Well, I am resigned to my fate: I am two wins behind the person in front of me, and THAT person is in the demotion zone, too. I am four wins behind the person at the very bottom of the white zone. With five days left to play, it is clear that I have sunk far too deep into the quicksand of bad defense and missed opportunities, and there is nothing for it but to join D Coastal next time around. Happily, I see a few friends in there I’ll be joining — while being demoted isn’t exactly my first choice, the D Rundle is nowhere near the uncompetitive wasteland it used to be. I’d join them now if I could. But I guess I’ve got to finish out these last few days in C-land…
1. Identify the architect responsible for the structure in this photograph.
Well, at least I recognize the bridge as one I have driven across in Boston, unless it’s a lookalike construction somewhere else in the world. But I have no idea who the architect is, and even after learning the fellow’s name — Santiago Calatrava — I still have no idea who he is.
2. Pictured here are the pieces for what tile-based game?
When I was growing up, certain games were omnipresent (Scrabble, Boggle, Hearts), and other games had a sustained moment in the sun (Rack-o, Wizard, Pictionary). Rummikub fell into the latter category, and just seeing those pieces puts me back at the dining-room table with my mom on one side and her mom, my grandma Lila, on the other. It was as satisfying as a bingo in Scrabble to break up all the previously played Rummikub sets and rearrange them into complex new patterns, all for the purpose of laying down one or two new tiles from your rack. (And it was horrifying to get midway through that process only to realize it wasn’t going to work, plus you couldn’t remember how the tiles were originally laid out.)
Years later, the Rummikub people wanted to have an international competition, with the best players in the world facing off against each other. To their embarrassment, however, there was no active Rummikub community in the United States, much less a national champion. So they contacted Games magazine to see if we could scrounge up somebody to go. And that’s how it came to pass that the National Championship of Rummikub was played in the spare room of the old Games office, between myself, Mike Shenk, Mark Danna, and Peter Gordon. (And John Chaneski? I forget.) I’m not sure how many games we played — more than a few, that’s for sure — and in the end Peter won handily.
So, yeah. This one was a bit of a gimme.
3. X should be replaced with what number in the following statement?: A gold alloy with 75% purity, three parts gold and one part another metal, would be described as X-Karat gold.
I kind of knew that the topmost number of karats is some weird number, but I didn’t know what that was. I guessed 24 for this question, but the answer is 18. Not much hope here.
4. In the first Star Wars film (Episode IV), as Luke prepares to board his X-wing fighter before the attack on the Death Star battle station, which character utters the line ‘May the force be with you’?
Surely you jest. My wife is a big Star Wars geek — we have seen the Christmas special, people! — and my kids are well-versed in it, too: The three real movies (as opposed to the later movies that I believe to be a painful mass hallucination) are, along with the entire Pixar oeuvre, in constant rotation in my living room. So I estimate I have seen this scene upwards of 50,000 times. Han Solo.
5. The title character of this Hans Christian Andersen fairy tale emerges from a barleycorn flower, and has uncomfortable interactions with various unsavory creatures (a toad, a stag beetle, and mole) until meeting and marrying a more suitable mate: a tiny fairy prince.
Not a gimme: Had to think about it. Then, duh, the moment of clarity: Who’s an itty-bitty Andersen character? Thumbelina, right? Right.
6. The 1990 album Unison, which sold 3 million copies worldwide, was the first anglophone album (and 15th overall) from what recording artist? Her eponymous release would be an even bigger success two years later.
I went with a different primary language: Spanish, not French — so I was wrong right out of the gate. Therefore I will not bore you with how I agonized between Selena and Shakira before realizing that the second singer came along much later, and so I answered Selena with something close to full confidence. Actual answer: Celine Dion.