Friday, March 30, 2007

This Week's Sample Secret Theme & Unreasonable Rounds


I'm going to try a new feature here, posting a weekly sampling of questions from earlier in this week. I'll post the answers in the coming days, but you're already on the Information Superhighway so it shouldn't take you very long to research anything which requires immediate gratification.

Keep in mind that these are the last and hardest 2 rounds of a 6-round game, and combined total 108 of 212 available points (if I don't toss questions because of chucklehead answer shouting). Thus almost any team that can ace these rounds is likely to win, even if you show up fashionably late. This week the feared Group W set a new record in this format by answering 9 of 10 Secret Theme questions and correctly identifying the theme, then nailing all 10 of the Unreasonably Difficult questions. Yowsa.

Secret Theme, 5 points/question plus 8 for figuring out the logical thread that runs through the answers:

1) What 1987 film earned Robin Williams an Academy Award nomination for playing Adrian Cronauer?
2) What globally popular child’s toy is made more dangerous with broken glass & shards of metal & used by adults to fight recreational duels in Pakistan & other parts of Asia?
3) What record label, a subsidiary of Warner Bros., was formed in 1960, originally to serve as a vehicle for Frank Sinatra? It’s now the label which features Green Day, Neil Young and Depeche Mode.
4) The plant genus capsicum is a group of plants in the nightshade family, and we eat many varieties of capsicum. What are these better known as in the US?
5) What 1983 comedy film starred Michael Caine and Julie Walters?
6) What US Army rank is directly above corporal?
7) What four-handed card game has variations known as Black Lady & Two Blind Bitches?
8) How many squares are on a chessboard?
9) The hardest known naturally occurring material takes its name from the Greek word for “invincible,” name it.
10) Actor Lorne Greene had a #1 song on the Billboard pop charts in 1964. Name the song.

BONUS: What's the theme of these answers?

Unreasonably Difficult Round, 6 points each correct answer:

1) What did an American named William Kemmler become the very first person ever to do back in 1890?
2) What futuristic song was #1 on the Billboard pop charts the week of the July 1969 moon landing?
3) What is the capital of Burkina Faso?
4) How many strings are on a banjo (not plectrum or tenor)?
5) What 18
th century monument is a symbol of the city of Berlin, located at the terminal point of Unter den Linden?
6) From what language do we get the English word “geyser?”
7) One of Picasso’s most famous paintings is his 1907 depiction of 5 Barcelona prostitutes in a brothel. Name it.
8) The Hindi word dalit describes a certain category of person in India. What word do we use for these people in English?
9) German art students named Juergen Voellmer and Astrid Kirchherr are credited by various sources as designing something in the early 1960s that quickly became world-famous. What was it?
10) What is the first metallic element in the Periodic Table of the Elements?

Group W wins big, sets records at Dirty Frank's


I know what you're thinking - that doesn't look like Group W at all, it looks like the Hardy Boys and Nancy Drew. Well, you're right, it does look like them. The mystery here is why the rays of the visible spectrum continue to travel around Group W and not allow me to get a decent photograph of them. It's downright spooky. I can assure you that this past week the team was one female and two males, and they more or less looked like this. I try and take a candid shot, I get pop culture celebrity feedback. Mystery meets mystique.

One night after the lowest winning score in QuizMaster Pub Quiz history, we get the highest winning score in same. Group W dominated, scoring 182 out of a possible 207. They also won by the largest margin in the quiz history, 46 ridiculous points. We scratched a question in the fifth round owing to a misfiring neuron of an answer shouter, thus 5 fewer available points. Note the change in the All-Time Top Ten Scores at right. The team called Pi was on the bubble and just got bumped from the list, prompting Dave of Group W to quip that "Pi got rounded down." Smart and funny, these people. Dave also noted in response to the question identifying Helen Keller as a native of Alabama that it was hard to tell as she had no accent. Ba-dump-bump!

Group W also managed to score a perfect 10 in the Unreasonably Difficult round, the one and only time thus far this has happened.
It was an impressive performance to put it mildly. Lil Roy Screamed had a respectable So-So Silver finish; they're climbing the ladder and I expect a win any week now. Jim & Steve finished Shameful, Shameful Bronze, primarily on the strength of being the only team to have any clue at all who has seats in Philadelphia City Council. They scored an impressive 9 of 10 in the Speed round whereas most other teams had 2 or 3 correct.

Champs: Group W 182
So-So Silver: Lil Roy Screamed 136
Shameful, Shameful Bronze: Jim & Steve 117

Also-rans:
Young Love 114
Frankenberry Harvest 103
Come un droit dans le coup [sic] 93
Team Dudes 86
Piece of Piss Conspiracy* 78
A+* 50
ICPBM* 38
Two Guys* 18

* indicates team arrived late &/or quit

I believe that
"Come un droit dans le coup" was aiming at the name Comme un doigt dans le cul, French for "Like a finger in the ass." By my estimation it took about $4,000 worth of my college education to be able to translate and correct that. As it stands the name transliterates as "[nonsense word] a right in the hit." Who says a liberal arts education is useless? I don't know how this plays in to Randolph's Law; on the one hand it's intended as doggerel, on the other it's in a foreign language and poorly rendered. They finished out of the prizes, thus the law is safe any way you cut it.

Note that last week's champs Frankenberry Harvest took it on the chin this week. Such are the cruel fortunes of pub quiz fate. Hope to see you and them next week, same Bat Time, same Bat Channel, Dirty Frank's Wednesday night at 9pm.

Big week for Guinness Book inductees



A couple of Guinness Book-related items resonate for the trivia hound this week in the news.

First we have the saga of Robert "Runningman" Garson, a Briton who has become the first verified person to run around the world. It took 6 years to do and apparently 4 to verify. One of his alibis is his wife, who he met in Venezuela. I think that's her in the lower right-hand corner of this Highly Accurate Artist's Rendering. I wouldn't mind being the umpteenth person to amble around the world, taking frequent stops for tea, beer and sandwiches.

Happy news also for the world's tallest man, Inner Mongolia resident and herdsman Bao Xishun, who wed a woman more than two feet shorter than him. Write your own punchline. Bao had a worldwide search for an appropriate mate and ended up with a hometown gal half his age. I believe the movie version will star Hugh Grant and Drew Barrymore.

Bao's previous recent foray into the news was - and I swear this is true, you can't make this up - saving two dolphins with his incredibly long arms. Really. Who needs fiction?

Wednesday, March 28, 2007

Bill & Rena coast to a win at Finn McCool's

It wasn't so much about thriving this week at Finn McCool's, more about surviving. The Social Darwinists misread Darwin; he didn't claim that the best members of the species live long enough to pass their genes along, he wrote that those best suited to their environment do. And this particular race went to the relatively swift and the comparatively strong.

Bill & Rena, strangers until this very night, banded together long enough to build a large enough lead in the first 5 rounds that they could coast backward into victory despite getting 9 of the 10 Unreasonably Difficult round questions wrong. Rena was available as she was just downsized; I hope unemployment compensation makes her available for more Finn McCool's quizzes each Tuesday at 9pm. I didn't expect much out of the pair when they opened by writing all of round 1 in the blanks for round 4, but this was before I saw the other teams' answer sheets. Just goes to show you can't judge a book by its cover, not even when the cover has been bound between the third and fourth chapters. This quiz had the lowest winning score and lowest average score of any I've ever done in this format; the team known as Pi holds on to #10 on the All-Time Top Ten list if only for one more day.

The quiz was enlivened by not one but two teams of friendly South Carolinians in town for computer-related consulting. For a moment there I was the one in the room who was talking funny. Curiously their geographic location didn't help with questions about NASCAR, horse racing, New Orleans or college basketball, which I expected them to ace. They did both nail one on a neighboring state, which received a round of boos. Judging by that I'd say the CSA would've had cohesion problems had they won.

Note that Team Booters - I can only assume that this is derived from bootie - fulfilled Randolph's Law whereas the one-man force known as Long Dick Johnson more or less did not, contextually speaking. The frustration continues for the Cosine of Four team, who finish in their highest position ever, but still find the win eluding them.
Kudos to Andrew Kennedy for both a spirited one-person run and a gutsy literal interpretation of "put a team name at the top of your paper." A lot of people wouldn't have made that choice. Hope to see all teams again next week, Tuesday at 9pm.

Champs: Bill & Rena 88
So-So Silver: Cosine of Four (-3) 80
Shameful, Shameful Bronze: BCB SSC 78

Also-rans:
Long Dick Johnson 68
South Carolina Operators 58
Andrew Kennedy 54
Team Booters 15*

* indicates team arrived late &/or quit

A final thought: if anyone ever asks you how many teeth humans have, it's perfectly acceptable to use your own mouth as a reference.

Wicked Wikipedia

I attempted to add Randolph's Law (the hypothesis that any pub quiz team with a sexually explicit team name will score poorly) to Wikipedia, the online encyclopedia that's supposedly of, by and for the people. In theory anyone can post or change an article on anything, and anyone usually can and does.

It was quickly pulled down by an editorial/administrative Soup Nazi going by the handle BigHaz, out of Brisbane, Australia. From his ivory tower perch (his words, not mine) on the other side of the world, BigHaz (I picture a small fellow, probably wearing daintily-framed specs; who else puts "Big" in an editing pseudonym?) determined that such an article needed to be removed. Apparently there are a group of volunteers on Wikipedia who spend hours of their time clicking through all of the new articles and deleting the ones which aren't important enough to them. I attempted to argue my case for inclusion of the term on his "Talk page," which is apparently how this elitist subculture operates, to no avail. If you feel like checking that out, I'd hurry. I have a feeling that it'll be taken down soon.

Fine, then. Screw 'em. I'd encountered similar attitudes of arbitrary abuse of power, based largely in an "in" clique of volunteers, from the admins at the Straight Dope Message Board and decided about a year ago to save my $15/year and a lot of headache by dropping that membership. I've removed Wikipedia from my list of reliable online reference resources to the righthand side of this page. Maybe if we ignore it, it'll just go away. Recently a member of the formidable quiz team Group W was banned from Wikipedia - not just the particular discussion, but the whole darn project - for taking a dissenting view in an article on second-hand smoke. This just isn't a healthy culture for producing objective articles.

I'd be abundantly willing to bet that if I'd posted a small piece of Arabic slang or an overheard Serbo-Croat put-down that, given his interests, BigHaz would have included it. That'd be quaint, and useful, and automatically believed as "oral tradition." The irony here is that I have similar interests in those areas as BigHaz, but have actually worked and lived in the regions. But an American pushing his own linguistic invention? That needs removing.

Let's not pretend for a second that Wikipedia's primary source of material isn't individual people, companies and national, religious, political and ethnic groups self-promoting. If we removed every article from that perspective there wouldn't be much content left. Most amusing was the statement that Wikipedia isn't interested in "truth" but "consensus" and "verifiability." Indeed. Allow me to link to one last Wikipedia article, the one on Orwell's concept of groupthink.

I'll also add a folk etymology, I know that'd drive BigHaz nuts.

  • Wikipedia is a combination of two Greek words, wiki meaning "wrong" and ped meaning "foot." Therefore use of Wikipedia sets the seeker of knowledge off on the wrong foot.

Monday, March 26, 2007

The Carpenters' Space Encounter


While having dinner at my girlfriend's parents' house over the holidays, talk turned to music. This was no accident; we were intending to raid her father's record collection. Her mother mentioned that she liked The Carpenters, and I naturally had to ask if that included their bizarre cover of the Canadian prog band Klaatu's Calling Occupants of Interplanetary Craft. Unsurprisingly, it did not. (Of course any decent trivia hound already recognizes the band name as derivative of "Klaatu barada nikto!" as spoken to Gort in The Day the Earth Stood Still.)

I offered to burn a copy of the song and the offer was politely refused... and I fully understand. For most the duo was all about the breezy easy-listening love song, but for me the highlight of the Carpenters' career was this sublimely odd plea for extraterrestrial contact. Very '70s, really, and a catchy little tune to boot.

Thanks to this series of 8 YouTube links at an awesome retro music video blog called Visual Guidance Ltd., you can view this 1978 network TV special in all its oddball glory. Keep an eye out for Suzanne Somers!

This is just a small sample of the vital information that the QuizMaster blog will be bringing you on a need-to-know basis.
You're welcome.

Handy Links for Trivia Geeks


You no doubt notice a new, permanent feature to the right side of this blog; Handy Links for Trivia Geeks. This is somewhat ironic as the word links means "left" in German.

Regardless I thought that this would make a nice addition to the site. You can now bookmark this page and make me your one-stop shop for trivia dispute and reference needs. All you need do now is memorize all of the information found in all of those links, and you should do rather well in QuizMaster Pub Quizzes from here on in. It's that simple.

If anyone has any ideas for additional links please do forward them to me at my email address and I'll add them straight away. I'm not talking about a YouTube link of a piano playing cat here, however amusing that might be, I'm talking about evergreen, useful (?) trivia fodder and reference-bearing materials. Thanks.

Sunday, March 25, 2007

Two big quizzes this week!


Your social calendar is now set!

Be sure to drop by and play these fabulous, free quizzes with good times, good booze and hard questions:

Finn McCool's Pub Quiz

Tuesday nights at 9pm
12th & Sansom Sts., Philadelphia
This week's Subject Round: SPORTS

Dirty Frank's Pub Quiz

Wednesday nights at 9pm
13th & Pine Sts., Philadelphia
This week's Subject Round: ORIGINS OF FAMOUS AMERICANS

Be there or be equilaterally rectangular!

Thursday, March 22, 2007

Frankenberry Harvest kicks butt at Frank's


The mighty Frankenberry Harvest team had an impressive 7 correct in the Unreasonably Difficult round the night of March 21, sending the previous week's champs, the legendary Group W into So-So Silver place & relegating Some You Never Even Heard Of to Shameful, Shameful Bronze. I might have to refer to Some You... as either Team New Lyric Every Week or the Artist Formerly Known as "Off the Wallers" in order to keep track of these perennial contenders.

The Frankenberries scored an impressive 161 out of 206 possible points (a 6-point question was struck owing to two chuckleheads shouting the same answer), the second-highest point total ever achieved at Frank's. The record was set the previous week by Group W, an awesome 164 out of 210 (two 1-point questions were struck for the same reason). Here in the photo we see the good-looking lads and lass who comprise this brain trust. Did FDR himself have a finer group of young nerds to turn to in times of national crisis? I think not.

I'm fully aware that last night's quiz was quite hard; I'll make it a bit easier next week. Still there were only 3 questions out of 51 which no team managed to get correct, and 4 of the 10 teams figured out the Secret Theme ("the letter K"). Not bad at all, but you people need to bone up on your midget wrestling. Congrats to Frankenberry Harvest, who kicked major butt in the Unreasonably Difficult round (7 correct!) & blew away the field.

Our scores (a perfect score was 206):

Champs: Frankenberry Harvest 161
So-So Silver: Group W 144
Shameful, Shameful Bronze: Some You Never Even Heard Of 141

Also-rans:
Our Parents Don't Love Us 133
Look at Nick's Tumor 111
Fighting Frank Zappas 87
Better Than a Handjob 70
Piece of Piss Conspiracy* 52
The Mikal* 39
I'd Pee in Her But(t)* 30

* indicates team arrived late &/or quit

Note the fulfillment of Randolph's Law; the team names with sexual references finished last both among teams who were present for the whole thing & teams who showed up late.

See you next week folks, hopefully edging closer to 9pm... let's start and end earlier, OK? It's better for everyone.

Thursday, March 15, 2007

Group W wins inaugural Dirty Frank's Pub Quiz

To no one's surprise, the feared Group W topped the field at Frank's in that storied venue's inaugural event. As this team simply can't be photographed - they are impervious to the prying rays of the visible spectrum - I give you this artist's rendition of what the pair looks like in person, to the naked eye.

Congratulations to Group W, who won by one question after a game of 49. Competitive!

Champs: Group W 164
So-So Silver: Einstein Disguised as Robin Hood 159
Shameful, Shameful Bronze: S & Man Monkey Warfare 157

Also-rans:
Orange Julius 156
Piece of Piss Conspiracy 151
Pi 146
Golden Virginia 136
Steve* (which really was one guy!) 127
Hotel All-Stars 93
Whoops! My Boob Just Fell Out* 48
9" Hose* 29
Snarky Pussy* 23

* indicates team arrived late &/or quit

A couple of teams had challenged an answer. I asked who replaced Mike Schmidt at 3rd base when he was moved to first in 1985. The answer I wanted no one had, I believe this was the only Q all night that no one got correct: Rick Schu. A couple of teams claimed adamantly that it was Chris James. Not only was Schu correct, but I learn today that James didn't start in the majors until 1986, thus this claim is impossible. I'll be sure to mention this next week; the QuizMaster is always right, most especially when the quizmaster happens to really be right.

Note that if you reference human sexual anatomy in your team name, you likely suck. Eventually this may become known as Randolph's Law.

Hope to see you all next week, Frank's shortly after 9!

Thursday, March 8, 2007

Avalon Is... is what they want to be: Winners!

Thanks so much for coming out last night, hopefully you all had a good time. This test edition of the Finn McCool's quiz was on Wednesday night, pre-karaoke. From now on the Finn McCool's Quiz will take place on Tuesday nights at 9.

Let's review last night's results, in what was an unusually high-scoring affair.

Champs: Avalon Is Whatever What You Want It to Be: 162
So-So Silver: Harold & Maude (a.k.a. Group W): 158
Shameful, Shameful Bronze: Better Get Nookie: 150


Also-rans:
Soup & Sandwich: 134
Cosine of 4 (+1): 133

Anna Nicole Stiff: 115

Elvis Biscuits: 93


Avalon Is... walked home with the adulation of millions (or at least dozens) & a $20 gift certificate. I swear they look exactly like the people pictured in the upper left-hand corner of this post, thus there was no need to take another photo. Harold & Maude got some beer-based wardrobe additions. I tossed a gratis Yuengling hat to a young lady who knew
a city in Portugal other than Lisbon, and even Elvis Biscuits walked home with a travel version of the game Frustration for their good-spirited last place finish.

Next week's Finn McCool's subject, in honor of St. Patty's Day: IRELAND.
Next wee
k's Frank's subject: PUNK ROCK GEOGRAPHY