Regis Philbin Ruined My Brain

17 Jan





Regis Philbin: Ruiner of Brains and Dreams. Image: "Who Wants to Be a Millionaire"


I have wasted an incredible amount of brain storage for useless pop culture trivia and I fear I will never get it back.

As I approach my quarter-of-a-century life celebration, I’m forced to again wonder how much I can possibly fit inside my brain before other material is pushed out.

Of course, I wondered the same thing in 4th grade and I’ve managed to make room for a decent amount of information since then.

But I can’t help but consider the useless knowledge I’ve racked up in the dusty attic of my cerebrum.  2nd edition rules for Dungeons and Dragons, the proper execution of raids in World of Warcraft, the names, titles, and prior affiliations of bands and artists from the 60’s, 70’s and 80’s, the entire plotline of Battlestar Galactica…  these are all fine details that have proven to be of absolutely no worth in real life.

Unless we are attacked by cylons.  Or wizards.  Then I’m President, no question.

The unfortunate reality of the situation is that these are all areas of study that were self-chosen.  And I’ve decided that there is only one thing to blame: Who Wants to Be a Millionaire.  Well, my incredible affinity for geeky hobbies and Who Wants to Be a Millionaire.

Long before people were just handed a million dollars at the beginning of the show only to waste it away, people actually had to work their way up a frightening ladder of trivia in order to have that beautiful, dirty money rain from the sky like confetti. 

Regis would pull the check out after every ladder rung was successfully climbed, just to show the contestant a taste of what could be theirs if only they would walk away.

I watched at home on the edge of my seat.  All the answers up to the $32,000 mark were pop culture questions!  I only had to watch the most recent shows, listen to the most popular music, and watch the most popular videos to successfully work my way up the ladder to being a millionaire.  I spent time committing strange and random facts to memory, like who invented the lava lamp (for your information, it was Edward Craven Walker).  I even prepared for the possibility that a friend would need me when they were in the hot seat and practiced strategies for looking up the answer to a random question in less than 30 seconds. 

My 8th grade math teacher compounded the problem, by reviewing homework and approaching critical thinking questions with the same rules as the popular game show.  He had actually entered to be a contestant and in anticipation of winning a place in the hot seat, he practiced strategies in the classroom.  If I didn’t know something, I could phone a friend,  try 50/50, or poll the entire class.

That turned out to be a policy other teachers were really not okay with.

Somewhere within the deep, dark crawlspaces of my subconcious, I truly believed that someday I would be called upon to represent the human race and be tested with a vast array of pop culture trivia, after which I would undoubtedly win and sprinkle my friends and family with greasy one dollar bills. 

No one ever called.

The popularity of Millionaire began to decline and Regis Philbin bid adeiu.  New game shows were introduced that had nothing to do with knowledge.  America didn’t want to learn things, it wanted to watch people do ridiculous, degrading tasks for money in one minute or less.  They wanted to see beautiful women open suitcases full of cash.  They wanted to hook people up to lie detectors and see how much they can be humiliated before their friends and family before they step off the stage.

The Internet boasted information overload, Americans became dumber, and I became obselete.

I have no idea who is on the top 10 list for music or videos right now.  I don’t know even one song by Justin Bieber, and I had to google his last name just now to make sure I spelled it correctly.   I’m not entirely sure what’s on T.V. these days and I only browse Netflix’s Instant Queu long after popular shows have gone to DVD.

I have become old and oblivious.

If Meredith Viera called me today and asked me if I wanted to be a millionaire, I would admit in the affirmative and then immediately tell her I’m unworthy out of humiliation.   I am no match for today’s game show quizzes.

I wish I could do something with that space in my brain.  I wish I could go back and fill it with another language or Calc 3 or origami, but I can’t.

I can, however, embrace the new path of T.V. game shows.  I can attempt to move three eggs across my kitchen floor only by fanning them with an empty pizza box.  I can practice pulling tissues out of a box one by one as fast as possible and by only using one hand.   I can speed sort M&Ms by color and place them into separate cups one at a time until I am the grand master of the world at M&M speed sorting.

And so I shall.

Guy Fieri and the producers of Minute to Win It: I’ll be expecting your call.



102 Responses to “Regis Philbin Ruined My Brain”

  1. Mikalee Byerman January 18, 2011 at 11:18 am #

    I realize that you’re only a quarter of a century old so this may not mean as much to you as to me, but did you hear Regis is retiring from his daily talk show, too?

    Seems we’ll no longer benefit from his phone-a-friend skills or his inane morning banter!



    • Jackie January 18, 2011 at 5:44 pm #

      I actually just read that this morning and am kind of taken aback by the fact that I even care. He’s a great TV personality and I can’t imagine who can replace him.


  2. The Simple Life of a Country Man's Wife January 18, 2011 at 11:20 am #

    True stuff. When contestants are given the choice between history or celebrities, the latter is almost always chosen.


  3. 2thyselfbtrue January 18, 2011 at 11:26 am #

    Maybe you can take some solace, in “Cash Cab”?


    • Jackie January 18, 2011 at 5:45 pm #

      You’re so right – I love that show! And a lot of the questions are very challenging.

      Suppose I should move to New York… 😉


  4. paulbeforeswine January 18, 2011 at 11:33 am #

    Congratulations on making it to Freshly Pressed!

    Your blog is awesome and I subscribed to it.

    Is it coincidence that good ol’ Regis just announced his rretirement, or did you curse him?


    • Jackie January 18, 2011 at 5:47 pm #

      Thanks for subscribing!

      Just a coincidence… if I had the power to curse people and get them off T.V., I’d start with reality shows 😉


  5. pegoleg January 18, 2011 at 11:33 am #

    Fear not, Regis has just received his comeuppance. It was announced today that he is being put out to pasture, kicked to the curb, given the gold watch and tossed onto the dustbin of history.

    I realize this is hardly recompense for the wasted shell that is your life, but may his suffering bring you comfort.


    • Jackie January 18, 2011 at 5:49 pm #

      You know, I found the writing style of your comment so darn amusing that I checked out your blog – nice work! I’m now a loyal subscriber.


      • pegoleg January 20, 2011 at 10:29 am #

        Thanks! Right back at you and ditto! (and congrats on being FP. It happened to me last month, and the incredible pressure caused me to take up drugs. No, really, that was why!)


        • Jackie January 20, 2011 at 10:43 pm #

          lol Yes the pressure is very, very real. I’m tempted to cope with drugs, thanks to your terrible influence. 😛


  6. CoriScores January 18, 2011 at 11:37 am #

    Did you ever see that episode of Married With Children where Kelly has to study for something, and then each new piece of information she learns makes her forget one thing she has already learned? One in, one out. Funny stuff… I feel like that all the time!


  7. jaredblakedicroce January 18, 2011 at 11:53 am #

    Funny stuff here!
    I know how you feel. I’m a fan of geeky things (Magic the gathering anyone), and always have been fond of useless trivia (the only reason that bumblebees can hold up their mass with those tiny wings, is because they turn while flapping, thus creating further thrust), and I feel like I’m diverging from mainstream America more and more each day.
    Though i am glad that people like you exist. It makes me happy to know I’m not alone. and that I’m not the only one with a penchant for all things unusual, and obscure.
    Grats on being FP,
    (P.S.- I’ll see you on minute to win it. My dining room table has innumerous indents from when i practice the quarter in the water-cooler bottle game… I was fun/funny till the girl noticed.)


    • Jackie January 18, 2011 at 5:53 pm #

      I love everything about this comment. Especially the nod to Magic the Gathering. It’s lovely to know you exist as well.


  8. J Roycroft January 18, 2011 at 12:17 pm #

    Very funny…Great blog by the way.


    • Jackie January 18, 2011 at 5:53 pm #

      Thanks for reading!


  9. lifeintheboomerlane January 18, 2011 at 12:25 pm #

    Major funny, Thank goodness you still have enough brain cells left to create wonderful posts like this. But, a word of caution: Don’t push it. Go to a Who Wants to be a Millionaire Support Group and get off the stuff.


  10. deehsarsiavo January 18, 2011 at 12:38 pm #

    funny read, but I like the subtle hints of sarcasm towards the fact that American reality shows are becoming more and more outrageous. Don’t feel too obsolete though, I’m sure there’s a use for that useless trivia somewhere!


    • Jackie January 18, 2011 at 5:55 pm #

      They really are, aren’t they? And we’ve got a double hit with celebrity reality shows. Ugh.

      Haha maybe that’s why I started a blog in the first place…I needed a receptacle for this stuff. 🙂


  11. I Made You A Mixtape January 18, 2011 at 12:42 pm #

    Fabulously funny post!! And so well written, I was hooked from beginning to end. Love the quips about you “being the President” and “filling your brain with origami” etc. Love your blog!


    • Jackie January 18, 2011 at 5:55 pm #



  12. Tara Schiller January 18, 2011 at 12:59 pm #

    Great Blog! Very entertaining.


  13. mynakedbokkie January 18, 2011 at 1:07 pm #

    I think you should use all of that info to create a board game!!!
    Congrats on being freshly pressed!


    • Jackie January 18, 2011 at 5:56 pm #

      Ah – Trivial Pursuit.

      Of course, I’m only good at the pop culture questions…

      I’m killer at Scene It though!


  14. Evie Garone January 18, 2011 at 1:08 pm #

    Funny stuff, this! Thanks for sharing & Congrats on being Freshly Pressed! I’m sure you’ll use that trivia somehow, maybe just to amaze your kids with useless bits of random info. Ha, Ha!! Too bad Regis had to retire, what is he 80?


    • Jackie January 18, 2011 at 5:58 pm #

      79 – give the man his last inch of the 70’s bracket 😛


  15. PCC Advantage January 18, 2011 at 1:14 pm #

    Gone are the days of Regis Philbin giving away wads of cash in exchange for trivial knowledge…I feel your pain. 😉

    Brilliant post!


  16. 4myskin January 18, 2011 at 1:17 pm #

    Sigh…I dream of game shows, but I’m better at the historic stuff. I don’t know pop culture at all!


    • Jackie January 18, 2011 at 5:59 pm #

      I envy your brain power – at least it’s relevant!


  17. acleansurface January 18, 2011 at 1:36 pm #

    I can’t believe your teacher let you phone a friend.


    • Jackie January 18, 2011 at 5:59 pm #

      Well we didn’t actually pick up the phone – we just asked someone else in the class.

      Not exactly a great teaching method, but it sure was fun. 🙂


  18. moonchild11 January 18, 2011 at 1:45 pm #

    I hope someday we DO get attacked by cylons and wizards. We geeky gameshow fans will finally be at the top of the food chain!


  19. Tori Nelson January 18, 2011 at 1:49 pm #

    I feel your pain. I mastered Trivial Pursuit only to realize upon getting my first grown up job, that knowing dates of celebrities’ deaths or the color of the gown Queen Latifah wore to a certain red carpet event was not the same thing as knowing how to use a fax machine 😦
    Thanks for the laugh & congrats on FP!


    • Jackie January 18, 2011 at 6:00 pm #

      Then you, Ms. Tori Nelson, know my pain. 🙂

      Thanks for stopping by!


  20. Lakia Gordon January 18, 2011 at 1:58 pm #

    I remember when that show came out and EVERYONE loved it !! We actually emulated it in school, “Who wants to win five dollars” lol.


  21. theonicolas January 18, 2011 at 2:05 pm #

    I still like who wants to be a millionaire


    • Jackie January 18, 2011 at 6:02 pm #

      I would if I weren’t so uncomfortable with change.

      Thanks for stopping by 🙂


  22. humanitarikim January 18, 2011 at 2:05 pm #

    It’s always amazed me how I can remember every word to “Girls Just Want to Have Fun” by Cyndi Lauper from the 80x, but I have a hard time remembering important stuff. I am not sure what kind of organizational theory is used in the human brain, but someone should work on creating a new one.

    Good post!


    • Jackie January 18, 2011 at 6:03 pm #

      I think it has something to do with music and learning. My 3rd grade teacher set the multiplication tables to familiar songs and I was a wiz at it.

      Of course I still have to hum “She’ll Be Comin’ Round the Mountain” to get through my 8’s…


  23. educlaytion January 18, 2011 at 2:19 pm #

    Humor, clever wit, and pop culture. You’ve got so much of what I love in a great post here! If I end up on millionaire you will have to be my lifeline.


    • Jackie January 18, 2011 at 6:04 pm #

      Get on it! 🙂 Thanks for reading.


  24. enjoibeing January 18, 2011 at 2:22 pm #

    great read! good post


  25. Christy aka Mamarazzi January 18, 2011 at 2:25 pm #

    Ha! As I have recently reached the age of 40, I personally ran out of extra brain room at the age of around 35. I often say, my brain is like a sponge, it can only soak up so much info before it starts leaking out the low end.
    Seems now when I put extra knowledge in my brain, things like where I placed the car keys seems to have dripped out the back end somewhere.
    I think shows like Minute to Win it, can only be helpful for people like us.


  26. WordCrafter January 18, 2011 at 2:28 pm #

    Great post! I also would enjoy being on WWTBAM?. I probably wouldn’t get very far though. I do agree that the new game shows are moving more towards humiliating the contestants, rather than showing off their smarts or skills. Two shows I miss that never went anywhere were 1 vs. 100 and Duel. Both fun shows to watch and play along with!


    • Jackie January 18, 2011 at 6:09 pm #

      I hate it when good shows come to TV but not enough people are into them. These comments are giving me some throwbacks – like old school shows that featured entire families? Family Double Dare was the best.

      Thanks for stopping by 😀


  27. harkheindzel January 18, 2011 at 2:39 pm #

    I love this post. Welldone.


  28. whippedkreme8 January 18, 2011 at 3:03 pm #

    Nice post. So funny. And don’t worry, all that stuff may not be worth anything in the “real” world, but the “fake” world people like you and me live in is so much better. 😉
    Looking forward to future posts.


  29. dearexgirlfriend January 18, 2011 at 3:35 pm #

    im pretty sure you just described EXACTLY how i felt four years ago. its actually kind of creepy…well done, i think.


    • Jackie January 18, 2011 at 6:10 pm #

      I’m inside your mind 😉 Thanks for reading!


  30. elvishjesusfreak January 18, 2011 at 3:42 pm #

    This was such a good post! I completely agree with you! 🙂


  31. theeclecticwoman January 18, 2011 at 4:52 pm #

    Hilarious!! Can’t wait to read more from your pop-culture saturated mind!


  32. squareblogger January 18, 2011 at 5:24 pm #

    I disagree; I think that the evolution of game shows is looking up. Think about it: you have much better of a chance of getting picked up by the Cash Cab in Manhattan and winning some beer money than you do having the perfect balance of stupidity and intelligence that the casting calls for Who Wants to be a Millionaire are looking for. And even if you are the half wit that makes it to the show, good luck getting past $32,000 as you said. Opt for the free ride and beer money is what I say : )


    • Jackie January 18, 2011 at 6:13 pm #

      That is entirely true: 2thyselfbtrue used Cash Cab as an example too. It’s a wonderful show with regular people and no auditions. I love it! I do think it’s becoming the minority compared to mindless celebrity competitions, reality shows, and humiliating scenarios, however. Maybe my best bet is moving to the Big Apple? 🙂 Thanks for the comment!


  33. Artswebshow January 18, 2011 at 6:26 pm #

    lol, this is all very fun to read.
    Perhaps one day those skills will be required again, in fact i’m sure of it


  34. Sister Earth Organics January 18, 2011 at 6:33 pm #

    I would rather watch people answer intelligent questions about pop culture or “fan 3 eggs across the floor with pizza boxes” than watch two contestants see who can eat a pig uterus or a bull’s testicle the fastest.
    (Even though I don’t watch TV, I think I might tune in to see Regis eat a bull’s testicle :))


    • dtrasler January 18, 2011 at 7:05 pm #

      …I would tune in to see a bull eat…No, maybe I wouldn’t….


  35. Not Regis January 18, 2011 at 6:35 pm #

    You can’t blame me because I’m not Regis.


  36. Bmw Sedan January 18, 2011 at 6:59 pm #



  37. Brittany S January 18, 2011 at 7:00 pm #

    This is an excellent and timely post, now that Regis has announced his retirement from television (finally). I remember being young and thinking all the questions were really hard and vowing to become smart when I was older so I could be on the show. Now I’m old and I still think most of the questions are really hard and I just feel dumb. I don’t really watch Minute to Win It, but perhaps I will if you’re ever on it!


    • Jackie January 18, 2011 at 11:42 pm #

      I’ll be sure to let you know 😉


  38. mannyl22 January 18, 2011 at 7:28 pm #

    I am so up there with you. I spent my youth filling my brain with senseless pop culture information that now I have no idea where th store the serious information now that i need. I fear my brain will evnetually crash.


    • Jackie January 18, 2011 at 11:43 pm #

      I fear we all might. One day we pop culture mongers will just shut down, just like Surrogates.


      • Lectin Gaezat January 19, 2011 at 5:48 am #

        I see a Surrogate’s reference, and I just had to love it and like it XD.

        I’m hopeless at random facts. I spend hours on wikipedia and tvTropes of all places wasting hours on just absorbing detail over minute detail.

        If we had a random trivia game on any major TV show or book series I /might/ sweep the winnings.

        Congrats on being Freshly Pressed BTW,


  39. rtcrita January 18, 2011 at 8:12 pm #

    That Minute To Win It show is addictive, for sure. I never plan to watch it, but as soon as I accidentally catch it by flipping through the channels, I’m hooked and end up watching the whole show.

    Did you play a lot of “Kerplunk” when you were a kid? Because that’s what the whole show reminds me of. You needed some skill, a little brain power to figure out which stick to pull out next without making all the marbles fall, and it could make you feel really stressed when things got close to the nitty-gritty. Then again, sometimes it was just about pure luck!


    • Jackie January 18, 2011 at 11:44 pm #

      I never played it, but I did just google it and I’m intrigued. I was more of a Mouse Trap and Splat sort of kid. Apparently I was into destruction. 🙂 Thanks for reading!


  40. Asian Dyna January 18, 2011 at 9:25 pm #

    Very clever.
    But gone are the days where we had good quality TV shows. It’s all reality shows now – no-brainers.
    Wait a minute, did I say no-brainer?
    Hmmm…joining those wouldn’t be so bad then…


  41. Shannon January 18, 2011 at 9:53 pm #

    I used to absolutely LOVE that show. Trivia is one of my favourite things and my friends call me a walking encyclopaedia of useless knowledge. I miss trivia games, but so far, I’ll always have Jeopardy.


    • Jackie January 18, 2011 at 11:47 pm #

      You know, I guess it does say something about America that there is enough of an audience for Jeopardy to still be running strong. I overlook this sharp needle in a haystack of idiocy.


  42. Amanda Cadle January 18, 2011 at 10:10 pm #

    Great post! My friends refer to me as the encyclopedia of random knowledge, or the random fact machine, and I take great pride in it. Sad I know. But I too can envision a time when my knowledge will be called upon…at least it actually comes in handy in conversation from time to time.


    • Jackie January 18, 2011 at 11:45 pm #

      Not sad at all. Maybe our day will come. Eventually. At least we make for interesting conversationalists. 🙂


  43. auntbethany January 18, 2011 at 10:51 pm #

    I remember when the “Millionaire” video games were popular. It was a highly entertaining (and worthwhile) activity to sit around a computer screen on a Friday night and play rounds and rounds of this game. Nowadays, you can’t get a kid to pay attention to a video game unless he’s handed a “numchuk” or the equivalent of an Uzi rifle. Oh Regis…wherefore art thou?


    • Jackie January 18, 2011 at 11:46 pm #

      Agreed! I had a startling moment this Christmas when I walked into my grandmother’s house, which used to be littered with toys and children, to see all my young cousins sitting in a silent desert of carpet, with only iPods, iPhones, and other iRelated devices. It sincerely worries me.


  44. Deanna January 18, 2011 at 11:29 pm #

    I couldn’t take the heat Regis dished up every week on that show – I watched it once, but it was too much of a nail-biter. I think I wanted the contestants to win more than the contestants themselves, and was shattered when they lost.
    So I turned to trashy novels to entertain my cranium, like Apollo, Starbuck and Athena used to do.


    • Jackie January 18, 2011 at 11:46 pm #

      Ohhh careful with the Galactica talk; it gets me all hot and geeky. 😛 Thanks for stopping by!


  45. makingup3000 January 18, 2011 at 11:44 pm #

    Too funny!!


  46. Connie T January 19, 2011 at 1:21 am #

    Then you could probably be on Are you smarter than a 5th grader. It is a good thing you don’t watch much TV. It has gone downhill…a lot. I was watching this show about strange addictions. One lady likes to eat toilet paper. One lady like to eat detergent. One girl likes to pull out her hair. Next week they are having on a lady that likes to eat couch cushions. I don’t think I will watch that show anymore. Those people are nuts. I watched the show Minute to win it. So stupid. They even let them practice it before they go on the show.


    • Jackie January 19, 2011 at 6:46 pm #

      Now either people are seriously making up ridiculous things for the money in it, or people are seriously making money off of some terrible, personal issues. Either way, that’s disturbing. I had no idea they let people practice before the show! How disappointing. :/


  47. ehliyet January 19, 2011 at 4:02 am #

    thanks for write


  48. elvalentino January 19, 2011 at 6:45 am #

    I always wanted to be one of those milk boys who jump off the back of moving vans cuz it’s exciting and adventurous.. but Man speed sorting Mn’Ms would be a sweet ass deal.. thanks for the tip


  49. Nokia mobile prices Pakistan January 19, 2011 at 7:56 am #

    Nice Post. I like that.


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