Dark Bilious Vapors

But how could I deny that I possess these hands and this body, and withal escape being classed with persons in a state of insanity, whose brains are so disordered and clouded by dark bilious vapors....
--Rene Descartes, Meditations on First Philosophy: Meditation I

Home » Archives » November 2004 » What is it about the Japanese?

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11/11/2004: What is it about the Japanese?

SpikeTV has just provided me a new guilty pleasure.... and surprisingly (well, maybe not), it hails from the wellspring of my two other guilty television pleasures (Iron Chef and Most Extreme Elimination Challenge (MXC)).

I'm talking about Hey! Spring of Trivia (to my surprise, no IMDB entry--yet).

The basic concept is pretty dumb. You have two hosts who provide a number of trivia factoids which have been submitted by members of the home viewing audience. Each member of a panel of 5 celebrity judges (at least, I think they're celebrities--keep in mind that if they are they're Japanese celebrities, and I'm color blind in that area of the spectrum) hits a button from one to twenty times as a video explains each factoid; each time a judge hits the button it registers one "hey". Presumably, the number of heys registered by a judge represents how impressed s/he is with that factoid. A total number of heys (from 0 to 100) is calculated, and at the end of the show the factoid which has been given the largest number of heys by the celebrity judges is awarded a "Golden Brain Award" (which contains inside it "a piece of melon bread which looks like a brain"--the implication is that the home viewer who submitted the winning trivia factoid gets the award).

Pretty dumb, but funny. Not to mention a fascinating glimpse into the Japanese mind.

What kind of factoids? Here's a representative sample from tonight:

  • The ashes of the inventor of the Frisbee, Ed Headrick, were molded into at least one Frisbee (the show implied more than one).
  • A spider under the influence of caffeine ("force fed" black coffee using a syringe) spins an erratic web (the hosts explained that caffeine affects the spider's central nervous system in a manner similar to how ethanol affects the human central nervous system).
  • Crayfish urinate from their face (inspiring one celebrity panelist to dub the crayfish "a penis with claws"--a line which, IMHO, was worth the price of admission all by itself).
  • Plucking a nose hair from a nostril will cause the eye on the same side of the face as that nostril to tear up.
  • The Sphinx (the one in Egypt) now faces a Kentucky Fried Chicken/Pizza Hut outlet (the highlight of this segment, IMHO, is the film crew member ordering some Kentucky Fried, and then they show us the cash register receipt from the outlet; at the very top of the receipt is printed: "K.F.C. SPHINX". If somebody'd offer one o'them on eBay I'd give serious thought to bidding for it).
  • An eraser flash frozen in liquid nitrogen (for 60 seconds) will spontaneously explode when taken out of the liquid nitrogen and placed back at room temperature
  • Termites will follow a line drawn on paper by a ballpoint pen (looks like a rollerball pen, not what I think of as a conventional ballpoint)--supposedly the ink used in the pen has a scent very similar to that of the pheromones that termites use to induce other members of the colony to follow them
Like I said, pretty dumb (though to me the very stupidity of the premise is part of the quirky charm of the show). But I think I can safely say that, given the nature of the bizzare factoids that they've unveiled in the first two episodes (which aired tonight), that it beats the hell out of any "reality" show being hawked by Fox this season.

Not surprisingly, this show is produced by Fuji, the demented geniuses behind Iron Chef

Len on 11.11.04 @ 09:21 PM CST

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November 2004

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