Thursday, March 29, 2012

Day 25: Bringing it all back home

With nothing at stake today but my pride, I wrapped up the season with a respectable showing:

1. The men's basketball team for this university, now a member of the Big East Conference, was a #1 seed in the NCAA Men's Division I Basketball Tournament in the years 1980, 1981, and 1982, but lost its first game of the tournament each of those years.

Ugh. I've never been into college basketball and I was too young during the time period in question to take note of this interesting bit of trivia. Frankly, I'm hard-pressed to name teams in the Big East, and the "now a member" thereof hint was lost on me.

I was thinking Notre Dame on the theory that their hoops team recently joined that conference (I think?), but depending how you read it, the question seemed to suggest that the whole university joined, and ND football is of course still independent of any conference. I thought of Georgetown since they were definitely a power back then, but I was pretty sure Michael Jordan's Tar Heels beat them in the title game in 1982. Ultimately I went with Seton Hall, remembering that they played in the 1989 title game (though that may have been a surprise), even though there was no reason to think they were that great in the early 1980s or joined the Big East since then, if they're even in it now.

Honestly, if there had been a promotion spot at stake in today's results, I would have spent a lot more time mulling this over, but I'm currently slammed by a busy workweek, particularly after taking last week off, and didn't even play these questions until 7pm after briefly reading them at 6am before heading into the office. Even if I had thought about it more, I wouldn't have gotten it. The Big East thing threw me off. I was thinking northeastern states.

The answer, as it turned out, was right in my backyard: the DePaul Blue Demons, then under legendary coach Ray Meyer before his son Joey took over. They were an insanely great team in that era, with future NBA stars Mark Aguirre and Terry Cummings, plus the memorably named Dallas Comegys. I remember they failed to go too far in the tournament, but I didn't remember their bombing out in the first round three straight years as #1 seeds. I will now.

2. Dancing in the Street, a hit for David Bowie and Mick Jagger in 1985 (and slightly less so for Van Halen in 1982), was originally recorded and made famous by what Motown singing group?

If you'd talked about music with your music-head older brother as much as I have over the years, you'd have known this too: Martha (Reeves) and the Vandellas. They also recorded Heat Wave.

3. The Earl Hamner, Jr. novel Spencer's Mountain, and subsequent 1963 Henry Fonda/Maureen O'Hara film of the same name, provided the basis for what 1970s/early 80s television drama set in 1930s/40s America?

Didn't know Hamner, Spencer's Mountain, the novel, or the film. But a 1970s television show about mountain folk set in the Depression era sounded suspiciously like The Waltons. Not only didn't I have a better guess, I didn't have any other guess. So I went with The Waltons and, as I suspected, it was correct.

4. In 1957, a Patrick Dennis novel was adapted into a stage play and later a film, with Rosalind Russell in the title role in both. In 1966, a musical version opened on Broadway, with Angela Lansbury originating and winning a Tony for her titular performance. Give the name of either the novel or the enduring Broadway musical.

Didn't know the actresses who played Auntie Mame in the film and Broadway musical of the same Mame name, but the name Patrick Dennis was a dead giveaway. I knew he was the nephew and wide-eyed observer to Mame's bigger-than-life persona, and that Dennis was Mame's last name too. I'm down with the Mame meme. My opponent was iffy on theater so I gave this the 3.

5. Named after the English physicist who predicted its existence in 1964, this hypothetical elementary particle, known also as the God particle and expected to have no spin and a neutral charge, validates the Standard Model by explaining the origin of mass of elementary particles.

Frustration. I had three thoughts here: neutrino, quark, hadron. Didn't like neutrino because that was clearly based on the word neutral, not someone's name. Quark, already discovered, not hypothetical, plus not likely anyone's name and almost certainly not an Englishman's. Hadron, I know there are hadron colliders and/or accelerators, but again, if people are colliding and/or accelerating them, they're probably not hypothetical. Although I was less than thrilled about the weak charge in this guess, I went with hadron. The answer was Higgs boson, which did sound familiar as I've heard of it, though I never would have thought of it. You got me again, Commish.

6. Under the standard rules of chess, there is one piece (i.e. one type of piece) which must remain on squares of the same color for the entire game. Which piece is it?

Even if you've only played chess once, you probably know that the only correct answer to this question is the piece that moves diagonally: the bishop. Gave this one the 0. In a league as brainy and nerdy as ours, we might crack the 90% correct threshold on this one. We also have a lot of squares of the same color.

Although my performance was fairly average today, my overall sophomore season feels like a huge success. I managed to earn a promotion to a higher division for next season, holding my own against a lot of tough players in a brutal C division that outperformed the other five Cs. The questions were right over the plate for me a lot more often than during my rookie campaign, and since that could end any time, I'm enjoying this one while I can.

It's been fun writing these daily reports, and in light of my spiking traffic totals, maybe a few other people enjoyed them too. Thanks to everyone who read, commented, emailed, or Gchatted me along the way. And there's no reason to quit now: during the offseason before LL53, I'll probably write about LL minileagues, one-days, and/or Best Wrong Answers, plus the usual BB&B silliness that has earned me my literally tens of readers.


Martin said...

You had a great season, Ben! Keep up the good answering and definitely keep up the blogging.

After a week or more of what to me felt like damned difficult rounds, we end on an easy one, I thought.

1. Didn't get this one, I considered West Virginia and Temple and Florida, all schools that (I think) entered the Big East sometime after 1985.

2. This one's funny, only because the answer I gave is one crucial letter off the correct answer. I think they'll give it to me, but I wouldn't be 100% surprised if they said no. I put "Martha and the Vandelles" -- for some reason "Vandellas" just didn't sound right -- or sounded right but I just didn't think it was it.

3. Same as you, I sniffed my way to the Waltons.

4. Rosalind Russell, musical = Mame.

5. I don't know why, but "Higgs-Boson" (with an inaccurate hyphen) popped into my brain from the word go, and I put it in.

6. As you said, a gimme.

Like you, I'm just playing for pride here, but I still want to win this last round!

Andrew said...

Congrats on the promotion, Ben. Barring another regional shakeup, we should be going head to head next season. I barely managed to stay in the non-relegation zone in my first go-round in Rundle B. I hope you continue to blog about LL, it is fun to read! And as I grew up in Chicago, I enjoy reading your Windy City references.

CrocettoR said...

Two heartbreaking finishes in a row for me. I was in Rundle B last season and found myself one spot out of the delegation zone. I wound up tying and being the first one out and was relegated to C. This season I had been mostly hanging around in the middle of the pack getting 2 or 3 right everyday but just like Martin, the questions got really difficult for me down the stretch and from MD17 on I managed only 2 ties and 5 losses with my only win during that stretch coming via forfeit. I once again found myself one spot out of the relegation zone needing a win on the final day. I was up against a strong player near the top of my rundle, but I managed to get 5 out of 6 making educated guesses on DePaul, The Waltons, and Mame and missing only Higgs Boson. That was my first 5 that I had pulled out this whole season and couldn't have come at a better time. Of course my opponent drank the beer and I am one again the first person out and will be heading down to D rundle next season.

Robert Hutchinson said...

I'm always reading, if not always commenting. Congrats on your strong season and promotion!

Mike (MarkovichM) said...

Ben, as much as I enjoyed my first LL season, I'm sorry to have let you down invitee-wise with my utterly dismal home stretch of five straight losses and eight of the last nine. I went from 5th on MD16, when I beat the then- and finally-ranked #3 player in our rundle, to finish 20th nine matches later. OUCH. Not sure I can explain it (had the easier opponents first? defending gets easier as the season progresse?), but hopefully my second season will go more like yours. And who knows, maybe I set some kind of record myself, ha.

Congrats on advancing, and thanks to you and everyone involved in the LL. Look out Rundle E!

Mike (MarkovichM) said...

Oh yeah, P.S. I ended up with my now-standard 3 correct on MD25. With my opponent (final rank 4) drinking the beer, not much for it. Higgs seemed like the gimme to me, must be all the layman's-science reading. Martha, Bishop, also relatively easy (although I'm not a chess player at all ... sure enough, Ben, 90% league-wide). Wouldn't guess Mame, stopped pretending to understand collegiate conferences when the Big 10 didn't have 10 members (our Chicago roots didn't help me there), and foolishly didn't get to Waltons and guessed "Little House on the Prairie" even though it was clearly the wrong era.

In furthering my belief that the BWAs need more exposure ... "Murder She Sang" ... awesome.

Ben said...

Equally awesome BWA: Equus.

Ben said...

p.s. Thanks for the kind thoughts, everyone.