Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Quiz questions. Over Christmas dinner my mother casually mentioned how family board games always ended badly when I was a kid because I hated losing. This is true. Oh the tantrums I would throw. I still feel very ashamed of a tantrum I threw only in 2007 or so, over a loss at Scrabble to journalist Craig Mathieson.

These days, I try not to enter into competitions I'm not confident of being able to win. As that great sage Homer Simpson once said, "Kids, you tried your best and you failed miserably. The lesson is, never try."

I've recently got into an iPhone quiz app called QRANK. As the name implies, it's explicitly about ranking your quiz-answering abilities with those of your friends, people in your area, etc. Since I'm generally pretty good at trivia, I was looking forward to it, but I'm fast getting disillusioned because the questions are so specific to American culture.

There's a difference between possessing the general knowledge about American history, politics and culture that comes with US cultural imperialism, and being familiar with specific players and incidents in US pro football and hockey, or the senators who proposed particular pieces of legislation.

But anyway. The standard riposte to whinges such as mine is, "Well why don't YOU write some quiz questions?" Reader, I did. I wrote a round of trivia questions for the New Matilda fundraising quiz night, under the theme "Pop Tragedies". I thought it might be fun to post them here – answers are at the end. Online quizzing hasn't been this much fun since Which Poo Are You?

1. Which former teen idol, known for his work in The NeverEnding Story II and the TV series SeaQuest DSV, committed suicide by hanging in 2003, at the age of 27?
A: Jonathan Taylor Thomas
B: Casper Van Dien
C: Jonathan Brandis
D: Brad Renfro

2. Which Judd Apatow-produced TV series, which followed a group of teenage misfits, was cancelled after only one season and now has a cult following?
A: Parker Lewis Can’t Lose
B: Freaks And Geeks
C: Popular
D: My So-Called Life

3. The lyrics “It’s a tragedy for me to see the dream is over” were strangely prophetic for the group in question, who were stripped of their Grammy Award after revealing they had not sung any of their hits. Who are they, and which of their hits are these lyrics from?
A: ‘I'll Be Loving You (Forever)’ by New Kids On The Block
B: ‘All 4 Love’ by Color Me Badd
C: ‘Girl, I'm Gonna Miss You’ by Milli Vanilli
D: ‘I’ve Been Thinking About You’ by Londonbeat

4. Which of these musicians was not killed in the plane crash that Don McLean would later dub “the day the music died”?
A: Buddy Holly
B: Otis Redding
C: Ritchie Valens
D: The Big Bopper

5: Which portly comedian and Saturday Night Live alumnus died from an accidental overdose of combined cocaine and heroin?
A: John Belushi
B: Chris Farley
C: Both A and B
D: John Candy

6. Which song did the Bee Gees’ ‘Tragedy’ knock from its number-one perch on the Billboard Hot 100 charts in 1979?
A: ‘I Will Survive’ by Gloria Gaynor
B: ‘My Sharona’ by the Knack
C: ‘Bad Girls’ by Donna Summer
D: ‘What A Fool Believes’ by the Doobie Brothers

7. Which Old Hollywood star, name-checked in Madonna’s song ‘Vogue’, died of kidney failure aged only 26?
A: Marilyn Monroe
B: Grace Kelly
C: Jean Harlow
D: Rita Hayworth

8. And which star, also mentioned in ‘Vogue’, was caught up in a major scandal in 1958 when her boyfriend Johnny Stompanato, who had ties to the LA mob, was stabbed to death by her 14-year-old daughter?
A: Greta Garbo
B: Bette Davis
C: Lana Turner
D: Lauren Bacall

9. Which of these famous women did not die of breast cancer?
A: Dusty Springfield
B: Linda McCartney
C: Belinda Emmett
D: Gilda Radner

10. Which veteran American comedienne is the only star of The Golden Girls still living?
A: Rue McClanahan
B: Betty White
C: Estelle Getty
D: Bea Arthur

11. When this pop star was revealed to be lip-syncing her performance on Saturday Night Live in October 2004, she reacted with a bizarre impromptu jig before fleeing the stage. Who is she?
A: Ashlee Simpson
B: Betty Boo
B: Britney Spears
C: Jessica Simpson

12. The “Jr” after which celebrity’s name has a tragic backstory, because his stand-up comedian dad died of a self-inflicted gunshot wound when he was just a baby?
A: Harry Connick, Jr
B: Robert Downey, Jr
C: Sammy Davis, Jr
D: Freddie Prinze, Jr

13. Which Australian soap star once infamously got trashed at the Logies and waved her underpants over her head at the after party?
A: Holly Valance
B: Emma Harrison
C: Kimberley Davies
D: Stephanie McIntosh

14. What was the filling of the partly eaten sandwich that was found in the hotel room where Mama Cass Elliot died, leading to the urban myth that she had choked to death on it?
A: Ham
B: Vegemite
C: Peanut butter and jelly
D: Salad

15. Which of these mismatched celebrity marriages is still going strong?
A: 23-year-old actress Evan Rachel Wood and 41-year-old weirdo goth-rocker Marilyn Manson
B: Hollywood superstar Sandra Bullock and tattooed motorbike mechanic Jesse James
C: Buxom Mad Men star Christina Hendricks and dweeby indie bit-player Jeffrey Arend
D: Big-voiced pop strumpet Christina Aguilera and simian music producer Jordan Bratman

16. Which of these near-death episodes involving a Neighbours starlet is false?
A: Kym Valentine, who played Libby Kennedy, was rushed to hospital in 2008 after contracting severe pneumonia on a flight from New York.
B: Madeleine West, who played Dione Bliss, was hit by a bus in Oxford Street, Sydney in 2002, then robbed as she lay unconscious.
C: Delta Goodrem, who played Nina Tucker, was diagnosed with Hodgkin’s lymphoma in 2003.
D: Kym Valentine, who played Libby Kennedy, was rushed to hospital in July this year after doctors discovered a blood clot on her lung.
E: None – they’re all true

17. Which controversial British singer has now suffered two miscarriages: in January 2008 and November 2010?
A: Amy Winehouse
B: Lily Allen
C: M.I.A.
D: Posh Spice

18: What’s the name of the truly tragic, deservedly short-lived Australian sitcom from 1994 about a talking dog?
A: The Rob Emerson Show
B: The Andy Anderson Show
C: The Greg Harrison Show
D: The Bob Morrison Show

19. The treacly 1975 easy listening song ‘Wildfire’ is about a girl who goes looking for her lost pet “on a cold Nebraska night” and dies of exposure. What kind of animal was Wildfire?
A: A kitten
B: A tortoise
C: A horse
D: A dog

20. Interviewed immediately after 9/11, boy-band member Lee Ryan said, “Who gives a fuck about New York when elephants are being killed?” What was the name of Lee’s band, whose career he instantly doomed?
A: A1
B: Blue
C: Five
D: East 17

1: C. 2: B. 3: C. 4: B (although he also died in a plane crash). 5: C. 6: A. 7: C. 8: C. 9: D (she died of ovarian cancer). 10: B. 11: A. 12: D. 13: B. 14: A. 15: C. 16: E. 17: B. 18: D. 19: C. 20: B.

Sunday, December 05, 2010

4 non-blondes. Quite a few people have told me recently that my hair is 'strawberry blonde'. I find this weird, because I consider my hair colour at the moment to be 'red', whereas my real hair colour is closer to what I understand strawberry blonde to be.

Here I am this afternoon, looking like Chopper Read:

And here is my 'real' hair:

Clearly these pics have been chosen purely because of the hair. The second one actually depicts me attempting to demonstrate 'emo hair' on a humid summer night.

I am quite happy with my hair colour right now. Regular readers of this blog will recall the lurid pinkish shade I achieved back in May with LiveColour Red Embers.

Worst of all, it was very badly applied, as this outtake from my jmag photo shoot reveals.

So I threw myself upon the mercy of Stanley, my hairdresser – or, rather, his colourist – back in August. I requested the illusion of being a real ranga, which I've topped up with Aztec Copper when my roots were starting to show. The colour I most recently requested was 'summery real ranga', which is slightly lighter. Perhaps this is the source of the 'strawberry blonde' comparisons.

My dictionary defines strawberry blonde as "a light reddish-blonde colour". Apparently it's also known as "Venetian blonde". I think of it as the colour that you sometimes see on redheads when they get bored of being redheads and want to go blonde (although apparently Cynthia Nixon is a fake ranga like me).

(As an aside, the glassy, posed quality of that Nicole Kidman pic inescapably reminds me of those glamour pics you sometimes see of pedigree cats.)

Perhaps people's idea of hair colour has been confused by the hair-colouring industry. When you look at the names of the packet dye colours, I am surprised by how dark a colour they will refer to as 'blonde'. For instance, this is "Golden Copper Blonde":

Whereas I would call it "pale red". I think it looks more natural, because in my obsessive, participant-observer field study of rangas, I've noticed that not many people with naturally red hair have a bright carroty colour or a coppery auburn, much less the fire-engine colour that is also thought of as 'red'. Rather, they have amber or pale copper-coloured hair.

For instance, check out these two pictures of Ann-Margret. On the left, I'd definitely say she's strawberry blonde. In the pic on the right, she looks much more like a redhead.

I have taken the liberty of drafting a Celebrity Ranga Swatch Chart. Click on it to see it in its full-size glory. Note that I've included the celebrity's eye so that you see how different eye colours, eyebrow colours and skin colours work with the red hair.

Of course, there is no one definitive colour swatch for people's hair. It will show up different colours if they tinker with the colour, have washed it or put products in it, or are in different lights that bring out different tones in their hair. But some things I'd like to point out are Lily Cole's relatively yellow skin tone and Amy Adams's relatively peachy one, and the almost rose-gold tones in Deborah Ann Woll's hair, compared to the more auburn tones in Lauren Ambrose's.

I still think Christina Hendricks has the hair colour I'm after, but I really do admire Rupert Grint's hair. No wonder he grew it.

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