April 30, 2013

Trivia Blog: Make Like a Historical Inaccuracy, and Get Outta Here

These Trivia Blog posts come from the emails I send out as Quizmaster of the Gael Pub Trivia Night every Tuesday.  But seeing as how they comprise most of the writing I seem to do these days, I thought it fitting to include them on the Pale Writer blog as well.  I won't include things like info about categories or drink specials, but will keep the bulk of the rest.  Hopefully you enjoy, so much so that you come out some Tuesday at 8:30 (3rd Ave. b/t 82nd and 83rd)...

This is heavy, Doc…

Strap in for a long one, folks. So last week, one of you fine groups of triviagoers used 1.21 Gigawatts as your trivia team name, which as we all know is the electrical power required for the flux capacitor to function properly, which is what makes time travel possible in the absolutely amazeballs movie Back to the Future. It led me to absentmindedly click through a couple clips on YouTube later that week, one of which was the famous scene where Marty plays Chuck Berry’s “Johnny B. Goode” at his parents’ Enchantment Under the Sea high school dance.

Great scene, despite A) Michael J. Fox’s not-even-remotely-in-sync lip syncing and B) the fact that none of the dance attendees were ever seriously bothered by the fact that a song they heard performed by a skinny white kid at their school dance became a major hit for a pompadoured black man three years later, or at least not enough to publicly discredit Berry as a thief. But I digress…

A couple thoughts occurred to me, watching that scene, that I can’t begin to find answers for, and they’ve almost ruined Back to the Future for me as a result. I’ve written a lot of these trivia emails at this point, and by now you all know I’d never think of ruining a classic movie for anyone else, but someone please explain these three things to me:

1) When Chuck Berry’s cousin Marvin (“Marvin BERRY!” By the way, who uses their last name when calling a family member who shares the same last name?) calls Chuck and lets him listen in on that new sound he’s been looking for, Marty is already well into the song. So far into it, in fact, that he’s past any actual part of “Johnny B. Goode,” including lyrics, and has started his crazy, Van Halen-ish guitar solo that sounds nothing at all like the original song. Yet somehow, through this one brief snippet of a probably-not-very-clear phone call, Chuck Berry is able to completely reverse-engineer “Johnny B. Goode” and put it out, word for word, note for note, three years later. How is this possible??

2) Why would Marvin Berry just give “Johnny B. Goode” to his cousin Chuck? Marvin and his band, The Starlighters, were clearly not doing all that well. There they were, playing high school dances for a bunch of suburban white kids, taking the occasional break to smoke some reefer out back and have racial taunts hurled at them by the worst of said suburban white kids. Judging by A) their ability to pick up on the backing music for “Johnny B. Goode” in less than 10 seconds and B) their prowess at performing a pretty good version of “Earth Angel,” they seemed to at least possess the talent to make a run at the pop charts. All they needed was that one big song, that one big break, and they’d be the next Four Tops. And yet, when presented with the chance to take this kid’s song and make a run at a record contract, Marvin instead calls his do-nothing cousin Chuck and just gives it away! What the fuck?? Which leads me to my third question…

3) What in Christ’s name did Chuck Berry do for his cousin that warranted Marvin handing over a megahit song that could’ve changed The Starlighters’ lives forever? Did he pull Marvin’s family from a fire and Marvin feels indebted to him or something noble like that? Or was it something more insidious, like Chuck once witnessed Marvin gun a man down over a poker game, and Chuck helped him bury the body in the desert?


It makes me wonder how many other promising young artists have had their dreams of rockstardom crushed by Marvin Berry. One year they’re debuting their new song “Roll Over Beethoven” at Midland High’s ‘Neath the Starry Skies dance, backed by The Starlighters, the next year Chuck fucking Berry’s singing it on the radio. So many questions, so few answers…

April 23, 2013

Trivia Blog: Bismarck His Words: Fucking Shit


These Trivia Blog posts come from the emails I send out as Quizmaster of the Gael Pub Trivia Night every Tuesday.  But seeing as how they comprise most of the writing I seem to do these days, I thought it fitting to include them on the Pale Writer blog as well.  I won't include things like info about categories or drink specials, but will keep the bulk of the rest.  Hopefully you enjoy, so much so that you come out some Tuesday at 8:30 (3rd Ave. b/t 82nd and 83rd)...

Well, at least the camera wasn’t on when he said it. Oh…

First impressions are very important. You want to come across as friendly, knowledgable, and even-tempered, especially if you happen to be a local TV news anchor whose words are heard by thousands of viewers at home. Such was the hard lesson learned by North Dakota KFYR-NBC’s AJ Clemente, who was just fired for whispering the words “Fucking shit” into his microphone as his very first broadcast began.

You gotta feel for the guy. There he was, finally atop the shining media empire that is Bismarck, North Dakota local news, and he lets slip a phrase that most of us use every day to describe how we feel about the surprisingly cold temperatures, the quality of our subway service, or the offseason moves made by the New York Jets. And he gets fired for it! Damn you, technology…

It’s really not fair. Had he uttered those words in a less tech-savvy, instant-viral-news world, he might still have a job telling North Dakotans all about that weekend’s hockey festival, or whatever it is that North Dakotans do. It’s not like he’s the first; not by a long shot. Consider these other historically bad first words…
  • It’s a historical fallacy that Neil Armstrong’s first words upon reaching the moon’s surface were, “That’s one small step for man, one giant leap for mankind.” NASA’s public relations department’s greatest cover-up had nothing to do with faking the moon landing, but rather was hiding from the American people Armstrong’s real first words: “Seriously, Buzz, when we get back to Earth, remind me to do something about these crabs I got from that bartender in Abilene. It itches like CRAZY! Testicles, we have a problem…”
  • The little-known first of what were eventually edited down to Ten Commandments given to Moses: 21 TO DRINK, 18 TO PARTY.
  • Many people know of Alexander Graham Bell’s famous first words said via telephone to his assistant: “Mr. Watson, come here. I want to see you.” But few know of the words that preceded those: “Ah fuck, I forget which number I press to dial out…”
  • Prior to settling on “Call me Ishmael” for the opening words of Moby Dick, Herman Melville submitted a first draft that began with, “Man, whales be crazy and shit, right?”
  • God’s first words uttered after creating the universe? “Meh.”
  • Before his first major address to the people of Germany, Adolf Hitler, not realizing that his microphone was on, remarked, “OMG this matzoh ball soup is AMAAAAAZING!”

April 2, 2013

Trivia Blog: We Should Really Stop Saying, "Break a Leg Out There"

These Trivia Blog posts come from the emails I send out as Quizmaster of the Gael Pub Trivia Night every Tuesday.  But seeing as how they comprise most of the writing I seem to do these days, I thought it fitting to include them on the Pale Writer blog as well.  I won't include things like info about categories or drink specials, but will keep the bulk of the rest.  Hopefully you enjoy, so much so that you come out some Tuesday at 8:30 (3rd Ave. b/t 82nd and 83rd)...

Here is the list of things that are harder to watch than what happened to poor Kevin Ware’s leg during Sunday’s Louisville-Duke game:
  • That curb stomp scene from American History X, only if you were watching in real life
  • A snake trying to swallow a rhino whole
  • The long-lost Roseanne-Tom Arnold sex tape
  • Chris Christie at an all-you-can-eat buffet
  • The long-lost Danny DeVito-Rhea Perlman sex tape
  • Spider-Man 3
  • Someone kicking a bucket-full of kittens in the face
  • Mitt Romney trying to interact with black people
I couldn’t possibly feel worse for this kid. Here he is, playing in one of the biggest games of his life, his team on pace to make it to the National Championship game (where they’d gloriously lose to Michigan), in the best shape of his life, on top of the freaking world. And then he jumps to block a shot, lands on his leg, and suffers the most gruesome sports injury I’ve ever seen. I can’t even post a link to it because I don’t ever want to watch it again. Remember the amazing Jean-Claude Van Damme movie Bloodsport, where Chong Li breaks that guy’s leg and the bone is sticking out? THE SAME FUCKING THING HAPPENED TO KEVIN WARE.

The last time people recoiled from the TV in horror like that at something sports-related, the Yankees were winning yet another World Series. We don’t need to lump Kevin Ware in with such an atrocity. At least the kid appears to be in good spirits now. And at least for one brief moment, Rick Pitino showed some humanity, and people maybe didn’t think that he was just a complete, vampire-looking scumbag who cheats on his wife by banging waitresses in empty restaurants. Look it up. Anyway. I hope Kevin Ware heals quickly, and that he’s able to find some solace in his season after Louisville loses to Michigan. (Suck it, Syracuse.)