Friday, December 21, 2007

BH145: File It Up Again

Almost time to go home for the holidays - via Foot, Tube, Foot, Train, and Foot - a hilarious comedy movie in the making I think you'll disagree. But let me relate a joke ripped from a Xmas cracker last Friday:

What do snails use to polish their shells?"

Snail varnish!

The entirely tenuous and flimsy connection with the following quiz is that yet again these are UNVARNISHED (hee hee) questions taken from files of yore - whatever the hell that means. Yore? Yore what?

On a Completely Random Note or Two
I've also just realised how gorram bloomin' amazing LCD Soundsystem's All My Friends is. Just thought I'd tell you that. Nearly seven months after its release (btw, they are one of my "repeat" live bands: a musical act I go and see again and again without fear of my enjoyment being diminished. Primal Scream recently left this elite group. The feckin' Rolling Stone rip-off merchants). Going back to the cited song, I just can't stop myself from listening to the full version and watching the video edit.

Can't stop watching The Dark Knight trailer again and again and again like thousands of saddo fanboys, either because in my heart of hearts I know I am a total comics geek (there lie in the attic copy upon copy of early 90s Marvel and DC comics (though I preferred DC, not knowing what was what back then), secreted in those see-through plastic wrappy things) and surrender to the notion of the Frank Miller/Alan Moore Joker-Batman storyline hybrid finally getting their spiritual due on the Beeeeeeg Screen, i.e. an IMAX.

I will now carry knives and lint in my pocket in honour of Heath Ledger's "Chelsea Smile" Joker: "C'MON! HIT ME!"

Also, I doubt seven months of fever pitch anticipation will ruin my enjoyment of the movie when it finally comes out in the summer. Then again ... (bastard marketeers)

Oh yeah. The Quiz.
1 What was the first book in Robert Jordan's popular Wheel of Time fantasy saga?
2 Which casino game gets its name from an Italian word meaning "zero"?
3 Which American novel ends with the line: "He raised his hand and over the desolate earth he traced in space the sign of the dollar"?
4 Who composed the 1966 St Luke Passion oratorio?
5 Which silent film comedian starred in more than 100 short films as a character named Lonesome Luke?
6 Who directed the 1967 film Cool Hand Luke?
7 What was the name of the French freighter that blew up and killed 581 people in the port at Texas city, Texas in 1947?
8 Having Alpine for its administrative seat, what is the largest county in Texas?
9 Which US country singer was nicknamed The Texas Troubadour?
10 Which island off Africa's west coast is located directly on the Equator?
11 Which instrument represents the swan in Saint-Saens' Carnival of the Animals?
12* Which former world champion boxer, real name Gerardo Gonzalez, was famed for his "bolo punch"?
13 An act of chivalry performed on a tennis court inadvertently led to the death of which French king?
14 The instrumental Classical Gas was the biggest ever hit for which Texas musician and guitarist (b.1938)?
15 Who was the famous wife (b.1897) - instrumental in the formation of The Ninety-Nines - of publisher George Palmer Putnam?
16 The death of which poet moved WH Auden to write the line: "Earth receive an honored guest"?
17 Which day in the USA was conceived as a nationwide educational experience to dramatise America's environmental plight in 1970?
18 According to the terms of the Treaty of Troyes, which French king betrothed his daughter Catherine to England's Henry V?
19 What in painting is "aquarelle"?
20 Now sometimes used as a euphemism for insider trading, what word describes the buying of currencies or shares for quick resale at a higher price, as in "stagging"?
21 What is the base of an entablature, resting on top of a column in a classical building called?
22 If something is described as "arenaceous", what is it?
23 What name for a fleet of merchant ships is derived from the former name of Dubrovnik, Croata?
24 What name is given to the vibrating element in a loudspeaker; a soft iron bar linking the two poles of a horseshoe magnet?
25 What do we call the clipping of a word by omission of a final segment, e.g. "prof" for "professor"?
26 In language, how is the dramatic effect of "aposiopesis" (meaning "becoming silent" in Classical Greek) achieved?
27 From a 1st century BC Roman statesman who supported Virgil and Horace, what name describes a generous patron, especially of the arts?
28 What adjective relates to Socrates' method of eliciting latent knowledge by means of a series of questions?
29 What can be the stem of an Asian rattan palm, a walking stick made of the same material and the name of a strait?
30 What did a "lorimer" make in former times?
31 Meaning "he" or "she died", what is the formal term used before the date of death of the person specified?
32 What term describes the eye of an elementary king, as in some insects, and the eye-like marking on a peacock's tail?
33 What degree arc is an "octant"?
34 What word originates from the Latin for name caller, referring to a slave who would accompany his master during election campaigns to remind him of the names of people he met?
35 What is the only non-metric race that the IAAF recognises a world record for?
36 Also called Ding an sich in German, what name is given to a thing in itself, rather than as it appears to the mind or senses according to Kantian philosophy?
37 What term described a layman living a religious life in a monastery, but one who had not taken formal vows?
38 What sort of criminal is a "peterman"?
39 What sort of food are "pettitoes"?
40 What adjective relates to utterances or conversation, for example about the weather, whose purpose is to express friendly feelings rather than to convey ideas?
41 How often does something happen if it is described as "per mensen"?
42 Which classic novel ends: "Yes I said yes I will Yes"?
43 Which forest north-east of Lake Taupo in New Zealand's North Island is one of the world's largest planted forests?
44 What does "alate" mean?
45 In which island group are Dominica, Martinique, St Lucia and St Vincent?
46* What bird is a "phoenicopter"?
47 Which 8th century Byzantine imperial dynasty originated in Asia Minor?
48 Which grain is used to make semolina?
49 What is the name for lands held by a corporate body such as the church, in perpetual or inalienable tenure?
50 Whose photographic series of immigrants arriving in New York and their living and working conditions, published in 1908, is often considered to be the first photo story?
51 Where do "xerarch" plants or organisms grow?
52 Which Spanish drama form, related to the mystery plays in England, was well-established in Spain by the 13th century?
53 Who were the ancient people of Semitic or Indo-European origin that were among the inhabitants of Canaan at the time of the Israeli invasion?
54 Aristagoras, son of Molporagus, was the famed tyrant of which ancient Greek city in south-west Asia Minor in the late 6th century BC and early 5th century BC?
55 Popularised in the 40s and 50s, which energetic American dance style in 4/4 time evolved from the jitterbug, a form of Swing dance?
56 In croquet, what is the collective two-word term for balls coloured red, yellow or orange?
57 What was the first synthetic local anaesthetic (of the amino ester group), first produced in 1905?
58 If a wine is described as "tough", what does it have too much of?
59 In modern Turkey, what is the form of address equivalent to "Mr"?
60 The ICBN is the International Code of what kind of Nomenclature?
61 Menthol is an extract of which plant?
62 Which Dublin newspaper was founded in 1728 by Jonathan Swift?
63 What vehicle has design variations known as open plenum, peripheral jet and flexible skirt?
64 In law, what is a "jacitation"?
65 Sharing its name with a British river, what is the legal term for wreckage lying on the ocean floor?
66 Which Roman philosopher and poet, writer of the hexameter poem Derereum natura, is said to have died (in 55BC) from the effects of a love potion administered by his wife Lucilla?
67 What was the author Arnold Bennett's real first name?
68 Also known as The Miners, which Scottish football team is nicknamed "The Blue Brazil"?
69 In which English cathedral is the some 1200-year-old sculpture known as the Hedda Stone?
70 Who directed the first and the last of the 30 Carry On films?
71 How long is the appointed term of the UN Secretary-General?
72 What was the Anglo-Saxon term for the noble governor of a shire, replaced after the Norman Conquest with the office of sheriff?
73 A softball game lasts how many innings?
74 Who was the first person to win five Tour de Frances (between 1957 and '64)?
75 Which political award, established in 1949, is given every year to those contributing to European co-operation and is named after a historical ruler?
76 What Latin word means "by virtue of being"?
77 What part of a plant embryo develops into the main root?
78 Featuring a lighthouse keeper named Lawrence, The Wreckers (1916) is an opera by which female composer and leading suffragette, whose other works included Fantasio (1898), The Boatswain's Mate (1916) and Der Wald (1920)?
79 Which peninsula in Gwynned lies between Cardigan Bay and Caernarvon Bay?
80 What is the age limit for someone entering the Turner Prize?
81 What is the British term for an ordinary seaman, a sailor who is not an officer?
82 What is an uninterrupted stretch of water on a river or a canal called?
83 In astronomy, what is a "bolide"?
84 Which centaur, who was atypically wise and civilised, became the constellation Sagittarius when he died?
85 Daniel Quilp is a character in which Dickens novel?
86 Which English Quaker's last words were "To be like Christ is to be a Christian"?
87 The name of the computer language COGO is a contraction of which two words?
88 What is the second most common pub name after The Red Lion?
89 What word for brownish yellow or clayey mineral used in pigments comes from the earth north of a namesake Italian town?
90 What is wool or cloth recycled from unfelted old or waste cloth?
91 From the Greek for "speaking incorrectly" - literally a person from a city in Asia Minor where the ancient Athenian colonists spoke a corrupt form of Attic Geek, what is an error of grammar or usage called?
92 What sort of ramp slopes into the water, supporting a ship being built or repaired?
93 Who designed the west towers and gable of Westminster Abbey?
94 Which Scottish king was ransomed in the Treaty of Berwick in 1357?
95 Which Walter Scott title character marries Isabelle de Croye?
96 What number wedding anniversary are leather gifts given on?
97 In engineering, what did Fang Feng invent c.140BC?
98 In which Yorkshire village were the Bronte sisters born?
99 Rock musician William Michael Albert Broad became famous under what name during the 1980s?
100 The Arc de Triomphe is located in the centre of which Paris square?





Answers to BH145
1 The Eye of the World 2 Baccarat 3 Atlas Shrugged by Ayn Rand 4 Penderecki 5 Harold Lloyd 6 Stuart Rosenberg 7 Grandcamp 8 Brewster 9 Ernest Tubb 10 Sao Tome 11 Cello 12 Kid Gavilan 13 Charles VIII 14 Mason Williams 15 Amelia Earhart 16 WB Yeats 17 Earth Day 18 Charles VI 19 Watercolour wash 20 Arbitrage 21 Architrave 22 Sandy 23 Argosy 24 Armature 25 Apocope 26 Breaking off speech in writing in mid-sentence 27 Maecenas 28 Maieutic 29 Malacca 30 Metal accessories, such as bits and spurs, for horses 31 Obiit 32 Ocellus 33 45 degrees 34 Nomenclature 35 Mile 36 Noumenon 37 Oblate 38 Safe-breaker 39 Pig's trotters 40 Phatic 41 Monthly 42 Ulysses 43 Kaingaroa 44 Winged 45 Windward Islands 46 A flamingo 47 Isaurian 48 Wheat 49 Mortmain 50 Lewis Hine 51 Dry places 52 Autos sacramentales 53 Amorite 54 Miletus 55 Jive 56 Hot colours 57 Novocaine 58 Tannin 59 Bey 60 Botanical 61 Peppermint 62 The Intelligencer 63 Hovercraft 64 A false claim 65 Lagan 66 Lucretius 67 Enoch 68 Cowdenbeath 69 Peterborough Cathedral 70 Gerald Thomas 71 Five years 72 Alderman 73 Seven 74 Jacques Anquetil 75 Charlemagne Prize 76 Qua 77 Radicle 78 Ethel Smyth 79 Lleyn 80 Fifty 81 Rating 82 Reach 83 Brilliant exploding meteor 84 Chiron 85 The Old Curiosity Shop 86 William Penn 87 Co-Ordinate Geometry 88 Crown 89 Sienna 90 Shoddy 91 Solecism 92 Slipway 93 Nicholas Hawksmoor 94 David II 95 Quentin Durward 96 Third 97 Universal joint 98 Thornton 99 Billy Idol 100 Place de l'Etoile or the Place Charles de Gaulle

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

What Happens When The Original "Vision" Enters and Exits "The Machine"

How One Version Mutates Into the One That Lives Forever On The Webby Beb

I did this kind of exercise before with my People's Quiz piece but having roamed through some Gmail search results, I thought it would be interesting to publish the very first draft of the feature I wrote about the 2005 World Quizzing Championships; the article that only Stainer and one of the commissioning editors at times2 had ever seen.

As you will notice, the final feature was homogenised and, to my initial horror, was further amended with stuff I had exchanged in e-mails with the aforementioned editor. In fact, I got so sulky I even considered having a bit of an Alan Smithee moment. However, now it is all in the past all is forgotten and absolutely forgiven. Who cares? It's just a bunch of words isn't it? It's certainly not the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. But still at the time, I was rather peeved by the process.

Strange too, to compare the then (two and a half years ago) and the now (how our world has changed). Things move so quickly; time so fleeting. I may just shed a tear or two in remembrance (or just scream at this bloody keyboard, which is driving me batshit crazy because the space bar has become an insolent, stubborn bastard deserving of a good thrashing. Preferably, with a branch of birch. Grrrrr.)

This is the final version "I'm a Walking Encyclopaedia" (I DID NOT WRITE THAT HEADLINE. If I did, I would certainly be deserving of public pelting with rotten fruit and veg, and verbal derision of the greatest magnitude)

This is its protoype, along with the pen portraits that never made it in
(Please remember that I wrote this in June 2005 and absolutely no attempt has been made to correct the errata therein. It is as it was, and will forever be. Personal opinions may well have changed significantly in the intervening period.)

Get up at 6am. Sit in bed. Crack out the encyclopaedias. Learn and write down questions around 188 facts, including who designed the Duchess of Windsor's 1937 wedding dress? (Mainbocher). Or what music did Boozoo Chavis and Clarence Garlow pioneer? (Zydeco). Go to work with a brain further colonised by trivia.

Now, you will ask, why would you want to do that, you weirdo? I confess there is a seed of madness in me, but hardcore preparation for this week's World Quizzing Championships, run by the UK's largest trivia organisation, at Silverstone provides sufficient explanation.

My life as a quizzer began when I was a bored sixteen-year-old, who began watching the much-missed Channel 4 show Fifteen-to-One. By 23, I had already been its second youngest ever contestant and a series runner-up, and made the top ten in two British championships.

The method I have described has been the same since I appeared on University Challenge in 1999. By throwing as much factual mud at the walls of mind, I hope that some of it sticks. Evidently, enough of it does.

In Saul Bellow's novella Seize the Day, the conman Tamkin claims: "Facts are always sensational". I have always agreed, or at least thought that enough sensational facts exist to have kept it interesting for so long. Might I also reassure you that I only ever sink into this revision cocoon a month before the WQC. Once they are over, fiction-reading normality resumes.

People assume the best quizzers sleep in duvets knitted from their copious prize money and have poorly built catamarans lining their driveways. The truth is my TV winnings amount to £50. That is all. I have been banned from more than 30 shows because, as one producer told me, I was "too good". The belief is that if you put a person who is "too good" on then they will crush the opposition and it will make for boring television. In my case, prohibition is even more astonishing
because I am a mixed race twenty something; a demographic that shows desperately want to use.

The professional quiz player is a myth. Nobody can earn a living wage from regular and diverse quiz exploits. No such cash-rich circuits exist. The days of easy quiz machine winnings are long gone, and pub quizzes seem to offer increasingly pathetic top prizes like £20 bar tabs.

There is one exception: Who Wants to Be a Millionaire? It really is the big pay-off. The last few years have seen a surge of acquaintances appear on the show and win enough money for me to feel a succession of pin-axe stabs of crazed jealousy penetrate my heart. In truth, this sensation stems from my cowardice about making the thousands of pounds worth of phone calls that the bravest of the brave made to get on.

Rumours of a Celador blacklist, which may have stemmed from quizzers' well-founded paranoia, have put off many big names from hitting the phones. Yet only a fortnight ago Trevor Montague, a man vilified as a cheat for appearing on Fifteen-to-One more than was allowed, made it into the chair. Never mind that Trevor only won £1,000; this is the man many see as the second best quizzer in the nation and who was fined in court for his alleged subterfuge in the quiz arena. He appeared to be a double dose of poison. If they let him on, well then, could anybody – even Kevin Ashman, his Phone-A-Friend that night – get on the show?

Shall I say something about Kevin? I must. Kevin is the British, European and World individual champion. His dominance, as well as body type, age and decision to shave off his moustache, mirror almost exactly darts legend Phil Taylor. Kevin will undoubtedly win the British leg of the World Championships. I cannot say, for certain, whether he will retain his world title because of the much-increased and therefore volatile field.

But Kevin was not the first world quizzing champion. Nope, that happened to be me. I went to the very first World Quizzing Championships at Villa Park in 2003 so demoralised at my form that I arrived late hoping to miss the individuals. To my surprise, not only did the organisers delay the start for me, but my alcohol-fractured mind also yielded three more correct answers than my nearest rival Pat Gibson, who would become the fourth jackpot winner on Millionaire a year later (ouch). World champion at 24: an age so foetal-like in trivia terms that Kevin Ashman did not start quizzing until he was a year older.

What could explain it? Well, Kevin's absence may have had something to do with it. Also the fact that only 45 people took part, compared to the 500 or more in 2004 and the thousands who will compete simultaneously in 12 countries this year. I compare it to Uruguay winning the 1930 World Cup; a plucky underdog wins against limited but quality opposition.

Sadly, my 2004 title defence crumbled at Old Trafford, when my decision to travel on the train from Littlehampton, West Sussex to Manchester on the day of the championships resulted in scrambling my brain so effectively that I "burned" about 40 answers on the written 240-question quiz that I should have got (normally I waste only about ten). The result? 14th world-wise and 9th nationally. Rubbish. This year I just assume I will perform disappointingly because pessimism is the best remedy for any potential debacle.

These are interesting times for the quiz world. The non-televised circuit is still embryonic, and has far to go before it can compare with chess and Scrabble on a range of bases including rankings, regular competition, media coverage and quantity and quality of technical literature. For too long, the behemoth of TV has provided a quasi-competitive arena and enough glamour for quizzers, while strangling any potential for elite quizzing away from television screens.

But things are changing. Event attendances are growing. People are beginning to thrill to the idea that you do not have to have a camera shoved in your face or be promised cash to love competing. Microsoft's MSN Search sponsorship too marks the first time a corporation has invested money in such a tournament.

You may also wonder why the Americans have absented themselves. Elite US quizzing, and when I mean elite, I mean vastly superior to the likes of us bumpkin Brits, is based on their University Challenge-style Quiz Bowl circuit. The concept of a written quiz, currently the fairest method of measuring each competitor's knowledge, is anathema to them. Therefore, some Americans have dismissed Euro-quizzing as "bush league". Perhaps time will change their mind.

Player Pen Portraits
Kevin Ashman, 45 – Kevin has won every title going and holds the record (41) points score on Mastermind. He is also the question setter, Jorkins, for Radio 4's Brain of Britain and a member of the eponymous panel on BBC2's Eggheads. During Quiz League of London matches, I've often watched in fascination as Kevin reached back into the vast archives of his mind to pluck an obscure fact as if he was reaching into a physical filing cabinet, gnashed my knuckles in despair as he did so. Kevin, however, is a supremely nice man, whose extreme modesty does him every credit. It is rumoured that the only derogatory thing he has ever said about anyone was about Virginia Bottomley.
Position in 2004: 1st

Pat Gibson, 43 – Another lovely man (the obnoxious idiots and arrogant bastards tend to infest the mediocre or bottom levels), this Irish part-time computer programmer for the Tote has made great leaps in the last few years; an unusual feat in that nearly every quizzer's knowledge appears to stay in stasis. Once, he was quite bemused to find Daily Mail reporters hiding in his bushes, but then that is whathappens when you win a million quid on TV. A self-described "well-read scholar", he is also favourite to win this year's Mastermind, having scored 31 in his first round match taking Quentin Tarantino as his specialist subject.
2004 position: 2nd

Ian Bayley, 30 – Ian is a member of my quiz league team, the Broken Hearts, and a 2001 British champion, who built a God-like reputation at Oxford for his supernatural prowess on the buzzer. His lack of a social filter coupled with his enormous quiz abilities makes him something of a Bobby Fischer. At a pilot, I once watched him voice his utter contempt for Americans to host Rod Liddle while the audience guffawed at his chutzpah. Oddly, Ian's holds the record for losing the
most matches (three) in the Jeremy Paxman years of University Challenge. Tends to shut his eyes and caress buzzers quite suggestively.
2004 position: 5th

Nico Pattyn – Across the briny sea lies the Belguim quiz nation, perhaps the most serious and scholarly in Europe. While we British muck about in pubs, rot our brains with beer and test ourselves on the most parochial and trivial subjects, the Belgians ask each other incredibly detailed questions that actually acknowledge a world beyond their borders. Described by one top quizzer as "one of the few people who can give Ashman for his money", pony tailed European Championship runner-up Pattyn may be the best arts and culture player in the world and has a stare that, quite frankly, frightens the living bejesus out of me.
2004 position: 3rd

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

A Quiz What I Wrote

'Tis the scene to be jolly on the outside, out of pocket due to your weak humane generosity and stuffed with so much tryptophan-packed turkey bird and cranberry sludge that you collapse in the living room before one of those all too inevitably disappointing TV Christmas specials. At least that's what's going to happen to me. I'm counting on it.

One sign of the imminence of the day we celebrate our Saviour's birth is the Christmas quiz; found in newspapers and periodicals every-sodding-where.

Here's the one I did or "compiled" for this year's New Statesman. Go on: nitpick like there's no tomorrow. I know you will. You always do. I know I will right now because I wrote the thing a few weeks ago and already certain phrasings and wibbles are starting to get on my wick. Perfectionism comes with the territory.

Monday, December 17, 2007

BH144: How I Used to Write 'Em

More Babbling
Another simple, shortened question set culled from the numerous files that once ruled my quiz mindset for longer than I am able to pinpoint. Continuing from BH143 these are yet more questions I wrote three, four or even five years ago when my study rituals involved deep immersion in reference books and writing questions on paper for packing in my files and cancerous notions of UK parochialism lay far from my mind. As I have already said, this all changed, so utterly, so completely, when I found Wikipedia, the indispensable fact resource upon which we quizzers and trivia-lovers of all stripes have come to find addictive and enlightening.

You can see the new fanaticism just by contrasting these BH editions with practically every one - epitomised by out-of-control question lengths and seemingly infinite fact-packing - that has gone before. There are even - my word! - questions opened to hated ambiguity. And in this case I wholeheartedly believe my new tack has done me more good over the last few years. Books have their limitations, as evidenced by the forthcoming, comparatively banal (well, in my mind) question selections.

Mistakes Likely to Raise The Ire of The Authentic Quizzer
Again, it is likely riddled with a multitude of errors, all of which I blame on my careless handwriting, outdated and occasionally unreliable sources, as well as the imperfect and brevity-skewed information that lies therein. Please feel free to point them out by leaving corrections in the comments box. There are bound to be many. I implore you to highlight such errors for their possibly swift amendment, or even ultimate banishment. But having said that I would not be the quizzer I am today without engaging in the hard, time-consuming labour of sifting the samey British-influenced resources. They should, however, aid every avid quizzer in some way. I know that by flicking through the many trivia questions I wrote some time ago for the purpose of chipping away at my GK ignorance. Such nuggets, or at least the ones that have stuck in my mind, have served me well and advanced me far up the ranks of our world.

1 Established in 1853, what is the newest of the Ivy League universities?
2 Which US state ceded the District of Columbia in 1791?
3 Kyrnair is the airline of which island?
4 In which English city is London Road train station?
5 Geronimo surrendered to which American general?
6 What is the collective name for both onions and pearls?
7 Which big bandleader was nicknamed "The King of Jazz"?
8 In music, by what English name was the "Kutchka" better known?
9 Chief Joseph surrendered to US government authorities in 1877 with the famous words "I will fight no more forever". Of which tribe was he leader?
10 Elton John dedicated which song to Billie Jean King?
11 What was the name of the title shopkeeper in Conrad Richter's novel A Simple Honourable Man?
12 Yasha Mazur is the title character of which Isaac Bashevis Singer novel?
13 During the 1970s the Anheuser Busch Brewery company successfully sued which other brewery for issuing a beer called Budweiser?
14 Which author has written more than 23 books centring on the juvenile detective "Nate the Great"?
15 What was Judah Ben Hur's rower number abroad Quintus Arrius's warship in the 1959 epic Ben Hur?
16 What was the first word spoken by the young Bambi in the Disney animated feature of the same name?
17 My Twilight Dream was the theme song of which bandleader and leukaemia victim who was played by Tyrone Power in a 1956 film?
18 Which famous airport was originally called Orchard Field?
19 Nicknamed "the Great", which Pope was able to prevent Attila the Hun from ransacking the Vatican simply by asking him to stay away?
20 Which actress-singer has written the children's books The Last of the Really Great Whangdoodles and Little Bo: The Story of Bonnie Boadicea?
21 Which singer (b.1944) is nicknamed "Little Miss Dynamite"?
22 "The Petticoat Pet", "The Kinderhook Fox", "The Weasel" and "Mistletoe Politician" were nicknames given to which US president?
23 Who was the only Briton to box Rocky Marciano in a world heavyweight title fight, doing so in May 1955?
24 Who commanded the Greek forces which defeated the Persian forces of Xerxes at the Battle of Salamis in 480BC?
25 What is the largest island of the Azores?
26 Which ubiquitous flower is sometimes referred to as the "Irish daisy", "the clock flower", "milk witch", "monk's head" and "priest's crown"?
27 In Hamlet, what flower did Ophelia give to Queen Gertrude because the violets had all wilted when her father died?
28 Which ancient cathedral city of Pembrokeshire stands on the extreme western point of the county?
29 What island is the largest of the Windward group of the Lesser Antilles?
30 Created by Louis J Vance, what was the nickname of the gentleman-thief Michael Lanyard?
31 Which island nation's Capitol building - the Capitolio - is a replica of the US Capitol?
32 Who was the first senator in office to be elected US President?
33 Cirl, Tibetan, Reed and Snow are species of which passerine bird?
34 The city of Alicante is found on which Spanish costa?
35 How long in minutes does a women's game of handball last?
36 How many points are needed to win a set in volleyball?
37 In a popular song, whose best friend is a little boy named Jackie Paper?
38 The film Field of Dreams was based on whose novel Shoeless Joe?
39 I'll Be Seeing You, Moonlight Becomes You, Silent Night and Let Me Be Your Sweetheart are song titles used as mystery novel titles by which US author?
40 Which 1894 Gabriele D'Annunzio novel is the tragic tale of wealthy young man George Aurispa and his mistress Hippolyte?
41 What was the name of the plane flown around the world by Wiley Post in his historic 1931 flight?
42 What name is given to a sculptured representation of a youth in Ionic architecture?
43 As what kind of artist did Richard Parkes Bonington find fame?
44 The Welsh Cob is a breed of which animal?
45 Which Roman road ran from Rome to Florence?
46 What name is given to a spray of gemstones in the form of a tuft of feathers?
47 In language, what is "cacoepy"?
48 What two-word French phrase means an opinion or belief already formed?
49 The prayer legend of which Archbishop of Canterbury says that he caused wind to divert fire from Canterbury Church?
50 On which peak did Moses strip Aaron of his clothes and place them on Aaron's son Eleazar before Aaron died?
51 Which Biblical book takes its name from the Greek for "copy", though the Hebrew translation means words?
52 What is measured in the unit, kilogram metre per second?
53 What is the real name of Viscount Linley?
54 Which queen did George I divorce in 1694?
55 What links the horse racing tracks Lingfield, Southall and Wolverhampton?
56 Where is the Irish Grand National run?
57 At what age does a colt become a stallion?
58 Rev. Nathaniel Woodard founded which public school in 1848?
59 Who was the first king of the House of Lancaster?
60 The Springer is a folk dance from which country?
61 What flatfish has the scientific name Microstomus kitt?
62 What name was given to the native language of Cornwall which died out c. 1770 but is now being revived?
63 What is the final layer of plaster onto which frescos are painted, serving as a protective ground between the other layers of plaster and the paint itself?
64 The Welland Ship Canal connects which two Great Lakes?
65 In June 1996, who became the first female jockey to ride in the Epsom Derby on Portuguese Lil?
66 The Roman governors of Palestine had their residence in which city on the Palestinian coast, built by Herod the Great and named after the incumbent emperor?
67 Which people were recognised as relations of the Jews because of their alleged descent from Esau, who were nevertheless in constant conflict with the people of Israel?
68 What musical term for a system describes key or feeling for a definite key?
69 Which King of France died in captivity in England in 1364?
70 At which November 13, 1093 battle were Malcolm Canmore, King of Scotland, and his son Edward both slain?
71 Which Ravel opera tells the tale of a mischievous child whose misdeeds include putting out his tongue at his mother, tearing up his books and slashing the curtains?
72 Chelonian is an adjective used for which creature?
73 Which old British gold coin was worth one third of a pound?
74 What name is given to partial colour blindness in which blue cannot be distinguished?
75 What cookery term describes removing the leaves and stems of small fruit?
76 In prisons, which rule decrees isolation of prisoners?
77 From which port on the east coast of England did Robinson Crusoe set sail?
78 Which dukedom was created in 1947?
79 What word means "praise known" in Greek?
80 Which of Mahler's symphonies was "Unfinished"?
81 Who was actress Vanessa Redgrave's mother?
82 In an orchestra, which instruments are to the immediate right of the conductor?
83 On which fictional island would you find Foremost Hill, Spyglass Hill and Mizzen Hill?
84 In heraldry, what is the complete pictorial display of arms called?
85 When Pope Sixtus VI and the Pazzi family plotted to assassinate the Medicis, which one did they succeed in killing and which one escaped to wreak a terrible revenge?
86 What was the last Apollo mission to land men on the Moon?
87 Port Blair is the capital of which Indian Ocean islands?
88 What noise does a fox make?
89 The plant Origanum dictamnus is perhaps named from the mountain in Crete where it grew. What is this common name?
90 On which day is Commonwealth Day celebrated?
91 How does the Bishop of Rochester sign his name?
92 Which Scottish king was murdered at Perth by Sir Robert Graham in 1437?
93 What is the "Inno di Mameli"?
94 George III is said to have had a child by which Quaker?
95 What name is given to a number with a real and an imaginary part?
96 Whose plays include The Changing Room, Cromwell, The March on Russia and The Restoration of Arnold Middleton?
97 Including such members as Swift, Pope, Gay, Arbuthnot and Thomas Parnell, which literary group met from January to July 1714 to "ridicule all the false tastes in learning"?
98 What is the southernmost island of the Inner Hebrides, home to such towns as Bowmore, Port Charlotte and Port Ellen?
99 Who was the Milesian woman, celebrated for her many talents and beauty, who lived in Athens as Pericles' mistress?
100 Where is the Chester Beatty Library?
101 The Irish writer Edward Plunkett was better known by what other name?
102 Which famous naval battle took place on St Valentine's Day 1797?
103 Which two US states are rectangular shaped?
104 Garry Winograd, Henry Peach Robinson and Minor White are famous names in which field of the arts?
105 From the French for "transport cafe", which roadside restaurants in France - originally designed for lorry drivers - are sought after by tourists for cheap high class food?






Answers to BH144
1 Cornell 2 Maryland 3 Corsica 4 Leicester 5 Nelson Appleton Miles 6 Rope 7 Paul Whiteman 8 The Mighty Handful 9 Nez Perce 10 Philadelphia Freedom 11 Harry Donner 12 The Magician of Lublin 13 DuBois 14 Marjorie W Sharmat 15 41 (in the novel no. 60) 16 "Bird" 17 Eddy Duchin 18 Chicago O'Hare 19 Leo I 20 Julie Andrews 21 Brenda Lee 22 Martin Van Buren 23 Don Cockell 24 Themistocles 25 San Miguel 26 Dandelion 27 Daisy 28 St David's 29 St Lucia 30 The Lone Wolf 31 Cuba 32 Warren Harding 33 Bunting 34 Costa Blanca 35 Fifty 36 Fifteen 37 Puff the Magic Dragon 38 WP Kinsella 39 Mary Higgins Clark 40 The Triumph of Death/Il trionfo della morte 41 Winnie May 42 Kouros 43 Watercolourist 44 Pony 45 Cassian Way 46 Aigrette 47 Mispronunication 48 Parti pris 49 Mellitus 50 Mount Hor 51 Deuteronomy 52 Momentum 53 David Armstrong Jones 54 Sophie Dorothea of Celle 55 All weather tracks 56 Fairyhouse 57 Five 58 Lancing College 59 Henry IV 60 Norway 61 Lemon sole 62 Kernewek 63 Intonaco 64 Erie & Ontario 65 Alex Greaves 66 Caesarea 67 Edomites 68 Tonality 69 Jean II 70 Alnwick 71 L'Enfant et les sortileges 72 Turtle 73 Noble 74 Tritanopia 75 Hulling 76 Rule 45 77 Hull 78 Edinburgh 79 Kudos 80 Tenth 81 Rachel Kempson 82 Cellos 83 Treasure Island 84 Achievement 85 Giuliano, Lorenzo 86 Apollo 17 87 Andaman and Nicobar Islands 88 Bark 89 Dittany 90 Second Monday in March 91 Roffen 92 James I 93 Italy's national anthem 94 Hannah Lightfoot 95 Complex number 96 David Storey 97 Scriblerus Club 98 Islay 99 Aspasia 100 Dublin 101 Lord Dunsany 102 Battle of Cape St Vincent 103 Wyoming, Colorado 104 Photography 105 Relais routier

Friday, December 14, 2007

This is More Blackpool

European Quiz Championships Part II

Individuals: 7th by system/5th by total correct answers
I can't believe some of the answers I missed - oh yeah, you better believe it, here I go again. Same time, same place. The "Calvin" name question. I can't believe I thought 144 was the 3rd perfect number. The deluge of unforced errors made me shriek inside. But then I couldn't believe that Tom Trogh and I beat Kevin in round two and momentarily halted his journey to the top table. Kevin stayed. We left him behind. A temporary, high-falutin hooray from this nearly 29-year-old. Hubris? I would get my deserved share. Don't fret for a second about natural justice.

Having lost out (the taste was acrid and demoralising ... like milk you realise has long gone sour and is making good on it salmonella promises) in the first round I got some momentum going and finally got to the end of the room, the elevated place where the temporarily beknighted trivia dons could cock a snook at those who lay before them - if they so wished - only to be demoted after some heinous misses on OJ Simpson's Ford Bronco (I watched that chase. I watched it like a hypnotised idiot. But then it was so long ago. Well, in relative terms for me it was) and Theseus's first wife (I clarified "Did they say his first wife?" with the rest of the people in my vicinity including Jeopardy Ken and Erik Derycke. They said yes so I crossed out Phaedra and put Ariadne. What a freaking idiot. What a powertool of the highest order). That was, however, a temporary aberration, and by the time the final round arrived I was in place ready to royally screw up all my previously slightly mixed but still proficient work. Thus, I scored five out of the final 20. I had dished up the trivia equivalent of piffle pizza.

To be honest I had no real complaints about the questions - because I am quite simply LIKE THAT and have transcended question difficulty debates unless they're too frigging easy and insult me - ME! - with their duh-ness - though I did point out that perhaps your final round is a little bit too hard when the reigning world champion scored 7/20 on the last round and the three-time winner got only 6. Something was definitely askew. Frankly, I only had myself to blame for my poor, lonesome quintet of answers. There are some things I cannot change. Call it pre-deterministic Calvinistic craven thinking. I am destined to always confuse the Zeeman with the Seebeck effect. Actually, all effects in physics confuse the hell out of me despite my trying again and again to get some sort of concrete hold on their key terms at the very least.

Figueras was another annoying blunder. No, I thought they won't ask for Dali; it's a mite too hard. Nobody's actually heard of Figueras, but loads of lager-sodden ape-proles have larged it in Malaga. Yes: Picasso and Malaga. Twas foolish thinking indeed. The giant eggs in the picture should have been a giveaway apparently. And this was the final round: the one that would decide the champion of all Europeland. Course the questions were going to be amazingly tricky to tackle. Like playing football with cumbersome, obsidian boulders. What did I expect? A gentle featherbed of trivial morsels I had seen a thousands times before? Talk about deluded.

(Although, I looked up this band called Saybia. They sound too much like those imperial dickheads Kasabian, in nomenclature terms: and we all know quizzing is really about the art of getting to grips with nomenclature don't we? They're Danish for chrissakes. Danish rock bands never get record contracts in this country. It's illegal or something. Swedes and the occasional Norwegians, but bands from Denmark? It's too close to Germany that's why. And we all know what sort of music they like: BURN THE HOFF! BURN THE HOFF! Another wonderful Reading '97 memory).

Then again, what am I complaining about? I scored 60. I made it to 7th by system and 5th by aggregate score. I easily retained my European ranking of fourth. Nothing wrong with that at all. It's these absurdly high standards I set myself you see: they are like giant leaden lumps constantly crushing my back and shoulders. If only I could release myself from such silly mental strictures then I could see the forest for the trees and congratulate myself on a job well done. Only it doesn't work like that, and a palpable sense of promise unfulfilled and mildly deflating defeat pervade my immediate emotions. Only now, more than a month after Blackpool has passed can I rest easy ... AND THEN work myself up into an insane, disappointed tizzy about the next all-important championships where I will, yet again, ferociously self-flagellate myself until my mind and psyche combine to form a red raw network of pained, agonised rivulets which I will repeatedly nudge and stab at because it feel so darn good/bad. God, I don't know why I bother. I might as shove my head in a filthy council dustbin and leave it there - resting in the fetid darkness - for the next year for all the good this quizzing lark does me.

And relax... (Forgive me, I was doing a Charlie Brooker - my wisdom-filled bastard hero there and unhinging myself from reality there. It's not how I really feel. Honest. Ha ha he just said when Gillian McKeith smiles it looks like she's trying to shit a pine cone. It's funny because it is sooooo true).

But on a more serious note with regard to the singles component of the EQC weekend: please make the tables bigger. It was too much of a sardines and tin can situation for many of us. Lesigny's roundtables were parfait. Also, introduce name badges. People recognise names, but how many will recognise foreign faces and vice versa. Most of the time we just looked up at each other hoping to see a familiar visage and exchange some jocular "God, this is harder than trying to climb K2 with both hands tied behind my back whilst stark bollock naked, isn't it?" banter, but instead seeing a complete stranger and retreating into a far from amicable shell.

Sci-fi quiz: 2nd
This was cool. Though we stumbled wearily once more into the Derby room, whilst most of the contestant contingent was stuffing themselves heartily with good British grub (i.e. Bangladeshi-cooked curry) Bayley and I partnered up and I found to my delight that it was more of a pop culture quiz with sci-fi and fantasy elements making subtle appearances. Steven did a sterling job by actually making it interesting and not too geeky and some guesses - both wild and highly logical - came off. Yeah, let's put down the only Robert Henlein novel I can think of. Brilliant. That tokenistic question really came up trumps for us. Bayley, however, protested loudly as to the absence of Doctor Who. Steven replied along the lines of nobody knows sod all about him on the continent you British weirdoes, which was fair enough. But Steven did say it in a much more polite way.

(Part III tomorrow ... or maybe the day after ... or after the weekend ... I DUNNO?!!)

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Telling You More Lies

Emotional Maturity
I did say I was going to post part two of my EQC report but alas, I misplaced faith in my own abilities to spruce up and publish massive, humungous article excerpts on the day of my 29th birthday. Instead, a bit of navel-gazing. More than two and a half years ago in another blogging outlet of mine, I said the following words (the" we" really referring to "I"):

"We’re young but we’ll age disgracefully. It is a place where cynicism has usurped responsibility; where knowledge means more than practicality and melancholy has conquered the emotional spectrum. It is a place, which breeds a certain sort of contentment. And I’m happy about that. It just means that I know I have to grow out of it some time, or run away to a beach shack in Goa."

Truth is, I still feel about the same: i.e. content in my strange little own way. A kind of peace and emotional equilibrium I am perfectly happy with. And that's all I ever asked for - contentedness - during most of my twenties. Now say goodbye to those years of youth. BOO-HOO!

Actual quiz stuff tomorrow...

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

This Was Blackpool

No, I've Got a Better One: VIVA BLACKPOOL!

European Quiz Championships 2007 ... AT LAST! (Part 1/3)

Trust me to finally write about the Euros when I had forgotten practically all of it. Actually, I'm not even sure I was there. Was I? But writing stuff up in a quasi-psychic attempt to summon up memories that may never have been formed in the first place, I realised I remembered quite a lot: about 6000 words of it. Maybe, it has something to do with being a good quizzer. Memory and everything. Recall etc.

So here it is.

My incredibly self-centred, almost entirely internet link-lacking GIMUNGOUSGANTIC REVIEW of the things that went down in the Blackpool version of the Savoy one November weekend. Last month.

I once had a wonderful little photo to distract you from the eye-numbing wordage, you know. Yet disaster struck. Or more specifically, my sleepy right elbow. My lovely Blackpool sunset was lost in a mug of cold black coffee. A picture that could not have better misrepresented the heinous meteorological horrors that beset the gathered quizzers. I needed it to remind me that the weather wasn't all snapping, harsh, cold, relentless sheets of unforgiving rain and punishing wind that tried to shove you into the enraged Irish sea or oncoming traffic.

Now I will cut down the EQC weekend into its constituent quiz parts starting with...

Crazy Dutch Guys Quiz: 2nd=
Just the three of us too: Harald, William and myself. I was obviously on the Crazy Dutch Guys' wavelength, except when it came to that ruddy Never Mind the Buzzcocks imitation round. They sounded like they had been gurgling on a ganja blunt too far for most of the time (hey, those crazy Dutch stereotypes are SO true). But, of course, questions on Coming to America - the film that taught me the hilarious vocal power of the F-bomb - are just about the greatest ever devised in the history of quizzing. Unfortunately, our pop culture knowledge was not quite good enough to best the entire room, but then we were missing a player. Perhaps on purpose, who knows? An absentee is always a good excuse.

Pairs: 6th
And Stainer and I were doing so well. Just like last year. Joint first for four rounds or otherwise nudging the top spot intently and then, the fall. A mighty one. Lucifer had nothing on us. Somehow our brains ceased to function during the penultimate round and then completely gave up the ghost during the final 16-question stretch. We forgot to compete when it mattered. We made the wrong American cyclist choices. We put Sri Lanka when it asked for PM Bandaranaike. An obvious sign of united derangement. Another one came in the form of my not putting down 3-Iron when its DVD stands on one of my shelves: a shelf I pass every time I leave my bedroom as I comment to myself: "I really should watch some of these films. After all I have paid a pretty penny for them. Or maybe it is a symptom of my pop culture shopping addiction ...", and so on in mirth-ridden inanity. We could have got a hat-trick of trophies: three lovely shiny shiny plates of silver (I did get a hat trick of prizes, but one of them was a book. Which I already owned (albeit in hardback form. Albeit in an imported version I had paid top dollar for. Ho-hum. And they weren't silver plates, of course. The IQA ain't made of money. However, I do have stylistic literary devices to consider.)

Club: Champions - That's goddamn right!
And don't you forget it. Kevin passed by in the midst of the quiz battle to say he and the rest of his Milhous Worriers had practically given up due to the esoteric nature of the questions. I think all four Broken Hearts (Stainer, Bayley, Mark and I) did a double take as if to say we were coping pretty well, we were certainly not complaining about the pitch of the difficulty (this is Champions' League standard. I wouldn't expect anything else) and that it was quite enjoyable really. Honest. And somehow I knew that Israeli martial art "krav maga" as seen in The Bourne Ultimatum and some terrible Shannon Elizabeth movie I had the misfortune to come across whilst roaming the barren wasteland of Sky Digital, was destined to make some appearance this weekend. It has the tang of Pan-European competition possibility about it, and so it did. Mostly however, I was vastly impressed by BH Mark (as opposed to Mark BTW) and his deep literary, classical music and historical knowledge. It was amazing. If Mark improves his sport and British stuff he could be a threat in the more common quizzing arenas (please expel all thoughts of a judiciously placed sniper in order to combat him. He's a nice guy that Marble Arch hookers are apparently drawn to). But you know, we be the AC Milan of European quizzing now. Which means we can let our domestic challenge go to seed. Or maybe not. I could also make more asinine football comparisons. No, I will do. I believe I have made in the region of 124 on this blog since its inception and such a habit will never cease.

In the end, it was down to the 20-question picture tie-break. Belgium's Clockwork (Trogh - described in one English quarter as "European quizzing's true prodigy", Derycke, most excellent quizfolk one et al) and Broken Hearts each had 60 points. After some silly blunders (slap our foreheads and smash our craniums with rounders bats: it was Durer! And crap my brain inside and out and wear it as a bonny little hat, it was a freakin' tilapia), we relied on our early recognition of the picture round link as being We Didn't Start the Fire (having quickly discarded Sergeant Pepper as a possibility, we realised there must be a musical listing link between all of them; though this was helped by my as then unrealised and now never to be fulfilled mission to set an entire league-style friendly set on the subjects mentioned in the Billy Joel song).

So it was good we, or more truthfully Stainer who's unduly schizoid-nuts for this pop marlarkey in a way that will puzzle me for all eternity (remember David: tongue-in-cheek, tongue-in-cheek), knew most of the lyrics and the names and the faces and so it proved crucial: gaining us five more points than Clockwork.


And you know what, it felt quite good, nay transcendent in a light-headed, mmmm this is nice way, having been the only English team to consistently get to grips with the all-round demands of a highly testing quiz and, erm, win the thing. We smiled and chirped at each other in that weird satisfied fashion that surprised victors do, myself hands in pockets like a total indie scruff and eyes receding into smug slits through which the defeated world was viewed anew, waiting for some euphoric shower of winning light to rain down on us. But no: of course, it didn't come. It was just a bloody team table quiz. Instead, we lined up against a wall like a bunch of white collar criminals on day release to be photographed by Erik, one of our highly friendly beaten foes in the Clockwork team. I looked particularly git-ish and eminently punchable, and if I were on Eggheads exuding such a facial expression then surely millions of irate viewers would be quickly lining up to kick my testicles into space orbit. We then slouched off to the next mind-scrambling ordeal that awaited us - choosing from the hotel's delightful menu of stodge and ewwww it is making me feel nauseous please take this warmed-up pig feed away.

(End of Part 1. Part II to come tomorrow)

Monday, December 10, 2007

A very simple BH143

The BH quiz takes a more traditional change of direction
This particular BH quiz has divested itself of my usual reliance on the awesome information near-omniscient nexus that be Wikipedia (what would I do if it disappeared from my life? Weep rivers of tears and bewail the end of access to the most glorious and accessible source of deep information until my life as a quizzer reached its ultimate conclusion no doubt). And I am adamant, this is all part of a fuzzy master plan with defined goals.

Perched on my beloved double bed and chain-smoking maniacally this evening, I decided to rip the following questions from one particularly thick and fact-packed orange folder and use them verbatim for this BH edition. I don't usually do this. Possibly because I now think the majority of them suck spherical objects.

And you know what? It has been enjoyable browsing the questions that have since become immovable fixtures in my mind and noting down the ones that I have sod all recollection of writing and cannot for the life of me remember where I sourced them from (as you can see you slightly modified questions could well have been culled from the Magnus Magnusson quiz books and other well-known quiz-related publications, albeit subconsciously. For that I apologise in advance, but that it is how I used to roll in the "olden" times).

Old Methods Superceded
Such an exercise has propelled the thought into my mind of how drastically my revision and research methods have changed since days long gone. The reference and quiz books used back then seem almost unforgivably limited compared to my current mostly internet-reliant resources (writing the questions on this blog for instance has cemented vital bits of info that would have previously been lost in the thousands of questions I wrote and then consigned to the abyss of my sometimes illegible files and so forgotten about more or less).

Practically all of the file questions were written what seems like an age ago (some pages I have used being dated 2002 for instance - eek). My subject matter focus has changed almost beyond all recognition, something hastened by my increasing dependence on the many fact vaults on the web that provide far more satisfying research material and the kind that has undoubtedly increased my quiz prowess many-fold.

I realised a couple of years ago that I learnt far more efficiently ripping information from new GK web-motherlodes because typing them up and proofing them for a public forum, rather than writing tens of thousands of questions by hand in a quasi-unconscious state, made me learn far more efficiently.

Having said that, my reference book library remains a sterling source of stuff that I had once rapidly noted down and weaponised into questions for my file library. But I recognised that increasing the scope of your reliable fact mines made me a far better quiz player. The pads I once filled mindlessly with question after question after question have fallen into a dormant state. No longer do I rip ink-engorged sheets from their pads and place them in files at tri-monthly intervals, resulting in a weirdly addictive feeling of achievement and the beginning of carpal tunnel syndrome. That feeling has become a faint, ghostly one, especially when I realised I hardly ever returned to consolidate them in my mind. Such questions remain mostly forgotten.

Now it is all about tapping out my carefully selected finds and storing them on my laptop for future blog publication. Placing them in a BH numbered context and providing a far better way of remembering by association with the dates and times they were written and number-assigned question sets, thus imposing a kind of chronological aide-memoire order, has usurped the bygone haphazard chucking countless clumps of trivial mud at the wall and hoping something sticks modus operandi of old.

However this time, just for once, I flicked through these increasingly obsolete and crap-jammed files and picked out the ones that could prove especially useful in league and President's Cup competition, so applying the BH remembrance method. I must admit there are countless goodies still contained therein. Some, in fact, I really should have absorbed before some key championships.

As you can see, the questions are shockingly short compared to the interminable monsters I have sometimes laid down on this blog for all time. This also makes for a refreshing detour, and one I feel will do me much good if I continue to go back to them once in a while. Varying the methods certainly helps my memory recall. Looking through the files reveal questions I have written multiple times, entirely due to the inefficient process of writing more than I can ever remember. Since I started the BH series such repeats have been rare despite the gob-smacking volume of questions I have published on this blog since its birth in February last year (the search facility on Blogger is a hugely useful tool in preventing repetition).

So for the next two BH quizzes I have compiled questions in unedited sic form from those mad writing days. Soon, of course, I will return to the new ways of typing up beefed-up questions taken from my new best friend resources I have found essential to my real advancement as an ultra-snobby and elitist quizzer. However, this two-part BH series reminds me that I am ignoring the little fact tidbits that will always prove useful on UK quiz shows and could also hold me in good stead if I decided to embark on my Mastermind mission for the next series.

Contestant Intimidation Starts Here
There are far more British league-style questions in the following sets and this can only help me cope with the onslaught of parochial questions destined to hit me during the MM General Knowledge round (the one that really matters for the likes of me since it is the round I will have a marked advantage due to the formidable and growing backlog of facty crap that has been swilling around my brain since the age of 16; a history of fine-tuned quizzing few potential adversaries/contestants could match).

If I do decide to embark on my Manchester tour of MM duty I will certainly go back to the files for GK preparation (as well as the Southport and Formby questions I have reaped since the turn of the century); the aim being to eliminate all those niggly British questions that may induce hesitation in the vital round if I encounter ones that fall into the grey zone of my knowledge. These must be tackled with academic and methodical ferocity in order to destroy potential doubt and therefore fatal hesitation.

It goes without saying that such questions - hardly what you would ever designate WQC and EQC standard - can never induce the same zealous curiosity I find gripping me when I delve for hours on end into Jimmy Wales's greatest and ultra-useful encyclopaedic creation, but they are vital sources of knowledge power if I am to get near, let alone take the MM title. Therefore the regular setting of these straightforward, brevity-characterised quizzes act as the preliminary recon-mission for such a quest and mucho apologies if regular BH fans feel they pale in insignificance to the five-to-ten line questions that have provided the overwhelming content of my regular series. But such work must be done. This is also the putative start in my campaign to rinse the kind of FTO and BoB questions I spent ploughing through maniacally for those shows. This is indeed a revisionary throwback to my formative years as a nascent quizzer.

And anyway, some conventional quiz fans might actually like this change of focus back to the league staples (Look! A question on those blasted motorways!). As you will see - back when my quiz priorities were almost unrecognisable compared to the ambitions and targeted learning I subscribe to today; my dusty file questions tended towards the direct approach with super-efficient info delivery - instant fact absorption being the key aim for the purpose of tackling Brain of Britain especially - in order to clean up the areas I found slightly uninteresting but which are indispensable if I truly seek to mend and or, at least, weaken mild deficiencies on various vapid subjects, as well as fulfil some of my embryonic MM planning. To win in impressive fashion, you must cover all bases. The comprehensive approach has to be adopted to eliminate any possibility of excruciating pauses, passes and the inevitable follow-on bouts of regretful recriminations that tend to endure a lifetime. These are the lessons I have learnt. The precision planning now comes into play (and to think, I thought I had begun writing the following quiz and BH144 simply to write some questions. My mind obviously wandered on to my serious ground before too long. It always happens.)

1 What is notobiology?
2 Who was the last US president to be born in the 19th century?
3 The M5, M6 and M42 circle which city?
4 What was John Braine's 1962 sequel to his novel Room at the Top?
5 EL Doctorow's 1971 novel The Book of Daniel used which real life incident as its subject matter?
6 Which fashion company, famed for its high quality and luxurious intimate apparel, was founded by Ada Masotti in Bologna in 1954?
7 From which Delibes opera does the "Flower Duet" come?
8 Fan Si Pan or Fansipan is the highest peak in which country?
9 Coined by critic and poet Ricciotto Canudo, the term "Seventh Art" is used to describe what?
10 Represented as a bull, what was the Egyptian god of strength?
11 Which Dickens novel begins: "London. Michaelmas term lately over, and the Lord Chancellor sitting in Lincoln's Inn Hall"?
12 What was the first name of William Shakespeare's father?
13 Born in 1936, which playwright wrote Breaking the Code, It's Ralph and Stevie?
14 In 1936, who became the first English actor to appear at the Comedie Francaise?
15 Emlyn Williams' 1980 novel Headlong was loosely adapted into which John Goodman film?
16 Which men's name means "one who takes by the heel"?
17 What name is given to a young salmon which has been to the sea only once?
18 Dating from the 1970s, what two-word American colloquialism is used for a female fan or follower of racing drivers?
19 Literally meaning "cultured painting", the name of which Italian art movement dating from the 1980s and including Carlo Maria Mariani, Alberto Abate and Antonella Cappuccio among its main practitioners was coined by a native critic as the title of a 1983 book?
20 Used to good effect in The Secret Adventures of Tom Thumb (1993), what film-making technique involves taking the shots one frame at a time with the person moving slightly between each take making real people look like animated figures?
21 Diocletian replaced which assassinated Roman emperor in 284?
22 Seeing the defeat and taking prisoner of Cetewayo, what was the final battle of the Anglo-Zulu War on July 4, 1879?
23 In which sport is the Britannia Shield, an inter-club challenge competition, a trophy?
24 What two-word term describes an individual or company making an unwelcome takeover bid for another company?
25 What system of special effects was developed by Universal in 1974 to magnify the tremor scenes in the film Earthquake?
26 Published from 1893 to 1922, which adventure paper for boys featured the adventures of Hal Meredeth's fictional detective Sexton Blake?
27 What number designation was given to the mobile hospital featured in MASH?
28 What term describes the dressage movement in which the horse balances on its hind legs?
29 Also the name of a star, what word describes a bandage tied in a figure of eight pattern to immobilise a limb?
30 What word describes a papal decree deciding a point of canon law?
31 Relating the story of the Exodus, what book is traditionally read at the Passover feast?
32 What does the word "blair" mean in a British place name?
33 Introduced by the ANC, what is the proposed African name of South Africa?
34 Invented in 1988 by Michel Lalet and Laurent Levy, which popular French board game features a hexagonal board with 15 black marbles and 15 white, the aim being for each player to position his marbles in such a way that the other's are pushed off the side?
35 To which fellow athlete was Ann Packer married?
36 What is the maximum number of cars allowed to compete in a Formula One motor race?
37 Lake Guatavita, the source of the legend of El Dorado, is in which South American country?
38 What is the smallest group of languages in Africa?
39 Hilaire-Germain was the first name of which French painter?
40 Yuri Bashmet, Paul Doktor, Frederick Riddle, Bernard Shore and Walter Trampler were all renowned players of which musical instrument?
41 What is the more popular name of the gillyflower?
42 Which English painter, whose works include Endymion Porter, succeeded Van Dyck as painter to the exiled Charles I in 1641?
43 The caraway-flavoured cheese Quargel comes from which country?
44 What is okra or lady's fingers called in Indian supermarkets?
45 What can be a small biscuit or type of macaroon, as well as a liquor made from fruit juice and brandy or essence of bitter almond?
46 "The ever open door" was a slogan used to describe what organisation during the 1950s?
47 In Judaism, what is the Feast of Dedication?
48 The Saeima is the parliament of which European country?
49 Paper-shell, Spanish ruby and Wonderful are varieties of which fruit?
50 What was the first diesel-powered ship?







Answers to BH143
1 Study under germ-free conditions 2 Eisenhower 3 Birmingham 4 Life at the Top 5 The Rosenberg case 6 La Perla 7 Lakme 8 Vietnam 9 Cinema 10 Apis 11 Bleak House 12 John 13 Hugh Whitemore 14 Charles Laughton 15 King Ralph 16 James 17 Grilse 18 Pit lizard 19 Pittura Colta 20 Pixilation 21 Numerianus 22 Ulundi 23 Speedway 24 Black knight 25 Sensurround 26 Marvel 27 4077th 28 Levade 29 Spica 30 Decretal 31 Haggadah 32 Plain 33 Azania 34 Abalone 35 Robbie Brightwell 36 Twenty six 37 Colombia 38 Khoisan 39 Edgar Degas 40 Viola 41 Carnation 42 William Dobson 43 Austria 44 Bhindi 45 Ratafia 46 Dr Barnardo's homes 47 Hanukkah 48 Latvia 49 Pomegranate 50 Petit-Pierre

Wednesday, December 05, 2007

Weak Apologies and Lost Time with President's Cup coda

I will go back in time and review the PEN goings on (no, wait I already have: SEE BELOW as you haven't read it yet because it was invisible before), but for now I will apologise for the radio silence by saying things like:

a) I suffered badly, mentally and everything, when I dropped my mobile phone in a mug of coffee and therefore lost all contact with the human world

b) I was somehow cowed by the slum-like nature of my bedroom. It is drowning in information: books, magazines and newspapers piling up until simply navigating the way towards my resting place is a hazardous running-of-the-gauntlet fraught with many a chance of toppling over and making a further crashing FUBAR mess of paper and pages; it reminds me a little bit of Francis Bacon's hellishly tip-like studio. Which makes me proud in a perverse way (but, not I hasten to add, the Baconian masochistic way).

c) ruddy TV series on the internet. I keep on chaining them without regard to the passing of days. First I watched all of I Claudius (brilliant! Sian Phillips sure was hot, even if she played a pensioner. Er, I'll stop there), then every single Screenwipe with Charlie Brooker (unutterably brilliant and bruisingly incisive and so funny I barked loudly with laughter at one minute intervals, I am not lying) and c) Chuck (new NBC series from the creator of The OC. Not so brilliant but still amusing, slick and liable to waste all my precious time).

So those are all my pathetic excuses. Truly pathetic. Oh, all those things and pouring practically all my time into writing the New Statesman Christmas quiz. I never knew it would take me so long. Thinking up wrong answers is tough taxing work, I tells ya.

President's Cup Round Five
Back to business. No more swanning around with rich writer and journo types. Back to the nitty gritty of top class GK competition among the relatively lowly (don't worry: my feelings about traditional competitive quizzing haven't yet stooped to the level of divine apathy that consumed Dr Manhattan when dealing with insignificant Earth affairs). Last Sunday saw us play Oxford away in the final match of the first half of the President's Cup season.

We had lost on both prior visits and I was worried that we would forfeit immediately on account of poor Sunday public transport (curse you slow running train!). Thankfully, my arrival - 40 minutes past official match commencement time - was treated with welcome clemency by our opponents and we started up league business after Moby's friendly.

I don't know exactly why our fortunes have undergone such a sea-change (top of the table? Are you kidding after all the disasters and near-misses of yester-seasons?) but I began to get an inkling or two why.

Kathryn is one reason (for her contribution I am truly thankful, especially as this particular Sunday was her birthday). Nic is another. The contribution of guest players like Mark is another. In fact, nothing troubled us much during this match and Mark scored possibly the first President's Cup full house of the season as we piled on a massive 22 two-pointers (the season tally was previously 55 from four matches, while Roger says it may well have been a record - fancy that, hmmm?) and, Mike and Roger, please forgive me for such crowing language, but completely monstered the Oxford team despite their notching up a decent 36 points in reply to our 56. I also get the feeling that our monthly bouts of hardcore Quizzing competition have hardened and enhanced our playing abilities no end.

It is all thoroughly satisfying to play so well and so smoothly and I just hope our title push doesn't go tits up. It probably will, but I'm only saying that so the inevitable disappointment is softened. You see how my garbled and weasel-inflected words serve to reflect my own confused intentions and aims. Let's just leave it there and hope the Xmas break doesn't disrupt our near perfect competitive equilibrium. I'll stay off the crack this Yuletide as a result.

President's Cup friendly 2/12/07
There were 25 unanswered*. Oooh. Ouch. I'm getting more irked, even embarrassed by questions people don't answer. The feeling induced in me is - what I am doing wrong? Am I losing touch? - and so on. Oh, and not forgetting am I getting airs about becoming the Emperor of the Universe. Such sensations are mildly grim. In fact, they make me feel like a bit of a spunk-hat. And we can't have that.

But still Oxford pulled out a nice little victory 30-26 (though Sussex was lacking one team member).

Round 1
1a England bowler Ryan Sidebottom plays for which county?
1b Which Politburo member was assassinated at Communist Party headquarters in Leningrad in November 1934 by Leonid Nikolayev, thus giving Stalin the pretext for his Great Purge?
2a John Antoine Nau became the first winner of which prestigious prize in 1903?
PRIX GONCOURT (for Force ennemie)
2b Which SI unit shares its name with the French scientist whose inverse-square law indicates the magnitude and direction of electrostatic force that one stationary, electrically charged object of small dimensions exerts on another?
3a Which politician and chief of the Soviet security and police apparatus was deposed as head of the NKVD on June 26, 1953 and executed by firing squad before the year's end?
3b The most controversial decision to award the Prix Goncourt came in 1919 when which famous author won it instead of the public's favourite Roland Dorgeles for his war novel Les Croix de bois?*
4a Which SI unit is named after the Englishman whose law of electrolysis states that the mass of a substance produced at an electrode during the process is proportional to the number of moles of electrons transferred at that electrode?*
4b The emerging England all-rounder Ravi Bopara plays for which county side?

Round 2
1a Which car company's current models include the V8 Vantage and V8 Vantage Roadster?
1b Which Polish footballer scored the vital goal in the 1-1 draw that prevented England's qualification for the 1974 World Cup?
2a Whose massive biography of Adolf Hitler was divided into two books, the first subtitled Hubris and the second Nemesis?*
2b The 911 is the top selling model of which car company?
3a Having made his name directing adverts and music videos, which Englishman went on to make the film American History X and the abortion documentary Lake of Fire?*
(Mark actually said his first name is Tony and his second is four letters and begins with K. Which was funny and, sadly, unacceptable when he elaborated and gave a wrong surname)
3b Which Englishman directed the popular "Swimblack" and "Surfer" advertising campaigns for Guinness before making such films as Sexy Beast and Birth?*
4a Which Croatian player scored the winner in the 3-2 win that prevented England's qualification for Euro 2008?
4b Which acclaimed biographer of Potemkin went on to write Stalin: The Court of The Red Tsar?

Round 3
1a Which former wife of Peter O'Toole played Augustus's wife Livia in the TV series I Claudius?
1b Come Together is the first track on which 1969 Beatles album?*
2a Danilo Turk is the president elect of which European country?
2b Which Lord of the Rings star played the Praetorian guard Macro in the BBC series I Claudius?*
3a Which King was born on December 24, 1166 in Beaumont Palace, Oxford?
3b Ivan Gasparovic is the president of which European country?
4a Drive My Car is the first track on which 1965 Beatles album?*
4b Which King was born in Winchester Castle on October 1, 1207?

Round 4
1a What surname is shared by the creator of The Beano's Roger the Dodger and the Daily Express comic strip The Gambols?
APPLEBY (Barrie and Barry)
1b What surname is shared by the creator of The Guardian's daily strip If ... and the artist behind such Beano strips as Pup Parade, aka The Bash Street Kids' dogs?
BELL (Steve and Gordon)
2a Which now defunct computer company was started in Toronto in 1954 by Polish immigrant and Auschwitz survivor Jack Tramiel?*
2b Which Englishman composed Variations on a Theme by Hindemith, as well as The Bear, a one-act opera based on the Chekhov play?
3a Which German composed Variations and Fugue on a Theme by Handel and the Paganini Variations, both for solo piano?
3b Cushat Law, Bloodybush Edge and Hedgehope Hill are notable tops in which range of rolling hills?*
4a Haddington Hill is the location of the highest point in which English chalk escarpment?*
4b Which pioneering home video games company was founded in 1972 by Nolan Bushnell and Ted Dabney?

Round 5
1a The largest in Spain, which autonomous community is home to such cities as Salamanca and Segovia?
1b Located in the Italian region of the Marche, what was the hometown of Rossini and is now the site of an annual Opera Festival held in his honour?
2a Which aquatic plant bearing an edible seed often used in Chinese cookery has the scientific name Trapa natans?
2b Name either of Spain's autonomous cities in Africa.
3a Site of an annual summer music festival, which town in Tuscany was the birthplace of the composers Luigi Boccherini, Alfredo Catalani and Puccini?*
3b Chris Huhne is Liberal Democrat MP for which Hampshire constituency?*
4a Vince Cable is Liberal Democrat MP for which Greater London constituency?
4b Often used in Asian cookery, which herb belongs to the genus Cymbopogon and has such common names as "silky heads" and "barbed wire grass"?
LEMONGRASS (I suppose CITRONELLA was also acceptable)

Round 6
1a What was the nationality of the pop groups Black Box, JT and the Big Family and Starlight?
1b The 26th of July Movement was a revolutionary organisation involved in the overthrow of which country's government?
2a Dating from the Century 21 Exposition in 1962, the Space Needle is the most recognisable landmark of which American city?
2b Which American boxer defended his middleweight title 12 times and was the first middleweight champion to hold the top three sanctioning body belts?*
3a In which country was King Savang Vatthana forced to abdicate in December 1975?*
3b What was the nationality of the pop groups Human Resource, 2 Unlimited and Ten Sharp?
4a Which American boxer defended his middleweight title a record 20 times and was the first fighter in history to unify the WBO, WBC, IBF and WBA titles?*
4b The Aon Center, the Merchandise Mart and the John Hancock Center are among the most notable buildings in which American city?

Round 7
1a The Dzhungarian, the striped dwarf and the dwarf desert are types of which pet rodent?
1b In which team sport does Mexico play the USA for the Manuel Avilla Camacho Cup?*
2a Which woman won the Pulitzer Prize for fiction in 1989 for Breathing Lessons?
2b Which artist married his first wife Isabelle Brandt in 1609 and his second, Helen Fourment in 1630?
3a Which 17th century artist was married to Caterina Bolnes, who bore him 11 children?*
3b The Sheltie, the English shorthair and the Abyssinian are common varieties of which pet rodent?*
4a In which sport do American and British women teams contest the Wolfe-Noel Cup?*
4b Which woman won the 1985 Pulitzer prize for her novel Foreign Affairs?*

Round 8
1a The Roman emperor Hadrian was succeeded in 138 by which adopted son?*
1b In Greek mythology, which King of Colchis was the owner of the Golden Fleece sought by Jason?*
2a What term describes a line that joins two points of a circle?
2b In music, what is a "fipple"?
MOUTHPIECE (for all wind instruments)
3a In Greek myth, Jason was the son of Aeson, the king of which land?*
3b What term describes the portion of a circle between the centre and two points on the perimeter?
4a Which small portable reed organ was perfected by Alexandre Debain of Paris in the early 1840s?
4b Which Roman emperor murdered his brother Geta along with thousands of his supporters in 212?*

Spares I really didn't think about writing
Nicknamed Lo Spagnoletto meaning The Little Spaniard, which Baroque painter's Martyrdom of St Bartholomew can be seen in the Prado?
What is the last train on the Paris Metro every night nicknamed in French because it sweeps up remaining passengers?
BALAI (meaning "broom")
What religious title is shared by a Correggio painting in the Brera in Milan, a Veronese artwork in the National Gallery and another by Brueghel the Elder in the Musee Royaux des Beaux-Arts in Brussels?