Monday, February 24, 2014

Weekend Workout (week starting February 23, 2014)

Place Names
(remember: larger versions of all visuals can be seen by clicking on them)

1. In the Ojibwe language, it's called Gitchigumi, meaning 'big water'. It is also written 'Gitche Gumee' as recorded by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow in "The Song of Hiawatha". It was given a name meaning 'higher lake' in the 17th century by French explorers because it was located above Lake Huron. What is the English name that derived from this French one?

2. Which locality in / near Panjim is named after this person? She is usually depicted with a lamb because her name (which actually comes from the Greek for 'chaste') closely resembles the Latin for 'lamb'.

3. The title of 19th-century British author and speaker Emily Gerard's travelogue, 'The Land Beyond the Forest' was a direct translation of the name of which region in Europe?

4. In 1647, a Dutch vessel headed for Asia was wrecked in this bay. The marooned crew, the first Europeans to attempt settlement in the area, built a fort and stayed for a year until they were rescued. Shortly thereafter, the Dutch East India Company decided to establish a permanent settlement. They had no intention of colonising the area, instead wanting only to establish a secure base camp where passing ships could shelter, and where hungry sailors could stock up on fresh supplies of meat, fruit, and vegetables. But that's not how it turned out. Name the bay (named for the prominent geographical feature that overlooks it) and the city (named for another geographical feature).

5. This is a visualisation of a planned development of a building named Park51, from its location at 51 Park Place in New York. It was originally named Cordoba House, a name that was meant to invoke 8th–11th century Cordoba in Spain, which its promoters called "a model of peaceful co-existence between Muslims, Christians, and Jews". The name was changed after political opponents brought up the notion of Cordoba standing for the rule of Muslims over a Christian population. What is the far more incendiary name by which these opponents referred and continue to refer to this site, due to its 'sensitive' location?

6.  The capital of one of the former Yugoslav republics, this city is famous for its traditional religious diversity, with adherents of Islam, Orthodoxy, Catholicism and Judaism having co-existed there for centuries. Due to this long and rich history of religious diversity, it is also referred to as the 'Jerusalem of Europe'. Besides another historic incident (soon to mark its centenary) that it is well-known for, it also underwent the longest siege in post-WWII military history during the bloody conflicts following the break-up of Yugoslavia. Its name comes from a Turkish word used for a mansion or palace, quite familiar to us because of an Urdu derivative that is used for a resting place for travellers. Which city is this?

7. Which actor's star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame is situated at 7007 Hollywood Boulevard, a reference to his appearance in seven films of a certain franchise?

8. The name of this town – and the district of which it is headquarters – in northern Bengal derives from the local word for an olive (which once grew around here in great profusion). It is today better-known in other parts of India from the railway station named after it, that actually lies in another town, Siliguri. That station is one of the railheads for the toy train of the Darjeeling Himalayan Railway. Name the town, which is part of the name of the station.

9. Set up by French pirates as a safe haven, it came to be known as Hôpital after a hospital was set up in the growing colony. Its current name – given to it in 1706 by a visiting sea captain only identified as Monsieur de Saint-André – comes not from the title of any dignitary, but from the name of the ship the captain commanded. Which Caribbean capital city?

10. Tradition says that a boy emperor who once lived here noticed there were eight hills surrounding the area, which he called the Eight Dragons. A servant pointed out that an emperor is considered to be a dragon, therefore hills plus the emperor were nine dragons. That's what the name of this urban area means. The eight surrounding peaks are: ________ Peak, Tung Shan, Tate's Cairn, Temple Hill, Unicorn Ridge, Lion Rock, Beacon Hill and Crow's Nest. The ninth dragon was Emperor Bing. Name the place.

1. Superior, from 'le lac supérieur'
2. St Inez. 
The person is Agnes of Rome, referred to in Spanish and Portuguese as Santa Inez or Inés.
3. Transylvania.
From the Latin 'silvanus', meaning 'pertaining to forests', which gives us the English 'sylvan', meaning 'of the woods', most often seen in cliche-ridden tourism brochures ("set amidst sylvan surroundings...").
4. Table Bay, Cape Town
5. Ground Zero Mosque
6. Sarajevo, from 'sarai'
7. Roger Moore.
Sean Connery only acted in six official Bond movies. 'Never Say Never Again' is generally not accepted 'within the canon'.
8. Jalpaiguri. The station is New Jalpaiguri.
9. Port-au-Prince.
All the French references should have been a big clue – besides Canada, Haiti is the only Francophone nation in the New World.
10. Kowloon.
Can't give Hong Kong, because that name means 'fragrant harbour'.

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Weekend Workout (week starting Feb 16, 2014)

Connecting People
(remember: larger versions of all visuals can be seen by clicking on them)

1. What is common to the 13th-century Mongolian ruler and wrestling champion Khutulun; the 12th-century Japanese warrior Tomoe Gozen; the 18th-century Sikh warrior who became Guru Gobind Singh's bodyguard, Mai Bhago; and the 19th-century Chinese pirate Ching Shih? By no means an exclusive list, these are just a few illustrious examples among billions.

2. Recently, Cricinfo published a full cricket XI out of famous cricketers named Smith, like Graeme, Robin, Collie, Mike, etc. There was one man on the list – who in 1899 became the first man to score 3000 runs in a season – who wasn't called Smith; indeed, far from it. Who was he, and why was he on the list?

 3. Taking your cue from the images around him, identify this Roman Emperor. (The wavering grey line indicates that that connection is a little different from the others.)

4. Who are all these people? You don't have to identify them individually, but they all have the same profession – tell me what that is.

5. What name (the same one in each case) has been blanked out on all these movie posters/DVD covers?

6. Which famously generous trio do these images point to?

7. You might remember him from 'Roswell', 'The Good Guys' (pic above) and 'Dexter'. Who's his daddy?

8. Identify the name missing from this (exhaustive) list: Qutbuddin Aibak, Aram Shah, Shamsuddin Iltutmish, Ruknuddin Firoz, _____________, Muizuddin Bahram, Alauddin Masud, Nasiruddin Mahmud, Ghiyasuddin Balban, Muizuddin Qaiqabad and Kayumars.

9. Name X and Y in this exchange of insults between famous American authors.
X on Y: “He has never been known to use a word that might send a reader to the dictionary.”
Y on X: “Poor X. Does he really think big emotions come from big words?”

10. What's common to all these celebrities (and many more)?

1. They were all women.
2. Ranjitsinghji, who on joining Cambridge Unviersity, was nicknamed Smith by his classmates who found his name too difficult to pronounce.
3. Tiberius
Roman Emperor from 14 AD to 37 AD, he has prominent roles in 'Ben-Hur' (played by George Relph in his last starring role), 'Caligula' (played by Peter O'Toole), 'A.D.' (James Mason) and 'The Robe' (Ernest Thesiger). The 'T' in James T. Kirk stands for 'Tiberius'.
4. They are all comic book creators.
Top row, left to right: Jack Kirby, John Byrne, Frank Miller, Art Adams, Jim Lee, Dave Sim; second row: Art Spiegelman, Alan Moore, Mark Millar, Garth Ennis, Warren Ellis, Neil Gaiman; third row: Jean “Moebius” Giraud, Milo Manara, Simone Bianchi, Francisco Solano Lopez, Stan Lee, Go Nagai; bottom row: Riyoko Ikeda, Kazuki Takahashi, Wendy Pini, Amruta Patil, Gail Simone and Valerie D’Orazio.
5. Saeed Mirza
6. The Three Wise Men / Three Kings / Three Magi – Kaspar, Melchior and Balthazar.
Casper the Friendly Ghost; a wine bottle that holds 18 litres is known as a 'melchior'; and Nicolas Cage played Balthazar Blake in 'The Sorceror's Apprentice'.
7. Tom Hanks
The eldest son of Hanks and his first wife, the late producer and actress Samantha Lewes, Colin Lewes Hanks is best known for his work as Jack Bailey in the series 'The Good Guys' and as Alex Whitman in 'Roswell'. 
8. Razia Sultan
These are all the rulers of the Slave Dynasty that reigned over the Delhi Sultanate from 1206 to 1290.
9. X: William Faulkner; Y: Ernest Hemingway.
10. They are all named after other famous people.
Taylor Swift after James Taylor, Sunil Narine after Sunil Gavaskar, F. Scott Fitzgerald after composer of 'Star-Spangled Banner' Francis Scott Key, Ranbir Kapoor after his grandfather Ranbirraj Kapoor, Martina Hingis after Martina Navratilova, Cassius Marcellus Clay after 19th-century abolitionist Cassius Marcellus Clay, Neil Nitin Mukesh after Neil Armstrong as well as his father and grandfather, and Sachin Tendulkar after Sachin Deb Burman.

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Weekend Workout 04 (week starting February 9, 2014)

Battle Stations
(remember: larger versions of all visuals can be seen by clicking on them)

1. From the days of the British Raj, Blighty – distorted from the Urdu 'vilayati', meaning 'foreign' – came to be used as a word for England, used by the British themselves. During World War I, what was a 'Blighty wound'?

2. In an earlier Weekend Workout set, I had made mention of the false name under which T.E. Lawrence applied to join the RAF after World War I. The RAF Recruitment Office where Lawrence enlisted was run by the person in the photo. He reported in his autobiography that Lawrence first submitted false papers indicating that his name was Shaw, which resulted in his initial rejection. Within an hour of being rejected, Lawrence returned to the office, with a directive from the War Office indicating that he was to be taken on, regardless of any discrepancy in his papers or medical condition. This officer accepted him, and sent a warning to the induction centre that a new recruit who had strong establishment influence was arriving. Name this gent.

3. "Awuleth' Umshini Wami" (English, "Bring me my _______ ___"), is a popular Zulu language 'struggle song' used formerly by members of Umkhonto we Sizwe, the military wing of the African National Congress during the struggle against apartheid in South Africa. Given its militant nature, its continued use at rallies by Jacob Zuma since he became President of the country has often come under fire. What is an 'umshini wami', the first word derived from the corresponding English term?

4. On April 1, 1933, the Indian Air Force commissioned its first squadron, No. 1 Squadron, with four of these biplanes. Name the plane.

5. The person at extreme right in this photograph with President Lincoln, George B. McClellan and other officers at the Battle of Antietam, 1862, graduated last of 34 cadets in the West Point Class of 1861. Ordinarily, such a showing would be a ticket to an obscure posting and mundane career, but he had the fortune to graduate just as the onset of the American Civil War caused the army to experience a sudden need for new officers. His name, though, has lived on longer than most of his fellow officers', though again not to any great credit of his. Name him.

6. Which is currently the longest ongoing conflict, one that began in 1950?

7. Mahasweta Devi’s novel 'Aranyer Adhikar' ('Right to the Forest', 1977), which won her the Sahitya Akademi Award for Bengali in 1979, is an account of a late 19th-century rebellion against the British Raj led by which tribal leader?

8. Commissioned as a second lieutenant in the British army, he served with the Royal Welsh Fusiliers. In 1940, he was captured by the German army in France, and was held as a POW for five years. In the 1960s, he was chosen for the film role that he became identified with because of his work with director Terence Young in the 1950 war film 'They Were Not Divided', in which he played a tank gunner. His signature role was that of Major Geoffrey Boothroyd, whom he played in 17 films. Name either the actor being described or the short name we better know the character by.

9. The shortest war in history was fought between the United Kingdom and which other party on August 27, 1896, lasting approximately 40 minutes?

10. Here's an image of the Param Vir Chakra medal. Besides the Lion Pillar, it features four representations of a mythological weapon forged using the bones of the sage Dadichi. Name the weapon.

1. A wound serious enough to require recuperation away from the trenches (back in 'Dear Old Blighty') but not serious enough to kill or maim the victim. It was hoped for by many, and sometimes self-inflicted. 
2. Captain W. E. Johns, later to become a famous writer and creator of the Biggles character
3. Machine gun
4. Westland Wapiti
5. General George Custer, famous for his 'last stand' in a battle against a coalition of Native American tribes at Little Bighorn in 1876.
6. The Korean War.
No peace treaty was ever signed between North and South Korea, meaning they are "technically at war". The armistice in 1953 ended the fighting that began in 1950, and both sides agreed to seek a peace treaty. This was not signed by South Korea, but was signed on their behalf by the United Nations Command.
7. Birsa Munda
8. Desmond Llewelyn, who played Q in the James Bond films starting with 'From Russia With Love' and ending with 'The World Is Not Enough'
9. Zanzibar
The immediate cause of the Anglo-Zanzibar War was the death of the pro-British Sultan Hamad bin Thuwaini on August 25, 1896 and the subsequent succession of Sultan Khalid bin Barghash. The British authorities preferred Hamud bin Muhammed, who was more favourable to British interests, as sultan. In accordance with a treaty signed in 1886, a condition for accession to the sultanate was that the candidate obtain the permission of the British consul, and Khalid had not fulfilled this requirement. The British considered this a casus belli and sent an ultimatum to Khalid demanding that he order his forces to stand down and leave the palace. In response, Khalid called up his palace guard and barricaded himself inside the palace. The ultimatum expired at 09:00 East Africa Time on August 27, by which time the British had gathered three cruisers, two gunships, 150 marines and sailors, and 900 Zanzibaris in the harbour area. Around 2,800 Zanzibaris defended the palace. The defenders had several artillery pieces and machine guns which were set in front of the palace sighted at the British ships. The British bombardment which commenced at 09:02 set the palace on fire and disabled the defending artillery. A small naval action took place with the British sinking a Zanzibari royal yacht and two smaller vessels, and some shots were fired ineffectually at the pro-British Zanzibari troops as they approached the palace. The flag at the palace was shot down and fire ceased at 09:40. The sultan's forces sustained roughly 500 casualties, while only one British sailor was injured. Sultan Khalid received asylum in the German consulate before escaping to Tanganyika. The British quickly placed Sultan Hamud in power at the head of a puppet government. The war marked the end of Zanzibar as a sovereign state and the start of a period of heavy British influence.
10. Vajra

Monday, February 3, 2014

Weekend Workout 03 (week starting February 2, 2014)

Drawn and Quartered
(remember: larger versions of all visuals can be seen by clicking on them)

1. In 1992, who designed the artwork for a relatively unknown pop/rock band called The Rels, using the pseudonym Fang Wampir?

2. Rongorongo is a system of glyphs discovered in the 19th century that appears to be writing or proto-writing. It cannot be read despite numerous attempts at decipherment. If it is proved to be writing, it could be one of as few as three or four independent inventions of writing in human history. Rongorongo glyphs were written in reverse boustrophedon, left to right and bottom to top. That is, the reader begins at the bottom left-hand corner of a tablet, reads a line from left to right, then rotates the tablet 180 degrees to continue on the next line. Where on earth was this complicated system used?

3. This is the logo of which organisation headquartered in Chennai?

4. Pursuing his childhood ambition to be a writer, young Stanley Lieber made his comic-book debut in May 1941 with the text filler "Captain America Foils the Traitor's Revenge" in Captain America Comics #3. Because he wanted to save his given name for more literary work, he used a pseudonym, which in later life, he would go on to adopt as his legal name. What name?

5. The title of the documentary film about the Nazi pillaging of art treasures from occupied countries during World War II (pic at left) is the same as the name of the painting by Titian (right), which is based on a story from Greek mythology. What is the shared title?

6. The presence of this ancient graffito on a wall in Ephesus indicates the presence here of what or who?

7. So why is this video a part of this question set? (Or, to put it more simply, who's the guy you see in it?)

8. Who gained national recognition in the US with this ad campaign he created for Flit in the 1930s and '40s?

9. The person whose notebook this page is from (left) was also a semi-secret artist who drew everything from portraits of prominent scientists and his children to sketches of strippers and female nudes (right). A collection of his artwork, sub-titled 'Images by a Curious Character' and curated by his daughter Michelle, was published recently. Who?

10. Walt Kelly's popular US comic strip 'Pogo' had a character called Simple J. Malarkey, a gun-toting bobcat who spread havoc in the swamp, accusing everybody who disagreed with him of treason. Which real-life personality was the inspiration for the character? Besides his nature and ideology, there's also a distinct similarity in looks.

1. Bill Watterson 
If you were sharp, you may have noticed the name of the artist's brother Tom in the band's line-up.
2. Easter Island
3. The Theosophical Society 
The logo combines a swastika, an Aum, a hexagram, a star of David, an Ankh and an Ouroboros.
4. Stan Lee
5. 'The Rape of Europa'
6. Christians.
The wheel symbol combines the letters of the Greek word 'Ichthys', meaning 'fish'. It later developed into a simple symbol resembling the profile of a fish, and is said to have been used by Early Christians as a secret symbol. It is now known colloquially as the 'sign of the fish' or the 'Jesus fish'.
7. Because the man you saw – the brain behind Drop Dead – is Aabid Surti, comic artist and creator of the popular Bahadur.
8. Theodore Geisel, who wrote and drew books under the pseudonym, Dr Seuss.
9. Richard Feynman
10. Senator Joseph McCarthy, whose witch hunts against real and perceived Communists in 1950s USA made him the most feared and hated man in power those days.
Here's a picture for comparison: