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Write My Round shows us why we shouldn’t lick stained-glass windows

Published September 29, 2023

Eric Keihl is the managing editor for Questionist’s parent company, Geeks Who Drink. Each week, he will accept a reader challenge to write an entire, quiz-ready trivia round on some tricky or obscure subject. You can challenge Eric here.

This week’s theme is “Stained glass,” suggested by quizzer Jess at 7 Locks Brewing in Rockville, Maryland! Thanks, Jess!

When I first picked this theme, I thought I’d challenge myself and see if I could do this whole round without using the word “window”. Turns out, nope. Stained glass and windows have been almost synonymous since at least the 7th century, when this kinda-abstract number was installed at a Saxon church in North East England.

fragments of the oldest stained glass window in the world
What remains of the oldest stained glass in the world – Jarrow, England

Also synonymous with stained glass for many centuries? Lead, as in the very toxic metal. Pieces of stained glass are traditionally joined together using lead bands called “came strips.” One more reason not to lick them, I guess.

Before literacy was widespread, stained glass windows were a visually striking way of getting religious messages to the masses.  The famous “poor man’s Bible” window in Canterbury runs through the greatest hits of both testaments: Lot’s wife getting turned to salt, the wedding feast at Cana, Noah’s ark… all without a single dreary “begat.” Very efficient!

That’s not to say there aren’t some fine secular uses for stained glass. We might even bump into a few of them in this round! Ooh, foreshadowing! 

1. A rude prince, an enchantress, and a ticking-clock rose all feature in the stained-glass opening to what Disney classic? Beauty and the Beast

A weird review for the 2017 Beauty and the Beast remake said it transformed the original’s “sugar rush” into a “crystal-meth-like narcotic high.” I thought it had more of a quaalude-y effect myself, but okay.

2. Along with a bunch of stained glass windows, Eugène Viollet-Le-Duc’s 20-year-long restoration of Notre-Dame added dozens of what cat-, bird-, and demon-shaped waterspouts? Gargoyles

The Notre-Dame gargoyles are lovely and elegant and all that, but I’ll still take the good ol’ American tackiness of the Darth Vader and rattlesnake grotesques on the National Cathedral in D.C. Hmm, Darth Vader and a rattler… say, that gives me an idea for a tattoo!

3. As I recall, we both kinda liked the 40-foot stained glass dome over the Chicago Cultural Center, one of the most impressive pieces by what lamp company? Tiffany Studios

Remember that song “Breakfast at Tiffany’s”? No? Okay, well, here’s a different Truman Capote music fact: He once got so irritated while covering a Rolling Stones tour that he said, “Mick Jagger is about as sexy as a pissing toad.” Cold-blooded! By the way, Tiffany Studios shouldn’t be confused with Tiffany & Co., the jewelry company founded by the glassmaker’s father – like I confused them when I first wrote this round. Shout-out to our fine fact checkers!

4. This stained glass abomination graces the window of a London tourist trap dedicated to what second-highest-grossing animated film franchise? Shrek

That would be Shrek’s Adventure London, where you can sing karaoke with Shrek and hunt for gold in his outhouse. Try doing that at Buckingham Palace without getting arrested. 

5. In 2021, Kehinde Wiley’s stained glass mural of breakdancers in the sky went into the roof of the new Moynihan Train Hall extension at what Big Apple commuter hub? Penn Station

The piece is called Go. Wiley’s other stained glass works include reimagined depictions of medieval saints using Black models in modern dress. Very cool stuff.

6. The first full-CG film character was a stained glass knight in 1985’s Young Sherlock Holmes, which lost the Best Visual Effects Oscar to what movie about aliens helping Wilford Brimley get a stiffy? Cocoon

The knight took four solid months of work for the computer graphics group of Industrial Light & Magic… better known today as Pixar. Also in the running for that Oscar was Return to Oz, which surely did win the award for Most Childhoods Irrevocably Scarred.

7. Shiraz is home to the kaleidoscopic windows of the Pink Mosque and the glazed tiles of the Shah Cheragh shrine, making it a great stop for visiting Shia holy sites in what country? Iran

It’s possible the city of Shiraz gave us the name of the Shiraz grape: An unconfirmed origin story says French traders brought the fruit back from Persia, which has a proud winemaking tradition, but an equally-plausible tale says Australians just mispronounced its other name, Syrah. Either way, pour me a box!

8. The complexities of producing stained glass, semi trailers, and wooden recorders all get explained in a soothing monotone, on the 42nd of what show’s 476 episodes? How It’s Made

How It’s Made once did a promo explaining how How It’s Made is made. I would’ve watched it, but every time I think about it my ears start to bleed a little.

Bonus: I see what you did there: Lisa Weaver Swartz’s book about how women are kept out of real power in the evangelical movement is called “Stained Glass WHATS”? Ceilings

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