Sunday, August 30, 2020

"The Wax Pack: On The Open Road In Search of Baseball's Afterlife"

With this continuing pandemic going on all around the world, I had to find ways to pass the time while in my house. I watched plenty of TV and movies, and read and re-read lots of books. But I received a book to review that I really enjoyed reading, and naturally it was on baseball: "The Wax Pack: On the Open Road In Search of Baseball's Afterlife" (University of Nebraska Publishing) by Brad Balukjian. The book is based on a concept I can relate to, as Balukjian took a pack of baseball cards from 1986 from Topps, and decided to check out the post-baseball lives of the 15 men he unwrapped. I grew up collecting baseball cards, and I thought it sounded like such a great idea. 

But a lot of people in the publishing world weren't so taken with it, as Balukjian was rejected 38 times before he finally found a publisher. Balukjian actually opened the pack of cards thirty years after it first came out, chewed on the gum enclosed inside (which wasn't a pleasant experience) and decided to see what became of the players who were in his pack. The players range from a Hall of Famer (Carlton Fisk), highly decorated pitchers (Dwight Gooden and Rick Sutcliffe), infielders who made their mark (Garry Templeton, Randy Ready, Rance Mulliniks), and guys who never really made it in the game (Jaime Coconower). 

Balkujian starts in California where he lives (he's a writer and a biology teacher at Merritt College in Oakland) and criss-crosses the country to find all the players. (One he could not visit was Al Cowens, who died in 2002.)  He did this in 2015 and drove over 11,000 miles to speak with all his subjects. He would cross 30 states in 48 days. Previously he did nearly a year of research in contacting the 14 former big leaguers, following up with emails and phone calls. He met with all but two (Vince Coleman and Carlton Fisk with the only ones who declined to participate). 

In his interviews with the players, he made it clear that he was more interested in them as people than as ex-ballplayers. Many of them opened up to him about their personal lives, like the divorces they went through and the relationships that broke apart in their lives. Balukjian also retraces his own past, reconnecting with an old girl friend, and is very upfront about his lifelong battle with obsessive-compulsive disorder.

Brad Balukjian has written a very different type of baseball book, one that I found fascinating, especially about how most of these former heroes view their lives after baseball. It was a very enjoyable read, following him on the road, and one very much worth your time to read, whether we are in a pandemic or not.

Friday, August 28, 2020

Trivia Q&A: August 27

We had another great night of Facebook Trivia Night last night, with another terrific finish among four teams separated by just three points going into IQ Trivia. (Three of which were my individual sisters!) But it was the team of Molly Vallon and Brad Cook (two of my old Professor Thom's Trivia regulars) who pulled out the win with 45 points. Congratulations to them on their hard-fought win! See you all again next Thursday night!
Purple Trivia
1. The Purple Heart medal features the image of what US president?
2. What Pulitzer Prize winning author wrote the novel "The Color Purple?"
3. The Purple Dragons were a street gang in what animated series?
4. Who wrote and directed the 1985 film "The Purple Rose of Cairo?"
5. In the board game "Clue", what character is represented by the purple token?
6. Prince released the critically acclaimed album "Purple Rain" in what year?
7. Name 1 of the 2 NFL teams that uses purple as its primary uniform color.

Republican Party Trivia
1. Who was the first Republican elected president of the US?
2. What Republican president was born Leslie Lynch King Jr.?
3. What 20th century Republican president served two terms and made an ill fated run for a third term as a third party candidate?
4. Chuck Grassley, of what midwestern state, is the longest serving Republican senator?
5. What onetime US senator was the last Republican who was both an unsuccessful presidential and vice presidential candidate?
6. Who was the last Republican who represented NY state in the US Senate?
7. Who was NY state's last Republican governor?

The Q Train: Solo Beatles Albums Trivia
1. Band On the Run
2. Mind Games
3. Living In the Material World
4. Venus and Mars
5. Walls and Bridges
6. Sentimental Journey
7. All Things Must Pass
8. Double Fantasy
9. Goodnight Vienna
10. Kisses On The Bottom

General Knowledge
1. How many hours time difference is there between London and New York? ( 1 pt)
2. What is the second largest state in the US in land area? ( 1 pt)
3. How many symphonies did Beethoven compose? ( 1 pt)
4. Which of the three Chipmunks wore glasses? ( 2 pt)
5. What is the most common color of M&Ms? ( 2 pt)
6. On which finger do human fingernails grow the fastest? ( 2 pt)
7. What planet is nicknamed "the planet of dreams" due to its color? ( 3 pt)

IQ Trivia
1. "Where Is Everybody" is the first episode of what classic science fiction series? ( 3 points)
2. What is the name of the anniversary that is celebrated after 70 years of marriage? ( 5 points)
3. The Bank of America is headquartered in what southern US city? ( 4 points)
4. Helen Keller was a co-founding member of what organization in 1920? ( 4 points)
5. What American author has penned 58 novels in his career, with 7 written under the pen name "Richard Bachmann?" ( 4 points)

Purple Trivia
1. George Washington; 2. Alice Walker; 3. Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles; 4. Woody Allen; 5. Professor Plum; 6. 1984; 7. Minnesota Vikings and Baltimore Ravens.

Republican Party Trivia
1. Abraham Lincoln; 2. Gerald Ford; 3. Theodore Roosevelt; 4. Iowa; 5. Bob Dole; 6. Al D'Amato; 7. George Pataki.

The Q Train: Solo Beatles Albums Trivia
1. Paul; 2. John; 3. George; 4. Paul; 5. John; 6. Ringo; 7. George; 8. John; 9. Ringo; 10. Paul.

General Knowledge
1. Five; 2. Texas; 3. Nine; 4. Simon; 5. Brown; 6. Middle; 7. Neptune.

IQ Trivia
1. The Twilight Zone; 2. Platinum; 3. Chalotte, NC; 4. ACLU; 5. Stephen King.

Friday, August 21, 2020

Trivia Q&A: August 20

We had another great night of Trivia on Thursday, our twentieth edition of Facebook Live Trivia Night. It was a close race to the finish, but the team of Team FinniQuinn pulled off the victory, rolling up 48 points. My sister Maureen Russell was second with 46 points. It was the second win for Team FinniQuinn, and my congratulations to Lauren and Michael on yet another victory. Looking forward to seeing many of you next Thursday night!
August Trivia 
1. On August 1, 1914, what nation declared war on Russia, beginning WWI? 
2. On August 28, 1963, Martin Luther King made his famous “I Have a Dream” speech at what famous Washington DC landmark?
3. In August 1992, actress Tracey Gold was written out of what 1990s sitcom as she hospitalized for anorexia?
4. MLB players went on strike in August of what year, which led to the cancellation of the World Series?
5. Name 1 of the 3 birthstones associated with the month of August.
6. Michael Jackson was born on August 29, 1958 in what US state?
7. Name 2 of the 4 US presidents born after the Civil War and in the month of August.

Democratic Party Trivia
1. Who was the first Democratic president of the 20th century?
2. Patrick Leahy, of what US state, is currently the longest-serving Democratic senator?
3. Which Democrat succeeded George Pataki as governor of New York state?
4. What former US senator is the only Democrat to lose both a presidential and a vice-presidential election?
5. Who was the first Democratic president to be impeached?
6. John Glenn, the former astronaut and Democratic senator, represented what midwest state?
7. What eastern US state was the only one that George McGovern won in his 1972 presidential defeat to Richard Nixon?

The Q Train: US Airports Trivia (Name the City)
1. PHL
2. IAH
3. TPA
4. MSP
5. HNL
6. ORD
7. NEW
8. BWI
9. LAS
10. SAN

General Knowledge
1. The headquarters for Target is located in what US state? ( 1 pt)
2. What military base includes the hangar that is the home of Air Force One? ( 1 pt)
3. What is the second largest city in Japan in population after Tokyo? ( 1 pt)
4. What NBA team did Larry Bird go on to coach after leaving the Boston Celtics? ( 2 pt)
5. The Azore Islands belong to what European country? ( 2 pt)
6. What author wrote the novel "50 Shades of Grey?" ( 2 pt)
7. "The Jesus Tablet" is a nickname for what item? ( 3 pt)

IQ Trivia
1. What 20th century US president endured two assassination attempts in less than a month? ( 4 points)
2. What character spent a full decade on TV trying to secure a "section 8"? ( 3 points)
3. What North African country has been the largest country in Africa by area since 2011? ( 5 points)
4. Willis Carrier was an engineer who is credited for inventing what modern appliance? ( 4 points)
5. An antiemetic is a drug that is effective against what common problem? ( 4 points)

August Trivia
1. Germany; 2. Lincoln Memorial; 3. Growing Pains; 4. 1994; 5. Peridot, Sardonyx and Spinel; 6. Indiana; 7. Hoover, LBJ, Clinton and Obama.
Democratic Party Trivia
1. Woodrow Wilson; 2. Vermont; 3. Eliot Spitzer; 4. Walter Mondale; 5. Andrew Johnson; 6. Ohio; 7. Massachusetts.
The Q Train: US Airports Trivia
1. Philadelphia; 2. Houston; 3. Tampa; 4. Minneapolis-St. Paul; 5. Honolulu; 6. Chicago (O'Hare); 7. New Orleans (Lakefront); 8. Baltimore-Washington; 9. Las Vegas; 10. San Diego.
General Knowledge
1. Minnesota; 2. Andrews AFB; 3. Yokohama; 4. Indiana Pacers; 5. Portugal; 6. E.L. James; 7.iPad.
IQ Trivia
1. Gerald Ford; 2. Max Klinger; 3. Algeria; 4. Air conditioner; 5.Vomiting/nausea.

Friday, August 14, 2020

Trivia Q&A: August 13

We had another great turnout of folks for Trivia on Thursday night, our nineteenth edition online, and nearly had history made in our short time of doing Facebook Live Trivia Night. Steve Thomas and Mary Reynolds, two of my old Professor Thom's Trivia regulars, had an amazing game going, as they were perfect in the first four rounds. (I mentioned that the "p" word was going, as I didn't want to jinx anything!) But unfortunately, they got 4 of 5 correct in IQ Trivia, so the perfecto was gone. But they wound up the champions for the second time, getting 52 points and the win. Congrats to them both. Larry Fleisher finished second with 49 points. See you all next Thursday night!
Woodstock Artists Trivia
1. What rock artist won 8 Grammys awards including Album of the Year, tying Michael Jackson’s record in 2000?
2. What West Coast based band, which never won a Grammy, didn’t reach the Top 10 on the album chart until 1987 with “In The Dark?”
3. John Belushi did a hilarious parody in 1975 on “SNL” of what English singer who appeared at Woodstock?
4. “Quadrophenia” and “Endless Wire” were hit albums for what English rock band?
5. What legendary guitarist played The Star Spangled Banner at his Woodstock appearance?
6. John Sebastian, lead singer of the Lovin Spooonful, had a Top 10 single in 1975 to the theme from what sitcom?
7. What legendary female singer, who died in 1970, played at the festival with her band Kozmic Blues Band?

2010s Movie Trivia
1. Released in 2015, “Star Wars: The Force Awakens” was given what episodic number?
2. The Coen Brothers remade what classic 1969 western film in 2010? 
3. What action film icon starred in the 2012 film “Looper”, a sci-fi film set in 2074?
4. Eddie Redmayne won an Oscar in 2014 for Best Actor for what film?
5. The 2010 film “The King’s Speech” told the story of what English king?
6. Who was the only actor nominated 3 times in the 2 major acting Oscar categories in the 2010s, winning Best Supporting Actor In 2010?
7. Name 1 of the 2 actresses to be nominated at least 4 times in the 2 major acting Oscar categories in the 2010s?

The Q Train: Classic Movies Cities Trivia
1. Anchorman: The Legend of Ron Burgundy
2. Dirty Harry
3. The Blues Brothers 
4. Moonstruck 
5. Driving Miss Daisy
6. Trading Places 
7. The Town
8. A Streetcar Named Desire
9. Scarface
10. Gran Torino

General Knowledge 
1. What is the heaviest planet in the solar system? ( 1 pt)
2. To what country does the island of Tasmania belong? ( 1 pt)
3. Pope Francis ended the longstanding papal tradition of popes wearing shoes of what color? ( 1 pt)
4. What US president's real name was Hiram? ( 2 pt)
5. Between Sherlock Holmes, Superman and Spiderman, which character has been played by the most actors? ( 2 pt)
6. From 1996-98, Craig Kilborn was the first host of what current TV show? ( 2 pt)
7. Themyscira was the mythical island home of what superhero? ( 3 pt)

IQ Trivia
1. Who was the top selling British solo singer in the US, having sold over 78 million units in this country? ( 4 points)
2. What US city has more billionaires per capita than any other city in the world? ( 4 points)
3. What Oscar-winning actor is the oldest man to win People magazine's "Sexiest Man Alive?" ( 5 points)
4. "Goldeneye" was the first film made by what James Bond actor? ( 3 points)
5. Dixville Notch is a small community in what eastern US state that announces its presidential vote first in the nation just after midnight every four years? ( 4 points)

Woodstock Artists Trivia
1. Carlos Santana; 2. Grateful Dead; 3. Joe Cocker; 4. The Who; 5. Jimi Hendrix; 6. Welcome Back, Kotter; 7. Janis Joplin. 

2010s Movie Trivia
1. Seven; 2. True Grit; 3. Bruce Willis; 4. The Theory of Everything; 5. George VI; 6. Christian Bale; 7. Meryl Streep and Jennifer Lawrence.

The Q Train: Classic Movies Trivia
1. San Diego; 2. San Francisco; 3. Chicago; 4. New York; 5. Atlanta; 6. Philadelphia; 7. Boston; 8. New Orleans; 9. Miami; 10. Detroit.

General Knowledge
1. Jupiter 2. Australia; 3. Red; 4. US Grant; 5. Sherlock Holmes; 6. The Daily Show; 7. Wonder Woman.

IQ Trivia
1. Elton John; 2. San Francisco; 3. Sean Connery; 4. Pierce Brosnan; 5. New Hampshire.

Friday, August 07, 2020

Trivia Q&A: August 6

We had another fine night of Trivia on Thursday night, our eighteenth so far, and my parents each made an appearance, having just returned from Florida earlier this week. It was another close race to the finish, but Francine Hamilton won her third Facebook Live Trivia Night, with 49 points, just edging out Larry Fleisher, who had 48 points, and Gillian DiPietro's team of "I Wish This Microphone Was a Red October", who had 47 points. Congratulations to Francine, and I'll see you all again next Thursday night!

Red Trivia
1. What author wrote the best-selling novel "The Hunt For Red October?"
2. What actor/director won an Oscar for Best Director for the 1981 film "Reds?"
3. Which MLB team has won the most World Series in their history: the Red Sox or Reds?
4. Ellis Boyd "Red" Redding was a main character in what 1994 Oscar nominated film?
5. What two red card suits in a standard deck of cards are colored red?
6. What pop singer's 2012 album "Red" featured the hit song "We Are Never Ever Getting Back Together?"
7. What Asian country's flag has a red circle centered on a green background?

Blue Trivia
1. What 19th century classical composer wrote "The Blue Danube?"
2. "True Blue" was a 1986 album by what pop singer?
3. What was the name of Paul Bunyan's Blue Ox?
4. John Popper was a member of what rock band?
5. "Blue Devils" is the nickname for what teams from what major university?
6. "Big Blue" is a nickname for what major American company?
7. Dennis Franz and Jimmy Smits starred in what 1980s TV crime drama?

The Q Train: Beer Brands Trivia (Name the Country)
1. St. Pauli Girl
2. Labatt's
3. Heineken
4. Yuengling
5. Carlsberg
6. Asahi
7. Guinness
8. Kronenbourg
9. Hoegaarden
10. Foster's

General Knowledge
1. In "E.T.", what candy does Elliott leave a trail of for his alien friend? ( 1 pt)
2. What is the stretch of water between Russia and Alaska called? ( 1 pt)
3. Bruce Jenner won what athletic event at the 1976 Summer Olympics? ( 1 pt)
4. The oldest existing McDonald's restaurant is located in what US state? ( 2 pt)
5. What continent has most landlocked countries? ( 2 pt)
6. Between animal attacks, drowning and falling from heights, which is the number 1 cause of deaths at national parks? ( 2 pt)
7. What European country produces about 75% of the world's olive oil each year? ( 3 pt)

IQ Trivia
1. Who was the first actor to be nominated for an Oscar in which he portrayed 3 different characters in one film? ( 4 points)
2. What is the only country in Central America with English as its official language? ( 4 points)
3. What South American country had 5 different presidents over a span of 10 days in 2001? ( 5 points)
4. What 19th century US president officially dedicated the Statue of Liberty? ( 4 points)
5. What is the biggest holiday in the US every year in terms of greeting card sales? ( 3 points)

Red Trivia
1. Tom Clancy; 2. Warren Beatty; 3. Red Sox (9-5); 4. The Shawshank Redemption; 5. Diamonds and Hearts; 6. Taylor Swift; 7. Bangladesh.

Blue Trivia
1. Johann Strauss; 2. Madonna; 3. Babe; 4. Blues Traveler; 5. Duke; 6. IBM; 7. NYPD Blue.

The Q Train: Beer Brands Trivia
1. Germany; 2. Canada; 3. Netherlands; 4. USA; 5. Denmark; 6. Japan; 7. Ireland; 8. France; 9. Belgium; 10. Australia.

General Knowledge
1. Reese's Pieces; 2. Bering Strait; 3. Decathlon; 4. California; 5. Africa; 6. Drowning; 7. Spain.

IQ Trivia
1. Peter Sellers (Dr. Strangelove); 2. Belize; 3. Argentina; 4. Grover Cleveland; 5. Christmas.