New Quiz for mental_floss!

So a while back I pitched a few quiz ideas to Jason English over at mental_floss; a few of them were good enough to actually be commissioned (or accepted, or whatever), and today one of them was published. Check out the 19th Century Facial Hair Quiz right over here.


Music Monday: Indie Soundtracks

(Ed. Note: Tonight’s going to be a busy night work-wise, so I’m pushing back the retrospective to tomorrow.)

There’s been an interesting trend over the past few years – instead of having folks like John Williams or Hans Zimmer score major films, popular – or not so popular – recording artists are taking over. Take last year’s Academy Award-winning score for The Social Network, by Trent Reznor of Nine Inch Nails and Atticus Ross:

Nine Inch Nails is a fairly popular band, so let’s go even deeper, to Karen O’s soundtrack for the fantastic adaptation of Where the Wild Things Are (which I hold was a great film, but a terrible kids’ film):

Recently, Andrew Bird scored the soundtrack for the indie film Norman – which included “Night Sky,” a reworking of his song “The Sifters”:

The best of that soundtrack, though, may not be Bird’s – it’s probably Chad VanGaalen’s song “Rabid Bits of Time”:

This Week’s Musings

Sorry I didn’t post on Wednesday and Friday last week – wasn’t feeling Wednesday’s post and I was busy on Friday. (By the way, if you missed it, you can get the latest ThursTriv Podcast over on the RSS feed in the sidebar or on iTunes.) Anyway, here are this week’s posts:

  • Music Monday: I talk about the recent outcropping of “indie” film soundtracks.
  • Also today, as my friend Connie reminded me, it’s one year since my Millionaire episode aired, so I’m going to write about that.
  • Top 5: I never finished the series on game shows on the Top 5, so I’m going to complete it with the 5 most important game shows.
  • Thursday Trivia: 5 facts on the ’99 Mets.
  • No post this Friday, but I’ll be Tumblring photos from the Quidditch World Cup on Sunday.
This, of course, along with the Tumblr/Twitter/AccioNerds madness.
I’ll see y’all later for Music Monday; until then, enjoy Jeff Tweedy.

Thursday Trivia: Winnie-the-Pooh

As I write this, I sit close to the original site where the dolls of Winnie-the-Pooh, Tigger, Eeyore, Piglet, and the rest were displayed. A.A. Milne (who wrote the series for his son) donated the puppets to the publisher E.P. Dutton, who in turn donated them to the New York Public Library about 40 years later in 1988. They were first on display at the Donnell Library Center, then the largest circulating library in the NYPL system, across the street from MoMA on 53rd between 5th and 6th. Despite multiple requests from the British Parliament to return the dolls to the UK, they remained under bulletproof glass in the Donnell Building – until 2008, when they were moved 11 blocks south to the children’s room of the Library’s main branch.

Four more facts on Winnie-the-Pooh after the jump!
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Music Monday: Norteno on the 6 Train (plus things of note)

First off: there was a norteño band performing when I was on the 6 train yesterday. I rarely if ever see musicians performing on the Lexington Avenue Line, at least on the trains (musicians can easily be found on the platforms of most stations (including 68th Street-Hunter College, which is one of the stops I often use), along with the mezzanine for the 42nd Street station). The trains are generally too crowded and thus musicians really don’t have the space to play. I suppose they were there since it was a Sunday and the train was sparsely-occupied.

The song itself, as recorded for the Subway Music Archive (which I’ll make a page for here on the blog at some point, just have to get around to it) is a fragment, as they began playing just before the train pulled into the 51st Street station – since I was taking the 6 to the E to the 7 on the way to a Halloween party (video of which is over here on Tumblr), I had to transfer at 51st – but I recorded until the train doors closed.

Also, two other Mets-related things I wanted to tackle without writing a separate post: Ted Berg is moving to the Upper East Side (welcome to New York County, Ted!) today and has been posting some of TedQuarters‘s “greatest hits”, including this one on the closing and tearing-down of Shea Stadium. It’s cool because I’d never read it before – it was on his “Flushing Fussing” column before he began his blog – and that it mentions my dad and I. Not by name – otherwise I’d probably know about it – but as “a young man and an old man [playing] catch with mitts and a tennis ball,” which my dad and I did for basically the entirety of fall and winter of 2008-2009 after work at the Armstrong House as sort of a cathartic exercise as Shea was being taken down.

Second, the Mets announced they’re moving in the walls of Citi Field today. It oddly looks like the renderings Randy Medina of The Apple drew up. I’m just going to leave it at that.

This Week’s Musings

To all the readers on the East Coast, that was some crazy snow, huh? Hope y’all without power get that fixed soon (especially you, Jeph Jacques). To those on the West Coast who lamented the lack of snow in lieu of 80s-and-sunny weather, I hate you. On to this week’s posts:

  • Music Monday: I originally wasn’t going to post anything tonight other than the Week in Preview, but I have a new recording for the Subway Music Archive, so I’m presenting that.
  • Top 5: The 5 Most Persistent Urban Legends, in my view.
  • Thursday Trivia: The nostalgia machine that is Random Musings rolls on with 5 facts on Winnie the Pooh.
    It’s also a podcast week this week, with 5 questions on elections.
  • Friday Stuff & Things: Some of my favorite “Thank You Notes” from Late Night with Jimmy Fallon lip-synching cold opens from The Late Late Show (these are more easily available).
I’ll see y’all later for Music Monday; until then, enjoy Fleet Foxes.

Friday Stuff & Things: Fun Jeopardy! Categories

The writers for Jeopardy! are nothing if not smart, funny people. (Note to any Jeopardy! writers reading this: I’d like to join you someday. Hell, I’ve already written a couple of Jeopardy! categories back in my TrivKnowl days – including one about people named Norm or Norman, called “Social Norms,” which went over well) As a result, there have been some fun categories. I’ve rounded up four of my favorites, all via the perpetually-awesome J! Archive:

  • Dr. Seuss Meets the Bard,” with Shakespeare as written by the greatest children’s writer in history (though that’s another post)
  • Staying on the Seussian theme, “Dr. Seuss at the Multiplex,” one of the categories narrated by the late, great Don “In a World…” LaFontaine.
  • Another LaFontaine-narrated category, “Coming Soon…History,” was done in the third game of the Ultimate Tournament of Champions, which featured every 5-day champion and every winner of the College or Teen Tournaments or a Tournament of Champions to that point vying for two spots in a three-day final against Ken Jennings. It lasted most of that year’s season and was freakin’ epic.
  • And finally, my personal favorite – one that was the result of a Late Show Top Ten List, “Moist Things.”
Enjoy playing, everybody!

Bonus Podcast!

This is a bit of a late post but I just posted it – I released a bonus edition of the Thursday Trivia Podcast tonight, with 6 questions on U.S. Congress. Originally this was going to be a Guest Quizmaster bit for PodQuiz, but James and I agreed it wouldn’t work for his show (plus, again, stupidly, 6 questions instead of 5); I asked if I could repackage it as a bonus edition of my podcast, and thankfully he agreed. Get it on the RSS feed or on the iTunes machine.

Thursday Trivia: “The Room”

The 2003 independent film The Room is, frankly, a sight to be seen. It may be the most unintentionally funny film ever. Tommy Wiseau – the film’s writer/director/producer/executive producer/bizarre evil genius who has been aptly described by the Nostalgia Critic as the bizarro Fabio- stars in the film as Johnny, a banker (or so they tell us – we never actually see him working) whose life falls more or less apart for no particular reason. Except instead of sympathizing with Johnny, we laugh at him – repeatedly, and with greater vigor than the rest of the characters – for Wiseau’s bizarre elocution and sheer lack of dramatic acting ability. Take this small bit for example (some questionable language here):

Anyway, I’m not in the market for criticizing The Room (actually, I kinda am), I’m here to bring some trivia to the situation. Here’s five facts about “the Citizen Kane of bad movies”:

  • According to an interview with Entertainment Weekly, Wiseau noted that he gained some of the $6 million importing leather jackets from Korea. (What he did with the jackets was a mystery. Most likely, though, he sold them.)
  • Kyle Vogt, who played Peter, Johnny’s psychologist friend, left midway through the taping – so instead of writing him out of the plot, the lines were given to Greg Ellery, whose character Steven is never introduced or explained. (Not shocking, considering the film has myriad subplots that go unexplained and unresolved.)
  • Juliette Danielle was 18 when she was cast as the part of Lisa, Johnny’s unfaithful wife – actually, according to The AV Club, the actress originally slated to play Lisa quit, with Danielle being handed the role (most likely by none other than Greg Sestero, who did casting, was later cast himself by Wiseau as Mark, Johnny’s best friend and Lisa’s eventual lover, and later appeared on Fashion House, the first of the magnificently-panned MyNetwork telenovelas)- making the multiple love scenes between her and Wiseau that much creepier than they appear on film.
  • Speaking of those love scenes, the slow jams featured in the film were sung by Clint Gamboa, who appeared last year on American Idol.
While you’re getting your Room fix, head on over and play the Flash game based on (read: entirely co-opting) the film, and possibly pre-order Greg Sestero’s memoir for when it comes out in 2013.

Top 5: Movie Musicals

James Franco at the Harvard Yard to receive hi...

James Franco has nothing to do with musicals...yet. He's just here because he's a cool dude. (Image via Wikipedia.)

As Greg Proops often says on The Smartest Man in the World, I’m a heterosexual male…though I make little case for it. I maintain a multitude of bromances (that towards Random Musings‘ favorite polymath, James Franco has been one noted here); have often contended that Rachel Maddow and Kate Moennig are attractive females (probably not the general thinking of the American male populace, but I don’t particularly care either way); and, though not at the level of the many Broadway fangirls I know, I greatly enjoy musicals. (Currently I have three different musical soundtracks on my iPod – Bloody Bloody Andrew Jackson, The Book of Mormon, and the downright adorable 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee – I usually have 1776 and most of Les Miserables on there, too, but I haven’t fully reconstituted my iTunes library, so they remain absent.)

But we’re not talking about musicals here; we’re talking about movie musicals! While at times different from their stage counterparts (for the record, I have a big-tent point of view on movie musicals in the first place – you’ll see a Disney movie on the list here), movie musicals can bring a story all their own – and sometimes can be even better than performance on the stage. Let’s begin with the #5 position on the list…

5. The Sound of Music (1965)

To be honest, the Rodgers and Hammerstein movies were a little weak, considering their source material (though Carousel’s kind of an underrated film – or at least oft-overlooked – and The King and I is pretty good, though largely due to Yul Brynner). This one, though kind of absurdly long at almost three hours (it has a goddamn intermission, for goodness’ sake!) is quite enjoyable. Julie Andrews and Christopher Plummer prove impeccable as Maria and the Baron Von Trapp, and it’s a lot of fun to see Maria influence the kids while the Baron is away. Plus, any film in which the Nazis lose (however indirectly and indecisively) seems to be fairly enjoyable.

4. Dr. Horrible’s Sing Along Blog (2008)

The result of the 2007 writer’s strike, Dr. Horrible is less a movie musical and more of a musical webseries (it only clocks in at 42 minutes in three acts, though it really packs in the music, with 11 unique numbers – plus another 13 other songs for the DVD commentary alone), but it is brilliant. Combining a superhero-villain rivalry for the ages between Captain Hammer (Nathan Fillion) and Dr. Horrible (Neil Patrick Harris), some downright hilarious comedic lines, and a spirit of hokeyness and a genuine “let’s put on a show!” morale, Dr. Horrible earned a Creative Arts Emmy (albeit, as director/co-writer Joss Whedon noted, for basically “Most Incomprehensible Category”), probably the first time that the Academy of Television Arts and Sciences awarded something to an Internet series.

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