Quirky trivia book offers beer nuts for the brain

August 29, 1993|By John Bordsen | John Bordsen,Knight-Ridder News Service


Michael Feldman


218 pages. $15 Fifteen years ago, Michael Feldman, a marginally employed English teacher, grabbed a microphone, slid into a booth at a greasy spoon in Madison, Wis., and started to give public radio a run for the money.

He was the morning guy for WORT, a listener-sponsored FM station on the long-haired East Side of that University of Wisconsin town. His thing: bantering with a ditzy waitress named Renata, and with street-smart kids late for junior high. It was kind of an "Art Linkletter's House Party" for the hip.

Mr. Feldman has graduated to "Whad'ya Know," an equally hip, weekly two-hour take on generic quiz shows that American Public Radio offers as a tonic to snore-prone public stations.

"Whad'ya Knowledge" is an assemblage of true-but-dopey questions, largely ones that Mr. Feldman, the host, has already asked. The 126 entries range from "What is a gibbous moon?" to "According to Domino's Pizza drivers, do women with rollers in their hair tip better or worse than women without?"

Here. Try this one:

If you slithered like a snake instead of walking the way you do, would you conserve energy?

The Feldman answer: "No, and you'd look damn silly besides. Both lateral undulation and concertina locomotion use more energy than putting one foot in front of the other -- so knock it off."

Mr. Feldman's book answers are annotated with quips, but his forte is live-radio humor. In print, the repartee tends to pale beside the general outrageousness of his queries.

When not on the road, the program originates from Madison, where both knowledge and beer are fresh, readily available and (relatively) inexpensive.

As a result, this book's questions are as quirky as the talk you'd hear in a tavern filled with grad students. We're talking beer nuts for the brain.

Please pass the missing answers? Sure. A gibbous moon is one that's two-thirds full; and yes -- women with rollers do tip better, and women in general tip better than men.

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