Two weeks ago at a small truck stop bar in the remote high plains of Wyoming, a roundup (and roundup+1)-helmed bar trivia event took place. The event was foretold when I constructed an elaborate scale-model of the bar with mashed potatoes and was compelled by mystical forces to travel there, like Richard Dreyfuss in Close Encounters. Mystical forces, and also the wedding invitation and plan to host bar trivia. Here now, for those that missed it, round one of that wedding-related bar trivia, with research and background notes. Feel free to score yourself.
Part I: Wyoming
1. As of 2013, how many escalators were there in the state of Wyoming?
2. Wyoming is the tenth largest state, but the least populous. It’s also one of three US states that begin with two consonants. Name the other two.
3. Wyoming was the first US state to recognize women’s right to vote. In what year did this happen?
4. What Annie Proulx short story, set in Wyoming, was later made into an Oscar-winning film?
5. How many times did Dick Cheney flunk out of Yale before graduating from the University of Wyoming?
1. Two! They’re in a bank, though the big controversy on this question: is an up/down pair considered one escalator? I haven’t been able to verify the accounting. Though the escalator was invented in 1859, the first working prototype was not developed until the early 1890s. And since then, not a year goes by, not a year, that I don’t hear about some escalator accident involving some bastard kid which could have easily been avoided had some parent – I don’t care which one – but some parent conditioned him to fear and respect that escalator.
2. Rhode Island and Florida. Give yourself one point for each right answer. And, you, reader, have earned a bonus point and all the love in my pedantry-shriveled heart if you thought to yourself, “well technically Y is functioning as a vowel in Wyoming, so…”
3. 1869! Give yourself three points if you’re right, 2 points if you’re within five years, and 1 point if you were within a decade. Technicality: Wyoming was not actually a state at this time, but it was also the first territory to recognize it. Related: Wyoming was also the first state where women served on juries (1870), had the first female court bailiff (also 1870), and in 1924 elected the country’s first female governor, Nellie Tayloe Ross. The official state motto is “Equal Rights”. As long as you aren’t a goll-durned cattle-rustler.
4. Brokeback Mountain was published in 1997 and adapted into a movie in 2005. Another Wyoming-related book is the dystopic sci-fi novel Logan’s Run, in which a utopian society mandates that residents be killed after turning 30. It was written by Wyoming resident George Clayton Johnson. Really that has nothing to do with Brokeback Mountain, I just think Logan’s Run should be more well-known that it is.
5. Twice! Cheney’s other accomplishments include being Secretary of Defense, Vice President, literally not having a heartbeat anymore, his ongoing transition into Emperor Palpatine, and shooting his hunting partner in the face. Bonus unrelated fact: there are 32 islands in the state of Wyoming.
Part II: Washington
6. Wyoming and Washington are two of only seven states not to levy an income tax. Name the other five.
7. Which young adult series, featuring sparkling vampires, caused tourism to spike in Forks, Washington?
8. The NBA’s Oklahoma City Thunder are the new-and-improved version of which NBA team/franchise that relocated from Washington in 2009?
9. The Mars Bar was created in 1911 when Frank and Ethel Mars began selling candy from their Tacoma home. What are the three main components of the US version of the Mars Bar?
10. What Seattle-based grunge band took a doomed but ultimately unsuccessful stand against Ticketmaster’s price gouging policies?
6. Alaska, Florida, Nevada, South Dakota, Texas. Give yourself one point for each, and if you got all five let me wish you congratulations on your job as a tax lawyer and/or sports agent.
7. Twilight. Did you know that Count Dracula was said to be based in part on Vlad the Impaler?
8. The Seattle (Super)Sonics. Did you know that Aristotle’s original theory on thunder held that it was the sound of clouds colliding?
9. Almonds, nougat, milk chocolate (1 point for each). This is all very confusing, as the Mars Bar in Europe is apparently equivalent to the milky way in the states, which is the kind of cultural bifurcation that demonstrates the doomed prospect of globalization. Sure, Tom Friedman, the world is flat but I can’t get the right candy bar if I leave the country. How can trade ever truly be free? Did you know that the moons of the planet Mars are Phobos and Deimos, named for the children of the Greek god Mars?
10. Pearl Jam. At trivia night, this question included a bonus point for anyone willing to do an acapella impression of Eddie Vedder, but no one took us up on it. Also, did you know the first European to visit Seattle was George Vancouver, and that this is strange because the first European to visit Vancouver was William Seattle? It’s like how Kennedy’s secretary was named Lincoln and Lincoln’s secretary was named Kennedy. It’s also patently false—at least the part about the fictitious “William Seattle”.
Part III: Minnesota
11. 3M, the company that gave us post-it notes and Scotchgard, was founded in 1902 and is headquartered in St. Paul. What does 3M stand for?
12. Though Laura Ingalls Wilder and her family also lived in Wisconsin and Iowa before settling in De Smet, South Dakota, in what Minnesota town was TV’s Little House on the Prairie set?
13. A Minnesota math question: Start with the number of lakes purportedly in Minnesota. To that, add the number of the highway that Bob Dylan (re)visited. Subtract from that the year that Prince wants us to party like it’s. What’s the answer?
14. Who sang the hit song The Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald, and in what body of water with a major port in Minnesota did the Edmund Fitzgerald sink (one point for each part)?
15. Which of the following foods was not available at the 2015 Minnesota State Fair? Spam Burger, Stuffed Meatloaf on a Stick, Italian Dessert Nachos, Tot-chos (which are tater tot nachos), deep-fried taco cheesecake, mac & cheese cupcake, or hot tail (which is a roasted pig tail in scallion ginger sauce)?
11. Minnesota Mining and Manufacturing, although it is possible that 3M no longer stands for anything thanks to modern #branding. Fun fact: post-it notes were invented by accident by a researcher trying to find a strong, long-lasting adhesive. Fun fact II: Scotchgard was also invented by accident. Fun Fact III: It’s called ‘Scotch Tape’ (and Scotchgard) possibly owing to a 1920s stereotype of the Scottish as stingy. Supposedly the name Scotch tape comes from an early tester who complained of its lack of adhesiveness and suggested the seller take the tape back to his “Scotch bosses” who’d presumably skimped on the sticky part. You don’t even want to know what Welsh Tape is for. Fun Fact IV: there used to be a mascot for Scotch tape. His name was Scotty McTape and he wore a kilt.
12. Walnut Grove, Minnesota. Here’s a fun fact: I did not write this question, and the name is so generic I assumed Walnut Grove was a fictional town created for the series, but it’s real! It’s really real! Also, remember Michael Landon? Another thing I did not know: Wilder’s daughter, Rose, was a political theorist who is considered one of the founding figures of modern libertarianism. She referred to both society and government as “pagan gods.”
13. 10,000 + 61 – 1999 = 8062. Did you know the study of mathematics dates back to the ancient Cretan philosopher Mathemagoras? (just kidding). This turned out to be a surprisingly tricky question—many people got tripped up thinking the highway was route 66, and we were forced to savagely give ZERO CREDIT for those responses. The Minnesota state motto is L’Etoile du nord (The star of the north). The state muffin is blueberry. The state beverage is milk. The state mushroom is the morel.
14. Gordon Lightfoot; Lake Superior (one point each). I specifically wanted to keep this question entirely for the over-40 (over-50?) set, and the only team that got it right was entirely 30 year olds. I should have asked about Cat Stevens instead. The SS Edmund Fitzgerald sank in a storm on November 10, 1975, resulting in the death of 29 crew. Mysteriously she sank with no distress call, and the cause of the calamity is debated to this day. Gordon Lightfoot is known as Canada’s greatest songwriter.
15. Deep-fried taco cheesecake. Here’s the thing: that’s not made up, it was just at the Texas state fair, not Minnesota.
• • •
Tally up your scores, I’ll be back with round two next week after I visit the texas state fair for research purposes. Also, a thank you here to my trivia partner, without whom these questions would not have been written or asked.