Monday, February 27, 2012

Day 2: Running the table

So much of the LearnedLeague trivia contest turns on what they happen to ask when. For my part, I average between 3 and 4 correct answers per day out of 6 questions.  But on any given day, I can get 5 or 6 and feel like a rock star, or 1 or 2 and feel like I don't deserve a spot in the league.

Today was one of those good days:

1. In late 1982, this rock band, which won the Grammy for Best New Artist for that year, became the first (and still only) Australian act to have a simultaneous #1 single and #1 album in the United States.

Given the timing and nationality, it could only be Men at Work. AC/DC was big before that, INXS rose to prominence a few years later, and that time period of late 1982 into 1983 was, for me, a personal golden age of pop culture. Michael Jackson's Thriller also came out in late 1982 and got huge in 1983. So many other classic albums were released around then too. Let's Dance. Synchronicity. The list goes on. Don't even get me started on the singles.

As for Men at Work, my cabinmates and I at North Star Camp in Hayward, Wisconsin were heavily into them. We had Cargo and Business As Usual posters on the wall. We didn't just know "Down Under" and "Who Can It Be Now?", we played the entire albums. We knew every word to "Overkill," to say nothing of the story of Dr. Heckyll and Mr. Jive. They are a person who feels good to be alive.

2. Since September of 1982, there have been only two productions hosted at New York's Winter Garden Theatre, both of which are now among the top ten longest-running musicals in Broadway history. Name either one.

If you had just said, "Winter Garden Theatre. Name the last two plays." I would have confidently said Cats and Mamma Mia!. Cats ran there forever, and anyone who read the New York Times during that time had to see the ads that simply said either "Cats / Winter Garden Theatre" or had the two yellow eyes and just "Winter Garden Theatre." Then after it finally closed, the also heavily advertised Mamma Mia! opened there and doesn't look to close anytime soon. I infer from this question that I was not the only person who noticed the rarity of one long-running Broadway hit immediately following another in the same theater.

Even if you didn't know any of the above, you might well have gotten this one simply as a function of walking by the Winter Garden's prominent marquee a few times over the past 20 years. This is relatively easy to do since it's right there on Seventh Avenue, unlike so many Broadway theaters jammed in next to each other a block or two off the actual Broadway (and heavily trafficked Seventh) on smaller east-west streets.

3. The highest frequency of visible light, at about 8 x 10^14 Hz, is perceived by a normal human eye as what color?

Since the ROY G BIV scale is the range of visible light, the correct answer had to be either red or violet. I briefly considered white light, on the theory that as the combination of all visible colors it might add up to a higher frequency, but decided that was less likely to be true than my initial ROY G BIV theory.

I knew that beyond red was infrared and beyond violet was ultraviolet. From here, some Latin from my law school background helped. In an appellate brief, a reference to a citation supra means one found above, and infra means below. Therefore, I figured, infrared meant "below red," not to mention ultraviolet sounded more or less like "bigger than violet." So I guessed violet and it was correct.

4. The name of Dr. Bruce Lambert, a UN expert in geodesy and cartography and director of Australia's Division of National Mapping, lives on today as the name of what is widely believed to be the world's largest what?

This was the best play of my young LL season. Given Dr. Lambert's Australian pedigree, it took me a while to get past thinking about coral reefs, specifically the Great Barrier Reef. Having been lucky enough to dive the Reef, I felt fairly confident that the entire reef chain, over 1000 miles of it, was known collectively as the Great Barrier Reef. I didn't remember anything about smaller reefs within the larger chain having their own names. Finally I got past my American provincialism, conceding that UN experts could come from anywhere and giving Dr. Lambert more credit than simply assuming that Australians study only Australian things.

So what else might he study? I tried to think of things that were both big and/or significant enough to be studied by the United Nations, but still so marginal to everyday life that I hadn't even heard of the guy the biggest one was named after. I was only able to think of two things in this category:  fjords and glaciers.  I liked the latter for two reasons: 1, it seemed likely that if the biggest fjord was named after anyone, it would be a Norwegian, and 2, glaciers seemed a lot more likely than fjords to be studied by the UN since that global warming issue from a few years ago may still be a problem. So I guessed glacier and to my great satisfaction it turned out I was right.

5. Name either of the NBA teams that waived New York Knicks point guard Jeremy Lin before he was picked up by his current team on December 27, 2011.

Pretty easy if you've paid a modicum of attention to Linsanity. I watched "SportsCenter" a few weeks ago for the first time in a year or so specifically to catch up on all the Linternational Lintrigue. They interviewed former Davidson guard Stephen Curry, who told how Jeremy Lin had had trouble getting off Golden State's bench given the team's solid guard play. I'd also heard a quote recently from the coach of another team ruing how he'd cut Lin from his lineup, and I was pretty sure that guy (whom I couldn't name in a million years) coached the Houston Rockets. But I was sure about the Warriors. Sure enough, the two teams turned out to be the Warriors and Rockets.

6. The Angel Moroni is a pivotal figure in the theology of what religious denomination?

Some things you just know for no good reason. Even before FOBB&B Jeff Marx started working on The Book of Mormon before his eventual departure from the creative team, I knew some random things about Mormonism: Temple Square, missions, the angel Moroni, Brigham Young, Joseph Smith, Deseret, the founders' westward travel across the nation, the golden plates, the sacred undergarments, the no caffeine or tobacco consumption. This was pretty similar to a question from last season, where I happened to know what movie the song "Moon River" came from even though I'd never seen the movie. Some things just stick in your head, and in my case the angel Moroni is one of them. (The fact that "Moroni" is more or less the word Mormon doesn't hurt.) The inability to forget these things, even when you are not trying to remember them, is a handy trait when you play in a trivia league.

So with some solid reasoning on infrared, and a combination of good reasoning and good luck on glacier, I managed to "drink the beer" by getting a correct sixpack today.


Martin said...

Another frustrating one for me. On day 1 I neglected to guess coffee -- this time I neglected to guess glacier. For me the direction went the other way -- I thought of glacier, but then decided that a glacier isn't something that is "widely believed" to be anything - it IS the world's largest glacier (so I reasoned). So then I hit upon coral reef, and decided that if I was going to lose the question, I might as well lose with an interesting guess. So in this case question wording may have tripped me up.

Ben said...

I actually liked "widely believed" on the theory that glaciers are shrinking.

Paul O'Brian said...

Thanks for blogging LL52 -- I'm enjoying it. As for my own LL performance, I believe the underdog will eventually survive, but probably won't advance past Rundle C anytime soon.