Category Archives: Trivia

Favourite Deaths, Part 1

One of my favourite deaths is that of the Greek playwright Aeschylus back in the good old days of the 5th century BC.

Aeschylus was visiting Sicily and was outside, situated away from trees, cliffs etc. He did this a lot as there was a prophecy saying that he would be killed by a falling object.

Unluckily for Aeschylus, a nearby eagle had captured a tortoise and was flying overhead, looking for a rock to drop the tortoise onto, which would smash its shell.

The eagle, being bird-brained, mistook Aeschylus’s bald head for a rock, and dropped the tortoise straight onto the acclaimed playwright, killing him instantly.

Luckily for us, someone was there to take a photo of the incident.

Cause of death: FALLING TORTOISE. What are the odds?

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Why Is Craps Called Craps

How come casino dice game is , effectively, called “shits”?

Gus from team Thelma and Louise was asking me this recently when a question about Craps featured in a double-or-bust round at the Safari Lounge.

Craps traces its roots back to an ancient British dice game called Hazard.

According to Mental Floss, the explanation for the name comes from the time that Hazard was imported to the USA, and the roll of double-one (also known as “snake eyes”) was, for some reason, known in the Louisiana area as “crabs”.

Snake Eyes Watching You

“Crabs” transmuted to “Craps” and eventually became the standard name of the American casino staple. This explanation is also favoured by who attribute the “crabs” call to French sailors.

Meanwhile, Wikipedia’s explanation says that the game’s popularity spread from New Orleans, Louisiana where French influence was heavy and this took it’s French name “crapaud” with it as it spread.

Crapaud means toad and refers to the crouched stance of players as the game was originally played by people squatting in the street. On their honkers, as we used to say.

These are the two stories I’ve found so far. The variability and uncertainty lead me believe that I will not be doing questions on the matter any time soon.




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Stuff I Learned At The Quiz This Week

Maggie told me at the Joker & The Thief that a man in the USA died from choking on a donut during a donut eating challenge. This turns out to be true.

Detail: The donut was a half-pounder and the man 42 years old. His name was Travis. The prize for eating the donut is that you get the donut for free and you get a badge.

Travis was going great guns but halfway through, choked, started thumping the counter of the shop and then turned blue and collapsed. He died right there in front of a crowd that had just been cheering him on.

The article I read does not detail whether the donut shop sent the badge to his family anyway or, more likely, they would deem the challenge incomplete.

What else?

There was a team at the Safari Lounge last night called “Ornitorrincos“. what’s that? Turns out this is Spanish for “Platypus”.


Another team name at the Brass Monkey led to a surprising discovery. I thought “His Ding-A-Ling’s Up” was something to do with Chuck Berry but it turns out it’s a reference to a 1970s porn musical film titled: Alice In Wonderland: An X-Rated Musical Fantasy.

I had no idea such a thing existed. The team name refers to a part of the film where the characters restore Humpty Dumpty’s failed erection. Now you know.

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Fact Clearup: Snakes and Bridges

A couple of points of order raised by quizzers over the last week or so:

Anaconda versus Pygmy Hippo

Who is the heaviest? Everyone went for anaconda but the Wiki pages are clear. Heaviest verified anaconda weighed 97.5kg while the Pygmy Hippopotamus can reach 275 kg. It’s not even close.

Another fake snake story

Nigel in the Brass Monkey Leith found a Sun article about a supposed 60-stone anaconda which would be over 300 kg but there are plenty of these mega-snake stories about and the sources are rife with phrases like “estimated” and “thought to be”.

Not the same as facts!

Humber Bridge versus Golden Gate

Last week at the Joker & The Thief, I asked for the longest bridge with the Humber Bridge and the Golden Gate as options.

I said the Humber Bridge was longer, based on a reference I’d read that said the Humber was the longest in the world when it was built in 1981.

As the Golden Gate was completed in the 1930s, I assumed it was shorter.

Grace pointed out afterwards that she’d had a quick look-up (after all the questions) and this showed the Golden Gate as longer.

Indeed, a wiki check shows:

  • Humber: 2220 metres
  • Golden Gate: 2737 metres

However, this is the total length of the bridge and if you look at the longest span (distance between the towers) you have:

  • Humber: 1410 metres
  • Golden Gate: 1280 metres

Luckily the outcome of that particular question had no effect on the overall quiz outcome but it’s an undesirable ambiguity and ultimately, a shite question.


But don’t worry, the person who wrote the question has been sacked and the database amended.

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This Cartoon Fails To Understand Quizmasters

This cartoon was in the Guardian last week:

But the thing is, regime change = new questions. Already at the quiz recently I’ve used these anagrams…



…and the change means I can write some new questions about the new Libyan flag.

And anyway, you can still ask questions about the old green Libyan flag. It’s just that you’ll now file them under ‘history’ rather than ‘geography’.

Similarly, the change in Sudan ends Sudan’s tenure as the largest country in Africa and now Algeria is number one, also climbing to 10th in the world. But its all good cos its all new questions and it just shows, you need to stay on top of your questions database…




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