Monday, December 22, 2008

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

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

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

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

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

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

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




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

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Top 50 Albums I Like The Most

As someone so very politely requested it

From the Chris Marsh-created Facebook Group: "The best 50 records ever and you are completely wrong if you disagree" (which Quiz Blogger-reading FBers can still join if you want, though time runs short).

Disclaimer: This certainly isn't what I think are the fifty greatest records of all time. They're just my favourite comfort albums, which I have listened to again and again and again. Old friends still propping me up like bookends. Though, obviously, the selection gives the striking impression that I gave up on new music after 2004. This is because the list is heavily influenced by a seven-year period of buying thousands of CDs, getting hundreds of them free via nefarious, cunning and PR-aided means and doing a fair bit of music journalism and student radio (the "I'm going to play loads of obscure stuff I bought in Selectadisc's obscure American indie section (RIP) this afternoon" kind of wireless gold). The problem was I then went into my obsessive novel-buying phase (never mind the reading).

However, I do still listen to new music, even if the old record shop visit routine has long since bitten the dust. I say, aren't Amy Winehouse and the Kaiser Chiefs all novel and fab! ... oh I jest, I jest. Though I highly recommend in all seriousness: Born Ruffians, The Gaslight Anthem, Owen, Vampire Weekend, Mates of State and all those new bands that have decided to use variants of the F-word in their name, e.g. ... Up, ... Buttons, and Holy ... - the naughty blighters. And Ladyhawke. Again.

Also, no band is duplicated, so I've added a load of the also rans and almost made its and were in the top 50 until I changed my minds.

Actually, the same goes for my top 10 films. I went in for some intense cinema education and video-buying in my late teens and so it's exactly the same selection (with one possible exception) since 2000. Though I still do gather secondhand DVDs by the bucketload, like poor lost children from Blockbuster branches. I mean, they're so damn cheap compared to the VHS days, which really irritates me (especially when I think about all those Tartan and Artificial Eye videos I bought for exorbitant prices). Yesterday, I got Das Boot: The Director's Cut - and yes, thoughts of Mark and Peep Show sprang to mind the instant I picked it up and saw Jurgen Prochnow's grim, aquamarined face - Idiocracy and An Inconvenient Truth for a disgustingly cheap 3 for £10. Kids have got it so damn easy these days. The young sods. Hope the recession teaches them a lesson or two about frugality hurr-hurr.

Anyway, those titles you wanted before I get even more RRRRANTALICIOUS.

TOP 50
1 Belle & Sebastian - If You're Feeling Sinister
2 Weezer - The Blue Album
3 Mogwai - Young Team
4 Ryan Adams - Heartbreaker
5 The Blue Nile - Hats
6 Gillian Welch - (Time) The Revelator
7 Guided by Voices - Bee Thousand
8 The Beatles - Revolver
9 Death Cab for Cutie - We Have the Facts and We're Voting Yes
10 Jeff Buckley – Grace
11 Spiritualized - Ladies and Gentlemen We Are Floating in Space
12 Super Furry Animals – Radiator
13 Wheat – Hope and Adams
14 Bonnie 'Prince' Billy - I See a Darkness
15 Sonic Youth - Daydream Nation
16 My Bloody Valentine – Loveless
17 Brendon Benson – Lapalco
18 Drive-By Truckers - Decoration Day
19 The Wedding Present - Seamonsters
20 Broken Social Scene - You Forgot It in People
21 Jim O'Rourke – Eureka
22 Slint – Spiderland
23 Rosie Thomas - When We Were Small
24 Smog - Knock Knock
25 Iron and Wine - The Creek Drank the Cradle
26 The Afghan Whigs - Gentlemen
27 Pedro the Lion - Winners Never Quit
28 Godspeed You! Black Emperor - Lift Your Skinny Fists Like Antennas to Heaven
29 The National - Alligator
30 Yo La Tengo – Electr-O-Pura
31 Modest Mouse - The Lonesome Crowded West
32 Low - Things We Lost in the Fire
33 The Magnetic Fields - 69 Love Songs
34 The Replacements - Let It Be
35 Ganger - Hammock Style
36 Neutral Milk Hotel - In the Aeroplane Over the Sea
37 Wilco - Summerteeth
38 The Futureheads – The Futureheads
39 Miles Davis - In a Silent Way
40 Red House Painters – Rollercoaster
41 American Music Club - San Francisco
42 ...And You Will Know Us By the Trail of Dead–...And You Will Know...
43 Burning Airlines - Mission: Control!
44 Bruce Springsteen – Nebraska
45 Sufjan Stevens - Seven Swans
46 Pavement - Slanted and Enchanted
47 Ice Cube – The Predator
48 John Cale - Paris 1919
49 John Martyn - One World
50 The God Machine - One Last Laugh In A Place of Dying

The Ones That Were Left Behind. In a Rapture-like fashion.
David Crosby - If I Could Only Remember My Name, Public Enemy - Apocalypse 91 ... The Enemy Strikes Back, Floor - Floor, Pedro the Lion - Control, The Afghan Whigs - Black Love,
Nellie McKay - Get Away From Me, The Clash - London Calling, Laura Nyro - New York Tendaberry, Big Star - Third/Sister Lovers, The Strokes - Is This It?, Carole King - Tapestry, Richard Thompson - Mock Tudor, Miles Davis - Kind of Blue, Beastie Boys - Ill Communication, Sly & The Family Stone – There’s a Riot Goin’ On, Radiohead - OK Computer, The Stooges – Funhouse, Smog - Dongs of Sevotion, Smog - Julius Caesar, Sonic Youth - Dirty, John Coltrane - A Love Supreme, Mogwai - Ten Rapid, Primal Scream - XTRMNTR, Jane’s Addiction – Ritual de lo Habitual, Nirvana - Nevermind, Weezer – Pinkerton, Interpol – Antics, NWA - Straight Outta Compton, Interpol - Turn on the Bright Lights, My Bloody Valentine - Isn't Anything, Ice Cube - Death Certificate, Sigur Ros - (), Feist - Let It Die, The Beatles - Abbey Road, The Beatles - Let It Be, Sun Kil Moon - Ghosts of the Great Highway, Red House Painters - Songs for a Blue Guitar, Red House Painters - Down Colorful Hill, Red House Painters – II, Bruce Springsteen - Tunnel of Love, Saves the Day - Stay What You Are, Low - The Great Destroyer, Low - Secret Name, Velvet Underground - Loaded, Damien Jurado - Rehearsals for Departure, Arab Strap - The Week Never Starts Round Here, Arab Strap - The Red Thread, Santogold - Santogold, Radar Bros. - The Singing Hatchet, Built to Spill - There's Nothing Wrong With Love, Lou Reed - New York, Damon and Naomi - With Ghost, Joan of Arc - Live in Chicago, 1999, Radio 4 - Gotham!, Beulah - When Your Heartstrings Break, The Olivia Tremor Control - Music From the Unrealized Film Script, Dusk at Cubist Castle, Beach Boys - Pet Sounds, The Killers - Hot Fuss, Texas Is The Reason - Do You Know Who You Are?, Whiskeytown - Stranger's Almanac, Beach Boys - Surf's Up, Willard Grant Conspiracy - Flying Low, Uncle Tupelo - Anodyne, Wilco - Yankee Foxtrot Hotel, Green on Red - Gas Food Lodging, Big Black - Songs about F***ing, Gang of Four – Entertainment!, Jim O'Rourke - Insignificance, Nick Cave & the Bad Seeds - No More Shall We Part, Nick Cave & the Bad Seeds - Abbatoir Blues/Lyre of Orpheus, Shellac - 1000 Hurts, Richard & Linda Thompson - Shoot Out the Lights, Joan as Policewoman - Real Life, Codeine - The White Birch, Daft Punk - Discovery, Foo Fighters - The Colour & The Shape, The Replacements - Tim, The Wrens - Meadowlands, Tom Waits - Blue Valentine, Tom Waits - Frank's Wild Years, Tom Waits - Swordfishtrombones, LCD Soundsystem - LCD Soundsystem, LCD Soundsystem - Sound of Silver, Gram Parsons - Grievous Angel/GP, The Flying Burrito Brothers - The Gilded Palace of Sin, Six by Seven - The Closer You Get, Sparklehorse - Vivadixiesubmarinetransmissionplot, Pearl Jam - Vs, American Music Club - United Kingdom, Arcade Fire - Funeral, The Verve - A Northern Soul, Josh Rouse - Under Cold Blue Stars, The Notwist – Neon Golden, Nirvana - Unplugged in New York, Pixies - Doolittle, Nick Drake - Pink Moon, Randy Newman - Good Old Boys, Outkast - Stankonia, Brian Eno - Another Green World, Steve Earle - El Corazon, Sparklehorse - Good Morning Spider, M. Ward - Transfiguration of Vincent, Nick Drake - Bryter Later, Public Enemy - Fear of a Black Planet, Tracy Chapman - Tracy Chapman, Smashing Pumpkins - Mellon Collie & the Infinite Sadness, The Black Heart Procession - 2, The Black Heart Procession - Three, Nine Inch Nails - The Downward Spiral, Fountains of Wayne - Fountains of Wayne, The Be Good Tanyas - Blue Train, Love as Laughter - Destination 2000, The Stooges - Raw Power, Television - Marquee Moon, REM - Automatic for the People, Kings of Leon - Youth and Young Manhood,
Trans Am - The Surveillance, Yo La Tengo - And Then Nothing Turned Itself Inside-Out, Aphex Twin - Richard D. James, My Morning Jacket - It Still Moves, Come - Near Life Experience, Gastr Del Sol - Camoufleur, The New Pornographers - Electric Version, Les Savy Fav - Go Forth, Rilo Kiley - More Adventurous, Can - Future Days, Frank Sinatra - In The Wee Small Hours, Radiohead - The Bends, Lemonheads - It's a Shame About Ray, New Ruins - The Sound They Make, Marvin Gaye - Let's Get It On, Midlake - The Trials of Van Occupanther, Dinosaur Jr - You're Living All Over Me, The Rolling Stones - Let It Bleed, The Smiths - The Queen is Dead, Aretha Franklin - I Never Loved a Man The Way I Love You, Dusty Springfield - Dusty in Memphis, The La's - The La's, Olu Dara - In The World: From Natchez to New York, Johnny Cash - Solitary Man: American III, Mercury Rev – Deserter’s Songs, The Dismemberment Plan – Invitation & I, Guns n' Roses - Use Your Illusion II, The Flaming Lips – The Soft Bulletin, Emmylou Harris - Wrecking Ball.

And that was my shortlist. I'm tired now.

Saturday, December 20, 2008

My Prince of Wales Quiz From Long Long Ago

As in Four Years Gone

The Prince of Wales in Highgate pub quiz is, of course, the only pub quiz that ever gets mentioned by reverential name, like just about everywhere (in the papers and mags that is) thanks to the marketing/mythologising media-mention skills of Marcus Berkmann and his book Brain Men: A Passion to Compete, I mean, A Matter of Facts: The Insider's Guide to Quizzing or whatever it's called nowadays, as well as legions of lazy-arsed journalists using "research" gleaned from newspaper article databases for their latest lame-brained "trivia fad" piece.

Though I haven't been for quite some time, I very much like the quiz (above all it has 'character' and good, hard questions - oo-er), have defended it against idiotic accusations of off-putting haughtiness (so what if it is?), bought the fine quiz book in hardback at full price in a book shop (why did I do that again?) and sometimes forget that I even set it once, although I thought myself to be far too mumbly - which is still true to be honest - and delegated PA duties to Stainer.

And lo and behold, going through some old e-mail attachments, I found my PoW set and have posted it below.

By the way, anybody who knows my little quizzing quirks, fancies, hates and television/radio disasters will notice that a LOT of demon-exorcising and ironical setting went into it (and not a question-structure or word has been changed or excised from the original, though I would dearly like to; the word 'famous' and its variants - ugh - now being an annoying example in the latter case). But then I always do that from time to time. Quiz in-jokes. Don't ya just love 'em?

The Prince of Wales quiz: August 24th, 2004

All rounds are general knowledge. All questions are one point each except for where stated.

Round 1
1. What day do the people of the Falkland Islands celebrate on January 10th?
2. Alan Reed provided the voice for which famous cartoon character?
3. Give the name that is shared by William of the Just William stories and the family that took in Paddington Bear?
4. "The Man and The Hour" was the name given to the first episode of which popular comedy TV series?
5. The axilla is the anatomical name for which part of the body?
6. What company was originally called Quantum Computer Services before it changed its name in 1991?
7. What in the building trade is a bolster?
8. Michael Tippett's second opera took its name from which mythical figure of the Trojan war?
9. How many roods are there in an acre?
10. Give me the first names of these fictional or real people:
a) Inspector Maigret?
b) Captain Pugwash?
c) Paddy Ashdown?
d) Red Adair?
e) Rambo?
f) Mr Bronson from Grange Hill?

Answers to Round 1
1. Margaret Thatcher day 2. Fred Flintstone 3. Brown 4. Dad's Army 5. Armpit 6. AOL 7. A chisel 8. (King) Priam 9. Four 10. a) Jules b) Horatio c) Jeremy d) Paul e) John f) Maurice

Round 2
1. Robert Catesby famously led which conspiracy?
2. Which Australian city changed its name from Palmerston to that of another Englishman in 1911?
3. Which 1980s Grand National winner was named after a lighthouse?
4. For one point each, name the minor suits in contract bridge.
5. A burial ground for dissenters in the 17th century, in which cemetery in Finsbury will you find the last resting places of John Bunyan and Daniel Defoe?
6. Molloy Deep is the deepest point of which ocean?
7. What familiar set of three numbers is the international telephone dialling code for Russia?
8. Michael Hopkins, the architect of Portcullis House, has also designed which tube station that lies on the District, Circle and Jubilee lines?
9. On Friday which West Indian became the first ever batsman in Test cricket to score a four off every delivery of a six-ball over?
10. Tell me the last gold medal winner in the men's Olympic 100 metres to have been born in the following places:
a) Manchester?
b) Birmingham?
c) St Andrew?
d) Kansas City?

Answers to Round 2
1. Gunpowder Plot 2. Darwin 3. Corbiere 4. Diamonds, Clubs 5. Bunhill Fields cemetery 6. Arctic Ocean 7. 007 8. Westminster 9. Chris Gayle 10. a) Donovan Bailey b) Carl Lewis c) Linford Christie d) Maurice Greene

Round 3
1. Which composer of scores for such films as The Great Escape, The Magnificent Seven and The Ten Commandments died last week aged 82?
2. Evelyn Waugh said that fewer than what number of Americans would understand his novel Brideshead Revisited?
3. If you see Michael Winner on TV saying "Calm down dear, it's just a commercial" then for which car insurers is he advertising? A bonus point if you can name the sister company for higher risk drivers he also advertises for.
4. The Sun newspaper declared last week to be what week?
5. At this year's Olympics, which female Three Day Eventer's first name was apparently censored by Greek TV because it is slang there for oral sex?
6. Which two-word phrase, claimed in the film Donnie Darko to be the most perfectly beautiful linguistic combination in the English language, sounds like the name of the production company that makes Who Wants to Be a Millionaire?
7. William Corder was cremated last week, 176 years after he killed Maria Marten in the Suffolk village of Polstead. By what nickname is this murder famously known?
8. Which Daily Mirror comic strip features the footballer Dave Storry?
9. Which skier, prior to his winning run in the downhill at the Innsbruck Winter Olympics, asked his coach: "What have I got to do to win this thing?" To which the coach replied: "Kill yourself"?
10. Give the first names of these Johnsons:
a) This cult American author has written the books Jesus' Son, Already Dead and Angels.
b) Robert Redford played this ex-soldier turned mountain trapper in a 1972 film.
c) This columnist for The Spectator and Daily Mail has written books such as Art: A New History and History of the American People.
d) This boxer became the first black heavyweight champion of the world when he beat Tommy Burns in 1908.
e) This aviator died when her Airspeed Oxford crashed in the Thames Estuary on January 5th, 1941.

Answers to Round 3
1. Elmer Bernstein 2. Six 3. Esure, First Alternative 4. "Cleavage week" 5. Pippa Funnell 6. Cellar door (like Celador) 7. "Red Barn" murder 8. Scorer 9. Franz Klammer 10. a) Denis b) Jeremiah c) Paul d) Jack e) Amy

Round 4
1. For one point each, name the two 1987 films that starred both future Governors of California and Minnesota?
2. As featured in a trilogy of Robert Ludlum novels and two films starring Matt Damon, which assassin and spy's real name is David Webb? One point each for first name and surname.
3. What is the meaning of the Latin legal phrase "onus probandi"?
4. Who went to number two in 1971 with the triple a-sided single 'Brown Sugar', 'Bitch' and 'Let It Rock'?
5. Edward Elgar composed his Nursery Suite for which two famous sisters in 1931?
6. Which brand of tea was first produced by John Sumner in Birmingham in 1903?
7. Which motorcycle manufacturer made the Bonneville, Daytone and Trident?
8. Which indie band recently reached number two with the single 'Can't Stand Me Now'?
9. The Ayatollah Khomeini issued a fatwa against Salman Rushdie in 1989 because of the blasphemous content of which of his novels?
10. Identify the motorway from the cities that it runs between for one point each
a) London to Swansea?
b) London to Cambridge?
c) Coventry to Leicester?
d) Birmingham to Exeter?
e) Liverpool to Hull?

Answers to Round 4
1. The Running Man, Predator (The governors being Arnold Schwarzenegger and Jesse "The Body" Ventura) 2. Jason Bourne 3. "The burden of proof" 4. Rolling Stones 5. Princesses Elizabeth and Margaret 6. Typhoo 7. Triumph 8. The Libertines 9. The Satanic Verses 10. a) M4 b) M11 c) M69 d) M5 e) M62

Beer round - identify the years in which the following albums were released.
1. Rumours by Fleetwood Mac?
2. What’s Going On by Marvin Gaye?
3. Tommy by The Who?
4. Straight Outta Compton by NWA?
5. Loveless by My Bloody Valentine?

Answers to the Beer round
1. 1977 2. 1971 3. 1969 4. 1989 5. 1991

(Ha ha, look at all those motorways. I still bloody hate them with a rage astounding.)

It's That Time of The Year

Two Xmas Quizzes What I Wrote

Or compiled. Quizzers never say 'compiled' do they? No, we write or set. "Compiling" or "compiled", which if you say it a few too many times starts to sound like an anal-related medical condition (and believe me, I would know) gives a slight indication of us plucking them out of thin air, as if they were fully formed. Like Butterflies of Trivia. Which are related to the Butterflies of Love.

We crafted and wrote them and even - gosh horror! - work in a bit of subjective opinion and high-lariously silly wit. Um, unless they have been plagiarised, which has happened many a time before and which I deny utterly, wholly and completely in these cases.

The New Statesman "Quiz"

The Times: The Knowledge "2008 arts and entertainment quiz"

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

BH156: 30+13/12*

= Massive Quiz Fun/Brain Trauma

*UK dating order: month-date (even if the written questions completely contradict this)

To mark a certain age landmark and the day upon which it fell like a ton of ancient, possibly terracotta bricks last week, I've compiled a rather big (in wordage terms) number & date-related quiz with some questions you won't even bother to read because they are, truth be verily told, rewritten encyclopaedia entries with a question mark slapped on the end. Frankly, I don't blame you. You want to keep your eyes in decent working order.

But you know, there's just some stuff I cannot bear to leave out. Which means the question swells. And swells. Until I finally - though to be honest still riven with the lingering feeling of worry that another four lines of additional info wouldn't go amiss - stop, apply the question mark and move on to the next one. So I should reiterate: this isn't really for your entertainment (though if you are entertained, good for you, you nutter). It's more for my education, as it was once before and is again. I can't brook no compromise, man. This is my house! Sorry. A funny, loud and hectoring tone of voice was invading my head - sounding kinda like Bernie Mac (RIP). (Note: the date December 13 will be repeated on quite a regular basis, and where it is absent and not replaced with the number 30, I left it out when it should really be there to justify the 'theme' - it being a person's birthday or deathday - because I thought you might get a little sick of it. Because I certainly was. If I ever see my b****day again ... ooooo ... I dunno really)

1 30AD was the year 2363 in which Asian country's lunisolar calendar? The Gregorian calendar was officially adopted in 1895, though the biggest and most important festival remains Seollal, the first day of its traditional New Year, while other important festivals include Dano - the spring festival.
2 Born according to his own statement (in the book III prologue) on the Pierian Mountain in Macedonia, which Roman fabulist and possible Thracian slave (c.15BC - c.50AD) translated Aesop's Fables in the year 30, as well as composing some of his own, and is recognised as the first writer to Latinize entire books of fables, using the iambic metre Greek prose of the Aesop tales, and was brought to trial and punished by Tiberius's minister Sejanus due to supposed allusions in his work?
3 Born in 30AD, the Roman emperor Nerva was assassinated in a palace conspiracy involving the Praetorian Guard and several of his freedmen on September 18, 96 in which gardens that were named after the Roman historian who developed them in the 1st century BC using wealth he extorted as governor of the province of Africa Nova (the newly conquered Numidia)?
4 Named after the mathematician Giuseppe _____, which composite numbers relate to his conjecture on primality; the sequence beginning 30, 858, 1722, 66198 ...?
5 Which metal has the atomic no. 30, and in nonscientific context is sometimes called spelter; its most important ore being sphalerite, with others including smithsonite, hemimorphite and franklinite?
6 Messier object M30 is a magnitude 8.5 globular cluster in which northern sky constellation, whose named stars, derived from Arabic, include Markab ('the saddle'), Scheat ('the leg') and Algenib ('the flank')?
7 30 is the code for international direct dial phone calls to which country, whose current constitution (for the "Third Republic") was adopted in 1975?
8 Which Nobel Laureate wrote in one of his key works that the age of 30 is a crucial period in the life of a man, for at that age he gains a new awareness of the meaning of time?
9 Which literary character wakes up on the morning of his 30th birthday to find himself under arrest for an unspecified crime and dies on the eve of his 31st birthday?
10 The California Angels retired the number 30 in honour of which player on June 16, 1992; the man in question being the only major league baseball player to have his number retired by three different teams?
11 '30 Minutes' was a single from which pop duo's debut English-language album 200 km/h in the Wrong Lane (2002)?
12 The year 30BC has been cited as the first possible date for the invention of which device in history, as the 5th century Book of Later Han stated that the wife of the once poor and youthful imperial censor Bao Xuan of the said Chinese dynasty helped him push a lu che back to his village during their feeble wedding ceremony in c.30BC?
13 30 is the smallest of what type of positive integer - deriving its name from the Old Greek word for 'wedge' - which is the product of three distinct prime numbers (the first few going 30, 42, 66, 70, 102...)?
14 Which Ivy League college was founded by the Congregationalist minister, Reverend Eleazar Wheelock, on December 13, 1769, with a Royal Charter from King George III on land donated by Royal Governor John Wentworth?
15 Named after a Virginia city located 50 miles south of Washington DC, which December 11-15, 1862 battle saw Robert E. Lee's Confederate Army of Northern Virginia defeat the Union Army of the Potomac, commanded by Major-General Ambrose E. Burnside in one of the most one-sided battles of the US Civil War, with the latter's forces suffering terrible casualties due to a number of futile frontal assaults he launched on the 13th?
16 Born Pietro Angelerio (aka Pietro da Morrone), who was elected Pope by the 1292-94 papal election - the last non-conclave in the history of the Roman Catholic Church - and began his papacy on July 7, 1294, only to abdicate it on December 13 in the hope he could return to his previous life as an ascetic hermit?
17 On December 13, 1636, the Massachusetts Bay Colony organised three militia regiments to defend the colony - this organisation being recognised today as the founding of the United States National Guard - against which Native American tribal nation, who inhabited much of modern day Connecticut?
18 Which captain of the German Deutschland class cruiser pocket battleship, the Admiral Graf Spee, engaged with the Royal Navy cruisers HMSs Exeter, Ajax and HMNZS Achilles on December 13, 1939 in the Battle of the River Plate?
19 Born Mihail Christodoulu Mouskos, who became the first president of Cyprus on December 13, 1959?
20 Margaret Roberts married Denis Thatcher at which church on December 13, 1951?
21 Which Commonwealth country became a republic on December 13, 1974?
22 Which general declared martial law in Poland on December 13, 1981 to prevent the dismantling of the communist system by Solidarity?
23 Which French king, whose birthday was December 13, was sometimes called le Vert galant ('The Green Gallant') due to his constant womanising?


24 What surname was shared by the Venetian literary brothers Gasparo (1713-1786), who married poet Luise Bergalli, managed the theatre of Sant'Angelo, Venice and wrote Osservatore Veneto periodico (1761 - modelled on the contemporary English publication, The Spectator); Il Mondo morale (1760 - a personification of human passions interwoven with dialogues in the style of Lucian), and Giudizio degli antichi poeti sopra la moderna censura di Dante (1755 - a defence of the titular poet against the attacks of Bettinelli); and Carlo (b. Dec 13, 1720-1806), author of the satirical poem La tartana degli influssi per l'anno 1756 and a series of dramatic pieces - much praised by the likes of Goethe and Madame de Stael - that included Turandot or Re Turandote, which was translated by Schiller?


25 Known for one-sided infatuations with his cousins Amalie and Therese that later inspired him to write some of his loveliest lyrics (as seen in Buch der Lieder/Book of Songs (1827)), which German's poem Allnachtlich in Traume from the said book was set to music by Schumann and Mendelssohn: the first lines of which have been (non-literally) translated as "Nightly I see you in dreams - you speak,/ With kindliness sincerest,/ I throw myself, weeping aloud and weak/ At your sweet feet, my dearest"?
26 Which First Lady of the United States was born in Lexington, Kentucky on December 13, 1818?
27 Housing an art museum and part of Munich's Kunstareal ("art area"), which building was constructed as a Florentine-style villa for an eponymous painter between 1887-1891, who set out for Italy in 1858 and produced such works as A Peasant seeking Shelter from Bad Weather (1855), The Goatherd (1860; Schack Gallery, Munich) and The Arch of Titus (Palfy collection, Budapest) as a result of his first journey there?
28 Born on December 13, 1816, whose surname was adopted as the SI unit of electrical conductance?
29 It was at the instigation of French actor Lucien Germain Guitry (b. December 13, 1860 - 1925), whilst he was appearing in St Petersburg, that Tchaikovsky wrote which Shakespeare-inspired work (Op. 67a) in 1888 and the Incidental Music to the Shakespeare play (op. 67b) in 1891?
30 Heavily inspired by the indigenous peoples of the Pacific Northwest Coast and described by the Canadian Encyclopedia as a "Canadian icon", which artist and writer (b. Dec 13, 1871 - 1945) and subject of the 1997 Mascall Dance piece The Brutal Telling has a 'House' at 207 Government Street, Victoria, British Columbia named after her and claimed that the Nuu-chah-nulth of Vancouver Island's west coast had nicknamed her Klee Wyck ("the laughing one") and gave her name to a book about her experiences with the natives that won the Governor General's Award in 1941, while she was an exceptionally late bloomer in terms of her artistic exploits, starting the work for which she is best known (e.g. the painting Odds and Ends (c.1937)) at the age of 57?
31 He said of John von Neumann "He was the only student that ever scared me" and called his field of study "the cheapest science. Unlike physics or chemistry, it does not require any expensive equipment". Which Hungarian mathematician (b. Dec 13, 1887-1985) wrote the 1945 book How to Solve It, a small volume describing general heuristics for solving problems of all kinds and not just maths ones; suggesting four basic steps: 1. First, you have to understand the problem 2. After understanding, then make a plan. 3. Carry out the plan 4. Look back on your work. How could it be better?
32 Producing a general theoretical system for the analysis of society that came to be called structural functionalism, which American sociologist rose to prominence with the publication of The Structure of Social Action (1937): his first grand synthesis, combining the ideas of Durkheim, Weber, Pareto and others?
33 Born into a gypsy family on December 13, 1903, Carlos Montoya found fame as what type of musician?
34 Godparent of Prince William, which author's books A Far Off Place and A Story Like the Wind was adapted into a 1993 film (called A Far Off Place) starring Reece Witherspoon as Nonnie Parker, one of two survivors of a massacre perpertrated on a gamekeeper's family in the south African savanna?
35 Born with the real first name Emmett on December 13, 1908, which American actor, who played opposite Katharine Hepburn and Joseph Cotten in The Philadelphia Story on Broadway, won an Best Supporting Actor Oscar for his role in the 1942 film Johnny Eager and has two stars on the Hollywood Walk of Fame - one for his motion picture work, the other for TV?
36 In 1952, which boxer became World Light Heavyweight Champion after beating Joey Maxim, 16 years after embarking on his professional career?
37 Played on film in 1966 and 1975 by Paul Newman, which creation of hardboiled crime writer Ross Macdonald first appeared in The Moving Target (1945) - the follow-up The Drowning Pool (1950) also being adapted for the silver screen?
38 Sharing his surname with a French city, which charming WW2 flying ace (b. Dec 13, 1919) was nicknamed the "Star of Africa" and destroyed more Western Allied aircraft than any other Luftwaffe pliot while flying a Messerschmitt Bf 109 his entire career? He was killed in a flying accident in 1942 caused by engine failure.
39 Dick Van Dyke (b. on guess what date in 1925) played which comedy writer in his eponymous sitcom from 1961-1966?
40 The athlete George Rhoden won two Olympic gold medals (400m - in a close fought race with compatriot Herb McKenley - and 4x400m relay) at the 1952 Helsinki Games representing which country?
41 Christopher Plummer (b. Dec 13, 1929 with the name Arthur Christopher Orme Plummer) was the first ever winner in the Best Performance by an Actor in a Leading Role category for playing Sherlock Holmes in the 1979 film Murder by Decree at which Academy of Canadian Cinema and Television awards?
42 Shah Karim al-Hussayni (b.1936), former husband of English fashion model Sally Croker-Poole and an Olympic skier with Turkey and then Iran in 1960 and 1964, is the 49th and current Imam of which Islamic group?
43 Abbreviated M.E.V., which live acoustic/electronic improv group was formed in Rome in 1966 by American composer-musicians Alvin Curran (known for his Songs and Views of the Magnetic Garden (1975/93)), Richard Teitelbaum and Frederic Rzewski, and have produced such recordings as Spacecraft (rec. in Cologne in 1967) and Unified Patchwork Theory (rec. in Zurich in 1990)?
44 Known for such hits as Hey Capello (1970); Carneval in Rio (1972) and Bier,Bier,Bier (1980) German folk singer Heino, born Heinz Georg Kramm on Dec 13, 1938, always wears sunglasses due to what medical condition, caused by a bulging of the eye anteriorly out of the orbit?
45 Gosta Winbergh (d.2002), Jussi Bjorling (d.1960) and Nicolai Gedda are often mentioned as being Sweden's and arguably some of the world's finest examples of what?
46 Nicknamed "Silver fox" (the name of his most popular movie character), which Korean martial artist and film actor (b.1944) played 'Thunderleg' or 'Thunderfoot' opposite Jackie Chan in Drunken Master and starred opposite him again in Snake in the Eagle's Shadow (both 1978)?
47 Known for his pro-hunting, pro-conservation and Second Amendment activism, which 60-year-old Detroit-born hard rock guitarist-singer and NRA Board of Directors member orginally gained fame as lead guitarist of The Amboy Dukes, sold five million copies of the 1990 self-titled album released by his supergroup Damn Yankees and released the critically acclaimed record Spirit of the Wild in 1995? His nicknames include "The Motor City Madman".
48 Appointed an ambassador for the UN's F.A.O. on World Food Day (October 16) 2001, which Lebanese singer-soprano (b. 13/12/56) began her career in the early 1970s when she took part in the TV talent show Studio El Fan and released her first single, the Said Akl/Elias Al Rahbani song 'I Dream of You, O'Lebanon'/3am be7lamak Ya 7ilm Ya Libnan? Her musical version of the Nizar poem Kalimat/Words was a huge 1991 hit in the Middle East (and was also the name of the album from which it was taken) and she duetted with Jose Carreras on the song 'Light The Way' at the opening of the 2006 Asian Games in Doha, whilst her other LPs include And The Children (1983), Rasayel (1996) and E'tazalt El Gharam (2006)?
49 Which cult US actor's first appearance was playing an AIDS victim called Nick in the 1986 film Parting Glances?
50 French businessman Jean-Marie Messier was Chairman and Chief Executive of which multinational media conglomerate - originally founded as the water company Compagnie generale des eaux (CGE) on December 14, 1853 by an imperial decree of Napoleon III - until he was forced to resign in 2002 due to multi-billion euro losses?
51 A former model, New Zealander Ross Burden (b.13/12/66) is famous for being what type of TV personality/book publisher?
52 Drafted by the Detroit Red Wings in 1989 (fourth round, 74th overall), which Washington Capitals ice hockey player passed Alexander Mogilny on October 25, 2008 to set the record for most goals by a Russian-born NHL player, scoring his 475th goal?
53 Born in Blackpool and raised in Munich where he trained classically as a pianist and double bassist at the city's Conservatory, amateur mathematician Nicholas McCarthy (b.13/12/74) is a member of which band that was formed in Glasgow in 2002?
54 Current Ultimate Fighting Championship Lightweight Champion, B.J. Penn became the first American-born winner of which martial art's world championship in the black belt category in 2000?
55 One of the most recognisable players in world rugby due to his lack of physical size, which 5ft 7in, 70kg Munster scrum half made his debut for Ireland v. Scotland in the Six Nations Championship in February 2000 and has since racked up 82 caps and 30 points in internationals?
56 Amy Lynn Hartzler aka Amy Lee (b.13/12/78) is the co-founder and lead vocalist of which alternative metal band?
57 Which 19-year-old American country pop musician made her debut on the Billboard country charts with her debut single 'Tim McGraw' in 2006; her second studio album Fearless debuting at no.1 on the Billboard Album Chart in November 2008?
58 Between 1415 and 1426, which artist - who died on December 13, 1466 - created five statues for the campanile of Florence's Santa Maria del Fiore (aka the Duomo): the Beardless Prophet; Bearded Prophet; the Sacrifice of Isaac; Habbakuk; and Jeremiah?
59 The son of a furrier killed at the 1531 Battle of Kappel, which Swiss bibliographer and naturalist's five-volume Historiae animalium (1551-58) is considered the beginning of modern zoology?
60 Described as a transitional figure who helped bring his country's literature from Romanticism to Realism and introduce the historical novel form, which Croatian writer penned more than 10 novels, among them Zlatarovo zlato/Goldsmith's gold (1871); Cuvaj se senjske ruke/Pirates of Senj (1876) and Diogenes (1878), and was also the lyricist for the patriotic song 'Zivila Hrvatska' ('Long live Croatia')?
61 Born in 1756 or 1760 in Serpukhov, Russia, this "Wonderworker" died on either December 13 or November 15, 1837 on Spruce Island, Alaska, and was one of the first Eastern Orthodox missionaries to the New World. Who was the first saint from America to be canonised by the Orthodox Church and is therefore regarded as the patron saint of the Americas by Orthodox Christians?
62 Which German poet and dramatist (1813-13/12/1863) published his first tragedy, Judith, in 1841, the same year he finished a comedy Der Diamant, and wrote his "fine tragedy of common life" Maria Magdalene (1844) during his stay in Paris? His magnificently conceived trilogy Die Nibelungen (1862) was his last work and won him the Schiller Prize.

Tolstoy's Bicycle Break

63 Originally written for the American opera singer Claramae Turner, who often used it as an encore, which song that became far more popular due to the actions of Ralph Sharon, the accompanist of its most famous exponent, was written by 30-year-old composer George Cory and lyricist Douglas Cross in 1954?
64 Which 30-year-old became editor of the New York Tribune in 1841?
65 Who film legend first established himself as a 'tough guy' actor in March 1931 when he smashed Norma Shearer in the face in A Free Soul?
66 Who published his first book of poems, Tulips and Chimneys, in 1924 at the age of 30?
67 One of the two people who had brought the sonnet to England, which Earl was executed in 1547 for incorporating the king's symbols into his own coat of arms?
68 Which Jewish Hungarian-born sociologist, who died in London in 1947, wrote On the Interpretations of "Weltanschauung" in 1923?
69 After a four-and-a-half year engagement, who married the 25-year-old Martha Bernays in 1886 having repressed his intense desire for her, as his career and financial problems had previously made wedlock impossible?
70 Regarded by many as his best work, Principia ethica (1903) established which English philosopher's reputation? He is known today for his defence of ethical non-naturalism, his emphasis on common sense in philosophical method and the paradox that bears his name and which stemmed from a remark he made once in a lecture on the absurdity in saying something like: "It's raining outside but I don't believe that it is".
71 Dogen Zenji, who retired to a small temple in 1230 to begin his writings, is credited as the founder of which Buddhist sect in Japan?
72 Having declined a second proposal of marriage the previous year, who wrote in her diary in 1850: "Today I am 30 - the age Christ began his mission. Now no more childish things. No more love. No more marriage. Now Lord let me think only of Thy Will, what thou willest me to do. Oh Lord, Thy Will, Thy Will."?
73 How many tons of coal did Alexei Stakhanov allegedly dig out in one night in 1935, thus becoming the first "Stakhanovite" of the Soviet Union?
74 Having appeared in such movies as The Serpent (1916); Camille (1917); Salome and The She Devil (both 1918), which silent film star was released from her contract with the Fox studio in 1920 and was never seen in another film?
75 Found on June 14, 1962, 55-year-old Anna E. Slesers is believed to have been the first victim of which serial murderer?
76 In 1979, Diana Nyad became the first person to swim to Florida from which islands, doing 89 miles in 27 1/2 hours?


77 The cowboy hat-wearing Canadian rock musician and lead guitarist Zal Yanovsky, who died in 2002, founded which band with John Sebastian in 1964, who had their first US top ten single with "Do You Believe in Magic" - taken from the namesake debut album?
78 The shortstop Andre Rodgers, who played for the NY/San Francisco Giants, Chicago Cubs and Pittsburgh Pirates (1957-67), was the first person from which country to play in baseball's major leagues?
79 Also known as Katia Lamara, which French novelist died in a car crash on December 13, 1993 aged only 21, having created a stir in France with a combination of her youth and beauty and her BDSM novel Le lien/The Ties that Bind, based on her experiences as a slave?
80 The collector Louis J. Caldor discovered whose paintings in a Hoosick Falls, New York drugstore window in 1938, leading to her work being exhibited by art dealer Otto Kallir in his Galerie Saint-Etienne in New York the following year? Her works include The Old Checkered Inn in Summer.
81 Author of the theoretical works Concerning the Spiritual in Art (1911) and Point and Line to Plane, who was successful enough in his chosen academic studies and impending career teaching law and economics to be offered a professorshiip - Chair of Roman Law - at the University of Dorpat (otherwise known as Estonia's University of Tartu), but gave it up and started painting studies at the age of 30 in 1896 when he enrolled in art school in Munich?
82 Regarded as the most acclaimed contemporary Romanian language poet (beloved by the public and well-respected by critics), which Romanian poet and essayist made his editorial debut with the poetry book Sensul iubirii/The Aim of Love in 1960 and published his last volume of verse in his lifetime - Noduri si semne/Knots and Signs - in 1982, the year before he died of hepatitis at the age of 50? His key poems include O viziune a sentimentelor/'A Vision of Feelings'; Dreptul la timp/'The Right to Time'; Necuvintele/'The Unwords'; Un pamant numit Romania/'A Land Called Romania'; and Epica Magna.
83 Which French social scientist and amateur physicist is best known for works that put forward his theories on herd behaviour and crowd psychology, having his first great success with Les Lois psychologiques de l'evolution des peuples/The Psychology of Peoples (1894); a publication that hit upon a popularising style that would secure his reputation and lead on to his greatest-selling work La psychologie des foules/The Crowd: A Study of the Popular Mind (1896)?


84 Described by George Sarton, the father of the history of science, as "one of the very greatest scientists of Islam, and, all considered, one of the greatest of all times", which Persian polymath scholar (973-1048) was the first Muslim scholar to study India and has been called the father of geodesy, "the first anthropologist" and was one of the earliest leading exponents of experimental scientific method? Born in what is now Khiva in Uzbekistan and buried in Ghazni, Afghanistan, his works number 146 in total, including 35 books on astronomy (one of these being the extensive encyclopaedia he finished in 1031 - Kitab al-Qanun al-Mas'udi or Canon Mas'udicus), 15 on maths, 9 on geography, 5 on chronology and 4 on history. Extant works include Critical study of what India says, whether accepted by reason or refused; The Remaining Signs of Past Centuries (his comparative study of different cultures and civilisations); Pharmacy (about drugs and medicines) and Understanding Astrology.


85 Deriving his surname from his native town on the Mosel in Germany, which abbot (born Johann Heidenberg in 1462) is best known for his three-volume work Steganographia (written c.1499, pub. 1606, placed on the Index in 1609), a book that appears to be about magic and using spirits to communicate over long distances, but, since the 1606 publication of the decryption key to the first two volumes, is now known to be really concerned with cryptography and steganography (the work lending its name to the modern academic field of the latter)?
86 During the reign of which Portuguese king and successor to John II, did Vasco de Gama find the maritime route to India (1498); Cabral discover Brazil (1500); Francisco de Almeida become the first viceroy of India (1505); and admiral Alfonso de Albuquerque secure the monopoly of the Indian Ocean and Persian Gulf maritime routes (1503-1515)?
87 Excommunicated twice and called the Antichrist by Gregory IX due to his constant warring with the Papal States, which Holy Roman Emperor (reign 1220-1250) and patron of the Sicilian School of poetry was known in his own time as "Stupor mundi" ("wonder of the world") and was said to speak six languages (Latin, Sicilian, German, French, Greek & Arabic)?
88 Which English author wrote Life of Mr Richard Savage (1744), a "moving" tribute to his eponymous friend which, according to 20th century American critic/biographer Walter Jackson Bate "remains one of the innovative works in the history of biography"? It was published the year after the subject - the troubled poet who wrote the satirical The Author to be Let; The Bastard (1728); and The Wanderer (1729) - died having been committed to debtors' prison.
89 Constantinos Volanakis, Georgios Jakobides, Nikolaus Gysis and Nikiphoros Lytras were associated with what Greek Art movement of academic realism, considered the most important in 19th century Greece and which was strongly influenced by a German city's 'Royal Academy of Fine Arts' from which it took its name?
90 Harry Barris, Al Rinker and Bing Crosby were members of which early 1930s singing trio that was Crosby's entry into showbusiness?
91 Hagiography tells us that which saint (284-304) - whose feast day is observed on December 13 in Scandinavia, parts of the US and southern Europe - was a Christian during the Diocletian persecution who consecrated her virginity to God, refused to marry a pagan and had her dowry given to the poor before she was denounced to the governor of Syracuse, Sicily and stabbed to death after guards were, miraculously, unable to move her or burn her?
92 Which goddess-personification of the Earth was worshipped in a December 13 Roman festival held in the district Carinae at the Esquiline Hill?
93 Born near Tewkesbury in 1905, what was the nom de plume of English author Henry Vincent Yorke, whose pithily-titled novels included Blindness; Caught; Back; Concluding; Nothing; and Doting?
94 Birthplace of the mathematician Abraham Wald, what name do we most commonly give to the city known in German as Klausenberg; in Hungarian as Kolozsvar; in Yiddish as Kloiznburg, and which was called such Latin names as Claudiopolis?
95 While on an extensive lecture tour at the invitation of the Indian government, Abraham Wald and his wife died in a 1950 airplane crash in which range of mountains in the Western Ghats, located in the westernmost part of Tamil Nadu at the junction of Karnataka and Kerala, and whose name means "Blue Mountains" in Tamil?
96 The Russian painter Nicholas Roerich and his wife Helena were co-founders of which form of spiritual teaching, whose followers believe it (17 volumes of which have been translated into English) was given to their family and their associates from 1920 by Master Morya, the guru of Theosophy founder Helena Blavatsky? Known by a Sanskrit name, it is also referred to as the Teaching of Living Ethics, the Teaching of Light, or simply "The Teaching".
97 The Mexican actress Lupe Velez married which former Olympic champion in 1933, though the tumultuous marriage lasted only five years?
98 Alexander von Humboldt said of the author and his masterwork: "For as long as palms are named and known, the name of _______ will be famous". Which German botanist wrote Historia naturalis palmarum: opus tripartitum (1823-1850), a highly illustrated, three-volume book of palms (Arecaceae) written in Latin and based on his 1817-1820 travels in Brazil and Peru with zoologist Johann Baptist von Spix; an expedition sponsored by Maximilian I, King of Bavaria and one which saw them become the first non-Portuguese Europeans to obtain permission to visit the Brazilian Amazon?
99 On December 13, 1945, who became the youngest woman to die judicially under English law in the 20th century?
100 Nicknamed "Bluejay", which 17-year-old American composer and prodigy, described by CBS News as perhaps "the greatest musical genius to come along in 200 years", is probably best known for his 2002 work Overture to 9/11 and writing five symphonies by the time he was aged 13?








Answers to BH156
1 Korea 2 Phaedrus 3 Gardens of Sallust/Horti Sallustiani 4 Giuga number 5 Zinc 6 Pegasus 7 Greece 8 Albert Camus in 'The Myth of Sisyphus' 9 Josef K in The Trial 10 Nolan Ryan 11 t.A.T.u 12 Wheelbarrow 13 Sphenic number 14 Dartmouth College (Hanover, New Hampshire) 15 Battle of Fredericksburg 16 St. Celestine V 17 Pequot Indians 18 Hans Langsdorff 19 Archbishop Makarios III 20 City Methodist, London 21 Malta 22 Wojciech Jaruzelski 23 Henri IV 24 Gozzi 25 Heinrich Heine 26 Mary Ann Todd Lincoln 27 Lenbachhaus (named after Franz von Lenbach b. Dec 13, 1836 - 1904) 28 Ernst Werner von Siemens 29 Hamlet Overture-Fantasy 30 Emily Carr 31 George Polya/Polya Gyorgy 32 Talcott Parsons 33 Flamenco guitarist 34 Laurens Van der Post 35 Van Heflin (b, Emmett Evan Heflin, Jr) 36 Archie Moore 37 Lew Archer who became "Harper" on film 38 Hans-Joachim Marseille 39 Rob Petrie 40 Jamaica 41 Genie Awards 42 Nizari Ismaili Shia Muslims (he is His Highness Aga Khan IV (1957-) 43 Musica Elettronica Viva 44 Exophthalmos 45 Tenors 46 Hwang Jang-Lee or Wong Cheng Lee 47 Ted Nugent (Theodore Anthony Nugent) 48 Majida El Roumi 49 Steve Buscemi 50 Vivendi SA (formerly Vivendi Universal) 51 (Celebrity) chef 52 Sergei (Viktorovich) Federov 53 Franz Ferdinand 54 Jiu-Jitsu 55 Peter Stringer 56 Evanescence 57 Taylor Swift 58 Donatello (Donato di Niccolo di Betto Bardi) 59 Konrad Gessner 60 August Senoa 61 St Herman of Alaska 62 Christian Friedrich Hebbel 63 "I Left My Heart in San Francisco" 64 Horace Greeley 65 Clark Gable 66 e e cummings 67 Henry Howard, Earl of Surrey 68 Karl Mannheim 69 Sigmund Freud 70 G.E. Moore (Gordon Edward) 71 Soto Zen 72 Florence Nightingale 73 102 74 Theda Bara (b. Theodosia Burr Goodman) 75 "The Boston Strangler" (Albert DeSalvo, maybe) 76 Bahamas 77 The Lovin' Spoonful 78 Bahamas 79 Vanessa Duries 80 Grandma Moses (Anna Mary Robertson) 81 Wassily Kandinsky 82 Nichita Stanescu (b. Nichita Hristea Stanescu) 83 Gustave Le Bon 84 Al-Biruni or Abu Rayhan Muhammad ibn Ahmad Biruni or Abu Rayhan Biruni 85 Johannes Trithemius (from the town of Trittenheim) 86 Manuel I 87 Frederick II 88 Samuel Johnson 89 The Munich School 90 The Rhythm Boys 91 St. Lucy or St. Lucia 92 Tellus or Terra Mater 93 Henry Green 94 Cluj or Cluj-Napoca (3rd largest city in Romania) 95 The Nilgiri 96 Agni Yoga Society (Agni meaning "fire" as well as the name of fire-god in the Vedic pantheon) 97 Johnny Weissmuller 98 Carl Friedrich Philipp von Martius 99 (22-year-old Bergen-Belsen Nazi guard) Irma Grese 100 Jay Greenberg

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Goodbye Juvenile 20s, Hello Equally Silly 30s

Reflections On An Age Milestone

As you might have surmised from my sidebar, I am no longer the sprightly, bounce up-and-downy twentysomething who started this blog. The very stroke of midnight that turned December 12 into December 13 saw me instantly transform from a gilded youth with a never-say-die spark glittering in his visage into "One-Eyed Willy" from The Goonies. Like magic and with skin just as pretty.

I may be exaggerating a smidgen. But it did bring into focus the fact that I had started this serious quiz-lark when I was a mere stripling of 16. Almost 14 years of this relentless trivia train seems like a bloody long time, but still, 'tis nothing compared to the decades put in by the likes of Donald Yule.

I made a strange vow that I'd be retired from this quiz by the age of 26 or 28 (by which time I would have found my true calling in the world, though, er, I have probably already found it and would never admit to doing so), but of course idiotic promises that I make to myself and which even I don't believe - like my single New Year's resolution of finishing every book I had begun turning into a right old crap heap: my completed book tally of 2008 being a princely ONE (and maybe a half) from a possible 37 - are broken, nay snapped remorsely within mere moments of their being made. As if this whole quizzing thing was just a part of the 'young me' I would inevitably leave behind like tricycle bike-supports and was something I would let go and give a fond, tear-swelled farewell. But then reality sets in and bores into your psyche and it gets all Godfather Part III with the pulling-back-in motion and I feel too weak to resist, even more so when it becomes more and more of a living and a life. So it goes.

Talking about maturity, two of my friends gave me a £25 voucher to spend on Amazon (brilliant present) and I managed to spend it on guess what? Yeah, comic books and graphic novels with pretty pictures and gun and gore action (but I assure you, allied with highly cogent and insightful allegory and commentary on the world we live in, oh yes). I also managed to regress to a state of teenage binge drinkedness on my actual birthday (as did several of my eventually vomitous mates), so it seems that I can't let go of this lovely, perpetual adolescence I appear to have clung onto since forever. Albeit one that involved quiz question material and increasingly poncey vehicles of intoxication: Talisker whisky, a Romeo Y Julieta Cuban cigar, Veuve Clicquot Ponsardin 2002 Vintage champagne and well, it did go on. At least you can say that I have made progress from a mid-teen taste for White Lightning. The morning after was a squalid, desperate and dark scene; my mind and body corrupted and so sickened that I watched The Dark Knight, The Bourne Supremacy, Hancock and six episodes of The Wire season 4 before I felt well enough to crawl out of bed.

Maybe, I'll just forget about being 30 and simply deny all knowledge of this chronological landmark. Wait a minute, I think I already have. Nothing has changed, as you might have expected and probably already know. Though I am thinking about investing in cryogenic chamber research.

Year-end enthusiasm that has overcome me during the last few days
Hey, I'm still down with the cool kids. The year's end and reading associated list-mania and music overviews mean that the new new sounds that were once my cultural raison d'etre and drove me to write maniacal 2000-word-plus love-ins of Belle and Sebastian and Rosie Thomas come back to me in a rather obsessive fashion. One such new act is Ladyhawke, aka Pip Brown , beautifully crafted and souped-up 80s - with a huge emphasis on the 80s, thanks no doubt due to her self-professed love of 'dad music' - indie pop from an Asperger's stricken, gadget-addicted New Zealander that makes you believe that synths are highly underrated and should be shoved in every song from here to Dunedin (home to the steepest street in the world ... apparently). You see? The old music hackery returns so easily. I would do it again, like a prodigal sheep coming back to the critical fold, if I didn't think it would drive me sick in the head with the pointless flummery of chasing the next big thing and then having to compare them to at least half a dozen musicians/groups that came before. But I have to say, her song 'Another Runaway' has been aurally branded in my brain in such a way that it has been played on my iTunes 36 times in 3 days. Like I said: rather obsessive.

And yes, she is named after that nonsensical 1985 fantasy film with not just Matthew Broderick, not just Michelle Pfeiffer (all the posters maker her look as if she has such a huge cheekbone-crazy Mount Rushmore face, it's plain old funny), but also ... RUTGER HAUER!

I'm also thinking that 'Skinny Love' by Bon Iver is my favourite song of the year. Which has nothing to do with my first hearing it at the end of an episode of Chuck. (I'm lying. That's where it all started. Josh Schwartz knows what he's doing; even if The O.C. turned into complete wankdoodle sometime during the second season and tried to make the band Rooney cool: the poor deluded sod of a television creator wunderkind.)

Sunday, December 07, 2008

BH155: Just Another Clearout

Tangential bric-a-brac

This is just another batch of questions that happen to be hanging around having been spawned by various jobs: like 'quality' dross left over from the melting of other quiz material. Thinking of some random definition I just read in Cassell's Word Histories.

1 A 1st or 2nd century marble Roman copy of the sculpture, the Diana of Versailles (aka Diane Chasseresse (Diana-Huntress) and Artemis of the Chase), portraying the goddess with a deer/hind, can be seen in the Louvre. The lost Greek bronze original (c.325BC) is attributed to which Athenian sculptor, who worked on the construction of the Mausoleum of Mausolos at Halicarnassus and also produced celebrated ivory-and-gold portrait-statues of Philip, Alexander, Amyntas III, Olympias and Eurydice II?
2 What word for a fault-finding or querulous person comes from the god of ridicule in Greek mythology?
3 What word for a person who acts as a guide and agent for travellers in the Middle East is ultimately derived from the Arabic word tarjama, meaning 'to interpret'?
4 Derived partly from the Greek word for 'letter', what term was coined in 1904 by the German zoologist R. Semon to refer to the physical trace of a memory in the brain?
5 What copolymer, which approaches elastometric materials in softness and flexibility and is used for padding in sports equipment, is known by the abbreviation EVA?
6 The Portuguese national postal service (CTT) issued the world's first postage stamp made of what material on November 28, 2007?
7 Fu Haifeng of China holds the record for the fastest recorded stroke (332mph/206mph) in which sport?
8 Believed to have been first played in the 5th century BC in China, what sport - the subject of a 1961 film made by the Chinese central news movie company entitled The Flying Feather - is a traditional Asian game in which players aim to keep a heavily weighted shuttlecock in the air using their feet and other parts of the body (except the hands) and has a name meaning 'kick shuttlecock' or just 'shuttlecock'? In Vietnam, it is known as da cau and is the national sport.
9 Alec Campbell, who died on May 16, 2002, was the last surviving Australian participant of which military venture?
10 The training scale for which sporting discipline is arranged in a pyramid scale with Rhythm and Regularity/Takt at the bottom and Collection/Versammlung at its apex, with Relaxation/Losgelassenheit, Impulsion/Schwung and Straightness/Geraderichtung coming inbetween?
11 Created by soap writer Irma Phillips, which American television program is credited by the Guinness Book of Records as being the longest-running soap opera in production and the longest running drama in television and drama history, having churned out more than 15,500 episodes since it began as an NBC radio serial on January 25, 1937?
12 The Italian-British traveller, author and journalist Maurizio Giuliano (b.1975) is credited as being the youngest person to have achieved what feat?
13 What river, which runs between Giant Springs and the Missouri River in Great Falls, Montana, is only 61m/201ft at its longest constant point and usurped Oregon's D River (134m/440ft) Guinness Book of Records listing as the world's shortest river in 1989, though the listing was omitted from 2006?
14 Composed between 1919 and 1927, what is the popular name of Havergal Brian's Symphony No.1 in D minor, which partly owes its notoriety to being the largest symphony ever composed (thus described by the Guinness Book... )?
15 Which Turin-born composer (1861-1939) wrote the opera Mala Pasqua!, based on Giovanni Verga's short story Cavalleria rusticana, and the aria Musica probita, the basis for the song 'O Promise Me' in the 1890s American musical Robin Hood?
16 Also the author of a treatise called On Comedy, the 3rd century BC Greek poet and grammarian Lycophron's Alexandra verses called which islands the Gymnesiae (from the Greek word for 'naked') because its inhabitants were apparently often nude due to the pleasant year-long climate?
17 Which massive 10th century Byzantine Greek historical encyclopaedia of the ancient Mediterranean world, with 30,000 entries, probably derives its name from the Byzantine Greek word meaning 'fortress' or 'stronghold' with an alternate name stemming from an error made by Eustathius, who mistook the title for the proper name of the author?
18 Symphonie Cevenole or Symphonie sur un chant montagnard francais/Symphony on a French Mountain Air (1886 - for piano and orchestra) and the 1896 symphonic poem in the form of a set of variations, Istar, are works by which French composer and teacher (1851-1931)?
19 Sir Alex Ferguson was appointed manager of which club in June 1974 at the age of 32 before deciding to join St Mirren on Jock Stein's advice later that year?
20 Which Co. Antrim golf club is the only one outside of Great Britain to have hosted The Open Championship (in 1951)? And which Englishman won it?
21 General Thomas "Stonewall" Jackson recieved his famous nickname due to his actions at which July 21, 1861 clash, also known as the First Battle of Manassas?
22 Deriving their name from a term for a philosophical tenet because they professed to follow the opinions of Hippocrates (and were therefore sometimes called Hippocratici), which ancient school of medicine in Greece and Rime - founded by Thessalus and Polybus (Hippocrates's son-in-law) in c.400BC - was the oldest of the medical sects of antiquity; its doctrines being described by Aulus Cornelius Celsus in the introduction to his De Medecina?
23 The land comprising which US city was once a Native American village called Standing Peachtree and was sold by the Cherokee and Creeks to white settlers in 1822 with the first area settlement being Decatur?
24 Who is considered to be the founder of Arabic botany thanks to his Book of Plants/Kitab al-nabat (c.850), in which he describes at least 637 plants and discussed plant evolution from its birth and to its death, as well as the phases of plant growth and the production of flowers and fruit?
25 Francis Borelli took over as chairman of which football club in 1978 that under his control won its first major trophies in the form of two French Cups (1982 & '83) and the 1985-65 French league, before he was forced to hand over control to Canal+ in 1991?
26 The 15th Patriarch of Moscow and All-Russia, which Tallinn-born head of the Russian Orthodox Church died of heart failure on December 5?
27 Playing the role of Juana, who was Cary Grant and Frank Sinatra's leading lady in the 1957 Stanley Kramer film The Pride and Passion, an adaptation of a CS Forester novel?
28 What name is given to the actor awards handed out at the Venice Film Festival?
29 Belonging to the Italian baroque tradition, which English painter of historical subjects was made court painter by George I in June 1718 and in March the next year "Serjeant Painter"; his works including the eight scenes executed in grisaille from the 'Life of St Paul' in the cupola of St Paul's Cathedral and Portrait of Sir Isaac Newton in old age (1709-12)? He built an eponymous Palladian-style '_________ House' in the south of Stalbridge, Dorset in 1725, which he probably designed himself.
30 Invented by Yukihiro Matsumoto in 1995, which object-oriented programming language combines syntax inspired by Perl with Smalltalk-like features and is named after a precious stone?
31 Which name for the Pentateuch/Five Books of Moses/Torah comes from the Hebrew word for 'five'?
32 Evolved from the wooden stockades of earlier centuries, which Japanese name is given to the native fortresses composed primarily of wood and stone that came into their most well-known form in the 16th century?
33 J. Habakuk Jephson's Statement is an 1884 short story by Arthur Conan Doyle loosely based on which real-life mystery?
34 The Australian swimmer Dawn Fraser won the 100m freestyle event for the third time in a row at the 1964 Summer Olympics, matching which Soviet rower's feat in the men's single scull event?
35 Which indigenous group of Nahua, who took their name from a Kingdom that is now located in a namesake Mexican state, were never conquered by the Aztec Triple Alliance despite early attempts by the Mexica, and were allowed to maintain their independence by the Aztecs so that they could participate in the xochiyaoyatl (flower wars) with them to facilitate human sacrifice? However, as their main enemies, they allied with Cortes and the conquistadors and were instrumental in the invasion of Tenochtitlan.
36 Winner of many Billboard Latin Music Awards, which Grammy-nominated Mexican singer (b.1971) - nicknamed "La Chica Dorada" (The Golden Girl - from the title of her 1992 solo debut album) and "Queen of Latin Pop" - has sold over 16 million albums and is perhaps best known worldwide for her single 'Don't Say Goodbye (Si Tu Te Vas)' taken from her sixth studio album Border Girl (2002)?






Answers to BH155
1 Leochares 2 Momus (from Momos) 3 Dragoman 4 Engram 5 Ethylene vinyl acetate 6 Cork 7 Badminton 8 Jianzi or ti jian zi (or ti jian or jianqiu) 9 Gallipoli 10 Dressage 11 Guiding Light (known as The Guiding Light prior to 1975) 12 Visited all the sovereign nations of the world 13 Roe River 14 "The Gothic" 15 Stanislao Gastaldon 16 Balearic Islands 17 The Suda or Souda (alt. name Suidas) 18 (Paul Marie Theodore) Vincent d'Indy 19 East Stirlingshire 20 Royal Portrush Golf Club; Max Faulkner 21 First Battle of Bull Run 22 Dogmatic school or Dogmatics or Dogmatici 23 Atlanta 24 Al-Dinawari or Abu Hanifah Ahmed ibn Dawud Dinawari 25 Paris Saint-Germain 26 His Holiness Alexy II (b. Alexey Mikhailovich Ridiger) 27 Sophia Loren 28 Volpi Cup 29 Sir James Thornhill 30 Ruby 31 Chumash 32 Shiro (though -jo is attached in other cases) 33 The abandonment of the Mary Celeste 34 Vyacheslav Ivanov 35 Tlaxcalteca (from Tlaxcala) 36 Paulina Rubio (Dosamantes)

Wednesday, December 03, 2008

I wish Sandy Denny had the answer to where the time goes

The Agenda

Promises, Promises, apart from being the name of the musical version of The Apartment (come to think of it, that I would like to see) seem to be broken the moment I lay them down here to rest.

My time-management skills, or complete lack of them, are the main instruments of their inevitable destruction. A Xmas quiz - the kind that must be done since it has been commissioned and I must preserve future sources of income - that was supposed to be done and dusted by Monday morning was only finished a few hours ago. I looked at the logged-on internet time and, gosh, it was over 20 hours. And I didn't even bugger about watching lame live versions of songs on YouTube that I already have on CD.

And lo, a seemingly simple repeat feat transmogrified into one of those overperfectionized 4,000-word total beasts than are written in the name of 'volume' and 'better safe than sorry' and, wait up, should I really put in so many joke questions and nonsensical multiple choice answers? Yet. Alas, it is done and delivered. To the river I cast thee, as Woody does with every one of his films (he should really rethink that policy; he cast Bullets Over Broadway to the East or Hudson River in a thoroughly entertaining state; everything after: meh ad infinitum). Until it gets chucked back at me, of course, for what turn out to be vital amendments. In the meantime, I'm grateful for the respite.

Therefore, I was going to get on with the Giant business but - guess what Christmas time, Mistletoe and another end-of-year quiz commission comes in on a super-tight schedule that will consume the next few days.

To be honest, I'm not really complaining. How can I? Tis my trade. However, I'm just looking at a whole list of other stuff, kerfuffle and kaboodle I was meant to be getting on with. Like filling out the fragments of posts I have been amassing like broken bits of pottery waiting to be glued together inartfully and glazed over with a profusion of style-crazed prose, then set on display. Here. So much like George Steiner's book about books he never wrote, but lacking in the interesting diversions about making love in different languages and being on a far crappier, scrappier and erudition-free scale.

I still have to finish up all these posts:

a) Guest v. Hoggart: the young optimism versus the old apocalyptism about the state of the pub quiz. Both a bit wrong, both a bit right.

b) the full AYAE analysis, which becomes ever more diluted and more like some weird fever dream. Was I even there? Or was I taking a trip on a river in a boat called a NUGGAR? Certain syllables stay with you for ever.

c) the same going for the EQC, though it still reeks Proustian-like of lovely coffee and cake in the memory and, like any good pretentious little twit (just like the journalist/concept-superman I am about to reference) I have come to define what I call 'Post-EQC-Recall-Syndrome' (it's a truly painful condition).

d) the Malcolm Gladwell theory about the 10,000 hour rule (clue: you may have great innate talent but it takes a lot of bloody-minded, time-consuming work to fulfill the promise that wraps the said talent around you in a kind of aura-sarong, but which inevitably frays and disintegrates with age). However, you could have already learnt that from watching the first few seconds of the trailer for The Natural.

e) An old 10 Quizzer Archetype essay-thingy I dug up from an old, unused interview I never used, but which has now blown up into an even more complicated 16 Quizzer, not so much Archetypes, but common personality traits and habits and stand-apart individuals essay-thingumyjig, grouped under headings like "The Pub Quiz Loyalist", "The TV Whore", "Rainbow Chaser", "The Undiscovered Keyser Soze" (3000 words and counting)

f) The PEN dispatch. The bloke who wrote The Last King of Scotland was on the winning team apparently. That's a further taster. Or nip.

g) President's Cup & QLL: well, my teams beat Cambridge 45-30 & Gray Monks 51-44 (maybe? Not sure). I don't know what else to add with regards to league and cup action anymore. I''m sure I'll conjure up something later.

h) Finished The Importance of Being Trivial by Mark Mason. Therefore a review is due. It will be nowhere near a gargantuan read as the one that dissected Brainiac sentence by sentence. But it seems that I couldn't stop myself from scoring the margin spaces with illegible "react quotes", slashing passages with violent underlinings and scribbling the textual exclamation "I KNEW THAT ALREADY!" in hollow, pointless triumph. So I may be able to confabulate as much as two or three sentences of valid and enlightening criticism. Fingers crossed.

i) The New Statesman online article about Oxbridge bias on UC. I think the will to think about it any longer drained from my brain before I got down to writing my riposte and maybe that's a good thing. Still, the fragments are still there. Sitting on my computer desktop. Actually, I'll just stick it in myoldquizshite file.

j) AYAE? as a viewer - Barry winning addendum. (Um, I think this is a proper post actually and not an excerpt, so skip if you wish) Stunning performance, but already forum folk all over the cyberkingdom are accusing him of astounding smugness. How long did it take? One show, with an admittedly prolonged aperitif. Dear lord. I cannot stand the way some quiz shows - the ones where contestants are given more than enough rope to hang themselves because they are told to talk out the answer (blame Millionaire) by either making themselves sound like idiots or know-it-alls (exemptions due to necessary time limits being Brain of Britain, UC and ya know da rest ... that Joan Rivers's catchphrase pops into my head "Can we talk?" My reply is: "Piss off!")** - give viewers the chance to turn it into a popularity/personality contest and they are bound to come up with some very odd conclusions indeed. The audience at home sees Barry smiles alot. Some see enthusiasm and enjoyment and an endearing love of facts, while others - infected with real inferiority and chop the tall poppy down syndrome - perceive the blaring neon sign of a smug git smugged up to his smugging eyeballs smugging away at the world. The smug-detectors are the kind of judgemental idiots who make everyone's journey in life that much more gloomier and spite-filled.

** I know. I should begin writing David Foster Wallace footnotes. The hyphenated and bracketted digressions really break up the flow.

The point of AYAE? was not about finding the most likeable addition to the team, it was about getting the winningest candidate and in the end they got one of the very finest in the competition. The gulf in all-round knowledge between Shaun and Barry when the questions reached a certain level where the hard-but-fair knowledge came into play was all too apparent when the multiple choices were whipped away in the final round, in Shaun's case like much-needed crutches (33.33% is a real chance, especially with a forensic, eye for a telling detail kind of guy like Shaun; I reckon his barrister skills helped him a great deal).

It then became clear that Barry clearly had a far deeper well of facts to reach into than Shaun and even more impressively was answering both questions sets (which what might be termed medium-standard GP with the odd hard-as-hell bastado) when Shaun went into his downward spiral of pass-after-pass. Barry displayed by far the greater knowledge when it truly mattered and there can be no argument that he deserved to win.

Yet still some viewers post-show said they liked Shaun better and wanted him to "join the most fearsome quiz team in history" instead because he was a decent bloke (which Shaun is and cool enough to convince you that you should put his name as "Shaun da brief" in your mobile contacts, which I did).

I was bemused by these comments, though hardly outraged. Then you realise. Why should absolutely everyone take sides with the seemingly better player? It doesn't happen when we watch football matches between sides we don't support. If Manchester United was playing Aston Villa or Stoke City or Hull and practically every other team in the land (except for Chelsea) I would always opt for the cheering on their opponents. Just because my mind's wired that way.

And it's only too natural for Shaun fans to wish Egghead status be bestowed upon him because it is a TV show they watch every single weekday and they would rather have Shaun hogging their telly, a guy you can have a beer with (even though he's teetotal) and watch the football (shades of Bush v. Kerry 2004 come into play here) even if he supports a team of tossers, as well as give Kevin a decent run for his money on history, politics, law and sport - an identifiable likeable Everyman with a special talent for some impressive, cornerstone quiz subjects. He would be a great Egghead, unless challengers started to hit him on TV & Film and Music and Food & Drink and you know what I'm tapping aimlessly now.

But then that's the thing, it's television show. It comes under the banner of light entertainment, not mind sports with full televised coverage. And people take sides with that 'entertainment' thing ringing in their minds and arousing totally irrational reasons to love or hate the folks on the screen (body language, accent, shirt colour, word inflections, regular smiling). So it's back to reality and remembering that's its only a TV show with some resemblance to a quiz. A far better resemblance than 85 per cent of the shows that come to mind, but still an entertainment package that has to excite emotions in some way - no matter how illogical or weird - otherwise it's dead in the water.

k) A few weeks ago I would have let that all out on a forum. Not now. For reasons deranged and stated in another blog draft on zee psychology of der repeet forum poster - detailing the hilariously, stupid and insane cycle of clumsy exchange and ugly repartee. The weird thrill of seeing an insult aimed at you and you returning fire or the equally strange sensation of compulsive bystanding induced by seeing an insult chucked at another forum poster and waiting for their payback. And even when you mean well and try to make intelligent comments you know every word is practically wasted. Maybe I will go back and rescue those block paragraphs and dress them all dainty and proper for their blog homecoming, with the fanciest purple prose I can muster from the least-used, dustiest areas of my vocabulary *now repeat the last sentence in the style of Blanche Dubois". It's the least I could do in the name of all those hours I sacrified, just to make a stupid point or two or point out a grammatical error. I don't think I will ever let this particular slither of horsebollock sausagmeat be sampled by readers of this blog.

l) I must finish 'Giant D' (53-q done), who knew the German mastery of board game design could be so fascinating! Whoever gets a Giant D will thank me to the end of my days. I have begun to repeat the phrase of Giant D because I now have visions of him collaborating with his relatively svelte brother, the early 90s musician Heavy D.

m) Unrelated quiz matter. I still have to sort out my Top 50 albums of all time list for Chris's FB group/night. The longlist is 107-strong, but that includes multiple band selections and remembering my once strongly held precepts about the orthodoxies of authentic and educational list construction, each act is allowed only one album. Which is a bit of a shitter because it looks like a roll-call for conjoined twins at the moment, call it one of the most flippant renderings of Sophie's Choice if you will. I know I am.

n) I noticed one of my unpublished blog drafts. One single paragraph broken up for sight's sake by the intervention of dozens of dragging ellipses It was my Beat-inspired riff - because it sure wasn't writing - on my unfathomable obsession with the US presidential elections every four years (well, I say unfathomable; maybe I mean, because it is estimated to be about one gagillion-billion times more fascinating than our country's general election, but that's the small price we have paid for the beautiful centre-left-liberal consensus most voters have agreed on) and my obsessive consumption, reading and watching of the associated media, especially Jon Stewart and Rachel Maddow. In the latter's case. possibly the one news presenter who makes you feel like you have grown smarter and become better informed after watching her show, which makes a nice change from everything else (sweet Jesus: Paxman interacts with Dizzee Rascal *shiver*). And there were 2,285 words of this stele; 97 of which may have been Palin. Pity I missed the topicality window. But then again, just like TB, I'm sure Palin will come back and be far more resilient.

And that's that: a blog about blogs I should have blogged some blogging time during the last blogging month and a half. Back to work on an empty brain. I could always fill it with something ... like slumber