Archive for October, 2011

Winners: Shark Finn, Gypsy Lady, Droppin’ and Mady

Even if Halloween is your favorite holiday and you thought you knew everything about it, you found out tonight you didn’t. Another night when the second half questions were just too tough. The result was that everyone struggled and we had an unusual 4 way tie for first. We learned that the Celts were the first to celebrate the festival of Halloween, that jack o’ lanterns originated in Ireland, and that the world’s largest pumpkin weighed about 1800 pounds.

Good thing we were celebrating Halloween and had some first class costumes. Coffee Bill came as the spittin’ image of Woody from Toy Story. Bren and Jamie made a dynamic duo as Batman and Robin. Margaret as a fierce pirate, Ellen as a gypsy fortune teller and Mistrees Daphne as Mata Hari livened things up.

Good Question: Where did Trick or Treating, also known as “guising”, originate?

Answer: United Kingdom

Halloween, one of the world’s oldest holidays, is still celebrated today in several countries around the globe. During Samhain, the Druids believed that the dead would play tricks on mankind and cause panic and destruction. They had to be appeased, so country folk would give the Druids food as they visited their homes.

The tradition of going from door to door receiving food already existed in Great Britain and Ireland in the form of souling, where children and poor people would sing and say prayers for the dead in return for cakes. Guising — children disguised in costumes going from door to door for food and coins — also predates trick or treat, and is recorded in Scotland at Halloween in 1895, where masqueraders in disguise carrying lanterns made out of scooped out turnips, visit homes to be rewarded with cakes, fruit and money.

While going from door to door in disguise has remained popular among Scots and Irish, the North American custom of saying “trick or treat” has recently become common. The activity is prevalent in the US, Canada, UK, Republic of Ireland, Puerto Rico, and northwestern and central Mexico. In the latter, this practice is called calaverita (Spanish for “little skull”), and instead of “trick or treat”, the children ask ¿me da mi calaverita? (“can you give me my little skull?”); where a calaveriita is a small skull made of sugar or chocolate.

The Census Bureau estimated 41 million trick-or-treaters in 2010 – children age 5 to 14 – across the United States. But only teenagers seem to come after dark anymore.  Which raises the question: What’s The Age Limit On Trick Or Treating?

The more traditional believe if you’re old enough to drive, you’re too old to beg strangers for candy. And some take a hard line on the issue, with several cities in Virginia and Illinois, banning anyone 12 years old or over from trick or treating. The argument comes from a public safety perspective – the ban was a way to ensure seniors and single mothers weren’t frightened by 6-foot-tall strangers at their door on Halloween night – or by someone looking like Darin did this evening.

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Winners: Driver Shea, Shark Finn, Coffee Bill

It was a loud and boisterous crowd, so loud in fact, that some of the players did not even know the game had started. This was not a night to give up any questions. The questions only got harder as the night progressed. There were some poor pilgrims who went 0 for the second half. At the end there were 3 left standing, just barely.

We did learn some interesting stuff. At one point everyone started touching themselves trying to figure how many ribs a normal human would have – turns out it’s 12. And the city of Dublin has the river Liffey flowing thru it , not the river Shannon, which is the longest river in Ireland, and so much better known.

Good Question: What is the title of the lowest order of the British Nobility?

Answer: Baron / Baroness

Britain’s royalty and nobility fascinate the rest of the world, especially Americans. We wonder what all those titles mean and who all those people we’ve seen at royal weddings and funerals are.

The British royal family is like other families, made up of spouses, children, grandchildren, grandparents, uncles, aunts and cousins. The head of the British royal family is Queen Elizabeth II, and she is the one who decides who are bona fide members of the family and what titles they will carry.

A duke is the highest rank you can achieve without being a king or a prince. Historically a duke is a high-ranking nobleman, land-owner or a prince, and in feudal times was the lord over part of the country. Today the titles are largely symbolic and there are 28 dukedoms. When a duke who does not have an heir dies, the title returns to the royal family to be given out to someone new.

One of the more famous Dukes was the Duke of Windsor. The title Duke of Windsor was created  in 1937 for Prince Edward, the former King Edward VIII, following his abdication in December 1936. The House of Windsor was founded by King George V by royal proclamation in July 1917, when he changed the name of his family from the German Saxe-Coburg and Gotha to the English Windsor, due to the anti-german sentiment in the United Kingdom during WWI. Kind of interesting that this Duke and the current Prince of Wales (his grand nephew) had the same taste in women – lousy.

Not everyone who carries the title duke or earl is a member of today’s royal family. Britain has a system of peerage, which ranks members of the nobility and aristocracy. Many titles of nobility were won many years ago through great wealth, favors to the king or good deeds and are passed on from one generation to the next. This is known as the inherited peerage.

Other noble titles are given on merit or on special occasions. The life peerage are titles that the monarch confers on exceptional people during their lifetimes, and those titles do not pass to children or descendents. Margaret Thatcher, the former prime minister of Britain, is now Baroness Thatcher. The British prime minister consults with the queen about who is deserving of a life peerage, and several people are elevated to the peerage every year. Life peers get a seat in the House of Lords.

The order of the titles in British Isles nobility from highest to lowest are:

• Duke (and duchess): The name is derived from the Latin dux, which means leader. Most dukedoms carry a place name, although that means little to the modern titles because the holders are not the sovereigns of a land area.

• Marquess or marquis (and marchioness): This title appeared in England with the Norman conquest and was given to nobles who were in charge of border areas. The name is related to older words for a frontier.

• Earl (and countess): The name comes from a Norse word, jarl, which meant leader. It is equivalent to a count in European nobility.

• Viscount (and viscountess): Pronounced VI-count, this title derives from the Latin comes for a companion and was sort of an assistant nobleman in the old days.

• Baron (and baroness): The lowest rank of nobility came to England with the Normans, also, and the word is derived from the Norman word for a freeman. If you have a life peerage this is the highest title you can carry.

I don’t know about you,  but when I think about British gentry I think about some of the great Mony Python sketches:

Below these are the lower nobility, who carry the titles:

• Baronet: This title is granted to members of the upper classes, referred to as the gentry. The story is that King James I created the title to raise money.

• Knight: In medieval times, knights were the soldiers of the king or of princes. Now, the queen grants knighthood to her subjects who have achieved great success in their professions. Paul McCartney, the former Beatle, has been knighted. The female equivalent is dame.

• Esquire: In medieval times, an esquire was a candidate for knighthood. Nowadays, it is applied to members of the gentry just below knights.

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Winner: Nurse Hottie

On a lovely late summer evening, Nurse Hottie, playing for her first time, showed us that she’s not just a pretty face. She beat back a challenge from the coffee man, who finished in the money for the third straight week, and Rosebud. Ms. Hottie had to contend with Teddy Kibbitzer, seated next to her at the bar, but she did not let him distract her. Since there weren’t any sports questions, she knew not to listen to anything Teddy said.

Good Question: What was Mickey Mouse’s original name?

Answer: Mortimer Mouse

Mortimer Mouse is a cartoon character created by Walt Disney and used in Walt Disney films and stories. He has been presented as both the uncle of Minnie Mouse, and later presented as an unrelated mouse who was Mickey’s rival for Minnie’s affections.

Mickey Mouse was first going to be named Mortimer. However, Lillian Disney, Walt’s wife, believed the name “Mortimer” sounded too pompous and suggested the name Mickey instead, so “Mortimer” later became the name of Mickey’s rival.

“Disney’s character Mickey Mouse is perhaps the most universally known and loved cartoon character in the world. For generations, children and adults alike have been entertained by Mickey Mouse, who has appeared in hundreds of Disney animated motion pictures, television shows, video cassettes, comics, books, and in various other media. Indeed, the Mickey Mouse character identifies and symbolizes Disney itself.

After losing a large portion of his business and employee base in a failed contract negation in 1928, Walt Disney and his wife left New York and traveled back to California. It was on that train ride that Walt Disney first began doodling a mouse he had adopted as a pet while working as a commercial artist in Kansas City. These doodles became the basis for Mickey Mouse. Walt Disney wanted to name his creation Mortimor, but fortunately his wife talked him down and they settled on Mickey.

Disney Studios began work on the first Mickey Mouse cartoon in March in 1928. “Mickey Mouse in Plane Crazy” was inspired by Charles Lindberg’s record breaking trans-Atlantic flight. The silent animated motion picture premiered at a sneak preview on Sunset Boulevard in Los Angeles, California in April of 1928. No one was interested in what was to become one of the most recognized images in the modern world and the film was stored away. Disney gave Mickey Mouse a second chance in another animated silent motion picture “Gallopin’ Gaucho” in June of 1928. After its premiere in August, this film joined its predecessor on the storage shelf.

As the proverb goes, the third time is the charm. In an attempt to stir up interest in his character, Walt Disney provided Mickey Mouse with a voice, and he has not stopped talking since. In July, production began on the first “all-talking” animated motion picture, “Steamboat Willie.” At it’s premiere on November 18, 1928 at the Colony Theater in New York, it was a hit.

Audiences at the time of Steamboat Willie’s release were reportedly impressed by the use of sound for comedic purposes. Sound films or “talkies” were still considered innovative. The first feature-length movie with dialogue sequences, The Jazz Singer starring Al Jolson, was released on October 6, 1927. Within a year of its success, most United States movie theaters had installed sound film equipment.

Walt Disney apparently intended to take advantage of this new trend and, arguably, managed to succeed. Most other cartoon studios were still producing silent products and so were unable to effectively act as competition to Disney. As a result Mickey would soon become the most prominent animated character of the time. It is interesting to note that Mickey does not actually speak until The Karnival Kid in 1929 (the 9th MM animated short), when his first spoken words were “Hot dogs, Hot dogs!”

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Winner: Coffee Bill

On a night when we welcomed Connie from across the sea and Domenick from la la land, the coffee man held on for a solo win. Close behind, from a large crowd of players, were cousin Vinny and young Trevor. Tonight’s quiz was focused on events that occurred in 1990, a time that seems so innocent now. Germany was reunited, Nelson Mandela was freed from prison, and the Royal New Zealand Navy discontinued its daily rum ration. And who could forget that Tim Berners-Lee created the first webpage on the first web server. But not all questions were about 1990.

Good Question: What was the most watched TV show in history when it was screened in May 1993?

Answer: Cheers’ final episode.

First of all, we need to hear that theme song again:

Many have said that Main Street Cafe is very much like Cheers. In “Big Mike” we have our own Norm, sitting on his favorite stool at the end of the bar, commenting on everyone as they walk in. Darin is our female version of Sam Malone, a gifted athlete now responsible for keeping order and listening sympathetically to our tales of woe. But most importantly, Main Street is the kind of place where everyone knows your name.

to be continued, but first a clip from season1

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