Tough Trivia, 4/14/21

Grant_WoodYesterday’s question was “Who were the models used by Grant Wood when he painted American Gothic?”

The answer is: Grant Wood (1891–1942) painted American Gothic in 1930. He used his sister, Nan Wood Graham (1899–1990, who also appears in a portrait he painted of her in 1933) and their dentist, Dr. Byron McKeeby (1867–1950) from Cedar Rapids, Iowa. Nan told people her brother had envisioned the pair as father and daughter, not husband and wife, which Wood himself confirmed in a letter in 1941: “The prim lady with him is his grown-up daughter.”

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Today’s question: On the stock exchanges, companies are known by their ticker symbols: two- or three- or four-letter codes denoting the companies. With 26 possible letters in each slot, there are a very large number of possibilities. But there are also 20 companies with single-letter ticker symbols. How many of them can you name?

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Ian’s Tough Trivia is a daily feature of this blog. Each day, I post a tough question, as well as the answer to the previous day’s question. At some point, I’ll offer a prize for whoever has the most correct answers, and another for whoever participates most often (I’ll take into account people coming in after the start: regular participation starting later is just as good as regular participation starting earlier). There may also be a prize for the funniest or most amusing wrong answer. Simply comment on this post with your answer. I’ll approve the comments after the next question is posted. Sure, you can probably find the answers by searching the web, but what’s the fun in that?

Financial support in the form of tips is very much appreciated: paypal.me/ianrandalstrock

Tough Trivia, 4/13/21

Yesterday’s question was: Everybody remembers “When in the course of human events” and “life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.” July 4, 1776, and John Hancock. That it was Thomas Jefferson’s wordsmithing which put the words in that document. But the Declaration of Independence wouldn’t have meant anything if it wasn’t adopted by the 13 colonies and signed by their 56 representatives. Including John Hancock in his state’s delegation, which state had the most signatories, and which state the fewest? Bonus points if you can list the number of signatories for each state.

And the answers:

  • Pennsylvania, 9 (including Benjamin Franklin).
  • Virginia, 7 (including future President Thomas Jefferson, and Benjamin Harrison V, who was the father of future President William Henry Harrison and the great-grandfather of future President Benjamin Harrison).
  • New Jersey, 5.
  • Massachusetts Bay, 5 (including President of Congress John Hancock, future President John Adams, and future Vice President Elbridge Gerry).
  • Connecticut, 4.
  • Maryland, 4.
  • New York, 4.
  • South Carolina, 4.
  • Delaware, 3 (including Caesar Rodney, who was depicted on Delaware’s state quarter in 1999).
  • Georgia, 3 (including Button Gwinnett, see below).
  • New Hampshire, 3 (including Josiah Bartlett, namesake for the fictional president of the United States in the television series The West Wing).
  • North Carolina, 3.
  • Rhode Island and Providence Plantations, 2.

Grant_Wood_-_American_Gothic_-_Google_Art_ProjectButton Gwinnett (1735–May 19, 1777) was born in England, represented Georgia in the Continental Congress, signed the Declaration of Independence (top signature in the left-most column), and died in duel. Gwinnett was fairly obscure prior to the signing of the Declaration, and died soon thereafter, so there are only 51 known examples of his signature, making it the rarest and most sought-after (only ten of those signatures are in private hands). The rarity of his signature has become a plot point in a lot of fiction, including the 1932 film Washington Merry Go Round, the 1958 film The Last Hurrah, a 1971 episode of Mannix, a 2018 episode of Elementary, and a 1953 science fiction story called “Button, Button” by Isaac Asimov.

Today’s question is: Who were the models used by Grant Wood when he painted American Gothic?

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Ian’s Tough Trivia is a daily feature of this blog. Each day, I post a tough question, as well as the answer to the previous day’s question. At some point, I’ll offer a prize for whoever has the most correct answers, and another for whoever participates most often (I’ll take into account people coming in after the start: regular participation starting later is just as good as regular participation starting earlier). There may also be a prize for the funniest or most amusing wrong answer. Simply comment on this post with your answer. I’ll approve the comments after the next question is posted. Sure, you can probably find the answers by searching the web, but what’s the fun in that?

Financial support in the form of tips is very much appreciated: paypal.me/ianrandalstrock

Good(ish) rejection

Like all writers, I get far more rejection notes than acceptances. It’s just part of the process of being a writer, and nearly all of them, regardless of the words, are just a way of saying “no, we’re not going to publish this story”: mark it in the submission log, find another potential market for the story, and move on. Today, however, I received a very surprising rejection. The first two paragraphs are just standard form rejection, but then the editor appended this third paragraph:

Personal note: This was a fascinating and experimental piece to read. It was unpredictably and beautifully eerie. Your prose succeeds at building and sustaining the tension driving this story.

Other than the in-person rejections from friends, this is the nicest I’ve ever received. In the long run, it doesn’t really matter: the story still hasn’t sold, and the rejection isn’t going to make it any easier to sell the story, but for a few moments today, it feels nice.

Tough Trivia, 4/12/21

I’m planning for Tough Trivia to be a daily feature on this blog (well, Monday to Friday). Each day, I’ll post a tough trivia question. The next day, I’ll post the answer to the previous day’s question and a new question.

At some point, I’ll award a prize for the most correct answers, and another for the most regular participant. And maybe something for the funniest or most amusing wrong answer. If you want to participate, simply comment on the day’s post. I won’t approve the comments until after the next day’s entry is posted.

800px-USA_declaration_independenceAnd while this is the age of the internet, and you can probably do a web search and find the right answers to each question, where’s the fun in that? I can’t make you not look it up, but don’t.

So, let’s kick things off with a history question:

Everybody remembers “When in the course of human events” and “life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.” July 4, 1776, and John Hancock. That it was Thomas Jefferson’s wordsmithing which put the words in that document. But the Declaration of Independence wouldn’t have meant anything if it wasn’t adopted by the 13 colonies and signed by their 56 representatives. Including John Hancock in his state’s delegation, which state had the most signatories, and which state the fewest? Bonus points if you can list the number of signatories for each state.

The anti-ellipsis?

Having a texting conversation with a new friend, and one of the topics is grammar and punctuation (don’t laugh; some of us find it interesting). I gave a brief disquisition on the ellipsis. The next day (after thinking about it), she said “The ellipsis seems to be about leaving: leaving things off, leaving things out… Is there a mark about coming back?” I didn’t have an answer for that. Do you?

Amelie

Amelie_posterI just saw the movie Amelie. How did I not see this earlier?! It’s wonderful! I love the surrealism of it, and the incredible details that actually have nothing to do with the main story, except as a means of showing the import of little details that we tend to ignore. It reminded me (at least, the detail-ness of it) of Stranger Than Fiction (which I shouldn’t have liked so much, but did) and the great parts of The Princess Bride (the book, not the movie). It’s those details, and the strong narrator, that I love so much and want to figure out how to work into my fiction, though I still haven’t gotten to that stage (although I have noticed myself dropping in some of those detail-esque references in my recent stories; I guess it’s just a slow evolution).

theprincessbrideNow I’m processing the movie, absorbing it, thinking I want to watch it again. But my French isn’t nearly good enough; I’d have to again read all the subtitles. That isn’t really a problem, except that it pretty much forces me to only watch the movie, and not do anything else at the same time, as I normally do when I’m “watching” reruns on tv.

Horror for the Throne will scare… it right out of you

A press release from Fantastic Books:

horrorforthethronefrontDelayed for a year due to the pandemic (which is itself a horror), Fantastic Books is now terrified to announce the impending publication of Horror for the Throne: One-Sitting Reads, the third in our highly successful series of anthologies of very short stories. Being released on July 15, (beware the Ides of July), Horror for the Throne once again invites readers to sit down and take notice.

Editors Tom Easton and Judith K. Dial are joined this time by Mythopoeic Award-winner James D. Macdonald, presenting forty short stories guaranteed to scare… it right out of you.

Amazing Stories said the first volume (Science Fiction for the Throne) is “not a book to try and read in one sitting (as I largely did). It is what I sometimes refer to as ‘a dipping book:’ for maximum effect, you should read a story or two here, a story or two there, a story or two somewhere else.” Hugo-winner Allen Steele said “For the bathroom, for the bedroom, for the bus to work, for that chair in the department store where bored spouses sit while their wives or husbands try on new clothes… this is a perfect way to entertain yourself during idle moments in a way that won’t rot your mind. Read this and have fun.”

Asimov’s Science Fiction said the second volume, Fantasy for the Throne, is “a fun collection, exactly right for those moments when you have just a few minutes to read.” While Analog Science Fiction and Fact called it “a little gem. Or rather, here are 40 little gems by as many authors, all packaged in one sweet volume.”

Get your blood pumping with forty bite-sized doses of horror fiction. Horror for the Throne is the third in an ongoing series of One-Sitting Reads. Don’t say we didn’t warn you.

Horror for the Throne: One-Sitting Reads
edited by James D. Macdonald, Tom Easton, and Judith K. Dial
Fantastic Books. 176 pages. Simultaneous publication date: July 15, 2021
trade paperback: $14.99. ISBN: 978-1-5154-2409-3.
case laminate hardcover: $22.99. ISBN: 978-1-5154-2410-3.

Review copies are available upon request.

Horror for the Throne—and all Fantastic Books publications—are distributed through Ingram, and available through all major online retailers. Fantastic Books is also happy to accept orders directly from independent book stores.

Horror for the Throne features stories by: E.C. Ambrose, Colleen Anderson, Kevin David Anderson, Diane Arrelle, Stewart C. Baker, T.L. Barrett, James Blakey, Bruce Boston, Michael Bracken, Tiffany Michelle Brown, Elliot Capon, Jeff C. Carter, Gregg Chamberlain, Brenda Clough, Ian Creasey, Steve Dillon, Stephanie Ellis, Kevin M. Folliard, Eric J. Guignard, Liam Hogan, Emma Johnson-Rivard, Randee Dawn Kestenbaum, Daniel M. Kimmel, Chris Kuriata, Geoffrey A. Landis, Sharon Lee, Gordon Linzner, Nicola Lombardi, Linda Silverman McMullen, Gregory Nicoll, Brian Rappatta, Gary L. Robbs, Chuck Rothman, Steve Rasnic Tem, Mark Towse, Mary A. Turzillo, Douglas A. Van Belle, Marie Vibbert, Dawn Vogel, and Marcia Wilson.

Still having trouble texting

Once again, I’m reminded of how text “conversations” make me uncomfortable. When my correspondent stops responding, I never know if it’s because my correspondent was distracted by something else, or tired of the conversation, or if I’ve said something that made my correspondent simply want to stop responding. Intellectually, I know I’m rarely so appalling in what I text, but that worry is always in my mind, and I wind up going over the last text I sent several times to make sure I haven’t said anything too untoward.

Yes, yes, I know: texting is one continual conversation with randomly spaced lacunae which can last from moments to days, but my “face-to-face conversation” brain still wants some sort of signal, that this is simply a pause, not a permanent end.

Ships not moving

Ever_Given_Suez_Canal_24_March_2021
Container ship Ever Given stuck in the Suez Canal on March 24, 2021.

I was just looking at the story Evergreen Lines’ container ship Ever Given, the ship which is currently stuck in the Suez Canal. That lead me to this Wikipedia article on the Yellow Fleet, which I’d probably heard of, but forgotten. The Yellow Fleet were the fifteen ships trapped by the Six Day War in the Suez Canal from 1967 to 1975. An interesting story from days gone by.

TKAT: March 17, 2021

In the realm of “Well, that’s interesting (stock market edition),” take a look at the stock of Takung Art Co., Ltd., today. It trades on the American Stock Exchange with the ticker symbol TKAT. Takung operates an electronic online platform for artists, dealers, and collectors to buy and sell artwork primarily in the People’s Republic of China. It pays no dividends, and reports no earnings.

After trading between $1 and $2 a share for all of last year, it jumped at the beginning of this year to about $2.50, and has slowly been trending up the last two months. At the end of the day Monday, it jumped to $9, and then yesterday ranged between $6 and $7, closing at $5.99. Just after 11 o’clock this morning, somebody noticed it. Or perhaps a lot of somebodies. It peaked today at $24.90, and finished the day at $22.60. There are a total of 11,271,000 shares outstanding, and the 90-day average trading volume, until today, was just under 588,000 shares per day. Today, it traded just over 66 million shares. Put another way, every single share of the company in circulation changed hands six times today.

I don’t own it, and don’t feel any need to buy this stock (except, possibly, if I could buy it yesterday), but it is interesting to look at.