Day 20: Hello, D Rundle!

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.

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  1. GaryS
    Posted March 22, 2012 at 8:28 am | Permalink

    1. Eric, I had the same reaction to the bridge as you did. Not only could I not come up with the name of the architect of that bridge over the Charles River in Boston, once I saw the name I still had no idea who he was. I felt more confident that almost no one would know the answer and my score of 3 was a safe one here. Of course my opponent, Monday night Trivia League Teammate Sujit Roy (and strong 2nd in Rundle B) knew it. It was only after the fact that I learned that the bridge is actually in Seville, Spain, built to celebrate the 1992 World Expo. I guess if you knew it was in Spain you might think of a Spanish architect.

    2. I played Rummy Cue for years with my grandmother and cousins during the summer at our cottage so this was a gimme for me. Should have realized this was Sujit’s weakness but I only gave this a 2.

    3. 24 karat gold is definitely the best and since 18 karat gold is pretty common this answer was fairly safe.

    4. I haven’t seen Star Wars in fifteen years and while I was 80% sure the answer was Han Solo, I started building a case for why the answer was actually Princess Leia. It got so bad that I was flipping back and forth between the answers getting less and less certain. In the end, I wanted to answer quickly yesterday morning so I simply made a choice and went with Leia. This would cost me the tie. Apparently I’m very good at Movie trivia but I suck when it comes to remembering a particular line of dialogue in a film (e.g. last season’s Godfather quote).

    5. Not a lot of thought here. I need a small female fairy tale character. Is Thumbelina by Hans Christian Andersen? Who cares?

    6. As a Canadian, this was the gimme of all gimmes. I couldn’t even think of how anyone could get this wrong. It was only after the fact that I realized that a lot of Americans would gravitate towards a Spanish language singer like Selena. In the end less than 50% of the LL got this right.


  2. Myron M. Meyer
    Posted March 22, 2012 at 10:15 am | Permalink

    Cool Rummikub story, bro. I too have fond memories of playing with my grandma.

    Still sitting in 4th place in Rookie Central, and ruing all those missed opportunities in earlier weeks. Today was my first loss that that I just plain could not have turned into a win, either by better defense, or by not second-guessing myself into the wrong answer. One week left to play, and unless something unusual happens, my advancement fate is sealed.


  3. Posted March 22, 2012 at 10:26 am | Permalink

    1: It’s time to play Name Any Architect! “I.M. Pei!” Ooh, no, sorry.

    2: While I have never played this game, or even seen it being played, I was sure it was one of those that you always see in a well-stocked board games aisle in a store. I also surmised, based on the tile numbers and such, that it was probably related to a card game. But that’s as close as I could get. I kept thinking it ended in -o, and finally put down Rack-o.

    3: Gimme for me.

    4: It has apparently been too long since I watched the Star Wars films. I knew it wasn’t Obi-Wan Kenobi, because that would be an extremely boring trivia question, but I also thought I was sure that Han Solo wouldn’t bring himself to acknowledge something as highfalutin as the Force. So I said Leia.

    5: I was reading this question and thinking “Tom Thumb” the whole way through, until I got to the very last word. Ha. (Not that I would object to Mr. and Mr. Thumb, of course.) I then rebooted my brain, and knew it was Thumbelina.

    6: I never had anyone in mind for this but Selena. My only worry was the idea that she had already released 15 albums at that age. I felt slightly vindicated to find that Celine Dion (I almost just wrote Dion there, but that’s confusing) was only 3 years older. Sing, kids, sing.

    Lost 1(2)-4(3). Still in sixth place, but now 3 match points out of the promotion zone. Ah well, onward, onward.


  4. Posted March 22, 2012 at 10:39 am | Permalink

    That is a bridge in Spain: The Zakim bridge in Boston: is similar in some ways but not by Calatrava.


  5. AmesGames
    Posted March 22, 2012 at 10:48 am | Permalink

    Pretty embarrassing that I still didn’t recognize Rummikub, which would explain why I didn’t take part in that little championship. Doesn’t matter, I never would’ve had a chance with that crew anyway.


  6. Eric Suess
    Posted March 22, 2012 at 10:54 am | Permalink

    1. Count me as another “any architecture question I don’t know must be Pei” kind of guy. I actually thought about trying for a best wrong answer but thought,”what if it is actually Pei?” It wasn’t. Even after seeing the answer I’ve still never heard of him.

    2. Rummikub came immediately to mind, but I didn’t know why. I tried to shake it off but it wouldn’t go away. I think I played it at my cousin’s house back in the early 70s. Anyway, I went with my gut.

    3. 100% is 24 so 75% must be 18.

    4. Again, a question I didn’t know for sure. It’s been a good number of years since I saw SW but I seemed to recall that it was a big deal for Han to acknowledge the Force. Was happy to see I was right.

    5. Knew this one. I remember watching the movie Hans Christian Anderson (Danny Kaye?) and the Thumbelina song. Also some skates and stuff…

    6. Briefly toyed with Sade (who hasn’t?) and never thought of Selena. When I hit upon Celine Dion it seemed to make a lot of sense. I *did* just enter “Dion” even though it could be confusing. I figured it was still right :)

    Won 7(5)-4(4) playing perfect defense again. That has not happened very often this season. I’m still hanging on to first place in A West.


  7. Posted March 22, 2012 at 11:11 am | Permalink

    eric, that is a great story about rummikub!

    i went with ieoh ming pei for the architect, too, because i convinced myself that it looked kind of like a guitar, and the R&R HoF is by lake erie in cleveland, and pei did that. oh well. never heard of calatrava, but if i’d known how hard this was i could have won with better defense—not that i deserved to win after blowing the star wars question. did anybody else put biggs darklighter?


  8. Foggy Brume
    Posted March 22, 2012 at 11:38 am | Permalink

    Not only did I play Rummikub a lot as a kid and as an adult with my wife (and I agree, there is a great joy in manipulating all the tiles on the board), but, like most everything else I know, it’s come up in a puzzle before (2004’s Time Bandits Hunt, where we went to HQ and played a fairly uneventful game to get the answer). The day before, I was at a Goodwill looking for something for an upcoming P&A cover, I saw a Rummikub game as well, adding a nice level of synchronicty.

    All of that, and yet the universe couldn’t throw anything Celine Dion my way. I too went with Shakira. And worse, I went with Wedge Antilles on the Star Wars question, having seen Star Wars all the way through exactly once. I know, I know….


  9. Eric Berlin
    Posted March 22, 2012 at 11:50 am | Permalink

    Biggs Darklighter? Wedge Antilles? What movie is this again?


  10. Avram
    Posted March 22, 2012 at 12:08 pm | Permalink

    1. Guessed Saarinen in an attempt to double my chances on a random architect. Never heard of this guy.
    2. Vaguely remembered Rummikub- I don’t think I’ve ever played it, but my grandparents may have had it. It rang a bell for some reason.
    3. This is a math question! Woo.
    4. Joon, I put Biggs as well. I thought Han was gone at that point, and didn’t say it until he came back to the Death Star.
    5. Easy.
    6. Immediately thought of Celine Dion, and never went away from it.

    I got lucky- I assigned the Star Wars question 3 because I thought it was Biggs, and figured no one else would remember it. My opponent also got it wrong. 6(4)-4(4) win.


  11. Squonk
    Posted March 22, 2012 at 3:14 pm | Permalink

    Managed a win even though my opponent defended perfectly.

    1. Like joon, I was sure that was the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame. I’m pretty pleased that I got the right architect for that structure! Even if you spotted me “bridge in Spain”, I still wouldn’t have gotten it.
    2. One of my favorite games growing up too. We had a very nice set with sturdy tiles in a padded case.
    3. A little nervous that 48 was the top number and not 24, but fortunately I remembered the number correctly and could do the math.
    4. Thought C-3PO briefly but remembered enough of the context of the scene to get the answer
    5. Haven’t read this one to my daughter yet, but still knew it
    6. Like a bunch of others, I went with a Spanish artist (Jennifer Lopez).


  12. Mark Halpin
    Posted March 22, 2012 at 3:58 pm | Permalink

    I have a feeling I’ll be waiting here for you in D Rundle, as I linger at 4th place. This was my chance to make it back up into the top three, as Lance N., in second, was playing the third-place person. If Lance and I both won, I’d be in.

    Lance did his part by demolishing his opponent, but alas I only tied mine (we both got 4 right, and both defended perfectly; that despite the fact that I missed the art/architecture and got the pop music, which I hoped would throw off the defense. Nope).

    1) No idea. I’d never heard of Calatrava, though coincidentally the Order of Calatrava was all over the production of Don Giovanni I just designed. It mocks me yet.
    2) Said mahjong with no hope.
    3) Knew 24 K was the best, so 18K = 75% made sense
    4) Had to be Han!
    5) Gimme
    6) Thought of Selena first, which actually made me think of Celine, and then that one felt better as I dimly remembered she had an eponymous album.


  13. David.
    Posted March 22, 2012 at 5:32 pm | Permalink

    I don’t do LL, but I have fun trying to answer as I read your recaps. I would have gotten 5/6 today, recognizing Calatrava thanks to a much-hyped wing he designed for the Milwaukee Art Museum. I was all hyped up for a perfect day, but stumbled on #6. Björk? Where did that come from?


  14. tabstop
    Posted March 22, 2012 at 7:25 pm | Permalink

    You can’t just leave us hanging like that. How did Peter Gordon do at the World Rummikub Championships?


  15. Eric Berlin
    Posted March 22, 2012 at 8:13 pm | Permalink

    I really don’t remember. Peter? You out there?


  16. Eric Berlin
    Posted March 22, 2012 at 9:03 pm | Permalink

    Peter writes: “I believe I was 11th out of 20. Egypt won. There was a rule difference involving a joker or wild tile or something, and those that had played with that rule had a distinct advantage over those of us that hadn’t, so I was satisfied with my finish. I got a nice cruise up the Rhine River out of it, too (Basel to Amsterdam). A good time was had by all.”


  17. Kevin West
    Posted March 30, 2012 at 7:39 am | Permalink

    I remember when the Rummikub contest was announced. Peter and Mark were looking for others to play, and I volunteered. I still have the set I bought to practice with. I think you are right about John.


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