Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Trivial Characters

          I hosted trivia at Rojo tonight.  Something I signed up for on a whim a couple of months ago.  In some ways the only surprising thing about it is that I hadn't signed up to do it sooner.  My head is filled with useless information I'm not doing anything with.  A storehouse of random crap I have gleaned from years of watching movies and TV.  Things like who the director of Buckaroo Banzai is (W.D. Richter) or who plays the voice of the talking Johnny Cabs in Totall Recall (Robert Picardo).  I don't remember a word of French from college, but I do know that French new-wave film director Francois Truffaut is in Close Encounters of the Third Kind.  Go figure.  But for some reason, those are the things that stick.  Anyway, since my head is jammed packed with a lifetime of irrelevant information, I have labored to find a useful purpose for it all.  I mean, if it's going to take up space, it might as well make itself useful, right?  Well, tonight I found a great way to put it to good use.  This giant trivia-soaked sponge of a brain inside my head provided me with plenty of material to choose from when crafting the questions I asked.  Granted, the teams who played were very sharp and answered some of my most challenging questions with ease, but I felt like the range of questions was broad enough to make it interesting and they weren't all walks in the park.  Folks seemed to have a good time, and that was the main thing, but I did get to dive deep into the recesses of my random brain and pluck a truly trivial fact out.  This was a random fact I have been storing inside my noggin on the off-chance I might get to show it off one day.  It's not impressive, it's not important, and for most people, probably not that interesting, but it's mine, dammit, and I finally had a place for it tonight.  It was so special I saved it for the last question of the night.  And here it is.  Who is the only actor who appears in Star Wars, Raiders of the Lost Ark, and the 1989 version of Batman?  No Googling.  Any guesses?  No one at Rojo knew the answer.  It's not something the average person probably thinks about ever.  At all.  Not even once.  It's a piece of knowledge that has no bearing on anything useful, productive, or revolutionary.  I doubt there is a single situation where this fact would be of any use to anyone anywhere at any time.  But it's in my brain.
          The answer is William Hootkins (Who?).  An American character actor who played Red Six (affectionately known as Porkins) in Star Wars, Major Eaton (one of the Army Intelligence officerswho gives Indy his marching orders) in Raiders of the Lost Ark, and Lt. Eckhardt (the fat, corrupt police officer who gets shot by Jack Nicholson right before he becomes the Joker) in Batman.  He one of the those guys who most people have seen before in small roles in big movies, but never give a second thought to.  But those happen to be three movies I have seen dozens (and in the case of Star Wars, hundreds) of times, so after a while those esoteric details kind of crystallize in my brain.  I remember realizing one day that the same guy showed up in all three of those films.  It was like a lightbulb went off in my head.  It made me realize that I know way too much about this sort of stuff.  No offense to Mr. Hootkins, but I have a feeling my knowing this fact about his choice of roles in films probably pushed out an important fact I once learned but had to lose in favor of this piece of fluff filling the space.  I used to know Algebra, Physics, and other science facts.  I used to know the names of Roman rulers and Prussian poets.  Now all I can remember is that William Hootkins played Porkins in Star Wars and gets blown up right after Biggs Darklighter tells him to eject.  Come to think of it,  how do I know that Biggs' last name is Darklighter when it is never once mentioned in the film?  Or that he is played by Garrick Hagon?  See what I mean?  Useless!  Hopefully I will get to host trivia again and I can put some of the rest of this useless information to good use.  And maybe if I start sharing some of it, it will be replaced with better, more useful information.  Like how to defuse a bomb, or save the rainforests, or design a longer lasting lightbulb.  But, considering that I know that the weird guy in Robocop who says "I'll buy that for a dollar" is named Bixby Snyder, I doubt it.  


Gina said...

Is it sad that just your use of the phrase "and other science facts" immediately sparked the MST3K theme song to play in my brain?


Gina said...

Is it sad that just your use of the phrase "and other science facts" immediately started the MST3K theme song playing in my brain?