Thursday, July 11, 2024

Current Crop of Dogs

 Here are Kitt and Bruno. Kitt is the black one and Bruno is the blonde one (or wheaten, as dog people call it).

Thursday, March 12, 2020

Fiftieth Birthday Quiz Questions

Tomorrow, I will be fifty years old.

In February, I celebrated my birthday by inviting people to a pub quiz, for which I wrote the questions. I highly recommend this as a way to celebrate your own knowledge, and see which of your friends pays attention to your interests and the places you go on holidays.

Because of the coronavirus and the fact that everyone is stuck at home now, I'm putting the questions up here so you can see them. Good thing I didn't decide to have my birthday quiz this week instead; I'd have had to cancel.

We had ten rounds with seven questions in each round. The pictures of dogs and the Fill in the Blanks round were handed out to be filled in at leisure, to give people a chance to go to the bar. We also had a music round, but I don't know how to share that. Believe me, though, it was a very good music round.

You can find the answers here.

Round 1 -- Fifity!

  1. In the Paul Simon song "Fifty Ways to Leave Your Lover", what does Lee do?
  2. Which 1950 Billy Wilder film features what Wilder himself described as "you know, the usual monkey-funeral sequence"?
  3. The comic strip Peanuts debuted in 1950. In which year was the last new strip published?
  4. Who released his eponymous first solo album in 1970, featuring songs like "Lovely Linda" and "Maybe I'm Amazed"?
  5. Which Polynesian constitutional monarchy ended its protected-state status with the UK in 1970, never having relinquished its sovereignty?
  6. Which Apollo mission was launched from Cape Canaveral on April 11, 1970?
  7. Published in 1950, what was the name of the first book in CS Lewis's fantasy series featuring the Pevensey children?

Round 2 -- Films

  1. Complete the following quote from Prizzi's Honor: If Moxy Heller's so fucking smart, how come he's so fucking...?
  2. In what film does newsman Brian Fantana try to woo Veronica Corningstone by dousing himself in Sex Panther?
  3. If first prize is a Cadillac Eldorado, and third prize is you're fired, what's second prize?
  4. Which classic 1969 buddy film closes with the line, "Oh good. For a moment there, I thought we were in trouble"?
  5. Which Cary Grant protagonist shares his last name with a fictional stately home from a series of PG Wodehouse stories?
  6. The prison scenes for The Italian Job, In the Name of the Father, and Paddington 2 were all filmed where?
  7. In which neat and tidy Meath town does the classic film Fatal Deviation take place?

Round 3 -- Non-Humans

  1. Which Irish revolutionary leader owned a Kerry Blue terrier called Convict 224?
  2. What is the smallest species of penguin?
  3. Which fictional horse has friends called Princess Carolyn and Mr Peanutbutter?
  4. What kind of animal supplies the milk for roquefort cheese?
  5. The 9th-century poem Pangur Bán, or White Pangur, is about a monk and his companion animal. What kind of animal is Pangur?
  6. The hirundine family of birds includes which species?
  7. A "flutter" is the collective noun for what type of animal?

Round 4 -- Byrne Family Mythology

  1. Which Stanley Kubrick film starring Ryan O'Neal features in the Byrne family story "Where the fucking shark?"
  2. What colour was the Minnesota Vikings jacket that Dad brought back from American in the Seventies?
  3. Which Scottish actor, who played Ser Jorah Mormont in Game of Thrones and is the lead in the Jack Taylor series, did we sit near in a restaurant in Corralejo?
  4. What is the surname of the bakery that used to deliver our bread and also the former White House Press Secretary who appeared on Dancing with the Stars in 2019?
  5. Which Navan comedian stole the 1998 Perrier Award from Ed Byrne?
  6. What is the subtitle of Sister Act 2, in which Paul Byrne appeared as a choirboy extra?
  7. Jill Byrne likes Helen Mirren, but she does not like which actress who starred in the original Thomas Crown Affair?

Round 5 -- Dogs

Tell me what these breeds are, please. Just for the record, the answer to number four is not "Children", although that is very sweet.
1. T________ B___________ C_________
2. J__________ R__________ T___________
3. I___________ S_________
4. C_____________
5. D______ D_________ T__________
6. G________ S_________ P________
7. B_________________

Round 6 -- Geography

  1. What fictional US town has the slogan "First in friendship, fourth in obesity"?

  2. What do Postman Pat's route and the college in Community have in common?

  3. Which US state is known as the "Sooner State"?

  4. Portugal's highest peak is not in mainland Portugal. Where is it?

  5. In which UK town would you find a statue of a Martian tripod?

  6. At 1:00am on April 29, 1986, a young woman walking home from a party close to the border between Ukraine and Belarus saw a bright flash in the sky. Where did the bright flash come from?

  7. Where in Ireland was the Irish coffee invented?

Round 7 -- General Knowledge

  1. What did Michael Fassbender do to apologise in a Guinness ad from the 2000s?

  2. In an email, what does CC stand for?

  3. If Minecraft is the best-selling paid-download game of all time, what's the second?

  4. What famous artefact is supposed to have been found on the beach at Bettystown?

  5. Which world-famous Dundalk band have sometimes been described as "sticky, shouty, fiddly and the man"?

  6. Iron-Eyes Cody, the famous "crying Indian" of US film and television, was not actually Native American at all. What was his heritage?

  7. According to the Monty Python "Philosophers' Song", which German philosopher was a real pissant?

Round 8 -- Fill in the Blanks

"I just wanted to get another look at you."

  • 1954: Judy

  • 1976: Barbra

  • 2018: ______
"Is it a bird?"

  • 1952: George Reeves

  • 2006: Brandon Routh

  • 2016:_____________
"The horseman comes!"

  • 1922: Will Rogers

  • 1999: __________

  • 2013: Tom Mison
"Home is the nicest word there is."

  • 1932: Little House in the Big Woods

  • 1933: Farmer Boy

  • 1935: _____________

"Not a drop to drink."

  • 1798: ___________

  • 1800: Christabel

  • 1810: Kubla Khan
"I don't think they can handle this."

  • Kelly

  • Michelle

  • _________

"I've got a bad feeling about this."

  • Harrison Ford = Alden Ehrenreich

  • Billy Dee Williams = ____________

  • Peter Mayhew = Jonas Suotamo

Round 9 -- Mash-Ups

In this round, the first part of the question runs directly into the second. It's basically the Answer Smash from House of Games, if you ever watch House of Games. I've provided the first answer so you can see how it works.

  1. She's the singer of "A Kind of Hush" and an insect that infests wooden structures? Answer: Karen Carpenter Ant (or Karen Carpentermite).

  2. He's a stadium on Jones's Road in Dublin and the Korean director of Old Boy?

  3. He's the 1982 second studio album by Duran Duran and the first footballer to transfer between two English clubs for over £30 million?

  4. It's a UK supermarket chain with its headquarters in Leeds and a 1982 hit for Trio?

  5. He's George in Seinfeld and the ten-dollar founding father without a father?

  6. She's the county town of Tipperary and a former presenter of The Great British Bake-Off?

  7. He's a two-time Eurovision winner and a film where people over the age of thirty are sent to Carousel? 

Sunday, May 20, 2018

West Cork's Offshore Fauna

So, the whales of West Cork are putting on a remarkable show this year. This is fantastic for Irish whale-watching enthusiasts. Traditionally, we would either have to hitch a ride with a scientific or fishing vessel travelling out into the middle of the Atlantic (still technically within Irish waters, but too far out to be any use to day trippers) or take off for one of the more reliable whale-watching sites around the world.

This year, though, you can book yourself on a boat with Cork Whale Watch out of Union Hall, sail past seals, shags, and gannets, and, just a couple of hours later, you can have a close and relatively undisturbed encounter with minke whales, humpback whales, fin whales, gannets, and hundreds upon hundreds of dolphins.
You should definitely go. You would love it.
As a veteran of many whale-watching adventures from New Zealand to the Azores, though, let me warn you about one other piece of fauna you'll probably encounter on your whale-watching trip: the Big-Lensed Camera Wielder. (Okay, they're really a person. You knew that.) This person definitely thinks that their bigger camera gives them a right to a better position on the boat than yours, even though they have paid exactly the same amount for their ticket as you paid.
Two things particularly annoy me about this person. The first one is that they always, always want to be right at the bow, pressed against the rail, as close to the pointy bits of the boat as possible (I know heaps about boat terminology). And this is annoying because that's where the dolphins will show up to bow ride, and guess what the BL CW does not care about one bit? Dolphins. They are so over dolphins, they don't even ooh or aah when the dolphins jump out of the water in perfect synch, right beside their heads. Which is a pain for you, because obviously, like all right-thinking people, you love dolphins, and you want to watch them bow ride, because it is one of the greatest joys in all of life.

The second, and most annoying, thing about the BL CW is that despite forcing you into what they consider an inferior spot on the boat, and making it clear throughout the outward journey that they have no intention of relinquishing their spot, they will absolutely expect you to move whenever necessary when the whales show up. Because, of course, the whales don't stay at the front of the boat, and the front of the boat doesn't stay still. And a good captain knows how to get everyone the best view possible. So the BL CW often discovers that when the action starts, what was a great position is no longer a great position, and suddenly there's a humpback breaching off the stern where everyone happens to be throwing up. And they will one hundred percent try to get past your face and your phone camera with their huge lens, and they will expect you to be fine with that, because do you not see how expensive their equipment is?
You can let them or not. But don't be intimidated by them. Once again, you paid just as much for your ticket as they did.
Also remember to wear warm clothes, a hat, and plenty of sunblock.
Enjoy the whales. Don't be put off by the fact that their abundance is almost certainly a sign of some terrible impending disaster.

Wednesday, May 02, 2018

Sugar MoneySugar Money by Jane  Harris
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This is a solidly good, exciting, only-as-brutal-as-it-needs-to-be adventure story set in Martinique and Grenada in the late 1700s. Based on a true story, it concerns two slaves who are sent by their master - a French friar - to steal another group of slaves from Grenada and bring the group to Martinique.
The book certainly doesn't gloss over the reality of slavery in the Caribbean, but it is definitely an adventure story first. And, like many of the best historical novels, it has made me add a couple of nonfiction books to my reading pile, just to find out more about the period it discusses.

View all my reviews

Wednesday, January 17, 2018

Married to a Cave Man

Married to a Cave ManMarried to a Cave Man by Damien Owens
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

There you go, see? THIS is how you combine humour with real human drama and emotion. Here it is.

View all my reviews

Sunday, January 14, 2018

The North Water

The North WaterThe North Water by Ian McGuire
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Thanks to Paul and Alice for getting me this book for Christmas, following the unerring logic of "well, it has a whale AND a ship on the cover". Once I picked up The North Water, I couldn't put it down, and raced through it as befits a book that's all told in a kind of breathless present tense, and is full of action and incident, not to mention Arctic shipwrecks and other things I'm very fond of.
I was also pleasantly surprised to discover that the book is not a murder mystery, despite what the Saturday Review people said about it.
I was unpleasantly unsurprised, though, to see that it is one of Those Modern Historical Novels, which have to tell you on every page how much everything reeks. Nobody can have a conversation without hacking into the dangling jawbone of some unfortunate animal, and everyone within a six-mile radius is vomiting, getting buggered, contracting a venereal disease, or witnessing the death of some terrified and hollow-eyed child. It's all a Bit Much, and very bleak.
Still, fairly clips along, and if you want to read a Cormac McCarthyesque story set on a Greenland whaler, well, this is the book for you.

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Saturday, January 13, 2018

Nicole Cliffe's Favourite Horror Films of Recent Years

I'm just going to park this list here, and hope that Nicole does not think better of it and delete the whole thing.