On my fourth day in LearnedLeague trivia, I finally got it going.
1. What was the stage name of Dutch exotic dancer Margaretha Geertruida Zelle, who died of a gunshot wound at age 41 on October 15, 1917?
A wartime femme fatale who wasn’t Tokyo Rose? Had to be Mata Hari. And it was.
2. Journalists Chuck Todd, Jake Tapper, Norah O'Donnell, Jessica Yellin, Peter Baker, Carol Lee, and Don Gonyea all serve in what specific position for their respective news organizations?
A gimme thanks to Jake Tapper’s ongoing tenure as White House correspondent for ABC News. I'm not much of a TV news watcher but I'm also dimly aware of Norah O’Donnell. Even though I haven’t heard of several of these people, and even though Brit Hume’s no longer covering the White House (also for ABC News), the familiar names on the list made this question pretty straightforward.
3. Name the man, one of the earliest and most influential professional rock critics, who served from 1974 to 2006 as music editor for The Village Voice.
Not too many people in the league knew this one but I did: Robert Christgau. I’ve always appreciated the analysis of insightful critics and observers. I’d just as soon read Posnanski or watch Costas interview Feller as actually watch a baseball game. In the world of rock journalism, Christgau’s one of the key figures. You’ve got your gonzo genius Lester Bangs, who died too young; Robert Hilburn, late of the L.A. Times; Cameron Crowe, boy wonder of Rolling Stone; Richard Meltzer, whose A Whore Like All The Rest I’ve given as a gift; the professorial Greil Marcus. More recently, Nick Tosches, Michael Azerrad, Bill Wyman (not that Bill Wyman), Neil Strauss. The pioneering, prolific Christgau made the most of his bully pulpit during his long tenure at the Voice.
4. Tiny Robben Island, notorious today for its legacy as an island prison, lies 4.3 miles (7 km) off the coast of what nation?
On the flip side of Christgau, most of the people in the league got this one but I didn’t. Had I thought about a legendary spiritual leader who was imprisoned offshore for decades on specious political charges, only to be freed to universal acclaim, I might have guessed South Africa. I guessed Ireland, perhaps thinking instead of self-important rock stars who hied to kiss his ring and bask in his halo.
5. It is commonly held that deep-dish Chicago-style pizza was invented in 1943 by Ike Sewell at what restaurant, where he was a co-founder?
Knew this one in my soul. I’ve lived in and around Chicago pretty much my entire life, and Pizzeria Uno is iconic. I used to stop by there on the way home from Bears games when I was in high school to pick up deep-dish pies. Had they asked for the intersection, I would have said Wabash and Ohio.
6. An April 15, 1985, middleweight championship boxing match, known today simply as the The War, is considered one of the most thrilling matches in history, pitting the incumbent undisputed champion against a challenger who was junior middleweight champion at the time. Identify either of the two combatants in this historic bout.
No clue. To me, “1980s middleweight” says “Sugar Ray Leonard,” so that was my guess. The actual boxers were Marvin Hagler and Thomas Hearns.
Defense: I gave my opponent 1 0 3 2 1 2; he gave me 1 2 1 0 2 3 (boldface are correct answers). So I won 6(4)-3(3).
For the first time I felt like I acquitted myself fairly well on a full set of questions. Probably should have sussed out Mandela, but made a respectable guess on the boxing question.
Winning with four correct answers was a much-needed shot of confidence as I improved to a .500 record and got back up to the middle of my division in 23rd place of 44. Life was good.