Friday, August 17, 2012

Day 2: Escaping with a W

Sometimes LearnedLeague players get out the gift wrap and hand each other victories. Day 1 was my opponent’s personal Christmas; Day 2 was mine.

1. The primary facility in Russia dedicated to the preparation and training of cosmonauts, located in the community of Star City (Zvyozdny gorodok), is named after whom?

No clue. All I had was what anyone with a passing interest in trivia would have when faced with “Russia … cosmonauts … whom?” That, of course, was Yuri Gagarin. The word gorodok hardly looked to me to mean “Gagarinesque.” It is only now, upon more careful reading, that I realize gorodok probably means star, or else city; surely if I’ve got that wrong, someone will correct me in the comment section.

Not wanting to be the Jeopardy! player who was dinged for saying “Art Buckminster Fuller,” I omitted the Yuri from my answer lest for some crazy reason it was not the correct first name; the way I gagged on the Paris question yesterday, anything was now possible. But it was indeed Comrade Gagarin, and he was indeed Yuri.

2. Of the 13 feature films released by Pixar Animation Studios since 1995, which is the only one -- not including 2012's Brave -- to receive no Academy Award nominations (befitting its critical reputation as the studio's worst release)?

This was pretty easy, to me at least. Cars 2 represented a low point for the venerable Pixar. Critics saw it as a subpar, cynical, merch-driven money grab; I remember the NYT review for one said so. It was hard to imagine that any of their more modest hits (A Bug’s Life, say) fared worse than that. Sure enough, it was Cars 2.

3. Name the Polish dish (and centerpiece of an annual Krakow summer festival) which is roughly the equivalent of the Japanese gyoza, Tibetan momo, Turkish manti, and Korean mandu.

I live in Chicago, home to the world’s largest Polish population outside of Warsaw. I was fortunate to grow up nearby in a household with a string of live-in Polish housekeepers, many of whom cooked. Every time Letterman or Conan brings his show to Chicago, there are obligatory jokes about this foodstuff. It is the only Polish food I can name. Need I even say the word pierogi?

I gave this one the 0, and indeed at 69% correct a lot of people knew it, yet by a narrow margin, Gagarin was the gimme of the day at 71% correct. Interestingly, players felt that questions 2 and 6 were the easiest questions of the day (at least for their individual opponents), assigning them 1.1 and 1.2 average defense, respectively.

4. The badge pictured here was used for a time in the 1960s and 70s on automobiles manufactured by what maker?

WTF? Was this spelling Sino? Sina? Dina? Maybe it was Dino, after the car that Fred Flintstone powered with his feet?

I took a stab with Audi, hoping that maybe it was a rare model anagrammed to Diua. The correct answer, however, was “Ferrari/Fiat.” Of course! Although to me those aren’t even the same thing!

I gave this one the 3, and indeed my opponent missed it. At average defense of 2.3, it was considered by far the toughest question of the day. None of that surprises me. What surprises me a great deal is that 39 percent of players in the league answered it correctly. I would have guessed more like 10 or 12.

5. 'Heartless' by Dia Frampton, 'Fix You' by Javier Colon, 'Roxanne' by Juliet Simms, and 'I Believe I Can Fly' by Jermaine Paul, all singles that reached the Billboard Hot 100 chart, were studio versions of performances that first appeared on what television program?

My first thought was Glee. They sell a lot of music first heard on that show and it routinely features covers of existing hits. But wait… none of those people is an actor on (or at least a star of) Glee. Then I thought, of course, it’s got to be American Idol, a hit factory that also manufactures pop stars I don't pay attention to. So I went with that, whereupon I learned to my regret that the correct answer was a show I have actually watched a few times because I watch Smash, the series it's paired with: The Voice.

6. There are four U.S. states whose largest city contains the name of the state in the city's name. One is Indiana (Indianapolis); name the other three states.

The dreaded “name them all” multi-answer question, tougher by far than the more forgiving “name any one of the three” type (e.g. Galahad).

Just as obvious as Indianapolis was New York City. It didn’t take much longer to come up with Oklahoma City (Norman is a major college town, but OKC is the state capital and big enough to support an NBA franchise).

The problem was coming up with the third one. Much like two seasons ago, when I had to surf the periphery of the world’s continents in my mind to come up with the island of Madagascar, I literally pictured the map of the United States in my mind and worked my way around the nation. It was somewhat easier than a question about state capitals, as that facet was off the table, yet there were still judgment calls to make. For example, Kansas City was big in Missouri, but the Kansas version was surely smaller than Topeka and maybe Manhattan.

The tricky one was Iowa. The biggest city had to be either Iowa City (home to the enormous University of Iowa) or Des Moines (insurance hub, state capital, Drake U.). Wasn’t too worried about Ames (Iowa State U.). I suspected Des Moines was larger but Iowa City was a contender. Ultimately, because I couldn’t come up with anything better, I called Iowa up to the big leagues and batted it third in my lineup.

Unfortunately, and somewhat incredibly, the third correct answer was Virginia. Hiding in plain sight was Virginia Beach, which is apparently nearly twice as large as Roanoke, to say nothing of state capital Richmond, Arlington or Newport News. With a population of over 400,000 people, Virginia Beach has to rank as the largest American city that no one ever talks about, ever, including many of the people who live there.

As generous as I was yesterday, my opponent was today. Although he got 4 correct answers to my 3, his defense was somewhat catastrophic and showered me with 6 points. He was way too respectful of my mediocre geography knowledge, giving me a 0 and a free pass on “name all three states,” the toughest question of the day at 19% correct leaguewide. (In fact, he missed it himself, though I can hardly criticize this as I did the same thing the day before when I gave Paris the 0 and shanked it.) Also, he gave me the 3 on Cars 2, which I thought was pretty straightforward.

I played my usual fairly solid defense, allowing one point above the minimum, so thanks to my opponent’s shaky defense I escaped with a one-point win, 6(3)-5(4). After losing a match I should have won on Opening Day, I’ll take it.


Unknown said...

I, too, gave the geography question a 0 (batting Kansas third). I assume most people felt it was a very easy question, especially with Kansas/Iowa in the mix, that they were probably cursing their defense when they realized the third answer was Virginia.

I assume that most people who got #4 have followed Formula One racing for awhile. Enzo Ferrari's brother was named Dino (and both give their name to the circuit at Imola which was used for the San Marino Grand Prix for over 20 years). I assume Fiat was given as an acceptable answer because Fiat Group now owns Ferrari.


Eric Suess said...

Easier day for me than day 1, but I was going up against Tanis O'Connor, who would be tough.

1. Cosmonaut = Gagarin and frankly I'm not sure that I could name another without putting my brain through a wringer. I couldn't figure anyone else to name it after besides a political leader, so Gagarin it is.

2. Cars 2 reportedly sucked the suckiness out of suck (never saw the movie, and thus I retain a shred of my dignity) but that had to be it.

3. I knew gyoza but not the rest, but that was enough to get the idea. We actually have some pierogi in our freezer now.

4. Wild stab. Yes, I lived in the Detroit area for a long time so should know all sorts of stuff about cars. Not this. My first thought was that it said "Simo" or maybe "Dimo" but I finally hit the more likely "Dino". Not that it mattered - that meant nothing to me. Next thought - It has the colors of Sweden's flag - could it be Saab? I decided Dino didn't sound very Swedish - more Italian, really. Hmmmm...Italian. How about Ferrari? I was amazed when that was right!

5. I've watched quite a few episodes of The Voice - Juliette Simms' rendition of Roxanne was really pretty cool. Check it out on YouTube. She has a marvelous rough Joe Cocker type of voice, without all the incomprehensibility.

6. Yeah, NYC and OkC were pretty easy. I originally typed in KC, but disliked it immediately. I then went through the states in alpha order, stopped at Iowa, decided DesMoines was WAY bigger (drove by it three times on the road from Michigan to Idaho when moving us all there).North Dakota City? Texas? Not a chance. Finially hit Virginia and thought "there IS a Virginia City, I think. Virginia Beach?" As I was almost out of states, and West Virginia City was unlikely, I stuck with Virginia.

I needed every point I could get, barely sliding by my opponent 9(6)-8(5). Whew!

Joon said...

#1 was tricky to defend. i didn't know but guessed gagarin. i figured other people also wouldn't know it, and would also guess gagarin. (this turned out to be true.) so if the answer is gagarin, i wanted to give it the 0; but it could easily be somebody else (khrushchev, maybe?), in which case most people would likely miss it.

the surprisingly large population of va beach is one of those things i picked up from doing many "largest US cities" sporcle quizzes. jacksonville is another one that's enormous but seemingly irrelevant. the only distractor for me was jersey city, which i think actually is the largest city in NJ but does not contain "new".

(just looked it up, and actually, newark is slightly larger anyway.)

i was pleased to guess 5 correctly based on not recognizing any of those singers' names as being from idol. i figured with my awful TV and pop music stats, that was sure to be 3 points for me. instead, my opponent forfeited. :(

Jessamyn said...

I drove through Oklahoma city THAT DAY and still managed to miss the geography question because OKC is actually sort of hot and I was tired. I'm so happy you're doing this blog again.