Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Trochaic tetrameter, or How I Stopped Worrying And Learned To Love Blogging

Here is an April quiz for you. It is not a quiz about April; it is a quiz in April. Though April quizzes may come your way, they bring the diplomas that bloom in May:

1. Ginkgo Biloba is (A) a distant relative of the Spanish explorer Vasco Núñez de Balboa; (B) a common lizard whose scientific classification is Kingdom Animalia, Phylum Chordata, Subphylum Vertebrata, Class Reptilia, Order Squamata, Suborder Gekkota, Family Gekkonidae, one Genus of which, Hemidactylus, includes about 90 different species, which are listed here; (C) a tree.

2. Garcinia Cambogia is (A) a suburb of Phnom Penh; (B) the former president of Argentina; (C) a tree.

3. “By the Shores of Gitchee Gumee” is (A) a line of a famous poem by Henry Wadworth Longfellow; (B) the opening line of an oath made famous during the time of Oliver Cromwell (“By the shores of Gitchee Gumee, by the hair of my chinny-chin-chin, by all that is holy, curfew shall not ring tonight.”) ; (C) a satirical novel by Tama Janowitz about the Slivenowiczes, a trailer park trash family who are forced to leave their home in a polluted swamp area in upstate New York (as Maud claims on p. 194 of the hardcover version) and who beg, steal and borrow their way across the United States until they end up in Hollywood. The characters’ hyper-intelligent witty repartee, reminiscent of New Yorkers in a Tama Janowitz novel, highlights the tragedy of the family’s social and economic descent. The first person narrator of the novel is 19-year-old Maud Slivenowicz, whose major source of knowledge is Reader’s Digest. Her mother, Evangeline, has five children by five different deadbeat fathers. Without a regular income, the Slivenowicz family dream of becoming movie stars, and at the end of the book it seems one of Maud’s brothers might actually be given a role in a television commercial.

4. Speaking of the shores of Gitche Gumee, why did Hiawatha wear a toupee?

5. Which of the following is an example of trochaic tetrameter?

By the shores of Gitche Gumee,
By the shining Big-Sea-Water,
Stood the wigwam of Nokomis,
Daughter of the Moon, Nokomis.
Dark behind it rose the forest,
Rose the black and gloomy pine-trees,
Rose the firs with cones upon them;
Bright before it beat the water,
Beat the clear and sunny water,
Beat the shining Big-Sea-Water.

Not far from the great Pacific,
Snug within the Gate called Golden,
By the Hill called Telegraph,
Near the Mission of Dolores,
Close by the Valley of St. Ann’s,
San Francisco rears its mansions,
Rears its palaces and churches;
Built of timber, bricks, and mortar,
Built on hills and built in valleys,
Built in Beelzebubbian splendor,
Stands the city San Francisco.

From his shoulder Hiawatha
Took the camera of rosewood,
Made of sliding, folding rosewood;
Neatly put it all together.
In its case it lay compactly,
Folded into nearly nothing;
But he opened out the hinges
Till it looked all squares and oblongs,
Like a complicated figure
In the Second Book of Euclid.

6. Phnom Penh is (A) the sister of actor Sean Penh; (B) the five times great-granddaughter of English explorer William Penh, who invented Quaker State Motor Oil; (C) a city in Cambogia.

7. True or false: Most ginkgos cannot blink, but they often lick their eyes to keep them clean and moist.

Look for answers in my next post.


  1. I can answer 1 and 6 only ~ which makes me suitably stupid. I think that was the purpose? Perhaps only Republicans know all the answers.

  2. Carol[HasANewBlog], don't just tell me which answers you knew! You have to pick A, B, or C and perhaps add a comment about your choice. I will tell you in my next post whether you knew the answers!

    You're a teacher; you should know this!

  3. Of course I knew all the answers instantly. If you are going to set quizzes for your adoring readership please include a small element of intellectual challenge. Regards, Yorkshire Pudding (secretary of The Bob Brague Fan Club - European Branch)

  4. Secretary Pudding, because of the endearing way you U.K. folk have of saying the exact opposite of what you mean, I take it you are saying that you couldn't answer any of the questions. There is still time; put your answers in another comment!

  5. Ginkgo Biloba is a tree (c) a maidenhair tree ~ I used to have one ~ no two.

    Phnom Penh is the capital of Camodia ~ not Cambogia.

    Your deliberate spelling mistakes makes me think there is a trick to your quiz and I will always defer to you Sir as the more highly read and intelligent of us Earthlings. I look forward to learning what the twist was ~ there is obviously a common thread through all the questions.

    Your title ~ how I learned to love blogging perhaps needed to have AGAIN at the end ~ because I am very happy to see you getting so much enjoyment from your blog AGAIN after you announcing your penultimate year.

    Big Hugs x

  6. RWP ~ Perhaps you could answer the Why question ~ why would anyone go yo that length of writing in Trochaic tetrameter. What was the purpose?


    I think the last paragraph at this web page explains the Why.

  8. Carol, I made no spelling errors; Cambogia is exactly what I meant to say. Also, Phnom Penh is definitely not the capital of Camodia. You are right, however, about Ginkgo Biloba's being a tree! There is no "trick" in the quiz other than reading carefully....

    I think you are right about loving blogging AGAIN...I hadn't even realized it.

  9. Hmm. First I thought I knew some answers, then I thought not. Then I thought I was thinking too hard and realized that this was not required reading and I didn't do my homework. My dog ate it. Besides that, I had soup for dinner.


  10. I'm glad you are loving blogging again. Can't do much of your quiz because it's too late at night, sorry.

  11. Hilltop, either you didn't do your homework or the dog ate it, but both cannot be true. If your dog ate something, it was definitely not your homework if you didn't do your homework. Perhaps soup is a natural diuretic (and perhaps not) but homework can be done in bathrooms.

    Kate, the quiz will be there waiting for you in the morning!