Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Day 19: Still in my wheelhouse

Today’s opponent is the aforementioned Avram Gottschlich, who turned in a sparkling performance last weekend at the American Crossword Puzzle Tournament in Brooklyn. He knows plenty of trivia too and, in a happily recurring theme among America’s puzzle and trivia elite, also happens to be a very nice person. Unfortunately for Avram it was a good day for me, with five “no problems” and a “no chance.” Then again, I expect him to cruise as well.

Here’s my scorecard:

1. The largest collection of paintings and graphic art in the world is held in what European state museum, founded to hold a private imperial collection in 1764 and opened to the the public 88 years later?

Largest collection of paintings in the world plus European museum said Louvre or Uffizi to me. After a Venus de Milo question a few days ago, there wasn’t a chance in l’enfer that the Louvre would be a correct answer. So I said Galleria Uffizi with deep reservations about the two problems with this guess: 1, I wasn’t sure the Uffizi was a state museum, and 2, the museum was an “imperial” collection. What empire would the Uffizi be a part of? I figured it was more likely rooted in the Famiglia Medici collection in Florence than anything imperial. Nor did the Louvre feel much like an empire’s storehouse either. The imperial facet told me that Uffizi was probably wrong, but I couldn't think of a better alternative. I should have probably spent more time on this one, but I felt good about the other questions so I just called it a day. I wouldn't have gotten this anyway.

The problem was my longtime failure to think of Russia as European. The answer lay not on the Seine or the Arno, but up in St. Petersburg: the Hermitage museum. Adding insult to injury, I live on Hermitage Avenue in Chicago.

2. Over twenty brands owned by this consumer products company have over one billion dollars in annual net sales, including Bounty, Duracell, Gillette, Max Factor, and Pampers.

Can I get some props for knowing it was spelled Procter (not Proctor) & Gamble? No? Even if you didn’t know the answer, everything in the question leading up to the first comma made it extremely guessable. The correct answer was by far the most likely answer, particularly if you know that P&G has a fetish for having the #1 or #2 market share product in every category in which they compete (e.g., Tide is the leading detergent).

My only hesitation here was that I felt fairly confident that Berkshire Hathaway had been a longtime investor in Gillette, but if Berkshire had owned all those other brands like they do See’s Candies and GEICO, I felt I would know about it. In the 1980s when the New England Patriots had their sexual harassment scandal with the female reporter in the locker room, the team owner was Victor Kiam, then the Gillette owner, so I figured Berkshire was a longtime minority owner. Plus I knew Gillette had been acquired in the last few years, and though I didn’t remember whether P&G had bought it, that seemed very plausible. Although Avram was iffy on business/economics, I thought this was reachable enough to warrant a 1.

3. Name the sea captain who was blamed — perhaps unfairly — for the major oil spill that resulted from the tanker Exxon Valdez's collision with a reef in Alaska's Prince William Sound, in March of 1989.

Remember this one as plain as day. Captain Joseph Hazelwood was the butt of a thousand jokes and SNL sketches. It's news to me that he might not have been at fault. Thought maybe Avram was too young to remember this and it’s somewhat obscure so I gave it the 3.

4. Since 1970, the NBC television network's flagship news program has been NBC Nightly News; from 1956 until 1970, it was named after what two newsmen, who served as its co-hosts?

Don’t remember this show but have read about it over the years many times. Chet Huntley and David Brinkley were the co-hosts.

5. First Impressions was the original title of what 1813 novel, which was first published in the U.S. in 1832 as Elizabeth Bennet or _______ (current title redacted)?

You say Elizabeth Bennet, I say Pride and Prejudice. Gave this one the 0.

6. The 14th c. English nobleman and hero Sir Henry Percy, nicknamed Harry Hotspur, died leading troops in the Battle of Shrewsbury during the Hundred Years' War. Much later, he inspired the name of a Premier League soccer team that represents and plays in what area of London?

Nine years ago I traveled to London and Cornwall with a childhood friend who was a huge Premier League soccer fan. We saw Arsenal take on Dynamo Kiev at Highbury Stadium in North London. The Gunners won in thrilling fashion, scoring in the final minute to break a 0-0 tie. (Making the night even more memorable, we had to leave halfway through a speech my buddy’s dad was delivering at the U.S. Embassy in order to catch the game.) En route to the pitch in a black taxicab, my friend gave me a thorough grounding in Arsenal’s rival teams in the Premiership, from Tottenham Hotspur to Chelsea to Manchester United, and I’ve stayed slightly abreast ever since. So when you ask about a soccer team and mention Hotspur, I know you’re talking about Tottenham.


Martin said...

I got 4 right, and squeaked through against a strongish player, 6(4) to 5(4). We got the same 4 questions right, and my winning resulted mainly from rating the P&G question a 1 instead of his 2.

1. I had no way of getting this right, I put 'Albertina' in Vienna, which is renowned for graphics. I didn't think it was right, but I couldn't rule out the possibility that it was right, emphasis on graphics. It wasn't.

2. Not too difficult. I put Johnson & Johnson first, and only after a night's sleep put P&G.

3. I remember the case but haven't thought of the fellow in decades. Couldn't summon the name.

4. Mainly remember because of Tom Lehrer's "So Long, Mom," which I recommend YouTubing immediately.

5. Yeah, Jennifer Ehle, Colin Firth.

6. I don't know why I know this, but I do.

Robert Hutchinson said...

My story for this match is that I knew 2/3 of the right answers: Huntley, Brinkley, Procter, Gamble, Pride, and Prejudice.

(Although I keep spelling it Proctor. Don't I get a pass for actually being a test proctor?)

Avram G said...

I was pretty confident you would win after seeing the questions. I guessed J&J rather than P&G and would never have remembered the ship captain, the anchors, or the soccer team.

At least I decided that the Hermitage was tough enough to make it 2 rather than 1.

I knew who Roberto Clemente was yesterday (Latino baseball player, died in a plane accident), but not his number. Thanks for the clarification.