Friday, December 28, 2012

E4. In 1573, the Italian painter Paolo Veronese delivered this painting to the Dominicans of Santi Giovanni e Paolo, Venice for their refectory. The subject of the painting caused Veronese to be called before the Inquisition to explain why the work contained "buffoons, drunken Germans, dwarfs and other such scurrilities" as well as extravagant costumes and settings. He was asked to change the painting appropriately within three months. His solution was to rename the painting, calling it 'The Feast in the House of Levi', which is how it continues to be known. What was the original subject and title of the painting?

A. The Last Supper

Monday, December 24, 2012

G6. What Mervyn Bunter was to Lord Peter Wimsey, Figaro to the Count of Almaviva, Georges to Hercule Poirot and Passepartout to Phileas Fogg.

A. Valet. That was an easy one. And seriously, there's no way you can't get this theme now!

Monday, November 12, 2012

C7. This deity, whose temple dates back to 1675, gets her name from the Sanskrit for 'great mother'. She was in particular a patron of the Agri and Koli peoples. Name her.

A. Mumba Devi, whose name purportedly comes from 'maha amba'.

Friday, November 2, 2012

B10. So, what was the happy bridegroom's name? Please read the question carefully and answer appropriately. 

A. That's Yousuf Youhana, one of the few cricketers from the religious minorities that Pakistan could boast of. Now, of course, he's joined the majority, calls himself Mohammad Yousuf and looks like this:

Monday, October 29, 2012

F7. This is a London pub that dates from the 1530s (it was rebuilt after the Great Fire of 1666). It was a favourite of many writers, from Oliver Goldsmith and Tennyson to Arthur Conan Doyle and G.K. Chesterton. Charles Dickens even mentioned the pub by name in 'A Tale of Two Cities'. It takes its name from the type of cheese shown in the picture below. It is one of England's oldest known cheeses, available in white, red and blue varieties, the white being the commonest. Name the cheese.

A. Cheshire cheese. 

The pub is called Ye Olde Cheshire Cheese, and is considered to be the prototype for the name of all the 'Ye Olde...' establishments in Britain and since then in other parts of the world.

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

A5. The man in this picture was a Wall Street banker who served as a US Senator in the 1950s and early 1960s. The couple named their second son, born in 1924, after the woman's father, unusually using his full name. What surname, as a result, became the middle name of two US Presidents?

A. Walker, as in George Herbert Walker Bush and George Walker Bush.

Dorothy Walker, who married Senator Prescott Bush, was the daughter of George Herbert Walker. The couple named their second son in honour of his maternal grandfather. George H.W. Bush went on to become the 41st President of the United States, and his son, who also carried the surname Walker as a middle name (and was nicknamed 'Dubya' because of his pronunciation of the resulting middle initial), became the 43rd.

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

E3. Here's a description of a card game from Wikipedia. Name the game (the name is the same as the blanked-out word in the second para):

Using a standard 52-card deck, five cards are dealt to each player, or seven if there are four or fewer. The remaining card pack is shared between the players, usually sprawled out in a non-orderly pile referenced as the "ocean" or "pool".

The player whose turn it is to play asks another player for his or her cards of a particular rank. For example, "Bim, do you have any threes?" The player who is asking must have at least one card of the rank he asked for in his hand. The recipient of the request must then hand over a card of that rank, if he has any. If the recipient of the request has none, he tells the player to "go _____," and the player draws a card from the pool and ends his turn. If the player receives the card he wanted (through either means), he may take another turn. If the player is now holding a pair of one rank, he may place the cards face up in front of himself.

Winning: When one player runs out of cards, or the pool is empty, the game ends. The player with the most piles in front of him or her wins.

A. Fish. The game is also called 'Go Fish' or other variants of this theme. 

Thursday, October 11, 2012

G5. He's had such an eventful and variegated life, one could do an entire quiz with questions only on him. But this is not the forum for that, so let's stick to a meta-question -- one on his quizzing credentials. Who, then, appeared for Queen's College, Cambridge, on the University Challenge quiz show in 1981 and later in life said it was the quiz show he'd most like to host, calling it "a window on the weirdness and wonder of studentry"? A quiz show that he does host is the very popular QI, currently into its 10th season on BBC, for which he won the Rose d'Or award for "Best Game Show Host" in 2006.

A. Stephen Fry

Friday, October 5, 2012

C6. In 2005, 'Time' magazine published a list titled "All-TIME 100 Movies", listing what the magazine termed the best 100 movies made since the first issue of 'Time' was published in 1923. There were three Indian films on the list. Two of the directors featured were Satyajit Ray for the Apu trilogy and Guru Dutt for 'Pyaasa'. Who was the third Indian director whose film, one based on the life of Varadarajan Mudaliar, was on the list?

A. Mani Rathnam, for the Tamil film 'Nayagan'

Friday, September 14, 2012

B9. This image shows an actor portraying a composer of Western classical music, in a 2010 opera named 'Risorgimento!' about the mid-19th century movement to unify Italy. The surname of this composer was purportedly used during the movement as part of a coded message that lauded the king-in-waiting: people in the know would shout out 'Viva _____', the surname being used as an acronym in Italian for 'Victor Emmanuel King of Italy'. Name the composer.

A. Verdi

Saturday, September 8, 2012

B8. Listen to this audio clip.
This is the title song of a 1960 Elvis Presley movie, filmed immediately after his discharge from the Army. The chorus of the song, which follows the bit you just heard, goes like this:

"I got those hup-two-three-four occupation __ blues,
From my __ hair to the heels of my __ shoes..."

What abbreviation fills the blanks (they're all the same)?


Here's the link, for those of you'd like to watch the video:

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

D4. This is one of a series of painting by American artist Cheryl Edwards which places African-American subjects in a staple of classical art. Accordingly, each painting in the series is titled 'Modern Day _______', with a number suffixed. What word fits in the blank?

A. Madonna

I thought this was quite easy to figure out, but there were very few responses!

Monday, August 27, 2012

F6. His full name was ______ Miélli Venerando, but he was commonly known simply by his first name or by the nickname 'Paper', given to him because of the way he flew across the goal to make saves. He died just a few days ago, on August 24. What is the 'lucky' first name of this goalkeeper (the guy in the centre) of the great Brazil team that won the 1970 World Cup?

A. Felix, which means 'lucky' or 'happy' in Latin

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

A4. In 1983, when Ronald Reagan proposed the Strategic Defense Initiative (SDI), a system of lasers and missiles meant to intercept incoming ICBMs, the plan was quickly labeled '_____ _____' by detractors, implying that it was science fiction. Reagan was reportedly annoyed by this nickname at first, but Assistant Secretary of Defense Richard Perle told colleagues that he "thought the name was not so bad". "'Why not?' he said. 'It's a good movie. Besides, the good guys won.'" This gained further resonance when Reagan described the Soviet Union as an "evil empire". Fill in the blanks with a two-word movie name.

A. Easy one -- 'Star Wars'

Friday, August 17, 2012

B7. This is a screen grab from the Website of a London-based casual wear company, which launched this range of clothing called the Warhol Collection in 2007. Name the brand.

A. Pepe Jeans

Monday, August 13, 2012

E2. The streets of a certain Swiss city are punctuated by fountains and statues depicting these mythical creatures, perhaps because the names of the city and the creature share the same root (the Greek word for 'king'). In the creature's case, the name is given because of the 'crown'-like appendage on its head. Name the creature.

A. Basilisk, in Basel, both originating from the Greek 'basil', meaning 'king'.

This one, I thought was quite workoutable, given the limited number of Swiss cities, and the not-so-many mythical creatures in European folklore. Sadly, not many got it right.

Thursday, August 9, 2012

C5. In 2002, psychologist Richard Wiseman and colleagues at the University of Hertfordshire, UK, finished a year-long experiment, concluding that of all animals, these evoke the most humour and silliness. In his report, Wiseman said, "If you're going to tell a joke involving an animal, make it a ____." One of the well-known jokes involving one such creature is set in a chemist's shop, and features chapstick and a condom. Fill in the blank.

A. Duck

Here's the joke: 

Duck walks into a chemist's shop, asks for chapstick. Chemist says, "Cash or charge?" Duck replies: "Just put it on my bill."

Couple of days later, the duck's back (hey, there's a pun there as well). This time he asks for a condom. Chemist says, "I suppose you want me to put it on your bill?" Duck draws up to his full height and replies, outraged: "What kind of duck do you take me for?!"

Saturday, August 4, 2012

B6. Which novel, whose title has become a phrase in the English language, follows the wartime exploits of members of the fictional 256th Bomber Squadron, based on the island of Pianosa, in the Mediterranean Sea west of Italy?

A. Catch-22

Tuesday, July 31, 2012

F5. This character from Marvel Comics is based on which ancient Egyptian deity associated with healing and preservation (her name may have meant "she of the ointment jar"?

A. Bastet (not, as far as I know, prefixed by the Egyptians with a "bleddy..."), also known as Bast or Ubasti.

Tough one this time -- garnered only a couple of correct answers, and some very wild guesses!

Monday, July 23, 2012

A3. For a long time, our very own Bhagwat Chandrashekhar was the holder of a unique record which was a staple of sports quizzes -- the only player to have taken more wickets in Test cricket than the runs he scored (167 runs versus 242 wickets in a 58-Test career). The chap in the picture has joined him -- though he's still playing, the likelihood that he will leave this august company of two is very low. In 65 Tests so far, he has scored 112 runs and taken 218 wickets. He also holds the record for the highest number of pairs in Test cricket history, with 6 (Chandra, poor fellow, had only 4). Name him.

A. Chris Martin of New Zealand

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

G4. In 2009, this Website took over as official sponsor of NASCAR driver Bobby Labonte's No. 96 car, seen in the picture (I have blanked out the site name, obviously, wherever it appears on the car). It later also became the official search engine of NASCAR. Rated the No 4 search engine behind Google, Yahoo and Bing, the site uses a natural-language question-and-answer format for its queries. It is owned by InterActive Corp, which also runs the sites,, and Name it.


Friday, July 13, 2012

C4. Though the drinking of tea is often parodied as a typically British pursuit (in 'Asterix in Britain', for example, the Britons call off the battle at five every evening in order to indulge in this 'national pastime'), it was introduced into British high-society in the 17th century by the Queen of King Charles II -- the lady shown in this statue in Lisbon, Portugal. Name her.

A. Catherine of Braganza

Monday, July 9, 2012

B5. The name for what kind of professional comes from the Latin word for 'lead', because in the Roman era when the name came about, the material such people worked with was often made of or coated with lead?

A. Plumber (from the Latin 'plumbum', which gives the metal its elemental symbol 'Pb')

Thursday, July 5, 2012

F4. This still from 'Gone with the Wind' shows a female character who is the sister of Ashley Wilkes and a rival of Scarlett O'Hara. The given name of the character was reasonably popular among daughters of aristocratic families in England during the heyday of the British Empire. Which British colony were these girls named after?

A. India

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

C3. What's the connection?

A. All films directed by Mira Nair. The woman at bottom left is Amelia Earhart, subject of her latest film, 'Amelia' (2009)

Saturday, June 23, 2012

A2. The linked audio clip is a rendition of 'Meglio Stasera' (known in English as 'It Had Better Be Tonight'), a song with music by Henry Mancini, Italian lyrics by Franco Migliacci and English lyrics by Johnny Mercer. It was composed for a 1963 film, in which it was performed by Fran Jeffries (the version you are about to hear). Name the film.

A. 'The Pink Panther' (the original one)

Watch the video here:

Monday, June 18, 2012

B4. This is St. John Lateran's Basilica, the cathedral church of the Diocese of Rome. Who is currently the Bishop whose ecclesiastical seat this is?

A. The Bishop of Rome, which happens to be one of the traditional titles of the Pope, therefore Pope Benedict XVI

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

D3. The ancient Egyptians called this constellation Scarabeus (for the sacred scarab beetle). In Greek mythology, it represented a creature sent by the goddess Hera to distract Hercules while he fought the Lernean Hydra, one of his Twelve Labours. In one version of the story, Hercules kicked it into the sky, where it resides. What is the constellation called in English?

A. Cancer

Saturday, June 9, 2012

F3. With the words, "On this rock I will build my church, and the gates of Hell will not prevail against it", what name did Jesus use to refer to the fisherman-apostle originally named Simon?

A. Peter, from the Greek 'petros', meaning 'rock' (the root of 'petroleum' -- rock oil, 'petrified' -- turned to stone, etc). In the original Aramaic, which is what Jesus and his disciples spoke, he called him 'Cephas', also meaning 'rock', which was translated when the story was rendered in Latin (in which it was 'Petrus').

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

G3. In a 1955 article in 'The Economist', this person used the following opening line: "Work expands so as to fill the time available for its completion." Name him (just his surname will do, but for brownie points, will appreciate a full name).

A. C. Northcote Parkinson. The statement has come to be known as 'Parkinson's Law'.

Brownie points to Groucho, the only one to get the full name exactly right (Doc M spelt it wrong).

Friday, June 1, 2012

B3. Given below are the main points of this footballer's CV (I have left out the most recent items). Name him.

Born: Santpedor, Catalonia 18/1/71
Position: Midfield
* FC Barcelona 1990-2001
* Brescia Calcio 2001-2002
* AS Roma 2002-2003
* Al-Ahli 2003-2005
* Dorados de Sinaloa 2006

A. Pep Guardiola, who's just departed after a successful coaching stint with his former club, Barcelona (and, before that, its junior team)

Monday, May 28, 2012

D2. In Japanese mythology, Namazu is a giant catfish that lives in the mud beneath the earth, guarded by the god Kashima. Whenever Kashima lets his guard down, Namazu thrashes about. This is a mythical explanation for what natural phenomenon?

A. Earthquakes

Answers I received were split between 'earthquakes' and 'tsunamis'. A few hedged their bets and put both in. I have treated those as multiple answers and, as per standard quizzing rules, taken the first answer as the one to consider. 

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

F2. The name of the goddess depicted in this painting derives from a Proto-Germanic word for 'lady', and is as such linked to words with similar meaning in modern Teutonic languages. The first line of the Danish national anthem invokes her name: "It is called Old Denmark and it is _______'s hall". Identify her (any one of several spellings will do).

A. Freyja, from the same root as 'Frau'

Sunday, May 13, 2012

G2. Raised in the Portuguese Jewish community in Amsterdam, he lived quietly as a lens grinder, turning down rewards and honors throughout his life, including prestigious teaching positions. His given name, rendered as Baruch in Hebrew, Benedito in Portuguese and Benedictus in Latin, means "the blessed" in all these languages. His magnum opus, the posthumous 'Ethics', in which he opposed Descartes's mind–body dualism, has earned him recognition as one of Western philosophy's most important contributors.

A. Spinoza

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

C2. We are familiar with only a couple of these, but the International Society of Blood Transfusion lists 30 of them! MNS, Lutheran, Diego, XG, Indian and 25 others are systems to classify what?

A. Blood types

Friday, May 4, 2012

B2. This Brazilian footballer had a very successful stint with Bayern Munich in the early part of the previous decade, helping them win the domestic league and Cup double three times between 2002 and 2006. When he found his place in the starting XI threatened under new coach Felix Magath, though, he left amidst much acrimony, foretelling the downfall of the club. But he was back in 2007, and Bayern again won the double that year. Name the player.

A. Ze Roberto

Now that second clues have started to appear for the various Themes, guessing at the Themes is open. You can do that once for each Theme at each stage. Please remember that there are negative points for getting Theme guesses wrong.

Monday, April 30, 2012

D1. Initially, this medium of communication was referred to as 'wireless telegraphy', which is why the British call it what they do, as opposed to the term more commonly used in the US, India and most parts of the world. This term eventually derives from a Latin word that means, among other things, 'spoke in a wheel', 'beam of light' or 'ray'. What's the common term we refer to it by?

A. Radio (the British tended to call it the wireless). The Latin root is 'radius'

Thursday, April 26, 2012

F1. Across most of Europe, it's called a 'smoking'. In France for example, the two varieties -- distinguished by collar type -- are referred to as 'le smoking Deauville' and 'le smoking Capri'. It rose to respectability in Britain after it was worn to informal parties in the 1880s by the then Prince of Wales (later King Edward VII). The Prince introduced it to a guest of his, the American millionaire James Potter. Potter then wore it at parties at the elite club housed in the buildings in the picture. As a result, in America, it got its name from the name of this club. What do they call it there?

A. A tuxedo

Sunday, April 22, 2012

A1. Called "the Marco Polo of neuroscience" by Richard Dawkins, he writes regularly on "Illusions" in the magazine shown here. Who?

A. Vilayanur S. Ramachandran

Monday, April 16, 2012

E1. What might you do to a painting, a volume on a computer's hard disk, a telescope or a horse without offending your significant other?

A. Mount it. 

Got all kinds of funny answers -- how do you partition a horse, or defrag a painting?!

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

G1. The word 'catamite', reasonably popular in the Victorian era but now considered archaic, refers to a young man or boy kept by a man for sexual purposes. The word derives from the Latin form of the name of the young man seen being 'pursued' by Zeus in this depiction of a Greek myth. What's his name?

Clarification: I'm looking for the original Greek name.

A. Ganymede

Saturday, April 7, 2012

C1. Identify the man on the right in this photo, whose diary jottings led to a 1998 short story collection titled 'Of No Fixed Address'.

A. Kaizad Gustad

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

B1. This picture from the early 1970s shows the Director of Sports Timing and Relations of Longines SA. In this part of his career, he had also been General Secretary of the Swiss Ice Hockey Federation and was involved in the organisation of the 1972 and 1976 Olympic Games. Name the man.

Hint: In his more recent avatar, he has  been one to stir up controversy, for example by suggesting that female football players should wear tighter shorts to appear more attractive to men, that Latin American countries would 'applaud' John Terry for having an extramarital affair, that homosexuals should 'refrain from any sexual activity' while attending the 2022 World Cup in Qatar, and that on-field racism could be corrected with a 'handshake'.

A. Sepp Blatter