September 23, 2010

Pub Quiz, Hotshot!

A friend of a friend suggested we try Monday Quiz Nights at The Cascade Room on Main Street. For perhaps only the second or third time ever, the entire 654 crew went on a field trip. As luck would have it, the night we chose was Quiz of Champions night for all the previous winners, so we were out of competition but we still got to play along (for the most part). Perhaps this worked out for the best since we got to get a taste of the trivia format and gauge ourselves against future competition. Typically, you'd pay $2 per member for a team of four. If you have more than that, you get points deducted. There are three rounds of 10 questions each in a variety of formats and for this championship game there was an extra round. Normally there's a prize for the winning team (a gift certificate I think) and all the money raised gets donated to charity. This being the Quiz of Champions, there were prizes for the top 3 and one for the worst.

Ponytails hates it when I do post-game analysis, but I'm going to go over the questions we got because I'm obsessed with things like this. I realize most of you will also find this utterly boring, so feel free to skip!

Round 1
1. First question was to arrange from North to South: Bahrain, Bhutan, and Qatar. We half-guessed our way to 1 out of 3, except now that I can actually look at a map it appears we may have actually got 3 out of 3 . . . Alas, it's actually stated in the rules "Even when I'm wrong, I'm still right".

2. The question was about Sir Francis Walsingham and under what English monarch he serve as spymaster. Ponytails and the Loner 654 member (henceforth to be referred to as Sideburns) both knew this. Ponytails remembers it specifically from Neil Gaiman's Marvel 1602.

3. Other than 0 and 1, what is the lowest number that is both a perfect square and a perfect cube? The engineers figured this one out while I felt stupid because I couldn't remember exactly what these definitions meant. What's an imperfect square or cube? Clearly my minor in Mathematics failed me.

4. This question was about a ranking of world's top universities and which country came in 18th, the first entry outside of the UK or US. We were given the options of Switzerland, Canada, or Australia. We got this, but it was a guess.

5. At this point, all the official teams were handed a cocktail and asked to identify the four ingredients. Based on long distance visual analysis, we got 1 out of 4. Half of The 654 crew are non-drinkers so actually having the drink may have had little effect on the result.

6. Can't remember the question, but the answer was pulmonary artery and we got it wrong.

7. What is the original meaning of "pontiff"? Given three choices, we were wavering between "bridge-builder" (the correct answer) and "deep thinker". Ultimately, I got argued into the latter as our final answer.

8. Who has the distinction of breaking up with both the 2001 and 2007 Oscar hosts? I realized immediately that the hosts were Steve Martin and Ellen Degeneres, except my mind jumped to Portia de Rossi instead of the correct answer Anne Heche. That was one of those shouldahaddit questions.

9. Something about the most googled 4-letter word in 2004. We guessed "wiki", but it was "blog".

10. We were given a sheet with 6 trios of athletes and we had to match them to what they had in common. The common bonds were "Most games played in their respective sports", "Jewish-American athletes", "all died in plane crashes", "all wore number 42", "openly gay major league athletes", and "all nicknamed Moose". We managed 6 for 6.

Our round score: 11/20

Round 2
We were given a sheet with ten photos from comedy films, which we had to match to a list of quotations while also identifying the movie.

Our round score: 20/20

Round 3
1. Who did Billie Jean King defeat in the "Battle of the Sexes" match sometime in the 70s? We turned to our resident tennis expert Baleener. He let us down.

2. We had to identify the actresses who were Oscar-nominated for their first screen roles in Mary Poppins, Children of a Lesser God, The Piano, and Funny Girl. We got 3 out of 4.

3. We needed the French term for "know-how" that is commonly used in English. Got it.

4. We needed the first rap song to hit #1 on the Billboard Top 100 given the choices of Vanilla Ice (Ice Ice Baby), Run DMC (Walk This Way), and something else I can't remember. I actually thought the answer was Rapper's Delight, but that was simply the first to crack the pop charts in 1979. We went Walk This Way, which seemed pretty obvious but the answer was actually Ice Ice Baby! Turns out Walk This Way was the first rap song to hit the top 5 (at #4), but Vanilla Ice has the distinction of being the first rap song to hit #1. Yikes!

5. Here we had to identify six provincial/territorial flags. We went 5 for 6.

6. This was a number sequence that we had to figure out what came next, which we did (multiply by 3 and add 1).

7. This pasta is Italian for "little worms". We guessed macaroni and smacked our collective foreheads when we found out the answer.

8. We had to determine that "gerrymandering" was a political term. I can't remember the other two options, but we got this right.

9. From a list of six films, we had to pick the two that were on the 1996 Vatican list of all-time best films. We got both right (Ben-Hur and A Man for All Seasons) but they were pretty lucky guesses since the other four choices were more or less plausible.

10. What was George Michael under the influence of when he crashed his car and was recently sentenced to 8 weeks in jail? None of us had paid any attention to this story so we guessed wrong here.

Our round score: 13/19

Round 4
1. The Majestic 12 committee of scientists, the military, and government officials was supposedly created by Harry Truman in 1947 to investigate what? We guessed extra-terrestrialism, but the exact answer they were looking for was UFO activity.

2. We were given eight celebrity quotes and we had to fill in the missing word from a provided list (there were more words than blanks). We got 5 of 8.

3. How old was Lolita in the Nabokov novel? We were too conservative with our guess of 13 years old. I actually read it in a Russian film class, but I forgot she was actually TWELVE. Egads.

4. This was a question about whale hunting, so we turned to our resident whale expert Baleener. Answer: Faroe Islands, no hesitation.

5. This was a sneaky one. What do the following have in common: Dutch politician Geert Wilders, Lady Chatterley's Lover, Straw Dogs, and beef short ribs. You can ponder that and leave a guess in the comments (no googling!). We were close to getting it right, but were not specific enough...

6. They played a mini mix of ten Beatles songs that we had to identify. Right up my alley, 10 for 10.

7. Which original M&M colour was replaced by blue in 1995? I actually knew it was tan from a recent Sporcle quiz. Thanks Sporcle!

8. What's the only anagram of the word English? I'll let you figure that one out.

9. What old master signed his works with his full Cretan name Doménikos Theotokópoulos? Go ahead and google it. We did not know this.

10. Finally, an NHL question! We turned to our resident NHL expert Baleener. Except this was a real toughie.
a) What Bay area team joined the NHL in the 1967 league expansion?
b) What city did they move to in 1976?
I had never heard of the original team and did not know the city they moved to ever had an NHL team.

Our round score: 18/27

Grand total: 62/86

The tie-breaker question: How many times was the word f*ck used in Goodfellas?
It was the team who guessed closest, but one team got it exactly right with 246. Except when we looked it up later, we found varying counts of 300 and 296. In the quizmaster's defense, someone out there is propagating the count of 246.

We stuck around for the final tallies. Third place got 65 right, second had 67, and there was a tie for first with 69. There was even a prize for the last-place team. Said the Quizmaster, "I won't embarrass them by telling you their score (cough) fifty-two (cough) . . ."

All in all, I had a great time. Ponytails was fading by the end, but she was battling bronchitis. Sideburns left halfway-- he always has laundry to do when he's had enough of us! Baleener and I figure our team could challenge for a winning night. The only issue is that The Cascade was quite pricy for food. It was tasty, but not cheap at all. I opted for bison flank ($18) while the other three all got a burger & fries ($15 +$2 if you upgraded to polenta fries). Maybe next time we'll try to pre-eat and then nurse a couple plates of polenta fries.

Quiz night is on hold for several weeks, but mark your calendars it returns October 18th. Now accepting applicants to replace Sideburns. Join our team!

September 5, 2010

Death to the Fruitfly Invasion!

For the past few weeks, loner 654er and I have been waging war against an invasion of fruitflies. At first we thought the fruitflies were coming from our garbage nook, the corner cupboard under the kitchen counter where we keep the trash. We disinfected the plastic bin and left it to dry outside while we also scrubbed the inside of the cupboard. This was a couple weeks ago and the decline in the fruitfly sightings had us feeling good about finding the source... but of course, we had not found the source at all.

We noticed the fruitflies were still hanging around, but could not figure out where they were coming from. Honestly, we were not particularly proactive since we'd only see one fruitfly at a time and were unaware there was larger population brewing in the shadows. Then last weekend, while putting away groceries I opened the corner cupboard opposite the garbage nook and one fruitfly casually flew up into my face. I called to Mr. Loner who was sitting with his girlfriend on the couch, "Hey, do you think they're coming from in here?" "Where?" he said as he got up from the couch. "Maybe these potatoes?" Famous last words.

I gripped the bag and lifted it up out of the cupboard, letting out a girlish scream of horror as my brain processed the terrifying sight my eyes were taking in. A colony of fruitflies had taken over the potatoes, flitting about the air pocket of the bag, hovering around my petrified hand, and crawling all over the rotting spuds. I immediately leapt back, "IT'S DRIPPING, IT'S DRIPPING!" and Mr. Loner (also shouting in horror) swung open the front door as I gingerly ran out to the outside garbage bin, leaving a dripping trail of liquid potatoes. Though grossed out ("OH GOD, THE SMELL!"), I was quite impressed by our speedy action response time from the time of discovery through cleaning and disinfecting phase. Girlfriend on couch was less impressed. We even discovered two other bags of unfinished potatoes and thus, two obvious yet now official policies were firmly established on the spot:
i) No Storage of Potatoes in that Cupboard
ii) No New Potatoes until Old Potatoes are Gone
For the past week, we've been hunting down and murdering the lingering survivors. I read about a simple yet surprisingly effective fruitfly trap that involved an empty bottle (a just finished bottle of BBQ sauce in our case), some balsamic vinegar in the base, and a paper funnel stuffed in the top and taped. See, once the flies go in, they're too stupid to find the exit or they may even drown in the vinegar. I'd occasionally empty the bottle and reset the trap, eventually catching fewer and fewer flies until I triumphantly dismantled the trap today, which has remained empty for at least the past 24 hours. I personally had the satisfaction of manually dispatching the final fruitfly with a well-placed judo chop yesterday afternoon. VICTORY!