Wednesday, August 30, 2006

That's How I Escaped My Certain BH98

Seems like I've been really stingy with the quizzes. Therefore, have some offcuts and fancies that arose from paid setting. The next one - WARNING! - will be sport and games-themed. Just cos sometimes I gots to do that kinds of work.

Right, out of illiterate mode.

This week is the British Quizzing Championships. I didn't take part last year because I didn't feel ready and was suddenly embarking on freelance life. This year I am taking part, despite my feeling not ready in the slightest, and being generally weighed down with the melancholic end-of-summer mood that I always get at the end of the Reading Festival. The Sunday always gets me and beats me as would a burly bully enroughen and pound a small child in a dark latrine.

I haven't done any preparation of any kind and am still feeling the effects of having Naive by The Kooks (I hate them, but it is such a catchy song, especially when it is introduced by Tom Baker) run continuously in my head since I - accidentally - watched them the other night. When they played the NME stage was the most rammed I had seen for any band and all for some fey and inoffensive indie-pop. Otherwise I have Tilly and the Wall and Is It Any Wonder? by Keane in my head (poor Tom "Charlie" Chaplin; he does say how knackered he is in that particular song. We should have seen The Priory coming. Or him going to The Priory that is.)

So let's look at this weekend as one of those interesting experiments: like the one where I was killed on painkillers (WQC 2006) and the one where I spent six hours getting up to Manchester on the train (WQC 2004). This is the one where I will act all casual like and say: "Oh I am so very warped by this summer's exertions. I am so rubbish at the moment it cracks me up just thinking about it. I went went to foreign countries don't you know AND RAWKED OUT LIKE YOUR MOTHER WOULD ON NAZI CRANK". The last bit I may miss out. Because I really ought to have stopped writing in a Swells-ish manner by now. All those capital letters are undignified.

I have one sure technique that never fails to boost my confidence. As ever, I am laying the seeds of pessimism to ensure no disappointment. Works every time. This complex psychology.

1 From 19th century finds of flint tools in a Paris suburb, what name is given by archaeologists to a distinctive type of flint knapping developed by humans during the Palaeolithic period?
2 The characteristic style of stone tools in the Middle Paleolithic period is called what, after prominent archaeological site - a cave shelter in the Dordogne region - where they were found?
3 In Japan what day is known as Shusen-kinenbi?
4 What are Boycie's real first two names in TV's Only Fools and Horses?
5 Correctly applied to any passage sung in an ornate flowery style in classical singing by any voice type, what Italian-derived term is also commonly used as a noun to describe operatic soprano roles characterised by flexibility and embellishments such as runs and trills, with a strong head voice including abilities in the whistle register?
6 What is the biggest canton of Switzerland?
7 Coined in a Sylvia Wright essay published in Harper's Magazine in November 1954, what word describes the usually accidental mishearing of a phrase, such that it acquires a new meaning?
8 Who has been the only Prime Minister to appear on the radio show Desert Island Discs while in office?
9 Which Dame famously organised piano concerts at the National Gallery during World War Two?
10 An edition of Scrabble, the first to see a colour change since the game began in 1948, was recently released. What colour does this version, made in aid of charity, come in?
11 Tomislav Uzelac developed the first successful version of what electronic device in 1997?
12 What has the Tividale (in the West Midlands) company Vono been making since 1896?
13 Officially styled "the Great", which ruler is also known as Rama IX?
14 The "bulk" measures the response in pressure due to change in relative volume and thus the substance's resistance to uniform compression, while the "shear" describes the response to shear and the measure of stiffness known as "Young's" is applied to linear strain. What term describes these coefficients pertaining to a physical property?
15 Corresponding to groups 3 to 12, what term generally describes the 40 elements in the d-block of the periodic table, for instance zinc, mercury and cadmium and are defined by the IUPAC as elements "whose atom has an incomplete d sub-shell, or which can give rise to cations with an incomplete d sub-shell" (though this actually excludes cadmium, zinc and cadmium because they have a d10 configuration)?
16 Where in London will you find the famous Green Drawing Room?
17 First built at the start of the 18th century for the baron Henry Boyle, which mansion between Pall Mall and The Mall in London's St James's district is best known as the town residence of the Prince Regent for several decades?
18 A native of London from 1875 to 1910, which Italian-born composer and knight (1908) is best remembered for light, expressive songs that became very popular during the Belle Epoque and which is often called "salon music"; songs like Serenata (lyrics by Cesareo), Addio (lyrics by Rizzelli) and the popular Neapolitan song, Marechiare, the lyrics of which were written by the renowned Neapolitan dialect poet Salvatore di Giacomo?
19 Used in colour printing, what do the letters in the name of the subtractive colour model CMYK stand for?
20 The complement of red, what pure spectral colour is obtained by mixing equal amounts of green and blue light and is often referred to as "Electric Blue"?
21 Also known as the Yuan Jing meaning "primary river" in Chinese, which river called Sông Hồng in Vietnamese?
22 Subtitled "Or In Touch with the Infinite", what was the first poetry collection published (privately) by John Betjeman in 1931 when he was aged 26?
23 Of which controversial 1928 novel did James Douglas of the Evening Standard write: "I would rather put a phial of prussic acid in the hands of a healthy girl or boy than the book in question"?
24 Benjamin Baillaud became the first president of which international organisation on its founding in 1919?
25 The disfiguring skin ulcer disease Leishmaniasis is transmitted by what insects?
26 What well-known disease takes its name from the Sanskrit word for "violence"?
27 First held in 2002 and said to be the largest such event on either side of the Atlantic , the annual video game event The Games Convention is held in which German city?
28 What controversial software company is involved in overhauling the NHS's GP and hospital computer systems at a cost of £6.2 billion?
29 In 1504, Florence commissioned Michelangelo to produce what enormous painting an equally large compnanuon to Leonardo da Vinci's "lost" Battle of Anghiari, which he conceived as a study of the male figure in action?




Answers to BH98
1 Levallois technique (as in Levallois-Perret) 2 The Mousterian Culture as in Le Moustier 3 VJ Day (literally "Memorial day for the end of the war") 4 Michael Aubrey 5 Coloratura 6 Zurich 7 Mondegreen (The essay was called The Death of Lady Mondegreen and came from a mishearing of the line of a poem from Percy's Reliques "And laid him on the green" rendered as "And Lady Mondegreen") 8 John Major 9 Myra Hess 10 Pink (for breast cancer) 11 MP3 player 12 Beds 13 King Bhumibol of Thailand 14 Modulus 15 Transition metals 16 Buckingham Palace 17 Carlton House 18 Francesco Paolo Tosti 19 Cyan, Magenta, Yellow, Key (black) 20 Cyan 21 Red River 22 Mount Zion 23 The Well of Loneliness by Radclyffe Hall 24 International Astronomical Union (IAU) 25 Sandflies 26 Rabies 27 Leipzig 28 iSoft 29 The Battle of Cascina

Monday, August 28, 2006



(And the glory to the Hypnotoad as well, of courzzzzzzze)

Back from Reading. Sleep has been gathered greedily back from the rock festival snatcherer. Still putting off work though. My will is weak. Even if I arrived on Friday morning and left on Sunday night straight after Pearl Jam. Before it turned a bit Apocalypse Now like it always does.

I will write more about such things as catapulting mackerel, smoking 30 a day and watching sane men turn into urine-soaked, laughing gas-sniffing barbarians. Another day.

For now I leave you with an image of something you might not even believe existed if not for the fact that it really does. Oh, yes. I went to see it five times. It was real.

It was called the Manwash. Partly because no woman was meant to be subjected to its sordid ablutions. Not that I actually think any tried. Plus, if women actually used Lynx their skin would peel off and their teeth would fall out. Someone told me so down the pub.

This was one of those stunts set up by the marketing or advertising gimps from manly shower gel manufacturers Lynx. A trailer was set up with a conveyor belt manned by red bra-wearing, denim-shorted ladies with sponges and special cleaning liquid. Men stood on the said belt and went along as if they were cars. Only this was not metallic object washing metallic object but fleshly things interacting with each other, if as decently attired as it was possible to such moribund dance floorfillers as Lola's Theme. The eye candy danced as if they were members of Atomic Kitten.

One man did pull his Calvin Kleins down to ankle level but cradled and cannoned his love cannon, as the squealing scrubbers went to work. You would too if you were brandishing John Holmes-sized weaponry.

Sorry, this has gone undeniably smutty. For that I apologise. The man should have been lashed with willow branches. Naughty, naughty man. But they still gave him the complimentary free towel and said toiletries. Oh, it was all free: free to watch, free to get washed. Brilliant.

So we watched. We liked to watch. Many watched. It was a refreshing change from another bloody bunch of guitar tykes with unruly hair. I can scientifically attest that more people watched the Manwash than Friday headliners Franz Ferdinand. That's a DJ Fox fact, folks.

And when we heard a fat man had broken it by somehow falling and destorying a barrier, we audibly cursed the fatty. Not that I or anyone I knew went on. We just watched. That's all that was needed. Proper showers at a UK festival? They are never meant to be. Be proud that you reek of a burnt shanty town. Be proud and epater les non-festival goers.

This video will explain more. As well as show pictures of women in said red bras. The same colour of the gel coincidentally enough.

Friday, August 25, 2006

One BH97 for the road

Pi says: "Another bloody quiz? Are you down with it? Or are you gonna take to the streets and burn a few cars? Respeck"

Just before I Go
Before I hop in the shower and amble down to Paddington Station in harried fashion, before triple jumping into the train bound for places rock, I thought I would post my final quiz from the great archives of my Time computer. This one is taken from another travel-themed book: 1000 Places To See Before You Die: A Traveler's Life Lust by Patricia Schultz.

So long for now...

1 Deriving its name from the Russian form of his name, what gold-and-white neo-Palladian summer palace in St Petersburg was built by Catherine the Great for her son Paul I and took 25 years to restore after it was used by Hitler's troops as Gestapo HQ before they set fire to it and the gardens in 1944?
2 What Michelangelo work is The Hermitage's only Renaissance sculpture?
3 Which of the legendary Silk Road caravan cities has such architectural delights as the 12th-century Kalan Mosque and Minaret, and the 1,000-year-old Ismael Samani Mausoleum?
4 Once "the pearl of the east", what artistic, spiritual and military centre of southeast Asia was the capital of Thailand from 1350AD until its near total destruction by marauding Burmese in 1767?
5 Which legendary dog led the 20 mushers and a sled team to bring serum to the town of Nome during a diptheria epidemic in 1925, an event that inspired The Iditarod sled-dog race?
6 What was the first planned capital city in the world?
7 Now the site of a ski resort built by Philadelphia millionaire Joe Ryan, what is the highest peak in the Laurentians and derives its name from an Algonquin Indian legend in which the angry god Manitou gave the mountain a good shake whenever humans disturbed it in any way?
8 In which country is the original Copacabana, a small lakeside town which is home to a 400-year-old cathedral that houses the shrine of the Indian Virgin, the Black Madonna and beloved patron of the nation, a famous dark wood statue carved by native artist Tito Yunpanqui in 1592?
9 Found in Argentina, what kind of geographical features are quebradas?
10 Who led the 33-man "Corps of Discovery" and Sacagawea, their Shoshone guide and interpreter, who gave birth to a son named "Pomp" during their travels?
11 What is the largest museum in the Western Hemisphere?
12 Which cave system in New Mexico is renowned for one particular cavern and the aptly named Big Room, which has an area of six football fields and a 225-ft ceiling, as well as Lechuguilla Cave, one of the world's largest caves?
13 In which country is the Margaret Valley wine region?
14 The recipe of the famous fried fish dish cha ca, the only one served at Hanoi's Cha Ca La Vong restaurant, whose name roughly translates as "curried Red River fish", has stayed in which family for generations, although it is suggested that the special secret ingredient is two drops of essence extracted from the perfume gland of the ca cuong beetle?
15 What town, 595km to the northwest of Bangkok on the border with Myanmar, was established as an elephant training camp in the 1830s and is called the City of Mist by native Thais?
16 One of the largest private residences ever built and the last of the royal palaces, what Jodhpur pink sandstone monument to the twilight days of the Maharajas employed 3000 artisans and labourers for 15 years as a famine-relief project organised by a Maharaja for his subjects?
17 By what name is the Wan Li Chang Cheng better known?
18 What famous location has a name meaning "endless plains" in Masai?
19 Located at the foothills of the Simen Mountains, what city became capital of the Ethiopian empire in the 17th century under Emperor Fasil and remained so for 250 years and is the site of five castles and the church known as the Debre Birhan Selassie, which is famed for its 17th century ceiling fresco of 80 cherubic faces?
20 Housed in a glass pavilion in the corner of the garden of Yusupov Palace in St Petersburg, what is the Dvorianskoye Gnezdo or Nobleman's Nest?
21 Which Vermeer artwork moved Marcel Proust to call it the most beautiful painting in the world?
22 In which small museum in The Hague, the mansion of a 17th century Dutch governor-general of Brazil, is Vermeer's celebrated painting Girl with a Pearl Earring housed?
23 Literally meaning "in the air", what seemingly inaccessible pinnacle of rock or "rock forest" 1000 feet above the Peneus Valley in Thessaly saw its earliest religious community established in the 10th century and grew to include 24 monasteries and hermitages by the 6th century, though now four survive as museum pieces while two other function as religious outposts with a handful of monks?
24 The 14th century poet Petrarch thought which German city's twin-towered Dom to be one of the finest cathedrals in the world?
25 Which two museums, one in west Berlin and the other in the east of the city, were reunited in 1998 under one roof again in the custom-built Gemaldegalerie am Kulturforum (the new Picture Gallery) in the Tiergarten district?






Answers to BH97
1 Pavlovsk 2 Crouching Youth 3 Old Bukhara 4 Ayuthaya 5 Balto 6 Washington DC 7 Mont Tremblant 8 Bolivia 9 Ravines 10 Meriweather Lewis and William Clark 11 Metropolitan Museum of Art, NYC 12 Carlsbad Caverns (National Park) 13 Australia 14 Doan 15 Mae Hong Son 16 Umaid Bhawan Palace (built by Maharaja Umaid Singh) 17 The Great Wall of China 18 The Serengeti 19 Gonder 20 It is a restaurant 21 View of Delft 22 Het Mauritshuis 23 The Meteora 24 Cologne 25 Dahlem Museum in the west and Bode Museum in the east

Thursday, August 24, 2006

Wow, I can use the "fix" and six" rhyme for BH96 ... wait a minute ... nah

Oh mein gott! It's a fricking huge purple upside down cow head! The exclamation marks are out of control!!!! !

Yes, I am trying to get rid of the Edinburgh cameraphone pics while I am taking in my London stopover. Well, at least it's better than words, words and more useless word. Except for "cuspidor". James Joyce's favourite bon mot, apparently. Maybe, he liked the irony of it being a spit bucket. I dunno. I've never got page 20 of Ulysses.

Warning: This was written two days ago. Actually, I'm not sure if that needed a warning, but what the hey hey.

I had a mountain of newspapers and magazines hugging the western wall of my LA bedroom. I vowed to go through them in such a meticulous manner that my eyes would pop out Cohaagen-style and cull any vaguely interesting original questions that appeared in their pages and guess what? I did! Now I am knackered like a farm horse and am watching some hard-bitten Aussie cop drama and am about to recycle the said publications, but thanks be to Time magazine, The Times, The Guardian, The Observer and The Sunday Times for yielding the following questions. Thanks be indeed. (Except for the last encyclopedia-derived five: I tacked them on for reasons I am unsure about, though one of them may be excess)

(Another warning: there are lots of Marco Polo-related questions, all due to one of those issue-swallowing concept thingys that Time magazine pride itself on ... it may be the most esteemed news periodical in the world, but the effects of such esteem and the resultant peacock strut does go to its head sometimes and therefore does my head in too. Even if they always contain quite a few factual goodies)

1 The children of which former Fleetwood Mac member - Koa, Nat and their half-sister Tally or Talitha - have formed the rock band Jynxt?
2 Who wrote the huge study of depression, The Noonday Demon?
3 Which allegedly libelled baby-care expert and author of The Contented Little Baby is nicknamed "the Queen of Routine"?
4 Louis XIV took his nickname from a lavish golden costume he once wore while performing at court in what capacity?
5 Oscar-nominated for his portrayal of the coolie Po-han in 1966's The Sand Pebbles, which co-founder of the East West Players and so-called "godfather of the Asian-American theatre" died recently aged 72?
6 The wine Cheval Blanc comes from which wine region?
7 What is the official publication of China's ruling Communist Party?
8 Dictated while in jail in Genoa in 1298, what was the original name of Marco Polo's detailed and fanciful account - now known as The Travels of Marco Polo - of his journeys and years spent in the service of Mongol ruler Kublai Khan, said to be the first ever best-selling travelogue?
9 When imprisoned Marco Polo met and befriended which well-known writer and collector of Arthurian romances who collaborated on the above work?
10 Urumqi is the capital of which province in western China, which borders eight countries - Russia, Pakistan, Mongolia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, India, Afghanistan, - and is rumoured to be the remote testing ground for the nation's nuclear weapons and hosts the recently opened $700 million oil pipeline that has brought foreign oil into China (from Kazakhstan) for the first time directly?
11 On what slab in Jerusalem's Church of the Holy Sepulchre is Jesus Christ supposed to have lain?
12 Ancestors of which family, still in charge of guarding the Holy Church of Sepuchre - officially "Custodian and Door-Keepers of the Church of the Holy Sepulchre" - were placed in charge of the holy shrine when the Caliph Omar captured Jerusalem in AD638?
13 In which Handel opera, with a libretto by Nicola Haym, is Cleopatra a major character?
14 As featured in the new book Rousseau's Dog: A Tale of Two Great Thinkers at War in the Age of Enlightenment, the French writer Jean-Jacques Rousseau famously quarrelled with which Scottish philosopher during the late 1760s?
15 Which future African king married the 23-year-old shipping company clerk Ruth Williams, whom he met when he was sent to London to study law by his uncle, the Regent of the Bangwato, in 1945?
16 Which Roman warned opium users in his work De medicina (30AD) that "dreams can be sweet; but the sweeter they are, the rougher tends to be the awakening"?
17 In 1853, against the advice of her physician, Queen Victoria used that "blessed chloroform" while giving birth to which of her sons?
18 In 1647 the parish church of St Mary the Virgin hosted what has been called "one of the greatest intellectual encounters in British constitutional history", and which were quashed by Oliver Cromwell. What area of London gave its name to these debates?
19 What is the Italian "tuber magnatum"?
20 Elphaba and Galinda are the two central characters in which musical, due to open in the West End in September?
21 What British literary award was established by Lucy Astor for the best second novel of the year; past recipients including Colm Toibin for The Heather Blazing (1993) and Amit Chaudhuri for Afternoon Raag (1994)?
23 The subject of a current Radio 1 remix competition, which US composer is known for such works as Music for 18 Musicians, which took two years to write, though it is structured around only 11 chords?
22 The composer Wolfgang Rihm began what work, meaning "cipher" in 1982 when aged 30, and which has since grown into a cycle composed of eight numbered pieces and two works - Bild and Nach-Schrift - that also bear the name as a generic title?
23 Known as "Hot Balls" among Catholic priests, which military dictator ruled the Dominican Republic from 1930 to 1961 when he was assassinated in a military coup?
24 Which heroic governess, realising the heirs to the throne were being systematically killed by the royal physicians, barricaded herself and the two-year-old Duc d'Anjou in her apartments in order to save him from them, the Duc surviving to become Louis XV?
25 Which surgeon of Maimonides Hospital in Brooklyn at "exactly 11.45pm" on June 29, 1966 attempted the first ever human heart transplant, but obviously failed to successfully carry operation?
26 First seen in the 2003 novel Dissolution and then in the follow-up books Dark Fire and Sovereign, the hunchbacked lawyer and Tudor-era detective Morgan Shardlake is the creation of which mystery writer?
27 Which Madrid institution, located at 17 Cuchilleros is according to the Guinness Book of Records the world's oldest restaurant?
28 Possibly originating as a Jewish Sabbath dish to which pork was later added by Jews seeking to avoid the Inquisition by showing they had become Christians, what celebrated Spanish stew and poor farmers' food combines chickpeas, potatoes and other vegetables with chicken, pork cuts and beef?
29 Gathering together 20,000 people from all over Britain, what major bird watching event took place for the 18th time at the end of August?
30 Born in Glasgow in 1929, which photographer moved to New York and was in the Hasselblad when Robert Kennedy was murdered and took the only portrait of Bobby Fischer in Rekjavik for the infamous Cold War match against Spassky and is most famous for his images of the Beatles, of the Fab Four having a pillow fight on hearing that I Wanna Hold Your Hand reached number one and of them being punched in a domino effect by Muhammad Ali?
31 Which American architect built Berlin's Holocaust memorial on top of Albert Speer's wartime bunker?
32 What was the name of the Czech monastery, the first new monastery built in eastern Europe for half a century, that was built by architect John Pawson in 2004?
33 In which German city did Zaha Hadid build her much-admired Science Centre in 2003?
34 Which pair of architects built the Prada shop in Tokyo that was completed in 2003?
35 Approved for a site at London Bridge, what nickname has been given to Renzo Piano's proposed tower that will be the tallest in Europe?
36 Made into a 1981 film starring Klaus Maria Brandauer by Hungarian director Istvan Szabo, what 1936 novel by Heinrich Mann indicted as a political and cultural traitor his one-time lover and brother-in-law, Gustaf Grundgens, one of the greatest figures of German theatre?
37 Who is the subject of The Pelican Portrait in which she wears a rose to represent her Englishness and a pelican pendant to symbolise her charity?
38 Found 102 years ago by sponge divers amid the wreckage of a cargo ship that sunk off the same-named tiny Greek island in 80BC, once-hidden inscriptions on which calcium-encrusted bronze contraption have shown it to be the world's oldest computer, once used to map the motions of the Sun, Moon and planets?
39 The Oscar-nominated Hubert Sauper documentary Darwin's Nightmare has been accused by the Tanzanian president Jakaya Kikwete of damaging his country's image and causing a slump in exports of the film's subject matter, a fast-growing and predatory fish that was introduced into Lake Victoria in the 1950s and has nearly wiped out several other fish species. What fish?
40 The true origins of which drug, first synthesised by the German pharmaceutical giant Merck in 1912 at Darmstadt and originally called methylsafrylamin, have recently been revealed? It was part of the company's efforts to develop a potentially life-saving medicine that would help blood to clot.
41 The son of Russian immigrants who arrived in New York without a word of English, which 78-year-old US photographer and husband of German film-maker and novelist Pia Frankenberg has just released his greatest hits collection Personal Best, among them his insider recording of the Camelot era and the 1959 "kitchen debate"picture of Nixon jabbing a finger into Khruschev's chest, and his 1974 dogs photo Felix, Gladys and Rover, while he also made the Texas cheerleaders documentary Beauty Knows No Pain for HBO during the 80s?
42 Which German-born leading artist of the Surrealist movement's most famous piece is a fur-covered sculpture of a cup and saucer now on display in New York's Museum of Modern Art?
43 Where does the government-backed militia known as the Kadyrovsty operate?
44 Inspired to take up his chosen instrument when he saw the Black Watch performing at JFK's funeral, which self-styled "world's first jazz bagpiper" and collaborator with Dizzy Gillespie, Sonny Rollins and John Coltrane recently died?
45 What country mostly occupies the place known as the Kingdom of Pegu in the Middle Ages?
46 After a three-and-a-half year, 12,000 km journey, Marco Polo and his father and uncle finally reached the gilded, marble summer palace of Kublai Khan that was located where?
47 Singapore sits at the mouth of what piracy-stricken 900 km sea lane linking the Indian Ocean and the Pacific and flanked by Indonesia and Malaysia, through which some 50,000 ships pass every year, and which was designated a "war-risk zone" by Lloyd's of London last year?
48 The baju kebal was a magical vest that supposedly rendered which ruler - the last sultan of Siak - invulnerable to swords, bullets and other perils, who declared his loyalty to the newly independent Indonesia, but was distrusted and then rendered powerless due to his cooperation with the Dutch and the Japanese who occupied the country during WW2?
49 What name did the Romans give to China, from the Greek word for "silk"?
50 Called Kinsai by Marco Polo, what Chinese city calls itself "The Capital of Silk" and is known for its picturesque West Lake?
51 Which eastern city in the Ferghana Valley was the scene of a recent infamous massacre of up to 750 protesters by Uzbek security forces in its central square?
52 Bukhara is renowned for which magnificent 16th century blue-domed mosque?
53 Prosecuted under the now infamous Article 301 of the constitution for insulting Turkishness, which author's controversial novel The Bastard of Istanbul is to be released in English in January 2007?
54 By what name do we better know Sri Pada, which means "the Resplendent Foot"?
55 What in Hong Kong is a "daipaidong"?
56 Which travel writer wrote his first book, Xanadu: A Quest, after using a small grant from the Cambridge University history department to retrace Marco Polo's famous route?
57 Founded as a fortress in 1830, which city only became its country's capital in 1997 and is the site of The Oceanarium ("a seawater drop in the steppe"), the world's youngest opera company and the glass and concrete tower known as the "Baiterek" monument?
58 Which British architect has made modern additions to the newly opened Thermae Bath Spa?
59 Caol Ila and Laphroaig are two of the eight whisky distilleries on which island?
60 Located in the fishing town of Wick, what is mainland Scotland's northernmost distillery?
61 Who designed Milan's opera venue La Scala?
62 Into which two administrative districts is the Isle of Wight divided?
63 What nut is produced by the annual leguminous plant, Arachis hypogaea?
64 The German scientist Walther Flemming observed and described what biological process in 1882?
65 Which Dowager Empress became the sole ruler of China in 1884?




Answers to BH96
1 Jeremy Spencer 2 Andrew Solomon 3 Gina Ford 4 The Sun King 5 Mako or Makoto Iwamatsu 6 Bordeaux 7 People's Daily 8 Description of the World 9 Rustichello of Pisa 10 Xinjiang 11 The Stone of Unction 12 The Nuseibehs 13 Giulio Cesare 14 David Hume 15 Seretse Khama, king of Bechuanaland, later Botswana 16 Aurelius Cornelius Celsus 17 Prince Leopold 18 Putney as in the Putney debates 19 Type of expensive truffle 20 Wicked 21 The Encore 22 Steve Reich 22 Chiffre 23 Rafael Trujillo 24 Duchesse de Ventadour 25 Adrian Kantrowitz 26 CJ Sansom 27 Sabrino de Botin 28 Cocido Madrileno 29 British Birdwatching Fair in Rutland 30 Harry Benson 31 Peter Eisenman 32 Novy Dvur 33 Wolfsburg 34 Herzog and de Meuron 35 Shard of Glass 36 Mephisto 37 Elizabeth I 38 The Antikythera mechanism 39 Nile perch 40 MDMA or Ecstasy 41 Elliott Erwitt 42 Meret Oppenheim 43 Chechyna 44 Rufus Harley 45 Myanmar 46 Shangdu 47 Malacca Strait 48 Syarif Kasim II 49 Seres 50 Hangzhou 51 Andijan 52 Kalyan 53 Elif Shafak 54 Adam's Peak 55 Fast food stall 56 William Dalrymple 57 Astana (Kazakhstan) 58 Sir Nicholas Grimshaw 59 Islay 60 Old Pulteney 61 Giuseppe Piermarini 62 South Wight/Medina 63 Peanut 64 Cell division 65 Cixi

Remember, Remember Remember...

... it's not too late to go to Edinburgh to see a quiz comedy routine. Even if you have to travel over and oceans and seas and nasty looking cliff-faces and maybe the odd volatile volcano.

I may be exaggerating, however. Just a teensy little bit. I may be getting stuff mixed up with the quest to destroy the ring.

Wednesday, August 23, 2006

A Brain-Fried BH95

Off it goes across cyberspace to destinations known

Ga ga goo goo. I have finally sent off The Colossus quiz to all those who asked for it (and maybe one or two who I thought might have forgotten).

Remember you too (lucky you, you) can still enter. Just register by emailing

My brain is now shattered from the effort of gathering together all the email addresses and I think I am going to slope off to bed making baby noises as I go. It took me two of the slowest hours of my life to do so. If I was more techy minded perhaps it would have taken half the time, but you know, I can be quite pig-headed at times.

I will be posting a few more quizzes before I descend on a certain debauched and smokey cow pasture somewhere in Berkshire, but I shan't be writing much witty riffing on the/my world of quiz before then. Proper posting will resume next week.

Now I just have to consider what craziness to pack: bog roll, Slim Fast, cigarettes, mixed nuts, razor, cigarettes, toothbrush, hooded top, cigarettes, Nurofen, deoderant, umbrella ... yes, I live like a survivalist when I go to a music festival. Many lessons have I learned (I'm channelling Yoda, you see).

Playing behind me on one of the Sky Movie channels
Since the computer in my LA home is in the living room where my brother resides and watches movies 24/7, my ears are often privy to hours of movie magic whenever I decide to go on the internet and do stuff like type blog entries. I have this game - one of those trifles you invent when terminal boredom is on the verge of engulfing you - whereby I listen to one or two lines of snatched dialogue and, without looking, shout out the film in question.

I think I have won this game, I being the only player in the championship league table, about 36 times out of 37. What can I say? It's a rubbish talent I have (plus it helps that my brother loves watching multiplex fodder, which I know inside out and upside down).

Only a few moments ago I could hear Julia and Campbell Scott cry and laugh and throw alternately mawkish and desperate dialogue at each other. Yes, it could only have been Dying Young.

But why would I mention it to you? Well, this is a quiz blog. I'm referring to the scene where Campbell is heading towards the great exit of life and starts chucking out highbrow trivia questions about who sculpted the Pieta and who was The Misanthrope at people he knows and loves in a truly demented manner.

We know he is demented because he keeps on throwing them out in succession so quick that nobody can answer them and because he keeps on making a "Urrghh" wrong buzzer sound. Funny, but I never noticed this scene when I was younger. Yet things were different then and my mind was not so comprehensively crammed with quiz junk. Oh, what a time of innocence. Sigh.

Julia is now crying. She must have realised what a big mistake it was signing up to do a dying cancer patient movie with Joel Schumacher.

1 Which British biochemist won the 1952 Nobel Prize in Chemistry for the invention of partition chromatography?
2 Who composed the theme songs or other music for more than 200 films and TV shows, including The Ten Commandments (1956), The Man with The Golden Arm, To Kill a Mockingbird and the fanfare used in the National Geographic TV specials?
3 In which country did Operation Ajax overthrow the government in 1953?
4 Which pair of Russian space dogs began to orbit the Earth abroad the Korabi-Sputnik 2 space craft on August 19, 1960?
5 At which village in Lochaber, Highland, did Charles Edward Stuart raise his standard on August 19, 1745, inviting Jacobite clan chiefs to gather there in support of him and his father, James Francis Edward Stuart?
6 Founded on August 19, 1768 and dedicated to a patron saint of Peter the Great who had been born on his feast day, what is the largest cathedral in St Petersburg?
7 Taking place almost ten months after the surrender of British commander Lord Cornwallis following the Siege of Yorktown, what was the last major battle of the American War of Independence, which took place in the frontier country of northern Kentucky on August 19, 1792 and resulted in a decisive British victory?
8 Who presented his new photographic process to the French Academy of Sciences on August 19, 1839?
9 Which famed frontier murderer and outlaw was killed by an off-duty policeman in a saloon in El Paso, Texas on August 19, 1895?
10 The creation of what position was approved by the German electorate on August 19, 1934 with 89.9 per cent of the popular vote?
11 Which gulf gives its name to the incident in which two Libyan Sukhoi Su-22 fighter jets were destroyed by US fighters?
12 Leonard Bernstein conducted his final concert on August 19, 1990. With which symphony did it end?
13 Which two countries carried out their first ever joint military, called Peace Mission 2005, on August 19 last year?
14 Born Inigo Lopez de Mendoza, which Castilian poet (1398-1458) and son of the grand admiral of Castile, prepared his rhymed collection Proverbios de gloriosa doctrina y fructuosa ensenanza for the heir-apparent Don Enrique, 180 stanzas entitled Dialogo de Bias contra Fortuna and the dream-dialogue, the Comedieta de Pouza in octave stanzas, founded on the disastrous sea-fight off Ponza in 1425, when the kings of Aragon and Navarre and the Infante Enrique were taken prisons by the Genoese?
15 Born the eldest daughter to King James I and his queen consort Anne of Denmark in 1596, whose direct descendants, the Hanoverian rulers, succeeded to the British throne due to the demise of the Stuart dynasty in 1714?
16 Published in 1658, what was the name of John Dryden's first important poem and was an eulogy on Cromwell's death?
17 In 1660, with which authentic royalist panegyric did Dryden celebrate the Restoration of the monarchy and the return of Charles II and portray the interregnum as a time of anarchy?
18 Seen as Dryden's best comedic endeavour, which 1672 poem ends with the lines "'Tis a madness that he should be jealous of me,/Or that I should bar him of another:/ For all we can gain is to give our selves pain,/When neither can hinder the other"?
19 Apart from the US state of Massachusetts, gay or same sex marriages are recognised in which four countries?
20 Which Italian castrato singer of the 18th century had the real name Carlo Broschi?
21 Which Italian baroque composer's early operas include L'Honesta negli amori (1680), which contains the famous aria Gia il sole dal Fange, and Pompeo (1683), which contains the well-known airs O cessate di piagarmi and Toglietemi la vita ancor?
22 Which titular hero in a 1753-4 book by Samuel Richardson is loved by at least four women: the teenage ward Emily Jervois, the poniard-wielding Olivia, Harriet Byron and Clementina della Porretta, the last two of whom he is in love with?
23 Which 1748 Samuel Richardson novel is partly titled "Or the History of a Young Lady"?
24 Madame du Barry was the mistress of which French king?
25 Once the mistress of the Duke of Orleans, King Louis XVI's cousin, which Scottish courtesan was arrested and held awaiting death by guillotine but was released after Robespierre's execution and lived until 1823, with her autobiographical account of her experiences entitled Ma Vie Sous La Revolution being published posthumously in 1859?
26 Which Croatian, the older of two brother explorers, became known as the Champion of Globetrotters by 1898 because he had walked the huge distance between Paris and Saint Petersburg?
27 A member of the 1882 Congo expedition led by Henry Morton Stanley, who said of him "The Croat is energetic, cautious, in high spirits...", which man who became the representative of the Belgian government in the Congo wrote up his diary in two books, the first entitled Dnevik iz Afrike/Diary in Africa (1891), and the second Novi dnevnik iz Afrike/New diary from Africa (1894)?
28 One of the preeminent violinists, pianists and conductors of his time, which Romanian composer's works include the opera Oedipe (1921-31), Chansons sur le vers de Clement Marot (1908), Suite chatelaine (1911), Tragic Overture (1895) and Triumphant Overture (1896)? The symphony orchestra of Bucharest is named in his honour.
29 Lyricist for the Broadway musical One Touch of Venus in collaboration with librettist SJ Perelman and composer Kurt Weill, which US poet wrote the single verse, entitled Common Sense: "Why did the Lord give us agility/If not to evade responsibility"?
30 Blacklisted during the McCarthy era and forced to move to England for a time where he wrote under several pseudonyms for TV series such as The Adventures of Robin Hood, who worked as a "script doctor" in Hollywood before writing his own material including his Oscar-winning script for Woman of the Year in 1942, and Laura (1944) and Forever Amber (1947)?
31 Which major figure in TV history began his career by writing scripts for many popular television series of the 1950s, including Have Gun, Will Travel, the first season episode of which - Helen of Abaijinian - won him a Writer's Guild Award, before going on to produce the US Marines series The Lieutenant (1963-4)?
32 What was the name of jockey Willie Shoemaker's first (1955) and last (1986) Kentucky Derby winning horses?
33 Shoemaker lost the 1957 Kentucky Derby when he stood up in the stirrups, having misjudged the finish line. What was his mount?
34 Which Swedish poet and novelist's 2001 novel Priset pa vatten i Finistere/The Price of Water in Finistere told the story of how she decided to pack up and leave her country of birth and settle in her new home in the Finistere departement in northwest France?
35 Member of the band from 1969 to 1973, a period during which he also portrayed Jesus Christ in the original version of the musical Jesus Christ Superstar, who was lead singer for Deep Purple as well as Black Sabbath for a year?
36 Who is the famous son of Virginia Dell Cassidy?
37 Joey Tempest is the vocalist and main songwriter for which famous European rock band?
38 Mette Marit is the Crown Princess of which country?
39 Written between 1856 and 1858, for which of his operas did Berlioz base his libretto on Virgil's epic poem The Aeneid?
40 The cancer lymphoma is traditionally classified as whose lymphoma, after which British physician and pathologist who discovered it in 1832?
41 Although the identity of its primary architect remains uncertain, who is generally credited with designing The Pantheon in Rome?
42 The author of a play of which concerned his visit to Lentulus in the came of Pompey at Dyrrhachium, which Roman soldier built a magnificent eponymous theatre at Rome, which was dedicated on the return of Augustus from Gaul in 13BC?
43 Which English actor rose to fame playing PC "Fancy" Smith in the BBC TV series Z Cars?
44 What title meaning "the first", or usually rendered as "First Citizen" in translation, was bestowed upon Emperor Augustus in 23BC along with Augustus?
45 The city of Vicenza and the Palladian Villas of which Italian region, located in the northeastern part of the country, were designated a World Heritage site in 1994 and expanded two years later?
46 Which Welsh composer (1944-) wrote a classical music piece inspired by Andrea Palladio's music entitled Palladio, which was used for a De Beers diamond TV advert?
47 A defence of Jansenist Antoine Arnauld, a friend of the author who in 1656 was condemned by the Faculte de Theologie at the Sorbonne for alleged heretical views, what name is given to the series of 18 letters written by Blaise Pascal under the pseudonym "Louis de Montalte", the first of which was dated January 23, 1656 and the last of which was dated March 24, 1657?
48 Pascal attacked what form of case-based reasoning in the above work, which is used in discussions of laws and ethics and is often understood as a critique of a strict principle-based approach to reasoning?





Answers to BH95
1 Richard Laurence Millington Synge 2 Elmer Bernstein 3 Iran (the government of Mohammed Mossadegh) 4 Belka and Strelka 5 Glenfinnan 6 St Isaac's Cathedral (as in St Isaac of Dalmatia 7 Battle of Blue Licks 8 Jacques Daguerre 9 John Wesley Hardin 10 Fuhrer 11 (Gulf of) Sidra Incident 12 Beethoven's Symphony No. 7 13 Russia and China 14 Marques de Santillana 15 Elizabeth of Bohemia, aka Elisabeth, Electress Palatine and Queen of Bohemia, born Princess Elizabeth Stuart of Scotland 16 Heroique Stanzas 17 Astraea Redux 18 Marriage a la Mode 19 Holland, Belgium, Spain, Canada 20 Farinelli 21 Alessandro Scarlatti 22 The History of Sir Charles Grandison 23 Clarissa 24 Louis XV 25 Grace (Dalrymple) Elliott 26 Mirko Seljan (his brother was called Stjepan) 27 Dragutin Lerman 28 George Enescu 29 Ogden Nash 30 Ring Lardner Jr 31 Gene Roddenberry 32 Swaps and Ferdinand (others: Tomy Lee (1959), Lucky Debonair (1965) 33 Gallant Man 34 Bodil Malmsten 35 Ian Gillan 36 Bill Clinton 37 Europe 38 Norway 39 The Trojans 40 Hodgkin's lymphoma (after Thomas Hodgkin) 41 Apollodorus of Damascus 42 Balbus or Lucis Cornelius Balbus (minor), as in the Theatre of Balbus 43 Brian Blessed 44 Princeps 45 Veneto 46 Karl Jenkins 47 The Lettres provincial/Provincial Letters 48 Casuistry

Tuesday, August 22, 2006

From the deepest and darkest of all travel guidebooks: BH94


I think I've just decided to Reading Festival again. Bad old habits die really really hard.

Yet the promise of concentrated American indie-rock, the filthy smell of burnt everything and, yes, even Russell Brand, was perhaps too much. Plus I get to watch Pearl Jam after all these years (if I can be bothered).

Sweet mama, I am missing Big Brother's Big Mouth and the talk of ball bags, dinkles and swine already. Sorry. Very very sorry.

Also, I'm a little bit sorry at the lack of posts that will ensue, though I'm sure you'll be cursing me or pelting me with fragrant and beautiful flowers when I launch the centenary 300-question BH100 I have been working away with all the care and attention I would a thermonuclear device. Were I predisposed to making weapons of mass destruction rather than large quizzes filled with obscure questions that is.

From the Lonely Planet on a shoestring series - Africa!

It seems that in order to widen my knowledge of the wider world I have resorted to buying cheap travel guides in OXFAM for a pittance. But you know what? They sure are useful. Especially for national parks (there are so very many).

(Warning: some info might be out of date)

1 Described as the most scenic corner of the country and home to several rare animal species including the threatened echo parakeet, the Black River River Gorges National Park is in which country?
2 Regarded as a collection of villages that have amalgamated over time, what capital used to be controlled by the Ga tribe, each with its own chief?
3 Reaching 2855m, Emba Soira is the highest peak in which country?
4 Known for its lush tropical forest, what "Banana Island" lies in the Nile at the end of the Sharia Salah Salem?
5 What Greek-built attraction in the Egyptian town of Edfu took around 200 years to complete, its completeness helping fill many gaps in knowledge about the Pharaonic architecture that it imitates?
6 Waza National Park is the best known of which country's national parks?
7 Eaten in Central African countries, what kind of bushmeat is a) singe b) phacochere c) sanglier?
8 Administered by Eritrea and designated as a national park, what is the biggest archipelago of the Red Sea?
9 Which capital was taken by the French in 1896, thus forcing the king to take refuge in Dagonaba country, though he returned when the whole region was declared a French protectorate by agreement with various kingdoms?
10 What in Angola are "musseques"? And what are "kizombas"?
11 "Kwaheri" is the Swahili for what greeting or civility?
12 Alex Haley, author of Roots, traced his ancestors back to the village of Juffure. In which country is it?
13 Oyem is the largest city in the north of which country?
14 Formerly a place of execution, what is the only surviving southern gate of Cairo?
15 Situated by the aforementioned gate, what Cairo mosque was finished by a freed Circassian slave and Burgi Mameluke, who came to rule Egypt in 1420 and gave it its name?
16 Daniel Arap Moi, former president of Kenya, is a member of which tribe?
17 Once the terminus of the slave-trade caravan route from Lake Tanganyika, what coastal town 75km north of Dar es Salaam derives its name from the word meaning "lay down your heart"?
18 In 1979, who made the important discovery in the shape of footprints at Laetoli, which they claimed were of a man, woman and child, and since they dated back 3.5 million years and were made by creatures who walked upright pushed the origins of the human race much further back than had previously been supposed?
19 What fabled mountains, which stretch for about 100km on Uganda's western border with the Democratic Republic of Congo, include Mount Speke (with Vittorio Emmanuele its highest peak at 4890m), Mount Emin and its highest peak, Margherita, on Mount Stanley at 5109m?
20 In the mid-19th century, the leader Mzilikazi established a state for which southern African people, whose name means "those who carry long shields"?




Answers to BH94
1 Mauritius 2 Accra 3 Eritrea 4 Geziret al-Moz 5 Temple of Horus 6 Cameroon 7 a) monkey b) warthog c) bush pig 8 Dahlak Archipelago 9 Ougadougou 10 Shanties/African-style nightclubs 11 Goodbye 12 The Gambia 13 Gabon 14 Bab Zuweila 15 The Mosque of Sultan Mu'ayyad Sheikh 16 Tugen 17 Bagamoyo 18 Mary Leakey 19 Runwenzori Mountains (or Ruwenzori National Park) 20 Ndebele

Sunday, August 20, 2006

Late Night, Early Morning BH93

Oh, lordy. I just watched the whole of Leprauchan II. It had Ron Howard's brother in it. It had a devious, bald leprauchan in it who looked like a burnt hamster (and that height-challenged ragamuffin from Bad Santa and I, Myself and Irene). The music was particularly bad. Actually, everything was bad. You could have done better effects with the contents of your kitchen. And there was no Jennifer Aniston this time.

Still, I kept on watching through to the lacklustre denouement. Though, of course, it was all lacklustre: completely lacking in lustre. No lustre at all. I looked real hard too.

But that's my problem. Once I start watching a movie, and I mean any movie, I have to see it through to the end. I have to be a kind of viewing completist, even when I know what is going to happen. It is a compulsion. This must be why I once watched Ernest Goes to Camp four times in a couple of months because of its constant exposure on Sky Movies many years ago.

I watched The Cooler earlier in the evening. It was much better. Although there is some facial resemblance between the Leprauchan and William H Macy, it has to be said. Also, I had The Governator in my head saying, on a freaking loop, "You're not sending me to The Cooler!"

Curses on both Arnie and the li'l Irish imp. Shall I ever enjoy good movies without the thoughts of trashy ones entering my head whenever I watch them? Somehow I doubt it.

1 What did Pablo Picasso call "the lie that tells the truth"?
2 What two-word name was given to the Roman festival in honour of Venus, which took place on August 19 and were instituted on occasion of the war of the Latins against Mezentius, in the course of which war, that people vowed a libation to Jupiter of all the wine in the succeeding vintage?
3 Which car company created the Ariane model by combining the body of the old large Vedette with the four-cylinder engine from the smaller Aronde?
4 Written by Pylyp Orlyk in 1710, the Bendery Constitution was one of the first state constitutions. To which modern day country did it apply?
5 Implemented in Nazi Germany, the T-4 Program was concerned with what?
6 The first element detected in space before being found on Earth, what did Pierre Janssen discover in 1868 while analysing the chromosphere during a total eclipse of the Sun?
7 Who was married to Huguenot King Henry of Navarre in 1572 in an attempt to reconcile Protestants and Catholics in France?
8 The stratovolcano Tungurahua recently erupted. In which country is it?
9 Featured battling the rival Juarez Cartel in the 2001 film Traffic, what is the other name of the Mexican drug traffickers known as the Tijuana cartel from its leader who died in 2002?
10 In which country is the private aid agency Good Friends based?
11 The recent flooding of which river in southern Ethiopia has caused almost 500 deaths?
12 The guerilla movement, Falintil, is the military wing of the Fretilin political party of which Asian country?
13 The Lord's Resistance Army (URA) rebel group was founded in 1987 in the north of which African country?
14 Named after the Swedish inventor of the artificial kidney, what prize is administered by the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences and was established in 1980 with the aim of rewarding and promoting basic research in scientific disciplines that fall outside the categories of the Nobel Prize, the fields including maths, geoscience, bioscience and astronomy?
15 A fellow Cuban revolutionary alongside Fidel Castro who later became an imprisoned dissident of the government, which "symbol of the opposition, and the dean of the opposition" died on August 8?
16 Which city, located at the junction of the River Daugava and Ridzene, is said to have been founded in 1201 when Bishop Albert, Bishop of Livonia, landed with 23 ships and more than 1500 armed crusaders, making the city his bishopric?
17 Historians generally trace the origins of the Hanseatic League to the foundation of which town, established in 1158-9 after the capture of the area from the Count of Schauenberg and Holstein by Henry the Lion, Duke of Saxony?
18 On August 18, 1590, John White returned from a supply trip to England to find what settlement, of which he was governor, deserted?
19 Which German engineer allegedly flew his self-made, motored gliding airplane four months before the first flight of the Wright brothers in 1903?
20 What bridge, connecting New York State with Ontario over the St Lawrence River was dedicated by Franklin D Roosevelt on August 18, 1938?
21 What August 18, 1976 incident took place in the Korean Demilitarized Zone at Panmunjeom and resulted in the death of two American soldiers?
22 Mikhail Gorbachev was put under house arrest on August 18, 1991, while holidaying in which Crimean town?
23 One of the greatest Persian poets of the 15th century and one ofthe last great Sufi poets of Persia, whose works include Baharistan (Abode of Spring), which was modelled on Saadi's Gulistan; Nafahat al-Uns (Breaths of Fellowship), biographies of the Sufi Saints and his major poetical work, Haft Awrang (Seven Thrones), which included such stories as A Father Advises his Son About Love?
24 Which Croatian poet (1450-1524), known as the Crown of Croatian Medieval Age and the Father of Croatian renaissance, wrote such signed works as Dalmata, Suzana, an Epistola to the Pope where he begged for assistance and common fight against the bringers of the new faith and a moralist tractate of Biblical inspiration, De institutione bene vivendi per exempla sanctorum, which he managed to publish in 1506 in Venice?
25 What title was possessed by the murderer Laurence Shirley, the last aristocrat to be hanged in England when he was executed on May 5, 1760?
26 Which Italian composer (1750-1825) composed more than 40 operas including Armida (1771), Las Danaides (1784), Palmira, Regina di Persia (1795) and Falstaff o sia Le tre burle (1799)?
27 Born in Devonport in 1855, which English fisherman and primitive artist painted such works as The Hold House Port Mear Square Island Port Mear Beach (c.1932), which now belongs to the Tate Gallery?
28 Killed during fighting against Red forces at the Kuban capital Ekaterinodar in April 1918 when a shell landed on his HQ, which Cossack Russian army general is best known for an eponymous failed military coup he staged against Kerensky's Provisional Government during the 1917 Russian Revolution?
29 From which country did the artist Adamson-Eric, born Erich Carl Hugo Adamson in 1902, come?
30 Which French writer's first novel, A Regicide was written but not published until 1978, with his first novel to be published being The Erasers in 1953, and his next and most acclaimed novel being the banana plantation-set Jealousy?
31 Carl Wayne, whose real name was Colin David Tooley, was best known as the lead singer of which Birmingham rock band?
32 Which Egyptian-American cryptographer published a paper in 1985 titled A Public key Cryptosystem and A Signature Scheme based on discrete Logarithims, in which he proposed the design of an eponymous discrete log cryptosystem and of an eponymous signature scheme, the latter becoming the basis for Digital Signature Algorithm (DSA) adopted by the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) as the Digital Signature Standard (DSS)?
33 What animal gives part of the name to the practice of writing compound words or phrases where the words are joined without spaces and each word is capitalised within the compound?
34 Which actress played the Bond girl Melina Havelock?
35 Which Irish-American rapper's real name is Erik Schrody?
36 Which electronic music artist is now known to have performed the first ever live gig on a laptop at the UK's Big Love festival?
37 Dedicated to Grimald Walafrid, what is the most famous poem of the 9th century German theologian and monk Walafrid Strabo, which is an account of a small garden he used to tend with his own hands and is largely made up of the various herbs he grew there and their medicinal uses?
38 Written in 1267, what is the oldest extant piece of English statute law?
39 Elected Pope to succeed Innocent V on July 12, 1276, who died at Viterbo on August 18 of that year without ever having been ordained to the priesthood?
40 The 1527 Sack of Rome marked a crucial imperial victory in the conflict between the Holy Roman Emperor Charles V and what alliance of France, Milan, Venice, Florence and the Papacy?
41 What ecclesiastical diplomatic title is derived from the ancient Latin meaning any envoy?
42 One of the most famous reactionaries in musical history for his condemnation of the new style developed c.1600 the innovations of which defined the early Baroque era, which Italian composer wrote few works, all in a conservative style: one book of canzonette for four voices (1598) and a Cantata Domingo for eight voices (1599)?
43 What was the official title of the supreme ruler in Bulgaria in 913-1018, in 1185-1422 and 1908-1946, and also in Serbia from 1346 to 1371?
44 From the Greek for "assistant servant", what was an office or bureaucratic occupation in the local and upper governmental offices, known as prikazes, and lesser local offices of Russia in 15th-18th centuries?
45 Viewed in the grounds of the Asda supermarket in Great Barr, Birmingham, England, what set of eight carved memorials to various members of the Lunar Society was made in 1998?
46 Which Englishman, trained physician, sometime poet and expert on medicine and botany's most important scientific work is Zoonomia (1794-1796), which contains a system of pathology and a treatise on "generation"?
47 Following the story of a large Jewish family in New York, what is the name of Clifford Odets's first play, which he wrote in 1935 and is often considered his masterpiece?
48 Which German-born British art historian conceived and edited the Pelican History of Art series (1953-)?
49 Distinguished from Pavlovian conditioning in that it deals with voluntary behaviour explained by consequences, what term describes the modification of behaviour brought about over time by the consequences of said behaviour?
50 One of BF Skinner's experiments examined the formation of superstition in one of his favourite experimental animals; in which he placed a series of hungry creatures in a cage attached to an automatic mechanism that delivered food to it "at regular intervals with no reference whatsoever" to its behaviour. What animal was it?



Answers to BH93
1 Art 2 Vinalia Rustica 3 Simca 4 Ukraine (Orlyk was a hetman) 5 Euthanasia 6 Helium 7 Marguerite de Valois 8 Ecuador 9 Arellano Felix Cartel 10 South Korea 11 Omo River 12 East Timor 13 Uganda 14 Crafoord Prize (named after Holger Crafoord) 15 Gustavo Arcos (Bergnes) 16 Riga 17 Lubeck 18 Colony of Roanoke 19 Karl Jatho 20 The Thousand Islands Bridge 21 Axe Murder Incident 22 Foros 23 Jami or Nur ad-Din Abf ar Rahman Jami 24 Marko Marulic 25 4th Earl Ferrers 26 Antonio Salieri 27 Alfred Wallis 28 Lavr Georgevich Kornilov (as in the Kornilov Affair) 29 Estonia 30 Alain Robbe-Grillet 31 The Move 32 Dr Taher Elgamal, sometimes known as ElGamal 33 The camel as in CamelCase or camel case 34 Carole Bouquet 35 Everlast 36 Aphex Twin 37 Hortulus 38 The Statute of Marlborough 39 Adrian V 40 The League of Cognac 41 Nuncio 42 Giovanni Artusi 43 Tsar 44 Podyachy or podyachiy 45 The Moonstones 46 Erasmus Darwin 47 Awake and Sing! 48 Nikolaus Pevsner 49 Operant conditioning 50 Pigeon

Saturday, August 19, 2006

Saturday Night's Alright For Doing The BH92

The State of the Contestant Nation

Ach. A Saturday evening in, spent watching what passes for quiz shows these days. It is all too much to bear.

I subjected myself to the celebrity pairs Weakest Link special. I wish I hadn't. The questions, with the endless variation on the give two options - one correct, the other insanely idiotic (e.g. what is the capital of Wales? Cardiff or Cardigan?), has really got to me. The others are pretty stupid too. But then again it was all for charity. Charles and Diana Ingram, the former of whom is now promoting himself as a novelist rather than infamous convicted quiz cheat (which is what everybody else thought), were the most knowledgeable on show, which ain't saying much to be fair. Tragically, they proved themselves to be exceptionally humourless in the chat after their inevitable dumping out and complained they should have stayed on because other pairs like Ralf Little and Will Mellor from Two Pints of Liquid Cow Dung and a Packet of Morons, were far worse. Pur-lease I mean, don't they even watch the show? Nowadays, the best always get the boot thanks to stupid and more Machiavellian players. That's just the way it is.

Still, Diana Ingram still scares the bejesus out of me though. Has she ever smiled in her life? Is everything to be taken so seriously? Is her hair dyed with dead crow? Is she into drinking fresh human blood? Sadly, their steely determination to win completely overrode the whole let's have a laugh charity spirit of the programme and must have slightly deranged them. Charles tried to smirk a few times in the way that people who don't get the joke but attempt some semblance of a giggle because they don't want to feel left out of the convivial community laughs. But Mrs Ingram's facial expression was still stuck in that disturbing rictus, like a deeply concentrating predatory beast waiting one split second before they pounce and feast on some prey's carcass. Even when you thought she was trying to be deadpan funny, she came across as a malevolant dominatrix with a stare so steely you would be impaled on it were you to find yourself trapped in its doomy glare. I think I'm going to have nightmares about it. If all this helps them shift (DJs and possible heralds of the Apocalypse JK and Joel won by the way; "won" being a relative term on these shows) a single copy of clownish half's no doubt very magnum opus, then I am surely an aubergine.

But then it was In It To Win It with Orangey Dale Winton. Now it's an okay concept. Dull, but okay. The questions are pitched perfectly for a Saturday night audience and most importantly with their multiple choice questions allow anyone, and I mean just about anyone, to win enough money to get a nice car and some decent plastic surgery.

The thing is, and this really gets my goat, they do seem to put just about ANYONE on. The ignorance of the contestants (except for the nice lady who went away with nothing having won two undeserving others tens of thousands) annoyed me so much tonight, I was actively wishing and cajoling the mighty quiz gods to make sure the thickies didn't win a single penny and send them scurrying home ashamed by how empty their brains were.

For instance, one fella couldn't identify the creator of Sherlock Holmes. One of the most famous fictional characters in history. Then I realised he had probably never read a book: Nuts magazine and the instructions on a pot of hairwax, yes. A proper book with dozens of pages and nothing but text, no. That would certainly explain a lot.

I mean, what do they ask at the auditions? After ascertaining that prospective contestants are able to write their name in joined-up writing, they might ask questions like, who is the British Prime Minister? Or, in which city do the football clubs Spurs and Arsenal play? Wait, those questions might be a bit too hard without three options. Or do they just select people on the basis of the old quiz show cross-section: a middle aged lady, one bright and sprightly lad, one man with a paunch approaching middle age, one apparent ethnic minority and a youngish blonde woman. A good old, mind-numbingly boring spread. They might say personality, what they really mean is the ability to grin inanely.

However, I came round to thinking it was some hilarious exercise in the theatre of the absurd. There was fun to be had. There always is if you look hard enough The great thing about IITWI is that people are encouraged to produce their answer by thinking aloud and using their no doubt astonishing powers of reasoning and deduction. So when the contestants don't have the correct answer cocked and loaded (fat chance), they begin to apply what they see as faultless logic gleaned from good old reliable life-knowledge, when in fact they are digging a deep ditch that they are about to drive into with many, many words of gobsmacking silliness.

Take these two examples from this evening's show:

"Now the opera Don Giovanni sounds Italian so it must be written by an Italian. So not Beethoven or Mozart, it must be Verdi!"

"I don't think Samuel Pepys wrote a diary in the 17th century. Sounds a bit too early. Must be 18th or 19th. 18th or 19th. Eighteeeeeeenth or nineteeeeeenth. 19th!!!"*

You see? So funny your guts might jump out of your gob in an uncontrollable act of laughter.

But, what do I know? I who look down at these mere mortals from a pedestal of towering quiz experience are far worse off financially than the aforementioned man who couldn't muster a Conan Doyle from his memory. He won £22,000 when he guessed that Canada was the second biggest country in the world after Russia. Ooh, the jammy so and so. And yet. The sheer happiness written on his face perhaps made up for the fact that some of the answers he gave me drove me so far up the wall that I needed a ladder to get back down. The joy of all that filthy lucre so easily earned! This was the greatest moment of his life and I couldn't possibly begrudge that. Ever.

Casting aside the green-eyed monster that perches on my shoulder and whispers devilish things in my ear whenever I watch a money prize quiz show, I have to remember too: It's only a game show. It's only a game show (I repeat to myself as I ponder another of life's fantastic injustices). After all, it's not like real life, is it?

*Dumb answer explanations have been spruced up a smidgen and edited for comedy effect

Rant Over. Questions On.
1 Under which man's rule, described by Dio Cassius as being "devoted to boys and to wine", did the Roman Empire reach its greatest territorial extent?
2 Perhaps the most important Anglo-Irish poet of the 19th century, whose collected poems, Lays of the Western Gael, were published in 1865 and his major antiquarian work, Ogham Inscriptions in Ireland, Wales and Scotland published posthumously in 1887, while his major verse work, the long poem Conal came out in 1872?
3 Executed at Auschwitz in 1942, what was the real name of Saint Teresa Benedicta of the Cross?
4 What was Dmitri Shostakovich's Second Symphony (1927) nicknamed?
5 Developed by the eponymous Central Committee secretary who developed it in 1946, which Soviet cultural doctrine proposed that the world was divided into two camps: the imperialistic, headed by the US and the demcratic, headed by the USSR?
6 Which US actor, tap dancer and choreographer rose to prominence in 1996 starring in the George C Wolfe-produced musical Bring In 'Da Noise, Bring in 'Da Funk and was a cast member on Sesame Street and has pushed the envelope of rhythm tap dancing in the last two years, collaborating with his band The Otherz and in 2004 partnering with spoken word artist Reg E Gaines and saxophonist Matana Roberts in the John Coltraine-inspired improv session If Trane Wuz Here?
7 Judith Rossner is best known for which best-selling 1975 novel, inspired by the murder of schoolteacher Roseann Quinn?
8 With the three virgin martyrs - "Saint Margaret with the dragon, Saint Barbara with the tower, Saint Catherine with the wheel" - at its heart, which group of saints are venerated together in Roman Catholicism because prayer to them was thought to be particularly effective, especially against various diseases; the practice originating in the 14th century in the Rhineland largely due to the Black Death?
9 Which German architect (1687-1753) developed a refined brand of Baroque archiecture with such buildings as the palace of the Wurzburg Residence and the Rococo pilgrimage church of the Vierzehnheiligen in the Bavarian hamlet of Bad Staffelstein?
10 Elia Levita, or Eliahu Bakhur meaning "Eliahu the Bachelor" wrote which work in 1507-1508, said to be the most popular chivalric romance in the Yiddish language and, which is, according to Sol Liptzin, "generally regarded as the most outstanding poetic work in Old Yiddish"?
11 Grown for the liquid wax in its seeds that is refined into an odourless and colourless oil used in cosmetics as a moisturiser, what shrub native to the Sonoran and Mojave deserts of Arizona, California and Mexico has the scientific name Simmondsia chinensis and is the sole species of the family Simmondsiaceae?
12 Located about 75km from Lviv, what Ukrainian castle first features in historical document dated 1327 that states it was given by Pope Boniface IX gave Halych, a Catholic bishop, as a gift?
13 Also known as the Ramayana Monkey Chant, what form of Balinese music drama originated in the 1930s and is by circle of 100 or more primarily male performers wearing checked cloth around their waists, percussively chanting and throwing up their arms in a depiction of a battle from the Ramayana where monkeys help Prince Rama defeat the evil King Ravana?
14 The Bulldozer Revolution or 5th October Overthrow led to whose downfall in 2000?
15 Where was Queen Lili'uokalani usurped in a coup d'etat by a group of European and American businessmen in 1893?
16 Led by the Zwickau prophet and weaver Nicholas Storch, which 16th century German sect of Anabaptists effected an absolute disdain for human knowledge, contending that God would enlighten his elect from within themselves, and give them knowledge of necessary truths by visions and ecstasies with which human learning would interfere, while also claiming that to be saved one must even be igorant of the first letters of the alphabet?
17 What unprovoked murder by Arabs of 68 Jews, which began in Jerusalem's Old City, took place on August 23, 1929?
18 What Iron Age culture is named after the eponymous archaeological site on the north side of Lake Neuchatel in Switzerland, where a rich trove of artefacts was discovered by Hansli Kopp in 1857?
19 Don Beach, a.k.a Don the Beachcomber kickstarted what kind of restaurant culture in the US when he opened an eatery in Hollywood in 1934 that served Cantonese cuisine and exotic rum punches with evocative tropical decor?
20 Built during the era of the Umayyad caliph Umar II, the ancient Islamic monument of the Khamis Mosque is believed to be the first mosque ever built in which country?
21 When the future King William III landed in the Devon fishing village of Brixham he also gave his three-word motto to the town, which retains it to this day. What is it?
22 What vitamin was first discovered by Umetaro Suzuki in 1910 and was first called aberic acid?
23 What is the third longest river in Europe after the Volga and Danube?
24 Which pop singer appeared uncrdited on the Black Eyed Peas' global hit Where is the Love and at the end of 2003 recorded the song I'm Lovin' It, which was used by McDonald's as the theme to their I'm Lovin' It campaign?
25 The acronym VHB is used to describe what constuction technique?
26 Who wrote at least two of his all-time classic novels at his home, 16250 Greenwood Lane in what is now Monte Sereno, California?
27 Whose Law of the Minimum is a principle developed in agricultural science which states that growth is controlled not by the total of resources available, but by the scarcest resource or limiting factor?
28 The Danube originates in the Black Forest in Germany as which two smaller rivers that join at Donaueschingen?
29 Upon seeing which waterfalls did Eleanor Roosevelt reportedly exclaim "Poor Niagara!"? It also features the Garganta del Diablo ("Devil's Throat"), a U-shaped 150m-wide and 700m-long cliff which marks the border between Argentina and Brazil.
30 In which Australian city is the O-Bahn Busway, the world's longest and fastest guided busway?
31 The hymn Dear Lord and Father of Mankind is taken from a poem about hallucinogenic drugs by which American Quaker poet of the 19th century?
32 Where would you find a "targa top"?
33 Makers of the Dolomite Roadster and Gloria Six, which motor manufacturers began as a "Cycle Company" in 1897 and branched out in 1902 into making motorcycles at their works at Much Park Street?
34 What did the Gyokuon-hoso signal and what did it literally mean?
35 In what year did the Panama Canal open to traffic?
36 Commemorated in the Old French epic poem The Song of Roland, what battle of August 15, 778 saw a Frankish army led by Roland, prefect of the Britanny March, defeated by Basque forces commanded by Bernardo del Carpio?
37 What two-word military term has been used by the United States intelligence agencies to refer to any classified facility that is officially denied by the US government?
38 Which African country is divided into one city and five regions, including Ali Sabieh Region, Tadjourah Region and Dikhil Region?
39 In which country was the Cole Inquiry set up in November 2005 to invesigate the country's companies' alleged improprieties regarding the UN Oil-For-Food Programme?
40 Whose forces defeated and killed Macbeth at the Battle of Lumphanan in 1057?
41 In 1309, the city of Rhodes surrendered to the forces of which Benedictine religious order, thus completing their conquest and establishing their sovereignty?
42 Dug into the side of the Erusheli mountain in southern Georgia near Aspindza, which cave monastery or so-called "Cave City" was founded by Queen Tamar of Georgia in 1185?
43 Nicknamed La Ciudad Blanca ("the white city") becase much of the sillar, a pearly white volcanic rock was used in the construction of its colonial era Spanish buildings, what city in southern Peru stands at the foot of the snow-capped volcano El Misti and was founded on August 15, 1540 by Garci Manuel de Carbajal, an emissary of Spanish conquistador Francisco Pizarro?,
44 Known as "Mother of Cities" because it is one of the oldest cities in South America, what city was founded on the feast day of the Assumption on August 15, 1537 by Juan de Salazar and Gonzalo de Mendoza?
45 What August 15, 1599 battle saw an Irish rebel army led by Hugh Roe O'Donnell successfully ambush, near the town of Boyle in northwest Ireland, an English force sent to relieve Colloney Castle?
46 Ultimately deriving its name from the Wolof for "to eat", what is the common name given to 150 different varities of plants with starchy tubers that belong to the genus Dioscorea?
47 Which Portuguese Catholic saint was born Fernando de Bulhoes in 1195 and holds the record for the second fastest canonisation in history, being declared a saint 352 days after his death, and becoming the patron saint of the Italian city, where a basilica hosts his relics to this day?
48 What was the real name of the 18th century Knaresborough-born roadbuilder "Blind Jack"?
49 Author of the poem Death and the Maiden that was used by Schubert for his celebrated song in 1817 and later string quartet, which German poet (1740-1815) was otherwise known by the nom de plume of ASMUS and wrote such poems as Der Mensch, Christiane and Die Liebe?
50 E, Nesbit wrote about which fictional middle class family fallen on relatively hard times in her books The Story of the Treasure Seekers (1898) and The Wouldbegoods (1899)?
51 In which year was Napoleon Bonaparte born?





Answers to BH92
1 Trajan 2 Samuel Ferguson 3 Edith Stein 4 To October 5 Zhdanov Doctrine 6 Savion Glover 7 Looking for Mr Goodbar 8 The Fourteen Holy Helpers 9 Balthasar Neumann 10 Bovo-Bukh 11 Jojoba 12 Olesko Castle 13 Kecak 14 Slobodan Milosevic 15 Hawaii 16 Abecedarians 17 The Hebron massacre 18 La Tene culture 19 Tiki culture 20 Bahrain 21 "I will maintain" 22 Thiamine or Vitamin B1 23 Dnieper 24 Justin Timberlake 25 Very High Building 26 John Steinbeck (The Grapes of Wrath and Of Mice and Men) 27 (Justus von) Liebig's Law of the Minimum 28 Brigach and Breg 29 Iguazu Falls 30 Adelaide 31 John Greenleaf Whittier 32 On a car (a semi-convertible car body style with removable roof section) 33 Triumph Motor Company 34 The broadcast of the unconditional surrender of Japan by Emperor Hirohito on August 15, 1945; it means "Jewel Voice Broadcast" 35 1914 36 Battle of Roncevaux Pass 37 Black site 38 Djibouti 39 Australia 40 Malcolm III 41 The Knights Hospitaller or Knights of St John or Order of St John of Jerusalem 42 Cave City of Vardzia 43 Arequipa 44 Asuncion 45 The Battle of Curlew Pass 46 Yam 47 Anthony of Padua 48 John Metcalf 49 Matthias Claudius 50 The Bastable family 51 1769

Friday, August 18, 2006

A different kind of fun: BH91

A Face from the Past

Weird. Reading about the Prince Harry stolen photograph fiasco, I noticed that the girl at the centre of it all looked quite familiar. Then I googled her and found this and realised - ye gods - that Natalie was in my halls of residence at Nottingham University during my first year. I never actually looked at the photograph properly, which just goes to show, my powers of observation can be quite pathetically weak at times.

Being the most stunning looking person in Derby Hall, I always thought she was one of those people who inhabit a different social universe. And, obviously, you have to be to get members of the royal family to squeeze your breasts and suck your neck. Who would have thought that in ten years time she was going to be seen getting fondled on the frontpage of The Sun? Like I said, weird.

Of course, back then her otherworldliness was enhanced by the fact that she was going out with England rugby union stalwart and Question of Sport captain Matt Dawson. One person, who played table tennis against him in the aforementioned halls of residence, described him as "a dick". Just thought I'd slip that piece of slanderous gossip in there.

Realising that I am endowing myself with wild self importance, I seem to be separated from people in the news by a single degree. As I might have mentioned before, I have shared acquaintances with both Preston of The Ordinary Boys and BB7 winner Pete Bennett, and played cricket against two members of Keane throughout my youth. I realise I'm now getting to the age when people of my generation make their mark, and it feels slightly strange when they do so.

Anyway, I voted for Pete to win. He deserved it. Ya-boo-sucks to all those who got so sick of his tics that they thought he was putting it on. It's Tourette's syndrome, you bunch of dimwits. That's what they do.

I have it on reliable authority that he is a great bloke and a joy to smoke illegal drugs and share a Brighton squat with. I have also heard what one television production company plans to do with Pete and let's just say, I am very very scared for him.

1 Said to be the porcine equivalent of Kobe beef, what Japanese pork has a name meaning "black pig" and is made from similarly cossetted beef and is therefore darker, richer and better flavoured than normal varieties?
2 In the UK Tin Pan Alley was based around London's Denmark Street, but what is the New York City equivalent?
3 Which orphan, known for getting up to japes at her Paris boarding school, was created by Ludwig Bemelmans in 1939?
4 What name has been given to the period of liberalisation and the party atmosphere it engendered in Madrid after Franco's death?
5 In 1994, the music act The KLF burned one million pounds on which Scottish island?
6 The term "Chiantishire", as used to describe Tuscany, is said to have been first used by John Mortimer in which book, later adapted into a TV series starring John Gielgud?
7 The Istanbul delicacy midyetava is a sandwich filled with fried what?
8 The Imperial palace estate the Tsarskoye Selo ("Tsar's village"), built by Rastrelli for the the Empress Elisabeth and including the Catherine Palace and the Alexander Palace, is now part of which town south of St Petersburg?
9 Home venue of the Montreal Canadiens, what is the biggest venue in the NHL?
10 What historic town in the Yaroslavl Oblast was first documented in 1148 with a name meaning "Corner Field" and thought to allude to the turn the Volga and is home to the Assumption three-tented church (1628) of the Alexeievsky monastery and the graceful Church of Nativity of St John the Baptist, built in 1689-90 by a local merchant to commemorate the spot where his son had drowned?
11 According to recent research by Informa Telecoms and Media, the most popular non-English speaking language TV show in the world is Te Voy a Ensenar a Querer/I'm Going to Teach You To Love, which tells the story of a father and son who are both in love with the same woman. From which country does it come?
11 Tom Anderson and Chris DeWolfe founded which hugely popular website?
12 Who famously took the photo of a dead Confederate soldier at Gettysburg in 1863, which it was discovered he had posed for dramatic effect?
13 Centring around a paranoid and reclusive writer called Bill Gray who is tempted out of seclusion when a famous poet is kidnapped in Lebanon, which prescient Don DeLillo novel features the line "Terror makes the future possible" and is named after an Andy Warhol work?
14 The actress Helen Mirren has a tattoo of what small South American Indian design of interlocking crosses that means equal but opposite located on her left hand between thumb and forefinger?
15 Also the name of a currently popular English indie band who are known as The Raisin Boys in their hometown of Brighton, what is surfing slang for a useless or rubbish surfer?
16 Sharing its name with a Caribbean island, which Cuban town in the province of Sancti Spiritus has been a UNESCO World Heritage site since 1988 due to its colonial buildings and was founded in 1514 by Diego Velazquez de Cuellar in 1514?
17 What mountain in the central French Alps in the same-named commune is possible the most famous of the mountain climbs on the Tour de France?
18 At the beginning of 1417 Frederick Hohenzollern bought which of the seven electorates of the Holy Roman Empire for the sum of 400,00 Hungarian guilders?
19 Organised in 1970 as a multi-ethnic, multi-national club act, what Senegalese band was put together by saxophonist Baro N'Diaye and are known for such albums as 2002's Specialist in All Styles, which was produced by Youssou N'dour?
20 Renowned for their live performances, what French pop-rock husband-and-wife duo was formed in 1979 by guitarist Fred Chichin and singer Catherine Ringer and have released such albums as The No Comprendo and Marc et Robert, which were both produced by US record producer Tony Visconti?
21 Which German communist wrestler planned to win the wrestling event at the 1936 Olympics and make a vulgar gesture at Hitler, but instead came in fourth and was later executed on October 24, 1944, in Brandenburg prison for supposed treason?
22 Winner of the 100m backstroke at the 1932 Olympics, which American swimmer was famously suspended from the 1936 Olympics for excessive behaviour owing to her acute alcoholism?
23 Once the fourth largest inland lake in the world, which body of water between Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan has lost 90 per cent of its volume over the last 40 years due to what has been called "the worst man-made ecological disaster on the planet"?
24 Which citadel in souther Iran had stood for 2000 years before a December 26, 2003 earthquake which destroyed 60 per cent of the ancient city and killed 43,000 people?
25 The first of which stores was opened in 1971 by three partners: English teacher Jerry Baldwin, history teacher Zev Siegel and writer Gordon Bowker?
26 Which Russian composer (1855-1914) composed the short tone poems The Enchanted Lake/Volshebnoye ozero and Kikimora in 1909, as well as A Musical Snuffbox/Muzikalnaya tabakerka for the piano (1893) and the 1910-12 symphonic picture for orchestra, From the Apocalypse?
27 The acupuncture points known as Darwin's Point and Shen Men, known in Chinese medicine as "the gate of godliness", are found where on the body?
28 Aston Villa's prospective buyer, the credit card millionaire Randy Lerner, owns which NFL team?
29 On which river is the Italian city of Padua?
30 What flower was given to the name of the supposed revolution seen in Kyrgyzstan last year?
31 Which Bond film actor wrestled under the name Tosh Togo?
32 In Japanese cinema, the term "chambara" refers to what genre of films?
33 What battle, which took place in Gloucestershire on May 4, 1471, put a temporary end to Lancastrian hopes of regaining the throne of England and saw forces led by Edward IV defeat Edmund Beaufort, Margaret of Anjou and her 17-year-old son, Edward of Westminster?
34 What Islamic term refers to an inalienable religious endowment typically devoting a building or plot or land for Muslim religious or charitable purposes, and is used to refer to the Muslim administrative body responsible for the Haram al-Sharif or Temple Mount in the old city of Jerusalem?
35 First appearing on screen in the 1928 film Burning of the Red Lotus Monastery and later in Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon, what two-word term describes a code of chivalry, mystical martial arts and freedom of the spirit?
36 Written during the 1930s, the fourth part of whose five-part novel, known in China as the Crane-Iron Pentalogy, served as the basis for Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon?
37 Which 1842 poem by Alfred Lord Tennyson features the line: "Kind Hearts are more than coronets, and simple faith than Norman blood"?
38 Herman Leonard is famed for photographing what or whom?
39 Published in September 1957, Religion and the Rebel was the flop sequel to which well-known English novel?
40 What is the appropriate name of the 13th and last of Lemony Snicket's A Series of Unfortunate Events books?
41 Written by Pat Ballard and published in 1954, which song was a US number one for The Chordettes that reached number 11 in the UK, where it was also a top 20 hit for The Four Aces (#9) and Max Bygraves (#16)?
42 One of the current pre-eminent African novelists, which Ivorian author's books include what has been described as the "African Lord of the Flies", Allah is Not Obliged (2001) and Waiting for the Wild Beasts to Vote (1998)?
43 What did North Carolina businessman Malcolm McLean invent in 1953 that had a revolutionary effect on world trade? There are an estimated 300 million of them.
44 Te Atairangi Kaahu, who died on August 15, reigned for 40 years as queen of which indigenous people?
45 In which African country, ranked the most corrupt country in the world in Transparency International's 1999 Corruption Perceptions Index, were 45,000 non-existent "ghost" civil workers costing £5 million a month recently discovered?
46 The 20-year-old son of which Israeli author, known for such books as Be My Knife and Someone to Run With, was recently killed by an anti-tank rocket while serving as an army Staff Sergeant in Lebanon?
47 What was Billy Wright's football club, for whom he made 541 appearances from 1939 to 1959 and was never booked?
48 What sort of Lebanese delicacy is "labneh"?
49 Which bay in Poole, Dorset, is to be home to the £34 million Twin Sails Bridge, the venue for the sailing events at the 2012 OIympics?
50 The first home nation rider to be ranked number one in the world, which Welsh cyclist has twice La Fleche and this year won the Women's Tour de France, also known as the Grand Boucle Feminine?




Answers to BH91
1 Kurobuta pork 2 West 28th Street 3 Madeline 4 La Movida (The Movement) 5 Jura 6 Summer's Lease 7 Mussels 8 Pushkin 9 Bell Center 10 Colombia 11 12 Alexander Gardner 13 Mao II 14 Lakesh 15 Kook (as in The Kooks) 16 Trinidad 17 Alpe d'Huez 18 Brandenburg 19 Orchestre Baobob 20 Les Rita Mitsouko 21 Werner Seelenbinder 22 Eleanor Holm 23 Aral Sea 24 Bam 25 Starbucks 26 Anatoly Konstantinovich Lyadov 27 The ear 28 Cleveland Browns 29 Bacchiglione 30 Tulip Revolution 31 Harold Sakata (Oddjob) 32 Swordplay 33 Battle of Tewkesbury 34 Waqf 35 Wuxia pian 36 Wang Dulu 37 Lady Clara Vere de Vere 38 Jazz musicians 39 The Outsider (by Colin Wilson) 40 The End 41 Mr Sandman 42 Ahmadou Kourouma 43 Shipping containers 44 Maori 45 Cameroon 46 David Grossman (son Uri) 47 Wolves 48 Cream cheese 49 Holes Bay 50 Nicole Cooke

Thursday, August 17, 2006

Memories, Like the Corner of My BH90

The Day of Days ... Until the Next Day

Having been slightly disturbed by the resemblance of serial killer Ted Bundy to England cricket "captain" Michael Vaughan, and THEN noticing that Bundy's mother's maiden name was Cowell and THEN realising I was trying to link this infamous sociopath to every prominent male in British public life, I went to half-sleep watching four straight episodes of the late Mireille Johnston presenting A Cook's Tour of France II in slightly unbelievable fascination on BBC Learning Zone (Johnston facts: she used to be an aide to RFK and translated The Sorrow and The Pity into English for subtitling and overdubbing) and woke up to BBC News 24 spouting the momentous and predictable news it is A Level day in the fair land of Albion today.

Ah, I loved the 18-year-old naivety of the girls gathered round the reporter, each of whom declaimed that it was the most important thing in their lives like ever, and jumping up and down like a row of Tiggers when they found all their meagre dreams were going to come true (except for one, who heard the call of Clearing ring out in her head, whilst everyone else was joyous). You will learn, my teenlings. You will learn.

I do realise I take such results for granted, so granted in fact they ain't even on my CV anymore, and tend to forget the pivotal role they played in getting me to a place called university and from thence on another location known as the crushing awfulness and conformity of adult life (well, I should have seen it coming). Even if my current existence does resemble the circadian rhythms of a student, I have to say I wouldn't want it any other way. I loved the freedom given to you by a practically bare schedule.

But maybe the part of reason I forget those particular exams is because I got a B in General Studies. My thing. The general stuff. Deemed to be second-rate, second-class at what I was supposed to do best.


And every A Levels day this is a striking reminder of my slackness. Sure, those multiple answer GK questions were fine and fun, but what about the rest? The questions that demanded slightly more rigorous thought and answer selection? Hmm, I just bumbled along really, not giving two hoots, not actually being arsed. Though, day-yem, I wish I had been. It's annoying more than anything. Like a small pebble in my shoe that I am reminded of every so often. However, come to think about it all I did was rely on my skills of fact and quote memorisation in all the other ones (best performed the night before in a sort of sweaty, blind panic; I guess the adrenaline helped brand the facts in the short term memory well enough), so what the bejesus I am complaining about?!!!? Bah.

And as I lay that ghost to rest, I am left pondering where are this year's eye-poppingly attractive female A Level triplets? Or do we have to wait til tomorrow morning's Telegraph front cover. If there aren't any I will be sorely disappointed. You see, they do it often enough and it becomes some sort of aesthetic fix. A fix, I tells ya!

Happy Birthday to Sarah-Jane
My sister. She is fourteen today. Carrying on my six-year infantile graffiti-cut-up birthday card series, I bought her a Superman Returns number and crossed out the the ON where SON was and wrote SARAH down it vertically. Then I drew lipstick and a wig on Brandon Routh's superhero-sculpted bodice and drew boobs on his suit. Without the nipples. I'm not a perv, I assure you.

Then I stuck a £2 on the inside with a Pritt Stick and wrote with an arrow next to it: "I asked you four times what you wanted for your birthday so this is what you're getting ... make sure you tell me next year WHAT YOU WANT ... Tsk". A sign of class if ever there was one.

(I'm joking, of course. My heart is not made of lead and nastiness and my brain is not crammed with nonsense; I said I'd get her a gift when she decided on something. Everything else is true, though)

1 The world's biggest painting by a single person, the 8,000 square metre Mother Earth, was recently completed by which Swedish artist after taking two years and using up 100 tonnes of paint?
2 Born Stefano du Giovanni, which man (c.1392-1450) was the leading painter of the Sienese school and produced such works as The Meeting of St Anthony Abbot and St Peter the Hermit (c.1440) on display at Washington DC's National Gallery of Art?
3 What name is given to a series of barrels or other containers used for aging drinks like Sherry, Madeira, Marsala, Muscat, Muscadelle and Balsamic vinegar?
4 What name is given to the dark wine grape, which is indigenous to the Achaia region in the Northern Peloponnese and the dark red, sweet, fortified dessert wine produced by it, and which is principally produced by Achaia-Clauss, the winery founded by the Bavarian Gustav Clauss?
5 Which actor and fashion designer's names are used as aliases by Marty McFly in the Back to the Future movies?
6 Which city in south-central Spain, the capital of the same-named province, is known as the "World Capital of Olive Oil" because it is the biggest producer of this "liquid gold", as locals refer to it?
7 Designed by J Mays and Freeman Thomas of Volkswagen's California design studio, which Audi sportscar was first shown as a concept car at the 1995 Frankfurt Motor Show and has been produced since 1998 in Gyor, Hungary?
8 The ham or "pata negra de bellota" come from the black-foot pigs of what old breed that are fattened on acorns?
9 The Bienal de Flamenco, considered the greatest showcase of that dancing style, is held in which city every two years?
10 Known for such albums as his recent record Arfur, Bubbi Morthens is one of the most popular singers and songwriters in which country?
11 As depicted in a Sir William Quiller Orchardson painting of 1883 that was based on Carlyle's account, which guest of the Duc de Sulli was called away and horsewhipped in the street by two hired thugs in the pay of the Duc de Rohan and returned to the dining room demanding vengeance only to be met with indifference?
12 Considered to be the oldest city in the Netherlands, which city near the German border celebrated its 2000th year of existence in 2005 and is believed by the Dutch to be the capital of their ancient ancestors the Batavians and was the site of a castle Charlemagne built in the 8th century?
13 Which Scotsman painted six illustrations of Homer's Iliad that he produced in Rome in 1763 for Sir James Grant and which include Achilles Lamenting the Death of Patroclus?
14 Which Boston-born brothers directed the landmark documentaries Salesman, Gimme Shelter and Grey Gardens?
15 Whose agent warned: "You do realise, you will never make a fortune writing children's books"?
16 Known for such films as Cafe Lumiere, City of Sadness and The Puppetmaster, which Taiwanese director's latest film is titled Three Times?
17 The famous "Wilhelm Scream" was originally recorded for which 1951 Raoul Walsh Western starring Gary Cooper?
18 Which John Updike novel was described as "horseshit" by Martin Amis?
19 Which Young British Artist gave up his job as an assistant film editor first made his name with his "door paintings", a series of almost identical gloss paintings of hospital doors, and followed it up with lurid, gloss-paint Pop Art shapes, one of which, 1996's Snowman, can be seen at New York's Museum of Modern Art?
20 One of the major figures in abstact expressionism and colour field paintings, which New York-born artist (1905-1970) reached his fully mature style with the Onement series that he began in 1948, and was famed for painting areas of colour separated by thin vertical lines he called "zips", his 1950s work The Wild being just one such eight feet by one and a half inches zip?
21 Which conductor left the Berlin Philharmonic in 2002 and was recently described as the first post-holder "who's not been carried out in a box" by curren incumbent Simon Rattle?
22 Wife of record producer Walter Legge, of which opera singer did Sir Thomas Beecham say when told he had met her in Berlin in 1938: "I didn't even notice her - I must have been blind"?
23 Easily his most famous work, who published the novel The Monkey Wrench Gang in 1975, the tale of four ecologically-minded misfits including the Green Beret Vietnam vet George Hayduke, who are all set on sabotage in the American southwest?
24 Which classic 1884 novel by the French writer Joris-Karl Huysmans centres mostly on the tastes and inner life of the antihero Des Esseintes, an eccentric and reclusive aesthete?
25 Which 1962 novel by James Baldwin begins by detailing the downfall of jazz drummer Rufus Scott, set off by the suicide of his white lover, Leona?
26 How many calories are there in a pound of fat?
27 Spread through Microsoft Word, what was the name of the first macro virus created in 1995?
28 What computer was announced by a single commercial broadcast during Super Bowl XVIII in 1984?
29 In 1971 Vietnam vet John Draper used a giveaway whistle from a Cap'n Crunch cereal box that could perfectly reproduce a 2600 hertz tone to build what early version of what "phreaking" electronic device, which when used with a whistle and sounded into a phone receiver allows people to make free calls?
30 Developed in 1973, what was the first personal computer to use a mouse, the desktop metaphor and a graphical user interface (GUI)?
31 In 1962, Mariner I went off course during launch due to a missing "bar" in what piece of software, a general-purpose, procedural, imperative programming language?
32 Which Brazilian rock band, whose name is an acronym from the Portuguese for "tired of being sexy", were started in September 2003 as a joke since nobody except the drummer could play their instruments properly?
33 Which Spanish Tenebrist painter and chief in the so-called Cabal of Naples, who is also called Lo Spagnoletto or the "Little Spaniard", is known for such principal works as St Januarius Emerging from the Furnace in Naples cathedral, and two paintings now seen in The Louvre: Le Pied-bot and what is generally regarded as his masterpiece the Adoration of the Shepherds (1650)?
34 Rediscovered by the 19th century Realists and celebrated for their paintings of peasants, the artist-brothers Antoine, Louis and Mathieu all signed their work only with which surname?
35 Established on May 15, 1941, what was the Hebrew name of the regular fighting force or "Strike Companies" of the Haganah, the underground army of Jewish settlers that operated during the British Mandate of Palestine?
36 Its country's largest exporter from 1999 to 2001 and one of the three main exporters, Embraer is an aircraft manufacturer from which country?
37 Marlon Manalo, Ching-Shun Yang, Francisco Bustamante and Elfren Reyes are famous names in which sport?
38 Which 36-year-old sportman's original name is Ratchapol Pu-Ob-Orm?
39 John Parris is famed for making what kind of sports equipment?
40 The term "ein Frauenversteber" is considered an insult directed at males in Germany. What does it mean?
41 First gaining popularity in the US in the Sixties when they became an alternative to mass-produced shoes, what Mexican sandals are traditionally made from a recycled tire sole?
42 Which well-known character was introduced in a 1973 TV movie, The Marcus-Nelson Murders, in which his last name was spelled with an extra letter "c"?
43 Employed by the British catering and food company J. Lyons and Co., what was the name of the first business computer, which was modelled closely on the Cambridge EDSAC and ran its first business application in 1951?
44 What in Islam is a "qasr"?
45 Which Irish-American author wrote The Unexpurgated Code: A Complete Manual of Survival & Manners, a 1975 non-fiction humorous book which deals out advice on such subjects as "Ass kissing and other types of Flattery", "Cannibalism" and "When the Overwhelming Desire to Goose a Lady Cannot Be Suppressed"?
46 Serving in the Apostolic Palace near St Peter's Basilica, who are the attendants of the Pope and his household in the Vatican City?
47 What are the Vikram Samvat, the Shaka Samvat and the Kali Yuga?
48 From the Greek for "soft shell", what is the largest class of crustaceans, which includes most of the animals that non-experts recognise as crustaceans, such as the decapods: crabs, lobsters, true shrimp and krill?
49 Woodlice breath through gills that are known by what name?
50 Which large body of water on the southern end of Hudson Bay borders the provinces of Quebec and Ontario, and contains islands - the largest of which is Akimiski Island - that are part of Nunavut?




Answers to BH90
1 David Aberg 2 Sassetta 3 A solera 4 Mavrodafni 5 Calvin Klein, Clint Eastwood 6 Jaen 7 TT (as in Tourist Trophy) 8 Iberico 9 Seville 10 Iceland 11 Voltaire 12 Nijmegen 13 Gavin Hamilton 14 Albert and David Maysles 15 JK Rowling's 16 Hou Hsiao-Hsien 17 Distant Drums 18 The Witches of Eastwick 19 Gary Hume 20 Barnett Newman 21 Claudio Abbado 22 Elisabeth Schwarzkopf 23 Edward Abbey 24 A rebours/Against Nature or Against the Grain 25 Another Country 26 3,500 27 Concept virus or WM.Concept 28 Apple Macintosh 29 Blue box 30 Xerox Alto 31 Fortran 32 CSS/Cansei de Ser Sexy 33 Jose de Ribera 34 Le Nain 35 Palmach 36 Brazil 37 Pool/Billiards 38 Snooker player James Wattana 39 Cues 40 "A man who understands women" 41 Huaraches 42 Theo Kojak (then spelt Kojack) 43 LEO I (Lyons Electronic Office I) 44 A short prayer 45 JP Donleavy 46 The Papal Gentlemen or Gentlemen of His Holiness 47 Hindu calendars 48 Malacostraca 49 Pseudotrachea 50 James Bay