TRUE--the man's magazine

Fred Shapiro fred.shapiro at YALE.EDU
Sat Jun 3 19:51:04 UTC 2000

On Fri, 2 Jun 2000 Bapopik at AOL.COM wrote:

>     I got every question--without the choices.  One contestant couldn't
> identify "round up the usual suspects" with the film classic CASABLANCA.  She
> thought for what seemed like twenty minutes. Goofy music played in the
> background.  You had to know stupid things for the show, like tv sitcom
> history and the birth dates of Julia Roberts and Christina Ricci.

The "hot-seat" questions were pretty easy on that show.  Unfortunately,
the "fastest-finger" questions were harder, at least for me.  "Hot seat"
and "fastest-finger" require two different kinds of skills, but to win
anything on the show you have to be good at both.

I was surprised that the contestant didn't know "round up the usual
suspects," which is a major movie quote.  I was also surprised that
another contestant didn't know "mush" as a command to Arctic dogs and
"Vanity Fair" as the title of a Thackeray novel.  In general, the show
reveals the state of Americans' knowledge of history, geography, and
literature to be abysmal.  But, it needs to be pointed out, I could tell
even from coming into proximity with the hot seat that the pressure there
is enormous, and, if a contestant doesn't know that a compass points
north, as happened recently, it probably means that they do know but their
brain went bye-bye in the heat of the moment.

Fred R. Shapiro                             Coeditor (with Jane Garry)
Associate Librarian for Public Services     TRIAL AND ERROR: AN OXFORD
  and Lecturer in Legal Research            ANTHOLOGY OF LEGAL STORIES
Yale Law School                             Oxford University Press, 1998
e-mail: fred.shapiro at               ISBN 0-19-509547-2

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