Tag: trivia

Game Show Trivia 101

We were watching Jeopardy last night, and as is my won’t, I was answering the questions aloud, and more often than not, getting them right. My kids asked me how I knew the answers to all those questions. I paused before answering, flashing back to myself as a youngster in a similar situation.

I was pretty young, probably 7 or so. I remember that my mom would always seem to have the right answers to the trivia questions that they asked on game shows. After a suitable period of being really impressed, I finally asked her, “How do you know all of the answers to these questions?” Even then, I wanted to know things, and I figured she would tell me the secret. She did.

“I took class in college on game show trivia,” she said. Those might not have been her exact words, but her response was in that spirit. I had an ah-ha moment. It all made sense now. This was one of the things you learned in college.

Now, I may know a few things, but when I was younger, I took what people said at face-value. My mom was joking, of course, but I didn’t know that. Indeed, her response seemed perfectly reasonable to me. I remember trying to imagine what that class must be like. I decided that it was probably like spelling: each week, you’d get a list of questions and answers that you’d have to memorize, and at the end of the week, there’d be a test. Maybe there would be a buzzer involved.

I am ashamed to admit that I believed this story for far longer than I should have.

The Final Jeopardy question came and it was a surprisingly easy one that I answered for my kids before (the now late) Alex Trebek read it for the contestants. The category was something like, “Literary characters of the 1600s.” I was sort of appalled by the answers the contestants gave, as none of them were from the 1600s. Anyway, my kids were impressed that I got the answer right and asked how I knew all those answers.

After pausing to consider my mom’s answer to that question when I was younger, I was tempted to provide the same answer as a joke. But a better, more truthful answer presented itself to me. In a coincidence, my brother and his family had gotten me a t-shirt for the holidays, and I happened to be wearing that t-shirt as we watched Jeopardy. You can see a picture of me in the t-shirt above, but in case you can’t make out the legend, it says, “I read and I know things. That’s what I do.”

I pointed to my new t-shirt and said, “Well, I read a lot and I know things. That’s what I do.”

Homer to Homer Simpson

Each issue of mental_floss magazine has a column written by Ken Jennings called “Six Degrees of Ken Jennings”. The idea is that he has to relate two things or ideas in six hops. How he gets there can be amusing and entertaining, and is always packed with trivia.

Today, on his blog, Ken gives us a previews of his upcoming column, and this time he’s going from Homer to Homer Simpson. (And the one really interesting thing I learned was that Conan O’Brien once wrote a Simpson’s episode!)

Early morning Sunday

I went to bed pretty early last night (so much so that I missed a call from jen_ashlock who had a trivia question about Sex and the City. Answer: E 73rd St.) I must of slept pretty well because I woke up at 6:30 AM, more or less well-rested. Even for me, 6:30 AM in pretty early on a Sunday to be waking up. I’ve got some chores and things to do today, and I’m also hungry for breakfast. But for now, I’m going to veg for a while and watch “City on the Edge of Forever” on the new DVDs that I got yesterday.

The Demon-Haunted World

I just finished up Ken Jenning’s book, Brainiac. I really enjoyed it. It was a good read and did not disappoint me. In fact, it made me appreciate trivia more than I have in the past. I used to think trivia, well, trivialized knowledge, but Ken’s book convinced me otherwise. There is a lot of value to trivia, especially when gained in a well rounded way (e.g. by reading The Grapes of Wrath and not just memorizing the character names).

Now I’m starting up on Carl Sagan’s The Demon-Haunted World. It’s a re-read for me, which is rare, but I last read the book nearly ten years ago, back in December 1996. I’m re-reading it for two main reasons. (1) I was inspired to read some Carl Sagan after I read that he has a new (obviously posthumous) book coming out in November. I have read 6 of Sagan’s books and they 6 have warrented an average rating of 4.2 out of 5.0, which is saying something. (2) Back when I read this book ten years ago, it was at a stressful time. I recall enjoying the book. In fact, I recall being fascinated by it. But I didn’t really absorb the book because there was so much else going on at the time.

So I’m taking another crack at it and I’m really looking forward to it.


I am two-thirds of the way through Ken Jenning’s book, Brainiac and not only is it good, but it has changed my opinion of trivia, something which I will elaborate on more in a later post (once I’m done reading the book). One of the chapters is on fascinating magazine that’s been around since 2000 called mental_floss. It’s a magazine about trivia, but it’s done in a humorous, entertaining way. I sample some of it’s features online, and saw enough of what I liked to order a one year subscription. I should receive the first issue in four-to-six weeks.

Trivia fact or fiction

We seem to take snippets of trivia we hear or read at face value for the most part. Those of us cursed with memories that allow us to recall all kinds of innane facts often do just that–memorize–never question whether the trivia is fact or fiction. So when I came across some random trivia today, I decided to do a little digging on each item to see if the stuff that I would store in my brain for all eternity was fact or myth. I’ve listed some of this trivia below. Try and guess if the trivia is true or not, and then click on the links in each item to see if you are right.

  1. The dot over the letter “i” is called a tittle
  2. A duck’s quack doesn’t echo. No one knows why
  3. A 2 X 4 is really 1-1/2″ by 3-1/2″
  4. The name Wendy was made up for the book Peter Pan. There was never a recorded Wendy before
  5. The phrase “rule of thumb” is derived from an old English law which stated that you couldn’t beat your wife with anything wider than your thumb.
  6. Celery has negative calories. It takes more calories to eat a piece of celery than the celery has in it to begin with
  7. Sherlock Holmes NEVER said, “Elementary, my dear Watson.”

Ken Jennings Slams Jeopardy

Ken Jennings was a kind of hero of mine when I was on his massive winning streak because I thought he demonstrated that the ability to think was different from the ability to memorize. He treated the whole game in a tongue and cheek kind of way, and in the end, took home $2.5 million. Not bad.

Yesterday, on his blog, he slammed Jeopardy! for among other things, the exclamation point in the name of the show. (He also has some interesting points to make about a show of that nature.) Very tongue-in-cheek and very amusing.

Colds and coins

I woke up this morning feeling like my allergies were really acting up again–only this time I think it might be a cold, and not allergies. I took Clariton and Benedryl this morning and that didn’t seem to do much. Plus, I’ve got that cold-like feeling in my head. Summer colds are the worst. I hate them! I took a Tylenol Cold a little while ago, and I feel a little better, but it sucks to be getting a cold right now; my train to New York leaves in 2-1/2 hours!

Incidentally, my duffle bag weighs about a ton and a half today because of the vast quantities of change I am carrying up to New York with me. In fact, I looked up how much various pieces of change weigh and based on my estimates, the change I am carrying around with me today weighs about 5.176 kg or about 11 lbs.

How I figured this out without a scale