Friday, February 3, 2023

Deep Knee Bends and Mental Calisthenics

I had a busy, busy day yesterday.

First of all, with the landlords coming over to inspect the flat, I had to clean. So before I went to work I gave the place a quick once-over with the vacuum, dusted the end tables, made the bed and tidied in general. This made me slightly late to work but it had to be done.

Then, in the library, I got launched on a ridiculous project but it's something that's been bothering me for years.

See that little star? Back in the old days, some forgotten librarian stickered up our shelves. There were stars of various colors, little green dots and big white dots. My boss has been there 15 years and all this happened before her. We think the stickers marked shelves that had been inventoried or organized, but we're not really sure.

Anyway, nowadays we don't do anything like that -- it's completely unnecessary with our computer system, which easily keeps track of inventory -- but no one had ever bothered to remove the stickers. Well, I got a little scraper out of our supply cabinet and went to work. It was actually a relatively fast job but it was exhausting, the equivalent of doing about an hour of deep knee bends. My thighs got a workout.

While I was in the supply cabinet I found this little box of paper fasteners -- those brass-colored buttons with wings that you put through a hole in papers to bind them together. I recognized the dog immediately as a Charles Barsotti cartoon -- he used to draw for The New Yorker before he died in 2014. It turns out that the dog was used on a range of products from the now-defunct office supplier Niceday, and in fact was known in the UK as "the Niceday pup." Here's a whole article (quite interesting!) about Barsotti's work for Niceday, which began in the early '90s and ended about 12 years later.

So that was a fun little blast from the past.

After work I raced home for the landlord meeting. They took a look at the damp spot in the dining room (from the upstairs leak), the damaged walls in the hallway (from a slow bathroom leak, we think), as well as our de-enameled bathtub, our warped kitchen floorboards and our battered old stove (or "hob," as it's called here). They agree the bathtub needs replacing, agreed to give us a new stove, and obviously the leak damage needs repair. I'm not sure where we left the kitchen floor, but I can live with that. So they're going to do some research on prices, suppliers and workmen and get back to us.

Then it was back to school for...Quiz Night! (I know this is what you've all been waiting for.) I met up with my teammates, grabbed some wine and some pizza, and spent about three hours answering questions from a long-haired male quizmaster in curious houndstooth trousers. There were nine people on each team, and about eight teams, I think. Everyone on our team had a moment in the sun, knowing something the rest of us didn't. (For example, I knew the Turkish word for lion, also the name of a famous fictional character: Aslan, from "The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe.")

Another high point for me came when the quizmaster played an audio clip of a piece of classical music and asked us to name the composer. I knew immediately the piece was "In the Hall of the Mountain King," but I could not for the life of me name the composer. It was on the tip of my tongue.

My teammates put down Prokofiev, but I knew that wasn't right.

"It's a very short name," I said. "Not Holst. Not Elgar."

"Grieg?" said one of my teammates.

"YES!" I said. "That's it."

So we changed our answer, and we were right. Whew! Teamwork!

I also knew the name of the main character in "The Barber of Seville" (Figaro), but my team outvoted me and we wound up missing that one.

I failed on a picture question when I thought Nicola Tesla was a young George Orwell, and I also had no idea there's a musician named Childish Gambino. (Fortunately, someone else on my team did.) You can't win 'em all, I suppose.

But in the end, with an overall score of 92 percent, our team DID win. Woo hoo! We all went home with an Amazon gift card and a package of Smarties as a prize, and I have renewed faith in my quizzing ability, which sagged several years ago after our 2020 flameout. Like a phoenix have I risen from the quizzing ashes!

(Top photo: Ducks in a swamp along the Thames Path, on Sunday.)


Moving with Mitchell said...

Great ducking duck photo. Congrats on the quiz. Never heard of Childish Gambino. Good news from the landlord.

Frances said...

Well done quizzers . (I knew that it was Grieg).

Andrew said...

Well done team Steve. And it seems you did well with your landlord. The star marking is interesting. You know how wicked I am. I am now thinking of your thighs.

Yorkshire Pudding said...

Whoa! Well done to Reed and the Weeds! It is always a nice feeling when you win a quiz. May I ask why earlier in the evening you grabbed the wine and pizza instead of gathering these items politely like a civilised gentleman? Great to hear your landlady and her husband are amenable to improvements. Perhaps they should have stormed upstairs to have a flaming row with The Trotskys.

Sabine said...

Did you miss this song by Childish Gambino and the various discussions on imagery and cultural references etc.?

Jennifer said...

Congratulations on your win! It sounds like a really good time.

Boud said...

With your quiz answers, clearly you're the specialist every team needs! Sounds like a great time.

I hope the proposed renovations won't drive you out?

Boud said...

I have heard of childish gambino but thought he was a mob boss.

Colette said...


Fresca said...

When I posted a clip of Troy Barnes (Donald Glover) on "Community", a reader alerted me, "That's Childish Gambino" and pointed me to the song "This Is America" that Sabine links to, above. I also liked him in a small role as a scientist in "The Maritan".
He's a multi-talented guy!

As are you, with your various quiz answers! (Figaro! How could they vote you down???)

The Bug said...

Way to go! And I'm with Boud - I've heard of Childish Gambino but mob boss sounds more right. Ha!

Also, excellent news about the flat repairs. Now let's hope they don't take an eternity.

Ed said...

I hate getting outvoted and being right! One trivia contest asked about the first words ever said by Mickey Mouse. I knew it was "Hot Dog" but was out voted.

Ellen D. said...

Congrats on your Quiz win!
You will get lots of blog topics from the flat repairs!! :)

Ms. Moon said...

A new stove! Is Dave excited?
And good on you for your quiz answering abilities! I have heard of Childish Gambino but not the slightest idea of what he's done. I think it's an excellent name though.

NewRobin13 said...

Woohoo! I'm cheering for you and your team's quiz win. That must have been challenging and so much fun.
Looking forward to hearing how things go with the repairs there.
Love the duck photo.

Red said...

What a busy day. I like quizzes but they don't seem to be held here anymore.

Sharon said...

Congrats of the quiz win! I think of quiz nights as a truly English activity probably because they are featured so often in all the British TV shows I watch.
Good news from the landlord. You have some new things to look forward to.

The Padre said...

" Good Thing Because Amazon Ships Dog Treats !! " Barks Olga Girl - Looking Forward To The Before And After Photos Around The Flat - Stay Flashy My Brother

P.S. Speaking Of Treats, Any Under A Certain Pink Blanket

Kelly said...

Good job on the Quiz Night win!! Of the questions you shared, I knew everything except the Turkish word for lion. (how did you know that?!) But who knows if I would have been able to recall them under pressure.

One of my kids had me watch that Childish Gambino video when it came out. It's disturbing, but oddly compelling.

Margaret said...

Ouch on all those knee bends. One of my knees has been a little wonky lately so I winced in sympathy. Yay for trivia! You are the lion specialist. I always feel stupid playing trivia because I can come up with bits and pieces of information but not what I need!

Catalyst said...

Ah there you go, taking the name of my nearby city for your own use! :)

Jeanie said...

Quite the day! And good news with the landlord. I hope they move quickly.

Congratulations on your win. It sounds like a fun night and a good group!

Bob said...

I wouldn't have gotten Grieg [Carlos would have] but I would have gotten Childish Gambino [Carlos wouldn't have].

James and Brigitta said...

How did you let them get away with outvoting Figaro, really? The promise of the repairs and improvements sound great but will it be enough to overcome having to live in a building mess?

Linda Sue said...

can't beat a packet of smarties- worth all of the effort put into remembering trivia and hurting your brain!

sparklingmerlot said...

Win win all round. The landlords and the quiz. You always need someone who remembers random stuff on a quiz team.
Well done on getting rid of the stickers. I am surprised it took you this long!

jenny_o said...

That's exciting about the improvements to your flat - it will be a relief to have them done, I'm sure. Well done on the trivia win! I wouldn't mind taking part in something like that but I've never heard of any public games around here. Have you heard of the Canadian-made board game called Trivial Pursuit? We have two versions of it and they've been used consistently in our house over the years.

River said...

92% !! Well done team!
I once had the "fun" job of cleaning off the whiteboard marker ticks and numbers left on the shelf edges after stocktake one year in the supermarket. Took me a week.