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TV O.D. / It’s All About Me: The World Series of Pop Culture, Round 3 (vs. Three Men and a Little Lazy)

Posted by Andrew Unterberger on July 18, 2007

Nothing’s ever gonna keep us down

It’s hard to describe how awful I felt going into our semi-final match against Three Men and a Little Lazy. A combination of frustration over being 0-2, hair-pulling boredom and anxiety after being sequestered backstage in the Green Room for what seemed like an eternity, and fear–total, utter petrification, if that’s a word–I had thoroughly convinced myself that this was the end of the line for us. Waiting at the back of the auditorium for them to call our names so we could take our place on stage, I told Weber and Victor what an honor it had been to play with them. They, of course, looked at me as if I was nuts, which I almost definitely was.

The announcement of the first category helped matters little, nor did the fact that the previously eliminated teams gave Lazy a standing ovation and chanted “LA-ZY! LA-ZY! LA-ZY!” through the introductions–a testament to all the good will we had engendered over the last two and a half days. Announced to be a whole round on The Karate Kid, a movie we had all seen, but not for years (and one we didn’t study much either), we decided to send Victor, our default Movie Guy, to the mic. Though he got the questions he definitely should’ve gotten (about the movie’s evil dojo, Cobra Kai, and the pre-fame actress who played Daniel’s girlfriend, Elisabeth Shue), Victor missed his third question, about the costume Daniel wore to the Halloween dance at his school (a shower, which I remembered extremely vividly despite not having seen the movie in at least six or seven years). Matt from Three Men picked up the steal, and answered his last question, about the Joe ‘Bean’ Esposito classic “You’re the Best,” played over the final tournament montage, correctly, clinching the category (we thought it was actually called “You’re the Best Around,” and protested as much, but we were sadly mistaken). I cursed our team for sending the wrong person to the mic for the first category for the third straight round (though for the first two rounds, that right person would’ve been Victor). So it goes, and we were down 1-0.

They announced the second category, “Awesomely Bad Lyrics,” and being our default music guy, it was pretty much on me to take it, though last round’s music category had certainly shaken my confidence somewhat. As Pat explained, the lyrics were all taken from VH1’s Top 50 Awesomely Bad Songs countdown, which I at least remembered watching a few years back, though I didn’t exactly have the thing memorized. As Steve from Three Men got his first question, a line I immediately recognized as the opener to Bobby McFerrin’s “Don’t Worry, Be Happy,” I sighed and prepared myself for a long match. But to my surprise, Steve didn’t answer immediately. I stared at him, analyzing his face for signs of oncoming revelation, but found none. He didn’t have the answer! I don’t remember what Steve finally answered for it, but then Pat said to me the sweetest five-word sentence I’d ever heard: “Incorrect–Andrew, you can steal.” I picked it up, and cinched my next one, a “We Didn’t Start the Fire” lyric which was, honestly, about a million times easier than the Bobby McFerrin one my opponent got. I breathed easy for maybe the first time in two days–finally, I was actually up in a round!

Steve got his second lyric, which I quickly identified as the chorus to Corey Hart’s “Sunglasses at Night” (the numerous mentions of “shades” being a fairly big clue) Luckily for me, there are two 80s hits with copious amounts of sunglasses references (three if you count ZZ Top’s “Cheap Sunglasses”), and my opponent went for the other, Timbuk 3’s “The Future’s So Bright, I Gotta Wear Shades.” I picked up the second steal, and I was one point away from victory. Annoyingly, I blew the fourth Q, missing a not-too-hard lyric from Huey Lewis’s “The Heart of Rock & Roll” (Victor, a devout Lewis fan, was very disappointed) with a guess of Lionel Richie’s “All Night Long” (which I do maintain was not a terrible guess, though obviously very wrong). Steve couldn’t get it either, though, and for the first time in three rounds, the category was mine. (Side Note: I’ve talked to Steve a couple times since and he explained his hatred of lyrics categories–despite this, he generously agreed to go up for them in three consecutive rounds, so as to save team secret weapon Gary from possible elimination. Stand-up guy.)

Next came “Planes, Trains & Automobiles,” a category about fictional transports for which despite Weber’s inevitable look of utter horror at the subject matter, I was confident in his abilities–fictional things within fictional things is definitely one of his specialties. And he didn’t disappoint, acing his easy Gilligan’s Island opener and his Fresh Prince theme song question (my friends back home were probably going nuts at that one). Matt from Three Men countered with his Wings ID, but paused on his question about the ship from the Love Boat. I prayed he wouldn’t be able to pull it, since I remember going over that with Weber a night or two before. Thank the lord, it didn’t come to him (and honestly, if you hadn’t studied that question recently, I have no idea how you’d be able to remember that–no offense to you Love Boat fanatics out there, but has ANYONE watched that show in the last 20 years?) and Weber very unconfidently picked up the steal. And once Pat announced Knight Rider as the topic of Weber’s last Q, I knew we were in the clear–there are only so many things to know about Knight Rider, and Weber was on top of ’em. Sure enough, he answered “Knight Industries Two Thousand” more confidently then I knew Weber to be capable of answering anything, and it was two to one.

For the fourth category, which I had no choice but to go up for, it was announced that the subject was Bill Murray quotes (it had a catchier name, which escapes me at the moment). Didn’t know how to feel about that–I know Bill Murray pretty well, and I liked that they gave you the year for each movie, but if they asked about some of his tougher movies (The Razor’s Edge? Osmosis Jones?) I could’ve been done for. And my opponent, Gary “Secret Weapon” Kalina, looked like he was of exactly the right age and mindset to have seen every Bill Murray movie ever made about a dozen times over (which, of course, I mean in the most complimentary way possible). But with confidence restored due to my first win, I figured I had decent odds of at least getting to a tiebreaker.

We both aced our three questions with relative ease–they didn’t give us any of the tricky movies, and I felt extremely blessed to be able to answer personal favorite Rushmore for my third question (though the pointing gesture I made for some reason while answering is guaranteed to make me cringe while I watch tonight–who the hell decided it was a good idea to let me on television?) They announced the tiebreaker category, the 20 James Bond movies not counting Never Say Never Again or the two Casino Royales, and I was about as excited as I could be without actually getting an erection. I knew for a fact that I knew all 20, not even because it was something I had studied, but just due to many years of general movie geekiness, as well as plenty of Encore 007 Days of James Bond marathons. That didn’t mean I was out of the woods yet, though–once again, Gary looked like the kind of guy that might know all 20 himself, and I just hoped that if he did, he wouldn’t unleash some brilliant tiebreaker strategy to trip me up and make me forget one somewhere along the line.

Generally, in a tiebreaker, the best strategy is to knock out the most obvious answers first, forcing the other team to answer as many obscure ones as possible. But I had long since agreed with my teammates that if it came to a movie or album tiebreaker where we were positive we knew all the possible answers, we’d just go in chronological order, so as to avoid confusing ourselves as to which we had already guessed or not. So at first that’s what I was doing (Dr. No, until I realized that Gary was doing the same thing, except going in the opposite direction (Die Another Day). I suddenly became terrified that if I stuck to my current strategy, we might meet in the middle and go to a second tiebreaker, and I wanted Gary to at least be forced to name a couple of the more forgettable 70s Bonds.

So from there, I started using strategy I could think of, which included cutting him off at the pass (Goldeneye), cutting holes in random points of the chronology (The Man With the Golden Gun) and knocking out some of the obvious older ones (Goldfinger). Of course, this really just amounted to “naming random James Bond movies,” and as of 12 movies in, Gary had yet to be even slightly tripped up. Then Gary confidently stepped to the mic for #13:

Her Majesty’s Secret Service.”

My head jolted up. I looked at Gary, wondering if he’d realize what he had done and correct himself. I looked at Pat, wondering if he knew what to do. There was total silence.

What transpired over the next 15-20 minutes is something that VH1 audiences all across America will probably never know about, because it would make for really shitty television. After Gary failed to correct his answer, Pat eventually ruled it incorrect, and I was given a chance to steal (though, given the debate, I was not allowed to answer with the movie’s correct title, which, incidentally, was ON Her Majesty’s Secret Service). But as I leaned into the mic to give my final answer, Gary began to protest his being ruled incorrect, without being given so much as a prompt for more information (which, he maintained, would’ve led to him answering “On Her Majesty’s Secret Service“). And while my College Bowl training–so adamant about getting titles exactly correct that our answer of “The Rhinoceros” was once ruled incorrect for a play that was actually just called “Rhinoceros”–told me that Pat’s ruling was accurate, it didn’t feel right at all, especially considering the number of prompts teams had been given before for answers that were far more partial than Gary’s (just last night, Lucien from Almost Perfect Strangers was given a prompt on “The Grinch,” when the full title was “How the Grinch Stole Christmas”).

A long deliberation process between Pat and whoever he was talking to backstage started taking place, and Gary and I were told to remain standing at the microphones while they debated. Eventually, he turned to me and asked:

“So, do you have an answer?”

“Yeah, I do,” I answered, as if I was confessing guilt over something.

Eventually, we were told that none other than WSOPC producer Michael Davies (also the man behind Millionaire and other extremely successful game shows) would be coming out to explain his decision to us personally, so Victor, Matt and Steve all came back on stage for his explanation. While we listened to Three Men plead their case over his ruling, I was torn between feeling lousy for possibly getting the win on such a technicality, and feeling elated for being given a chance to get the win at all. I felt like Three Men should’ve been given the chance to redeem their answer, though I’d probably be lying if I said I was actually hoping that Michael reversed his ruling.

Ultimately, he didn’t, and we were told to return to the microphone while Michael left the stage.

“So what are you going to answer?” Gary asked me.

I wasn’t sure if I should answer his question–could I get disqualified for conferring with an opponent? But I figured that what’s done was done at that point, so I told him. He groaned, knowing my answer was a valid one. I apologized for the shittiness of the circumstances, and we returned to the microphone.

“Each player has gotten seven correct answers,” Pat said. “Andrew, you can win with an eighth.”

You Only Live Twice,” I responded.

“Correct.”

And with that, we were on our way to the finals. Talking with Gary backstage afterwards, he admitted that OHMSS was his last answer anyway, and since I still had a couple in my pocket (For Your Eyes Only, Live and Let Die, Diamonds are Forever), I think we both felt a little better about the way the round ended. Ultimately, the Three Men were princes about the whole thing, and once it was over, they bore us no ill will, even e-mailing us after the fact to tell us as such. And since they were returning to their considerably hott wives once the tournament was over, who were in the audience even wearing specifically designed “Wives of Lazy” shirts, it was hard to feel too bad for them.

So one way or another, tomorrow night is where it all ends for Twisted Misters, either against the supergroup of Almost Perfect Strangers 2.0 or the powerhouse of Wocka Wocka. Can we manage to pull one more win out? Will I end the series with a negative or positive record? When the hell is the “90s Post-Grunge One-Hit Wonders” category gonna come up? Keep watching…

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17 Responses to “TV O.D. / It’s All About Me: The World Series of Pop Culture, Round 3 (vs. Three Men and a Little Lazy)”

  1. Jamie said

    I have to hand it to you guys you are certainly backing up the trash talking. I have a feeling though that alot of people dont understand how much editing can be crafted to make someone or a team appear a certain way. I was part of a team in the Chicago regionals ( I Love Chocolate Cake, Lost to Wocka Wocka in the first round), and as my wife and I sit and watch we both agree that I could have come off way worse then Victor.

    No matter what people say you guys deserve to be in the finals, you knew the answers when no one else did.

    Cant wait to see the finals.

    Jamie

  2. billy said

    Tremendously well done, young man. Way to be.

  3. Chelsea said

    Damn, that was awesome! I am extremely into your team winning. Good job… you were great tonight

  4. Benjamin said

    Not to be nitpicky, but The World Is Not Enough was never named; Die Another Day and Tomorrow Never Dies were.

    Also, I’m proud to say that the team who corrected The Rhinoceros was the Cornell team before I got there, and that I met the guy who corrected you. And he indeed was an asshole.

  5. Andrew Unterberger said

    edit: NEVER MIND

  6. Danielle said

    Thank you for revealing the story behind the James Bond debacle! I agree that it would make shitty television, but for someone like me, I find that sort of thing almost more interesting than the competition itself. It was quite obvious that something went down after Gary wasn’t prompted for more (something that is always done), and you weren’t given an immediate chance to steal that question. And, at least you can feel confident that your win was based on your knowledge, not a technicality.

    I have to admit, it *really* sounded like Andrew W. said, “Go home. Smell you later.” instead of “Yo Holmes. Smell you later.” on the Fresh Prince question. Although, who am I to nitpick, my team didn’t even pass the written test in New York! 🙂

    Congratulations and good luck in the finals!!

  7. Chelsea said

    i heard him say yo homes

  8. Jeff said

    Even if we didn’t see the tense questioning of the judges’ ruling, it made for good TV. Congrats on getting to the final round!

  9. Gary K said

    Folks-

    As the other party in this whole controversey – let me just point out a few things:

    1) First and foremost, I have nothing but sincere respect and goodwill for Andrew U. He is a great guy. I think you can see that he always cringed a little bit when his teammate Victor was talking smack the entire tournament – making himself (and unfortunately his teammates) look like shit.

    2) The Twisted Misters are all very intelligent guys and were trivia powerhouses – all of the success they had to this point is very much deserved.

    3) Just like in any competition we can replay in our heads every wrong move that we made. In the end, the better team beat us. As Andrew mentions, I was out of titles (thus my use of the George Lazenby turn as Bond). Perhaps, I may have thought of another at the last moment or maybe Utz would have had a braincramp, but Utz told me he knew them all and I believed/still believe him. At that point, I told Michael Davies it was time to “get it over with then”.

    4) This is neither here nor there, but the one thing that I am upset about is that VH-1 didn’t have the nutz to at least allude to the fact that there was a controversey. We all took the high road by not forcing the issue (and believe me the whole auditorium save for the TM’s friends were on our side) and they glossed over it like nothing took place. They played us off like chumps – they even edited in Victor shooting off his mouth again in their post game interview when I am sure that Andrew U had something said concillitory (spelling?) that they could have used.

    5) Regarding the “Go Home” answer from Webber’s Fresh Prince answer. VH-1 glossed over that one and it was incorrect. That said – this is a competition, I wouldn’t expect Webber to raise his hand and suggest to the judges that they should actually count him as incorrect after they had already given it to them.

    6) Lastly, Utz- your friends, family, and now fans should be proud of the way you have competed to this point and will continue to compete in tonight’s finals. You never acted less than a true gentlemen to me , my friend.

    Gary

    3 Men/Lazy

  10. Andrew Unterberger said

    thanks for writing, Gary. And yeah, it was pretty lousy of VH1 to edit that whole thing out, but I think we all knew that was how it was going to go down–fairness doesn’t always make for good TV.

    And I already sent something to Steve about the Weber “Yo Holmes” controversy, but I guess I should probably post an abridged version here as well:

    While I suppose I can’t say for certain that the words that came out of Weber’s mouth were “Yo Holmes,” I can promise with near 100% certainty that “yo holmes” is what he was trying to say. I’ve been in a car with him while he rapped along to the entire theme song, there’s no way at all that he didn’t know it was “Yo Holmes” (“Go Home” doesn’t even really make sense). My guess is that he panicked at Pat not accepting his original answer and choked on his words a little bit while expanding to “Yo Holmes,” which if you’ve seen Weber at all this competition, you should know is extremely in character.

    And even if not, they probably would have accepted “Smell you later” on it’s own, since those are in fact, his parting words. It was a really poorly written question, it should’ve said “these five parting words” if he had to give the whole quote.

    But yeah, it sucks, and for a variety of reasons, looks like our victory in this match will always an asterisk next to it.

  11. Gary K said

    I don’t doubt that Webber knew the correct wording, but I also don’t doubt that Shalonda knew the monkey was Marcel and not Maurice.

    In the end, it don’t matter. You beat us fair and square – there is no asterisk in my book.

  12. Victor said

    Hey,

    I just wanted to mention that I have nothing but respect for 3 Men and A Little Lazy. I, like Andrew U. felt terrible about the way things had to go down. I may smack talk, but I’m all about a fair competition, and it’s a shame that it got so messy at the end there.

    I expected VH1 to edit out all the controversy so I just did what I had done normally throughout the tournament during the interviews, I don’t want you guys to get the impression that I was indifferent or enjoying our technical victory.

    As for all the trash talking, what can I say but I was confident. I was confident in my abilities and the abilities of my team and wasn’t afraid to shout it out. It is a competition after all and nobody comes to a competition thinking they’re not the best. There was no doubt in my mind that our team would do well this tournament. I don’t recall being malicious towards other teams, it was mainly just boasting about us. I know that kind of arrogance does rub a lot of people the wrong way, but it’s just how I rolled.

    Surprising as it sounds, I’m not like that all the time, trivia is one of the few things I can truly afford to be arrogant about. Despite what you may have thought of my behavior I thought you guys were real cool and I enjoyed meeting you guys.

    -Victor

  13. Danielle said

    “But yeah, it sucks, and for a variety of reasons, looks like our victory in this match will always an asterisk next to it.”

    Andrew, in all honesty, I don’t think you will. (At least not to viewers who can construct complete sentences. I took a peek at the WSOPC message boards today…sheesh…) If you three were poor competitors, maybe, but your solid performances proved that you earned your place in the finals. I can’t think of an example off the top of my head, but there have been other accepted answers on the show. You guys are just going to catch heat because a) it was the semifinals and b) people over the age of 35 like to find reasons to be annoyed with people under the age of 30. Heh. I also agree with Gary that the question itself was poorly worded.

    I’m really enjoying reading the commentary here from you, Gary, and Victor. People should understand that whenever you watch any reality television, you are only catching a small, small glimpse of someone’s personality, and that small glimpse has been contorted in the editing process. You guys are funny, you’re entertaining, and you make good television.

    Thanks for writing about all of this – it’s really interesting to read!

  14. Gary K said

    Victor – I appreciate your response. I tried posting this on a different message board but I got an error message.

    Basically – I was stating that I thought all three of you guys were great guys at the core. The problem was that your constant and insistent trash talk didn’t allow any one to see a positive side of you.

    I kind of compare it to when someone in my office will come to tell me how their college football team is going to beat my college football team. Inevitably, I always say “Good – I don’t give a shit – I hope my college football team all get dysentery and crap themselves the whole game”.

    Well…it’s not an exact analogy, but hopefully you get the point.

    It would have been great to see the real Victor while we were there. Instead all we saw was the fabricated blowhard Victor that took way too much pride in knowing pop culture trivia.

    Unfortunately for guys like me and you – knowing this sort of useless knowledge gets you absolutely nowhere in life.

    I would have loved to talk to you in the green room about your family, background, likes and dislikes. I got to hear about that from most of the other contestants. Instead, you were like a trashtalking machine…and anyone with a pulse knows two things 1) It was all in good fun 2) there was much more to you than that.

    Anyway – as I have said before – you guys are really bright guys and I know there are big things on your horizons. I am sure we will be hearing good things in the future.

    Let’s definitely keep in touch every once in awhile.

    Gary

  15. Al said

    Damn, you guys must have won – well, that’s certainly the implication here.

  16. Steve said

    It was fascinating to read about the controversy over the “Her Majesty’s Secret Service” answer from the people who were actually involved. Like most viewers, I had no idea there was such a debate (though I did wonder why the answer which Gary had given incorrectly was then stated so that Andrew could not pick it up if he chose). I don’t know how Mr. Davies presented his argument for upholding the ruling, and if it was to everyone’s satisfaction, but (though it is neither here nor there) I can offer up a reason I thought it was incorrect and unpromptable. I have moderated quite a few quiz bowl matches here in the Boston area; in fact, I have moderated for, and very occasionally played against, the NYU team on which Twisted Misters played. In a match, I would have ruled Gary’s answer incorrect immediately, for this reason.

    It *materially* changes the title of the film. By a material change, I mean one that alters the intent and meaning of the title. Typically, in quiz bowl, at least, dropping articles “The”, “A’, or “An” in front of a title is acceptable, because it is not a material change. “Man with the Golden Gun,” for example, would be acceptable for “The Man with the Golden Gun,” because the title still completely indicates the man who was the golden gun.

    The one minor allowance of this rule is that, if the player were actually thinking “A Man with the Golden Gun,” but just said “Man with the Golden Gun,” he or she would still be counted correct even though he or she was technically thinking of the wrong title. However, you can only be judged by what you say, so this sort of “mistake” is not really a mistake at all, sort of like those subatomic particles whose instantaneous creation and destruction seems to violate the law of conservation of energy, but they exist for such short times that they cannot be directly detected; so they do not violate conservation because we can’t see them :). The circumstance is the same sentiment behind allowing players to say last names only, so that, even if they are thinking of an incorrect first name, they still are counted correct for giving *only* the correct last name (unless there is suitably obvious confusion, like between Wayans brothers).

    However, saying “Her Majesty’s Secret Service” goes beyond that allowance, in my view, because it switches the title from pointing to someone who is acting for the service to indicating the service itself. It drops not an article, but a preposition, which usually indicates something more critical. It would be a close call for me, and I would feel bad about having to make it, but there would also be little doubt that I was making the correct decision. On such a big stage as yours, of course, protesting makes a lot of sense, and I would understand that if I had to make the call.

    Regarding the point Andrew made about “The Grinch,” I have to say that, if I were writing that question for quiz bowl, I would have included a prompt for just “The Grinch.” The prompt is reserved for answers which are not technically correct but have special circumstances which would make a reasonable person think, with good reason, that it is the correct answer. That is a crappy vague explanation, I admit, but let me apply it to this case. Though the final release title of the film was “How the Grinch Stole Christmas,” there is a ton of promotional material (including the poster on its firstpage at the Internet Movie Database) in which it is called “The Grinch.” In fact, I remember a statement before the film’s release that its title had been shortened to make it more direct and accessible for audiences (!). I cannot source that right now, but I would have tried if I had written that question for any competition. Even though what appears on the actual film’s title card credit is the only exact acceptable title, cases like the one for “The Grinch” call for prompts (as does “Superman” for example, which is still, in many supplements, called “Superman: The Movie”). If there had been promotional material or other reputable sources referring to “On Her Majesty’s Secret Service” as “Her Majesty’s Secret Service,” I would have also prompted.

    I will be the first to admit, though, that these game shows tend to have pretty vaguely worded questions that lead to a lot of protestable situations. I remember a tiebreaker about naming the “principal actors” (or some term like that) from 2005’s “Crash.” The players went through most of them, and got to the last two, and couldn’t come up with them. I was struggling with it myself on my couch (I don’t know if I would have come up with the name under the lights), but then had an epiphany remembering the name of the actor who played the locksmith. When the remaining unsaid answers were revealed, I was shocked to learn that Michael Pena was not among them. Instead, they would have accepted William Fichtner or Jennifer Esposito. Now, the question for that is, how are they defining “principal actor?” Were they using a definition based on who was named in the SAG award? I don’t know, but I would have loved to hear someone explain how a guy who is in one of the more significant subplots in the film, is left off that list, while a guy who is in one scene (important though it may be) is included. That is a problem with a lot of game show questions, especially on “Millionaire,” where they ask for something that is “most commonly known as” or “most popular” or a phrase that “everyone uses.” Though you can usually figure out what they want, it leaves a lot of doors for protesting wedged open.

    Anyway, like I said, it is neither here nor there. And Three Men seemed (and seem) very cool about the whole experience, so I don’t mean to stir up anyone’s blood. I just thought it was interesting to get the chance to give my take on it (which has some experience behind it) in a forum the participants might actually come back to read. I thought your match was well played all around, and I really enjoyed watching it. Smell ya later! 🙂

    Steve

  17. […] Read the rest of this great post here […]

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