Monday, November 27, 2006

Blogging ... wassat?

It's almost been a week since I last updated. This may not be much of a surprise to people who know what has happened.

Came nowhere in the PEN quiz a few hours ago (okay 14th= out of 40 odd) and tried not to stare at Anne Robinson and Nick Hornby and Celia Walden and Julian Fellowes. There were many other famous people there as per usual (I didn't have the guts to take out my cameraphone and act like a bloody idiotic-looking tourist at Madame Tussauds). Mariella Frostrup hosted and I must say: I say I say. Piers Morgan announced the raffle and was crap compared to Will Self, who performed the same task last year with far more surreal tangents and less rubbish jokes about Boris Johnson's wandering eye. Self also looked dead cool wafting out of the place with his black ruck sack slung over one shoulder and giant cigar clamped between his lips.

Before that, I did the Thursday comedy thing for ITV2 with Adam Bloom, during which I found out my Norwegian grandmother had passed away (lunchtime to be exact). Which made the experience slightly weirder and definitely more stomach churning.

So in two hours I'm getting to Heathrow to get a plane to Norway, pay my condolences and come back tomorrow. Modern life is so fast and zippy isn't it? I never thought I'd do that when I grew up. That is, spend £340 on a one-night holiday in the land of the fjords and many deep blue lakes. But such is life. Ready to suck your bank balance dry at a moment's notice through necessity.

Yes, the EQC is still on and ready to enhance my weirdly sudden jetset lifestyle. My preparation has taken a bit of a hit to be honest though. As you might expect. But then again, I always work better in adverse/hungover/stinking ill conditions. Not tired though. That really kills me.

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

A Filthy Little Habit

I have been slowly making my way through the Prince of Wales quiz book. Slowly, because the only time I have been reading it is when I go to the balcony of the flat to smoke one off. Thus, the white-filtered tips can attest to the fact that I have made it to page 217. Otherwise, I can't seem to read it indoors (what is up with that?). This thing called the internet seems to eat all that sheltered time up and I really, really must use my time more constructively.

However, I'd just like to say that it is just as good as I thought it was when I started reading it. Buy it or borrow it; it will make you moderately happy.

I really need to give up. My lungs feel so caged.

Moments of Complete Rubbishness
Last night, I was in a tie-breaker situation for first place in a pub quiz. Now you might think that this is a win-win situation with someone like myself, who supposedly has the quiz reflexes of a trivia-loving panther.

The question was who was Bill Clinton's Vice President?

I couldn't even muster an answer in the five seconds it took the other chap to get it and say it, and therefore muffle me into embarrassed silence.

That's Al freaking Gore, of course. Al Mother******* Gore Mother******. (That was our team name for the second quiz of the evening - nobody laughed, not least me).

My excuse is that I had the Simpsons version of Bob Dole marauding through my brain (why, you might ask? Why, I have been asking ever since).

And I have to remind myself that I am in the England team. This does not bode well.

With the EQC breathing down my neck and therefore hours of study to be done, this blog is sadly going into a semi-shutdown (sorry). But, I promise there will be periodic updates with regards to how I fare at this year's PEN quiz and tangling with stand-up comedians (something on Thursday). And, of course, there will be a gigantic and mad overview diary thing about the just east of Paris shenanigans. My notebook and pen are cocked. Let's do it. Etc.

Sunday, November 19, 2006

Beaten Again

President's Cup: Was it 43-41 to Oxford? I dunno. Summat Like That. Drat.

Oh my word. We completely banjaxed that one up. Or did we? Wholesale changes for the team this week, just because, you know, I felt like it. OKAY? It was in Oxford. Things are different in Oxford.

Here are the wearisome and distressing details: We were behind by five points after the first round, and then we managed to inveigle ourselves into a comfortable lead throughout most of the match, which we completely blew by the final round, climaxing in a two point loss. Pain. Stabbing. Heart. And repeat.

We had half the England senior team, the England B team captain and a Young England member from 2005. Ack. Well, what can I say? The questions just didn't suit us again (the lame-assed old excuse comes out again like a twopenny whore in 1895 Whitechapel). Having said that they were better than last time. We had a bit of a kerfuffle about the exact wording of a Henry V quote, while I completely ballsed up the chance to say Eric Fleming for the question about Gil Favor, the trail boss in Rawhide. I wrote that question for the Liverpool buzzer tourney. I wrote that bloody question for the Liverpool buzzer tourney. I wrote ... you get the idea. Apart from that, I have to credit Oxford for some very good answers. Of course.

I wouldn't be so miffed if it wasn't for the fact that we seem to lose in so many different ways. Losing a huge lead, cutting down a giant gap, losing in last gasp fashion, being whipped into sorry oblivion. The varieties of defeat are so beautifully rubbish in their own individual characteristics. Though they are all linked by my biting my hands and yelping at the end, as I stifle the urge to scream like an extra-screechy banshee.

And hey Nic, don't look so sad! Everything's going to be fine. It's gonna be alright.

(Oh don't you love the contrast between the loser Sundays and victorious Tuesdays - the ying and yang of I don't know what)

Anyway, it was nice for Bayley and Bytheway to turn up. We exchanged much banter about the "bare statistics" and laughed heartily about what Paris might hold. I have a warm glow inside just thinking about it. It remains to be seen whether Mark will take my daftwager on the individual competition. If he finishes above me, I pay a tenner. The opposite vice versa. It all makes the competition that much more colourful doesn't it?

The Friendly
But you know what, the three-man Sussex had their revenge with my friendly (or is it a hostile?). I actually did wince for some of its appalling hardness (see the * unanswered questions) and apologised a couple of times, but you know what? It is all gettable. I swear. Except, maybe, for the last round, which saw SIX questions go unanswered - I shivered when I realised what I had done. Felt the chill wind of understandable ignorance I did. Plus, I've just realised - only this minute - that that is six questions without reply, with such quizzers as Billson, Bayley, Bytheway and Mortimer playing. Perhaps, that takes a special kind of skill or supreme delusion to set a quiz you think is perfectly acceptable, but really is as tough as a diamond pavement.

(Okay, I'll make it easier next time. Surrendering to the rubbishness of the chestnut grove. Where the chestnuts are plentiful and make me gag). Sussex did win 35-22, however. So at least one team got in the 30s (my team ... any coincidence?)

Also: I hate reading out the questions. Too fast, too mumbly, too quiet, too garsshuks. Sometimes, I speak like I've got a wet pilchard stuck in my mouth. Won't someone save me from myself in future?

President's Cup friendly 19/11/06

Round 1
1a Published in 1951 by the International Auxiliary Language Association, what is said to be the most successful naturalistic constructed language ever?*
1b Once married to Peggy Guggenheim for four years, which German surrealist and dadaist artist caused great controversy with his 1926 painting The Virgin Spanking the Christ Child before Three Witnesses: Andre Breton, Paul Eluard and the Painter?
Max Ernst
2a A member of the Der Blaue Reiter group, which German painter's best known work is probably Tierschicksale, also known as Animal Destinies or Fate of the Animals, which he completed in 1913?
Franz Marc
2b Derived from the Greek for "I rub", what is the science and technology of friction, lubrication and wear?
3a Historically, who was the first person to enunciate two laws of friction, observing that frictional resistance was the same for two different objects of the same weight but making contacts over different widths and lengths?*
Leonardo da Vinci
3b Which constructed language was created during 1879 and 1880 by Johann Martin Schleyer, a Roman Catholic priest from Baden, Germany?
4a Which bowling all-rounder finished his 86-Test career with 431 wickets at an average of 22.29 runs?
Sir Richard Hadlee
4b Which bowling all-rounder finished his 131-Test career with 434 wickets at an average of 29.64 runs?
Kapil Dev

Round 2
1a On this day - November 18 - in 1926, who refused to accept the money for his Nobel Prize, saying: "I can forgive Alfred Nobel for inventing dynamite, but only a fiend in human form could have invented the Nobel Prize"?
George Bernard Shaw
1b On this day in 1978, Jim Jones led 918 people in a mass murder-suicide in Jonestown, Guyana. What was the name of his cult?*
Peoples Temple
2a Joseph Kabila has been declared the winner of the election for the presidency of which African country?
Democratic Republic of Congo
2b Who succeeded Bertie Mee as the manager of Arsenal football club in 1976?
Terry Neill
3a Who succeeded Terry Neill as manager of Tottenham Hotspur in 1976?
Keith Burkinshaw
3b Who voices the characters of Nelson Muntz, Todd Flanders and Ralph Wiggum on The Simpsons?*
Nancy Cartwright
4a The characters of Krusty the Clown, Barney Gumble and Groundskeeper Willie are all voiced by whom on The Simpsons?
Dan Castellaneta
4b The former dictator Juan Maria Bordaberry has been arrested in connection with the 1976 abduction and assassination of two congressmen. Which South American country did he rule?*

Round 3
1a In which field are or were the figures of Glenn Murcutt, Rafael Moneo, Gunnar Asplund and Mary Colter world renowned names?
1b Which rhyming verse stanza form was created and first used by Dante in his work The Divine Comedy?
Terza rima
2a Michael Faraday is said to have built the first example of which electrical device that transfers energy from one circuit to another by magnetic coupling with no moving parts?
2b Named after a mathematical constant, which Darren Aronofsky film of 1998 tells the story of troubled maths prodigy Maximillian Cohen?
3a Who was the first English poet to write in terza rima, doing so in his Complaint to His Lady?*
Geoffrey Chaucer
3b In 1891, which scientist invented an eponymous "coil" that was a high-voltage, air-core, dual-tuned resonant transformer for generating very high voltages at high frequency?*
Nikola Tesla
4a Based on a Hubert Selby Jr novel, which Darren Aronofsky film of 2000 tells the story of mother and son Sara and Harry Goldfarb and Harry's girlfriend Marion and best friend Tyrone, and their problems with various drug addictions?*
Requiem for a Dream
4b In which field are or were the figures of Garth Fagan, Daniel Nagrin, Hermes Pan and Hanya Holm world renowned names?
Choreography or dance

Round 4
1a Leader of the Ekistics movement, the Greek architect Konstantinos Apostolos Doxiadis is chiefly remembered as the principal designer of which Asian capital?
1b Founded in 1864, which brewery company brews and sells more than 170 international beers including Cruzcampo, Tiger, Starborno and Murphy's?*
2a Also called cranial nerve X or the pneumogastric nerve, what is the only nerve that starts in the brainstem and extends down below the head, to the abdomen?
Vagus nerve
2b Which Cuban athlete became the first man to win both the 400m and 800m at the same Olympics in 1976?
Alberto Juantorena
3a Which international beer company's special brew brands include Lav in Serbia, Falcon in Sweden, Tuborg in Denmark and Koff in Finland?*
3b The twelfth cranial nerve, which nerve controls most of the tongue muscles and spirals behind the vagus nerve?
Hypoglossal nerve
4a The Soviet athlete Viktor Saneyev won his third consecutive gold medal in which event at the 1976 Olympics?
Triple jump
4b The architect Le Corbusier took over from Albert Mayer and produced a plan for which Indian city in the modernist style, designing many of its government buildings between 1952 and 1959?

Round 5
1a Which orchestra played its first concert in Croydon on September 15, 1946?
Royal Philharmonic Orchestra
1b In 1539, Robert Coppyng leased the Great Place House for the performance of plays, making it the first building in Britain to be used as a public theatre. In which coastal town was it located?*
Great Yarmouth
2a The Englishman George Morgan became the first man to die as a result of what kind of accident in 1899?
Motorcycle accident
2b The span of which English bridge is so great that the towers are 36mm further apart at the top than at the bottom to allow for the curvature of the Earth?
Humber Bridge
3a The poet William Morris, who founded the Society for the Protection of Ancient Buildings, described which Scottish bridge as "the supremest specimen of all ugliness"?
Forth Bridge or Forth Rail Bridge
3b Which British orchestra played its first concert on June 9, 1904 with Hans Richter conducting?*
London Symphony Orchestra
4a The first theatre to have a permanent proscenium arch, the Teatro Farnese was opened in which Italian city in 1618?*
4b In 1842, who knocked over a child with his bicycle, thereby committing the world's first cycling offence, for which he was fined five shillings?
Kirkpatrick Macmillan

Round 6
1a Name either of the only unseeded players to have won the Wimbledon men's singles title.
Goran Ivanisevic or Boris Becker
1b Often referred to as "Number One", the character William T Riker appeared in which TV series?
Star Trek: The Next Generation
2a What kind of call was first made by Mrs Beard in 1937, as a result of which Thomas Duffy was arrested for attempted burglary?
999 emergency telephone call
2b No unseeded player has captured the Ladies' singles title at Wimbledon, but who was the lowest seeded player to do so as a fourteenth seed in 2005?
Venus Williams
3a Recently unveiled as one of Time magazine's 100 greatest ever albums, The College Dropout was released by which rapper in 2004?*
Kanye West
3b What first was inaugurated by the French Ministry of Posts & Telecommunications in 1933, using the voice of popular broadcaster Marcel Laporte?
Speaking clock
4a In which TV series was the unknown leader of The Village simply called "Number One"?
The Prisoner
4b Another of Time's 100 greatest ever albums, Stankonia was released by which rap duo in 2000?*

Round 7
1a Invented by Erno Rubik, which mechanical puzzle consists of eight black square tiles arranged in a 2x4 triangle with diagonal grooves on the tiles holding the wires that connect them?*
Rubik's Magic
1b Rubik's Magic shares characteristics with which folk toy with a Biblically-derived name that consists of blocks of wood held together by strings and ribbons, and is called "tableta magica" in Spanish?*
Jacob's Ladder
2a Who was the Roman god of smithing?
2b Khalid Islambouli arranged and carried out the assassination of which political leader during his country's annual "6th October 1973 victory" parade?
Anwar Sadat
3a In 1997, who became the first German to win the Tour de France?
Jan Ullrich
3b Who was the Roman goddess of the earth?*
4a Yakov Yurovsky is best known as the chief executioner or assassin of which major figure of the early 20th century?*
Tsar Nicholas II
4b Nicknamed "the Eagle from Herning", which Danish cyclist won the 1996 Tour de France?
Bjarne Riis

Round 8
1a The common variety of which bushy perennial herb is also known as blue sailors, succory and coffeeweed?*
1b Democratic Party member Harry Reid will take up which political post in January 2007?
Senate Majority Leader
2a Mount Smolikas is the highest peak in which European mountain range?*
Pindus Mountains
2b Belonging to the genus Typha, what name is given to the flowering plants that are also called cattail in the US and reedmace in older British texts?*
3a Which Democratic Party member is expected to become the first female Speaker of the House of Representatives when Congress reconvenes in January 2007?
Nancy Pelosi
3b Which service organisation, whose mission is "Serving the Children of the World", was founded on January 21, 1915 in Detroit by the tailor Joseph C Prance and professional events organiser Allen S Browne?*
Kiwanis International
4a The world's largest service club organisation, which organisation was founded in the US in 1917 by Melvin Jones and became truly "International" in 1920 when the first club was established in Windsor, Ontario?*
Lions Clubs International
4b The mountain Torre de Cerredo is the highest peak in which European range?*
Cantabrian Mountains (accept Picos de Europa)

1 In materials science, what term describes the erosion of material from a solid surface by the action of another solid?
2 On which island is the spirit Zivania traditionally produced?
3 In which newspaper was the satirical obituary published that gave rise to the Ashes following the 1882 Australia-England Oval Test?
The Sporting Times
4 To which England captain was the small terracotta Ashes urn presented to by a group of Melbourne women during the 1882-3 tour?
Ivo Bligh
5 Jupiter, Apollo and Mars are all characters in which Gilbert and Sullivan operetta, first performed on Boxing Day in 1871?
6 Established in 1850 by the Robert Morris, a lawyer and educator from Boston, Massachusetts, what is the largest fraternal organisation in the world that both men and women can join?
The Order of the Eastern Star

Friday, November 17, 2006

Friday Night Bites

I feel gruesome. And, yes, it is all my own fault. Last night - gah. Thus, I have to stay at home for one more day to regain my equilibrium. This does not bode well for my EQC preparation, even though I have been going about it in a surrogate fashion by getting on with accumulating Lulu questions. Though I'm thinking, erm, perhaps there are too many questions on Buddhism. Apart from that, I've been quite lackadaisical and have been drinking 100% Juice Bar Del Monte Pineapple juice for a fair few hours. I don't know why I mentioned that. Maybe, it is because ever since I wrote that excessive review of Starter for Ten, I feel the need for word greed. Here's a few more words: punctilious, schmooze, loqacious. Have I even spelt them correctly?

But look how they fight over me. Whoever proves their greatest love for me, yes, that will be my home (I'm joking). So I am waiting with bated breath to see whether I am in the England senior side. If I am not selected the vengeance will be swift, brutal and bloody (I might be joking).

Cursory QLL report: Broken Hearts 55-34 Animals
Animals have never beaten us in five seasons. Nothing changed. Emphatic fashion etc. Robert Willer reported that "there was another impressive performance by Broken Hearts, who demolished Animals to stay top". So, wow, we are in a very dominant position at the summit of Division I, only slightly undermined by the fact our points difference suffered from the Uncosy no-show. Thoughts of winning the title, however, provoked the teasing thought in Stainer that we would be the upstart quasi-Arsenal team, who would have to prove their true mettle by winning consecutive titles and breaking the Chelsea/Man United/Allsorts stranglehold.

However, I'll forget about our glorious victory (though much glory is sucked out of it by the weird emptiness of The Priory Arms's top room) and instead focus on my silly boo-boo: saying that Togo's football team are nicknamed The Black Stars.

"It's on the flag", said Jesse.

"So what?" I replied.

But he was right. I wasn't thinking. The mind's focus narrowed to the narrowness of that very small street in Exeter. The very smallest of the small (man, I feel disgusting, urgh, me writing rubbishy crap now). Jesse made another remark about myself beating him 17-16. A frustrated remark. It's like a mini-battle every time. I mean, I'm not that competitive, though the aggressor is always likely to goad the cited rival into some form of equally silly action. Next time I win the duel I will surely do a victory dance around Jesse and scream "In your face!" repeatedly. In his face. Because that is dignified behaviour.

Oh yeah, Stainer came out of "retirement" ("For one night only, the Broken Hearts co-founder!!") and scored a full house. Just like that. Robert had something to say about that as well: "- no doubt the rest of the Division will be hoping his appearances remain infrequent!"

Lulu Question Count: 1132
I'm getting there. Just 450 more and I'll start combing the BH quizzes for the rest. The finishing line is in sight. Yay.

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

Bric-a-Brac and Offcuts: BH106

Congratulations to the mighty Geoff Thomas on winning Mastermind 2007. A well deserved title for someone who has frightened me with his great general knowledge prowess ever since the first British Quiz Championship in which I competed in 1999. Getting twenty-one on the GK round is simply an awesome achievement that few competitors, if any, will manage in the entire history of the show. I managed to miss it because I was in the pub. Just typical, really.

And congratulations to Ken Jennings, who is the proud new father of a baby girl named Caitlin Elizabeth.

It also seems that instead of doing proper work I have been watching the cartoon Sealab 2021 on YouTube. This clip is quite possibly the funniest and most offensive thing I have seen in the past, oh, week. I love surreal non-sequiturs. They make me smile.

Oh yeah, we have a QLL match tonight against Animals. It seems I have forgotten to review our era-defining clash against the incumbent champions of the London universe. Well, it does happen sometimes.

These darn questions
These are basically surplus questions that have been separated from a pool of tidbits I have been entering into the Lulu book. Some were too British, some were too flimsy, some I don't know why in hell I wrote them. But they might as well be used somewhere, and what place could be better than here, where so many other questions of dubious interest reside. So apologies if you think they are more boring as usual.

1 Which Labour MP for Falkirk claimed the most in expenses during 2005-2006, spending more money on travel than any other (£44,985)?
2 What is Rajar the industry body for?
3 A blue plaque, recently unveiled at 34 Ridgmount Gardens, Bloomsbury, London, is the first to be erected in which musician's memory?
4 Nicknamed "Buster", which naval hero and Commander said to have been the inspiration for James Bond went missing during a dive off Portsmouth in 1956 after allegedly spying on Russian ships that were in British waters for a visit by Khruschev and Marshal Nikolai Bulganin?
5 The Belaruse opposition leader Alexander Milinkevich has been awarded which human rights prize by the European Parliament?
6 What is the largest producer of seafood in the UK?
7 Who wrote that "all art constantly aspires to the condition of music"?
8 Painted in 1657, which Velazquez work of 1657 is also known as The Fable of Arachne?
9 Also Finance Minister, Luisa Dias Diogo became the first female prime minister of which country in 2004?
10 Chairman of Abbey National, which seasoned troubleshooter was commissioned to perform a review of the Football Association's structure in 2005?
11 What kind of famous sporting institutions are Roach's Wildcat and Gleeson's in the US?
12 Great Britain is due to play which country in the Davis Cup in April (2007)?
13 Which virtual band have put out the autobiography Rise of The Ogre?
14 Used for the final round of this year's MotoGP World Championship, where is the Ricardo Tormo circuit?
15 Which Briton became in 1987 the first foreigner to run the length of the Great Wall of China, and has put together an exhibition of photographs entitled Great Wall Revisited at the Beijing Capital Museum in January 2007?
16 Which 39-year-old American has become the first native English-speaker to win the Grand Prix of the Academie Francaise for his 900-page novel Les Bienveillantes/The Kindly Ones?
17 Which member of the royal family celebrates his birthday on November 14?
18 The racehorse Desert Orchid's ashes have been scattered at which course, where he won the King George VI steeplechase four times?
19 Which £5,000 literary prize was founded by the widow of the eponymous young airman killed in the Battle of Britain?
20 Associated with the International Style, which Viennese architect declared that "ornament is a crime"?
21 First staged at the Nottingham Playhouse in 1975 where it was directed by Richard Eyre, which teacher turned dramatist wrote the play Comedians?
22 Anders Larsen's book Sharp Practice is subtitled "The real man's guide to" what?
23 Nolan Bushnell pioneered video games as the founder of which company in the 1970s?
24 Which company owns the James Bond film franchise?
25 The real life riverside home of Ratty, Mole and other characters in the Wind in the Willows is found on which Berkshire river?
26 In the title of a BBC2 series who is Charles Rangeley-Wilson?
27 In which county is the Camel Valley vineyard?
28 On October 31, 1941, which US photographer took a picture of a moonrise over the town of Hernandez, New Mexico, that would become one of the most famous images in the history of photography?
29 Juliette Gordon Low founded which organisation in the USA in 1912?
30 Which Italian composer, the first of the Neapolitan school to obtain a complete mastery over modern harmonic counterpoint, composed the comic opera Amor vuol sofferenze (1739) and was equally distinguished for his serious operas, including Demofoonte (1735), Parnace (1737) and L'Olimpiade (1737)?
31 Meaning "bay water", the Telok Ayer Market was a simple wooden building in the early 19th century that was converted into a Victorian iron structure. In which city is it located? Singapore
32 His first country number one, which US musician's first well known song If Tomorrow Never Comes came from his eponymous first album, released in 1989?
33 Born in Akron, Ohio in 1984, which US basketball small forward is nicknamed The Chosen One?
34 Tracing the international history of submarine development from the age of Alexander the Great to the present day, the Royal Navy Submarine Museum is located in which town?
35 Taking its name from the type-site (that of the first archaeological finds relating to this advanced culture) remnants of a cemetery found near Castenaso, 8km southeast of Bologna, what was the earliest Iron Age culture (1100BC to 700BC) of central and northern Italy, abruptly following the Bronze Age Terramare culture and giving way in the 7th century BC to an increasingly Orientalizing Greek trader-influenced culture, which was followed without a severe break by the Etruscan civilisation?
36 Who is the senior Anglican bishop in Northern Ireland?
37 Held in the US, the ISEF is the largest annually held science fair in the world. What does ISEF stand for and who sponsors it?
38 Certified as a version of UNIX, the computer operating system Solaris was developed by which company?
39 What spirit, along with lemonade and a light splash of raspberry cordial, is the main ingredient of the Jellybean cocktail?
40 What is the rank of the butcher Jack Jones, as played by Clive Dunn, in Dad's Army?
41 Which Belgian literary critic, associated with the Geneva School, is best known for his four-volume work Studies in Human Time and for rejecting formalist approaches and advancing the theory that criticism requires the reader to open his or her mind to the consciousness of the author?
42 The Extraction of the Stone of Madness (The Cure of Folly), which was completed between 1475 and 1480 and depicts a sugical operation, and The Haywain Triptych, an oil painting on wood panels begun in 1485 and completed in 1490, are works by which artist?
43 In fluid mechanics, what term describes the contact between a fluid and a surface when the two are brought into contact?
44 Which man founded Charterhouse School in 1611?
45 What office is held by Alan Reid in the Royal Household of the Sovereign?
46 Known as Dracaena Palm in other countries, the ornamental plant Cordyline indivisia native to New Zealand is commonly known by what tree name in that country?
47 Introduced in 1937 and retired by the RAF in 1944, what Frank Barnwell-designed, high-speed light bomber and fighter was built by Bristol Aeroplane Company and was the first British aircraft to have all-metal stressed skin construction and one of the first to utilise retractable landing gear, flaps, powered gun turret and variable switch propellers?
48 In geometry, what is an n-dimensional analogue of a triangle?
49 Responsible for the saying "The simplest form is not always the best, but the best is always simple", which urban planner and architect is now best known through his student and one-time assistant Albert Speer and an eponymous medal periodically awarded for architectural excellene by the Alfred Toepfer Foundation of Hamburg since 1962?
50 As in the cocktail, margarita is the Spanish word for the daisy and the Latin word for what object?
51 What are the names of Ottawa and Vancouver's NHL teams?
52 Which US actor wrote the 2002 children's book, The Sissy Duckling, which was later made into an HBO special with him as the voice of Elmer the Duck?
53 Who, along with Michael Schumacher, is the only driver to have won world F1 titles racing for teams other than McLaren and Williams between 1980 and 2000?
54 Which US Marines military base in the Republic of Vietnam, located near the Laos border and just south of the border with the North, was attacked by the North Vietnamese in a battle that lasted from January 21 and April 8, 1968; the defense of the base being codenamed Operation Scotland?
55 What executive agency of the UK's Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs is known by the acronym SVS?
56 The Dominet Bank Ekstraliga (DBE) is the highest level of basketball league in which country?
57 Which Frenchman was top scorer at the 1995 rugby union World Cup with 112 points?
58 Easily recognised by its expanded anterior nostrils and said to resemble a brightly coloured party streamer, which species of saltwater eel is the only moral eel that is not gonochronistic and has the scientific name Rhinomuraena quaesita?
59 The Ananke group of retrograde irregular moons orbit which planet?
60 From the Greek for "nation leader", what term generally refers to political leadership over a common ethnic group or heterogenous kingdom; the best known probably being Archelaus, son of Herod the Great, who ruled the chief part of Samara Judea and Idumea, from the death of his father in 4BC to 6AD?
61 Which Florentine Renaissance sculptor, claimed by his pupil Vasari to be driven by jealousy of Benvenuto Cellini and Michelangelo, never matched the admiration given to the sculptures of the latter, especially the colossal (5.05m) marble group of Hercules and Cacus (completed in 1534) in the Piazza della Signoria, Florence, and Adam and Eve in the Bargello, which both stand within sight of some of Michelangelo's masterworks?
62 Sir John Wyndham Pope-Hennessy (1913-94) was a prominent academic in which field?
63 Which utilitarian and joint organiser of the Great Exhibition, who acquired some of the objects from the exhibition for the collection, was the first director of the Victoria and Albert Museum?
64 What Persian name for a Muslim cleric, common in Iran and Azerbaijan, also gave rise to the Chinese word for imam, as used by the Hui people?
65 The largest humanitarian organisation in Turkey, what was founded under the Ottoman Empire on June 11, 1868 and was named Hilal-i Ahmer Cemiyeti and was renamed Kızılay by Ataturk in 1935?
66 Which award-winning interior designer, nicknamed the Goddess of Garbage, is famed for using recycled materials in her home designs?
67 In which German POW camp was the TV series Hogan's Heroes set?
68 Which writer created Conan the Barbarian?
69 Thought to be descended from the medieval Jewish communities of the Rhineland, which group of Jews today make up 80 per cent of Jews worldwide?
70 Hakka is a language spoken in which country?
71 Old Faithful is a club chant of which rugby league club, made popular in the earlu 1930s when it had a full back called Joe Oliver?
72 Boris Badenov, Natasha Fatale and Fearless Leader were the sworn enemies of which cartoon characters?
73 Who became the first Nepali woman to climb the summit of Mount Everest on April 22, 1993?
74 Found in Spain, the Philippines and Latin America, what sort of food is an embutido?
75 Which Ukrainian Impressionist artist and pedagogue, who studied at Paris in the studio of Matisse (1910-11), painted landscapes to his country's themes, including Morning on the Dnieper (1934), Apple Trees in Bloom (1936) and The Broad Dnieper Roars and Moans (1941)?
76 Sir Roy Anderson holds what position in the Ministry of Defence?




Answers to BH106
1 Eric Joyce 2 Radio (figures) 3 Bob Marley 4 Lionel Crabb 5 Sakharov prize 6 Young's Bluecrest 7 Walter Pater 8 The Tread Spinners 9 Mozambique 10 Lord Burns 11 Boxing training centres/gyms 12 Netherlands 13 Gorillaz 14 Valencia 15 William Lindesay 16 Jonathan Littell 17 Prince Charles 18 Kempton Park 19 John Llewellyn Rhys prize 20 Adolf Loos 21 Trevor Griffiths 22 Shaving 23 Atari 24 Eon Productions 25 Pang 26 The Accidental Angler 27 Cornwall 28 Ansel Adams 29 Girl Scouts of the USA 30 Leonardo Leo 31 Singapore 32 Garth Crooks 33 LeBron Raymone James 34 Gosport 35 The Villanovan culture as in Villanova 36 Archbishop of Armagh (currently Lord Eames) 37 Intel International Science and Engineering Fair 38 Sun Microsystems 39 Ouzo 40 Lance Corporal 41 Georges Poulet 42 Hieronymus Bosch 43 Wetting 44 Thomas Sutton 45 Keeper of the Privy Purse and Treasurer to the Queen 46 Mountain cabbage tree 47 Bristol Blenheim 48 Simplex or n-simplex 49 Heinrich Tessenow 50 Pearl 51 Senators, Canucks 52 Harvey Fierstein 53 Nelson Piquet (1981, '83, '87) 54 Khe Sanh 55 State Veterinary Service 56 Poland 57 Thierry Lacroix 58 Ribbon eel 59 Jupiter 60 Ethnarch 61 Bartolommeo Bandinelli (actually Brandini) 62 Art history 63 Sir Henry Cole 64 Akhoond or akhund 65 Turkish Red Crescent 66 Carol Tanzi 67 Stalag 68 Robert E Howard 69 Ashkenazi 70 China 71 Hull FC 72 Rocky and Bullwinkle 73 Pasang Lhamu Sherpa 74 Sausage 75 Mykola Burachek 76 Chief Scientific Adviser

Monday, November 13, 2006

"She reads Leviathan"

Bedhead Monday

Apparently, because I've mentioned drinking a few times it appears that I have become a raging alcoholic who likes eating Special K cereal bars soaked in cognac for breakfast. This is not so. I'm even still thinking of giving it up.

I've also just realised that today's date is November 13, and I will be in Paris on December 1 to compete in the European Quiz Championships. I'm slightly worried because I haven't even bothered to do any work yet. In fact, I'm in an emergent blind panic and am about to make some weird noises, like a worried gibbon.

Last year, I prepared by reading Bill Bryson's A Short History of Nearly Everything and EH Gombrich's A Little History of the World. They helped me about as much as a thong in a snowstorm in the end, though I think Bryson aided me once at the WQC.

But because I want to maintain the futile silliness I purchased another non-fiction work to lay some EQC groundwork: The Culture of the Europeans: From 1800 to the Present by Donald Sassoon. Unfortunately, I seem to have overplayed my hand: I simply can't be arsed to go diving into it. Maybe, it has something to do with it being 1617 pages long.

Otherwise, I foresee a few days of cocooning myself in good old revision. Goodbye social life, hello beardiness and being a weird hermit, muttering quiz questions to himself while watching early morning Hoobs and reeking of duty free Luckies (the filters are rubbish). Hmm, yes. I'm already looking forward to it.

Lulu question count: 875

Doing the Lulu book is really hard. It takes so long. Makes me sleepy. However, I want to take this opportunity to say the questions really are ace and they're well worth the £17 I will probably be forced to charge for it.

"Do not tell me I've changed. You're just raising your standards."

An imaginary cookie for whoever can name the headline and above italicised song lyrics!

Saturday, November 11, 2006

Massive Minute-by-Minute Film Review of Starter for Ten

Like watching the film, but better and free

Look into his eyes

Here's the big review of Starter for Ten, as I promised. Rather insanely, I decided to live blog it as I was watching it in the cinema, cos that is what people do when they are desperately trying to draw attention to something. I think. And I mean, live blog it as if I was sat in front of my computer. Even though I have clearly embellished what I noted and spent many more hours writing it.

It did somewhat ruin my enjoyment of the film, assuming there was any to be had, since I was scribbling away in my notebook for the entire duration, but that is the kind of sacrifice I am willing to make. Or the kind of silly thing people such as myself do to while away a hungover Saturday.

So warning MASSIVE SPOILERS are here there and everywhere; in fact, it is just one giant spoiler since it recounts the plot in its entirety (I had to ... there was no other way). Are you ready? Let's begin, or as Patrick the poncified captain of our intrepid team says: "Let's quiz!"

14.10. Ew. They're playing Out of Reach by Gabrielle in the auditorium. I could vomit right now. All over the person who is singing along and happens to be sitting slightly to the left of my back. Can't see any beaming ex-UC contestants sitting in the scattered audience. Not that I would recognise them.

14.12 Can't quite believe I'm here on the opening day. Realise some might say I actually really positively am keen to see this film, instead of wanting to watch it in order to tear David Nicholls and his demonic masterplan to take over British romantic comedy. It could have been more easily done if he and Richard Curtis had some sort of battle royale in which the winner would have been the first person to remove the other's head with a blunt saw. That I would have paid £6.50 to watch.

14.16 Adverts implore me to get on Orange (already am), drink Coke (already do: gallons of the liquid filth every week), wear contact lenses (no thanks ... my eyes don't need bits of plastic to make them "smile"), get an iPod Nano (too much residual pain from breaking my old MP3 player almost three years ago ... the aching hurt), not drink and fall off tall buildings whilst trying to fetch balloons (er, like that's going to happen), buy Lynx so thousands of women will cross miles of terrain and ocean to possibly tear me apart like Orpheus in an even more painful way (it's Lynx ... I'd rather coat myself in the scent of an elephant's rotting carcass), not buy an illegal copy of Casino Royale because the experience of watching it in a big dark room with complete strangers is so much better than snuggled up in your bed cosseted against the world (who can resist the quaint charms of your friendly Triad-approved DVD seller ... pas moi), drink Southern Comfort* (haven't imbibed this liquor since I was 17 and haven't since on account of its foul sweetness) and buy a car that can surf (disgustingly blatant false advertising). I hate cinema advertising. If I want to see amusing ads I will go somewhere like here. Even if it is "corporate".

* Random trivia question: Which bartender founded Southern Comfort in a small bar in New Orleans in 1874? And what are the two slogans of SoCo?

14.21 The audience swells to about 30 people. I am tempted to shout: WHY ARE YOU WATCHING THIS? Anybody who raises their hand and says they came because they "loved" the book will be first up against the wall when the revolution comes.

More Coke advertising. Apparently, there is still time to grab one and pour the lovely battery acid down my throat before the film starts.

14.22. There is a trailer for a computer animated film about a tap-dancing baby penguin with the voice of Elijah Wood. I am dumb-founded. Its creators must have been smoking formaldehyde-laced doobies and watching March of the Penguins at the same time when they came up with this one.

14.30 The classic University Challenge theme (before they introduced the stringy version) kicks in. It sounds so sweet, like heaven's clarion call. It is our hero, Brian Jackson, watching the programme as a small child. "Ever since I can remember I wanted to be a clever person?" How can you want to be? You either are or are not. Of course, you can de-clever yourself by smacking yourself in the brain with a pick-axe, but surely you smarten yourself up in reverse in the same fashion. I can see such pernickety and silly interior monologues filling my brain like garbage during the entire film. Also, you shouldn't shamelessly rip off Scorsese. Or I mean, the creator of Cold Feet should be banned from doing so. And breathing for that matter. I can see such dangerous snarkiness filling my mind like a parasitic brain disease during the entire film.

14.31 Weren't the starters short in those days? Brian makes a comment about his having to know the right answer all the time. The first mild shiver of recognition rushes through me. Catherine Tate makes an appearance as his mum - in real life she would have been ten years old when she gave birth to James McAvoy, which is just plain weird.

14.32 His Essex accent is all over the place. It's slightly geezerish (a bit whurrr and a bit wherrrr) and clunky. Then it changes into conventional brogue, whose inflections don't make you want to chuck a grenade at the speakers. "I want to know about everything", Brian says. Uh-oh, I really am beginning to empathise.

14.33 At his university application interview his hilarious gauche-ness is emphasised by glasses so utterly diabolical looking that even Woody Allen would have refused to countenance wearing them and a denim jacket so icky and lame that it induces feelings of nausea on the first glance. The problem is you can't make James MacAvoy look like a geek. Because he is James McAvoy. Star and heart-throb of the small screen!

14.34 Brian's two best friends happen to be History Boys. I now realise I had made a dreadful mistake when I said that Dominic Cooper was the fat guy in both films before. He's actually Dakin. What a fool am I. Making factual errors. A bit of self-flagellation, perhaps, to stop me from ever doing it again? They hang out in arcades and drink on the pier. I realise the disturbing parallels between my life and Brian's. All that seaside town rubbishness. Makes me go all wistful and dewy eyed.

"Don't go all gay about it," says Dakin when he gives Brian a mix tape. This must be the first filmic use of the word "gay" in its pejorative playground sense that I have ever heard in the cinema. A great landmark indeed.

14.35 This guy is such an incredible naif that I find myself an instant away from shouting at the screen, and thus outting myself as a complete nutter to everybody else who is watching the movie. He says he is going to university to expand his mind, rather than begin on a long campaign to destroy it with booze and narcotics and hopefully some kind of VD gained from rampant promiscuity. Oh he's so naive yet so.

(Kaufman moment: Sweet mama, this is already one long article ... and it's only five minutes into the movie)

14.36 Fly on the projector! Brian gets out his corduroy jacket. It is almost as bad as the university interview one. An atrocity you can wear. How could such a thing come into wilful existence? Who could create such a thing? The movie has that real 80s feel, just like The Rachel Papers. Not that that particular film was any good, even though I liked it for some inexplicable reason (Or maybe it was "Beastie Girl" Ione Skye). Not the rubbish about the then new-fangled computer system he used though. Man, that was so lame. Boys Don't Cry by The Cure plays. The 80s music is already getting a bit intrusive.

14.38 He has to transport all his stuff to university by train and on his own. If his mum cares so much about him then why can't she give him a lift or get someone else to do it? It makes no sense.

14.39 His housemates - he's not even in a halls of residence - are dressed up as whores for the Tarts 'n' Vicars party quite a few hours before it starts. They take advantage of him immediately because he's so naive yet so by allocating him a small bedroom (well, they say it is small, which must mean small as in Giant Haystacks was quite a small man. Really) and pilfering his money. This is because Brian is like a little puppy people want to hit with a hammer. And you will most certainly hit him with a hammer when he says things like "I've never met a Jew!" He says this to Rebecca Epstein, who is played by Rebecca Hall, who has recovered remarkably well from yesterday when I watched her hang herself in The Prestige (quite good, though the film is actually more of a depressing and weird horror yarn than the source novel). In the book Rebecca was a mouthy viper, who you visualised as some humourless goth-cow. In the movie, she is far more attractive and less abrasive.

14.43 He sees the University Challenge try-outs sheet, which is set for the next day. This is the first time I am going to do this but: WHAT???!! Auditions in freshers' week? On the second day of the uni year? WTF? Truth is the first casualty of drama isn't it? You would never have them then. I can start to feel the outrage swell in me, and since I have read the novel I know it can only get worse.

14.44 Brian's almost late, being waylaid by Rebecca and her anti-apartheid protesting. She's obviously a simulacrum for the world of 1980s politics. Or it could just be a lazy plot device to remind us that lentil-eating socialists were a bit too much and thank God, most of them have been consumed by 21st century materialism.

14.45 Patrick the boss man of the UC team is plainly a dick. Memories of being the dickish boss man come flooding back. Doing up posters of Jeremy Paxman dressed up as a lady, setting insane 200-question written tests, spats with the techy gimps about buzzers, laughing at the wide variety of freaks and geeks that came to try their hand. They were my flock. My brethren.

Here's another: WTF??? Only four people turn up to the audition. At a university like Bristol. I am wont to call David Nicholls out and call him a cad and bounder. And Patrick has apparently made one poster for the entire campus. WTF??

Or maybe the low attendance was because IT WAS ON THE SECOND DAY OF THE UNI YEAR and Patrick is a mad nobber who wants to sabotage his own chances on the show.

Wait a minute. He's once again the captain of the team? He's been the captain for the last three years? OMG. I know this and you know this: you cannot go on the show repeatedly. This gross fabrication provokes a kind of violent jerk in my musculature, which coincidentally is linked to some mechanism that makes me want to fill the air with scatological word bombs.

14.46 In comes Alice and Brian's heart goes all aflutter. This is despite her wearing what looks like a puce Quality Street wrapper. The film puts her in slow motion. Slow motion is silly.

14.47 Brian's hair has taken on the look of McAvoy's character in Shameless. So it doesn't look at all bad or geeky. Since it is the 1980s, this is just plain stupid. He should have hair that looks like blow-dried roadkill.

Look, the fly is back on the projector! Great.

14.48 Brian stocks his geeky reference library. Another frisson of recognition. Being a bloody student, he just has to have the Che Guevara, Leonard Cohen and The Graduate posters. And a picture of his dead dad. In my halls of residence room, I was always one for art postcards which would shock my Tuesday cleaner into some weird comment when seeing her.

14.50 He misses out on the team by one point. The irony is that he gave Alice two answers and she got in ahead of him! What are the chances? But if Brian loves general knowledge, learning, whatever, so much then how come he fails to even get on a UC team? Is he one of those mediocre tossers who possess not an ounce of brilliance, but still purports to make knowledge and quizzes the centre of his life? What a loser. My empathy levels dip.

14.51 To Patrick's room for the first team meeting. Funny picture of Patrick with Bamber. Patrick watches an old videotape of last year's UC final (Do I watch my old UC tapes? Not anymore. After seeing your shows for the 126th time, they do tend to pall a tad). Patrick happens to be in this final. Yes, once again, WTF? The film-makers are suggesting that a former finalist can come back. The outrage goes from simmer to boil. However, Patrick does cry, which raises a titter or two.

14.52 "This could be our year", Patrick says. Painfully familiar words. He says they have the qualifying heats in two weeks' time. Once again, the time frame, cut to fit the demands of the plot, is as wonky as a donkey being twisted into knots by King Kong. Since Brian failed to get on the team he goes back to eating Pot Noodles and wearing CND buttons in that tokenistic 'this is the 1980s, look at all this rubbish bric-a-brac' way. If Brian truly loved UC he would have committed seppuku in his shame. What would be the point of going on, living this life as an empty UC-less vessel?

14.54 Colin is hit by a bus. Brian is drafted into the team. And I thought the film was going to just have him watch Bristol play from the audience. These fiction writers always have one on me. Those clever chappies.

The audition is in front of one guy, who's the kind of middle-aged priggish stereotype who needs the rod removed from his rectum. Fifty questions given to the team orally, who give the answers as one. This is, of course, a lot more exciting than writing the answers down as you do in real life. Because written tests just ain't SEX-AY.

Funny line though, when Patrick shouts at the cleaner and tells her to stop waxing because they are taking the quiz: "This man has been sent from the offices of University Challenge!" Am starting to think that Benedict "Hawking" Cumberbatch is the best thing in the movie. He's got a funny, pinched face.

14.55 Montage of Brian giving all the answers. If he was so crap in the try-outs, why does he turn into the Lord of Quiz in the actual audition? I don't like this lack of consistency. It just ain't true to life. It just ain't. And Brian, this self-confessed geek who said he wasn't born beautiful, is starting to dress like someone from the pages of Arena Homme Plus.

14.56 "You're a general knowledge god," Alice says to Brian. Beautiful blonde girls paying such a compliment to normal quizzers in reality would probably make them spontaneously combust or do a gory impression of that block of flats in the Bravia TV ad. Truth be told, the closest equivalent in my reality was Marina Hyde calling me a "genius". I didn't explode (so I was lying about the self-immolation). I ran away. On the other hand, a Guardian editor once called me "fucking scary". In a nice way, might I hasten to add. You might also think that "normal quizzer" is an oxymoron. I would be inclined to agree.

There, he said it! He called it "The Challenge". The book goes overboard on this idiotic nickname, but thankfully it seems to be absent apart from this sordid instance. Hey, David frickin' Nicholls. You div. Everyone calls it UC. You make me so mad I could eat a light bulb.

Brian explains how being good with the old GK was all because of his "misspent youth". Misspent? Surely not. And oddly, Alice decries his description of it as "useless knowledge" and asks is there such a thing? Good girl.

14.58 Is that I'm Your Man by Wham? Yes. It is. How lame. Alice and Brian have an embarrassing (his) birthday dinner. Embarrassing to watch too. Not in a good way, might I hasten to add.

15.01 Brian says his dad used to tell him that knowledge is the key to being happy and not do a job you hate. He cries. So that's the motivation. He misses his dad. I think I feel a little bit of sick at the back of my mouth.

15.02 She invites him to her Suffolk cottage for new year. This has no grounding in reality. Reality is far, far away, having been first violated and then sent off in a rocket into the deepest reaches of the Milky Way.

15.05 Already home for the Xmas holidays? That was a quick term. Done in 30 minutes. Brian finds his mum in the bath with the landlord from Early Doors. This is a truly disturbing moment that could not have been better constructed by Michael Haneke or Roman Polanski.

15.07 The fly returns to the projector. For some strange reason, I have decided to name him Mr Zippy.

15.08 Teenage Kicks. Air hockey. The Essex coast. Friends exchanging thoughtful words and other bon mots like "wanker". I think there have been three wankers in the dialogue so far. Is that the upper limit for a 12A certificate? If we're not careful many young children watching with their parents will be saying this vile word, filling class-rooms and shopping centres with its violent duo-syllabic sound. Won't someone think of the children? Next they'll be calling us elderly gents "shitfaced cockmasters". And we wouldn't want that.

15.11 Brian NO!! Don't recite facts about bees at dinner with Charles Dance and Lindsay Duncan. Never ever do that unless someone calls upon you to do so. He has much to learn about the ways and uses of general knowledge.

15.12 Tripping the light fantastic for the first time, Brian gets a blowback from Alice. Hopefully, he'll be doing heroin and crack by the end of the movie. Slippery slope is soft drugs. Whoops, Yoda going all again.

15.18 Brian goes home early because of his Olympian feats of embarrassment. No, actually, he elects to spend New Year's Eve at university, which is weird because he doesn't seem to have a single friend in Bristol, only love interests. Then, hey, it's Rebecca. Time to spend some quality time with her.

15.23 The Buzzcocks' Ever Fallen in Love plays on the stereo (you see the genius of the soundtrack compilers? They'd do a top notch job for Capital FM). They kiss. He calls her Alice. Then she runs away past what appears to be two hundred bicycles located in and just outside the house (some subtle joke reference by director Tom Vaughan to the haunting and brute emotion of de Sica's Bicycle Thieves, perhaps?).

15.26 Brian is told he is becoming "less intelligent" by his tutor. So you see love has rotted his brain. In UC practice Brain shows a similar aptitude for giving rubbish answers. Nice little touch though, with Patrick camcordering the whole thing and having his two charges practice on buzzers made from doorbells.

15.27 It is the day before the UC first round match. Great night for Dakin to visit from another film. They go to party.

15.28 The difference in speaking David Nicholls's dialogue instead of Alan Bennett's actually makes you think that Dakin is slightly retarded. Poor guy: from that to this. Just noticed that there are very few people under the age of 30. Though the irony of watching schoolkids play truant in order to watch a film about a university student in love with knowledge would almost be too much to take. At the party Gilbert & Sullivan fans sing and folkies sing songs about cabbage or fairies. It's university, you see. There are always loads of G&S and Fairport Convention acolytes merrily chanting songs in the corner, aren't there?

At this moment, you really do realise that Alice has much depth as a saucer of milk and a Desperate Dan chin and that Rebecca is lovely and witty and that Brian is even more of a prat than before. His levels of prattishness are being further raised every minute. Which is quite funny.

15.31 Brian thinks mascots are silly. What I would have given - riches, vital organs - to plonk my Ibiza-born mogwai on the desk. There is a free minibus for audience members. Then, I notice later, how come they get in the tiny car thus forcing one of them to drive?

Dakin asks what sort of "bizarre, nerdy swot would want to go on that show?" A conventional opinion. I shan't say anymore on the matter.

15.32 Patrick takes offence at Dakin's unemployment and criminal career and uses a Tebbettian turn of phrase to tell him to get a job. Brief silly exchange about 1980s unemployment. Dakin decks Hawking.

15.33 Brian storms out and ends up alone drinking whisky on a fire escape. In the pouring rain. Great way to prepare for the day ahead.

15.34 He goes to Alice's room. She is in her undies. Brian finds out that Dakin promptly fooled around with Alice and is hiding in the wardrobe and so we get the very bad moment of emotional introspection from Brian crucial to the timing and feel of the climax.

15.35 Confrontation! Rubbish fight, rubbish fight!

(KM: I swear we are more than halfway there. Although we may still be living on a prayer.)

15.38 A drunken Brian is nudged awake by Patrick. They get in the car and one of the old quiz dilemmas pops up. Our ding-dong of a hero asks Patrick if asking questions that have been on the show is a waste of time. Patrick says it is a "warm-up". Brian is obviously just being a difficult little bastard.

15.39 To settle the dispute they turn on the radio and another appropriate song comes on; this time Wonderful Life by Black (how come when you always turn on the car radio it is Westlife or Rock DJ?).

15.40 Granada Studios. UC Alumni's own Mecca. Brian meets his mum and her man, who unveils the huge banner "Brian Jackson knows EVERYTHING". Not that he wants to put any pressure on the hungover, lovelorn, inconsistent ninny.

15.41 The corridors. See the Corrie stars. Old memories stir and rise to the surface. As do visions of Jenny Powell having a problem with her mike and Gail Tilsley making like Speedy Gonzalez.

15.42 Now this is just stupid. Apparently, they are playing the team they lost to in last year's final. Yes, you read that right: Queens' College, Cambridge. Like that would ever happen. It also seems that McAvoy has actually turned into his character Steve from Shameless: same clothes, same accent, same defiant attitude. This attitude doesn't stretch too far since he headbutts Patrick and manages to knock himself out. But having said that Henry II was the "Hammer of the Scots", it is safe to assume that he was already brain damaged beyond all hope.

15.43 He wakes up to Rebecca. She tenderly wipes the blood from his nose. It's getting a bit romantic what with the tingly guitars.

15.45 Bamber is spotted from behind. Brian sits down and finds the questions. Oh no. He looks at one about The Big Dipper aka Ursa Major aka The Great Bear. You idiot. No, wait. You absolute tool. You complete and utter cheating fool. He says: "I knew that". Yeah, course you did. Everybody says that after they seen the question and answer.

15.46 They go in, doing a kind of Reservoir Dogs walk. Slow mo for the freak show. Alice is wearing a kind of horrific evening dress that looks like it has been dipped in blackcurrant yoghurt. It was never like that for us. We had to wait in the wings and get shuffled on like cattle. But that is the way of the true University Challange, not film University Challenge, which is obviously the product of some opiated dream, and is known in its weird alternative dimension as "The Challenge" *shiver*. Hey, David stay off the laudanum. Coleridge would have done it better.

15.47 Queens' College, Cambridge should sue. Their fictional representatives come off like a quartet of junior Bond villains, who all wear academic gowns, to no doubt emphasise their other-ness (nice subtle touch film guys), and wield facial expressions of either pure Machiavellian malice or the kind of smugness that can only be cured by a shotgun blast to the head. Stephen Fry, who was on the Queens' College UC team some time before the year of this film's setting (1985), certainly did not wear these Darth Vader robes.

15.48 The match proper starts. The plainly evil Aryan star of the Queen's team gets his team off to a flyer. After the show you can be sure he will be cutting up dead babies. Just for fun. I would describe how it goes, but I've suddenly got bored of the idea of describing the action. So nyeah-nyeah-nyeeah. But there seems to be a lot of starters and I wish UC matches were cut like this (make an effort Granada! Get some production values).

15.49 Brian gets "Pterodactyl" from the Greek for "wing finger": one of those lovely little coincidence questions because he answered it during the opening frames of the film, when he looked like the supreme kiddie nerdlinger. Only this is fiction, and it is nowhere near as amazing as reality. I mean, who cares? Wait, one thing I do care about: the Queens' College team come off as being even bigger dicks with their constant display of sneery and self-satisfied looks. Obviously, they want to be the most hated team in the history of the programme. In the reality-based community, that is just not the done thing. Not at all.

15.52 The scores are almost evenly matched as time is almost up. Queens' are 20 points ahead and Bamber says "Astronomy". Brian instantly says: "Ursa Major or The Great Bear". And that is the end of that. A confused and angry sounding Bamber asks: "How does he know the answer when I didn't ask the bloody question?" Easy, he just guessed (and could Mr Gascoigne even get angry? He always seems such a placid and wise soul). There are grounds for defence, albeit slim. He did say the category didn't he? It's a trifle to pick a constellation from the sky. If it was in an American Quiz Bowl competition, people would be hailing Brian as the god of early buzzes, but here he condemned to a series of mopey aftermath scenes where he learns to live with the shame of being a rotten cheat as The Smiths (naturally) play Please Please Let Me Get What I Want. Cheat.

15.59 Having suffered in purgatory for the last few minutes, the dang fool realises he should have been with Rebecca all along. Finally.

16.02 Ends with snogging outside one of the university buildings. Everyone lives happily ever after, except for Brian who probably goes down as the most cheatingest and silly contestant in the history of University Challenge and will be hounded to the ends of the earth by angry UC-ologists brandishing metal-tipped cat o'nine tails (the sequel could be called Get Brian). Fin as the Frenchies say.

Short review: Though I quiver with lewd outrage at the liberties taken with the schematics of the show (you know I would, and when I do so it is for all our amusement rather than the pleasure of pedantry), I have to say it's a slick MOR romcom which is better than the book. It won't do the British film industry any harm. Only if it had nothing to do with UC, I wouldn't even bother reading a review of it in a magazine or newspaper.

* Trivia question answer: MW Heron/ "None Genuine But Mine" and "Two per customer. No Gentlemen would ask for more".

Thursday, November 09, 2006


... I've just bought The Prince of Wales (Highgate) Quiz Book and the QI Book of General Ignorance.

I'm warning everybody now: if you buy either of them for me as a Xmas present, I will give you a damn good shoeing.

You will, however, get a choice of the punishment footwear. I recommend my flip-flops. In need of a wash, but less newtons per buttocky square inch than everything else.

Btw, on a initial perusal of the first quiz in the PoW book, this could be the most interesting pub quiz book that has ever been written. I'm not joking. I'm being serious (I can be sometimes). Unless you happen to concur with QuizList's damning verdict of its pub quiz in general:

"While it's almost impossible to generalise because of the different quizmasters, some of the quizzes I've been at here were too self-consciously 'clever'. Seems to have lost a few punters, and those who started coming here when the Victoria temporarily lapsed have deserted it. A 'result' here may not mean winning the quiz - it means getting out the door without being patronised."

Personally, I think it is the best going on every Tuesday night, precisely because it is "too self-consciously 'clever'". What's the matter with having a bit of a smart-arse quiz? Makes a change from all the chestnut-pumped, don't know theirs arses from their elbow kind of quizzes that seem to pepper the London scene.

Come to think of it, either Stainer or I could have contributed, on account of us setting it before hand; Stainer on a few more occasions than myself. But I guess, they want long, long servants of the quiz; hard-bitten quizzites who kind of merge into the timber and smell a bit of Thai food.

There's a great openings/opening lines quiz in the new Word magazine (the day I start calling it THE Word is the day Terry Christian becomes Supreme Galactic Emperor). I got a slightly disappointing 29/45, but you know that really means absolutely sod-all (I'm lying).

Who says magazines are getting more weighed down with trivia? Oh, I just did. By pointing out that Word had a quiz, posing as a feature, in it. Whatever.

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

President's Cup Crash Bang Wallop

The Quizzerdammerung: Cambridge 40-29 Sussex

"I'm always getting slammed on this blog." Yeah, but you love the mentions and attention. You big whiny Cambridge-loving bihatch.

In short: last night we won, beating Allsorts 52-40. Let's dance a victory jig and drink fine champagne.

But first, a story of such bloodcurdling regret and mind-numbing tragedy that it makes previous bloody disasters look like a joyful summer picnic in the park with the Care Bears and a wide variety of beautiful Italian cold cuts.

We got hammered thanks to two atrocious bad rounds. Let's not mention the imbalance in scores. Cambridge performed well, and we were very mediocre. Indeed, it was a lovely return for Brewis and Stainer, who had replaced the usual troupe of Kathryn and Nic. Though they did score more than Peter and I. We made a few boo-boos; me more than the others. I said that Somerset Maugham wrote the play The Devil's Dilemma and I couldn't even muster an umpire Billy Doctrove. I didn't even say anything when I should have yielded the constellation name "Lepus". I only got two of my own questions. Fetch the maudlin violin player to soundtrack this tale of woe.

Frankly, I hadn't recovered from just eating a Chicken Royale with Cheese on Saturday. I was still feeling a bit wayward, a bit shattered. I've realised that Sunday afternoons are probably the worst time to do quizzes because of my built-in need to have a lie in and therefore doing a quiz just an hour after rising isn't the greatest notion to have ever cropped up in my disintegrating mind. I need a bit of a warm-up (and it showed; I did much better in the friendlies). My optimum time is the dark evening. Maybe it is because of some latent lycanthropism. In trivia-retrieval sense.

But, setting aside those black marks on my own character and physical well-being, the usual outer problems arose yet again. I have written about them before in exasperated detail. Oh yes, the same familiar steadfast subjects of, for example, breweries, whisky, bird families and WW2 bombers. Those hardy blighters that absolutely no one under the age of 35 is interested in (except for Jesse, but he was probably born 25-years-old). I mean, at number four I got a beer and a whisky question. Obviously the setter likes a bit of a tipple but this was ridiculous. Two alcoholic drinks questions to the same person? Whatcha doing? Sort it aht. And when I said "Talisker" for my answer, it later revealed itself as the correct answer on the other side of the pair. Straight in Cambridge's lap. Which Mr Honey got right. Gah.

Therefore, action must be taken. Of a cunning kind. I am already planning my revenge. Or as the Peep Show boys would say: Ree-wen-gay.

We have to write one in return for the mirroring President's Cup. Oh, I'll write one in return. It will be paid in kind. This deep anguish will be reciprocated. You think that quizzes should be about airplanes, breweries and birds? I'll show you what I think should be in normal quizzes, but are never considered by setters as suitable material (though they should be): modern art, graphic novelists, modern fashion companies, Web 2.0 websites, foreign films, American basketball, hard science, 20th century philosophy; the list goes on and on. You think these questions can't be asked in a quiz. Wait and see, as Asquith didn't actually say.

I'll give the set the shock of the new. Cackle-cackle. Man, I'm working myself into a fiesta of nutty screaming madness about the questions I will unleash. For they will make buffoons of once sane, traditional quizzers. I'm laughing maniacally just thinking about it. And at least, you have been warned. Gird your loins and other vulnerable parts.

So there. I don't blame Jesse for his usual scoundrel antics. Well, just a teensy bit. He did get the highest score - 15.

(Disclaimer: I'm only half-joking and I'm far from angry. In fact, I'm quite sanguine and this is all crude hyperbole. But you know, I am mildly annoyed. We should be covering a more diverse array of quiz subjects, and not pay lip service to conventional setting though. This conservatism needs to be tackled. With a baseball bat embedded with nine inch nails)

The Friendly
Actually, I was feeling so defunct in the brain department last afternoon that I forgot to write a round six in the friendly. I shocked myself when I came to the offending vacuity, double and triple-taking as I went. So instead Jesse filled in a last round with his green file. The score was 30-25 after seven rounds, which ain't that bad. And at least I wrote a match.

Unanswered questions by either side are marked *

President's Cup friendly 5/11/06

Round 1
1a Which 1940 Graham Greene novel tells the story of a nameless "whisky priest" living in the Mexican state of Tabasco in the 1930s?
1b The Cold War revolutionary Daniel Ortega is set to become the president of which country again?
2a The Sultan Mizan Zainal Abidin has been elected as the next Yang di-Pertuan Agong, or head of state, of which country?
2b Which Benjamin Britten opera features the characters of the Roman general Collatinus, prince Tarquinius and the old nurse Bianca?*
3a Who is famously taken to live at 32 Windsor Gardens?
3b Which 1966 Graham Greene novel depicts life in Haiti under the rule of Francis "Papa Doc" Duvalier and his secret police, the Tonton Macoutes?*
4a Written as a companion piece for The Rape of Lucretia, which comic chamber opera by Benjamin Britten was based on Guy de Maupassant's story Le Rosier de Madama Husson?
4b Which couple famously live at 62 West Wallaby Street?*

Round 2
1a On a flower, which part of the carpel is usually the terminal end portion that has no epidermis and is fitted to receive pollen?
1b Known to the Romans as "Promontorium Magnum", which cape forms the westernmost point of mainland Portugal?*
2a What term describes the point at which an object, such as the Moon, in orbit around the Earth makes its closest approach to the Earth?
2b On a flower, which part of the carpel is a stalk connecting the stigma with the ovary below containing the transmitting tract that facilitates the movement of the male gametes to the ovule?
3a The cliffs of which cape, located on the Cote d'Opale in the Pas-de-Calais departement, are the closest point of France to England?
3b Which bridge in Norfolk collapsed on May 2, 1845 and caused 79 people to drown because the overloaded suspension chains collapsed?*
4a The worst ever peacetime railway crash, a double collision involving three trains took place on October 8, 1952 and killed 112 people at which station in London Underground Zone five?
4b In astronomy, what term describes the point in the orbit of a planet or a comet at which it is farthest from the Sun?

Round 3
1a At which English theme park will you find rollercoasters called Vampire, Runaway Train, Dragons Fury and Rattlesnake?
1b The subject of the Virgil Thomson opera The Mother of Us All, which suffragette voted in the US presidential election for the first time on November 5, 1872 and was fined $100 for her participation?
2a Famed for his long running feud with Edward de Vere the 17th Earl of Oxford, which baron is credited with arresting Guy Fawkes and foiling Robert Catesby's Gunpowder Plot on November 5 in 1605?*
2b Chart-toppers in 1977, which New York City group included the members Tim Hauser, Laurel Masse, Alan Paul and Janis Siegel?
3a What was the last English rugby side to win the Heineken Cup, doing so in 2004 when they beat Toulouse?
3b What was the first English rugby team to win the Heinkeken Cup, doing so in 1998 when they beat Brive?
4a Chart-toppers in 1978, which Leicester band included the members Dave Bartram, Buddy Gask, Trevor Oakes, Russ Field and Romeo Challenger?
SHOWADDYWADDY (Under the Moon of Love)
4b At which English theme park will you find rollercoasters called Colossus, X:\No Way Out, Stealth and Nemesis Inferno?

Round 4
1a Which commander of the British forces in the Middle East during World War Two led them to victory over the Italians before their defeat by the German army, and was replaced in July 1941?
1b Which field marshal replaced Wavell as Commander of British forces in the Middle East in July 1941 and again replaced him as Commander-in-Chief of the Indian Army in 1943?
2a What is the first of the fourteen Stations of the Cross?*
2b Which Australian cricketer retired hurt on 165 in the first ever Test match in 1877, thus scoring the first ever Test century?
3a Which silvery metal has the atomic number 50?*
TIN (Sn)
3b What is the last of the Stations of the Cross?*
4a Which batsman got the first ever Test century for England, when he scored 152 in a Test versus Australia at The Oval in 1880?
4b Named after a nuclear scientist, which element has the atomic number 100?

Round 5
1a The NASA scientist Lonnie Johnson is best known for inventing which toy water gun that uses pressurized air to deliver powerful water squirts?
1b By what name is the airplane with the designation VC-25A better known?*
2a Michael Nazir-Ali very recently accused Muslims of double standards. Of which English diocese is he the bishop?
2b Lord Richard Harries, the current head of the Government's fertility watchdog, stepped down as the bishop of which English diocese in June this year?
3a What is the two-word name given to the US President's official helicopter?
3b In which James Bond film do the Bond girls Dominique "Domino" Derval, Patricia Fearing and Fiona Volpe appear?
4a In which Bond film do the Bond girls Melina Havelock, Bibi Dahl and Lisi von Schalf?*
4b What "Human Transporter" or self-balancing electric transportation device was invented and unveiled by Dean Kamen in December 2001?

Zee Phantom Round 6 Ooh la la
1a Director of Central Intelligence, Robert Gates, is set to take which post in the US government?
1b Which famous doo-wop/R&B band were originally formed by Clyde McPhatter of Billy Ward & The Dominoes in 1953?
2a Which much-covered hit song by The Drifters from 1964 was recorded the day after lead singer Rudy Lewis's unexpected death?
2b Which baggy trews of yesteryear derive their name from a corruption of the old French word for "Greek-style"?
3a Which much-loved comedy actress played Vera Hopkins on Coronation Street?
3b Set to step down as Secretary of State for Defence, Donald Rumsfeld had assumed the post first during which president's administration?
4a Which long coat with a cape is especially suitable for the inclement weather that besieges the same-named Scottish city?
4b Best known for a comedy role, which actress played Eileen Hughes on Coronation Street?

Round 7
1a Micky Adams is the manager of which Coca-Cola Championship football team?
1b Which Austrian physicist proposed an eponymous equation in 1925 that describes the space- and time-dependence of quantum mechanical systems?
2a What theory in physics, which describes the theory of the fundamental force known as strong interaction, is known by the acronym QCD?
2b In which country is the World Heritage Site of the Great Stupa at Sanchi?*
3a On April 12, 1888, who read his own obituary when a French newspaper mistakenly reported his dying when it should have been his brother Ludwig, and saw himself reported as a "merchant of death"?
3b Jim Magilton is the manager of which Coca-Cola Championship football team?
4a In which country is the World Heritage Site of the Ksar of Ait Benhaddou? Ksar meaning a village consisting of generally attached houses.
4b Who composed his own obituary for The Times in 1937 - 32 years before his actual death - and wrote of himself: "His life, for all its waywardness, had a certain anachronistic consistency, reminiscent of the aristocratic rebels of the early 19th century ... He was the last survivor of a dead epoch"?*

Round 8
1a Which English singer-songwriter is at number eight in the current UK album charts with Undiscovered?
1b Found along the Mekong River in Cambodia and Laos, what sort of creature is a "kouprey"?
(Wild) OX
2a Originally intended to be a digestive tonic, which popular alcoholic drink is named after the 19th century owner of an oyster bar in the City of London?
PIMM'S (as in James Pimm)
2b Where on the human body would you find a "lunnule"?
BASE OF THE FINGERNAIL (white crescent-shaped mark)
3a Found on the island of New Guinea, what sort of creature is the "bondegezou", or as it is also known, the "dingiso"?*
3b Sometimes described as "emo", which American rock band is at number two in the UK album charts with The Black Parade?
4a Where on the human body would you find the "philtrum"?
MIDDLE OF THE UPPER LIP (the vertical groove)
4b Which cocktail is named after a 19th century bartender at Limmer's Old House in London, who was famous for his gin slings?

1 U2 were partly inspired to write the song Where the Streets Have No Name after visiting which Latin American capital city, where the streets have no name?
2 In 2004, what became the first private manned spacecraft to exceed an altitude of 328,000 feet twice within 14 days, thus claiming the $10 million Ansari X-Prize?
3 Who is known by the acronym FLOTUS?
4 When it was first broadcast on the Home Service in the Midlands region in May 1950, what was the full name of The Archers?
5 Which wife of Vernon Kay co-presents Strictly Come Dancing with Bruce Forsyth?

(Random annoyance: Blimey, it's still like the Gaza Strip around here. Won't these fireworks lovers do something like let them off in their living rooms. I'm sure it would be just as eventful and exciting.)

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

No time

Very very short one this

It's top of the table clash time with the QLL champs Allsorts in about an hour and a half, so I have to dash in and out of the shower and potter on down to Farringdon Road to meet our destiny. This should be interesting. And I bet you wish you were there (okay, maybe not you. Or you. Let's just say I'm talking about the intrigued quizzers who might like to witness such a match.)

At least if we lose, I have the immediate option of getting mindlessly alcoholised in Shoreditch at someone's birthday drinks. Not that I am a wanton drunk and lush. I always liked the word lush.

Monday, November 06, 2006

South Coast Concert Update

Typically Shite Live Photo

Even though I am a bit Hoegaardened at the moment (thank you double quiz at that pub place), Jamie and I went to see a band called Arab Strap last night. Was it not ten years ago that I heard The Last Big Weekend, before it was on some sodding rubbish Guinness ad with strippers and cows on it? Ah, they never really topped it did they? But they tried their best. Now they are nearly gone forever.

The great thing about the Strap is that they give great noise. Despite all those naughty words. Yes, Aidan talks his lyrics over, but it is Malcolm and the band that have learned to back it up in the years since. I enjoyed it. Here We Go and There is No Hope for Us and tons more, tons of "old songs" - every band should split up and play farewell tours (even if they don't mean it in the end). Aidan swore, talked and jokes. Yes, it was funny. Bloody hilarious, in fact.

All those wonderful songs about sexual shenanigans and petty recriminations and brutal honesty shining in our faces. Lovely dirty Scottish melodies soaked in resonating regret and bristling chords. Brilliant. Farewell, my captains, my captains. Even if there were a few ***** on nattering and chattering like disreputable coves, cards and cads .. I look on ye with evilish eyes, you scoundrels of conversation during songs (I still can't swear directly on this blog ... call me cowed ... and half deaf from standing in front of the left side stage speakers).

Quizzing you say?
Oh yeah. Yesterday, I will tell you all abou the apocalyptic quizzerdamerung that occured yesterday in the President's Cup match v. Cambridge at the Oakdale Arms.

For now, just blame Jesse. (He loves it when I mention his name in a derogatory fashion ... I'm going to say he plans to invade Poland next).

Saturday, November 04, 2006

Plans Go Awry

"'Ello darling, you're a lot better looking than Kim Cattrall" (The Social, Nottingham, Last Night)

I didn't go to Liverpool for the Quizzing GP, but you knew that anyway. This was something to do with my giving a guest lecture to my old MA at Nottingham Trent yesterday. It was set for 3.30pm, so I thought I would be able to get back to London in due time. By 8pm was my thinking.

By 8pm I was still in the pub. Having a few drinks, having a few more drinks. These crazy students. I did my best to disillusion them with my truly legendary jadedness. Amazingly, this was such a grand effort that I missed the last train home (you fool!) and got back to London by 5.30pm this evening. And I do feel ill. Maybe, it was the icy cold last night. But I do feel ill. Like my brain has been crowned with stinging nettles. In fact, I may not even write a friendly for tomorrow's President's Cup match against Cambridge - shock, horror, outrage, will things ever be the same again? I am feeling that dirty headed.

The plans went truly kaplooey. Saturday was meant to be consolidation day: do work and questions; allow myself to sort everything out before I went to Portsmouth tomorrow night to see Arab Strap. I was also going to phone up Jane and say: "Oh my God!! Have you read this buzzer quiz question and that buzzer quiz question, and can't you see they've been written by a delirious, illiterate wild man, who hadn't had any sleep when he sent them? Please insert a "which" and a "come" in question so and so. I am now going to run away. Far away." And I didn't. Gash. Now everything is going to be done in a disorderly and silly fashion. You know, I only do it to myself.

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

I Should Be Doing Some Bloody Work But Instead I Am Posting the BH105

I have a major malfunction. It is one in the morning; my copy is due in. I am poised to work. Crouching like a panther. Pulsing brain at the ready. And then ... then, I start looking at some bloody websites that have absolutely nothing to do with what needs to be done and dusted. These cursed cyberspace portals. I mean, Bore Me ... I'm not even bored ... I'm just ... grrrrr ... yes, a pathetic little wolf cub.

I really do want to focus, but the problem is that when you are freelance, you begin to understand the full meaning of Parkinson's Law. You have so much time that you can only work when the stuff is running out and warning sirens and booming red lights are going off in your head. D'ya get me? Only one minute exists in my space-time continuum - "the last minute."

Then there are the existential problems to do with the constant, daily and weekly battle against blank space. We fill it, it empties, we fill it, it empties, and so on for a year. Routine saps the will and the life-force. Focus dissipates. Mild ennui sets in. You become vulnerable to the distractions, whatever they may be: TV, magazines, checking every website you've ever liked in a very OCD way, staring out the window at the screeching night foxes. (I'm thinking that if I lay down my rubbishness in the preceding words, then some semblance of motivation will set and I will march on to supreme victory. It's all about autopsychology. Innit)

Anyway, enough whinging, enough distracting words of procrastination. I set a BH quiz back in LA (I am now in the London) from Visual Factfinder: History Timelines (Q1-73) and Whitaker's World of Facts by Russell Ash (Q74-104) (Q105's source is very mysterious), which means up to question 73 they are functional one-liners, which possess little of the joy that the finest trivia can rouse in people. But they get the job done. My job, that is.

I have juiced Whitaker's World of Facts for a high concentration of sport questions because I really need to do more of them here, for variety's sake. For my sake, that is. I will probably do some sort of large sports and games dedicated BH quiz, however. It could be fun, IF I don't let the beast that is boredom get to me and gnaw the idea into a shredded, undesirable heap. You see, I write it down and the idea rusts already. Thinking up an idea is often the worst thing you can do to it. It might wish it was never born. A bit like communism. Or Cirque De Celebrite.

Of course, see below the BH answers for the latest LQC (I love using acronyms that are utterly meaningless because I haven't yet taken the time to explain them to everybody. That would be a sign of dumbing down).

Now, I'm going to knock this bugger off, and then some. I swear. But not in an All-4-One way. Now that would do no good at all. People would want to club me over the head with metal piping wouldn't they?

105 Questions on Things That Have Happened ... or did they? DUH-DUH-DUHHH
1 In 1670, Charles II and Louis XIV signed which agreement that stated England's support to France against the Dutch in return for a secret subsidy ending the Merry Monarch's dependence on Parliament?
2 Who became the first African-American woman to publish a book in 1773?
3 Russian forces invaded which region in 1859, forcing its leader Imam Samil to surrender?
4 Who became the first king of Italy in 1861, and moved the capital from Turin to Florence before making Rome the official capital city in 1870?
5 Which Spanish explorer established the town of Asuncion on the Paraguay river in 1537?
6 In 1540 Hungary was split into three parts and thrown into confusion by the invasion of Ferdinand of Hapsburg following the death of which king?
7 At which battle of 1542 did Henry VIII defeat James V of Scotland? The king died soon after and was succeeded by his child daughter Mary Queen of Scots.
8 The French settled on Madagascar in 1626 and began to drive out which people, who had inhabited the island for 600 years?
9 Sir William Courteen founded the first English colony on which Caribbean island in 1625?
10 Which French king defeated a coalition of powers, including Holy Roman Emperor Otto IV and King John of England at the Battle of Bouvines in 1214?
11 What branch of Buddhism, also called Jodo, was founded in Honen, Japan in 1175?
12 A new Canterbury Cathedral was begun in 1184 to replace the one in which Thomas a Becket was killed, built according to which Frenchman's Gothic-style design?
13 The legends of King Arthur and Camelot were compiled and modified by which Welsh priest in about 1175?
14 Minamoto Yoritomo established which shogunate in Japan in 1185?
15 Which dynasty of central India began work on the Ajanta cave paintings c. 500AD, which were among the earliest in India and depict scenes from the Jakata tales, traditional stories of the Buddha's previous lives?
16 In c.496AD, the Shaolin Temple was built at the foot of which mountain n Henan, China?
17 Which Indian mathematician devised roots and powers of numbers in c.476AD?
18 In c.25AD, which city in China was the capital of the Eastern Han dynasty and with a population of 500,000 was the most populated city of its time?
19 Though not put to actual use, what was the name of the first steam engine that was invented by Hero of Alexandria during c.1 to 10AD?
20 What name did the Egyptians give to the first astronomical tool that was invented in c.600BC and could measure time by studying the positions of the stars?
21 Which well-known poet became leader of Athens in c.594BC(-574) and abolished most of Draco's harsh laws and drew up a more humane code?
22 Which emperor established and expanded the Inca Empire in 1438 in Peru?
23 Modelled on the English Order of the Garter, what Catholic-only order was founded by Duke Phillip III of Burgundy to celebrate his marriage to the Portuguese princess of Isabelle of Aviz?
24 Which edict of 1685 cancelled the Edict of Nantes?
25 At which battle of 1708 did a 80,000-strong British, Hanoverian, Prussian and Dutch army led by the Duke of Marlborough defeat Marshal Louis-Joseph's 85,000 French troops, after Churchill's soldiers crossed the Schelde river and caught them off-guard?
26 Which French military engineer invented the first automobile, a steam-powered tricycle, in 1769?
27 Which man founded the first modern circus in England in 1768 when he built stands around his performance ring and opened an eponymous "Amphitheatre"?
28 Richard Arkwright invented the "water frame" in 1769 and installed them at which mill in Derby, making it the world's first industrial factory?
29 What now-famous bay did Gaspar de Portola, a governor in the Americas, discover in 1769, while on an expedition from Velicata to find Monterey Bay?
30 What Australian state capital was moved to its present site in Sullivan Cove in 1803?
31 What country was invaded by Russia in 1808 and made a Great Duchy that was brought under Russian rule by the Treaty of Hamina?
32 The War of 1812 was ended in 1814 with which treaty?
33 At which village near Vienna did Napoleon and 154,000 troops defeat 158,000 Austrian soldiers led by Archduke Charles in 1809?
34 Which historian, poet, journalist and general became president of Argentina in 1862 and established Buenos Aires as the capital?
35 Founded in 1916, the Professional Golfers' Association of America is based where in Florida?
36 Which Montana congresswoman became the first female to be elected to the US House of Representatives on November 7, 1916?
37 What did the USA buy from Denmark for $25 million in 1917?
38 Which US inventor developed the Phonofilm, a process by which sound could be recorded on film, in 1919?
39 Which volcano on the island of Java erupted on May 25, 1919, killing 16,000 people?
40 General Alvaro Obregon was elected president of which country on December 1, 1920, and put an end to the civil war that had troubled his nation since 1909?
41 The Irish Free State was established on December 6, 1922, with Timothy Michael Healy as its governor-general and who was president?
42 What agreement of June 17, 1925 banned the use of chemical and biological weapons during war?
43 Who directed the original 1926 film version of The Jazz Singer?
44 In which country did the "Promoters Revolution" overthrew the monarch and establish constitutional rule on June 24, 1932?
45 How many storeys are there in the Empire State Building?
46 Which French premier resigned on June 16, 1940, thus allowing Marshal Petain to succeed him?
47 Taking place off the Greek coast, which battle of March 28, 1941 saw the British Navy defeat the Italian fleet?
48 What "first" did John W Mauchly and John P Eckert invent in 1946?
49 Which republic was established on July 4, 1946 and had Manuel Roxas for its first president?
50 Which English engineer designed and built the cantilevered Forth Bridge in the 1880s?
51 Founded by Betty Freidan and Reverend Pauli Murray (the first African-American woman to become an Episcopalian priest) on June 30, 1966, what was NOW?
52 The actions of the Awami League helped secure the independence of which country during the early 1970s?
53 On July 24, 1974, the US Supreme Court ordered President Nixon to surrender White House tapes to which special investigator who was investigating the Watergate scandal?
54 What did Operation Bluestar lead to on June 1, 1984?
55 A Zen Buddhist priest who is believed to have studied under Shubun in Kyoto, which foremost master of the ink painting style called suiboku was born in 1420 and adapted the Chinese style of landscape painting thanks to a trip to China in 1467 where he visited many Zen monasteries and studied the works of the old masters?
56 Richard II was the son of the Black Prince and which woman?
57 Which friar made a famous trip across Russia to Beijing in 1338?
58 Author of the travel book the Rihlah, which Arabian traveller and explorer came to India in c.1333 and spent 27 years travelling through Asia, Africa and Europe covering a distance of 120,000km?
59 Which Hungarian dynasty ended with the death of Andrew III in 1301, leading to seven years of civil war?
60 Philip VI ascended the French throne in 1328 and established which house?
61 Which King of France set out on the Eight Crusade in 1270, but died of plague in Tunis?
62 Which city was destroyed by a Mongol army led by Hulegu Khan in 1258, who brought an end to the Abbasid Caliphate there?
63 Muhammad I established which dynasty in Granada, Spain in 1238, that would rule the area for 260 years?
64 After the Romans forced the Jews to leave Jerusalem in 135AD, what did they rename the city?
65 Which female Vietnamese patriot led a failed revolt against the Chinese in c.248AD and committed suicide in its aftermath?
66 Which Japanese emperor's reign, from c.250AD, marked the start of the country's documented history?
67 Armenia became the first Christian state, when which king made Christianity the official religion in. c.300AD?
68 Constantine defeated which ruler of the Eastern Roman Empire in 324AD to become he sole emperor of Rome?
69 Which ancient Indian poet and playwright, author of the Sanskrit drama The Recognition of Shakuntala, composed several literary classics in Sanskrit in c.400AD?
70 A dispute between Pope Leo IX and which leader of the Greek Orthodox Church in 1054, led to the permanent separation of the Eastern (Orthodox) and Western (Roman) churches?
71 Which Norman warrior defeated the army of Pope Leo IX at Civitate in c.1053, but later supported the papacy and ruled over the southern part of Italy?
72 The Italian merchants of Amalfi founded which order at Jerusalem in 1070; its headquarters were moved to Rome in 1834?
73 What league was formed by Pope Julius II along with Holy Roman Emperor Maximilian I, Louis XII of France and Ferdinand V of Spain to fight against Venice in 1508?
74 On seeing what did Gardiner Green Hubbard, founder of the National Geographic Society, say: "It's only a toy"?
75 With 155 mentions in the Old Testament and 45 in the New, what animal makes the most appearances in the Bible?
76 What was the first ever children's magazine, published in the UK in June 1751?
77 In which publication did Asterix the Gaul make his first appearance on October 29, 1959?
78 What British publication was the first ever comic, appearing in 1884?
79 Running for 47, 250 performances, which revue at Disneyland ran from 1955 to 1986 and remains the longest ever reigning show?
80 Opened on March 3, 1585, what venue in Vicenza in Italy is the oldest indoor theatre in the world?
81 Which Neil Oram play, first performed at London's ICA from January 18-20, 1979, is believed to be the longest play with its 18 hour, 5 minute running time?
82 Who became the first professional ballerina when she appeared in Jean Baptiste Lully's The Triumph of Love at the Paris Opera on January 21, 1681?
83 Born in 1927, which Dame and prime ballerina at the Sadler's Wells Ballet was the first English ballerina to perform with the Bolshoi?
84 The OPM seeks to free which region from Indonesian rule?
85 Which twentysomething US female film star was born with the surname Hershlag?
86 Which Irishman was the first player to score four goals in a World Cup match when he did so in a qualifying match against Belgium in 1934, which was also the Republic's first ever World Cup match?
87 Who were the first ever winners of rugby league's Challenge Cup, when the final was held at Headingley in 1897?
88 Which American woman became the first woman to complete the tennis Grand Slam in 1950?
89 What variation of pelota is played with a racquet, rather than the hand (pelota mano) or hand basket (jai-alai)?
90 Who was the last amateur Wimbledon singles ladies' champion in 1967?
91 Which Iranian set the men's weightlifting record with a lift of 472.5kg at the Sydney Olympics in 2000?
92 Winner of three world titles (1990, 1991, 2002), which pool player from Greensboro in North Carolina is nicknamed "The Pearl"?
93 What do the three H's in WWE wrestler Triple H's name stand for?
94 In which year was the first WWF Wrestle Mania held?
95 Which boxing weight class has a maximum weight of 67kg?
96 Steve Davis won the first of his world snooker titles when he beat which player 18-12 at The Crucible in 1981?
97 In which event did Mark Spitz win the first of his seven gold medals at the 1972 Olympics?
98 Which boat won the America's Cup for New Zealand in 1995 and again in 2000?
99 Formed in the US in 1983, what sporting organisation is NORBA?
100 Which American driver won the Indianapolis 500, then part of the Formula One World Championship, aged just 22 years and three months in 1952?
101 Prior to Fernando Alonso winning in 2005, who was the youngest ever Formula One world champion when he won in 1972 aged 25 years and nine months?
102 Players on the winning team of which famous trophy are traditionally given 24 hours to show it off to friends and family, as in such extreme examples as Clark Gillies who used it to feed the dog in 1980 and Sylvain Lefebvre who had his daughter baptised in it in 1996?
103 In which sport are Bjorn Dahlie (Norway), Sixten Jernberg (Sweden) and Viekko Hakulinen (Finland) famous names and several-time Olympic champions?
104 Weighing up to 304 kg and having an average speed of 0.27 km/h , what giant tortoise is the largest land-living tortoise and lives on an island in the Seychelles?
105 From which ship was the shot fired that killed Nelson at Trafalgar?



Answers to BH104
1 Treaty of Dover 2 Phyllis Wheatley 3 Dagestan 4 Victor Emmanuel II 5 Juan Salazar de Espinosa 6 John Zipolya 7 Battle of Solway Moss 8 Hovas 9 Barbados 10 Philip II 11 Japanese School of Pure Land Buddhism 12 William of Sens 13 Walter Map 14 Kamakura 15 Vakataka 16 Mount Songshan 17 Aryabhatta 18 Luoyang 19 Aeolipile 20 Merkhet 21 Solon 22 Pachacuti 23 The Order of the Golden Fleece 24 Edict of Fonatinebleau 25 Oudenaarde 26 Nicolas-Joseph Cugnot 27 Philip Astley 28 Crompton Mill 29 San Francisco Bay 30 Hobart 31 Finland 32 Treaty of Ghent 33 Battle of Wagram 34 Bartolome Mitre 35 Palm Beach Gardens 36 Jeanette Rankin 37 Virgin Islands 38 Lee de Forest 39 Volcano Kloet 40 Mexico 41 Thomas Cosgrave 42 Geneva Protocol 43 Alan Crosland 44 Thailand 45 102 46 Paul Reynaud 47 Battle of Cape Matapan 48 ENIAC, the first electronic computer 49 Philippines 50 Benjamin Baker 51 National Organisation for Women 52 Bangladesh 53 Leon Jaworski 54 The Indian army's storming of the Golden Temple in Amritsar to flush out Sikh militants 55 Sesshu or Sesshu Toyo 56 Joan, Fair Maid of Kent 57 Giovanni de Marignolli 58 Ibn Battutah 59 Arpad 60 Valois 61 (St.) Louis IX 62 Baghdad 63 Nasrid 64 Aelia Capitolina 65 Trieu Au 66 Sujin 67 Tiridates III 68 Licinius 69 Kalidasa 70 Michael Cerularius 71 Robert Guiscard 72 Knights of St John or Knights Hospitallers 73 League of Cambrai 74 Alexander Graham Bell's telephone in 1876 75 Sheep 76 The Lilliputian Magazine 77 Pilote 78 Ally Sloper's Half Holiday 79 The Golden Horseshoe Revue 80 Teatro Olimpico 81 The Warp 82 Mademoiselle de La Fontaine 83 Beryl Grey 84 West Papua 85 Natalie Portman 86 Paddy Moore 87 Batley 88 Louise Brough 89 Frontenis 90 Billie Jean King 91 Hossein Rezazadeh 92 Earl Strickland 93 Hunter Hearst Helmsley 94 1985 (on March 31 at Madison Square Garden) 95 Welterweight 96 Doug Mountjoy 97 200m butterfly 98 Black Magic 99 National Off-Road Bicycle Association 100 Troy Ruttman 101 Emerson Fittipaldi 102 Stanley Cup 103 Cross country skiing 104 Aldabra giant tortoise 105 Redoubtable

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