Friday, January 04, 2008

"And the answers? Sometimes the answers just come in the mail."

I don't know: perhaps the prizes sounded more like punishments, that happens sometimes; perhaps the furious whirligigs of Christmas create entirely the wrong setting for such labour-intensive pastimes, though you had better blame that on the Baby Geewhizz; maybe it was the "damp hat". For whatever reason, the inaugural Thompson's Christmas Quiz drew a grand total of, wait for it, zero entries: which, without wishing to sound humbuggish about it, has not greatly troubled the scorer. There we are; I'll spend the equivalent time at the end of 2008 making gaily coloured paper-chains instead, for the purposes of remedial festoonery, and sod the lot of yer.

Nonetheless. So as to normalize (somewhat) the earlier waste of time through a suitably dismal balancing act of equal futility, and on the offchance that there's some poor housebound soul in Stavanger or Omsk who gives a sandboy's toss, here are the answers: the submission of any single one of which, it turns out, would have earned its entrant a prize worth more than money itself. And let that be a lesson to you, as God used to say.

Question 1

(a) The deceased singer of 'What A Wonderful World' was comedian, crooner and self-styled "some sort of doughnut", Mike Reid. RIP -- he runs around no more. S-S-S-S-Stop!!!
(b) The words 'Disneyland' and 'simulacra' might perhaps have pointed you in the direction of Jean Baudrillard: whose funeral, ironically, did not take place. The singer is Ubu Roi himself, Mr Kenneth Goldsmith. This track is not available in the shops.
(c) The lampooned composer of the spoof requiem (lifted from the 1986 Spitting Image album) is the late great Ronnie Hazlehurst: the most splendid thing about whom is that for most of the tv themes he composed, you can sing the name of the programme along to the melody: from the five-note horn motif of "Are You Being Served?" to the long unfolding tune of "The Fall and Rise of Reginald Perrin" (which even has a fall and a rise in the right places). Bloody genius.

The bonus question refers to the fact that some obituaries of Ronnie H, following a mischievous interpolation in his Wikipedia page biography, incorrectly credited him with writing "Reach" for S Club 7.

Question 2

(a) The guitar piece is the 'Gran Vals' by the Spanish composer Francisco Tarrega (1852-1909), and the very next thing you'd hear after the point where the extract ends is the four-bar phrase that is now immediately recognized the world over as the 'Nokia tune': which might have stopped the show at the Gielgud, had it been heard there during a performance of Equus, because Richard Griffiths is notoriously prepared to stop in mid-flow to upbraid those whose phones go off in the auditorium.
(b) 'Hit' is perhaps overstating it, but that's a cover by the Highstreet Allstars of Mike Oldfield's 1984 single "To France". Of which -- the original, I mean -- I must confess I am terribly, terribly fond.
(c) Those two folks are talking about Spalding Gray.

The bonus question is admittedly a bit steep. But Mike Oldfield reworked an 'Etude' by Tarrega for the soundtrack of The Killing Fields in 1984 -- the film which gave rise to Spalding Gray's breakthrough monologue, Swimming to Cambodia. And the director of The Killing Fields, Roland Joffe, was last year busily engaged making Finding t.A.T.u., based around the music of the controversial Russian minipops whose ersatz lesbotic finaglings briefly titillated a sufficiently large number of unhappily married thirtysomething men to give them a number one hit in 2002 in the shape of "All The Things She Said": the chorus of which may now be stuck in your head and ceaselessly spooling for the next nine months, in which case, apologies.

Question 3

(OK, to be fair, I'm now beginning to see why everyone lost the will to live.)

(a) The comedian in question is the completely wonderful Patton Oswalt, who didn't do much to boost his name (or face) recognition in the UK by supplying the voice of Remy, the rat hero of Disney's Ratatouille. And the subject of that marvellous Oswalt rant you heard is, of course, Cirque du Soleil.
(b) That's the great American poet John Ashbery, who was this year appointed poet laureate to MtvU, the campus-only subsidiary of MTV.
(c) It's Simon McBurney, describing Tom Waits (and referring to the lyrics of Waits's song "Big in Japan": "I got the moon, I got the cheese, I got the whole damn nation on their knees.")

The bonus question hinges on you knowing that McBurney was one of the credited writers of the apparently fathomlessly dreadful Mr Bean's Holiday, and a quick visit to will show you that the soundtrack of that movie includes -- in what must have been a relative highlight of sophistication and artistic elan -- "Boombastic" by Shaggy, whose major contribution to the cultural life of 2007 was the official song of the Cricket World Cup, a throat-enlumpening ditty called "The Game of Love and Unity". (As fans will know, Love and Unity are the England camp's affectionate nicknames for Monty Panesar's left and right testicles, respectively and in that order.)

Question 4

(The trick is to keep breathing, as somebody said -- possibly Janis from The Muppets.)

(a) The quoted Oz-ophile is Baltimore's favourite son, John Waters, in a little clip from his one-man show This Filthy World -- already out on DVD, you might like to know. Waters of course had a high-profile year in the UK, with his personal appearances in support of This Filthy World roughly coinciding with the opening here of both the stage and film versions of the musical based on his much-loved 1988 movie Hairspray.
(b) That right there is a few seconds from 'Mantra' by the great Karlheinz Stockhausen, who died on December 5th, just in time to miss the Catherine Tate Christmas special.
(c) And that is the unmistakeable (if you know it already, anyway) voice of Kurt Vonnegut; "so it goes" is the refrain associated with death in his classic Slaughterhouse-Five.

The bonus question asks you to think back to 1967: the artefact in question is The Beatles' Sgt Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band, whose cover is of course graced by a number of luminaries, including Karlheinz Stockhausen. The three number one singles to which Sgt Pepper gave rise are all recordings of the same song - "With a Little Help From My Friends" - none of which is the Beatles' original (which only reached #63 in the UK charts when it was finally released as a single in 1978). Joe Cocker had the first number one, in 1968; and bargain-bin Pop Idol spoons Sam and Mark were third in 2004; the second, which is what you were looking for, was the 1988 cover by Wet Wet Wet.

Question 5

(a) That dialogue is from Gus van Sant's masterwork Paranoid Park.
(b) You may just have had time to recognize the song as the Kinks' "Village Green Preservation Society", and the beeped-out movie star's name is of course Donald Duck.
(c) And that's Philip Fisher enthusing over Hugh Hughes's Edinburgh smash-hit Story of a Rabbit.

The trick with this last bonus question was not to overcomplicate it: what Paranoid Park, Donald Duck and Hugh Hughes all have in common is paired initials; that is all. You may well not have got to the song title without going via the subsidiary clue: the gentleman punched in the face on my birthday was Richard Fairbrass of Right Said Fred, who, you may recall, got quite gorily twatted during a fractious gay rights demonstration in Moscow. So the song you were looking for was "Deeply Dippy".

And that's that. Game over. (Except to say there may still be a prize for whoever presents pictorial evidence of having kicked themselves the hardest or the most extremely in regret at the missed opportunities spelt out so poignantly in the folds and rhizomes of this wretched quiz and its soul-destroying answers.)

Now let us never speak of it again.


Anonymous said...

So I could actually have just have written in "Ronnie Hazlehurst" and won? Oh

And I have to sign in anonymously now

Andrew Field said...

A Picture Round... that's what you were missing.

Incidentally my local pub when I was growing up in the charming village of Oakington, just north of Cambridge (famous for only two (mercifully unrelated) things, the country's first Secure Asylum Centre and former Blue Peter Presenter Liz Barker) had as part of its weekly quiz a 'local knowledge' round which consisted of such items as:

"We all know Lisa got married this week, but can you name three of the bridesmaids at the wedding..."

So, you know, although the requirement for a cross section of general knowledge straddling The Procession of Simulacra, the tail end of Shaggy's career and Mr Bean's Holiday may have frightened off many (myself included) wearied by a long, long year, by some standards its inclusivity knows no bounds...

querik said...
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