Sunday, February 1, 2009

Time Out for Groundhog Day!

Happy Groundhog Day!

Longtime readers might remember that I am attached to Groundhog Day, and not just because of the 1993 comedy of that name. Although, I am pretty fond of that movie. I watched it alone in the Odeon Theater in the High Street of Exeter, in Devon. I remember that there were occasional chuckles from the rest of the audience, but that I roared with laughter for much of the film, occasionally pounding the armrest and gasping for breath. It made me wonder at the time if there was something distinctively American in the film's humor, or if I was perhaps starting to lose my mind from a year of loneliness and cultural isolation.

But that's not the thing about Groundhog Day. The thing about Groundhog Day is, it's the halfway point between the winter solstace and the spring equinox. Groundhog Day, even the cartoonish part about whether the groundhog will see its shadow, dates back to medieval times, when people took the passing of the seasons very seriously indeed. Groundhog Day is important because it marks the end of the darkest 1/4 of the year (Southern Hemisphere residents adjust for local conditions). By the admittedly unorthodox michael5000 reckoning of the seasons, it is the first day of spring. So Congratulations! You survived!

Dude, Where's My Quiz?

Last Week's MQLX marked the end of the Sixth Season of the Monday Quiz, and per tradition we're taking a week off to stretch, limber up the quizzing muscles, and of course to observe Groundhog Day. Those of you who can't get enough of the Quiz, you'll be happy to know that topics for not one, not two, but THREE more seasons of the Monday Quiz have been approved by the L&TM5K head office. So don't worry, man. We'll have your fix.

But first, let's take a moment to shout out to the Champions of Season Six: Co-champions, actually, as DrSchnell and la gringissima both took an astonishing seven out of the ten available Exclamation Points. Karmasartre was right behind them with six, and Elizabeth gathered five new EPs to bulk up her trophy case. Chance, Mrs.5000, and gs49 all took four apiece.

Well done to all who competed! And to those who didn't, well, the start of a new season is a fine place to jump in. Just think, eleven months from now, we could be shouting out to YOU!!!

This is Not a Quiz

...but it's something I stumbled on a while back, and I think it's pretty cool. Can you tell what it is?

Memphis, Egypt 3100 BCE
Akkad, Babylonia (Iraq) 2240
Lagash, Babylonia (Iraq) 2075
Ur, Babylonia (Iraq) 2030
Thebes, Egypt 1980
Babylon, Babylonia (Iraq) 1770
Avaris, Egypt 1670
Memphis, Egypt 1557
Thebes, Egypt 1400
Nineveh, Assyria (Iraq) 668
Babylon, Babylonia (Iraq) 612
Alexandria 320
Pataliputra (Patna), India 300
Changan (Xi'an), China 195
Rome 25
Constantinople (Istanbul), Turkey 340 CE
Ctesiphon, Iraq 570
Changan (Xi'an), China 637
Baghdad, Iraq 775
Cordova, Spain 935
Kaifeng, China 1013
Constantinople (Istanbul), Turkey 1127
Merv (Mary), Turkmenistan 1145
Constantinople (Istanbul), Turkey 1153
Fez (Fes), Morocco 1170
Hangzhou, China 1180
Cairo, Egypt 1315
Hangzhou, China 1348
Nanking, China 1358
Beijing, China 1425
Constantinople (Istanbul), Turkey 1650
Beijing, China 1710

Happy Groundhog Day, Y'all!


mhwitt said...

Perhaps that is a list of historically significant earthquakes. But probably not not... there was a biggie in Lisbon back in the 17th century or perhaps the 16th that I remember reading of in a college Latin American history class.

Maybe the years in which cities attained a certain population? Surely not 1,000,000, but some smaller number like 250,000.

Anonymous said...

It appears that BCE is missing from several clues or else M5K has the ability to see into the future.

That said, I propose the answer to the Monday not quiz is: the year in which the location was the largest population center in the world.

Anonymous said...

I regret my error in misunderstanding the table. I must withdraw the first portion of my comment, but retain the non-answer to the non-quiz for consideration.

MulchMaid said...

And it's sunny today, too.
Two reasons to cheer: Groundhog day, and sun!

As for the list....I dunno (as usual.)

Anonymous said...

My first guess is that it is, actually, a quiz, and you're lying about the not-a-quiz part.

Second -- a list of cities and dates.

Third -- Places and dates when a close encounter of the fourth kind was documented.

Fourth -- The places, at various times in our history, where we imagined, were we to drill straight through the center of the earth, we would end up.

I am curious about the whole Merv (Mary) thing, and am off to google accordingly. Also, since the names are anglicized, weren't we calling it Peking in 1710 and 1425? Enjoy your time off....

DrSchnell said...

Biggest city in the world? Though who knows how they actually know such things from, say, 1770 BC....

Anonymous said...

You do kind of have a Bill Murray style and demeanor. Not in the What About Bob? sense though.

That is a list of ancient cities with numbers next to them!

Christine M. said...

I saw "Hannah and her Sisters" by myself on a rainy day in Dublin. The scene where Woody Allen decides he's going to be a goy and comes home with a grocery bag full of mayonnaise and Wonder Bread, was met be a puzzled silence...except from me, who was practically rolling on the floor.

So, yeah, I think some things are lost when they cross the ocean.

Anonymous said...

@La Gringissima:
Wasn't it mayo, Wonder Bread and a crucifix? I loved that scene.

Michael5000 said...

Well done, lads -- it's a list of what were the largest cities of the world, according to "Four Thousand Years of Urban Growth: An Historical Census" by Tertius Chandler, 1987. A strange and ambitious work that I haven't actually been able to get my hands on, but would like to.

My Irish cinema anecdote: Wanting to see something actually authentically Irish, being in Ireland at all, I went to the Cork downtown theater and picked, based on its name alone, "Glengarry Glen Ross."

Chance said...

HA! That theater comment deserved to be its own vignette entry.

Anonymous said...

Niece #3 and I watched "Groundhog Day" a few weeks ago--I don't remember why I'd put it in the Netflix queue, but it showed up, and we watched it. My first time. I really really really really COULD tell how funny it was, but man it has not stood the test of time. SLOW. I had to keep waking #3 from a near doze by saying things like "Ha! See, that's funny, isn't it?"

Love Bill Murray, though.

Anonymous said...

The first time I saw that film it was after I had read an essay about it and eternal recurrance. I thought that it was going to be a bore and was very pleased that it wasn't.

So cool to know about the cities. I love that kind of information. Not sure why.