Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Weekend Workout (week starting April 27, 2014)

The Sea, The Sea
(remember: larger versions of all visuals can be seen by clicking on them)

1. Edward Teach (shown above), captain of the 'Queen Anne's Revenge' in the early 18th century, has featured heavily in historic and modern literature, including Robert Louis Stevenson's 'Treasure Island', Gregory Keyes' series 'The Age of Unreason' and Tim Powers' 1988 novel 'On Stranger Tides'. He is also a significant comic-book villain, appearing as the enemy of the Fantastic Four and Spiderman, and in the 1986 comic 'Watchmen'. According to Peter Pan, Captain Hook was his boatswain. How do we better know the man?

2. Legends claim that this place was first named as 'Te pito o te kainga a Hau Maka', or the 'Little piece of land of Hau Maka'. Another name, 'Mata-ki-Te-rangi', means 'Eyes that talk to the sky'. Yet another hypothesis is that it was called 'Te pito o te henua', or 'The Navel of the World' due to its isolation. It is 3,510 km west of continental Chile at its nearest point and 2,075 km east of Pitcairn (Sala y Gomez, 415 km to the east, is closer but uninhabited). What English name do we know this place by?

3. What word for a sailor or militiaman from the Indian subcontinent, especially those employed on European ships from the 16th century until the beginning of the 20th century, comes from the Persian word for a military camp or army, itself derived from 'al-askar', the Arabic word for a guard or soldier? The transformation happened through Goa, where the Portuguese adapted the Persian term to mean an Asian militiaman or seaman.

4. In the folklore of the Orkney Islands, they are known as Selkie Folk. Selkies will occasionally take human form and dance. To do so they have to remove their skin, revealing what appears to be a human underneath. They would also venture onto land for encounters with human women, often unsatisfied ones. Who or what are selkies?

5. In 1875 when his Merchant Shipping Bill was on the verge of being scuttled, this English MP roared into Parliament, shaking his fist at the Speaker, and accused ship-owning MPs of deliberately sending overloaded and dilapidated 'coffin-ships' out on the high seas. Unscrupulous merchants knew that they would make money whether the goods were delivered or their ship went down, since they were handsomely insured. The only ones to suffer were the seamen, who drowned. He and his wife embarked on a crusade to change this, organising public meetings in constituencies around Britain, and the public and the press rallied behind them. What – with the MP's name attached to it – emerged from this campaign?

6. Cirolana mercuryi is a species of isopod found on coral reefs off which East African island group? It's named for one of the most famous sons of the place.

7. The Svenska Ostindiska Companiet, founded in Gothenburg in 1731, grew to become the largest trading company in Sweden during the 18th century, until it folded in 1813. What was it called in English?

8. Which fictional character's name was suggested to his creator by the creator's wife, who remarked that it was a "sad English fish"?

9. This album by the rock band Procol Harum, released in June 1969, uses for its cover a pastiche of a famous cigarette pack. The British company that produced the cigarettes used this logo of a smoking sailor in brands such as No. 6 and Gold Leaf, as well as one named for the style of the sailor's cap. This latter brand name is well known in India as well, though it's linked with a different company. So (a) what company used this sailor logo; and (b) what is the cap called? [1 point each]

10. According to Hindu mythology, what caused the appearance of Lakshmi, several apsaras and Varuni (the creator of alcohol); Kamadhenu, Airavata and Uchhaishravas; Kaustubh, Kalpavriksh and Parijat; the moon that adorns Shiva's head as well as the poison that turned his throat blue; and several other disparate items?

1. Blackbeard the pirate
2. Easter Island
3. Lascar, from 'lashkar', as in Lashkar-e-Toiba
4. Seals
5. The Plimsoll Line, which appears on the side of every British ship and depicts safe loading limits.

6. Zanzibar, where Freddie Mercury was born
7. The Swedish East India Company (every European country seems to have had one!)
8. Captain Haddock
9. (a) Player's (b) Navy Cut

10. Samudra manthan, or the Churning of the Ocean

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Weekend Workout (week starting April 20, 2014)

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

1. After the Battle of Little Bighorn, the deaths of General George Custer and his troops became the best-known episode in the history of America's 'Indian wars'. This  was due in part to this painting titled “Custer's Last Fight”, which was commissioned as part of an advertising campaign. A certain enterprising company ordered reprints of the dramatic work and had them framed and hung in many United States saloons, creating lasting impressions of the battle as well as the company’s products in the minds of many bar patrons. What company?

2. Contrary to legend and popular belief, the particular gent (say, X) associated with this product did not invent it. The oldest recorded version of it is Blanquette de Limoux, apparently invented by Benedictine Monks in the Abbey of Saint Hilaire near Carcassonne in 1531. Over a century later, in 1662, the English scientist and physician Christopher Merret presented the Royal Society in Britain with a paper in which he documented a process for producing it, well before X set foot in the Abbey of Hautvillers. What product, and who is X? [Half-points for each]

3. In 'Tintin in Tibet', the name of which Himalayan beer made from fermented barley, rice or millet grains creates confusion because of its similarity to the name of the focus on Tintin and Haddock's search?

4. Aldous Huxley called William Griffith Wilson "the greatest social architect of our century". In 1999, 'Time' magazine put him in the top 20 of the Time 100: Heroes and Icons who exemplified "courage, selflessness, exuberance, superhuman ability and amazing grace" in the 20th century. Within the organisation that he founded, Wilson is commonly known as "Bill W." or just "Bill." What organisation?

5. This syrup used in cocktail mixing is essntially thickened and sweetened pomegranate juice. Before tomatoes (a new-world fruit) arrived in the Middle East, a version of it was widely used in many Iranian foods, and is still found in traditional recipes such as fesenjân, a thick sauce made from pomegranate juice and ground walnuts, usually spooned over duck or other poultry and rice, and in ash-e anar (pomegranate soup). What's the cocktail syrup called?

6. In 1830, Edward Dyer set up the first brewery in India, in Kasauli (Himachal Pradesh), to manufacture which brand of beer that is still available in that region?

7. "After the first glass, you see things as you wish they were. After the second, you see things as they are not. Finally, you see things as they really are, which is the most horrible thing in the world."  That's an Oscar Wilde quotation about which drink, sometimes known  as 'la fée verte' ('the green fairy')?

8. The band in this video clip is called 'Spirited'. Who is the bassist (tall guy in the black hat)?

9. Under what brand name, derived from that of the company's founder, does Agave Industries India Ltd market its alcoholic beverages?

10.  This alcoholic concoction was 'created' in the first book (published in 1953) in a famous series, and named after the main female character in the novel. It differs from its fictional creator's usual cocktail of choice in that it uses both gin and vodka, Kina Lillet instead of the usual dry vermouth, and a lemon peel instead of an olive. Although there is a lot of discussion on it, it is only ordered once throughout the novels in which the title character appears. Which character, and what does he name this drink that he creates? [Half points for each]

1. The brewery Anheuser-Busch.
Half points for saying Budweiser.
2. Champagne (or sparkling wine) and Dom Perignon (X)
3. Chhang
4. Alcoholics Anonymous
5. Grenadine
6. Lion Beer
7. Absinthe
8. Curtley Ambrose
9. Desmondji
10. James Bond, and the Vesper Martini, named after Vesper Lynd. 

Saturday, April 12, 2014

Weekend Workout (week starting April 13, 2014)

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

1. Rolling Stones rated him #2 on the list of 100 greatest guitarists of all time. His contributions on lead and slide guitar to dozens of recordings and albums as fine and as varied as Wilson Pickett's down-home 1969 cover of "Hey Jude" and Eric Clapton's 1970 masterpiece with Derek and the Dominos, 'Layla and Other Assorted Love Songs', constitute an astounding body of work. In October 1971, he died in a motorcycle accident in his band’s home base of Macon, Georgia. Name him.

2. Which of the Eight Auspicious Symbols of Buddhism, also an important element in Hindu rituals, comes from the gastropod Turbinella pyrum?
3. In the 2006 film 'Charlotte's Web', she provided the voice for Gussie the goose. Identify this ‘actor’, who also voiced Judge Bumbleden in 'Bee Movie' (2007). This video clip should help.

4. The Japanese students' song "Hotaru no hikari" ("Glow of a firefly") describe a series of images of hardships that the industrious student endures in his relentless quest for knowledge, starting with the firefly’s light, which the student uses to keep studying when he has no other light sources. Commonly heard in graduation ceremonies and at the end of the school day, it is also used by many stores and restaurants to usher customers out at the end of a business day. What popular 18th-century Scottish tune is the song set to?

5. In the 1970s, she visited Nairobi as part of an Indian festival. Singing nationalistic songs in Swahili made her extremely popular and the then President Jomo Kenyatta made her an Honorary Citizen of Kenya. Perhaps her most famous rendition was the song "Malaika", which she sang with the song’s original singer Fadhili Williams. Who?

 6. The first picture shows a passenger station in Harrison, New Jersey, on the Pennsylvania Railroad's main line to New York City. It gave its name to the 1925 novel by John Dos Passos whose cover is shown in the second visual. The group you hear in this audio named itself after both. Identify [two-word name].

7. A student of music from childhood, he was an accomplished guitarist and singer. In his early period in Europe he often played and sang gypsy songs in Parisian nightclubs with Aliosha Dimitrievitch. He sang some of those same songs in the film 'The Brothers Karamazov'. In 1967, he and Dimitrievitch released a record album, 'The Gypsy and I: ___ _______ Sings Gypsy Songs'. Fill in the blanks with the name of the guy in the picture.
8. Watch this videoclip and identify the instrument being played, which has its roots in western Africa (and no, it’s not a xylophone).

9. Originally created for the 1951 western 'Distant Drums', it was uttered by a soldier bitten by a crocodile. Its next appearance – in the 1953 cowboys-and-Indians movie 'The Charge at Feather River' – gave it its name. It has since been used in numerous movies, often as an in joke. Examples include a plummeting Death Star stormtrooper in the original 'Star Wars', a defeated Nazi in 'Raiders of the Lost Ark', a dive-bombed hunter in 'Howard the Duck', and a fallen cowboy in the 2010 hit video game 'Red Dead Redemption'. What is this stock sound effect, that resides in the Warner Brothers audio library, called?
10. In which region of India is a language called Bhoti commonly spoken, in the dialects Lehskat, Shamskat, Stotskat and Nubra?

1. Duane Allman
2. The conch shell (shankh)
3. Oprah Winfrey
4. "Auld Lang Syne" 
5. Usha Uthup
6. Manhattan Transfer
7. Yul Brynner
8. The marimba
9. The Wilhelm scream, after the character Private Wilhelm who uttered it in 'The Charge at Feather River'.
10. Ladakh