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Thread: Spoiler: answers to the brainteaser and MM signature threads

  1. #1

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    Spoiler: answers to the brainteaser and MM signature threads

    Please read rgirl's brainteaser thread and Mathman's my signature thread first.

    answer to the Mr. John Doe vingette from Mathman's signature thread is : DTs, or delirium tremens, severe potentially life threatening alcohol withdrawal.

    answer to the mystery Russian writer question from rgirl's brainteaser thread is :Fyodor Dostoevsky

    rgirl, Mathman, and eltamina please post answers to your questions here.

  2. #2

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    Re: Spoiler: Answers to Brainteasers

    Good idea, emiC.
    Rgirl's Answers:







    1. What Shakespearian play has a character with the same name as the capital of New York?
    The answer is "King Lear," which has a character named "Albany," which is the capital of New York. Congrats to REALTORGAL, who won 10 BIG POINTS!

    2. On what two classic pieces of literature is James Joyce's <em>Ulysses</em> simultaneously founded? 25 pts. (Hint #1: One is Greek, the other is Shakespeare. Hint #2: The <strong>author</strong> of the Greek myth and the <strong>title</strong> of the Shakespearean play both begin with the same letter.)
    Answer: Homer's "The Odyssey" and Shakespeare's "Hamlet." (Check wording of second hint.)

    3. For fans for modern literature, here's a multi-part question:
    (a) What was the title of the original version of Raymond Carver's short story, "A Small, Good Thing"? 25 pts.
    (Hint #1: The original version appeared in the collection <em>What We Talk About When We Talk About Love</em>, and the final versions, "A Small, Good Thing" appeared in the collections <em>Cathedral</em> and <em>Where I'm Calling From</em>. Hint #2: Mathman almost says the name of the story in his erroneous answer to 3(d); it's got nothing to do with chess; it's something people were once known for doing on Saturday night.)
    Answer: The original version of Carver's "A Small, Good Thing" is entitled "The Bath." "The Bath" appears as a collected story only in <em>What We Talk About When We Talk About Love</em>. Thereafter only the longer, substantially different version, "A Small, Good Thing" appears in any of Carver's collections.

    (b) What short story by Vladimir Nabokov does the original version of "A Small, Good Thing" reflect? 25 pts.
    (Hint: The Nabokov story was written in 1947, published in 1948; the title is in the form "______ and _______" with the blanks being filled by plural nouns starting with the letter S; the nouns of the title are abstract things that we all use every day, but we would especially associate them with Mathman. Hint for Mathman: MIT students once created experimental "web books" in response to this Nabokov story.)
    Answer: The Nabokov story to which Carver's story "The Bath" is so similar is "Signs and Symbols." "Signs and Symbols" is one of Nabokov's best known and one of his shortest stories. For information on the MIT students' 'web books' in response to "Signs and Symbols" go to

    (c) What object/occurrence in the Nabokov story is used in much the same way in the Carver story, especially the original version? 25 pts.
    (Hint: The object/occurrence is an item of technology that in the 1980s became very mobile.)
    Answer: The object/occurrence in Nabokov's "Signs and Symbols" and both Carver's "The Bath" and "A Small, Good Thing" is a ringing telephone.

    (d) In what film is the story "A Small, Good Thing" a part? 25 pts.
    (Hint: The film in question is based on several Raymond Carver stories; the director of the Carver film had an independent film hit last year with a "who-dunnit" type story but is perhaps best known for his 1970 antiwar film that went on to become a TV sitcom classic.)
    Answer: The film is "Short Cuts," directed by Robert Altman, who also directed the film version of "M*A*S*H." For extra credit: What was Robert Altman's first film? Hint: It was a documentary based on movie star who died tragically young. The documentary bombed, but based on it Altman came to the attention of studio executives and in particular, Alfred Hitchcock, who hired Altman to direct two episodes of his TV series, "Alfred Hitchcock Presents," with the oh-so-associated-with-Hitchcock theme, "Funeral March of the Marionette" by Gounod. Altman went on to become a pioneering independent director and in 2002 had a critical and box office success with "Gosford Park."

    (e) BONUS: Why did Carver so drastically revise "A Small, Good Thing"? 100 pts. (Hint: Admittedly this is an obscure strange essay question, but you never know who is going to know the same obscure strange thing you do. Anyway, do a Google search under "Captain Fiction"--include the quotes and pay special attention to "The Things They Say...")
    Answer: Okay, nobody is really expected to get this one, but I'm hoping people will make things up. The real story is that Raymond Carver, who never completed a novel and who would become known as the founder of the modern minimalist style of writing, started out as a pretty wordy guy. In the mid-1960s, Carver was just another heavy-drinking writer who lived off grants occasional teaching positions until then fiction uber-editor and fiction editor for Random House and "Esquire," Gordon Lish, took Carver under his tutelage and literally "carved" Carver's fatty prose into the lean sentences that were to become a movement. Carver became a force in modern literature, known for both his short stories and his poetry. Relations between Carver and Lish became strained, as most artistic protege/mentor relations do (or as the must do, argue some), especially when Carver married poet Tess Gallagher. Gallagher then became Carver's private editor. With Gallagher, Carver took several of the stories originally edited by Lish and either rewrote them or published them the way he had originally written them. Carver felt Lish had cut the "heart" out of his stories; that Lish, in making the stories lean also made them unfeeling. The Gallagher-edited versions are longer and more descriptive. The big literary argument that erupted after the Carver/Lish split was, "Did Lish make Carver or did Carver become great in spite of Lish?" Fans of the early Carver/Lish stories find them cogently emotional and mysterious, and find the later work sentimental and overwrought. Fans of the later Carver/Gallagher stories find them openly emotional and more accessible, and find the early work distant and abstract. "The Bath" (Carver/Lish) and its later version, "A Small, Good Thing" (Carver/Gallagher) is perhaps the best example of both sides of the argument and a rare example in literature where one can see the influences on and progress of a writer change in published work. Why did I even think of this damn question for this forum? Because it reminded me of the split between Michelle and Lori Nichol. I expect that as time goes on and Michelle gets more comfortable with her own style that some people will prefer Lori Nichol's programs while others will prefer Michelle's post-Nichol programs.

    Extra trivia: I bring up the relation between Nabokov's "Signs and Symbols" and Carver's "The Bath"/"A Small, Good Thing" for a couple of reasons. One, to show how very different stories use essentially the same structure; the same literary device, i.e., the phone ringing repeatedly; and even the same ending in "Signs and Symbols" and "The Bath." Two, some people speculate that the real reason Carver rewrote "The Bath" as "A Small, Good Thing" was not because he felt Lish had edited out the feeling, but rather that Carver finally came across Nabokov's "Signs and Symbols" and didn't want to be accused of stealing Nabokov's device and ending.

    To read other examples of early-late versions of a writer's work, check out Nabokov's novella <em>The Enchanter</em>, which later became <em>Lolita</em>. Same basic premise, two very different works. You can also see the same thing in two Flannery O'Connor short stories, "The Geranium," which was her first published story (O'Connor was about 21 or 22), and "Judgement Day," (that's how O'Connor spelled "judgment" GrGranny ) which was a reworked version of "The Geranium" and the last story she wrote before she died at age 37.

  3. #3

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    Re: Spoiler: Answers to Brainteasers

    Here's the answer to the last of the inheritance problems. The least favored heir received 72097766706963743266962442058459339406659114894955 846971938806 horses.

    Since this is just a division problem (the total estate


    minus 1 divided by the share 1 part in 58254480569119734123541298976556403), it CAN be done quite straightforwardly on an abacus. (You can divide on an abacus by iterated subtractions.)


  4. #4

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    Re: Spoiler: Answers to Brainteasers

    The real story about my custom signature.

    Since I never got around to applying for one, Paula (GSK made up one for me using mathematical symbols. It happened that this string of symbols really did have relevance to some of the Eqyptian fractions problem that I had used in connection with the Undergraduate Research Program that I direct (art follows life), so I started the "My Custom Signature " thread to play along.

    But when I tried to type in the mathematical symbols that Paula had used, the ezboard software didn't recognize them in Microsoft Word format, and they came out looking like they do now: A British pound sign, an "a" with a little degree sign over it, a capital "O umlaut", and a cubing symbol. So here is a new challenge: invent a mathematical puzzle featuring these symbols.

    (If I think of one I'll post it in the "Spoilers to the spoilers" thread.)


  5. #5

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    Re: Spoiler: Answers to Brainteasers

    The solution to the chess problem in The Luzhin Defence (note the British spellin of "defence") is: Rook to h3!!!!!!!!!!! This rook sacrifice (white must capture to avoid mate in one by pawn to h6) removes white's king's knight pawn which could otherwise block the coming bishop check.

    In the Nabokov story "The Defense," the story ends when Luzhin hurls himself out the window, shouting "The rook, the rook!" So when they made the movie in 2001, they had to find a chess problem whose solution began with a rook move. This is a real mate-in-three chess problem, based, I believe, on a position that ocurred in an actual game.

    The movie is notable because it is the first movie of "feminist" director Marleen Gorris which features a male protagonist. (The character of Alenander Luzhin is based very loosely on the erratic and paranoid chess genius Alexander Alekhine.) But the movie goes on after Luzhin's death, when his wife reconstructs the solution from his notes and wins the match in Luzhin's stead.


  6. #6

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    Re: Spoiler: Answers to Brainteasers

    from eltamina # 8 - 10.0

    8. Identify the opera and composer:

    Mahler and Toscanini feuded over which one should conduct a particular opera at the Met.

    What was the opera?

    Hint: the composer (<strong>Wagner</strong>) stole his friend' s wife. Her name was Cosima, and she was the daughter of _______ (Lizt)

    Mathman if you are reading another hint for what opera?

    MM, your mostest favoritest choreographer gave this piece to your mostest favoritest skater<span style="color:red;font-size:medium;">S</span><span style="color:blue;font-size:medium;">S</span>. That freeskate was worth world gold.

    <strong>Tristan and Isolde</strong>

    9. Identify Composer A and B

    This was recorded by composer A

    As B stepped down, radiant with the sense of achievement. I came forward, thrilled by the experience of hearing the work. The moment could not have been better chosen. Yet, after the first exchange of greetings, the same melancholy thought struck us both.

    B: “What? 12 years? Can it be 12 years since we day dreamed together in Campagna?

    A: “And in the Baths of Caracalla.”

    B: “Ah, still the scoffer, I see, always ready to mock me!”

    A: “No, my mocking days are over. I said it to test your memory and see whether you had forgiven me for my irreverence. In fact I mock so little that I’m going to ask you at once in all seriousness to exchange……”

    Answer: Composers A and B were

    i. Lizt and Chopin

    ii. Chopin and Berlioz

    iii. Berlioz and Mendelssohn

    iv. Mendelssohn and Robert Schumann

    v. Robert Schumann and Clara Schumann

    Answer: <strong>Berlioz and Mendelssohn</strong>

    These 2 composers from the romantic period couldn't be more different. They first met in Italy, and weren't exactly music soul brothers. They mocked each other's composition style. Eventually they developed a healthy respect for each other's music.

    10.0 What did A asked B to exchange?

    i. orchestras

    ii. wedding vows

    iii. Batons

    iv. Pianos

    Answer: <strong>batons</strong>

    Berlioz got the better deal. You see, mendelssohn's baton was made of gold 24K? and ivory, and Berlioz' baton was made of wood.

  7. #7

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    Re: Spoiler: Answers to Brainteasers

    I love the whole story behind "The Luzhin Defence." I know the Nabokov story--want to reread it now--and it sounds like the movie made great use of the chess strategy in adding an interesting twist. You definitely get extra points for (a) getting a Nabokov story and (b) knowing a movie (I know you generally don't like movies). I will have to check out "The Luzhin Defence." Sounds very interesting.

    Earlier in this thread I added an extra credit question related to a hint to another question (are you following this?:lol: ). Since the answer concerns one of your "favorite" actors--I believe you described him as something like "that overacting spoiled brat"--I'll go ahead and give the answer.

    Here's the extra credit question:
    <em>What was Robert Altman's first film? Hint: It was a documentary based on movie star who died tragically young. The documentary bombed, but based on it Altman came to the attention of studio executives and in particular, Alfred Hitchcock, who hired Altman to direct two episodes of his TV series, "Alfred Hitchcock Presents," with the oh-so-associated-with-Hitchcock theme, "Funeral March of the Marionette" by Gounod. Altman went on to become a pioneering independent director and in 2002 had a critical and box office success with "Gosford Park."</em>

    Answer: Robert Altman's first film was a documentary on James Dean. It was called something like "The Life of James Dean" and Altman made it about two years after Dean's death. I've seen it and it's pretty bad, but I think a lot of it is due to the '50s documentary style. No hint of the Altman to come in movies like "Three Women" and "M*A*S*H," but everybody's got to start somewhere.

  8. #8

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    Re: Spoiler: Answers to Brainteasers

    Rgirl, I'm still waiting for the controversial literary divise used in Handful of Dust. Does it have something to do with the blending of reality and dream-fantasy, or with juxtaposing the kind of ordinary disasters that actually befall people with absurd cartoony calamities? (IIRC the part about his adventures in the jungle was originally a separate short story tacked on here.) Or is it something about the relation between what the protagonist knows and tells us, versus the omniscient narrator?

    BTW, I found this story very disturbing and frightening, especially compared to Candide. I read Handful of Dust right after Brideshead Revisited was on TV, so I thought, Oh good, another book about the manners and foibles of Edwardian England -- my favorite.

    In Candide, everything that happened to the poor sap was so ridiculously exaggerated, it was like Wile E. Coyote -- first he falls off the cliff, then the big rock falls on his head, then the bomb goes off, then the truck runs him over, ha, ha. But in Handful of Dust (in the first half, anyway) -- gosh, those things really COULD happen, why, they could happen to ME! Help, help, I don't want to spend the rest of my days reading Dickens in the savage Amazon.


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