Pop Quiz

Not Far From The Tree.

It’s not quite Fall in the northern hemisphere but already the days are noticeably shorter. The mating calls of the crickets, cicadas, and katydids are louder with the fierce urgency of the late season. The sky is more blue, the mornings are more crisp, or that just might be the drugs kicking in. Soon it will be harvest season. All these combined to prompt the following pop quiz: Apple variety of classic American burlesque performer?

1. Granny Smith

2. Lily St. Cyr

3. Beverly Hills

4. Birgit Bonnier

5. Mamie Van Doren

6. Royal Gala

7. D’Arcy Spice

8. Sally Rand

9. Carolina Red June

10. Chesty Morgan

11. Gypsy Rose Lee

12. Pacific Rose

13. Paula Red

14. Pink Lady

15. Yakety Sax

16. Ginger Gold

17. Golden Delicious

18. Ann Corio

19. Honeycrisp

20. Honey West

21. Kerry Pippin

22. Jayne Mansfield

23. Fanny Brice

24. Al Lewis

25. Roxbury Russet

Scoring:
1-5: Like the crickets, cicadas, and katydids your mating calls are louder at this time of year.

6-10: Cider? You hardly knew her!

10-15: Your tassels are showing.

15-20: You really like them apples.

20-25: You’ve spent more time in burlesque clubs than Morey Amsterdam.

Stays Quizzical In Milk.

Once upon a time lazy summer mornings meant sleeping late and lingering over a bowl of cold cereal, oblivious to the problems of the wider world. Maybe there’d be a toy in the bottom of the box of cereal. Back in 1947 a national brand of cereal gave away a million spinthariscope rings so kids could put a sample of radioactive polonium right up their eye, but that’s another story. After breakfast there’d be time for a barefoot walk through the tall grass, far away from the urgent ringing of a phone. Then back home for a tuna fish sandwich and my boss yelling, “WHERE THE HELL HAVE YOU BEEN? THE SHAREHOLDERS ARE EXPECTING THE QUARTERLY EARNINGS REPORT!”

In memory of those bygone halcyon days of last week when summer mornings were long and leisurely here’s a pop quiz:

Breakfast Cereal Or Subatomic Particle?

1. Zings
2. Muesli
3. Pion
4. Quark
5. Quisp
6. Baryon
7. Freakies
8. Positron
9. Neutrino
10. Chex
11. Kix
12. Trix
13. Asterix
14. Lepton
15. Maypo

Scoring:

13-15: You’ve used the CERN Large Hadron Collider to make oatmeal.

10-12: Neutrons are part of your complete breakfast.

7-9: You’ve used a spinthariscope to make toast.

3-5: You know you can’t put too much water in a nuclear reactor.

1-2: You should be kept away from smoke alarms and sharp objects like spoons.

 

 

The Atomic Age.

Source: Wikipedia

The 1980’s were a totally tubular decade, the era of Rubik’s cubes and Max Headroom, bandannas and leg warmers, of Cabbage Patch Kids and Garbage Pail Kids and conspicuous consumption, and of course some great and some not so great music, which is why the ‘80’s gave us the mixtape. If you love the ‘80’s then you didn’t grow up in the ‘80’s, but if you did grow up in the ‘80’s see if you can match these songs with their descriptions and deeper meanings below.

  1. 99 Luftballoons-Nena
  2. Take On Me-A-Ha
  3. Melt With You-Modern English
  4. Safety Dance-Men Without Hats
  5. Dude Looks Like A Lady-Aerosmith
  6. Eat It-Weird Al Yankovic
  7. Girls Just Want To Have Fun-Cyndi Lauper
  8. Billie Jean-Michael Jackson
  9. Like A Virgin-Madonna
  10. Karma Chameleon-Culture Club
  11. Every Breath You Take-The Police
  12. The Reflex-Duran Duran
  13. Our House-Madness
  14. Purple Rain-Prince
  15. Hip To Be Square-Huey Lewis & The News
  1. On its surface a denial of paternity this dance tune by the then rising King of Pop was also a response to growing interest in western goods in the Soviet Union and eastern Europe even as the Warsaw Pact nations remained suspicious of capitalism.
  2. Even the most well-stocked bomb shelter, this song reminded us, would require careful rationing and maintenance of a filtered ventilation system to ensure long-term survival in the event of a nuclear war.
  3. A comeback hit for a band that had been on “permanent vacation” this song used gender-bending lyrics as a metaphor for the increasing nuclear arms stockpile that was intended to be a show of force as part of the policy of mutually assured destruction (MAD) that was intended to keep the nuclear superpowers in check even as international tensions escalated.
  4. This popular love song that’s become ubiquitous in cheesy commercials was inspired by the melting of mannequins used in nuclear bomb tests.
  5. The effects of widespread nuclear blasts on the climate and the ensuing “nuclear winter” became a widespread topic of discussion in the 1980’s and the subject of this song which became one of its performer’s signature pieces. It would be followed a few years later by “Alphabet Street”, about the codes entrusted to a “designated survivor” in the event of a nuclear attack during the president’s State of the Union address.
  6. Missile-launch surveillance is a full-time job as reflected in this song about the military personnel entrusted with keeping watch over the “lucky clover” of radar tracking and other early warning systems.
  7. A popular club hit the “dance” referred to in this song is international agreements toward nuclear disarmament and the negotiated withdrawal by the superpowers from certain parts of the world.
  8. Best known for its amazing music video that combined animation and live action as a young girl enters a comic book world the song and video both were a subtle yet poignant commentary on nations in remote parts of the world engaging in armed conflicts as proxies for the United States and Soviet Union.
  9. A popular parody of a Michael Jackson hit this song was also about the importance of storing canned goods and other non-perishable food items in bomb shelters in preparation for nuclear war.
  10. This British ska toe-tapper was all about the ongoing maintenance of a bomb shelter and the responsibility thrust onto the younger generation of ensuring survival in the event of nuclear war.
  11. This song’s performer shocked MTV audiences with her provocative wedding-dress performance but even more shocking was the song’s addressing of the nuclear superpowers’ massive arsenals and the fact that some of the weapons had not been updated in decades.
  12. A nuclear holocaust would likely require survivors to stay in cramped fallout shelters for months, even years. One of the biggest challenges would be staying healthy, as emphasized in this catchy hit from 1986 which featured then-San Francisco 49ers Joe Montana and Ronnie Lott singing backup vocals.
  13. Best known for their flamboyant lead singer this band’s catchy dance tune with its line about “red, gold, and green” was both a plea for universal harmony and a reference to Africa’s strategic importance in providing uranium for nuclear arsenals.
  14. This catchy German pop that went big in the English-speaking world hit is delightfully upbeat in contrast to its dark Dr. Strangelove-type story of nuclear war set off by a handful of children’s toys.
  15. Written and performed by a singer whose vocal range was as extreme as her punk hairdo and makeup this anthem to girls having fun was a cultural response to the imminent threat of nuclear annihilation.

Olympic Fever.

It’s difficult not to get swept up in the grandeur and majesty of the Olympics. People are drawn to watch, to spend hours watching brave and dedicated athletes perform incredible feats in bitter cold from the comfort of their warm couches. It’s powerful and mesmerizing. It’s like a fever, which is why, looking at the incredible number of events, all I can think is this:

 

 

 

 

 

Olympic Sport or Illness?

  1. Curling
  2. Scurvy
  3. Rickets
  4. Skijoring
  5. Bandy
  6. Alpinism
  7. Pelota
  8. Roque
  9. Rackets
  10. Croquet
  11. Sauna
  12. Sibelius
  13. Pellagra
  14. Beri beri
  15. Tryptophan
  16. Influenza
  17. Luge
  18. Slalom
  19. Norovirus
  20. Nordic combined
  21. Rabies
  22. Rubella
  23. Monkeypox
  24. Salmonella
  25. Polo

Scoring

23-25: Gold

21-22: Silver

19-20: Bronze

15-18: Copper

11-14: Tin

7-10: Rubber ball on a string

4-6: For crying out loud, it’s only once every four years. Would it hurt to take a little interest?

1-3: You will be forced to give a humiliating interview about your loss

Answer Key:

 

 

 

 

Classic Christmas Quiz.

Source: Wikipedia

All of us are getting older whether we like it or not. Or so I’ve been told. Personally I’m not convinced that I’m getting older, although, to steal a line from Tom Lehrer, it is a sobering thought that when Mozart was my age he’d been dead for twelve years, but that’s another story.

One of the keys to staying young is to keep the mind active, or so I’ve been told, and one way to keep the mind active is to take a skeptical attitude to every silly notion you’re told. Another way is with puzzles, toys, and games. My mother-in-law, for instance, regularly does crossword puzzles and other games, and has given me quite a few books of crosswords and other puzzles which have kept my mind active, especially when I have to use my mind to figure out where I put them.

The Christmas season is also traditionally a time for toys and classic movies, so here’s a little mental activity: classic toy or character from L. Frank Baum’s Oz stories?

1. Tik-Tok

2. Stretch Armstrong

3. Slinky

4. Yo-Yo

5. Jellia Jamb

6. Tik-Tok

7. Mr. Potatohead

8. Weebles

9. Patchwork Girl

10. Colorforms

11. Jinjur

12. Kalidahs

13. Frisbee

14. Hammer-Head

15. Jack Pumpkinhead

16. Aibo

17. Gumby

18. Polychrome

19. Mombi

20. Creepy Crawlers

21. Kabumpo

22. Hungry Hungry Hippos

23. Toto

24. Triops

25. Mannheim Steamroller

Scoring:

22-25: You’re incredibly mentally active and also spend too much time playing with toys. How old are you?

18-21: Christmas is still your favorite holiday and the time of year when you make the whole family watch The Wonderful Wizard Of Oz.

15-17: You’re a master of crossword puzzles.

12-14: You know without checking how old L. Frank Baum was when he was your age.

6-11: You’re mildly amused by toys and think Oz is in the southern hemisphere.

1-5: You were banished from the growups’ table for playing with your food.

 

Monstrously Easy Quiz.

So I had this idea for a quiz: match the real-life serial killers with the films that their crimes inspired. I started with Psycho, Silence Of The Lambs, and The Texas Chainsaw Massacre, but when the answers came up Ed Gein, Ed Gein, Ed Gein, I knew it was either a terrible idea for a quiz or a brilliant idea for the world’s most morbid slot machine, but that’s another story.

Instead here’s a quiz that should be ridiculously easy if you’re of a certain age or really into cryptozoology, or of a certain age and also really into cryptozoology, two things which just might go hand in hand.

Pop Quiz: Musical Group, Performer, or Cryptozoological Creature?

  1. Kajagoogoo
  2. Oingo Boingo
  3. Ogopogo
  4. Bjork
  5. Morag
  6. Nahuelito
  7. Nickelback
  8. Inkanyabma
  9. Chupacabra
  10. Aswang
  11. Chumbawamba
  12. Rutles
  13. Bunyip
  14. Pomplamoose
  15. Elwedritsche
  16. Loup Garou
  17. Hoobastank
  18. Radiohead
  19. Melonheads
  20. Jackalope
  21. Pixies
  22. Mothman
  23. Mongolian Death Worm
  24. Molly Hatchet
  25. Monkees

Fableistic.

Aesop’s Fable:

A miser turned all his wealth into a single large lump of gold. He then buried it in a field. Each day he would go and dig it up and marvel at how much gold was his. A thief noticed this and followed him secretly. Then when the miser was gone the thief dug up the gold and took it.

The miser was greatly upset by this, but a farmer who had observed it all said, “Place a rock where your gold used to be and pretend that’s it. It will do you as much good.”

Discussion Questions

1. Is it always better to diversify your assets?

2. On whose property did the miser bury the gold? Was it his own or public land? Would this make a difference?

3. How should the thief declare the gold on his tax returns?

4. Was the thief a professional or a guy who just happened to notice the miser going to the same place every day? Spend some time on this question. Your teacher’s fixing a gin and tonic.

5. What kind of profession is “miser” anyway? Have you ever mised?

6. Is this story victim-blaming?

7. Like many of the fables attributed to Aesop this story has been retold in various versions for over 2500 years. How did the farmer basically manage to invent modern economics?

 

Keep ‘Em Together.

Pop Quiz: Match the animals to their collective noun.

Animals

  1. Butterflies
  2. Cats
  3. Crocodiles
  4. Ferrets
  5. Hyenas
  6. Larks
  7. Gorillas
  8. Eels
  9. Flamingoes
  10. Dolphins
  11. Owls
  12. Trout
  13. Zebras
  14. Snails
  15. Quail
  16. Crows
  17. Monkeys
  18. Jellyfish
  19. Hedgehogs
  20. Prostitutes

Nouns

k. Kaleidoscope

s. Clowder

h. Bask

d. Busyness

f. Cackle

e. Exultation

g. Band

c. Bed

m. Flamboyance

n. Pod

a. Parliament

l. Hover

i. Dazzle

j. Escargatoire

o. Covey

r. Murder

q. Barrel

p. Fluther

b. Array

t. Anthology of pros.

Answer Key:

 

 

Pop Quiz: Summer Reading.

There’s a story that Salman Rushdie was once asked by some friends what Hamlet would have been called if it were a Robert Ludlum novel. Rushdie immediately came up with The Elsinore Vacillation. He then turned Macbeth into The Dunsinane Reforestation, The Merchant of Venice into The Rialto Sanction and Othello became The Kerchief Implication.

 

 

 

 

That inspired this less than erudite pop quiz: Robert Ludlum novel or episode of The Big Bang Theory?

  1. The Barbarian Sublimation
  2. The Hades Factor
  3. The Holcroft Covenant
  4. The Luminous Fish Effect
  5. The Shiksa Indeterminacy
  6. The Matarese Circle
  7. The Tangerine Factor
  8. The Sigma Protocol
  9. The Lazarus Vendetta
  10. The Griffin Equivalency
  11. The Financial Permeability
  12. The Arctic Event
  13. The Van Allen Belts
  14. The Dumpling Paradox
  15. The White Asparagus Triangulation
  16. The Scorpio Illusion
  17. The Icarus Agenda
  18. The Codpiece Topology
  19. The Killer Robot Instability
  20. The Cornhusker Vortex
  21. The Aquitaine Progression
  22. The Bus Pants Utilization
  23. The Thespian Catalyst
  24. The Apocalypse Watch
  25. The Pirate Solution

Scoring:

23-25: You used to use your tablet for reading. Now you mostly use it for watching TV.

20-23: You’ve watched all the Jason Bourne movies.

15-20: You plan to spend your summer vacation reading but mostly just watch TV.

10-15: And so the bartender tells Shakespeare, “You can’t come in here. You’re bard!”

5-10: Hello fellow English major.

1-5: So you got the Shakespeare jokes but are wondering about this “Big Bang Theory” and who this Ludlum guy is.

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