Thursday, March 13, 2008

Q 8 Connect Abbott and Costello, Dustin Hoffman, and the Baseball Hall of Fame.

Answer : "Who's on first". The famous play on words by Abbott and Costello where Who was the name of the first base, What was the name of the second base, etc has been translated into many languages and is still a standard joke, as well as the basis of works on epistemology. A disc recording of the Abbot and Costello routine was inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1956. The line was also successfully used by Dustin Hoffman who played the role of an autist in the film "Rain Man".

Background trivia: The routine was born out of turn of the century burlesque sketches, with references to Watt Street, etc

Additional trivia: The complete list :

* First Base: Who
* Second Base: What
* Third base: I Don't Know
* Left field: Why
* Center Field: Because
* Pitcher: Tomorrow
* Catcher: Today
* Shortstop: I Don't Give a Darn! (at other times the phrase was stated as "I Don't Care" or "I Don't Give a Damn")

References : The Wikipedia article on Who's on First.

Wednesday, March 05, 2008

Q 7 Which venues of social interactions in the Hudson Valley arose out of the Dutch practice of making elevated buildings as protection from North Sea?

Answer: The urban stoop - a small staircase that leads to a small porch outside an apartment housing from the street. The stoop has been thought to play a large role in social interaction between neighbors, as well as in crime watch by locals.

Background trivia : The word stoop originates from the Dutch word "stoep" - which means pavement. The word "stoep" as stoop can be found in British literature, as in :

1926: To my surprise there was a house close beside me, a fairly large house with a broad stoep and many windows. — Arthur Conan Doyle, ‘The Adventure of the Blanched Soldier’

Additional Trivia: Specific words have been derived from the word "stoop" in American English. These include "stoop ball" - a street sport mimicking baseball without the role of a batter. Another such word is the derogatory "stoopid" - used to refer to people who sit and while away time on stoops. (Interestingly, in Kolkata, people who frequent stairs or porches facing the street - which are known as "rock"s or "rowack"s - are referred to as "rockbaaj" - also in derogatory usage)

References :

The wikipedia article on stoops

Mario Maffi, New York City: An Outsider's Inside View

The Death and Life of Great American Cities, Jane Jacobs

Arthur Conan Doyle, ‘The Adventure of the Blanched Soldier’

BOY KILLED BY AUTOMOBILE.; Walter Purdy Was Bouncing "Stoop" Ball and Backed in Front of the Car. May 12, 1909, Wednesday. New York Times.