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.



Better Wear a Scarf.


Winner: Tall Paul, followed by Donna and Tom

Tall Paul finally figured out how to win. His strategy? Ask wife, Judge Judy, to stay home – because, of course, he was never going to beat her.

Our two new players, Jen and Amanda, had a rough game but a wonderful evening –  they hadn’t seen each other in 20 years, since high school.

Tonight we learned that the Great Dane is indeed taller than the Irish Wolfhound, and that the Secret Service, which is out of money, has reportedly spent $60,000 on golf carts to follow the president around. Are you freaking kidding me!

Good Question!: What part of a horse would you examine to tell its age?

Choice’s: a. hooves   b. teeth   c. eyes   d. mane

Answer: teeth

Which raises the question, how do you tell a human’s age?

“Aging really kicks in around 45-55 and lines increase rapidly around the eyes and the under eye area looks much more tired and hollow plus the cheeks will be much less plump and the jawline noticeably more saggy.

Sun damage by now will generally be apparent on the face and hands – look for brown discoloration and red patches plus the skin will look less smooth and plump and often slightly leathery. Also look at the brow and upper eyelids the brow will have dropped a couple of millimeters and the eye area will look creepy, a bit like crepe paper. But the real giveaway is the neck – much more skin laxity, especially the neck. The face may hold up well, but there is no disguising the neck.” (quora.com)

See what some older gentlemen are doing in their old age:

“The Fight of the Century”

Winners: Rhys and Carol St. Martin, followed by Judge Judy, Tall Paul, Almond Joy and Christine.

Nurse Christine makes the podium because she made us all feel better tonight when she also missed the anatomy questions. Darin, our quiz master, decided she would rather play grandma with baby Ryan Ann and so there were no answer sheets, which made life very difficult for moderator Mike.

Many of tonight’s questions were so difficult and obscure that cousin Mark, who came all the way from Detroit for the game, quit halfway and said, “I’m not taking this anymore.” But he did like the cookies.

Good Question!: Which boxer defeated Muhammad Ali at Madison Square Garden in March 1971?

Choices: a. Sonny Liston   b. Larry Holmes   c. Gerry Cooney   d. Joe Frazier

Answer: Smokin’ Joe Frazier

A few sports buffs remembered that it was Joe Frazier who beat Muhammad Ali in his first fight after being released from prison, a fight known as “The Fight of the Century.” But no one believed that fight at Madison Square Garden happened almost 50 years ago! I remember it like it was just yesterday.

The Fight of the Century (also known as The Fight) is the title boxing writers and historians have given to the boxing match between WBC/WBA heavyweight champion Joe Frazier (26–0, 23 KOs) and Ring magazine/lineal heavyweight champion Muhammad Ali (31–0, 25 KOs), held on Monday, March 8, 1971, at Madisn square Garden in NYC. Frazier won in 15 rounds via unanimous decision. It was the first time that two undefeated boxers fought each other for the heavyweight title.

Here’s a condensed version – 15 rounds in 15 minutes.


Island Getaway


Winners: Droppin’ and Oh Donna, followed by Almond Joy.

Winner: Droppin’, followed by Judge Judy, Brian, and Tall Paul.

Today’s post is a doubleheader, a catch up. Droppin’ was a winner in the last two games, but he was in a dead heat with Oh, Donna in the earlier game. Droppin’ surprised us all when he was the only one to answer that North Korea was threatening to fire missiles near Granada. Of course, we explained to him that it was Guam, not Granada. He said he knew it started with a G.

Tonight we said sayonara to Mistress Daphne who showed up in her kimono, but left early. She had a plane to catch. From Vancouver she would board a slow boat to Japan. Maybe even get to duck one of kim jong un’s missiles.

Good Question!: Where in Massachusetts is the only island, county, and town in the US that share the same name?

Choices: a. Cape Cod   b. Chappaquiddick   c. Nantucket               d. Martha’s Vineyard


Answer: Nantucket

Had to be either Nantucket or Martha’s Vineyard. Half guessed wrong. Never been to Nantucket, so I thought it would be worth taking a look.

This guy has a nice portfolio of aerial photos of the island.

Travel info: Nantucket is about seven hours from Long Island by car via I-95

You have 6 ways to get from Long Island to Nantucket. The cheapest way is bus and ferry which costs $88. The quickest way is bus to New York JFK and fly.

One perfect day on Nantucket

So you don’t have a friend with a seaside mansion on Nantucket, nor the budget to shell out big bucks for a resort room? No problem: This gorgeous island, with its preserved village of sea captains’ homes and bumpy cobblestone streets, is a day-tripper’s dream, especially for Cape Codders. The island is relatively small, a mere 14 miles long and 3.5 miles wide, but includes some 800 pre-Civil War-era homes, many now housing fine restaurants, inns, museums, and one-of-a-kind boutiques. There are more than 80 miles of beaches on the island and acres of preserved and protected lands. You could wing it: Wander the village, pop into a shop or two, take your chances on a restaurant. But we won’t let you do that. To get the most out of Nantucket (and the cost of your ferry ticket), you need a plan. (see this fine piece from the Boston Globe)

A couple of informative Nantucket videos:


VIDEO – Steamship Company Island Survey



Winner: Droppin’

Not a surprise that Droppin’ won tonight. The big surprise was that Tall Paul finally tied Judge Judy. She had been beating him like a drum all these weeks.

They may have finished second tonight, but recently they finished first in the all Icelandic Blue Lagoon thermal pool.

Some very difficult questions tonight. Who remembers the last man to walk on the moon? Turns out it was Gene Cernan, not exactly a household name.

There was one easy question which everyone but Pluto got right. What game was denounced by critics as “sex in a box”? Why it was “Twister,” of course. Poor Pluto must have had a very lonely adolescence, never played Twister.

Good Question!: The Chatham islands in the Pacific ocean are part of which country?

Choice’s: a. Cambodia  b. South Korea  c. Papua New Guinea  d. New Zealand

Answer: New Zealand

I told you there were some very obscure questions this evening. The Chatham Islands, also known as Rekohu, lie 750km to the east of New Zealand’s South Island and are home to New Zealand’s most remote communities. Around 600 people live on two of the 11 islands that make up ‘the Chathams’, with incomes largely reliant on farming, fishing, conservation and tourism.

The islands are in their own time zone, 45 minutes ahead of New Zealand time; the International Date Line jogs eastward to keep them on the same calendar day as the rest of New Zealand.  If you didn’t live there, you wouldn’t know the Chatham Islands even existed.

However, if you were thinking of visiting the Chatham Islands on holiday and enjoying their rugged beauty then, believe it or not, they have their own website which will tell you all you need to know. Steeped in culture and history, these islands are on the very edge of civilisation. Experience Moriori culture, experience “Rekohu.”

If you are fluent in their native language, you might want to look at this video which researches their culture: