And down the stretch we come! As twenty-eleven careens towards its end, we return to jacket weather, different sports on TV, different vegetables in season, and perhaps a few more reasons to stay indoors more often and do some quality reading over some spiked hot drink. Warm up for all that winter cocooning with ten questions about November in literary history. See how you do.
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--Tony Hightower (Twitter: @TriviaNYC)
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Name the Grammy-winning comedian whose career ended abruptly in November, 1963.
Question 1 Explanation:
A successful impressionist, his album The First Family parodied the life of the Kennedys, and sold 7.5 million copies in its first year, making it the fastest-selling album of all time, of any kind, up to that point. Then, after November 22, 1963, suddenly people weren't interested in hearing JFK parodies anymore, for some reason.
November is National Novel Writing month! In 2004, the creator of NaNoWriMo, Chris Baty, published a book about how to get started on writing, with what title?
Are You The Millionth Monkey?
Bleargh! The Ultimate Cure For Writer's Block
No Plot? No Problem!
The 4 Minute Novelist
Question 2 Explanation:
I'm doing it this year. Are you?
What author has made at least two cameo appearances as a bar patron on a current cable TV adaptation of her Southern Vampire book series?
Question 3 Explanation:
The "Southern Vampire" series, featuring Sookie Stackhouse as a telepathic waitress in a swamp town, was first published by Harris (born November 25, 1951) in 2001, and adapted by Alan Ball into the series "True Blood" seven years later.
What notable event happened at the Chelsea Hotel in New York on November 9, 1953?
William Burroughs and Allen Ginsberg met for the first time.
Arthur Miller completed work on "The Crucible."
James Baldwin began what would become his masterpiece, Go Tell It On The Mountain
Dylan Thomas died in his room after a possibly record-setting whiskey binge.
Question 4 Explanation:
Though his last words were allegedly "I've had eighteen straight whiskeys. That must be a record!", Thomas did live to say a few other things after that, and the barkeep and owner of the White Horse Tavern, where he spent most of his evening, claimed he had gone through half that much, at most. Sorry to burst your bubble.
Name the German publisher whose 19th century travel books became the standard from which all tourist guidebook series since have derived much of their format and style.
Question 5 Explanation:
Zagat, Fodor, Frommer, the Lonely Planet & Michelin series, as well as every other travel guide published in the last 200 years, come from the basic tourist-book format originally devised by Baedeker (born November 3, 1801), whose early editions now bring a good price at auctions.
In 1994, what author became the first to have works derived from his writing simultaneously stand at #1 in the weekly TV Nielsen ratings, in movie box office sales, and the New York Times Bestseller list?
Stephen R. Covey
Question 6 Explanation:
ER, Jurassic Park and Disclosure, all originally conceived by Crichton, topped their respective media in the same week in December 1994.
Speaking of modern adaptations, what modern animated movie franchise was created by the children's author William Steig (who also wrote Sylvester & the Magic Pebble, Abel's Island, and the one-letter-word book CDB!)?
Question 7 Explanation:
The word "Shrek" comes from the German/Yiddish word for "fear" or "terror." The four films derived from the book are, collectively, the highest-grossing animated movie franchise of all time.
On November 16, 1938, Albert Hoffman, a Swiss chemist, invented a compound that figures prominently in three of the following four books. Pick the book that doesn't belong in this list.
One Flew Over The Cuckoo's Nest
Flowers For Algernon
Brave New World
Fear And Loathing In Las Vegas
Question 8 Explanation:
Hoffman was the scientist who first synthesized Lysergic Acid Diethylmide (LSD), which influenced the culture of the twentieth century is so many ways, if you think about it for too long, it might just blow your mind, man. (Flowers For Algernon involved a physical brain operation, not drugs.)
Name the Algerian-born author and Nobel Laureate whose essay on Absurdism, The Myth of Sisyphus, spoke forcefully about finding clarity in a world without God, or order of any kind.
Question 9 Explanation:
"The workman of today works every day in his life at the same tasks, and this fate is no less absurd. But it is tragic only at the rare moments when it becomes conscious... One must imagine Sisyphus happy."
What legendary character made their first appearance in the serialized penny dreadful entitled "The String Of Pearls," published November 14, 1846?
Jack The Ripper
Question 10 Explanation:
In the UK, "Sweeney Todd" is rhyming slang for the Flying Squad, the branch of the London Police in charge of investigating armed robberies. So if someone mentions that The Sweeney are after you, I'd call a lawyer.
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2014 marks the sad centenary of the extinction of the passenger pigeon, whose vast flocks had once darkened the skies of a young America; a new book sounds out the messages of that melancholy anniversary