Friday, April 25, 2008

BH150 Part 2: Standing On the Shoulders of Clive James

Read a new book/Broke my one NY resolution/Dang

I bought Clive James's Cultural Amnesia, his book of thoughtful bits and jotted bobs and profile-lets, expecting to learn something about many a great writer and thinker I had never heard of before, and I certainly did. The man reads mountains of material. He must be another of those rare beings, who live in several room-lined books and munch heartily on the walls every day. I envy his never flagging, lifelong devotion to this honourable task.

Sure, there is a certain amount of predictable showboating with the old intellectual tangents and 'I picked this book up in Buenos Aires' airs as if it was the most natural thing in the world, like picking up a Cornetto and a bag of Frazzles from the corner shop (he boasts of once being able to read Japanese thanks to his awesome autodidactic habits, which is as good as saying he can right now at this very moment, if truth be told). In a number of the hundred or more analyses of his own cultural titans and intellectual powerhouses, whether great, wrong-headed or downright evil, he starts to talk about something seemingly unrelated to the subject for the vast majority of the wordage, which is fine, up to a point. And there is a weird worship-the-Madonna syndrome undercurrent (that's the Virgin, not the musical musclewoman), with the dedication to his female heroes and slightly sickly paean to WW2 martyr Sophie Scholl, going on to suggest Natalie Portman could play the role in what could only be a Hollywood crime against humanity, since the German version was smalltime and aimed at Germans. Nevertheless, James shows us how much we still have to learn about the world in all its infinite and terrifying variety, and how much the two major cataclysms of the 20th century have shaped modern thought, as well of course, as world history. You may disagree with some of his conclusions, but he never fails to pique your interest about dozens of subjects you might never have considered before.

It's a brilliant beast of a book brimming with enough sharp splinters of insight to make you wonder why he bothered with all that mainsteam television malarkey (though I do miss his genial presence, whether commentating on the inane insanity of the Crystal Bucket, presiding over another of his slyly sardonic chatshows or wandering through foreign city after city looking like a man lost beyond all hope (I say 'looking like'; once you become familiar with the written James you will come to know he's far too sly to ever be that way)). And rammed, soaked, bristling with factage too. Hey! Look I've written a quiz down below compiled with information mentally sucked from its pages. Well, transferred with short term memory, eye and typing fingers actually. Components of the mental hoover, as it were. Also, I paired its construction with BH150 Part 1 in the fashion of The Matrix and Pirates of the Caribbean sequels. I hope the end product does not fall somewhere between flat and shit, as in the case of the cited filmic examples.

So I advise you to buy it and give yourself a hopelessly inadequate precis of James's own eternal quest to attain self-knowledge and knowledge of all hues through the works and deeds of others. It will have you out on the streets or raiding the interweb, searching for the books he refers to. Because the way he uncovers the obscure figure and writes about them so very tantalisingly will make you think you've been wasting nearly ever minute of your reading time with our foul Anglo-centricity. There is no need to shut ourselves off from a whole world of literature that is but an Amazon order or Abebooks recon mission away. Even if there is the small trifle of having to learn a few thousand words of German, Spanish, Russian and French to help you along the way. The world may be too much with us, but there is always time to salvage our cultural selves before life runs out, as long as we know and realise it is. I think I just have, but then again they say those who attain such self-awareness understand only the immensity of their ignorance. Yet there is nothing wrong with fighting it. We should never fail to do this, no matter how futile the act. We can only become better people as a result.

BH150 Part II: Bonus section!
1 Which German writer, who went into exile in Paris in 1831 and produced such poems as Die Sklavenschiff/The Slave Ship, was kept in bed for the last seven years of his life due to spinal paralysis?
2 Previously the darling of the Maryinsky company in St Petersburg, which woman wrote the memoir Theatre Street and danced the very first Firebird in Paris in 1910?
3 Known for such works as Cuba Si! (1961), which avant-garde filmmaker was born in 1921 with the name Christian Francois Bouche-Villeneuve?
4 Described as "one of [Juan] Peron's gifts to the world , along with a good role for a soprano in Evita", what name was given to the electric torture invented in Argentina and carried out by so-called tecnicos?
5 After the successful premiere of which Tom Stoppard play did its author say "It's about to make me a lot of money" when asked what it was about?
6 Born with the maiden name Khazina, which widow of a much esteemed Russian poet and victim of Stalin wrote in her book Hope Abandoned: "We all belonged to the same category marked down for absolute destruction. The astonishing thing is not that so many of us went to concentration camps or died there, but that some of us survived. Caution did not help. Only chance could save you"?
7 Which Galicia-born psychologist, philosopher and epic novelist (1903-1984) called Nazism an extension of capitalism and wrote the fictional trilogy Like a Tear in the Ocean, as well as three books of autobiography collectively called All das Vergangene ("All Our Yesterdays"): Die Wassertrager Gottes/God's Water-Carriers, Die vergebliche warnung/The Unheeded Warning and Bis man mir Scherben auf die Augen legt/Until My Eyes Are Closed with Shards?
8 Which Australian "cultural export" attracted a wide US and UK following with such non-fiction books as The Blue Nile and wrote the "hefty but unputdownable" African Trilogy, described by James as "perhaps the best example of [his] characteristic virtue as a war correspondent: he could widen the local story to include its global implications"?
9 To whom is Charlie Chaplin reported to have said at the 1931 premiere of City Lights: "They cheer me because they all understand me, and they cheer you because no-one understands you"?
10 Which Viennese polymath and cabaret star wrote Kulturgeschichte der Neuzeit, translated into English in 1930 as the three-volume set of Cultural History of the Modern Age, and an unfinished companion piece Kulturgeschichte des Altertums (The Cultural History of the Ancient World), before committing suicide by defenestration during the 1938 Anschluss just as Nazi troops were coming to apprehend him?
11 Not to be confused with his famous scientist cousin, which musicologist was born in Munich before going into exile after 1933, first in Italy and then in London, and is best remembered for the three-volume history The Italian Madrigal, the standard monograph on Mozart and his reworking of Kochel's catalogue on the same composer?
12 Included in his first collection Der Sand aus den Urnen/The Sand from the Urns (1948), which poem by Paul Celan is said to be the single most famous such work about the Nazi death camps?
13 Which German dramatist's best known plays are seen as The Captain of Kopenick (1931) and, written after his immigration to the US, The Devil's General (1946)?
14 Of which composer did Erik Satie say: "[He] refuses the Legion d'Honneur but all his music accepts it"?
15 Born in Buenos Aires in 1911, which man combined science (including work at the Curie Laboratory) with radical left wing politics for the first part of his career before giving himself full-time to writing, painting and education after 1945, publishing the novel The Tunnel (1945), editing Nunca Mas/Never Again, which detailed the atrocities of the Argentine junta and memorably calling the tango 'the strangest popular song that mankind has ever produced' in his work Entre La Letra Y La Sangre?
16 Which poet wrote in volume five of Gesammelte Werke: "Fame is finally only the sum total of all the misunderstandings that can gather around a new name"?
17 The man who defined the Communist world as the first society in history condemned to live behind walls in order to stop people getting out, which French writer (1924-2006) earned international fame with such books as How Democracies Perish and 1970's Without Marx or Jesus in which he guessed that America would not be universally admired for making a totalitarian hegemony impossible?
18 The title subject of JP Stern's 1959 book A Doctrine of Scattered Occasions, which German thinker and professor of physics, astronomy and maths at Gottingen (1742-1799) wrote of the bad writer in his Aphorismen when he said "It was impossible for him not to disturb words in the possession of their meanings" and was known for keeping scores of "Waste-Books" and manuscript notebooks?
19 Who said: "Everyone has a lurking wish to appear considerable in his native place"?
20 Leaving behind many volumes of his Journal, Varia, correspondence and memoirs, which writer became famous in Poland principally due to his 1938 surrealist novel Ferdyduke and went into exile in Argentina from 1939 to 1969?
21 Named after the city of his birth, what was the name of Duke Ellington's first professional band which comprised only half a dozen players when it reached New York in 1923?
22 Described as modern Germany's greatest historian, which man (1909-94) published the monumental 1000-page plus work Deutsche Geschichte des 19. und 20. Jahrhunderts, as well as the memoir Erinnerungen und Gedanken/Memories and Thoughts and volume of essays Wir alle sind, was wir gelesen/ We Are All What We Read?
23 Said to be Italy's most famous poet after WW2, which 1975 Nobel winner's first reputation-making collection was called Ossi di seppia/Cuttlefish Bones and is remembered by many of his countrymen for the line of verse "Bring me the sunflower mad with light"?
24 By what name is Charles Louis de Secondat, Baron de La Brede et de ___________ (1689-1755) better known?
25 To whom did Sergei Diaghilev give the famous instruction "Astonish me"?
26 A Basque born in Bilbao in 1864(-1936), which professor of Greek at the University of Salamanca from 1891 endured the most important personal event of his life: a spiritual crisis in 1897 in which he lost his faith and influenced all his subsequent work, and was described by Carlos Fuentes as "one of the writers who began to give us our sense of the Spanish world. The essay as an art form" thanks to his volumes of Ensayos?
27 Which author (1903-66) pronounced in A Little Learning that nobody without a classical education could ever write English correctly?
28 Wounded at the Battle of Tshushima in the Russo-Japanese War, which military leader studied at Harvard after WW1 and wrote this poem aboard his flagship Nagato on New Year's Day, 1940: "Today, as chief/Of the sea guardians/Of the land of the dawn,/Awed I gaze up/At the rising sun"?
29 Which Soviet era writer and WW2 pilot, who died in 2006, wrote the short political analysis book The Reality of Communism (1984) and the satirical novel The Yawning Heights?
30 Born in Radom, Poland in 1927, which professor of philosophy at the University of Warsaw was ejected from the Communist Party in 1966 and expelled from academic life in 1968, going into exile and publishing such works as the three-volume treatise Main Currents of Marxism and the slim book Le Village introuvable (1986) where he insisted on the indispensability of an inherited social fabric and the impossibility of achieving a so-called global village?





Answers to BH150 II
1 Heinrich Heine 2 Tamara Karsavina 3 Chris Marker 4 Picana 5 Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead 6 Nadezhda Mandelstam (wife of Osip) 7 Manes Sperber 8 Alan Moorehead 9 Albert Einstein 10 Egon Friedell 11 Alfred Einstein 12 Todesfugue (Death Fugue) 13 Carl Zuckmayer 14 Maurice Ravel 15 Ernesto Sabato 16 Rainer Maria Rilke 17 Jean-Francois Revel 18 Georg Cristoph Lichtenberg 19 Dr Johnson 20 Witold Gombrowicz 21 The Washingtonians 22 Golo Mann (third child of Thomas Mann) 23 Eugenio Montale 24 Montesquieu 25 Jean Cocteau 26 Miguel de Unamuno 27 Evelyn Waugh 28 Isoroku Yamamoto 29 Aleksandr Zinoviev 30 Leszek Kolakowski

BH150 Part 1: Return of My Red-Eyes

Back once again with the renegade master

Haven't done one of these in a long time. And I still think questions are nice. Lots of quizzy quiz questions. So I thought I really should do another BH set, perhaps because it stops me from watching the same idiotic sloppy pop videos on YouTube again and again and again. There must be something wrong with me. Though some of them are quite good and have geeeetars in them.

Since it is BH150 there are 150 questions, er, plus 10 more. Um, if you count the second part to come above, in a minute. I thought I was writing a total of 150 then I ended up with 160. Sometimes the mind just gets lost, you know. Lost in quiz.

I will go scratch the metaphorical scab that was Tuesday's Brain of London in unnecessary detail and comedy swearing, but not right now. I feel that if I release it into the wild, in the current form it has taken, it might make me look like a bit of a self-absorbed nutter. And that's the truth, ruth...

1 According to the opening lines of Robinson Crusoe, the hero's father was an immigrant from which German city?
2 What was the original name of Christopher Columbus's flagship, the Santa Maria?
3 Which Japanese company manufactures the Aquos flatscreen TV?
4 What does the German term "Vergangerheitsbewaltigung" mean?
5 The German-based Institute for Production Systems and Design Technology is the largest research non-profit in Europe with an annual budget of $1 billion and 56 branches in Germany alone. It is named after which scientist?
6 What is the Portuguese dish "bacalhau"?
7 Sharing its name with a famous battle, what was chosen as the site of the permanent capital of the Republic of Texas in 1839?
8 Which Philadelphian painter opened his repository for Natural Curiosities in the 1780s?
9 What sweet food is derived from the Californian white sage, Salva apiana?
10 Known as "Pancake Week", which festival dates back to pagan times and is the only purely Russian holiday?
11 A 30-mile drive from Coimbra, by what name are the best preserved Roman ruins in Portugal known?
12 Designated in 1976, which natural park is the largest in Portugal and contains the highest peaks in the country, with the only two rivers that start and end within Portugal's boundaries - the Rio Mondeg and Rio Zezerre - starting there and cutting through it?
13 Cecily von Ziegasar is the author of which books, recently adapted into an American TV series?
14 What was Pablo Picasso's birth surname?
15 The G312 code is found on the back of which devices?
16 What name was given to the Karen State that existed from 1965-74?
17 Which type of fish includes the rock hind, red _______, red _______, warsaw _______, and the jewfish or goliath _______?
18 A former member of A Tribe Called Quest, which rapper's real name is Jonathan Davis?
19 Which celebrated baseball shortstop was nicknamed "The Wizard of Oz"?
20 Meaning "outside wife", what is the Surinamese Dutch word for a mistress?
21 The Slovenian Lovrenc Kosir is believed to have come up with what idea for catalysing communication in 1835?
22 Which British-born American songwriter, composer, arranger and orchestra leader (1910-1990) wrote The Stripper, composed the theme tunes to Little House on the Prairie and Bonanza, and married Judy Garland?
23 What is the biggest city in the Maghreb?
24 In 2004, researchers at Harvard discovered a white dwarf star BPM 37093. It is the universe's largest known what?
25 The Palace of Marie Theresa is found in which Austrian city?
26 Meaning "assembly of the land", what name was given to the first Russian parliament of the feudal estates type in the 16th and 17th centuries?
27 Best known for being the site of the sprawling Vegas-by-the-sea resort Atlantis, Paradise Island is part of which group?
28 Meaning "again to erect", what is the archaeological term for the reconstruction technique where a ruined monument is restored?
29 Celebrated for 15 days, what is considered the most important holiday in Tibet?
30 What internet-related concept and name was invented during the beginning of 1994 by Ivan Pope?
31 Gurbanguly Berdimuhammelov is the president of which country?
32 Named after a saint, which building is the home of the Assembly of the Republic, the Portuguese parliament?
33 One of the largest and most historic palaces in St Petersburg, which building was commissioned by Prince Grigory Potemkin from his favourite architect Ivan Starov?
34 The principal belief of Sikhism is faith in what concept, represented using the sacred symbol of ek oankar, the Universal God?
35 The Mandinka, aka Mandingo, people - a major ethnic group in Western Africa - all descend physically or culturally from which ancient Empire?
36 What was the Tehran building, the Shahyad Tower, renamed after the Iranian Revolution?
37 In which city is Mossad's HQ?
38 What female name was given to the last passenger pigeon, who died in Cincinnati Zoo in 1914?
39 Which American sculptor, born in Fort Wayne, Indiana in 1941, became a leading exponent of Conceptual Art during the 1960s, using neon lights and holograms in addition to producing minimalist works from more conventional materials, like Six Inches of my Knee Extended to Six Feet (1967), and since 1970 has worked principally with wood and fibreglass on such installations as Room with my Soul Left Out/Room That Does not Care and Dream Passage with Four Corridors (both 1984)?
40 Which American comedian-actor produced the platinum-selling album Harmful If Swallowed before releasing Retaliation, the biggest selling comedy album in the US for 30 years?
41 Which small yellow flower was called the "spring messenger" by 18th century naturalist Gilbert White?
42 A stocky grey warbler, which bird was once known as the "March nightingale" due to its early return and sweet song?
43 Which Franciscan friar and mathematician published the fabled volume of Renaissance brain-teasers and puzzles, De Ludo Schacorum?
44 Which Croatian footballer is nicknamed 'Dudu'?
45 Which 1953 Fellini film centres on a group of indolent, middle class boys, all nearing 30 and living with their mothers, including the philandering Fausto, the wannabe playwright Leopoldo and Marcelo, scared of his own little world behind?
46 Prince Edward Island is separated from New Brunswick and Nova Scotia by which stretch of water?
47 Which pop singer married the stunt motorcyclist Carey Hart in 2006?
48 What was the first James Bond film not to feature the line "Bond, James Bond"?
49 Which very fine sun-bleached linen used to be called "cloth of Rheims"?
50 What are the top and bottom grades of France's Legion of Honour?
51 Bernie Sumner, the lead singer of New Order chose the title Power, Corruption and Lies for their second album from graffiti sprayed by which artist on the exterior of a Cologne art gallery in 1981?
52 Goethe said that "you can have no adequate conception of what man is capable of accomplishing" until you have seen what?
53 What two-word term was coined by Friedrich Engels to describe the inability of the working class to understand the nature of its oppression?
54 Divided by the Naka River, which Japanese city is closer to the South Korean capital Seoul than Tokyo and is home to one of the country's oldest Zen Buddhist temples, Shofuku-ji, located in its old Hakata quarter, as well as Ohori Park and the baseball team Daiei Hawks?
55 The Albanian capital, Tirana, is located on which river?
56 Its name being the elision of an expression meaning "Hill of the Antelope", which African capital city sits on just one of its seven hills, Nakasero?
57 The red-domed mausoleum of Saladin lies outside the walls of which city?
58 Which Frenchman patented the electronic musical instrument originally named the ondes musicales in 1922, going on to produce it in 1928?
59 Which firm of music publishers was founded in Paris in 1932 by Louise Dyer, an Australian, who built up a catalogue of limited editions, including Byzantine liturgical music, medieval polyphonic music, motets by Attaignant and keyboard works by Byrd?
60 Which Danish composer (1817-90) had the first of his eight symphonies conducted by Mendelssohn at Leipzig in 1843 and also wrote the opera-ballet The Fairy Spell?
61 Which Austrian composer's opera Constanza e Fortezza was performed in Prague during the coronation festivities in 1723, and formulated the rules for counterpoint in his 1725 work Gradus ad Parnassum?
62 Which Polish composer wrote the 1976-78 opera Paradise Lost to a libretto by Christopher Fry, based on the Milton poem?
63 According to Suetonius in his work Lives of the Caesars, which Roman emperor's last words were "An emperor ought to die standing"?
64 Which Swiss theologian (1741-1801) wrote in his Aphorisms on Man (c.1788): "The public seldom forgive twice"?
65 Quoted in the Brooklyn Daily Eagle on August 11, 1900, which boxer is credited with saying prior to a fight: "The bigger they are, the further they have to fall"?
66 "I will return. And I will be millions" is the inscription on whose tomb in Buenos Aires?
67 Which French poet wrote in Ailleurs, ici, partout (1946): "L'espoir ne fait pas de poussiere" (Hope raises no dust)?
68 Which American poet wrote Chaplinesque (1926), Garden Abstract (1926) and To Emily Dickinson (1927)?
69 Replying to a request for changes in the constitution of the Society of Jesus, which Pope (1693-1769) said: "Sint ut sunt aut non sint" (Let them be as they are or not be at all)?
70 Which composer claimed in a 1961 newspaper interview: "My music is best understood by children and animals"?
71 In a 1592 Shakespeare play, which three words precede: "... we will be married o' Sunday"?
72 Which character in the von Schiller play Don Carlos claimed: "Die Sonne geht in meinem Staat nicht unter" (The sun does not set in my dominions)?
73 Which Roman historian (86-35BC) said of Rome in his work Catiline: "Urbem venalem et mature perituram, si emptorem invenerit" (A venal city ripe to perish, if a buyer can be found)?
74 Which French biologist wrote in Pensees d'un biologiste (1939): "Kill a man, and you are an assassin. Kill millions of men, and you are a conqueror. Kill everyone, and you are a god"?
75 What did Frederic Raphael call the "city of perspiring dreams" in his 1976 novel The Glittering Prizes?
76 Known for such other works as Topaze (1930), which French dramatist and film-maker wrote in his 1946 play Marius: "Honour is like a match, you can only use it once"?
77 Associated with assassin Thomas Wilkes Booth, "Sic temper tyrannis" (Thus always to tyrants) is the motto of which US state?
78 The French revolutionary Comte de Mirabeau claimed what to be "the national industry of Prussia"?
79 Which female American poet wrote in 1934: "Childhood is the kingdom where nobody dies. Nobody that matters, that is"?
80 Discussing the Italian question with Palmerston in 1847, who claimed: "Italy is a geographical expression"?
81 What word for a slimy secretion comes from the Greek for "to blow the nose"?
82 Named after a German zoologist, which form of mimicry involves two harmful or inedible creatures developing similar appearance as a protection from predators?
83 Which Austrian and south German dance, similar to a slow waltz, derives its name from a district of Austria north of the River Ems?
84 Which soft, long-napped French fabric gets its name from the Latin for 'feather'?
85 What four-wheeled horse-drawn carriage with folding hoods at the front and back which can be raised to cover the occupants gets its name from the west German town where it was originally made?
86 Derived from the Serb-Croat word for 'constable', what word refers to any one of a body of Croatian foot soldiers noted for their ferocity who were enrolled in the Austrian army during the 18th century?
87 Meaning 'belonging to former times', what term refers to any of a great class of Sanskrit poems comprising the whole body of Hindu mythology?
88 The word 'puna' describes the cold high plateau between the two ranges of which mountains?
89 Who created the character of Rambo in his 1972 novel First Blood?
90 From the Sanskrit for 'king son', what word describes a member of a Hindu warrior caste who claims descent from the Kshatriyas?
91 A retrovirus is so called because it contains which enzyme that uses RNA instead of DNA to encode genetic information, thus reversing the usual pattern of encoding?
92 From the Arabic word for "prickly pear", what is an Israeli born in Israel called?
93 Veratrine is yielded from the acrid seeds of which Mexican and Central American lilaceous plant, known by the scientific name Schoenocaulon officinale?
94 Which name is given to a goat-antelope with a thick, dark coat and conical horns, given either the scientific name Capricornis sumatraensis in south and east Asia, or Capricornis crispus in Taiwan and Japan?
95 What word for a slender long-tailed edible crustacean takes its name from the Old Norse for "to slip away"?
96 Allied to the salmon, which small food fish has the scientific name Osmerus eperlanus?
97 The title "Sophy" was formerly used for the ruler of which country?
98 Known by the Latin name Portulacaria afra, which large shrub with succulent leaves derives its name from the Afrikaans for 'fat pork' (e.g. bacon) and "tree"?
99 The term "splanchnic' relates to which body parts?
100 Which German physicist (1874-1957) gave his name to the splitting of the spectrum into components by applying an electric effect?
101 Presumably the master in charge of the building's whole sculptural programme, the French sculptor Gislebertus signed his name under the tympanum of which cathedral in Burgundy (1120-30)?
102 The pupil of Ribera and Pietro da Cortona, which Neapolitan painter's prodigious output included the ballroom ceiling of Florence's Palazzo Riccardi (1682) and ceilings in the Escorial (1692)?
103 A pupil of Lysippus, which Greek sculptor (4th-3rd century BC) was famed for his statue of Tyche (Fortune), tutelary goddess of Antioch in Syria, showing her seated on a cliff with the river god Orontes at her feet?
104 Which German sculptor (d.1540) in wood and stone produced the painful figures on the high altar of the Klosterkirche, Blauberen, his other works including the Frauenstein Madonna and La Belle Allemande, a figure of Mary Magdalene?
105 Which Italian painted The Assumption, 4 Scenes from the Life of St James and the Martyrdom of St Christopher in the Ovetari chapel, Eremitani church, Padua (1448-59), though all but one of these important frescoes were destroyed during WW2?
106 A member of the Inner Council of Berne, which Swiss painter, poet and statesman (1484-1530) was formerly sometimes wrongly called N.M. Deutsch on the basis of the monogram N.M.D.; the 'D' is now thought to stand in for the surname 'Degen"?
107 Born at Seligenstadt near Franfurt-am-Main in c.1433, who painted The Mystical Marriage of St Catherine (1479), The 7 Joys of the Virgin and Tommaso Portinari and Maria, Wife of Tommaso Portinari?
108 Nok is an ancient culture of which African country?
109 Also known as Dekor, which school of post-Matisse decorative painting often deliberately coarse in the way it uses figurative motifs flourished mainly in New York during the second half of the 1970s and involved Joyce Kozloff, Kim MacConnel and Brad Davis?
110 Which French sculptor carved Francis I's tomb (1558-59) and Henri II's tomb (1564-83) at St Denis?
111 Which style of Greek vase painting was supposedly invented by the Andokides painter (fl. 530-520BC) and continued until mid-4th century BC?
112 Who was playing Ronnie O'Sullivan when "The Rocket" made a record fastest maximum 147 clearance in 5 minutes and 20 seconds at the 1997 world championships?
113 Assassinated by the head of his own country's Central Intelligence Agency, which South Korean general seized power in a military coup in 1961 and was elected president two years later?
114 The first Arab paper factory opened in which city c.784 using skills learned from Chinese prisoners taken at the battle of Talas?
115 King Ah-Cacaw became ruler of which Mayan city in 682AD?
116 General Zhao Kuang-yin reunified northern China and established which dynasty in 960AD?
117 Which Abbasid caliph (786-833) established the House of Wisdom, a library and translation academy, in c.825?
118 Found in the extreme east of the Tarim Basin, what is China's lowest point at 154m/505 ft?
119 Located on the Grand Canal in Jiangsu province, which city was the capital of the Wu kingdom in the 5th century BC and was famed for its silk industry developed under the Sung dynasty in the 12th century?
120 Capital of the Elamites, which ancient city in south-west Iran became an important centre under the Achaemenid Kings of Persia, containing a palace of Darius I and was the site of discovery of the stele (stone slab) of Hammurabi, inscribed with his code of law?
121 A founder of plant physiology, which German demonstrated the importance of transpiration and the role of chlorophyll in plants, publishing his Textbook of Botany in 1868?
122 Which 1919 treaty established the new republic of Austria from the old Austro-Hungarian empire?
123 What is the first day of the month of Tishri, generally in September, usually called?
124 Which Caribbean capital in the Windward Islands was burned by the French in 1805 and virtually destroyed by a hurricane in 1979?
125 Abu Simbel is the location of two rock-cut sandstone temples built by which Egyptian ruler (c.1292-1225BC)?
126 Which French chemist discovered actinium, the first of the actinide series, in 1899?
127 The US historian Brooks Adams held that civilisations rise and fall with the growth and decline of commerce in which influential 1895 work?
128 Which two countries agreed the Adams-Onis Treaty on February 22, 1819?
129 Capital of the namesake province, which seaport and rail centre on the coast of northern Chile was built in 1870 to provide port facilities for the nitrate and copper deposits (the Chuquicamata open-cast copper mine 135 miles to the north-east being the world's largest) and has both ore refining and concentration plants?
130 Known as "the One-eyed", which general of Alexander the Great became governor of Phrygia in 333BC and defeated challengers to gain control of Mesopotamia, Syria and Asia Minor, including his former ally Ptolemy I at Salamis in 306, before being killed at Ipsus in 301BC?





Answers to BH150 Part I
1 Bremen 2 Marigalante 3 Sharp 4 "Coming to terms with the past" 5 Fraunhofer 6 Dried codfish 7 Waterloo 8 Charles Willson Peale 9 White honey 10 Maslenitsa 11 Conimbriga Roman Ruins 12 Natural Park of Serra da Estrela 13 Gossip Girl 14 Ruiz 15 Enigma machines 16 Kawthoolay 17 Grouper 18 Q-Tip 19 Ozzie Smith 20 Buitenvrouw 21 Postage stamp 22 David Rose 23 Casablanca 24 Diamond (apparently) 25 Innsbruck 26 Zemsky Sobor 27 Bahamas 28 Anastylosis 29 Losar 30 Cybercafe 31 Turkmenistan 32 Sao Bento Palau (St Benedict's Palace) 33 Tauride Palace/Tavrichesky dvorets 34 Vahiguru 35 Mali 36 Freedom Tower 37 Tel Aviv 38 Martha 39 Bruce Nauman 40 Dane Cook 41 Lesser celandine 42 Blackcap 43 Luca Pacioli 44 Eduardo Alves da Silva 45 I Vitelloni 46 Northumberland Strait 47 Pink 48 From Russia With Love 49 Lawn 50 Grands Croix/Chevalier 51 Gerhard Richter 52 Frescoes on the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel 53 False consciousness 54 Fukuoka 55 Ishm 56 Kampala 57 Damascus 58 Maurice Martenot (as in the ondes Martenot) 59 L'oiseau Lyre (Lyrebird Press) 60 Niels Gade 61 Johann Joseph Fux 62 Krzysztof Penderecki 63 Vespasian 64 Johan Kaspar Lavater 65 Robert Fitzsimmons 66 Eva Peron 67 Paul Eluard 68 Hart Crane 69 Clement XIII 70 Igor Stravinsky 71 Kiss Me Kate 72 Philip II 73 Sallust or Gaius Sallustius Crispus 74 Jean Rostand 75 Cambridge 76 Marcel Pagnol 77 Virginia 78 War 79 Edna St Vincent Millay 80 Prince Metternich 81 Mucus 82 Mullerian mimicry 83 Landler 84 Panne 85 Landau 86 Pandour 87 Purana 88 Andes 89 David Morell 90 Rajput 91 Reverse transcriptase 92 Sabra 93 Sabadilla 94 Serow 95 Shrimp 96 Smelt 97 Persia 98 Spekboom 99 Bowels or intestines 100 Johannes Stark (Stark effect) 101 Autun cathedral 102 Luca Giordano 103 Eutychides 104 Gregor Erhart 105 Andrea Mantegna 106 Niklaus Manuel 107 Hans Memling or Memlinc 108 Nigeria 109 Pattern painting 110 Germain Pillon or Pilon 111 Red figure style 112 Mick Price 113 Park Chung Hee 114 Baghdad 115 Tikal 116 Song 117 Al-Mamun 118 Turfan Depression 119 Suzhou 120 Susa 121 Julius von Sachs 122 Treaty of St Germain 123 Rosh Hashanah 124 Roseau 125 Ramses II 126 Andre Debierne 127 Law of Civilization and Decay 128 USA and Spain 129 Antofagasta 130 Antigonus I

Monday, April 21, 2008


Dribble dribble slurp slurp

I've just completed a 2650 quiz question order. Well, I did a few days ago, and I still don't think I've recovered. My brain is all scrambled and atomised. It drips out of every head orifice. I never thought it would take so much out of me, and even drive me a little teeny weeny bit nuts. All I want to do is lie in bed and not think of Georger Sisler, Satchel Paige and batters' OBPs: this is what happens when you agree to write 1000 questions on baseball, 1000 on hip hop and 500 on ice hockey, and some others on base TV. I mean, the said sports aren't even played in this country properly FERCHRISSAKES!!! I'll give you a slapshot alright. And never again will I write a question on any members of the Wu-Tang Clan. Even if they played Cheese on The Wire.

However, in the end, I have to say I am glad for the experience. What doesn't kill you or gives you permanent brain damage makes you a better question setter, an excellent human being, or some other platitudinous arsebollocks.

But tomorrow night promises a new challenge. My first Brain of London final. Ooh don't it make you want to puke your guts up with nervousness? Nah, not really. I got up at 18.11 today. I have no idea why. I thought I went to bed at a 'normal' time. But hey, wasn't Pulling really crap your underwear funny/embarrassing last night? Makes me want to go out 'on the rob' and frame law-abiding old men with bottles of Yop. What TV orders me to do, I must obey.

Tuesday, April 08, 2008

Eating of the Spoils

The Benefits of Winning Certain Quizzes

Sunday saw myself return to Sho'ditch House to consume the £150 winnings from a previous quiz we had won on the same day I had returned spotty and disorderly in both mind and body from Budapest.

Steve Furst, him off the Orange cinema ads, was doing the quizmaster duties since Richard "Cocaine both helped and hindered my career" Bacon had somehow forgotten he had a radio show on FiveLive to do at the same time. However, Furst was brilliant and far better than Bacon would have been (my opinion, but 'tis my blog). And brilliant in the way that increasingly sozzled presenters are.

Of course, to keep us cynical meeja types happy he told us of the best and worst of the roster of guest stars that he had worked with, whilst selling that certain coloured mobile phone brand. The late and dearly departed Roy Scheider was "lovely", while apparently Carrie Fisher had emptied her hotel room mini-bar as if she had assumed the form of a locust swarm and charged it to her agency. The most heinous of them all was a certain star of the film Splash. Daryl Hannah was deemed "VILE". An absolute prima donna, she had gone out the day before filming and spent her entire wardrobe budget only to turn up the next day in her own scruffy jeans without any of the pre-purchased clothes. I mean, the cunning cheek of the silly one-eyed mermaid!

He was also fully aware of the need to sell himself and self-deprecate in equal measure too, announcing every one of his ventures as barely seen, except for Little Britain, naturally, and pleading with us to see him do proper stand-up. At least nine times.

On asking the bona fide question, was Charlotte Church's chatshow any good? A lone voice rose amongst the geese-like melee. "I was a researcher on it ... we asked for you to come on," piped up a typical-looking Hoxton habitue. It was as if he was proud of this fact. No, he was proud and announcing it to the rest of the room. Giving him a shotgun-load of disdain in his excessively moisturised face, Furst replied: "Liar! If you had asked for me I would have gone on. I am a complete WHORE and will do anything for money". (The answer was "No". Good quiz question).

As for the questions, set by Mr MIA Bacon himself, they were good. Good as in there was nowt twatty or silly about the set content and avid TV and trivia fans would be suitably rewarded, though the title of the quiz, a "television quiz", certainly came into disrepute when the round on celebrity authored books was announced (ok, let's just put down Victoria Beckham and Jordan for everything we're not sure about). Plus, it wasn't too bad coping with the rounds on Richard Bacon and Steve Furst themselves. And the "TV themes nicked off my iPod" ending was a nice touch. "YES!!" I screamed in triumph when I realised I had correctly identified Animal Magic. Those of an elder vintage may yawn at such a pathetically easy question, but remember, I was but protein floating in the cosmos for the vast majority of its broadcast run.

I overheard our jovial and friendly team of markers - it was a swap-your-sheets kind of affair - opine at regular intervals with words like "Oh, they must work in comedy" and "They must work in TV they're so good!". I should have replied: "Nope, I just tend to write and read a lot of quiz questions, and have done so for many many years. I have to come plunder this venue for its glorious food options, cotton buds and hand towels". But no. Keep it like a secret. Look enigmatic and masterly. The team next to us must have come from Kudos, the makers of Life on Mars, seeing as they leapt up in unified glee at the very mention of Harry from Spooks and the magical name 'Sam Tyler'. They certainly looked like people who had made telly for a long time. Though they visibly swooned when they saw my knowledge of how Sam Tyler came by his name appeared on our paper (can't be bothered to link that one; go search and find yourself, my interesting trivia-inclined readers, wander and discover, my blahdeeblahblah). Sometimes, you can derive a very odd sense of satisfaction from impressing far older complete media-denizen strangers with general knowledge. This was one of those mildly splendid occasions.

It was one of those quizzes where nuggets of shameful information would make themselves useful and reveal yourself as pure weirdo. There is something disgraceful and embarrassing about getting the weekly magazine in which Colleen McLoughlin blesses and honours our world with a column rammed full of as much insight and wit as you'd expect from Wayne Rooney's sweetheart (I overruled my teammate Marianna and said it was Grazia, and not the likes of Now or Hello), but then again I was glad I didn't identify Jodie Marsh from the first sentence of her autobiography. The most annoyed I got was not putting down Lenny Beige for Steve Furst's comedic alter-ego. Like, duh. Of course it was. And I was soooo very irked at not getting The Farm. Where else would Ron Jeremy, Flavor Flav and Keith Harris & Orville the Duck have collided? Actually, don't answer that for fear of outraging public decency.

And though I may have said it before, the great thing about playing against people who aren't quizzers is that you will get stuff like the fictional setting for Heartbeat and they won't have the faintest because they live in another social dimension. They will, of course, get the kind of cool stuff you expect them to - which in the quiz world have come to be known as 'Quiz Blogger questions'* - but that's the advantage of having a foot, or at least a teeny tiny toe, in both camps. You will win (by about 8 points in this instance), or do very well, because of the double exposure. Quizzing against non-quizzers in the confines of a mega-trendy private members club is fun I can heartily recommend. Don't it make ya jealous and all Incredible Hulk green with envy?

However, sometimes you have to restrain yourself from taking advantage so regularly. Last night there was another GK quiz on the top floor and I decided not to go because you have to leave some quizzes fallow, just to keep them alive (if you know what I mean).

Anyway, I also had the lingering fear that the person who hands out the winning vouchers might get suspicious too, not to mention bloody tired, of giving us free food and booze all the time. She is all smiles and bonhomie now, but after the fourth or fifth time? Hmmmm...

Winning is more than worth it, however. Even if your £150 won't even cover the dinner bill. After eating the to-die-for salmon starter (and I mean, it is the greatest salmon starter in the world), I had a mountain of suckling pig in Budapest-big portions served with roast taters, cauliflower cheese and zucchini fritti. It was very good, even if all the skin did not corrupt and crackle like it is meant to. Dessert was ginger pannacotta with sable biscotto. 'Twas alright. I knew I should have gone for the tart. Man, I never fail to get the wrong puddings.

But then again you don't just come for the food (and the Peugeot salt and pepper pots - so beautifully crafted we have attempted to devise clever and fox-worthy ploys resulting in their being removed to our homes where they obviously belong. Though they really should have wheels. Being produced by Peugeot an' all). There's the fabulous 'spot the famous members' game. Watch and recognise the celebrity wildlife.

Having spied Dave Gorman in the bar, we decamped to the canteen area (think rustic-urban) and sat close to a family-style banquet, the children and 45-year-old children of which took great delight in chucking bits of bread at all and sundry, one ten-year-old girl scoring an impressive direct hit on a waiter's left ear. This food skirmish ebbed and flowed throughout the course of the meal, and at no point did the cool-as-cucumber staff try to intercede and threaten some sort of sanction. I then saw why. The centre-most pair was none other than Sam Taylor-Wood and hubbie Jay Jopling, the golden couple of the British art world (Nigella and Charles don't count cos Nigella cooks don't she?). Taylor-Wood stood out, looking far smaller in real life because famous and slightly famous people always do, because she was the only woman of similar age who was not wearing an overwhelming amount of the colour black. Because when you are well off and wish to retain the hip cachet you so effortlessly coddled in your youth, you must clothe yourself in it. It's the law. Apparently.

Ekow Eshun, wife and his cute toddler son with the most adorable afro you are ever likely to see (set off by the Miu Miu handbag swinging softly by his head) then dropped by to meet and greet and mwa-mwa-mwa. It made me wonder how did I end up in a place like this? Oh wait, it's because one of my friends was one of the first intake of members and has been regularly inviting me back, so I can win him free food. It is a fair trade, methinks. You're being used like a common prostitute or some sort of deadly secret weapon, yes, but you do get nourished. I mean, ShoHo is better than your regular Wetherspoons. That I can say for sure.

After the food phase had been completed, we went to the bar to play Cluedo (I am banned from playing any knowledge-based board games against my non-quiz friends), which I still cannot understand (I mean, I said it had six not nine rooms in a recent quiz, with some deranged certainty) and am fated never to win at ("Can't we play Scrabble" I ask; friends reply "NO"). There we saw Fergus Henderson, bespectacled master of offal, and that bloke who used to read the news on the Big Breakfast, and thus I was satisfied with my celeb-recog-haul. It was a good spread today, I reckoned. A very good spread. Then, after three games characterised by my pure bewilderment (why is the 'revolver' called a revolver when the playing piece is a musket? Eh eh?) and attempt to read the Independent on Sunday, and a double macchiato, we left a bit after 7, returning to our ordinary lives. 'Tis never less than pleasant to see how the upper echelons of uber-cool society waste their time. And, naturally, use quiz to eat and drink like they do. There ain't no such thing as 'useless information' when it can be used in such a way. Makes me laugh sometimes just to think of it. Oh, it's 'useless' eh? How would you like to see a photo of the colossal rib-eye steak I won thanks to quiz? (Man, I should have gone for the steak. I never fail to get the wrong main courses).

Definition of 'QB questions': People coming up to me in person or remarking in an email saying "I knew/know you will/would get this question right". Examples include the Rock Paper Scissors world champion at the Transatlantic GP, which I did not get, oh tragedy of tragedies (Eric), the Manga question about Tezuka in the Flemish individuals (Phil) and a couple of indie-rock/obscure music ones in Rob's latest 200-question quiz (as cited by Rob). They have a certain pattern, I'm sure you'll agree.

Thursday, April 03, 2008

As Tom Waits sang...

... I' Still Here

In fact, I've been far too busy in a quizzing sense, as well as a feeling like a someone has used my brain and body as a viral trash receptacle, to actually deign to update this nook of cyberspace. Overloaded, you have my word. But for now, before I do a breathless recap ... oh, and it WILL be a breathless recap, all fast like and without breath, here is the President's Cup details and 77% originally-set friendly, the last of the 2007/08 season.

A massive number of players competed in the main event - five, WOW! - but we still managed to rack up the highest aggregate score in this round of matches. The final score was Sussex 36-31 Oxford. I shan't talk anymore about it, except surnames, just the surnames. We almost hit the utterly meaningless 140 2-pointer total for the season. Ooh so close. And so the curtains fall on another President's Cup season, a glorious one for us, which proves that black is white and up is down, and the benthic bottom table scrapers can rise to the top, robed in Tyrean purple and conquering all, except for the Beds and Herts obviously, in surprisingly smooth fashion. The temptation is to now disband and quit while we're ahead. But no. I wouldn't want to do that. Not unless I was really bloody lazy and couldn't be arsed booking tables at The Castle anymore for our matches, something I find unduly stressy and irritating. Though, I could always become a President's Cup mecenary. But NO. I wouldn't want to do that. Not after building a championship-winning team. I really should have special rings made up or something equally ostentatious and silly. Baseball caps, yeah! William Hague-stylee.

Enough with the Waffle
I wrote a friendly. It was quite hard. They always seem to be whenever I play Oxford. The score was 27-24 to Sussex, with the outcome dependent on the very last pair of questions, so I can at least say they were balanced, though a mere two 2-pointers answered in the first half suggests I had somehow gone mad with quiz-setting power. MAD like the magazine. I must also credit the ACF for some pairs, which I adapted and embellished or edited down for British purposes. I know, lazy bones me, but it was getting late, so late in fact that it was getting rather early. Inspiration sometimes deserts me in the darkest hour.

Unanswered questions are marked *

President's Cup friendly 30/3/08

Round 1
1a Which Indian Premier League Twenty20 cricket team are called the Knight Riders?*
1b As in the Worcestershire sauce, what were the first names of Lea & Perrins?
John (Wheeley) & William (Henry)
2a Howard Brenton's new play Never So Good centres on which politician?
Harold MacMillan
2b Which Indian Premier League cricket team are known as the Daredevils?
3a The words 'caravan' and 'divan' come from which language?
Persian or Farsi
3b What is the nationality of media mogul Lambert Le Roux the central character in Howard Brenton and David Hare's play Pravda?*
South African
4a As in the sugar manufacturers, what were the first names of Tate & Lyle?*
Henry & Abram
4b The words 'admiral' and 'mattress' come from which language?

Round 2
1a How many Oxford and Cambridge University Boat Races have there been as of yesterday - i.e. March 29, 2008?
1b Which 36-year-old American became the oldest oarsman to compete in the Boat Race yesterday?*
Mike Wherley
2a In which religion are hymns called "Gathas"?
2b The Pescadores island group belong to which island-republic?
3a The Admiralty Islands are part of which country?
Papua New Guinea
3b The Cy Coleman musical Sweet Charity is based on which Federico Fellini film?
Nights of Cabiria
4a Andrew Lloyd Webber wrote the musical By Jeeves with which English playwright?
Alan Ayckbourn
4b The Katabi Ikan is perhaps the most notable holy scripture of which religion?
Baha'i - according to Pears Quiz Companion, hmmmmm

Round 3
1a What is the common name of Chopin's Etude in G Flat , No. 5?*
'Black Key'
1b George Bernard Shaw said of which actor: "Simply no brains, all character and temperament"?*
Henry Irving
2a Napoleon defeated forces from which country at the Battle of Marengo in 1800?
2b What is the common name of Beethoven's Piano Trio No. 9 in B Flat?
3a Which Japanese city was hit by an earthquake in 1995?
3b Lord Kitchener defeated forces led by the Khalifa of which modern day country at the Battle of Omdurman?
4a Margot Asquith said of which Earl: "Very clever, but his brains go to his head"?*
Earl of Birkenhead
4b Which North American capital was hit by an earthquake in 1985?
Mexico City

Round 4
1a The Darling family feature in which new US TV drama on Channel 4 that stars Donald Sutherland?
Dirty Sexy Money
1b Which 3rd century saint is said to have founded monasticism with Paul the Hermit during his travels through Egypt?
St Anthony
2a The archaeologist Heinrich Schliemann discovered the city of Troy whilst excavating which Turkish hill-site?
2b In which film did Richard Gere play a pilot named Zack Mayo?
An Officer and a Gentleman
3a In which film does Richard Gere play businessman Edward Lewis?
Pretty Woman
3b The Walker family, one of whom is played by Calista Flockhart, feature in which US TV drama on Channel 4?
Brothers and Sisters
4a Which branch of the Franciscans was founded in 1525 by Matteo de Bascio?*
4b Heinrich Schliemann founded which famous artefact at a grave-site in Mycenae, so named after its supposed mythical owner?
Burial mask of Agamemnon

Round 5
1a Symbolised by two letters of the alphabet, which well-known geological boundary is believed to have been formed by a comet hitting the earth?*
K-T boundary
1b Taking their name from a bird, which Major League Baseball team play at Camden Yards?
Baltimore Orioles
2a Amyas Leigh is the hero of which Charles Kingsley novel?
Westward Ho!
2b Sharing his surname with a mathematician, which Frenchman served as President throughout World War One?
Raymond Poincare
3a Taking their name from a fish, which Major League Baseball team play at the Pro Player Stadium?
Florida Marlins
3b Sharing his surname with both a female composer and a seducer of Madame Bovary, which French general and nationalist leader failed to join a coup begun by his supporters in 1889, leading to his exile and suicide two years later?*
Georges Boulanger
4a John Ridd is the hero of which RD Blackmore novel?
Lorna Doone
4b Derived by an eponymous Estonian scientist, which equations give the probability of collision between two objects orbiting the same star and share their name with a Liberal Democrat MP?
Opik's equations

Round 6
1a Saif Saeed Shaheen, the world record holder in the 3000m steeplechase, represents which country?
1b What is the first name of Nicolas Sarkozy's third wife?
2a Ravel based which ballet that he called a "symphonie choreographique" on a 3rd century AD poem by the Greek, Longus?
Daphnis and Chloe
2b The 20km walk world record holder, Jefferson Perez comes from which country?
3a Minoru Shirota invented which much-advertised probiotic yoghurt drink?
3b Ravel was inspired to write which orchestral suite that includes a fandango called "Malaguena" by the folk songs he heard from his Basque mother?
Spanish Rhapsody
4a What is the first name of Gordon Brown's wife?
4b Which famous water is sourced from the Cachat Spring?

Round 7
1a Which genus of perennial plants with large flowers has a common garden type with the scientific name pinnata that has been developed into more than 2000 varieties?*
1b Ralph Tresvant was the lead vocalist with which American group who had a 1983 no. 1 with Candy Girl?
New Edition
2a In 1164, Henry II issued which series of 16 articles that asserted control over Church courts and restricted various clerical powers?*
Constitutions of Clarendon
2b The Constitutions of Clarendon took secular control of which privilege, whose holders decided who received certain salaried church positions?*
3a Which American group, who had a UK no. 1 in August 1983, released such other hits as Get Down Tonight and Boogie Shoes?*
KC & The Sunshine Band
3b Which Pakistani city is home to the Hazuri Bagh Square, the Begum Shati Masjid and the Badshahi Mosque?*
4a Which Indian city is home to Kamaraj Salai beach, the St Andrews Kirch and Fort St George?*
4b Which genus of shrubby plants with waxy flowers includes 100 or so species that include the crimson-purple procumbens and the speciosa?

Round 8
1a A half-man, half-serpent, Cecrops was the mythical founder and first king of which city?
1b In which year did BBC2 start broadcasting?
2a Which girl comic strip character owned a dog called Sandy?
Little Orphan Annie
2b Cadmus, the mythical son of Agenor, sowed his teeth to create the Sparti who became the ancestors of which city?
3a Commissioned for the church of the hospital of Santa Maria Nuova in Florence by an eponymous Italian banker, the Portinari Triptych was painted in around 1475 by which Flemish artist?*
Hugo van der Goes
3b Which female comic strip character owned a dog called Daisy?*
4a In which year did Sky Television merge with British Satellite Broadcasting?*
4b What is the popular name of the Hubert and Jan van Eyck's 1432 polyptych The Adoration of the Mystic Lamb or The Lamb of God, which can be found in Saint Bavo Cathedral?
Ghent Altarpiece

Spare - well more like the question I got from doing one of the questions but haven't bothered to assign anywhere else
You will find the biblical quotation Judges 14:14 "Out of the strong came forth sweetness" on a tin of what?
Lyle's Golden Syrup