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I’ve been writing a lot of trivia questions lately, for the monthly trivia night my friends and I host, and also as a fun way to learn things myself, with the notion of trying to host my own regular night in the future. What I’ve learned is that fascinating facts abound, but sometimes it’s a struggle to form a question around the facts, in a way that is “gettable” for people hoping to answer and also fun. And that’s especially true in the case of multiple choice questions.

Consider this: faced with a list of Jim Jarmusch movies, imagine the wealth of questions you could ask, the diverse plots, the range of actors appearing, the variety of styles. Jarmusch has used certain actors on multiple occasions, so the thought occurs to write a question with multiple choices where the correct response is the one outlier in an actor’s filmography with the snowy-haired auteur.

But then you run into problems, entirely based on the standard format of multiple choice questions including five or six potential answers. Bill Murray, for example, has been a favourite actor for Jarmusch, and so I thought to write a question asking simply, “Which of these Jarmusch films did not feature the inimitable talents of Bill Murray?” The issue: Murray only appeared in three films for Jarmusch, so there aren’t enough wrong answers to fill the requisite number of false choices. Same problem for Roberto Benigni, another Jarmusch favourite. The end result? Two potentially fun and informative questions that just can’t be written as multiple choice, and a sad quizmaster who loves the Jarmusch oeuvre but finds his options seriously curtailed.

There’s a happy ending, though: 2019 promises a brand new Jim Jarmusch film, The Dead Don’t Die, a “comedy zombie” movie, starring none other than… Bill Murray.

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The Shepherd

The Shepherd

The Sheep

The Sheep

The Don

The Don

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

This is the story of a humble sheep herder from New Zealand who finds success–and love!–at Oxford’s Department of Mathematics. A misunderstanding brings confusion and hilarity to the staid settings of academia when he brings his favourite ewe to the Fields Prize award ceremony.

With Hugh Grant as the shepherd, Dolly the Cloned Sheep as All the Sheep, and Malcolm McDowell as the crusty Dean of Mathematics who has a secret of his own!

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