Sunday, October 22, 2006

The Brute Force Quiz

One of my favorite books in college was Neil Steinberg's "If At All Possible Involve a Cow," a history of college pranks. The book gave a general history of college pranking, but it also featured detailed chapters on U of Wisconsin, Madison's Pail and Shovel Party, and Caltech's Ditch Day. It was from that chapter on Ditch Day that I developed my Dichotometric Theory of Trivia Writing. Just as there are two types of hacks, there are two types of trivia quizzes: the Finesse, and the Brute Force.

Finesse style quizzes have some kind of theme, or the questions are particularly clever. A Brute Force quiz is just a list of questions. The Quiz Blogger's BH quizzes are one example of a Brute Force quiz. He loads up wikipedia, or brings out a stack of magazines, or pulls out his notebook, and he writes questions until he stops. Boom: a quiz! I wish I had the discipline to write like that.

You can semi-finesse them, by throwing in a few questions on a topic, or having a running gag, but for the most part, they're just a list of questions.

I'm a very poor writer, as this blog surely attests. I have difficulty putting words on paper. I wanted to be a radio commentator when I grew up, because I'm quick-witted and I can talk very well. That was not to be. Right now, within my pointy little coconut, I have ideas for about 100 different quizzes and questions. But I haven't written them down because I don't have the habit of writing them down, and so, like many a brilliant idea, they languish.

So, let's see if we can break that habit. Here is a quiz. The questions were pulled mostly from the October 20, 2006 issue of Entertainment Weekly. I wrote them just now. Enjoy.

1. Who played runner Steve Prefontaine in the 1997 biopic "Prefontaine"?
2. Writer Mary Orr, who died in September of pneumonia at age 94, wrote the short story which inspired which Best Picture Oscar winner?
3. For what 3 films (which all have single-word titles) has Waren Beatty received Best Original Screenplay Oscar nominations (in all cases shared with co-writers)?
4. What author received an 8-million dollar advance for his second novel "Thirteen Moons," based on the success of his first novel "Cold Mountain"?
5. What dictator is the subject of the biopic "The Last King of Scotland" & who plays him?
6. What queen is the subject of Sena Jeter Naslund's historical novel "Abundance"?
7. Who plays author Truman Capote in the 2006 film "Infamous," having earlier provided the voice of Dobby the House Elf in "Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets"?
8. What playwright is played by Jack Nicholson in the 1981 film "Reds"?
9. Who won an Oscar for her portrayal of anarchist Emma Goldman in the film "Reds"?
10. What is the name of the fictional sketch comedy show which is the setting for the NBC comedy "30 Rock"?
11. What is the name of the fictional sketch comedy show which is the setting for the NBC drama "Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip"?
12. What fictional prison was the setting of the FOX series "Prison Break"?
13. What is the title of the 13th and final book in Lemony Snicket's "A Series of Unfortunate Events"?
14. Co-written with David E. Talbert, "Love Don't Live Here No More" is the debut novel for what rapper?
15. "The Man Who Saved Britain" by Simon Winder is a memoir/sociological history of what fictional character?

And finally, since I think there should be more trivia questions about prescription drugs, here's one from the advertisements:

What is Bristol-Myers-Squibb's brand name for the bipolar disorder treatment drug aripiprazole?

Answers to all questions can be found in the comments section.

Sunday, May 21, 2006

Trivia Book of the Year, 2002

I finally again have the computer that had my "Trivia Book of the Year" master list on it, so I can review my choices. Most years have two or three choices, a winner and then some honorable mentions. However 2002 has only a single book listed: The New Dictionary of Cultural Literacy: What Every American Needs to Know 3rd ed., by E.D. Hirsch, et al.

I'm pretty sure I picked this one because it came out right after I was on Jeopardy. It's certainly one of the classic study books for the show. You really can't go wrong knowing this stuff.

You can browse the entire book online at Project Bartleby: The New Dictionary of Cultural Literacy

Previous Winners:
2005: "The Great American Pop Culture Quiz Book" by the Editors of Entertainment Weekly

Thursday, May 18, 2006

I Got 6

I spent the evening at Buffalo Wild Wings, playing NTN's "Six" game. "Six" is a general knowledge game in six categories. If I correctly understand my NTN history, the game used to be "Trivial Pusuit", until whatever licensing deal they had expired. So now they just have a game with 6 categories very similar to the original 6 in Trivial Pursuit. It's a great game.

Six has 2 special rounds which raise the game up from a simple one-hour multiple choicefest. Round 2 is a matching game. You get a category; for instance, tonight had match these foreign states to their countries, and then you have to match them up. Pretty simple, but this round works as a great diagnostic for what you don't know.

Here were tonight's rounds:

Science: multiplication problems. This is the second time in the last couple of months that I've seen this. Seriously guys. Knock it off.

Geography: The foreign states mentioned above.

Entertainment: Divorced couples. Nothing more entertaining than broken marriages.

History: It'll come to me. Oh yeah, Time's Man of the Year, matching man to year.

And the last two, which I bombed following perfect scores on the first 4:

Sports: Match the NBA team to its arena.

So, seriously. Could you do this? Here were the teams:

Timberwolves (1)
Grizzlies (2)
Trail Blazers (3)
Bucks (4)
76ers (5)
Kings (6)

I knew the T-wolves, because I'm here in Minnesota, and I'm not that lame. Having the arenas listed was some help, in that somehow I recognized the Trail Blazers arena. And I guessed one of the other 4 correctly. I like questions I don't know the answer to.

This is one area where Wikipedia shines: providing lists of related things to study. I look up Wachovia Center, and there at the bottom is a list of all the NBA arenas, as well as all the NHL Arenas and more links to other leagues and other lists. Perfect for studying/beefing up your knowledge. And thus, the NTN game serves as diagnostic.

So I've resigned myself to dropping some points during the sports round, because I make it up with the Arts/Literature question. I work in a bookstore, and thus I know more-than-average about modern fiction. If the question is about popular books, I can make up my points right there. Except that tonight, it was:

Arts/Lit: Complete the Jeffery Deaver novel titles.

Uh-oh Chongo. This isn't like matching up the Janet Evanovich titles like I saw a while back. I'd actually heard of those, and they all have numbers in and are easy to remember. For this round I had to guess, and I only got 4 of 6. Nuts. Oh, well. So I look them up on Wikipedia, and I discover that the 6 novels listed all feature the character Lincoln Rhyme. So I've learned something I can use there.

The other twist round is the final wagering round. You assign point values 1000 to 6000 to the 6 categories. The scores can really fluctuate in this round, since usually up to this point the game is pretty close. (The players at BW3 in Mankato are great, and I love playing there. I'm usually near the top of the scoreboard, but I have to stay on my toes. And if any of them somehow find this, MANWHO says Hi.) Tonight I was quite a bit ahead, but I dropped my 5000 and 6000 questions, and I ended up in third. Dropping the science question alone was a 4400 point swing. Almost impossible to make up.

Anyway, Six is the Thursday night premium NTN game, and it's one of my favorites.

The answers to the NBA arenas question can be found in the comments.

Wednesday, May 10, 2006

Uneasy Lies The Head

I had forgotten how much fun it is to play along with Jeopardy! And having the burden of missed-clue-stenography lifted makes it that much more so. The VCR thought that Monday was Sunday, so I missed the first show. But I did see, and score along at home, the second and third shows of the Tournament of Champions. Hence there may be spoilers, so read ahead at your own risk.

1. I have a degree in history, and I still know squat about kings and queens. Nefertiti, Roland & Charlemagne, Montezuma, and Iphigenia & Agamemnon: I should have known them all. And I didn't realize until someone pointed it out that all of the pictures in this video clue were closeups of the rulers actually wearing crowns. Nothing gets past me, I tell you what.

I could bone up on them by using an online encyclopedia. I mean, I'm sitting right in front of a computer; it wouldn't take but a minute or three. But I'm not going to, at least, not right now.

2. I also know nothing about geography, especially on questions involving maps. I mean, I guessed "Indonesia" for a picture of Japan for crying out loud. The "more than 1000 islands" part of the clue threw me off. I know Japan has more than the 4 big islands, but the maps were closeups, and I couldn't see which continent they were off of and where. Etc, etc. Better call the wah-mbulance.

I did recognize Cyprus, but only because the outline is on the flag.

For the record, the four big islands of Japan are:

By size: Honshu - Hokkaido - Kyushu - Shikoku

North to South: Hokkaido - Honshu - Shikoku - Kyushu

I added to my Firefox search engines list, just so I could look that up . Now I'm cool for real, yo.

(Note: Sure I use Wikipedia. I use it a lot. But it's a quantum encyclopedia; you can never be sure whether the info contained within will be right or wrong at any given moment. So it's Infoplease primarily for me. It serves my purposes better, too. Less detailed)

3. Too many wrong guesses by Myron. My Wednesday score should have been about $6000 more, but I really wanted one of those "Alternative Energy" clues to be about wind farms, since there's a big one near the town where I grew up. I did give myself credit for "ethanol", even though I technically couldn't think of it before Vik shouted it out. It was on my microbiology exam this afternoon, for gosh sake. Also from recently taken exams: h being the symbol for Planck's constant (I guessed m). Yes that was last semester, but still.

4. Another major "should have known" clue came up last night. The "Alphabetically First" category asked for the alphabetically first U.S. Supreme Court justice (by last name). I was trying to think of one beginning with A, but I couldn't remember the name of

the most recently appointed one (1)

and sure enough, that was the answer. And I probably could have figured out

which non-radioactive chemical element fit the category (2)

too, if the game hadn't been so fast paced.

5. Categorywise I scored 5/5 on "Star Trek, Star Wars or LOTR" (a real nerd category, as discussed last week), the cutesy-pie lit recognition category "Tarzan's Book Reviews", "TV Numbers", "Politicians", and "Parlez-Vous Anglais", a French phrase ID category. 1 out of 5's were scored on the aforementioned "Who Wears the Crown", "Legal Types", and the also aforementioned "It's on the Map". I beat the smart kids on sauerkraut being the "fermented substance" in mulgikapsad, the Jan & Dean hit "Sidewalk Surfin'", and the TV show Adam-12.

Wednesday's game was awesome. It's good to be back enjoying my show and playing along. And writing about it.

Answers to questions quoted in this post can be found in the comments.

Jeopardy (May 9, 2006), at
Jeopardy (May 10, 2006), at

Japan, at
"aforementioned", at
"categorywise", at
mulgikapsad, at MOFA (scroll to bottom of page) Bonus fun fact: Estonian web pages end with .ee .

All right, fine...
Agamemnon all from

Saturday, May 06, 2006

Breaking out the Scorecard

In 1997, I started seriously watching, taping, reviewing and studying Jeopardy! with an eye toward getting on the show. Somehow perfect inspiration struct almost immediately and I developed a scorecard system that served me well in the 5 years of preparation that led to my appearance on the show.

Here's how it worked. I took a piece of three-ring looseleaf paper and drew a Jeopardy board on each side, one for the Jeopardy round, one for Double Jeopardy. Fill in the category names. Write in how I did on each clue. Calculate my score. I eventually evolved a nice little scoring system for myself. "K" means I knew the answer; "DK" mean I didn't know it, and those also get a diagonal slash. "Ig" is an incorrect guess (and also an immunoglobulin. I should really be studying for my microbiology final exam, instead of blogging). Wrong guesses also get the horizontal slash, which echoes the minus sign.

There was also "CG" for a correct guess and "POE", which stands for process of elimination and was given to a clue that I didn't get until one of the contestants had already gotten it wrong. The little dot in the corner of some boxes means it was a triple-stumper that none of the contestants got right. I added that for an ego boost, for when I got one they didn't. I seen to remember the exclamation point coming into play, although I can't for the life of me remember what it stood for. Maybe a really good clue, or an "I can't believe that was a triple stumper!" kind of thing.

Here's the obsessive genius of the system. After I'd watched each show through once and calculated my score, I'd watch it again and write down all the clues I didn't get right. Sometimes I'd just read over them for review, sometimes I'd make flashcards, sometimes I'd look up more information, and sometimes I'd just let the paper pile up. But I interacted with the show (rather than just "watching" it) for 5 years, and it paid off.

The system was inefficient at first. It took me a couple of years before I realized that I didn't need to copy down the entire clue if I got it wrong. I just needed to boil out the significant fact or clue and go from there. And that was a big step toward making me a better Jeopardy! player. Most of the clues on the show have two parts, the "crux" and the "frill." A good player goes right to the crux and ignores the extra stuff, which is there to make the TV show more interesting. Once you've learned to look for the "author of Such and Such a Novel" or "capital of Some Such Country", you've got an advantage over players who are trying to digest the whole clue.

The other big advantage was that I had a map of where all the Daily Doubles appeared for 5 years worth of shows. The DD's are placed by a human person, and thus, they are not randomly placed. Heck, the categories themselves aren't randomly placed. If there's a sports category on the show, it's probably in the second column, and a "word in quotation marks" clue is almost always on the right side of the board. Meta-knowledge is mega-power.

The other big thing scorekeeping taught me was that I had to learn not to guess. I'll come back to that in a moment.


After I'd been on the show, my scorekeeping tapered off. I just didn't feel like I needed to keep track of scores anymore, and if I did keep track of scores, it felt like cheating not to go back and write down all the clues I missed. And I couldn't watch the show without keeping score, so I slowly stopped watching altogether.

But with a Tournament of Champions starting next week, I had to wonder, "Do I still got it?" If "it" was "proper grammar" the answer is no. But if "it" was skillz and pillz, then there was only one way to find out. I got out some looseleaf, and pen and a pencil, and I drew up a scorecard:

(Click on the small image for a larger one)

By the time I taped my appearances on the show, in June of 2002, my usual score was about $30,000, with frequent jumps as high as $35,000 and a personal best of just under 40-grand, if I recall. So I'm not too disappointed at my $28,800 score from yesterday. There were a couple of things I should have known and way too many Ig's, which is about what I would expect. In fact, without the $5800 lost from those wrong guesses, I'd have been just fine.

(Actually, "SK" for should have known also made a couple of appearances on scorecards, but not very frequently. That Intel clue for $1000 is a definite SK.)

The nice thing is, with the j-archive around, I don't have to go back and watch the show again to write down the misses. I can just put both rounds on one side of the paper, and then look up what I missed, if I want to. For the record:

-risque follies opened in 1869: the Folies Bergères
-"enlightened" Bavarian secret society: the Illumnati
-'70s Red Sox catcher nicknamed "Pudge": Carlton Fisk
-country, the world's second-leading producer of cars in 2000: Japan
-number of nations with a name ending in "stan": 7
-Apollo lunar mission was aborted in 1970 due to explosion: Apollo 13
-James K. Hahn and Richard Riordan: mayors of Los Angeles
-beer from a keg, not a bottle, British spelling: draught
-Wild Bill Hickok & Calamity Jane are buried in this city: Deadwood
-Intel cofounder's law predicting chips would double computing power every 1 or 2 years: Moore's Law
-to stir up trouble, to put "the cat in among": the pigeons
-a misleading illusion; specifically, a bright light over marshy ground: will o' the wisp
-O'dramatist: Eugene O'Neill
-video clue about flowers: four-o'clocks
-General Von Choltitz, military commander of this European capital, wouldn't follow Hitler's orders to burn it: Paris
-Walter Ulbricht blocked de-Stalinization as leader of this country: East Germany
-In 1806, when a patron suggested he tickle the ivories for visiting French officers, he stormed out: Beethoven
-In the 1980s, as Vatican Doctrinal Enforcer, the German born with this surname said no to "liberation theology": Ratzlinger
-In this Hesse work, Harry Haller meets a Doppelganger of himself named Hermine: Steppenwolf
-No. 1 hit from July 1985, he was "findin' it hard to believe we're in heaven": Bryan Adams
-Had he lived in ancient Greece, this president would have been called Odysseus: Ulysses Grant

Note that I wrote, and would have written, the entirely of those Germany clues, even though they boil down to "City (not) burned by Hitler"; Walter Ulbricht was leader"; & "German composer, 1806". These clues sit somewhere at the junction of recognition and recall for me, and I'd have wanted the full text written down. Compare the Daily Double in the O' category, which is straight up recognition, and I'm embarrassed to have missed it. (I would usually pause the VCR for a few seconds, to let myself try to think of the right response if I didn't get a DD right away, but even that wouldn't have helped this time.) DD's and FJ's were always transcribed, whether I knew them or not. Near the very end of my study, I added actually writing the Final Jeopardy response down in the 30 seconds, although I'm not sure whether that skill really could have been learned. I suppose it's just one more way of thinking, and had I come to it earlier, I certainly would have made a habit of it.

This was a lot of fun, and the scorekeeping takes very little time if one is not obsessive about it. I'll probably track the ToC, just to see how I'd stack up.

And considering that I also missed a Beethoven clue when I was on the show, I should probably read a book about him or something.

Jeopardy, May 5, 2006 (from j-archive)
Ludvig Von Beethoven (from

Bonus question, for reading this far: What are the 7 countries that have names ending in "stan"? The answer may be found in the comments section.

Wednesday, May 03, 2006

And again and again and again.

Because there is a theoretically finite body of "general knowledge" out there, it is inevitable that quiz shows will repeat questions. Because there are so few quiz shows on television, it is unusual when 2 shows duplicate questions on episodes airing so closely together.

From Who Wants to be a Millionaire, Friday, April 28, 2006:

(For $25,000) The registration number NCC-1701 is displayed on the exterior of what fictional vehicle?

A: Herbie the Love Bug B: Batmobile
C: USS Enterprise D: Millenium Falcon

From Jeopardy!, Tuesday, May 2, 2006:

(In the category PSEUDO MOVIE RATINGS, for $1000) It was the alphanumeric serial number for the Starship Enterprise that first appeared on TV in 1966

The same fact, but the Millionaire question is one of recognition, and the Jeopardy! one is a question of recall. The J! question is harder, but would have gotten a player only 4% of what the Millionaire one would have. Most interestingly, the contestant on Millionaire opted to keep his $16,000, rather than risk it (wisely, since he would have guessed wrong with "D"), while at least 2 of the 3 players on Jeopardy! knew the answer.

(Although Matt technically gave a wrong response of "NC-1701", I'm giving him the benefit of the doubt and assuming he was confused by the category, which required that each response "include a movie rating". NCC-1701 only kinda includes the movie rating "NC-17". Good question, bad category.)

In the 18th series of Jeopardy! (the one currently airing in reruns on GSN) there was once a category about Star Trek for which the $1000 clue involved the Ferengi Rules of Acquisition. A Trekkie was playing that day, and he got the clue correct. I'm all for including real trivia on the show once in a while, and I'm glad I saw that episode.

My thanks to the unofficial Millionaire message board at and the j-archive for question transcripts.

Sunday, April 30, 2006

Character Issues

As I mentioned in my last post, I don't watch many movies. The last movie I saw in the theater was the 3rd Harry Potter about a year and a half ago. This is kind of stupid, because my student ID entitles me to the free second-run movie on campus every week, and they're mostly popular big screen licks. I could have seen Brokeback or Crash or Willy Wonka or any of a good number of recent films for just the cost of a couple of hours of my time. What I actually spent it on, I do not know, but I'm a weaker quizzer, and quizmaster, because of it.

The writing of movie questions from reference works, rather than from actual viewing of the films, leads to a duller and easier type of question. Let's use the April 2006 issue of Premiere magazine as our source. The cover story this issue is "The 100 Greatest Performances of All Time." This could be fodder for a number of very dull questions of varying challenge.

Who played Jeffery "The Dude" Lebowski in "The Big Lebowski"? (1)

In what movie did Angelica Huston play Lilly Dillon? (2)

Question 1 is okay, but question 2 is free of any kind of context which would make it interesting. We could work an "Oscar-nominated" in there, I suppose. Many of the roles in this article garnered their performers nominations, although in most cases you'd just have to already know that if you were writing the question.

Who won an Academy Award for her portrayal of Sarah Tobias in "The Accused"? (3)

You can tart up the questions in other ways, too, with "title role":

Navin Johnson, played by what actor, was the title role in the movie "The Jerk"? (4)

or by adding the year:

Who won an Oscar for playing the title role in the 1977 film "Annie Hall"? (5)

That question's not too bad, really. Bland, but not as dull as it could be. Then you can throw in some hints,

Ralph Fiennes played concentration camp commandant Amon Goeth in which 1993 film? (6)
Cary Grant played paleontologist David Huxley in what 1938 film? (7)

so if the character name doesn't give it to you, you can work it out by knowing the occupation. It bugs me when questions say that "such and such" an actor did something, when really it was their character who did it. Knowing the character name leads to better questions.

The sidebars have some interesting facts:

What actor played 8 roles in "Kind Hearts and Coronets," including the Parson, the Admiral, and Lady Agatha? (8)

There is a lot of transvestitism in this article, actually:

Who played actor Michael Dorsey, who pretended to be Dorothy Michaels, in the movie "Tootsie"? (9)
Hilary Swank won an Oscar for playing Teena Brandon/Brandon Teena in what 1999 movie? (10)
In what comedy did Jack Lemmon play a musician named Jerry who disguises himself as a woman named Daphne? (11)

If I had seen either of those 3 previous movies, I would be able to write better-phrased questions than those above. I'll fully admit that this is a weakness for me. Nevertheless, there is also a place in quizdom for quick-and-dirty revision, and things will even themselves out in the end, when you play against a real film buff.

Last bit of questioning here.

Who played the following characters with unusual names:
Lili von Shtupp in "Blazing Saddles" (1974)? (12)
Clementine Kruczynski in "Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind" (2004)? (13)
Bill "The Butcher" Cutting in "Gangs of New York" (2002) (14)

And finally, one that would've gotten me an extra $1600 on Jeopardy! if I'd have known the character name 4 years ago:

What was the name of Humphrey Bogart's character in "The Treasure of the Sierra Madre" (1948)? (15)

Knowing the character name can sometimes make all the difference in the world.

Answers to questions may be found in the comments.

Thursday, April 27, 2006

Trivia Book of the Year, 2005

The year 2001 was an embarrassment of riches for trivia book fans. A pair of books were released that were so great they inspired me to begin naming a "Trivia Book of the Year," which I have done sporadically ever since. Earlier this year I picked books to represent 2003, 2004, and 2005.

Last year's winner was "The Great American Pop Culture Quiz Book" by the Editors of Entertainment Weekly. Good trivial trivia is hard to write. And by trivia, I mean not general knowledge questions about movies and TV and music. I mean the kinds of things you know only by immersing yourself in watching movies and TV, listening to the records, and following the tabloids. Or by reading Entertainment Weekly, which any self-respecting trivia buff does, religiously. These questions separate the wheat--the true pop culture connoisseurs--from dorks like me who sit around reading the "Video Hound" and Whitburn's "Top 40 Hits" books instead of going to movies or listening to the radio.

The book also does a great job of alternating between gimmes and hardcore, brainbusting trivia. This was deliberate, as mentioned in the introduction. For instance, these two questions appear next to each other on page 94:

The Beach Boys hit "Kokomo" came from what film's soundtrack? (1)

In his 1987 underground hit "Elvis is Everywhere," who does Mojo Nixon claim is the "Anti-Elvis"? (2)

The first question, for the average player, is the "Hey, I got one." question. The second question is the "How in the world did you know that?" question. Both have their place, and in a book like this one, they, along with over 500 other questions, come together for a delicious trivia stew, simmered for just the right time, and then ladled into the skulls of pop culture consumers everywhere.

The quiz debuted as a feature in EW 3 years ago, and it eventually became (the best) part of their rotating backpage. It would be worth my while to put together an index of the issues that feature the quiz, because the questions are very high quality. The book is apparently all-new material.

If the blogs can be believed, this weekend will see the taping of the "World Series of Pop Culture," a joint effort from Entertainment Weekly and VH1. I'm a big fan of Tournament-style game shows. I loved "Ultimate Fan League", for instance, and I'm nothing of a sports fan. But I love watching quiz players who are good at what they do showing off what they know.

The sample questions at the VH1 casting call website perfectly exemplify the dichotomy between easy and hard questions:

Do you know which college Allie Hamilton attended after leaving her summer love Noah Calhoun behind in the 2004 film “The Notebook”? (3)

Do you know which TV theme song asks you to “take the good, you take the bad, you take them both, and there you have…” (4)

And the answer isn't "No.", smartguy. You buy the premise, you buy the bit. Now play nice.

Hopefully, if I'm back in Sioux Falls this summer, I'll be in a situation where I get VH1. Otherwise I'll have to work something out.

Here are some links to articles and blogs about teams trying out for the show:

From the Detroit News: Pop Tarts toast tidbits of triviality
From the blog 27 Years of Sleep Deprivation: The World Series of Pop Culture
From the blog Covering the Spread: World Series of Pop Culture

Answers to the questions in this post can be found in the comments.

What is/what the...? Was that a spoiler I just saw?

Yesterday I saw the first episode of Jeopardy! I've seen this season. My classes/work schedule have prevented me from seeing the show when it first airs, and although I taped a few episodes earlier in the year, I haven't had time to get to them, and the urgency has passed. I follow the episodes online now, either at or at the message board.

I saw the Double Jeopardy round, without sound, at Godfathers Pizza. It's fun to try to guess what the correct response is to a visual clue when you can't hear the Clue Crew reading it. I guessed wrong both times on "buoyancy" and "pineal gland", but I would have known them if I could have heard the clues. It seems that the game is faster paced than it was before. The clues are more tightly written (an aftereffect of the need for faster writing during last year's Ultimate Tournament of Champions, I think), and thus they take less time to read.

As far as the difficulty of the material goes, it's about the same as it ever was. I had trouble with the lesser known senators at the bottom of the board, and I can never remember how exactly Nazareth-Bethlehem-Jerusalem all fit into Jesus's timeline. Otherwise a good general knowledge episode.

The contestants had some trouble with Constitutional Amendments. I think that any American who is smart/educated enough to get on Jeopardy! should know the amendments, especially the Bill of Rights, cold. Although

The one that ends with the word "infringed" (1)

is trivial enough that you might not get it in the 5 seconds allotted for thought. However,

The "cruel and unusual punishments" one (2)

is such basic civics general knowledge that any reasonably well-educated person should know it.

Of course, I got it wrong too, so whaddyagonnado?

Final Jeopardy was a head slapper for me. After I saw the clue, I thought about it for 5 seconds or so, and then it came to me. And then I realized, they just spoiled a major plot point of a currently best-selling novel which is going to become a hit movie in the next month or so. Holy cow. Can we get a spoiler alert here people?

It was also fun to see the show on a high-quality television. I've never really liked the set redesign from 2002, but it looks a lot better on a larger TV with a brighter screen.

The Tournament of Champions is going to air in May, and I'll have to make sure to tape and watch those episodes. I've heard from a former champion who attended the taping that the contestants are evenly matched, and the gameplay is outstanding.

Maybe I'll even break out the old scorecards, to see if I can still play with the big boys. We'll see.

This game can be found at April 26, 2006

Answers to sample questions may be found in the comments.

Monday, April 10, 2006

Slowly the questions come.

I read, even though it makes me feel like a bad Christian sometimes. They're always good for an interesting fact or link, though. Like this one:

What is anthropodermic bibliopegy?

Here's a clue: it's gross, but relatively common.

The answer may be found in the comments.

Friday, March 24, 2006

Another good question

Based on the years in which their movies were set, who was framed first, Roger Rabbit or Andy Dufresne?

Saturday, March 04, 2006

Let's start with a question.

Q: Who played Wilbur Peterson on the soap opera Search for Tomorrow from 1953 to 1955?

A: Don Knotts