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Audiobooking 4 December 12, 2017

Posted by Mike C. in Audio, Audiobooks, Comedy, Country, Film, Game Shows, History, Internet, Media, Music, News, Personal, Politics, Radio, Technology, Theatre, TV.
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Here is a list of all the audiobooks I’ve listened to in the 51 weeks since my previous “audiobooking” post:

These audiobooks got me through workouts, bedtime, long walks, and boredom.

In the case of Ron Perlman’s book, I found out after the “Legacy” chapter that Ron is politically active on social media. But I digress.

While I was obsessed with Game Show Network (now GSN) in the early 2000s, I saw plenty of Bill Anderson on Goodson-Todman game shows like Match Game and Password Plus. So, it was nice to be reacquainted with him and introduced to his music.

When you read a book, you don’t hear the tone and inflection that the author had in mind. Listening to Shelly Peiken read Confessions of a Serial Songwriter put what her words I read 16 months earlier into perspective.

Next year’s post will be #5, but will not mark five years of regularly listening to audiobooks. That milestone comes in a year and a half. In the meantime, I hope I’ve inspired you to give the above audiobooks a chance. Happy listening.

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Audiobooking 3 December 23, 2016

Posted by Mike C. in Audio, Audiobooks, Comedy, Film, History, Internet, Media, News, Personal, Pets, Politics, Radio, Sports, Technology, Theatre, TV, Video.
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Here is a list of the audiobooks I’ve listened to on Audible in the 13 months since my previous “audiobooking” post:

* – Left-wing viewpoint occasionally expressed

As I noted in my previous post, these books get me through workouts, bedtime, and boredom, but mostly the first two. As long as there are audiobooks read by my favorite public figures, I will continue to listen on Audible and chronicle those books on this site. Until next time…

Don’t Be a Pinhead Tour at Westbury recap May 3, 2015

Posted by Mike C. in Audiobooks, Books, Comedy, Commentary, Media, News, Personal, Politics, Radio, Theatre, TV.
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According to WordPress, this is my 350th post at MikeChimeri.com.

Last night, for the first time in four years, I was at NYCB Theatre at Westbury to see Bill O’Reilly and Dennis Miller. This time, their tour had a new name: Don’t Be a Pinhead.

My dad and were seated in Section B, Row H.

The show was scheduled to begin at 8:00, but didn’t start until 8:09. At that time, Bill got on the P.A. system and directed the crowd to “please greet Dennis Miller!”

Dennis’ first joke was “Hi, #Hello #GoodEvening.” Here are some of the topics of his 35-minute set:

  • Hillary Clinton
  • James Carville
  • Other potential Democratic presidential candidates
  • Bill Ayers
  • John Kerry
  • Potential Republican presidential candidates
  • John Boehner
  • Green hotel
  • Apple Watch
  • Weird sports day – “Floyd Mayweather won the Kentucky Derby”
  • Harry Reid
  • Obamacare
  • Pope Francis
  • Nancy Pelosi

After the last Pelosi joke, Bill walked toward the stage and exclaimed, “Dennis Miller, everybody!” Bill’s 35-minute set included:

  • Baltimore
  • His hard scrabble upbringing in Levitttown
  • Hillary Clinton
  • President Barack Obama
  • One poll on each of the two
  • James Carville
  • The previous two presidential campaigns (McCain, Romney)
  • Romney’s 2012 primary opponents
  • How Bill got the five living presidents to sign pictures of them to raise money for track chairs

Intermission was 15 minutes, after which Bill and Dennis returned to the stage for Q&A. Once again, they sat in chairs while the stage rotated. Highlights of this part were:

  • A question from Barry in Syosset led Dennis to joke “Barry’s got Syosset?”
  • “Volleyballtocracy”
  • Dennis’ nicknames for Vice President Joe Biden: “Jar Jar Biden,” “Plugs MacKenzie”
  • The Saturday Night Live parody of Hillary Clinton’s campaign launch
  • Bill and Dennis won’t endorse any candidates for 2016
  • Dennis’ stories of traveling with Pres. George W. Bush
  • Stories from Bill and Dennis’ trips to Iraq
  • A plug for the Rockin’ the Boat benefit on May 21
  • What is a pinhead?
  • The Killing books (Dennis’ book: Killing Lincoln Logs)
  • Bill’s infamous appearance on The View in October 2010

And with that, the night was over. Bill and Dennis left to a standing ovation. Dennis paraphrased Jackie Gleason by saying “Long Island audiences are the greatest audiences in the world.” It was certainly an entertaining two hours.

If you want to see the Don’t Be a Pinhead Tour, get your tickets fast because the shows sell out in a hurry. The next three shows in Cleveland and Memphis next month, and Atlantic City in August, are all sold out. I recommend watching the Miller Time segment every Wednesday on The O’Reilly Factor to see if new dates are added. So far, Atlantic City is it.

If any viewer e-mails from audience members are read on The Factor this week, I will update this post with those e-mails and Bill’s replies.

5/8 UPDATE: There weren’t any viewer e-mails from audience members this week, but dates were added to the tour this fall. You can find them here.

Audiobooking December 2, 2014

Posted by Mike C. in Audio, Audiobooks, Baseball, Basketball, Broadway, Comedy, Commentary, Film, Health, Media, News, Personal, Politics, Radio, Sports, Theatre, TV.
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While I may have indefinitely suspended photo album picture scanning, one constant since June has been audiobooks. What I’ve usually done is listen to a whole chapter while working out in the morning or on my portable elliptical machine in the afternoon. I only buy nonfiction and prefer that they are read by the author. I want to hear their words in their voice, not someone else’s, even if the author’s delivery is subpar.

This isn’t the first time I’ve listened to audiobooks. That goes back to a road trip with my parents and sister in January 1997, as we drove back from Florida. To show you how long ago that was, the audiobook was on cassettes. That book, The Hobbit, was the only time I’ve listened to fiction. It’s been all nonfiction since.

Between December 1997 – when I listened to The Big Show: A Tribute to ESPN’s SportsCenter – and June 2014, I would get an audiobook here and there, but I wasn’t a regular buyer. I didn’t exercise in the morning, either. That began in late March. It’s always best to get tough tasks out of the way early because your willpower drops as the day progresses. It helps to have something interesting to listen to while you’re working out, not something aggravating like politics and sports debate and discussion.

With all that in mind, I’ve listened to the following audiobooks, on CD or through Audible, since June:

  • President Me: The America That’s In My Head by Adam Carolla (via CD) – an outline of all the things Adam would do to improve the United States if he were president
  • Not Quite the Classics by Colin Mochrie (via Audible) – improvised stories based on the first and last lines of select novels and poems
  • I’ll Be Back Right After This: My Memoir by Pat O’Brien (via Audible) – Pat’s memoir chronicled his early life, television career, and struggle with addiction. Knock on wood, Pat has been sober for six years and counting.
  • Killing Patton: The Strange Death of World War II’s Most Audacious General by Bill O’Reilly and Martin Dugard (via CD) – This is the latest in Bill and Martin’s “Killing” series that factually recounts the events of historical figures leading up to their tragic deaths. Their previous books focused on Abraham Lincoln, John F. Kennedy, and Jesus of Nazareth, respectively.
  • Still Foolin’ ‘Em: Where I’ve Been, Where I’m Going, and Where the Hell Are My Keys? by Billy Crystal (via Audible) – Billy’s memoir ran the gamut of emotions, from funny to heartbreaking, recalling major events in each decade of his life as of publication last year. I learned things I never knew and recalled fond memories of what I already knew. The only downside to the book is that Billy peppered his liberal ideology throughout it, outlining his liberal points of view and maligning right-leaning personalities and media. I’m not a lockstep conservative, but I do tend to take criticism of or jokes about people, places, and things that I like personally. But I didn’t let that completely ruin the listening experience.
  • Shatner Rules: Your Guide to Understanding the Shatnerverse and the World at Large by William Shatner with Chris Regan (via CD) – When I was searching for the next audiobook to listen to, as Still Foolin’ ‘Em was winding down, I recalled William Shatner had a memoir out called Up Till Now: The Autobiography. But then I noticed that Shatner Rules had come out later than Up Till Now. So, I opted for Shatner Rules instead. The big message I took from the book was to say “yes” to as many things as possible. “‘No’ closes doors,” William said. “‘Yes’ kicks them wide open.” Shatner briefly drifted into politics, too, but the environmental kind. His doomsday scenarios were frightening. I didn’t let that completely ruin the listening experience. (ding) Rule: I highly recommend Shatner Rules as either the written book or spoken audiobook.
  • Brief Encounters: Conversations, Magic Moments, and Assorted Hijinks by Dick Cavett (via Audible) – It was here that I did let politics completely ruin the listening experience. This is not a memoir. It is a compilation of Dick’s columns at The New York Times’ Opiniator blog. That structure is similar to that for Things That Matter, a compilation of Charles Krauthammer’s columns over his 30-year career to date. Charles is Dick’s polar opposite. But I didn’t know any of that until my second day of listening. And it was this rant of a column that Dick read for Brief Encounters – combined with frustration that the book was not what I expected – that led me to request a refund from Audible. Thankfully, they granted it. I did learn a few things, though, about Dick’s days writing for The Tonight Show. I also learned that Arthur Godfrey preferred to address only one member of the listening or viewing audience (“you”), not the entire audience (“everybody”).
  • Scribe: My Life in Sports by Bob Ryan (via Audible) – I bought this in place of Brief Encounters. I’ve been listening for nearly a week and I’m enjoying it.

There will be more audiobooks to come in the weeks ahead as I continue to try to keep myself in shape.

Whose Line picked up for another season! August 2, 2013

Posted by Mike C. in Comedy, Internet, Media, News, Personal, Theatre, TV.
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After only three weeks on the CW, the reboot of Whose Line is it Anyway? has been renewed for another season!  This one will be 24 episodes long.  Jonathan Mangum tweeted the great news on Monday (one day before the airing of an episode he performed in):

Whose Line is it Anyway picked up for 2nd season! Congrats @waynebrady@colinmochrie@aishatyler@1DanPatterson and Ryan [Stiles]!!

When news broke of Whose Line‘s return back in March, I said this:

It’s a 10-episode run, but could be more if renewed or less if canceled.  Based on the failures of the Green Screen Show, Improv-A-Ganza, and Trust Us With Your Life, I’d say the latter is more likely.  But as usual, I’m prepared to be pleasantly surprised.

Consider me pleasantly surprised.  Best wishes to Whose Line, which is thus far thriving in its second life.

Whose Line is it Anyway? reboots this summer! March 3, 2013

Posted by Mike C. in Comedy, Internet, Media, News, Personal, Theatre, TV.
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Ten days after I had given up on the return of Trust Us with Your Life, I learned of wonderful news (via The Hollywood Reporter, h/t Jonathan Mangum): Whose Line is it Anyway? is returning to television this summer!

The Whose Line reboot will air on the CW, which was home to Drew Carey’s Green Screen Show prior to the WB’s merger with UPN.  According to THR, Whose Line marks the CW’s return to comedy.  They’ve otherwise been known for teen dramas.

As with the first American version, Ryan Stiles, Colin Mochrie, and Wayne Brady will be the lead performers.  Aisha Tyler will follow in the hosting footsteps of Clive Anderson and Drew Carey.  (Clive hosted the original British version.)  It’ll be interesting to see which house musician(s) will be on hand for musical games like “Song Styles” (or “Duet”), “Greatest Hits,” and “Hoedown.”

It’s a 10-episode run, but could be more if renewed or less if canceled.  Based on the failures of the Green Screen Show, Improv-A-Ganza, and Trust Us With Your Life, I’d say the latter is more likely.  But as usual, I’m prepared to be pleasantly surprised.

Here’s part of THR’s story:

… Based on the U.K. format, which spawned the 1998-2004 ABC series led by Drew Carey, Whose Line will feature the return of Ryan Stiles, Wayne Brady and Colin Mochrie, who, along with a special guest each episode, will put their comedic skills to the test through a series of improv games. Prompted by ideas from the studio audience and [host Aisha] Tyler, the performers use the information and their imaginations to depict different characters, scenes and perform songs. A winner will be named at the end of each episode.

From Angst Productions and Hat Trick Productions, Whose Line is executive produced by Dan Patterson, Mark Leveson, Jimmy Mulville, Stiles and Brady. It was co-created by Patterson and Leveson. …

2005 set lists, Remembering IMAC August 9, 2011

Posted by Mike C. in Jazz, Music, Personal, Theatre.
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While rearranging CDs in my room, which I’ve done here and there since Sunday night, I found a couple of set lists I transcribed while at two concerts in 2005.  The concerts were at the IMAC (Inter-Media Art Center) in Huntington; my first and second shows there, respectively.  I was a semi-regular at IMAC until December 2008.  Six months later, the theater closed.  I thought it was temporary at the time, but it was quite permanent.  In November 2009, the executive director, Michael Rothbard, suddenly passed away.

The first set list was from the Rippingtons early show on August 6, 2005.  Russ Freeman was, of course, on guitars; Bill Heller was on the keyboard; Dave Karasony was on drums; Scott Breadman handled percussion; Kim Stone played bass; and Eric Marienthal was on saxophone.  Here is that set list:
1. Brave New World
Originally heard on: “Brave New World,” 1996

2. Wild Card
Originally heard on: “Wild Card,” 2005

3. Gypsy Eyes
Originally heard on: “Wild Card,” 2005

4. Spanish Girl
Originally heard on: “Wild Card,” 2005

5. A Place for Lovers
Originally heard on: “Weekend in Monaco,” 1992

6. Villa by the Sea (Russ Freeman)
Originally heard on: “Drive,” 2002

7. Black Diamond
Originally heard on: “Black Diamond,” 1997

8. Cast a Spell
Originally heard on: “Let It Ripp,” 2003

9. Lay It Down
Originally heard on: “Wild Card,” 2005

10. Paradise
Originally heard on: “Wild Card,” 2005

11. Uptown (Eric Marienthal)
Originally heard on: “Sweet Talk,” 2003

12. Angelfire
Originally heard on: “Black Diamond,” 1997

13 (Encore 1). Snowbound
Originally heard on: “Curves Ahead,” 1991

14 (Encore 2). Tourist in Paradise
Originally heard on: “Tourist in Paradise,” 1989

15 (Encore 3). Purple Haze* (Jimi Hendrix cover)
Originally heard on: “Live Across America,” 2002

16 (Encore 4). Fire* (Jimi Hendrix cover)
Originally heard on: “Live Across America,” 2002

*Kim Stone, vocals

The second set list is from David Benoit’s 10:30 PM show on September 24, 2005.  David Benoit played piano and keyboard with David Hughes on bass and Jamey Tate on the drums.
1. Snap!
Originally heard on: “Fuzzy Logic,” 2002

2. Swingin’ Waikiki
Originally heard on: “Right Here, Right Now,” 2003

3. If I Were a Bell

4. Every Step of the Way
Originally heard on: “Every Step of the Way,” 1988

5. ReJoyce
Originally heard on: “Professional Dreamer,” 1999

6. Charlie Brown Theme
Originally heard on: “Here’s to You, Charlie Brown: 50 Great Years!,” 2000

7. Kei’s Song
Originally heard on: “Freedom at Midnight,” 1987

8. 9/11
Originally heard on: “Orchestral Stories,” 2005

9. Once Running Free
Originally heard on: “Every Step of the Way,” 1988

10. Cast Your Fate to the Wind
Originally heard on: “Waiting for Spring,” 1989

11. Dad’s Room
Originally heard on: “Professional Dreamer,” 1999

12. Freedom at Midnight
Originally heard on: “Freedom at Midnight,” 1987
The live arrangement of this song, complete with the “Moonlight Sonata” interlude, was finally put on an album in 2010 as “Freedom at Midnight: The Schroeder Variations.”

13. Linus and Lucy
Originally heard on: “This Side Up,” 1985; “Happy Anniversary, Charlie Brown!,” 1989 (various artists); “Here’s to You, Charlie Brown: 50 Great Years!,” 2000

14 (Encore). Watermelon Man
Originally heard on: “Right Here, Right Now,” 2003

After the show, David B. and I posed for this picture (I weighed about 60 pounds more than I do now):

Unfortunately, I didn’t start this blog, which began the age of multi-photo concert recaps, until April 2008.  But I did go to a handful of shows at IMAC between April and December:
David Sanborn – May 3, 2008 (7PM show)
RnR: Rick Braun & Richard Elliot – June 6, 2008 (7PM show)
Acoustic Alchemy – June 21, 2008
Guitars and Saxes – October 25, 2008 (9:30 PM show)
Peter White Christmas – December 12, 2008 (9:30 PM show)
David Benoit/Charlie Brown Christmas – December 19, 2008

For me, IMAC lives on through these posts.

FLASHBACK: Interviewed for Dave’s Gone By on New Year’s Eve 2006 June 6, 2011

Posted by Mike C. in Airchecks, Comedy, Internet, Interviews, Jazz, Media, Music, Personal, Politics, Radio, Theatre.
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I was Googling my name just now and came across this page.  It’s the website Dave’s Gone By, a weekly radio show hosted by Dave Lefkowitz.  There I found an interview I did–in which I was the interviewee–for the Dave’s Gone By New Year’s Craptacular special on New Year’s Eve 2006.  You can hear that interview here.  It starts at the 8:11 mark.

I was returning the favor after interviewing Dave a handful of times for The Mike Chimeri Show, which was days from its last show.  Here are all those interviews (with air dates in parentheses):
Dave Lefkowitz Interview, Part 1 (August 17, 2005)
Dave Lefkowitz Interview, Part 2 (August 17, 2005)
Dave Lefkowitz Interview II (November 23, 2005) (In this one, I accidentally refer to Dave by his show title at one point.  I had to rush down to Rockville Centre after I recorded the interview and my mind was all over the place.)
Dave Lefkowitz Interview III (March 29, 2006) (This was the first of three interviews I recorded in one day.  After Dave came Nick Colionne and Mindi Abair.  For all my Mike Chimeri Show interviews, which I self-consciously haven’t listened to since I edited them, click here.)
Dave Lefkowitz Interview IV, Part 1 (December 22, 2006)
Dave Lefkowitz Interview IV, Part 2 (December 22, 2006) (This was the last interview I recorded for The Mike Chimeri Show.)

About four years later, I was the interviewee again during the Fan Phone Call segment of Alison Rosen’s UStream show, Alison Rosen is Your New Best Friend.  You can hear that here.

Rating Improv-A-Ganza games; the ratings May 25, 2011

Posted by Mike C. in Comedy, Commentary, Game Shows, Media, Personal, Radio, Theatre, TV.
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I have been a fan of improv comedy since I discovered reruns of the British version of Whose Line is it Anyway? on Comedy Central 14 years ago.  The American version with Drew Carey and much of the American performers from the British version brought the Whose Line franchise and improv to the stratosphere.  My love for Whose Line carried over to Drew Carey’s Green Screen Show, which unfortunately didn’t last long.  But I had the good fortune to conduct phone interviews with Colin Mochrie and Brad Sherwood while I was at WCWP.  Here’s how those interviews went:

Brad Sherwood Interview (May 25, 2005)
Colin Mochrie Interview (September 14, 2005)
Brad Sherwood Interview II (November 10, 2006)

(More interviews can be heard here and here.)

Four years into Drew Carey’s run as host of The Price is Right, along came Drew Carey’s Improv-A-Ganza on GSN.  With a month and a half of the show under viewers’ belts, I’ve decided to choose my favorite, least favorite, and so-so games from the show:
(NOTE: Ratings are subject to change and vary by the episode in which the games are performed.)

FAVORITE

  • Fairy Tale
  • First Date
  • Forward/Reverse
  • Freeze Tag
  • Kick It!
  • Options
  • Playbook
  • Question This!
  • Sentences
  • Two-Headed [Expert]

LEAST FAVORITE

  • Sound Effects – I’m a perfectionist.  With the exception of Rich Fields and Steve Kamer, audiences members’ attempts at sound effects are tough to watch.
  • Moving People/Bodies – This is also tough to watch.
  • Mousetraps – All I can say is ouch!  I feel for whatever two performers have to participate.

SO-SO

  • Bob’s Call – When Bob Derkach hears a line that songs like a song, he’ll improvise a song and the two performers in the scene have to do the same.
  • Compilation Album
  • New Choice
  • Song for a Lady

I’m hoping there will be more Improv-A-Ganza in the weeks, months, and perhaps years ahead.  But unfortunately, it may not be around much longer, either, as it is suffering from low ratings.  I got so caught up in watching each episode and savoring every moment, I didn’t consider looking up the ratings.  Since the show’s competition includes cable news opinion shows, I’m not surprised.  The ratings would probably be higher if DVRs were factored in.  I’m one of those DVRers, if that is a word.  I watch my Improv-A-Ganza recording later while watching Fox News Channel’s The O’Reilly Factor as it airs.

I convert each episode to my MiniDV camcorder then capture those episodes to my computer as AVI video files.  The final step is normalizing audio and inserting fades or crossfades then rendering as MPG files and deleting the AVIs to save hard drive space.  Unfortunately, the recordings are in SD (standard definition) because Cablevision hasn’t added GSN’s HD feed.  Improv-A-Ganza airs in HD.

If Improv-A-Ganza is in its last days, then there is an upside: there will be more episodes of this show than the Green Screen Show.

5/25 UPDATE: Last night’s episode featured those so-so rated games Bob’s Call and Compilation Album.  I liked them both.  Moving Bodies was all right.

5/26 UPDATE: I have a theory about some of the Improv-A-Ganza ratings analysis.  The show is not a traditional game show, yet it’s on GSN.  Therefore, if its ratings can be negatively spun, perhaps that will hasten its cancellation.  It’s similar to the Fox Business Network (FBN): highlight the channel’s low ratings and root for its demise.

I’m probably wrong.  It is, after all, just a theory from a fan of Drew Carey’s improv franchise, from the American Whose Line to Improv-A-Ganza.

5/27 UPDATE: Look at this post on the MGM Grand Las Vegas Facebook page (h/t Improv-A-Ganza Facebook fan page):

Stand-up comic, producer, writer and host of “The Price is Right,” Drew Carey, will return to the Hollywood Theatre at MGM Grand with his Drew Carey’s Improv-A-Ganza. Audience members may appear in an original, primetime GSN (Game Show Network) television series being shot during these special live performances!

Improv-A-Ganza is alive!

6/3 UPDATE: Or is it?  Tonight’s show was the season finale.  Let’s hope it wasn’t the series finale.

Not watching The Price is Right; but instead… May 19, 2011

Posted by Mike C. in Comedy, Game Shows, Media, Personal, Theatre, TV.
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This season, The Price is Right went in a direction that I did not like: they decided to go with guest announcers that had little or no announcing experience.  The guest announcer they felt was best was made permanent.  The result is a stilted delivery with caricatured announcer emphasis.  I don’t want to name the announcer because if I decide to watch regularly again, he may grow on me.  In that case, I will update this post with the good news.  Until then, I watch three shows with professional announcers:

  • Jeopardy! with Johnny Gilbert
  • Wheel of Fortune with a series of guest announcers trying to fill the late Charlie O’Donnell’s shoes; as I type, Jim Thornton is guest announcing for the third week in a row
  • Drew Carey’s Improv-A-Ganza with former TPiR announcer, the last pro, Rich Fields

In the case of Improv-A-Ganza, it appears Drew has finally found a successful successor to Whose Line is it Anyway?  I love nearly every second of the show.  The best game so far was Forward/Reverse on last Monday’s episode.  Jonathan Mangum, part of the Improv-A-Ganza performer rotation, is a good announcer/sidekick to Wayne Brady on Let’s Make a Deal, a show I watched (despite not airing in HD) until I could no longer take poor decisions by contestants.  Wayne has appeared as a special guest in select Improv-A-Ganza episodes.

With Wheel, it helps if there are as little dud letters called and as little Bankrupts and Lose-A-Turns spun as possible.  A successful bonus round solve doesn’t hurt either.

Jeopardy! is at its best when the two rounds are completed without the annoying bip-bip-bip-bip indicating time has run out and clues will remain hidden.