Aug 16 2011

#108 “Name Game”

From Grace in Anchorage, Alaska

The idea of names has always been intriguing to me. I understand why objects have names, of course; everything needs a label with which it may be identified. More specifically, I have always taken an active interest in the meaning of names and whether or not objects or people truly reflect the meaning (or even the feeling) of the name that they possess.

One of my favorite mental pastimes to engage in whenever I read a new book or watch a piece of cinema is to examine the implications of characters’ names. Over the years, a couple of my favorite “tricky” names include Truman from the movie “The Truman Show” (he certainly is the only “true man”) and Willy Loman from “Death of a Salesman” (Willy definitely is about as “low” of a man as you can get).

Whether we will admit to it or not, we all come to preemptive conclusions about people before we even meet them, and we often do this based solely on the person’s name. Don’t believe me? Ask yourself these questions: As a man, would you rather go on a blind date with Gretchin or Candy? As a woman, would you rather go on a blind date with Milhouse or Jacob?

All of this leads me to the wonderful piece of artwork that is on display today. My first thought when I looked at this illustration was how physically and temperamentally different all of these wolves seemed. I began to speculate which wolves were friendly and which were mean, which were reclusive and which were social, which were refined and which were crude, and so on and so forth. You can see how this logically led me to create names for each one of them, and that is exactly what I did. These names are listed below. But the real question is, can you guess which name I assigned to which wolf?

Take your best shot. Here are the names:

Lo Lo







Oh yes, I almost forgot! No discussion of names would be complete without a brief mentioning of the name of this wonderful contributor. Grace, your name certainly serves you well, and I thank you tremendously for your “gracious” contribution to WBS.

Aug 6 2011

#98 Stranger Danger!

From Brian

The English language is a mind-boggling entity in many ways. Its rules are often irregular and confusing. The pronunciation of certain letters when used in conjunction with others may vary without rhyme or reason. Grammatical topics are constantly up for debate but rarely solved, and to make matters worse, the language as a whole has the brazen audacity to simply swallow entire words from other languages and incorporate them into itself, further complicating its already glaring problems.

While the preceding paragraph might indicate that these issues are exclusively frustrating and troublesome, it cannot be denied that some the nuances of the English language can also be quite humorous. Case in point is the illustration that is on display today which plays upon one of the oldest tricks in the language book: the homophone. For those of you who have long forgotten the lessons of your elementary language arts instructors, here is a quick review courtesy of our faithful and trustworthy friends at Wikipedia: A homophone is a word that is pronounced the same as another word but differs in meaning. The words may be spelled the same, such as rose (flower) and rose (past tense of “rise”), or differently, such as carat, caret, and carrot, or totwo, and too. Homophones that are spelled the same are also both homographs and homonyms. Homophones that are spelled differently are also called heterographs. The term “homophone” may also apply to units longer or shorter than words, such as phrases, letters or groups of letters that are pronounced the same as another phrase, letter or group of letters. 

Although I had never really considered it before, the word by is actually a homophone. This is true because the word can be used to refer to attribution of creation as in “The Starry Night” by Vincent Van Gogh; but it can also indicate proximity or closesness in phrases like, “The citrus zester is on the counter by the KitchenAid mixer.”

And so… This once again brings us to today’s illustration which is was drawn by the hand of a stranger but also features wolves in close proximity to strangers. It seems that I should have figured all of this out when I first examined the illustration, but no, I successfully made quite a fool of myself by inquiring to Brian about the identity of the two cloaked men in the drawing. He simply replied to my query by saying, “Those would be the strangers.” As you can imagine, I instantly felt my face blush with embarrassment at the realization of my imbecilic misunderstanding.

You will notice that Brian’s work features a wolf defensively poised next to two shifty-looking characters suspiciously clad in long, ominous trench coats. Who are they? What do they want? Will they cause harm? Spread terror? No one knows for sure, and thus the nature of their strangeness is born. In conclusion, I feel that we simply cannot conclude this post without a serious warning about “Stranger Danger” and a quick reminder of a few essential safety tips. 

Parents, run and fetch your children. If you care for them at all, please have them watch this informative yet entertaining video and complete the stranger danger quiz below.

And stay safe out there, everyone!

You can access the “Stranger Danger” quiz here.

Jul 28 2011

#89 “Game Night!”

From Suzanne in Chattanooga, Tennessee

I had so much fun creating the catchphrase quiz for yesterday’s post that I have decided to follow it with another trivia-oriented post for today. However, my penchant for creating fun little quizzes is not the sole reason for this particular type of entry. You see, this illustration was included in a large packet of pictures, along with a note from Suzanne that said that she had become so enamored with the WBS project that she regulary encouraged guests at her house to participate. Furthermore, she indicated that this usually takes place at a “game night” which she regularly hosts.

So in honor of Suzanne’s triumphant wolf picture and her spectacularly fun game nights, here is a trivia quiz I designed specifically for Suzanne and her friends. But, of course, you may participate as well. Good luck to everyone! Also, the answers to the questions are located below, but no cheating!

8 categories. 40 total questions.


1. The cover of the 1967 album “The Velvet Underground & Nico” is famous for featuring a picture of a large yellow banana. Who is the equally famous artist that designed this legendary album cover?

2. This famous drummer in a 1960s/1970s hard rock group accidentally ran over his own bodyguard and chauffer with his Bentley while trying to escape from hostile patrons at a Hertfordshire, England pub. It was rumored that this accident occured partly because the musician became a star at such a young age that he had never learned how to operate a vehicle.

3. This fictitious alter ego invented by Garth Brooks released an album in 1999 featuring the Top 5 pop hit “Lost in You.”

4. Often noted as one of the greatest rock albums of all time, this 1973 progressive rock album is said to sync mysteriously with scenes from the 1939 film version of “The Wizard of Oz.”

5. This 1980s guitar god played the fantastic guitar solo in Michael Jackson’s hit song, “Beat it.”


1. Name one of the two most famous painters associated with cubism in the early 20th century.

2. Not long ago, a $4 million museum opened in Massachusetts to honor the paintings of a certain American artist who lived from 1894 to 1978, a person whose works are famous even to people who have never stepped foot in a museum. Who is this artist?

3. Sketches from which 15th century artist anticipated such modern inventions as the airplane and the tank?

4. Who painted the famous piece “The Persistence of Memory”?

5. Which Dutch painter cut of part of his ear after a quarrel?


Pop Culture:
1. Who famously said, “Let’s not forget this was all started by a mouse”?

2. This man was the owner of McDonalds from 1961 until his death in 1984.

3. Which of the following never appeared as a guest on an episode of the American television series “The Office”?
(a) Ray Romano  (b) Amy Adams  (c) Will Arnett  (d) Ken Jeong
(e) Tim Meadows (f) Norm Macdonald

4. Supporters of Conan O’Brien during his turbulent year in 2010 pledged their love for the star by sporting t-shirts with his cartoonish image and a slogan that declared ”I’m with ________.”

5. After being silent for more than 100 years, Mr. Peanut has recently been given a voice. Which Oscar nominee performs this iconic character’s voiceovers?
(a) James Earl Jones  (b) Jonny Depp (c) Michael Douglass
(d) Robert Downey Jr. (e) Tim Allen  (f) David Duchovny


1. In this historic year, Alaska became the 50th star on the flag.

2. This man was first republican candidate to become president of the U.S.

3. The assassination of this archduke of Austria in Sarajevo in June of 1914 is largely viewed as the catalyst for World War I.

4. The first American state to abolish slavery in 1777 was ______________________.

5. The Battle of Hastings in the year 1066 which resulted in William the Conqueror being crowned King of England was fought on this day.


1. This middle-class born poet was the author of The Canterbury Tales and the first commoner to be buried at Westminster Abbey.

2. Stephen King sets most of his novels in this state.

3. This is the name of Ebenezer Scrooge’s deceased associate from “A Christmas Carol.”

4. The title of this famous novel by John Steinbeck was taken from a line of “The Battle Hymn of the Republic” by Julia Ward Howe.

5. This acclaimed poet was known for his lack of punctuation and unusual syntax in poems such as “buffalo bill’s,” “anyone lived in a pretty how town” and “my father moved through dooms of love”


1. When Michael Jordan retired from the Chicago Bulls for the first time in 1994, he signed a minor-league contract with what major league baseball team?

2. Which of these things found in the Olympics moves the fastest: Ice hockey puck, bobsled, luge, or speed skier?

3. If an NBA player wins the Maurice Poldolof Trophy, what title has he achieved?

4. What sport used the term “home run” long before baseball?

5. What NFL team hired the league’s first professional cheerleading squad in 1972?


1. This is the only country whose name begins with an “A” but does not end with one.

2. The “most crowded” state (the one with the most people living per square mile) is _______________.

3. Which city is the capital of Australia?
(a) Perth (b) Canberra (c) Sydney (d) Melbourne

4. This lake is the largest fresh water lake in the world.

5. In which ocean are the Canary Islands located?


1. In the Catholic religion, what is the title of the church official ranking just below the pope?

2. This woman, noted for her beauty, was the daughter of Leda and Zeus and was abducted by Paris.

3. Which two had the starring roles in the film, Thelma and Louise ?

4. Baskin Robbins Ice Cream makers once tried to produce and market an ice cream product with what vegetable flavoring?

5. A gold ring that is 50% solid gold and 50% other metals will be rated how many carats?



Music: (1) Andy Warhol (2) Keith Moon (3) Chris Gaines (4) Pink Floyd’s “Dark Side of the Moon” (5) Eddie Van Halen

Art: (1) Picasso or Braque (2) Norman Rockwell (3) Leonardo DaVinci (4) Salvador Dali (5) Vincent Van Gogh

Pop Culture: (1) Walt Disney (2) Ray Kroc (3) Norm Macdonald (4) Coco (5) Robert Downey Jr.

History: (1) 1959 (2) Abraham Lincoln (3) Franz Ferdinand (4) Vermont (5) December 25th, Christmas Day

Literature: (1) Geoffrey Chaucer (2) Maine (3) Jacob Marley (4) “The Grapes of Wrath” (5) e e cummings

Sports: (1) Chicago White Sox (2) Speed skier: 140 mph (3) Most Valuable Player (4) Cricket (5) The Dallas Cowboys

Geography: (1) Afghanistan (2) New Jersey (3) Canberra (4) Lake Superior (5) Atlantic

Potpourri: (1) Cardinal (2) Helen of Troy (3) Geena Davis and Susan Sarandon (4) Ketchup/Tomato (5)the term carats indicates the proportion of solid gold out of 24 parts