Sugar and I ran into Pop Quiz Guy on our morning stroll and he taught us that the first Model T Ford sold in Louisville changed hands on Shelbyville Road in St. Matthews. This seems like fate, since the area has been an auto-sales wasteland ever since. Imagine if that first customer had walked away.
Sugar hates it when Pop Quiz Guy stops us — we’re on a “walk,” not a “talk” — but I love seeing him because I always learn something. Pop Quiz Guy is that insane-in-a-good-way elderly gentleman no neighborhood should be without. He is charming, witty and steeped in trivia that often blossoms into wisdom. Unlike the Common Old Coot seen on sidewalks all over Metro, Pop Quiz Guy likes to impart his wisdom via the pop quiz, which he blurts out to passersby in lieu of hello.
His quizzes might be local (What did John B. Castleman’s detractors say upon the unveiling of his statue in Cherokee Triangle? Answer: “Either way you approach it, you’ll see a horse’s ass.”), national (Which founding father believed a daily nude “air bath” was critical to thinking? Answer: Benjamin “Buttcheeks” Franklin) or international (By law, any heir to the British throne must not be married to someone of which religion? Answer: Catholic*). They are sometimes easy (What Louisville movie star famously squealed like a pig? Answer: Ned Beatty) and sometimes obscure (What was the actual title of an 1880 Louisville burlesque parody of the play “Ben-Hur”? Answer: “Bend-Her.”).
Sugar was getting impatient on the leash and the air outside felt like John Belski had wrapped hell in dirty socks and microwaved it, so I bade farewell to Pop Quiz Guy and moved on, daydreaming of someday taking over the mantle. How cool would it be to stand on the corner and belt out questions to passersby? Stuff like:
If you could slap one billionaire, would it be Oracle founder Larry Ellison for owning a yacht so big it has its own Jeep, or Google founders Sergey Brin and Larry Page for buying their own personal Boeing 767? Answer: Yes.
What storied baseball record is Barry Bonds pursuing? Answer: None. He’s a cheater.
In a moment of poetic gall, what excuse did the Department of Veterans Affairs recently use to deny help to thousands of Iraq-war veterans for posttraumatic stress disorder? Answer: “You were crazy before you joined the military.”
What blockbuster book recently sold 10 million copies in 24 hours? Answer: “Harry Potter and the Sleepy Sheep Who Shut The Hell Up And Do What They’re Told.”
Why is it good that Rupert Murdoch bought the Wall Street Journal? Answer: The Journal is the paper of record for, by and about America’s corporate ruling class. Until now, the Journal cloaked its plutocratic perspective in a mink stole of credible journalism. Murdoch’s media properties aren’t so clever. Once the Journal assumes the cartoon subtlety of Fox News, any country-club capitalist with a speck of ethics will take it for what it’s worth. Consider that until now, a bright, young Biff coming out of the business academy in search of a promising career as a robber baron might pick up the Journal and read a story praising, say, KFC, for its third-quarter earnings, while completely overlooking the fact that the increased earnings came at the expense of mom-and-pop chicken joints in Indonesia, tossing fuel on the fire of terrorism. Reading old-mink-stole Journal, Biff bites into a croissant and nods approvingly at the third quarter earnings and schedules a racquetball court for 6:30. Reading the new Fox-stole Journal, Biff still bites the croissant and reserves the court — and eventually goes on to a storied career in corporate crime — but feels a tiny, nagging pinprick of guilt knowing that his life is a sham. Guilt that can only be assuaged with a case of 1998 Cheval Blanc and a gram of blow, which eventually explode his heart and melt his liver, the end.
Why will there soon be fewer morbidly obese children in Louisville who have unibrows and excessive neck and ear hair? Answer: Because Kroger announced it would no longer sell milk with bovine growth hormones.
Consider yourself warned, Pop Quiz Guy. There’s a new game in town.
*Even though it’s the only path to salvation.
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