Answers for December 2001

Narrowly defeating bloody Dave Hawley, our winner for the end of the first year of the new millennium lives in Gent. I used to hang out there too you know – oh it’s spelt without the ‘s’ – anyway his name doesn’t sound very Belgian –

Paul Kyle

Question 1

At the Battle of Maldon (991 AD) the invading Vikings landed on a small island separated from the shore by a narrow channel of water. The resident Anglo-Saxon army drew up on the beach. What happened next?


They suddenly realised that group territorial fighting is simply an evolved predisposition of a groupish species to survive and dominate, which predispositions are not relevant in a world of rationalism, sense-evidence and co-operation, so they greeted each other warmly, shook hands and went home.

More Accurate Accounts:

  • The Vikings asked if they could come onto the dry shore and form up properly, and the Anglo-Saxon leader, being a proto-gentleman, let them. It must have looked good on his tombstone.
  • The tide went out. Then Byrhtnoth died of sportsmanship. Maybe that’s why his name has kind of gone out of fashion.
  • See: Oh dear. If ever there was a supreme example of British “fair play”; and their tendency to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory, this is it. Basically, once the Brits had got their formidable Viking foe in a genuinely losing position on what could only be described as a VERY sticky wicket, they then allowed their very determined opposition to change the rules of the game against the Britons and in the Vikings’ favour. Full-time score: Vikings 1, Britain 0. Perhaps this is where the English cricket team first originated…
  • They had a deep and meaningful discussion on the relative merits of Volvos and Vauxhalls. Volvos won. Quite right too.
  • A police car drove up and they were all arrested.
  • It happened that Englishmen invented the cavalry (and discovered that it does not pay). “Poor Vikings!” said a couple of british heros “if they have to walk against us in that little tongue of land, when the tide goes down, they’ll arrive here wet and columned, [what kind of columny is this?] and we can kill them too easily…. Let them arrive dry and strong, let them draw up against us, and then we can fight an honest battle”. So they honestly did. So the Vikings honestly slaughtered them.
  • All the misinformed souls who thought Vikings had horns on their helmets were in for a bit of a surprise. Apparently they convinced the government to raise a very high tax – to buy off the invaders.
  • A “stare-down” ensued until both sides became tired and went home.
  • Determining that neither group had a claim to the island, they agreed to sit down and share a cup of ale. [How civilised. Landlord – a flagon of your best beer please! And 278 straws.]
  • Everything else happened next … up to and including right now!
  • Facing each other across a muddy riverbed, the Vikings asked to be let up on dry land so they could have a fair fight. The English leader, Byrhtnoth, felt very confident and agreed. Battle on dry land ensued and Byrhtnoth was killed. Someone made a poem about it, reminding us to answer “No!” when someone wants to kill us and asks for a fair fight!
  • Gen. Brightnot, a typical army man fresh from the playing fields of Eton, yelled out “Red Rover, Red Rover, send all of your homicidal maniacs rightover”. When the H.M.s arrived, the farmers held their own until someone stole a horse, and some of the farmers said, “The hell with it, my cows need milking” and left. The others didn’t last long. Brightnot’s last words were, “Well played, boys!”
  • In essence, the resident Anglo-Saxon army was defeated by their leader, Byrhtnoth. Early on, it became apparent that even at low tide, the causeway the Vikings had to cross was so narrow they could be held back by a mere three capable defenders. The Vikings asked that they be allowed to cross unmolested, so they could fight properly, on equal terms. Amazingly, Byrhtnoth agreed to this. He was killed in the ensuing battle. The Vikings won this fight, and continued their tour of England.
  • Karl of Snoz engaged the Vikings in witty banter until the tide came in and drowned the invading horde.
  • Not much battle could be had on the causeway, so the Vikings asked if they could fight like men on the mainland. The Anglo-Saxon chief said “Sure”. Bad move.
  • Raping and Pillaging? [No need to ask]
  • Shot in the dark: They waded into the water and shot each other with arrows. The corpses piled up and formed a bridge across the water. Then the fight continued as a melee. I have a grisly mind. [At least this last statement is true]
  • The brave but stupid Byrhtnoth and his thegns fought like mad, Byrhtnoth was slain, his men battled on until Colin Powell and the US Special Forces landed, took control of the sector, and routed the overly testosteroned Vikings. Powell set up a council of warlords and divided Northey Island into three parts: Big Northey, Little Northey and Medium Northey. Today it’s a vacation mecca for large bearded men.
  • The leader of the Saxon forces gave a speech about how they were going to fight to the last man, and damned if they didn’t.
  • The narrow channel of water disappeared, becoming a swampy causeway, as the tide went out. After a lot of shouting across the remaining mud and bog, the two sides joined in battle. The handful of Anglo Saxons had a strong advantage on their dry ground, compared to the Viking hordes who were bogged down in the black marshes. The Vikings asked for a fair fight on solid ground (what’s fair about 3,000 or so Vikings vs a couple of hundred Anglo Saxons?) and the leader of the Anglo Saxons, Byrhtnoth, Earl of Essex, somewhat unwisely agreed….. a decision which ultimately cost him and his pals their lives, after a brave fight. The Vikings were then free to introduce words like “smorgasbord” into the English vocabulary.
  • The Norsemen complained about the condition of the pitch (“too narrow”), so the fair-minded Anglos invited the Vikes to c’mon over and have a game of footy on a real pitch, but since the Vikes had a Swedish coach and the Anglos didn’t, the Anglos were routed.
  • The tide came in, the tide went out, the Vikings gathered round and they all began to shout: “Hey, Hey, Uncle Dud, It’s great to beat your feet in the Maldonsippi mud.”
  • The tide went out, exposed causeway, vikings ran across to attack, were met by three anglo-saxon men, conned king of anglo-saxons to let on to dry land to fight, death of king, terrible poem of heroics written.
  • The tide went out. Or maybe it came in. But the Vikings asked permission to cross to the mainland and before they could start to cross, they were eaten by a huge shark. Later this event was made into a film called “Jaws.”
  • The Viking’s asked permission to cross to the mainland. The Saxon commander, wanting a clear divinely ordained victory, gave them permission. The Saxons were promptly slaughtered.
  • The Vikings catapulted towels across the channel, thereby booking all the best spots on the beach. [Beach? I swam at Maldon in my childhood. At low tide there are 2 miles of mud flats]
  • The vikings decided it wasn’t sporting to fight your way across a narrow causeway surrounded by mud. They would’ve have been at a distinct disadvantage. They asked for, and received, permission to cross and start the battle from a more advantageous position. The stupid (and I use the term advisedly) Anglos didn’t want to look wimpy. Of course the Anglos were slaughtered.
  • The Vikings got stalled a bit because the tide was rising. Then Brithnoth (the Anglo Saxon leader) was dumb enough to allow the big scary brutes onto land when the tide ebbed. The Brits lost, a poem was written and 1000 years later the place become National Trust and a bird sanctuary.
  • The Vikings opened up a can of Whoop-ass and belted the Anglo-saxons. Byrhtnoth, Earl of Essex, was killed and the rest of the Anglo-Saxons did a runner.
  • The vikings, unable to fight their way across the causeway linking the island to the beach (held by only three men, a la Horatius), asked that Brythnoth, Earl of Essex, the English commander, permit them to cross and then fight them on the landward side. Brythnoth, being as intelligent as the average English aristocrat, allowed this. He was killed and his men slaughtered. Typical titled sheep-wit.
  • They all died a slow horrible painful untimely due but not necessarily fateful death. [Is there a kind of death that is not fateful?]
  • They had to run away from the smell. Oh, DREW up, right. The Anglo-Saxons fought fair and lost.
  • They negotiated a collective, opening a ‘for profit’ saltworks and spa. (This answer is for Victorians only, I fear).
  • They set up a game of beach cricket. The village opened the batting and suffered a terrible batting collapse and were routed. Once the captain was out for a duck the rest followed quickly. All out before tea. Then the fielding was a shambles and the bowling, all over the shop. The visitors scored freely. It was a walk over (the water). Very embarrassment as the Vikings are not known as a cricketing nation.
  • They transported their boats across the island and went out the other side. I saw the re-enactment on the TV show ‘Secrets of the Ancients”. [Nearly right]
  • You just told us the answer in the question. The Battle of Maldon.

Question 2

King Gustav III, who ruled Sweden in the latter half of the eighteenth century, was so convinced of the particular perils of coffee over all other forms of caffeine that he devised an elaborate experiment. He sentenced a convicted murderer to drink cup after cup of coffee until he died, with another murderer sentenced to a lifetime of tea drinking, as a control, under the supervision of doctors. What happened?


A trained scientist realised that the methodology was faulty, that cause-effect was not isolated and that the ‘control’ was not a control at all. He/she duly informed the King, who understood the importance of proper methodology, re-evaluated his position, and changed his views. He then promoted the scientist and spent the rest of his life promoting science for the good of the people.

Historically Accurate Answers:

  • See: (Dr Bob, I think this is the site where you got the question verbatim. And I imagine they mean that the coffee-convict was forced to keep drinking coffee EXCLUSIVELY until he died, not CONTINUOUSLY as implied. I imagine if it was continuous then he would have died shortly thereafter from crippled kidneys, a hyperactive bladder, and the inability to blink, but moving right along… I rather think this situation shows the absolute perils of being (a) a Swedish doctor, (b) a convicted Swedish murderer, (c) a Swedish tea-drinker, (d) King Gustav III of Sweden, (e) anyone Swedish, in fact. All of these folks somehow carked it before the coffee-drinking chap, who, I might add, seemed to have got a remarkably light sentence for his crime. In fact, lots of people in Sweden nowadays seem to relish a life of just sitting around drinking coffee – so does this say there lots of dead people in Sweden then?
  • Unfortunately, the two doctors in charge of the study died before anyone else did; then Gustav was murdered; and finally the tea drinker died, at 83, of old age – leaving the original murderer alone with his espresso, and leaving coffee’s supposed toxicity in some doubt.
  • The tea drinker died at the age of 83, long after the two doctors supervising the experiment were dead and Gustav himself had been murdered. The coffee drinker outlasted all of them. Mine’s a flat white, no sugar, please.

Equally Plausible:

  • Ah, one I know the answer to. Rather ironically, King Gustav died first, then the doctors, the tea drinker and finally the coffee drinker. I think I’ll go and have another cappuccino…
  • It happened that the two villains had a long, long, long life…. but, anyhow, the tea drinker died a little before the coffee-drinker. So, the scientific king convinced himself that tea is more dangerous than coffee. This is one of the several reasons for which you cannot approach to a blonde swedish girl offering a cup of tea at five o’clock p.m. A deep-night cup of coffee has more probabilities of success….
  • Both died from burst bladders, the silly bloody king having neglected to give royal assent for extra trips to the loo despite his Nordic medicos advising him repeatedly that both tea and coffee are ferocious diuretics.
  • Both died from renal failure.
  • Both of the doctors died. Then Gustave himself was assassinated in 1792. Eventually the tea drinker died at the age of 83. The coffee drinker was still alive, although rather wired.
  • Both prisoners eventually died, but had to pee a lot in the meantime.
  • Exploding bladders everywhere, very messy. The doctors died first; then Gustav was murdered; then the tea drinker died of old age. Then the coffee drinker died from sleep deprivation.
  • First the two doctors in control of the study died, then King Gustav was murdered, then the tea drinker died aged 83, the coffee drinker died last, and Sweden became a country of coffee drinkers.
  • I don’t know the specifics of the case but according to a book I read in third year psychology it would take about 100 cups of coffee in a day to receive a fatal dose of caffeine.
  • I don’t know what happened, I wasn’t there…is that skeptical enough for you?
  • I love coffee, I love teaI love the java jive and it loves meCoffee and tea and the jivin’ and meA cup, a cup, a cup, a cup, a cup! (Java Jive – Ink Spots)
  • The coffee drinker survived longest …. Make mine a short black thanks. Does it strike any one else as odd to have all these dead people scattered around Sweden with a convicted murderer left the last one standing?
  • Nescafe sued.
  • Never mind that. Do you know what kind of interesting websites you get if your search query is “King + Gustav + coffee”? So apparently, these gaolbirds outlived their doctor-tormentors. And they didn’t even have Pepto.
  • Poor King Gustav died even sooner then the two murderers. His successor, keeping an eye on the state budget, wisely cancelled the experiment
  • Shortly thereafter, King Gustav III was shot at a fancy dress ball. After he was told by the doctors that he had only a few more hours to live, he ordered a cup of coffee… The experiment with the two murderers was stopped.
  • The coffee drinker lived to be 88, and sang “I love the java, and the java loves me” 500,000 times. The tea drinker was a Sioux indian who went home and slept in his tea-pee. [Groan]
  • The coffee drinking murderer outlived everyone involved: the doctors, Gustav and the tea drinking murderer. Hmm… “coffee-fueled homicidal rampage” => “eternal youth”… This sounds like it has potential… Now if I could only find my hunting rifle…
  • The coffee drinking murderer started getting caffeine jitters and craving a ciggy, a black turtleneck and a beret. The tea drinking murderer began to feel a sense of calm and contentment (craving a nice slab of fruitcake) and wondering what to have for tea- he ‘ad a side o’ beef in the larder, or he could send ‘is daughter Mabel to the butcher for some pork wif crackling an’ dripping and taties. The king was amazed.
  • The convicts, who where identical twins by the way, both survived the king and the first to die (the tea-drinker) died at the age of 83. This is sometimes mentioned as “the first clinical test”.
  • The doctors died first (so much for “Physician, heal thyself”) followed by Gustav (murdered for performing stupid experiments). The guy drinking tea finally died when he got really old. So the coffee drinker was left alone, alive and jittery. I assume he died later on, when he got really old too.
  • The doctors, as fully paid up members of the SMA, refused to make house calls (prison calls really) and went on strike for better conditions (including a paid 15 min tea/coffee break). The Sweden/Brazil and the Sweden/Sri Lanka Chambers of Commerce declared a dividend. The Federation of Swedish Turnip Growers demanded that the prisoners not be forced to drink “foreign muck” and suggested that a brew made of patriotic turnip leaves be substituted. The Public Executioner, Lars Pierrepoint, demanded a ruling from the Arbitration Court on whether the milk should go in first or last. Both prisoners died at the same time when the prison electric jug short circuited. King Gus drowned his brother, Bjorn, in a butt of Malm(o)sey. It was a cock-up all round.
  • The first murderer lost his head (ie he was decaffinated) whilst the second one was hung by the neck (ie a dangler)
  • The murderer turned into a pale-faced, striped-suited, bowler-hatted, twit, and died from overbitis extremis.
  • The murderers drank lots and lots of coffee and tea, and eventually died of other causes (I suspect a sudden loud noise).
  • The one drinking coffee eventually got the shakes so bad that he vibrated through into another dimension enabling his escape. The tea drinker was released and moved to England.
  • The tea drinker died first, didn’t he? No, wait, it must have been the coffee drinker. No, the tea drinker. No, the coffee drinker. Damn you, Dr. Bob! You and your mind games!
  • The tea drinker’s bladder exploded first. Hurrah! Coffee it was. If only the King had thought about letting the prisoners out for a toilet break more than once a day.
  • The tea was poisoned with antihistemines and he died a slow yet painful death also.
  • When I first read this question, I thought the poor bugger had been sentenced to drink one coffee after another, non-stop, until he died… a bit like my late night preparations for exams the following day! The doctors were the first to die, presumably of old age, then Gus was assassinated. This was only a minor setback as the experiment continued. In perhaps one of the greatest anticlimaxes of all time, the tea drinker was next to go, dying, aged 83, of that number one killer – old age. The coffee drinker is, allegedly, still alive and well today at the ripe old age of 235 and working in a Sven-Eleven. Reminds me of an old joke about grandfather’s ashes and a great cup of tea but this is neither the time, place nor season.
  • The tea-drinker, sentenced to live in a tent, drowned in his teepee while the coffee-drinker obtained grounds for a pardon. [Ohhh GROAN]

Question 3

Of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s three houses in Edinburgh, his first one got demolished to make way for a roundabout, his second home became a ladies’ loo; in late 1999 what nearly happened to his third home?

Correct Answers

  • When you have eliminated the impossible, whatever remains, however improbable, must be – improbable
  • I can only guess it was to become an office for the Conservative political party, a McDonalds or a Burger King or a mini-cab company or a brothel. This list has been arranged in order of acceptability to the local population from least to most acceptable…
  • It too was nearly demolished… What for? Ah, you should have asked that in your question.
  • See: I suppose there would be lots of people who would decry the building a Macdonalds restaurant on the site of Conan Doyle’s family home, but I would argue thus: The home was in Edinburgh, Scotland, and Conan Doyle would have been proud of his Scots heritage. “Macdonalds” is a genuinely Scottish name (see for more about the clan MacDonald), so there seems to be no reason why Conan Doyle would have objected to this particular development proceeding. I personally look forward to visiting Edinburgh, home of the McSporran with cheese, caber burger, the Big Haggis, and the soft-serve Glen Fiddich. Wull, see you, Maccas!!!

Better But Less Likely Fates:

  • A horde of Swedes who were totally loaded up on caffeine were invited over to tear it down and build a Mickie D’s on the site, but before they could accomplish their task, they were overwhelmed by the Bateley Townswomen’s Guild during their annual re-enactment of the Battle on the Ice from “Alexander Nevsky”.
  • A lawsuit, instigated by descendants of the sainted Mrs Hudson claiming the house as payment for services rendered by the said Mrs Hudson a century earlier, darn near succeeded. Conan Doyle’s descendants saved the day at the last minute by proving conclusively that the ‘services rendered’ were really consensual (Mrs Hudson, it seems, was a closet nymphomaniac) and payment, belated or not, was therefore quite unwarranted. The judge agreed; the house was saved.
  • A place for satanic rituals? [Devilish practices, anyway]
  • A small business plane, a Cessna Citation, crashed only 50 metres from his third house.
  • According to the butterfly effect, it was nearly demolished by a tornado, but someone in Mongolia spat the other way.
  • Elementary, Bobtson. Almost every building in western hemisphere (not only the western, to say the truth…) is under the risk to become a red-and-yellow restaurant, full of hamburgers, chips and McThings. They only want to complete Conan Doyle’s first book: No more “A study in red”, but “A study in red and yellow”. [No that was for the ladies loo … moving right along ….]
  • Ach [noise made after consumption of the goods on offer], it nearly became a restaurant of that famous scottish clan, the bonnie McDonalds.
  • Demolition by bagpipe vibrations and whiskey fumes, if my experience of that city is anything to go by.
  • Elementary, Dr Bob. Well, not really as I don’t know. But how small was that second house (or how big is that loo?)
  • It got left off the maps and was nearly lost, until someone went looking for it. Using a magnifying glass. And a silly looking hat.
  • It nearly became the Edinburgh Proctological Research Centre, guided by Conan Doyle’s “Alimentary, m’dear Watson” typo.
  • It nearly got turned into a sex shop/brothel/(put your witty answer here) [Worse…]
  • It nearly underwent catastrophic molecular collapse owing to quantum uncertainty – but fortunately this was so improbable that it just failed to happen.
  • It was almost hit by the comet C/1999 S4 but thankfully it missed by millions of kilometres, oh and the planned McDonald’s was not built.
  • It was almost made into a retirement home for old Cottinghamshire fairies.
  • It was almost sold to an Englishman, a fate for worse then ending up as asphalt or a loo.
  • It was cleared to be made into an enclosure for all the dying animals they couldn’t be bothered to put into quarantine. [This answer is more accurate than one might at first think]
  • It was going to be demolished to make way for a McDonalds family hurl-o-rama, fortunately some wackos in bonnie Scotland got wind of it and kicked up a stink.
  • It was going to be sold to Madame Doris, a spiritualist who was going to hold seances with ACD. He didn’t show up, and the deal fell through.
  • It was nearly demolished by a piece of space junk; it was nearly converted to a Kentucky Fried Haggis outlet; it was nearly painted by a recidivist itinerant ageing Californian flower geriatric; it was nearly mistaken by a passer-by for the Edinburgh Railway Station, who couldn’t work out where the trains came in; it was nearly reduced to doll’s house size by a mad scientist with a reducing ray; it was nearly purchased by the North British Cat Fancy and turned into a Cat’s Holm(es). What do you mean what NEARLY happened? All of the above NEARLY happened, they just didn’t attract any publicity. Define your terms, you bastard. [Ahem … my parents were nearly married]
  • It was nearly demolished to make way for a safe haven for American tourists (YAFMO (Yet Another McDonalds Outlet))
  • It was nearly eaten by a giant mutant atomic haggis.
  • It was nearly turned into a “halfway house” for people who suffered from botched sex-change operations.
  • It was slated to become that greatest of all Scottish restaurants, McDonalds. The local council has refused the application. McDonalds will probably appeal [Yes but only to people under 7]
  • Some clown called Ronald McDonald tried to set up a restaurant on the site. Thankfully it didn’t happen, or we’d have annoying ads about McHolmes burgers and McWatson meals.

Question 4

In Russia on 24/10/1917 (old style) the October Revolution began with the storming of the Winter Palace. At this event how many people were killed? Sergei Eisenstein’s epic film “October” relates the scene.


Nobody. It was the prime tenet of the bolshies and later the commies, that no-one should ever be harmed for any reason. They were very concerned about personal safety matters.

Life Imitates Art:

  • Probably none, otherwise you would not be asking. But Mr Lenin and his mates would doubtless not have been unhappy if a few Mensheviks and the odd czarist or two got the chop. By the way, Dr Bob, my references say that the storming took place on 26 October (old style). Is this another of your dreaded Trick Questions? [Well I said it began on the 24th; the storming was not really complete and thus had not “taken place” until all the wine had been guzzled]
  • It doesn’t appear that anyone was killed in the “storming” of the Winter Palace. Revolutionary soldiers entered the building through the basement and were taken prisoner by the guards. This continued until the prisoners considerably outnumbered the guards, who then surrendered.
  • None; there was 1 broken window. On the other hand, several were killed or injured through accidents during the making of Eisenstein’s film about it.
  • I’m sticking with 42.
  • 666
  • A few hundred, maybe a thousand. CNN didn’t report it so it doesn’t really matter.
  • An octillion.
  • As the Winter Palace was being defended by Cossacks, junior army officers and the Women’s Death Battalion, it’s somewhat surprising to note that no one was killed in this action. The defenders were persuaded to surrender after a few warning shots.
  • Hmmmm…. somewhere between 0 and 100 million people. Are we talking about the pre-Stalin edition or the version released after Joe dropped in to see how things were going and made a couple of “suggestions” after seeing the rushes?
  • I don’t think any were killed – It was all rather peaceful really. kIND OF…”AHHH..let us in..[and press our caps Lock key]” “..OK…”
  • I don’t think anybody was killed actually at the Winter Palace, but the consequences of the October revolution led to the death of millions of Russian peasants.
  • Imonna go with 0, unless that’s too easy to be true. It’s not about knowing things with you; it’s about the mind games. How many levels of deception are you capable of? [Four. Actually, five. Well, counting this one, it’s six. But let’s call it five. Did I say five? I meant none at all <reassuring smile>]
  • I’ve seen October and there was a statement at the end saying “No revolutionaries were injured or killed during the making of this filmski”. The only person who died during the real event was a Byelorussian naturopath’s receptionist named Gladys, who misread the instructions and thought they were storming the Summer Palace, and so wore her bikini. She died of frostbite of the urals.
  • Just that lady with the baby carriage. Then the carriage went down the stairs for a really, really, really long time. My film history instructor in college told us that this was a “great moment in film history.” I assume the baby bought it too. Oh, wait, wrong film.
  • No one was killed in the Winter Palace at the place depicted in Eisenstein’s film. Sergei filmed the grand staircase as a much grander symbol of change instead of the rear servants’ entrance where the actual storming took place. A milkman in the wrong place at the wrong time was trampled to death by over zealous revolutionaries with a taste for yogurt.
  • Nobody. And it wasn’t so much a storming as it was a strolling in casually. But the Provisional Government figured it would be a good time to hand over power and run like hell. Most of them lived to ripe old ages. Most of the Communists would later become “unpersons”. Who was the real winner?
  • Nobody. More people were hurt in making Eisenstein’s film. Oh boy, is that ever ironic. Actually, the Revolution began with the Aurora firing several salvos.
  • None were killed. There was actually no storming of the Winter Palace. Eisenstein’s film is dramatic falsity. The armed Bolsheviks just drifted in, until they were inside in sufficient numbers to give an eviction order to the provisional revolutionary government then in power.
  • None, as the shooting started everyone inside gave up. I mean, it was only the Winter Palace. Not worth dying over!
  • None. Everyone was at the summer palace for a change.
  • None. October isn’t winter yet, so nobody would have been home in the Winter Palace. They were most certainly all still in the Autumn Palace.
  • None. The guards by this time had lost all interest in protecting the Romanovs’ possessions [the czar had abdicated a few months earlier] that they opened the gates and said “Sure, come on in.” Lenin always called the event the October Coup. Stalin, wanting to create more of a Communist flair to the history he was building (and rewriting), started calling it the October Revolution once he took control of the state.
  • None. But lots wished they had, after drinking the copious amounts of wine found in the cellar.
  • None. The reds took the back door to the palace and surprised the defenders. [No, the reds were in the cellar]. This wouldn’t look very good on film, so Eisenstein had it rewritten.
  • None. The Revolution was a Great Success for the People, and gave them innumerable opportunities for the Life they Always Deserved, never given them under the Yoke of Capitalism.
  • None. Though Eisenstein’s film depicts several deaths, these were added to appeal to the censor board who wanted the Tzars to appear more cruel than they actually were.
  • Not as many as as in the movie. There were remarkably few casualties. The movie was essentially a romantic fiction. However the biggest hangover in history occurred during the following days as the biggest wine cellar in the world (in the Palace) was drained. The storming of the cellars is probably what the film portrays.
  • Thousands have died subsequently in Media Studies lecture analyses of bloody “October”.
  • See: Here’s a situation where art definitely does NOT imitate life. The original storming of the Winter Palace, to which Eisenstein was an eyewitness incidentally, was almost bloodless. Trotsky led a Bolshevik storming of the provisional government then in power, which was probably no more lethal than a bunch of football hooligans invading a post-match pub. Perhaps Eisenstein wanted to jazz his film up a bit for the reigning Politburo heavies of the day (can we all say: self-preservation?), and he even used some of the original participants as extras in the scene. So when he shouted lights-camera-action (in Russian, of course), it would seem fortuitous that some of these originals would die heroically recorded for posterity on film in the action-replay rather than unseen and unrecorded originally. Or, given Trotsky’s ultimate reason for demise, maybe the reigning Politburo were just tidying up some loose ends.
  • Seven people were killed by a rampaging dinosaur. Unfortunately when the film was made in 1927 they didn’t have access to digital animation so Sergei had to leave out the dinosaur so it seemed as if no one had actually died.
  • That is secret information, Comrade. Though if you give me lots of American dollars and a Big Mac, I may let on that possibly one girl who was a member of the Women’s Battalion committed suicide. Maybe. Where’s my Big Mac?
  • The answer is, as always, 42. Then they nipped over to Germany for the Oktoberfest.
  • There never was an actual storming of the winter palace as neither side was willing to fight, it was more like a hostile take-over, which resulted in no deaths at all. Sergei was probably embellishing to inspire the patriotic fervour of the soviet people. Damn lying commie. [Damn surviving commie]

Question 5

In 1986 Andrej Tarkovsky, the film director, was dying of cancer and had only a few days to live; his amazing last film ‘Sacrifice’ was being shot. The script called for it to end with an essential seven-minute long take where a character sets fire to his house and we see the house burn down, people run amok, an ambulance arrives, etc. Now everything went very well in filming this scene, except that the camera jammed just after the house caught fire. How did they fix it?


  • A VHS camera, owned by the wife of the main character Erland Josephson, came to the rescue. After having seen the footage shot with this camera, Tarkovsky was so excited with the authentic result that he decided not to run the scene again.
  • Almost every film-amateur knows that for expensive scene the cameras are at least two. So, when Tarkowsky lost his first one, he said: “Thanks God, I have the second one”…
  • Don’t they usually have more than one camera on a scene?
  • They relied on the second unit as Lean had to during the filming of “Lawrence of Arabia”. No director, least of all the perfectionist Tarkovsky, has only a first unit camera team.
  • I have no idea. Shades of “Ready when you are Mr DeMille” come to mind. When in doubt, kick it is always an old standby in maintenance of delicate instruments so it was probably something along those lines.

Take this:

  • They built the house again???? LOL
  • Dr. Bob, I looked everywhere for the answer to this one. I even asked my Russian buddy, a film buff himself, no dice. What, don’t tell me they did the whole thing over again?
  • They rebuilt the entire house and then burnt it down all over again, this time with a spare camera. (See the stills at and note that many more people wanted to be in the crew photo, after the successful burning of the second house)
  • From the man who rejected the techniques of Eisenstein, the “father of montage”, we are treated to epic long shots of his house burning, as described. What we are seeing is, in fact, the second attempt at filming. The camera jammed, the house burnt down, the house was rebuilt in three days, the house was set on fire and the camera worked this time.
  • (Dr) Bob the builder fixed it – rebuilt the house and they ran the fire again.
  • A few taps by the assistant director and Robert’s your father’s brother.
  • A swift kick followed by the word, “FU*K!” Works every time. [I’m sure they would have tried that. Didn’t work this time. Tarkovsky’s films are unique in many respects]
  • By burning the end of the film and re-spooling the reel.
  • I think somebody’s been watching a foreign film festival. [Yes. My wife gave me a free ticket. She said her long lost friend was going to visit. And I should stay out of the house for as long as possible. She recommended Tarkovsky’s films as being the most suitable to see. She wanted me to see Andrei Rublev – twice if possible.]
  • I think you mean Andrei Tarkovsky, Bob. I even checked IMDb to verify your error – – and they didn’t “fix” it – the house had to be rebuilt from scratch just to be burned down again (which makes you wonder why they only had the one camera… and where the fireman was). By the way, I love long uncut takes!
  • See Everything didn’t go very well in the first attempt. Tarkovsky’s diary contains a lot of bitching about the incompetence of the special-effects man in charge of the fire. Actually, it was in July 1985, Dr Bob! They rebuilt the set within one week, and reshot the scene completely, being the last shoot of the film.
  • Someone hit it with a lump of 4 by 2.
  • The camera was given hypnotherapy to relive its past life.
  • The cameraman stuck his fingers down the film transport mechanism, thus forcing a technicolor yawn and clearing the blockage.
  • The gaffer and the best boy fixed it.
  • The house was built from scratch and burnt down again! Poor bugger.
  • The threw the camera in the fire. Oh, you mean how they fixed the film? I don’t know what they did, but I know what I’d do. I’d take the few frames of the fire I did get and just duplicate them over and over and then splice in alternating images of people running amok, ambulances arriving, etc, so that when the film is running, it appears it is all occurring with the burning house in the background. [Yes, and that’s what I’d do too, but we’re not Tarkovsky are we?]
  • They brought in a camera expert, unjammed the thingie by releasing its mungshutter, rewound the aftaconcentrigol, and put some petroleum jelly in the whiptherong.
  • They burnt down the directors house with him still in it in order to get a ‘real life’ effect. I mean, he was going to die anyway…
  • They called Bob the Builder?
  • They didn’t have to fix it. This was the last scene of the film, and no-one has ever seen the last couple of minutes of a Tarkovsky-film awake.
  • They didn’t, but one of the cameramen made the now famous remark “Ready when you are, Mr de Mille”. (Like any rational person, he couldn’t pronounce Tarkovsky.)
  • They pounded on the side of the camera and swore mightily. How else do you fix things?
  • They rebuilt the entire set, running six weeks over schedule, in order to reshoot the take.
  • They rebuilt the house and began filming again. This time the ambulance crashed and so they rebuilt again. During the third take the people were so interested in what might happen to stop things this time they forgot to run amok. At this point Andrej said “Sod this for a game of soldiers” (in Russian) and they did the damn scene using digital animation – and included a dinosaur to improve box office ratings.
  • They reconstructed the house, and burnt it down again… though I wouldn’t exactly call that a “fix”.
  • They reloaded the camera, rebuilt the house and burned the house down again.
  • They removed the outer casing of the camera, dislodged the film that had caused the jam, and reloaded it with a new reel of film, taking extra care to load it properly this time. It’s a pity they weren’t as careful the first time, since the house had to be rebuilt from scratch so they could burn it down again to reshoot the scene.
  • Why, they just rebuiilt it, and burned it down again, in slow motion, of course, while “Anna-Lena laughed derisively”,(I don’t know what her problem was, but we all know people like that, don’t we?)
  • With an axe or something?
  • With duct tape. Of course.

Question 6

Picture question (A pink house) Q: In the late 1960’s what (non violent) event happened in this California house?

At Last! A Dr Bob Question That Baffles Everyone:

  • Well perhaps I lied about the non-violent bit. This is the recently re-discovered “trout house” wherein Captain Beefheart & His Magic Band wrote and attempted to record the legendary double LP “Trout Mask Replica”. The Captain summoned a tree surgeon to check if the trees were being upset by the music. Come to think of it, they do look a bit gnarled and anguished.

Life Imitates Art: (and probably explains why the music was like that) – Incident 624-8 – You know this was declassified about 4 years ago? You don’t have to use the sanitised “public” version of the picture anymore.

Even More Spaced Out (= Vacuous) Answers:

  • (chews on straw) Now, we don’t pay much attention to Californy ’round these parts. Damn bunch of hippie flower child stoners, if ya ask me.
  • Bar bar bar, bar Barbara Ann. Bar bar bar, bar Barbara Ann, oooOOO! Repeat ad nauseam in high-pitched nasal voice. [Aarghh!!] Then do the same for: Doo doo do doo, doo doo doo! She’s givin’ me good vibrations… [Aaarrrghhhhhhh!!!!!!] Oh, sorry – you said non-violent, didn’t you.
  • A cure for astigmatism was invented.
  • A photograph was taken of it.
  • A snowman raped a young teenager.
  • Ah… California, and non-violent event? This is quite a contradiction! Nothing is non-violent in California, especially non-violence.
  • All the events that happened in the house that were NOT violent. Presumably many millions of events.
  • Beatniks Allen Ginsberg, Jack Kerorac, Lawrence Ferlingetti, Neal Cassidy, and hippies Shel Silverstein and The Diggers had a mellow poetry reading.
  • Breakfast.
  • Charles Manson auditioned to become one of the Monkees. He did not get the role, and hence had time on his hands to do other things.
  • Dozing before the fireplace, Ronald Reagan dreamt that there was only one tree in the country, only one rare book, and that he was elected president.
  • Hemp was smoked, although that is true of all Californian houses in the late 1960s, so that’s a bit of an easy one.
  • Hmm, isn’t that the place where Jane Fonda shagged Wilfred Burchett just before both of them flew off to Hanoi to denounce US (Fonda) and Australian (Burchett) involvement in the Vietnam war?
  • In the late sixties, no one would have remembered what happened here or anywhere in California. So it could have been anything: first hash-brownies concocted, Jimi Hendrix didn’t get stoned, Bob Dylan didn’t choke on a ham sandwich, Jim Morrison drank some unadulterated orange juice, Steve Jobs invented the Lemon (a precursor to the Apple).
  • If it’s was 60’s California I’ll guess a copious amount of drugs was taken, meaning people couldn’t count their hands, never mind hit anyone with them
  • It is the Californian holiday home of the Blair Witch and during the late 60’s she hosted several parties with other famous witches there including Witchy-poo, the Wicked Witch of the North and of course Germaine Greer.
  • It was the time that Flower, the hippie, didn’t pass the dutchie on the left hand side, mon. She then suffered from some bad karma, man. It has become a hippie cautionary tale – you should always share.
  • Lots of people (non-violently) ended their life in a mass-suicide…. OK, so I have no idea.
  • Mail was delivered.
  • Malvina Reynolds wrote: Little boxes on the hillside, Little boxes made of ticky tacky Little boxes on the hillside, Little boxes all the same, There’s a green one and a pink one; And a blue one and a yellow one; And they’re all made out of ticky tacky; And they all look just the same. And the people in the houses, All went to the university; Where they were put in boxes; And they came out all the same. And there’s doctors and lawyers, And business executives;’ And they’re all made out of ticky tacky; And they all look just the same. And they all play on the golf course; And drink their martinis dry; And they all have pretty children; And the children go to school, And the children go to summer camp; And then to the university; Where they are put in boxes; And they come out all the same. And the boys go into business; And marry and raise a family; In boxes made of ticky tacky; And they all look just the same, There’s a green one and a pink one; And a blue one and a yellow one; And they’re all made out of ticky tacky; And they all look just the same. [Wrong]
  • Nixon planned the Watergate break-in?
  • No one remembers. It was the 60s afterall.
  • Oh, I know, I know! Doctor Bob was born here (Okay, maybe it was violent and painful for his mum)! [No, but Dr Bob’s musical spirit was set free by the events here]
  • One of the residents no doubt had breakfast. After all it is the most important meal of the day. I’m not sure if I can help if you’re after something more significant than that. Oh I know they photographed it with a soft focus effect!
  • Oohh…the sun rose, the sun set, the trees grew, the grass grew, the paint peeled…..
  • Pink House has me stumped still surfing the world wide wobble…wimboling, wombling, wimboldom down the wombles of wimboldom common are we … Great Uncle Bobgaria spent his morning making up a new quiz. Perhaps the pink house was restumped.
  • Ronald and Nancy Reagan tried the wicked weed. Or was that in the Governor’s Mansion?
  • Ronald Reagan lived in it as Governor of California and if he didn’t, he should have! [Correct]
  • Sharon Tate wasn’t murdered by the Manson Family.
  • So, then, what violent event occurred in that house that you needed to specify a non-violent event? Goodness, I’m sure lots of non-violent things happened in that house in the late 1960s. Certainly at least one thing that happened was the owner(s) had a temporary (or perhaps permanent) bout of insanity to think the house should be painted Pepto-Bismol pink.
  • Somebody opened a door. [Yes – refer to the works of Aldous Huxley for example]
  • That was the last time this house was painted. Look at that color! What color is it if you wash it?
  • The Blessed Virgin Mary was seen. Is that ever NOT the answer to the Picture Question?
  • The first non-violent erotica film was shot.
  • The late great Janis Joplin broke every window in the house stretching her mighty vocal chords
  • The Rapture. Oh wait, NON violent.
  • There are no non-violent events in the United States, Dr. Bob. This must be a trick question.
  • There were non-violent events in California in the late 1960s? Is this where Bill Clinton didn’t inhale?
  • This is the house where Pamela Anderson was born on July 1st, 1967 [Well the Trout Mask sessions are replete with myths and legends, but I haven’t heard this particular one before. Come to think of it, the music does sound a bit like the process of childbirth]
  • Um, Bob Dylan and The Band recorded the basement tapes? Hmm, nope, it would seem not. But I spent so much time on this one, it’s got to count for something.
  • Well, considering it was the sixties, and it was non-violent, I would say someone got just a bit high! From the look of the photo, this is the view through their eyes (you know….slightly hazey!)
  • Winona Newton had a sex change operation in the famous “pink house” and now performs in Las Vegas as “Wayne Newton,” and has enjoyed many years of artistic and carnal fulfillment.


  • “!”
  • A pink house. Have you ever tried to search the web asking for “pink california house late sixties”? Do it, Dr. Bob. do it… the result is quite pychedelic. [Including the Barbie page that came up]
  • Australia recently had a national election and little attention was paid in the USA. Why are USA elections paid such world-wide attention and other countries elections paid so little attention in the USA? [Er, did we have an election? Is John Howard still Prime Minister? Wake me up when it’s over]
  • Commendatore Roberto! Vi auguro un felice anno nuovo! Baci e abbracci a tutti!
  • Dang that pink house. The garden sure looks leafy. And I’m just going to use this spot to say Congrats to Steve Symonds, for winning the September quiz. Onya big fella!
  • Dr. Bob, I have a question for you: During the soccer match “Ajax vs Helmond Sport” in 1983, the famous player Johan Cruijff took a most bizarre penalty kick. Instead of kicking the ball in the direction of the goal, he passed the ball to his left side where his colleague Jesper Olsen picked it up. What happened next? [He was shown the red card for handling the ball?]
  • Great Quiz, Bob! Do I win? [Yes -eventually]
  • Happy new year! How are you doing with your Remote Viewing practice? All I can see are some fuzzy blots and few squiggley lines. My wife says I should clean my glasses. [I had spots before my eyes, and they said I should see a doctor. But I could see only spots]
  • I though the answers I submitted last month were funnier than these, and some were right, but I didn’t see any, I was saddened. But, I forgive you 🙂 [Dunno what went wrong Guy – did not get an entry last month]
  • I was interested by your use of girlfriends mammaries for telling the time. I suspect this may be linked to your wife’s utterance “No”. Certain parts of my good self have been used to cast a shadow on a special sundial that uses humans to tell the time.
  • If voting could really change things, it would be illegal.
  • I’ll make no comment other than this…
  • I’m tired of donating a free comment to you every month Dr. Bob. It’s about time you had some comments for us, thanks very much!
  • In order to ensure that my answers have not been tampered with, here are their md5sum signatures: 6a7494045d82fcf9e12fb8be3f408429 Answer 1; f93c17ff7a927e36b6898c8f94d7a1e0 Answer 2; ec921534da929e4cc6d93e8ce9a68474 Answer 3; b8f654d44984ec35b2e4ebebbdccd71e Answer 4; d70541ce7a2b8a69fd2b4cc113d598f5 Answer 5; 43aaa185bc3d387962143dde01989b9b Answer 6 — In order to ensure that the above signatures have not been tampered with, here is the md5sum signature for everything up to, but not including, the “–“: 7e39a70be92eeaf2ef7988b30eb5681e Comments == In order to ensure- oh forget it… [You should use SHA anyway. MD5 is deprecated because of Dobbertin’s collision attack, and SHA is a FIPS standard]
  • Leuke quiz, Bob!
  • Making up wiseass answers to your questions is the high point of my month. I haven’t actually known an answer in about four months.
  • Most enjoyable “Uncle Bob” (I have to use my tag don’t I?) For those of you who missed my tag last month I abbreviated it to “U Bob” because of your “I’ll C what I can do” comment. I even got half these right! I think…
  • My back is killing me. What do you recommend? Could you mail me a prescription? Thanks. [OK: Drink 1 glass of water from the kitchen tap. You are now homeopathically cured of everything]
  • Once again I see no evidence that I am becoming smarter or wittier. This quiz is becoming depressing.
  • Oooh, oooh, oooh, pick me, pick me! Just because I never know any of the answers shouldn’t stop you from making me the winner! Hee hee hee hee.
  • Quote of the day: One man can make a difference… but most of the time, he probably shouldn’t (Marge Simpson – The Simpsons).
  • Right-handed people live, on average, nine years longer than do left-handed people.
  • Shouldn’t we start a real festival, that is relevant, rather than an adapted northern hemisphere winter solstice fir tree-decorating festival come God-human birth, come white bearded man in a red suit with flying reindeer? How about celebrating the age of science and computers, world travel, or the love of the environment? And while I’m on the soap box, what about a new calendar? [OK, but what happens to it when you get off the soap box?]
  • ‘Shun epic verse. I speak from experience’
  • So, Dr Bob! It appears we have run out of silly things to say about “optional comments”! Well, scoodley-boo, flim-flum-floo to you too! Ftang ftang biscuit-barrel olé! The higher the fewer, no bones in ice cream, wot wot! Open your wallets and say after me, “Help yourself.” OK, that’s better – now I’ve restored some balance…
  • Somebody’s been giving my email address out to spammers. Don’t tell me you stooped to that level to afford bandwidth. [No. But surely you want to make money fast? Avoid paying tax? Increase the size of your bodily parts?]
  • The last two had me stumped trying to find the answers, how do I find the answers to these picture clues? [With difficulty]
  • We’re only 14 years old!!!!!!!!!!!!! LEAVE OUR MINDS ALONE! [Sorry. But call me in a couple of years’ time. It’s not your minds I’m interested in]
  • What is this, film trivia day? (Actually it probably is, Reagan is probably as trivial as you get in film)
  • What’s with the long questions this month? [Well I’m having a can of Pepsi and a bag of chicken flavour chips.]
  • What’s with these poncy Russian fillum directors? Have you gone off Hitler and the Titanic? [Well Hitler has pretty well gone off without my help. As for the Titanic, lots of people went off, some of them in lifeboats]