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Interesting miscellany from our events & elsewhere. Earlier Posts

“$100,000 Pyramid” Is Casting For Season Two

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It’s always good when a game show gets renewed. Who Wants To Be A Millionaire is back for two more years, The Wall is — well, it’s a show that has a tiny bit of trivia in it, so that’s something, and it seems to be doing okay in the ratings, which can’t hurt, and now The $100,000 Pyramid is gearing up for their new season. It’s not a trivia game, but a good quizzer certainly has an edge on a show like this, and hey, they’re going to give away money to someone. Why not you?

They need contestants, and you should be in on this…

“The $100,000 Pyramid” is hosted by Michael Strahan and airs on ABC. We are currently searching for the nation’s most competitive, upbeat and dynamic personalities to play the classic game of Pyramid where you and a celebrity will team up in a quest to test your word association skills to win big money and prizes!

Think of the millions of people who aren’t going to try out for this show. Now think of yourself winning a few grand, or a few dozen grand, or a hundred grand, for sitting in a chair and playing verbal charades with, oh I don’t know, Kathy Griffin or Daveed Diggs or someone else cool and semi- (or super-)famous. Being on game shows is fun. And if you’re too shy, then pass this on to someone else who might want to. And then when they win, make sure they take you out for a real nice thank-you dinner. That way, hey, free dinner! That’s the worst case scenario here!

Apply to be on Pyramid at CastingPyramid.com. Tell them we sent you.

January 15: ChickTech Benefit at QED (Gallery)

This past Sunday, over a hundred people came out to QED in Astoria to play a very special quiz benefit for ChickTech, to help girls become proficient in programming, computer engineering, and The Cyber, and to help get women into jobs doing that work.

Tons of good news came out of the evening:

  • The quiz’s theme was “2016: What The Hell Just Happened?”, and yet we managed to not mention whassisface even once, which we consider to be a great accomplishment.
  • We gave away tons of prizes, from toques and comedy tickets to manga and many, many gallons of excellent beer, thanks to Sixpoint and Bronx Breweries.
  • You helped to raised hundreds of dollars to help ChickTech do their thing, at a time when they’re really going to need it.

Thanks to everyone who came & played. Doing good doesn’t have to feel like work. You rocked it.

We’ll be back at QED every Sunday in February, so come out and play with us!

  • February 5, we’re doing a Super Bowl Quiz. Come watch the game! We’ll be giving answers during gameplay, and heckling the commercials, as we do.
  • February 12 is Grammy Awards night! Come on out for a special all-music quiz!
  • February 19 is our second burlesque show, Show Us Your Wits, hosted by the great Rhoda Dendron. If you’ve never seen burlesque & trivia together, well, this is something really special.
  • and February 26 is our 3rd annual Oscar Night. We’ll have an entire evening of Oscar trivia, with a prize pool and lots of other toys. Come early for the red carpet, stay late to see how Sean Penn can ruin the broadcast again this year!

November 18: UNQLE-0X

(Note: The title is more than just gibberish.)

otd161118It seems silly now, but there were push-button telephones before rotary dials were invented. Maybe not; people have been pushing buttons and pulling levers for centuries, but if you ever used a rotary phone, looking back on it now, it seems like such a weird action to take to interface with a machine.

But they first tried buttons on the very earliest versions of telephones, in 1887, before phone numbers existed. The only person to reach would have been an operator to connect you to one of the handful of people with a phone line, but still. Almon Strowger, a civil war veteran and undertaker living in upstate New York, developed the rotary dialer as protection against a local telephone operator, who was supposedly funneling all funeral business to her husband and away from Strowger. Using a round collar box and some straight pins, he created the first direct-dialing system in 1891.

phones-compOperators continued to exist in various forms until the 1950s, when the last of them were phased out, and it was a decade of all rotary dialing, until November 18, 1963, when push-button dialing was officially offered as a pilot project to people in test markets outside Pittsburgh. Adoption was slow; it wasn’t until the 1980s that most people had push-button phones, and rotary phones still exist today, in an era when land lines as a whole are being phased out. (I’m guessing… mostly hipsters.)

The letters-over-the-numbers thing came along for two reasons: first, telephone numbers used to start with two letters, as a way of designating what neighborhood you were in, and secondly, as a way for advertisers to make their numbers more memorable. If you needed people to memorize a random seven- (or ten-)digit number, making a word out of it made it easier.

(Start at 2:04 to get a good example of how much we needed the letters over the numbers.)

Now, the alphabet doesn’t divide cleanly into sets of three, so the two least used letters, Q and Z, were often dropped so everything would fit on the buttons. These days, that doesn’t matter as much, what with design advancements, and so those letters have returned to the 7 and the 9 keys, respectively.

#OTD runs weekdays.

November 17: Sashay, Shanté!

otd161117(Note: This entry contains the single greatest video ever made. Be sure you’re prepared before you continue.)

Born in San Diego on this day in 1960 and named for the base used to make gumbo by his Louisianan mother, the answer to today’s question moved with his sister, Renatta, to Atlanta to learn performance. From there, he migrated north to New York City, where he fell in with the gay scene in the Lower East Side, appearing in various shows, videos, stage productions, and all the other goofy parts of the scene in those days.

(You can see him in this, the greatest video ever released on YouTube ever, a glorious one-minute riff from artist Tom Rubnitz):

In the early 1990s, when everyone else was discovering grunge and gangsta rap, RuPaul Andre Charles was deep into dance music, and true to his theorem, she made. it. work.

rupaul-x2After that, music & acting career has kept Ru busy ever since, and when RuPaul’s Drag Race premiered in 2009, he was already America’s most famous Drag Queen. (How RuPaul hasn’t hosted Saturday Night Live — or the Emmys — yet, I haven’t a clue. She’d rock either one without slowing down. I’m assuming it’s only a matter of time.)

We at TNYC are huge fans, and Ru, if you read this, your persistence in fierceness is an inspiration way beyond your core audience. Happy birthday, you supertall goofball.

November 16: Turn Off Your Mind, Relax, & Float Downstream

otd161116If you get migraines, you’ve probably heard of the drug ergotamine. For centuries, doctors have used it as a curative for intense headaches. It acts as an aid to neurotransmitters, helping to constrict blood flow and slowing down the reactions that make up migraines. It’s terribly useful.

It also affects the dopamine receptors, which is where things get interesting (unless you’re a neurologist, in which case, things were already interesting).

(That’s the end of the medicine lesson.)

On November 16, 1938, Albert Hoffmann, a Swiss chemist, was playing around with this stuff, looking for ways to improve it, and he came up with something he called Lyserg-Säure-Diäthylamid, or Lysergic Acid Diethylamide. It was another five years before he realized its psychedelic properties, through accidentally dosing himself.

(Think about that. Imagine being the first person to ever drop acid! I know, right? I mean, like, I know, right?)

lsd-tom-wolfe-electric-kool-aid-acid-testOf course, the Cold War-era CIA thought LSD would be a good tool to help with interrogations or mind control experiments, and so they dosed a ton of people without telling them, which I need not tell you is extremely bad karma. Seriously, never do that. Also, you may get new truths out of your interrogation subjects by dosing them with acid, but those truths are going to involve purple unicorns, and the everlasting healing power of moonbeams, and how hamsters can read your thoughts, man, I swear it.

The CIA eventually figured this out, but by then, word was out that this new chemical was… rather fun in certain dosages.

Which is where Timothy Leary comes in. A psychologist at Harvard, he experimented with LSD & psychedelics as recreational & self-discovery tools, which kick-started what we now think of as a crucial piece of the 1960s counterculture movement.

This is the part you might know. Art got crazy. Music went from I Wanna Hold Your Hand to Picture yourself in a boat on a river, with tangerine trees and marmalade skies in like two years.

lsd-comp

And Ken Kesey took full advantage. Although best known for his semi-autobiographical novel, One Flew over The Cuckoo’s Nest, which later became a Best Picture Oscar winning film, for most of the 1960s he led a small group called the Merry Pranksters.

That group included other writers, most notably Jack Kerouac & his buddy Neil Cassady, and also many of the people who eventually became the Grateful Dead and the Jefferson Airplane, both of whom formed and started playing at parties in San Francisco as all this stuff was happening. Kesey procured a bus, which he named “Further,” did up in full psychedelic colors, and drove across the country with everyone in tow, spreading the gospel of groovy peace and love.

lsd-blotter-further-bus-1At that point, LSD was being delivered to people via bowls full of dosed punch, which Tom Wolfe (who was not there to recall it first hand, curiously) memorialized in the book, The Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test. And by the time they finally made LSD possession illegal, it was late 1968, long after the genie had been let out of the bottle. Acid wasn’t easy to make, but you could learn how to do it without a PhD in nuclear physics, and now, psychedelics are part of the chemical amusement landscape, and the inspiration for all kinds of crazy art and new ideas. I’m not saying you should do them, but I am saying at some point, you enjoyed the work of someone who did.

And for that, thanks, Albert Hofmann. (Thofmann.)