Monday, December 22, 2008

Bittersweet memories evoked... old printed-out e-mails

I started setting a quiz a few years ago and was given instructions to jazz it up and make it more interesting. Of course, I took this to mean: HARDER and MORE WORLDLY. The nation would be jubilant and thankful for questions that were original and, in my view, pretty decent.

This assumption was a terrible mistake. A naive error I never knew I had made. The new questions stoked fierce outrage in some of the readership who, having been used to traditional pub quiz staples and nothing too challenging, were now being slapped around with the face with incomprehensible questions about sports stadiums in Graz and Harrington jackets deriving their name from a character in the soap Peyton Place. Several sent me letters and two-page emails bristling with almost incoherent anger telling me how pointless and difficult and uninteresting they were.

Thus, I was told to tone it the heck down before people would absolutely and positively spontaneously combust in splenetic rage if they saw any more of their kind. That wouldn't do. At all.

So a hilarious to-and-fro ensued between me and my handler about the art of question-writing and balance. Several e-mail exchanges followed over the next couple of weeks containing several instances of the phrase "still difficult" and new questions were written, while I desisted from saying that anyone who thought naming transatlantic aviation pioneers Alcock & Brown to be an incredibly difficult trivia task knew nothing of quiz and the people who do them, and they ought to stick their head in a cow’s bumhole. I held my tongue and complied. Like a respectful person who needs money to live.

However, a fair proportion of the newies I had set were flat out upper case, as in "NO", rejected and have never been exposed to the public glare. Until now. Think they're too difficult? I'll leave it to your fine judgement, although I can certainly see that a few were far too obscure for the intended audience, e.g. questions 1, 11 & 18. You live, you learn and you compromise with a gimme or three.

1. Laura Canales was a star of which Tex-Mex music style?
2. Norman Lumsden famously played which fly fishing author?
3. Saparmurat Niyazar [sic] is president of which ex-Soviet state?
4. Xiali is famous for making what in China?
5. Who beat Max Baer in 1935 to become world heavyweight champion?
6. The Balanescu Quartet performs which TV theme tune?
7. What newspaper is nicknamed The Grey Lady?
8. Lana Turner and Ava Gardner married which clarinettist?
9. What LA gang did Stanley "Tookie" Williams help found?
10. Arthur Johnson became the first coach of which football club in 1902?
11. Chao Fah is the political party of which Laotian ethnic minority?
12. Which US politician's first campaign was against the Chevrolet Corsair?
13. Which Doctor Who died at a convention in Georgia in 1987?
14. San Antonio Spurs basketball player Tony Parker comes from which country?
15. Which Virginia town is home to the FBI Academy?
16. Which golfing-astronaut admitted to crying on the Moon?
17. Which Australian broke Roger Bannister's mile record?
18. Bleigiessen is a form of fortune telling using what process?
19. Boots Randolph's Yakety Sax is better known as whose theme tune?
20. Who usurped Dr Mohammed Mossadeq in 1953?
21. Sir George Cayley was a pioneer in which field?
22. Hanna Glawari is better known by what operatic epithet?
23. Nan Astley undergoes a voyage of self-discovery in which novel?
24. Who revived Buffy the Vampire Slayer on TV and created Firefly?




Answers to the Rejects Quiz
1. Tejano 2. JR Hartley 3. Turkmenistan 4. Cars 5. James Braddock 6. University Challenge 7. New York Times 8. Artie Shaw 9. The Crips 10. Real Madrid 11. Hmong 12. Ralph Nader 13. Patrick Troughton 14. France 15. Quantico 16. Alan Shepard 17. John Landy 18. Pouring molten lead into liquid 19. Benny Hill 20. The future Shah of Iran 21. Aviation 22. The Merry Widow 23. Tipping the Velvet 24. Josh Whedon


Blogger Myron said...

I wonder if "too hard" means "too Americo-centric" because these were some of the friendliest questions I think I've ever seen you post here.


10:09 AM  

Post a Comment

<< Home