Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Trivial Fever

Down with fever, running nose and a heavy head. Missed office due to sickness after a really long time (probably five years or so). After playing Cuddle-Monster-Tickle-Monster with my son, giving him a bath and tiring him out to sleep, I tried to settle in my bookshelf and ended up with a whole lot of papers and a green diary from my college days. (Spaniard, Psaint and Mad Momma might remember the diary from the Hyderabad days!)

I had gleaned a few bits of trivia from that green diary in an earlier post. Flipping through the diary today, I discovered a few more!
Some of these were taken down during quizzes. Some we invented to ask in quizzes. And the others have no reason for being there except being vaguely entertaining at that point of time.
Only a quiz buff (as defined as “one with an insatiable lust for quirky and useless knowledge) is advised to go forward!

Harry Potter
Every animal has an associated adjective. Anything to do with a dog is canine, cat is feline, lion is leonine, so on and so forth. The adjective for Wolf is Lupine.

Helen of Troy – before running off with Paris – was married to Menealaus. With him, she had a daughter (then 9 years old), whom she abandoned as well. The daughter’s name was Hermione.

Greek Gods
As the previous trivia bears out, Greek mythology was an unending source of trivia. With Neil O’brien, it was second only to his trademark “In the days of the Raj, what was known as…?”

In one quiz, it was asked – “What did Thetis submerge momentarily in River Styx by holding it in one hand?”. This sounds positively arcane unless I tell you (or you know) that submerging in River Styx (the river of Hades) renders oneself invincible. Thetis held her son by his heel and submerged him into the river. This ensured that the son had only one weak spot in his entire body, where she was holding him which did not touch the water.
His name – as you might have guessed – was Achilles.

Another time, we came across the legend of Medusa and Perseus. One of the three Gorgons, Medusa was almost impossible to kill because anybody who set sight on her turned into stone. Perseus did a smart number by using mirrors and not looking at her directly. From the blood of Medusa emerged Pegasus – the flying horse of Greek mythology.
The only doubtful part of mythology stories was that they had so many variations that there can be a huge argument on who is right and who is just an idiot with raspberry jam for brains!

Who are They?
This supremely intelligent man wrote a book called ‘The Dynamics of Asteroids’ which was praised by his greatest rival as “it ascends to such rarefied heights of pure mathematics that no man in the scientific press is capable of criticizing it”.
The man and his rival become a little easier to identify when it is made known that the rival wrote a book called 'Practical Handbook of Bee Culture, with some observations upon the segregation of the Queen', while practicing apiculture in a small farm in Sussex, five miles from Eastbourne.
The rival is famous for his other achievements and is known as Sherlock Holmes. The man, obviously, is Professor James Moriarty.

Apart from the above, there are some beautiful nuggets on the lesser-known aspects of famous people.
Giovanni Jacopo de Seingalt (1725 – 98) was an alchemist, gambler, diplomat and preacher. He was also a Knight of the Papal Order of Golden Spur. Would you be able to tell me his middle name?
This seemingly innocuous biography acquires some meat when it is revealed that he was expelled from a Venetian seminary for immoral conduct.
Yes, his full name is Giovanni Jacopo Casanova de Seingalt.

Questions from Films
No, not from Bollywood. Two reasonably famous Hollywood films asked two bona fide questions. So, you can have two-layered questions. One, you could ask the questions themselves. And two, you could ask which film there were from!

“What has four eyes but cannot see?”, asked Gene Hackman in Mississippi Burning. And the answer to the question is in the title itself. Referring to the Ku Klux Klan atrocities in the state, Mississippi has 4 I’s but cannot see any of those.

And in The Client, Susan Sarandon (in an effort to be friendly with her teenaged client) refers to his Led Zeppelin t-shirt and is asked a question, “What are the names of the first four Led Zep albums?”.
You don’t know have to know a whole lot of rock canons to say that the first three albums are called Led Zeppelin I, II and III. As for the fourth, there is absolutely no mention of the band or any title on the cover and it is called The Fourth Album or The Untitled Album. This was so done because the band was quite pissed with the media contention that they were over-hyped and wanted to prove that their albums could sell without their name on it. They were right since this album went on to become one of the best selling albums in US.

There are more coming… whether you like it or not!


priya said...

Hermione actually gets her name from the name of the queen in Shakespeare's A Winter's Tale.
And Romulus and Remus were the pair of twins who founded Rome, they were looked after by a wolf when young. Sirius is also known as the Dog Star.
Another bit of Potter trivia is that the motto of Hogwarts is "Draco Dormiens Nunquam Titillandus" which translates to "Never tickle a sleeping dragon".
A popular quiz question is "What is Paul McCartney's middle name?". Most people don't know his name is actually James Paul McCartney.

Rimi said...

Udayan got me the other day with his "What is Bachhan's first dialouge in Reshma Aur Shera?" googly. I blame *you*.

I didn't know Helen and Menalause's daughter was called Hermione as well (although of course, we all know Rowling named her character after the good queen). Where did you dig this up from?

OrangeJammies said...

awww....i hope you feel better soon.

Lavs said...

Looking forward to more trivia posts.

Anonymous said...

Nostalgia: oh yes! the great green book of the truth and the knowledge of all good, evil and the unknown. someday i would want to photocopy it entirely.


Abhishek Mukherjee, BSc MStat said...

1. Ramayana apparently had a character called Bhashmaksha (often referred to as a synonymous Bhashmalochan (both of which mean the same) who could turn anyone he stared at to flames. For this reason he was kept blindfolded.

When brought into the battle, Rama invoked Darpanastra on him, creating mirrors on everyone's face. The poor guy himself turned into flames.

2. Hermione had used the same concept. The Basilisk turned out to be stronger than Medusa or our guy from Lanka, so instead of getting killed itself, the mirror-holders were simply petrified.