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January 11, 2012 / jwaxo

Pepper’s Adventures in Time (Trivia)

Forever associating Ben Franklin and hippies in my mind.

I don’t know exactly when this started, but sometime while I was in high school we stopped eating our family meal at the dinner table and started exclusively eating dinner in front of the TV, watching Jeopardy! while stuffing our faces from the coffee table. My elementary-school-self would be amazed at this development in family dynamic: merely being able to watch TV on school nights was virtually unheard of, but watching it while eating was a once-in-a-year treat that would have my siblings and I anticipating dinner throughout the entire day.

This isn’t exactly related, but is still a fun fact: singing at the dinner table was outlawed after several incidents lost to memory.

So, Jeopardy!. The fun game for the entire family, unironically or sarcastically. All of us that still lived together by the time this strange tradition arose loved trivia, or at least loved the fast-paced answer-and-question format and not-quite-recorded scores. I still can’t watch an episode without automatically calling out the proper responses, if I know–or think I know–what it is.

This shouldn’t be a surprise to anyone who knows me. When I first discovered Wikipedia (and that link should not be necessary, come on single person who clicked it without knowing what it was) I would spend hours just clicking through, reading every article I could find from head to toe.

[citation needed] notwithstanding.

It’s not really the knowledge that interested me with Wikipedia, and, relatedly, with Jeopardy!; it was the trivia. The little-known facts and interesting pieces of information that can come in handy once in a blue moon, on a trivia game show, or, if you’re lucky, in a video game.

I’m pretty sure that this all started with Pepper’s Adventures in Time. I could be wrong. But we can place the at least part of the blame firmly there.

Pepper’s was a point-and-click adventure developed by Sierra, much like our beloved Gobliiins games. Unlike those games, though, Pepper’s wasn’t one based purely on logic and timing puzzles, but on history lessons. Ostensibly created as a flagship product for an entire series of historic games about a time-traveling tomboy, the series was discontinued after the single game in it was made. Pepper’s sole adventure was to be in only one time frame: 1764.

After being accidentally transported back to colonial Philadelphia, Pepper sets out to find her lost dog and set right all of the anachronisms that her evil inventor uncle has created. In addition to the ridiculous inventory puzzles that these kind of games were known for, there was also a lot of silly little historic facts strewn about, as well as my personal nemesis: the multiple-choice quiz.

It really should have been easy. It really should have. But at the end of every act, there were three or four questions about Ben Franklin or the state of pre-revolution America. And I always. Got. Them. Wrong. I played this game through three or four times and still could not remember which responses were wrong or right.

Seriously, they were multiple-choice. It shouldn’t have been difficult at all.

This was really a stupid thing to dwell on, but I could not get those quizzes right. At this point, I can’t even remember what doing them did. I mean, you could beat the game perfectly fine without answering them correctly. But I guess, as has been shown, I don’t like playing games halfway. I had to get those questions correct.

What were they even about? Some were about Poor Richard’s Almanac. Some were about if Ben Franklin really would hang beads as a replacement for a door (long story). One question in particular, one that I still don’t know the answer to, is what Ben Franklin would do when he found potholes in the street.

Supposedly the answers to these questions were in the game somewhere, or in the manual that we had lost, and so I scoured every corner I could find. I read every bit of information I could scrounge up. I talked to every character.

Some of the trivia I learned and memorized, like that the kite and key experiment is pretty much proven to not have happened, and that Mexican jumping beans jump due to larva, and that the easiest way to solve mazes is to always turn the same direction at intersections. I soaked up those stupid little facts and held them in my head and found that I actually enjoyed them, enjoyed them a lot more than actual history lessons.

Because trivia, while useless and stupid, lets you solve multiple-choice tests when you least expect them.

And that maybe he filled them with marbles? I still have no idea.

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3 Comments

Leave a Comment
  1. Eric / Jan 12 2012 9:23 AM

    As for Benjamin Franklin, I’m pretty sure it’s a trick question. Benjamin Franklin filled pot holes with light. The street lights of Philadelphia were instituted by Franklin to warn night-time travelers of potential injury. Other possibilities include 1) an infamous pot hole on the Benjamin Franklin Expressway that’s been covered with a steel grate, and 2) Archibald Pothole State Park.

    As for Wikipedia, a quote: “So I was doing a search on Wikipedia, right, and I somehow came up
    with some German guy named Erich Mühsam, and I thought ‘Woah, that sounds like Eric Muhr!’ So, naturally, I felt the need to tell you about it.”

    • jwaxo / Jan 12 2012 9:29 AM

      Eric, you never cease to tell me things that I didn’t care about. Except that your name is similar to my favorite German poet/cabaret performer.

      • Eric / Jan 12 2012 9:37 AM

        I don’t have a lot of talents.

        Another quote: “Erich Mühsam? The Jewish anarchist? I don’t think we’re related. I am
        related to Gene Autry, however.”

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