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Archive for May, 2011

Winner: Rosebud

On a night when we gathered to celebrate Driver Shea’s 69th birthday, there was only one party crasher – Rosebud. Showing the icy demeanor and steely determination she is known for, Rosebud edged Artie to complete a rarely accomplished 3 Peat.

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All was forgiven as they shared birthday cream puffs after the game.

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In the dollar game following the main event, Inappropriate Bob shocked us with a win. There were immediate calls for an inquiry to determine how such a thing could happen.

Bob had bigger fish to fly. As Flyboy Bob, his focus was on the performance of his squadron of GEICO Skytypers at the Jones Beach air show this Memorial Day weekend. They did not disappoint, doing an awesome job of precision formation flying.

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As the evening concluded, we bid the always smiling Ashley a fond farewell. Hate to lose a younger player, but Ashley’s job has her headed to Madison, Wisconsin, to seek fame and fortune.

Good Question: Which is the largest island in the Mediterranean Sea?

Answer: Sicily

If you thought it was Cyprus(3), Corsica(4), or Crete(5) you were not even close. These islands are only about ⅓ the size of Sicily. Sardinia(2) is close in size, more than 90% as large, but with only ⅓ the population.

Mainland, Sicilia is the largest island in the Mediterranean and the southernmost region of Italy. Famous for its blue skies and mild winter climate Sicilia is also home to Mount Etna, Europe’s largest active volcano.

Throughout much of its history, Sicily has been considered a crucial strategic location due in large part to its importance for Mediterranean trade routes. The area was highly regarded as part of Magna Graecia, with Cicero describing Siracusa as the greatest and most beautiful city of all Ancient Greece.

This fertile paradise was settled by Siculi, Phonecians, Greeks, Carthaginians, Romans, Moors, Normans, Spaniards and Bourbons among others, and the remnants of these astounding cultures cover the entire island, from the temples of Agrigento to the priceless mosaics of Piazza Armerina and the ancient capital of Siracusa.

Although a region of Italy today, Sicily was once its own country as the Kingdom of Sicily, ruled from Palermo. The kingdom originally ruled over the island, the southern Italian peninsula and Malta before the Sicilian Vespers. It later became a part of the Two Sicilies under the Bourbons, with the capital in Naples rather than Sicily. Since that time the Italian unification has taken place and Sicily is now a fully fledged part of Italy.

Smaller islands, such as the Aeolian, Aegadean and Pelagian chains as well as Pantelleria, just 90 miles off of the African coast, are also part of Sicilia, offering superb beaches.

Sicily is considered to be highly rich in its own unique culture, especially with regard to the arts, cuisine, architecture and even language. The Sicilian economy is largely based on agriculture (famously orange and lemon orchards); this same rural countryside has attracted significant tourism in the modern age as its natural beauty is highly regarded. Sicily also holds importance for archeological and ancient sites such as the Necropolis of Pantalica and the Valley of the Temples.

Sicilian wines are fine, especially with native cuisine, such as grilled fish and pasta dishes of all kinds. Also enjoy delicate and fruity extra virgin olive oil, Sicilian honey, pistacchios and succulent blood oranges, Almond paste (marzipan) shaped into colorful miniature fruits and don’t miss the authentic Ricotta-filled cannoli or delicious cassata cake with ricotta and almond paste.

Sicily received a variety of different cultures, including the original Italic people, the Greeks, Romans, Byzantines, Saracens, Normans, and Spaniards, each contributing to the island’s culture, particularly in the areas of cuisine and architecture. Ethnic Sicilians are descended from the early Greek settlers, the native Sicani people, and Northern Italians. Sicilian people tend to most closely associate themselves with other southern Italians, with whom they share a common history.

The island of Sicily itself has a population of approximately five million, and there are an additional ten million people of Sicilian descent around the world, mostly in North America, Argentina, Australia and other European and Latin American countries.

Famous Sicilian Americans include:

Joe DiMaggio

Antonin Scalia

Frank Sinatra

Martin Scorsese

Frank Capra

Dean Martin

Mike Piazza

Charles Atlas

Mario Puzo

Sylvester Stallone

Rocker’s JonBon Jovi, Steven Tyler & Cyndi Lauper

and let’s not forget,

Northport’s own Patti LuPone

and Da Bronx’s Al Pacino, Sal Mineo & GregD

sources: italiantourism.com, skyscrapercity.com, wikipedia

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Winner: Rosebud

In a virtual replay of last weeks game, Rosebud emerged victorious again against Droppin’ Dave. He vowed it would not happen again, or at least not next week. All of this took place as we welcomed the return of our intrepid travelers, Driver Shea and Mistress Daphne. They brought back some nice licor de Naranja from Morocco, which was a hell of a lot better than that rotgut with the tarantula they brought back from Vietnam last year. Darin provided some Baclava (Main Street style), and feta pizza, along with Ouzo on the house. So once again we were all winners.

Good Question: Other than Justice and Liberty, how many females have appeared on US currency?

Answer: 3 – Martha Washington, Pocohantas, Susan B Anthony

Probably a better question than answer. In looking into this matter, turns out there were actually at least 5 females who have appeared on US currency – Martha Washington, Pocohantas, Susan B Anthony, Sacagawea and Helen Keller.

Let’s start with currency notes – paper money. Martha Washington is the only woman whose portrait has appeared on the face of a U.S. currency note. She appeared on the face of the $1 Silver Certificate of 1886, 1891 and 1896. But there was another woman who appeared on U.S. paper currency as part of a historical scene. Pocahontas appeared on a $10 bank note in 1869 and a $20 demand note in 1865.

It’s astounding that only two women have appeared on our nation’s paper currency since its inception, and neither in the last century.

Legislation was introduced in 2010 that would take President Ulysses S. Grant off the $50 bill and replace him with President Ronald Reagan. This legislation has sparked currency wars as Reagan supporters try to unseat Grant, who has held jurisdiction over the $50 bill since 1913. The original $50 bill was issued in 1863 and sported a picture of Alexander Hamilton. The images of seven different men have graced the fifty, George Washington being the only other president. The other men so honored were Henry Clay (1869), Edward Everett (1878) (WHO DAT?), Silas Wright (1882) (WHO DAT?) and William Seward (1891). Apparently you don’t have to have accomplished much to get on this bill.

As Reagan and Grant supporters duke it out over who should be on the $50 bill, not a single legislator has proposed a woman who could represent the 51 percent of the population that hasn’t been seen on our nation’s currency in more than 100 years. What makes this especially surprising is that 72 women currently serve in the House of Representatives, and 17 in the U.S. Senate.

The U.S. Department of the Treasury first issued paper U.S. currency in 1862 to make up for the shortage of coins and to finance the Civil War. There was a shortage of coins because people had started hoarding them; the uncertainty caused by the war had made the value of items fluctuate drastically. Because coins were made of gold and silver their value didn’t change much, so people wanted to hang onto them rather than buy items that might lose their value.

The first paper notes were printed in denominations of 1 cent, 5 cents, 25 cents, and 50 cents. Boy, you would need a bushel of that paper money to buy anything today – almost like Zimbabwean dollars, where in early May 2006, Zimbabwe’s government began rolling the printing presses (once again) to produce about 60 trillion Zimbabwean dollars.

When we look at U.S. coinage the women fare little better. Susan B. Anthony, Sacagawea and Helen Keller (Alabama Quarter) are the only “real” women to be immortalized on U.S. circulating coinage. Susan B. Anthony was on the 1979 to 1981 (and 1999) $1 coin. A new brass $1 coin has been introduced recently (misleadingly called the “golden coin” by the Treasury), with a handsome portrayal of Sacagawea, the Indian interpreter of Lewis and Clark. Ironically, the picture on the dollar coin is not really a picture of Sacagawea, for the simple reason that no known likeness exists of her.

sources:money.org, factmonster.com, baltimoresun.com

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Winner: Rosebud

In a tight contest Rosebud finished strong and overtook Droppin’ at the very end to win by one. She has always admired Mae West, so it was fitting that the question about Ms. West would be the difference in the game.

Our moderator for the evening was the soft spoken Tiffany, but we better not get to used to her. Having avoided the Somali pirates on the high seas, it appears that Mistress Daphne, last sighted on the Greek island of Hydros, will return next week. Soft spoken she is not.

Good Question!: Who said : “When choosing between two evils, I always like to try the one I’ve never tried before.”

Answer: Mae West

When the answer was given, the young players next to me said: “Who’s she?” I thought: “What a shame they don’t know who Mae West was!” So, for all the young people in the audience here is a brief bio.

Vaudeville Performer, Playwright, Broadway Sensation, Movie Star, Sex Goddess… Mae West was each of these things, but first and foremost she was an independent woman who became an icon simply by being herself.

(if you tube messes with the link, either refresh the page, or go to: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qVrfHXnUJFc to see trailer “I’m no Angel”)

Mae took advantage of the Roaring Twenties and society’s less constricted view of what a woman was allowed to be. She called the first play she wrote “Sex” and caused a sensation in the leading role. Arrest and conviction on a morals charge didn’t slow her one bit – the publicity was fantastic! – and she followed up with success after success on the Great White Way. In 1928 her fourth full-length Broadway play, “Diamond Lil” drew rave reviews, lines around the block, and made Mae a full-fledged Broadway star.

Paramount offered Mae a two-week contract for a small part in pal George Raft’s nightclub melodrama “Night After Night”. Mae, of course, rewrote her part to fit her style and practically directed her own scenes. She stole the show with the line she wrote in response to the comment, “Goodness, what beautiful diamonds.” “Goodness,” she replied, “had nothing to do with it, dearie.”

Her obvious talents won her the studio’s respect and convinced Paramount to take a chance on her recent hit, the controversial “Diamond Lil”. They changed the plot to placate the censors, changed the title to “I’m No Angel” and introduced Mae West to the world. It was a triumph that quickly led to the production of “She Done Him Wrong”. Together they saved Paramount from bankruptcy and made Mae the most famous woman in America.

But at the same time, her name became a byword for sex – a situation the censors simply could not allow to continue. The true Mae West, the blunt, forthright, independent woman was too much for Hollywood in the 1930s. One of her last films of the era “My Little Chickadee” with W.C. Fields was well-received, but she was frustrated by the restrictions and the meddling coming from the powers that be.

Years later she would retake control of her image by producing another stage show – this time in Las Vegas! The show featured West’s familiar delivery, fabulous costumes, favorite songs, and a chorus of eight weightlifters dressed only in loincloths. The show was a sensation and reminded audiences of her unique talents and star quality.

In the 1960s and ’70s the world finally caught up with Mae as the sexual revolution picked up the banner she had carried fifty years before. Her films were rediscovered and showcased at new independent film houses. Mae suddenly had a new career as the “queen of camp”

Although changing times made Mae’s risqué humor seem more old-fashioned than trend-setting, her style and her inimitable delivery of a delicious double-entendre have remained instantly identifiable even today. As critic Kevin Thomas said in the eulogy delivered at the actress’s funeral in 1980, “the woman and the legend had long since become one.”

Yogi Berra gets all the pub for some of the things he has said, but we shouldn’t forget the great quotes from Mae. Here are 10 of my faves:

‘When I’m good, I’m very good. But when I’m bad, I’m better.”

‘Marriage is a great institution, but I’m not ready for an institution.”

‘It’s not the men in my life that count, it’s the life in my men.”

‘“Don’t keep a man guessing too long – he’s sure to find the answer somewhere else.”

‘I’ll try anything once, twice if I like it, three times to make sure.’

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“Is that a gun in your pocket, or are you just glad to see me?

‘I’ve been in more laps than a napkin.”

“Any time you got nothing to do – and lots of time to do it – come on up.”

“A dame that knows the ropes isn’t likely to get tied up.”

“It’s not what I do, but the way I do it. It’s not what I say, but the way I say it.”

sources: allaboutmae.com, google images

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Winner: Droppin’ Dave

Tonight’s quiz master was a former regular of the game – Johnny G. He put together a nice group of questions, the kind of quiz where, even if you didn’t know the answer, you knew you should know. Droppin’ knew the answers and ran away from the field, while Paula finished a distant second. Next week we may have Droppin’ serve as moderator, which means the rest of us will have a better chance to win.

Good Question: In what state would you find Fort Knox?

Answer: Kentucky

The first thing you learn when you look into Fort Knox is that it’s not a fort, nor even located within Fort Knox.

The United States Bullion Depository often known as Fort Knox is a fortified vault building located adjacent to Fort Knox Kentucky used to store a large portion of United States official gold reserves and other precious items belonging or entrusted to the federal government.

The United States Bullion Depository holds 4,603 tons (4,176 metric tons) of gold bullion (147.4 million troy ounces). Even so the depository is second in the United States to the Federal Reserve Bank of New York’s underground vault in Manhattan which holds 5,000 metric tons of gold some of it in trust for foreign nations central banks and official international organizations.

Before the election of Franklin D. Roosevelt in 1932, gold coins had circulated freely in the United States as legal money, and gold bullion was owned by banks and other private entities. In early 1933, as part of the New Deal, the U.S. Congress enacted a package of laws which removed gold from circulation as money, and which made private ownership of gold in the U.S. (except for coins in collections or jewelry such as wedding rings) illegal. All gold in circulation was seized by the government in exchange for dollars at the fixed rate of $20.67 per ounce. All of this left the government of the United States with a large amount of gold metal, and no place to store it.

In 1936, the U.S. Treasury Department began construction of the United States Bullion Depository at Fort Knox, Kentucky, on land transferred from the military. The first gold shipments were made from January to July 1937. The majority of the United States’ gold reserves were gradually shipped to the site, including old bullion and more newly made bars made from melted gold coins. Some intact coins were stored, as well.

When most of us think of Fort Knox we recall “Goldfinger”, the third and one of the best James Bond movies. A blockbuster that cost only $3M to make in 1964. Who can forget Honor Blackman as Goldfinger’s personal pilot Pussy Galore, and Harold Sakata as his manservant Oddjob. BTW, gold now trades @ $1,500 per ounce, which makes the value of the gold stored at Fort Knox about $220 Billion! No wonder this gold depository piqued Goldfinger’s interest.

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