Saturday, January 21, 2012

Stratovarius - Intermission


“I’ll take Metal Bands for one thousand,”  The card slipped away and there it was, “Daily Double!”  Alex Trebek said, “You have $5,100,  Frank, how much do you wish to wager?” I thought for a moment.  I was behind the leading contestant by $4,800 and time was running out.  “Hell. it’s not like it’s my money.  I’ve got nothing if I lose.  Metal bands, hmmm,  should be easy for an old metalhead,”  so I exclaimed, “All of it, Alex.” 

Trebek raised his eyebrows, cocked his head to the right, raised the frequency of his voice and responded, “Alright, for $10,200 or nothing Frank - Its name was derived from a cross between the name of a violin maker and that of a Fender guitar. In 2001 this Finnish band disbanded for two years after they released an album entitled ‘Intermission’.”

I was stunned.  Could it be that Alex just asked me a question about a band from Finland?  Wait, what is this stuff about a violin maker?  Damn, I don’t know any violin makers. Fender guitars? WTF?  Let’s see, they make Telecasters and . . .” Alex interrupted my train of thought, “10 seconds.”

My mind raced and drifted.  “Finnish metal bands.  Battlelore? No, what has that got to do with violins?  Hanoi Rocks? Still no violin connection.  Shaked Booze?  Oh, come on,  I mused. I’d like some right now but that is not the answer. . .”  Then Trebek announced, “five seconds.”

His voice hit me like a switch and I went back to Fenders. “Let’s see. Telecaster, Jaguar, Stratocaster . . .  Wait, Stratocaster, wasn’t there a great Italian violin maker called, uh, uh . . .” As the buzzer went off I blurted out, “Stradivarius.”  Trebek raised one eyebrow and looked over his reading glasses directly at me, turned to the orchestra pit and said, “Judges?”  After a second or two of silence I saw the nod and Trebek said, “You are correct Frank, Stratovarius.  You now have $10,200.”  A bell went off and Trebek looked directly at the camera, “That is the end of this round.  We will be right back with Final Jeopardy.”  A stagehand exclaimed “3 . . . 2 . . . 1 and we’re out.”

We had about three minutes before Final Jeopardy.  Irja, a statuesque Scandinavian blonde with blue eyes, contestant number 2, turned to me and whispered with a sensuous Finnish accent, “I am surprised you know of StratovariusIntermission is quite an unusual album don’t you think? It is a collection of B-sides, bonus tracks and five unreleased tracks made during their prior eight albums.  Yet it contains some of the best power metal and symphonic metal pieces you will ever hear.  They cover Judas Priest’s ‘Bloodstone’ and two Rainbow numbers, ‘Kill The King’ and ‘I Surrender.’  After the show would you like to come listen with me? I’m staying at the Hilton across the street.”

Trebek rudely interrupted before I could say a word to her.  “This is Final Jeopardy.  The Final Jeopardy category is ‘Money’.  Contestants please make your final wagers.”  He again looked at the camera, “We will be back with Final Jeopardy right after these messages.  The stagehand began his countdown and we were off to commercial.  I thought, “‘Money’ could be anything.  If I bet all $10,200 and I’m wrong I’ll lose completely unless everyone else does the same thing.  I don’t have enough to sit pat because contestant number 1, Lars, is only a few hundred dollars behind me.  Hell, go for it.”  I bet it all.

Irja turned to me and said, “Well, Frank, my place for some Stratovarius after the show?”  Before I could answer Trebek again intervened, “We’re back.  And the Final Jeopardy answer is ‘Before it used the euro its monetary unit was the “markka”.’” 

All I could think of was Irja’s intimate Stratovarius metal listening party invitation.  I had never heard of the “markka.” I wrote down my answer in the form of a question just as the buzzer sounded.

Trebek repeated the answer and called on Lars to show his card, “What is Finland? Correct and how much did you wager.  Lars turned over his card, “$300.  That puts Lars in the lead with $10,300. Irja did you get Finland?  Irja turned over her card and there it was. “What is Finland? Correct.  What did you wager?  $8,000, all of it.  That puts you in the lead with $16,000.

Trebek then turned to me and asked,  “Frank, you said . . .” I turned over my card.  Trebek read, “Irja, what is your room number?”

- Old School

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