Trivial Pursuits

Last Monday night, Pulao and I hit the first-ever Triple Rock Social Club Pub Trivia Night with some friends. A good time was had by all. Well, I can only be certain of myself, but many other people exhibited warning signs of fun-having.

We were on the only team I saw to gather the max of six people, we knew one of the hosts, and there was a question about Harry Potter, but we still didn’t win. Life is unfair.

There was a music round, a picture round, and a taste round; the taste round was a small piece of Turkish delight, infused with a flavor you had to guess (rose syrup; thanks, Pulao!). The winners got a bar tab and tickets to some shows and the eternal glory that is trivial victory in front of friends.

Although all six of us knew the answer to a TV question about The Office without using any brain cells (Dwight Shrute’s farm? Beets. I mean, come on), none of us could name the current UN Secretary General (Ban Ki-moon), no matter how hard we scrunched up our foreheads and pretended that it was on the tips of our tongues. This is why I don’t publish my last name on this thing. But at least you know you don’t have to be well-informed to take home fourth place. Woo-hoo!

Pulao and I were playing around beforehand, asking each other questions we thought up on the spot, and I could think of nothing whatsoever outside of funny character names in American literature. This was random, even trivial, you might say, but I thought I would test the illustrious 12apostrophes readership on their funny-character-name knowledge.

See if you can place these characters safely inside their respective books:

1. Stamp Paid
2. Kilgore Trout
3. Sal Paradise
4. Honey
5. Happy
6. Quentin Compson
7. Ras the Exhorter
8. Dr. Hilarious
9. Esme Squalor
10. The Dauphin
11. Major Major Major Major

Answers (click your mouse and roll over the grayed text to read it):


Beloved – Toni Morrison


He shows up in God Bless You, Mr. Rosewater, Slaughterhouse-Five, Breakfast of Champions, Jailbird, Bluebeard, and Timequake, all by Kurt Vonnegut


On the Road – Jack Kerouac


Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf? – Edward Albee


Death of a Salesman – Arthur Miller


The Sound and the Fury – William Faulkner


Invisible Man – Ralph Ellison


The Crying of Lot 49 – Thomas Pynchon


A Series of Unfortunate Events – Lemony Snicket (First seen in The Ersatz Elevator)


The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn – Mark Twain


Catch-22 – Joseph Heller

12 Responses to Trivial Pursuits

  1. Duedecad says:

    I love the new answer reveal tool….:)

    I wish I could have trivia’d with you, but I must say I felt rather stupid reading your list. I knew 2 of 11 (#10 and #11). Although I do have to say I have to quibble with your classification of Honey as a funny name, at least in comparison to the rest of the list.

    Bonus poetry question: Can anyone name the famous series of poems from which Mr. Bones is made famous?

  2. Anirban says:

    I got none of them. Kilgore Trout sounded familiar, but I guessed “The hitchhikers’ guide to the galaxy” . What makes me proud is that I have actually read THREE of the books on that list (albeit only once) achievement by my standards.

  3. Pulao says:

    I knew 5 out f 11, since Kris was mean and didn’t actually use any of the ones he asked me the other night. 😛

    The ones I got were 1, 2, 4, 9, 11.

  4. Dingusx says:

    Rousing. A rousing contest indeed. And that thing you do with the answers? Remarkable!

    Now there are some fine choice here, but I can’t help but point out that picking out funny character names from Vonnegut and Pynchon is like picking out cucumbers from a bucket of cucumbers. Add to that list of easy pickins DICKENS (Martin Chuzzlewit, Fezziwig) and TOM ROBBINS (Bonanza Jellybean). Can I also add famous fun-tagonists like HUMBERT HUMBERT and IGNATIUS J. REILLY? How about SEYMOUR GLASS? Or the three whores in Morrison’s “The Bluest Eye” – Poland, China, and the Maginot Line?Or HAMLET … that’s a pretty stupid name if you stop and think about it … Hamlet.

    Lastly, I’ll need to call into question your Faulkner choice, as Quentin Compson has to be one of the most normal names of Faulknerian characters that populate the ridiculously named fictional Mississippi county of YOKNAPATAWPHA, including DARL, JEWEL, CASH, ANSE, DEWEY DELL, and VARDAMAN BUNDREN.

    For-Real-Lastly – You’ve inspired me with this interactive thing. See latest ghostofpaper post and contribute immediately. You’re all I have left.

  5. Aakaash says:

    Well, I did better than I thought I would, but misfired on some shoulda-got-that-one. I was just wondering though, does the (or maybe ‘a’) Dauphin not appear in The Three Musketeers? Just trying to cover my shame in missing Huck Finn Q, I guess…

  6. Kris says:

    This is very true, there IS a Dauphin in the Tres Musketeers, whom someone rescues from something . . . or something. I know this by using the powers of the Interwebs, as I have not actually read the Three Musket-carriers book. (Shame? I got it covered. I’ve also never read Moby Dick. Oh yeah!)

    Also, Hamlet IS a funny name. Kinda sounds like Omelet. Mmmm. I kinda like omelets. (I just had an omelet.) OK! But it’s true, Quentin Compson is not as funny-sounding as Vardaman Bundren. Vardaman Bundren is just hilarious. But Darl, Jewel, Cash (maybe like Honey), aren’t that funny beyond the singular-moniker aspect. I think I’m on board with that now, D.

    Finally, I really want to get the Mr. Bones question, but I have no idea. I keep thinking of Dylan’s “Ballad of a Thin Man” but that is Jones, not Bones, and is not really a poem, even though it has “Ballad” in the title.

  7. Dingus says:

    Mr. Bones is a from a song in a dream of the brain of former Minneapolitan John Berryman, a brain dashed on the rox below the Washington Street Bridge and notably commemorated in two recent (and fabulous) indie rock songs – “Stuck Between Stations” by the Hold Steady and John Allyn Smith Sails by Okkervil River.

    To be fair to “Dingusx,” a distant cousin, Darl, Jewel, and Cash are ALL BUNDRENS (Vardaman and Dewey Dell’s older brothers) … so I, er, he meant to insinuate that it was a family of silly names, silly to varying degrees no doubt. So maybe Darl Bundren is funnier than Darl.

  8. Jayashree says:

    This was a hoot, though I did pretty poorly. Got Quentin, which is strange since I didn’t get much of the Sound and the Fury (including the suicide and the alleged incest!)
    And I was thinking Saint Joan for the Dauphin.
    My personal favorite funny character name is Lady Booby from Joseph Andrews. Can’t say it without cracking up 🙂

  9. Kirsten says:

    I only got #s 9 and 11 right, very sad.
    But I’m sorry to say that you can’t include names like “DARL, JEWEL, CASH, ANSE, DEWEY DELL, and VARDAMAN BUNDREN” as silly names if those are NORMAL names for Mississippians. I can say this because I have cousins/relatives in MS with the names Mescal, Myrum, Al Sue (all female) and Dee (male.)

  10. Aakaash says:

    You know, we need an edition of this game that deals with comic book names. Especially during Stan Lee’s ‘Golden Age’, there were some amazing monikers out there, of which only a handful (“Flint Marko” comes to mind) actually stand the test of time and prevail as cool. People like Anirban would be able to offer up a compendium of these, but trust me, they’re HI-larious as well.

    And I wonder, if a name is supposed to be “funny” because of what it implies, or because it’s been crafted as a possible pun, does it still count? I mean “Falstaff” is sort of a funny name, but then again that’s the point…

    Completely off the topic, but I just saw Contact again and finally understood the connection between the name Arroway in that movie (and book) and Bowman from 2001: A Space Oddyssey. But now everything makes complete sense, and it only took me 10 years….

  11. Eric says:

    What about Cimmanim, the hooker named for a misspelled spice in _Chuck Chonson_?

  12. t-possum says:

    That was fun. Out of the seven I’ve read from the list I got three of em right (2,3,11). Which isn’t saying much. I plead lack of last name on Happy and Honey. I think Dingus is right regarding Pynchon character names. A bucket of cucumbers indeed. I always liked Pig Bodine. Still waiting for some punk band to pick up that one. No excuse for missing Twain!

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