A is for Eighth (phonetically, anyway)

Until the 57th season of LearnedLeague concluded yesterday evening, it hadn’t occurred to me that I had completely neglected to update here, not only about the season just ended, but the outcome of the previous season as well. Permit me herewith to remedy these omissions.

In LL56 — my debut season as a LLama (that is, a member of LearnedLeague) — I managed to narrowly win my rookie Rundle (read: bracket) with a record of 21-3-1. By finishing in the top three, I earned advancement for the next season to a “B” level Rundle, the second highest division aside from Championship level. Imagine my surprise, then, to discover that I had instead been bumped all the way up to Rundle A West, the top tier in my region. Apparently, a Rookie Rundle winner can qualify for a “battlefield promotion” to “A” level given an arcane combination of scoring and circumstances, and my first-season stats met the necessary criteria.

Thus, I was thrown into one of the toughest groupings in the entire League for LL57. To give you an idea of just how tough, this season’s A West competitors included at least six Jeopardy! Tournament of Champions veterans (including four of my colleagues from the Ultimate Tournament of Champions in 2005), a million-dollar winner from Who Wants to Be a Millionaire, several high finishers in the World Quizzing Championships, and a guy who writes trivia questions for a living.

In a word… yikes.

Needless to say, I did not match sheer-beginner’s-luck success from the prior season. I spent most of the 25-game run languishing at or slightly below the middle of the pack — falling as far as 20th on Match Day 17 — before rallying to win my final three games to finish in 8th place. The last game of the season could easily have gone the other way, as my opponent and I both got four of the day’s six questions correct. I just happened to assign defensive points in a fortuitous (read: blindly lucky) manner, eking out a one-point victory. If I’d lost the match, I’d have ended up 14th. My final record: A far more down-to-earth 11-9-5.

Here were the questions from the concluding match of LL57.

  • Question 1: Give the last name of the man who was a pioneer in the development of sound effect techniques used in the production of motion pictures — and after whom the art of post-production sound effect creation is now named.
  • Question 2: Bob Wills and Milton Brown, with their bands The Lightcrust Doughboys, Bob Wills and His Texas Playboys, and Milton Brown and His Musical Brownies, were pioneers in a musical style, a subgenre of country music, that is known today by what name? It was born in the Texas-Oklahoma region in the 1920s, was popularized in a second wave in California in the late 1940s, and reintroduced in the 1970s in bands such as Asleep at the Wheel.
  • Question 3: What was the name of the official proclamation, issued in April of 1598 by King Henry IV, which granted historic concessions to the Protestant Huguenots of France?
  • Question 4: Which is the only element in the halogen group on the periodic table which presents as a liquid at room temperature and pressure?
  • Question 5: Kaizen (“continuous improvement”), Genchi Genbutsu (“go and see yourself”), and Nemawashi (“laying behind-the-scenes groundwork”) are among the management principles first made famous by what manufacturer?
  • Question 6: What is the best-known and most critically acclaimed novel written in the English language centered on the subject of hebephilia (it’s fourth on Modern Library’s list of the 100 best English-language novels of the 20th century)?

Got your answers ready?

Are you sure?

Okay, then. Here come the correct responses.

Answer 1. As an actor, there’s no way I’d better miss this one. The talented people who create ambient sound effects in movies and television — everything from footsteps to rustling leaves and shattering glass — are known as Foley artists. FOLEY is the last name of the fellow who pioneered the art form. (For bonus points, his first name was Jack.)

Answer 2. I’d never heard of Milton Brown and His Musical Brownies, much less the Lightcrust Doughboys. Heck, I might have thought the latter was the house band at the Pillsbury Bake-Off. I did, however, know that Bob Wills is considered the father of WESTERN SWING. (Hey, the fact that I detest country music doesn’t mean I’ve never heard of it. I nearly ran an entire category about Willie Nelson on Jeopardy! back in the day.)

Answer 3. I had no clue on this one. The minutiae of European history has never been my strongest suit. And apparently, there was no such item as the Magna Huguenota, which is the facetious answer I submitted. My opponent, on the other hand, scored three huge points for knowing all about the EDICT OF NANTES.

Answer 4. This is one of those little science factoids that pops up in trivia quizzes fairly frequently. BROMINE is the lone member of the halogen group that’s liquid at normal room temperatures and pressures. If you can remember the five halogens in periodic table order from top to bottom, it helps: the top two (chlorine and fluorine) are gasses, so they rise; the bottom two (iodine and astatine) are solids, so they sink; bromine is liquid, so it floats in the middle. If that gets you points at your next pub quiz night, you’re welcome.

Answer 5. I thought about this long and hard, and still muffed it. As soon as I submitted my answers, I remembered the movie Gung Ho, about a Japanese company that takes over a vacated automobile plant in the U.S. Had I flashed on that sooner, I might have gotten my brain around to TOYOTA. Or I might have said Nissan or Mitsubishi, and still been wrong. For the record, I put down Sony — that was the Most Common Wrong Answer, so at least I wasn’t alone.

Answer 6. It probably helps if you know that hebephilia is the sexual fetish for children at the age of pubescence (say, 11 to 14 years old — as distinguished from pedophilia, the fetish for prepubescent children, or ephebophilia, the fetish for postpuberty adolescents). It would also help if you’d been in my English literature class at San Francisco State, in which we studied Vladimir Nabokov’s LOLITA. Or maybe you just like The Police.

LearnedLeague Season 58 begins on August 19. I’ll be back in A West for that one.

Let’s hope I survive.

Explore posts in the same categories: LearnedLeague, Listology, SwanStuff, That's Cool!, Trivial Pursuits

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