Thursday, March 15, 2012

Day 15: Who shut off the taps?

After a fairly robust performance over the past few days thanks to questions that played to my personal strengths, I was due for some comeuppance. It came in the form of today’s brutally difficult lineup (again, to me at least). I was worried about racking up my first-ever goose egg until I read the last question.

1. The airport known during WWII as RAF Speke is today named officially after what native Liverpudlian?

I can name four native Liverpudlians, all fab. Two of them are still alive. Assuming the airport was more likely to be named after a deceased person, the first to die has had far more time than the second to receive this tribute, plus he’s an iconic figure whom one might expect to receive such an honor. I wasn’t sure whether I was right, but I guessed John Lennon and it was correct.

2. This audio clip (30 seconds) is an excerpt from the finale of a symphony which is most commonly known by what name (not number)?

Sigh. Another question where I knew something about the subject, but it did nothing for me. The “what name (not number)” said Beethoven. “This audio clip” told me I was about to hear “Ode to Joy” even before I clicked on it, and indeed I did. I knew it was a key phrase from the Ninth Symphony, but I didn’t know what No. 9 was commonly called (I knew Eroica was No. 3 but that didn’t help). Lacking a better guess, I went with “Ode to Joy.” The correct answer was the Choral Symphony. I assigned this a 0, which was probably another mistake.

3. In Russia, this war is also known as the Eastern War (Vostochnaya Voina), and at the time of the conflict, in Britain it was known as the Russian War. By what name is it best known today?

No clue. All I could hope for was to make a decent guess, by which I don’t even mean a guess that might be right, but rather a guess that would be credible enough not to embarrass me on this blog. Something tells me I fell short of even that lesser standard. Correct answer: Crimean War. My guess: World War I.

4. In the sport of cricket, there are a number of ways a batsman can be dismissed. One of them is abbreviated LBW — what do the letters in LBW stand for?

Can’t tell you much about cricket, other than the one in Times Square. Too bad the abbreviation wasn’t WG, because then my only cricket lingo (“wicked googly”) might have helped. I knew there were wickets in cricket, so I guessed “left by wicket,” which doesn’t even make sense. This would have been a good place to go for a Best Wrong Answer, but as usual I preferred to try to hole out from 340 yards. The correct answer was “leg before wicket.” I gave this one the 3.

5. In medicine, the term bradycardia is used in general terms to refer to a slow resting heart rate. What is the accompanying term for an accelerated resting heart rate?

I didn’t know a prefix that would be the opposite of “brady-” so I guessed a word I associated with an unusual heart rate: arrhythmia. An even better guess would have been tachycardia. Of course!

6. While this famous serial killer and Wisconsin native is believed to have murdered only two people (still two more than normal, it must be noted), his mother-dependence and woman-suit-making provided the inspiration for Psycho, The Silence of the Lambs, and The Texas Chainsaw Massacre.

This one I knew because as a misguided youth I occasionally listened to Chicago radio shock jock Steve Dahl, whose poor taste ran to making jokes about noted local serial killer John Wayne Gacy. Ed Gein, a less prolific but more creative murderer over the border in Wisconsin, would also come up from time to time.

Today’s opponent was one of the best players in my rookie division last season and is having another strong campaign. With just two correct answers I don’t like my chances against him, particularly with my suspect defense, but who knows, maybe he had as hard a time as I did.

Postscript: Ugh. Sure enough, my lousy defense cost me a tie. I was intimidated by the sight of RAF Speke and WWII, and gave this question way too much respect. By giving 1 point for John Lennon, the gimme of the day at 66% correct, and a 0 on Choral Symphony, the hardest question of the day (and presumably one of the hardest in league history) at 9% correct, I let my opponent score 2 points to my 1, both on two correct answers. In league parlance, I lost 1(2)-2(2).


Martin said...

I got three right, and my opponent ... forfeited! Haha.

1. Lennon's the only possible guess, I think. Death is a prerequisite, and he's John Fucking Lennon.

2. I have a quibble about this question -- I put down "Ode to Joy" confident that it was the right answer. I am not really sure whether this symphony is actually called the Choral Symphony by that many people. In my mind it's called "Ode to Joy."

3. Some shrewd guesswork on my part led me to the right answer, not interesting enough to detail.

4. No clue, so I went for a #bestwronganswer. I put down, "Little Bitch Winced."

5. I guessed myocardia, because at least that's a thing.

6. Yeah, Psycho, Gein. Not too hard.

Malizola, D.G. said...

Another music question, so here here's my two cents: I totally agree with Martin. I've been thinking about Beethoven symphonies since I was 15; I can tell you that "Choral Symphony" is not a particularly common name for the 9th, and "Ode to Joy" is just as common. I would have answered "Ode to Joy".

Martin said...

It's very tough -- the LL boards have a long thread of people complaining about it. Someone wrote that they thought the "which" in the question referred to the word "finale," which seems a bit recherche to me -- I understood the question as meaning the whole symphony. I think it's unwise to have questions hinge on "commonly known as" when there is any room for doubt, as here. After I submitted my results, I went to Wikipedia -- they do NOT refer to the 9th Symphony as "the Choral Symphony" in upper-case letters, they merely refer to it as a choral symphony. Clearly in some sense it is indeed called the Choral Symphony, but this is very obscure, and not analogous to the way Beethoven's 3rd Symphony is universally referred to as the Eroica, and Beethoven's 6th is universally referred to as the Pastorale.

Ben said...

I don't buy the grammatical complaint either. The surface reading of the question points more to the symphony, not the melody in the clip, and the "name (not number)" removes all doubt by making clear that it's the symphony we should be trying to identify.

It's just a bad question. As many have pointed out, "the Choral Symphony" doesn't "commonly" refer to the Ninth. It does so uncommonly at best, and some would argue that it does so not at all. Martin's last sentence in the previous comment says it best.

Andrew said...

I just wanted to comment that I am enjoying reading your take on the Learned League every day -- very interesting to read about how you come up with the right answer (or sometimes don't) for one reason or another. I go through the same thing, and usually do better if I go with my first instinct, and also if wait to turn in my answers until things have had some time to percolate a little bit. If you manage to stay in the top three and I don't fall out of the middle, we may go head to head next season.



Ben said...

Thanks for the nice words and for reading the blog, Andrew. I'll be more likely to join you up in the stratosphere if I can get some more questions in my wheelhouse and stay away from disasters like this 2/6 that I compounded with horrendous defense. My D has been solid all season but I choked vs. a guy I really could have used a tie against.

Andrew said...

As of today, your TCA is 65 and mine is 57, so there is no reason we shouldn't ultimately end up in the same rundle. My defense isn't usually stellar, this season is an anomaly (so far).