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 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

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 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.