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A good quiz question is one in which, even if you don't know the answer, you can work it out through clues given in the question. Workoutable, thus, is not just about knowledge but also about problem-solving. Enjoy.

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05 November, 2008

Bombastic Little Creep

Question by Amit Varma

This character’s creator described him as “insufferable”, and called him a “detestable, bombastic, tiresome, ego-centric little creep”. On August 6 1975, the New York Times carried his obituary, the only time it has thus honoured a fictional character. Who?

28 June, 2008

Flash’em Poker

Question by Amit Varma

In Texas Hold’em Poker, which hand is known as ‘six tits’?

22 May, 2008

Glory and Sadness, Beauty and Pain

Question by Amit Varma

X is a song written by Y and famously covered by Z. Time Magazine’s Josh Tyrangiel described it thus:

Y murmured the original like a dirge, but except for a single overwrought breath before the music kicks in, Z treated the 7-min. song like a tiny capsule of humanity, using his voice to careen between glory and sadness, beauty and pain, mostly just by repeating the word X. It’s not only Z’s best song — it’s one of the great songs, and because it covers so much emotional ground and is not (yet) a painfully obvious choice, it has become the go-to track whenever a TV show wants to create instant mood. ‘X can be joyous or bittersweet, depending on what part of it you use,’ says Sony ATV’s Kathy Coleman. ‘It’s one of those rare songs that the more it gets used, the more people want to use it.’

Name X, Y and Z.

18 May, 2008

May be harmful if inhaled or swallowed

Question by Amit Varma

In the book “The World of _____” by Bennett Alan Weinberg and Bonnie K Bealer, there is a photograph of a label from a jar of pharmaceutical-grade crystals. It reads:

“WARNING: MAY BE HARMFUL IF INHALED OR SWALLOWED. HAS CAUSED MUTAGENIC AND REPRODUCTIVE EFFECTS IN LABORATORY ANIMALS. INHALATION CAUSES RAPID HEART RATE, EXCITEMENT, DIZZINESS, PAIN, COLLAPSE, HYPOTENSION, FEVER, SHORTNESS OF BREATH. MAY CAUSE HEADACHE, INSOMNIA, VOMITING, STOMACH PAIN, COLLAPSE AND CONVULSIONS.”

Fill in the blank.

14 May, 2008

XYZ

Question by Amit Varma

In 1981, Jimmy Page, Chris Squire and Alan White got together to form a band, and tried to recruit Robert Plant into it. Plant attended one rehearsal, chose not to join the band, and the project fell through. Had it survived, the band would have called itself XYZ. Why?

11 December, 2007

A Small Eye Poet

Question by Amit Varma

“I am a small eye poet.” Who once wrote these words in a letter to his mother?

22 November, 2007

Dileep Kumar and Saira Banu

Question by Abhishek Toraskar

Who used to be known as Dileep Kumar, and is now married to Saira Banu?

15 November, 2007

All the Steps

Question by J Ramanand

In British Bingo, many numbers have nicknames, which are used while calling out the number. What number does the phrase “All the Steps” stand for?

12 November, 2007

Double Palindrome

Question by Amit Varma

Which is the only palindromic song by a palindromic group to have entered the US charts?

10 August, 2007

Tens of thousands

Question by Amit Varma

Herodotus once wrote:

“The counting was done by first packing ten thousand men as close together as they could stand and drawing a circle round them on the ground; they were then dismissed, and a fence, about navel high, was constructed around the circle; finally, other troops were marched into the area thus enclosed and dismissed in their turn, until the whole army had been counted.”

Whose army?

09 August, 2007

A Royal Procession

Question by Amit Varma

On what list will you find the following:

61. King Harald V of Norway
83. Princess Margarita of Romania
92. Hereditary Prince Peter of Serbia
184. King Carl XVI Gustaf of Sweden
213. Queen Margrethe II of Denmark
782. Queen Beatrix of the Netherlands

06 August, 2007

“Getting Played”

Question by Amit Varma

What is the name of this index?

image

02 August, 2007

Soft Beckhams, Popular Beckhams, Hardcore Beckhams

Question by Harshil Shah

In Japan, what are ‘Soft Beckhams’, ‘Popular Beckhams’ and ‘Hardcore Beckhams’ types of?

01 August, 2007

An old document

Question by Sumant Srivathsan

What it this?

image

31 July, 2007

Vedic dwelling

Question by Akshat Kumar

It is a Sanskrit word meaning ‘dwelling’ or a building used for residential purposes. The first mention of this is found in the Yajurveda. The first book on this subject is believed to have been written about 3000 years back by saint Vishwakarma.Which word?

30 July, 2007

A painter derailed by circumstance

Question by Amit Varma

The self-portrait below is a homage to Vincent Van Gogh, and is painted by someone who once described herself as a “painter derailed by circumstance.” Who?

image

28 July, 2007

A sign in Vermont

Question by Amit Varma

Between 1976 and 1994, a sign hung outside the Cavendish General Store in southern Vermont:

NO DIRECTIONS TO
THE _____ _____

Fill in the blanks.

26 July, 2007

To please women over 30…

Question by Aniruddha Gupta

This 1999 movie was based on a book by Homer Hickam. However, a poll conducted by Universal Pictures suggested that women over 30 would not watch the movie if it had the same title as the book did. So, in order to broaden the appeal of the movie, it was given a title that was an anagram of the book’s title. Name the movie.

25 July, 2007

“You deserve happiness”

Question by Amit Varma

I ask you to forgive me for not fulfilling the hopes of those people who believed that we would be able to jump from the grey, stagnating, totalitarian past into a bright, rich and civilised future in one go. I myself believed in this. But it could not be done in one fell swoop… I am leaving. I have done everything I could… In saying farewell, I wish to say to each of you the following. Be happy. You deserve happiness. You deserve happiness and peace.

Who, and on what occasion?

19 July, 2007

Richard Melville Hall

Question by Ajay Bhat

Musician Richard Melville Hall has released music under a number of names. The one he is most well-known by is also his childhood nickname, and is in tribute to his great-great-grandfather, who was a famous writer himself. What name do we best know him by?

18 July, 2007

RE Foster, Walter Hammond and…

Question by Amit Varma

Complete this exhaustive list:

RE Foster (Dec 1903), Walter Hammond (Dec 1928), Walter Hammond (Dec 1928), Walter Hammond (Dec 1936), X (Dec 2006).

17 July, 2007

A German Virgin

Question by Aniruddha Gupta

In Texas hold ‘em poker, what two-card hand is sometimes called a “German virgin”?

13 July, 2007

A measure of something

Question by Amit Varma

This is the frequency graph of the size of something. What?

image

12 July, 2007

The substance of fast food

Question by MadMan

This catchphrase was first used in the 1984 advertising campaign of a major US fast food chain. It has since become a popular expression in everyday speech, acquiring the meaning of questioning the substance of an idea or argument.

What is this phrase?

11 July, 2007

“Aw, shut up, ya bilge rat”

Question by Samrat Sengupta

Her first words to her future husband, spoken in 1929 after being discovered as a Stowaway were “Aw, shut up, ya bilge rat”. In February 1999, after a 70-year courtship, she finally said “ I do.” Who?

Errata: Profuse apologies—an absent-minded error led to our giving the wrong answer below. The answer is not Minnie Mouse. Sorry for this!

09 July, 2007

The mysterious Mr Fowler

Question by Gaurav Sabnis

Though his actual last name is Fowler, he uses his middle name as the last name in films. One of the standard entertainment urban legends is that he took that name by combining the first and last names of a two-time Oscar winning legendary actor. The urban legend has gained credence because of the coincidence that he himself has won 2 Oscars. But it is actually his mother’s maiden surname. And he probably uses that name because of problems with his father, who was violent, alcoholic, and allegedly a member of the American Nazi party.

07 July, 2007

When X dined alone at the White House

Question by Amit Varma

In 1962, John F Kennedy hosted 49 Nobel Prize winners at the White House. While welcoming them, he said, “I think this is the most extraordinary collection of talent and of human knowledge that has ever been gathered together at the White House—with the possible exception of when X dined alone.”

Name X.

05 July, 2007

It sold a lot of Ray Bans

Question by Samrat Sengupta

About which movie did Val Kilmer remark “It was a one-dimensional cartoon which sold a lot of Ray Bans?”

04 July, 2007

A historic hand

Question by Amit Varma

Whose hand is this?

image

29 June, 2007

The good-natured wanderer

Question by Sumant Srivathsan

His most recognizable moniker is derived from his father’s, which meant “good-natured” or “simple”, and he was merely his father’s son.  During his extensive travels, he also picked up the label Bigollo, meaning “wanderer”.

His most famous contribution to mathematics was originally proposed by an Indian mathematician named Acharya Hemachandra, and was presented to the Western world as an example of place values in counting, which made the Indo-Arabic system superior to Roman numerals.

This work was published as Liber Abaci or The Book of Calculations in 1202.

Who is this person?

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