Questions and Answers, 27-52

SDC 2004: Contents 1-26 27-52 53-78 Scoreboard Results Bottom

27. A load of tat (Garry Vass)

Q: As they were robbing a bank, the one who told them to do it got killed. So they had to take the fall for it, except for the one whose best friend was invisible. That one got sent to a place about half-way between Clear Creek and Pine Town. In what year did they rob the bank?

A: 1972

Explanation: "In 1972 a crack commando unit was sent to prison by a military court for a crime they didn't commit. These men promptly escaped from a maximum security stockade to the Los Angeles underground. Today, still wanted by the government, they survive as soldiers of fortune. If you have a problem, if no one else can help, and if you can find them, maybe you can hire the A-Team."

Murdock was sent to the VA Hospital in Westwood, CA. His invisible dog was named Billy.

The slug, of course, refers to the "T"he "A" "T"eam

28. A delicate sound of butterfly thunder (Jerry Friedman)

Q: You have the chance to travel back in time to the eve of any battle and slip an incapacitating dose of a laxative to the officer of your choice, thus changing history. Who offers you this opportunity?

Extra Credit for excellent answers to which battle and officer you would choose and why.

A: The Alien Space Bats or ASBs (soc.history.what-if, passim).

29. Donna's game (Jerry Friedman)

Q: We're thinking of a word.

A: "amaranthine" (or whatever we decide on). This would involve somebody who would be willing to answer guesses as soon as they show up, saying whether the answer is later or earlier in the alphabet than the guess.

(We might have to skip it if people actually try playing this in the "word game" thread.)

30. A nasty four-letter word (Jerry Friedman)

Q: Earlier this year, while taking his groceries to his car, an SDC panelist saw an SUV with the license plate BRYOZOAN. Naturally excited, he asked the driver about a word that he (the panelist) thought meant "colony of bryozoa". The driver patiently explained that it was an old word for any colony of aquatic animals. Glad not to stay confused, the panelist headed toward a nearby seasonal competition.

What was the word?

A: asty (which happens to be an anagram for "stay", found in "nasty").

31. Sophomore? (Garry Vass)

Q: Who was a sophomore? Where was he/she headed?

A: Cass was a sophomore, planned to go to Swathmore...

32. Climbin' the wall (Garry Vass)

Q: Why is she about to climb the wall?

A: She's looking for some hot stuff!

Donna Summer, "Hot Stuff"

33. Nothing can stop me (Garry Vass)

Q: Nothing can stop me. Why?

A: Cuz I'm the "Duke of Earl"

Gene Chandler, "Duke of Earl", 1962......

34. They left me here to die alone (Garry Vass)

Q: I mean like, like it sez, they left me here to die alone. But where?

A: In the middle of Tobacco Road

60s rock, Nashville Teens, "Tobacco Road".................

35. Heah come da judge, da judge is a comin’ (Jitze Couperus)

Q: In the early 1970s, an American comedian hosted a popular comedy show on television named after himself. This show popularised a number of "characters" depicted by the comedian. Through the mouth of one of these characters, he unwittingly established the etymological root for a term that is used today to describe certain types of software.

Identify that term and the comedian.

For extra sheep, name the prominent figure in the computer industry who adopted this term for use in the context of describing software.

A: WYSIWYG, Flip Wilson.

It was Mr. Seybold, according to his son Andrew, who first used "what you see is what you get" in reference to computerized word processing, after watching "The Flip Wilson Show," on which Mr. Wilson used the phrase to describe his female character Geraldine.

The phrase came to be abbreviated as WYSIWYG and was popularized by computer systems developed at the Palo Alto Research Center of Xerox in the early 1970's.

(From the obit for John W. Seybold, a pioneer in the field of computerized typesetting.]

36. Phyllis and Sharon (Jerry Friedman)

Q: One is an SDC regular; the other appears here for the first time. Who are they? We're as happy with a real name as with a pseudonym

A: Phyllis is Rod Stewart and Sharon is (Sir) Elton John or Reg Dwight. They call each other by those nicknames.

37. Not T. E. Barnes (Jerry Friedman)

Q: Who made a writing, in unmixed English of this kind, about the thing-lore of our days, and what was its name?

A: Poul Anderson, "Uncleftish Beholding" (that is, "atomic theory" in Anglo-Saxon-descended English). Excerpts at

38. SST STS (Jerry Friedman)

Q: A loyal panelist gets Stuck-Tune Syndrome whenever the Steady-State Theory (or an American fast-food chain) is mentioned. What is the tune?

A: "Rule Britannia", the tune of George Gamow's song about the Steady-State Theory and the theme music of Arthur Treacher's Fish & Chips commercials (at least in the old days).

39. Cherokee rose (Jerry Friedman)

Q: Aue has discussed the use of "skunk" for certain African animals, and some Australian animals are called possums. Name a bird that is not found in the New World but has an English name of Native American origin.

A: The jabiru stork of southern Asia and Australia, named after a stork of tropical America. "Portuguese and American Spanish jabirú, from Tupi." --AHD Or any of the African, Asian, and Australian jacanas (lotus birds, lily trotters). "Portuguese jaçanã, from Tupi jaçanam, jaçanã, one that cries out."

40. Van - where? (Adrian Bailey)

Q: See the picture at ../sdc2004/Van.jpg Where is this van?

Clue - Where could it B?

41. DE781 (Jerry Friedman)

Q: What is the origin of the name DE781? (Young Joey's e-mail address)

A: The answer is not available. Young Joey has requested that it be removed from this page.

42. Competition (Jerry Friedman)

Q: What did young Auberon learn was called "walla"?

A: Background conversation noise as called for in TV scripts. (From _Little, Big_, by John Crowley, one of the great novels of the last century.)

43. Confusion of kingdoms (Jerry Friedman)

Q: What did Doc say to Johnny? Hint: he wasn't talking about pie.

A: "I'm your huckleberry."

44. I'll be frank, you be... (Dr Whom)

Q: If Arthur played Charles onstage, who played Dennis in the movie? And what does Herman have to do with it?

A: Russell. And Herman wrote the musical.

Explanation: Bea Arthur played Vera Charles in the Broadway musical _Mame_, composed by Jerry Herman. Rosalind Russell played Mame Dennis in the movie _Auntie Mame_.

45. Well-Travelled (Dr Whom)

Q: Our car windows were decorated with memorabilia commemorating tourist attractions in Las Vegas, Nevada; Kissimmee, Florida; Enterprise, Alabama; Plymouth, Massachusetts; St. Petersburg, Florida; Overton, Nevada; and Olney, Illinois, among others. Where did we go with Bernie?

A: The biggest ball of twine in Minnesota.

Explanation: This is from the song "The Biggest Ball of Twine in Minnesota", by Weird Al Yankovic. The tourist attractions alluded to in the question are Elvisarama, the Tupperware Museum, the Boll Weevil Monument, Cranberry World, the Shuffleboard Hall of Fame, Poodle Dog Rock, and the Mecca of Albino Squirrels.

46. The Turnpike Mystery (Adrian Bailey)

Q: What date was this photo taken? What's odd about the bridge? Which (fictional) detective is (partly) responsible?

Click ../sdc2004/FreewayBridge.jpg to see the picture.

Clue - A lock is yet to be fitted.

A: 15/12/2003. It's an aqueduct which isn't ducting any aqua. Poirot. See &

47. Strange Bedfellows (Dr Whom)

Q: What do Baron Ashkenazy and Charles Kringas have in common?

A: "Inc."

Explanation: Baron Ashkenazy is a character in the musical _Ragtime_, and sings the song "Buffalo Nickel Photoplay, Inc."; Charles Kringas is a character in the musical _Merrily We Roll Along_, and sings the song "Franklin Shepard, Inc."

48. Liddy bet blue in the lanes (Garry Vass)

Q: Please consider the following unordered list: Sun, Moon, Stars, Rainbow, Hope, Triumph, Victory, Glory, Bull, and Merlin. Removing an item will make the list meaningful and complete. Which item should be removed and why?

A: Stars. The others were English ships at the defeat of the Spanish Armada in 1588

49. Surnames (Dr Whom)

Q: Here is a list of four surnames and one blank:


Your task: Present a surname that could fill that blank in the third position on the list, and provide evidence that that surname fills it appropriately according to the relevant criterion. Number of letters is not significant.

A: The surname of any person or fictional character whose first name is Kentucky is acceptable, as long as satisfactory verification is provided. (The given surnames are those of Georgia, Tennessee, Indiana, and Michigan; Kentucky is the only state adjacent to both Indiana and Tennessee.)

50. Apportionment (Dr Whom)

Q: If all the states in the U.S. had equal population density[1], there are exactly four states that would have the same number of representatives in Congress as they do in real life (as of the 2000 Census reapportionment). Name three of them.

[1] Equivalently, if Congressional apportionment were determined on the basis of land area, rather than population.

A: Delaware, Vermont, West Virginia, Texas.

I don't think there's an easy way to solve this without just doing the math. But the algorithm by which apportionment is determined is available on the Web, and someone could probably write a program to carry out the algorithm and then plug in the area figures instead of the population figures as the base data and see what happens. It took me a few hours to do it in perl, and I have very little perl experience; someone more programming-savvy than me could probably do it faster.

51. Apple Pie in the sky (Jitze Couperus)

Q: In order to be able compute fees associated with the filing, the Securities and Exchange Commission asked Google to estimate the amount of money that their planned Initial Public Offering (IPO) would bring in. They responded with the figure $2,718,281,828 .

What rationale did they have for this number, and for extra sheep, why might $2,147,483,647 have been seen as a more appropriate number?

A: They were following the dictum that this number should represent a rational approximation. (This figure is a rational approximation of 'e')

The second number is known as Maxint, any number larger than this may cause problems in a 32-bit world.

52. Commonality (Dr Whom)

Q: What does the first chairman of the New York Port Authority have in common with a particular physicist (the latter having been born in 1852 and having taught at what is now the University of Birmingham)?

Extra credit for naming a third person who, in the judgment of the Panel, also shares this characteristic.

A: The men referred to are Eugenius Outerbridge and John Henry Poynting, and their names also serve as descriptions of the items that were named after them. That is, the Outerbridge Crossing is named after Outerbridge and it is the _outermost bridge_ between New Jersey and New York. The Poynting vector is named after Poynting and it _points_ in the direction in which an electromagnetic wave propagates.

SDC 2004: Contents 1-26 27-52 53-78 Scoreboard Results Top