When I was about seven years old, Wheel of Fortune mania swept through the nation and nobody was better at that game than my father. The kind of genius who would do The New York TimesSunday crossword puzzle in pen, my father was a professor of English and Comedy and the smartest and most hilarious person I have (still) ever known. He was this compelling mix of the highest of the highbrow and the lowest of the lowbrow – and he pulled such a dichotomy off with style. Want an example? He was a huge hockey fan and we went to games all the time and had seats in the fourth row, right near the Islanders’ bench. The refs knew him and they hated him because the things he would shout to them – after a day of teaching college classes about the esoteric nature of Tolstoy’s prose or how many different synonyms Roth was able to come up with for the word “penis” in Portnoy’s Complaint – were vile. I remember one ref skating by and glaring at my father, yelling that he should cut his hair. I remember my father laughing at that guy and how sometimes he would pull out a rubber chicken that he found somewhere and tossing it onto the ice. I have absolutely no understanding of why he had a rubber chicken or from whence that rubber chicken came or what the significance might be for tossing it onto the ice, but what I do know is that he named the rubber chicken “Elsinore” after Hamlet’s hometown. Even today – even after all of those years have drifted by and he’s been gone for so many of them – I still laugh about it all, about that chicken, about those refs, about the fact that a certified genius almost always had a toothpick in his mouth.