it every day through next Sunday. I'll be sending out daily reminders, if I can find a way to do it without being totally annoying.
But here I've asked you to vote for me without telling you what I stand for. What's my campaign platform, you say? Here you go:
- I'm the third-leading money-winner in regular games in the history of Jeopardy!, and then I finished second out of fifteen in a tough Tournament of Champions, which included six of the top twenty-five all-time winners. Whether that means I'm actually one of the best Jeopardy! players ever, I don't know, but I think I've earned the right to be among the forty-five players fighting it out.
- Speaking of finishing second, the historic (and downright gleeful) Double True Daily Double stomping Roger Craig put on me and Buddy Wright in the ToC finals has been watched 1.8 million times and counting on YouTube (probably a few hundred of those were by me, plus a hundred more times more in my nightmares). Time for a little Brontë-sisters payback!
- Chris Jones of Esquire once compared my "seriously calculated recklessness" to Phil Mickelson's. I know, I think it's a stretch too, but it sounded great.
- There is a very funny joke at the end of my Jeopardy! video, which you can see on the Jeopardy! site and on the J! Facebook page. It's true that I didn't make the joke, but it's in my video.
- I'm Seattle's all-time top Jeopardy! champ. (Thank goodness Ken Jennings lives five miles north of the city line.)
- I really, really, really want to play Jeopardy! one last time. I know that's true of absolutely everyone who has played Jeopardy!, and certainly of everyone else who has wanted to be on the show and hasn't gotten the call. I've had a happy and lucky life, and Jeopardy! has been a very lucky part of that, but it's strange: it's like finding out in the middle of your life that you're about as good a tennis player as anyone else out there, getting one shot at Wimbledon, and then you're done. And that's really why I want to play again. A million dollars? Well, of course, but there are lots of smart people between me and what seems like Monopoly money at this point. But getting the chance to do something I only recently found out I'm really good at? Whether I get to play again or not (and no matter how well I fare if I do), I'll move on from the game-show part of my life to other things I love. But before I do, I really, really, really would like to write my name on the screen and pick up the signaling device one more time.
Thanks for your help. I apologize in advance, but you'll be hearing more from me all week.