Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Check out this article about Steve Odabashian

Fellow Philadelphia quiz host, Andy Reid impersonator and friend Steve Odabashian got a nice cover story over in the Philadelphia Weekly. Go read it. Steve's the biggest multi-talent since... um... OK, I don't really know too many people adept at three or more things. Let's say Pia Zadora.

Steve says, "
The only item I found somewhat inaccurate was about me "not being adept at schoolwork growing up and focusing on sports". I was a good student growing up, and not all that athletic, for sure. (Oh, and I had been to Canada a few times before moving to Japan)."

Now you know.

UPDATE: Good lord, the man gets even more publicity! From Steve, again,"
For you early risers, I will be on 610 WIP AM - (Philadelphia Sports Talk Radio) tomorrow morning [November 1] at 7AM. (Talking about being an Andy Reid impersonator during the bad times).
You can listen on the internet at: www.610wip.com"

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Comments on blog now "Word verification"-free

Comments have been pretty sparse on this blog since the beginning. Apparently part of the problem is the annoying "Word Verification" (when you're asked to type a string such as "GKSDXFAJ" before a comment goes up.) I know that I have to do this twice every time I make an initial post, but it works the first time when I update a post. It's a pain even when it works right the first time, and seems to have kept some people from commenting when it hasn't.

Well, acting on a tip from another blogger who uses Blogger (i.e. Blogspot, what's enabling you to read this now), I've done away with that. From now on instead of moderation-free commenting (which requires the Word Verification to defeat spambots), the comments will all be emailed to me first for approval. Don't worry, I'll approve everything but spam (very rare this happens), and I check email regularly. There's no censorship here on the ol' Infoporium.

We lose one convenience but hopefully gain more comments, which was part of the whole idea of the blog from the start. If this doesn't work out I can easily switch it back. If anyone has any comments about this... well, you know what to do...

Monday, October 29, 2007

30th anniversary of the release of Never Mind the Bollocks... in the US

Feel old yet? Here's a nice little article about the album 30 years on in The Seattle Times.

Answers to last week's Secret Theme rounds

Ray's:

The theme was Mexican states. Names of states follow each answer.
1) What's the largest city in the Spanish administrative region of Castille & Leon? Leon / Nuevo Leon
2) In what 2003 comedy movie did Christopher Walken play mob boss Salvatore Maggio? Kangaroo Jack / Quintana Roo
3) In what 2004 big-budget film did Viggo Mortensen play Frank Hopkins? Hidalgo; read about the Hopkins hoax here / Hidalgo
4) What specific common brand name product is associated with Avery Island, Louisiana?
Tabasco sauce / Tabasco
5) Which US state derives its name from a fictional land described in the 1510 book The Exploits of Esplandian? California / Baja California Sur and Baja California Norte
6) What well-reviewed 1992 film, based upon a best-selling novel from a few years earlier, starred Marco Leonardi and Lumi Cavazos as a couple? Like Water for Chocolate; a Mexican movie, incidentally / Aguascalientes

7) What was the 1981 film known in Australia as Mad Max 2 released as in the United States? The Road Warrior / Guerrero, which is Spanish for "Warrior"

8) What North American desert is also called the Gila Desert? Sonoran Desert / Sonora
9) What's been Dodge's SUV model since 1998? Durango / Durango
10) What breed of dog is Sharon Osbourne's pooch Mimi? Chihuahua / Chihuahua

Frank's:


The theme was common poker variants.

1) What major boxing bout, known by a catchy moniker, took place October 1, 1975? Thrilla in Manila / Manila

2) If you're playing Monopoly and holding a yellow card, what sort of card are you holding? Community Chest / Community card variants
3) What Prussian, and later German, military decoration was awarded 1813-1945? Iron Cross / Iron Cross
4) What's the oldest university in the English-speaking world? Oxford / Oxford
5) The Battle of Palmito Hill was the last battle of the American Civil War (May 12-13, 1865, after Lee's surrender). In which state did it occur? Texas / Texas Hold 'Em
6) What Mark DeCarlo-hosted syndicated dating game show ran nationally 1991-93? Studs / Stud

7) Of the 5 D-Day landing beaches at Normandy, only two had codenames which were names of places. Which two? Omaha, Utah / Omaha Hold 'Em, Utah (a.k.a. "Cincinnati")
8) What Australian sporting goods and activewear company, founded in 1973, is named after the Aussie English word for a stagnant pool of water? Billabong / Billabong
9) What major US city gained the nickname "Hog Butcher for the World" owing to the opening line of a 1916 poem written about it? Chicago / High and Low Chicago
10) What 2000 crime movie featured Dennis Hopper and Ice-T? Luck of the Draw / Draw

Red Sox sweep Rockies; God therefore Catholic

Congrats to the Boston Red Sox, 2007 baseball kings. Speaking of Kings, consider the theological implications of not just a World Series win for the Sox, but a sweep.

As covered earlier on this blog, the Colorado Rockies are a born again, Protestant organization who push the faith hard hailing from a Protestant Red State with white-hooded,
nativist roots that go way back. The Coors family, after whom the Rockies' stadium is named, funds all manner of right wing activity and has for decades.

The Red Sox, on the other hand, are cheered primarily by Catholics. There are your actual Boston Irish fans, and, as I reviewed earlier, your nationwide wannabe frat boy Red Sox Nation fans of partial Irish descent who drink green beer on St. Patty's Day and insist on wearing Notre Dame gear because they reserve the pride for a belligerent football leprechaun one might otherwise have in, say, the Book of Kells, provided one were aware of any actual Irish history. The Sox are now owned by Taxachusetts Yankee plutocrats trying to undo a multiple-decade legacy of anti-black racism (Bill Russell even called the place a "flea market for racism"), but Irish Americans seem loyal to the team despite the effort. Add to this the fact that many of their top players are Latino and the team has gained some ground in that
market as well, and it's obvious that Fenway Park is Vatican territory. I don't see the Virgin appearing on a burnt Colorado Springs omelet anytime soon.

It's kinda like Gangs of New York out there on the World Series diamond. I suppose we should be happy this particular sweep was played out on the Field of Dreams instead of the streets. Past grudge matches have featured British Protestants leading Irish Catholics 3-1 (rain delay), a French Catholic sweep of the Huguenots (who were warned repeatedly that pitching wins in the playoffs, not offense) and of course the bizarre forfeit of four consecutive games at Jonestown.

In any event, a Red Sox sweep obviously means that the Almighty Creator of the Universe is more a
Mel Gibson fan than a Willie Aames fan, if you catch my drift. God is Roman Catholic, and disapproves of November baseball and recent expansion franchises to boot. Bring us some wafers and Cracker Jack...

According to the Vatican this week, the Big Guy is also fond of unreconstructed brutal European fascists literally supported by Hitler, which I have a feeling won't put a damper on anyone's celebration in Beantown. The Jews have drafted Greenberg and Koufax, but are short several players at other skilled positions, and are in no position to challenge the Sox on this Franco/death camp thing.

Absolute losers in this year's Christian vs. Christian series? Women, Iraqis, any sense of perspective. But what's new?


Sunday, October 28, 2007

Va amerikietis prisiskaitęs rusiškos propogandos ir įsitikinęs, kad estai labai blogi:

Remember when all of those Baltic States folks we're p.o.'ed at me for taking them to task for siding with Hitler in the '40s, and for, um, still siding with Hitler now?

I finally came across the link to my blog that had all the people visiting and cursing me. To this day 2 of the 3 Baltic States are represented out of all proportion in the global visitation to this blog. From what I can make out - Lithuanian never having been my best subject at school - I'm publishing "Russian propaganda." Ha! I should be so lucky to get that contract... the best I can do is Google AdSense. Trust me, the Russkis aren't even letting me take free Doritos from the local Lukoil...

More bizarrely, my "Travel & Lesion" post from a few days ago has already been translated into German on a travel-oriented blog that seems to exist mainly as a background for pharmaceutical text ads.

Friday, October 26, 2007

Essential obscure music video, #2

Our second sojourn in search of hidden gems of musical performance too incredible to be hidden any longer...

Screaming Lord Sutch - "Jack the Ripper"

Let's begin with a Halloween treat, a Scopitone reel of Britain's Screaming Lord Sutch, for my money this is likely his best song.



Gal Costa - "Milho verde"

This is, I've read, a Portuguese folk tune, and this concert took place in 1973. In case you didn't know, Costa is/was pretty much the queen of Tropicalia, the exciting Brazilian meld of native musics, rock and pop which the Brazilian military, having overthrown the government, found to be threatening. The funny bit for me is when she works overtime at disrupting her conga player, who simply will not be distracted.


Devo - "Jocko Homo"

Are we not men? We are Devo. This is the original video of Devo's ultimate statement of human regression. Completely original, and kinda creepy.

Taco Bell owes you a free taco October 30

You simply can't make this up. Thanks, Jacoby Ellsbury! Good to see that the Sox are ripping the Rockies too...

Fight Them on the Beaches... wins big at Frank's

The Off the Wallers/Lil' Roy Screamed team which changes its name frequently went with a long moniker beginning with the phrase Fight Them on the Beaches... and ending with ... Fight Them in the Bars, and triumphed. Oddly enough the Secret Theme round featured a D-Day question, and one about the codenames of the beaches at that.

I thought that after acing the Subject round ("Haute Cuisine"), it was finally going to be a victory for Voice of Geddy Lee, but no dice. That same round helped knock Group W out of the top spot for the first time in a few weeks. Trust Me... languished near the bottom of the pack in the easiest rounds, then gained all sorts of ground in the two hardest; go figure.

Beautiful Gold: Fight Them on the Beaches... 159
So-So Silver: Voice of Geddy Lee 146
Shameful, Shameful Bronze: Group W 134

Also-rans:

Trust Me, I'm a Doctor 122
Shart through the Heart 96
Joe Log 62
Wacka Wacka 61
Treo* 48

* team quit

Over 5,000 visitors!

I'm happy to report that the blog broke the 5,000th distinct visitor mark a couple of days ago. We've also had a visit from our 67th and 68th countries... Cuba and Turkey!

Happy Chuzzle-ween! makes it a Ray's threepeat

Happy Chuzzle-ween! (pictured at left) pulled ahead of the pack in the final rounds to make it three in a row at Ray's. Who among you shall slay the beast? I promise next week's Secret Theme round will be easier.


Beautiful Gold: Happy Chuzzle-ween! 102
So-So Silver: Cosine of One 88
Shameful, Shameful Bronze: Kisses for Kittens 80

BOO! Two all-new ookity-spooky Halloween-themed quizzes this week

Yes, there will be quizzes on both Mischief Night and Halloween itself. Expect the Horror Trivia of Unending Doom! OOOOooooOOOOOoooo....

I'm pulling out all of the stops, with horror-themed questions and cool horror-themed prizes.

Tuesday, October 30, 9:15pm
Ray's Happy Birthday Bar
1200 E. Passyunk Ave.
(near 9th & Federal Sts.)
Subject Round: HORROR ROUND OF TERROR

Wednesday, October 31, 9pm
Dirty Frank's
13th & Pine Sts.
Subject Round: TERROR ROUND OF HORROR


Can you figure out this week's Secret Themes?

Each group of 10 otherwise unrelated questions has a theme running through their answers. Can you answer the questions and figure out the theme? Answers will be posted in a few days.

Ray's:

People claimed that this round and its theme were unreasonably difficult, which as we all know should be reserved for the sixth round. What do you think? Seven of the answers fit the theme in a linear fashion and three require a bit more effort.

1) What's the largest city in the Spanish administrative region of Castille & Leon?
2) In what 2003 comedy movie did Christopher Walken play mob boss Salvatore Maggio?
3) In what 2004 big-budget film did Viggo Mortensen play Frank Hopkins? Hint: Hopkins was a real man, but the events that the film are based upon were probably things that he made up out of whole cloth.
4) What specific common brand name product is associated with Avery Island, Louisiana?
5) Which US state derives its name from a fictional land described in the 1510 book The Exploits of Esplandian?
6) What well-reviewed 1992 film, based upon a best-selling novel from a few years earlier, starred Marco Leonardi and Lumi Cavazos as a couple?

7) What was the 1981 film known in Australia as Mad Max 2 released as in the United States?
8) What North American desert is also called the Gila Desert?
9) What's been Dodge's SUV model since 1998?
10) What breed of dog is Sharon Osbourne's pooch Mimi?

... and what theme links the 10 answers?

Frank's:

1) What major boxing bout, known by a catchy moniker, took place October 1, 1975?
2) If you're playing Monopoly and holding a yellow card, what sort of card are you holding?
3) What Prussian, and later German, military decoration was awarded 1813-1945?
4) What's the oldest university in the English-speaking world?
5) The Battle of Palmito Hill was the last battle of the American Civil War (May 12-13, 1865, after Lee's surrender). In which state did it occur?
6) What Mark DeCarlo-hosted syndicated dating game show ran nationally 1991-93?
7) Of the 5 D-Day landing beaches at Normandy, only two had codenames which were names of places. Which two?
8) What Australian sporting goods and activewear company, founded in 1973, is named after the Aussie English word for a stagnant pool of water?
9) What major US city gained the nickname "Hog Butcher to the World" owing to the opening line of a 1916 poem written about it?
10) What 2000 crime movie featured Dennis Hopper and Ice-T?

...
and what theme links the 10 answers?

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Choral Arts Society upcoming shows

My friend and occasional quiz teammate Laura N. sends the following, which I pass along to you. Get your tix now to avoid any trampling disasters that these events tend to inspire.
"As most of you know, I
sing with the Choral Arts Society, and our first concert is coming up in a few weeks. We will be performing Brahms' German Requiem, along with shorter works by Palestrina and Schütz. This is my fourth year singing with the group, and we sound better this year than we ever have. (Really.)

The performances are on Saturday, November 10 at 8 p.m. at
St. Mark's (16th & Locust) and on Sunday, November 11 at 4 p.m. at
Chestnut Hill Presbyterian. Tickets are $25 (general admission), or $12 for
students. The FunSavers, sadly, are a thing of the past; tickets now
cost what they cost ... you can order them at www.choralarts.com"

Let's go Sox!

Yes, Manny Ramirez is a bit much to take at times. Yes, Boston just won the Series a few years ago, after the famed "Curse" drought. No, I'm not a huge fan of Boston (neither the city nor the band). Yes, the Red Sox Nation is populated by quite a few wannabe Irish-American goofs who also follow (the horribly mispronounced) Notre Dame (at least when either team is doing well) and buy Dropkick Murphys downloads and chug green beer in March, all in the belief that's what the leprechauns would have the Western Hemisphere Hibernian do.

All that said, I'd much rather have a real East Coast city with roots, traditions and a multi-generational following win than a Boomburb, Red State expansion team filled with born-agains who believe that the J-Man personally guides their Holy Sliders, not having a busy schedule with wars or wildfires or that sort of thing. Go Sox.

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Travel & Lesion

By now I'm sure you've heard that the unfortunate travel industry ad-oriented rag Travel & Leisure has been spouting venom to the effect that Philadelphia has the country's least attractive, least "worldly" , least "active" people, and that the city is both pedestrian-unfriendly and generally unfriendly. You can read the highly unscientific poll results here.

What little the turds over at T&L have published in the way of methodology suggests that in many (if not most) cases, people were being asked to rate cities they've never visited, sure to be lost in the retelling via the wire services.

With this in mind, I have posted my own poll for the very first time, at right. I want to know which editorial staff of four national magazines the readers of this blog think are most likely to rape their own children for cheap publicity for their publication. I know that in many cases you've never met the editorial staff of each, but apparently we're in an age when this no longer matters.
It's OK to shit on an international reputation of a city if it gets your name in the paper. Results will be shared on the blog and with the editors of T&L at a later date.

Monday, October 22, 2007

Essential obscure music video, post #1

I see so many of these great snippets that I just have to share, and likely once/week or so from now on. If anyone has suggestions, send 'em along!

Reverend Louis Overstreet - "Working on the Building"

This is likely Phoenix, AZ c. 1960. Yes, this is a church service! Anyone still wondering from whence sprung rock'n'roll?


biG Grunt - "Eleven Mustachioed Daughters"

This is completely wild, and I think awesome. It's Viv Stanshall's post-Bonzo Dog Doo-Dah Band project, and the video is from British TV in 1970 or 1971. The original version of the song was recorded by the Bonzos a few years earlier.



La Bionda - "Quiero ser tu amante"

From Italy, I'm assuming late '70s, these guys are performing the soundtrack to a sci-fi cartoon on Italian TV.

Weekly injustice round-up

I always accept submissions and comments. This stuff is actually happening:

- A California town has banned smoking in apartment buildings (whether the ownership wants to allow it or not), as well as "parks, stadiums, sports fields, trails and outdoor shopping areas." People who own their own houses can still smoke indoors, which is, um, interesting. Precisely how is second-hand smoke dangerous outside? Anyone have "research" to support that one? Clearly something else is motivating this ...

- Update on the New York woman who died in police custody in a Phoenix airport: the airport cops waited more than two hours to get their story straight and break news of her death to her husband, who was repeatedly calling them to check on her condition.

- A Scranton, PA woman was cited and faces up to 90 days in jail and/or a $300 fine for cursing in her own home at an overflowing toilet. An off-duty cop, no doubt a member of the God Squad, turned her in.

- In the gentrifying Treme neighborhood of New Orleans, LA, two second-line musicians were arrested when nearly 20 NOPD squad cars halted a traditional jazz funeral for marching without a permit. It's a good thing NOLA doesn't have any actual crime that could use their attention, eh? Apparently newcomers to the neighborhood would prefer that the (largely black) culture which drew them to the city to begin with be banned.

All sorts of upcoming events at Frank's

Yes, there's a whole lot going on at Frank's this week:

Wed., Oct. 24th 4-7pm: "Get Pickled!" pickling contest and drinking fiesta, quiz as usual at 9pm

Sat., Oct. 27th 7pm-on: Frank's Simpsons-Themed Halloween Party
* Bobbing for Krabappels
* Jack-o-Lantern contest
* Bart Simpson's costume contest
* Duff Beer on tap
* Flaming Moe jello shots

My apologies, but I recall the annual pumpkin carving evening as being either Tuesday or Thursday, beginning at 8pm. The safe thing to do so as not to miss anything is to stop by both nights, right..?

Answers to last week's Secret Theme rounds

Ray's:

The theme was The Clash.


1) What NBA franchise changed its name over fear of promoting urban violence? Washington Bullets / "Washington Bullets" was a song on the Sandinista! triple album
2) What catchphrase of Warner Brothers cartoon character Pepe le Pew was a spoof of a line spoken by the character Pepe le Moko in trailers for the 1938 film Algiers? "Come with me to the casbah"/ "Rock the Casbah"

3) As regards international politics, what is the group FSLN better known as? Sandinistas/ Sandinista!
4) What trio of films from the late 1930s/early 1940s featured Roland Young as a solver of mysteries with the help of ghosts? The Topper series/ Clash drummer Topper Headon
5) What 1970 film starred Peter Boyle as a bigoted hardhat? Joe / Joe Strummer

6) What's the most populous city in the European Union (within city bounds as opposed to metro area)? London / Several references; the band was from London and the city was the subject of numerous Clash songs and appears in the album title London Calling
7) What character did Keisha Knight Pulliam portray on The Cosby Show?
Rudy Huxtable/ "Rudie Can't Fail" and the film Rude Boy
8) Which US Army division is known as the Screaming Eagles? 101st Airborne / The 101ers
9) What British singer, who had a minor hit with "Witches' Brew" in the '60s, is better known for her 1973 arrest as a madam? Janie Jones / "Janie Jones"
10) What guitarist, songwriter and sought-after rock producer co-founded Foreigner in 1976? Mick Jones / The other Mick Jones

Frank's:

The theme was generals.

1) "Electric Avenue" was a #2 hit on the pop charts in 1983 for what singer? Eddy Grant/ Ulysses S. Grant

2) Which one of the 13 original colonies was administrated as two separate British colonies, East ____ and West _________, 1674-1702? New Jersey/ New Jersey Generals
3) What novel was serialized in the American literary journal The Little Review 1918-1920 and wasn't published in book form until 1922, in Paris? Ulysses/ Ulysses S. Grant again
4) What British pub/punk rock band was active from 1977-80, featured members of Ducks Deluxe and Bram Tchaikovsky, and is best remembered for the songs "Airport" and "Dancing the Night Away"? The Motors/ General Motors
5) What series of medium range ballistic missiles, built by Martin Marietta, did the US station in Western Europe 1960-1988? Pershing / General John J. "Black Jack" Pershing
6) Who played the character Colt Seavers on TV 1981-86? The show was The Fall Guy and the actor Lee Majors/ General Robert E. Lee and/or the rank Major General
7) What 1978 disco hit for Donna Summer was a cover of a 1968 pop hit for Richard Harris? "MacArthur Park"/ General Douglas MacArthur
8) In which US state will you find the Palouse grasslands region? Washington/ General George Washington
9) Who played TV's George Jefferson? Sherman Hemsley / General William Tecumseh Sherman
10) What band formed in 1983 with members of The (English) Beat, Dexy's Midnight Runners and, at least for their debut album, a founding member of The Clash? General Public

Friday, October 19, 2007

Group W on a roll, hits Top Ten Scores list again

Since W is now temporarily composed of a Yank couple and a visiting Brit, I depict them here as Uncle Sam and Aunt Columbia (left) and John Bull (below).

This was a hard quiz, and I'm glad that the 5 top teams who play at Frank's were all there to duke it out. Kudos to Nittany Lions, a one-man operation who was one of the few to figure out the Secret Theme.

Note that for the first time all 10 teams on the All-Time High Scores list at right are teams which won their respective contests. Group W has 5 of the 10 spots and for all intents and purposes a sixth in the form of a substitute team as well. The only other team on the list multiple times (2) at this point is Sofa
Kingdom. Getting on the list now requires scoring a hefty 176.

Beautiful Gold: Group W 179
So-So Silver: Lil' Roy Screamed 154
Shameful, Shameful Bronze: Sofa Kingdom 149

Also-rans:


Bob Loblaw 96
Voice of Geddy Lee 92
Sha-Na-Nah +3* 66
Nittany Lions 61
$Shot* 56

* indicates team started early or quit

Girl Drink Punk Chuzzlewit makes it two in a row at Ray's

Girl Drink Punk Chuzzlewit, last week's The FZA, edged perpetual runners-up Kisses for Kittens 123-96. I'd originally credited both teams with scores 3 points higher, because I was looking for an answer, in a Stanley Kubrick round, of the movie The Killing. Both teams insisted their answer of The Killers was correct; both were wrong as you can see by following the links. I really need to stop listening to the Peanut Gallery and trust my research.

Two new quizzes headed your way!

Two all-new, mutually exclusive quizzes this week - play one or both!

Tuesday, October 23, 9:15pm
Ray's Happy Birthday Bar
1200 E. Passyunk Ave.
(near 9th & Federal Sts.)
Subject Round: MOUNTAINS

Wednesday, October 24, 9pm
Dirty Frank's
13th & Pine Sts.
Subject Round: HAUTE CUISINE

This week's challenging Secret Theme rounds

Each group of 10 otherwise unrelated questions has a theme running through their answers. Can you answer the questions and figure out the theme? Answers will be posted in a few days.

Ray's:

1) What NBA franchise changed its name over fear of promoting urban violence?
2) What catchphrase of Warner Brothers cartoon character Pepe le Pew was a spoof of a line spoken by the character Pepe le Moko in trailers for the 1938 film Algiers?
3) As regards international politics, what is the group FSLN better known as?
4) What trio of films from the late 1930s/early 1940s featured Roland Young as a solver of mysteries with the help of ghosts?
5) What 1970 film starred Peter Boyle as a bigoted hardhat?
6) What's the most populous city in the European Union (within city bounds as opposed to metro area)?
7) What character did Keisha Knight Pulliam portray on The Cosby Show?
8) Which US Army division is known as the Screaming Eagles?
9) What British singer, who had a minor hit with "Witches' Brew" in the '60s, is better known for her 1973 arrest as a madam?
10) What guitarist, songwriter and sought-after rock producer co-founded Foreigner in 1976?

... and what theme links the 10 answers?

Frank's:

1) "Electric Avenue" was a #2 hit on the pop charts in 1983 for what singer?
2) Which one of the 13 original colonies was administrated as two separate British colonies, East ____ and West _________, 1674-1702?
3) What novel was serialized in the American literary journal The Little Review 1918-1920 and wasn't published in book form until 1922, in Paris?
4) What British pub/punk rock band was active from 1977-80, featured members of Ducks Deluxe and Bram Tchaikovsky, and is best remembered for the songs "Airport" and "Dancing the Night Away"?
5) What series of medium range ballistic missiles, built by Martin Marietta, did the US station in Western Europe 1960-1988?
6) Who played the character Colt Seavers on TV 1981-86?
7) What 1978 disco hit for Donna Summer was a cover of a 1968 pop hit for Richard Harris?
8) In which US state will you find the Palouse grasslands region?
9) Who played TV's George Jefferson?
10) What band formed in 1983 with members of The (English) Beat, Dexy's Midnight Runners and, a least for their debut album, a founding member of The Clash?

... and what theme links the 10 answers?

James Howard Kunstler kicks ass

If you watch one video online today, make it this:
James Howard Kunstler makes an intelligent, deeply moral and very funny plea for a new urban American direction. Not only is he spot on, he's exceptionally entertaining!

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Listen to poet Frank Sherlock online

If you've spent any time at all at Frank's over the past several years, you probably recognize local poet and raconteur Frank Sherlock as one of the fellows working the door, or as a customer. Now, thanks to PennSound, you can hear some of his work from the comfort of wherever it is that you use the internet.

Frank's also had some international press coverage for his randomly distributed war protest Christmas card (scroll down to January 4, 2005 entry). I have a copy myself, and in addition to being an interesting objet d'art I have to wonder if I have a bit of a collectors' item on my hands...

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Answers to last week's Secret Themes

Ray's:

The theme was varieties of dance.

1) What 1959 MGM adventure film was the sequel to the
1950 film King Solomon's Mines? Watusi
2) What monosyllabic word is used generically to
describe finely cut rolling tobacco? Shag
3) What 1978 Martin Scorsese concert film featured The
Band with their friends Bob Dylan, Van Morrison and
Neil Young? The Last Waltz
4) What 1972 film stars Marlon Brando and Maria
Schneider
? Last Tango in Paris

5) What high school sit-com, which ran 1982-3, starred
a young Sarah Jessica Parker? Square Pegs

6) What basketball magazine started publication in
1994 and prints only 9 issues/year, in basketball
season? Slam
7) What Showtime series ran 2000-2005 and shared its
title with the shorter-lived (1999-2000) British
series that it was based upon? Queer as Folk
8) What southern American city has the nickname "The
Holy City
" because churches dominate its low skyline?
Charleston, SC
9) What song/production number was cut from The Wizard
of Oz
(1939) for fear it would date the film and
because it did not develop the plot? "The Jitterbug"

10) Serbian paramilitary leader and accused war
criminal Željko Ražnatović (Жељко Ражнатовић) was known
by a much simpler one-word name. What was it? Arkan, which is also an
Eastern European dance

... and what theme links the 10 answers?

Frank's:

The theme was NHL hockey franchises.

1) What successful 2001 movie was based upon a
best-selling 1999 book by Philadelphia Inquirer
journalist Mark Bowden? Blackhawk Down/Chicago
Blackhawks
2) What 2006 animated film featured the voice talents
of Keifer Sutherland, Jim Belushi, Eddie Izzard,
Janeane Garofalo and William Shatner? The Wild/Minnesota Wild
3) Which Batman villain was born Oswald Cobblepot? The
Penguin/Pittsburgh Penguins

4) What was the name of the Wright Brothers' first
successful airplane (Kitty Hawk, NC 1903)?
(Wright) Flyer/Philadelphia Flyers
5) What hugely influential 1914 song by W.C. Handy was
the first to have published notation suggesting jazz
improvisation, and inspired the Foxtrot? "St. Louis
Blues"
/St. Louis Blues
6) Name the two gangs in West Side Story. Sharks
and Jets/ San Jose Sharks and Winnipeg Jets

7) What's the title of the National Wildlife Fund's
kids' magazine? Ranger Rick/New York Rangers
8) What's the title of the first song on the first
side of Van Halen's eponymous 1978 debut album?
"Runnin' with the Devil"/New Jersey Devils

9) With whose band did Louis Armstrong come to
prominence (as the second cornet player)? King
Oliver
/Los Angeles Kings
10) What cable TV network, founded in 1994, dropped
the exclamation point from its name in 2005? Hint: Its
parent network is Encore. Starz/Minnesota North Stars
(who became the Dallas Stars)

Thursday, October 11, 2007

Can you figure out this week's Secret Themes?

Each group of 10 otherwise unrelated questions has a theme running through their answers. Can you answer the questions and figure out the theme? Answers will be posted in a few days.

Ray's:

1) What 1959 MGM adventure film was the sequel to the 1950 film King Solomon's Mines?
2) What monosyllabic word is used generically to describe finely cut rolling tobacco?
3) What 1978 Martin Scorsese concert film featured The Band with their friends Bob Dylan, Van Morrison and Neil Young?
4) What 1972 film stars Marlon Brando and Maria Schneider?
5) What high school sit-com, which ran 1982-3, starred a young Sarah Jessica Parker?
6) What basketball magazine started publication in 1994 and prints only 9 issues/year, in basketball season?
7) What Showtime series ran 2000-2005 and shared its title with the shorter-lived (1999-2000) British series that it was based upon?
8) What southern American city has the nickname "The Holy City" because churches dominate its low skyline?
9) What song/production number was cut from The Wizard of Oz (1939) for fear it would date the film and because it did not develop the plot?
10) Serbian paramilitary leader
and accused war criminal Željko Ražnatović was known by a much simpler one-word name. What was it?

... and what theme links the 10 answers?

Frank's:

1) What successful 2001 movie was based upon a best-selling 1999 book by Philadelphia Inquirer journalist Mark Bowden?
2) What 2006 animated film featured the voice talents of Keifer Sutherland, Jim Belushi, Eddie Izzard, Janeane Garofalo and William Shatner?
3) Which Batman villain was born Oswald Cobblepot?
4) What was the name of the Wright Brothers' first successful airplane (Kitty Hawk, NC 1903)?
5) What hugely influential 1914 song by W.C. Handy was the first to have published notation suggesting jazz improvisation, and inspired the Foxtrot?
6) Name the two gangs in West Side Story.
7) What's the title of the National Wildlife Fund's kids' magazine?
8)
What's the title of the first song on the first side of Van Halen's eponymous 1978 debut album?
9) With whose band did Louis Armstrong come to prominence (as the second cornet player)?
10) What cable TV network, founded in 1994, dropped the exclamation point from its name in 2005? Hint: Its parent network is Encore.

... and what theme links the 10 answers?

Two new quizzes well nigh upon us

Two all-new, mutually exclusive quizzes this week - play one or both!

Tuesday, October 16, 9:15pm
Ray's Happy Birthday Bar
1200 E. Passyunk Ave.(near 9th & Federal Sts.)
Subject Round: BOARD GAMES

Wednesday, October 17, 9pm
Dirty Frank's
13th & Pine Sts.
Subject Round: ENDINGS

Group W beats impressive field in high-scoring contest

W, pictured at left, scored an awesome 170 in a hard quiz to top a field of teams which I believe set a new record for highest mean score at any venue. Well done, everyone! Sofa Kingdom came back from two tough middle rounds to send Bob Loblaw, who were leading the contest most of the night, to a disappointing third. The shocker of the night was last week's champs Mad About Saffron finishing dead last among teams who played all 6 rounds. I was also surprised to see newcomers Thin Client walk out of the bar after looking like they were a shoe-in to win something with a score of 101 after five rounds; I imagine they had to get up early or something.

Scores:

Beautiful Gold: Group W 170
So-So Silver: Sofa Kingdom 147
Shameful, Shameful Bronze: Bob Loblaw 145

Also-rans:

Pickle Tits 129
Mad About Saffron 118
Thin Client* 101
Team Fortron, the Conquerer* 19

* team quit

How's this for weird? Team Fortron [sic] scored a 1 in the Easy Round, then went a room-best 9 for 10 in the Before/After Round, and then decided to celebrate that success which put them right back in the game by dropping out of the contest. What would B.F. Skinner make of that one?

The FZA cruises to victory at Ray's

The FZA (pictured above) took it to one of the nicer teams out there, Kisses for Kittens, by a score of 117-91 this week. Another anemic turnout at Ray's unfortunately. Sometimes there are 6 teams, sometimes 2, always a mystery until game time... I still say it's about the best venue for a match in the city, what with us having our own room and whatnot.

The winners didn't tell me what the initials stand for. This time I remembered to bring my camera but forgot to use it. I'm working my way toward competence on that front in increments.

Tuesday, October 9, 2007

Weekly injustice round-up

Howdy, pardners! This is a new and unfortunate feature that I'm sure will become regular. If anyone has nominations for inclusion, send 'em along. This is your country:

* A group of airport security dopes, after years of escalating attacks on our personal freedoms and dignity, finally went whole hog and killed a person in their custody. The victim? A 45 year old mother who was jerked around by airport security on her way to an alcohol treatment facility. It's claimed she strangled herself with her cell restraints. This is how people turned up dead in the Soviet Union and apartheid South Africa, by the way. People seem to have a nasty habit of fatal accidents in police custody... What's especially chilling to me is the way that this has been reported. When police state that that they had "no alternative" other than have 4-5 large male officers wrestle a 108 pound woman to the ground, this is reported straightforwardly with no questions asked. Burmese media is reporting the use of force in a similar fashion these days.

* Two Las Vegas airport cops administered a severe, baton-twirling beating (video) to a National Guardsman on leave from Iraq. His crime? Questioning their out of control behavior. At Reagan National Airport, another woman got what you'd expect from an institution so named - a rent-a-cop take down. Everyone feel safer?

* Despite an overwhelming public disapproval of the continuing wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, the US Senate voted 92-3 to continue fully funding it (to the tune of $150,000,000,000, borrowed of course), with 4 of the 5 abstentions from the vote being presidential candidates too chickenshit to take a position, and 3 of those 4 being Democrats. At the same time, a $7B/year SCHIP program that'd provide health coverage to 4 million American children for 5 years was voted down on the grounds that it was "too expensive," and even in this case the revenue plan was to extract the funds from working people via extra taxes on cigarettes.

* The Supreme Court of the United States refused to hear a case that sought to overturn Alabama's ban on dildo sales. I'm not making this up; sale of dildos is illegal in Alabama, and the federal courts are uninterested in overturning that. Incidentally, Alabama has almost no restrictions of any sort on gun sales. "WWJD?"

Monday, October 8, 2007

Answers to last week's Secret Themes

Ray's:

The theme was The Bee Gees. That's "B.G.", as in "Brothers Gibb."

1) What's the vitamin Thiamine better known as? Vitamin B1 / B
2) What psychologist became nationally famous in 1955 by appearing on The $64,000 Question quiz show as a boxing expert? Dr. Joyce Brothers

3) What American colony, one of the original 13, had its original capital at Charlestown? Massachusetts (Bay Colony) / "Massachusetts"

4) In what year did the Japanese bomb Pearl Harbor? 1941 / "New York Mining Disaster 1941"

5) What R'n'B chart hit for Little Willie John in 1956 became Peggy Lee's biggest hit song of her career as a cover in 1958? "Fever" / Saturday Night Fever and the single "Night Fever", the #1 song in the country for an absurd 8 weeks

6) According to author A.A. Milne, who lives "at the other end of the Forest?" Christopher Robin / Robin Gibb

7) According to the Steve Miller Band's 1973 hit "The Joker", what "do people call me... 'cause I speak of the pompatus of love"? Maurice / Maurice Gibb
8) What successful American singer-songwriter wrote a number of commercial jingles, including "You Deserve a Break Today" for McDonald's? Barry Manilow / Barry Gibb

9) What country's mainland was first spotted by Europeans in 1606, by a Dutch navigator named Willem Janszoon? Australia, which is where the guys were more or less from
10) What mystery location might or might not have been discovered by Dr. Ernst Gräfenberg? The G-Spot / G

Frank's:


Theme was Alice in Wonderland.

1) Who played Chief Bill Gillespie on the TV series In the Heat of the Night?
Carroll O'Connor / Lewis Carroll
2) What is the plant Camelia sinensis better known as? You likely have some at home right now. Tea
3) What backyard game has rule variations known as Snake, Zombie and Poison? Croquet

4) What mythical creature has the body of a lion and the head, wings and talons of an eagle?
Griffon
5) In 2005 the Norwegian Scientific Committee for Food Safety released a controversial report that stated a certain animal probably can't feel pain - what animal?
Lobster / Lobster Quadrille
6) What 1994 movie was a vehicle for Saturday Night Live's Julia Sweeney? It's Pat / Pat is an employee of the White Rabbit
7) In 1995, after a 17 month strike, the United Auto Workers suffered one of their worst strategic defeats in history. What company were they striking against? Caterpillar
8) In what 2004 film does David Carradine play a character codenamed Snake Charmer?
Kill Bill II (I also accepted Kill Bill) / Bill the Lizard
9) What Jefferson Airplane album, recorded in 1966 and released in 1967, was the first to feature vocalist Grace Slick?
Surrealsitic Pillow, which featured the song "White Rabbit"
10) Since 1972, this event has been the first electoral event in choosing a US president - what is it? Iowa Caucus / The Caucus Race

Sunday, October 7, 2007

Expansion teams help make pro sports bite

Either the Arizona Diamonbacks (founded 1998) or the Colorado Rockies (founded 1993) will be representing the National League in this year's World Series. That's just sick. They displaced the Chicago Cubs (founded 1870) and the Philadelphia Phillies (founded 1883). Arizona's already won a World Series three years into it, whereas the Cubs and Phillies have matched that mark over the past 180 combined seasons.

You might notice that both teams are named after states, as there really aren't major cities as we've come to understand the term in either. Please don't give me Denver and Phoenix. When you order a Denver-style sandwich or hear someone speak with a native Phoenix accent, you get back to me. Don't you love that Denver soul sound? Who doesn't love TV shows set on the mean streets of Phoenix? (Even Mork & Mindy was set in Boulder, seeing as Denver is profoundly uninteresting.) How 'bout the other way round, Phoenix soul or Denver accents? Colorado food? What, no reference points? Until then, neither's a real city. Both regions are temporarily bloated with retirees dodging minorities, taxes and/or weather. Neither deserves to win crap.

It's difficult enough for a pro team to reward its fan base with success, all else being equal and approaching things from a coldly statistical random distribution, with 20 or 25 teams in a league. With 30-35 teams in a league even random distribution can't reward a team's supporters once per generation. How is that possibly good for even the bottom line for these leagues in the long run? Isn't the whole point of fandom that there's some sort of pay-off within your lifetime? The sheer number of teams has dropped the overall talent pool (there simply aren't enough decent big league pitchers, quarterbacks, goalies and point guards to go around). The sheer number of teams has required expansion of playoffs to add weeks of junk games which load the odds in the favor of teams with inferior records and suck more advertising dollars out of what amount, statistically, to diminished hopes for success.

The sheer number of teams that greedy league expansions in all four major team sports have sought merely serve to cheat fans in established cities with actual cultures and real, multi-generational loyalties. They transfer reward to transient populations in vague agglomerations of population with no hope of building a stable audience. This myopic greed in our ever-expanding sports world is a perfect compliment to the cheating that Americans get in the workplace and with their tax dollar. There's no refuge even in entertainment.

Winning teams in population blobs don't even have a proper place for a parade; witness the New Jersey Devils hosting non-parades in a parking lot. It's just sick that Winnipeg, Hartford and Quebec City lost hockey franchises that "Carolina" (can we limit the population blob to one state at least?!), Atlanta and San Jose could pick them up.

It's not just the Phillies' series loss that drove this rant. The fact of the matter is that there are too many damn teams in pro sports. Who does it hurt? People who are loyal to Rust Belt communities who've remained true to their homes and traditions. And who does it reward? Transient Red State turds for picking up stakes and vamoosing in search of middle management, chain restaurants and a McMansion. As Mad magazine used to say, Blechhhhh!!!

This week's coming quizzes

Two all-new quizzes this week. Let me check to see if the Phillies schedule will... ah, I see. Nope. No conflict...


Tuesday, October 9, 9pm
Ray's Happy Birthday Bar
1200 E. Passyunk Ave.(near 9th & Federal Sts.)
Subject Round: THE 1970s

Wednesday, October 10, 9pm
Dirty Frank's
13th & Pine Sts.
Subject Round: FALL

Friday, October 5, 2007

Take a shot at figuring out this week's Secret Themes

Each group of 10 otherwise unrelated questions has a theme running through their answers. Can you answer the questions and figure out the theme? Answers will be posted in a few days.

Ray's:

1) What's the vitamin Thiamine better known as?
2) What psychologist became nationally famous in 1955 by appearing on The $64,000 Question quiz show as a boxing expert?
3) What American colony, one of the original 13, had its original capital at Charlestown?
4) In what year did the Japanese bomb Pearl Harbor?
5) What R'n'B chart hit for Little Willie John in 1956 became Peggy Lee's biggest hit song of her career as a cover in 1958?
6) According to author A.A. Milne, who lives "at the other end of the Forest?"
7) According to the Steve Miller Band's 1973 hit "The Joker," what do people call me... 'cause I speak of the pompitous of love?
8) What successful American singer-songwriter wrote a number of commercial jingles, including "You Deserve a Break Today" for McDonald's?
9) What country's mainland was first spotted by Europeans in 1606, by a Dutch navigator named Willem Janszoon?
10) What mystery location might or might not have been discovered by Dr. Ernst Gräfenberg?


... and what theme links the 10 answers?

Frank's:

1) Who played Chief Bill Gillespie on the TV series In the Heat of the Night?
2) What is the plant Camelia sinensis better known as? You likely have some at home right now.
3) What backyard game has rule variations known as Snake, Zombie and Poison?
4) What mythical creature has the body of a lion and the head, wings and talons of an eagle?
5) In 2005 the Norwegian Scientific Committee for Food Safety released a controversial report that stated a certain animal probably can't feel pain - what animal?
6) What 1994 movie was a vehicle for Saturday Night Live's Julia Sweeney?
7) In 1995, after a 17 month strike, the United Auto Workers suffered one of their worst strategic defeats in history. What company were they striking against?
8) In what 2004 film does David Carradine play a character codenamed Snake Charmer?
9) What Jefferson Airplane album, recorded in 1966 and released in 1967, was the first to feature vocalist Grace Slick?
10) Since 1972, this event has been the first electoral event in choosing a US president - what is it?

... and what theme links the 10 answers?

Mad About Saffron edges Group W at Frank's

In a tough quiz, Mad About Saffron rallied to nip quiz titans Group W by less than a single latter round question. "Quite rightly!" Newcomers Herpetic Albinos had a strong third place finish despite an apparent series of maladies; hope they come back. My apologies for having to shout down a different drunken critic this week. The Frank's jackass minority seems to be platooning that role with more success than the Phillies do third base. Kudos to Shuggie from Birmingham, who played by himself, is visiting from another country, still beat a few teams of as many as 5 people and knows his state capitals better than the average American.

Beautiful Gold: Mad About Saffron 151
So-So Silver: Group W 149
Shameful, Shameful Bronze: Herpetic Albinos 92

Also-rans:

Shuggie from Birmingham, England 73
The Lightbulbs 71
The Specialists* 70
Lone Wolfs [sic] 69
Megan Looks Smokin' Tonight 32
ACG Inc.* 19

* indicates teams dropped out

Cosine wins second time in three weeks at Ray's

In an anemic turnout at Ray's, Cosine of Four (-2) topped Mashley in a walk, 94-67. Both teams went 0-for-10 in the final round, first time that's ever happened. I'm hoping that this small field was related to people anticipating a long Phillies-related bar day on Wednesday. My understanding is that some folks are planning on making the venue regular soon, and that'd be great to see.

Thursday, October 4, 2007

Russia celebrates 50 years since Sputnik 1

Fifty years ago today a bunch of commie atheists whose ancestors were largely serfs 40 years before that launched humanity's first artificial satellite. Russians are celebrating this accomplishment and I think they darn well should. This program scared the living hell out of the United States and pushed this country to seriously enter what's now known as the Space Race, with eventual scientific and economic benefit to the whole world.

I find Sputnik to be a major accomplishment. First we have the starling fact that only 54 years elapsed between the first human heavier than air flight and Sputnik. Beyond that the scientific accomplishments of the USSR, aside from their awful human rights record, are awe-inspiring. The country went from being a totally agrarian monarchy, decidedly backward, to leading the world in space technology in exactly 40 years. It wasn't pretty at all, but that's something to be proud of and one can hardly wonder that a number of people in the Third World would look to the former Soviet Union as a development model instead of the free market disaster of, say, Haiti.

For some stunning claimed audio of (so runs the claim) early unpublicized Soviet space disasters, check out the Lost Cosmonauts site. You'll also want to bring some skepticism and check out this (purported) debunking site. I don't claim to know enough to have a horse in this race.

Wednesday, October 3, 2007

Jackass Joey Vento gets it wrong again

I should preface my comments by saying that I have a history with Geno's "English-only" campaign (or as I like to think of it, their "Anglo-Saxon American authority reams your ass" campaign.)

I even put my quizzo rep on the line at a Johnny Goodtimes-arranged event in which I soundly beat a Vento supporter head-to-head in order to raise some cash for the Nationalities Service Center.

Coming home from the Ray's game last night, I couldn't help but notice the mannequin above on display with Vento's conspicuous consumption collection of low-performance, overrated and poorly made "American" motorcycles. (Hey Joey, did youse know Harleys are assembled in the US to sucker jingoistic tools like you into thinking they're "made" here? Most of their jobs are overseas.)

It seems that in the constrained mind of the nationalist bigot, the conception of anything they enjoy or consider to be iconic must needs be from the same country and culture as themselves. Oddly in this example we're dealing with such a case of cognitive dissonance that the subject appears to have turned a continental European character into an English- speaking American!

For the record, Frankenstein's monster was not American and we have no reason to believe he spoke English. Victor Frankenstein was born in Geneva, Switzerland and went to university at Ingolstadt, Germany. I should think that since he taught the monster to speak he spoke French (you might prefer to call it "Freedom Tongue") or an Alpine dialect of German. Even the author, Mary Shelley, was not American. Wrong again, Joey, even in your moments of prejudiced attempted whimsy. I pass Geno's regularly, and I'm not sure what your employees are speaking, but it ain't gonna get them far on the SAT Verbal, let's put it that way.