Just what I needed heading into the final three days of the season while clinging to a narrow lead in the race for promotion to a higher division: a ridiculous set of questions to pound on me like Moe did to Calvin.
1. Name either of the two main gangs at Rydell High School (one male, one female) identified by name in the 1978 film Grease.
I thought I was in good shape today as I teed off on the front nine with this ultra-gimme. Yes, I’ve seen the movie many times, I’ve seen the play a few times, but it goes beyond that. A law professor of mine introduced the writers of the show, which started at the Kingston Mines Theater in Chicago, to their original New York producers, thereby helping the fledgling production make it to Broadway in the 1970s. My prof also helped produce the movie and several simultaneous national touring casts. More recently one of said co-writers, the native Chicagoan Jim Jacobs, staged the original uncut R-rated production here, with the script restored to its gritty Northwest Side roots. I was lucky enough to attend the opening night and wrote about it here.
Anyway, the answer was the T-Birds and the Pink Ladies, though I never thought of the Pink Ladies as a gang, more of a social club. I mean, they wore pink, and were ladies. Then again, they were pretty tough. Several of them could probably beat me up. Definitely Stockard Channing.
I guessed the Pink Ladies because, like selon and d’apres, I was more comfortable guessing the one with no ambiguity so I wouldn’t get stuck in some weird trick bag where the T-Birds were construed to be Thunderbirds. I didn’t want another pertussis problem. Gave this one the 0, and if my opponent looked at my stats, he may have done likewise.
2. What is the name for a particular type of musical comedy theatrical production, well known in the British Commonwealth but much less so in the U.S., which is normally based on traditional children's tales, known (and popular) for its numerous performance conventions, and usually performed during the holiday season?
I’m pretty good in theater but I didn’t know this one. Looking for something cheerful and plummy, I guessed “roustabout.” That’s traditional British Yuletide musical comedy, right? Wrong. The correct answer was pantomime, a word that has a couple of meanings to me but none that matches the question. I’m hoping my opponent will give this one the 0 because I’ve only missed one theater question before today.
3. An organization known as the Neutral Nations Supervisory Commission, which presently is composed of members of the Swiss and Swedish Armed Forces, was created as part of the armistice agreement that ended what?
No clue. I waffled between WWI and WWII, ultimately going with the former because the word armistice sounded somewhat dated and Great War-y. The correct answer was the Korean War. If you say so!
Speaking of random collisions of nations, I spent Tuesday night having dinner in North Beach, San Francisco with trivia divisionmate, crossword puzzle virtuoso and friend of this blog Tyler Hinman at an Indian restaurant built into an Irish pub with the memorable name Kennedy’s Curry. Part of the reason we chose this place was its Tuesday night pub trivia contest. Despite having just two players as we faced two rooms full of mostly 4- to 6-player teams, Tyler and I represented the LearnedLeague with aplomb, leading the proceedings for most of the night. We particularly rocked out on the music category, identifying 9 of 10 recording artists from Feist to Montell Jordan to Len to Gipsy Kings to R.E.M.; our only miscue was going with American Hi-Fi instead of All-American Rejects. Unfortunately we choked in the final round just as the point values doubled, failing at one point to write down a correct answer that came up as we debated our guesses, and managed to finish in second by a single point. We did, however, meet Tyler's goal of coming up with the most offensive team name: Congratulations Amy Winehouse, 9 Months Sober!
Ugh. I knew a nut was the string bar on the top of a guitar neck below the pegs, so I guessed nut. A violin did indeed have a nut as well, but it too was below the pegs. The correct answer was the scroll. I gave this one the 3 on the theory that even someone with decent classical music stats might easily not know this.
5. What is the term, from Quechua for plain, used to describe the temperate lowlands which cover most of Uruguay and central Argentina?
It was definitely either the pampas or the Patagonia. I was somewhat vague on both of these, but my sense was that the pampas were lush and fertile, whereas the Patagonia was more dry and hard. Patagonia was presumably singular, so if I was correct that pampas was plural, then the question didn’t help on that front, with plain being singular and lowlands being plural. But “temperate lowlands” sounded more like what little I knew about pampas than what little I knew about Patagonia, plus the answer seemed like it had to be a common noun rather than a proper noun, so I went with pampas and to my relief it was correct.
6. This two-word phrase, which occurs repeatedly in both the Old and New Testaments, is common in Christian liturgy, and comes from the Greek for 'Lord have mercy'.
This question seemed to support my long-held theory that Sophocles wrote the Bible, but I was at a loss as to the Greek phrase for “Lord have mercy.” I felt like God or Lord was Dei-something in Latin and Theo-something in Greek. I only know a few words in Greek and mercy wasn't one of them (badasses like myself know no mercy). Couldn’t think of a two-word phrase with Theo anything, and I knew I wasn’t going to come up with a miracle guess, so I went with Theo Huxtable. The answer was Kyrie Eleison. Never heard of him. Did he play with Kyrie Irving?