Friday, December 15, 2006

Gotta Keep 'Em Going: BH107

I'm in a bit of a sullen mood. Surely, newly written quiz questions will lighten it! Or maybe not. Nevertheless, here are fresh ones I wrote a few minutes ago.

1 The first extinction of a large mammal in recent decades, which species of dolphin has been declared functionally extinct?
2 Which former of Ethiopia has been convicted in absentia of genocide by a court in that country for his part in the "Red Terror"?
3 What term describes a statistical measure of how well a binary classification test correctly classifies cases not belonging to that class?
4 The American Elizabeth Magie patented which precursor to the board game Monopoly in 1904?
5 Which Boston-born artist, who died in London in 1815, based his painting Watson and the Shark on a real-life shark attack that occurred in Havana in 1749?
6 Founded in 1914, the soccer US Open Cup is the oldest annual team tournament in the US in any sport and now bears the name of which man, who died on December 13, and who was a founder of the American Football League?
7 The Bosman Ruling resulted from Jean-Marc Bosman's initially failed attempt to transfer from which Belgian club to which French side?
8 The Greek Vassilios Skouris has been President of which judicial body since 2003?
9 In a landmark sports case, which center fielder for the St Louis Cardinals refused to accept a trade following the 1969 season ultimately appealing unsuccessfully to the US Supreme Court?
10 What "Operation" name has been given to the report by Lord Stevens into Princess Diana's death?
11 GAM is a separatist group seeking independence for which region of Indonesia?
12 Which apostle has his major shrine at the Basilica of Saint Paul Outside the Walls and recently had his final resting place identified by Vatican archaeologists?
13 Incumbent Igor Smirnov recently won the presidential elections in which self-declared state (on September 2, 1990) in the Republic of Moldova, also known as Pridnestrovie?
14 Richard Paul Pavlick was arrested for attempting to blow up and assassinate which US President?
15 Sheik Rashid III ibn Ahmad Al Mu'alla has ruled which United Arab Emirate since 1981?
16 A reference to a character in the epic poems Orlando innamorato and its sequel Orlando furioso, what obscure mass noun means boastful talk or behaviour?
17 Also author of Silvae and Kalendae decembres, which poet of the Silver Age of Latin poetry (c.45-c.96AD) is said to have taken 12 years to compose his work The Thebaid during the regin of Domitian?
18 Known for his band's style "The Wall of Sound" during the mid-1940s, which jazz musician gave his ensembles such names as Innovations Orchestra, Neophonic Orchestra and Mellophonium Orchestra, having formed his first orchestra in 1941, which was later named after his theme song Artistry in Rhythm?
19 Andrew Luster, who was convicted of a series of rapes in 2003, is an heir to which cosmetics fortune that was founded in 1909 by a Polish make-up artist for the Russian royal ballet?
20 Founded on January 18, 1919, which subsidiary of the Volkswagen Group is headquartered in Crewe?
21 Intended as a replacement for the Pup, the prototype of which airplane first flew in December 1916 and was known as the "Big Pup" early on in her development?
22 Johannes Vermeer produced transparent colours by applying paint onto the canvas in loosely granular layers. What name has been given to this decorative technique?
23 Known for the role of Grandad, which actor died of a heart attack during the production of the Only Fools and Horses episode "Hole in One" in 1984?
24 Who wrote the 1963 book Up the Junction?
25 Who developed the political philosophy the Three Principles of the People or as it was collectively known the San-min Doctrine?



Answers to BH107
1 Chinese River Dolphin 2 Mengistu Haile Mariam 3 Specificity 4 The Landlord's Game 5 John Singleton Copley 6 Lamar Hunt 7 RFC Liege to Dunkerque 8 European Court of Justice 9 Curt Flood 10 Operation Paget 11 Aceh 12 Paul of Tarsus 13 Transnistria 14 JFK 15 Umm al-Quwain 16 Rodomontade 17 Statius 18 Stan Kenton 19 Max Factor 20 Bentley 21 Sopwith Camel 22 Pointillé 23 Lennard Pearce 24 Nell Dunn 25 Sun Yat-sen

Sunday, December 10, 2006

The Usual Malaise

Paralysed by An Empty But Full Sked

That familiar feeling. Post-major championships time and everything winds down to a sort of bored murmur. What to do? The landscape is bare and the next monuments so far in the distance that they take on a surreal appearance.

You start to feel the suggestion of emptiness, what with the lack of quiz stuff, asking yourself whether life has suddenly turned grey and mindnumbingly boring and then you get hit by the Christmas break and all sorts of social engagements and friends begging you to get smashed in the spirit of the season. Repeatedly. Thus, the blog suffers. Or at least, that's my excuse.

I have thought about putting the blog into cold storage - well, some kind of storage out of my reach - for a long-ish amount of time, letting it lie fallow and therefore encouraging some fresh impetus to hit me with regards to subject matter. In fact, it might be happening right now. I mean, it's not as if there is much writing going on here at the moment?

Frankly, I was winded by my grandmother's funeral and the hectic rush and travelling about of the week before. Some of the energy I can usually call on wasn't there. Granted I did okay at the EQC, but a feeling of disappointment still lingers; a feeling of what could have been (a moderate improvement in placing if truth be told. There were so many questions that I should have got (RITOLA! Aargh and aargh again). The sharpness I felt at the WQC was absent.

More pertinent to this here web thing though, another side effect was the dumping of some carefully planned blog posts to coincide with various happenings and events, such as the EQC. The will to write them vanished. I was happy to compete, but the idea of constantly writing notes and observing with wily eyes and an ear for hilarious quotes, just as I had done at the BQC, was about as appealing as sticking my head in a super-sized vat of gelatin. But it is not a mild depression, no Sir, more a renewed desire to waste time visiting all my bookmarked websites and to watch every episode of the American version of The Office (it grows on you, it really does) and Scrubs on Daily Motion. I "relax" by sinking into sloth, something I can do very well. I am an expert in distraction. The clutter in my room pays testament to this overwhelming tendency. Sometimes, I have to go back home to LA to stop myself from rubbishing around on the web like someone who thinks they have all the time in the world.

So at least I've written summat. Self-indulgent twaddle (would you expect anything less), but 'tis better than nowt innit? Even if I have begun using turdy words that will make any lover of the English language want to hunt me down and gut me as if I was no better than a wild boar.

Back to The Castle
Today is the last in the first half of the President's Cup season. We are playing the Mastermind Club at home. And I have done my utmost to prepare for it in scholarly and fastidious and serious fashion by going to a party last night in Brighton and not actually bothering to go to bed yet. Way to go, captain!

At this very moment I am inserting a coffee drip into all key entry points in my body (no, not those filthy minded you) in a bid to stay awake, never mind answer questions on breweries, birds, bombers and utter bollards. You see, I live on the edge. It's just a pity that I tend to fall off it more often than not.

I can also confirm that I am barely coherent having just talked to one of my flatmates. When she could understand what I was saying - which wasn't very often - she gave me some, ahem, quizzical looks, while I started rubbing my eyes and the squeezing the bridge of my nose to indicate some vague reason for my alternately babbling and quietly whimpering derangement.

Kids, sleep is good for you. It prevents you from turning into a crazy person with speech problems.

You want some questions?
Okay, I can give you some. During Arko's excellent Estonian quiz I got the notion that eight esteemed Brit quizzers may want a quiz league match away from home - in France no less - and, hey, have some Merseysiders play against Londoners and add some format virgins to make it a bit more interesting.

And so it came to pass that whilst doing our Broken-Hearted best to finish two points behind the Ashman-Edwards-Gibson triumvirate in the final reckoning that I took Stainer's copy of Trevor Montague's A to Z of Almost Everything and set a regulation eight-rounds, 64-question quiz from it in a jiffy. Crude when laid side by side with its predecessors, but it did the job. Slight boredom (with the amorphous Sunday schedule, not Arko's quiz) can make me do the funniest things.

Writing it did make me think something: do not underestimate Trevor's book. It is a brilliant quiz resource. There is a huge amount of interesting and relevant stuff in there that is vital to a decent triviaholic's competitive health, which I have a tendency to forget. Later Bayley set an entire international format match from the book too and he certainly dug out some gems.

So I will use it a bit more in future. I might even buy my third edition. Yes, what I need is more reference books ... you wonder when such consumer habits started and will end. I can see no finish in sight. And maybe I like it that way.

(The score, I think, was 49-30 or thereabouts: Bayley, Gibson, Kerr and Stainer beating Cox, Edwards, Pearson and Ashman. Naturally, Kevin still got the highest score - 19. He always does. Like the cycle of the seasons. Inevitable. The rounds have not been mixed on account of it being handwritten and my not wanting to confuse myself further. It's bad enough when I write them on a computer - missing rounds! Screwed-up pairs! Naughty naughty.)

EQC quiz league friendly

Round 1
1a La Atalaya is the highest peak in which group of European islands?
BALEARICS (on Ibiza)
1b Morro Grande is the highest point in which European island group?
AZORES (on Flores)
2a Whose Symphony No. 2 is nicknamed The Age of Anxiety?
2b Whose Symphony No. 2 is nicknamed Lobgesang or Hymn of Praise?
3a Which pop group did Jacqui O'Sullivan join in 1988?
3b Lyne Elklnad provided vocals and guitar for which band, but was replaced in the mid-80s before they had numerous big hits?
4a At which cathedral city was the first Eleanor Cross placed?
4b The last Eleanor Cross was placed where in London, a replica now standing at that location?

Round 2
1a Who beat Leicester City 1-0 in the 1969 FA Cup final?
1b Who beat Leicester City 3-1 in the 1963 FA Cup final?
2a Which French president was assassinated by a Russian emigre in 1932?
2b Which nominee for the German Chancellorship was forced to resign after the Nazi general election victory of 1932?
3a What is featured in the centre of the flag of Cambodia?
3b What is featured in the centre of the flag of Albania?
4a What does the "E" in the medical condition BSE stand for?
4b What does the "CJ" in the disease CJD stand for?

Round 3
1a Who played the title role in the 1964 film Becket?
1b Who played the title role in the 1954 film Beau Brummel?
2a Originally developed for use in the UNIX operating system, what high level computer programming language was introduced at Bell Laboratories in 1974?
2b A teaching language developed in the late 1960s, what ALGOL-related language was named after a 17th century Frenchman?
3a In which month were Brian Lara, Jimmy White and David Beckham born?
3b In which month were Jimmy Connors, Franz Beckenbauer and Seb Coe born?
4a Which rhythm and blues singer died whilst playing Russian roulette in 1954?
4b Which Supremes vocalist died of a heart attack aged only 32 years and seven months?

Round 4
1a Which French writer's dying words were either "Let down the curtain, the farce is over" or "I am going to seek the great, perhaps"?
1b Which Italian composer's last words were "My poor Elvira, my poor wife"?
2a What did Adolph E Fick invent in 1887?
2b What did Harold Brown and EA Keneally invent in 1890?
3a Which senator was the seventh husband of Elizabeth Taylor?
3b Which film producer was the third husband of Liz Taylor?
4a Born in the 6th century BC, which founder of the Eleatic School included among his pupils Zeno and Melissus and wrote his great work On Nature in hexameter verse?
4b Born in Ephesus in the 6th century BC, which Greek philosopher was called "the obscure" and "the riddler" and famously stated that everything is in a state of flux and that fire is the ultimate constituent of the world?

Round 5
1a Meaning "dark colouring", what term describes the sombre and atmospheric painting particularly seen in the works of early 17th century Neapolitan and Spanish artists who were much influenced by Caravaggio?
1b Taking their name from a Biblical inspiration, which group of early 19th century German and Austrian Romantic religious painters was founded by Friedrich Overbeck and Franz Pforr?
2a An inflammable liquid that could be propelled through bronze tubes, what weapon was invented by Kallinikos of Byzantium in 671?
2b The Agilofings made Ratisbon their capital in 700. They were dukes of which area or region?
3a The Bassa alphabet of 29 letters was formerly used in which West African country?
3b The Buhid alphabet of 48 letters was used to write which Asian language?
4a What did Samuel Champlain do in 1605 and John Smith do in 1614?
4b Which two US states were separated by the Mason-Dixon line?

Round 6
1a In which city is the Huey P Long railway bridge, the longest in the world, found?
1b In which US state is the Hell Gate railway bridge, the third longest in the world?
2a Sharing its name with the fifth brightest star in the night sky, what was the first ship to achieve the Northeast Passage in 1878-9 under Nils Nordenskjold?
2b What became the first ship to reach the North Pole in 1977?
3a Bole airport serves which African capital?
3b Menara airport serves which North African city?
4a Which teen TV series was set in Capeside, Massachusetts?
4b Which TV soap opera was set in a winery in Tuscany Valley in California?

Round 7
1a Which Dutchman was chess world champion from 1935 to 1937?
1b Which Russian chess player seized back the world title from Euwe in 1937?
2a Who was the first president of the International Olympic Committee, serving from 1894 to 1896?
2b What was the real name of Lord Killanin, IOC president from 1972 to 1980?
3a The American Donald Glaser won the 1960 Nobel Prize for Physics for the development of which device?
3b The American Otto Stern won the 1943 Nobel Prize for Physics for discovering the magnetic moment of which subatomic particles?
4a Also the name of a Billy Wilder film, which Milan-based socialist newspaper was edited by Mussolini from 1912 to 1914?
4b Japan's leading newspaper has been produced "untouched by human hands" since September 24, 1980. What is it called?

Round 8
1a Beginning with the letter "H", which Eurasian bird is renowned for raising its crest when excited and emitting a foul-smelling liquid?
1b Beginning with the letter "S", which bird has Arctic and great varieties and is renowned for stealing food from other birds in mid-flight?
2a Also known as Rumra literally "rosy", which Hindu god of dawn and charioteer of the sun is often identified with the Greek and Roman goddesses Eos and Aurora?
2b The so-called "mountaineer", which form of Devi and as such, the mother of Ganesha, became the golden-skinned Gauri?
3a Which male ballet dancer defected while dancing with the Kirov in Toronto in 1974?
3b Which female ballet dancer defected while dancing with the Kirov in London in 1972?
4a Sharing its name with a Mexican city, at which Spanish Civil War battle of March 8, 1937 did the Republicans defeat the Nationalists under Franco and the Italian fascists under General Roatta?
4b Named after the equipment that was liberated from the beaten soldiers, by what other name is the July 11, 1302 battle of Courtrai also known and which saw untrained Flemish guild workers defeat French cavalry in Flanders?

1 Also the name of an Italian fashion company, what is the tenth letter of the Greek alphabet?
2 What vice did Emperor Yongzheng ban in China in 1729?
3 Manga is the capital of the Zoundweogo region. In which African country is it located?

Tuesday, December 05, 2006


A Slightly Inadequate Report on the Weekend

My mind feels like it has disintegrated into a thousand million pieces and that I have failed to reconstitute them into a working sentient mass.

Paris wasn't Paris. It was Lesigny. Not that I actually ventured beyond chateau's walls. I didn't. We sort of lived in a hermetically sealed quizzing cocoon for the whole weekend, which was fine by me. I don't want no civilians around when I'm answering quiz questions (a very bad paraphrase there from Bill Hicks and his Gays in the Military routine).

I want to write more, but forgive me if this too disjointed (Burroughsian cut-up gangsta wazz). I'm ultra-tired and running on empty. I'm living in a kind of twilight zone, where eyes are heavy and the fatigue makes me slightly emotional. This is me before I get to do more work. My employers want rejigging with da copy. Well, to be honest I had no idea what they wanted in the first place, so I am grateful for the clarification. I would have slept yesterday, but I went to Chris's birthday meal (he's a great mate ... he gave me £20 and told sick jokes) in the LA Italian last night, got slightly smashed on white wine, went straight to bed, got up at 4 because I couldn't sleep and descended the stairs to watch the awful carnage of the Adelaide Ashes Test unfold on TV. Ye gods. Why did even I bother? It was the most depressing thing I've seen in years. So after the staggering capitulation I went to bed for three more hours. Then, reveille and back to the capital. Another train journey. I'm so low on energy that I am incapable of reading anything for longer than ten minutes. I'm only getting snatches of shut-eye, which is not good for me. I'm thinking about spending the whole of today in bed. Though I might go to the Pamflet party. Feminism can be cool and interesting and propounded by glamsters who don't look like Andrea Dworkin. Er, not that it can't be. I'll stop now

My Placings:
5th (table competition) and 7th (total score) in the individuals - an unbelievably awful barrage of silly, careless errors, however. Crossing out Buddha and putting Dalai Lama for one. Aargh.
4th in the Pairs with Stainer (we blew second with an inept final fourth round - Armenia? Bollox)
3rd in the team competition. We were called Les Coeurs Blesses (screw the accent or grave??) because we added indiv-3rd placed Lieden in our side.
2nd in the Estonian quiz (I enjoyed that one most of all ... ah, no chess or basketball ... though I actually wrote a quiz league match during it ... maybe the distraction helped)
2nd= in the outrageous Dutch music quiz (Antonia's Line not Anita's Line ... bugger)

Finally: Runners-up in the international team final. Yes, the remorseless machine of Team Belgium steamrollered us in the final 3-point round. We were so naive. So pragmatic. We had no real idea about reading the cryptic subject titles. I wrote "bad choice" in my notebook on quite a few occasions after we found the subject - most egrediously "River Isle" - to be near impossible, even for Kevin and Pat. Why didn't we choose the subjects that were linked by the common first letter for artists (L) and composers (F). Frankly, we just didn't know. We only do this format one weekend a year, which is astonishing when we think about it. Superior tactics always makes a difference in the points totals. Therefore we should do our level best to practice every GP in the "International Style".

Regrets? I have a brand new bag of them. I was livid with myself for not getting Blossom from the Powerpuff Girls, Smashing Pumpkins (wait, I thought, that's Jimmy Chamberlain if it's them ... uh, wrong) and Alain Bombard (a bloody question in my Lulu book - dagrabbit). But the week was already getting on top of me. Pounding me into tiredness. Practically no sleep and too much travel: trains, planes and cars. Lost a £59 tie along the way. Staring at the sea below and the cancer of human inhabitation cover the land. And still, I haven't stopped. I think I may have temporary narcolepsy. There you go: I'm repeating myself and I hardly notice.

Yes, I am more irritable than normal. Exhaustion does that to you. I also feel slightly nauseous. I think I need a fag outside and watch the clouds rush under the full moon. Which NATURALLY will make me feel better.

Very Brief QLL note
Ah, returned to QLL too. Good old questions about heraldry and bridge. Heraldry and bloody bridge. Grrrowl. It was like regressing to kindergarten from A-Levels. Suffice to say, we won. Beating Aldersgate.