Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Prior Art

I scanned this article 6 or 7 years ago to test some new OCR software, and I thought it might be of interest to this blog's readers. Enjoy!



"We Want Average Americans Who Are Aware of What's Going On"

From Daytime TV magazine, July 1974

On March 30, Art Fleming celebrated the 10th anniversary of Jeopardy. "People are always asking me if I'm bored, after 10 years," says Art, "and I answer, No! The audience is always new and the questions are always different! "

He explains, "I'm constantly learning from each show. And I enjoy doing the show. Every show is opening night!"

He does three segments of Jeopardy in one day, and three the next. The sixth segment is the evening version now being syndicated, and for this show Art wears a tuxedo.

He tapes Jeopardy on the same floor as How to Survive a Marriage, at NBC in New York. And a few blocks away is the Jeopardy office.

"It takes about 65 persons to put Jeopardy on the air, and we work hard. And we have such a great staff that we've had to fire only three people in 10 years!"

How does somebody get on Jeopardy?

"You have to take a written and oral test. Would-be contestants should write to Jeopardy, 162 West 48th St., New York, N.Y." They can also write to NBC, 30 Rockefeller Plaza, New York, N.Y., 10019, for free tickets and then, after the show, ask one of the production staff how to become a contestant.

Do you have to be genius to become a contestant?

"No," says Art. "We want average Americans. You don't even need a college degree; just be aware of what's going on in the world.

"Why, the biggest money winner was a woman who has only two years of high school. And the most money we ever gave was to a radar man who won $11,110 in one week...and he only had one year in college.

"The show has more than 350 categories.

"Contestants don't know who will play against them and what categories will be used when their turn comes."

If Art Fleming himself was a contestant, what categories would he prefer? "English, history and music!"

Born in New York (the son of Marie and Guido Fazzin, European dance team), Art attended Cornell and Colgate universities and is quite a scholar. He is a history buff, travels extensively, acquires British and American army and regimental memorabilia (medals, swords, uniforms), and has a great collection of fine books and first editions. "I bought a full set of 23 books on British men of action for $1,200 in England, and now I can sell it for $10,000.

"I bought a series of 90 books on American Indians for $1,000 and sold three or four of them for $1,000 right away. I bought for $485 an oversize book on pirates with 190 original Howard Pyle illustrations. I own a book of Tennyson with fouredge printing. Color illustrations are printed on the edges of the book."

But be doesn't buy rare books just to show them off. "I read them!"

And did you notice how trim he looks now? "That's because I lost 32 pounds in seven weeks. How? By suffering! I did it by the low carbohydrates diet, under medical supervision. I ate 40 grams of carbohydrates a day. No sweets. Meat and fish. And I was never hungry."

He's six-foot-three and was 245 pounds. Now he's down to 215, and he's satisfied. As a former athlete (he captained the football and water polo teams at Cornell and Colgate) he knows the value of physical fitness, and still lives a vigorous life. He pilots his own twin cabin cruiser in the New York waters, and flies often to Caribbean and Mexican waters for fishing and scuba diving.

He's proud of the 146-pound sailfish he landed off Acapulco recently when vacationing there with his friend, Norman Eaton, who runs the Polonaise Restaurant in Austin, Texas. But he won't go hunting. "I can't kill an animal. When I was 15, 1 shot a rabbit by mistake in North Carolina, and I wept after that."

Art's new figure looks good in the extensive wardrobe supplied by Barney's, New York. "I have 45 suits I wear on the show only. They are cleaned after two wearings. And when they get too used, Barney's takes them back. I also have 100 neckties for the show."

But away from the show, he'd rather relax in sweater and slacks. He lives in a big three-and-a-half room New York apartment.

Divorced the past few years, he's enjoying the bachelor life. "It takes me only two and a half hours to clean the apartment." He cooks for himself and has fun. "My mother taught me to cook; and I cook and shop for my food. When I eat out, then I usually select dishes I don't ordinarily make for myself."

Would he marry again? "Never! ... Not in this life or the next!"

Does he have a concept of the Ideal Woman? "Yes, it's a woman who enjoys life and who's not thrown by life's problems.

"I don't really care what she looks like. What's important is that she's in individual who's considerate of me and people around me. It's her attitude about life and people that counts, not her looks. I don't want a selfish woman; selfish people turn me off!"

He's never had children, but his sister is married, has three kids and lives in suburban Larchmont.

He admits he wanted children when he was married; but, now looking back, he feels, "It's tough bringing children into this world and I'm not sorry I didn't have children."

He's a dashing gent-tall, muscular, tidy, with dark brown hair and blue eyes, plus a marvelous quick wit that occasionally flashes during Jeopardy. But, to make Jeopardy move swiftly, he holds back and submerges his personality. "It's the show that counts."

He got into show business when he was four, and was an actor (Western movies, the old Loretta Young show, etc.) for 30 years before becoming host of Jeopardy. "When you're a TV host, you're yourself, and not many actors can do that well," he explains.

He manages to tape a year's supply of Jeopardy and still have 20 weeks off, during which he does guesting on other shows, runs his own industrial film company... travels and has fun.

Sunday, November 18, 2007

L L Cool Langstroth

Last Saturday (November 10) the Fourth European Quizzing Championships were held, in Blackpool, England. Three of my favorite trivial-minded bloggers have weighed in on the festivities, and an interesting common theme has emerged.

Those bloggers -Ken Jennings, Bob Harris, and "The Quiz Blogger"- all make mention of how difficult or obscure the questions were by mentioning similarly formated lists of question subjects. Those lists are comprised of items consisting of a cultural or national adjective and a subject. If I were making the list, I'd be tempted to just make something up (Welsh badminton champions, Portuguese poodle pamperers, Marshall Island marshals, etc.). However, my curiosity got the best of me, and a bit of internet research led me to what I believe were the subjects of many of those questions. (Basically I just plopped the term into Google and Wikipedia, then picked the "most famous" web hit that came up. "Research", I call it.)

Here are my best guesses, along with some commentary. The initials following each entry represent the blog where it was mentioned.:

Albanian dictator (BH): most likely Enver Hoxha, who ruled from 1944 until his death in 1985. Jeopardy ├╝ber-champ Jerome Vered correctly identified him in a Round 4 Ultimate Tournament of Champions game in 2005.

Belarussian table tennis player (KJ)/East German ping-pong player (BH): Could they possibly have had 2 questions about obscure paddle-wielders? Or is one of our fair bloggers remembering it wrong? Regardless of which nationality/ies is/are correct, the Googles, they do nothing. The Belarus Table Tennis Federation English language webpage hasn't been updated since 2003, so that's no help. And searches for "East German Ping Pong" just bring up a bunch of references to the movie "Balls of Fury". Too obscure for even me to spend more than 5 minutes on, at the moment. Color me stumped.

Hungarian fencers (KJ): Boy there are a lot of Hungarian Olympic Fencing Champions, according to this list at Wikipedia.

Islamic hardcore punk (QB): Looks like Taqwacore. This is the kind of thing Wikipedia was made for. The genre was inspired by the book The Taqwacores by Michael Muhammad Knight.

Korean folk songs (KJ): The are many Korean folk songs (obviously), but Arirang is the undisputed king. Here's a link that plays the song in the background. It's a nice little tune, actually. I dig Korea.

Mauritanian film director (KJ): I suppose we're talking about Abderrahmane Sissako here. Remarkably, he has no English-language Wikipedia page for me to link to (yet), so the click there takes you to IMDB. He moved to France in 1993 when his film Octobre was shown at Cannes. His 2002 film Heremakono (aka Waiting for Happiness) seems to be his most popular. Here's an interview from the African Film Festival webpage, and here's one from the UNESCO Courier.

Moroccan feminist essayist (KJ): Fatema Mernissi is the most likely suspect here. Best known for 1975's Beyond the Veil and 1987's The Veil and the Male Elite. Link goes to Wikipeida.

Nicaraguan authoresses (QB): Wikipedia lists 7. Could be any of them, really. However, it's worth noting that Rosario Murillo is also the current First Lady of Nicaragua, Claribel Alegria won the Neustadt Internation Prize for Literature in 2006, and Gioconda Belli was nice enough to put up an English-language biography on her web page.

Senegalese poet (BH): Gotta be Leopold Sedar Senghor, who was also the first president of independent Senegal, serving from 1960 to 1981. He died in 2001.

Swedish hurdling twins (QB): Without question Jenny and Susanna Kallur. The link is from their college days (in 2001).

Ukrainian sculptors (QB): Wikipedia gives us 2, Alexander Archipenko and Ivan Martos. Google gives plenty of others, but I'm not qualified to judge which is most famous. Your guess is as good as mine, better if you were actually at the quiz.


Of these people, Enver Hoxha is the only one I'd even heard of before researching this stuff, and I doubt I could have remembered his name, much less answered whatever question EQC might have set about his life. So yeah, my hat (nay, my whole head) is off those those who could hold their own on these questions. Nevertheless, they'd sure be fun to play on.


For completeness sake, The Quiz Blogger also mentioned tilapia, comic book hero Corto Maltese (caution: official link has loud audio and video), "Italian film directors that weren't Benigni or Bertolucci", zeta functions, and the "idiotically" named video game Serious Sam (It's Croatian!). Click on the links for real "learning is fun" action with kung fu grip.

And finally, this link about the territory-marking civet called the genet doesn't mention the Balearic Islands or handstands, but Wikipedia does. So now you know.

A good time was had by all.

Additional links:
Official European Quizzing Championships site
Wait -- what do you mean, there are civets that do handstands? (November 11, 2007) - by Bob Harris
Be Gentle, It's Our First Time (November 13, 2007) - by Ken Jennings
Get Yer Red Hot League and Cup Action! (November 18, 2007) - by Olav Bjortomt. (Jump to the section "Not Quite a Downward Spiral" for EQC news.)

Saturday, November 17, 2007

A quiz

I've had this sitting on my hard drive for a while, and pop culture questions don't get any fresher as they sit. Questions have been pulled from various sources, mostly magazines I've purchased or acquired in the last 6 months.

1. The name of what 1980 album by The Police comes from the Sanskrit for "top of the world"?
2. For much of the summer of 1967, what group's "Headquarters" was the Number 2 album in the US, behind the Beatles' Number 1 "Sgt. Pepper"?
3. What is the performing name of Stephen Bier, the former keyboard player for Marilyn Manson?
4. Released in 2007, "It Won't Be Soon Before Long" is the second album from what group?
5. "Let the Music Do the Talking" and "I've Got the Rock'n'Rolls Again" were the 2 albums from which group, created when a disagrement led to the departure of one of the members of Aerosmith?
6. Who is the only player to hit a grand slam in Major League Baseball's All-Star Game?
7. Who is the only player to hit an inside-the-park home run in Major League Baseball's All-Star Game?
8. Kenneth Branagh's 2007 adaptation of Shakespeare's "As You Like It" was set in what country?
9. "That Ain't Right" was a 2007 HBO comedy special from what comedian?
10. Played by David Duchovny in the Showtime series "Californication", who is the fictional author of "God Hates Us All"?
11. What film director cameos in the movie "Hot Fuzz" as a Santa Claus who stabs Mick Angel in the hand?
12. Who played Dr. Robert Caldwell on "St. Elsewhere" and orthopedic surgeon Jack McNeil on "Chicago Hope"?
13. Originally aired August 29, 1967, "The Judgment (Part 2)" was the record-setting final episode of what ABC drama?
14. Who was the model for the look of Clarence Boddicker, the villain played by Kurtwood Smith in the 1987 movie "RoboCop"?
15. What song serves as closing credits theme music in all three of Matt Damon's "Bourne" films?
16. Billy Mitchell and Steve Wiebe are the competing subjects of what 2007 gaming documentary?
17. What director's films include "What About Bob?", "Bowfinger", and the 2004 remake of "The Stepford Wives"?
18. Who is the author of the graphic novel "Persepolis", about growing up in Iran during the Islamic revolution?
19. What two actors play the title roles in the 2007 film "The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford"?
20. Originally called Neue Haas Grotesk, what typeface -celebrating its 50th anniversary in 2007- is currently known by the Latin name for Switzerland?
21. What groundbreaking 1957 book started out as a much-rejected magazine article entitled "Are Women Wasting Their Time in College?"
22. Residents of what US state may be known as "Yoopers" or "Trolls", depending on where in the state they live?
23. Manufactured by GlaxoSmithKline, the diabetes drug rosiglitazone maleate -being investigated for its link to increased risk of heart attacks- is better known by what brand name?
24. Which Presidential hopeful for 2008 is the author of "Turnaround: Crisis, Leadership, and the Olympic Games"?
25. Which Presidential hopeful for 2008 is the author of "Dreams from My Father" and "The Audacity of Hope"?
26. Which Presidential hopeful for 2008 recounts his experiences as a trial lawyer in the 2003 book "Four Trials"?
27. To a numismatist, what is the significance of "Peace Medal", "Keelboat", "Buffalo" and "Ocean in View"?
28. What is the name of Johnny Cash's first wife, author of the 2007 memoir "I Walked the Line"?
29. 2007's "The Wheel of Darkness" is the 8th novel featuring what FBI special agent created by Douglas Preston and Lincoln Child and known only by his last name?
30. What Showtime original series was inspired by a series of books by Jeff Lindsay?
31. Who are the hosts of the singing game shows "Don't Forget the Lyrics" (on Fox) and "The Singing Bee" (on NBC)?
32. What best-selling album, first released in 1984, was dedicated "to the virgins of the world"?
33. "Faked My Own Death", "Broke Joy's Fancy Figurine", and "Stole Beer from a Golfer" are episodes from the first season of what sitcom?
34. Kitty Wells's 1952 country music hit "It Wasn't God Who Made Honky Tonk Angels" was written in response to a line from what Hank Thompson song?
35. What Siouxsie and the Banshees song was the first-ever number one on the Billboard Hot Modern Rock Tracks chart, when it debuted in 1988?












1. Zenyatta Mondatta 2. The Monkees 3. Madonna Wayne Gacy 4. Maroon 5 5. The Joe Perry Project 6. Fred Lynn, then with the California Angels 7. Ichiro Suzuki 8. Japan 9. Bob Saget 10. Hank Moody 11. Peter Jackson 12. Mark Harmon 13. The Fugitive 14. Heinrich Himmler 15. "Extreme Ways" by Moby 16. The King of Kong: A Fistful of Quarters 17. Frank Oz 18. Marjane Satrapi 19. Brad Pitt (James) and Casey Affleck (Ford) 20. Helvetica 21. The Feminine Mystique 22. Michigan 23. Avandia 24. Mitt Romney 25. Barack Obama 26. John Edwards 27. They were the new reverse designs for nickels minted in 2004 and 2005 in honor of the Lewis and Clark expedition 28. Vivian Cash 29. Special Agent Pendergast 30. Dexter 31. Wayne Brady (Lyrics) and Joey Fatone (Bee) 32. Madonna's "Like a Virgin" 33. My Name is Earl 34. The Wild Side of Life 35. Peek-a-Boo

Sunday, April 15, 2007

The Owl without a Vowel

A discussion over at the Ken Jennings Message board has led me to dig up an old piece I composed about 10 years ago for the Usenet newsgroup rec.games.trivia, regarding the letter Y and its use as a vowel and a consonant. It's one of my favorite things I've ever written, and I present it here for your enjoyment. Quoted email addresses have been truncated by Google Groups.

From: "Myron M. Meyer (The Man Who)"
Subject: Re: word with the most consonants in a row
Date: 1997/10/09
Message-ID: <343c4bf7.524@sd.cybernex.net>
X-Deja-AN: 278897069
References: <343a6b9a.2533@sd.cybernex.net>
Organization: Cybernex Inc.
Newsgroups: rec.games.trivia

Subject: word with the most consonants in a row
Quoting: mmsch...@cats.ucsc.edu (Max Schmeder)
Date: 1997/10/02
Newsgroups: rec.games.trivia

Does anyone know which English word has the most consonants in a row?

thanks a lot,

Myron Replies> Problem with a question like this is that there is no concrete definition of what is and is not a vowel. In "Language on Vacation," Dmitri Borgman defines a vowel as "A, E, I, O, U, and Y," realizing, of course Y's function as a vowel in such words as "rhythm" and "bay." He then procedes to cite words in which W functions as a vowel, including the Welsh "cwm," a mountain basin, and "crwth," a Keltic stringed instrument. No fair, cry I, the exception should be made for W too. It functions as a vowel (consider it a double-U-as-in-vacuum for pronunciation purposes). Look also to the common English word "cow" for a much more readily accepted occurance.

For the rest of this message A, E, I, O, U, W, and Y, will be considered vowels. B, C, D, F, G, H, J, K, L, M, N, P, Q, R, S, T, V, W, X, Y, and Z, will be considered consonants. Look at words such as "walrus" and "youth" when considering our problem children.

Quoting: Philip Carter
Date: 1997/10/02

How about latchspring or catchphrase ?
Philip Carter

Myron replies> Thank you for playing Philip, for these are indeed the most common 6-letter consonant strings in English, and as long as you can get without being obscure. Borgman also cites "welschmertz" and "Houyhnhnms."

The uncommon record is shared by three words:

wppwrmwste - an old spelling of "uppermost",
Nosmnbdsgrsutt - the land of flying people in "The Life and Adventures of Peter Wilkins..." (1751) by Robert Paltock, &
Pyrzztchwll - a fictional surname in Rodale and Fluck's "The Phrase Finder" (1953)

all with 9 consecutive consonants.

Quoting: Trick...@world.std.com (Laura M Parkinson)
Date: 1997/10/04

I think the longest word with only consonants is "rhythms" but I'm not sure if it's also the word with the most consonants in a row, or not...

Myron Replies> Now we get into the tricky (heh-heh) world of alphabetical transgenderism. Are W and Y vowels or consonants or both? The answers are "yes," "no," and "so's yer old man!" First I will say that whatever status is applied to one of these letters must be applied to the other. Second, as demonstrated above, these leters can function as both vowels and consonants, even within the same word (see "wow" and "yesterday.")

A similar problem was posed to this newsgroup earlier this year. On 4/5/97, Todd Gregory posted

"Can anyone think of a word in the English language which is composed solely of 5 consonants?"

with the word "crwth" in mind. (There is much debate on Usenet as to whether "w" is a vowel. To find it, use the word "crwth" as a search variable on Dejanews.) Many folks (myself included) posted such words as pygmy, gypsy, and nymph, making the assumption that Y is a consonant, which it is. In these words, however, Y acts as a vowel. Or, should I say, "is a vowel." Later discussion emerged as to crwth's Welsh origins, and how it ends up in the same category as pygmy, et al. Or as Philip Carter responded to this thread:

"It depends whether or not `y` is considered to be a vowel in such a word."

That's right Phil, and you are now two correct out of two in this thread. All the hard questions get routed directly to you.

Quoting: max_critten...@qm.irs.com (Max Crittenden)
Date: 1997/10/06

Please. I hate to be snippish, but the Y in "rhythms" is a vowel, no question about it.

Myron replies> Exactly right.

Quoting: "Myron M. Meyer (The Man Who)"
Date: 1997/10/07

But the question is, longest word with only consonants, not the only word without vowels.

Big difference.

Y is also a consonant.

Myron replies> Also exactly right. But unlike Crittenden's point, this one has many questions about it.

First of all, Meyer is correct that there is a difference between all consonants and no vowels. The lists of consonants and vowels are not mutually exclusive. They overlap.

Second, yes, Y is a consonant. And Y is a vowel. And "rhythms" is a peculiar word in that it is a seven letter word, composed entirely of consonants, and containing one vowel. This is the important part, the leap of faith you must buy in order for the entire argument to work. Y can be both a consonant and a vowel IN THE SAME WORD. I would consider Y to always be a consonant (as per Wheel of Fortune), and sometimes a vowel, in words such as "rhythm." If you disagree, then the argument falls apart right there. If Y or W, in a specific word, must be either a consonant or a vowel, Y or W cannot be both. My argument falls apart, given this assumption.

There was an episode of the instructional program "The Letter People" regarding just this point. Mr. Y was debating whether to hang with the consonants, or go with the vowels. I last saw this program 15 years ago, and I have no idea what he decided. John Thornton might know.

Quoting: sde...@sdeco.com (Steve Derby)
Date: 1997/10/08

[regarding Critenden's Y point]
True, but if you count Y are there any words in the english language that don't have vowels? 'Syzygy' would fall into that category as well.

Myron Replies> Just those pesky W's, as near as I can tell. Note that if you consider Y and W consonants only, Pyrzztchwll has no vowels! None!

Date: Tue, 07 Oct 1997 13:31:21 -0800
Quoting: max_critten...@qm.irs.com (Max Crittenden)

Ah, I see. We're talking semantic chicanery. OK, two can play that game. Y is also a fork in the road, and a place where you can get a cheap room for the night. Are you saying that "rhythm" _also_ contains a fork in the road and a place where you can get a cheap room for the night? I sure hope not.

Let me rephrase my earlier statement. Y _can_ be a consonant _or_ a vowel. In "rhythm" it is a vowel, not a consonant.

Or, even if you insist that Y is a vowel _and_ a consonant, I think you're still hoist on your own petard: "rhythm" is _not_ a "word with only consonants", because it contains Y, and you just admitted that Y is a vowel.

OK, I'm enjoying this. Myron, your shot.

Myron Replies> Logical flim-flam-ery it is! I am reminded of the section in one of Lewis Carrol's "Alice" books, in which someone hold a discussion on the difference between what your name is and what you are called and what your name is called. I remember it from Martin Gardner's Annotated Alice, which, of course, is locked at the Augustana College library safe from my little (HA!) essay. The point is, if you are a consonant but are called a vowel, you are still a consonant. That, of course, is my necessary presumption, as I stated above.

And if Y is a fork in the road, and RHYTHMS contains Y, then RHYTHMS contains a fork in the road. That's a basic syllogism.

As for the longest word with no consonants and no vowels, it's the sound of one hand. I'm going to bed.


Myron M. Meyer
The Man Who

Sunday, January 28, 2007

The Man Without a Clue

Just entered into the j-archive is the first game of 5-day champion Rich Lerner. It has a really good Final Jeopardy! clue. Let's dissect it, to have a gander at how good FJ!'s work and what makes a good Jeopardy! champion. The category is LITERATURE.

It's where Philip Nolan asked to be buried.

That's all there is. 8 words. Final Jeopardy! clues are written to be able to be figured out if you don't know it right off the bat, but in this case you have to know a bit more than just who Philip Nolan is or was.

I do know who Philip Nolan was. He was the "Man Without A Country" in the Edward Everett Hale story of the same name. This was one of the facts that ended up on my earliest set of Jeopardy! study notecards, 'way back in 1998. I cannibalized the book "Quizzes For Whizzes" by Minnie and Norman Hickman for literature questions, and this one made it onto a card:

Name the man whose spirit is broken when he read these lines from Scott's "Lay of the Last Minstrel":

Breathes there the man, with soul so dead,
Who never to himself hath said,
This is my own, my native land!

(In its own way, that would actually make a good FJ! itself. The figure-out-ability is there, maybe even more so than the FJ! we're discussing. It's too long though.)

My flashcard simply reads "The Man Without A Country" on one side and "Philip Nolan" on the other. Edward Everett Hale may be on there somewhere too, I'm not sure. Maybe it's another card entirely. This was distilled from the much longer answer given in the book:

Philip Nolan, who, in Edward Everett Hale's The Man Whithout a Country, cries out, "Damn the United States. I wish I may never hear of the United States again." For this he is condemned to a life at sea where he is denied any news of his country. He shows gallantry in the War of 1812 and dies during the Civil War after being told on his deathbed of his country's growth to greatness.

Nice little plot summary there, and it takes us back to Final Jeopardy! OK, he'd dead. Where had he asked to be buried? Had this been me, I'd have gotten from Philip Nolan to Man Without a Country to (maybe) "spent life at sea," and from there...nothing. I couldn't have made the Final leap. Neither could Rich Lerner's opponents. But he either knew, or he made the leap, to what Alex Trebek explained after his response was revealed, "Philip Nolan was The Man Without a Country. Spent most of his life at sea, and did make that request, that he be buried at sea. You're right." And Rich gets to come back tomorrow.

No matter how many almanacks you memorize, quizbooks you read, or game shows you watch, 9 times out of 10 you'll be beaten by the guy who's seen the movie, heard the album, or read the book. Trivia shouldn't just increase your score, it should broaden your horizons. That is Trebekistan in a nutshell.

The Man Without a Country is a short story freely available at one of my longtime-favorite websites, Project Gutenberg. I'm going to read it now.

I got that copy of "Quizzes for Whizzes," by the way, from future Ken Jennings opponent Matt Ottinger as part of a pile of quiz books and a CD he traded me for a copy of the "Price is Right" home game. And the circle of life is complete.

Sunday, January 14, 2007

It all adds up

Calculatrivia is a contest created by Games Magazine in 1978. In it's most basic form (which, in that first issue, it was) you'd answer a bunch of trivia questions with numbers for answers. Then you'd plug those numbers into a formula, solve some math, and end up with a final value for X, which was your entry to the contest. The contest was so popular that Games would run sequels and spinoffs (Alphabetrivia, for instance) every couple of years.

In 1987, Games released the first and last issue of "Games: The Video Edition." It's a fun little bit of '80s nostalgia, with a feature on the Miami Herald Tropic Hunt, a trivia quiz using public domain clips from silent horror movies, and video versions of some of their most popular features: Eyeball Benders, Call Our Bluff, and, for the contest, Calculatrivia.

Somebody must have won the "state-of-the-art" CD player prize they were offering. But I don't know who. For me, the bigger question is, what are the answers to the darn questions?

Let's see if we can't work them out? First we'll need the equation and the rules:



Clicking on the thumbnail takes you to the flickr page for the larger image (I hope).

So we're playing the questions as if this were 1987. Answers round off to 2 decimal places. Let's pretend we're on "21" and take the second part first. (C times M times H) divided by (A + W). I did some still captures of the video, but I couldn't get the sound to work, so no video just yet. Here are the pics for each letter:

A: A Aa (This was a video clue, where the bus drives by.)

C: C (This was a video too, where you could see the cards being dealt.)

H: H (This one was a still shot.)

M: M (I wonder if the Embassy has the same address now as it did in 1987?)

W: W (The caption for this one makes the picture superfluous.)

So, I know this blog doesn't have any readers right now, but maybe I'll see if I can't drum some people up who might be good at/interested in this kind of thing.

Friday, January 12, 2007

Learning things is fun

Picked this one up from "How Much is Inside Granola Bars?" at cockeyed.com: matryoshka.

Had no idea what is was, so I looked it up at my old nemesis Kelly Clarkson wikipedia. Click on the link and you can too...

...Learn. Something. New.

Sunday, January 07, 2007

Speaking of Which

In this post, I mention that I think there should be more quiz questions about prescription drugs. I mean, they're advertised on TV all the time, most people are on 1 or a couple, and I'm a pharmacy technician which means that I'd get plenty of extra points you wouldn't get, since I'm around prescription drugs all the live-long day.

A couple of weeks ago, I ran across this quiz from mcsweeneys.net:

Prescription Drug or Metal Band? by Eryk Salvaggio

Go ahead and give it a try, if you wish. I'll wait. Then I'll let you know how I did.


Okay, welcome back.

Basically, I don't have a chance of recognizing the metal bands, except for Ted Nugent, who I'm pretty sure is available over-the-counter, and Treponem Pal which I must have heard of back in my college radio days. Next I check off the drugs I definitely recognize. I count 14, which is about half. Avelox gives me pause. I haven't checked it off as a drug, but it sounds right. But I'll stay with 14, labelling the others as "metal bands" by default.

The answer key is totally screwed up. 15. Lantus (prescription insulin) doesn't appear in the answers at all. 23. Xalatan is not a metal band; it's an eye drop used for glaucoma, among other things.

The proper answer key should be:
Metal bands: 2, 5, 7, 8, 9, 10, 12, 18, 19, 20, 21, 25, 26, 29
Prescription drugs: 1, 3, 4, 6, 11, 13, 14, 15, 16, 17, 22, 23, 24, 27, 28, 30

I miss Ketek (11), which is for respiratory tract infections. (A look at the ketek.com webpage reminds me what the box looks like. I'll never forget it. And Avelox, too, is for respiratory infections. So, 2 wrong out of 30. Not bad.

Also, here's how dumb I can be. I did a web search for Teponem Pal, just to remind myself who they are. Turns out they're named for the bacterium that causes syphillis. Which was also the subject of my microbiology lab final report, not 9 months ago. And I'd pretty much not made the connection. But no wonder it sounded doubly familiar.

If this blog gives you an erection that lasts more than 4 hours, please consult your doctor.

I Enjoy Being a Pretty Girl

On of the advantages of j-archive is that you can see patterns emerge which would not be so visible by simply watching the show in it's chronological format. Take this game, for instance. This is the first game from the week I was on the show, taped June 10, 2002, aired September 2, 2002. I saw this one from the audience. I hadn't noticed until right now as I entered the game into the archive that all the clues in the "Songs From Musicals" category were songs beginning with the word "I". Fascinating, no?

Also of note: At the TRASH Regionals tournament this fall, my team got a bonus on songs from musicals. One of the clues was "I Enjoy Being A Girl". I at first thought "Flower Drum Song", a musical I've never seen. I knew I hadn't seen the musical, but I also knew that there was a song from it that was pretty famous, and that It had appeared on this episode. But I second guessed myself into "West Side Story", confusing it with "I Feel Pretty".

I've also never seen "West Side Story", for some reason. And I like musicals.