Answers for February 2001

From a good set of responses this month – commendations to Pauls Bello, Green, Hannah and Kyle, and many of the usual crowd too numerous to mention – our WINNER is

Michael O’Sullivan

I can’t work out where he comes from.
Try to avoid the Alexandra (Vic) Library on March 16. Dr Bob – sorry, make that Alan Smithee – will give a talk on “Pearls of Wisdom”. Not the Alexandria Library – that burnt down. Food will be served before, during and after the talk. Better still – instead of the talk. [Doctor: To avoid pregnancy take these pills. Patient: Before or after? Doctor: Instead of]

Question 1

What common thread links the films directed or produced by Alan Smithee?

Answers by Alan Smithee:

  • They were all directed or produced by people not named Alan Smithee
  • Alan (or Allen) Smithee is the pseudonym used by directors when a film they’ve directed has been butchered by extensive re-editing against their wishes. In order for a director to disown a film, an application to the Directors’ Guild must be approved (except for the production of the Whitney Houston film clip “I Will Always Love You”, in which the UN granted the director the right to use the pseudonym on humanitarian grounds).
  • The actual director asked that his name be removed from the film. There even was a spoof film, “Burn, Hollywood, Burn – An Alan Smithee Film” that was so bad, it was itself an Alan Smithee film. It was meant to be a comedy that showcased how a bad movie is made and the troubles it goes through. It stars Eric Idle (as Alan Smithee), Sandra Bernhard, and Ryan O’Neal – you’d think they’d have a clue where it was going right there.
  • Look for “Alan Smithee’s ‘Battlefield Earth'” starring Alan Smithee, Alan Smithee, and Alan Smithee at a video store near you.


  • Alan (aka Allen) Smithee is a filmmaker to be reckoned with — and you can bet there’s a lot of people who would like to reckon with him.
  • If you look at some of the films directed by Smithee you will understand why the real director did not want to be identified.
  • Considering how ghastly many Big Time films are these days, one wonders just how bad the product has to be for the director to want to hide.
  • He played on the same football team as A.N. Other before going on to steal directorial credit from less talented practitioners of filmic folly.
  • If you see “Alan Smithee” on a movie’s credits, demand a refund from the cinema immediately. I think ‘Hellraiser 4’ was an Alan Smithee film and there are countless others that SHOULD have been!
  • It’s either lisle or silk. Silk would be more elegant, but lisle is stronger. I wasn’t aware that films were linked together by fine cords made of fiber. But then I don’t get out much, and I’m filamentally challenged.
  • Looking through the list of films he made, it looks like none of them were commercially released – they escaped.
  • No threadee, no smithee.
  • None of them were both directed and produced by Francois Truffaut.
  • One is tempted to say “cotton” or “polyester” but that’s too obvious. Anyway, it would be fairly pointless to link a bunch of films with threads like these. The projector would jam. So the answer you seek must be evanescent rather than corporeal. I’ll settle for “sex”. (So would most people, of course.)
  • Other than that I haven’t seen any of them, they’re all horror flicks. [But not in the sense normally conveyed by “horror flicks”]
  • They all have Alan Smithee listed as producer or director in the credits.
  • They are all awful.
  • They are all crap.
  • They are all really bad films, except for Yellowbeard. Which was possibly the best Alan Smithee film ever made.
  • They were all trea/his aft/ted like t/er filming was completed.

Question 2

What European country exports hippopotamuses?


Well many of them do – but the country that exports the most is Hungary. I tell, you, you can’t walk around the Great Plain without having to fend them off with a stick. Some of them hide in the Bakony Forest … and Lake Balaton’s full of ’em. The pink ones are the worst – randy little buggers …
Grammatical note: my stupid dictionary says the plural can be either –muses or –mi. The dictionary compiler is as wrong as many of my respondents this month – the name is from the Greek hippos (horse), potamos (river) so the plural ought to be –moi …

Other Answers

  • Albania. World Trade Organisation statistics lists 1965 as a boom year for Albania’s hippopotamus exports – accounting for 4.5 % of the GDP for that year. [Indeed I have a tape of Enver Hoxha’s 4-hour speech “Towards Socialism Through Revolutionary Fervour: Unprecedented Increase in Hippopotamus Exports Exceeds Quota of Glorious 5-year Plan by 137%”, Tirana 1967. Breaks the ice at parties. And Parties.]
  • All of them. The EC has a serious but highly secret surplus of hippos skulking in their rivers. These hippos cause flash floods and crop circles if their population gets too high, so are exported.
  • All of them. It’s just one hippo, getting shunted from country to country.
  • Andorra. Well, hippos are smuggled through Andorra, at least. [This would explain the traffic jams in the Andorra High Street]
  • Australia.
  • Belgium. Well, at least then they’d do something interesting
  • Brazil
  • Faroe Islands
  • Finland!
  • France
  • Germany
  • Germany. A zoo closed and they had to sell off their animals. This is actually my wife’s answer, but much better than mine which was … Switzerland. They’re very small and you get them on the same model knife that has the tiny elephant and the half scale rhino.
  • Germany? (Was going to say something nasty about weight challenged Germans but then remembered stunningly beautiful Bavarian girlfriend……………..Ohhhhhhhh)
  • Hamburg Zoo has a breeding programme … other than that, the Neanderthals had a brisk trade sending them to Borneo, where they became pygmy hippopotamuses.
  • Hippopotamia
  • Hungary
  • Hungary. ref: the first quiz in your archive
  • I don’t know – but some bastard in Hong Kong is exporting products made from hippopotamus teeth.
  • I think you’re pulling my string. Hippopotamus amphibius only lives on the Nile, and Hexaprotodon liberiensis (pygmy hippo) only lives in western Africa! That having been said, Andorra is the only logical answer.
  • Iceland! No, really, they just get them at the best rates, and can charge a good markup for them overseas…
  • If you count South Africa as European (it’s a stretch, I know), Lion Breweries SA export “Hippopotamus” label beer. They also export a lot of other “animal” beers, for example: Leopard, Zebra, Kudu and Brindled Gnu. See I wonder how they get them in the cans?
  • There is a French chain of restaurants called Hippopotamus , with franchises in other European and North African countries. The advent of Mad Cow disease has put a bit of a crimp in the steakhouse business though!
  • In Dublin’s Fair CityMadam Hippo looked prettyOr so Mr. Hippo did sayBut their copulationCaused o’erpopulationSo their offspring were all sent away
  • It must be the French because they’re a silly country.
  • Italy – the Roma Zoo has been breeding them for years, and has sold/sent 2 to other zoos.
  • It’s obvious (apparently) that you’re not referring to those real, live semi-aquatic land whales, so I can only presume that you refer to collectable ceramic figurines. England and Germany both export hippopotamuses. Germany’s are under the brand name “Goebel” and England’s are under the names “Beswick” and “Wade”.
  • Liechtenstein.
  • My mother-in-law came from Switzerland – does that count?
  • Norway not through just any research do I hand down this lofty statement. But through the number I counted by scanning a search engine’s resuts. [At Christmas was it – no ‘l’]
  • Norway … hmmmm not sure.
  • Russia. They’re not exactly hippos, but shaved dachshunds with their mouths wired into shape. Speaking of hippos, the Australian company that made the seats for the Southern Stand at the MCG, also had the contract for the Atlanta Olympic stadium. The only difference was they had to make the US seats wider. True story.
  • Spain (guess) probably Barcelona Zoo: pygmy hippo’s.
  • Stephen Fry’s book “The Hippopotamus” was a number 1 best seller, published by Hutchinson in London. Thousands of Hippopotamuses have been exported from the UK.
  • Switzerland home of the swiss roll – now with extra snout!
  • Switzerland, they push them down the alps to deliver to other countries. Which in turn gave rise to the term “Swiss Roll” that red jelly, slow swiss.
  • Switzerland, they were eager to unload the surplus after the ‘hippo-clock’ project fiasco.
  • Switzerland. (Actually, it started off as an otter, but a zoo employee kept feeding it Swiss chocolate, and whoosh, the next thing you know, the thing was the size of a small couch. The same thing happened to an aunt of mine. She didn’t start as an otter, though, but she definitely looked like a hippopotamus.)
  • Switzerland. The Basel Zoo maintains a studbook for their hippos. Does Wallow St George Horatio Bathplug III have the right pedigree to be bred with Esmeralda Barking Tutu Wiggles of Cricklewood? The studbook knows.
  • Switzerland exported a hippopotamus to Spain in 1998.
  • The black market trade in hippos (in street slang, “H-boys”) is rife in Europe. Practically all the European countries grow hippos in hydroponic tanks in unknown warehouses.
  • The first thought that comes to mind is France, but then they would either try to make clothes out of them (like a sows ear into a silk purse, but a hippos ears are very small) or make them into Rugby front rowers (cause their human ones suck ass). That being said, I would say Monaco – didn’t they use them in the harbour to keep sharks away?
  • The United Kingdom. All that successful cross breeding with the royals has produced a surplus of the corpulent.
  • The Vatican, I guess. It already exports avionic pigs and bovine excreta to an unsuspecting Africa so it’s logical that it flogs hippopotami as well.
  • The Vatican. They just aren’t Holy enough.
  • They all do now, after an emergency EU Economic Forum report suggested that a subtle re-labelling exercise might save their collective beef industries.
  • This has only occurred once, when a party of touring Hippos from Zambia were visiting Italy, and decided to go to Pisa one day. They were at the top of a tower, and one looked out a window, saw something interesting and said “hey guys, come here……”

Question 3

Francois Truffaut’s famous film The 400 Blows (1959) end with a famous lengthy shot where the hero runs along the streets and on to the beach, stops, turns to look tellingly at the camera and is then frozen in time. What did this signify?


They ran out of film. Note: The film’s title derives from the expression “faire les 400 coups” which is idiom for “to raise hell”)

Alternative Existentalist Answers Involving Sufficient Film:

  • Don’t steal typewriters.
  • Pretentious nonsense.
  • Some artistic crap.
  • The 400 Blows? Isn’t that a porn film?
  • To be continued …. (as indeed it was in “Stolen Kisses”, “Bed and Board” and “Love on the Run”.)
  • Simply that after 400 blowjobs the poor bloody hero was, to put it delicately, drained. You’d look tellingly at the camera and then freeze forever if the same thing happened to you, Dr Bob.
  • He could hold a close up.
  • That he was about to steal the camera…
  • “Antoine runs onto an empty beach at Normandy, runs to the water, turns around and looks into the camera. With a look of utter confusion, the scene freezes with “Fin” appearing. This one image sums up all the chaos, bewilderment, and uncertainty faced by Antoine. You don’t know where his life is going, but your desire to find out lasts and lasts”. Truffaut went on to chronicle Doinel’s youth and young adulthood in the “Antoine and Colette” episode of Love at Twenty (1962), Stolen Kisses (1968), Bed and Board (1970) and Love on the Run (1979), all films featuring the same actor, Jean-Pierre Leaud, as Antoine. (
  • Ah, “Les quatre cents coups” (now who’s being a smart bum!)! Never having seen the film, and what I can gather from reading a French movie site, the significance is that Antoine the hero, whom after being a bad boy one too many times and ending up in the divvy van, is going to be stuck in his rut for ever and is going no-where. Or something like that. Maybe he dies. Who knows?
  • Ah, that film directed by Frenchman Alain Smithée (who was so embarrassed by the piece of merde he’d produced, he used the pseudonym of F. Truffaut). Depending on which self-absorbed pooncing pretentious twerp of a theatrically-flamboyant critic you read, the ‘run to the sea’ and freeze frame signified: 1) that Antoine is caught between the land and the sea, the past and the future, 2) he has tried to reach a goal, but again remains trapped, unable to make progress, or maybe 3) a continuing motif of fences and boundaries, foiling all attempts at escape. (There may be other interpretations also, but I slept through a lot of the film interpretation exercises during French classes at school.) To me, it signified: 1a) it’s the end of the class, and time for maths, 1b) maybe it finished here because this is the point where they ran out of film in the camera (interpretation rejected outright by French teacher, so much for encouraging independent thought), 1c) good thing too, it was really starting to shit me, 2) we can all start thinking in English again, and 3) it’s about time to declare open season on the screwball weirdos making those arty farty bizarre films. I don’t mind if you mark me wrong for this question, Dr Bob, I didn’t get a very good mark for it at school, either. Oh, and if you ask any questions about “L’Horloger de Saint-Paul” (I REALLY hated that one) I will personally conjugate your verbs in the subjunctive while you’re still alive, then throw what’s left of you to a bunch of slavering imperatives.
  • It can’t be famous. *I’VE* never heard of it.
  • That he’d been frozen in time.
  • He suddenly realized he forgot his bathing trunks…
  • Well, now. Here’s a box of frogs. There are as many opinions on this as there are critics. Personally, I believe that we are meant to see Antoine as forever trapped in his life, unable to escape. But take your pick.
  • After 400 blows I would be surprised he had the strength to walk. I’m quite stuffed after four from my girlfriend.
  • Briefly, nothing. In a 1970 interview with Charles Thomas Samuels, Truffaut was asked: “The 400 Blows ends with the famous freeze shot of Antoine, but that freeze is frequently anticipated in the film. Was this motif intentional? If so, it indicates that, as it were, Antoine’s end was fated.” Truffaut answered: “…. the final freeze was an accident. I told Leaud to look into the camera. He did, but quickly turned his eyes away. Since I wanted that brief look he gave me the moment before he turned, I had no choice but to hold on it: hence the freeze.”
  • He is frozen in time between the land and the ocean, similar to past and future, and also like the mug shot earlier.
  • He’s actually frozen in the word ‘Fin’, meaning that he turns into a fish (after turning into the waves, presumably).
  • The freeze-frame shot is a mirror image of an earlier mug- shot in the police station, shows the permanent way in which he is caught, or trapped. Sounds a good movie, better than that dreadful Alan Smithee.
  • According to IMDB, it represents his escape from the constraint of the movie/plot. But they may have just run out of film.
  • Like all films made between 1953 and 1963, the film ended with a nuclear explosion.
  • That you could now take that much needed loo break.
  • That the camera’s of that era were crap and always broke down when something interesting was going to happen.
  • The director’s failure of imagination.
  • He was out of breath
  • It’s a visual reminder of an earlier scene in the movie when the hero is having his mugshot taken after his arrest for stealing a typewriter. It signifies his capture.
  • Argh! You ruined it… now I know what happens. [Yeah – nothing]
  • It signified Antoine’s rush towards freedom from the mental and emotional abuse of his parents. I’ve never seen this film (or any of Truffaut’s work, for that matter, although I have seen bits of “L’enfant sauvage”), but that’s what the article said.
  • It was a self-referential loop: pulling the up-to-that- point invisible audience into the movie.
  • The last scene shows the boy (the protagonist of the film) running along the seashore. The film ends with a close-up of his face. This breaks the illusion of the fictional narrative, giving the film a greater sociological purpose – the problem of the boy’s delinquency. We have to provide an effect. This notion subscribes to principles of Bertolt Brecht, that sympathy sometimes just isn’t enough. Having no effect leaves the problem with the audience, who, in terms of fictional narratives, expect everything to be ‘nicely tied up’ by the end. On a larger scale, we can see the film as Truffaut’s poetic mark on the wall, or his attempt to even the score; by the last scene, the sea washes away Antoine’s footprints as the film “cleans the slate”-although that final image remains indelible.
  • Huh?!? It SIGNIFIED something? Like what a pretentious wanker Truffaut was?
  • Depending on the source: 1) the hero is savouring his new-found freedom; 2) the hero is reflecting on the confusion of youth, and the battering he’d received from society.
  • From The last shot has been justly celebrated for its ambiguity. This brief but haunting release from the harrowing experiences that fill the movie brings Truffaut’s surrogate self in direct contact with his audience-an intimacy he was to pursue throughout his career. Truffaut’s zoom in to freeze-frame (more arresting in 1959, before this technique became a stock-in-trade of television commercials) provides a mirror image of an earlier shot in the police station. When Antoine is arrested for stealing a typewriter, he is fingerprinted and photographed for the files. The mug shot is in fact a freeze-frame that conveys the definitive and permanent way in which he has been caught So there.
  • The degradation of the dignity of hippopotamuses.
  • The end of the film.
  • Truffaut had forgotten to bring the last page of the script with him.
  • It is time to collect your rubbish, check you have not left any personal items and exit the cinema .
  • Well, what comes to mind is his death, but he quite possibly just experienced that awful feeling of getting sand stuck under his socks…
  • Poor chap is trapped in black and white French existentialism.
  • To tell the truth after 400 blows I’m surprised the guy can walk. I’m ready for the little death after 2 blows.
  • Perhaps Truffaut was trying to personalise the film and make an intimate connection with the audience/viewer.
  • As the film was autobiographical it probably signified that Truffaut had run out of money and people would have to wait for the sequel “Antoine et Colette” until he had robbed a few more banks.
  • That the hero was about to receive his 401st blow?
  • He was thinking, yeeessss!!! Freedom at last, but suddenly this joyous thought was tempered by the realisation that he had left all his Pokemon cards at home.

Question 4

Is it true that Viagra in the water makes pot plants stick up better?


  • What Viagra does for impotent men, it can also do for plants, fruits, and vegetables, an Israeli researcher says. Yaacov Leshem, a plant physiologist at Bar-Ilan University, says that the lifespan of flora can be extended – even doubled – with a dose of Viagra. He found that 2 or 3 milligrams dissolved in water helps slow down the emission of ethylene, a hormone that leads to spoilage in plants. “Plants aren’t all that different from people,” Leshem said, adding, apparently with a straight face, that “it helps them stay erect.” (,1287,20827,00.html) In other words, healthy roots, hardened fruits, strengthened shoots, firmer flesh, stiffened stems, pumped up petals, bustier buds, lurid leaves, turgid trunks, …
  • Yes, it’s true, according to Israeli researcher Yaacov Leshem, a plant physiologist. There’s a joke in here somewhere about cacti (or maybe roses) and pricks, but I’m too caffeine-depleted to find it. Paging Dr Bob, paging Dr Bob, your assistance is required in the pun reconstruction cubicle…..
  • Apparently so – it acts rather like nitric oxide, a well known plant stiffener. [But nitric oxide has the opposite effect – it makes people say “NO”]
  • At $25 per tab I ain’t gonna give em to no plant to find out!
  • Depends on the species of plant and its original state. Generally not, except where it does.
  • Hang on, I need time to test this out.
  • Have you seen the price of Viagra? And you want to give it to pot plants? Take the Viagra and smoke the pot plant – you will have a lot more fun.
  • I *definitely* don’t want to know why you are asking that question.
  • I don’t know, I don’t have any lying around – do you?
  • I know they give it to men in nursing homes to stop them rolling out of bed.
  • If you pack enough of it in, it does.
  • It certainly does, as my colleague Prof Ron Wills has shown in his laboratory at this university. He is also looking pretty chipper himself these days!
  • It could – plants have only a slightly higher IQ than the men who use Viagra in the first place, and it works for them (ouch!).
  • It depends which water the Viagra is in– and whether or not said plants are anywhere near said water. Then again, maybe not.
  • Maybe, the actual report (“Viagra Extends Cuts Vaselife.” Greenhouse Management and Production 19(10), October 1999) was that an Israeli plant physiologist named Ya’acov Leshem had found Viagra to slow the decay of cut flowers, supposedly by reducing their production of ethylene. Who knew that Bob Dole had a surfeit of ethylene?
  • No – this is an old wives tale.
  • No not at all. I insult my plants everyday and they still don’t stick up for themselves.
  • No, and why are you growing pot plants, Dr. Bob? (Watch, I bet he’ll give the old “glaucoma” excuse.) [I can’t watch – I’ve got glaucoma]
  • No, but it gives them a lot more stamina.
  • No, but it helps to counteract one of the unfortunate side-effects of smoking the leaves of the aforementioned pot plants.
  • No, it is not (did you know that ex-U.S. Senator Bob Dole is no longer shilling Viagra, but is promoting Pepsi-Cola? Odd change over).
  • No. Dream on, Dr Bob.
  • No. Unless you tie them to your penis.
  • Only hardwoods.
  • Only if a bloke in swimming trunks is trying to hide his excitement in the greenery.
  • Only in the presence of a particularly attractive pansy.
  • That you’d even ask this question, it’d have to be yes!
  • Viagra has systemic vaso-dilatory qualities resulting in transient decreases in blood pressure, but the xylem and phloem in plants contain cellulose, so are not elastic tissue like veins, so it would all be a bit of a flop really, wouldn’t it.
  • What idiot has been wasting Viagra on pot plants?
  • Works for me. I’ll believe you.
  • Yeah, baby.
  • Yep. Droopy wisteria metamorphoses into upright agapanthus overnight.
  • Yes
  • Yes but only for an hour or so and then they need another pill and a cigarette.
  • Yes, according to the Playboy advisor section in a recent collector’s issue (I only read them for the articles, of course). Apparently test results show that viagra “perks” up the plants and keeps them fresh and young looking for longer. Said to be something to do with ethylene.
  • Yes, and the amazing thing is it works on plants that have psychological problems, as well as plants with physical ones.
  • Yes. I tried it and they’re still stuck up.
  • Yes… Yes it is.
  • Yes…nitric oxide has a similar effect on plants as it does on penes (that’s the proper Latin plural, since “penis” is a third-declension noun, from the Greek “peos”, a neuter o-stem).
  • You waste your Viagra on plants?

Question 5

Why did the Moon appear blue over Scotland on the afternoon of 26/9/1950?

The Answer Is In Here Somewhere:

  • (in a loud and drunk Glasgow accent) BLUE MOON! Y’saw me standin’ aloon. Withoot a dream in m’heart. Withoot a love of ma oon. BLUE MOON! Y’noo jus’ wha’ ah wer there fer. Y’heerd me sayin’ a prair fer. Someone ah really kin care fer. Aaahh, f-(sounds of hurling)
  • Before the weirdo galactic conspiracy idiots jump in, I want to get this straight: the moon’s appearing blue in 1950 was NOT due to the presence of UFOs hovering over Scotland, all right, I just want to be perfectly clear on this. It was caused by the large amount of smoke in the atmosphere drifting across Europe from a forest fire in Alberta, Canada. See? Perfectly rational atmospheric physics explanation. It was NOT caused by UFO emissions, or UFO radiation, or UFO scientists’ experiments gone horribly wrong or a failed UFO abduction attempt or malevolent aliens trying to contact the Loch Ness Monster or plotting to mutate the entire human race into a global tribe of love slaves. There were NO UFOs AT ALL near Scotland. Grow up. (The fire in Canada started when a member of a passing survey team from the planet Zorkania on the other side of Betelgeuse dropped a cigarette butt out the spaceship window, but that’s another story.)
  • <thinking> what gives off blue smoke when burning? A haggis? Bagpipe exhaust?
  • A forest fire in British Columbia. There is a great book, “Clouds In A Glass Of Beer” that mentions this.
  • A Pan-Am Stratocruiser (livery – blue and white) interposed itself briefly between Scotland and Selena on the afternoon in question. The Scots, Scotched as usual, made a fundamental observation error, as they are wont to do. (By the way, this “blue” moon was only visible from Loch Ness. The next recorded Scottish blue moon occurred on 21 December 1988 in similar circumstances over a similarly named Scottish town.)
  • A whisky distillery burnt down ?
  • Actually the *Sun* appeared blue, (due to a smoke cloud from extensive forest fires in Alberta, Canada.
  • Alcohol. And plenty of it
  • Because it was a “blue moon;” the second full moon inside of one month.
  • Because it was blue.
  • Because Mrs MacIvor (of 32 The Mews, Stirling) for once relented and allowed a resident of her guesthouse to bathe (but she charged an extra tuppence).
  • Because of a fire in Bristish Columbia, the moon took on a bit of a blue shade – and it took me bloody ages to find this one.
  • Because of rampant industrial pollution. Or to promote the upcoming single by The Marcels.
  • Canadian experiments based on Charles Lamb’s recipe for roast pork went slightly wrong.
  • Damn kids throwing their cellophane lolly wrappers out of the plane windows again.
  • Due to an explosion at the Ballantynes Distillery most people within a 50 kilometre area at Glasgow not only saw a blue moon, but also pink elephants.
  • Due to sudden drop in temperatures on that chilly Autumn day, Mr Angus “Wahay mon” McFlashers bottom was prematurely frozen while hanging out of a Morris Mini in Kings Mile, Edinburgh. Hence he was showing a “Blue Moon”.
  • Due to the smoke particles from forest fires in Canada being caught in an upper atmosphere jet stream which passed over Scotland. The resulting change in the diffraction of light made the moon (and the sun, according to my source) appear blue.
  • Dust particles from Canadian forest fires. There was another blue moon on Aug 27 1883 after Krakatoa blew up.
  • Guess: unseasonally heavy forest fires in Canada in that year.
  • explains that it was due to smoke from forest fires in Alberta, Canada.
  • In a paper published in 1951 (Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society, vol 111, p 477), R. Wilson reported a “blue sun” which was observed over Edinburgh on the afternoon of 26 September 1950. The Sun “was observed to be a deep indigo blue” from 3pm, when it was first noticed, until sunset. The following day, the Sun’s colour had returned to normal. Wilson, who worked at the Royal Observatory, had the presence of mind to take a spectrogram of the blue sun. This shows a marked extinction of the red part of the solar spectrum when compared to a spectrogram of the “normal” Sun, so the effect was not a product of the observer’s imagination. Wilson noted that extensive forest fires had been burning in Alberta, Canada, on 23 September. The smoke clouds had reached eastern Canada on 24 September, when they were thick enough to blot out the Sun. When the Sun did become visible again, it was purple or blue. From Atlantic weather charts, Wilson calculated that the smoke would have reached Scotland by 26 September. Normally, blue light is scattered more strongly than red light by dust in the atmosphere. This is why the Sun appears red at sunrise and sunset. However, when the particles have a mean radius between 0.4 and 0.9 micrometres and an almost uniform size distribution, they scatter longer wavelengths (red light) more strongly, giving rise to blue moons and blue suns. According to Bohren and Huffman in Absorption and Scattering of Light by Small Particles published by John Wiley and Sons, the uniform size distribution is a key factor in anomalous scattering. Few processes in nature give rise to such a size distribution, which is why blue moons and blue suns are so rare.
  • It is believed to be due to forest fires in Alberta, Canada which created lots of smoke which took three days to cross the Atlantic!
  • It lost it’s puppy.
  • It was made of blue cheese.
  • It was very sad because it was supposed to arrive in the morning for a date with Venus, but the car broke down and then it started raining and Venus decided she could not wait and sunk below the horizon, and the moon went to the seventh house and got totally drunk while Jupiter refused to align with Mars which put back the Age of Aquarius for 20 years.
  • Paint. Lots of paint. Oh, and a brush. A big one. And some astronauts. And a spaceship. And some wasted tax dollars. Lots of them.
  • Particulate matter in the air, refracting the light.
  • PMT
  • Scotch Mist.
  • Someone dropped a match in Alberta.
  • The combination of secret nuclear bomb tests performed by the UK in a remote location in Northern Scotland, and a Northerly wind altered atmospheric conditions just enough to allow the moon to appear blue in colour. Other affects of these tests (which you neglected to mention) include an increase in 3 eyed toads and 5 legged cows in the 3-4 years following the blue moon incident.
  • The combined sadness at the loss of Celtic United – again
  • There’s probably some explanation about scattering of light and particles in the atmosphere but I prefer to think it had something to do with whisky – either too much or not enough.
  • This was the second full moon of the month, and there was a big fire in the heather, with lots of smoke. My auntie Haggis remembers it well.
  • Triffids.
  • Well, we all know that 26/9/1950 only comes along once in a blue moon.

Question 6

What is between the mouths of the heads?


Ely Cathedral. I was in Cambridge in 1998 and detoured to Ely especially to visit it. Bloody impressive – I nearly became a Christian. I even found the place in the field 9 miles away where the statues were, but they were gone)

The Light Was Brighter:

  • A ploughed field.
  • Air
  • Lunch?
  • Diesel breath.
  • Paint.
  • Pixels
  • Scenery.
  • Winchester Cathedral
  • Roughly 78% nitrogen, 20% oxygen, 2% etc. Presuming this is on planet Earth.
  • Easy, it’s Ely Cathedral in Cambridgeshire. The Ship of the Fens, it’s known as. Ely has a rather good antique shop, if you’re interested (it still does, even if you’re not).
  • Looks like the city of Chartres to me.
  • Mavis Pendergast’s summer cottage. I know this to be true, she’s a dear friend of mine.
  • Gotham City. Curtin University. A reasonable architectural drawing. Regurgitated.
  • Looks like Notre Dame to me. Therefore it is true.
  • A small selection from the cover of the Pink Flyod album “The Division Bell”. The image as a whole was influenced by the works of Norbert Weiner.
  • David Koresh’s peaceful homestead.
  • Ely Cathedral. I don’t know how anybody could get this from the grainy photo. You have to recognize the Pink Floyd album, and either find it or know it. Oddly enough, I showed the cover to my mother and she showed me a 19th century print with the same view of Ely Cathedral (minus, though, the heads.)
  • It’s two Easter Island stone head fellas having a fight over the very last slice of a SoopaDoopa Large Rapa Nui Special With The Lot (Extra Pineapple).
  • A small settlement near Area 51 known as bungalow 51.
  • Something edible? Nuclear power station by Cadburys? Perhaps the very one that turned the moon blue over Scotland in 1950.
  • Its the cover of Pink Floyd’s “The Division Bell (TDB)” showing the “real” (i.e. photographed) heads. There are two pairs of heads, the steel heads and the stone heads. The steel heads that can be seen on the front cover of the CD releases of the TDB album, whilst the stones are on the UK MC. They are placed on a field east of Ely Cathedral near Cambridge, and Ely can be seen between the two mouths. TDB CD UK; Steel heads. The picture is taken in the late afternoon. the sky is cloudy, but we can see some blue between the clouds. The shadow of the heads falls to the right, as if the sun is shining from the upper left corner of the picture. Ely is a little bit above the mouth, and four bright lights can be seen, that draw a dotted line between the two mouths. The metal looks brownish. TDB CD US; Steel heads again. Earlier afternoon this time, although the cloud structures look a whole lot like those on the TDB CD UK cover, they somehow look different, blurred. Ely is right between the mouth, and no lights or anything else are placed between the mouths. The line that goes down from the eye to the corner of the mouth sees somehow brushed out on both heads, because compared to the other pictures we cannot see the dots where the head was put together. However we can still see a thin line. The same happened to the line down from the eye to the top of the nose wing. All lines above the eye (on the forehead) are brushed out as well, but here one cannot even see the thin lines. The metal looks bluish. The album’s title, a reference to the British parliament’s practice of ringing a bell when it becomes deadlocked, was suggested to the group by Douglas Adams (author of “Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy” novels and associate of the band). It plays into “The Division Bell”s theme of communication, or lack thereof. [Great …. now what are the songs like?]
  • The only place on earth without a McDonalds restaurant
  • Windscale (Sellafield) nuclear power station in Cumbria UK
  • It’s off a record cover but I can’t remember which one. Could it be Battersea Power Station? [Nearly right]
  • A string of spaghetti…. they’re each sucking an end of it and when they get to the middle – they will kiss.
  • A coal-fired power station in the Hunter Valley (Mt Piper?)
  • CUB’s Abbortsford brewery. The heads are made of recycled VB cans.
  • An electrical signal tranformed into an electromagnetic beam which produces a colourful display on my computer screen.
  • Oh, so that’s where I left my LEGO set.
  • Mostly blue paint with some greys and browns.


(French for “how”; Francois Truffaut probably says it when meeting Native Americans)

  • Only 30,000 genes? Most of them common across all life? Makes one think, sex [as I often do]. Hey, Dr Bob you’re just like me!
  • I said “Doctor – Mr M.D. Can you tell me, what’s ailing me?” He said:
  • Milzsuppe (spleen soup) – Yield: 4 servings. 250g spleen, 1 onion, chopped, a small bunch chopped parsley, 50g butter, 2tb flour, 1.5 l water or meat broth, salt & pepper to taste. Combine half of the parsley with the onion, and lightly brown in butter. Stir in the flour, and then add water or broth. Scrape the spleen, and then add it to the pot. Briefly bring to a boil, then add salt and pepper. Add the remainder of the parsley just before serving.
  • My location is “in Canberra”. My location is not Canberra. I may be big, but I’m not quite that big yet. And isn’t today March? [Well, today is big, but it’s not that big]
  • There. After 6 months, I’ve started sending in smartass answers again. I hope you realize what you’ve done, and are very very sorry. Other than all that, thanks for the quiz.
  • I don’t have a life at the moment. If you find one lying around I wouldn’t mind borrowing it until I knit a new one.
  • One good thing about the Dutch language – you get to call everyone ‘Dag’ and they love it.
  • “Bother” said Pooh as Tigger detonated the explosives just as he was planting them on the wall of the Orphanage.
  • Message to self: better luck next month.
  • I like optional comments. You should too.
  • I like to do your surveys naked. I recommend it to anybody – it’s the best way to do them! <<File attached: me.jpg>>
  • Where oh where do you get these from, Dr Bob? You’re a harsh master – I just spent two hours on the net doing this!!!
  • How many lawyers does it take to change a light bulb? Answer: 4. One to argue that it should be changed, one to argue that it shouldn’t, one to argue for law reform that there should be more cases like this, and one to sue the company that makes them, that someone should have to endanger themselves in such a manner. (Note: still the light bulb has not been changed).
  • This is my first ‘quiz’ so I know my answers are pretty basic, but it has been fun! [but what about the quiz?]
  • Never cook a goat in it’s mother’s milk. It’s the Law.
  • These quizzes are good for lunch breaks at work [yes, I print mine out and sprinkle a little salt and pepper on it]. In fact, they are good during working hours as well!
  • Number 41! Haw haw haw.
  • Ah, bliss – I know the answer to the picture question! I’ll sleep better tonight…
  • Alice Todd was in the NT News – after I’d pushed the send button :={
  • No, it’s not just you – my jokes really do suck.
  • I think there might be a connection between Whitney Houston and hippopotami, I mean, just look at the teeth. Apparently, rampaging Whitneys kill several tourists every year. My aunt’s name wasn’t Whitney, though. Is it time for my pills yet?
  • The fact that my pathetic effort “won” a quiz last year reflects badly on both of your other contestants. Come to think of it, it probably reflects even worsely on me.
  • Well, I sort of knew one answer, which improves my average no end
  • I love the pictures. [Is that why the response forms are so messy]
  • “Bother”, said Rev. Pooh, as Piglet evolved.
  • Last month’s was so hard that I couldn’t even make a decent attempt [OK here it comes … “but what about the quiz?”] and this month you stumped me on the hippos [see JPG file in adults-only section]. Maybe one day you will stumble upon the right questions, sufficiently esoteric to satisfy your audience and perfectly aligned with my rather patchy knowledge.
  • There are no stupid questions – but there are a lot of inquisitive idiots.
  • Did you hear the one about the sentient computer that said “I think therefore I’m RAM”
  • Hope this is time… [No, it’s pixels on a screen. You can’t really show ‘time’]
  • I don’t like to do this quiz anymore – so here it is. Everybody answers with such displays of intellectual ability it makes me cross. I don’t want to talk about it anymore. Or less.
  • I would like to apply for more bonus points for early submission. I would also like to thank you for the search results from “400 blows”. Most, umm… instructive. I would also like to request special consideration, as it’s my birthday today.
  • President Bush says U.S. Federal money will go to “faith-based organizations.” Why don’t you all declare Australia to be a “faith based organization” and get some money from “W”?
  • Blimey I’ve got verbal (keyboard?) diarrhoea today. All that waffle and no correct answers. Been reading Spike Milligan again. Geez there I go again. Bugger.
  • In Australia we shear sheep; in NZ they don’t shear them with anyone – BAAAAAAA
  • You can never know enough! eh Bob!