From my blog...

Contemplating Dumb Luck

Benjamin Rayson in “Pippin”

It’s smarter to be Lucky than it’s lucky to be Smart.” Spoken by Charlemagne in Stephen Schwartz’s musical, “Pippin”. I was lucky this past week. At the invitation of my fellow author, Gillian Bagwell, (The Darling Strumpet, The September Queen), I arrived at the Berkeley City Club to test my mental prowess at Trivia. Because Gillian was running late I found myself sitting alone at a table, a team of one. When the game began and I was still a solo act, the four players at the next table took pity on me and invited me to join them. Gillian arrived a few minutes later to round out our team of 6 players. So, how did we do? We won! It turned out that I was playing with a slate of brilliant team-mates. They came up with almost every right answer for a grand high score of 48 out of 60.You’re probably wondering what the questions were like. Here are a few that we missed. (Answers at the bottom of this post):

1. Give us the name of the famous novel that begins with the sentence, “It was a bright cold day in April, and the clocks were striking thirteen.”

2. Name the baseball player in the photo at right, who passed away last year.(Somewhere up in Oregon, my rabid Dodger-fan brother was shouting the answer at me, but I couldn’t hear him.)

3. Which OPEC nation borders the Pacific Ocean? I blurted out Venezuela, and after much thought my team, shrugging dubiously, went along. I was, of course, wrong. In spite of their handicap (me), my partners were unbeatable. For instance, they knew the answers to the following:

4. Suomi is the name of what country, in that country’s language? (I mean, really. We should have gotten extra points for that one!)

5. What does a pluviometer measure? (Okay, I SHOULD have known that, and so should you.)

6. Name the character on a long-running television show who hailed from Ottumwa, Iowa. (Gillian knew this! How did she know this?)

The point is, I was wrong all evening. I console myself by insisting that I was at a disadvantage because lately my mental focus has been about one inch wide and zeroed in on 11th century England. Give yourself a break, I say. Just think of the questions you could answer, that nobody else could!
The many-sonned Aethelred
7. Name the 9 sons of the Anglo-Saxon king, Aethelred II, in the order of their birth.8. In A.D. 1002, what was the English name for the body of water lying between the coast of southern England and the northern coast of France?9. What do the terms hird, fyrd and here have in common?But they didn’t ask any of those questions. Nuts.Still, in spite of coming across as totally clueless, I was on the winning team. Why? Because I was lucky enough to place myself amidst a group of incredibly knowledgeable strangers.Heh, heh.

Pat Bracewell – a woman who knows where to sit.

1)1984;  2)Duke Snyder;  3)Ecuador; 4)Finland; 5)rain; 6)Radar O’Reilly; 7)Athelstan, Ecbert, Edmund, Edrid, Edwig, Edward, Edgar, Edward, Alfred and yes, there were 2 Edwards; 8)the Narrow Sea; 9)they are all Anglo-Saxon terms for “army”.

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