Answers for June 2009

Two amazingly encyclopedic entries came in, one from Warren Ham and another one, done without googling, from someone called D.Hawley …. Arghhh!! And some welcome new entries, some of them 6/6 – hi guys. And a special thank-you to Prof Michael Olmert, author of “Milton’s Teeth and Ovid’s Umbrella”  ISBN: 9780684801643 from which these questions were derived. He writes – “I thought this was a cool way to do an interview…. It’s a New Yorker on-line blog about new books called “Ask an Academic” that features, erm, me. Best, Mike…….. from Toronto, where my rock-star wife was chatting about her new book on “Good Morning Canada” today – and all I get is a blog.   I am plainly turning into Dennis Thatcher…. ” But our WINNER this month is from Canberra –

Ben Long

Question 1

There is a graffito of an owl – the sacred mascot of fullers – on a wall of a tavern in Pompeii, with text “[L.Quintilius] Crescens and his mates sing to the fullers and the owl”.  What text has another hand graffited under the owl?


“It’s an owl” referring to the very bad drawing of an owl near the above line, and “Lucius Quintilius Crescens was ruled here”. Hmm. I’d say they got as plastered as the wall.

Additional Answers

  • “And they tell Crescens and his mates to shut-up!”
  • “By Minerva it stinks in here!”
  • “Fuller shittim youse all est!”
  • “It’s an owl.”
  • “It’s an owl”. (I originally was going to go with “Who gives a Hoot?”)
  • “Looks more like a parrot to me.”
  • “They sing like a bunch of owls too.”
  • 2 for a Lira
  • A mouse.
  • Beware of the owl.
  • Chk Chk Boom.
  • Hoot Mon.
  • I sing of fullers and the owl – not arms and the man. I knew GB Shaw was long lived but I didn’t realise he was that old.
  • I’m not pleased to see you, it’s an owl on my wall. Why do your feet stink of urine?
  • Iceland sux
  • Nice Hooters!
  • On the columns of the portico of the House of the Triclinium, L.Quintilius Crescens wrote a number of graffiti, including one “Crescens fullonibus ululaeque canont” accompanied by a rather poor rendition of an owl. Someone else has added “ulula est” … “it is an owl”. This inscription is a literary reference… There is an inscription in a fullery, indexed as CIL IV, 9131, whose full text is “Fullones ululamque cano, non arma virumq(ue)” … I sing of the fullers and the owl, not of arms and the man. This is a reference to the opening of Vergil’s Aeneid, “Arma virumque cano” … I sing of arms and the man. The screech-owl referred to was sacred to Minerva, the patron goddess of the fullers, although it might just as easily be a reference to the noise that was typical in a fullery.
  • Perhaps Georgius Bernardo Shavian’s hand: ‘Not arms and the man’
  • Ring MMMDCLXII-MCMLVII for una notte di dolce vita. No fine print. Any takers? I know it’s a crude joke, but I can’t be bothered with coming up with anything wittier.
  • Something about “…of arms and the man”. More likely it meant that the ugly bint with the droopy tits was still so skilled she was well worth the whole 15 minutes you paid for!
  • There are two additions: “ullula est” and “L. Quintilius Crescens, fullo, hic regnatus est”
  • ulula est – (it was a very bad drawing of an owl) then – fullo hic regnatus est.
  • If that volcano erupts I will eat my hat

Question 2

After 102 years of war, English and French negotiators in Calais in 1439 were discussing truce terms.  Fed up with arguing, they broke out for a game of football.  Was this a good idea?


Not really – the Archbishop of Rheims got kicked on the shin. The war continued for 14 more years.

Additional Answers

  • A game of footy is always a good idea!
  • A good idea? Not really. Soccer is a violent adversarial overrated sport where the fans are more likely to cop serious injuries than the players, which proved to be the case in Calais. Had the protagonists merely waited another four centuries, they could have resolved matters amicably and peacefully over a gentlemanly game of rugby.
  • Broke out of what? Seriously, football between England and France has NEVER been a good idea. And in 1439, football was far more bloodthirsty than today. Just think – the French coach would have been screaming from the sidelines about the Englishmen picking the ball up and running with it. And the English coach would be scowling back…in Dutch, because he was on a 50 guilder contract from the Netherlands for just this season. Throw in some dreadful rulings by the Belgian ref, a whole lot of garlic and red wine, the fans rioting in the stands … and we are back to the war again.
  • If it was NRL footy yeah. Not the American gridiron crap.
  • It was for the English, because some of the main negotiators from the French side were injured in the game and unable to attend further negotiations. Good timing, Dr Bob, I just happen to be reading that chapter of Barbara Tuchman’s “A Distant Mirror”. Honestly, how could the French be so damned stupid? They might as well have said “All right, we’ll settle this all with a game of cricket, provided you don’t bowl too fast and we can use an old tennis ball, also over the fence or on the roof is six and out”.
  • It’s never a good idea – too many injuries especially the French Chancellor
  • Like all ideas it was was a good idea at the time — they should have thought about the afterbirth though — the football riot — and this put them exactly where they were 40 or so years ago
  • No, because football wasn’t invented for another four hundred years,
  • No, hadn’t been invented yet.
  • No, it’s a silly game, They would have been better off playing “Pick up sticks” or “Jenga”.
  • No, shortly afterwards both countries declared war on Spain, because the referee was Spanish.
  • No, soccer is gay, plus the fact that it had been banned in England in 1314 for being too violent, then again in 1349 so the Poms could concentrate on the 100 years war. They couldn’t play soccer so they went off to conquer a few countries instead.
  • No. (You can’t criticise me for not elaborating, because the question is a simple yes/no thingy.)
  • No. Football is never a good idea.
  • No. It was 2 weeks before the champions league finals, and the star players were in danger of getting injured in this “friendly”.
  • No. The Archbishop received a nasty bruise on his leg, and the war raged on for a further fourteen years.
  • No. The French beat the English and set up a tradition of England going down to France on the world stage.
  • Not for the French Chanellor who was injured (genuinely – a rare thing in football)
  • Not if Zidane was playing up front for the French
  • Oye! We were taught the French negotiators ran away under cover of darkness. If the football was also true to form, the French side became fatigued from faking injuries, the English were too drunk to play, each side said it was the Hanseatic League’s fault, the game was rained out, the pavilions were soaked, and since Canadians and Anzacs weren’t available, the ‘”the moost reasonable mene of peas” had to fight their own war for another 14 years.
  • The French chancellor was injured during the football game and was unable to attend one of the peace negotation meetings. It’s hard to say if this helped or hindered the peace talks.
  • Tricky question. The Archbishop of Rheims got injured in the game, but I don’t know if that was a good thing or not.
  • Well, it was not a bad idea. The fact that one of the French envoys, Renaud de Chartres, Archbishop of Rheims, injured his foot in the match and missed one of the subsequent meetings probably had no effect on the ultimate outcome of the negotiations … the conditions being insisted on by the French (that the English King Henry VI should do homage to King Charles VII of France for any French lands ceded to him, and that dispossessed owners should be allowed back to their properties) would inevitably be rejected by Henry’s advisors, and hence by Henry, who was not prepared to renounce the title of King of France. By the way, it was not IN Calais, but NEAR Calais … this was the Oye Conference of July, 1439. References: English Historical Documents 1327-1485, by A.R.Myers, David Charles Douglas. p.972Michael D. Miller. Wars of the Roses, from Chapter 32: The Duchess of Burgundy’s peace moves 1438 – 1439
  • Yes, a very good idea. It led to more fighting, which the Poms and the French do very well together.

Question 3

The eponymous run from Marathon to Athens is only about 22 miles, so why are modern Marathons run over 26 miles 385 yards?


So that the Royal Family could see the start of the race from their front lawn, at Windsor in 1908.

Additional Answers

  • ‘The current 26 miles and 385 yards distance came about because at the 1908 London Olympics, the start was moved back to be closer to Windsor Castle so the Royal Family could watch.’
  • Because 22 miles is for CISSIES
  • Because of spolit brats.
  • Because poor old Pheidippides ran an extra 4 miles 385 yards in order to divert around roadworks, a flooded creek, and a huge anti-Persian demo in the city’s town square.
  • During the 4th Olympics (in London) the grandchildren of the Royal family wanted to watch the start. Consequently, the race started on the lawn of Windsor Castle and finished in the stadium at Shepherds Bush, a distance of 26 miles and 385 yards.
  • It happened during the conversion of the cubits to furlongs.
  • It was after the London Olympics when the runners had to run an extra few miles so the King could see them go past his house. The new distance stuck and since then, the extra miles led to runners suffering from hallucinations such that they would call out “God Save the King” just before dropping dead!
  • It’s a modern development: 22 miles of Marathon, plus 4 miles 385 yards of GST.
  • It’s the distance from somewhere to somewhere else in England… Windsor Castle is one end, I think. When the Games were first held in London, the Duke of Windsor (or some other such chinless royal numpty) wanted to “see those Olympic chappies running” from his front window. “Organise it, would you, Jeeves!” The sycophant Olympic Committee granted his wish.
  • Original track was extended to go past an official’s house?
  • Queen Alexandra wanted to watch the finish in comfort.
  • So some British princess could watch it starting from her nursery window or something?
  • So the royal family could watch the beginning of the race from their palace.
  • So the Royals could watch. I guess they get a kick out of watching sweaty people.
  • So they can fit more advertising in the telecast
  • The modern road distance Marathon to Athens is actually close to the modern Marathon distance – but they chose the London Marathon distance of 1908 – the one that had the most publicity because an official helped the (later disqualified) Italian winner over the line.
  • The old mile was longer, as in “Back in my day we had to walk six miles through snow with no shoes to go to school” etc.
  • The standard distance is 26.22 miles, so very likely someone misread the instructions. It would be pretty easy for the instructions to get a bit smudged between the original marathon and now.
  • There were TWO paths from Marathon to Athens, one over a hilly route to the north of about 21.4 miles (the one to which you refer) and the other across flatter terrain to the south, of 25.4 miles. [Yes there are two paths you can go by … hmmm, could make a song out of that]. The likelihood of there still being Persian soldiers along the southern route means that the runner most likely took the more difficult, but shorter, northern route. But the modern road route takes the longer, flatter option, and it was this route that probably influenced the organisers of the modern Marathon. Having said that, the modern race distance was influenced by the 1908 London Olympics, where the race was from Windsor Castle to the Olympic Stadium in Shepherd’s Bush. Originally intended to be that distance (26 miles) plus one lap of the stadium (586 2/3 yards), entering via the Royal entrance and finishing near the Royal Box. When they found the Royal Entrance did not provide access to the arena, they changed the entrance, which meant that only 385 yards was run within the stadium to finish at the originally-intended finish line. The distance has varied a couple of times since then, but has now been standardised at the London 1908 distance.
  • They only changed it in 1908 so that the race would finish in front of the Queen’s viewing box. Talk about up herself. Sheesh.
  • They took a bend out of the road between Marathon and Athens.
  • This was on a recent episode of QI – or maybe just an episode I downloaded recently. It had something to do with starting the race under the Queen’s window and finishing in a convenient place?
  • To do with the olympic stadium finish line.
  • To make those dumb jocks suffer a little more. Hee hee hee.
  • Who runs marathons anymore? We’re all so lazy. We’d rather wait in a drive-thru behind 10 other cars before walking to the completely empty counter.

Question 4

The words of the hymn “Rock of Ages” – no, not the Def Leppard song – were written by the Rev. Augustus Toplady in 1763 on the back of a playing card.  What card was it?


6 of diamonds

Additional Answers

  • 6 of diamonds, although Freudianly, some say 9. I would have guessed ‘Ace of Spades’, but that was Motorhead. OMG, there’s an ‘official Rock of Ages website’. I never thought of it as dirty before, but his last name invites it: ‘Rock of ages, cleft for me / Let me hide myself in thee / ‘Naked come to thee for dress / When my eyestrings close in (le petit mort)’
  • A used Metcard, probably. Well, he was Top Lady, wasn’t he?
  • A wet one, he was trying to get out of a thunderstorm.
  • Ace of clubs
  • Ace of hearts.
  • Ace of Spades – and it wasn’t a card at all, in fact he wrote it on the back of the liner notes from a Motorhead album, hence the confusion.
  • Dunno, but let’s see if logic and reason will win out. Hmmm, first words are “Rock of ages, cleft for me” so we’re looking for a rock and something cleft. Eureka! A diamond is a rock and only a woman is cleft, so the correct answer is the Queen of Diamonds. QED.
  • I believe it was the Nine of Diamonds (should have been a Joker though)
  • I bet it was the King of Diamonds, just like the Rev. Did he love his bling bling.
  • I’m skeptical (appropriate for this site!!)… the best source I can find is “An Enquiry concerning Toplady and his Hymn ‘Rock of Ages’ and its connection with Burrington Combe, Somerset” by H.J. Wilkins D.D. (, a pamphlet from 1938 which disputes this legend. The card of legend is the Six of Diamonds, but nowhere is it attested by Toplady that he wrote the hymn either during a storm or on a playing card. The card itself, according to the Strand Magazine article quoted by Wilkins “long preserved in the family, but now in America, was inscribed across the middle with the words :- ‘Rock of ages, cleft for me, Let me hide myself in Thee. March 12th.'” Wilkins states however that ‘The card cannot now be traced and so no test is available’. Wilkins makes the suggestion that, even if the card did exist, it might have been written not by Toplady but by a tourist at the location. And even if we accept the legend, two lines do not a hymn make!
  • it was the death card from a Tarot set?
  • It was the Joker. A really big Joker card from a HUGE pack of cards.
  • Nine of Diamonds
  • Nurse Patience.
  • Queen of Diamonds
  • Queen of Diamonds – With a surname like “Toplady” it’s a pretty fair guess I reckon.
  • Six of diamonds
  • Six of diamonds.
  • Six of diamonds. By crikey that took some finding.
  • Six of diamonds. It was undoubtedly a stellar composition that would warrant a six star rating.
  • The Ace of Spades? Lemmy for the win!
  • The Ace of Spades. Motorhead covered it.
  • The Ace Of Spades…Motorhead. Shape Of My Heart…Sting. Diamonds Are A Girl’s Best Friend…Norma Jean Baker. Best 90’s Club Mix…Tiger Woods.
  • The Joker. He was never serious about it.
  • The spare blank one, otherwise the owner of the deck would have been really annoyed.

Question 5

What is the origin of the name for the city of NOME, Alaska?


“Cape ?name” was written on an early map

Additional Answers

  • “Name?” was the original map notation, as the name was unknown, which was mistranscribed as Nome.
  • A city by any other Nome would smell as sweet! First called “?Name”, then Cape Nome, it spent a short time as Anvil City before those who would prefer it to retain this name decided to call it Nome again. Got that Bob?
  • A dyslexic town planner actually wanted to name it Home.
  • A surveyor didn’t know the name of a nearby cape, so, on his map he wrote ‘CAPE ?NAME’ to signify the lack. This was later mistranslated into ‘NOME’ by a map tracer.
  • A typo. The name “Nome” is from Cape Nome, first so called on a chart dated 1849, and said to have been a draughtsman’s mistake for the query “name” on the chart.
  • Anvil City
  • Bad spelling and a long-held grudge. A man who was humiliated at a spelling bee as a child when he failed to spell “gnome” correctly grew up to be a very tall college basketballer who ended up working in cartography after he did both his knees, and this was the revenge he took on his home town.
  • Can they see Russia from there?
  • Don’t tell me someone sneakily moved Juneau further north?
  • Gnomes in the garden
  • I like the ?Name cartographer theory better than ‘Nome, Norway’.
  • I vaguely recall it was a mapping error that involved Capt. James Cook RN. He wrote the word “Name?” on his map against the peninsula, but it was later mis-copied as “Nome”.
  • I’m so ronery, there’s *N*o *O*ne, just *ME* onry…
  • Incompetence
  • It was named after a nearby river and a cape, but the cape was originally marked “Name?” on a map.
  • It’s an acronym. North Of Many Eskimos.
  • Juneau is the capital of Alaska, Dr. Bob. Nice try at a trick question, though.
  • More happy hunting ground for skeptics! The accepted theory is that it is the result of a draftsman’s error. According to the 1943 Guide to Alaska prepared by the Federal Writers’ Project, “When the manuscript chart of the region was being prepared on board the British vessel Herald, attention was drawn to the fact that [a certain] point had no name, and a mark (? name) was penciled against it. The chart was hurriedly inked in, the draftsman reading ? name as C. Nome, and Cape Nome and Nome they have been ever since. This story is disputed by other authorities, who say it is a local native name.” The other theory is any of a number of variants on the story that when asked the name of the place the Eskimos replied “Ka-no-me”, or “I don’t know”. This same story crops up in so many other contexts, regarding the names of other places and animals, that it can only be viewed with suspicion.
  • NOME, Iceland.
  • Probably another error due to misreading smudged old records, just like the Marathon distance.
  • ROME, but then the pope totally sued.
  • The actual name Nome was recorded as ? Name (to show the cape was unidentified) this was read by the Admiralty map mapre as C Nome (Cape Nome). However the town was locally known as Anvil City for much of 1899, but the United States Post Office Department insisted on calling the community “Nome,” apparently because it was thought that a town called Anvil City would be easily confused with the village of Anvik on the lower Yukon. A competing town site had been established at the mouth of the Nome River and it was also called Nome City. The Anvil City merchants feared that the Post Office might decide to move the “Nome” Post Office from Anvil City on the Snake River to Nome City on the Nome River. After a vote was held the merchants reluctantly agreed to change the name of Anvil City back to Nome.
  • The locals were trying to think of a name, but it’s freezing cold there, cold enough to make your teeth hurt, and you don’t have to open your mouth as much to say “Nome” as to say “Name”
  • They wanted to call it “Rome” and got it incredibly, incredibly wrong.
  • Very poor American education system.
  • Well, when many moons ago when there was a group of locals in the igloo someone let one rip – it was awful, bring tears to your eyes stuff, but anyway, when the guy with the gun asked who it was everyone said “no me” and he just shot them all and thats how the town go its name!

Question 6

///quiz200906Q6.jpg///Where was this photo taken?


Iceland!! Specifically, Mr Vader is standing at 64* 08′ 47.58″N, 21* 56′ 23.68″W. Also, see a video of the event at

Additional Answers

  • Adelaide? The crow eaters are a weird mob.
  • At Emperor Palpatine’s “Kiss Me I’m 80!” birthday bash. The Empire hired an Icelandic church hall, so that they could set up the hot tub and not get too uncomfortable. (Rumour has it that one of the Hutts jumped out of the cake.)
  • During world youth day here in australia I got the photo, which said it was in Bondi – so i’m going with that.
  • Earth
  • Fantasy Fest. They’re all going to a big blow out party, cheeky sods!
  • I will forbear from answering this one as it it is one I have had correspondence with you about previously 🙂 However it is pleasing to see a truly ecumenical service being recognised.
  • I’m not sure, but the Chasers must have been involved.
  • In a galaxy far….NO. Everyone will use that pithy line. Instead I will take the high road and say…this photo was taken on the high road. The high road that is in a galaxy far, far away.
  • In the town of Mos Eisley, Tatooine. Too easy, Dr Bob, what with the five fantasy figures and all.
  • In the town of P1. Can’t you see the sign?
  • Lambeth Conference.
  • Lambeth Conference. Darth, as we all know, is a Sith warrior priest, so he probably assumed he would fit right in with the bishops.
  • Monty Python convention.
  • On the Death Star (the nice bit). That guy behind the priests is quite clearly Darth Vader.
  • Out of doors, next to a pedestrian crossing.
  • Ooutside Michael Jackson’s house. [They’ve come to bury him?]
  • Outdoors, on a cloudy day.
  • Outside a church… I mean Death Star. Actually, from the car parking sign advertising the “gjalo” or parking fee, my guess is it’s somewhere in… ICELAND!!! Yes Bob, ICELAND!
  • Paddington, Sydney, Mardi Gras week.
  • Reykavik, Iceland.
  • Some Scandihoovian country from the clerical ruffs, but perhaps Iceland since ‘Gjald’ (payment) is on the parking sign. How many will say ‘in a galaxy far, far, away?’
  • Sydney
  • The writing on the sign (below the “P1”) seems to say “GJALD”. According to Google translate, “gjald” means “was” in Danish. And the peoples in the fancy robes look Danish-ish. So I’ll go for Denmark. But in that case, what the hell does the sign mean, “P1 WAS”…?!! [Gjald is “fee”. But Denmark & Iceland are both Lutheran, – very similar Lutheran clerical dress. And note: one of the bishops is a GIRL!!]
  • They are one Dark and four Light Lords Of The Sith. Looking for their cars… There’s also room for a quip about Chewbacca or that long-eared thing like a mutant Bugs Bunny. But that would not be funny.
  • This is in some city– darth vader has rounded up the strange looking fellows and is taking them to …….well, somewhere anyway
  • This one can be placed with authority, as the photographer Karl Gunnarsson has placed it up onto Flickr with comments. It is a shot of the priests of the State Church of Iceland (and Darth Vader!) marching in procession for their annual congress. On checking the street signs evident in other shots in the set, I can say with some conviction that it was shot in Templarasunden, outside Dómkirkjan (the main cathedral) in Reykjavík, Iceland. The date on Flickr is given as 10 June 2008.


  • Bob, what a name, I like Bob, it’s a nice name [it’s a pity mine is Steve then] I also like Fred it’s a very nice name, my friend’s name is Kevin I don’t like him he is mean and he smells like pigs I think he has swine flu because he is always coughing and weezing [What are your enemies like then?] Anyway hows your day today day. In my life I had geography and frech my frecnh teacher is good but she yells a lot. From Mark PS. I have ants down my pants.
  • 0 from 6!
  • Another fun quiz. I’m torn between the impulse to treat it as a joke as many people do, and give fun answers, or to treat it as a challenge. I’ve taken the latter option!
  • Can I tweet my answers next time? All the kids are doing it these days…
  • Cheers Doc, as always a pleasure.
  • Dearest Doctor Bob, you mentioned (or ‘crapped on’ – you choose) that ‘Google’ was the first word the johnny foreigner learns in English and that it isn’t really a word. Well it is a word. Has been for ages. It is a cricketting term and has been around since the early 1900s. Isn’t it good to see they take Cricket so seriously!
  • Dr Bob, I answered the whole lot with NO GOOGLING!!! It was…refreshing… Scary too. I might even try going out of the house on my own tomorrow. Ooooo!
  • Great stuff. Keep it up
  • Help me doctor, I see religious people everywhere…
  • I think I’m looking at a pants job this month.
  • I thought Juneau was still the capital of Alaska.
  • I went to the local library and got nowhere, so I visited the state library and sure enough they had the book – so I know the first 5 are good. I am sceptical about the darth vader photo as I could not find any reliable sources apart from the odd news story.
  • ICELAND! Is this my second submission of these answers? I’m losing my memory.
  • No laughs tonight.
  • The self-styled Australian Psychic Expo was held here in Caloundra, Queensland, 2-8 June. But I guess you knew that.
  • There’s no business like Nome business. I would have expected a suitably Gnomic picture however.
  • What good fun! Best one yet Dr Bob, even more fun than the Popes one and I enjoyed that one immensely. [You’d enjoy Q6 more if you got the right answer.  Look at the street sign …. ]
  • You know that saying “Sleep with the dogs, andyou’ll wake up with fleas”? I slept with a policeman, and now I have swine flu.