The Time Machine

Sep 18, 2014
Originally published on November 5, 2015 10:11 am

Join us, if you will, and travel back to 1914. All questions must be answered from the vantage point of that year, such as, how many stars are on the US Flag? But be quick: WWI is about to start, and the Wi-Fi here is terrible.

Heard in Episode 326: Too Soon

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Let's welcome our next two contestants, Liz Rosen and Daniel Pecoraro.


EISENBERG: Now we have an excellent match here. Liz, you are joining us from Herndon, Virginia, is that right?



EISENBERG: And in Herndon, Virginia, she runs not one, but two weekly trivia nights.

ROSEN: Yes, yes.

EISENBERG: Fantastic. Dan has a podcast called the "Thursday Trivia Podcast." This is trivia intensity.

GREG PLISKA: A couple of ringers.

EISENBERG: So since you both write trivia constantly, why don't you share with us a recent trivia tidbit or maybe a clue you've written that you were really proud of. Liz?

ROSEN: One question I wrote for last night's game that I just think is a good little piece of recent news is that the first woman won the International Fields medal, Maryam Mirzakhani.



DANIEL PECORARO: Mine is less topical, at least in the Wisconsin State Senate. They passed a resolution declaring a state bacterium. The bacterium used to age cheese, age cheddar cheese.

EISENBERG: Finally. OK, so you know about stuff that's going on now. So this will be a treat.

JONATHAN COULTON: Yes. And in this round, we are going to hop into our time machine - not really, that's just a metaphor - and go back to the year 1914. Why that year? Because we found a 1914 world almanac and we don't have the budget to buy any newer almanacs.


COULTON: So we said hey, why not make a game out of this? We are going to ask you some questions that you must answer from the vantage point of 1914. Greg Pliska, how about an example?

PLISKA: If I said this massive feat of engineering was finally completed this year and the steamship SS Ancon became the first vessel to pass through it, you would answer the Panama Canal.

COULTON: Please answer quickly because I don't want to get stuck here in 1914. The Wi-Fi is very hard to find, also, World War I. Here we go.


COULTON: How many stars are on the American flag?


COULTON: Daniel.

PECORARO: Forty-seven?

COULTON: I'm sorry, that is incorrect. Liz?


ROSEN: Forty-six?

COULTON: Also incorrect.

EISENBERG: So close.

COULTON: Does anybody know the answer? Forty-eight is right.


COULTON: So far so good.


EISENBERG: Once available in red, blue, green and gray, but now available only in black, this car is on its way to becoming one of the best-selling vehicles of all time.




EISENBERG: That is correct, the Ford Model T.


EISENBERG: Debuting this year to disappointing sales, the new book "Dubliners" is a collection of short stories by this author.



PECORARO: James Joyce.

EISENBERG: That is correct, James Joyce.


EISENBERG: Which is amazing, I mean, disappointing book sales in 1914, like, wait until he sees 2014. That's - 1914 was a dream.

COULTON: Thanks to the campaigning of Anna Jarvis, President Wilson recently declared that the first Sunday of each May will be recognized as what national holiday?


COULTON: Daniel.

PECORARO: Law day?

COULTON: No, I'm sorry. Liz.


ROSEN: Mother's Day.

COULTON: Mother's Day...


COULTON: ...Is the right answer.

PLISKA: Actually in some houses, Mother's Day is law day.

EISENBERG: Just learned a lot about your family. Added to the U.S. Constitution just last year, the 17th amendment provides for the direct election of what lawmakers?



PECORARO: Senators.

EISENBERG: That is correct.


EISENBERG: Finally, doctors here in 1914 are reporting a rash of people being seriously injured by exploding what? Is it A - golf balls, B - soda bottle or C - pickle barrels.



PECORARO: Pickle barrels.

EISENBERG: I'm sorry, that is incorrect. All right, Liz, do you want to steal?

ROSEN: I'm going to go with soda bottles?


ROSEN: It was golf balls?

EISENBERG: Golf balls.

PECORARO: Oh my God.

COULTON: Seems unlikely, I know.

EISENBERG: Yeah, yeah.

PLISKA: That one was obvious.

COULTON: It was 1914. Things were different back then.

EISENBERG: Yeah. Before you could an egg in a microwave, you know, they had to explode something. It was because they put, like, a compressed liquid in the golf balls. And then they were like oh, that's a bad idea. And they stopped doing that.

PLISKA: Don't hit those.

EISENBERG: Puzzle guru Greg Pliska, how did the contestants do?

PLISKA: Daniel is the winner. And Daniel, we'll see you in our final round at the end of the show.


EISENBERG: Coming up, we'll give Chuck Berry a run for his money. And if you have a line that you need crossed, we have the comedian for you. Gilbert Gottfried will be joining us later in the show, so stick around. I'm Ophira Eisenberg and this is NPR's ASK ME ANOTHER.

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