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Published November 15, 2023

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On horseback, what gait is faster than a trot but slower than a gallop? Canter

I enjoyed watching Barbie in theaters (right after Oppenheimer, naturally), but I was disappointed by one plot point that never reached its obvious conclusion. In the movie, Ken installs a testosterone-fueled patriarchy in Barbieland, complete with beers, pickup trucks… and horses. Cowboys! Leather! Genghis Khan! Horses are so fundamental to Ken’s vision of masculinity that he equates them as one and the same. To be a man is to be a Horse Man. 

It’s a great gag, but we get to the end of the movie, and I can’t stop thinking – what about the Horse Girls?? There’s a whole Barbie Horse Adventures video game series! Equines are the clear path to establishing Gender Utopia. There is no Horse Girl or Horse Man; all are Horse People.

So in the name of liberation from the shackles of gender, you owe it to humanity to learn the different gaits of a horse. I recommend this hypnotic series of animations from Horses and Us, which set the rhythms of the horse walk, trot, canter, and gallop to royalty-free new-age music. It’s not just about speed – each gait has a different rhythm and footfall pattern. Horse locomotion is weird, making the creatures extremely difficult to animate. It’s not a surprise that humanity’s first foray into capturing motion on film was just to figure out how the hell a horse actually works.

Rabbit Holes

Speaking of horse girls:

There’s an upcoming Diablo Cody-written horror comedy whose title is a portmanteau of a technicolor notebook company and a classic Gothic lit character. What’s that smushed-together title? Lisa Frankenstein

Usually when I fact-check, I try to play along before I view the answer. It helps me discover accidental red herrings, and sometimes I end up with fun results. The initial version of this question said something like “colorful school-supply company,” so I spent a long time trying to make DRACRAYOLA work. “Technicolor notebooks” helps lead quizzers toward Lisa Frank – I definitely cribbed that adjective from this old Jezebel article about the extremely toxic workplace at the company, which the site described as a “rainbow gulag.” (RIP Jezebel.

NBA stars Nikola Jokic and Bogdan Bogdanovic play on the national hoops team of what country? Serbia

This was when I learned that the NBA has both a Bogdan Bogdanovic (of the Atlanta Hawks) AND a Bojan Bogdanovic (of the Detroit Pistons). No, they’re not related; Bojan is Croation, so they’re not even from the same country. If you’re not familiar with Slavic languages, “-ović” or “-ovich” suffix means “son of,” so Bogdan Bogdanovich is the rough equivalent of John Johnson. Heck, he’s not even the only Bogdan Boganovic with his own Wikipedia page.

In the early ’70s, “Witchy Woman” was a hit for what hall of fame rock group? Eagles

That’s just Eagles, not the Eagles. Of course, that’s not going to stop anyone from adding that pesky grammatical article, not even Encyclopedia Britannica. But according to Steve Martin, co-lead singer Glenn Frey insisted from the start that there’s no “the.” That man rode in planes, trains, and automobiles, so I trust his word. 

To “The” or not to “The” is a tricky question, so here’s some training: Nine of these 21 bands are missing “The” from their official names. Can you identify them? 

B-52s / Beach Boys / Beatles / Beastie Boys / Bee Gees / Buzzcocks / Cranberries / Dead Kennedys / Foo Fighters / Grateful Dead / Go-Go’s / Killers / Pixies / Ramones / Rolling Stones / Scorpions / Sex Pistols / Spice Girls / Smiths / Strokes / Talking Heads

Answers: The B-52’s, The Beach Boys, The Beatles, The Cranberries, The Go-Go’s, The Killers, The Rolling Stones, The Smiths, The Strokes. (Note: The Rolling Stones occasionally drop it themselves, as on their latest release, Hackney Diamonds). 

Pedantic Predicaments

Speaking of errant “the”s:

An antique fire engine always follows behind the famous hot air balloon shaped like the furry, blankly-staring head of what Forest Service spokescritter? Smokey Bear

Yep, Smokey Bear, not Smokey the Bear. But that’s not actually the correction I made: The initial version of this question referred to Smokey as a mascot, not a “spokescritter.” According to some Smokey Bear costume use guidelines, the Forest Service insists that he’s “not an Agency or Department mascot and should never be treated as such.” He’s meant to only “further awareness of wildfire prevention” at events “where a fire prevention message can be conveyed.” Schools, fairs, sporting events are OK… but don’t have him rep your holiday party or fun run, and God help you if you put him in your email signature.

The costume guidelines also note that Smokey should carry a round-point shovel when appropriate. It notes: “A bucket is also a good idea.” 

Great advice for us all.

Mark Gartsbeyn is a resident fact-checker at Questionist’s parent company, Geeks Who Drink. He writes a weekly column on the idiosyncrasies of his work, which appears on Questionist each Wednesday.

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