Monday, February 25, 2013

Mystery Science Theater, Oscars, and Knowledge Bowl

So, where has Mystery Science Theater 3000 been my whole life?! I didn't realize how funny it would be. I was watching it last night (instead of that monstrosity they call the Oscars) and could not stop laughing out loud. Those three are what I try to be during the previews of every movie and, if it were socially acceptable, what I would probably do during the feature film as well (I have to resort to whispering too loudly in the person's ear next to me, much to their lasting chagrine I'm sure). Here's about a minute of an episode in case you have never indulged:

I think there should be a ten year moratorium on any actor winning an Oscar for a portrayal of an actual historical figure. We don't need to hear about how you immersed yourself in the person's life and made everyone call you by that person's name for six months so you wouldn't break character. I imagine conversations like this:
Stephen Spielsberg: Hey Daniel, will you gr...
Daniel Day Lewis (in Lincoln's voice): There is no Daniel here! Who is this man you spea...
Stephen (rolling eyes): Okay, ABE, will you gr...
Daniel (fierce indignation): How dare you address the President in such a casual manner! I am the president of the United States of America, clothed in immense power!
Stephen (eyes permanently stuck in back of head): I apologize. Mr. President, would you grab Sally for this next...
Daniel: Sally? I know no Sally. Mary Todd is currently in "a mood" as we call it, and is indisposed at the moment (Sally comes in in character crying like Mary Todd and raving like Sybil).
Stephen: Okay, that's it. We're done for the day. Mr. and Mrs. President, you two can go back to your hotel suites, order dinner, and check with the generals on how the war is going. Oh, by the way, spoiler alert, the North wins (Daniel pumps his fist in delight), but I wouldn't get too excited; there's a plot twist  at the end that does not work out in your favor.

I have a hard time trusting academics/writers who don't use the Oxford comma. What's next? Two spaces between sentences?

I just realized they showed both the Oscars and the Daytona 500 on the same day. First, that's a lot of snore material for one Sunday. Second, here's the Venn diagram on that viewing demographic. A is those who watched the Oscars and B is those who watched Daytona 500.

I'm always amazed at what I end up thinking about as I lay in bed struggling to go to sleep. For instance, last night it was a controversial Knowledge Bowl question/answer. Let me explain. Knowledge Bowl, for the uninitiated, was basically a quiz game (like Jeopardy) where schools would compete against one another in teams of five. Each rounded consisted of two other teams gathered around their own long, green sensor strip that you buzzed in on. All of these were connected to an old Apple IIe where a judge sat reading the questions and determining who buzzed in first. As you can imagine, this gathering was not exactly a who's who of high school cool kids. I remember one bus trip, perhaps after our tenth grade history lecture on the Donner party, a group of students in the back of the bus making a list of who they would eat first if we were to be stranded along the highway. Our group often went to Hibbing where we would gather with all of the other students in the auditorium, which is also the famed auditorium where a young Bob Dylan (then Zimmerman) played his guitar for the first time in public and had a principal/teacher come on stage and rip the cord out of the amplifier. So, you have that iconic moment and then this group of brainy misfits wearing Einstein ties and talking buzzer strategy. Here's a picture of a team, albeit with a yellow strip instead of green (must be a regional variation):

Anyway, this particular incident occurred in a normal meet (yup, they were called meets. Mind you, they were also held during the day, so you got to miss a day of class every other week or so, which was a big draw for me.) and the question began: "This Civil War hymn written by Julia Ward Brown to the tune of "John Brown's Body" was...". At this point I buzzed in (another subtle nuance of knowledge bowl is that you could buzz in at any point during the question, but if you got it wrong, the other teams could listen to the remainder of the question. Oh, the courage needed!) and confidently said, "Battle Hymn of the Republic." The woman checked her sheet and murmured, "I'm sorry, that's incorrect." The next team buzzed in and pronounced haughtily, "The Battle Hymn of the Republic." Yup, I got it wrong because I didn't put a definite article before the title (which it does not need, mind you. And do we really think I'm thinking of a different song. "Oh, yeah, "The Battle Hymn of the Republic" is the one that goes, "Mine eyes have seen the glory..."; "Battle Hymn of the Republic" is the one that goes, "Load your muskets, Lee is comin' with that godless rebel horde..."). So, that's what I was replaying in my mind last night as I tried to go to sleep. That's when one reaches for the Benadryl.

So, today's research has me in 4th century Jerusalem celebrating the Epiphany octave (Jerusalem Christmas). So, I better get back to that. Later.

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