Driftwood in the Stateroom

Dear Friends of the Pub Quiz,


Probably everyone’s favorite scene from the Marx Brothers’ classic A Night at the Opera is the “Stateroom Scene.” Are you familiar? In the transcript, below, Groucho Marx plays Driftwood:





Driftwood finishes ordering from the steward and steps back into his cabin, closing the door.

Driftwood: Well that’s fine. If that steward is deaf and dumb, he’ll never know you’re in here.

Fiorello: Why sure, that’s all right…

(A knock on the door)

Driftwood: Yes?

Chambermaid: We’ve come to make up your room.

Fiorello: Are those my hard boiled eggs?

Driftwood: I can’t tell until they get in the room. Come on in, girls, and leave all hope behind. But you’ve gotta work fast ’cause you’ve gotta get out in ten minutes…

Fiorello: Hey, Tomasso. Wake up. They’re gonna fix the beds…

Driftwood (to the chambermaids): Say, I’d like two pillows on that bed there, huh?

(As the chambermaids struggle to get to the beds, Tomasso in his semi-conscious state begins to drape himself over the chambermaids.)

Driftwood (to Fiorello) Hey, there’s a slight misunderstanding here. I said the girls had to work fast – not your friend.

Fiorello: He’s still asleep…

Driftwood: You know he does better asleep than I do awake?

Fiorello: Yeah, he always sleeps that way. Now he’s half asleep.

Driftwood: Yes, he’s half asleep and half nelson…

(A knock at the door)

Driftwood: Yes?

Engineer: I’m the engineer. I’m here to turn off the heat.

Driftwood: Well, you can start right in on him.

Fiorello: Wake up, Tomasso… Tomasso, we’re a gonna eat soon…

Driftwood: You know, if it wasn’t for Gottlieb, I wouldn’t have got this room? (a knock on the door) Just hold him there a second…

Manicurist: Did you want a manicure?

Driftwood: No, come on in! I hadn’t planned on a manicure, but I think on a journey like this, you ought to have every convenience you can get… (Tomasso’s foot gets in the way of the manicurist). Hey, listen, I’m getting the manicure. Get out of here, will ya?

Manicurist: Did you want your nails long or short?

Driftwood: You’d better make ’em short. It’s getting kind of crowded in here. I don’t know. This isn’t the way I pictured an ocean voyage. I always visualized sitting in a steamer chair with a steward bringing me bouillon. You couldn’t get any bouillon in here unless they brought it in through a keyhole.

(A knock at the door)

Engineer’s assistant: I’m the engineer’s assistant.

Driftwood: You know, I had a premonition you were going to show up. The engineer’s right over there in the corner. You can chop your way right through… Say, is it my imagination or is it getting crowded in here?

Fiorello: I’ve got plenty of room…

(A knock at the door)

Driftwood: Yes?

Woman: Is my Aunt Minnie in here?

Driftwood: Well, you can come in and prowl around if you wanna. If she isn’t in here, you can probably find somebody just as good…

Woman: Well, can I use your phone?

Driftwood: Use the phone?! I’ll lay ya even money you can’t get in the room! This boat will be in New York before you can get to that phone…

(A knock at the door)

Cleaning lady: I came to mop up.

Driftwood: Just the woman I’m looking for. Come right ahead. You’ll have to start on the ceiling. It’s the only place that isn’t being occupied… (knock at the door) Tell Aunt Minnie to send up a bigger room, too, will ya? (knocking again)

Steward: Stewards…

Driftwood: Ah, come right in!

Fiorello: Hey, Tomasso, the food! The food!

Driftwood: I’ve been waiting all afternoon for you stewards…

(The stewards crowd into the room as Tomasso dives onto the trays in his semi-conscious state. The next visitor is none other than Mrs. Claypool, who after knocking on the door, finds the cabin suddenly bursting open as people cascade into the ship’s hallway.)


My birthday party in the back room of de Vere’s Irish Pub was very much like this stateroom this past Friday, but I enjoyed every minute of it. Much like my life these days, people had time or room to stop by, shake my hand or give me a hug, and then went on their way. The Mayor spoke, my daughter spoke, some favorite former students and colleagues spoke, and then we all had homemade carrot cake, brought by a guest all the way from Lodi.


I agree with comedian Eric Idle; he once said, “I have been very blessed in my life and rewarded with good friends and good health. I am grateful and happy to be able to share this.” Thanks to all of you who participated, or who wanted to but were turned away lest you trigger chaos, as what happened to Mrs. Claypool.


In addition to a different comedian from the ones mentioned above, expect tonight questions about bests, mature trees, desert divisions, the big switch, San Francisco quality, startups, improv comedy, penguins, thousand-mile journeys, binderies for bombs, German immigrants, Ireland in full color, Prince and Eminem, fateful trucks, the opposite of Titus Andronicus, two times three, Tilda Swinton, tall mountains, ages and eons, Italian cities, pugilism, animation, countries of origin, David Attenborough, lovely hats, sharp wits that sharpen knives, that which we have got to have, Academy Award nominees and winners, swift action, Twitter, and Shakespeare.


Spring has sprung, so you should spring over to de Vere’s Irish Pub tonight. Set your clocks. We start at 7.


Your Quizmaster






Here are three questions from last week’s quiz:


  1.  Voters. Which of the following will be the largest generation of eligible voters in 2020? From youngest to oldest: Centennials, Millennials, Generation X, Baby Boomers, Silent Generation.


  1. Pop Culture – Music. What American DJ Duo has the 5th and 6th top selling singles in the nation this week with “Closer” and “Paris”?


  1. Science.   What P word do we use for a large molecule, or macromolecule, composed of many repeated subunits?



P.S. Poetry Night returns to Davis this week, with a March 16th reading at the Natsoulas Gallery featuring Erin Rodoni, with Lauren Rudewicz as the opener. Rodoni has a new Sixteen Rivers Press book out titled Body, In Good Light.


Read what Thomas Centolella  says about this new book: “The aesthetic that courses throughout Erin Rodoni’s sumptuous debut—tender and bittersweet, but also clear-eyed and unflinching—recalls Rilke’s ninth Duino Elegy, in which the earth’s dream is ‘to resurrect / in us invisibly.’ That ache of regeneration and rejuvenation is made manifest in Body, in Good Light. In the section entitled ‘A Sort of Light We See as Flesh,’ the poem ‘The Chapel’ brings us to a woman’smemorial service, where Rodoni faces ‘an altar draped in fabric / that belongs to no faith.’ At the end, though, she says: ‘We praise/ the faith of whatever machine // keeps the warmth in her hands.’ By extension, that warmth extends to the poet, to those she holds dear, and, thankfully, to us.”


Poetry Night starts at 8 on March 16. Join us!


Dear Friends of the Pub Quiz,


What fun we had Saturday Night! My friends at Sunrise Rotary organized an annual “Trivia for a Cause” fundraiser that took place at the spacious Davis Senior Center, and I got to host! My duties included writing and putting on a pub quiz, offering a live auction of clues for the trickier questions (some hints went for as much as $60), and talking up the different local charities that the teams were playing for. By the end of the evening, I was out of breath, and my head was spinning.


A visit to Rotary.org reveals the Rotarian’s primary motto: “Service Above Self.” We are lucky to live in a city whose good will and investment in education have resulted in an overabundance of citizens who recognize service to others, such as my own service to my students, as an important element of a fulfilling life. Service and outreach are foundational goals of our town’s land grant university, and the Rotary folks apply those principles even more vigorously than most of the rest of us. It should be recognized in what author Gary Vaynerchuk calls our “Thank You Economy” that there is wisdom in the Rotary motto that “One profits most who serves best.” One of the best ways to do well is to be good.


I’ve benefited tremendously from the support of friends, family, and associates in Davis. 2017 is an exciting time for me: my 25th year of marriage to Kate, and the beginning of my sixth decade on earth. Kate is throwing me a birthday party Friday night. If you are not a Facebook friend of Dr. Andy and would like to know more, feel free to ask me about the birthday gathering when we see each other tonight at the Quiz.


As you can tell from my habit of giving away valuable swag every Monday night, we are trying to get RID of stuff, rather than accumulate it in the form of birthday presents. As a result, if you want to do something kind for me on my 50th birthday, please consider making a tax-deductible donation to the Smith Lemli Opitz Foundation, an organization that supports medical research into a rare syndrome that is well known to our family and the families of many people whom we appreciate and adore. Find details at http://www.smithlemliopitz.org/donations/.


Tonight’s Pub Quiz will feature questions on voters, people named Alexa, silver bullets, the trees found in Chinese swamps, Texas, Romans, the Philippines, horseshoes, provincial life, nightmarish arachnids, threats to our Superiority, beautiful losers, superheroes, occupations in common, the Truman question, persistent wrongdoing, 18 points in Scrabble, periodic painting, piano music, evil shape-shifters, bald antiheroes, unusual and hasty pets, subunits, also-rans, bad habits, Centennials, and Shakespeare. Three of the questions have not been written.


Happy birthday to occasional Pub Quiz participant Grammy Jo. Jo won’t be able to join us tonight, but you yourself should not let the gentle rain and cold temperatures keep you from competing in the de Vere’s Irish Pub Pub Quiz. See you at 7!


Your Quizmaster






Here are three questions from last week’s quiz:


  1. Sports. What is the name of the Buffalo NHL team?


  1. Science.   Snoring during sleep may be a sign, or first alarm, of OSA. What do the letters OSA stand for?


  1. Great Americans.  Of what state was the current Vice President most recently governor?



P.S. Do you know someone who should sign up for this newsletter? Convince them for me!


Red Mailbox


Dear Friends of the Pub Quiz,


Happy Oscars aftermath day! Typically I would devote an entire newsletter to the Academy Awards, but I have too many topics to cover.


Can it be that, in the restricted-press Trump era, even the Academy Awards have become political, partisan, and divided? Dressed in a coat and tie to watch the “returns,” my 11-year-old son Truman had actually seen LaLa Land, so he yelped with joy when the film was named best picture. Later he was disappointed (again!) when the mistake was corrected and explained to the confused celebrities. It will be at least a handful of years before Truman gets to see Moonlight on Video, even though all but a few scenes are appropriate for him right now. Then he can learn why it is such an important film. Until then, we will always have “City of Stars” to play and hum around the house.


By the way, what was Warren Beatty thinking? Was there a conspiracy? These are some of the questions I’ve seen asked on social media in the last 12 hours. Someone suggested that a different Best Picture winner should guide the process in the future: No Country for Old Men. This incident made me wonder: if someone handed me a doctored pub quiz answer sheet with an incorrect answer on it, would I read it out loud? Maybe if I were reading the answer to a billion people, I would confirm with my producer first. Poor Warren. I can see why people have become so distrustful of the (any?) electoral process.


I got to host the Patwin Elementary School PTA Fundraiser this past Saturday night. I have learned that while hosting a pub quiz can be exhausting, hosting a pub quiz, live auction, and raffle results read is even more exhausting, especially when one is master of ceremonies for the entire evening. I don’t know where Davis Enterprise columnist for life Bob Dunning finds the energy to have hosted so many events for our city and our schools over the years. Of course, he does have his columns to call upon for material. At least Saturday night we raised a boatload of cash (maybe $10,000?) for the Patwin Elementary PTA. Arts education has to come from somewhere, and I don’t sense that it the arts are a priority of the current administration.


Speaking of Pub Quiz fundraisers, the Trivia for a Cause fundraiser takes place this coming Saturday night, March 4th, at 7 PM. Here’s how the Davis Enterprise puts it:


“Davisites are certain they’re smart. Those looking to prove it should play Sunrise Rotary’s “Trivia for a Cause” at 7 p.m. Saturday, March 4, at the Davis Senior Center, 646 A St.


Now in its eighth year, the contest is emceed by Andy Jones, Davis’ poet laureate emeritus [Editor’s note: I am the current and reigning poet laureate] and doyen of the city’s quizmasters. Seats are $30 and teams should be between six and eight people, though individual players are welcome. Table sponsorships are available for $400.


The top three teams will win money for a public service project or nonprofit organization of their choice. First place will win a minimum $2,000.


And the more teams that play, the higher the possible payout. The winning team also will earn the title of ‘Smartest People in Davis.’”


I hope you can join us for that event. Rotary representatives will be available to share details, and Davis City Councilman Lucas Frerichs will be on hand to crown the “Smartest People in Davis” this evening at about 6:45. Come early for the fun and the gloating.


Finally, I will close with some advice. Before you hire someone for a big job, such as handing Warren Beatty a red envelope or running a branch of our military, confirm that the person to whom you plan to give the responsibility is qualified. So far, poor vetting has now cost Donald Trump his Labor Secretary, his Navy Secretary, his Army Secretary, and his National Security Advisor. It’s almost that he and his campaign team could not have foreseen that they would won the election. Only Steve Bannon, Breitbart visionary, might have had an idea of what was coming. I suppose that every film needs a script-writer.


Tonight’s Pub Quiz will feature questions on some of the topics raised above. I even borrowed one question from the Patwin event, so if you attended that, you will have a deliciously unfair advantage. Expect also questions on the following: Star Wars (not prequels), four primary characters, Bizarro World fallout, a late pass for victory, The H.M.S. Titanic, Puerto Rican representation, successful genera, interrupted dreams, Burkina Faso and Benin, Brexit complications, returning cages, country music that I can stomach, unique misfortune, spending the second quarter of 2016 on your phone, close shaves, outlaws, Bruno Mars, glamour, unusual pairings in upstate New York, old crushes, Daniel Radcliffe, first alarms, previous occupations, horror television, A-Listers, instability, miserable manias, tick tock, opening numbers, cinematic commitment, and Shakespeare. I have not yet written question 25.


See you tonight!


Your Quizmaster






Here are three questions from last week’s quiz:


  1. Presidential Politics on Presidents Day. As no presidential candidate received a majority of electoral votes in the election of 1824, the U.S. House of Representatives voted to elect as president the candidate who had won fewer votes than his main competitor in the popular election. Who became U.S. President in February of 1825?     


  1. Science – Strong Winds. A hurricane is a storm that occurs in the Atlantic Ocean and northeastern Pacific Ocean, a typhoon occurs in the northwestern Pacific Ocean, and a two-syllable synonym for these occurs in the south Pacific or Indian Ocean. Name it.


  1. Books and Authors. Which Virginia Woolf book features Septimus Smith & Clarissa Dalloway?  


P.S. Also join us for Poetry Night on March 2nd. Amos White and Emma Fuhs will be featuring.

Feb 20-2017 Newsletter PDF


Dear Friends of the Pub Quiz,


This past Saturday morning out my window I saw a young man sprinting down the greenbelt. He zoomed down the bike path like a film’s unaccountably speedy protagonist who benefits from post-production special effects to race off towards the horizon. Soon thereafter, I saw a pack of runners running in tight formation behind the first, all members of what I assumed were the UC Davis cross-country team. Brushing my teeth at my bathroom window, I admired their early-morning chutzpah.


Soon thereafter another group of runners came by, and then another, and then a long line of them. Some were doggedly focused, while others farther back in the pack were chatting casually with their buddies or pushing baby-joggers. While the runners, joggers, and, eventually, race-walkers came in all ages and sizes, most had a commonality that I should have spotted at first: Davis Stampede t-shirts. The race route went right past my home, and all the runners participating, from the youthful professionals to the casual fun-runners, were exhibiting more discipline and living more loudly than I was from my bathroom and bedroom windows, watching them go by. Maybe this is what John Lennon, in the last single from his posthumous album Double Fantasy, meant by “Watching the Wheels.”


I reminded myself that it was once I who stepped foot into the arena. Although I had run longer distances when living in Washington DC and in Berkeley, the Davis Stampede was the occasion of my longest run with a number on my chest, a 13.1-mile half-marathon. Perhaps I feel excused from such weekend stamina experiments because of my daily bike commute, but I still noted a pang of regret and exclusion with every runner who jaunted happily past my home. These people are really living, I thought, participating in life fully, and I was merely sitting on the sidelines, remembering my running glory days.


That said, a couple hours after this moment of morning reflection I was being introduced to a large crowd by Jay Brookman, commander of Davis VFW Post 6949. I got to sample a different sort of glory that comes with the thrilling rush of public speaking. As your poet laureate, I am often called upon to offer an original poem or two at important events, such as Saturday’s “Breakfast for Heroes.” As you may know, y most recent book, In the Almond Orchard: Coming Home from War, reflects upon what Sacramento Valley heroes might be feeling upon being discharged from service. The topic was relevant, as the crowd of 200 or so had gathered to recognize our city’s public servants, whether they be ROTC cadets, teachers, public safety dispatchers, police officers, student writers, scouts, or veterans of the year. Particularly impressive was Francis Resta, World War II veteran and former Commander of that same VFW Post.


I would like to say that all eyes were on me as I took the stage, but instead everyone watched my son Jukie as he ran for the exit, opening a side door as loudly as can be imagined, as if, instead of merely using the handle, Jukie thought it best to open the door with a collection of wind chimes or a huge dead blow mallet. The resulting noise created was notable, but I chose not even to look to the side to see what was going on: for me it was show time!


Luckily, when it came to keeping Jukie safe, I was surrounded by heroes. Accompanied by a number of boy scouts, perpetual Davis leaders Don Saylor and Lucas Frerichs headed out a side door to attend to Jukie while he pruned some of the trees and sat on the huge sculpture in front of the Veterans Memorial Center, watching the cars go by in the winter sunshine. 1970s househusband John Lennon might have admired Jukie.


While some are content with “watching the wheels go round and round,” I say that now is a time when we need more heroes to follow the lead of Don and Lucas by stepping up and showing themselves. Some are speaking out in the political arena, reminding us all of constitutional values and the checks and balances established by our nation’s founders. Yesterday’s town hall with Congressman Garamendi gave some of our neighbors an opportunity to share their boldness. Some are arranging for food and shelter for our Oroville neighbors to the north, 180,000 of whom have recently evacuated their homes. In fact, as I write this early Monday morning, the aforementioned Don Saylor is serving breakfast and coffee to evacuees living temporarily at the Yolo County Fairgrounds. And some heroes work day after day in public service jobs, to be recognized and celebrated, if at all, for a couple hours on a Saturday morning in February before returning to the work to be done.


Tonight’s Pub Quiz will feature questions on some of the topics raised above, as well as on the Grammys, the memories of science fiction authors, Bram Stoker, intermediate-range ballistic missiles, islands, digital downloads, protected elephants, dunked heads, cabinets, music to be heard in bars, odd creatures, knights, state nicknames, ratios, doctors in the house, delicacies that I have never tried, population density, real races, mammal commonalities, little states, Golden Globe nominated singers, entanglements, people named after their jobs, and Shakespeare.


Tonight will mark the last pub quiz night of Trivia Newton John, a Hall of Fame team that has competed amiably, while winning occasionally, in the pub quiz for many years. I hope you will join us this evening to raise a glass in their honor. Also, the break in the precipitation should continue today and tomorrow. Tonight some may even want to sit outside!


See you this evening.


Your Quizmaster






Here are three questions from last week’s quiz:


  1. Mottos and Slogans.    Starting with the letter C, and with two N’s in its name, what company uses the slogan “See what we mean”?


  1. Newspaper Headlines.   What European company recently topped Toyota to become the world’s biggest carmaker?


  1. Know Your Metric System. Rounded off to the nearest kilometer, how many kilometers are there in a marathon?



P.S. Poetry Night is this Thursday. Our featured poet will be Dorine Jennette! Please join us at the John Natsoulas Gallery. We start at 8.


The Machiavelli Scores a Touchdown Edition of the de Vere’s
Irish Pub Pub Quiz Newsletter

Dear Friends of the Pub Quiz,

A friend and colleague looked at the halftime score of the
Super Bowl yesterday and then remarked that he “can’t help but worry that even
though the Atlanta Falcons will score more points, the New England Patriots
will still win the game.” He was half right. His comment made me think about
how much Donald Trump has been talking up the New England Patriots, predicting
that the team owned by his good friend Robert Kraft would win by eight points.
He was pretty close.

Like Trump, The New England Patriots and their coaches are
known for their underhanded play, such as for underinflating footballs or
videotaping and learning opposing teams’ signals to their players. Despite this
proclivity towards cheating, the Patriots should nevertheless be congratulated.
Donald Trump says the Patriots are an honorable team.

Nevertheless, I got to thinking about a great number of
current, historical, and even fictional (literary or cinematic) villains that
also deserve congratulations for the Machiavellian ways in which they
accomplish their goals. With the hopes of offending no one, I’ve created a list
for you.

Here goes:

Congratulations to the New England
Patriots, under-inflator of footballs.

Congratulations to Bill Belichick
for using video to help your team win games, such as by videotaping the New
York Jets’ defensive coaching signals.

Congratulations to Donald Trump,
who evidently has called in favors with friends in leadership roles, that is, in
the Kremlin and in the FBI.

Congratulations to Barry Bonds,
still our home run king in Major League Baseball, despite the asterisks.

Congratulations to Ty Cobb, who
sharpened the spikes on his cleats in full view of the opposing infield,
intimidating players from tagging you out as you stole home 54 times.

Congratulations, Lance Armstrong,
for all that time spent wearing the yellow jersey. I hope all that blood you
dosed was your own!

Congratulations Tonya Harding for
clubbing the opposition. You raised the profile of ice skating, and almost got
away with it!

Congratulations, Nero, for being
the last in the Julio-Claudian dynasty. You are one of the ones we remember!

Congratulations, Michael Corleone,
for surviving both the notable Godfather films!

Congratulations, Imelda Marcos, kleptocrat,
on your mountainous collection of shoes. It’s hard to believe that you are
still alive!

Congratulations, Emperor Palpatine (AKA
Darth Sidious) on the execution of your order 66. You really plan ahead.

Congratulations, J. Edgar Hoover,
for your devoted work intimidating sitting presidents with what Harry Truman
called our own American “Gestapo or secret police.”

Congratulations, Thug Behram, for
inspiring so many two-bit thugs to be named after you!

Congratulations, Kim Jong-un for
distracting us from the work of your crazy father!

Congratulations, William Rehnquist,
for your work choosing President George W. Bush for us. Sometimes democracy
needs some help.

Congratulations, Ivan the Terrible,
for your work as Tsar, and for turning a state into an empire full of hungry
and depressed people.

Congratulations, Mr. Potter, for
not letting on that you had pocketed that $8,000 you found in Uncle Billy’s

Congratulations, Dutch Shultz, for
your excellent aim.

Congratulations, Vlad the Impaler,
for your incredible technique, and for retiring the title “impaler.”

Congratulations, Nurse Ratched, for
finally calming Randle Patrick McMurphy.

Congratulations, Hannibal Lector,
for being both the villain and the hero in a film that swept the major Oscars!

Congratulations, Iraqi Information
Minister Baghdad Bob, on your comical press conferences and alternative facts!

Congratulations, Tyler Durden, for your
successful campaign against consumerism!

Congratulations, Keyser Söze, for limping
right out of that police station!

Congratulations, Chris Christie!
Everyone but you has paid the price for Bridgegate!

Congratulations, Andrew Jackson,
for your divisive campaign to remove Native Americans. Whereas the Cherokee
nicknamed you “Sharp Knife,” we put you on the $20 bill!

Maybe you have others to nominate for inclusion on this
list. Drop me a note or a tweet.

Meanwhile, on to clues. In addition to what we’ve covered
above, tonight expect questions on associations, carmakers, Bowling Greens,
multimillionaires, nutcases, marathons, Marvels, Oscar-winners,
African-American history, competitive basketball, the Super Bowl, birds’ nests,
ramen fuels, a plane full of pilots, musical westerns, Japanese statistics,
intense appetites, Aristotle’s ideas about falling objects, animation,
countries that start with vowels, little Irish, James Blake, differing opinions
on the same film, famous villains, President Obama, sustainable eco musketry in
Last of the Mohicans, making money, alternatives to football, famous
paintings, consequences, photography, Stan Lee, the pride of Europe, and

Leave extra time to get to the pub tonight. Sometimes
Californians drive a little nutty in the rain.

Your Quizmaster





Here are three questions from last week’s quiz:

  1. Books and Authors.  Name the third woman to
    win the Pulitzer Prize for Poetry (back in 1923), and who also wrote the
    following poem “First Fig.”


My candle burns at both ends;

It will not last the night;

But ah, my foes, and oh, my

It gives a lovely light!

  1. Current Events – Names in the News.     Today
    Google honored on its front page a Japanese internment opponent after whom
    a Davis elementary school was named. It’s not George Takei. Who was it?

  1. Sports.  John Lynch has a new job with the San
    Francisco 49ers. What is his new job?

P.S. Poetry Night on February 16th will feature
Dorine Jennette! Join us that night at the John Natsoulas Gallery.

Tofu Scramble from Kate



Dear Friends of the Pub Quiz,

As much as I love the food in our favorite Davis restaurants, especially de Vere’s Irish Pub, sometimes my family and I eat meals at home, even though cooking for my family is a tricky business. If you count the dog, four out of the six of us are vegetarians, my daughter Geneva has deadly food allergies, my son Jukie has a metabolic disorder requiring him to consume more cholesterol than an average kid, and our youngest Truman has what one might call a selective palate. Whenever we can find a meal that pleases everyone, we feel both surprised and victorious.

Despite these challenges, most mornings Kate makes me a delicious egg and tofu scramble with about five different kinds of vegetables and fungi (i.e., mushrooms). Because I share this daily morning delicacy with Jukie, and because of my love of greens, Kate mixes into the stir-fry all sorts of vegetables that Jukie enjoys too, including about a half-pound of spinach. When that meal is placed before me, I feel as joyful and territorial about my food as Dilly our bulldog feels about her kibble: breakfast is my favorite meal of the day.

Yesterday I came into the kitchen and smelled the most aromatic tofu, veggie and egg scramble that you can imagine. The room was filled with a full-blast banjo rendition of “You Are My Sunshine,” a love song that is appropriate to share over breakfast. Kate told me that she hoped that I like the music of Pete Seeger, “because that’s all we’re listening to for the next four years.” This was as much a political proclamation as it was a musical one.

Pete Seeger is finding new audiences, and not only with our kids at mealtime. One can also hear Seeger’s music at protests, marches, and demonstrations, such as those that took place at the State Capital a week ago Saturday, and in Sacramento International Airport yesterday, probably with a number of your Facebook friends participating in one or both. Protest songs have always sustained those who sought peacefully and collectively to confront immoral authorities. As novelist Nicholson Baker put it, “The nice thing about a protest song is that it takes the complaint, the fussing, the finger-pointing, and gives it an added component of sociable harmony.”

Kate reminded me that, as the daughter of a progressive minister in suburban Chicago, she often found her childhood home filled with guitar-strumming reformers, leftists, and parishioners who sought to confront the racism, bigotry, and other acts of intolerance that they encountered in their neighborhood and in their nation during the Nixon years, the war years. She remembers being upset by stories of people in her mostly-white neighborhood turning their hoses on new arrivals’ African-American and immigrant children as they walked to or from school, communicating that they were not welcome.

Whether they were listening to Pete Seeger, Joan Baez, or Malvina Reynolds, those progressives who practiced protest songs, constructed posters, and made plans in living rooms across the country didn’t want visitors, new immigrants, and people of color to think that their entire community embraced or even accepted that sort of intolerance.

One can only imagine how it might feel, coming of age in the late 1960s and early 1970s, to be seen by other countries as bigots and racists just because a plurality of our white voters supported a paranoid and authoritarian U.S. president’s plans to implement policies targeting minorities and immigrants, policies that were condemned internationally and domestically as short-sighted, immoral, and un-American. In retrospect, I have great admiration for the friends of Kate’s parents who chose to act – even if merely by singing a Pete Seeger song to a bunch of protesters standing at a police line – rather than watching silently as history passed them by.

Tonight’s Pub Quiz will feature questions on one or more topics raised above, and on the following: short candles, new jobs, speaking roles for women, sun kings, names in the news, Dorothy Crawford, the BBC, home, tempered wildness, prominent women, peninsulas that are visited by people from two countries, people named Murphy, mismatched protectors, gay icons, sunshine, famous artists, big religions, mutagens, a tent in which you would find cowards, Sherlock Holmes, anthems, notable villages, maritime weapons, raids, the reason that Curious George earned his medal, ornamental rope, auto-repeaters, bones we depend upon, expatriates, clock towers, conglomerates, and Shakespeare.

We start at 7, but it’s always good to arrive early to chat with your friends before the carnival barking begins. I will be wearing black.

Your Quizmaster


Here are three questions from last week’s quiz:

1. Books and Authors. Emily Dickinson lived all her life in the same western Mass. town with a current population of 38,000. Name the town.

2. Sports. What MLB pitcher has the records for the most wins and the most losses?

3. Shakespeare. The cube root of the even number of Shakespeare’s sonnets is 5.3601. How many sonnets did Shakespeare publish?

P.S. Speaking of sample questions, did you see which quizmaster has a new weekly column, if you can call it that, in the Davis Enterprise? I will tell you. It’s your quizmaster.

P.P.S. Poetry Night takes place on Thursday.

Poets Patrick Grizzell & Geoffrey Neill
Read at the John Natsoulas Gallery
February 2nd at 8PM

The Poetry Night Reading Series is proud to feature poets Patrick Grizzell and Geoffrey Neill on Thursday, February 2nd at 8 P.M. They will be performing at the John Natsoulas Gallery at 521 1st Street in Davis.

Geoffrey Neill is a Sacramento-area poet, as well as the founder of little m press. Little m press has published around twenty chapbooks for Sacramento poets who, for the most part, don’t have previous publications, and provides local poetry to local readers. Neill’s work has appeared in several anthologies including Late Peaches and Sacramento Voices. Neill has performed his work throughout California and hosts Joey Montoya’s Poetry Unplugged at Luna’s Café in Sacramento the second Thursday of each month.

Patrick Grizzell is a poet, songwriter and visual artist. His books include Dark Music, Chicken Months (about which Robert Bly wrote, “… the poems have a sweet spontaneity and tenderness”), Minotaure Into Night (with sumi paintings by Jimi Suzuki), and the more recently published chapbooks, 13 Poems, and It’s Like That. He has a new full length collection, Writing in Place, under way.

A founding member and previous director of the Sacramento Poetry Center, Grizzell was also editor of On the Wing, an arts magazine, and is an occasional contributor to ArtWeek and other publications. His interviews include conversations with Helene Pons, Fernando Alegria, Robert Bly, Aline Comisky Crumb, Gary Snyder, Ruth Bernhart, Will Durst and others. Grizzell has performed poetry and music with, among others, Allen Ginsberg, Leon Redbone, Jim Ringer and Mary McCaslin, Ed Sanders, Taj Mahal, Shizumi Shigeto, William Stafford, Robert Creeley and Anne Waldman. He studied art and literature at CSUS with Maya Angelou, Dennis Schmitz, Eugene Redmond, Kathryn Hohlwein, John Fitzgibbon, and others.

Grizzell’s band, Proxy Moon, will released a CD early this summer and are at work on another. John Lee Hooker once said he “sounds pretty good” on the dobro.

An open mic will follow the readings by the featured poets. Please bring your poems, short stories, and songs. Participants will be asked to limit their performances to five minutes or two items, whichever is shorter. The Poetry Night Reading Series is hosted by Dr. Andy Jones, the poet laureate of Davis. All are welcome.




Dear Friends of the Pub Quiz,

One of my favorite passages from Jane Austen’s Persuasion is a single conflicted sentence from a love-letter written by Captain Frederick Wentworth: “I am half agony, half hope.” Persuasion was the last novel that Austen completed before her death, and it is considered by critics to reflect a more mature style, and a more mature heroine in Anne Elliot, than we found in her earlier books. Therefore, we find more room in Persuasion for paradox, contradiction, and radical ambivalence, exemplified by this phrase “half agony, half hope.”


Friday in Davis was blustery, even stormy. I came across standing water and downed trees on the bike path during my ride to work that morning, but almost no other bicyclists or dog-walkers. Was Davis deserted? Back in my hometown of Washington DC, people must have felt the same way, with fewer Metro riders than on a typical weekday. In both cities, as the clouds in the sky and in our moods darkened, people were choosing to stay away.


Saturday was different. At least in Sacramento, the sun came out, and so did more than 20,000 marchers, eager to read each other’s smiling and determined faces, our warm but outrageous outfits (with evidence of pink knitting and crocheting projects everywhere), and especially our signs. The wit! The candor! The puns! The insults! The outrage! The resolve! Some of the more flavorful signs signs included artwork, caricatures, double-entendres, and the faces of heroes such as Ruth Bader Ginsberg and Eleanor Roosevelt. My favorite read simply “YOU THOUGHT I WAS NASTY BEFORE?  WELL BUCKLE UP, BUTTERCUP!”


While I was despondent on Friday, after Saturday, I felt like Captain Wentworth: half agony, half hope. After Saturday, the country I know and love looked more familiar to me, if only for the rampant kindness and politeness I saw on display on the Sacramento streets. One woman offered my wife her husband’s cloth handkerchief when she saw Kate struggling with our son Jukie’s runny nose. And a few dozen smiling people apologized and said “excuse me” for bumping into me at the march and, later, at the rally. Word on the street is that there were no arrests at any of the major rallies. Reading this, someone on Twitter said, “Well, yeah. Because women.” The cops must have loved the peaceful vibe despite the massive size of the crowds. An Atlanta TV station has been replaying footage of police officers giving high fives by the hundreds to protesters as they file by, everyone cheerful with their hands raised. Imagine by how much accident rates and crime rates would fall if 100,000 women would march through every big city every day of the week. The bonhomie was contagious, and lightened my mood from the day before.


And then yesterday we learned that a woman with an ice pick visited the Islamic Center of Davis to break windows and doors, slash tires of the bikes parked out front, and, most reprehensibly, leave bacon on the door handles of the center. Somehow I bet the perpetrator of these hate crimes did not participate in the peaceful and inclusive Women’s March the day before.


As I write this, the LaunchGood fundraising project website seeking to restore the Islamic Center has already surpassed its goal, meaning that Davis citizens and others have stepped forward to donate the funds necessary to repair the damage. I hope that further acts of goodwill and mutual understanding will result from this awful and ignorant act, just as I hope that malicious and threatening comments made by our new president have helped to spawn a new civil rights movement. Although citizens in our divided nation may feel a mix of agony and hope as we consider the Trump era, those who marched Saturday and who have been organizing since also know that anyone who would seek to trample the rights of the excluded and under-represented had better just buckle up. This is just the start.


Tonight’s Pub Quiz will feature questions on one or more of the issues raised above, as well as the following topics: Astronomy, western Massachusetts, interactions with the press, wins and losses, civil wars, DVDs, new doctors, biogeographies, motorcycles, polyglots who never learned Braille, civil rights, coastal cities with archbishops, famous conferences, undergraduate haunts, mealy justices in Los Angeles, hot Jamaican exports, Susan Lucci firsts, living biographies, angry words, the deep south, aviators with unexpected friends, historical dating, winning formations, women named Ingrid, Academy Awards, heroic librarians, inhabitants of Ireland, a Constitution worth defending, a ticking biological clock, numbers of titles, prominent artists, sounding better, and Shakespeare.


Two of the most prominent authors in Davis have books coming out soon. Pub Quiz irregular John Lescroart’s FATAL will be released tomorrow, January 24th – I’m really excited about this book, for it introduces a new female protagonist that will stir up further interest in Lescroart. Meanwhile, Kim Stanley Robinson’s new book, New York 2140, will be released in March. Let’s see if we can woo Stan to the Pub Quiz before he begins his book tour.


You should also consider yourself wooed. See you tonight at the de Vere’s Irish Pub Pub Quiz!


Your Quizmaster






Here are three questions from last week’s quiz:


  1. Mottos and Slogans.    The Motto of Raley’s Supermarkets is “to infuse life with health and happiness and to make shopping easier, better and more personal.” What Yolo County city is the home to the headquarters of Raley’s Supermarkets?


  1. Internet Culture. What did CNET recently call “our favorite phone, bar none”? Was it the Apple iPhone 7, the Blackberry Passport, the Google Pixel, or the Samsung Galaxy S7 Edge?


  1. Newspaper Headlines.  The Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus is shutting down after many years of performances. Which of the following is closest to the length of the run of America’s most famous circus? 50, 100, 150, or 200 years?


P.S. Speaking of ups and downs, let’s remember what James Joyce said in a letter to a friend when the great Irish novelist himself was struggling with difficult challenges: “All things are inconstant except the faith in the soul, which changes all things and fills their inconstancy with light.”


Flooded Basement

Dear Friends of the Pub Quiz,

Yesterday I bought a sump pump, and I don’t yet know how to use this contraption that usually lives in a basement. I remember basements. While I know a certain Davis pen collector who has an impressive collection of chilled wines in his completed basement, the vast majority of homes in Davis don’t have much going on beneath the first floor. I guess one expects people to build up and out, rather than to dig down, in one of the flattest places on earth.

Back in Washington DC, I lived in a basement throughout high school, and I felt like the luckiest kid I knew. Many of my friends were wealthier than my family, but almost none of my peers had his own bachelor pad with a private entrance, kitchenette (which I never used), and laundry facilities. I also had my own phone number: 202 965-1086. I stopped answering that ring in about 1985, so finally I feel comfortable sharing it. Anyway, I loved that basement pad, and never seemed to mind how dark it was. I used to listen to Bob Dylan down there.

Basements in pop culture, especially the movies, are where one finds (or contacts) ghosts or weirdos. Audiences of horror films recognize that one never goes down to the basement, but characters in such films never learn this lesson. From over-telegraphed schlock like The People Under the Stairs to the Hitchcock classic Psycho to the Oscar-winner The Silence of the Lambs, we’ve learned to fear the basement and to expect the most dramatic scenes in the film to take place there. As R. L. Stine says, “Most fears are basic: fear of the dark, fear of going down in the basement, fear of weird sounds, fear that somebody is waiting for you in your closet. Those kinds of things stay with you no matter what age.” Luckily, most of us don’t have basements to fear.

One group of students at Ohio State University wondered why their cabinets and sometimes even their microwave would be open when they arrived home to their off-campus apartment. What an industrious ghost they had! In our house when someone leaves all the doors of the pantry open, Kate makes a joke about the Sixth Sense. But for the Ohio State students, there was an actual non-ghost living in their basement. A search of their home revealed a locked door that they got the realtor to open up, only to find therein that a guy had been living in their house, for months.

I’m not sure how that worked out, plumbing-wise, and fortunately, none of the news reports provide any of those details. Perhaps a sump pump played a part. I hope you don’t need a sump pump to help you deal with our wet weather, for yesterday I bought the last one at Davis Ace Hardware.

Normally here one finds a clever segue to the hints for tonight’s Pub Quiz, but this week I used up all my cleverness discussing the unexpected topic of basements. Tonight expect questions on the following: bunnies, Golden Globes, bagel-related injuries, speedy science basement roaches, targets, favorites, tenacity, Trump critics, attorneys, best-selling authors, inventors, well-paid TV prognosticators, six-syllable words, John Kerry, a bridge too far, Dublin, Gene Wilder, Schopenhauer, mammal hunting, western ecosystems, above-ground mishaps, gestation periods, rodents that deserve to be bathed by cavemen who don’t use articles, Genius, the variety of colors of different animals and albums, essential meanings, Princess Diana, D verbs, psychoactivity, long drives from Davis, multitalented singers, Billy Bob Thornton, smartphones, and Shakespeare.

Your Quizmaster






Here are three questions from last week’s quiz:


  1. Mottos and Slogans.    Starting with the letter O, what brand name for a line of household cleaners uses the slogan “powered by the air you breathe, activated by the water you drink”?


  1. Internet Culture. Apple’s new wireless cord-free Bluetooth earbuds, called AirPods, retail for which of the following? $16, $76, or $160.


  1. Newspaper Headlines.   What S-word completes this sentence? Last week UC Davis was named the most BLANK university in the world.


P.S. Until about midnight tonight, one can purchase the Audible audio book of the new Brian Tracy publication for two dollars. It is titled Get Smart: How to Think and Act Like the Most Successful and Highest-Paid People in Every Field. I bought my copy. Perhaps you want one? Brian Tracy says, “Successful people are always looking for opportunities to help others. Unsuccessful people are always asking, “What’s in it for me?” This opportunity I present to you as my gift.



Dear Friends of the Pub Quiz,

Yesterday while waiting in line to buy tickets to Manchester by the Sea (an excellent film), I ran into the local KDVS DJ and music promoter Bill Wagman. Bill was heading over to see Rogue One, and admitted that last year he reviewed all six Star Wars films in anticipation of watching The Force Awakens.

The new Star Wars movie and the untimely death of Carrie Fisher have lead many people to watch those films again. My son Truman’s room at age 11 looks somewhat like mine did at the same age, with Star Wars characters and posters festooned on the walls. Like most kids my age, Truman can speak about his favorite science fiction films with authority.

My wife Kate was the one who broke the news to him. She wrote, “I felt awful telling him this morning, ‘honey, I have some very sad news: Carrie Fisher has died.’ He looked so sad and finally said, ‘Mommy, is it okay if we don’t talk for a while?’ ‘I feel the same way,’ I said.” Reading this, I was reminded of the December morning when my Mom woke me with the news that John Lennon had been killed. He was important to me in part because of the causes that he espoused.

Other musicians aspired to improve the world, as well. After Prince died last year, we discovered that he had funded solar panel investments here in northern California. As Van Jones said, “there are people who have solar panels right now on their houses in Oakland, California that don’t know Prince paid for them.”

After George Michael passed away this past Christmas, we discovered that he had been donating proceeds from some of his biggest hits to British charities, and that he had volunteered time in homeless shelters, all while requesting that the charities and beneficiaries keep his kindness quiet. For example, as NPR reported, George “Michael donated the royalties from ‘Don’t Let the Sun Go Down on Me,’ his 1991 duet with Elton John,” to the London-based HIV-awareness organization Terrence Higgins Trust.

Speaking of HIV awareness, Debbie Reynolds hosted benefits for HIV/AIDS research two years before President Reagan ever publicly acknowledged that AIDS existed. When Reagan was California governor, the two of them chatted in the green room while waiting to appear on the first ever episode of the Joey Bishop Show. 15 years later, they were worlds apart on the most important emerging medical crisis of the age.

Reagan was running for president against Jimmy Carter in May of 1980, the month that I met Carrie Fisher at the Kennedy Center in Washington DC, for the world premiere of The Empire Strikes Back. Even though she was in conversation with Harrison Ford, she was momentarily kind to me by making eye contact, signing an autograph, and telling me that she hoped I would enjoy the film. None of us knew about her private battles with substance abuse and mental illness, causes that she would champion with her writing and her celebrity. Fisher earned the Kim Peek Award for Disability in Media in 2012, in part because of her willingness to share details about her battles with bipolar disorder.

Rather than Star Wars, we watched Singing in the Rain on New Year’s Eve. As I delighted in Gene Kelly’s ambitious choreography, I was reminded of having been introduced to that film, and especially its soundtrack, for years before sitting in the AFI screening room with my Dad to watch Star Wars. The deaths of so many stars and heroes in 2016 might make all of us feel a bit nostalgic and melancholy this new year. I hope that tonight’s Pub Quiz will lift our spirits.

I will close with part of a poem by David Meltzer, the San Francisco beat poet and acquaintance of mine who passed away Saturday night, on the last day of 2016, at age 79:


The veil


existed before he was born

and between his arising

shadowed the world he moved through

reaching for dim forms he thought

brought light


Tonight’s Quiz will feature questions on some of the topics raised above, as well as on Apple, Inc., household cleaners, new year’s resolutions from garrulous fathers, new jobs, Miles Davis in 1962, atypical plants, Marie Curie, Africa, Stanley Steamers, musical instruments, Toy Stories, Mel Gibson, French authors, Browns, Ireland, Harrison Ford’s smoking habit, ingénues, cities in Texas, the mordantly wealthy, New Zealand, the coming night, Darryl Strawberry, ordained ministers, crosses in New Mexico, chased Mafiosi, Gerald Ford, intransitive two-syllable verbs with several meanings, Mitch Richmond, Saddam Hussein, joints and trusses, franchises, summer hits, Martina Navratilova, music consumption, soaked stagnancy, Michael Richards, swords, and Shakespeare.

Happy New Year! Please join us tonight for our first de Vere’s Irish Pub Pub Quiz for 2017!


Your Quizmaster






Here are three questions from a quiz I presented on December 28, 2009:

  1. Books and Authors. Who wrote A Child’s Christmas in Wales in 1955?
  2. Pop Culture – Music (Karaoke Question). About whom did Miles Davis say “You can’t play nothing on trumpet that doesn’t come from him”?
  3. Sports. Two-time consecutive World Cup winner Lindsey Vonn left a competition today after seriously injuring her arm. In what sport is Vonn considered one of America’s greatest competitors?


P.S. “You write in order to change the world, knowing perfectly well that you probably can’t, but also knowing that literature is indispensable to the world.” James Baldwin