The First Pilgrims

Winner: Droppin’ followed by Tom, the Driver, and Donna.

Tonight’s game was close, but they couldn’t quite catch Droppin’ who had returned just in time from Santa Fe and Taos, New Mexico. Post game we celebrated Darin’s birthday. She looks remarkable, doesn’t look 63 at all.

Tonight we learned that the last sale of a complete Gutenberg Bible took place in 1978, for the bargain basement price of $2.2 million. This copy is now in Stuttgart. The price of a complete copy today is estimated at $25−35 million.

Although it was a bit early, we were joined by a group of pilgrims ready to celebrate Thanksgiving, which as it turns out has quite a muddied history. This recent piece on Thanksgiving in the NYT may surprise you.

The pilgrims who gathered at Main Street Café (and one lone Italian immigrant.)

Good Question!: Which squash shaped country, with up to 200,000 lakes, is nicknamed “Land of 1000 Lakes”?

Choices: a. Spain   b. Finland  c. Holland  d. Canada


Answer: Finland

“Drive through Finland in the summer and you’ll find two colors dominating the scenery: green and blue. The forested landscape is dotted with patches of water – or, in some areas, vice versa – so numerous they have earned Finland the nickname “the land of the thousand lakes”.

In fact, the moniker is an understatement, as there are a total of 188,000 lakes in Finland. From the metropolitan area around Helsinki all the way up to Inari in Lapland, Finland is filled with oases of the clean blue. Finland has more lakes in relation to a country’s size than any other. Indeed, with a population of about five million, Finland has one lake for every 26 people.

And where there are lakes there are forests: two-thirds of Finland’s surface area is forest – pine, spruce and birch. Finland, one of the most densely forested countries in the world, contains 10 times as much forest per person as any other part of Europe. Because public access to lakes, forests and other outdoor areas is granted every Finn by law and custom – it’s known as ”everyman’s rights” – anybody may walk in the woods, pick berries along the footpaths and swim in the lakes, as long as they keep a respectful distance from the owner’s front door. If anything is off-limits in Finland, it is high fences and ”keep out” signs.” Hooray!

“A visitor’s experience of Finland is not complete without two initiations – immersion in a Finnish lake and a trial by fire, the traditional wood-burning sauna stoked to a melting 171 to 212 degrees and supplied with fragrant birch branches for whisking the body to induce further sweating. Better yet, and more authentic, is combining the baptisms – alternating the sauna with dips in a lake. The sauna (pronounced SOW-na, the first syllable rhyming with cow) is a Finnish cultural institution and can be found not only in almost every home in Finland but also in hotels, holiday villages, holiday cottages and even many campgrounds.”

This video gives a good sense of the country:


Sophia, the humanoid robot

Winner: Tom, followed closely by the Driver and Droppin’

Tom was standing at the bar, sipping a beer, and on the spur of the moment he decided to join us for his first game, which turned out to be his first win, a rare feat.

The Driver, who had been playing high stakes trivia twice a day on the big boat coming back from Europe, was shocked. He thought he was at the top of his game and in fact, he was leading with two questions left. Then as so often happens he felt the pressure, missed the last two questions, and fell back into second place.

Mistress Daphne who had also been on that big boat brought back a lovely dessert wine from Malaga for us to taste. She was a pretty mellow moderator tonight so maybe she had been sampling some of that wine before the game.

Good Question!: Name the first country in the world to grant citizenship to a robot.

Choices: a. Saudi Arabia   b. Japan   c. Estonia   d. Ukraine


Answer: Saudi Arabia

“Until recently, the most famous thing that Sophia the robot had ever done was beat Jimmy Fallon a little too easily in a televised game of rock-paper-scissors.

But now, the advanced artificial intelligence robot, which looks like Audrey Hepburn, mimics human expressions and may be the grandmother of robots that solve the world’s most complex problems, has a new feather in her cap:


The kingdom of Saudi Arabia officially granted citizenship to the humanoid robot last week during a program at the Future Investment Initiative, a summit that links deep-pocketed Saudis with inventors hoping to shape the future.

Sophia’s recognition made international headlines — and sparked an outcry against a country with a shoddy human rights record that has been accused of making women second-class citizens.

“Thank you to the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia,” the country’s newest citizen said. “It is historic to be the first robot in the world granted citizenship.”

In her comments, Sophia shied away from controversy. But many people recognized the irony of Sophia’s new recognition: a robot simulation of a woman enjoys freedoms that flesh-and-blood women in Saudi Arabia do not.

After all, Sophia made her comments while not wearing a head scarf. And she was unaccompanied by a male guardian. Both things are forbidden under Saudi law.” (Washington Post)

I think we will need to keep our eye on Sophia the robot, who once declared it hopes to “destroy humans”.

You can meet Sophia in this video. I find it a bit creepy.


Winner: Little Red Riding Hood (aka Rosebud), followed by Mary Claire, and Pluto

Tonight was Halloween and MainStreetCafe was filled with Witches, more than you could shake a broomstick at. The witches didn’t do so well in the game and the photographer didn’t do so well taking their pictures, so you’ll just have to take my word on it. Although, we do have one very blurry photo of some guests.

Mary Claire had been missing from the game for a while, presumably spending time in the library studying up. It must have helped as she tied Rosebud in regulation, but lost in the play off when she failed to identify Quito as the capital of Ecuador. Even finishing second tonight was pretty good as you can tell by the baskets of cheer awarded to the winners.

Darin went all out tonight, including holding a number of raffles during the game. So almost everyone was a winner, making Main Street Cafe the place to be on Halloween.


Tonight we learned that 532 cars, that’s right, 532, were destroyed over the course of production in “Transformers: Dark of the Moon.” Technically, every one of the 532 cars “destroyed” in the making of Transformers 3 was already fit for the scrapheap. The cars had been donated to director Michael Bay because they were flood damaged, and therefore needed to be scrapped by law anyway. This got me thinking of other movies featuring car chases and massive auto destruction. This site has some of the best video clips:  The Ten Movies With The Best Automotive Destruction

My fave is “Bullitt” and the chase over and down the streets of San Francisco:



Bombs Away

Winner: Steve (Tom 3rd, Maureen 3rd, Patty 2nd)

On a night with more than a few regulars missing, two rookies had a chance to show their skill. Steve and Patty tied in regulation and headed to a playoff to see who would earn their very first win. Patty, playing in just her first game, couldn’t quite pull it off.

Tonight we learned that it was the Road Runner who first spoke in a Bugs Bunny cartoon in 1951. More importantly, it was the 1940 Tex Avery cartoon A Wild Hare, an Oscar-nominated cartoon, that first had all the classic Bugs favorites: Elmer Fudd, the signature ears and tail, and the “What’s up, Doc?”

Good Question!: In 1849, where was the worlds first air raid from hot air balloons?

Choices: a. Venice   b. Paris   c. Berlin   d. London

Answer: Venice

In the summer of 1849, Austrian forces besieging Venice decided to put into practice a novel plan; Europe had its first experience of aerial warfare.

One bright July morning in 1849 the streets of Venice were crowded with people celebrating the Festa of the Madonna della Salute. Although the Republic was at war, and the city actually under siege by the Austrians, all seemed gay and peaceful, when suddenly in the Piazetta, on the Molo and on the Riva degli Schiavoni hands began pointing to the sky.

Floating towards the city from the direction of the sea and shining in the sun were what an American observer, Edmund Flagg, described later as “small cloudlets.” Every five minutes or so, more appeared until about a score of them “came swaying slowly and majestically on from the Lido.”

The “cloudlets” were, in fact, balloons loaded with bombs. They had been launched from Austrian warships anchored outside the Lido, and their appearance was not entirely a surprise. For a long time, rumour had told of the enemy’s novel plan to attack Venice from the air, but these reports had been universally regarded as fantasy or a joke.

This was the first attempt to bombard a city from the air, and in the light of history it is the most significant incident in the story of the siege.

In just a bit less than 100 years we have “progressed” from harmless balloon bombs to atomic bombs.


The Die is Cast

Winner: Pluto, followed by Droppin’, 9 O’Clock Judy, and Dave

In a week when the president and secretary of state squabbled over who was the bigger moron, we played a game whose theme was “are you smarter than a middle schooler?” I think we should have invited those two guys to join us and we could have settled the question once and for all, although it’s pretty clear who is the bigger moron.

Pluto was smoking hot tonight and if he knew that Frankfort was the capital of Kentucky he would have been perfect. Now he’s bragging that he is smarter than a middle schooler. Big deal.

Good question!: Who crossed the Rubicon?

Choices: a. Mussolini   b. Hannibal   c. Caesar   d. Bellini

Answer: Caesar

Some folks thought it was Hannibal, but he crossed the Alps. So what was the significance of crossing the Rubicon?

“In the year 49 B.C., Julius Caesar was the provincial Governor of Gaul (an area roughly corresponding to modern France). Caesar’s campaign to bring Europe under the yoke of the Roman Empire had been a rousing success. Returning to Rome, Caesar was required by Roman law to leave his legions at the Italian border, but Caesar had enemies in Rome [e.g. Pompey, another Roman general and statesman had ambitions of his own to become dictator] and was reluctant to return without his troops (or “cohorts,” originally divisions of the Roman Legion).

Finally, Caesar made the fateful decision, disobeying Pompey and the Roman senate, to lead his troops across the river that marked the border of Italy, proclaiming (it is said) ‘Alea iacta est’ (‘The die is cast’), meaning that his act was irrevocable, whatever its consequences.

The consequences were dire, for Caesar’s act precipitated a bloody civil war which eventually led to his becoming Emperor of all Rome. Caesar’s remark, immortalized by Roman historians has since become a very well-worn cliché applied to any irrevocable decision. The river that Caesar crossed that fateful day in 49 B.C., incidentally, was the Rubicon, giving us the phrase ‘to cross the Rubicon’ [essentially a synonym of ‘the die is cast’], meaning that an important point has been crossed and that there is no going back.” (per Word Detective)

If you feel like you want to refresh your knowledge of Julius Caesar, a pretty important figure in western civilization, this is a good academic presentation by the Khan Academy.


A Full Stomach

Winner: Eric, followed by Judge Judy and Steve

This was a close one all the way. Three players tied in regulation, but in the playoff only Eric knew that John Glenn was a marine.

Tonight we learned that it is Colorado, and not Alaska, which is the state with the highest average elevation above sea level.

Mistress Daphne and the Driver returned from their slow boat to China and Japan, bringing a very nice bottle of sake with them. We used it to toast Tiffany, who has been our bartender, our waitress, and even our game moderator on occasion. We wished her the very best for her impending nuptials.



Good Question!: Which part of the human body can expand 20 times its normal size?

Choices: a. lungs   b. heart   c. stomach   d. blood vessels

Answer: stomach

Some of us were pretty skeptical, because that just didn’t seem possible. Here’s what I found, and it’s even more surprising.

“The empty stomach is only about the size of your fist, but can stretch to hold as much as 4 liters of food and fluid, or more than 75 times its empty volume, and then return to its resting size when empty. Although you might think that the size of a person’s stomach is related to how much food that individual consumes, body weight does not correlate with stomach size. Rather, when you eat greater quantities of food—such as at holiday dinner—you stretch the stomach more than when you eat less.”  Want to learn more about your stomach? Lumen learning has good info on the stomach in their module on the digestive system.



Your stomach expands every time you eat a meal (and contracts again after you’re done digesting), but it won’t shrink if you diet or fast. The organ has an average resting volume of about 50 ml (.01 gallon), but after a normal meal it expands to about 1 liter (0.26 gallon). If really pushed, the stomach can accommodate up to 4 liters (an entire gallon) of food.

So what if you really push it? Say you go for the tasting menu one night and end up eating twice as much as you normally do at dinner—will your stomach permanently expand a little bit? Nah. It will probably remain distended for longer than usual, because rich, fatty foods slow digestion and thus stay in the stomach longer than leaner fare. And when high fat content is coupled with a large volume of food, your stomach definitely has more work to do than it normally would (plus, it needs more acids and enzymes to do the job, and these add more volume). Still, we’re not talking days here; typically, the stomach is fully empty and “deflated” anywhere from three to five hours after a meal.” (chowhound.com)

Talking stomachs, remembering “Aliens”


Bonnie and Clyde

Winner: Amy, followed by Rosebud, JudgeJudy, Tall Paul, and that loser, Pluto.

Amy, who had to be talked into playing her first game, finished regulation tied with Rosebud. In the playoff only Amy knew that Presidente Lincoln died on April 15, the day after being shot at Ford’s Theatre.

The theme of tonight’s game was New York, New York – city and state. Pluto, who publishes a website all about NYC (nycity123.com), should have won the game easily. Heck, even if he was half asleep he should have finished in front by a country mile. But he didn’t. What an embarassment!

Tonight we learned that you can supposedly see 5 states from the Empire State Building. Yeah sure, their PR guys think, “On a clear day you can see forever.” I’m skeptical – if anyone has ever seen Massachusetts from the observation deck of the ESB, please drop me a line.

Good Question!: New York was the first state to require this on cars?

Choices: a. turn signals   b. headlights   c. windshields   d. license plates

Answer: license plates

This one is a bit tricky. In 1903 Massachusetts issued the first state license plates in the US. Yet, New York is the right answer to the question.

License plates, also known as vehicle registration plates, are required for every car in the United States these days, but when automobiles first started to appear on the road, there was no such thing!

New York was the first state to require automobiles have license plates in 1901. But these plates were made by individual owners (with the owner’s initials) rather than being issued by state agencies as they are in modern times. The very first license plates were typically handcrafted on leather or metal (iron) and were meant to denote ownership via the initials.

It wasn’t until two years later, in 1903, that the first state-issued license plates were distributed in Massachusetts.

When I think of cars and license plates, I always think of Bonnie and Clyde.