U.S. Troops Surrounded by Holiday Mail During WWII

U.S. Troops Surrounded by Holiday Mail During WWII

 

 

Dear Friends of the Pub Quiz,

The first class I ever taught took place in the first week of October, 1990. Before walking into the classroom, I had to find a quiet and remote place on campus to sit by myself and convince myself that I could do what must be done. An introvert in my early 20s, as I got up to head towards Everson Hall, I noticed that my legs were shaking.

A decade later, I prepared to do my first radio show on KDVS. Although I had an audio engineer to help me run the board of sliders and dials, and coordinate the intro and outro music, I was still nervous and unprepared, droning on and on as if the entire show could be an impromptu Scott Simon NPR monologue. The next day I ran into my Medieval Studies colleague Kevin Roddy and expressed concern about the quality of my “news and comment” show about the world of poetry (Gwendolyn Brooks had just passed away, so there was plenty to discuss). Kevin shared my concerns and helpfully offered that “it will get better.” At least I knew I had had one listener!

A few years later I hosted my first poetry reading before a crowd of 100 in the E Street Plaza. A few years after that, I released my first book of poetry, and promoted it on Sacramento TV during Valentine’s Day week. Soon thereafter I started hosting a pub quiz, and didn’t do a very good job, asking unfairly difficult questions about Donny and Marie and Billy Preston. Luckily, as with the first radio show, only friends were participating. Soon after that I gave my first series of teaching talks in Japan.

For each of these experiences, I was wholly unqualified, I stumbled awkwardly, and I was subsequently mortified. But the mortification lessened with each new involvement, and I taught myself not to be cowed by my inevitable fear and discomfort. Often in such situations I would recall a (now famous) Eleanor Roosevelt quotation that my wife Kate sent me, taken from the Roosevelt book You Learn by Living:

You gain strength, courage and confidence by every experience in which you really stop to look fear in the face. You are able to say to yourself, “I have lived through this horror. I can take the next thing that comes along.” … You must do the thing you think you cannot do.

I’ve used these wise words in class, and some of my most talented and accomplished former students have sent them back to me, with evidence of their ongoing bravery and determination. When it comes to our various illustrations of bravery, such as public speaking, the rewards are always worth the risks.

This past Friday I had another wrestling match with imposter syndrome, though not for the reasons recounted above. Friday night I gave the first of four readings of a commissioned poem about active-duty servicemen and veterans re-acclimating to life in California after serving overseas. Attended by 100 or more people, the event at the Gallery 625 on Court Street in Woodland highlighted the artistic accomplishments of veterans, and featured a poem by the Poet Laureate of Davis.

As the son of a Quaker, I had never considered military service. But while talking to the many artists and musicians who had so sacrificed for their country, for the first time I felt pangs of regret over this choice. Talking with such noble volunteers, I felt insufficient, inadequate. Fortunately, the commissioned poem resonated with the audience, as did a few of the others I performed for those gathered. People shared kind remarks afterwards, I got to chat with current students and treasured friends, such as the first couple of public service and the arts, Lucas and Stacie Frerichs. I also made some new friends among local veterans’ groups and the hoi polloi of the Yolo County arts scene.

During and after my poems, I was still left wondering how I might speak for these men and women who have sacrificed so much at the same time that I was merely struggling through my bonus decade of schooling as I marched steadily towards earning a PhD. In the end, I realized that I cannot speak for these heroes, but only to them and with them, and with an open heart and imagination, hoping to expose and honor some of their concerns and their ongoing resolution to serve.

Having invested so much in researching the concerns of re-acclimating veterans, as I struggled with ways that I might approach that one commissioned poem, I ended up writing so many other poems that now I have enough for a small book, one that will be published before my next “Positive Reflections: From Combat to Community” event at the Davis Cemetery and Arboretum on March 13. I might even have copies to share at my March 7 birthday party, to which you will be invited. I plan to use proceeds from book sales to set up a “Creativity Prize” for veteran students at UC Davis, and thus continue to honor in my way those young people who have made sacrifices that I continue to respect and admire.

This paragraph contains the hints. Harry S Truman once said, “America was not built on fear. America was built on courage, on imagination and an unbeatable determination to do the job at hand.” Tonight’s Pub Quiz will include a few questions about America, but none about Harry Truman. Expect also questions about dramatic hunger, The Beatles, names in the news, art and art history, food and drink in Latin America, same-sex marriage, the future, author and humorist David Sedaris, populated areas, Republicans, US states, buff dudes on TV, outworn wickets, blockbuster films, unwelcome amnesia, unpleasant invitations, medical science, what football coaches and painters have in common, eponymous companies, internet culture, and Shakespeare. I haven’t written all the questions yet. Evidently some sporting event was going on yesterday, so I decided to finish the quiz on game day (our game, not Cam Newton’s).

Thanks for reading, and I look forward to seeing you tonight. Soon it will be warm enough to sit outside again, so feel free to grab your noisiest friends, and make plans to join us for the de Vere’s Irish Pub Pub Quiz!

 

Your Quizmaster

http://www.yourquizmaster.com

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yourquizmaster@gmail.com

 

Here are three questions from last week’s quiz:

 

  1. Hollywood Gossip. Miley Cyrus reportedly has been re-engaged to what actor over the weekend?   

 

  1. Pop Culture – Music. The stage name of the musician George Alan O’Dowd is an anagram of the phrase BOGEY OGRE. Name him.

 

  1. Sports.   Was Rugby primarily named after an animal, a city, a person, or a school?

 

 

P.S. There will be a remembrance of Francisco X. Alarcón at Poetry Night at 7pm (new time) on February 18th. I hope you can attend.

 

Hungry for Books

Dear Friends of the Pub Quiz,

Although I try to keep the Pub Quiz and these newsletters light, sometimes a question or two will cover a substantive or darker subject. Tonight’s pub quiz, for instance, will ask a question about obesity, a topic of concern, especially for everyone who is not among the 31.2% of American adults age 20 or older who are normal weight or underweight.

That exception aside, I prefer for the Pub Quiz to be a blithe and casual affair. I see the de Vere’s Irish Pub Pub Quiz as an escape just as much as I hope you do. My plan is to provide you the right sort of challenge, an opportunity to put your phones away for a couple hours, and enough humor and discovery sprinkled in to help you connect with your teammates and reflect upon what we all understand about the world.

Sometimes we desperately need such an escape, or so my son Jukie reminded me recently. As you may know from my book Where’s Jukie? and from seeing me on the streets of Davis, I have a son with a significant disability, one that is manifested in Jukie’s unusual appearance, his excitable behavior, and his extreme laconism: He hasn’t spoken a word in more than a decade.

As Kate has written about recently, we see Jukie as a blessing, as our reminder of how brave, compassionate, and loving we should try to be. The challenges that Jukie faces, and those he brings to our family, have strengthened our familiar unit, and taught our “bookend” kids some of those same lessons about humanity and empathy. As is the case with everyone in our home, we also love him like crazy.

Because I usually focus on Jukie while Kate attends to the needs of the other two kids, and because I have taken him on all his medical trips (to the NIH and Oregon Health and Science University, for example), Jukie usually behaves better for me than he does for anyone else. After years of interpreting his needs and providing him the right kinds of rewards, I have come to expect excellent behavior when I take Jukie out on adventures, such as to poetry readings, movies, and even plays. He usually obliges both his parents with excellent behavior.

This past Friday, however, Jukie was having none of it. Puberty has been strengthening the boy’s frame, his will, and his excitability. As Jukie became more and more agitated over dinner at our favorite Davis restaurant, I took it upon myself to take him out for a walk so he could calm down and not disturb the meal of the other six of us who were enjoying our veggie burgers, Dr. Andy salads, and other de Vere’s delicacies.

I’m glad I trusted my instincts. Jukie did need to be removed, for as soon as we got to the parking lot across the street, he tried to bite me, he scratched up my arms, scratched up my face while ripping my glasses off, and then purposefully broke the glasses in half. In such a situation, my job is to keep Jukie from hurting me, himself, or others, while also restraining him in such a way that he remains unharmed from our tussle. I must have done a good job, for my unscathed beloved boy eventually calmed down, choosing to clap his hands together as loud as he could, instead of continuing to clap me with his furious blows.

One of Jukie’s teachers happened to be walking by, asked if I needed any help, and then asked if she could fetch me some napkins at Baskin Robbins to help absorb the blood that was running down my face. Isn’t that a nice way to start the weekend?

I thanked the kind woman and told her that I would be fine, but that it was time for Jukie and me to walk home. Like almost everyone else, Jukie doesn’t get enough exercise, and I knew that a three mile walk home would ensure that he would be too fatigued to attack anyone else at the end of the day.

The moral of the story was actually explored back at the Pub during my blind hike home. Kate pointed out to one of our favorite servers, Pedro, that I had to leave because I was helping Jukie deal with his aggression and pent-up energy. With more candor than she usually shares with a server in a restaurant, Kate explained that our many visits to de Vere’s Irish Pub represent a respite from our chaotic and challenging life with an unpredictable kid with special needs. We appreciate the chance to step away from our responsibilities, to have someone take care of us, and to converse over healthy and delicious salads, and a glass of wine.

Shakespeare’s King Henry in Henry VI, part 3 says, “Let me embrace thee, sour adversity, for wise men say it is the wisest course.” We have followed the king’s advice, even though our life with Jukie has always been more sweet than sour. But sometimes one wishes for an escape from such adversity, an interval of liquid culture and gustatory delight such as what one can enjoy at the Irish Pub.

And our regular server Pedro makes this reprieve possible. Perhaps it is because we are such regulars, but never before have I met a restaurant employee who does such an expert and prescient job of anticipating our needs, noticing empty glasses that need refills, or suggesting exactly the new food or beverage that would delight Kate’s palate. What’s more, Pedro always approaches us with the sort of humor, patience, and attentiveness that we might expect from a close friend. A patient and smiling listener, Pedro was the perfect audience for Kate’s unloading of the heavy story of this newsletter.

I’m deeply grateful to the exemplary service that we receive from all the servers and barkeeps at de Vere’s Irish Pub, Davis, but I hope that tonight you will join me in following the imperative espoused by Napoleon Dynamite: Vote for Pedro.

In addition to something mentioned above, tonight’s Pub Quiz will include questions on the following topics: office furniture, tofu, names other than Raphael or Clarence, penguins, old pipes, alleles, stadia, a long trip to China (sp?), fishermen, Greek singles, Iowa, international transparency, dense tropical foliage, hunger, U.S. presidents, short conversations with mountains, Chicago, disavowing racism, people born with a bell, uniting with do-gooders, nuns that are uncharted, African-American culture, celebrities whom I would not recognize in a police lineup, televised hats, films that are unwatchable (if not unwatched), mirrors and waterskis, Sacramento heroes, old sports, ogres that score bogeys in bonus anagrams, Davis, shades, changing minds back, cannabis, little angels, gardens, people not known by the middle name of Alan, football, and Shakespeare.

Speaking of shades, shades come up in a poem I published this morning titled “The Polls” in the People’s Vanguard of Davis. Indirectly, one can find a clue there, as well. Tomorrow night I get to read an original love poem / blues lyric at the Davis City Council. What fun!

I hope you can join us this evening for the de Vere’s Irish Pub Pub Quiz. We will have one New York Times best-selling author there, and perhaps more than one.

 

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. World Deserts. The Atacama Desert is the driest non-polar desert in the world. On what continent is it found?

 

  1. American Cities that Share a Name with Streets in East Davis. About a ten-hour drive from Davis, California, the city of Layton is found in Davis County. Name the state.

 

  1. Pop Culture – Music. Who had big hits in 2015 with the songs “Cool for the Summer” and “Confident”?

 

P.S. This coming Thursday is Poetry Night in the city of Davis. I hope you will join me at 8 that night for Marit MacArthur and Matthew Woodman. Find details at http://www.poetryindavis.com. The after-party will take place Thursday at 10 at the Pub, the “third space” of Davis.

 

63H

 

Dear Friends of the Pub Quiz,

People are talking about America again. I don’t mean the country, though I’m sure that’s true, but rather the song “America” by Simon and Garfunkel. The Bernie Sanders campaign has used the beginning and end of the song, expertly edited, as the backdrop of his new political advertisement, also titled “America,” in which he highlights Sanders’ supporters: Iowans who walk though their fields, carrying hay or a calf, and the huge crowds who have come to Sanders’ rallies. Like the song, the ad says that all these (predominantly white and rural) Iowans have “come to look for America.” At the end of the ad that skillfully communicates many people’s enthusiasm for the Sanders campaign, we hear Bernie say, “I’m Bernie Sanders, and I approve this message.” As the ad is what we in poetry class would call a “paean” to America, I think that everyone from Marco Rubio to Hillary Clinton would “approve” the uplifting message of the ad.

Piqued by this engaging video, and especially by my wife Kate’s support for Sanders and love for Simon and Garfunkel, I have been listening anew to the duo’s music. Interestingly, as is the case with many of Simon’s great lyrics, the words to the actual song “America” are more complex and even dark than would be appropriate for a political campaign. Just before one of the lines that the Sanders ad quotes, about “Counting the cars on the New Jersey Turnpike,” Simon’s speaker expressed existential anguish:

 

“Kathy, I’m lost,” I said, though I knew she was sleeping.

“I’m empty and aching and I don’t know why.”

 

One can guess why the Sanders audio editors left that bit out.

I left in some of the darkness, and added some of my own, when I recently wrote a satirical take on that poem. Some of you know that I have been assigned to write about the hopes and concerns of war veterans returning to Yolo County. Having previously written a book about 20th century poetry called Mad Men (and this was long before the AMC TV show), I found myself writing poems about veterans’ struggles with posttraumatic stress disorder, or PTSD. How different is the alienation of Paul Simon’s speaker, who like me is always pursuing his “Kathy,” from that of the young recruit serving overseas?

Well that is what I explored in a poem that I wrote and performed yesterday in Sacramento, “The Recruiting Station.”

 

“The Recruiting Station” (With apologies to Simon and Garfunkel)

 

“Let us be soldiers, we’ll invade some small countries together

I’ve got some armaments here in my bag”

So we bought some hand grenades, and meals ready to eat

And walked off to look for the recruiting station.

 

“Martin,” I said, as we boarded a Greyhound in Augusta

“The Georgia Dome seems like a dream to me now

It took us four hours to hitch-hike from Valdosta

I’ve come to look for the recruiting station”

 

Laughing in the tank,

Playing games with the knobs and dials

Martin said the captain in fatigues was a Bolshevik

I said, “Be careful, He’s friends with Boris Yeltsin”

 

“Toss me a needle, I keep an extra there in my holster”

“We used the last one an artery ago”

So I looked at the barbed wire, as Martin reviewed the field manual

And the coordinates came in over the radio

 

“Martin, I’ve lost my drone”, I said, though I know he was unconscious

“I keep pulling the trigger and I don’t know why”

Counting the boys who used to play football in high school

They’ve all come to look for the recruiting station

All come to look for the recruiting station

All come to look for the recruiting station

 

I hope you find what you are looking for. Tonight’s Pub Quiz will feature a bunch of music questions. Expect also questions about cars, things that are purple, Cloners and Clonees, inline skates, kings and queens, warriors, book awards, halogens, California cities, the WWE, Irish air, Star Wars, young adult fiction, clashing princes, the ghostly noises made by the wealthy, Iowa, eponyms, birds, food and drink, refined polishing, three-syllable names of warriors, the extent to which no means no, confidence, continents, street names in east Davis, desiccation, sports, Irish culture, and Shakespeare.

Please join us tonight for the last Pub Quiz of January. As Hawthorne says, “Time flies over us, but leaves its shadow behind.”

 

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.  What U company founded in 2009 uses the slogan “Where lifestyle meets logistics”?

 

  1. Internet Culture. January 15 marks the birthday of Wikipedia. A number divisible by 5, how old is Wikipedia this year?

 

  1. Jason Sudekis Films. The highest grossing Jason Sudekis and Emma Roberts film is the second-highest-grossing Jennifer Anniston film and the top-grossing Mexico travelogue film. Name this 2013 film.  

 

 

P.S. A remembrance of Francisco Alarcon has been planned for February 18th at the John Natsoulas Gallery. I hope you can join us.

 

Francisco Alarcon and Dr. Andy

Dear Friends of the Pub Quiz,

On Friday I came across a simple tweet from someone I follow: “Enjoy the long weekend. Don’t die.” One might see this as good advice for all of us, but also dark humor during a week when two beloved celebrities, David Bowie and Alan Rickman, had died at the age of 69. Those of us in the poetry world mourned the death of C.D. Wright in the same week, and a review of Friday’s Los Angeles Times reveals a host of other recognizable people – musicians, actors, and the prosecutor of Patty Hearst – passing from this world.

And then the startling news came Friday afternoon of the passing of Francisco X. Alarcon, the most prominent poet living in Davis.

Friends of Francisco – and he had so many – knew that he had been diagnosed with stomach cancer only a couple months ago, but his passing still felt untimely. I was due to host a celebration (now postponed) of Francisco’s life and poetry this coming Saturday. He has “featured” at my poetry series perhaps half a dozen times, and has shown up to support other poets perhaps another dozen times.

I first saw Francisco read more than 20 years ago, when I was a graduate student in my early 20s. From the 1990s up to the three times I saw him read in 2015, Francisco was always so full of exuberance and joy, despite taking on some heavy subjects, such as the effects of widespread discrimination and racism against people like himself who were Latino, Mestizo, Native American, or Aztec.

Francisco’s poetry and prose challenge of the basic premises of a “border,” of what it means to be American, about what it means to walk without papers on the streets of Arizona. Reflecting on Francisco’s activist work, I am reminded of Martin Luther King Jr.’s reflections on what it means to be “disinherited” because of one’s skin color, spoken during a Montgomery bus boycott speech at the Holt Street Baptist Church in December, 1955. King said, “We, the disinherited of this land, we who have been oppressed so long, are tired of going through the long night of captivity. And now we are reaching out for the daybreak of freedom and justice and equality.”

That “daybreak” that King speaks of informs all of Francisco’s poetry, and his demeanor. He was a font of encouragement for other poets, founding Los Escritores del Nuevo Sol, a mentorship and creative productivity group that has been meeting regularly for more than a decade. The inspiration and support that he provided other poets came in the classroom, in the meetings of Los Escritores, and at myriad readings of his students, former students, and the great varieties of people he inspired.

Francisco has read in the halls of our state capitol, beginning a meeting of the state senate with an exclamation to the four directions. He has read before huge rallies in Arizona, supported by a group he founded called Poets Responding to SB 1070, which encouraged law enforcement officers to detain and question people whom they think “look illegal.” I got to see Francisco read in churches, in community centers, in countless bookstores, in classrooms, and at many outdoor political events. I have seen him perform his work as a featured reader more often than any other poet.

When my daughter’s 5th grade class at Montgomery Elementary School read and performed poetry, Francisco came to support them. When students from my freshman seminar helped to organize an open mic at the John Natsoulas Gallery, Francisco came to support them. When the Davis City Council held a ceremony naming me Poet Laureate of Davis, Francisco came to support me.

As you can read about if you look him up online, Francisco X. Alarcón was important as a scholar of Latino history, of the Spanish language and Spanish linguistics, of Aztec culture, and of poetry of protest and poetry of cultural celebration. He is widely known as a gay Latino icon, as an author of more than 20 books (including many bilingual illustrated poetry books for children), as a tireless advocate for poetry and other arts, and as a mentor and faculty member at UC Davis. But to me, he was mostly a friend.

I miss him, thank him, and celebrate him. I hope that tonight you will join me in toasting Francisco X. Alarcón.

Happy Martin Luther King Day. Tonight’s pub quiz will features questions on Dr. King, on Francisco Alarcón (note the spelling), and on the rest of the topics that you have come to expect from the Pub Quiz. This week those will include logistics, the ancestors of my bulldog, numbers divisible by 5 (math!), frequency in time and space, Oscar nominees, the common era, Mexico travelogues, Australian crops, names that end with Y, theatrical pastimes, Mike Wallace, presidential politics, best-sellers, tails, the Olympics, the pronunciation of “Caribbean,” centuries of difference in South Dakota, literary antagonists, neighbors below and especially above, favorite consonants, noncaloric fracases, central stones, sports cities, completed quotations, decorated spaces, forgotten films, people that cannot be removed, legal drama, Francisco X. Alarcón, and Shakespeare.

I hope you can join us this evening for the Pub Quiz.

 

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. What snack food uses the slogan “Dangerously Cheesy”?

 

  1. Internet Culture. What company owns the first, third, and eighth most-popular smartphone apps used in 2015?

 

  1. Current Events – Names in the News.   What was the birth name of the musician, artist and actor known as David Bowie?

 

P.S. This coming Thursday is Poetry Night in the city of Davis, this time featuring Phillip Barron and Karen Terrey. Barron’s new book of poetry, What Comes from a Thing, won the 2015 Michael Rubin Book Award, and was published by Fourteen Hills Press of San Francisco. He also authored the non-fiction book The Outspokin’ Cyclist (Avenida Books, 2010), a collection of his newspaper columns on bicycling. Karen Terrey teaches at Lake Tahoe Community College and Sierra College. Her book Bite and Blood was published by Finishing Line Press. I hope you will join us at the John Natsoulas Gallery on January 21st at 8 PM.

 

David Bowie

 

Dear Friends of the Pub Quiz,

My favorite John Ciardi poem is “Most Like an Arch This Marriage.” In the 1980s I used to hear Ciardi (1916-1986) comment on words and word histories on Morning Edition on National Public Radio. I’m sure many English majors were inspired by his wit and erudition found in the musings in a writer’s love of language.

Remembering this poem, I have used this idea of “most like an arch” in teaching writing at UC Davis since 1990. For advanced undergraduate writers, successful arguments will embrace necessary complexity and sometimes acknowledge the limitations and contradictions of those arguments. Some theorists believe that through writing we actually construct reality, and thus that challenging writing assignments will give students opportunities to practice constructing new methods of understanding the world, and of creating their own futures and value systems. As they do so, we would hope that their practice of acknowledging distinctions, limitations and contradictions will allow them to clarify and deepen their thinking.

As Ciardi puts it in his poem:

Most like an arch—two weaknesses that lean

into a strength. Two fallings become firm.

Two joined abeyances become a term

naming the fact that teaches fact to mean.
I remind my students often that they are obligated to disagree with me at least once a quarter, for in doing so they give me opportunities to strengthen and clarify my own thinking, as well as my goals for them as learners and writers. Together we can be like Ciardi’s arches, “two weaknesses that lean / into a strength.”

When a version of last week’s Pub Quiz newsletter was published in the Davis Enterprise Wednesday, it elicited a range of opinions, from the entrenched (“’White privilege’ is an overused cliche among white liberals who are doing nothing more than trying to congratulate themselves on their sensitivity”), to the dismissive (“For a place like Davisdorf [sic] to have a ‘poet laureate’ is pretentious, to say the least”), to the thoughtful (responses such as those from Elaine Musser and John Blue that I will encourage you read for yourself by visiting the Davis Enterprise website).

My favorite objection so far came from Tom Camden, a fellow south Davisite who phoned me at work Friday afternoon to discuss his concerns. He pointed out rightly that my article hadn’t represented the motivations of those who had occupied the Malheur National Wildlife Headquarters in eastern Oregon (not southern Oregon, as I had written). Camden pointed out the different ways that the Department of the Interior significantly inconveniences locals in that part of the country, and how the concerns and freedoms of those same locals are not taken into account when the US government makes decisions that affects all of them.

The protest that led to the occupation of the government building also concerned disproportionate sentencing for local ranchers and hunters who had, either inadvertently or advertently, set fire to government land that bordered property that they owned. Minimum sentencing guidelines stipulated that those found guilty of such an offense spend at least five years in prison. During a time of drought, everyone is anxious about wildfires.

Even though we only talked for about 15 minutes, I learned a lot from Tom Camden. I acknowledge the concerns of rural complainants, even though I have much deeper sympathies for residents of those urban neighborhoods who have been subjected to aggressive and sometimes lethal policing. No matter our differences, I appreciate Camden and others who disagree with me in a civil and thoughtful way, and who take the initiative to speak their minds. I try to teach similar rhetorical strategies and executive skills to my students (and my children) so that the next generation can be properly equipped to interconnect and communicate, and thus not be so easily swayed by what conservative columnist David Brooks last week called the “dark and satanic tones” of some of our prominent candidates for U.S. president.

Although in the pub the Quizmaster presents himself as infallible, in the opinion section of your local newspaper, no one has a monopoly on accuracy or the truth. As Walt Whitman says, “the powerful play goes on, and you may contribute a verse.”

Tonight at the de Vere’s Irish Pub Pub Quiz we will review a variety of topics with light and cerebral tones. Although the Golden Globes took place last night, I will ask you a number of questions about the Oscars. Expect also questions about snack foods, roads in Davis, Ted Cruz, mathematics (yes, a real math question) carnivorous amphibians, cities that were incorporated in the year 1900, the changing articles of popular music, American leagues, “spout” as a verb, sports writers, princesses and other royalty, acids, rancor, tom toms, how much we miss Jon Stewart, Russian armaments, single digits, missed opportunities, famous dead poets, today’s headlines, fast ships, inversions, fragrances, huge industries, great films that I have only begun to watch, great American novels, wits, meager savings, college dropout criminals, Mount Zion, fighters’ inverted brows, angry percussion techniques, tank engines, and Shakespeare.

I had written this newsletter before learning of the death of David Bowie yesterday at the age of 69. The great music and fashion icon deserves his own newsletter, but for right now I will leave you with these words from our departed courage-teacher, taken from his final album’s first song, “Lazarus”:

Look up here, I’m in heaven

I’ve got scars that can’t be seen

I’ve got drama, can’t be stolen

Everybody knows me now

 

I hope you can join us this evening as we raise a toast to David Bowie.

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. Unusual Words: Three-letter verbs that start with the letter T. What such verb refers to handcrafting a particularly durable lace from a series of knots and loops?

 

  1. Star Wars Characters. What character in a Star Wars film speaks this famous line? “He’s no good to me dead”?

 

  1. Name the Band. Dave Grohl, Pat Smear, Nate Mendel, Taylor Hawkins, and Chris Shiflett.

P.S. Congratulations to the Pub Quiz team Portraits – they earned a perfect score last week, the first time that has happened in the history of the de Vere’s Irish Pub Pub Quiz.

 

Birds and such

Dear Friends of the Pub Quiz,

In the late spring of 2004 I returned to my onetime hometown of Washington DC, fondly remembered because of the the time I got to spend with Marcel Prather and Juan LaBarca, two of my closest friends from high school and the Tenley Circle Theatre. Upon my arrival, the three of us met for a late-late night glass of wine (it was three hours earlier for me), and then I convinced Marcel to drive me to some of our old haunts.

Marcel dutifully drove us through Georgetown, up Wisconsin Avenue, and finally to the North Georgetown neighborhood of my childhood home, a 1,300-foot row house on Tunlaw Road. I love that neighborhood, that street, and that home. Although my parents separated when I was young, and we didn’t have a lot of money, I associate my childhood with creativity, discovery, and joy, all the qualities I try to foster in my adult life today.

Camera in hand, I jumped out of the car and started photographing everything: the huge tree that shaded my lemonade stand when I was six years old, the shrubs that I had to trim at least three times a summer in order to earn an allowance, the brick walk where my brother and I played two-square, and the foreboding iron knocker on the front door, one that to me always resembled the late Jacob Marley.

At one point, my friend Marcel took me aside and asked me if I was familiar with white privilege. Stifling an uneasy laugh, Marcel suggested that if he were snapping photographs, or doing anything suspicious on Tunlaw Road in north Georgetown, the local police would a) be summoned by the locals, and b) not be amused by Marcel at all, and c) probably greet him with unholstered weapons.

As you might guess from his remarks, Marcel is African-American, and I am (as you may have noticed, mostly) Caucasian. Perhaps it was only the wine or the jet lag talking, but I felt no concern about gallivanting about my old neighborhood at two in the morning. Audacious and I’m sure unwelcome, I felt comfortable disturbing the peace the way I was doing in my old neighborhood; perhaps I felt it my birthright.

With some mortification, I have reflected on this episode twice in the last week. The first time came when we learned that the Cleveland officers who shot and killed the 12 year-old African-American boy Tamir Rice would not be indicted by a grand jury. Although Ohio is an “open carry” state that requires no permit or even registration of handguns, Rice was shot within two seconds of being approached by the police cruiser of the two officers involved. The police dispatcher had been told that the gun Rice was playing with was “probably fake” and that Tamir was “probably a juvenile.” Both assumptions turned out to be true.

Also last week we learned that a sizable group of armed men have taken over the Malheur National Wildlife Headquarters in southern Oregon. Backed by the members of local militias, one of the leaders of the armed takeover of government property, Ammon Bundy, said at a news conference that his group “had not heard from law enforcement.”

Had these armed men been African American or Americans of Middle Eastern descent, would they have “heard” from law enforcement by now? Instead, as the Washington Post reported Sunday morning, “Harney County Sheriff David M. Ward said authorities from several law enforcement organizations were monitoring the ongoing incident.” I can think of many violent incidents on the streets of American cities – one thinks of Chicago, Baltimore, or Cleveland – that would have been better remedied through this sort of “monitoring.”

Meanwhile for some guidance on how best to describe the antics of Ammon Bundy and his militia friends, consider the FBI’s “Definitions of Terrorism in the U.S. Code”:

“Domestic terrorism” means activities with the following three characteristics:

  • Involve acts dangerous to human life that violate federal or state law;
  • Appear intended (i) to intimidate or coerce a civilian population; (ii) to influence the policy of a government by intimidation or coercion; or (iii) to affect the conduct of a government by mass destruction, assassination. or kidnapping; and
  • Occur primarily within the territorial jurisdiction of the U.S.

In this instance, I would follow the abductive reasoning definition best expressed idiomatically by the American poet James Whitcomb Riley: “When I see a bird that walks like a duck and swims like a duck and quacks like a duck, I call that bird a duck.”

Of course, worldwide there are many species of duck, from the Black East Indian Duck to the Ukrainian White Duck. I wonder which variety of duck would most likely to be hunted here in the U.S., and which sort would enjoy the privilege of flying and alighting on government land, unmolested.

Welcome to 2016! Tonight expect Pub Quiz questions on Point Reyes (which I got to visit yesterday), three-letter verbs, names that start with the letter C, Irish expats, traveling Scots, problem plays, penury, quick thinkers, hit songs with up and coming features, superheroes, successful films, meteors in southern California, the purposes of coffee, famous subjects, books that have sold more than 15 million copies, animation, Goldie Hawn, members of the band, creatures that are as tiny as a can, famous lines, glue, the Crimean War, favorite poets, Star Wars, little knots, senators, George and Johnny’s team, Compton, giants, art and art history, X-Men, AI, funny remarks by little old ladies, film and Shakespeare.

Have you made any resolutions for 2016? Let me know if you have resolved to miss no Pub Quizzes this year. With this bully pulpit, I will provide you some accountability. See you tonight.

 

Your Quizmaster

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yourquizmaster@gmail.com

 

Here are three questions from last week’s quiz:

 

  1. Internet Culture: Instagram. Disneyland, last year’s most Instagrammed place, didn’t make the list this year, perhaps because of the magic kingdom’s ban on selfie sticks. Two California locales were in the top ten, with the Golden Gate Bridge at number 10, and what Los Angeles landmark (1000 Elysian Park Ave, in the Echo Park neighborhood) at number 5?

 

  1. Flax. The names of the genus of flax, the oil made from flax, and the cloth made from flax all start with the same three letters. What DO we call textiles made from flax?

 

  1. U.S. States. The capital of the Yellowhammer State starts with M, while the state’s largest city starts with B. Name the state.   

 

P.S. This coming Thursday, January 7th, is Poetry Night in the city of Davis. A bunch of us will gather at 8 PM at the John Natsoulas Gallery (521 1st Street) for some creative fun. This time Poetry Night offers an OPEN MIC to whomever would like to join us for poetry, prose, or song. Surely you are adept at one of these three, so plan to share your talents or sample others’ this coming Thursday night. Details to be had at http://www.poetryindavis.com.

Perhaps in one of the poems I present at Poetry Night this week I will REVEAL the ANSWER to one of the following Monday’s quiz questions. Perhaps it will be a hard one, such as the ANAGRAM. Would that be worth it? Also, the after party takes place at our familiar Pub. If you were to join us late Thursday night, you would find me to be much more hospitable and humane than that guy who walks around with the loud microphone Monday nights. Picture it!

IMG_6537
Dear Friends of the Pub Quiz,

“Christmas is over when I say it is.” A lovely woman said that to me yesterday, turning up the volume of the holiday music. Pandora users, we can listen to Christmas music all year, if we want to. Every genre has its own station. Kate prefers the sort of choral music that she sang in Chicagoland and Japan rather than mid-century pop holiday hits, so our home continues to be filled with beautiful voices, lifted in harmony.

Kate’s Mom left for the Chicago airport early Saturday morning, and she arrived (34 hours later) in Sacramento International Airport well after sundown Sunday evening. The path of her flight aligned precisely with the path of the storm system that was moving slowly across a huge swath of the Midwest yesterday. As the second leg of her four-city plane tour touched down in Dallas, so did deadly tornadoes, tossing cars around like rejected Christmas presents, and damaging hundreds of buildings. Measured in dollars, the freak storms probably did more damage than was earned by The Force Awakens during the same time period, and that is saying a lot. Today, as I write, strong blizzards are descending upon New Mexico, Oklahoma, and Texas, compelling governors to declare states of emergency throughout the southwest. And in Chicago, as a friend recently informed us on Facebook, it is “raining ice.”

We think of those afflicted by this awful weather as we gather for our second post-December 25th Christmas here in south Davis. My early morning composing time remains calm. Grammy Jo has earned her sleep, and my son Truman is pacing the living room, eyeing the last remaining presents under the tree, those that Jo had sent before her trip, and which she will watch the kids open in a couple hours. I think this time of the year – Boxing Day, and then this peaceful interregnum between Christmas and New Year’s Eve – is one of the most peaceful and anticipated in our house. I need such peace if I am going to keep up with my poetry responsibilities, such as those featured on the front page of last Wednesday’s Davis Enterprise.

Also on this break I get to spend time deep-reading something other than student essays and reports on learning management systems, Kate and I consider whether the extended edition of the Lord of the Rings trilogy on DVD is appropriate for the children, and we greet other recovering families out walking the greenbelts of Davis, happy to have the consumerist intensity of Christmas morning behind us. Perhaps during this unhurried time with the family we will revisit the Arboretum, stop by the Pence Gallery (which celebrates its 40th anniversary this year), and return to the Irish Pub for a huge salad with eggs and avocados. My email traffic drops to about 10% of normal during the holiday break, indicating that most of the people who need something from me are, as the Steve Miller Band says, “right here, right here, right here, right here at home.” I hope the same is true for you.

Tonight’s Pub Quiz will feature questions on The Golden Gate Bridge, the effect of Donald Trump in New Hampshire, The Labrador Peninsula, baseball, oils, influenza, birds with naming rights, Bruce Springsteen, continents, American potentates, Instagram, the habits of snakes, heroes from Connecticut, varnishes, shadows, horses, yellow hammers, defeats, Los Angeles neighborhoods, masks, remaining territories, unlikely bobsledders, the remaining splendor of departed princes, joyous employers, star-gazing, Polynesia, informal capitals, invented economic headlines, Star Wars, political thrillers, talking bears, stadiums, dark chocolate, the practices of avatar wing sororities, selfie sticks, listening devices, centripetal forces, rejected shadows, mobility in the south, and Shakespeare.

Typically the last Pub Quiz of the year contains “year-end” questions that help us reflect on the ending year. You might remember this one from last year: “What are the five letters in the name of the Russian city where the 2014 Winter Olympics took place?” I’m sure that many great things happened in 2015 – one thinks of marriage equality in the U.S., for example – but with the deaths of B.B. King and Philip Levine, the rise of our national “shock jock” of boorish xenophobia, and acts of terrorism here and abroad, I have forgone this annual tradition. Instead expect five questions on one of the topics mentioned above.

I’ve really enjoyed the time we have spent together this year. I hope you can join us tonight of the last Pub Quiz of 2015!

 

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. Actresses. Born in 1980, what actress and singer played the title roles in Veronica Mars and Forgetting Sarah Marshall, as well as the voice of Anna in the film Frozen?   

 

  1. Sports.   Who was the NBA Rookie of the Year in 2004, the NBA scoring champion in 2008, and the AP Athlete of the Year in 2013?

 

  1. Science.   The name of the fifth most common tree in the US is an anagram of the common phrase SQUEAKING PAN. Name the tree.

 

P.S. Thanks to Senator and Mayor Wolk and their team for joining us at the Pub Quiz last week. When local celebrities join us, whether it be Bob Dunning, John Lescroart, or the Wolk family, I always give them a hard time, joshing with them about their eminent status in the community or bringing up some mild controversy in local politics or public affairs. Does such treatment incentivize their Pub Quiz participation with just the attention that many celebrities crave, or do these mild and incidental roasts make them think twice before returning to de Vere’s on a Monday night? Time will tell.

 

star_destroyer_force_awakens_-_h_-_2015

Dear Friends of the Pub Quiz,

I’ll blame the rain for the late publication of today’s newsletter. Someone left the minivan hatchback open overnight, so we had an opportunity to use the shop-vac, a delightful way to start a holiday-week Monday.

Everyone (also known as “no one”) was wondering if Hillary Clinton would say “happy holidays” or “Merry Christmas” at the end of her final prepared remarks at Saturday’s Democratic debate. Instead, she took the safe route, concluding with “May the Force be with you.”

Some say (in Rolling Stone) that the comment was a nod to Force Awakens director J.J. Abrams, who donated half a million dollars to a pro-Clinton PAC. Others might recognize that the film didn’t need Clinton’s help, having already cleared $525 million worldwide, on its way to joining Avatar and Titanic in the total gross $2 billion club. Rather, one might say that Clinton needs the help of Star Wars. When something is incredibly popular, marketing consultants recommend that you try to link that brand to your brand, whether you are a blog, a company, or a political candidate.

This thirst for exposure, for news coverage, has driven many third-tier Republicans to attack Donald Trump. As is the case with Star Wars, the media cover what everyone’s talking about. As Rand Paul said in an interview yesterday, the constant coverage of the polls becomes a self-fulfilling prophesy, with a regrettable focus on specious candidates who know how to manipulate the news cycle and who, according to Paul, are eager to entangle us in additional costly conflicts overseas.

As you may remember from my May the 4th newsletter, I have much to say about Star Wars. This week friends and acquaintances have had to hear me re-tell some of my favorite Star Wars stories, such as about seeing the first film before every other child in Washington DC, about seeing the A New Hope 19 times in the theatre (mostly at the Uptown), about meeting the cast of The Empire Strikes Back (including the three stars, though neither Alec Guinness nor James Earl Jones joined us at the Kennedy Center on that day), and about taking the kids I used to babysit to see Return of the Jedi over and over again. By the end of 1983, I had had my fill of Ewoks.

Every other Star Wars film was released in May, but The Force Awakens has been released in late December, and will dominate the theaters throughout the Christmas holiday. I previously asked you if May the 4th will someday become an actual holiday. If Disney releases the rest of the Star Wars films in December, Star Wars may come close to supplanting a holiday. Every December around the world people will be reflecting on the parentage of a boy born to humble beginnings, or of a future Jedi born to humble beginnings. For many of us, it will be both.

Although I will not see The Force Awakens 19 times in the theatre, I do need to see it again to discover what I had missed. Our shared myths deserve to be reexamined from time to time. May the Force be with you.

In addition to something mentioned above, tonight’s Pub Quiz will feature questions about Martians, the ends of tragedies, AYSO, strategic withdrawals, uninspiring words, self-regard, gasoline, fireworks, Djibouti, 4000 pixels of Irish green, green spikes, King John’s memorable moment, the topics discussed by women, countries of the world, nine-letter names, four-letter titles, separatists, award nominations, pedaling income, titles with four letters in them, A-E, enlightening synonyms, people who are not boxers, pans that squeak, memorable athletes, platinum rivers, popular bells, John Madden, brand name Sierra, bombing runs, Philippians on Twitter, innovation, Disney, briefings, Forbes, hopelessness and Shakespeare.

No Bothans were harmed in the creation of this newsletter. I hope you can join us tonight.

 

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. Pop Culture – Music. Of the ten Jackson siblings born in Gary, Indiana, which was the youngest?
  1. Sports.   Born in Long Beach in 1943, what American former World No. 1 professional tennis player won 39 Grand Slam titles and founded the Women’s Tennis Association and the Women’s Sports Foundation?
  1. Science.   Starting with the letter G, what medical condition is caused by elevated levels of uric acid in the blood?

 

P.S. Congratulations to Portraits for winning the Pub Quiz last week. Soon I will let you know how you can win a copy of my 2016 Pub Quiz book. Happy holidays! I will see you tonight, and at the movies.

 

The Earth as Crystal Ball

Dear Friends of the Pub Quiz,

Like many longtime residents of the city of Davis, I saw Al Gore’s film An Inconvenient Truth at the Varsity Theatre on 2nd Street. The owner of that theater, Sinisa Novakovic, told me that the Gore film was doing better in Davis than in most other cities. Some might consider us a city of scientists. The highly educated and aggressive citizenry of our hometown understood the importance of climate change, and appreciated the vice president’s exhaustively presented evidence that we all needed to be concerned.

Of course, not every city was as receptive to this message. When An Inconvenient Truth was released, we were in the minority. As we approach the 10th anniversary of the release of that film, we can look around and see that many more people agree with Al Gore today than did a decade ago. The wild and sometimes destructive weather that the earth has endured over the last decade has helped to convince many of the precarious state of our planet, and the role our energy policies have in bringing about these climactic causes for concern.

Although climate change talks in Copenhagen in 2009 failed for a variety of reasons, the world still made more progress there than they had with the Kyoto Accords, partially because the United States and other top polluters such as China and India would not agree to ratify any treaty that legally bound them to cut carbon dioxide emissions. According to a recent article in the New York Times, the Paris Accords were successful because of geopolitical changes in attitude about climate change, and because of all of the immediate evidence of coming climate calamities. The Times article also commends French diplomacy for getting the hundreds of participating countries to the table, and keeping us there until there was something for us to sign.

National Public Radio pointed out that the French president commended the early work of Al Gore, who was present for the announcement. When Al Gore stood up to be acknowledged, representatives from many countries cheered and applauded wildly. Many Davis children have added “World Peace” to their Christmas request lists for Santa. Although that possibility seems less and less likely these days, at least we have made some steps to fend off an equally dire threat to our planet. I hope our current and future leaders will have the imagination and fortitude to uphold the Paris Accords and future climate change prevention agreements.

Tonight’s Pub Quiz will feature questions on one of the topics raised above, as well as snow crystals, Olympic gold medals, national teams, starting gate success, Battlestar Galactica, vitamins in unexpected places, longtime allies, Irish heroes, happy countries, popular films, the difference between lightning and the lightning bug, mutant horses, Bing Crosby and the Andrews Sisters, celebrated rotundity, elfish delineations, high school musicals, rapid-fire questions, mathematics, witty remarks, the legacy of racism, medical conditions, grand slams, Santa Claus, the youngest of nine living siblings, Star Wars, musical problems, Facebook, the effect of black Friday, beloved poems, and Shakespeare. Make sure to have a member of your team reflect on each of these topics.

Speaking of Pub Quiz teams, I ran into one of the members of the perennially contending Moops at the Davis public library on Saturday. Somehow I imagined that he was conducting research for a pub quiz that I had not yet written. Unlike your Quizmaster, that quiz participant was thinking about library fines and a recent trip, rather than conducting research. What is your favorite way to prepare for a trivia contest? It’s important to read ahead, but this is not exactly an exam that one can cram for.

I hope you can join us tonight at the Irish pub.

 

Your Quizmaster

http://www.yourquizmaster.com

http://www.twitter.com/yourquizmaster

http://www.facebook.com/yourquizmaster

yourquizmaster@gmail.com

 

I hope you enjoyed all the H place questions last week. Some of you had forgotten about Hanoi, but almost all of you remembered Halifax. Here are three questions from last week’s quiz:

 

  1. Mexico. Two creatures appear on the Mexican flag. One is an eagle. What is the other?

 

  1. Pop Culture – Music. What perambulating band’s most popular hit has been the 2014 song “Shut Up + Dance”?

 

  1. Sports.   Born in 1935 and still alive today, Willie O’Ree broke the color barrier in what sport?

 

P.S. A Pub Quiz book should have questions and answers, certainly, but what else? How might a book best represent the fun we have Monday evenings? Send your ideas to yourquizmaster@gmail.com. Thanks!

Abraham Lincoln

Dear Friends of the Pub Quiz,

When facing trouble and uncertainty, some people turn to leaders who offer certainties. Through charisma, self-praise, manipulation of the media, and patience for idolatry, the demagogue stirs up people’s fears, and promises himself as the force that can return order to the community.

It’s difficult not to think of Donald Trump when reading these words. A Sacramento Bee editorial from this past Friday, titled “Donald Trump is a demagogue and a danger to democracy,” explores these concerns, opining that “Trump is an accomplished demagogue and a clear and present danger to American democracy.”

The Bee argues that “We underestimate Trump at our peril. He is a master of 21st-century media, yet he must be seen through the prism of American history. He is the latest in a long line of thuggish public figures who incited hatred and sowed division.”

I appreciated that the Bee provided historical context for men like Trump, reminding us that during “the Great Depression, there was Father Charles Coughlin, the first to use the power of radio to promote bigotry. During the Cold War, there was Sen. Joe McCarthy, who recklessly smeared loyal Americans as Communists. During the 1960s civil rights movement, a racist Gov. George Wallace stood as a symbol of segregation.”

All of these American knaves needed perceived outsiders to blame for the uncertainty and threats facing the nation. After the recent senseless slaughter in San Bernardino—a couple killing many of the people who had hosted their baby shower earlier this year—the political rhetoric has become more intense and strident, and the focus of national political discussions has shifted. As many shaken Americans look to Muslims and people from the Middle East with greater distrust and fear, the standing of certain presidential candidates becomes solidified (Trump and Clinton), while others with less experience or braggadocio regarding foreign affairs (such as Carson and Sanders) are seeming to fade. The political discussions provide starkly differing opinions on what makes America exceptional.

Meanwhile, we all have much to learn about the participants in our multicultural society, whether you call America a melting pot (a term made popular by a 1909 play of the same name), or a patchwork quilt, as Jesse Jackson famously put it in a 1988 speech. My dad’s former workplace in Washington DC, TV station WUSA, recently shared footage of an angry man telling people at a community meeting in a Virginia mosque that “Every one of you are terrorists.” How does one respond to such an accusation? He added, “You can smile at me, you can say whatever you want, but every Muslim is a terrorist.”

This past Friday I attended some talks that explored what might be called the other end of the spectrum of political understanding and engagement. Assuming that we will confront terrorism, alienation, and isolating religious extremism with something other than merely sorties in Syria, we might wonder what approach we should take instead. One that focuses on education, suggests Keith David Watenpaugh, Director of Human Rights Studies at UC Davis. In his keynote address at a UC Davis conference titled “Syria’s Lost Generation: A Human Rights Challenge to American Higher Education,” Watenpaugh posited that young Syrian refugees are eager to seek out higher education in neighboring countries, in Europe, and in the United States.

With Watenpaugh and other cognizant and conscientious faculty here, UC Davis is well situated to shoulder our part of what I see as a universal responsibility to offer refuge to those escaping war, terror, and oppressive regimes. Insofar as ISIS wishes to foment dissension, seclusion, and animosity among American Muslims, I feel we can best defeat ISIS by challenging prejudice and inhospitality. As Eleanor Roosevelt said, “Pit race against race, religion against religion, prejudice against prejudice. Divide and conquer! We must not let that happen here.”

Meanwhile, as has happened too often, today we are given reason to reflect on the curtailed lives cut short by the gun of a madman or a misdirected fanatic. In silence or out loud, we read the names in the newspaper, or on memorial stones. A shadow has darkened the holidays. Rather than being swayed by demagoguery during this challenging time, let such occasions remind us of our shared values and fill us with resolve to be what Abraham Lincoln called “the better angels of our nature.”

Tonight’s pub quiz will feature a number of questions on geography, a perennial gap in the educations of Americans. In fact, Mark Twain once said, “God created war so that Americans would learn geography.” Expect also questions on sports teams named after animals, pollution, popular clubs from the late 1980s, faraway flags, Greek adhesives, speeches given by the newly-announced California Poet Laureate Dana Gioia, international courts, countries even less populous than Ireland, Horace Greeley, the Marvel Cinematic Universe, race relations, California cities, gold stars, countries that are not Hungary, misfit stranglers, music genres, Star Wars, high-value Scrabble letters, posthumous votes, visible light, color barriers, inspiration provided by The Police, Mexico, Netflix, welcome assessments, popular oils, presidential elections, and Shakespeare.

My first book of trivia will be published in 2016. If you have enjoyed the Pub Quiz and would like to say something nice about the questions I ask, or the Pub Quiz experience at de Vere’s Irish Pub, please drop me an email filled with quotable acclaim at yourquizmaster@gmail.com. I will be including some blurbs from local notables inside and even on the back cover of the new book, and perhaps I can include you. Thanks, and see you tonight!

 

Your Quizmaster

http://www.yourquizmaster.com

http://www.twitter.com/yourquizmaster

http://www.facebook.com/yourquizmaster

yourquizmaster@gmail.com

 

I hope you enjoyed all the Will Ferrell questions last week. Here are three questions from last week’s quiz:

  1. Mottos and Slogans.   Starting with the letter A, what company calls itself “The Company for Women”?
  1. Internet Culture. The Raspberry Pi foundation has just released the latest in its series of credit card–sized single-board computers, the Raspberry Pi Zero. How much does it cost? $500, $50, or $5?
  1. California Colleges and Universities. According to Google maps, the oldest operating institution of higher learning in California is a Jesuit university that is just over 100 miles from Davis if one takes 80 west and then 680 south. Name the university.