Ken Jennings Tuesday Trivia (and the true story of Yossarian)

Every Tuesday we bring you questions from former Jeopardy! champion Ken Jennings’ email list.  To play, email him at  This week’s questions are a little drier than usual, but the show must go on.

As for posting the answers below- questions 1 through 6 are pretty easy to Google, but if you know the answer to the weekly stumper, question 7, give it your best shot!

1.  What U.S. city is represented by a professional baseball and football team each named for a different bird?

2.  The upcoming book Yossarian Slept Here is a memoir by the daughter of what American author?

3.  The “nine-banded” is the most widespread species of what Western Hemisphere mammal, the only surviving member of order Cingulata?

4.  Who did the media nickname “Lady Lindy” in 1928?

5.  In the 2007 film Juno, what was the title character’s phone shaped like?

6.  What mountain range lent its name to the highest mountain ranges in both Australia and New Zealand?

7.  What unusual (and fairly specific) distinction is shared by these famous folks?  Robert Evans, Frank Gifford, Dan Hicks, Les Moonves, Mike Nichols, Garry Trudeau, Alexandra Wentworth.


I’ll break my own rule from above and provide the answer to #2, because it comes with a good story.   Yossarian is the protagonist of my favorite novel of all-time, Catch-22, by Joseph Heller.  In 2007 I was on a small island in the archipelago of Bocas del Torro, Panama, at the “grand opening” of a new beach bar.  The beach bar was simply an unfinished tiki hut with a cooler behind a table, so we were left unprotected from the elements when it started to pour.  I mumbled something to a Brit I was talking to about a “catch-22”, probably because no motorboats would take us home from the island during a storm.

A large bearded man whirled around at me.  “Did you say, Catch-22?”

“Indeed I did.”  I explained that it was my favorite novel, and the Brit chimed in that she liked it too.  The old man shook his head in disbelief.  He didn’t think anyone still read the book.  The rain drenched us and watered down our rum and cokes to unacceptable levels, he muttered, “Yossarian was my father.”

It turned out that Yossarian had been Joseph Heller’s co-pilot in Italy.  His real name was Francis Yohannon, and he was Assyrian.  Put that together and you’ve got “Yossarian.” The most interesting fact about Yossarian/Yohannon is that while his son Bruce characterized the portrayal of his personality and philosophy as accurate, the man went on to serve in Korea and Vietnam, retiring from the military of nearly thirty years of service.  Even as he rose through the ranks, however, he insisted on flying himself, believing it cowardly for a commanding officer to send men on dangerous missions they would not undertake themselves.

For the first decade after the book’s release, Yohannon would not admit that Yossarian was based on him, even to his own family.  Yohannon reluctantly accepted tickets to the Hollywood premier of the movie, which starred Art  Garfunkel and others.  During the screening, Yohannon grabbed Bruce repeatedly and whispered, “That’s not what it was like. It was really like this…”  It was the first time he had explained his character to anyone.   He came to embrace his portrayal, and Bruce says that today the family ranch in Montana is full of Catch-22 and WWII memorabilia.

And Bruce Yohannon? He now travels the world in search of the perfect beach bar.  “That’s how I wound up here.”

About Janos Marton

Janos Marton is a lawyer, advocate and writer.
This entry was posted in Trivia and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to Ken Jennings Tuesday Trivia (and the true story of Yossarian)

  1. Alex Marton says:

    All were or are married to news anchors/ TV personalities:

    Robert Evans- Phyllis George
    Frank Gifford- Kathie Lee Gifford
    Dan Hicks- Hannah Storm
    Les Moonves- Julie Chen
    Mike Nichols: Diane Sawyer
    Garry Trudeau: Jane Pauley
    Alexandra Wentworth- George Stephenapoulous

  2. Liz says:

    Great story about Yossarian 🙂

Leave a Reply to Liz Cancel reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s