Can you guess all of the answers to my quiz? Be one of the first three people to enter correctly in the comments below and you could win a copy of Constable Colgan's Connectoscope.
1. With her green skin, pointy hat and cackling voice, The Wicked Witch of the West from the 1939 film The Wizard of Oz, has become the iconic popular face of fictional witches. Throughout the films and books, she’s been given a variety of names. Can you name one or more of them?
A - She was never named in the books but was called Mombi in the 1910 Wizard of Oz film and in its 1914 sequel, His Majesty, the Scarecrow of Oz. She was called Bastinda in Alexander Volkov’s 1939 book The Wizard of the Emerald City, and Smarmy on the track ‘Just call Smarmy’ on the 1969 Disneyland LP The Songs of the Wizard of Oz. In the 1974 Motown-based film The Wiz, she was called Evillyne, and in the 1996 stage show Wicked, she’s called Elphaba Thropp. Finally, in the 2007 sci-fi reimagining of the story - Tin Man - she’s called Azkadellia, and in the 2013 movie Oz, the Great and Powerful, she’s called Theodora.
2. A chronic fear of Hallowe'en is called what?
A - Samhainophobia. It’s a rare condition but it can create serious problems like any irrational fear. For instance, Frankie Spires would experience panic attacks and breathing problems in certain Halloween-like settings ... but, unfortunately, he worked as one of the scare actors in at The London Dungeon. His phobia eventually led to him being moved to a position outside of the main attraction. “I can cope with historic horror no problem”, says Spires. “I think it's the paranormal aspect of Halloween - the idea of restless spirits entering the waking world en masse, that I find disturbing. I'm not particularly religious but I come from a religious family. My grandfather was a vicar, so I suspect my aversion to Halloween is deep-rooted in my upbringing somehow. I don't have a problem with costumes or scary masks. If I did I wouldn't be able to do what I do, and actually I love my job.” He adds that he managed to get through last year's Halloween by gritting his teeth but was almost physically sick every morning.
3. Where in the world are vampire bats found?
A - Central and South America. There are three species: the Common vampire bat (Desmodus rotundus), the Hairy-legged vampire bat (Diphylla ecaudata), and the White-winged vampire bat (Diaemus youngi). False Vampire Bats can be found in Africa and Asia but they do not feed exclusively on blood. There are no native vampire bats in Europe – the home of Dracula and the vampire legend.
4. Why is a bonfire called a bonfire?
A - Because it’s a bone fire. The etymology of the word bonfire derives from the Middle English banefire (late 15c) - a fire in which bones were burned. Traditionally, Samhain, the Celtic festival that that marks the end of summer on November 1st, was a time of setting great fires where the people gathered to burn crops and animals as sacrifices to their deities. When the celebration was over, they re-lit their hearth fires, which they had extinguished earlier that evening, from the sacred bone-fire to help protect them during the coming winter.
5. Skeletons are a fixture of Halloween. But how much do you know about them? Here are three questions:
- a. How many bones are there in an adult human body?
- b. What percentage of a proportionate human’s body weight is skeleton?
- c. Only one bone doesn’t connect to any other bone. Where is it?
A a - There are 206 bones in the average human body. There are more than 300 at birth but many fuse together; the skull alone is composed of 22 bones. One in 20 people have an extra rib.
A b - About 14% of overall body weight is bone.
A c - The hyoid bone is not connected to any other bone and is found in the throat. It evolved from the second gill arch found in fish.
6. Now a couple of questions about pumpkins:
- a. Is a pumpkin a vegetable, a herb or a fruit?
- b. According to the Guinness Book of Records, how heavy is the heaviest pumpkin ever grown?
A a - The pumpkin (and all of its squash relatives) are fruit as they grow from a flower. To be precise, they are berries s a berry is defined as a single fruiting body containing seeds. Other berries include avocados, blueberries, tomatoes, grapes and blackcurrants. Curiously, blackberries, raspberries and strawberries are no berries.
A b - The largest authenticated pumpkin known to date weighed at staggering 824.86 kg (1,818 lb 5 oz) and was grown by dad and daughter team Jim and Kelsey Bryson of Ontario, Canada, in 2011. There is also an uncorroborated (by Guinness) record of a 2,009 lb pumpkin – that’s over a ton – grown by Ron Wallace, of Rhode Island, in 2012.
7. The ghost of which popular entertainer is said to haunt the Sunderland Empire Theatre?
A - Sid James. He died while on stage at the theatre in 1976 during a production of a farce called The Mating Game. It is rumoured that a presence can be felt in the dressing room that he used on the night he died. Comedian Les Dawson was reportedly spooked when he used the room later; so much so that he refused to come back to the theatre for a while afterwards. He never went into details and refused to say what had happened. And Barbara Windsor, his Carry On co-star and the object of his affections, would pull out of any touring show when it came to Sunderland. Legend says that when colleagues were told ‘Sid has died in Sunderland’, the common reply was, ‘Don’t worry. Everybody dies in Sunderland’.
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