"Forms of politics are processes, not ends."
Dear Friends of the Pub Quiz,
When you’ve lived through as many presidential elections as I have, you learn to expect one or multiple candidates claim that “this is the most important election in a generation” or even in our lifetimes. Usually we consider this to be true because of the Supreme Court, but this time, the stakes seem higher because we seem to be butting up against the end of an era.
As you may have heard, the Republican party is currently being led by a vengeful egomaniac who doesn’t share the recognized values and priorities of his purported political party. He insults many potential historical or potential GOP constituencies, including veterans, Latinos, the Club for Growth, Republican members of Congress, and women. Speculation swirls around what Trump’s millions of adherents might do after the election, including break further away from Republican party, perhaps following Trump to form a nativist Alt-Right party that will oppose and pillory Paul Ryan and other traditional Republicans. And with no stable and healthy Republican opposition, some think the Democrats might also splinter apart, likewise to be divided between centrists and what might affectionately be called the activists.
All of this conjecture assumes Hillary Clinton holding on after this past Friday’s FBI non-revelations about emails. CNN’s Jake Tapper said that the 2011 Anthony Weiner sexting scandal was like Chekhov’s gun
, referring to the theatrical foreshadowing principle that anything introduced in the first act of a play, such as a loaded gun displayed above the mantelpiece, must be used by the end of the play. Now that the Weiner gun is going off, low information voters and the media are freaking out. Some political analysts have suggested that this wild and deplorable election season had grown staid and predictable in recent weeks, and that it needed an October surprise in the third act, a development that we have experienced just in time. MSNBC and Fox News advertisers are eager to ensure that the drama continues, and we keep tuning in.
Meanwhile, diverse endgames are being imagined by political partisans. Diehard Trump followers, some of them publicly espousing positions that might have been uncomfortable for them to speak out loud at this point last year, worry about a Clinton presidency that is beset by corruption, and, our borders overrun, worry that our newly unsafe America will be beset by the wrong kind of people. Some plan to take up their muskets.
For their part, Clinton partisans and poll-watchers
have recently renewed their realistic concerns about a Trump victory next Tuesday. Aghast and fretful, they must now worry anew that Trump would lead the country into ballooning deficits, accelerating income inequality, diminished rights and freedoms for people of color and people of non-Christian faiths, escalating misogyny, and the enmity of our former international allies (among many other concerns). Although their political perspectives differ, a great variety of Americans with dystopian sensibilities are imagining how they might react to the “end” times that are predicted for our country, starting Wednesday the 9th
Saturday night Kate and I saw a David Mamet play, Speed the Plow
, that takes on some of these “ending” times from the perspective of LA film industry executives. As I listened to the weighty and well-acted dialogue of the second act, my mind wandered to the very first production of this 1988 play. I remember 1988 well, and can think now of the experiences that awaited me and all of us; 1988 was a time before the Wall came down, before Kate and I moved to California, before September 11th
, before the death of my father, before the births of my children, before the advent of Obama. You have your own list of dramatic changes.
We can weather these changes individually, for we must, but how do we make sense of the impending ending that “begins” on Election Day? As Frank Kermode says in his groundbreaking literary study, A Sense of an Ending
, “We project ourselves—a small, humble elect, perhaps—past the End, so as to see the structure whole, a thing we cannot do from our spot of time in the middle.” I appreciated the perspective of Speed the Plow
(which features Dave Pierini and Kurt Johnson, and which closes next weekend at the B Street Theatre), but I know that, like you, I may be consulting more literary, philosophical, or religious texts to help me understand our own incipient sense of an ending.
Tonight’s Pub Quiz will feature questions on one or more of the topics raised above, as well as ghost stories, horror novels, spooky costumes, candy, the color orange, snacks, sugar, caramel, milk chocolate, and other Halloween fare. Expect also questions on refreshed offerings, the Screen Actors Guild, sealed with an R, special warfare, Abraham Lincoln, hit albums from the 1980s, Pew Research Center surveys, thanes, hydrophobes, winter sanctuaries, swearing, dark halves, Saturday Night Live
, Marty McFly, people named Bob, DC Comics, hypodermic needles, unbound scribes (anagram), 180 pound Americans, rap music, water-dwellers, cowardice, the Pacific Ocean, measures of liquid, baseball, football, and Shakespeare.
Here are three questions from last week’s quiz:
- Mottos and Slogans. “Find your Beach” is a commercial slogan for the top-selling beer that is imported into the United States. Name the beer.
- Internet Culture. In the world of computing and networking, P2P stands for what?
- Newspaper Headlines. This past weekend the first major daily newspaper endorsed Donald Trump. The newspaper’s website is reviewjournal.com, and its owner is Sheldon Adelson. Name the city for which the Review Journal is the primary daily paper.
P.S. Thursday is Poetry Night at the John Natsoulas Gallery. On November 3 at 8 PM, we will feature poetry and theatrical performances by Arturo Mantecón and Gilberto Rodriguez. You’ll be glad you came. Find details at the website for Poetry in Davis
P.P.S. Happy birthday to Kate! You’d never be able to guess how old she will be on Friday.