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?












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