Wednesday, January 01, 2014

Christmas Trivia Game

We played a Christmas trivia game I had never encountered at the department holiday party. My team finished second, so you know I'm going to have to complain about it. I thought it was a trifle obscure to ask what the temperature was when Snoopy took off in the Royal Guardsmen's song "Snoopy's Christmas" (Forty below, we guessed twenty below), But someone could conceivably have remembered the lyrics. Only use of a glockenspiel in a pop song that I can recall.

Asking which Disney movie came out on Christmas, 1963 was sneaky-fair, because "The Sword In The Stone" does have a real Christmas tie-in, though it sounded unfair at first. (We guessed 101 Dalmatians - 1961,  and had mentioned The Incredible Journey - November 1963 - in our discussion). I thought What did the moon give to objects below? was inspired, because the form of the question made the relatively straightforward answer harder to arrive at. Fair question.

But I'm just not buying Gardner Fox, the DC cartoonist, is a legitimate Christmas question just because he died on Christmas Eve, 1986. Ridiculous. And Charles Darwin landing on Christmas Day - which isn't true - was rendered answerable only by inclusion of the ship's name, HMS Beagle.

It's worth noting, not because I fear my reader's lives will be worsened by the purchase of a substandard trivia game unless I warn them that there is a fraudulent item out there, but because it bears on SAT's, IQ tests, and other general knowledge expectations. Understanding what is a fair question is actually a significant advantage in such things. What we call "trivia" games, when they are good, are actually only the extremer versions of fair questions. It is not fair to ask any questions about Gardner Fox unless one is at a comics convention. Asking for the ID number on a piece to a pellet stove, or the street address of a particular government agency is a specialised knowledge.  A person with extremely high general knowledge and ability might not know these, though a person with more average abilities might by accident.

If there are Boomers in the mix, then the Royal Guardsmen are fair game.  And we Boomers do think we are the fulcrum of the universe and our culture is equivalent to general culture, certainly. But I think it's a pretty marginal Christmas Trivia question. It is fair to ask about John Lennon's "Happy Christmas," execrable though it is, because it entered the general culture and has been played ever since. But anything related to McCartney's blessedly forgettable "Wonderful Christmas Time" would not be a fair question, because only fanatics remembered it after 1/1/80.

1 comment:

Christopher B said...

I've found when playing that famous trivia game that reforming the question as "Name a famous ...." will usually provide the correct answer.