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Last Build Date: Tue, 06 Dec 2016 10:00:17 +0000


To the fleetest

Tue, 06 Dec 2016 10:00:17 +0000

Jeopardy! plows through two new contestants every weeknight, as implacably as a shark. But that means your odds, as a random American, of getting on the show this year are still no better than 1 in 800,000. Sad! Enter FleetWit! It’s a mobile “brain race” site where players compete in live quizzes testing a mix […]

Where are they now?

Mon, 05 Dec 2016 20:28:27 +0000

Jeopardy! is running a series of stories this season called “the J!Effect,” about how the quiz show has changed lives over its 30-year-plus run. This is very exciting to hear because it means Jeopardy! is embracing the hip millennial-friendly abbreviation “J!” for its brand, replacing its ’90 attempt, “Jep!” But it’s also exciting because it […]

Citius Altius Trivius

Thu, 10 Nov 2016 04:13:28 +0000

I just got back from the first ever Quiz Olympiad, organized by the International Quizzing Association and held in the Olympic cradle of Athens, Greece. It was an historic weekend! Some background: the IQA has been holding these European and international quiz tournaments for many years, but I’ve only attended one: the 2007 European Quiz […]

Carrying the torch

Mon, 31 Oct 2016 16:34:54 +0000

I’m off to Greece this week for the inaugural Quiz Olympiad. (Cue NBC Olympics anthem! But only in your head so we don’t get sued.) Here’s the press release I just got sent about the event. Wish us luck! Team USA competing at Quiz Olympiad, Nov. 3 – 6 in Athens, Greece Author and Jeopardy! […]

To the map we go

Mon, 24 Oct 2016 17:58:05 +0000

In this week’s Maphead piece for Condé Nast Traveler, I write about the weird history of Westwego, Louisiana, which bills itself as the only town in America whose name is a complete sentence. I was unable to find any other burg making a similar claim, so I let it slide. But then, checking out Westwego […]

Captain America

Tue, 11 Oct 2016 23:06:16 +0000

Way back in 2014, when gay marriage was illegal in half the country, True Detective and the iPhone 6 were brand new, and Donald Trump was still just a reality TV punchline, my friend Paul Bailey asked if I might want to represent my country in the first “Quiz Olympiad,” an international quizzing championship scheduled […]

The only thing we have to fear

Wed, 28 Sep 2016 04:09:14 +0000

In my new “Debunker” column posted today on, I track the lineage of the bizarre trivia factoid that holds that “arachibutyrophobia” is a medical term meaning “the fear of peanut butter sticking to the roof of your mouth.” I can find no evidence for this in any clinical literature, but was able to track […]

Big Blue buddy

Fri, 23 Sep 2016 22:02:55 +0000

Hey, here’s another thing that I never blogged about because it launched during the great summer blog drought. My friend Rob Kutner, who wrote for The Daily Show and is now at Conan, had an idea for a comedy podcast in which my silicon arch-nemesis Watson and I were forced to go on the lam […]

Wordplay Wednesday

Wed, 07 Sep 2016 17:43:50 +0000

Blogging again, because why not. I dimly remember that I used to run word puzzles here sometimes on Wednesdays. How about this one, which came to me in the shower this morning? There’s a certain company that introduced one of its most successful products in 1998. Take that brand name, and insert a new letter […]

Trigger warning: racist leaves

Tue, 06 Sep 2016 16:32:42 +0000

This site, like a lazy Frenchman, took the summer off. That was partly due to some database crashes and spambot attacks that happened when I was out of town, and which I’m just getting around to fixing now. Thank you for your patience. I write a weekly Monday column called Maphead for Condé Nast Traveller, […]