General Knowledge (solution)

by Scott Handelman with additional versification by Francis Heaney

First, answer the questions posed:

What sickness from bacilli is a band that covered “Bring the Noise”?ANTHRAX
For areas beneath a curve, what helps you calculate with poise?ANTIDERIVATIVE
What’s underground and fortified, and helps you hide in time of war?BUNKER
Cunobelinus led what tribe in Ancient Britain’s days of yore?CATUVELLAUNI
What son of good Sir Lancelot was on a most Grail-centric quest?GALAHAD
Which man’s hotel is always full but has a space for each new guest?HILBERT
What lasted from four-ninety-nine until four-ninety-three BC?IONIAN REVOLT
Krasinski wrote which play about the rise of Christianity?IRYDION (or IRIDION)
What Scottish king united Britain after taking Liz’s seat?JAMES
What farmhouse proved strategic for Napoleon’s supreme defeat?LA HAYE SAINTE
What muzzle-loaded gun may have a bayonet in its design?MUSKET
What’s like a play but light in tone and actors sing each single line?OPERETTA
The man who wrote ELIZABETH acrostically, what was his name?POE
What man’s Behistun text decryption caused his humble rise to fame?RAWLINSON
Pythagoras’s theorem -- to just what shape is it applied?RIGHT TRIANGLE
What is the longest length from an ellipse’s center to its side?SEMIMAJOR AXIS
What art shows the inanimate (some food, a rock, a flowerpot...)?STILL LIFE
Which animal, when found in groups, is oft referred to as a knot?TOAD
What is it when a parent graph should move, flip, rotate, grow, or shrink?TRANSFORMATION
For help expanding squares and cubes of x plus y, click what site’s link?WOLFRAM ALPHA

Clued by the title and by the fact that the questions are all asked in iambic octameter, each question refers to a different line (or part of line) of the “Modern General’s Song” from The Pirates of Penzance. Solvers must then put the answers to the questions in order based on their content’s position in the song, and group them into quatrains just as the puzzle is presented:

I know the kings of England=JAMES
I quote the fights historical from Marathon...=IONIANREVOLT Waterloo=LAHAYESAINTE
I understand equations, both simple and quadratical=TRANSFORMATION
About binomial theorem I’m teeming with a lot o’ news=WOLFRAMALPHA
With many cheerful facts about the square of the hypotenuse.=RIGHTTRIANGLE
I’m very good at integral and differential calculus=ANTIDERIVATIVE
I know the scientific names of beings animalculous=ANTHRAX
I know our mythic history, King Arthur’s and Sir Caradoc’s=GALAHAD
I answer hard acrostics=POE
I’ve a pretty taste for paradox=HILBERT
I quote in elegiacs all the crimes of Heliogabalus=IRYDION
In conics I can floor peculiarities parabolous=SEMIMAJORELLIPSE
I can tell undoubted Raphaels from Gerard Dows and Zoffanies=STILLLIFE
I know the croaking chorus from The Frogs of Aristophanes=TOAD
Then I can hum a fugue of which I’ve heard the music’s din afore/
And whistle all the airs from that infernal nonsense Pinafore.=OPERETTA
Then I can write a washing bill in Babylonic cuneiform=RAWLINSON
And tell you ev’ry detail of Caractacus’s uniform=CATUVELLAUNI
In fact, when I know what is meant by ‘mamelon’ and ‘ravelin’=BUNKER
When I can tell at sight a Mauser rifle from a Javelin=MUSKET

Reading the diagonal will net you one word per quatrain: JOHN WITH GOLD STAR RANK. The only person to ever achieve a rank of gold stars in the army is General John PERSHING, the solution to this puzzle.