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Archive for July, 2011

Winner: Miss Vikki

Tonight’s winner, Miss Vikki, has been playing the game from the very beginning, from way back in the days of Regis Philbin (1999-2002). She returned to the winers circle after a long absence with a dominating performance – only one wrong. She would have been perfect if she hadn’t changed her answer on one question, violating the cardinal rule of game success – always go with your first instinct. Following her were our hometown version of Moe, Curly, and Larry. That would be CoffeeMan, Droppin’ and the Driver.

One of our young players, FrankEE, was unable to join us because he was preparing for his solo performance on the marimba with the Huntington Community Band this week. If you missed his performance, you missed something really special.

Next week the game goes on its annual hiatus for the month of August, while the village closes Main Street on Tuesday’s for the weekly street festival sponsored by the Chamber of Commerce. Main Street Cafe is still a congenial place for a pint and some conversation, even when there is no game, so come on down.

For those who missed FrankEE’s virtuoso performance, please take a moment to listen (audio is fine, pardon the poor video):

Good Question: In what country did the battle of Waterloo take place?

Answer: Belgium

The Battle of Waterloo itself was one of the most glorious ever won by a British army. It was not on as large a scale as some of the other battles of the Napoleonic wars; but it was one of the most savagely fought and certainly the most decisive.

In British history the Battle of Waterloo, 1815, is a date as well known as 1066. It marked the end of an immense effort by Britain to defeat Napoleon, of a war sustained for twenty-two years.

As the war went on, Napoleon’s conquests and his threatened invasion of England made the war increasingly a national one. When, in 1814, the Allies entered Paris and Napoleon was exiled to Elba, there was immense elation, the feeling of having escaped from the gravest danger that had threatened Britain since the Spanish Armada.

On 1 March, 1815, Napoleon Bonaparte sailed from Elba and landed on the south coast of France with eleven hundred men. He knew the Bourbons and the new regime were unpopular and thought that the French army would desert to him. He was right. On 20 March Napoleon was back, Emperor of the French, in the Tuileries. The Hundred Days began, and perhaps Napoleon had never shown in all his life greater daring than by this enterprise.

Napoleon quickly realized for all the bounding enthusiasm of the French army, his people, and particularly the middle classes, were war weary, Napoleon decided he must win a quick victory. In Belgium was a Prussian army under Blucher, and an English force with German and Dutch contingents, commanded by the Duke of Wellington.

He determined to strike at once at these and, by so doing, win back Belgium and Holland where, as he rightly guessed, Republican feeling was still strong. By the beginning of June, when Napoleon’s preparations for invading Belgium were clear, some of the best regiments of Britain’s army were still in the United States, which in 1813 had been persuaded to enter the war as France’s ally.

On 14 June Napoleon joined his troops. On the 15th his army of eighty thousand men with the finest artillery in the world crossed the Meuse and occupied Charleroi. The village of Waterloo, which gave its name to the battle, lay just behind the British lines.

The battle which followed was one of extreme simplicity. It consisted of a series of attempts by Napoleon to break the British line, attempts all of which had some initial success but which were finally defeated by the steadiness of the British infantry.

Time after time the cavalry squadrons charged the squares of British infantry and in vain, the sabre against the musket could only triumph if the morale of those who held the muskets was low. The British infantryman might be the scum of the earth but when well commanded he was unbeatable.

The presence of the Iron Duke was felt everywhere about the British battle-line and invariably, wherever the fighting was hottest, he trotted up on his horse Copenhagen and, with a few remarks devoid of eloquence but to the point and charged with feeling, steadied his troops.

Napoleon on the other hand did not move about until the end of the battle.. When the failure of his cavalry to break the English right had followed the failure of Ney on the eastern side of the battle, he decided on his last throw, the Old Guard. Napoleon mounted his white horse as the Old Guard filed past him, full of courage and shouting “Vive l’Empereur”.

The British had been told to lie down until the crucial moment, the better to avoid the deadly French cannon. It was, it is said, the Duke himself who gave the order: “Up Guards and fire low!” as the French mass began to pour over the hill-top. French officers displayed the greatest contempt for danger, and again and again rallied their men for one more attempt to break the British. But in vain.

Waterloo ended the cycle of wars which had begun with the victory of the French Revolution’s army at Valmy in 1793. It meant the triumph of the autocracies and of conservative England. Germany was returned to its princes, fewer in number than at the end of the eighteenth century but still one hundred and forty sovereign states. Italy remained under the heel of Austria and the Bourbons came back to Naples.

In France, the Bourbons returned to govern but with a charter which guaranteed democratic rights. The work of the Congress of Vienna ensured peace in Europe for forty years; it also meant that German and Italian unity had to be achieved eventually by war.

Above all Waterloo marked the beginning of British pre­dominance in Europe and throughout the world, which was to last for close on a hundred years. It was to be the British century just as the eighteenth and the second half of the seventeenth had been French. The British Empire was to reach its greatest strength and its fleet was to maintain the Pax Britannica throughout the world. It was to Britain that European patriots and progressives now looked; for although British statesmen promised no dazzling dreams of universal freedom or of European unity, Britain alone of the great powers had a liberal constitution and only in Britain were men accustomed to political liberty.

sources: famoushistoricalevents.net, britishbattles.com, battleofwaterloo.org

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Winner: Bobby Barcelona

Tonight’s winner is an old time player who only joins us from time to time these days. Tells me that the game goes on way past his bedtime. Well, he picked the right night to play –  a night filled with sports questions. Following right behind were 2 younger sports fans, Keith and Bren. Bren is more of a soccer aficionado, and Keith is a Mets fan, so it made sense that he would finish behind Yankee fan, BobbyB.

Good Question: Who did Babe Ruth play for before joining the Yankees?

Answer: The Boston Red Sox

It’s kind of ironic that the greatest Yankee of them all came over from the hated Red Sox. The Curse of the Bambino was a superstition cited as a reason for the failure of the Boston Red Sox baseball team to win the World Series in the 86-year period from 1918 to 2004.

The curse was said to have begun after the Red Sox sold Babe Ruth, sometimes called The Bambino, to the New York Yankees in the off-season of 1919-1920. Before that point, the Red Sox had been one of the most successful professional baseball franchises, winning the first World Series and amassing five World Series titles, a record at the time. After the sale they went without a title for decades, as the previously lackluster Yankees, who had not played in any World Series up to that time, became one of the most successful franchises in North American professional sports.

Since before the start of the American Revolution, Boston and New York had shared an intense rivalry as cities. For more than a century afterward, Boston was arguably the educational, cultural, artistic, and economic power in the United States. Boston’s location as the closest American port to Europe and its concentration of elite schools and manufacturing hubs helped maintain this image for several decades.

New York’s economic power soon outpaced Boston’s in the 19th century due to its rapid population growth and location as terminus of the Erie Canal, along with massive growth in the manufacturing, shipping, insurance and financial services businesses. The change was reflected in the new national pastime – baseball.

After the Ruth trade, The Yankees played in 39 world series and won 26, before the Red Sox finally won another one. Of course, over the years they also outspent every team in baseball, including the Red Sox, by great gobs of money. That lavish spending started in January 1920 when they paid $125,000, for several Sox players, most importantly, pitcher-turned-outfielder Babe Ruth, who had set the record for home runs with 29 in 1919 – no steroids. thank you. The Red Sox soon became a baseball disaster area, finishing dead last nine times in eleven seasons.

The real piece of trivia about Babe Ruth is what a great pitcher he had been. He won 90 games, winning 2 out of 3 decisions over 6 seasons with the Sox, with an ERA of 2.2. In the World Series he was even better, winning all 3 of his decisions with an ERA of 0.87

But we will always remember him as the “Sultan of Swat”.

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Co-winners: Joanne and Rosebud

Tonight’s game was studded with sports questions and should have been easy pickings for the guys. Instead two women won and it was a nice mix of old and new. Joanne, who had never won before, was joined by Rosebud, who has won too darn often lately.

Joanne had never even played before, so this was a special first time win. She was encouraged to give the game a try by two of our regulars, son Bren and daughter-in-law Jaime. Jaime’s mom, Ellen, has won previously, so it might be interesting to see a battle of the mother-in-laws some time in the future.

Another woman, Sunflower, finished very close behind and would have tied for the win, if she had properly been given credit for a hotly disputed question on the women’s AMATEUR golf championship – the Curtis cup.

Good Question: The Grimaldi family has ruled which principality since 1297?

Answer: Monaco

The Grimaldi ascent began one night in 1297, when Francois Grimaldi seized the fortress of Monaco from a rival Italian faction. Disguised as a monk, he successfully led a small army into the fortress reclaiming it in the name of the Pope. The legacy of his daring victory is recorded on Monaco’s coat of arms, which bears two monks brandishing swords.

In 1861, Monaco relinquished one-half of its territory to France in exchange for cash and independence. On the throne at this time was Prince Charles III. He realized that most of Monaco’s natural resources had been lost with the land and something had to be done to reestablish an economic base in the Principality. He decided that the answer was tourism and gambling. In 1863, he established the Societe des Bains de Mer. The company consisted of a handful of hotels, a theater, and a casino (see James Bond: “Never Say Never Again’ and “Golden Eye”), which would soon flourish and become the foundation of the magnificent district of Monte-Carlo.

Interesting thing is that the citizens of Monaco are forbidden to enter the gaming rooms. It also hosts the annual European Poker Tour Grand Final, which probably puts it on Darin’s must list of places to visit.

Monaco’s surface area is all of 485 acres, of which nearly 100 were recovered from the sea during the course of the last twenty years. Monaco lies on a narrow coastal strip, which sometimes rises vertically upwards with its highest point at 206 feet. Its width at one point is a mere 382 yards. Its coastline is only 2.5 miles long. The Principality has only one commune, Monaco, whose limits are the same as those of the state. Prince Rainier III ascended to the throne in 1949 and later caught the world’s attention with his storybook marriage to actress Grace Kelly. In 1997, the Grimaldi family celebrated the 700th anniversary of its reign in Monaco. 

Today, Monaco still stands as a proud monarchy with their son, H.S.H. Prince Albert II as its head of state. Prince Albert, after many years as Europe’s most eligible and active bachelor, just got married himself, to a former Olympic swimmer from South Africa. These guys may be heads of state of a very small country, but they sure know how to pick ’em. (news update: It’s reported that the happy couple spent their honeymoon in S. Africa in separate hotels, 10 miles apart, while she awaited DNA tests that may prove Albert’s paternity for yet another love child.)

No discussion of the Grimaldi’s would be complete without a mention of Patsy Grimaldi’s pizzeria under the Brooklyn Bridge. Designed and built by hand, the coal-fired oven at Grimaldi’s Pizzeria delivers a unique flavor and consistency. Heated by 100 pounds of coal per day, the intense heat of the oven evenly bakes the pies to create Grimaldi’s famous crispy and smokey crust that Zagat has voted best pizza year after year. Just a short walk away is the staircase to the Brooklyn Bridge, a perfect way to walk off your dinner.

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Winner: Bill

On a night when the questions were designed to be more relevant  to our younger generation of players, a boomer still finished first. Bill, who “was along for the ride”, hopped in his buddy’s boat in Stamford, CT.  and they motored across the pond for dinner at Main Street Cafe. “Next thing you know, I was playing trivia” he said. Maybe next time they can bring Miss Connie over with them.

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Main Street Cafe was filled with a raucous crowd this evening and the game was SRO. Mistress Daphne was so busy trying to handle the large crowd that she didn’t have time to be mean.

Although they did not win, our younger players had a good showing. Wayne  finished 2nd and FrankEE and Kenyon Kid tied for 3rd.

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Good Question: The British call it stock car racing. What do Americans call it?

Answer: Demolition Derby

Some say that stock car racer Larry Mendelsohn created the concept for demolition derbies at Islip Speedway in 1958 after realizing many people favored wrecks to racing. But let’s start at the beginning.

Auto racing began in 1895, and is now one of the world’s most popular sports.

Racing began soon after the construction of the first successful petrol-fueled autos. In 1894, the first contest was organized by Paris magazine Le Perit Journal, a reliability test to determine best performance. Competitors included factory vehicles from Karl Benz’s Benz & Cie. and Gottlieb Daimler and Wilhelm Maybach’s DMG.

In 1895, one year later, the first real race was staged in France, from Paris to Bordeaux. The first auto race in the United States took place in Evanston, Illinois on November 28, 1895 over a 54 mile course, with Frank Duryea winning in 10 hours and 23 minutes, beating three petrol-fueled and two electric cars !

The first trophy awarded was the Vanderbilt Cup. The six Vanderbilt Cup Races held on Long Island from 1904 to 1910 were the greatest sporting events of their day. These exciting and dangerous races were the first international automobile road races held in the United States, drawing huge crowds from 25,000 to over 250,000 spectators. The races had a far-reaching impact on the development of American automobiles and  parkways and are a testament to the early racing spirit and drama.

Demolition Derbies

Demolition derby is a motor-sport usually presented at county fairs and festivals. They originated in the United States and quickly spread to other western nations. The extremely diverse American oval track scene led to confusion and the widespread misuse of terms when the sport was imported to Europe. What became known in Britain and France as stock car racing bore little resemblance to NASCAR action, its origins being more akin to jalopy racing or demolition derby.

For you demo derby fans try this (skip the first 30 sec):

http://video.google.com/videoplay?docid=7975771750110316798#docid=168646121785057218

While rules vary from event to event, the typical demolition derby event consists of ten or more drivers competing by deliberately ramming their vehicles into one another. The last driver whose vehicle is still operational is awarded the victory.

Demolition derbies can be very dangerous. Although serious injuries are rare, occasionally they do happen. To make the event safer, all glass is removed from the vehicle, and deliberately ramming the driver’s-side door area is usually forbidden. The driver’s door is often required to be painted white, with black numbers, or with contrasting colors, for visibility.

Some drivers use both the front, and rear, of the vehicle to ram the other competitors. Others tend to use only the rear end of the vehicle, to help protect the engine compartment from damage.

The sport’s popularity grew throughout the 1960s, becoming a standard of county fairs in rural areas, and becoming a quirky subculture nationwide. ABC’s Wide World of Sports televised the World Championship Demolition Derby from the mid 1960s until 1972. In 1972, the LA Coliseum hosted a demolition derby with mint-condition late model cars driven by Mario Andretti, A.J. Foyt, and Bobby Unser. That must have been something to see.

And who can forget Pinky Tuscadero, a professional demolition derby driver and love interest to the Fonz on “Happy Days”. Fonzie actually proposed to Pinky and she accepted.

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But Fonzie soon realized that he could not become “Mr. Pinky Tuscadero” and called the whole thing off.

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