August 2. 9, 2008 question

I didn’t watch or listen to Obama’s speech last night. I read it. I know he’s an extraordinary speaker who always puts on a good show. But I wanted to look at nothing more than the words. What the words revealed is a politician with a revolutionary approach. He’s already displayed his savvy in the YouTube generation, knowing that he’s never speaking to a room full of people and always addressing the virtual world. He stayed true to his brilliant track record of producing his speeches like television shows that segue seamlessly into the nightly news. And last night he and his scribes crafted a speech that was delivered from the Democratic Convention in the midst of his most ardent supporters but was intended for everyone else.

He wasn’t talking to people wearing his buttons. He was talking to people who were either undecided or opposed to him. That’s the difference between Obama and every other politician I’ve ever paid any attention to. The rest of the lot play politics like Monopoly. They build on their own property, then sit and wait for people to come to their turf and empty out their pockets. Obama plays politics like RISK, continually advancing into enemy territory until he has conquered the entire world, or at least until he’s gained a prominent foothold in Kamchatka.

And he’s really, really good. I’m still not saying I’d vote for him, but I am saying that he’s really, really good at what he does. And I also don’t think the pollsters have any idea how to gauge how well he’s doing. Just my thought for the day.

As for yesterday, Kyle, Steven F (the F stands for Fly The W Flag High), and Charles (in a 3-point effort since he didn’t specify which war) knew that World War II put a halt to the Cubs’ first shot at installing lights. Yup, they were actually going to be pioneers of the night baseball era, but they took the light towers intended for Wrigley and donated them to the war effort after the bombing of Pearl Harbor. That’s why this was a History question and not Sports.

Now the standings are as follows:

Charles: 8
Frislem: 5
Kyle: 5
Steven F: 5

And here it is, the final question in the History Event:

Where was the 1980 GOP Convention held? (3 points if you know the state only, 5 points if you know the city and state, and 10 points if you know the venue, city, and state)

August 28, 2008 question

Hey, trivia’s back. And according to radiometric dating, it’s been 36 million years since the last question. I mean, I don’t know exactly what brings on this short rant, but radiometric dating in all its forms has to be the most rancid hoax in the history of time (which, according to the hoaxers themselves, has to be about 7 gajillion years). There is absolutely no reason to believe that any of the dating methods employed by scientists (the stupidest smart people in the world) are anything more than glorified old wives’ tales. So, yeah, it’s been awhile since I sent a trivia question out, but it hasn’t been THAT long.

Moving on, here’s who knew that the Qing Dynasty was close on the heels of the Mings: Charles and Islem/Frank (I’m never sure which one is acing these questions . . . I might just go all Entertainment Tonight and call them Frislem). I’ll award both winners five points for that, which make them neck and neck in the running for the History gold in the Trivia Olympiad. Here’s today’s question:

What delayed the Cubs’ original attempt to play games under the lights in Wrigley Field?

August 22, 2008 gold medal question

Kristin Shepard shot J.R., as Paul C (the C stands for Callous Rhymes With Dallas), Karen H (the H stands for Hagman Hater), and Karen M (the M stands for Make My Day) all knew. Kyle also astutely (and correctly) pointed out that technically the shooting never took place, since a later episode revealed that the entire plot had been a dream. But since it’s hard for me to say that what happens in a dream within a TV show is any less real than the nondreamy occurrences, I’ll give full credit to both answers. So five points to everybody, which brings our entertainment scoreboard to this:

Karen H: 10
Islem: 7
Karen M: 7
Heidi: 6
Nancy K: 6
Steve T: 6
Paul C: 5
Kyle: 5
Charles: 2
Amy: 1
Cindy: 1
Steve J: 1

So, here it is, the gold medal question:

Beginning from the award presented this year, what films have won the Academy Award for Best Picture? I’ll award one point for each correct answer in succession without mistake or omission. So, if you don’t remember this year’s award winner, you’ll get no points, even if you can name every other Oscar-winning film in history. If you cheat, however, I will know, and I will send a 13-year-old Chinese gymnast to end you. Good luck.

August 20, 2008 question

Okay, so it’s been about a week since you got your last question, and I’m just so terribly sorry. The stories of suffering have been pouring in. One of you spent an entire morning of meetings thinking about nothing but the actual topics of those meetings. A woman in Baltimore was forced to actually listen to what Regis and Kelly were saying. Three children in Akron, Ohio, were stranded at the movies until police found their mother repeatedly pressing the “check mail” button in the hopes the question might finally arrive. It’s all my fault, and I apologize.

I can never hope to make up for this. I can only try to move on. So let’s finish out the Entertainment portion of the Trivia Olympiad and award some medals. Here are the male and female artists who’ve racked up the most Grammys in a single night: Michael Jackson, Carlos Santana, Norah Jones, Alicia Keys, Amy Winehouse, Beyonce, and Lauren Hill. Here’s how the points were awarded:

Heidi and Islem: 6 points
Karen H (the H stands for Holla Back): 4 points
Charles and Karen M (the M stands for Money): 2 points
Nancy K (the K stands for King Of Pop), Cindy, and Steve T (the T stands for Tito Santana): 1 point

Here are the standings:

Islem: 7
Nancy K: 6
Steve T: 6
Karen H: 5
Charles: 2
Karen M: 2
Amy: 1
Cindy: 1
Steve J: 1

And here’s the next question, a classic five-pointer:

Who shot J. R.?

Judge This


I have a love/hate relationship with gymnastics and figure skating. I love what they’re able to do. They’re definitely in the “shut your mouth, you can’t do anything like this business, okay?” category. With both those sports, you pretty much have to dedicate your entire life to that one thing and just decide you want nothing more than to be a freak of nature. Normal people, even extraordinary people, can’t jump up in the air, spin around three times, and pick which edge of a metal blade they want to land on. Humans can’t balance on a wooden beam, do a flip, and land on one foot without so much as a wobble. So anytime somebody enters that “nobody else in the history of time could ever do this” stratosphere in something other than, say, Dungeons & Dragons: the Animated Series trivia knowledge, you have to at least respect the accomplishment. I’m not ashamed to say that I love watching it.

I hate the commentary so much that I almost love it again. If Ed Wood’s movies could be turned into sportscasting, they would get behind the microphones of a gymnastics event and the result would be pretty much exactly what we have here except Bela Lugosi would be Bela Karolyi. It is so bad it’s good. If this telecast isn’t produced by Christopher Guest, I’d be a little surprised.

And it’s hard to know where the commentary ends and the judging begins. I mean, any sport that is determined exclusively by judges is ridiculous. You catch a touchdown, six points. They don’t let the ref deduct a tenth of a point because your legs came apart or you didn’t stick the landing. The Australian judge can’t award anybody seven tenths of a run for not being completely vertical when rounding third base. It’s ridiculous. It’s ridiculous that someone’s whole life can be dedicated to a competition decided by incompetents and less than arbitrary arbiters.

Maybe I’m being unfair to the judges. I don’t know them. The only thing I know about gymnastics scoring is that there are five levels of deductions: Huge, not huge, not good, wow, and disastrous. But I don’t understand how someone can land on their knees (prompting a “wow” and a “disastrous”) on half of their vaults and still win a medal . . . in vaulting.

Part of it is that the new gymnastics scoring has turned into the new NBA All Star Game Dunk Contest. You know, it used to be that if you missed a dunk in the dunk contest, your score got cut in half and you lost all chance of winning. Now they’ll let you try the same nearly impossible dunk for five minutes until you finally prove it is semi-possible. What used to be a spectacle has become a lame parade of extremely difficult mediocrity. It’s the same thing in gymnastics. They fall. They step. They waver. They fail. They medal. Woo hoo. It’s still difficult, but it’s not pretty anymore.

Back to the love. I love the fact that the whole thing boils down to drama . . . that shockingly talented people who aren’t satisfied with being the best until they’re validated by people they think are idiots and awarded medals of the appropriate metal and podiums of the appropriate height can be reduced to tears by a hundredth of a point. I love the disdain, the chastising, the anguish, the incensed cries against international injustice. All sporting respect aside, it’s just so darn fitting.

So, no, sports should never be judged. But I like standing in judgment over the ones that are.

August 14, 2008 question

Daniel Day-Lewis has been in only 8 movies since My Left Foot gave him an Oscar-winning breakthrough. He just decided he didn’t really want to breakthrough all that much, averaging one movie every two years since then. Your guesses were generally very close, as Steve T (the T stands for The Last Mohican) and Nancy K (the K stands for Kafka) were within one year and earned themselves five points each and Islem racked up one point in a third-place effort. So here are the standings after two questions:

Nancy K: 5
Steve T: 5
Amy: 1
Islem: 1
Karen H: 1
Steve J: 1

And here are two questions that will help you catch up (or put some distance between you and your competition):

1. What two men share the record for most Grammy wins in a single night by a solo artist (8)?

2. What five women share the record for most Grammy wins in a single night by a female solo artist (5)?

Observations Over the Past Few Days

NBC gymnastics commentator Al Trautwig is running away with the Gold Medal in the Idiot Olympics. If I listen to him too closely, I can actually feel a vacuum forming in my brain. It’s a real feat in a three-person gymnastics broadcasting team to make a name for yourself as the dumb annoying one. Way to go, Al. You did the impossible.

I’m not green, but I loved Wicked. It was phenomenal. There was plenty to love, from the crystalline vocals and hilarious verbal and physical high jinks of the two lead witches to the witty plot playfully adapted from Gregory Maguire’s book of a similarly wicked name. But among all the resounding harmonizations, glorious costumes, and spectacular satire was one detail that stood out to me for some odd reason: as the first act concluded in an explosion of spectral brilliance resembling Pink Floyd’s Dark Side of the Moon album cover on Human Growth Hormone, Elphaba (aka the Wicked Witch of the West) belted out the final note in the rousing anthem, “Defying Gravity,” while suspended high above the stage, and all the dizzying beams of light that filled the entire theatre suddenly contracted into a single fading circle of burning light . . . the victorious viridescent face of Elphaba. Sure, my mind has been far more occupied with the myriad misinterpretations of the so-called political undertones, but that one moment of technical detail impressed me the most. I don’t know why. It was just cool.

Addison said this the other day: “I’m not going to hit you. I’m just pretending to cut your head off with my light saber.”

I don’t think there’s a big difference between the nature of the Creationists vs. Evolutionists squabble and that of the WrestleMania IV double disqualification bout between Hulk Hogan and Andre the Giant in the 2nd round of the WWF championship elimination tournament.

The scoring of synchronized diving is almost completely arbitrary.

August 13, 2008 question

In the spirit of international gymnastics, yesterday’s question was delayed due to an extensive deliberation among the judges. But after much debate I can officially give credit to Amy, Karen H (the H stands for How Long Does It Take To Add Two Numbers?), and Steve J (the J stands for Judge My Eye), who all knew the longest running drama in TV history is Guiding Light. Of course, according to your answers, no one has ever watched the show, so I don’t know how it’s managed to stay on the air so long.

What I do know is we have a three-way tie for first in the Entertainment event of the Trivia Olympiad. Here’s today’s question, and I’ll award five points for whoever is closest, three to the second closest, and one point to the third closest guesser:

How many movies has Daniel Day-Lewis appeared in since his Oscar-winning performance in My Left Foot (1989)? (Note: My Left Foot would not be included in the total.)

Before I Ever Blogged . . .

. . . I did Trivia. I’ve been sending out trivia questions by email daily for something like nine years, I think. Some days would include long and wordy commentaries on pop culture while others have been short wanna-be-talk-show-monologue jokes. Other times I would just get right to the question. I’m not sure why I did it that way. I didn’t know what blogging was. In fact, it probably didn’t exist yet, certainly not on any sort of a popular level. But I did it every weekday with relatively few days off.

To be honest, I’m still not 100% sure what blogging is supposed to be. The genre hasn’t exactly been precisely defined for me, but I get the gist. The purpose of this blog (at least the primary purpose I’ve attached to it) is to give myself and others the chance to waste time in a way that doesn’t feel like a waste. It’s meant to be a diversion that feels like the right way to go. In essence, trivia that somehow feels important . . . and fun. And that has been the model of my trivia email pursuits from the beginning. I’ve tried to make my readers’ days just a little brighter while also making ourselves just a little brighter as well.

Anyway, I say all this to let you know that if this blog ever grows stagnant (oxymoron alert) you can always look to Trivia for a little bit of pointless knowledge and frivolous commentary. And if it winds up feeling purposeful and meaningful, well, so be it. Here’s the introduction to today’s question. It’s a typical example of the way things used to be before conventional blogging forced trivia into its current truncated existence:

Say what you want about the air quality, but there’s something in the water in Beijing. It seems that a new world record is being set with every heat of every round of every swimming event. Now, the optimistic side of me loves the fact that the American men’s 4×100-meter freestyle relay team completed the most amazing comeback in the comeback world since L.L. Cool J told us not to call his comeback a comeback. I was whooping and hollering right along with those four musclebound marine mammals as they rubbed their smash-prediction-defying victory in the turned-up noses of the French.

But they beat the world record by almost four seconds. In a race that runs just over three minutes, that’s a full two-percent shift. Keep in mind, the old World Record was not yet a day old. Five, count ’em, FIVE of the eight teams in the race beat the previous world record. I’m not saying the Americans are cheaters. I’m saying everyone is a bunch of cheaters. There is still no test for Human Growth Hormone.

But I’d say the stopwatch is a pretty good indicator.

August 11, 2008 question

Say what you want about the air quality, but there's something in the
water in Beijing. It seems that a new world record is being set with
every heat of every round of every swimming event. Now, the optimistic
side of me loves the fact that the American men's 4×100-meter freestyle
relay team completed the most amazing comeback in the comeback world
since L.L. Cool J told us not to call his comeback a comeback. I was
whooping and hollering right along with those four musclebound marine
mammals as they rubbed their smash-prediction-defying victory in the
turned-up noses of the French.

But they beat the world record by almost four seconds. In a race that
runs just over three minutes, that's a full two-percent shift. Keep in
mind, the old World Record was not yet a day old. Five, count 'em, FIVE
of the eight teams in the race beat the previous world record. I'm not
saying the Americans are cheaters. I'm saying everyone is a bunch of
cheaters. There is still not test for Human Growth Hormone. But I'd say
the stopwatch is a pretty good indicator.

Alright, enough of this grumbling. It's time for the jubilation of the
second Trivia Olympiad event: Entertainment. Here's today's question:

What is the longest-running soap opera (and the longest-running drama,
period) in television history?