Rage, tempest! Blow to cleanse the Earth! Still I mock you. As God himself is my witness, wild horses shall not stay my quest to get home in time for The Joker's Wild.

I am a man of deepest conviction and, mark my words, I shall prevail. Send armies to intercept me! I welcome the challenge. They may kill me, but I shall not live and miss The Joker's Wild.

I do not pay $21.95 a month for basic-cable service so that I can miss the rich palette of knowledge and skill-testing programming offered daily by the Game Show Network, a sumptuous banquet whose main course is the peerless Joker's Wild. Not by half, my friend.

Let rains three men deep flood these lands. I care not. I swear I shall be home as the closing credits of the preceding program roll, and by the time the Joker theme fills my living room, I shall be safe and dry in my Barcalounger, sipping a Fresca, awash in every nuance of early-'70s game-show zeitgeist, from horn-driven theme music to sponsorship by Z-Brick and Jules Jurgensen, to the show-capping announcement that this has been a Jack Barry and Dan Enright production.

Neptune, send mighty tsunamis to impede my path! Knock down the highest church steeple with 40-foot waves! Drown the crops and livestock! Still will I see whether Gail from Tuscaloosa beat the returning champion, Doug from Berkeley, so many decades ago.

Were it not for this week's 39-cent soft-shell taco special at participating Taco Bell restaurants, I would be home even now, mentally preparing myself. But it matters not, for I shall not miss a second of The Joker's Wild.

Offer me no Super Password. Do not patronize me with Bullseye or Magnificent Marble Machine. And attempt not to pass off the children's spinoff game show Joker! Joker! Joker! as the genuine article. I demand the original, adult Joker's Wild, preferably from the Bill Cullen years. But be the host Jack Barry or Jim Peck, I shall attend faithfully to each frame of the broadcast.

Do plagues ravage the land? I may miss Tic Tac Dough. Has our government collapsed into civil war? Perhaps I will forego Match Game. Perhaps. But though Armageddon sears the Earth, turning forests to ash and cities to heaps of skeletons, I SHALL NOT MISS THE JOKER'S WILD.

The strength of 10 is mine, for my quest is righteous. I may never meet the Devil face-to-face, nor defeat him by totaling $1,000 or more in the Big Spin. But should he dare cross my path, I can spit in his eye and skip away gleefully, for he has no domain over me. Mine is the Kingdom of Heaven, where knowledge is King and lady luck is Queen.