"Greek athletic sports and festivals" (1910)

 

Dear Friends of the Pub Quiz,

As a political junkie, I have been following the news a little bit too closely for my own good. This summer, I remember checking the Political Wire website several times a day, and feeling frustrated when Taegan Goddard hadn’t updated the site as obsessively as I was looking for new content. For a few weeks, Donald Trump would offer some new outrageous and offensive comment at least once a week, and Americans quite rightly turned away from him.

In recent weeks, Americans have also been turning away from the candidacy of Hillary Clinton, vexing those of us who care deeply for the promise of our flawed democracy. People in four or five swing states are vacillating, as if the choice was not obvious, at least to those of us who read about what’s at stake. It’s almost too much to bear. Meanwhile, President Obama’s poll numbers have continued to inch upwards, and some major news organizations have grown what might be called a spine, pointing out the different ways that Donald Trump lies.

I read today that as many as 100 million people will be tuning into tonight’s first presidential debate. Another claimed that 80% of voters will be tuning in. Commentators and comedians have pointed out the low expectations for Mr. Trump, with Bill Maher saying that, “The bar for Trump is so low! It’s like being in a spelling bee with a basset hound!” Meanwhile, today Trump campaign manager Kellyanne Conway says that the Clinton camp is right to be nervous, and not only with Hilary’s falling poll numbers, for “Donald Trump is a master debater.”

The world will tune in tonight to see if that is true, but I hope some people tonight will user their DVRs. My wife Kate said, “I hope you are prepared for an empty pub tonight.” I must admit that I added a few softballs to reward tonight’s attendees, including new folks who read about the de Vere’s Irish Pub Davis Pub Quiz in the San Francisco Chronicle last week. We will see what happens.

Right after tonight’s quiz, I will walk over to the Pence Gallery to see the end of the James Ragan film and reading, and then afterwards the award-winning poet and screenwriter who has read with Bob Dylan and Allen Ginsberg will stop by de Vere’s for a refreshing beverage. If you want to stick around the pub and would like to meet the subject of his own documentary, you are welcome to join us at the big table, if you are not rushing home to see the recorded spectacle along with the rest of America.

 

Tonight’s pub quiz will feature questions about international leaders and their wise comments, newly-acknowledged kings, playing cars, the Metropolitan Museum of Art, 18th century criticism, familiar-sounding novels, the meaning and mooring of an axis, clubs to which I would not be a member, encountering rusty patches, Asia, divisions of war, helpful guides, unexpected Diesel, astronomy, men with multitudes, the Arab awakening, unpopular and dry undergarments, the importance of negotiations, New York City brownstones, competitive arguments, Mariposa, moons, the numbers 87 and 326 and 539, people who didn’t know that they wanted a revolution, tyros, shared legends, surprisingly bright and charismatic actors, common slang terms, Horton, accoutrements, famous problems, lovely winners of Academy Awards, and Shakespeare. There will be no geology questions this week, if you don’t count other planets and their moons.

 

Perhaps I will see you tonight. September 26th is the birthday of both T.S. Eliot and Truman Duren, two of my favorite creatives. Eliot said, “Only those who will risk going too far can possibly find out how far one can go.”

Your Quizmaster

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yourquizmaster@gmail.com

 

Here are three questions from last week’s quiz:

  1. Mottos and Slogans.    Headquartered in Memphis, and with over 300,000 employees, what company uses the slogan “The World On Time,” including other more famous ones that you would recognize?
  1. Internet Culture. The co-founder of what four-letter company said yesterday that most of its cars will be autonomous in five years?
  1. Newspaper Headlines.   Prime minister Hun Sen says that he will continue his campaign against protests from the opposition in his country of 15 million people. Name the country.

 

P.S. Poetry Night is October 6th, and the Jack Kerouac Poetry Prize will be awarded live and in person on October 7th, both at the Natsoulas Gallery in Davis. Also, Peter Coyote is coming to the same gallery on October 8th. So much culture!

Skinny Dipping with Dave Pierini

 

Dear Friends of the Pub Quiz,

Saturday night Kate and I got to see a one-man show by our favorite B Street Theatre actor, Dave Pierini. I have seen many one-person shows over the years, including by Sir Ian McKellen long before he was Gandalf or Magneto, and by Bella Merlin, the supremely talented acting professor who now teaches at UC Riverside. Taking on this challenge requires an incredible amount of chutzpa, endurance, willpower, and oratory prowess, something McKellen and Merlin have in spades.

Dave Pierini, by contrast, is the master of the dramatic reaction, the engaging conversation, and that on-stage dance of interaction and engagement. In every role, he convinces the playgoer that he is that character in that situation, reacting to others’ odd or unexpected phrases or actions in ways that keep audiences laughing. As we drove to Sacramento, we wondered how he would do all that with no other actors to respond to.

Dave was already engaging with the audiences when we walked into the crowded theatre, giving out pieces of paper with numbers and lines to select playgoers. The title of the play, Every Brilliant Thing, refers to a long list started by the main character, a list of everything that makes life worth living. The numbers and phrases turned out to be lines spoken by the playgoers. “Remember to project,” we were told. Some people got a single phrase, such as “ice cream,” while I was handed a compound-complex sentence about the comfort that comes from the realization that we cannot change even unpleasant situations (Dave knows me, and thought I could handle the long line). Kate’s well-projected line, which Dave said he picked specially for her, referred to one of her favorite activities: skinny dipping.

Dave Pierini’s performance in a play about emotional trauma, the maturing process, and jazz featured humor, patience, and improvisational brilliance. Dave provided us an acting class, as well lessons about life, love, and perseverance. He also made us laugh, over and over. The audience was deeply touched by Every Brilliant Thing, and I remain grateful that we have such cultural heroes in our midst, courtesy of the B Street Theatre in Sacramento

The last performance in this run took place yesterday. I should ask the B Street Theatre to move our subscription to earlier in the season so I can tell all of you about future shows. We have many theatres to choose from – and the Davis Shakespeare Ensemble offers Romeo and Juliet soon. When it comes to Sacramento offerings, I encourage you to look for Dave Pierini – actor, director, and playwright – in another B Street Theatre production sometime soon.

Tonight’s Pub Quiz will feature questions on television shows, automobiles, the importance of time, Memphis, prime ministers, urban adventures, the loyal opposition, mouths, El Salvador, heroes after who schools are named, regional Tony awards, Angie to her friends, entertainers, used books, repeated ordinal numbers, feeling wonderful, Darwin’s haunts, the new #1, the big IFF, billions and billions, unreal definitions of reality, a start at democracy, famous bugs, fish people, the lachrymose I, expected intrusions, 38 seasons, The Emmys, Julia Roberts, the state of being lissome, The Beatles, Oscar-winners from Massachusetts, cane sleeves, ongoing feuds, not Nancy, American wars, and Shakespeare.

The UC Davis students are back. Have you noticed? Wear your helmets!

 

See you tonight.

 

Your Quizmaster

http://www.yourquizmaster.com

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yourquizmaster@gmail.com

 

Here are three questions from last week’s quiz:

 

  1. Mottos and Slogans.  What website has used the slogan “Buy it, sell it, love it”?

 

  1. Internet Culture. I found out yesterday that Qantas has imposed a ban on Galaxy Note 7 smartphones, which have a propensity to spontaneously catch fire. Name the manufacturer.

 

  1. Four for Four.    Which of the following jazz musicians, if any, are known primarily for their work with the saxophone? John Coltrane, Miles Davis, Dizzy Gillespie, Charlie Parker.

 

 

P.S. As you may know, I’m working on a Pub Quiz book. If the paperback is 220 pages, with over 1,000 questions, should it sell for $15 or $20?

 

margaret_thatcher_caricature

Margaret Thatcher

Dear Friends of the Pub Quiz,

Margaret Thatcher once said, “If you want something said, ask a man; if you want something done, ask a woman.” Setting aside whether one can make blanket seemingly-essentialist statements about men and women in our sensitive era, I will say that I myself depend upon all sorts of women. My mom, for instance, has done a marvelous job parenting my brother and me, even while working full time as a librarian for the last five decades or so. These days she is continuing to find and increase her strength after getting her hip replaced. She impressed her doctors and physical therapists with her resilience and ability to heal. Obviously the years of yoga, dance, and swimming lessons have served her well.

My wife Kate underestimated the weight of our solid son Jukie when adjusting the patio chaise lounger in which he was reclining yesterday morning, and she consequently pulled a muscle in her back. At least she got to enjoy brunch and dinner in bed, delivered by her husband who has been prepping for fall classes and writing a guide to the cultural offerings of Davis. The boys and I depend heavily on Kate – she is what a friend called “the CEO of the family.” I will see to what extent I can pick up the extra slack – so many jobs, so many tasks! – while Kate is recovering.

And then there’s Hillary. Our former Secretary of State seemed to have recovered pretty quickly from the frightening episode, recorded on multiple smartphones yesterday, in which she had great difficulty getting into her car. At least 40% of the country, myself included, expressed concern and rooted for her to recover soon. Many of us also wondered why her pneumonia, diagnosed Friday, was not previously revealed to the public. Discussions began about what we should know about candidates running for president, especially two of the three oldest ever to aspire to occupy the office. The polls are tightening, and the anxiety is rising. Men and women everywhere are hoping their candidate has the strength to continue.

Poetry comes to mind when I need strength or inspiration. Here is a short and I hope relevant poem by the Indian poet and Nobel Laureate Rabindranath Tagore:

 

This is my prayer to thee, my lord—strike,

strike at the root of penury in my heart.

Give me the strength lightly to bear my joys and sorrows.

Give me the strength to make my love fruitful in service.

Give me the strength never to disown the poor or bend my knees before insolent might.

Give me the strength to raise my mind high above daily trifles.

And give me the strength to surrender my strength to thy will with love.

 

For myself, I will need to call upon more of my internal resources without the available strength of these three strong women. In such situations, I seek out the sort of love that Tagore mentions in the close of this poem. I hope such love is also available to you.

Tonight’s Pub Quiz will feature questions about the U.S. Constitution, consumerism, trade deficits, Turks, punks, accomplished directors, memoirists, Harvard doctorates, the things you are, tissues, the wide expanse of Canada, Lawrence Olivier, that which is shared with cheese, longer titles, mediated authenticity, 38 seasons, great Scots, unusual containers, combustion, accommodating American consumerism, turned attention to water, that which is demanding, school rooms, legislatures, people named John, hemp, odd numbers, teams named after creatures, the ACLU, an account of billiard balls, the question as to whether Virginia is for lover(s), Davis artistic expression, and Shakespeare.

It would be a thrill to see some (or all) of you are my re-coronation as Davis poet laureate tomorrow evening at the beginning of the Davis City Council meeting. I expect to be crowned at 6:40 or so, at which time I will present a new poem. The poem is so new that it could even be called “unborn.” After the poem, I will slip out, and you are encouraged to do the same.

Meanwhile, see you tonight at 7!

 

Your Quizmaster

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yourquizmaster@gmail.com

 

Here are three questions from last week’s quiz:

 

  1. California Counties. Starting with the letter T, what California county has the greatest number of cows and dairies?

 

  1. The Presidential Election of 2016. When did, does, or will early voting start in one or more American states? Last month, this month, next month, or November?   

 

  1. Pop Culture – Music. What late 2012 hit for will.i.am and Britney Spears was the first number one song of the newly established Dance/Electronic Songs chart? Hint: The song has 12 letters in its title, if one counts the ampersand.

 

 

P.S. Thursday is Poetry Night again. Can you believe it?

 

Spider Man Park in Davis CA

Dear Friends of the Pub Quiz,

I’m sitting in the shade at one of our favorite parks. A slight breeze cools the 81-degree day at noon. Children are playing Frisbee golf with their parents, while my sons climb a large structure made of ropes and metal fasteners. Sometimes a truck can be heard on California State Highway 113, but at this distance, the freeway sounds almost resemble surf. From all the joyous yelling, I have learned that two of nearby dogs are named “Bullet” and “Chainsaw.”

A professor of English walks by with his 13-year-old son, and refuses our offer of raspberries, kindly adding that at home they have been eating them by the “Costco cartful.” He tells me that he is enjoying his Frisbee golf victories while he can, for soon his son will beat him in all physical games. The boy nods.

My sons and I enjoy a Safeway brunch of bagels, berries, and mango protein drinks at a picnic table. At the far end of the table sits a black leather purse. We wonder what its story could be. Moving students have been known to abandon furniture on the streets of Davis on the 1st of September, but not usually purses. After 15 minutes, one of the Frisbee players, a blonde woman with tattoos walks towards us, smiling, to grab her purse. She asks if I am writing Pub Quiz questions. “The newsletter,” I respond.

The redwood trees that encircle this park are taller than the nearby apartment houses. They offer significant shade in the aggregate, rather than individually, for all their growing energy seems to be devoted to producing height alone, rather than to creating a canopy of branches. They invest in the long term, these redwoods. John Muir once said, “As soon as a redwood is cut down or burned, it sends up a crowd of eager, hopeful shoots, which, if allowed to grow, would in a few decades attain a height of a hundred feet, and the strongest of them would finally become giants as great as the original tree.”

Sometimes the cycle of life, and such prodigious growth, takes decades, but in the park this afternoon, the process seems to have been sped up. I glance up at my friend the English professor just as his son threw his yellow Frisbee at a target from 20 yards away. The sound of the plastic hitting the chains means that he improbably hit his mark, even from such a distance. My friend heard me applauding, looked over to me, his mouth still open, and remarks, “It has already begun!”

 

Inspired by my time in the park today, tonight’s pub quiz will feature questions on familial relations. Expect also questions on Sweden, division I, Italy, ampersands, Scott Simon, politics, ecology, the word “monatomic,” cows, women of the world, transplants, people named Isaac, Cheers, wireless in Manila, court sports, cable hawks, pride of the USSR, boats, British physicians, mild invectives in pop songs, American cities, national teams, presidential politics, big cities, gadgets, and Shakespeare. I also have yet to write a few of the questions. Perhaps some of these hints will not apply. All of us should expect surprises.

Happy anniversary (Wednesday) to my wife Kate. Our marriage is the same age as Daisy Ridley.

Happy Labor Day! I look forward to seeing you and your teams this evening.

 

Your Quizmaster

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yourquizmaster@gmail.com

 

Here are three questions from last week’s quiz:

  1. Internet Culture. Google moved into its current headquarters in 2004. Name the city.
  1. Newspaper Headlines.   It was 50 years ago today on Aug. 29, 1966, that a certain rock band played what turned out to be their final ticketed show, at Candlestick Park in San Francisco. Name the band.
  1. Four for Four.      California leads the nation in the production of which of the following? Cheese, cotton, lettuce, strawberries.

P.S. Tune into Capital Public Radio Wednesday morning during the 9 AM hour to hear me talk with Beth Ruyak about my new poetry book, In the Almond Orchard. And then Thursday night at 8, I will be reading at Luna’s Juice Bar in Sacramento. You are invited.

 

Bike Commuters, two to a bike

Dear Friends of the Pub Quiz,

Many people get to ride their bikes only on weekends, if at all. I get to ride my bike on weekdays, but then must rely more on the car on weekends, mostly because of my responsibility to other travelers, to passengers. As a result, I look forward to Mondays with great anticipation and eagerness. After a weekend of being closed in (in homes, in cars), I am finally released to the open air. Also on Mondays, I get to see a bunch of old friends, and look forward to perplexing them.

Like many of you, I see my morning bicycle commute as the most pleasant part of my day. We have grown use to this phenomenon in Davis, where more of us ride our bikes to work or school than in any other American city, at least according to The Alliance for Biking and Walking and its 2016 Benchmarking Report. Reflecting on that report, blogger Melanie Curry writes, “Among smaller cities, Davis, at 20.3 percent bike mode share, was far and away the top U.S. city, far higher than number two Boulder, where 10.8 percent of commuters ride bikes.” With our weather and topography, we have certain advantages over Boulder, even though Boulder has the Leanin’ Tree Museum of Western Art.

In my early years of attending Davis City Council meetings, I noted that many of the citizens standing in line to offer public comment were still carrying their bike helmets, as if to communicate to the City Council and to each other that of course they biked to the evening meeting. The tacit question: Why didn’t you also bike this evening? I sometimes ask myself this question on Monday nights, for most of my swag could fit in my panniers. Peer pressure is not limited to high school.

Our highly esteemed Mayor of Davis, Robb Davis, doesn’t own a car. Perhaps this is why so many UC Davis students vote for him, for most of them are also carless. He understands their perspectives. Grocery shopping with one’s bike equipped with panniers is one thing, but Mayor Davis of Davis actually moved by bicycle. Now, he moved from one Davis home to another, and he had help from other bicyclists, for sometimes it takes a village to move a mayor, but still, one can imagine the engineering and problem-solving that went into that enterprise. Robb could have saved some time and energy by merely renting a U-Haul that day, as so many young people did this past weekend, but he is a man of principle. And today he has a great story to share. I have a working bicycle – I wish I had been there.

 

Tonight expect questions on the following topics: Presidential politics (again?), enough light in the lab, famous castles in Berkshire, languages, San Francisco and other familiar locations, baseball, men who pay close attention, scientific analysis, exclamations that you can share on TV, cheese, American heroes, superheroes, art and art history, popular fruits, UNESCO, cotton, that which is endangered, something else that India and Pakistan have in common, produce, the locations of welcome mats, alphabets, morning routines, landlocked countries, fashion choices, channels, nice mints that are worthy of sacrifice, aging month by month, classic TV, economies of fear, the difference between “muster” and “musket,” people with new jobs and minimal on-the-job training, John Lennon, Riverside, and Shakespeare.

This coming Thursday night, September 1st, is Poetry Night in the city of Davis. The Poetry Night Reading Series is proud to feature Bay-area poets Nina Lindsay and Rosa Lane on Thursday, September 1st at 8 P.M. They will be performing at the John Natsoulas Gallery at 521 1st Street in Davis. Each has written books, taught classes, and moved hearts. You should join us.

Thanks for sticking with the Quiz during this time of “changeover” in the city of Davis, with all the to and fro. The first week in September reminds us of the transitions that move us all.

 

Your Quizmaster

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Here are three questions from a previous week’s quiz:

  1. Mottos and Slogans.    What “A” company teaches us that “Impossible is Nothing”? I reminded myself of this fact when out on a rare run through South Davis yesterday.
  1. Internet Culture. Speaking of transitions, the victim of a $140-million-dollar lawsuit, what news and celebrity gossip website will close later this week?  
  1. Newspaper Headlines.   According to a recent headline, the tanning industry blames 10,000 salon closings on what four syllable word that begins with the letter O?  

 

The Road in Utah

The Road in Utah

Dear Friends of the Pub Quiz,

After a long road trip, one slowly grows used to stationary life. Unlike any of our hotels, our Davis home has more than two rooms; I find myself re-acclimating to the space and the locale. At night after the boys are in bed, I have caught myself walking into a room, say my daughter Geneva’s room, and considering anew the walls of art, like a tourist, perhaps like the tourist I was when I walked the rooms of the Art Institute of Chicago a week ago today, marveling at what I beheld.

We are home, but in my dreams, the road returns to me, and I return to movement as my frame of reference. What is the speed limit? In some states, it was 80, so we set the cruise control at 84. The momentum of our travel still propels my restless imagination. When passing another car, one feels like the pilot of a spaceship rather than the driver of an overstuffed minivan. Care must be taken. But when no cars can be seen, which was often the case in Wyoming and South Dakota, the extreme speeds seem appropriate, even conservative. When the roads are that deserted, one can take a moment on that smooth ribbon of asphalt to look to the side, to consider the nearby bluffs or mountains, the landscape, seeming moonscape or, in Utah, the salt-scape. The drought seems to be creeping east, originating in California, like so many of our nation’s trends and fads. Our country is a huge panorama that must be seen to be understood, but even then, it stretches outside of and beyond our comprehension.

One needs context to understand the road, and for me, that context often comes from the books I’ve read. When I first ventured to California as a 20-year-old, driving from Boston to Santa Cruz with my freshman-year roommate, Jack Kerouac provided our context, and our inspiration. Listening to our road trip tape, with songs by Chuck Berry, Erick Clapton, and Bob Dylan, we ate up the miles, amazed, then as now, with the enormity of it all. As Kerouac says, “Nothing behind me, everything ahead of me, as is ever so on the road.” We looked forward with anticipation, like pilgrims making discoveries. In the original scroll of On the Road, Kerouac writes, “The air was soft, the stars so fine, the promise of every cobbled alley so great, that I thought I was in a dream.” Perhaps we need authors to capture and represent the ineffable joys of motor-travel, so that we better understand our vast fly-over states, even as we race through them.

Written in notebook form in the 1940s, Kerouac’s plan for On the Road did not reflect the benefits nor the homogenized trials provided by Eisenhower’s interstate. Despite his love for speed, Sal Paradise and Dean Moriarty could not travel as quickly as we did, driving, for example, from Mount Rushmore to Chicago in a day (more than 925 miles!). Despite his speed, Kerouac stopped often, as we could not, arriving in Wisconsin just in time to meet with professors and administrators. On some days we would drive 400 miles at a sitting, stopping only for cheap gas, the bulldog and children snoring or occupied with books in the back.

But imagine how slowly Mark Twain traveled that same expanse! In 1861, Twain moved with his brother Orion from Missouri, where young Samuel Clemens had spent years learning the craft of a Mississippi steamboat captain, to western Nevada. I just completed a version of that drive this past week, and we found it to be long and grueling in our high-speed automobile. Kate and I discussed how we would have fared making that same trip across such a desiccated landscape via covered wagon in the 1860s. Clemens first took the name “Mark Twain” while writing for the Virginia City Territorial Enterprise, using the newspaper office as his university, as Whitman and Hemingway had also done. Because of the 1859 discovery of the Comstock Lode of silver, Twain was not the only one to make his fortunes (and misfortunes) there. While the current population of Virginia City is a mere 855, in Twain’s time, it was closer to 25,000.

Eventually Twain himself left, as well, coming farther west to write for The Sacramento Union and various San Francisco newspapers. This means, of course, that his horse would have brought him along what would have later become I-80, a couple years before a Southern Pacific Railroad depot would be built in “Davisville” in 1868. I wonder what Twain was thinking while crossing Putah Creek!

Rather than tomes of adventure stories, and local color reflections, such as what Twain wrote during his time on the road, I have merely a list, composed by my wife Kate, to sum up our recent trip:

  • Number of miles driven: 5,179
  • Number of states visited: 11
  • Number of U.S. presidents viewed in stone: 4
  • Number of books read by Truman: 16
  • Number of U.S. presidents viewed in wax: 43
  • Number of Midwestern thunderstorms enjoyed: 2
  • Number of movies watched in the car: 11
  • Number of swimming pools sampled: 6
  • Number of miles between Davis, California and Beloit, Wisconsin: 2,029
  • Number of audiobooks read: 4
  • Number of Picassos studied at The Art Institute of Chicago: 23
  • Number of Amazon Prime boxes delivered to box #605 in the Beloit College student mailroom: 7
  • Number of minutes of Olympics coverage watched: 0
  • Number of daughters dropped off at college: 1

The Buddha said “It is better to travel well than to arrive.” We traveled well, as you can see. With the road continuing to haunt our dreams, I’m sure it will be a while before any of us feel that we have arrived.

Tonight, Your Quizmaster will return to the Pub Quiz. Expect questions on some of the topics raised above, and on most of the following: Questions of possibility, the prowess of Obama, parcel posts to the UK, the problems with cotton, synchronous performance hall performances, healthy tans, the Middle East, celebrity gossip, Fast Company, New Scientist, regrettable poisonings, Olympic heroes, wings of independence, the need for a marine biologist, electricity, Halle Berry and other people who are even taller than she is, Phoenicia, recycled pilgrims, defying the polls, silver online, Tonight Show hosts, unwelcome scandals, people who cajole coyotes while earning Pulitzer Prize nominations, happy rides, rail travel, the relationship between baseballs and the unhelmeted, secretaries of state, cityscapes, beasts of burden, and Shakespeare.

Special thanks to Jason, the backup quizmaster who makes my vacations and road trips possible. I hope you enjoyed your time with him during these past two Mondays. Now it is my turn!

See you tonight.

 

Your Quizmaster

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yourquizmaster@gmail.com

 

Here are three Arthur Conan Doyle questions from a quiz I wrote in 2011:

  1.   Arthur Conan Doyle was born and died in what century or centuries. Be specific.
  1.    The British actor inside R2D2 shares a last name with the street Sherlock Holmes lived on. Name it.
  1.    What musical instrument did Sherlock Holmes play?

 

Tragedy and Comedy

Dear Friends of the Pub Quiz,

Today on a Chicago River water taxi I imagined a play based on current events.

Imagine a posh wedding that is attended by a panoply of familiar faces from the worlds of politics and entertainment. A prominent older couple poses for a picture with the bride and groom, making tongues wag. The groom admires the couple, frequently talking to the press about his admiration for the couple’s professional activities, once event calling the woman in the couple “a really good person and woman.”

The groom and the older couple eventually stumble upon a number of conflicts, and even though the groom had looked up to both members of the older couple, he finds reason to disparage them cruelly and publically. People who once took the groom seriously read about him fabricating increasingly outrageous claims about the older couple, and turn away from him. Others flock to the groom, enjoying the comedy and the spectacle.

At one point, the groom suggests that one member of the couple will make imprudent decisions that will affect us all, and that maybe she should be killed. Who knows what sort of misguided follower of the groom might infer from his remarks that he is ordering the mom in the couple to be shot, to keep her from making those decisions?

One thinks of the phrase allegedly spoken by Henry II about the top priest in Britain; usually the lines is “Who will rid me of this meddlesome priest?” Sometimes the line is translated or remembered as this, but a more accurate phrase from the time suggests a more nuanced relationship with Thomas of Beckett: “What miserable drones and traitors have I nourished and brought up in my household, who let their lord be treated with such shameful contempt by a low-born cleric?” Either way, four soldiers interpret King Henry’s words as a kill-order, and Beckett is killed in the very sanctuary where he preached as the Archbishop of Canterbury.

How will the play end? If in violence, how would the sarcastic groom feel after inadvertently suggesting that his rival should be assassinated, and discovering as Henry did that his idle talk leads to death? Will the woman’s followers exact revenge, such as what happens in Romeo and Juliet when Mecutio and Tybalt are killed, hardening feelings and the likelihood of violence between rivals and their followers?

Or will the groom recognize the folly of inciting violence against his former friend, and make amends for his rash and dangerous remarks? Can such remarks be “taken back,” given the quick and fiery temper of the followers of the groom? Will the play explore de-escalation, an uncomfortable status quo, or a violent tragedy?

I haven’t yet written the end of the play yet. Maybe you (and others) could help me come up with an ending. Maybe it’s not too late.

 

Tonight’s Pub Quiz, hosted by Jason, will feature questions on most of the following topics: Chicago, Space X, cartographers, tree bark, posh Americans. MLB, Beyoncé, foreheads, magical beginnings and gustatory endings, volcanoes, tree calamities, Hawaii, superhumans who play no soccer, lovely wives, gold medals, curses, applied theories, words that start with the letter Q, big numbers, female spirits, places to trade, complicated engines, ice and Shakespeare. Thanks to Jason for composing this quiz.

Please join us tonight. Jason enjoyed substitute-hosting to a full house last week. I’ve missed chatting in person with all of you last Monday evening. Luckily, I myself will return to Davis in time for the August 22nd de Vere’s Irish Pub Pub Quiz!

 

Your Quizmaster

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yourquizmaster@gmail.com

 

Here are three questions from a June, 2016 Pub Quiz:

 

  1. Mottos and Slogans.  Who used the commercial slogan “So easy a caveman could do it”?

 

  1. Internet Culture. The second most-popular website in the world is the third most-popular website in the U.S., after Facebook. What is the second most-popular website in the world?

 

  1. Newspaper Headlines.   Today Governor Rick Scott declared a state of emergency because of oncoming tropical storm Colin. Of what state is Scott governor?

 

 

P.S. Allegra Silberstein will be the featured poet at Poetry Night Thursday. Timothy Nutter will play guitar and perhaps sing some songs. Join the fun on August 18th at 8 PM at the John Natsoulas Gallery. See you next week!

 

Kate amid the Harleys in Custer, South Dakota.

A photo posted by Andy Jones (@andyojones) on

 

Dear Friends of the Pub Quiz,

Yesterday I got to watch my wife Kate respond with facial expressions and body language to an army of bikers taking control of a small South Dakota town. As you can see, I felt compelled to take a picture. These were not the sort of bikers that take over Davis, ringing an occasional adorable bell. No, these bikers sound like Lear’s thunder. Imagine the main strip of Custer, South Dakota, resonating with the sounds of more than a thousand Harley engines, each of them growling at each other like the largest imaginable pride of lions, all of them preparing for the hunt.

The town of Custer is the oldest town in the Black Hills of South Dakota, having popped up soon after gold was discovered in the area as a result of the Custer expedition of 1874. The town is found just a few miles from the monument to Crazy Horse, the Lakota war leader who with his men was responsible for the death of the aforementioned Custer at the Battle of Little Big Horn. Custer’s last stand took place far from everything, but a lot closer to Billings than to this town of 2,000 known as Custer.

As a result of this visit, my son Truman and I became curious about Custer the man, so in addition to doing some reading, we studied a wax likeness (or near-likeness) of the young war hero from the third day cavalry battles of the Battle of Gettysburg at the National Presidential Wax Museum. Situated across the street from the Roosevelt Inn in Keystone, from which I write these words, the museum is comprehensive and well-intentioned, but the artistry does not compare well to Madame Tussaud’s Wax Museum in London where Kate and I spent time together in the 1980s. All the presidents in the National Presidential Wax Museum looked a bit off, resembling impersonators of the presidents in question, such that we definitely needed the nameplates to see who was supposed to be who.

Meanwhile, back to that photo of Kate and the Harley Davidson enthusiasts. The picture reveals the traffic cones along Mount Rushmore Road, marking off the additional parking that Custer municipal official arranged as part of the ongoing yearly Sturgis Motorcycle Rally. Behind her one sees two of the mounted Rally participants, one of them actually wearing a helmet (an option most disregard in South Dakota). Above the bikers one sees the street sign directing traffic towards both Crazy Horse and Mt Rushmore, where we had spent much of the morning, surrounded by biker tourists. Meanwhile, amid the thunderous roar of the Harleys, Kate has a slight smile on her face, the wind whipping her red hair to the side. Amid the din, amid the wind, and so far from home, and with that wry smile on her face, one can only guess what she might be thinking.

 

Tonight’s Pub Quiz was edited (and softened a bit) by me, but written by my regular guest-Quizmaster Jason. Jason has prepared questions on many of the following topics, or perhaps “impersonations” of the following topics, so as not to give too much away: NASA, memorable drinking buddies, Greek towns and cities, scalawags, transitions, people named Joyce, Oscar-winning ladies, inspirations for thin-skinned and practically anarchic Trump’s fictional wall, math questions with large answers, river banks, “vulgar” music with no swearing in it, Harry Potter (because you all seem to love Harry Potter), remaining stuck, people who are never confused for George Wallace, music potpourris, whiskey, daggers, bidding cogwheels farewell, questionable identifiers, long coastlines, the importance of bananas, Egypt, a U.S. president whose wax likeness I misrecognized today, teams with cool names, big universities that you have heard of, a command to cease, the impossibility of remembering the names of toys, X-ray fluorescence spectrometry, and Shakespeare. There will be no George Custer questions on tonight’s Quiz. I am saving those.

When it comes to welcoming and encouraging Jason as Quizmaster this evening, I will use the words from Jeb’s last stand: “Please clap.” And remember, although I don’t return until the 22nd, the de Vere’s Irish Pub Pub Quiz abides.

 

Your Quizmaster

http://www.yourquizmaster.com

http://www.twitter.com/yourquizmaster

http://www.facebook.com/yourquizmaster

yourquizmaster@gmail.com

 

Here are three questions from last week’s quiz:

  1. Mottos and Slogans.    The CEO of one company has repeated in interviews that he wishes “to accelerate the advent of sustainable transport.” Founded in 2003, for what company is this phrase the de facto slogan?
  1. Internet Culture. The iPhone and the Amazon Kindle were released the same year as the last Harry Potter book. Name this year that also saw Barry Bonds (asterisk!) break the home run record.
  1. Newspaper Headlines.   President Obama said in a speech last Wednesday night that his administration has “cut veterans’ homelessness almost in half.” According to NPR yesterday, which U.S. city has the largest number of homeless veterans?

Green Saturn

 

Dear Friends of the Pub Quiz,

According to the title of my favorite car, Kate and I bought a forest-green four-door Saturn SL2 20 years ago next month, a mere four years after we got married. I know this because last week I gave the car to a friend and former student, and now I am feeling nostalgic, especially for the front passenger seat.

Six of my favorite writers have spent time in that seat, and three of those writers I will never see again.

  • My wife Kate is my favorite of all authors, and one whom I see every day. Just this morning she published her most recent blog entry on how much the family will miss my daughter Geneva, now that we are driving her off to college in Wisconsin. As you can read in “The Dividing of Our Grief,” Geneva’s brother Truman will miss her most of all. Speaking of our kids, Kate also co-authored the book Where’s Jukie?, now in an expanded edition.
  • Joe Mills is a poet and essayist who spent significant time in the Saturn when we first bought it. A constant chess buddy, hiking buddy, and occasional wine-drinking buddy, Joe moved with his wife Danielle to North Carolina to become a professor and dean at the University of North Carolina School of the Arts. Joe holds the Susan Burress Wall Distinguished Professorship in the Humanities, and has published six collections of poetry with Press 53.
  • Another Joe, Joe Wenderoth, prefers not to ride a bike around Davis. In fact, Joe chooses to disregard any number of social conventions. Just as Donald Trump prefers unpredictability when it comes to his foreign policy, Wenderoth prefers a different sort of shock and awe at cocktail parties. Perhaps these are some of the qualities that make him one of my favorite California poets.
  • Nobel Laureate Derek Walcott once rode in my Saturn. He seemed neither impressed with me nor my car when he was visiting campus about 14 years ago, but the world has been impressed with him. An author of more than 60 books, Sir Derek, KCSL OBE OCC, has had even more books written about him.
  • The late New Jersey poet laureate and Beat Generation icon Amiri Baraka did most of the talking during our ride from SFO to Davis when he visited California 11 years ago. His generosity of spirit filled the car with energy and expectation. When the Saturn was stolen a couple years later, the thieves took a number of “valuables,” but left behind an autographed copy of Baraka’s book Transbluency: Selected Poems, which I have next to me as I write.
  • The final writer is my dad, Davey Marlin-Jones, who for the last 14 years has been the most missed writer of them all, at least to me. In addition to his early books and plays, my dad wrote and performed thousands of televised movie reviews in the 1970s and 80s. That car seat was the last piece of furniture we owned where he sat and talked with me about his reminiscences and plans, as he was always so full of love and ideas. I thought of him when the car pulled out of our driveway for the first time, empty except for its new owner, and all my memories.

Tonight’s Pub Quiz will feature questions about vitamin intake, love and smoke, championships, comma rules, lessons to be learned from an Olive, American heroes, people happy to be stuck on an island, historical drinks, what it means to be western, the decades of favorite epics, notable lesbians, baseball, bedding and such, words that start with V, ancient Greeks, the advantages of iron, prime numbers (an actual math question), recognizable widths, cars that are more expensive than my departed Saturn, poets that are worth rereading out loud, the relative price of happiness, returning investigators, the U.S. Constitution which I keep in my breast pocket, quiet protests, Elwood’s inspiration, bonds, the letter X, the TV show Empire, choosing your own adventure, petunias, scientific discoveries, the needs of veterans, Harry Potter, sustainability, and Shakespeare.

 

Your Quizmaster

http://www.yourquizmaster.com

http://www.twitter.com/yourquizmaster

http://www.facebook.com/yourquizmaster

yourquizmaster@gmail.com

 

Here are three questions from last year’s (2015) quiz:

 

  1. Four for Four.  Which of the following, if any, are names of actual fish? Common fangtooth, Jamaican goathead, obese dragonfish, Splashing tetra.
  1. American Cities. There are two words and six letters in the name of the American city that lost the most people between July 2013 to July 2014, at 1.02%. Name this 19th-largest city in the U.S.
  1. Food and Drink. What M word fills in the blank from this sentence? “The key to the formation of a good BLANK is the formation of stiff peaks by denaturing the protein ovalbumin (a protein in the egg whites) via mechanical shear.”  

 

P.S. Poetry Night Thursday features Chris Erickson at the John Natsoulas Gallery.

 

Robot, ready to help

Dear Friends of the Pub Quiz,

My most attentive new friend is less than a foot tall. She sits on a table in my dining room, waiting for her name to be called. When I summon her, she gladly shares with me the news, the weather, and helpful facts that I used to create this evening’s Pub Quiz.

Mostly, though, she functions as the sort of jukebox that Bill Gates imagined in his book The Road Ahead. This is how he described his newly-completed home in this 1995 book:

“I’m thinking about of this because I’ve recently built a new house. My house is a house for the future. It is pretty. But most of all, it is comfortable. It’s where my family and I live.

My house is made of wood, glass and stone. It is also made out of software.

If you come to visit, you’ll probably be surprised when you come in. Someone will give you an electronic pin to wear. This pin tells the house who and where you are. The house uses this information to give you what you need. When it’s dark outside, the pin turns on the lights nearest you, and then turns them off as you walk away from them. Music moves with you too. If the house knows your favorite music, it plays it. The music seems to be everywhere, but in fact other people in the house hear different music or no music. If you get a telephone call, only the nearest telephone rings.”

In some ways, Gates’ predictions of the future seem quaint. For instance, who ever uses telephones for talking anymore?

Anyway, my new little friend is an Amazon Echo, created by a Microsoft competitor. Answering to the name “Alexa,” my Echo plays music of the genres and performers that occur to me as I write the pub quiz. This morning, for example, I was listening to rap music performed by one of answers to a question on tonight’s quiz. But then when the children came downstairs, I asked Alexa to switch over to some Ravi Shankar music, which is what I am enjoying now.

In many ways, choosing music for Alexa to play for us is a bit like writing a Pub Quiz. For me, I often want to rely on my favorite topics and question categories, but sometimes I have to read outside my typical news and information sources to find questions about topics I prefer to know nothing about. Similarly, when you have a computer waiting to play you any possible genre or performer of music, sometimes it pays to do some research. This is one reason why KDVS is such an important resource, for the DJs there – all of them live humans actually in the studio – choose music according to their areas of expertise, and thus provide all of us new discoveries, 24 hours a day. Even my new friend Alexa can’t do that, for she is limited by the knowledge and imagination of the person making the requests.

I request that you join us at the Pub Quiz tonight, no matter who is speaking at the Democratic National Convention tonight. Remember this: you can’t Tivo the de Vere’s Irish Pub Pub Quiz.

Tonight’s Pub Quiz will feature questions on the following topics: automobile manufacturers, secret religious practices, biology, RBIs, declarations of independents, Romanians, six-syllable words, dudes named Abraham, big data, Robert De Niro hurting people’s feelings, assassinations in the modern era, iconic comedy masters, South America, relative GDP, parliaments, both haste and calmness, funny ways to talk about the color blue, the drums, female nerds, distilled beverages, the practices of tangling and untangling, baseball and football, attractive diffraction, cranes, coastal cities (2), The Huffington Post, Microsoft, lifestyle companies, and Shakespeare.

 

See you tonight!

Your Quizmaster

 

Here are three questions from the vault:

  1. The northernmost High school American football team is found in what Alaskan city of about four thousand that is also the northernmost city in the United States of America? Hint: The city’s name starts with the letter B. Barrow, Alaska,
  1. The most common English word that begins and ends with the letter Y has nine letters total. What is that word? Yesterday
  1. Robin Williams played Teddy Roosevelt in the Night at the Museum What 20th century US President did he play in the film Lee Daniels’ The Butler? Dwight D. Eisenhower

 

P.S. The next Poetry Night features work by onetime substitute Quizmaster Chris Erickson. He’s also an essayist, a poet, a novelist, and a performance artist. Join us for that on August 4th.