Wednesday, September 17, 2008



(Apologies for the CAPS)

For those who who might not know, my two-part 1002-question big enormous email quiz is ready (and has been ready for quite some time) to go.

Lest you fear! I will be emailing previous participants of The Blockbuster, Behemoth, Colossus and Monster and kindly asking them if they would like to take part (and not because I want to emotionally blackmail and extort money from them in as pleasant and as reasonable a manner as can be expected). By the way, non-paying electronic duplicators will surely burn in the red red fires of hell, or expect to be scolded if they mention having seen or done it (I got me a quick mind, you know, yesirree) in textual and other communicative means. I have noticed this before, but have so far held my tongue.

And by the way, everyone who has returned their part ones has bloody loved it! In a manner of speaking. I will fetch the accolades in due time.

Might I also add that the questions in the email quizzes are in no way indicative of those found on this blog. They are fair and (mostly) gettable and not aimed at brutalising you into depression. The blog quizzes are intended to be for training purposes and if you get more than 1 in 5 of them right, you deserve my hearty congratulations.

Oh yeah, these will probably be be my last big email efforts for a very long time. And I'm not talking a single year either. If you get my drift.

It is time once again (or has been for about three weeks) for another Big, Big Quiz. Coming hot on the heels of The Blockbuster (#4), comes "The Giant". However, this time there is a difference. Due to problems with time and admin, I have decided to make it a two-parter, with each part being 501 questions long and therefore making a total of 1002 questions.

The first part (The Giant: Part I) is ready now, and the second (cunningly titled The Giant: Part II). However, you cannot complete the second part until you have sent back the first to myself. I will then e-mail Part II to you, although you can get both at the same time if you have declared your wish not to be part of the final results, though you will not receive your combined Giant until the vast majority of actual competitors have returned their answers for both parts (i.e. October 28).

The time limit is 195 minutes or 3 hours and 15 minutes, unless your first language is something other than English. Then you can have another half hour to use dictionaries to translate ancillary words.

So what is it like? Here is some 'Feedback from Illustrious Quiz Deities ...'

Kevin Ashman, Egghead, three-time World Quizzing Champion and beloved of actress Michelle Collins: "The Giant, like its predecessors, is a labour of love which covers an astonishing range of information culled from the highways and byways [is that the same thing as roadkill?] of the world's rich cultural mix. Challenging, stimulating, and thoroughly enjoyable, it's bound to leave you wanting to found out more about some of the things you never knew you didn't know."

Pat Gibson, 2007 World Quizzing Champion, WWTBAM winner: "Lots of great stuff ... there were many cracking questions. A fascinating set (as always), I enjoyed it very much."

Of course, it is great practice for coming written quizzes: the British and European Quiz Championships for example. Some of the questions always come up (so reckons me).

How to enter

You enter by e-mailing I will acknowledge receipt of your e-mail as soon as possible.

I will then give you details on how to pay along with a snail mail address for cheques (and eventually, postal entries) - Paypal, cheque, even cash if you dare - and put you down on the participant list. You can also pay me at the European Quiz Championships in Oslo, if you can't pay by any of the aforementioned methods. You can enter any time as long as it is before the deadline date for the return of your completed answer sheets.

The price is £15 for both parts. Therefore it is £7.50 for either. You can buy The Behemoth and The Blockbuster, with answers, for £7.50 each. You can also purchase TQG's first and second huge quizzes - The Monster and The Colossus for £3. And if you're wondering TQG is nowhere near exhausting the pool of potential names!

Once your payment (though I will go on trust for everyone, such as previous participants, he knows personally and e-mail them the quiz ASAP) has been received, the quiz will then be e-mailed to you and you can return your answers any time before the ultimate deadline - Tuesday, October 28 (11.59pm to be exact) - by e-mail or snail mail.

You can, in effect, ask for The Giant: Part I at any time before that date, but if you want to do Part II, this is not advised. Obviously. The final results will be published in a Part I and Part II league tables, as well as one for Aggregates. The Aggregate results will decide who wins free entry next time.

Within the week of the deadline - November 4 - the answers and errors in the questions or helpful additional information competitors have pointed out and would like to share with everyone, will then be sent to every competitor by old fashioned snail mail (the postage cost will be taken out of £15 fee, though foreign competitors will receive such sheets grouped together where possible since they will pay less to take part). They will NOT be e-mailed out.

Every payee receive the answers

Again, everyone will receive the answers even if they do not submit a completed sheet - you have paid an entrance fee; therefore you get the full package. Yet again the bonus for taking part and doing all of the above in the recommended fashion, participants will also receive two of four originally-set 100-question quizzes, designated by the imaginative names A, B, C and D in the post with the answer set. You can purchase the other three bonus quizzes you have not have received after the deadline date for £1.50 each if you so wish.

Participants, whose completed entries arrive after the deadline, will get the answers and bonus quiz too, but will not be entered into the final scorers table. Having said that, they probably will be.

And please, if there are people out there who have still not got the answers for The Blockbuster and a copy of an ABC quiz then please tell me ASAP and he'll email them straight away. Many apologies if he's have forgotten you.


The prizes remain the same. Apart from the chance of competing against and comparing yourself with the likes of many a world class quiz god in a massive quiz from the comfort of your own home and winning the wondrous respect of your peers, the premier primo prize - since cash awards are not viable when I have to rely on the honesty of competitors doing it at home where they can access the internet, reference books and their loved ones for the stuff that is teetering on the top of their tongue - is that the overall winner will receive a refund of their entrance fee and free entry into the next quiz.

There will also be a refund and free entry again for those who finish number one in each country where there is more than three "Giant" competitors.

And to encourage those wary of possible humiliation (though you can enter under a pseudonym if you prefer) and just want to give it a shot, the overall bottom five finishers will also get their money back and free entry next time, as long as their answer sheet has been returned and convincingly attempted, i.e. filled with top-to-the-bottom with proof they have done their best to tackle it (those with barely any answers and blank sheets will be ignored).

And what are the questions going to be like?

Take this sample of 20 questions from The Blockbuster...

Q1 Which comedian (1906-98), who had a cameo playing himself in Goodfellas, was famed for such one-liners as "I take my wife everywhere, but she keeps finding her way back" and "Take my wife - please!"?

Q2 From the Greek meaning "done by hand", which healthcare profession for treating mechanical disorders of the spine and musculoskeletal system was founded in 1895 by the Canadian, Daniel David Palmer?

Q3 By what English name do we know the TV show broadcast as Ruku na to in Slovakia, Da sau nu in Romania, Trato Hecho in Argentina and Affari Tuoi in Italy?

Q4 The French artist Joseph Duplessis's portrait of Benjamin Franklin is most commonly seen where?

Q5 Which Swedish musician, producer and ex-dentist had a major hit in 1992 with It's My Life?

Q6 Nicknamed "JJ" and "Jeca", which 23-year-old Serbian tennis player and Wimbledon mixed doubles champion entered the WTA top three for the first time on reaching the French Open semi-finals in 2007?

Q7 Utilising the colours blue, green, red and yellow, the official version of which game is played on a felt mat 1.8m by 0.9m with a pot in the middle and base lines at each corner?

Q8 Complete the lyric with a Eddie Cochran song title from 1958: "There ain't no cure for the __________ _____"

Q9 Based in the Californian city of Mountain View, which US public corporation's mission statement is to "organise the world's information and make it universally accessible and useful"?

Q10 Which soprano married the mining engineer Desmond Park six months after they had a blind date in Auckland in August 1967?

Q11 Made into a French live-action TV series in 1965, which Cecile Aubry novel takes its name (familiar to fans of Scottish indie music) from an orphaned six-year-old boy and his dog who live in a small mountain village on the French side of the France-Italy border?

Q12 Which Australian batsman, who scored 165 before retiring hurt, faced the first ball ever bowled in Test cricket (by England's Alfred Shaw)?

Q13 What links Vermeer's The Artist in his Studio, Ingres's The Bather, Friedrich's The Wanderer Above the Clouds, Caillebotte's Man at his Bath, Hammershoi's Interior, Magritte's La Reproduction interdite and Gerhard Richter's Betty?

Q14 Called "a bonzer place" by novelist Nevil Shute, which Australian town is reportedly the stabbing capital of the world and also claims the highest murder and highest consumption of alcohol rate in the country?

Q15 In a 1963 film, what eponymous jewel is owned by Princess Dala (played by Claudia Cardinale)?

Q16 Which Russian vodka brand numbers its Blue Label variety "57" and its Classic Red Label "21", though in Norway "21" may also refer to it being cut with Norwegian berries?

Q17 What is also known as Archimedes's constant and as Ludolph's number?

Q18 Which Australian Prime Minister is presumed to have drowned while swimming at Portsea, near Melbourne, on December 17, 1967?

Q19 Recently, the Kapa O Panga version has sometimes been performed instead of the traditional Ka Mate. They are variations of what?

Q20 The official residence of the President of South Korea - the Cheong Wa Dae - is translated into English under what name, suggesting it is merely a different colour to that of the US President's?

Remember the E-mail Entry Address & the Deadline!

Just one more time for an increasingly annoying effect, e-mail: and get ALL your answers in by 11.59pm, Tuesday, October 28.

But to be honest, the deadline might well be extended beyond that. Simply because, it always is.

Blockbuster sampler answers

1 Henny Youngman 2 Chiropracty 3 Deal or No Deal 4 US$100 banknote 5 Dr Alban 6 Jelena Jankovic 7 Tiddlywinks 8 Summertime Blues 9 Google 10 Kiri Te Kanawa 11 Belle et Sebastien 12 Charles Bannerman 13 The subject has their back to the viewer of the painting 14 Alice Springs 15 The Pink Panther 16 Smirnoff 17 Pi 18 Harold Holt 19 Haka 20 Blue House

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Error on The Giant: Part 2

Of course, the subject of Q168 was born in 1844 not 1820, so it should read (1844-1900). Ta ta.

Friday, September 12, 2008

BH153: Pink, Green & Blue Clearout

A bit of an Autumn clean

I'm just clearing out a load of distorted and illegible scribblings in my notebook and sprucing them up for public consumption. There are a lot more to clean up and actually write properly, but then I got me a bit of a malaise with regards to the transcribing during these early morning hours, so it only goes up to 20.

1 Which Italian artist produced a series of 16 prints, including II 'The Man on the Rock', V 'The Lion-Bas Reliefs, VI 'The Smoking Fire' and XII 'The Sawhorse', known as the Prisons (Carceri d'invenzione/Imaginary Prisons): etchings portraying enormous subterranean vaults with stairs and mighty machines that he started in 1745 and first published in 1750?
2 Conceived by Stan Weston in 1963, Rocky (Marine/soldier), Skip (sailor) and Ace (pilot) were the first prototypes for which line of toys?
3 The first jockey to win the Melbourne Cup in 1861 (and again in 1861) was an Aboriginal. Riding Archer, what was his name?
4 Which Spanish city gave its name to the 'Statement on Violence' adopted by UNESCO in 1989, a document that refuted the notion that humans are biologically predisposed to organised violence?
5 Usually translated as 'governorate' (and occasionally into 'province'), what Arabic word describes the politico-geographical divisions of such countries as Bahrain, Egypt, Lebanon, Syria, Iraq and Yemen?
6 Which hugely successful novelist is the Baltimore Orioles' Vice Chairman of Community Activities and Public Affair?
7 Which constant (symbol R) occurs in the formulae for atomic spectra and is related to the binding energy between an electron and a nucleon and is named afrer the Swedish physicist (1854-1919) who devised a formula for the spectrum of hydrogen?
8 The oldest known man-made objects are Oldowan tools, which were made in small batches more than two million years ago in which modern day country?
9 Dr. Stanley Deutsch formulated the contents of what chemical concoction in 1977?
10 Constructed in 62BC, what was the first bridge across the Tiber in Rome called?
11 The family of Thomas and Jane Rose of Dorset became the first free settlers of which country on January 15, 1793?
12 Excavated from a tomb dating from the time of the Western Han dynasty (206BC-9AD), what artwork - currently in the Hunan Museum - is the earliest known example of Chinese painting?
13 Which Bury alternative rock band named themselves after what Dennis Potter called "the loveliest word in the English language" in The Singing Detective?
14 An English doctor and lecturer of Huguenot descent, which 26-year-old man began compiling what he called "a classed catalogue of words" to help him express himself better in 1805?
15 Established in 1668, what is the world's oldest central bank?
16 First performed during the 1868 battle it adapted its name from, what song - written and composed by one of its participants Perucho Figueredo - was adopted as the Cuban national anthem in 1902?
17 Discovered in a library in Worms by Conrad Celtes, who was unable to publish his find before his death, and bequeathed this parchment scroll in 1508 to the German 15th-16th century humanist and antiquarian who gave it its common name, which itinerarium is is the only known surviving map of the Roman cursus publicus, the road network in the Roman Empire, having been made by a monk in Colmar in the 13th century?
18 Derived from the Hebrew for 'chariot', what is the name of the main battle tank of Israel Defence Forces?
19 Which crater lake is the most saline body of water on earth, with 34.8 per cent salt concentration (up to 40 per cent at 20m depth), compared to an average of 3.5 per cent in the world's oceans?
20 Which peak on Guam lays claim to being the tallest mountain as measured from its base, although it is only 406m above sea level it measures 11,530m down to the base at the bottom of the Marianas Trench?





Answers to BH153
1 Giovanni Battista Piranesi 2 G.I. Joe 3 J. Cutts 4 Seville 5 Muhafazah , plural muhafazat 6 Tom Clancy 7 Rydberg constant (as in Johannes Robert Rydberg) 8 Ethiopia 9 Lethal injection 10 Pons Fabricus 11 Australia 12 Mawangdui Banner 13 Elbow 14 Peter Mark Roget 15 Sveriges Riksbank 16 La Bayamesa or El Himno de Bayamo or The Bayamo Song 17 Tabula Peutingeriana (Peutinger table) 18 Merkava 19 Lake Assal in Djibouti 20 Mount Lamlam

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Radio Plays Black Hole Sun at Half Past Eight

Apocalypse Not Quite Yet

(You know when technology fails you and destroys something that will be forever lost? That's what happened with my final draft of this post. Blogger I hate you. Here's an earlier, comparatively mediocre draft. Now I'm just smoking mad.)

So the world didn't end. An peculiar sense of disappointment never fails to set in when the promise of endtimes is broken once again, no matter how superfluous the reason that has been tacked on this time around(though obviously it is going to be either the knock-on effect of the Bee Holocaust or the 2012 Revenge of the Mayas ... if it's The Rapture it will tick me off something rotten, what with you and me and everyone we know roasting in the fires of hell, while the likes of Sarah Palin and her righteous brethren go aerial wolf-gunning with God). But if our whole world ceased for evermore, it wouldn't matter because there would be nobody left to care, mourn or give any number of insignificant hoots about it. So why fret? That's the problem with consciousness. The mind deludes us into thinking it will go on and induces worrisome thoughts about how the lack of an afterlife basically means living alone in the dark, as if trapped in the worst bedsit we can imagine in a total blackout for all eternity, thus inducing soothing solutions like religions, religious wars, reincarnation, aethism, Flying Spaghetti Monsters, Dawkins documentaries and the catastrophic belief pile-up and confusion and ultimate solace in materialism and distraction via various forms of home and away entertainment. Then I go back to Dostoevsky's contention that if God does not exist, then EVERYTHING is permitted, which I think is the most terrifying notion around, especially if a significant proportion of the world's population believe it and act on all those animalistic instincts they've kept in check for the sake of society. In that case, let's be glad that pondering mankind's erasure from existence has been put off for another day (and preceding months of meaningless waffle and speculation) by the fact that the hyped-up media story surrounding it was a load of old balderdash nobody of sane mind actually believed in anyway, while the Fourth Estate played it for laughs, despite all those hushed asides about the vague possibility of doomsday, like they were each doing their own low rent comic remakes of Armageddon possibly calling Carry on Armageddon Out of Here. What you can say is that it sure got some top notch publicity for the beam-steering around the LHC accelerator ring at CERN, which the less-informed of us might have thought was some sort of turbo-charged carpentry related-racing event.

Not that I would have noticed, however, being fast asleep at the potential point whence almighty doom might have descended upon the Earth and Swiss-cheesed everyone in a series of black holes that were not located in Lancashire. Really, I don't know. I try to keep up with the whole science thang - and it's a big thing isn't it? Huge. Massive. That's why it's called science. It thought itself so important that it took the Latin derivation for 'knowing/knowledge' all for itself, bedamned history! I AM SCIENCE! You are crap! - as I do with everything, it is my accidental trade in life after all, but my mind is just too detached from the actual mechanics of life to want to fully comprehend it. And I like it that way. To be an artsy fartsy dreamer is no bad thing. Therefore - hurtling into astonishingly trivial territory as is the usual trajectory of this blog's raison d'etre - when writing science questions it's more a process of taking a pertinent passage and chopping it into something that looks like it makes complete sense and putting it into the usual 'what is' form. Problem is I still don't have the kind of understanding that gives me anywhere near a confident handle on subjects like the Large Hadron Collider, effects, constants, theories, and countless subatomic particles that are apparently piled higgedly piggedly upon and under and side by side in some strange network that is meant to help me understand the basic fabric of life and existence in this giant scary universe. The only way I answer quiz questions on such subjects is by getting a handle on the eponymous scientist who discovered it or theorised something. Without the people ("Named for the Indian scientist that...") or word derivations (the more eccentric and whimsical the better), the sciences would be a bleak and forlorn desert where none of my interest could ever hope to bloom. Thankfully, semantics, semiotics, toponymy, etymology and the whole onomastic alliance - for you must never forget that quiz is a game of names bounded by the trusty twine of chronology - has leant me the helping hand I need to squeeze out several outrageous correct answers. And that's the problem with scanning science questions: you have to pay closer attention to the details. Attention that is always flitting in my shifty brain. The only scientific theories that reel in the ADD involve multiple worlds, string theory, and made-up ones Philip K. Dick explored when he was plainly hepped up so high he couldn't even seen the ground.

However, there was one lady who had a far firmer grasp on the matter (dark matter?) at hand. Dear Keeley with the you know whats and that grainy cameraphone video where she does that thing, declared from the third page of our nation's finest news publication, The Sun:

"It's so exciting. The machine's main purpose is to explore the validity and limitations of the current theoretical picture for particle physics".

Now I was thinking, just for a split second there, that the junior Sun reporter usually tasked with putting intelligent comment ('intelligent comment' equating to 'absurd topical banalities that should be collected in a special volume and studied intently by anthropologists one day for the purpose of ascertaining the dangerously high percentage of bollocks contained in each text') into the mouths of whichever barely clad babe was gracing the most famous numbered newspaper in history had done their stuff, weeing themselves with laughter and crying sheets of happy tears at considering the inexplicable madness of the concept that is NEWS IN BRIEFS. But who knows? Perhaps, just for one day, it wasn't another Dadaist antic on the part of Rebecca Wade. Perhaps, Keeley was filled with the spirit of Marie Curie and .... that's about where I lost it. Damn.

(Missing content includes references to "high-minded Swedes with dynamite-funded dough", "right wing git of the people" John Gaunt's column being about as "funny as a drinking a razorblade-laced blood and ale smoothie", opining it that we were better off when we "lived in caves and were really into big hair and brandishing big clubs all day" since "we could just about knock a mammoth out rather than reduce cities to smoking cinders and dust with the downward action of an index finger". I absolutely hate it when blog posts go all Magnificent Ambersons)

Tuesday, September 09, 2008


A Broken Heart Rules

Didn't me old BH mucker Sean completely blow everyone away at the Brits? 'Twas a lovely surprise. On hearing his quite gargantuan (97) score at half time, I was genuinely astonished, and in a very pleasant way might I add. Then slightly later, on realising he had taken the national title when he told me his meat beast whopper (I did have one of those from BK t'other night: never never again. 'Tis the saucy veg spillage that irks me so and gets me all icky) of a best-five-round total, I felt extremely pleased for him, especially since he's been working so bloody hard at the art of quiz, and being so 'trivia-attentive' and far better at consuming relevant newsprint than me these past few years. I mean, I didn't even read a newspaper yesterday. I only looked at the BBC news and sport websites. The BBCNEWSANDSPORTWEBSITES!

And did you not see the creeping proof in his scores in my Big Quizzes? They're good for a few things (as well as driving me nicely hectic-nuts). OK, I am losing the power to place words, parantheses and severed syllables in their orthodox positions. It ain't the first time either. I have also noticed how writing in absurd phonetic hip hop speak in my current notebook is enormous fun. I have also realised that I must ensure no one, not one soul, shall see such demented scribblings in my lifetime.

As for my own showing, perhaps there will be some hilariously scathing introspection about a few of silly sloppy slip-ups ('Nid' for 'Ned', '3rd for 1st', crossing out 'fly fishing' and putting 'long cast' WHY OH WHY AND WTF!!!) and my continuing inability to read, not merely all, but at least 60 per cent of each blummin' question in a few more liberty-laden days. Yet, if truth be told, even my 'ideal score' (160 - and remember that's getting all the ones I would get in a Utopian realm where my brain runs smooth and sleek and is so utterly utterly brilliant it will be stolen by a fascinated acolyte sometime during my autopsy; the other 80 wrong guesses or clueless answer boxes being entirely understandable and never to be regretted) wouldn't have beaten the champ. And I'll be a darned Ozark-infesting hillbilly eating roadkill critters for Xmas dinner before I deign to explore the world of rugby league in enough depth to make any points difference. Some things were never meant to be. I shall hold my tongue in case offence is meted out, though admittedly, I really enjoyed watching it when I was aged about 8 or 9. There was nowt else on telly if TBT, and being a real bandwagon boy I leapt on the Wigan glory trail. Sad, je sais. But to be honest, I think I was too scared to turn on TVS in case I happened upon terrifying puppet show Terrahawks. Even years after it was ushered from our screens (and I really did like Saint and Greavsie. Even if I can only remember them chuckling at each other for what seemed like bloody hours.) Plus, it's the British rivers that get me. I mean, they're so bloody tiny compared to the ones they have on the continents. And, trust my luck, when one about my hometown river, the one I watched my brother jump into and scrap his leg off one fine summer's day near 13 years gone, it was pulled from the Battle of the Brains question pile.

In other news: I'm way too busy to be setting questions for free today (for shame, you say, and I say, I know), so you can have one randomly picked from my latest notebook.

Q1 Which 9th century AD Arab scientist and mathematician is reputed to have written the first treatise on code-breaking, On Deciphering Cryptographic Messages?

(Obviously that's not its Arabic title, but the source didn't have it, and I'm not too bothered. Though usually I would be to a irritating extent. Being a stickler for having original and translated titles in italics in the Q.)

(Remember I said I'm too preoccupied to set "questions". You can have one and that's your lot for today, and possibly tomorrow. Wait.)

Come to think of it...

I'll tell you where that Second Giant Part Is...
... when I said I would be releasing it like a fantastic bird of paradise, you know, like on that Papua New Guinea flag, into the cruel wilds of outer cyberspace, to those who had already returned part 1 by April 9. Apologies. It's still on my computer being proofed to death. I don't think there's anything wrong with it, I just happen to start looking at the whole Gestalt character of it and get the urge to take out 60 perfectly good questions and try and replace them with about 100 I think that are way more cool. But. I make this promise. Er, you'll be getting it in your inbox one day. (That way I can never truly disappoint you)

A. Al Kindi

(He probably has a really long Arabic name, but like I said blah-dee-blah, proof proof proof. Good film that. What with blind Hugo Weaving and young Russell Crowe.)

Thursday, September 04, 2008

Brrrrrrrr, Tap, Read

My Early Morning Soundtrack

BQC is almost here again, so I'll be signing off from the blog and trying to recalibrate my completely messed-up sleeping patterns and fail to reorganise other shenanigans before I once again journey to deepest Derbyshire - 'Quiz Country'. Should you ask if I am ready for this particular tournament, well, I am as ready as I always am, which means not really and am already counting together the inevitable mini-disappointments that come with finishing and marking any question paper. Ho-hum.

Note: Er, the following questions are so gargantuan that you probably won't be bothered to read them. Unless, you are an continental European quizzer. Of course. And that is no bad thing.

1 Created in 1957 by Nemours Jean-Baptiste and Wébert Sicot, what is the most well-known music style of Haiti, a vibrant music and dance genre similar to that of their Cuban neighbours but also related to American jazz, which often employs African drumming, modern guitars/synthesized sounds, saxophones, and Haitian Creole lyrics?
2 Succeeding Isabella Rossellini as Lancôme's spokesmodel for its perfume Trésor, which Spanish actress, model and UNICEF ambassador made her first movie appearance in 1987 in Carlos Saura's El dorado, and before playing the role of Francesca Babini in Italian director Pupi Avati's Il testimone dello sposo, she became the Beauté Naturelle in 1997 for having won the Prix de la mode in Paris' Fashion Awards? Other roles have included Aurora in The Lost City (2005) playing opposite Andy Garcia as in-laws and lovers struggling with life during the Cuban Revolution.
3 Founded in 1222 when a large group of students and professors left the University of Bologna in search of more academic freedom ('Libertas scholastica'), what is the second oldest university in Italy, and was where - on June 25, 1678 - Elena Lucrezia Cornaro Piscopia became the first woman graduate in history when she was awarded a degree in philosophy?
4 Jean Prouvost created the first issue of which woman's magazine in 1937, distributing it each Wednesday, with French readers flocking to newsstands to buy the early weekly edition and making it a huge success? However, in 1942, due to German occupation authorities stopping its distribution along with most magazines, it was not redistributed until 1954 when it became a monthly publication.
5 Involving rituals like the possession of participants by Orishas, animal sacrifices, healing, dancing and drumming and drawing inspiration from various peoples of the African diaspora (though mainly featuring aspects of Yoruba orisha veneration), which religion, practiced chiefly in Brazil, originated in the city of Salvador, the original temple, terreiro, being established in early 19th century Bahia, where three freed African women, Iya Deta, Iya Kala and Iya Nasso (many call it a true matrilineal society) first established its headquarters called Engenho Velho, although dispute after dispute resulted it splintering into hundreds of different factions?






Answers to FE:XXXIX
1 Compas (also known as konpa or kompa) 2 Inés Sastre 3 University of Padua aka Università degli Studi di Padova aka UNIPD 4 Marie Claire 5 Candomblé (it may be called Macumba in regions like Rio de Janeiro and São Paulo, although Macumba has a distinct set of practices more akin to European witchcraft)

Wednesday, September 03, 2008

Weekend fast approaching

But then they always do

Don't they?

1 Which Brazilian educator (1921-97) argued in Pedagogia do oprimido/Pedagogy of the Oppressed (1968/70) that literacy is more than a skill and education more than a technique, and are tools for the development of conscientizacao ('conscientization' or conscious awareness) of one's place within society and its power structures as a way of transforming one's existence by becoming an active rather than passive victim?
2 What title, meaning 'Splendour of God', was adopted by Mirza Husayn Ali Nuri?
3 Which American athlete is the only man to have won Olympic golds in both sprinting and hurdling events, doing so in the 100m in 1948 and the 110m hurdles in 1952?
4 Port Adelaide Power, Richmond Tigers and Collingwood Magpies are teams that play which sport?
5 Which German artist, born in Eberswalde in 1944, became known for her large-format colour photographs of often empty public or semi-public interiors and social spaces, devoting herself to this theme from 1979; a theme that has been supplemented since 1990 by her Zoologische Garten (Zoos)?
6 Which King Vidor silent film classic of 1928 is about a New York officer worker Johnny Sims (James Murray), who despite being born on the 4th of July fails to fulfill his quest to achieve the American Dream in the midst of numerous failures and tragedies?
7 The art movement of Cubism was named by hostile critic Louis Vauxcelles after which French artist's description of Braque's images as "cubes"?
8 Which 85-year-old Japanese director, known for his jarring visual style, irreverent humour, nihilistic cool and entertainment-over-logic sensibility, directed the 1960s films Tokyo Drifter and Branded to Kill, and in 2001, Pistol Opera?
9 Which German philosopher and sociologist identified three realms of scientific knowledge in Knowledge and Human Interest (1968) and argued that the empirical-analytical sphere had eclipsed the hermeneutic and critical domains?
10 Who finished in the silver medal position in the 100m at the 1982 Brisbane Commonwealth Games behind winner Alan Wells?
11 Which athlete won 100m Olympic gold in Tokyo and became a Super Bowl winner with the Dallas Cowboys in 1972, but was later jailed for drug trafficking in 1979?
12 It has been said of which Danish artist, whose installations include the "morbid joke" Laughing Gas Chamber (1996) and the ongoing video/publication/installation project Diary of Plasma: "The human body as matter, its relation to authority and to the social body, is a key approach to his world of subversion and ecstasy"?
13 Which American artist's works include the photo-slide show with music, The Ballad of Sexual Dependency (1986), the film I'll Be Your Mirror (1995) and The Portfolio Cookie Mueller (1976-91), a picture series that traced her relationship with the eponymous star of John Waters's early films from first encounters through to the actress's funeral after her death from AIDS in 1989? 14 Which Hindu movement, founded in India in 1960 and in the West in 1971, proclaimed a boy-guru Maharaj Ji (b.1958) as the last avatar of God?
15 Which American philosopher and intellectual historian, who founded the field known as the history of ideas, traced the history of the concept of 'hierarchy of being' - that all creation, from the lowest inanimate matter through plants and animals to humans, angels, and finally to God, forms a continuous progressive chain - in his seminal 1936 study The Great Chain of Being?

Unspeakable bonus: In psychology, what is 'scoptophilia' or 'scopophilia'?




Answers to FE:XXXVIII
1 Paulo Freire 2 Baha'ullah (as in Baha'i) 3 (William) Harrison Dillard 4 Aussie Rules 5 Candida Höfer 6 The Crowd 7 Henri Matisse 8 Seijun Suzuki 9 Jürgen Habermas 10 Ben Johnson 11 Bob Hayes or Robert Lee ("Bullet Bob") Hayes 12 Henrik Plenge Jakobsen 13 Nan Goldin 14 The Divine Light Mission 15 Arthur O. Lovejoy or Arthur Oncken Lovejoy

Unspeakable bonus: I read that it was the morbid desire to watch, which was palatable. Then I looked up a proper definition, which states that it is "a sexual dependency on openly observing sex organs and sexual acts, as opposed to voyeurism which is secret". Which is like, ewwww. I much preferred the former explanation. The latter definition is just plain sex mad.

Tuesday, September 02, 2008

Mind Playing Tricks On Me

I Ain't Trying To Play You Man

I've been perusing my old BH quizzes, what with the Brits fast approaching an'all, and not only was I shocked at the sheer bloody great volume of questions I wrote in the initial 15 or something months of the blog, in some whirling, blinded frenzy where sanity and time never really mattered too much and the days went so very supersonic and the questions sometimes began to spiral into mini-essay after mini-treatise, but it also seems that I was careless enough to repeat several questions AND EVEN STICK SOME in my new BEEEEG EMAIL QUIZZES, almost word-for-word (though, you probably wouldn't notice and wouldn't use the search function to trivia-Fisk me. I trust you aren't that bothered). But still, for hyperbolic shame and the taint of boredom and the need to write something that doesn't constantly end in a question mark asking for an answer a bit further down the page, I apologise. 'Tis the brazen behaviour of an unthinking quiz-writing charlatan.

Why Repitition is Bad: A True Story
I don't want my miniscule albeit apparently devoted readership (according to my Sitemeter stats) to be disappointed and positively peeved the way I was when I saw Lucy Porter do a stand-up gig at uni for the second consecutive year. She might be as cute as a pixie's button, but that was no excuse for doing the same set and repeating her schtick about making anagrams from the porcelain legend that is 'Armitage Shanks' whilst puking in a union bar bog and catching bubonic plague off some student she copped off with in a halls of residence after one of her shows. Despite being students, were we not worthy of any new material? Or were we no better than distracted ragged street urchins who begged barely enough pennies every day to feed our gin habits and dull our pain?

Truth is, the sequel was further dulled, dulled beyond all measure no less, because the first time round she latched on to an acquaintance of mine sitting in the front row called Martin - think a confident-voiced, burly Clive James-like figure of entertainingly smarmy wit who never took off his leather jacket - who I used to do a late night radio show with that basically involved half a dozen of us sitting round a table talking rollocks for two, possibly three hours and eating cheap pizza and making up weird competitions that involved us throwing projectiles at random targets around the studio. Oh such bliss it was to be in student radio: playing Replacements/Big Star/Gram Parsons classic triple headers and getting John Peel to do my show idents (I kid you not).

But I digress.

Back to the first comedy show: Porter proceeded to make Martin shut up, quite possibly for the first time in his entire life, in a very amusing manner by making all sorts of dazzling, faux-flirtatious innuendo and constantly calling him "Sex-Beast" (they were more innocent times for such currently incendiary sobriquets) and so on. There was sexual chemistry, but of the humiliating kind and it was damned funny. But for the sequel, almost a year to the day it was, there was no Sex-Beast for her to bounce off. It was like Speed 2 without Keanu. Or even worse, so much worse, like the Back to the Future sequels without Crispin Glover. You know his middle name is Hellion? That's a fact.

Unless, of course, Porter was having some sort of Groundhog Day or Month or Year even, which involved having promiscuous sex with diseased teenagers in between the odd Roman shower. Though I doubt it, for her sake. And the parameters of reality.

Three Years Later...
Mind you that didn't stop me from assailing her at a Pontins ATP. Not so I could rant off about her making Pam Ayres look like Lenny Bruce. No. Instead I went all pleasant and nice. To the max. Grinning like a nutter; gleeful eyes popping out like Arnie doing his Martian roll-around at the end of Total Recall, I complimented her on the astoundingly gag-packed display of the comedian's art, which I had witnessed not once, but twice at my alma mater. Naturally, the moment I walked away the self-loathing started to kick in: into my groin, my shins, my face. All the really sensitive areas. I mean: what a complete bum-lick twatty-thing to do! Why did I do it? That is, not only horribly patronise her but, more shamefully, LIE MY ARSE OFF and betray, yes, the groaning spirits of Lenny, Bill, Sam, Richard, George and maybe even Rodney Dangerfield (even if some of them hadn't yet died at that particular time) with a barrage of flummery so voluminous and excruciating even I had started giving myself extreme evils in whatever reflective surfaces happened to be in the amusement arcade before the helpless gushing stopped.

Why? Well, because, at a basic atomic biological hee-hee level, she looked adorable - patronising her yet again (sorry). And when struck by the realisation that she really was still as cute as a pixie's button, and that she too was spending the weekend watching the weirdobscure indie-likes of Lightning Bolt, came further thoughts highlighting her being a clever and accomplished comedian, something that demands a load more respect when set face-to-face rather than peformer-to-audience member brewing up needlessly malicious and illogical opinions several safe metres away. A bad old default male-mechanism kicks in that makes you forget all that petty, insignificant nitpicking about stuff like her friendliness and charm covering up the fact that she may not be capable of delivering the kind of meaningful throughline that makes comics really special.

And that's all there is to say about it. Except that personal encounters with the objects of your highly exaggerated critical ire will lay waste to your notions of integrity and possessing a backbone, just before that smiley human touch completely obliterates any trace of dignity you had previously laid claim to. Also, hypocrisy can roil up and consume me at any given moment and I am starting to believe that I have grown so weak-willed with age that I will only ever say what people want to hear. And only so long as it makes them smile. I am your docile non-opinionated puppet.

So the moral of the story is: don't write and publish the same quiz question twice. Plus, I think Lucy Porter is great, so long as she doesn't make anymore jokes about students in front of me ever again. (And, hey!, I didn't used the 'a' word again, though I almost came out with a 'lo..')

What was that about? Back to the pointless
I am going back to rectify certain reptitions right now and replace the sneaky offenders (yeah, sneaking up on me and my leaky memory, thinking they can wheedle their way into a repeat showing, like another execrable My Family rerun) with some brand new ones, or ones I believe to be brand new. It seems that I just can't trust myself. In the meantime, here is another bitesize FE quiz, for all time's sake.

1 Regarded by many to be the founder of modern Afghanistan and called 'Bab' or 'father' by the Pashtuns, which man, aka Ahmad Shah Abdali, founded an eponymous "Empire" in 1747 with its capital at Kandahar, having become the Amir of Khorasan after the assassination of Nader Shah Afshar?
2 Used extensively during WW1 and WW2, the highly explosive material Amatol was made from a mixture of which two chemical compounds?
3 What is the largest ethnolinguistic category of Angola with an estimated 37 per cent of the population, it being located in the west-central area of the country, south of Mbundu-inhabited regions?
4 One of the greatest players in the history of table tennis, which Chinese player won the first of her six singles world titles in 1991 and won Olympic golds medal in both the singles and doubles at the 1992 Games, repeating the feat at the 1996 Olympics before retiring at the age of 24 having won more titles than anyone else in the sport, to begin an university education that included doing a master's at Nottingham University and a PhD in Land Economy at Jesus College, Cambridge?
5 Which "People's Democratic Republic" is the second largest country on the African continent?







Answers to FE:XXXVII
1 Ahmad Shah Durrani, as in the Durrani Empire 2 TNT & ammonium nitrate 3 Ovimbundu 4 Deng Yaping 5 Algeria

Monday, September 01, 2008

BH152: Pieces of Pears

Busy. Busy. Busy.

Why? Mostly because of the Brits in Staveley and other work. So I've decided to put up a load of stuff I can never remember from Pears Quiz Companion. Yes, the notoriously unreliable Pears, but it gave me a good start in this quizzing life, albeit one that I've had to correct in due course once I've realised its factual frailities. And, anyway, it gives me a dodgy reason to resurrect my old BH series. Do not fret: one day it will rise more monumental and dispiriting to go through than ever before. Does it not make you tremble at the mere thought?

1 Clair and Solange are the title characters in which Jean Genet play?
2 Which 'Alps' mountain range spans the Adriatic coast (the former Yugoslavia and Albania)?
3 Darius Rucker found success as a member of which US band?
4 What was the last film made by Rudolph Valentino?
5 Which manufacturer won Le Mans during the years 1996-98?
6 In cookery, the term 'Montmorency' refers to food flavoured with which vegetable?
7 Which Prime Minister of France fell off the Orient Express dressed in his pyjamas?
8 Which civil servant was prosecuted for revealing information concerning the sinking of the General Belgrano?
9 Which Mormon missionary was kidnapped by Joyce McKenney?
10 Which American novel was based on the 1906 murder of Grace Brown by Chester Gillett?
11 What colour fireworks are produced by sodium?
12 In a Jane Austen novel, who marries Henry Tilney?
13 The line 'The Child is Father of the Man' features in which Wordsworth poem?
14 The Dambuster raid was launched from which location?
15 Which company made the Commando, Dominator, Manx and International motorcycle models?
16 Admiral Byng was shot in 1756 for failing to retrieve which island?
17 Who composed Circus Polka, a ballet for elephants?
18 In which film does Gregory Peck play a journalist called Joe Bradley?
19 Which orchestra featured in the Disney film Fantasia?
20 Alec Jesson and Laura Jesson are the protagonists of which film?
21 In ancient Greece, what was a 'cylix'?
22 Who sculpted the Cathedra Petri in St Peter's, Rome?
23 What is the second Sunday after Ascension called?
24 Which female poet wrote Curfew must not ring tonight?
25 Which politician was assassinated by Satwant Singh and Beant Singh?
26 Who, along with the Archbishop of Canterbury, has the right to appear before the Queen with their head covered?
27 Which French ruler was overthrown by the July Revolution in 1830?
28 The dish Scotch Woodcock consists of eggs on toast and which fish?
29 Who was the first female athlete to high jump two metres?
30 What did Margaret MacGregor and Loi Chow become the first participants in in 1999?





Answers to BH152
1 The Maids 2 Dinaric Alps 3 Hootie and the Blowfish 4 Son of Sheik 5 Porsche 6 Asparagus 7 Paul Deschanel 8 Clive Ponting 9 Kirk Anderson 10 An American Tragedy by Theodore Dreiser 11 Yellow 12 Catherine Morland (in Northanger Abbey) 13 My Heart Leaps Up 14 Scampton 15 Norton 16 Minorca 17 Stravinsky 18 Roman Holiday 19 Philadelphia Orchestra 20 Brief Encounter 21 Drinking cup 22 Bernini 23 Whitsun 24 Rose Thorpe 25 Indira Gandhi 26 Baron Kinsale 27 Charles X 28 Anchovies 29 Rosie Ackermann 30 First official professional boxing bout between man and woman (MacGregor won)