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Trivia Bits for Apr 23, 2014 Guglielmo Marconi did a lot of work on radio, and may even have invented radio, depending on who you talk to. Which is awesome. He was also a fascist, which isn't so awesome. He joined the Italian Fascist party in 1923 and Benito Mussolini made him …Read more. Trivia Bits for Apr 22, 2014 In 1968, the Tigers' Denny McLain won 31 games, the Cy Young and the AL MVP. Two decades later he was pitching for his prison team. As of this writing, he is the last MLB pitcher to win 30 games in a season, but he was always controversially …Read more. Trivia Bits for Apr 21, 2014 Tom Cruise's career started to unwind as he became more publically identified with Scientology, partly because of its obsession with psychiatry and psychiatric medicines. In 2005, he began a war on anti-depressants by attacking Brooke Shields, who …Read more. Trivia Bits for Apr 19, 2014 After lead singer Michael Hutchence died in ... well, circumstances not worth relating here ... INXS found a novel way to replace him. After nearly 10 years of using various uninspired singers, INXS had a reality show. The winner was a Canadian, JD …Read more.
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You know how Europeans like to insist that only champagne from the Champagne region of France is real champagne? Well, the Greek island of Lesbos decided that they were the only true Lesbians, and wanted to ban the word. They were especially worked up over the name of a group called the Homosexual and Lesbian Community of Greece. The islanders lost.

In “Easy Rider,” Peter Fonda played a biker nicknamed Captain America. That’s a Marvel Comics superhero. Now, Marvel does have a biker superhero. He’s called Ghost Rider. His head is a flaming skull. Long story. And when Ghost Rider got his own movie, Fonda was also in it, playing Mephistopheles. Nicolas Cage, who played Ghost Rider, had to conceal his tattoo during filming, since it depicts Ghost Rider.

Several of Istanbul’s most famous and beautiful buildings are found close together. For example, Mehmed II started building the Topkapi Sarayi palace complex, where the rules of the Ottomans lived. Then there’s the Hagia Sophia, a former Greek Orthodox church that became a mosque known locally as Ayasofya. And the Blue Mosque, built between 1609 and 1616, is known as the Sultan Ahmet Mosque, from which the Sultanahmet neighborhood gets its name.

Athletes are keen on bananas because they contain potassium, which helps prevent muscle cramps, helps muscles contract and maintains fluid and electrolyte balance in body cells. They're also chock full of B6 and fiber, plus vitamin C and manganese. They may also reduce your risk of colorectal cancer, breast cancer and renal cell carcinoma. Oddly, if you’re allergic to latex, you may have a reaction to bananas as well.

Pete Best played drums on the original version of “Love Me Do.” But George Martin didn’t like the drumming. So Best got fired and his version was lost for about 30 years. Ringo Starr was hired and a new version of “Love Me Do” was recorded, not with Ringo Starr, but with session drummer Andy White. Starr got to play tambourine. Even so, the quality of the drumming wasn’t improved much.

Interested in famous beekeepers? Well, here are a few anyway. Edmund Hillary was best known for his family beekeeping business until he took up climbing very high mountains. Henry Fonda had his own hives, and his son Peter played a beekeeper in Ulee's Gold. There’s also Leo Tolstoy, Aristotle, Thomas Jefferson, Thomas Edison and, of course, Sherlock Holmes.


1. Winnipeg and Fargo are on the river with this colorful name. Hanoi is an Asian river with that same name. What is it?A) Black RiverB) Blue RiverC) Red RiverD) Yellow River

2. What Joy Division singer killed himself and is buried under a tombstone reading, "Love will tear us apart"?A) Howard DevotoB) Ian CurtisC) Robert SmithD) Joe Strummer

3. According to MLB’s rule 5.09(g), what happens if a pitched ball gets stuck in the mask?A) It is a foul ballB) All runners advance one baseC) The pitch doesn’t countD) It is an out

4. In what state do the two cities with the largest populations also happen to start with the same letter as the state itself?A) IndianaB) OhioC) PennsylvaniaD) Texas

5. The last words he ever heard were, "You can't say Dallas doesn't love you, Mr. President." Who?A) Chester GarfieldB) John KennedyC) Abraham LincolnD) William McKinley

6. Who wrote what is the only science fiction novel to win the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction?A) Margaret AtwoodB) Michael ChabonC) Philip K. DickD) Cormac McCarthy


1) There is a Red River in North America and in Asia.

2) Ian Curtis also sang “Love Will Tear Us Apart.”

3) All runners advance one base if the ball gets stuck in a catcher’s mask … or an umpire’s, for that matter.

4) Philadelphia and Pittsburgh both start with a P, as does Pennsylvania.

5) JFK soon discovered that not everybody in Dallas loved him.

6) Cormac McCarthy won the Pulitzer for "The Road," about a post-apocalyptic journey by a father and son.


Almost all U.S. presidents had some electoral practice. They got elected to Congress, sometimes the senate, or to state office, usually as governor. They at least got to be vice-president first. But four presidents had no electoral experience at all. Zachary Taylor, Ulysses Grant and Dwight Eisenhower were all generals. Herbert Hoover, on the other hand, had been the hugely popular Secretary of Commerce under Warren Harding and Calvin Coolidge.

To addition to recording solo, Graham Nash was in Buffalo Springfield and in various permutations of Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young, meaning he had Billboard Top 40 hits as a solo act and as one of a duo, a trio, a quartet and a quintet. Paul McCartney did one better, getting into the top 10 with all those combinations, thanks to “Pipes of Peace” and various permutations of Wings and some outfit called the Beatles.

If you were an 18th-century U.S. president, you really didn’t want to have Robert Todd Lincoln anywhere within a mile of you. Naturally, he was at his father's bedside when Abraham Lincoln died. It was his dad after all. But he was also at the train station where Charles Guiteau shot James Garfield, by which time he was Garfield’s war secretary. And in 1901, he was in Buffalo to show his children the president when William McKinley was shot, although he didn’t see this one.

Czech model Karolina Kurkova occasionally guest stars on TV shows: She played herself, for example, in a “Person of Interest” episode in which she needs protecting from Armenian mobsters. As lovely as she is, her images are often airbrushed. In particular, they are airbrushed to add in a navel. Her own navel was covered over in an operation she had as an infant, probably to repair an umbilical hernia.

In a 1960s Japanese cartoon “Kimba the White Lion” was the Jungle Emperor. His father had died but he talked to him in the clouds. He hung out with wisecracking hyenas and got sage advice from a wise mandrill. He liked standing on rock ledges. Sound familiar? Kimba is so similar to Disney’s “Lion King” Simba that Matthew Broderick at first thought the film was a remake of the Japanese original.

There used to be a Kingdom of the Two Sicilies. One Sicily was the island of that name, which had run Il Mezzogiorno (southern Italy) until 1285. Thus, it probably wasn’t that odd when the other “Sicily” turned out to be Naples, in the southern mainland. Naples was also the capital but had been a kingdom of its own until it was reunited with Sicily in 1458. When the Sicilies were absorbed into Italy, it produced a trigger of emigration from Naples (and Sicily) to the US.


1. In 1944, 88 American B-25 Mitchell medium bombers got destroyed in Italy. What happened to them?A) Accidentally bombed by FranceB) Infestation of fire antsC) A sandstorm swept throughD) Vesuvius erupted

2. In fact, "embiggens" is a perfectly cromulent word. So says what TV series?A) “30 Rock”B) “Buffy the Vampire Slayer”C) “Family Guy”D) “The Simpsons”

3. In what song did Otis Redding start whistling, apparently because he forgot some lyrics?A) “The Dock of the Bay”B) “Mr. Pitiful”C) “These Arms of Mine”D) “Try a Little Tenderness”

4. Her maternal grandfather was playwright Eugene O'Neal. And in 1992, she got to play her paternal grandmother. Who?A) Drew BarrymoreB) Geraldine ChaplinC) Caroline KennedyD) Isabella Rossellini

5. In 2009, icon Iggy Pop released “Preliminaires,” but it wasn’t a pop album. If Iggy renamed himself for “Preliminaires’s” actual genre, what would he have called himself?A) Iggy BluegrassB) Iggy ClassicalC) Iggy EDMD) Iggy Jazz


What magazine created 43-man squamish, which sometimes gets played for real on college campuses?A) Highlights for ChildrenB) MadC) Scientific AmericanD) Sports Illustrated


1) The planes were caught in an eruption of Vesuvius.

2) “The Simpsons” embiggens your vocabulary.

3) The Dock of the Bay” is famous for its whistling.

4) Geraldine Chaplin appeared in the movie “Chaplin.”

5) Iggy Pop would have become Iggy Jazz.

6) Squamish was created by Mad.


One of the most popular torrent sites for downloading other people’s intellectual property is a site called the Pirate Bay, based in Sweden. So it probably isn’t surprising that the world’s first Pirate Party was founded in Sweden. The party is based on free content and network neutrality, but also stands for participatory democracy. In 2009, it even won two seats in the European Parliament. There are now pirate parties all over the world, including the U.S. and Canada.

Supposedly, Saddam Hussein donated 50 pints of his own blood over the course of two years to write out a Koran. But this is improbable, since the maximum recommended donation over a year is five or six pints. Either way, he put it in Baghdad's Mother of All Battles Mosque, itself notable for minarets shaped like Scud missiles. After he was removed, the Koran presented a problem: Its creation from human blood was blasphemous, but destroying a Koran is also blasphemous.

When Patrick Duffy left “Dallas,” they killed his character off. When things went sideways and Patrick Duffy came back to the show, that became a problem. So they decided that a whole season of the show was "just a dream." Other shows have wiped out whole seasons as well. Roseanne's dismal lottery season turned out to be a fantasy, as was Peg Bundy's pregnancy on “Married With Children,” after actor Katey Sagal miscarried. “Newhart” and “St. Elsewhere” wiped out their entire series runs in the final episodes.

In the 1978 season, Davey Johnson became the first major leaguer to hit two grand slam home runs as a pinch-hitter in a season. He had also been the last player to get a hit off Sandy Koufax. But even more amazingly, he batted behind two of the great home run hitters of all time, starting with Hank Aaron in Atlanta. He was on hand to congratulate Aaron on breaking Babe Ruth's home run record. Then he spent two seasons with the Yomiuri Giants in the Japanese League, batting behind Sadaharu Oh when he broke Aaron's record.

The Six Flags theme park chain is named for the six flags that have flown over Texas. There's the U.S. flag, of course, and the flag of the Confederacy, plus Texas was its own republic once, so that's three. Before that it was Mexico, which had been Spanish. The sixth flag is France. Rene Robert Cavelier, Sieur de la Salle, founded a colony called Fort St Louis in East Texas but it failed.

Guarani is an official language of Paraguay, where 94% of the population speak it. In fact, it is the only aboriginal language in the world for which most of the speakers are non-aboriginal. We got the names for the jaguar, toucan and tapioca from Guarani. In fact, the word "Paraguay" is thought to be from the Guarani words for "river to the sea," while "Uruguay" gets its name from the Guarani meaning "river where the painted birds live"


1. After dying their hair blond for a 1978 Wrigley's gum ad, what band decided to keep the look?A) The CarsB) The DoorsC) The KnackD) The Police

2. In what 1942 movie is everybody after some letters of transit?A) “Casablanca”B) “The Maltese Falcon”C) “The Man Who Knew Too Much”D) “North by Northwest”

3. Larry Ball and Maulty Moore played for the Dolphins in 1972, and didn't lose a single game. Then they played with what other team, which lost every single game in 1976?A) Baltimore ColtsB) Cleveland BrownsC) Detroit LionsD) Tampa Bay Buccaneers

4. What actor from the “Star Wars” franchise saw his career dip after he was scarred in a car accident while making “Corvette Summer?”A) Carrie FisherB) Harrison FordC) Mark HamillD) William Shatner

5. At what famous Manhattan toy store can you copy the piano dancing that Tom Hanks did in "Big"?A) FAO SchwarzB) Macy'sC) Montgomery WardD) Tiffany's

6. Before playing catch, a narrator ends what TV series by saying, "All these years, I still look back ... with wonder"? A) “Everybody Hates Chris”B) “Home Improvement”C) “My Name is Earl”D) “The Wonder Years”


1) The Police were blond.

2) The letters of transit got you out of “Casablanca.”

3) The Tampa Bay Buccaneers had an anti-perfect season.

4) Despite starring in “Star Wars,” Mark Hamill has mostly excelled in doing cartoon voiceovers.

5) FAO Schwarz is the famous toy store.

6) “The Wonder Years” ended with that nostalgic narration.


Found in Death Valley, the Racetrack Playa is famous for its so-called sailing stones, 700-pound rocks that move by themselves, leaving trails in the sand. Although nobody has ever seen the rocks actually move, it is believed that extremely strong winds can sometimes push them when occasional rainfalls make the sand muddy enough for the rocks to slip around. It may also be accelerated when the wet ground turns to ice during the cold nights.

While playing poker with monologist Art Fisher, the Marx Brothers found themselves talking about a now-forgotten comic strip called "Sherlocko the Monk." That inspired them all to adopt stage names that ended in “O.” Julius became Groucho, who was also a character in the strip. Leonard had posed as an Italian to scare anti-Semitic bullies, so he became Chico. Arthur became Harpo (because he played harp). Herb became Zeppo and Milton was Gummo.

On June 4, 1944, British agents had a serious conversation with Leonard Dawe in Surrey. Utah, Omaha, Overlord and Neptune had been answers in the Guardian's crossword puzzle in the previous month. And all of them were codewords for the D-Day invasion, just days away. Two years earlier, Dawe had also been under suspicion, because he'd used the clue "French port (6)" just before the Dieppe debacle. But it was all a coincidence.

You may have heard of King Canute. As King of England he ordered the tide to stop, only for it to refuse to cooperate. Nowadays, this is thought of as medieval royal vanity, but in fact, Canute was overtly illustrating that even he was subordinate to the Kingdom of Heaven. In the early 11th century, Canute II (as called Canute the Great) became king of Denmark, England and Norway. But he didn't like wearing his crown, hanging it instead on the cross.

Me Tarzan, you Jane! Even though it is the phrase Tarzan is most famous for, it appears in none of the Johnny Weissmuller movies. It seems to have come up when he was helping co-star Maureen O'Sullivan with her bags in the MGM parking lot. Likewise, you never hear "beam me up, Scotty" in the original “Star Trek” TV version, nor does “Sherlock Holmes” ever say "elementary, my dear Watson" in the Arthur Conan Doyle stories.

In addition to inventing the telephone (or, more accurately, a telephone), Alexander Graham Bell also backed the Silver Dart, Canada's first airplane. But he also co-founded National Geographic. He wrote articles on lizards and turtles, under the pseudonym HA Largelamb, which is an anagram "A Graham Bell." Then again, while working for National Geographic, he is also credited with creating those miserable blow-in subscription cards.


1. If you climb Mount Irazu on a good day, you can see both the Pacific and Atlantic from the summit. Where are you?A) Costa RicaB) HondurasC) MexicoD) Nicaragua

2. What nation had its first drug bust in 2007?A) BhutanB) TahitiC) Saudi ArabiaD) Vatican City

3. The world's tallest mountain is getting taller all the time, a few millimeters every year, thanks to plate tectonics. What is it?A) AconcaguaB) EverestC) KilimanjaroD) McKinley

4. What adjective comes ahead of Carol Shields' "Diaries" and Margaret Laurence's "Angel," two books by Canadians?A) LastB) NannyC) StoneD) Teen

5. In what movie does Jack Lemmon use a tennis racket as a spaghetti strainer?A) “The Apartment”B) “Mister Roberts”C) “Seven-Year Itch”D) “The Odd Couple”

6. What am I probably doing if I'm flying a twin-ion engine fighter?A) Bombing BaghdadB) Defending the Death StarC) Patrolling the Soviet UnionD) Shuttling Star Fleet personnel


1) Mount Irazu is in Costa Rica.

2) Vatican City arrested an employee caught with cocaine at his desk.

3) Everest is getting taller all the time.

4) “The Stone Diaries” follows Daisy Goodwill Flett. “The Stone Angel” is about Hagar Shipley.

5) Jack Lemmon plays a bachelor with a flair for improvisation in “The Apartment.”

6) You would defend the Death Star in a twin-ion engine (T.I.E.) fighter.


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Paul Paquet
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