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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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28 June, 2007


Question by Amit Varma

Brett Lee’s nickname in the Australian team is Oswald. Explain how it came about.

26 June, 2007

Leave us alone!

Question by Amit Varma

The origin of this term, X Y, reportedly came when Louis XV asked a group of merchants, “How can I help you?” They responded, “X-nous-Y, X-nous passer, Le monde va de lui-même.” (“Let us do, leave us alone. The world runs by itself.”)

What is this term?

25 June, 2007

New chicas, lots of sex!

Question by Mohan KV

“The term X effect describes phenomena seen in nearly every species that it has been tested in whereby males show continuously high sexual performance given the introduction of new receptive females.”

What is X?

22 June, 2007

“This is the place of my song-dream”

Question by Sumant Srivathsan

Name the source and the individual in question:

“This is the place of my song-dream, the place the music played to me,” whispered the Rat, as if in a trance. “Here, in this holy place, here if anywhere, surely we shall find Him!”


21 June, 2007

Two similar men, worlds apart

Question by Amit Varma

Identify X, Y and Z in the excerpt below, taken from an article in the June 25, 2007 issue of Newsweek:

They’re both increasingly isolated from the people they are supposed to lead. They are contemporaries (X is 60, Y is 57), and both spent most of their lives as relatively unworldly men, albeit worlds apart. Both have had to learn on the job while in the top job. Both are surrounded by small circles of confidants who have given them demonstrably bad advice where the future of Z is concerned. Both are at odds with fractious legislatures. Both are deeply religious and have important fundamentalist constituencies. Each of them very much needs the other to succeed, and neither has any real alternative.

20 June, 2007

The postman and the hot dog vendor

Question by Sumant Srivathsan

2007 - Man in Times Square
2006 - Waterhose Man
2005 - Willie Lumpkin (Postman)
2004 - Man Dodging Debris
2003 - Security Guard
2003 - Old Man at Crossing
2002 - Man Dodging Debris
2000 - Hot Dog Vendor

Whose big-screen Hollywood career is this?

18 June, 2007

Victor Hugo’s message

Question by Amit Varma

After the publication of Les Miserables, Victor Hugo, who wanted to know how the book was doing, sent his publisher a telegram with just one character. His publisher’s reply also contained just one character. What were the contents of these two telegrams?

12 June, 2007

The retina of the mind’s eye

Question by Amit Varma

In David Cronenberg’s film, Videodrome, there is a character named Professor Brian O’Blivion who says goofy things like “the television screen has become the retina of the mind’s eye”, “I refuse to appear on television, except on television” and “television is reality and reality is less than television.” This character was based on an old teacher of Cronenberg’s. Who?

11 June, 2007

Before 1189 AD…

Question by Sumant Srivathsan

In 1276, a statute was passed in England applying this term to events that occurred prior to 1189, the year in which Richard I ascended the throne.  In 1832, this definition was abandoned as a legal term, but common use has prevailed.

What term?

08 June, 2007

From Redford to Eastwood

Question by Amit Varma

What is this a list of (exhaustive):

Robert Redford - Ordinary People
Barry Levinson - Rain Man
Kevin Costner - Dances with Wolves
Roman Polanski - The Pianist
Clint Eastwood - Million Dollar Baby

06 June, 2007

A piston fires

Question by Sumant Srivathsan

This is a description from HowStuffWorks.com:

A piston fires. The next piston fires at 315°. There is a 405° gap. A piston fires. The next piston fires at 315°. There is a 405° gap. And the cycle continues.

What is being described?

05 June, 2007

A remarkably closely guarded secret

Question by Amit Varma

The following words appeared in a March 2005 article in Arab News by Barbara Ferguson:

Even by the discreet standards of Washington’s powerful inner circle, their relationship is a remarkably closely guarded secret. The Washington Post says the couple rarely goes out together or demonstrates affection publicly, according to friends who are aware of the relationship. They attend low-key Washington social events and visit friends’ homes together and _____ also sometimes goes to official functions and dinners with him, but is not identified as his partner, an acquaintance said.

Who are the two people being spoken of?

04 June, 2007

1.16699016 × 10-8 Hertz

Question by Sumant Srivathsan

How do you refer to an event that has a frequency of 1.16699016 × 10-8 Hertz?

01 June, 2007

And then there were nine

Question by Amit Varma

Connect Andy Roddick, James Blake, Michael Russell, Justin Gimelstob, Amer Delic, Robert Kendrick, Sam Querrey, Vince Spadea and Robby Ginepri.

30 May, 2007

Raphael, Michael and Gabriel

Question by Sumant Srivathsan

Raphael, Michael and Gabriel are three of the seven Archangels of Judeo-Christian mythology.  What do their computing counterparts do?

29 May, 2007

An opera singer in a sewer

Question by Amit Varma

In the JG Ballard short story, “The Sound-Sweep”, a deaf-and-dumb character goes around vacuuming up stray music in a world that has none. While doing so, he comes across an opera singer hiding in a sewer. Which New Wave song did this inspire?

28 May, 2007

Landmark places

Question by Sumant Srivathsan

In which city would you find the following landmarks:

Archie Goodwin International Airport
Robinson Park
Robert Kane Memorial Bridge
Miller Harbour
The Westward Bridge

25 May, 2007

The ultimate act of masturbation

Question by Amit Varma

What did the Japanese writer, Yukio Mishima, describe as “the ultimate act of masturbation?”

24 May, 2007

Hockey was responsible!

Question by Sumant Srivathsan

Aristotle Onassis was so thrilled by the confirmation of this marriage that he donated a million francs to the Red Cross in 1956, especially since it was his idea in the first place.  However, two things almost derailed it.  One was a $2,000,000 dowry, and the other was a more, um, delicate matter.  The latter was settled when a doctor declared that the culprit was the bride’s hockey-playing days in high school.

What was the “delicate” matter?

23 May, 2007

The unit of hype

Question by Amit Varma

X is a unit of hype. One kiloX is equal to 10.42 days. One MegaX is equal to 28.5 years. What is X, and why is it so called?

(Feel free to use your calculator.)

16 May, 2007

A story begins…

Question by Soumya Banerji

This word describes the opening sentence of a story in a newspaper. According to journalism lore, its unusual spelling is to distinguish it from the material used for typesetting in the early days.

30 April, 2007

Can’t handle the truth!

Question by Gaurav Sabnis

David Iglesias from New Mexico is one of the eight Federal Prosecutors fired by US Attorney General Alberto Gonzalez, allegedly for political reasons, leading to Washington’s latest big scandal. What has led several commentators to quip that Iglesias’s firing shows that the Bush administration “can’t handle the truth”?

27 April, 2007

Alfred Hitchcock and ... ?

Question by Akshat Kumar

This was a popular juvenile detective series which started off as “Alfred Hitchcock and ______”. It was written by Robert Arthur who believed using a figure like Hitchcock would attract attention. The publisher paid Hitchcock for using his name. Identify this famous series of crime fiction.

25 April, 2007

Choose your paragram!

Question by BV Harish Kumar

Which popular technology developed by Tegic Communications, which you probably use every day, will let you choose from paragrams?

24 April, 2007

Running, standing, no exams

Question by BV Harish Kumar

The participating schools are asked to make the initial nominations of students who are in year 10, and have no exams during a specified two-week period. During training, the students must:

1] Be able to run at a sustained pace for 12 minutes
2] Be able to stand still for 4 minutes
3] Show good speed in shuttle runs

What are they training for?

23 April, 2007

Chambal dacoits

Question by Amit Varma

The book Abhishapth Chambal, which describes the life of Chambal dacoits, was written by Taroon Bhaduri, Jaya Bachchan’s father. What is the significance of the book in Bollywood history?

21 April, 2007

An honorary South Korean

Question by BV Harish Kumar

Who became the first-ever foreigner to be awarded honorary citizenship of South Korea in 2002?

17 April, 2007

Porn stick?

Question by Shamanth Rao

What are these different terms for?

Chip stick, Bug, Geek chip, Geek stick, Geek whistle, Jump stick, Jumper, Key, Keyfob, Magic key, Magic Stick, Nerd bling, Nerd necklace, Nerd stick, Peg, Snib, Stick, Thumb key, Travel stick, Porn stick.

16 April, 2007

Plan B: Intel

Question by Shamanth Rao

Intel’s founders Gordon Moore and Robert Noyce initially wanted to name the company after themselves. Why did they change their mind?

13 April, 2007

More than Lata

Question by BV Harish Kumar

When someone introduced Lata Mangeshkar to Bill Clinton saying that she holds the Guinness record for singing the most songs, she pointed to the person standing next to her, who actually held the record. Who?

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