St. Patrick’s Day Trivia — II

pub-483944_1280It takes more than a green t-shirt and a belly full of beer to make you Irish on St. Patrick’s Day.  Well, no.  Actually, it doesn’t.  However, if you want to appear to be more than just a Liam-come-lately to the party, you need to know a little bit about the Emerald Isle.  Here are a few quick and dirties to help you out:

“I’ll Take You Home Again, Kathleen,” that great Irish ballad, was written in Indiana by Thomas Westendorf, a German-American (whose wife’s name, BTW, was Jennie.)

The O’Connell Bridge across the River Liffey is the only bridge in Europe that’s wider than it is long.

The windmills in Ireland turn clockwise, which is exactly the opposite of the way they turn everyplace else on the planet.

What’s the difference between Bono and God?  God doesn’t walk around acting as if he’s Bono.

There are two official languages in Ireland: English and Irish.  Most stuff is bilingual and everybody speaks English, but if you act like a jackass, especially in the West Country, you might find yourself facing a solid wall of no comprendo Gaelic.  Just sayin’.

The Guinness Book of World Records holds the Guinness World Record for books most often stolen from public libraries.

In Dublin, between 6 pm Friday and 3 am Monday, approximately 10,000 pints of beer are consumed — every hour.

The remains of St Valentine (who isn’t a saint, anymore)are in Ireland.  You can visit the shrine at Whitefriar Street Church in Dublin.

And speaking of saints, Saint Patrick isn’t one.  There is no evidence that St. Patrick was ever canonized.

And, hold on to your shillelagh: Saint Patrick wasn’t even Irish!  In fact, chances are good, he was — OMG — English.

A word to the wise though: don’t go spouting those last two nuggets of knowledge promiscuously around the pub.  It just might put the ire in your Irish friends — permanently.  As my great uncle used to say, “You never want to give a Celt an opportunity to hate you.”  Sound advice.

Happy St. Patrick’s Day.

Independence Day Trivia

Several years ago there was a CBC television program called Talking to Americans.  The premise was to ask Americans leading questions about Canada so that they would demonstrate their ignorance of our country and look like jackasses.  The show was very popular.  Oddly enough there has never been an American TV program called Talking to Canadians.  This is probably because Canadians know and care a lot more about our southern cousins than they do us.  For example, most Canadians know that today is Independence Day in the US — the 4th of July.  It’s the perfect day to enhance our trivia knowledge of America.  Here are some odds and sods of information that will make you totally superior to other Canadians (or Americans, for that matter) who do not possess this specialized knowledge.  Enjoy!

Nearly 25% of all Americans have been on TV.

In Washington, DC, there are over 75 lobbyists for every United States senator.

At any given time, approximately 60,000 Americans are flying.

From space, the brightest thing on Earth is Las Vegas.  That’s why the aliens always show up there.

There are more cows in Montana than people.

There are more cars than people in Los Angeles.

If California was a separate country, it would have the 7th largest economy in the world.

The deepest gorge in the United States is not the Grand Canyon.  It’s Hells Canyon on the Snake River in Idaho and Oregon.

The Sears Tower in Chicago is so big it has its own ZIP Code: 60606.

Only 12 people have ever stood on the moon – all Americans.

The last time anybody checked, which was 2006, the United States gave – gave! – other countries $22.828 billion dollars in foreign aid.  That’s in a single year, directly from the US government, and not the Red Cross, Unicef, Save the Children or any other charity — including Bill Gates.

The United States is weirdly shaped.
Buffalo, New York, which is on Lake Erie directly south of Toronto, Canada, is further east than Jacksonville, Miami and Fort Lauderdale, Florida, which are all on the Atlantic Ocean.
El Paso, Texas, is closer to San Diego, California than it is to Houston, Texas.
Reno, Nevada is further west than Los Angeles, California.
Louisville, Kentucky is closer to Windsor, Ontario than it is to Memphis, Tennessee.
And Windsor, Ontario is actually south of Detroit, Michigan.

There are more hazelnuts grown in the Willamette Valley, Oregon than everywhere else in the world — combined.  In fact, Oregon produces 98% of the world’s commercial hazelnut crop.

The most popular tourist destination in the world is San Francisco.  Paris, France is #2.

Pocahontas was the first woman to appear on US currency, in 1863.  Martha Washington was second.  Minnie Mouse (featured on the Disney five dollar bill) was third — but that doesn’t count.

As of today, the most widely recognized symbol in the world is the Coke — followed by Facebook, Pepsi and Google.

Finally, here are a couple of facts that could win you untold numbers of drinks in a bar.  Just remember to phrase them properly.

1 – How many states are there in the United States of America?  Most people (who aren’t dolts) and every reference book will say 50.  This is not true.  There are only 46 states in the U.S.A.   However, there are also four Commonwealths: Virginia, Kentucky, Pennsylvania and Massachusetts — which round the number up to an even 50.

2 – How many presidents were born in Kentucky?  Even the mighty Google tells us only one, Abraham Lincoln.  Nope, wrong again.  There were two: Abraham Lincoln and Jefferson Davis his Confederate counterpart during the Civil War.

To all my American friends: Happy 4th of July!

History, Bitter & Twisted October 23

Arrivals:

1959 – Sam Raimi a television producer and film director.  On TV he produced Hercules: The Legendary Journeys and the much more successful Xena: Warrior Princess.  He has done a number of pretty good movies including A Simple Plan and The Quick and the Dead.  His biggest hits so far, though, are Spiderman, Spiderman II and Spiderman III.  He can also claim to have directed one of the best kisses in the history of Hollywood.

1959 – Weird Al Yankovic, an icon of the 80s.  Weird Al reinvented himself in the 21st Century and has had substantial hits with “Don’t Download this Song” and “White and Nerdy.”  He is perhaps the only parody songwriter ever to last more than an album or two.  He began his career with “My Bologna” (a parody of “My Sharona,” by The Knack) and “Another One Rides the Bus” (a parody of Queen’s “Another One Bites the Dust.”)  Most musicians take Al’s parodies as good fun but a few, like Prince, get cranky about them.  Al has sold millions of albums and CDs and anybody who was older than 12 in 1980 can quote at least one of his songs.

1958 – On October 23rd, Johan and Peewit were having an adventure, drawn by the Belgian artist Peyo in the comic book Spirou.  They were on a quest to recover The Flute with Six Holes.  On the way, they discovered a bunch of little blue guys called Schtroumpfs.  Almost immediately, the Schtroumpfs popularity replaced Johan and Peewit as the main attraction.  Within a year, the Schtroumpfs were getting their own stories in Spirou.  Soon they were appearing all over Europe.  In 1981, the Schtroumpfs jumped the Atlantic and showed up as a Saturday morning cartoon, called The Smurfs.  There seem to be millions of the little buggers.  They’re everywhere – on baby clothes, on key chains, in garage sales.   There doesn’t seem to be an end to them.  But the real question is since there is only one female of the species – Smurfette – where do Smurfs come from?

2001 – Apple launched the iPod and the entire world went “Wow!”  Suddenly, everything that came before it was obsolete.  No invention in history has ever been so complete or immediate.  It brought Apple back into the Big Leagues of the digital revolution and led to piles of imitators.  Its success also put the development of the iPad on the fast track.  This is a wonderful device which is, unfortunately, way too awkward to actually use.

Departures:

1939 – Zane Grey was the original western writer.  He was one of the first authors to make a million selling books, and his Riders of the Purple Sage is still the all-time, best-selling western novel.  Despite what everybody says, Grey did not invent the Old West.  It was always there; Grey just romanticized it.  Actually, he was simply carrying on the tradition started by the “Dime Novels” and authors such as Ned Buntline.  Grey’s stories have been adapted for radio, television, movies and comic books.  There is a nasty rumour that his novel The Lone Star Ranger was the inspiration for The Lone Ranger.  This is a lie.

1957 – Christian Dior, a fashion designer who got his start in World War II Paris, designing clothes for wealthy Germans and their collaborator mistresses.  In 1947, he presented his own line of fashion which was immediately dubbed the “New Look”, the first of over a million “new looks” in the fashion industry.  In 1947, however, Dior’s look actually was new and it propelled him and his House into the mainstream of Parisian fashion.  Today, along with Yves St. Laurent and a few others, Dior, as it is now called, sits at the top end of the fashion world and most designs are arbitrated from there.  Dior also makes perfumes which smell more or less the same as every other overpriced fragrance.