On the 15th of this month (the Ides of March), the annual Scholastic Bowl will be held at Glendale High School Auditorium. Our school district’s four high schools will send their brightest youngsters to match wits for the 20th time.
The questions asked of these kids are taken from a company called Questions Unlimited, and they go well beyond what most of us would consider basic cultural literacy.
But just what do the words “cultural literacy” mean? To a large extent, it is a body of common knowledge that is part of our collective memory. It allows us to communicate and live and work together.
It is a distinguishing characteristic of our national culture. It is that shifting body of information that we as a people have found useful, and therefore worth preserving.
I’ve put together a group of questions for you that I think fits the above description. They are not necessarily things that you should know — that’s always a debatable subject — but what, as an adult, you might have packed away in your brain thus far on your journey through life.
The following are arbitrary and briefly phrased questions grouped into three categories, 15 questions in each group. The first I judge to be easier than the second, the second easier than the third. I’d love to hear from anyone getting a perfect (or near perfect) score on this.
1. Song sang in the middle of the 7th inning?
2. How many pieces of silver for Judas?
3. Vulnerable point; Greek hero.
4. What did I cry once too often? Now you won’t believe me.
5. What can’t beggars be?
6. I’m stuck between a rock . . .
7. Legendary lover; Spanish Romeo.
8. Our president’s street address.
9. He floated like a butterfly and stung like a bee.
10. Name the three little men on a Rice Krispies box.
11. What, in automotive terms, do the letters, RPM, stand for?
12. What’s California’s motto?
13. What exactly was a “date that will live in infamy”? (month, day, year)
14. Who takes the Hippocratic Oath?
15. Physician, ___________ _____________” (Your body is your doctor.)
1. Who led the United Farm Workers and organized a grape boycott in California?
2. The name given to Arthur’s sword.
3. Beware of _______________ bearing gifts.
4. Those who can’t remember the past . . . (finish the quote)
5. What is the “green-eyed monster”?
6. Who first convinced the world that the Earth revolved around the sun?
7. Who’s watching us, according to George Orwell?
8. What song will still cause Southerners to rise to their feet in reverence?
9. Who adopted Little Orphan Annie?
10. What are the four corners in Monopoly?
11. Who liked his martinis “shaken, not stirred”?
12. Tiny Tim’s little prayer and last line in “A Christmas Carol.”
13. The baron’s last name in “The Sound of Music.”
14. The warming of Pacific Ocean water and resulting weather patterns. What’s it called?
15. What do the initials GNP stand for?
1. Name four of the Seven Deadly Sins.
2. Why is there no joy in Mudville tonight?
3. What was Jonathan Swift’s “modest proposal”?
4. Whose rocking chair is in the Smithsonian? (Think late ’60s sitcom)
5. Steinbeck’s family in “The Grapes of Wrath.”
6. When/where is “Pomp and Circumstance” usually played?
7. The presence of a pool table, “right here in _____.” (What city?)
8. Dorothy says to Toto, “I don’t think we’re in ___________ anymore.” (Which state?)
9. Ed McMahon said these two words nightly, and Jack Nicholson said them once in “The Shining.”
10. What was the “house that Ruth built”?
11. What was Betty Friedan’s national bestseller?
12. What insulated group of people in the bayou of Louisiana have a distinctive music and cooking spice?
13. Who is the voice of Mickey Mouse?
14. What famous literary pseudonym means “two fathoms deep”?
15. Einstein’s famous equation that led to the development of nuclear fission.
1. “Take Me Out to the Ballgame”
3. Achilles heel
6. and a hard place
7. Don Juan
8. 1600 Pennsylvania Ave.
9. Muhammad Ali
10. Snap, Krackle, Pop
11. revolutions per minute
12. Eureka (“I found it.”)
13. Dec. 7, 1941
15. heal thyself
1. Cesar Chavez
4. are condemned to repeat it.
7. Big Brother
9. Daddy Warbucks
10. Go, Jail, Free Parking, Go to Jail
11. James Bond
12. “God bless us, everyone.”
13. Von Trapp
14. El Niño
15. gross national product
1. pride, greed, lust, wrath, gluttony, envy and sloth
2. mighty Casey has struck out.
3. eating children to alleviate a food shortage in Ireland
4. Archie Bunker
5. The Joads
7. River City
9. “Here’s Johnny.”
10. Yankee Stadium
11. “The Feminine Mystique”
13. Walt Disney
14. Mark Twain
Get in touch DAN KIMBER is a teacher in the Glendale Unified School District, where he has taught for more than 30 years. He may be reached at DKimb8@ sbcglobal.net.