Answers for September 2010

In a pretty pathetic response, probably as a result of me not keeping up to date with the answers, sorry – the WINNER is a long-term fan who has just missed it several times … at least he lives in a nice wine-growing area. Congratulations, at last – crack a bottle of the local red, eh –

Steve Mencinsky

Question 1

The family of the surrealist painter Dali owned a boat; it was called SON. Why was it called that?


The name was originally NELSON, but part of the nameplate fell off.

Additional Answers

  • LOL, originally ‘Nelson’ but the ‘nel’ fell off. I thought it would be something creepy about the death of Dali’s older brother Salvador!
  • Because “Titanic” had apparently already been taken. Besides “This isn’t” is a silly name for a boat.
  • The naming of boats is an arbitrary and random event. There is sometimes no why. Sometimes a boat and an antiboat are created and then instantly annihilate each other with a massive release of wifely relief into the universe.

Question 2

In the picture “Archaeological Reminscence of Millet’s Angelus”, what is wrong with the shadows of the two people?


The shadows go in divergent directions.

Additional Answers

  • Huh. Never noticed that the arch at the base of the female figure doesn’t cast a shadow. If you meant Dali and his dad in the foreground, I dunno.
  • It is a surrealist painting. The shadows are exactly as the painter placed them. They are correct or as in correct as any thing in a surrealist painting may or may not be.
  • Nothing, this is an early mock-up of a latter to be faked NASA photo from the moon with deliberately skewed shadows to allow landing deniers enough evidence to get really worked up with.
  • Answer of the Month: There are several things “wrong” with the shadows – all of the shadows. They are sharp edged, which would require a point (or “point-ish”) source of light; yet there is no point(ish) source of light. The shadows of the rights handed giant figure do not match the shape of said figure, especially in the lower part to the left. The shadows of the two people are parallel to each other, which implies a very distant light source; yet the shadows of the giant figures diverge, which implies a close by light source. And finally, the shadows of all of the figures do not project back to the same point, which means that the perspective is wrong. But there is of course a simpler and far better answer. This being a Dali painting, one can simply stipulate that the question is not meaningful; and that in fact there is nothing wrong with the shadows.

Question 3

What is the odd one out: Burning tree, plough, walrus, bishop, giraffe?


Walrus. The other objects are thrown out of the window by the enraged protagonist in the film “L’Age d’Or”

Additional Answers

  • I am the walrus! The burning tree, plough, bishop and giraffe were all thrown out the window in L’Age D’Or – although you could say some of the bishops look like walruses.
  • I am the walrus, I am the egg man…I am not a burning tree, a plough a bishop or a giraffe. Ivor Cutler had a plough, it was made of wood. He used it to grow wheat.
  • Athletic elephant in a lime waistcoat…you did want a surreal answer didn’t you?
  • The one that does not appear in a Dali painting. And as I have no interest in Dali paintings, I don’t know which one that is, nor do I care.

Question 4

There being no building for it at the time, where did the upper house of the Icelandic government used to meet?


In the Reykjavik Grammar School, in the 1800s. Long before that, at Thingvellir …

Additional Answers

  • On the whatchamacallit, the Althing-y, the law rock.
  • Dave Allen used to say that he had a soft spot for politicians…a bog in the west of Ireland. Here we have a similar occurrence with a volcanic fissure in the centre of Iceland. Just a side note, if there is no building, how can it be a house? Would this lead to them being referred to as Fair Weather politicians? Perhaps they were an intentional offering of sacrifice by the Icelandic people to the volcano. It just chose the good take to not consume them. We could have a useful trend here though, cared to help toss the odd political candidate into the boiling hot magma? So many to choose from, so few active volcanic vents…

Question 5

Why does DERMATOGLYPHICS crop up 6 times but VENTRICULOGRAPHY only once in free decipherments of the first million base-27 digits of pi?


DERMATOGLYPHICS is the longest word (in Webster) with no repeating letters, thus ANY sequence of 15 different symbols can be deciphered to yield this word.

Additional Answers

  • Because D..S contains only a single instance of each letter, and since you have allowed an arbitrary encipherment, requires only that the ‘n’ digits comprising the word are unique (or as our friends on the other side of the Pacific might say, “totally unique”). Whereas V..Y contains a repeated letter, and is therefore much more tightly restrained… err, constrained. One could probably calculate a few (n!. m!) / (n-m)! type formulae to calculate the exact probabilities, but since it is happy hour, one could not be bothered. And in a cheap attempt at flattery, Dr Bob, I am impressed that you correctly said “enciphered” rather than “encrypted” or “encoded”, both of which would have been incorrect.
  • Because the guy (got to be a guy!) who does such things saw the movie ‘The Pillow Book’ and likes to calligraphate on skin.
  • Before becoming omnipotent and omnipresent God was a pretty handy dermatologist. Clues can be found in Alan Sherman’s song You Gotta Have Skin and The Creation of Adam section of Michelangelo’s fresco Sistine Chapel ceiling. At the time God had no interest in the evil that lurks within the hearts of men. But then God had a chnage of heart so God said, “Let there be light”; and there was light. And God saw the light, that it was good; and God divided the light from the darkness and it’s all been down hill since then.
  • Clearly a spelling mistake, and a sign of a mathematical conspiracy to promote more funding of the spurious anthropogenic global radial expansion theory being promoted as consensus by underfunded mathematicians looking for fame and tenure.
  • For the same reason that MOTHERF-CKINGLY shows up more often than UNAMBIDEXTROUSLY

Question 6

Dali exhibited Retrospective Bust of a Woman (1933), and Picasso saw it. What happened next?


Picasso’s dog ate the piece of bread that was balanced on the head of the figure.

Additional Answers

  • His dog ate the baguette.
  • And when asked why he painted people with ears sticking out of their stomachs, he said “See I paint things as I them”.
  • Being a starving struggling artist, he ate the bun, thereby moving into the much more lucrative (for a not yet deceased artist) performance art arena.
  • Micturition.


  • “Counterpoint the surrealism of the underlying metaphor?” Death is to good for them!
  • Good selection of questions, Dr Bob. Only answered a couple, as it seems pretty obvious that those that can be answered by Googling or Wikiepediaing are not worth answering.
  • Hi, Steve. I’m sure I’m not the winner of the quiz, and to say the truth I do not care too much about the results… but I’m just starting to worry a bit about you, like old moms do. Are you fine, yes? Lot of work, travels, business, upsetting things, I guess, but you are fine, aren’t you? [Yes I’m fine, just lazy (and zonked out after travelling too much). I will get on to doing the answers, really I will. Here’s a picture of beluga (whale) bones on Spitsbergen (not Iceland – further north than that)]

Have a go!

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