July 30, 2009 question – Stupidist

Racism or Intellectualism?
Obama’s “stupid” comments costing him; but why?
Barack Obama said that the police officers who arrested Harvard prof William Henry Gates acted “stupidly,” a word he later wished he had calibrated differently.

Now the news is out that the way he handled his comments (and the comments about the comments about the comments) are costing him where it hurts a president most: his approval rating.

Most reactions seem to categorize this flap as a matter of racism. I see it as something different. Stupid is not just a bad word for kids to say anymore. Now the president can’t even say it. If he had calibrated his thoughts as, “The police would have been wiser to approach matters differently,” Obama probably would have been okay. But he called the police “stupid,” and that will land anybody in time out.

Yeah, I think Obama’s big mistake was offending stupid people. While that may be fun here at trivia, the White House isn’t just supposed to defend Harvard professors. The Constitution begins, “We the people,” not, “We the smart people.”

Let’s not use stupid as an insult any longer. Don’t judge on mental might. Everybody has the potential to improve their intellect; even the prez.

Today’s Question
What is the youngest school in the Ivy League?

Previous Answer
And the people who knew it
Karen M (the M stands for My Prince Better Be Tough) alone knew that the Grimm Brothers’ princess didn’t kiss the frog; she tossed him against the wall to transform him. Congrats! (And frogs, look elsewhere for a smooch.)

July 6, 2009 question – Gore ’09

It’s Pamplona Time.

Keep a close eye on your upper thigh.
The economy is wearing on the city of Pamplona and its annual running of the bulls.

Call me old school, but I’d rather be pinched by a recession than gored by a bull.

Today’s Question
What Hemingway novel popularized the San Fermín festival in Pamplona?

Previous Answer
And the people who knew it
I’m a little disappointed in you for trusting me so much. I tried to tell you overtly that I would not be asking trick questions anymore . . . which is exactly what someone who is about to ask yet another trick question would say. Because there are no, zero, nada free-standing structures that reach higher than the Sears Tower antennas. By most classifications, antennae do not count in the “world’s tallest” argument. Spires count, antennas don’t. I can’t pretend to understand it, but that’s the way it is. So in my mind (where anyone is free to roam around, although I don’t recommend it) the Sears tower is the world’s tallest building. There are four structures that go higher than the top of the actual building, but those red and white feelers touch rarified air. So congrats to Sears, Willis, and all future names of Chicago’s most altitudinous location!

June 29, 2009 question – Trivia Saves Lives

What’s with the Dying?
Trivia was never meant to be an obit
Ed McMahon. Farrah Fawcett. Michael Jackson. Billy Mays. I guess the lesson here is, when I don’t send Trivia, celebrities die. I’m on it.

Today’s Question
Sir Frederick Treves, the physician famed for treating “Elephant Man” Joseph Merrick, was also the first to perform what surgical procedure?

Previous Answer
And the people who knew it
Dorothy Gale was the central character in The Wizard of Oz, although the Ozzians knew her by one name only, a la Madonna and Cher. Congrats to Jocelyn, John H (the H stands for Happy Birthday), Karen H (the H stands for Howling Winds Of Genius), Stephen K (the K stands for Knocked Out During House Relocation), and Karen M (the M stands for Emily), all of whom knew Dorothy long before she hit it big on the Yellow Brick Road. Your intellect blows me away.

May 8, 2009 question – Off with his head!

Drew the Short Straw
I really hope this doesn’t delay his next wedding.
First of all, thanks to everyone who went outside yesterday and came back to tell me of the beauty you beholded. It certainly made my day better.
Second of all, raise your hand if your day didn’t get just a little better when you heard about the arrest of Drew Peterson, the ex-cop with a marital record worthy of Henry VIII? Anyone . . . anyone? Bueller?

It’s very tempting to ramble on about what a jerk this guy is, but it’s Friday. So why not just silently savor the image of a crooked ex-cop spending the rest of his life surrounded by people who don’t really like crooked ex-cops . . . ah, justice.

Today’s Question
How many of Henry VIII’s marriages ended in beheading?

Yesterday’s Answer
And the people who knew it
Ladybugs eat aphids and mites and buggy little pests in general. Here’s who knew:

Karen H (the H stands for Have An Aphid)
Karen M (the M stands for Mites Are Ready!)
Steve J (the J stands for Juicy!)
NC (the N C stands for No Cheezburgers)

I’m so impressed, as is my son who supplied the question. Congrats!

May 5, 2009 question – Cinco de . . . um . . .

Down the Stretch They Come
And by “they” I mean society
I know it’s Cinco de Mayo, but now that I’m half conscious, I want to talk about Dos de Mayo and the running of the Kentucky Derby. The most telling thing about that race was not the 21-hour drive the owner and his horse made from New Mexico (or the hobbled hissy fit he threw when asked about it for the twenty-first time after winning). It wasn’t the 50-1 odds Mine That Bird overcame. It wasn’t even the fact that the winning horse was in dead last 3/4 of the way through the race (or the fact that, after Kyle mockingly said he bet on that horse, I told him not to worry, he was going to do a Black Stallion and win this thing).

No, the very best part of the race, the part that summed up the improbability of it all, was the call Tom Durkin made once Mine That Bird opened up a three length lead–a lead he would more than double down the stretch. Yes, with about 100 yards left in the race, Durkin’s call went like this:

“And out in front is . . . uh . . . “

Yeah, the reason he was searching for a name was the simple fact that the last time he had referenced that horse was in this sentence: “And behind the rest of them is Mine That Bird.”

That’s how unexpected and lightning fast his surge to victory was. I had to rewind it multiple times to verify that what I had just seen was really what my mind was assuming it was.

And it was. And it was hilariously awesome.

Today’s Question
Prior to their defeat in the Battle of Puebla (on Cinco de Mayo) what was the last military battle the French Army had lost, almost 50 years prior?

Yesterday’s Answer
And the people who knew it
Yes, you can see the Andromeda Galaxy with the naked eye. It’s right . . . there. Here’s who spotted it:

Steve T (the T stands for Two Hundred Fifty Light Years Away, Making It One Of The Most Distant Objects Visible From Earth WTNE)
Steve J (the J stands for Just Wave So I Can See Where You Are)

Congratulations on your intergalactic genius.

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April 24, 2009 question – CHI-Jinx

Spoke Too Soon
My kind of losing streak
Since my celebratory email on Monday rejoicing in the glorious weekend of winning, my Chicago teams have won precisely one game. Thank God it’s the weekend again (yes, I’m counting today as the weekend in the hopes that words that begin in W’s conjure up some wins).

If you look on the bright side, of course, you’ll realize that there’s more to life than sports. If, however, sports is the best thing you’ve got going . . . well, I hope you’ve been rooting for someone other than Chicago. Yikes.

Happy Friday anyway.

Today’s Question
What two countries were joined under the reign of the Jagiellon Dynasty?

Yesterday’s Answer
And the people who knew it
Wow. Either I’ve asked this question before or you’re all just really smart about your folksy guitar bands. Or both. Plenty of you knew that The Byrds were always fronted by Roger McGuinn. Here’s who:

Heather M (the M stands for McGenius)
Steve T (the T stands for Turn, Turn, Turn)

Rock on with your Byrd-loving selves.

April 16, 2009 question – Get Lost

Come get found
Do you watch Lost? It’s awesome, and it’s only getting awesomer. And when the end of the season approaches (the end of the penultimate season, mind you) it tends to get even awesomerer.

And while I’m usually the one asking questions here, today I invite you to ask away with all your Lost-related inquiries, theories, and speculation. I will try to respond in due course, although I can’t promise that I’ll be able to answer your questions before I flash forward in time. We can also share theories in some kind of forum so as not to annoy the people who choose not to attain self-actualization through discussion of the coolest show of all time.

Today’s Question
Who disappeared with Amelia Earhart (and no, I won’t accept “her navigator” as an answer; I’m looking for a name)?

Yesterday’s Answer
And the people who knew it
The answer may not have been obvious, but it was obverse. Micaela, Steve T (the T stands for Tails, You Lose), and Konrad had no trouble making heads or tails of that answer. If Trivia nation had currency, their heads would be on the big bucks. Congratulations!

April 7, 2009 question – Go Cubs Go

We’re Singing
Go, Cubs, Go
Okay, so I didn’t jinx Opening Day. Cubs win 4-2. All is right with the world. But I can’t go a whole season without mentioning the Cubs. Or could I? Have I been jinxing every season by talking about the Cubs? I guess we’ll never know. Oh, no! Now I’ve jinxed them by insinuating that the Cubs will never win and thus be able to disprove my jinxing theory!

Superstition is such an unbecoming ubiquity.

Today’s Question
Baseball . . . yes, BASEBALL!
To what did the Cleveland Bluebirds change their team name in 1902 after Nap Lajoie became the team’s biggest star?

Yesterday’s Answer
And the people who knew it
Hippos have 36 teeth, but the handful of really big ones catch your attention. And I want to thank you all for guessing so generally wide of the mark in both directions, which made crowning a winner a mathematical achievement. But, if my tallies are to be believed (and Jessie would be inclined to say they are not, since I overlooked her, yesterday) Diannalee is today’s winner. Congratulotamus.

April 1, 2009 question: But Seriously

If I Could Just Get Serious for a Moment
. . . but I can’t.
The news just ain’t doing it for me today. There’s sports stuff to talk about. Or Idol. But overall this day just feels so boring. Maybe it’s because Obama left the country and took our mojo with him. I just haven’t been this far from Barack since he took office, and I just don’t know what to do with myself.

I guess I’ll just sit here and cry. Or . . . I could just take comfort in knowing that there doesn’t necessarily need to be anything to be distracted from in order for trivia to be a pleasant distraction. So I’ll just let the crickets chirp for awhile, and then I’ll get on to the question.


Today’s Question
In what year was the inaugural Cricket World Cup held?

Yesterday’s Answer
And the people who knew it
Before he was posthumously doling out awards bearing his name, Joseph Pulitzer fought in the American Civil War and did his fair share of newspaper work. Karen H (the H stands for Honor In Reporting) and Heather M (the M stands for Mudslinging Yellow Journalists) both knew, given some time to think about it. You are both awarded the Pulitzer Prize of Trivia. Kudos.

March 30, 2009 question

Yes or Nolympics
Your answers
On Friday I asked for your input on the pros and cons of seeing the Olympics come to Chicago. Thanks to everybody who enlightened me while making my decision as the official PWANS (Person With Absolutely No Say) all the more difficult. Here are your responses:
The Pros

    * When Michael Phelps exhales, the smoke will be lost in the wind. (Kyle)
    * I won’t have to travel far to see it. (Charles . . . and me)
    * I will definitely come and definitely impose on all of my Chicagoland family members and try to go see an Olympic event or two. The coming and the imposing are definite. The actual attending of the Olympics is still at a try and see status. (Heidi)
    * It might get the 3rd airport opened. (Heather M)

The Cons

    * The cost and hassle has overshadowed any benefit of the Games to the city for every host city that is not in an authoritarian state. Like Chicago needs more costs and hassles. (Heather M)
    * The Democrats cannot pull off the Olympics (even though, unfortunately, they can sometimes pull off the presidential elections). (Elena)
    * I despise sports and the coming together of nations and Chicago and Olympic Villages. No, wait, I love all those things except maybe not the Olympic Village, but I could tolerate the Olympic Village for the coming and imposing and trying to see. (Heidi)
    * The tendency of constructing temporary stadiums; support of Chicago (or any city) hosting the Olympics is contingent on constructions that provide a permanent benefit to schools or universities in Chicago (Charles)
    * It would be yet another distraction for the Chicago Bears quarterback.

So thanks, everybody, for your thoughtful and/or humorous insights. I will submit them to the IOC for their immediate disposal perusal.
Today’s Question
People whose last name starts with “P”
What U.S. Civil War veteran went on to buy the St. Louis Post and the St. Louis Dispatch and eventually merged them into the St. Louis Post-Dispatch?
Friday’s Answer
And the people who knew it
Of dimes, quarters, and half dollars, which one’s cents weigh the most? It’s a tie. A half dollar weighs exactly the same as two quarters or five dimes. Who knew?
Well . . . nobody. But now you all do, and isn’t that what counts?