Wednesday, May 31, 2006

Talk to the Hand ... If You Dare

WARNING: There be talk of surgery in forbidden places. Run now and save yourself. For I will spare some details but not enough to prevent you from going a little green in the gills. And yes, I love it. Ha ha ha...

First some text messages I have sent over the last few days...

"Sorry man. No mobiles on the ward. Had a caudal epidural meaning I couldnt feel anything below my waist for 10 hours. This is a clandestine text btw"

"Dude. Have to scratch mooted pub quiz and tomorrow's meal. Just been discharged. Stitches. Swollen. The horror. Must eat more codrydamol and lie on my front. A ruinous op. Ouch."

"Youcchhh. I would go out tonite but my perineum has stitches in it that may painfully wear. Give morgan my birthday best wishes and see you on wed."

" Ey up chuck. Hospital was/is a real bummer and needed daily nursing care since (thanx mum!) These painkillers are quite nice ... mmmm"

The lastest curative assault on my nether regions has been the most prolonged and 'interesting' yet. Three days on the ward, watching Hospicom, the inhospital entertainment system and riffling through my question files. The on-demand movies were The 39 Steps and Sophie's Choice. I thought they were covering themselves in the kind of decorum that deflects accusations of bad taste from the sick and their relatives. Then I noticed they had Men & Motors as well, and lo and behold breasts came at me from my portable screen. Ooh, I remember when it were communal TV blah blah...

The last few days have been spent in a sort of melted haze. This has played havoc with my WQC preparations, as my mind has been so blurred by painkillers I am not sure I am capable of remembering anything.

Every day my mum changes my dressing and comes out with a seriously disheartening comment like "Oh my God" or "Bloody hell!". Her face as grave as the skies above (curse you weather for further dampening my mood). I would love her to say, it's coming along nicely. But as with myself my mother has a tendency to be blunt or to at least write her emotions across her face well enough for you to read.

The picture above is of the drip (so sorry but I had to show someone ... every one ... loooookk at it) entry point.

Unfortunately they failed with the first attempt due to the discovery of a valve and so moved on to stabbing another part of my hand. Strangely, my old fear of needles (yes, belonophobia) has gone. I'm so used to medical staff sticking sharp things in me that they might as well be tickling me with a feather duster (only of course, I would much prefer the tickling). Now I realise it was facing the fear, repeatedly, until I couldn't feel it anymore. That is how phobias die.

But don't worry! Please do not fret. I feel fine. Apart from the obvious undercarriage nastiness.

Music will save me
I even went to a gig tonight: The National. Third time unlucky it seems. They were powerful, magnificent etc. Yet we had the misfortune to watch it at Koko in Camden. A red labyrinth of the worst kind.

Bad sound in the pit. Vertigo-inducing balconies. Nattering idiots. Big heads. The National were hamstrung by all these insufferable factors. Curse theatres that have been converted into venues such as this. Curse them all and may they burn to a tender crisp.

Admittedly, my viewing enjoyment may have been slightly impaired by my narcotic-induced dopiness. I almost fell asleep standing up. Thank God I didn't, for I would have surely crashed to the ground in a flaccid heap. (Why do the words flaccid and heap go together so well, or is that just me?). People would have stared and murmurred, having been given further licence to talk over the band. Morons.

A final word. Or two: This gibberish has been brought to you by one who is with the analgesics. Hmmm, everything is so fuzzy, warm, distant. Saturday is gonna be fun.

On a lighter note
Recuperation means I will watch anything on TV. This time round I watched Paris-martial arts chopsocky joint Kiss of the Dragon. Appalling but fun nonetheless.

However, I had one delightful WTF moment. It must be shared with the world. It happened like this: Burt "Hey little hen" Kwouk was machine-gunned in the back by chairman Frank off Footballers Wives, sporting an American accent. Frank was then stabbed to death with two chopsticks to the throat by Jet Li.

What a wonderfully amusing world we live in. A world that constantly surprises you in the nicest way possible is one surely worth cherishing.

Thursday, May 25, 2006

It is kind of outrageous

I only hope this behaviour is not contagious

So a few weeks ago I was doing my 6th annual ransack of the Southport and Formby Quiz League question archives and was collecting my 1300-odd haul into a nice little file that I will look at when I'm really bored or when I do Brain of Britain again or finally leap into the deep blue sea of Mastermind, when I came across "Last month's quiz and answers".

As I was scanning the first round, a feeling of familiarity stirred in my memory...

1a Which French actor published 'My Cookbook' in 2005? GERARD DEPARDIEU
1b What fruit would you pick from a Mirabelle tree? A PLUM
2a Which planet shares its name with Mozart's last symphony? JUPITER
2b In which sport do Great Britain and the USA play for the Westchester Cup? POLO
3a Which is the so-called first Pythagorean 'real' number, considered the first genre of 'perfect' number? 3
3b In science, what is the S.I. unit of capacitance? FARAD
4a Which former Cabinet member is European Commissioner for Trade? PETER MANDELSON
4b In the Bible, how many books constitute the New Testament? 27

Hmm, what could it be? Hmm...

Then I went through the second round...

1a Eleanora Gough Harris became famous as which jazz singer? BILLIE HOLIDAY
1b 'The Road Back' was the sequel to which classic anti-war novel? ALL QUIET ON THE WESTERN FRONT
2a Brian Trubshaw was the first test pilot for which aircraft? CONCORDE
2b What value coin was a tester? SIXPENCE
3a Which 1948 film thriller starring James Stewart was director Alfred Hitchcock's first colour picture? ROPE
3b Who broke the land speed record in Bluebird in 1964? DONALD CAMPBELL
4a Which king ruled England from 1154 to 1189? HENRY II
4b Dr William Beatty reported whose famous last words? HORATIO NELSON

...and an overwhelming feeling of deja vu overcame me.

I had written most, if not all of the questions above (I would check but you know... I'm lazy).

Yep, the dudes or dudettes from The Wirral had lifted my daily newspaper questions wholesale and used them for the MQL Cup & Plate matches on March 8.

What about the people who read the daily quiz every day and used such knowledge to get ahead in the cup games? It would be a skewed and false result. By lifting so many questions from another source, you destroy the integrity of the competition and of your own question-setting capabilities.

Now, having thought about it for nigh on three weeks, I have to say I don't care a jot. It's actually nice to know that someone is reading my questions and copying them down. Kudos to you sirs and madams, you truly have great taste in trivia.

So in all truth it stops here and I will make no effort to get in contact and have a good old moan. These words will suffice.

I would care if they made money from such chicanery, however. As it is I believe it is all done on a voluntary business. Therefore, my feelings are overcome by a note known as "Meh". Let the sleeping dogs lie (having given them the odd poke with a stick).

But make no mistake, the internet may be a very big place but it is also one huge trap for plagiarists. People who look for trivia and quiz questions find everything in the end. And the transgressors will be exposed in silly blog posts like this one.

Because if the blogosphere ain't good for creating an atmosphere redolent of a witch-hunt and for tracking down those who have done naughty, naughty things, then it ain't good for nothing. Nowt and diddly squat. We will find you in the end.

Here endeth the finger pointing; I'm off to hospital tomorrow for more surgery. And yes, I've been keeping it quiet. After a while you think you just bore people with such relentless, grim detail and when people want to talk about it and you spell it out, they recoil with a disgust that is magnified by lager. Okay, silence be upon me.

Tuesday, May 23, 2006

The Postage on This Blog Doth Wax and Waneth

Back from Camber Sands.

Brain has been destroyed and is being reconstituted through a slow process of watching bad movies and eating actual food.

It was good fun. The weather not so. Wind in my face. Sand in my mouth.

I will write in further spurty detail in the next few days, but I am behind with work and have yet to really sort my itinerary out before I go back to hospital on Friday.

Ah! The Worlds. Yes, the Worlds. Hmmm... I'm going to bed. Bah bah.

Thursday, May 18, 2006

One after another: BH72-75

Sorry for my being lax. It seems I have been busy ... sleeping. Oh, and working.

As I am in a mad rush I thought I ought to give you the rest of the quizzes I had pre-written. Because otherwise you ain't getting nowt.

In other news: WQC preparations have been terrible and I hope to improve this situation by going to a music festival in a few hours.

And Stainer and I came second in the Prince of Wales quiz. Disgraceful, I know. It's those darned Chester Army bods again. We will have our revenge.

Anyway, I'm off. Indie-rock forever.

1 Alevis are adherents who practice a form of Shi'a and who mainly practice in which country?
2 Ainola was the home of which composer and his family from 1904 until 1972?
3 Which doctor published The Peter Principle in 1969 and The Peter Pyramid in 1986?
4 Which Jewish Polish-born composer wrote for nearly 150 Hollywood movies and won an Oscar for the 1953 Leslie Caron film Lili?
5 What is the most southern of the five Great Lakes of North America?
6 What common thermoplastic is used to make LEGO bricks?
7 Which US fantasy, sci-fi and horror's grave in Providence, Rhode Island, is occasionally marked with graffiti quoting the famous phrase from his short story The Call of Cthulhu: "That is not dead which can eternal lie,/ And with strange aeons even death may die"?
8 Jack Murphy or Murph the Surf was the jewel robber who stole which sapphire from the American Museum of Natural History in New York City on October 29, 1964?
9 What stone tower on a small island outside Bingen was restored by Hatto II, the Archbishop of Mainz in 968?
10 The Burma Valley is a low lying area on the border between which two African countries?
11 The Kings of Sitakawa ruled which island between 1521 and 1594?
12 Which famous sporting venue occupies an area that was once popularly known as Jones Road Sportsground and which was then owned by Maurice Butterly?
13 Who won a Best Actress Oscar for her role in the 1943 film The Song of Bernadette?
14 In finance, what term describes the measure of the degree to which a derivative is likely to have positive monetary value at its expiration?
15 Soyembika Tower, also called the Khan's Mosque, is possibly the most familiar landmark and architectural symbol of which Russian city that lies at the confluence of the Volga and Kazanka rivers?
16 Which Italian driver holds the record for entering the most Formula One Grand Prixs (257)?
17 Where was the 2006 Formula One European Grand Prix held in May?
18 What car company is known for its Straight-4, Straight-6, V8 and V10 engines?
19 The English footballer and manager Harry Potts is best known for his connections with which football club who he led to the First Division title in 1959-60?
20 Designed in 1910 by a famous early 20th century explore and further developed by Shale Niskin, what device obtains samples of seawater at a specific depth?
21 Located in the "Valley of the Deadly Nightshade", what Cistercian monastery in Cumbria was founded in 1123 by Stephen, Count of Blois and was built for the Order of the Savigny?
22 Which comedy producer created The Little Rascals, their first film Our Gang being produced at his studio in 1922?
23 Commemorated in the name of Porto's National Library, which Portuguese Romanticist and writer published his masterpiece Frei Luis de Sousa in 1843 and received the title Visconde or Viscount in 1851?
24 What world famous marathon finishes in Copley Square?
25 Which US tennis player won the first seven US Open Men's Singles championships (1881-1887) and was unbeaten in the championships?

Answers to BH72
1 Turkey 2 Sibelius 3 Dr Laurence J Peter 4 Bronislau Kaper 5 Lake Erie 6 ABS (Acrylonitrile butadiene styrene) 7 HP Lovecraft 8 Star of India 9 The Mouse Tower or Mauseturm 10 Zimbabwe, Mozambique 11 Sri Lanka 12 Croke Park 13 Jennifer Jones 14 Moneyness 15 Kazan 16 Riccardo Patrese 17 Nurburgring 18 BMW 19 Burnley 20 Nansen bottle 21 Furness Abbey or St Mary of Furness 22 Hal Roach 23 Almeida Garrett 24 Boston Marathon 25 Richard "Dick" Sears

1 What is the most common Italian surname?
2 Demolished and replaced with Greenwich Hospital in the late 17th century, which royal palace was built in 1428 by Humphrey, Duke of Gloucester, on the banks of the river Thames?
3 Goguryeo, Baekje and Silla were "The Three Kingdoms" that dominated which country for much of the first millennium CE?
4 Which music hall impresario was known for his "Fun Factory" slapstick comedy company?
5 The originator of the Russian bow grip, which Polish composer and violinist published his Grand Caprice Fantastique in 1847, the first of 24 opus numbers and which also included Legende and Marsz?
6 Deriving its name from the fact that members were not allowed to carry swords and so armed themselves with other weapons, what Parliament was held in 1426 in Leicester and saw the infant king Henry VI knighted in St Mary de Castro?
7 The existence of the antiparticles known as positrons was first postulated in 1928 by which British physicist as an inevitable consequence of his eponymous equation?
8 Comprising animals, plants, fungi and other groups collectively classified as protists, what term describes an organism with a complex cell or cells, in which the genetic material is organised into membrane-bound nucleus or nuclei?
9 Born in the village of Hokmavar, the historian and philosopher Ahmad Kasravi was from which country?
10 Which German city is famed for a suspended monorail that was established in 1901, (Friedrich) Engels' house, the gallery Von der Heydt Museum and being the place where aspirin was invented?
11 Named so because it was discovered on St Thomas's Day, which island nation is Africa's smallest country?
12 Best known for its locally built versions of the Fiat 128, which Serbian manufacturer based in the city of Kragujevac began collaborating with Fiat in 1955 to assemble versions of its car for Eastern Europe and sold its compact cars during the 70s and 80s under the Yugo brand? It also made military small arms such as the LKP-66 sporting rifle and LKP-96 machine gun.
13 Designed by Giorgetto Giugiaro and launched in 1990, what was the final Yugo model?
14 Chosen for exports of such popular models as the Riva over the domestic Zhiguli brand, what is the trademark of the Russian car manufacturer AutoVAZ?
15 Which 20th century Slovak composer wrote the popular male choral cycle O horach (From the mountain) a seminal work which established a Slovak national style, and the operas Krutnava (The Whirlpool, 1949) and Kral' Svatopluk (King Svatopluk, 1959)?
16 By what name was the paramilitary leader Zeljko Raznatovic better known?
17 Then aged 25, who was given five life sentences for shooting dead his adoptive parents, sister and twin six-year-old nephews at the family farmhouse in Tolleshunt D'Arcy, Essex in 1985?
18 The Swiss psychiatrist Paul Eugen Bleuler is best known for his contributions to the understanding of mental illness and the naming of "ambivalence", "autism" and what disorder which was previously called dementia praecox?
19 Which mathematician is best known for his two "incompleteness theorems", published in 1931 when was 25-years-old and only one year after finishing his doctorate at the University of Vienna?
20 One of the most famous violinists and composers of his day, which Vienna-born man after being wounded in WW1 settled in America where he wrote such works as the operetta 1919's Apple Blossoms and the 1944 musical Rhapsody? His cadenza for Beethoven's Violin Concerto is the one most often employed by violinists today.
21 Who coined the term Art Brut to describe art produced by non-professionals working outside aesthetic norms and from 1962 produced a series of works in which he limited himself to the colours red, white, black and blue and later turned to sculpture and making polystyrene works painted with vinyl paint?
22 The largest artificial explosion until the first atomic bomb test explosion in 1945, what name has been given to the incident of December 6, 1917 at 9.04am local time when the French munitions ship Mont-Blanc bound for France collided with the Norwegian ship Imo and exploded killing 2,000 people?
23 First written of in the early 14th century by Jean de Longuyon in his Voeux du Paon, what phrase descibed the pagan (Hector, Alexander the Great, Julius Caesar), Old Testament (Joshua, David, Judas Maccabeus) and Christian (King Arthur, Charlemagne, Godfrey of Bouillon) historical figures who embodied of the ideal of chivalry?
24 Defined as the mass in grams per 10000m, Decitex is a one unit measure for the linear density of what?
25 Which Asian country's provinces are subdivided into administrative districts called sums (or sumu, sumon and somon)?

Answers to BH73
1 Rossi 2 The Palace of Placentia 3 Korea 4 Fred Karno 5 Henryk Wienawski 6 The Parliament of Bats 7 Paul Dirac 8 Eukaryote 9 Iran 10 Wuppertal 11 Sao Tome and Principe 12 Zastava 13 Yugo Sana 14 Lada 15 Eugene Suchon 16 Arkan 17 Jeremy Bamber 18 Schizophrenia 19 Kurt Godel 20 Fritz Kreisler 21 Jean Dubuffet 22 The Halifax Explosion as in Halifax, Nova Scotia 23 The Nine Worthies 24 Fibres (like Denier) 25 Mongolia

1 In which book of the Old Testament does The Prophecy of Seventy Weeks appear, it stemming from an Angel appearing to the eponymous prophet and making a proclamation regarding the timing of important events in the future of the Jews?
2 The murderer Johan Alfred Andersson Ander was the last person have been executed in which country and the only person to have been executed by the guillotine?
3 Which group of islands in French Polynesia is known variously in the local language as Te Henua (K)enana and Te Fenua 'Enata which means "The Land of Men", its largest island being Nuku Hiva, formerly called Madison Island?
4 The Emperor Seamounts, examples of mountains which rise from the seafloor but do not reach the ocean surface, are an extension of which islands?
5 Launched in 1921 at a then staggering price of $7, what design of Parker fountain pen is one of the most recognisable ever, the original being nicknamed "Big Red"?
6 What name is given to South Korea's business conglomerates, the word meaning business group, trust or plutocrat in Korean?
7 Founded in 1938 by Lee Byung-chul, which South Korean business group has a name meaning "three stars" or "tristar"?
8 Of which territory was David Pearey appointed Governor and Commander-in-Chief in April 2006 by Queen Elizabeth II?
9 The FBI Ten Most Wanted Fugitives list is thought to have arisen in 1949 from a chat that J Edgar Hoover and the International News Service Editor-in-Chief William Kinsey Hutchinson had over what trick-taking card game?
10 The British concept designer John Wardley is best known for his work on what structures?
11 Located 100 miles from Arequipa, what geographical feature of southern Peru was long thought to be the deepest canyon on earth at 10,725ft, more than twice as deep as the Grand Canyon?
12 The Yarlung Tsangpo Canyon is now thought to be the deepest canyon in the world at 16,650ft. Where is it located?
13 Which Italian archaeologist, who excavated the House of the Vestals in the Roman Forum, is chiefly remembered today for his Forma Urbis Romae (1893-1901), the production of a map of the ancient city?
14 Introduced in 1931 to replace the peso at par and named after a Lenca tribal chief, what is the currency of Honduras?
15 Who preceded Terry Wogan as Radio 2 Breakfast Show presenter, staying in the job from January to December 1992?
16 First published in 1978, what was the first new national paper to be launched since the Daily Mirror in 1903?
17 Much like Spanish tapas, what term is given to various manners of bite-sized food items in the Malay Archipelago?
18 What name is sometimes given to Pandanus, the large genus of between 600-700 species of tree or shrub-like flowering plants, because their long, flat leaves grow in a spiral pattern?
19 Which large family of flowering plants includes epiphytes like Spanish moss (Tillandsia usneoides), which is possibly the smallest of them all, and ground plants like the pineapple (Ananas comosus)? Terry Pratchett wrote a children's book trilogy of the same name.
20 The Moose Test or the Elk test has been used in Sweden in what industry for decades?
21 What car company was founded as Darracq Italiana in 1907 by an Milanese aristocrat called Cavaliere Ugo Stella in partnership with the French car firm of Alexandre Darracq?
22 Which car company's many innovations since 1992 include the Trionic ignition with 32-bit microprocessor, Sensonic clutch and the Black Panel, and Safeseat rear passenger protection?
23 Now housing a museum, which writer lived at Finca Vigia (Spanish for "Lookout Farm") and wrote some of his greatest works there?
24 ISO 216 specifies international standard (ISO) sizes for what?
25 What sovereign Native American tribe of Indians is traditionally known as Diné?
26 What is another name for a pteridophyte, any one of a group of about 20,000 species of plants classified in the division Pteridophyta?
27 St Thomas Island or Snake Island is an island in the Black Sea that belongs to which country, and is subsequently the only place in that country where wild cacti grow?
28 What virus did a 31-year-old New Jersey computer programmer David L Smith release in March 1999?
29 What electronics corporation was founded in 1968 by Gordon E Moore and Robert Noyce when they left Fairchild Semiconductor?
30 Published in September 1740, which king and patron of Voltaire wrote the essay Anti-Machiavel, rebutting Machiavelli's The Prince?

Answers to BH74
1 Book of Daniel 2 Sweden 3 Marquesas Islands 4 Hawaiian 5 Duofold 6 Chaebol 7 Samsung 8 British Virgin Islands 9 Hearts 10 Rollercoasters (e.g. Nemesis and Oblivion at Alton Towers and the Dragon Khan at Port Aventura) 11 Colca Canyon 12 Tibet (along the Brahmaputra) 13 Rodolfo Lanciani 14 Lempira 15 Brian Hayes 16 Daily Star 17 Kuih 18 Screwpines 19 The bromeliads or Bromeliaceae 20 Automobiles (how to cope with sudden dangers) 21 Alfa Romeo 22 Saab 23 Ernest Hemingway 24 Paper 25 Navajo Nation 26 Fern 27 Bulgaria 28 Melissa virus 29 Intel (Integrated Electronics Corporation) 30 Frederick the Great, King of Prussia

1 Bobby Charlton left Manchester United in 1973 and became player-manager at which club, although he only stayed one season?
2 In which European city will you find the 28m-long pedestrian Bridge of Four Lions over the Griboedov Canal?
3 On which island did Tacky's rebellion take place in 1760?
4 The Battles of Warburg, Liegnitz, Torgau and Kloster-Kamp took place during which 18th century conflict?
5 Considered by Beethoven to be the greatest dramatic composer of his time, which Italian composer had his first major success with Lodoiska in 1791 and followed it up in 1797 with his best known work, the opera Medee? His Requiem in C-minor (1816) which commemorated the anniversary of the execution of King Louis XVI was a huge success.
6 The 18th century Burmese king Alaungpaya, or U Aung Zay Ya, established which dynasty, whose name meant "Heaven's platform"?
7 Lima lies on a desert-like coast adjacent to the bay in the Pacific Ocean where its port was built. What was it named?
8 What kind of music instrument was the Irish Piob Mhor?
9 Taking its name from a word game in the 1971 Monty Python's Big Red Book where the first player to write a novel wins, what name is given to an extremely short work of fiction with either exactly one hundred words or less?
10 What is the only South Iroquoian language that remains spoken by 15,000 to 22,000 people in Oklahoma and the "Reservation" in the Great Smoky Mountains in North Carolina?
11 Which German astronomer published his work Mundus Iovialis in 1614 in which he described Jupiter and its moons and claimed to have discovered the planet's four major moons some days before Galilieo and also claimed to have discovered the Andromeda Galaxy, though it was known to Arab astronomers during the Middle Ages?
12 Marquis reagent is used as a simple spot-test to identify what nitrogenous organic molecules?
13 From the Greek for "privative to breathe", what is the technical term for suspension of external breathing?
14 Which American applied mathematician is celebrated for his invention of dynamic programming in 1953 and also coined the term "curse of dimensionality" that he applied to the problem caused by the rapid increase in volume associated with adding extra dimensions to a mathematical space?
15 In statistics, what is a graphical display of tabulated frequencies called?
16 Named for an Italian philosopher, economist and sociologist, what special type of bar chart where the values being plotted are arranged in descending order?
17 Which Japanese professor and influential quality management innovator is perhaps best known for the cause and effect diagram (also known as Fishbone Diagram) that are used in the analysis of industrial processes?
18 In which country is the language Kven, officially called Kainu, spoken?
19 In Maori mythology, who was the first man?
20 Meaning "Silentdark", the Cichociemni were a secret unit of which army-in-exile created to keep in contact with their homeland during WW2?
21 What bird gives its name to the railway line from Norwich to Cromer and Sheringham in Norfolk?
22 Which Berlin-born prince is the present claimant to the Iraqi throne?
23 Which member of the Hashemite dynasty was king of Greater Syria in 1920 and became the first King of Iraq in 1921(-1933)?
24 Which hip hop artist was born Cornell Haynes Jr. in 1974?
25 Bordering Armenia, Turkey and Iran, the Nakichevan Autonomous Republic is an exclave of which country?

Answers to BH76
1 Preston North End 2 St Petersburg 3 Jamaica 4 Seven Years' War 5 Luigi Cherubini 6 Konbaung Dynasty 7 Callao 8 (Great) Bagpipes or the Great Irish Warpipes 9 A Drabble 10 Cherokee 11 Simon Marius 12 Alkaloid 13 Apnea 14 Richard Bellman 15 Histogram 16 (Vilfredo) Pareto 17 Kaoru Ishikawa 18 Norway 19 Tiki 20 Polish 21 The Bittern Line 22 Prince Ra'ad 23 Faisal I or Faisal bin Husayn 24 Nelly 25 Azerbaijan

Monday, May 15, 2006

A Minimalist Headline: BH71

I have pre-written some quizzes so I thought you might as well have a shufti.

You know I've tried to get down to the sweat-drenched, mentally rigorous revision regime that I've set myself for the WQCs. I have failed yet again.

Instead I watched a documentary on anti-vivisectionists, went to Tesco, read Nuts and Zoo magazine (hey, they were lying around the house just begging to be flicked through) and ate a bag of Skittles Sours. I now have the condition called Skittles Sour Brain. Too much sugar raging in my head.

Maybe tomorrow will be different.

Well done, sirs
Plus, congrats to Mancheser University on winning UC. In your face Oxbridge title hoggers with yer postgrads and stuff. IN YOUR FACE.

And when writer extraordinaire Peter Ackroyd says you were "brilliant", you may very well be quite good (you see we have to take into account the inflation caused by having esoteric or wide-ranging quiz knowledge that impresses everyone who doesn't do quizzes on a regular basis). By the way, it is believed that Ackroyd's brain is as big as house. A very very big house in the country.

1 The actor Nicholas Courtney is best known for playing which TV sci-fi character?
2 What famed summer palace and private residence was designed by Georg Wenzeslaus between 1745 and 1747?
3 Triggered by the attempted murder of King Joseph I in 1758, the Tavora affair was a political scandal that happened in which country and ended in the entire eponymous family's execution?
4 A polymer made from the monomer styrene and commercially manufactured from petroleum, what hydrocarbon was accidentally discovered in 1839 by the German apothecary when he distilled an oily substance he called styrol from storax, the resin of Liquidambar orientalis?
5 What term describes the chemical property in which a conjugated ring of unsaturated bonds, lone pairs, or empty orbitals exhibit a stabilisation stronger than would be expected by the stabilisation of conjugation alone?
6 Having a name meaning "to have a heart of steel", what was the chief tribe of Timurid emperors who lived in central Asia, Pakistan, Afghanistan and Hindustan?
7 Developed by the British inventor James Wimshurst during the 19th century, what was the Wimshurst machine used for?
8 Which Western "megastar" died in a car accident in October 1940 in Florence, Arizona and was killed by a suitcase?
9 Founded in 1915 by Holger Sorensen, the Danish company Stimorol is best known for producing what?
10 What Scottish team is the oldest ice hockey team in the UK?
11 What kind of insect is The Flame (Axylia putris)?
12 What is the technical name for a rib?
13 The son of Electra and Zeus, who was the legendary founder of Troy?
14 Which daughter of Nereus and Doris was the wife of Poseidon?
15 A solar eclipse on September 7, 1251 BC might mark the birth of which mythical figure at Thebes in Greece?
16 The world's first submarine attack, which American submersible craft attempted to attach a time bomb to the hull of British Admiral Richard Howe's flagship in New York harbour on September 7, 1776?
17 Which French poet was arrested on September 7, 1911 on suspicion of stealing the Mona Lisa from the Louvre?
18 Secret police agent Francesco Giullino is believed to have been responsible for which 1978 assassination?
19 Who published her first poem The Drowned Suns in the Daily Mirror in 1913 and between 1916 and 1921 edited the annual poetic anthology Wheels, but wrote only one novel I Live Under a Black Sun (1937) which was based on the life of Jonathan Swift?
20 In which country was the film director Elia Kazan born in 1909?
21 Which jazz tenor saxophonist's most widely acclaimed album Saxophone Colossus was recorded on June 22, 1956? (I have a feeling I have already written this question, and if so it appears I have already forgotten it. Tant pis.)
22 The Chilean scientists Francisco Varela and Humberto Maturana are best known for introducing into biology what concept that expresses a fundamental complementarity between structure and function?
23 What is the Russian word for tumulus, a type of burial mound or barrow, heaped over a burial chamber, often made of wood, and gives its name to a hypothesis Marija Gimbutas introduced in 1956 that combined archaeology with linguistics to locate the origins of the Proto-Indo-European speaking peoples?
24 What treasure hoard containing gold, silver and ivory objects was uncovered on the south shore of Lake Urmia in Kurdistan in 1947?
25 At 4548m, Zard Kuh is the highest point of which Middle Eastern mountain range?

Answers to BH71
1 The Brigadier in Doctor Who 2 Sanssouci, Potsdam 3 Portugal 4 Polystyrene 5 Aromaticity 6 Barlas or Birlas 7 Generate high voltages (an electronic generator or electrostatic machine) 8 Tom Mix 9 Chewing gum 10 Fife Flyers 11 Moth 12 Costa 13 Dardanus 14 Amphitrite 15 Heracles 16 Turtle 17 Guillaume Apollinaire 18 Georgi Markov 19 Edith Sitwell 20 Turkey (Istanbul) 21 Sonny Rollins 22 Autopoiesis 23 Kurgan 24 Ziwiye hoard 25 Zagros Mountains

Sunday, May 14, 2006

The Quizzes Go Septugenarian Or Is That #71? Very confusing. Anyway the BH quiz #70

I'm knackered. Been writing for money. I have to get ahead on my work in anticipation of next week's indie-rock extravaganza in good old Camber Sands.

I'm allowed to say "good old" in that silly nostalgic way: my parents once took me there when I was about four. I remember yellow sand and bad food, but then that's all I recall about trips to the beach until I was about thirteen when I swallowed some seawater thanks to an unexpected wave immediately after eating a "fish supper" and, you know, it didn't stay consumed for long.

But work I must so: a) I do not stay up all night before getting to Pontins in such a sleep deprived state that I have to cat-nap at regular, unfortunate intervals and b) so I do not go whooshing past the deadline like some person who has no respect for deadlines, like (fetching around memory for real-life examples) that Douglas Adams chap. And, as you know, he is stone cold dead, a corpse in the wormy ground. He is Fin. Deceased. Dead. A lesson for us all.

Being a seaside lad all my life (the longest I've ever been less than a mile away from the briny, condom-filled depths for more than two weeks was when I got to university; not that I take any advantage of that, the sea is there for reassurance like Polaris nuclear missiles I suppose; truth be told, I haven't seen it up close for seven months), I can't say that my upbringing would have been any different.

I can only say that the faint smell of sea air, rather than rural cow dung or carcinogenic exhaust fumes, will always be comforting, and that I would not have pumped so much coinage into arcade machines when I was a teenager or interacted with so many old people who went to the south coast to die very, very slowly.

If you are going to die on or near a beach you might as well make it a tropical one covered in gloriously bright and smooth-looking sand rather than one covered in dog turds and large pebbles that could become skull-smashing projectiles in the two seconds it takes to pick up and throw.

Also, I would have eaten a lot less Wimpy meals and believed that the north was a real place with normal people, rather than this near mythical, sun-less place populated by entrail-eating Dickensian grotesques with accents so incomprehensible and phrases so confusing that when I met one for real I would have to bring a translator and a Stanley knife. Just in case. But don't worry, I stopped thinking such things when I watched Geordie Racer at school. Understanding through pigeons and educational drama you see.

I digressed again ... sorry
Yes, learning from previous fatal errors, I pay now in toil in order to reap the free time I will spend drinking holiday camp lager and staring at Joanna Newsom. Joanna Newsommmmm.

Some of it is quiz-related. It always is. Setting more questions. And more questions. Rejecting loads for word-length and suitability.

Look I've set some below. Have 'em.

I've decided to put the answers in this post too and will be doing so for the foreseeable future, reminded as I am of the annoyance of separating the Q's and the A's and then not finding the latter the next day.

Posts will not be a daily occurence for the next month either, seeing as I have to try and concentrate on prep for the Worlds on June 3.

But I will post most days. I promise thee.

1 What new 100m world record time has Justin Gatlin just set at the Qatar Grand Prix?
2 Which cloning scientist has been indicted for fraud, embezzlement, and violation of bioethics law in a South Korean scandal over his faked stem cell research?
3 Who has taken his oath of office for a third consecutive term as President of Uganda?
4 In which country has the heavily censored collaborative online encyclopedia Baidu Baike been launched?
5 Who is the UK's new Minister for Local Government?
6 Which lifetime senator has been elected the new President of the Italian Republic?
7 The starboard engine of what cruise liner, sailing from Tilbury to St Peter Port on Guernsey caught fire 16 miles off Eastbourne on May 6?
8 Which country celebrates Rotuma Day on May 13, in celebration of the anniversary of its cession to the UK in 1881?
9 Who succeeded his father Childeric I in 481 as King of the Salian Franks?
10 Giving its name to the tribes of Salian Franks that settled in a certain area in the 4th century and which gave rise to the Merovingian dynasty that came to dominate what is now France, what is the very old name for a region between the Meuse and the Scheldt rivers in France and Belguim?
11 Who was king of the Ostrogoths (488-526), ruler of Italy (493-526) and regent of the Visigoths (511-526)?
12 Which Christian priest, who lived and taught in Alexandria in the early 4th century, taught that God the Father and the Son were not co-eternal, deeming the pre-incarnate Jesus as a dvine being who was created, and was consequently inferior to, the Father at some point before which the Son did not exist?
13 What battle, fought between the eventually victorious Franks and the Alamannii, traditionally took place in 496 at Zulpich, Nordhein-Westfalen about 60km east of the present German-Belgian frontier?
14 In which country did The May 13 Incident race riots take place in 1969, leaving at least 184 people dead in 1969?
15 Signed into law in 1888 by Isabel the Redeemer, the Lei Aurea formally abolished slavery in which country?
16 First performed in 1848, Maamme is the national anthem of which European country?
17 Which general has been appointed to replace Porter Goss as director of the CIA?
18 Located in a former water-powered grinding workshop on the river Porter, the Shepherd Wheel museum is situated in the southwest of which English city?
19 What is the alternative name for fungal infection candiadiasis or thrush, of which Candida albicans is probably the most common?
20 Masaniello, whose name is an abbreviation of Tommaso Aniello, was an Amalfi fisherman who became leader of the revolt against Spanish rule in which city in 1647?
21 Stanley Sadie is most associated with which reference work, whose work saw such major changes to it as the growth of nine volumes to 20 in the sixth edition in 1980?
22 Which major composer has a museum devoted to him at 25 Brook Street in Mayfair?
23 What classic jazz compostion and song, with words and music by Duke Ellington, Barney Bigard and Irving Mills, had its main theme provided by Bigard who learned it in New Orleans from his clarinet teacher Lorenzo Tito who called it a "Mexican Blues"; Ellington's distinctive arrangement being first recorded by his band for Okeh Records on October 30, 1930?
24 Taking its name from the first nonsense 'word' of the mnemonic sequence for the letters of the Arabic alphabet, in what type of writing system is there one symbol per consonantal phoneme, sometimes also called a consonantary?
25 Who was the first British monarch to visit Russia?
26 In maths, what name is given to either a positive integer such as 1,2,3 etc or a non-negative integer, 0,1,2, ... the former definition being generally used in number theory and the latter preferred in set theory and computer science; it having two main purposes, counting and used for ordering?
27 Named after a British mathematician, philosopher and economist who died aged only 26 in 1930, what branch of mathematics studies the conditions under which order must appear?
28 There are 15 species of which small oily fish of the genus Clupea found in the temperate, shallow waters of the North Atlantic and the Baltic Sea, ths most abundant of which is the Atlantic?
29 What type of creature is the large Machete Savane (Chironus carinatus)?
30 To whom are attributed the set of four equations that describe the behaviour of both the electric and magnetic fields, as well as their interactions with matter?
31 Whose law of induction gives the relation between the rate of change of the magnetic flux through the surface S enclosed by a contour C and the electric field along the contour?
32 During which 19th century war did two military clashes known as the Battle of Lacolle Mills take place?
33 In which French film of 1946 did Jean Marais and Josette Day play the title roles?
34 Born in 1980, the supermodel Liya Kebede hails from which country?
35 Winner of the 1939 Nobel Prize for Literature, which Finnish writer gained international fame for his novel Nuorena nukkunut (The Maid Silja/Fallen Asleep While Young) in 1931?


Answers to BH#70
1 9.76 seconds 2 Hwang Woo-Suk 3 Yoweri Museveni 4 China 5 Ruth Kelly 6 Giorgio Napolitano 7 Calypso 8 Fiji 9 Clovis I 10 Toxandria 11 Theodoric the Great 12 Arius 13 Battle of Tolbiac 14 Malaysia 15 Brazil 16 Finland 17 Michael Hayden 18 Sheffield 19 Yeast infection 20 Naples 21 Grove Dictionary of Music and Musicians 22 Handel 23 Mood Indigo 24 Abjad 25 Edward VII (in 1908) 26 Natural number 27 Ramsey theory 28 Herring 29 Snake 30 (James Clerk) Maxwell's equations 31 Faraday's 32 War of 1812 33 Beauty and the Beast 34 Ethiopia 35 Frans Eemil Sillanpaa

Saturday, May 13, 2006

Le Weekend

I GIVE YOU: the t-shirt that Time Out considered "rather trendy".

Unfortunately it's also a bit smelly now, which means it needs a wash, and, you say, well that never stopped you from wearing certain whiffy items of clothing before, and I'll say, I've changed my friend, and then hit you over the head with a brick for your insolence.

But it is the very first photo on this blog, meaning this is a momentous occasion even if the picture quality is rubbish. You can also see my toes. Last night, by coincidence, I was told to retake a photo because the cigarette I was holding had made a white diagonal bar across the viewfinder, rendering the picture silly and ruined. That's all I have to say on the matter. And no longer will I make reference to the t-shirt that was thought (SHUT UP, YOU DIVVY). Thanks I needed that. Never again will I mention the (CUT).

Right. I don't quite have the time to get quizzical today, seeing as I have to be in Chichester in a few hours, which will turn into six hours because of my current tendency to procrastinate and be so late that it is almost way past fashionable and into the "so last year" category of entrances. I am getting so late that I will miss engagements and instead turn up a week earlier for some.

But what has been the funniest thing I've seen lately? Has to be the Ambiguously Gay Duo. Inspired by Batman and his catamite Robin (it's obvious isn't it?) and voiced by Steve Carell and hero de jour Stephen Colbert, the AGD cartoons packed full of dialogue to do with "holes" and "thrust" and lines like "You're obsessed with this gay thing". Hilarious.

Also, reminds me of the best Brokeback Mountain parody trailer I've seen lately. I thought they were getting ultra lame until I saw He Man and Man-at-Arms GET IT ON. Kind of. Brokeback Snake Mountain has added poignancy for adding childhood memories into the remix. Now we see, for before we were blind and into buying all the action figures. is possibly the greatest ever website in history, if you ask me right now what website has the potential for changing people's long ingrained habits. It is a treasure chest fit to bursting with all sorts of obscure, amusing and amazing crap.

Frustrations That Will Turn Me Into a Super Villain no. 1
Coming home with the Saturday or Sunday newspapers and finding the magazine supplements have somehow vanished in transit or even before we bought them. Hear me roar in pain. Aaaarrrgggghhh. I have to go out and buy The Guardian again. Curse, you The Guide, for being the best supplement in the whole kaboodle shedongdong.

Thursday, May 11, 2006

The Children are Our Future, Future, Future, Children, Future, Children, Future

Warning: this entry might turn a bit Rowley Birkin QC

It was charidee quiz night at the Auberge restaurant in aid of Kids Company: five rounds of questions in a room that turned out to be extremely small and very busy. The kind of venue where you can see vapour rising and where you can't even hear your own voice in the tumult.

There was free booze. It ran out rapidly. I blame the jugs. When word gets round the jugs always come out.

I spent much of the evening looking moody, smoking Marlboro Menthols, surveying the straining frustrated looks on people's faces. I was waiting for the papers to mark them and to man the CD player during the music intro round. That went okay. The marking not so. The marking was done in an abject rush. It was also done in a very sozzled state. Ha ha what a coincidence that my two friends' teams came fifth and second out of 30-odd teams. Perhaps, I just know clever folk or maybe I talk to them a bit too much about quiz questions.

So the marking: basically, the winning team won with 64. Only it was out of 67 (I think) and they got at least more than four wrong on the music round This made no sense, so I re-marked it. They actually got 56 1/2. Trust the eejit who marked one of the 20% of papers I did not to decide the outcome because I couldn't get to it in time. How fate works its mysterious and silly ways. Laugh with me in frustration now.

I went back and redid the others if they felt a bit squiffy, which was why second-placed Stainer, Brewis and Honey got 73(!) in the first marking. Only that was unpossible, so I audited it again. Funny though. If I had left it at that, nobody would have cared. Both Katie AND Jesse said: "I don't like champagne, anyway". Gracious quizzers cheated out of their rightful prizes can say that, as long as it doesn't concern cash or holidays to foreign countries. Champagne first prizes tend to hack off losers least, it seems.

Yet even now I'm looking at their paper (er, I took it home). If they had played their joker on Nostalgia and Kids's Stuff they would have scored 24 and not just the 20 on General Knowledge, making them certain winners. Joker tactics are always an absolute minefield.

But alas, that is the way of the charity quiz, always ending in noisy drunken chaos and the victors waving crates of champers about with smug grins on their faces. Who should never have won. I was OUTRAGED. Which is quite funny when you realise I was marking the quiz and helped organise it. Spitting feathers and moaning and whining like a sorry so-and-so. The sulk went on for a good twenty minutes, but once the results were read out that was it, they were set in stone.

Anyway, I've got the bitching out of the way so look at the good side. It was a very good side. We raised £2800 and there was 180 people not the expected 150. This outshines every little niggle by far. I guess it was helped by all those "clues" people received for a pound, something that, at first glance, hardly affected the scores anyway, which was nice to know.

CJ was also a sterling host who livened up both the proceedings and questions and even had his name chanted football-like at the end by a section of Eggheads fans. So thanks to him and all the organisers, who I must say, were frightened then highly stressed and finally quite rat-arsed.

And sadly, sensitive goalkeeper David James didn't turn up. Considering the raucous atmosphere and slim chance of heckler identification maybe that was a good thing. He might have cried, like a big useless baby and moaned about the lack of preparation for such an event.

The quiz(zes)
One lady walked by me and said: "It's too difficult" with the voice of a wounded lamb. All I can say is that: she should have seen the first draft.

Thus the first and final drafts are here for you (well, I have to give you a quiz some time). Witness the miracle of the journey from the first draft to final product. Amazing.

The first lot I bashed out in about two hours.

1 On Coronation Street, in whose arms did Mike Baldwin recently die? KEN BARLOW
2 The company Lacuna Inc. plays an crucial role in which 2004 Michel Gondry film? ETERNAL SUNSHINE OF THE SPOTLESS MIND
3 Which DJ composed the theme tune to the TV series Big Brother? PAUL OAKENFOLD
4 Which British actor has played the roles Eddie Valiant, Harold Shand and Ray "Raysie" Johnson? BOB HOSKINS
5 Who are Vince Noir and Howard Moon? THE MIGHTY BOOSH
6 For one point each, give the surnames of the characters played by Al Pacino in 1983's Scarface and 1993's Carlito's Way? MONTANA and BRIGANTE
7 Not including the ones used in the phone-in prize competition, how many boxes are used in each episode of the Channel 4 game show Deal or No Deal? 22
8 In which 1988 tearjerker does Barbara Hershey's character Hillary Whitney Essex die of a disorder called viral cardiomyopathy? BEACHES
9 In which city was the actress Sienna Miller born? NEW YORK CITY
10 In the TV series Lost, Oceanic Airlines Flight 815 departed from which city before crashing onto the mysterious, uncharted island where it is set? SYDNEY

1 The Take is the latest novel from which British thriller writer? MARTINA COLE
2 For one point each, give the first names of Harry Potter's parents. JAMES and LILY
3 In the name of a nursery rhyme, which two creatures "were fighting for the crown"? THE LION AND THE UNICORN
4 The daughter of which Irish Prime Minister has been responsible for such books as PS, I Love You and Where Rainbows End? BERTIE AHERN
5 Which fictional detective finally met his end in the novel Curtain, a book that was written in the early 30s but was not published until 1975? HERCULE POIROT
6 Which late American novelist and Nobel Prize winner published his last full length novel in Ravelstein in 2000? SAUL BELLOW
7 What was the name of the 1965 film that Orson Welles adapted from Shakespeare's Henry IV plays and in which he played the lead role of Falstaff? CHIMES AT MIDNIGHT
8 Which famously reclusive novelist has made two appearances on The Simpsons, the first of which saw him wearing a paper bag with a question mark on it? THOMAS PYNCHON
9 Clare Abshire is the title character of which recent bestselling novel? THE TIME TRAVELER'S WIFE
10 Which woman author has just become the first writer ever to be shortlisted for The Booker, The Orange Prize and The Whitbread book awards in a single year? ALI SMITH

Nostalgia and Kids' Stuff
1 Who currently lives in an apartment with a 22-year-old wannabe entertainer called Stephen and Stephen's nephew Dave and niece Molly? BASIL BRUSH
2 Which cartoon character with vertical, wavy hair was created in 1985 when Susan Rose sketched him on a napkin? FIDO DIDO
3 What was the first name of the Hungarian engineer who invented the Rubik's Cube? ERNO
4 According to legend, which symbol gained huge popularity after DJ Danny Rampling returned from Ibiza in the late 80s and used it on a flyer for the dance music club Shoom? SMILEY
5 In which village do Ted Glen, Reverend Timms and Dr Sylvia Gilbertson all live? GREENDALE (in Postman Pat)
6 Who loved the Remington Shaver so much that he bought the company? VICTOR KIAM
7 For one point each, give the names of Thomas the Tank Engine's feminine-sounding coaches that first appeared in 1946. ANNIE and CLARABEL
8 In a famous 80s Levi's ad, which male model famously stripped down to his underpants to the sound of Marvin Gaye's I Heard It Through The Grapevine? NICK KAMEN
9 The Syrian is the best known of the 18 species of which common household pet rodent, others including the Chinese and Roborovski? HAMSTER
10 Produced between 1983 and 1989, what toys each came with a unique birth certificate signed by their creator Xavier Roberts? CABBAGE PATCH KIDS or DOLLS

General Knowledge
1 For one point each, give the first names of the sons that Jade Goody has had with Jeff Brazier. BOBBY and FREDDIE (accept BOBBY JACK if they're being smart alecs)
2 The store John Lobb at number 9 St James Street is famous for making what? SHOES
3 Active from 1949 to 1952, the avant-garde art movement COBRA took its name from the initials of which three European capital cities? COPENHAGEN, BRUSSELS, AMSTERDAM
4 Aubagne, near Marseilles, is famous for being the location of which organisation's headquarters? FRENCH FOREIGN LEGION
5 The internet grocery retailer Ocado is most associated with which supermarket chain? WAITROSE
6 Which country is divided into fourteen parishes including Clarendon, Hanover, Manchester and Saint Andrew? JAMAICA
7 Which King of England died at the Convent of St Gervais near Rouen in France from abdominal injuries received from his saddle pommel when he fell off his horse at the Siege of Mantes? WILLIAM THE CONQUEROR
8 ALA, DHA and EPA are important acids in human nutrition that are generally given what name? OMEGA-3 FATTY ACIDS (accept what OMEGA-3)
9 Which fashion company make handbags by the names of Scarlett, Sienna, Marcelle and Claudia? KOOBA
10 Who was recently revealed to have had a two-year affair with Tracey Temple? JOHN PRESCOTT

1 Len Martin, until he died 1995, and Tim Gudgin are the only two men to have performed what role on TV? READ OUT CLASSIFIED FOOTBALL RESULTS
2 In which small town is the Royal Liverpool Golf Club, the place that will host this year's British Open golf championship? HOYLAKE
3 Which Australian batsman has just become the fastest player to reach 1000 Test runs, doing so in 166 days and beating Andrew Strauss's old record by 62 days? MICHAEL HUSSEY
4 Which rugby union team won the first John Player Special Cup, now known as the Powergen Cup, in 1972? GLOUCESTER
5 In which round-the-world event did Ellen MacArthur finish second in in 2000, also becoming the youngest ever competitor to finish the race? VENDEE GLOBE
6 Richard Leman, Ric Charlesworth and Dhyan Chand are famous names in which sport? HOCKEY
7 In exact metres and centimetres how high is a netball ring and net suspended above the ground on a post? 3m and 5 cm (or 10ft)
8 For one point each, in horse racing what name is given to the father and mother of a foal? SIRE and DAM
9 Gary Lineker finished his international football career on how many goals? 48
10 In what events did Kelly Holmes win her two gold medals at the 2004 Olympic games? 800M and 1500M

1 In the nursery rhyme Sing a Song of Sixpence, how many blackbirds were baked in a pie? "FOUR AND TWENTY" (24)
2 The Miami cardiologist Arthur Agatston is best known for which diet that he detailed in a 2003 book with the subtitle "The Delicious, Doctor-Designed Foolproof Plan for Fast and Healthy Weight Loss"? SOUTH BEACH DIET

And this one is after I was told to tone it down. Three times.


1 On Coronation Street, in whose arms did Mike Baldwin recently die? KEN BARLOW

2 The company Lacuna Inc. plays an crucial role in which 2004 Michel Gondry film? ETERNAL SUNSHINE OF THE SPOTLESS MIND

3 Which DJ composed the theme tune to the TV series Big Brother? PAUL OAKENFOLD

4 Which British knight, famous for his Shakespearean roles, won a Best Supporting Actor Oscar for playing the butler Hobson in the film Arthur? JOHN GIELGUD

5 Vince Noir and Howard Moon make up which comedy act that can be seen on BBC TV? THE MIGHTY BOOSH

6 For one point each, give the surnames of the characters played by Al Pacino in 1983's Scarface and 1993's Carlito's Way? MONTANA and BRIGANTE

7 Not including the ones used in the phone-in prize competition, how many boxes are used in each episode of the Channel 4 game show Deal or No Deal? 22

8 In which 1988 tearjerker does Barbara Hershey's character Hillary Whitney Essex die of a disorder called viral cardiomyopathy? BEACHES

9 In which city was the actress Sienna Miller born? NEW YORK CITY

10 In the TV series Lost, Oceanic Airlines Flight 815 departed from which city before crashing on the mysterious, uncharted island where the show is set? SYDNEY

Nostalgia and Kids' Stuff

1 As seen on a BBC show, which glove-puppet currently lives in an apartment with a 22-year-old wannabe entertainer called Stephen and Stephen's nephew Dave and niece Molly? BASIL BRUSH

2 Which Disney cartoon character was born in 1867 in Glasgow to parents Fergus and Downy? SCROOGE MCDUCK

3 What was the first name of the Hungarian engineer who invented the Rubik's Cube? ERNO

4 What was the name of the dog in Enid Blyton's Famous Five books? TIMOTHY or TIMMY

5 In which fictional village do Ted Glen, Reverend Timms and Dr Sylvia Gilbertson all live? GREENDALE (in Postman Pat)

6 For one point each, give the first names of Harry Potter's parents. JAMES and LILY

7 For one point each, give the names of Thomas the Tank Engine's feminine-sounding coaches that first appeared in 1946. ANNIE and CLARABEL

8 In a famous 80s Levi's ad, model Nick Kamen stripped down to his underpants to the sound of what Marvin Gaye song? I HEARD IT THROUGH THE GRAPEVINE

9 The Syrian is the best known of the 18 species of which common pet rodent, others including the Chinese and Roborovski? HAMSTER

10 Produced between 1983 and 1989, what dolls each came with a unique birth certificate signed by their creator Xavier Roberts? CABBAGE PATCH KIDS

General Knowledge

1 For one point each, give the first names of the sons that Jade Goody has had with Jeff Brazier. BOBBY and FREDDIE (accept BOBBY JACK if they're being smart alecs)

2 What Brazilian cocktail has a name roughly translated as "little country girl" and is traditionally made with the distilled sugar cane spirit Cachaça [Ka-SHA-sa], limes, sugar and ice? CAIPIRINHA

3 Which John Constable painting of 1821 features Willy Lott's cottage and was originally titled Landscape: Noon? THE HAYWAIN

4 Which famous organisation moved its headquarters from Sidi-Bel-Abbas in Algeria to Aubagne, near Marseilles, in 1962? FRENCH FOREIGN LEGION

5 Which British cookery writer and TV presenter has written the books How to Eat: Pleasures and Principles of Good Food and How to Be a Domestic Goddess: Baking and the Art of Comfort Cooking? NIGELLA LAWSON

6 Which country is divided into fourteen parishes including Clarendon, Hanover, Manchester and Saint Andrew? JAMAICA

7 Which King of England died at the Convent of St Gervais near Rouen in France from abdominal injuries received from his saddle pommel when he fell off his horse at the Siege of Mantes? WILLIAM THE CONQUEROR

8 Which famously reclusive American novelist has made two appearances on The Simpsons, the first of which saw him wearing a paper bag with a question mark on it? THOMAS PYNCHON

9 Which Englishwoman was appointed chief designer at Paris fashion house Chloe in 1997? STELLA MCCARTNEY

10 Who was recently revealed to have had a two-year affair with Tracey Temple? JOHN PRESCOTT


1 Len Martin, until he died 1995, and Tim Gudgin are the only two men to have performed what role on TV? READ OUT CLASSIFIED FOOTBALL RESULTS

2 In which small town is the Royal Liverpool Golf Club, the place that will host this year's British Open golf championship? HOYLAKE

3 Which Australian batsman has just become the fastest player to reach 1000 Test runs, doing so in 166 days and beating Andrew Strauss's old record by 62 days? MICHAEL HUSSEY

4 Which rugby union team, who play their home matches at Kingsholm, won the first John Player Special Cup, now known as the Powergen Cup, in 1972? GLOUCESTER

5 Who finished second in the Vendee Globe round-the-world yacht race in 2000, who in the process became the youngest ever competitor to finish the race? ELLEN MACARTHUR

6 Leighton Rees was the first man to win the first darts world championship in 1978. Which country did he represent? WALES

7 In exact metres and centimetres how high is a netball ring and net suspended above the ground on a post? 3m and 5 cm (or 10ft)

8 For one point each, in horse racing what name is given to the father and mother of a foal? SIRE and DAM

9 Gary Lineker finished his international football career on how many goals? 48

10 In what events did Kelly Holmes win her two gold medals at the 2004 Olympic games? 800M and 1500M 

And finally, the tie-breaker that was never asked
According to iTunes, how long in minutes and seconds does Isaac Hayes's version of Walk On By last? 12 minutes and 3 seconds

The Future of Time Wasting Is Here

People are embracing the "Random Article" button on Wikipedia. Especially Martin Kettle, who (in-joke stemming from doing a quiz with him alert) really needs to find out what REALLY was the first film that saw Ginger Rogers and Fred Astaire paired up together (even if he is otherwise an already remarkably knowledged-up fellow).

You see, this is the beginning of something extraordinarily silly and trivials and perhaps educational in a few lucky cases. And truth be told, I can't help setting every BH quiz I do from it. (Btw, like James Bond it will return. Possibly around the release date of Casino Royle. Long may Daniel Craig flourish in the role, but I quite liked Timothy Dalton to be honest, so the Blond Bond is probably utterly doomed).

Tuesday, May 09, 2006

I was "even wearing a rather trendy T-shirt"

The Time Out "dream team" pub quiz feature is out today, so read it if you want to know what it's like to do a pub quiz and have someone write an article about it.

As I may have hinted, it's what I did while everyone was at Brain of London and, yes, I do know how all quizzers familiar with the scene will scoff at the dream tag, but the world of journalism creates its own reality, so there.

However, I liked it; it's a good article: hey, it's about QUIZZING. If it was about chess it would be utter crap.

Having said that, I am a pedant and there are some factual inaccuracies (I mentioned the £441 jackpot, said Peter Osgood, for example), but who said I was king of the verification and truth. Neither am I one to phone up and write letters delineating these outrages, even if I have been on the receiving end of some forceful corrections from the vicinity of the Home Counties.

One thing, however, I've really taken against is the use of brainboxes, eggheads and geeks, among other similarly derogatory phrasings (bloody journalists!), especially when "none of them appear to be the speccy social misfits that I'd expected" (that could have been arranged, oh yes). It's anti-smartism at its most lazy and unthinking. Who says stereotypes aren't alive and well in the most youthish-oriented and respected magazines in the land.

Have a big twat-spank on the wrists you big listings guide you.

And if Graham is reading this, good article.

Monday, May 08, 2006

"OK, wait. If you guys are really us what number are we thinking of?" "The BH quiz no. 69, dudes!" "Whoa"

Yep, when in doubt, always resort to a modified classic film quote (hey, the Bill and Ted movies are modern classics that tackle weighty issues, like world peace and rock music and making off with medieval babes).

So it is tomorrow and I have given you another quiz (I can hear the yawns resound through the land like a shuddering sonic boom). Rejoice now, for tomorrow and the next day this will be an original quiz question-free zone.

I'm giving you the answers now because I am unsure as to when I will be next sitting before my laptop and conjuring up hundreds more fiendishly difficult posers.

But it will probably be Thursday, on account of deadlines, top secret exciting TV stuff and the Wednesday night charity quiz event (SET BY ME, tremble at those very words and do some despairing while you're at it). You know I did tone it down three times before it was deemed acceptable. i kinda knew people wouldn't know who created Fido Dido on a napkin (in reverse, of course, but it sounded too tricky, apparently) and went back and dumbed it down to normals level. I now realise it was completely necessary.

One more thing about Saturday and the Quizzing events generally
Being a film ponce and looking to the Worlds next month and looking back at past GP papers I am worried about certain things that aren't really covered by Quizzing's brilliant indie competitions.

I may be blind wrong and incredibly stupid, but I can only remember one foreign film question being asked in an individual GP in recent memory, and that was because I set it myself on Aleksandr Sokurov.

I have by my right side, where all my past and pained and scarred question papers happen to be, Part II of last year's WQC. I see in the Media section nine questions pertaining to non-American foreign films (Chinese, Polish, Danish, Vietnamese etc). There appears to be a crucially important disparity there between what we get in the Worlds and what we get in the relatively parochial arena of Entertainment at regular events.

Never mind that I am an aforementioned film ponce who buys absolutely shedloads of Artificial Eye and Tartan distributor DVDs (they so pretty on my shelves) as well as Ernst Rohmer and Pedro Almodovar box sets that I haven't had the willingness to watch (yikes, they are speaking funny).

And I still don't know jack about world music: Feli Kuti? Who he, for instance? Okay, I do know who he is purely on account of his marrying billions of wives and writing a song called Zombie and there being the chance in the coming years to do a bonus linking it with the Cranberries (ugh) "poignant" paean to the horrors of The Troubles, along with who had a US no. 1 with Time of the Season.

So what could be the answer? Perhaps, more foreign stuff on people like Hugh Masakela obviously to help us acclimatise to the rigours of world quizzing, but maybe something else could be done.

Considering that events have gone monthly and numbers haven't actually declined (you see, we're getting addicted to the crack-like effects of competition), how about one or two world knowledge tourneys strung throughout the year, so we do not have so much of a culture shock? I would certainly welcome it and it would make a change.

Thanks to the massive and some might say even visionary efforts of Chris, Jane and other Quizzing organisational luminaries for which I and a vast number of quizzers are and will be eternally gratful, the Worlds and Europeans have, however, became the blue riband events of the quiz calendar and, dagnabbit: this is the for the good of all UK quizzers who want to make a mark on the wider and far bigger stage. It will do all us Brits the world of good.

Anyway, just an idea I'm throwing out there. One that will probably be torn down like a sparrowhawk would a swallow from the sky. And I have to admit, I'm not one for the populist and inclusive way of doing things. If I was American I would be a champion of the ACF way and look snidely upon all the other thicky pretenders.

A Further Note on My Most Recent Reading
Just finished Penguins Stopped Play: quite simply the most moving book I have read in a long time and made all the more so due to its hilarious and colourful stories and judicious and angry swearing.

I implore you (in the friendliest manner possible; imagine me smiling like a Cheshire feline as I shout this): Read it now.

Harry Thompson will be missed. The thought of his not writing another book (his Peter Cook biography was probably the best I had ever read concerning a showbiz figure) gives you a terrible grave, aching feeling that spreads from your gut until it invades all of your body. I truly feel for all the people he has helped out, influenced and sadly left behind in the prime of his life.

It makes me think about the true and possibly unintentional aim of literature: to speak to people and enrich their lives with words that can only be their own, even if they are no longer with us. Unintentional because the vast majority of brilliant writers do so because they can and not to cement their place in the literary canon of history.

It is a form of immortality, if you will, for as long as such gifted people can live in the memory of those who have read him or her. Maybe, I'm thinking of Angela Carter with the her part, but it really applies to all writers touched with the sort of genius that should never die and has the legs to spread like a seed through many future generations.

There are too many hacks drowning out all of our senses with the sound of their ugly self-important bombast. We know that they have nothing to say, thus it is our duty to evangelise all those who deserve to be heard and who have the ability to change our own lives in their seemingly small but ultimately crucial ways. If we do not, the masters of the mediocre will win.

Not that Thompson's cricket book is up there with Crime and Punishment, obviously. Only that some voices can inspire in the best, most life-affirming ways and need to be thrust in the faces of everyone you know. The thrustees will always be grateful for it.

Taking a few huge steps back from the metaphorical ledge of eternity: here's that quiz.

1 As seen in popular brands made by Guittard, Valrhona and Lindt & Sprungli, what term is used for chocolates rich in cocoa butter?
2 The Venezuelan dish pabellon criollo contains rice, stewed black beans and which meat?
3 Which American woman wrote the 1934 anthropological work Patterns of Culture?
4 The writing on the wall "Mene, Mene, Tekel, Ufarsin" predicted which the downfall of which Biblical king, who was killed later that night? And which ruler therefore took over?
5 Which Greek tragedian wrote Cyclops, the only complete satyr play in current existence?
6 Which Italian artist is known for his equestrian statue Gattamelata at Padua?
7 Now a museum, what palace is the oldest public building in Florence and was originally called the Palazzo del Podesta since it housed the Podesta, the highest magistrate of the Florence city council from 1261?
8 Based on New York, the fictional city of Isola was created by which late crime novelist?
9 What common village name in England is Anglo-Saxon for "farm by a marsh"?
10 Established in 1962, Blue Ribbon Sports eventually became which company in 1971?
11 The medieval tale and Noh play The Tale of Heike tells the story of the rise and fall of which clan?
12 In SCUBA diving what two-word phrase describes pairs and groups of three divers diving together and co-operating so they can rescue each other in case of an emergency?
13 Premiered in 1947, which Britten comic opera took its original source material from Guy de Maupassant's story Le Rosier de Madame Husson?
14 Which German singer was born Gabriele Susanne Kerner in 1960?
15 Literally "King of Heaven", what is the title of the emperor of Japan as head of the Shinto religion?
16 Emperor Akihito was the first cousin once removed of which woman, who was the last crown princess of Korea and died in 1989?
17 St Dunstan, abbot of Glastonbury, was exiled from England in 956 due to the efforts of which king?
18 Who was the 5th Sikh guru who completed the original version of the Guru Granth Sahib in 1604?
19 Which of the five pillars of Islam refers to fasting between dawn and dusk during Ramadan?
20 Known for their bolt-action rifle and automatic pistol, what was the surname of pioneering gunmakers Wilhelm and Peter Paul?
21 In 1908, which American athlete became the first person to win ten golds, having competed in four Olympic games?
22 Tom Blake's lightweight designs revolutionised which sport or activity?
23 At which palace did Queen Victoria marry Prince Albert on February 10, 1840?
24 Which NBA team play their home matches at the United Center?
25 A famous legend of which country tells that its people were born from the same womb by the marriage of Lac Long Quan (Dragon Chief) and Au Co?
26 BCS theory, named for its creators Bardeen, Cooper and Schrieffer, successfully explains what ability if certain metals at low temperatures to conduct electricity without resistance?
27 In betting slang, what word denotes the best bet of the day from a particular tipster?
28 What was the name of the low-level civil war that Zimbabwe underwent during most of the 80s that means "the early rain which washes away the chaff before the spring rains" in Shona?
29 St Marcellin Joseph Benoit Champagnat founded with Jean Claude Colin which religious order of men in the Catholic Church dedicated to education?
30 Formed in 1973, the Barisan Nasional or National Front or NF has ruled which country uninterrupted since independence?
31 Where has the People's Action Party won 82 out of 84 seats in a recent general election?
32 The final ruling dynasty of Korea, which ruling family was officially founded by the general Yi Seonggye of the Jeonju family in 1392 (lasting til 1910)?
33 So named because of a statistic published in The Economist which showed how much a minority of the UK population owned of the country's wealth, what left-wing theatre group was founded by playwright John McGrath in 1971 and split into Scottish and English factions in 1973?
34 The Tortellis was a spin-off of what US sitcom, lasting for only four months in 1987?
35 The Boeing Company, the world's largest aircraft manufacturer, was founded in Seattle in 1916 but is now headquartered in which city?

Answers to BH no.68
1 Couverture 2 Beef 3 Ruth Benedict 4 Belshazzar, King Darius the Mede 5 Euripides 6 Donatello 7 The Bargello palace 8 Ed McBain 9 Marston 10 Nike 11 Taira clan 12 Buddy system 13 Albert Herring 14 Nena 15 Tenno 16 Bangja, Crown Princess Euimin of Korea 17 King Eadwig or Edwy 18 Arjan Dev 19 Sawm 20 Mauser 21 Ray Ewry 22 Surfing 23 St James's Palace (Chapel Royal) 24 Chicago Bulls 25 Vietnam 26 Conventional superconductivity 27 Nap 28 Gukurahundi 29 Society of Mary or Marist Brothers 30 Malaysia 31 Singapore 32 Joseon Dynasty 33 7:84 34 Cheers 35 Chicago

Sunday, May 07, 2006

This Much I Now Know ... Since Saturday That Is

Another Saturday, another Quizzing GP: more or less the same result. Third place, which coming after my second (New Brighton), fourth (Northampton) and third out of the Brits at Tallinn, suggests that if I ever drop out of the top five again, I will surely gnash my fists, teeth, whatever, in despair and disappointment. The expectations are swelling. Must wallow in pessimism to ensure I will be Zen content when such a tragic event is going to occur (which it surely will).

Oddly, I found this GK paper hard work. "God, some of this paper is really hard work," I thought to myself, and which I muttered to myself again in the garden whilst on a fag interlude. The answers, or at least a good few of them, came eventually. I did wonder whether it was infinitely more satisfying this way: sweating the blighters out like bullets, pounding my brain until it yielded an answer or a good guess. Maybe, it is. Then again, I'm thinking that total effortless recall of absolutely everything is the supremely satisfying way to do things. Doing it any other way is knackering. In contrast to previous indie papers this one did feel harder and as evidenced by more score (11 down on the previous GP) it most certainly was. But when did I ever think this malarkey was going to be easy? It is not and should not be easy. It should stretch you and titles aren't won just by turning up on the day.

Hey, Lily Cole is a real person. I spent most of the GP trying to convince people that she was, or more pertinently find someone who actually answered that question correctly at Abbots Langley. So look at this and look at all those magazine covers AND her positively humungous Wikipedia entry. She's a bona fide supermodel make no mistake *harumph* and wait until I ask a question on Devon Aoki.

I did the Clicker quiz like everyone else. It was mid-table mediocrity for me. Good fun and decent questions, though, (I feared the worst as is the case with all technological advances like the neutron bomb and remote control bombers) despite the disturbing "Here's the answer" sound. Almost gave me a heart attack. Generally, it took all its 'exciting' cues from Millionaire which isn't a bad stratagem. But was the same heartbeat background music necessary for a 'fun' quiz? Now the funny thing about "fun quizzes" is that the more fun they are, the less I am interested in them and therefore the less fun I find them. It's a paradox, I tells ya. Give me 500 hardcore mother truckers in a written test and I'm in hog heaven. Give me gadgets and smiley mass audience participation and I wince. Perhaps, it is the whinging elitist in me (who often likes a bit of a barney with the twatty misanthrope).

Next stop: Newport for the Worlds. That's in Wales. Not on the Isle of Wight, which would have been so much more convenient. (I was going to write interesting but then I thought the Welsh constabulary might want to add me to the list of people they want to prosecute for perceived anti-Welshism)

I don't really feel like doing a BH quiz. So I won't. Samey behaviour gets to me for a while. I have a low tolerance for any sustained activity; it's why I ruled out coalmining as a possible occupation at quite a young age. In fact, three months is a bloody miracle. Be thankful that I've written any quizzes for you at all, or even more than two questions.

I can't take pure streams of trivia at the moment. So I'm reading Penguins Stopped Play. And, yes, I didn't quite give up the acceptable literature, well not the non-fiction kind. Possibly because it feels like vital oxygen for my brain. Without it, it will wither and go a little bit crazeee. Harry Thompson's book is the kind of warm, laugh-out loud experience that happily ties in with the greatest sport in the world, and which I am damned to love. Just a pity that Thompson, the man who moulded famed producer of Have I Got News for You and They Think It's All Over among many other programmes you will have heard of, died of inoperable lung cancer despite never smoking a single cigarette his whole life and will never write another word. But please read the book. Here's an extract, which like all extracts is an unsatisfying little apetiser because it happens to be an extract and not the whole book. Like eating cheese samples on cocktail sticks in supermarkets while some Brenda watches you hawk-eyed. Maybe.

It makes me miss playing the game. Club cricket or just plain cricket: the act of bowling and hitting (fielding I never cared for, unless I could do an athletic dive that proclaimed: "I used to be quite a good shot-stopper in my youth"). Oh yes, I remember. Looking back, one of the reasons I think I gave up was that I happened to be turning into Ian Austin and not Waqar Younis as I had hoped. The company was great: generous, fun-loving guys, except for the bastard Blackwell twins. Two irredeemably evil oiks whose tobacco-stained parents had probably adopted from an Aryan sperm bank, since they resembled their progeny so little. I would go back and see what was up at my old club but fancy that Ashes fever is still raging and helping recruitment. Better to wait until English cricket is stuck in the mire of defeat and decay again, before I venture onto the playing field again.

I promise one thing though: more confidence when I am batting. And more violence. I have realised that not caring about what the ball can do to you is tantamount to winning half the battle. But I have realised that my cricketing mission in life is to perfect my one great delivery: the outswinging off-cutter. So good was it that it is was far too good to get many wickets. At club level the slip cordon is practically non-existent and deficient in the area of catching ability. And, of course, batsmen have to be good enough to get a nick on the bloody ball, which they never were (I may be exaggerating my own ability here). The funny thing is that I have even learned to bowl an inswinger. Last year, I perfected the delivery, although whether it will work with a real cricket ball on a real 22-yard pitch rather than with a ping-pong ball in my cluttered corridor at home is open to debate.

I'm a sucker for big summer movie trailers. I know they've got me when I watch them three times in a row. To wit: Superman Returns. It makes my heart pop in several, different tingly frequencies. I like the fact that it retains the John Williams score and story arc of the first two Reeve movies. Only what about Kate Bosworth? She's a bit young, and never looks like a mother, let alone Margot Kidder with five years added on. I only hope she doesn't start skiing on pistes made of pure Bolivian marching powder or hang around in people's gardens while searching for her knocked out teeth.

I am a helpless, vulnerable creature. More suction: I've been sucked into the ol' watching entire DVD series on TV again. This time it is Firefly, though I really do think that it has the same soundtrack as Deadwood. But Firefly is so witty, urbane and imaginative and has so many strong female role models and is a western SET IN SPACE NO LESS. No wonder it got cancelled after 14 episodes. Surprised it lasted even that long to be honest.

iTunes is on. Listening to That's When I Reach For My Revolver by Mission of Burma. Incendiary and invigorating in a great way, but not very good for your concentration due to its potential for making you want to run out on the streets and incite a revolution.

(PS. Don't worry. I'll write another quiz. Maybe not today, maybe not tomorrow, but soon and you may regret it for the rest of your life.)

Thursday, May 04, 2006

Goodbye or Au Revoir?

O Team Secretary, My Team Secretary!

This week the world of our quiz league team, the BHs, was rocked and shocked by the resignation by Stainer of both the Team Secretary position and his place on the squad.

Well, more slightly surprised really. The lad works mighty hard at his job and given the iniquitous life-consuming nature of Tuesday evening league quizzing, something had to give. Thus, it is goodbye QLL.

So we bid a fond farewell to Stainer, co-founder and most excellent organiser of our team. While we are facing off with pensive brows and straining brains in secluded rooms all winter, Tuesday night pub quizzes are now his and Katie's for the taking. Good luck to you, sir! And madam!

Naturally, the Whitman poem I have highlighted would have far more resonance if we had actually won the Division I title in the last game and THEN lost him. Or if he had been shot in the back of head by an assassin moments after leaving the Division I title play-off in Stockwell that we had only just won in magnificent fashion.

But looking at it, maybe it is better the way it turned out.

We head into the future. The bright and black and flooded future. What will become of us? And what will become of our name?

Modifications are called for in light of this departure, although We Will Crush You may seem just a little too bombastic. Even if Bayley quite likes it.

You know, I have this b-film postcard on my bedroom wall. It advertises a film called The Mother Truckers. Any objections?

BH#68 ... The Weekend Starts Here

I will be harrowing the north in the next couple of days, so I thought I might as well give you something to mentally chew on while I am negotiating the infinite mysteries of this nation's rail system.

So here's a quiz. It is constructed of questions. Why not read it. Go on.

1 Similar to the wigwam which is found in the NE of North America, what name is given to a domed hut-like dwelling used by the semi-nomadic Native American tribes of the SW?
2 Adopted on May 3, 1791, what country's national constitution was the first to be codified in Europe and is the second oldest constitution in the world?
3 Which World Cup skiing champion was shot dead on April 30 in Les Crosets, Switzerland, along with her brother Alain? Her husband Gerold Stadler is suspected of the murders.
4 In nature, on what structure would you find decorations known as stabilimenta?
5 In which European capital would you find the baroque palace known as The Favorita?
6 Isolated from oil gas, what organic chemical compound was given the name bicarburet of hydrogen by Michael Faraday?
7 The man who apparently inaugurated Easter as an annual festival in Rome, who was pope from 166-174 and is sometimes called the Pope of Charity?
8 Sukhumi is the capital of which self-proclaimed republic in the Caucasus that is de facto independent of Georgia?
9 Which British physicist was born John William Strutt in 1842?
10 First staged on March 22, 1920, El maleficio de la mariposa (The Butterfly's Evil Spell) was the first play by which dramatist?
11 Whose first significant poem was The Isle of Statues, a fantasy work that took Edmund Spenser for its poetic model?
12 Located north of Ginnungagap, what "Land of Mists" is the realm of ice and cold in Norse mythology?
13 Which storyboard artist, who laid the groundwork for Bugs Bunny and Daffy Duck, created Woody Woodpecker in 1940?
14 Who played Detective Sergeant Joe Friday in the TV series Dragnet?
15 In which European capital did a major fire start on Friday, June 5, 1795, a conflagration that destroyed 941 houses and made around 6,000 residents homeless?
16 In which English city is there a modern art gallery called The Ikon?
17 Which French scientist's paradox states that the drag on a body immersed in an inviscid, incompressible fluid is zero?
18 What sea was known to the Romans as the Mare Suebicum 2000 years ago?
19 Death and The King's Horseman is considered by many to be which African writer's greatest play?
20 SK Brann are a Norwegian football team from which city?
21 Which eccentric saloon-keeper and arbitrary judge (c.1825-1903) called himself The Law West of the Pecos?
22 Who presents the three-hour long TV show La Noche Del Diez?
23 Which European city unveiled the first ever public monument to Bruce Lee on the 65th anniversay of hs birth last November?

The Provinces
I have been back home for the past few days, as you may have noticed. My quarantine has failed miserably. I have only read questions for something like 20 minutes. Yes, not even half an hour. Life defeated me. So I really did something like 0.5% of the work, which by any standard is a phenomenal defeat of my previous aims. Well done to my bad self. I blame the following things, however: cooking my own food, the TV, non-quiz reading material, and, most of all, iTunes. I wave my fist at thee Steve Jobs. I wave it vociferously.

I did pop out to The Windmill for a pub quiz. Last time we crushed the opposition. It felt good. On Tuesday I returned hoping to repeat the dose of complete and utter brilliance and pay for my taxi fare home.

Alas, we failed. The O-Bomb went PHUT rather than PWEH-PWOORRRRR!!! Alas, the quizmaster made it really easy, the chubby swine who sits at the bar, hiding his swinish belly. We scored 31 and came 4th=. The winners got 34. We considered ritual suicide, but thought better of it and drank some of the red wine that we had won in the first round for a spot prize (a.k.a. the Pity Us Prize). The wine smelled faintly of blackberry. Well, that's what the label told me to say. If it said rancid pork chops I would say it smelled faintly of rancid pork chops. That's what wine labels do: hynoptising you with lies playing upon your own ignorance.

I have the compensation of knowing that everybody who beat us in the pub must have cheated (whatever explanation is there for the miserable defeat). No, that's unfair. We were just sunk by the five errors, as opposed to the winner's one. They were The W.C's: old enemies from the time of The Lamb, almost ten years ago.

POW! - We put Madame Tussaud's for the question - what museum is in Baker Street, London - well, I thought Tussaud's was a waxwork museum but it patently is not. At least, according to Jabba the Quizmaster.
BOOF! - I put 1955 not 1956 for Rocky Marciano's retirement. So close.
WHAM! - We guessed the Everly Brothers for the Four Seasons' 1962 hit Sherry.
KABLAMOW! - We had no idea who entered Jack-in-the-Box for our 1971, so put Manfred Mann (don't ask) instead of Clodagh Rodgers.
SMOOSH! - And "Which sitcom featured The Lanford Lunchbox?" Well, I never watched it. Was it Seinfeld? Oh. Roseanne. That explains everything.

And, as they said of Tommy DeVito, that was the end of that.

It's lucky one of knew The Who had a 1976 hit with Squeeze Box, otherwise I really would have nutted the QM for all the old pop and geriatric knowledge and utter pants he packed in on the night. What a lame-arsed quiz. Lame-E-O.

The problem with doing quizzes in local pubs is that the QM knows his crowd and asks them stuff like - 'What JL do you suffer after a long airplane journey?' That was the basic tenor of the questions and the clientele might as well have been chewing hay and red neckerchiefs. As a result I was lethally exposed, and who knows if I shall return? Who knows.

Otherwise, my taxi fare was £2 cheaper this time. My driver looked like a bleached goat. I think I talked too fast for him.

I have one further thing to say.

May your weekend be bright and glorious.

Answers to BH#68
1 Wickiup 2 Poland 3 Corinne Rey-Bellet 4 Spider webs 5 Vienna 6 Benzene 7 Soter 8 Abkhazia 9 Lord Rayleigh 10 Federico Garcia Lorca 11 WB Yeats 12 Niflheim 13 Ben "Bugs" Hardaway 14 Jack Webb 15 Copenhagen 16 Birmingham 17 D'Alembert's 18 Baltic Sea 19 Wole Soyinka 20 Bergen 21 (Phantly) Roy Bean 22 Maradona 23 Mostar

Tuesday, May 02, 2006


I have to get on with getting on. Posts have gestated inside my head over the past few days but I have to commit myself to other un-blog things. I really do. I really really do do.

Things have got in the way.

Yesterday morning I found myself reading Liz Jones' Diary (well, not found myself, more like picked it out of my latest Amazon delivery and read it straight away).

If you know who she is you will no doubt be horrified, and wondering why I am reading the witterings of a famed woman hack weirdo when I could be reading some Henry Green or even more Saul Bellow.

Maybe, I think, it teaches you something about female singledom. Staying unattached until your mid-30s because of certain and multiple high standards will turn you into a pernickety weirdo. Staying single beyond that and you turn into a mad woman who will be surely eaten by your cats. Which still isn't a good reason for reading it. It could be the matter of fact insanity that every page is drenched in, insanity being a byword for crazed honesty in this case.

But the only bona fide reason is that it's bloody compulsive. In fact, I am compelled to read anything about journalist's personal and working lives. If there was a Closer for hacks I would get a subscription, and I have NEVER bought a subscription to a magazine, despite the proven economic benefits. But I am a wilfully stubborn person and if I want to miss out on that 30% discount, I bloody well will.

So no quiz today and maybe not tomorrow. Sorry.

Answers to BH#67
1 King James I 2 St Mungo's Hospital for Magical Maladies and Injuries 3 The Palliser Expedtion (as in John Palliser) 4 James, Duke of Monmouth 5 The South Sea Company 6 Groom of the Robes 7 Latvia 8 Effort 9 Tuba 10 Ojos del Salado 11 Jersey 12 Chickens 13 Bank of England notes 14 Bank of England 15 Cook Islands 16 F. Anstey 17 Themisto 18 Edward V and Richard, 1st Duke of York 19 Cat 20 Doom (also called The Doomguy) 21 Verzasca dam 22 Niger 23 Dirty Pretty Things 24 Bale 25 Salif Keita 26 Wayland's Smithy 27 Marcel Dupre 28 The Sea-Wolf by Jack London 29 Friedrich Albert Lange 30 a) Avro b) Fairey c) Westland 31 Hugh Paddick 32 Elton John 33 Constellation 34 William B Davis 35 Arthur Miller

Monday, May 01, 2006

Notes on Bullseye: The Bowen-Less Reprise

Tonight I caught the last eight minutes of New Bullseye, with Dave Spikey. Just enough time to criticise it with extreme prejudice.

My ill-informed verdict? Well, it's a bit, er, samey? I'm not sure. To meh or not to meh? Tony's hair has gone the way of the silver fox, but the set looks pretty much the same, except for the mystery prize curtain being replaced by a space-age retractable wall.

Dave Spikey has the right kind of attitude, but he looks a bit ill at ease reading from the autocue. It was like he was *reader takes deep intake of breath* ACTING, and so it came across as a bit laboured.

For easy comparison, I watched part of an old episode earlier in the night. Jim Bowen was a very good host, he could be funny in a nicely dry way, because let's face it: darts and quiz aren't the most weightiest of material and when combined can make for comedic fried gold. But Bowen did it for years and Spikey's only been doing it for a few episodes, so let's give him the benefit of the doubt, and wait a couple of weeks before we start sending him bullets in the post (the note would say: "Watch out Spikey, I'm aiming for YOUR bullseye and your left eye and your right eye.")

One thing about it being on Challenge TV is that inflation has certainly not affected the amount of cash you can win. Tonight's victorious duo took home £385, which is what they would have won 15 years ago. And the prizes? They were all a bit rubbish. The star prize was some DIY kit - yawn.

I mean, are the audience supposed to laugh like complete goons every time an item from the prizeboard was delineated by our host? Because it certainly wasn't Dave Spikey's alliterative descriptions of the trouser press and the remote control Monster Truck. It was because they were tat.

The special prize was also a bit rubbish: it was a hot-tub. And, no, the bathing blonde bimbettes (apparently they took style tips from Chantelle Houghton, but nowadays every girl of certain age seems to) and young hunk (wouldn't have happened in the old days, bloody equality) did not come with it. Now that would be a prize worth winning: a trio of slaves of good working age.

In one of those apt comic game show moment, one of the contestants said he lived in a block of flats, and you could just feel Dave Spikey was dying to tell him, this is Bullseye on Challenge TV, your prizes are meant to be useless and highly unsuitable or fantastic fun for about five minutes (MONSTER TRUCK! Woo-hoo!). So be on your way you cheeky get and enjoy those five minutes of remote control fun.

What must Bowen feel watching such a little-changed show from home? If it's going to be like it always was, they might as well have brought him back. Bullseye looks and feels cheap and is therefore dated. The only difference between then and now is that the audience have got far better and shorter haircuts.

Yet there are things that never fail to amuse. The girly throwing of the non-darts player is the kind of pleasure that never gets boring. Have some dignity lads, practice with a strong arm and do not try and shot put your arrows, you silly sods.

Also don't forget to go online at the Challenge TV website and win "great prizes", which translated from the language of Bullseye probably means some pencils and a wonky lampshade.

N.B. I'm not at all bitter that the programme makers didn't even give me and Ollie an audition. I watched the show as a quiz show fan, not like some loon who kept on wildly shouting at the TV whilst waving a machete and swearing vengeance upon the production company. Though I probably would have done the latter a few weeks ago. Thank God and hallelujah for the healing properties of time.