Category 1: The 16th century
1) On January 23, 1556, the deadliest earthquake in recorded history killed more than 800,000 people. In which modern-day country would one find the quake's epicenter?
2) Sir Thomas More, one of the greatest literary figures of the 16th century, coined a term that's still used regularly to this day. The term involves a little bit of wordplay: it simultaneously suggests Greek terms for 'no place' and for 'good place'. What is the term?
3) One of the most supremely cynical works of political philosophy was published during the 16th century. This work, entitled The Prince, is in many ways an instruction manual for dirty politics, and even today many politicos turn to it for inspiration. Who was the author of The Prince?
A: >Niccolo Machiavelli
4) The 16th century saw the initiation of contact between Japan and modern Europe, beginning with the arrival in 1543 of trade ships blown off course en route to China. From which European nation did these traders hail?
5) One of the most colorful characters of the 16th century was Henry VIII, famous as much for his six marriages as for any of his governmental accomplishments. After his first divorce, Henry famously married Anne Boleyn. Who was it that he divorced in order to marry Anne?
A: >Catherine of Aragon
<Category 2: Arr! Pirates!
1) The novel Treasure Island is the source of many popular ideas about pirates and piracy; among other things, the novel introduced the idea of a treasure map with X marking the spot, as well as the saying "Yo ho ho and a bottle of rum". Who was the author of this seminal adventure novel?
A: >Robert Louis Stevenson
2) One of England's most celebrated mariners actually began his career as a pirate, raiding Spanish holdings throughout the Caribbean and even at one point capturing Spain's Silver Train. He went on to become the first Englishman to circumnavigate the globe, claiming huge parts of western North America along the way; later, he was instrumental in Britain's annihilation of the Spanish Armada. What was this former pirate's name?
A: >Sir Francis Drake
3) In November 2005, the American luxury cruiseliner The Seabourn Spirit was attacked by a band of pirate speedboats off the coast of a particular African nation. Which nation was this?
4) The latest Pirates of the Caribbean film - Dead Man's Chest - recently set the all-time record for opening weekend ticket sales, taking in over $135 million dollars in its first three days. Which 2002 film was the previous record holder, with sales of nearly $115 million in its first three days?
5) A number of professional sports teams around the world include pirate-related themes in their names or logos. In the Big Four American professional sports leagues, three teams have images of pirates in their official logos. One of these teams is baseball's Pittsburgh Pirates. What are the other two?
A: >Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Oakland Raiders
<Category 3: Prime ministers
1) Which country's prime minister stepped down this past April after more than one third of his country's voters opted for 'none of the above' on their ballots?
2) In many countries, the prime minister's official title is, sensibly enough, a term derived from the country's official language. In which country is the prime minister known as the 'Taoiseach'?
3) Which nation's president has found himself in hot water in recent weeks after he appointed his identical twin brother to the post of prime minister?
4) The office of prime minister of India has been utterly dominated by a single family since India achieved independence. The first prime minister of India served for more than 16 years; later, one of his children served as prime minister, followed by one of his grandchildren. All told, the first prime minister and his descendents have held the office of prime minister for more than half of India's history. What was the name of the first prime minister of India?
A: >Jawaharlal Nehru
5) One of the United Kingdom's best-known prime ministers, and its only one of Jewish descent, was a well-known literary figure long before his ascent to the top ranks of politics; his works included the romance novels Sybil and Vivian Grey. What was his name?
A: >Benajamin Disraeli
<Category 4: Disemvowelled words
Five words have been stripped of their vowels (a, e, i, o, u, y). Using the consonants (which are given in order) and the given lengths, reconstruct the original words by adding back the missing vowels.
1) cff (6 letters)
2) sll (7 letters)
3) vrn (8 letters)
4) prtn (9 letters) (Note: a mea culpa is in order here. When I asked this question, I said that the answer had 8 letters. There is no eight-letter word that fits the bill. Profound apologies to all of the teams who racked their brains during the break trying to come up with a non-existent word.)
5) ngh (6 letters)
<Category 5: Mystery category
1) Which single, which reached the top 20 in the United States and the top 10 in Britain, is considered to be Madonna's first true hit song?
2) Which flower is the national flower of the United States?
3) What was the skateboarding nickname of Mark Rogowski, the former professional skater who, following a conversion to evangelical Christianity, brutally murdered a long-time fan and acquaintance, a crime for which he's currently serving a 31-year prison sentence?
4) In the 1985 film Pee-Wee's Big Adventure, Pee-Wee is told by a psychic that his beloved bicycle is hidden in the basement of a particular historical building; Pee-Wee, on arriving at this building following a lengthy journey, discovers to his shock and dismay that the building does not in fact have a basement. What was this historical building?
A: >The Alamo
5) Which color was worn by those Ukrainians protesting the widespread fraud and corruption marking Ukraine's 2004 presidential election?
Bonus) What's the common thread linking all of the answers in this category?
A: >They're all names of major NCAA bowl games.
<Category 6: Traitors
1) One of the most infamous traitors of World War II was a Norwegian fascist politician, nicknamed "the Hitler of Norway", who announced during a news program that he was staging a coup d'etat against the Norwegian government. This man's name has subsequently been adopted into the English language as a synonym for 'traitor'. What was his name?
2) Which convicted traitor is sometimes described by cynical British people as "the only man to enter Parliament with honorable intentions"?
A: >Guy Fawkes
3) The soldiers of the High Priest Caiphus, who were sent to arrest Jesus following Judas's betrayal, required Judas's help in determining which man it was they were to arrest. Which gesture did Judas use in order to identify Jesus to the soldiers?
A: >A kiss
4) One of the most infamous incidents of anti-semitism in modern French history involved the wrongful conviction for treason of a Jewish artillery officer serving in the French army. This officer was eventually exonerated; many credit this outcome largely to writer Emile Zola, who famously published an open letter entitled "J'accuse!" which brought the issue worldwide attention. What was the name of the Jewish officer who was the target of this injustice?
A: >Albert Dreyfus
5) According to Dante, in his epic poem The Divine Comedy, one of the nine levels of Hell is reserved for traitors. Which level is this?
A: >The 9th, or bottommost, level.
<Category 7: TV shows within TV shows
1) Joey, everyone's favorite character from Friends, was an actor who seemed to be perpetually unlucky in landing choice roles. At one point, however, Joey managed to land a role on Days of Our Lives. What was the name of Joey's character on that show?
A: >Dr. Drake Ramoray
2) An Invitation to Love was an overwrought soap opera popular among some characters on a 1990s mystery-drama show. Which show was this?
A: >Twin Peaks
3) Which TV character appeared on TV shows as diverse as "Alien Nose Jobs", "Let's Save Tony Orlando's House", and "Out with Gout '88"?
A: >Troy McClure
4) Which television show featured the character of Rob Petrie, a comedy writer for the fictional New York TV series The Alan Brady Show?
A: >The Dick van Dyke Show
5) Which popular and long-running comedy show saw one of its main characters host Vermont Today, a local TV talk show featuring interviews with a number of eccentric guests?
<Category 8: Bond themes
For each James Bond theme song, name the artist who performed it.
1) Song 1
A: >Live and Let Die, performed by Paul McCartney and Wings (either individually is also acceptable)
2) Song 2
A: >Tomorrow Never Dies, performed by Sheryl Crow
3) Song 3
A: >Thunderball, performed by Tom Jones
4) Song 4
A: >Nobody Does It Better, performed by Carly Simon
5) Song 5
A: >Goldfinger, performed by Shirley Bassey
6) Song 6
A: >A View to a Kill, performed by Duran Duran
<This week's winning team was The Great Triviadini, a team of four with a score of 34 out of a possible 41 points. Second place went to Mike and the Tri-State Mechanics, a team of five with a score of 32. The prize for highest average score went, after a thrilling sudden-death runoff, to Ippiki Ookami, a one-man team with an impressive score of 17. Congratulations to the various winners, and thanks to everyone for playing. And apologies again for this week's frustrating slip-up; with regular host Colin's return, we'll be back to first-rate trivia. See you next week!