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April 26, 2016

Mystery Quiz #5: a colorful experiment

Congrats to UllspergerA for topping the 90-player field for Mystery Quiz #5; ChernicoffS placed, and SrikrishnanV, the only person to go 12/12, rounded out the podium.

Mystery Quiz #6, in the more traditional “11 answers + theme” format, is open until Sunday evening.

This week’s theme was a bit different from usual: each of the 12 answers fit the next position in the RGB (red-green-blue) color wheel, also known as color addition. These are the primary colors for projected images and computer screens, among others; in color subtraction, used in painting, red, yellow, and blue are the primary colors.


A few lessons I learned from this experiment:

  • I could have pointed out that the theme was circular, i.e., I could have started with any question as long as I kept the order.
  • Putting red, orange, yellow as the first three answers probably got some people thinking in the wrong direction.
  • I could have offered a few other clues to the theme, e.g., “1, 5, and 9 should be your primary targets”

In any case, I hope you enjoyed it. Here is a recap of each question.

Q1. He won his first NBA title in 1957; ten years later, the league’s “Coach of the Year” award was renamed in his honor. Identify this man, whose signature is emblazoned on his team’s parquet floor.


Longtime head coach of the Boston Celtics.

Q2. “Only you can prevent a forest” was the motto of Operation Ranch Hand, which reached its peak in the late 1960s. Name the herbicidal mixture most frequently used in the Operation’s sorties.


The U.S. military used a “rainbow” of herbicides to defoliate trees in Vietnam, each named for the colored stripe on the canister. Agent Purple was the most toxic to humans.



Q3. This is a still from what 1968 film?



Those of you who have seen the film will recognize the Blue Meanies; if you haven’t, either the theme or the absurd animation style got you there.

Q4. The only authentic type of what liqueur is produced by Carthusian monks at a distillery in Voiron, France? Before writing this quiz, I had thought it was made in a town southwest of Paris known for its cathedral.



The town in question is Chartres. I had also heard the color was named for a particular color that was developed for the stained-glass windows in its famous cathedral, but this is apparently false.



Q5. Rosa Clemente, Cheri Honkala, Winona LaDuke, and Pat LaMarche are most closely associated with what political organization?


These women are the last four vice presidential candidates. “Nader-LaDuke” might have popped into your mind.



Q6. The item pictured here, from 2008, was billed as the largest glass ever constructed for what specific beverage?



Drink + old horse race should be enough to get you in this direction. You might have also picked up on the twin spires of the Churchill Downs logo in a couple of places.



Q7. When bonded with hydrogen, this compound can be called prussic acid – ironic, because the Third Reich preferred it as a method for inflicting death, as both a gas (in concentration camps) and a solid (for suicide). What is the name of this diatomic anion?


Q8. Also known as the French Riviera, France’s southeastern coastline on the Mediterranean is most often called what in the local tongue? (I’ll also accept the direct English translation.)


I thought this would play harder, but I couldn’t think of a better subject.

Q9. Off we go! It’s the more popular name of “The U.S. Air Force”, the official song of that military branch.


“Off we go into the wild blue yonder” is the first line of the song.

Q10. Tomato soup
Roast beef with baked potato
Blueberry pie with ice cream

That’s the three-course “dinner” ingested in an unusual manner by what fictional character, who has an unfortunate reaction to her “meal”? (First and last name, please.)


For me, this was the most disturbing scene of the only legitimate version of Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory (sorry, Johnny Depp).

Best line: “Because, Charlie, she’s a nit-wit!”



Q11. On June 4, 1859, French and Sardinian forces routed Austrian troops outside of what Italian town? French chemist François-Emmanuel Verguin named the product of rosaniline hydrochloride in the battle’s honor.


This is the kind of question you hear once and never forget. (The first time, I thought it was Siena.) I thought about adding “dye” to the question, but decided to avoid using references to colors. I would do it differently again.

Q12. As you might know, I was in an a cappella group in college. Here, we’re singing the final chord of what film’s theme?


I got spooked by how easy the “Yabba Dabba Doo!” audio clip turned out in Mystery #4, so I made this one a little more difficult. A little too difficult.

Here is the full track if you’re interested, with yours truly performing the main saxophone theme:



  1. Vivek permalink

    12 was so hard: I had to think about the theme for a while before it came to me, and I figured it was completely wrong.

    • Yeah, I definitely could have chosen an easier section, like the part that starts at 0:44. I guess I thought the “collapsing” outro was better known than it was, even with the theme!

      • Vivek permalink

        Yeah, that would’ve made it a lot easier.

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