Dear Friends of the Pub Quiz,

This morning people’s patience was being tested at the UC Davis Coffeehouse. The line was growing ever longer behind me as a woman who was hoping to pay for her coffee with a quick swipe was instead checking her bank app to determine why her credit card was not being accepted for her micro-purchase. When I offered to pay for her half-price coffee, the woman took back her credit card and then moved along. Eyeing the long line, at least the anxious barista thanked me.

Outside I saw a street preacher who hadn’t checked his academic schedule to confirm that students would still be attending classes this week. During the exam period in the winter, the quad can be pretty empty, but he kept preaching anyway, despite the lack of an even uninterested audience. The morning sun barely warmed the morning air. As I mounted my bike, two ROTC participants walked past the flagpole and then past me in full uniform. Like the coffee-drinker in line, they didn’t make eye contact.

It occurred to me that, like the evangelist and the soldiers, I wasn’t being appreciated for my service to the community this morning. Also like the preacher and the ROTC folks, I knew that a lack of thanks wouldn’t change my attitude or my practices. Sometimes we engage in service because we see it as our duty, and not because we need to receive thanks.

By contrast, this week I’ve been working on a project that will allow me to show my gratitude towards all of you, and, I suppose, vice versa. Yesterday I submitted my Pub Quiz book manuscript to the printers with special instructions to have a small print run be ready by next Monday, December 18th, our last Pub Quiz of the year. I wanted you to have a chance to buy the book before the holidays in case you needed some physical token to justify to your friends and family where you’ve been disappearing to on Monday evenings.

At 350 pages, 33 full-length quizzes, and over 1,000 questions, Pub Quizzes: Trivia for Smart People will be the longest book I’ve published so far. Unlike my bonus questions at the end of these newsletters, the book will actually contain answers, including a number of humorous incorrect answers with which your teams have amused me and others over the years. It’ll also include an introductory essay by me about the importance of playing games with actual humans in the same room, a preface on similar communal themes by the esteemed professor Keith David Watenpaugh, and an acknowledgements section that goes on and on with its expressions of gratitude, likely mentioning at least one person you know.

Pub Quizzes: Trivia for Smart People will be available at the Pub on the evening of December 18th, with the Kindle version downloadable from Amazon not long thereafter. The paperback retails for $20, or you can buy three for $50. My friend Cheryl said she wanted six copies, and it was her enthusiasm that compelled me to invest in the early run so that it could be wrapped and shared with all of you before we wrap up 2017.

If you really want a copy of Pub Quizzes, but can’t join us on the 18th, my son Jukie and I will be making some daytime delivery runs around Davis once he gets out of school. I will set up an online form for that by next week, so stay tuned. I also hope to deliver a stack to The Avid Reader bookstore before Christmas.

Meanwhile, if someone does something kind for you this month, or even “serves” you in a way that you weren’t expecting or requesting, consider how you might give thanks, plan to pay it forward, or treat others with loving kindness. As the Dalai Lama tweeted last week, “Peace in the world depends on peace within. If we have that we can approach problems in a spirit of compassion, dialogue and respect for the rights of others—always a better solution than resorting to a use of weapons and force. External disarmament depends on inner disarmament.”

That Dalai Lama really takes full advantage of those 280 characters. Maybe like me he’s using Twitter to draft his next book. And what are you drafting on this drafty day?

Tonight’s Pub Quiz may feature questions on some of the topics raised above, and will take on the following weighty issues, though perhaps not in the way you expect: balconies, Irish history, assassinations, wrestler inspirations, Virginia Woolf, people named Rupp, people whose name is not Obama, musical rules, NFL football, bee hives examples, job descriptions and co-workers, civil wars, the meaning of “pacific,” shared light, rediscovered industries, capital cities, the common era, musician rankings, cinematic investments that pay off, books that can be compared to Huckleberry Finn, presidential history, loyal sidekicks, ocean travel, shampoo objectives, Disney, religions of the world, dogs that closed quickly on Broadway, catchy cereals, whales, cue cards for comedians, KGO, World War II amusements, prime numbers, real estate, musical instruments, title roles, seven-letter total names, siblings, Rolling Stone, and Shakespeare.

I hope to see you this evening. If you know of Davisites who are returning to town for a break, perhaps from college, please invite them to join us tonight, on your team or with new friends that could be made at the pub. We always have more fun with a greater variety of people. The louder the better!

See you tonight at 7.

 

Your Quizmaster

https://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. Books and Authors. Authors Elie Wiesel, Eugene Ionesco, and Andrei Codrescu were all born in the same country. Name the country.  
  2. Sports.  Russell Wilson is the fastest player in the Super Bowl era to reach the 150-touchdown pass mark and rush for 3000 yards (91 games). For what team does he play?
  3. Shakespeare.   Duke Orsino is a primary character in one of Shakespeare’s most-performed comedies that is not named A Mid-Summer Night’s Dream. Name the play.

 

P.S. Poetry Night with Beth Suter on December 21st starts at 7 instead of 8 at the John Natsoulas Gallery. Happy December to you and yours.

Walker Creek with Deer in the Background

Dear Friends of the Pub Quiz,

This week’s Pub Quiz Newsletter comes to us courtesy of my favorite local blogger, my wife Kate. Published recently at Kate’s blog, Thriving in Holland, this essay recounts reconnecting with our son Truman after his schoolweek-long adventure at Walker Creek, a nature education facility near Point Reyes in Marin County. Kate always does a better job writing about our kids than I do, and I’m grateful to her for sharing these thoughts with me, and now with all of you. Enjoy.

             

My 12-year-old Truman is a kid who sets his hopes high and feels passionately about everything he does. Before leaving for a week of outdoor education at Walker Creek, he ranked his expectations of the adventure as “up there with Star Wars: The Last Jedi, and Christmas.” In a letter he sent home, he described his cabin arrangements, bunking with his best buddies, and the photos he had taken. He ended it, “I want to tell you how happy I am here.” I knew he’d love it at Walker Creek, but it still felt great reading that. And at the end of the week, I could not wait to throw my arms around Truman and hear all of his stories.

When I arrived early to pick him up, I had time to explore the bucolic setting. At first, I saw no children, just a family of deer watching the parents assemble, as parents must do every week, anxiously awaiting reunions with their happy campers. Then a group of kids slowly began gathering in the outdoor amphitheater. I scanned the crowd looking for Truman’s face, silently reminding myself for his sake not to make a showy scene of affection whenever I did spot him. A dad approached me and introduced himself as the father of a girl in Truman’s class. “We’re hearing a lot about Truman at home this year,” he told me with a smile. Ah, I’ll file away this girl’s name, and causally ask about her later, I thought. As we stood there watching a sea of excited parents and kids hugging and talking, we looked for our kids and swapped stories of the week with the “babies” of our families away. “We went out to eat a lot,” he confessed. So had we — every night! We laughed. And then I noticed that nearly every bench seat was filled, but still no Truman…until I turned my head and saw a familiar red jacket in the distance, running directly at me, waving and calling to me. And I forgot all my composure and ran toward my boy. With our arms still around each other, he said, “Mommy, I missed you SO MUCH — how’s Dilly?” Dilly is our bulldog. Then Truman talked a mile a minute. “I got to try new and exciting foods I’ve never eaten before. Like tater tots!” How has he never had exciting tater tots, I wondered. He raved about the food. “The dining hall did smell really good, but our kitchen just has a special Mommy smell.” Even without tater tots, I thought.

Truman described his cabin group’s teamwork, and was particularly impressed with the group’s behavior toward a boy who is a wheelchair user. “I love how compassionate and understanding my friends are,” he said as he relayed tales of taking turns pushing his wheelchair and brainstorming ways to include everyone in every activity. Truman was struck by how such a wheelchair user must trust those who push him up and down hills. I agreed and thought about this for the rest of the day. As Truman took his seat for the closing ceremony, I noticed his rosy, sun-kissed cheeks. And had he actually grown an inch or two, or was it my imagination? Perhaps he was standing a bit taller.

The Walker Creek principal had explained in the opening ceremony that the week’s theme was “connection.” And now I noticed evidence of connection everywhere I looked. Kids had their arms around each other’s shoulders, talking excitedly to new friends that had met that week. Truman told me later that kids had bonded with each other and their cabin leaders, the naturalists who lead their outdoor adventures, and the teachers from home. The Davis students stood and shared during the ceremony how they had been changed by their week. Many described a new-found connection to nature and to each other. They expressed gratitude for the week, for the food, and for help when they needed it. They talked about what they had learned, about nature, botany, and wild animals. One child said, “I learned I like poetry.” Thinking about his group’s day-long hike to the top of Walker Peak, Truman offered, “I learned I can accomplish anything I put my mind to.” Reflecting on his solo nature hike, he said, “I felt scared in a good way, and independent in a good way.”

And then the ceremony concluded with guitars and bongos and everyone singing the Bill Withers song “Lean on Me.” Glancing around at other adults, I saw plenty of parents wiping tears, and was glad I wasn’t the only one. From my experience with our daughter Geneva’s Walker Creek experience eight years earlier, I knew that this week changes lives. Geneva still calls her time at Walker Creek a highlight of her childhood. Kids learn to push themselves beyond limits, and out of comfort zones. Many hadn’t ever spent a day hiking or a night away from family until then. They discover strength and independence. And apparently tater tots.

I left the music off on our drive home, and my four boy passengers filled the space with tales of creeks and wet socks, deer and foxes, and girls peering into their boy cabin windows. They talked endlessly about the food, raving about its quality, “…and you could get seconds and thirds!” a boy yelled. My favorite cabin story: one (high school aged) cabin leader brought his ukulele, and softly played it each night at lights out as the kids fell asleep. The kids named him UkeDude.

It’s a delight and a wonder to have my boy back home. The night of his return, he and I cooked a big celebratory meal and decorated our Christmas tree. Truman has thrown himself into his annual tradition of making every family member stacks of gifts, like our own family elf. Grateful for every cinematic tradition, we know that The Last Jedi is right around the corner!

 

Thanks, Kate!

Sometimes the Pub Quiz attendance drops a bit during the final week of instruction at UC Davis, when the smartest students at UC Davis sacrifice all worthy distractions in order to focus on their final projects and final exams. Good luck, ingenious students! Speaking on behalf of a shaken and grateful nation, we look forward to being led by you. Sorry about the debt.

Tonight’s Pub Quiz will feature questions on the following topics: real and metaphorical snakes, dwarves, graduates, states that are not Alabama and Louisiana, emerging threats, UC websites, where we look for light, spices, life expectancy, world heritage sites, people named Meredith, what Alexa says when she speaks for herself, California, ionization, gossip, female protagonists, various accounts, a lifetime of multiplication without a clear result, dukes, the question of religion,  leaders with insufficient armies, 40 year jobs, European countries with recognizable accents, the absence of convection, Beverlies, local bodies of water, uneven distribution of wealth, westerns, surveys, and Shakespeare. The pub quiz was already to press by the time I found out about presidential candidate John Anderson, who died yesterday at the age of 95.

I hope you can join us this evening for the most fun you can have in public on a Monday evening. Happy December!

Your Quizmaster

https://www.yourquizmaster.com

http://www.twitter.com/yourquizmaster

https://www.facebook.com/yourquizmaster

 

Here are three questions from a 2016 quiz:

 

  1. Pop Culture – Television.  Alex P. Keaton was a character on what 1980s sitcom
  2. Another Music Question. What is the name of the mother of Blue Ivy Carter? 
  3. Stones. How many pounds are there in a stone?

 

P.S. Poetry Night is this coming Thursday night at 8 at the Natsoulas Gallery. Traveling poets Bill Gainer and Anna Marie will be our features. Check out the Facebook event to learn more so you can add it to your calendar.

clint-eastwood

 

Dear Friends of the Pub Quiz,

Last week George H.W. Bush was in the news for a reason he would want – he became the oldest-ever former President of the United States – rather that the reason he was in the news the week before – reports of his fondling six different women during photo opportunities. The Weinstein reckoning continues.

Many people recall that the senior Bush as being one of the few 20th century presidents to have failed to be re-elected for a second terms (joining Carter, Hoover, and Taft), whereas others with shorter memories think of his ranking among other Republicans. He was not as bad as his son, George W. Bush, who in turn was not as bad (who could be?) as President Donald Trump, or so I would opine. People who were paying attention in the 1980s remember his uneventful years as vice president under Reagan, and then his “Read My Lips: No New Taxes” pledge leading to an unsuccessful challenge from Pat Buchanan, and then a successful challenge from Bill Clinton. In recent years the senior Bush has joined with Clinton on disaster relief projects, garnering respect in his twilight years.

Having grown up in Washington DC, I got to know executive branch political figures glancingly. My Uncle Roy worked in the LBJ White House, my parents were invited to a fancy dinner at the Ford White House, I skated (holding hands!) with Amy Carter a few times, and I got to shake the hand of Vice President Mondale at our local sandwich shop one day after school. And because my dad participated as a celebrity judge at the annual White House Easter Egg Hunt, we received White House Christmas cards every year during the Reagan presidency.

But our closest family relationship was with Vice President George H.W. Bush. My family home on Tunlaw Road in Glover Park was a half-mile walk from the United States Naval Observatory, also the location of the Vice President’s residence. And both the vice president’s home and mine were a five-minute drive down Wisconsin Avenue to Video Unlimited, the videotape rental place where Vice-President Bush and my dad were constant customers.

Back in the pre-internet 1980s, one had to go into your local video store to see the selection of videotapes available for rental, no matter how famous you were. This is why these two men, well known in DC for radically different reasons, would have frequent unintentional meetings in a video shop that held 300 titles. The Vice-President was a big film buff, and my dad was the best-known film critic in Washington DC. Although the two men were the same height at 6’2”, they did not see eye-to-eye on political matters. Nevertheless, Vice-President Bush was always happy to encounter my dad, for inevitably he would ask for a film recommendation, thus sparking a conversation between the two Washingtonians.

One afternoon in 1982 I asked my dad whose films he recommended the future president rent. He quoted his own words: “For you, Mr. Vice President, I recommend the films of Clint Eastwood!” Eastwood had only directed a dozen or so films back then, none of them nominated for Best Director, but they did emphasize a law-and-order approach to domestic issues that would have appealed to Vice President Bush. Bush said he would take my dad’s advice.

He may have taken that advice further than anyone could have anticipated. In 2011, several years after my father’s death, we learned from interviews with (former Secretary of State) James Baker and others that Mr. Eastwood, the former Republican Mayor of Carmel By the Sea was on Vice-President Bush’s short list for candidates to be his own vice president. Was it my father’s suggestion that brought Mr. Eastwood to Bush’s attention? Could Bush have beaten Clinton with a more formidable wingman, one with star power, in Mr. Clint Eastwood?

Who knows? I don’t regret the turns that history has taken. With his focus on disaster relief in recent decades, Bush Sr. has been an effective ex-president, more so than his son. The latest allegations will tarnish his legacy; they also represent part of the “great reckoning” which many men are confronting, one that is long overdue. I only regret that I no longer have my father to ask about these films, and about these Hollywood and Washington notables. The time for a widespread assessment of the elder Bush’s life and career is not far off. For all his faults, I will remember that he was kind to my dad.

 

In honor of my dad, tonight’s Pub Quiz will feature film questions, though not about his favorite films (by a long shot). Expect also questions about Greek mythology, Demi Lovato, criminals, opening numbers, mercy, ropes, affirmatives, automobiles, gentle rains, the power to go forward, riots, U.S. presidents, the Pence Gallery, unbranched stalks, physics, the Middle East, cinematic McGuffins, lightning, Beyoncé, franchises, amusing shoves into the English Department, lonely hearts, complaints, medicine, Luke’s staying power, the letter B, sheep metaphors, big budget films, Coldplay, Irish authors, sustained beauty, odd calendars, luxury, and Shakespeare. My former Video Unlimited boss, David Simone, will not be appearing in the Quiz this week.

Speaking of great narratives, I will be a featured actor at Stories on Stage, Davis on Saturday, December 9th at 7:30. I invite you to come by for story-time, something we rarely get to enjoy as adults. We meet at the Pence Gallery.

Tonight, we meet at de Vere’s Irish Pub, my favorite restaurant, and my favorite place to encounter friends. I hope you can join us.

Your Quizmaster

https://www.yourquizmaster.com

http://www.twitter.com/yourquizmaster

http://www.facebook.com/yourquizmaster

yourquizmaster@gmail.com

 

Here are three questions from a November Pub Quiz that some of you completed in 2012:

  1. Pop Culture – Music. “Diamonds” is the name of the hit single by the recording artist who has achieved a total of eleven number one singles on the Billboard Hot 100 chart, becoming the youngest solo artist to achieve the feat. What is her name? Hint: She’s two years older than Taylor Swift.  
  2. Sports.   Albertin Aroldis Chapman de la Cruz, who is also older than Taylor Swift, is a Cuban-Andorran Major League Baseball pitcher for the Cincinnati Reds who holds the record for the fastest recorded pitch speed in MLB history. With a three-MPH margin of error, how fast was that pitch?  
  3. Science.   To what continent are bandicoots endemic?  

 

P.S. My Pub Quiz book will be released before long, perhaps even before Christmas! If you have something to say about the sort of questions you are asked in the quiz every week, and would like the chance to see your kind words appear in the book, please email them to me at yourquizmaster@gmail.com.

 

elephant

 

Dear Friends of the Pub Quiz,

Elephants are easy to love. Our largest land mammals, these momentous tanks of seeming muscle and love have inflamed the imagination of zoogoers for decades, representing superstar animals that can sustain the attention needed for a struggling zoo. The elephants in such zoos struggle, living much shorter lives in captivity than in the wild, due usually to disease and muscular problems resulting from their captivity. At least we no longer use them for warfare, as Alexander the Great did when growing and controlling his demesne, or the Carthaginian general Hannibal when guiding elephants over the Alps in his attacks on the Roman Empire.

Elephants’ greatest threats are poaching, the ivory trade, and loss of habitat. As a National Geographic article from last year reveals, elephant counts across most relevant African countries (18 in all) reveal their number plummeting in recent years, and that “Africa now has 352,271 savanna elephants left in 93 percent of the species’ range.”

The article continues: “The census was funded by Microsoft founder Paul G. Allen and took just under three years to complete. Led by the nonprofit Elephants Without Borders, which is based in Botswana, the survey involved a team of 90 scientists, six NGOs, and two advisory partners: the Kenya-based conservation organization Save the Elephants and the African Elephant Specialist Group, made up of experts who focus on the conservation and management of African elephants.”

In the late 1970s and early 1980s, my dad and stepmom lived within walking distance of the National Zoo – on Sundays we woke to the sound of howler monkeys. My mom moved close to that same zoo in 1989. During both of those eras, I remember walking over to the Zoo to watch the elephants, huge lumbering creatures that seemed so playful and affectionate with each other. As I did before writing these words, today one can watch these beasts on an Elephant Cam; the six Asian elephants are named Ambika, Shanthi, Bozie, Kamala, Swarna and Maharani. From perches above the possible fray, volunteers follow the enormous beasts with cameras, just as student staff members of Academic Technology Services at UC Davis do when using remote cameras to lecture-capture faculty who sometimes move about as slowly as elephants.

As with that last sentence, usually elephants come up as metaphors or symbols, whether they be two-syllable named elephants such as Babar, Horton, or Dumbo, or the unnamed elephant that has stood as a symbol for the Republican party since 1874. My favorite Disney historian and youngest son Truman tells me that that the first U.S. president to visit Disneyland, Harry S. Truman, would not ride with his family in the Dumbo ride, for he didn’t want to be photographed inside a representation of the Republican party. Such partisanship!

Speaking of Republicans, last week I shared some unkind words about Trump’s party online when Trump’s U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service proclaimed that it would overturn the Obama administration decision disallow hunters from bringing ivory tusks and other elephant parts from Zimbabwe or other African countries into the United States. I saw this as yet another thoughtless act that would benefit (?) only a few wealthy hunters, as well as a great number of increasingly cruel poachers, some of whom have taken to hunting elephants with drones.

I called the White House the morning this decision was announced, but just waited endlessly on hold to offer my comment. Evidently others were calling, too to register their outrage. Today’s LA Times has an opinion piece by Carla Hall that commends Trump for finally stepping in. The headline reads: “Trump’s best decision so far: He doubles down on banning elephant trophies.” Some would see this decision as merely symbolic, and perhaps another distraction from more significant concerns, but at least now we can take heart that our government is not actively exacerbating a heartbreaking problem, and another generation of schoolchildren and conservationists can imagine hordes of elephants living and socializing unmolested in our world’s few remaining wild places.

Tonight’s Pub Quiz will feature questions about World War II, networks, subterfuge, losing pounds, Vincent Price and other actors, night vision, requested favors, world capitals, gold medals, succession, overwhelming offense, favorite vegetables, remnants of evil, British rockers, literary antagonists, the deal with protein, floating Welshmen, a break with a 300-year tradition, record numbers of escalators, unlikely flight, short titles, blurbs from Faulkner, misled Germans, religious programming, bargemen who wake the sleeping residents of riverside hamlets, the distance from Davis, the need for badges, small numbers of digits, civil rights, thousands of leagues, going back to school, and Shakespeare.

I hope to see you this evening. When I was a kid, we got two days off for Thanksgiving. Now schoolchildren seem to have the entire week to lollygag. We will find out tonight how this shift in school schedules will affect Pub Quiz participation, but I recommend coming early to claim a table. Either way, enjoy the holiday.

And if you are considering holiday gifts, I hope that my first Pub Quiz book will be published and for sale a month from today. Decide now who on your list deserves a copy!

Your Quizmaster

https://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. Gun Statistics. Compared to the United States, only one country has a higher rate of mass shootings among countries with more than 10 million people, and it comes after the US in the alphabet. Name the country.      
  2. Science.  The chemical element with atomic number 19 is known in Latin as Kalium. By what English name to we know it?  
  3. Shakespeare.   In the play Hamlet we learn from Polonius that “brevity is the soul of WHAT”?  

P.S. Poetry Night in Davis returns on December 7th with Bill Gainer and Anna Marie!

John Hillerman

Dear Friends of the Pub Quiz,

My godfather passed away last week.

John Hillerman knew my dad when they were both struggling actors in New York City, John served as best man at my parents’ wedding, and then he was active in the Washington Theatre Club when my dad took the job of Artistic Director there in 1965. Although he was born in Texas, Hillerman was appreciated by theatre and film directors for the great variety of accents he could adopt, having played more than 100 roles during those years in the big cities on the east coast.

His New York Times obituary quotes Hillerman as saying that, despite all those years of theatre work, he only had $700 to his name when he eventually moved to Los Angeles to find better roles. I believe the stories of his penury, for my grandmother once told me of John visiting the family cabin with my parents, and not having brought anything to sleep in. Evidently he borrowed one of my grandmother’s nightgowns. During that same time period John lived in the basement of my family’s Tunlaw Road home, the same basement that I moved into years later as a high school student.

In California, Hillerman was cast in supporting roles in three of my favorite movies of the early 1970s: Paper Moon in 1973, and in 1974 both Blazing Saddles and Chinatown. My dad was a movie critic by then, and I’m sure he delighted in seeing one of his best friends cast in such strong films.

TV stints on The Ellery Queen Show and The Betty White Show helped to prepare him for his breakout role, and probably the reason you know him, if at all: Jonathan Quayle Higgins III on Magnum P.I. To me, this opportunity had two distinguishing features from his other TV series: 1) Magnum P.I. was a huge hit, and deservedly so, and 2) I was watching TV by then. You can imagine how many times I heard this exclamation in those days: “Wait, Higgins is your GODfather?”

I would have known John Hillerman as a member of the extended family if he hadn’t moved to LA, and then Honolulu during the relevant years of my childhood and young adulthood. While still in high school, I once wrote him asking about an internship on the set of Magnum, and he kindly wrote back with an explanation of union rules on TV sets. He visited the house on Tunlaw Road in DC in 1983 – his limo pulled up to the front of the house, and stayed there, with the limo driver not coming to the door – and he came in to talk to my mom, brother, and me for about an hour. He signed some photos, I shook his hand, and then I never saw him again, except on TV.

As a child, I opted not to go into theatre in part because I wanted to be my famous theatre director dad’s son, rather than one of his actors. Now, more than a dozen years after his death, I regret missing all the lessons about theatre and playwriting that he could have shared with me. Likewise, I sometimes regret not connecting with John Hillerman, and maybe even visiting him in Houston in recent decades, but I remember being told by family how private he was, including with his homosexuality. He was a great friend to my parents, a great actor, and someone I looked up to, if only from afar. Now, during the week of his passing, I wish that I had reached out to express such gratitude and admiration when he could have heard it. He could have shared some terrific stories. RIP, John Hillerman.

 

Tonight’s Pub Quiz will feature questions on perhaps one of the topics raised above, as well as the following: Hamlet, Star Wars, U.S. states, streaks, platoons, shaolin pastimes, unusual names, Latin names, the French, alphabetical alterity, false surprises, countries you probably haven’t visited, hunger, Danishes, kites, firearms, amber, numbers, missing billionaires not named Thurston, finding it new, hills and valleys, narrow localities, the greener grass, accomplished singers, blows to Marxism, the question of feldspar, freshness, Google studies, and Shakespeare.

I have a lot going on this week, including a Tuesday, November 14th appearance on Insight with Beth Ruyak, a fall fundraiser on my KDVS radio show Wednesday at 5 (you should call 754-KDVS Wednesday afternoon to help me raise $500), a storytelling festival on campus at 4 on Thursday (want to hear how I met Kate?), a Lynn Freed reading at the Natsoulas Gallery Thursday night at 8, and then my own poetry reading Friday at 7:30 at the Unitarian Church of Davis. You are invited to all these events, either by phoning in or showing up. I would love to see you on a day other than Monday!

But mostly I want to see you and your team tonight at 7. We can raise a toast to all our favorite departed actors. Long may their voices echo in our ears, and in our hearts!

 

Your Quizmaster

https://www.yourquizmaster.com

http://www.twitter.com/yourquizmaster

http://www.facebook.com/yourquizmaster

yourquizmaster@gmail.com

 

To mix things up, here are three movie questions from a 2014 quiz:

 

  1.  Who played the central role of Remy the rat in the film Ratatouille?  

 

  1. Two of the top six credited actors in the Disney film Aladdin have alliterative first and last names. Name one of them.  

 

  1. Who gets to play Moses in the 2014 film Exodus: Gods and Kings?    

 

P.S. Find out more about Thursday night’s event with Lynn Freed at https://poetryindavis.com.

 

P.P.S. Patton Oswalt just got married, and this new Twitter friend of mine seems very happy. For today only, November 13th, his film book Silver Screen Fiend is on sale on Audible for just $2.95. I’ve just added this book to my library, and not only because Patton devotes a paragraph to my dad.

Cutlass

Dear Friends of the Pub Quiz,

When engaged in writing tasks on Sundays, I have to think associatively, letting my brain wend where it will, in and out of the crevices of the useless facts I’ve accumulated, as it searches for topics for quiz questions, for poems, or for this newsletter.

Often I listen to instrumental hip-hop while doing this work. The beats and quick pace of the melodies energize me, but without lyrics that distract me with their unhelpful messages.

Speaking of hips, with its incessant twinging, my hip is itself sharing with me an unwelcome message, one that I am receiving a few decades sooner than one might expect. I’m only 50. Knowing that it can be replaced, perhaps my hip is planning its eventual exit? I had hoped to stay whole for longer.

In her 80s, my mother has had one hip replaced, and now the other one is acting up. Getting a hip replaced is much easier than replacing a knee, a friend recently explained to me. I see why some women don’t appreciate having things “mansplained” to them all the time. I told my friend that I really don’t need to see his drawings to understand the difference in the procedures.

I know a Zumba instructor in Colorado who had her knee replaced this year. Athletic, hearty, and full of grit, she probably heals from such procedures faster than the rest of us.

Speaking of grit, Vin Scully is back in the news this week. Once the venerable announcer said this during a Dodgers Game: “Andre Dawson has a bruised knee and is listed as day-to-day. Aren’t we all?” Scully did pretty well, providing play-by-play for the Dodgers for 67 years, more than 24,000 day-to-days.

By comparison, the Zamboni Company was founded in 1950, 67 years ago. That’s a lot of resurfaced ice! Leonardo da Vinci died at 67, and he accomplished quite a bit. One can see the infant John the Baptist taking a knee in Leonardo’s painting Virgin of the Rocks.

My wife Kate joked with me that she was thinking of taking a knee at the UC Davis Chancellor’s Investiture during the National Anthem, just to make a point. She had an aisle seat at the Robert Mondavi Center for that event, mostly so she could get pictures of me in my academic regalia (I was there as Master of Ceremonies). I followed University of California President Janet Napolitano out of the auditorium after the ceremony, with Chancellor May right behind me. He may have wondered about the beautiful woman in the third row with whom I exchanged the highest of fives.

Do we only take knees at sporting events? Vin Scully wishes we couldn’t. Blaming protestors for his diminished sales, the owner of Papa John’s Pizza wishes we hadn’t. The First Amendment largely lets us or even encourages us to protest where and when we would, without asking permission, with or without knees.

The timing of the knee-taking seems very important to some people, with some taking a knee before, during, or after the “Star Spangled Banner.” In one of the verses of that song, the word “brave” is rhymed with “slave.” Written in 1812, it was not an abolitionist anthem. The song inspires patriotism especially in Americans who do not read the fine print.

Not everyone loves baseball, or even football. When on Halloween I pointed out to my wife Kate the difference between Pirates and Bengals, she told me that she doesn’t care for sports. Cincinnati was once home to a rare white Bengal tiger, while more than 100 years ago a Pittsburgh baseball team poached a player from a nearby team, and thus were called “piratical.” They adopted the name with glee: Robert Louis Stevenson’s Treasure Island had been published just a couple decades previously.

We had some pirates come to our door last Tuesday, some of them dressed in knee breeches. Amazon sells “Distressed Black and Brown Pull On Knee High Pirate Boots,” helpful should you wish to protect your knees from opposing cutlasses. Whether it’s my hip or my knee, I myself would rather be sliced open by a surgeon than by a pirate.

And so it goes.

Now you know how I think when writing the Pub Quiz. In addition to topics raised above, tonight expect questions about the following: the pleasures of walking, that which cannot be relinquished, another word for trouble, multiples of seven, prehistoric iron men, currencies analyzed, typical symptoms, wickedness on the move, Italian marriage rituals that don’t involve sub-standard pizza, Mexican wrestlers, Mueller time, alternatives to games and runners, Jared Leto, quantifying valleys, Argentinian rice, sea-level journeys, runners, comparisons to Clinton, McKinley’s extended reign, Neanderthals, the queen who died of grief (spoiler), enormous synonyms, the aroma of TV actors, that which separates, one thousand words, metals and the God of Hammers, accomplished drummers, Hispanic surnames, terminal degrees, imaginary stipulations, reimagined heroes, boxed republics, notable rivers, and Shakespeare.

Please join us tonight at 7. We could use your help.

 

Your Quizmaster

https://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. Science.  What 1962 Rachel Carson book about the chemical pesticide DDT helped to launch the modern environmental movement?  
  2. Books and Authors.    Fill in the blank with the title of this young adult book by Sue Townsend: The Secret Diary of Adrian BLANK, Aged 13¾.  
  3. Current Events – Names in the News.   Counter-protestors drowned out speeches by American Nazis with recordings of a song ranked number 354 on Rolling Stone magazine′s list of the 500 Greatest Songs of All Time. What is this only song on the list that is sung in a language other than English?  

P.S. Lynn Freed performs on the 16th at 8 PM at the John Natsoulas Gallery, and I myself perform on the 17th at 7:30 at the Unitarian Church of Davis (with Traci Gourdine, one of my favorite local poets).

Dr. Andy from the Podium

 

Dear Friends of the Pub Quiz,

My wife Kate doesn’t think I’m getting enough sleep. I’m sure she’s right. This is probably also true for you. Kate was backing up her claim with evidence presented in a new book by Matthew Walker, director of the Center for Human Sleep Science at the University of California, Berkeley. Why We Sleep: Unlocking the Power of Sleep and Dreams suggests that our getting less than eight hours a night will lead to weight issues, concentration problems, a weakened immune system, and, get this, a shortened life.

Some of our days require more preparation than we can give them, and don’t afford us time for a nap. This past Thursday night, for instance, I visited the Mondavi Center for a rehearsal at 9, and then was up writing a pub quiz until well past midnight. Friday morning at 9:30 I returned to the Mondavi Center to make some new friends, including G. Wayne Clough, the President Emeritus of Georgia Tech and the Secretary Emeritus of the Smithsonian in Washington D.C. He had stories to tell about those storied institutions, and I got to tell Secretary Clough how important the Smithsonian was to a boy who grew up in D.C., where I frequently sampled the work of our country’s most accomplished museum exhibit designers. When he heard that I was there at the Mondavi Center as the Poet Laureate of Davis, the conversation pivoted to poetry, with him sharing remembrances of the late Thomas Lux, the dynamic Georgia Tech poet in residence who ran the well-funded and much-lauded “Poetry @ Tech” Program.

Making a mental note to request that we establish such a program at UC Davis, I was soon asked to suit up in my academic regalia – think Supreme Court Justice, but with a regal hood in the blue and gold of UC Davis. Kate later said that “you academics like your pomp and circumstance” and that some of us, with our scepters (it was actually a mace) like to think of ourselves as superheroes. Dressed all in black just like the other folks around me, I didn’t feel quite so intimidated to be placed in the processional line between Gary S. May, the new Chancellor of U.C. Davis, and Janet Napolitano, the President of University of California. Napolitano had some other previous jobs of note, as you may know.

As the MC of the Investiture of the new Chancellor of UC Davis, I used my radio announcer voice; it’s a cross between the voice I teach with, and the voice I use to host the de Vere’s Irish Pub Pub Quiz on Monday nights. In addition to explaining the medieval origins of an “investiture,” I got to introduce all the speakers, including the aforementioned Clough and Napolitano. So many important speakers said, “Thanks, Andy,” as if we had known each other for years, instead of minutes. I was honored to play a part in the launching of the new leader of UC Davis, and I look forward with anticipation to discovering in what ways Chancellor May will help UC Davis grow and evolve.

But my work was not done. After the lunch with VIPs, including Gary May’s former college roommate and best man at his wedding, and the CFO of all of UC, who insisted that I seek out the Galway Kinnell poem “Saint Francis and the Sow,” I had to excuse myself, for I was soon due to teach a dozen first-year students a 2 PM class called “Bravery Studies: Three Poems a Week.” I cajoled poems out of my students, introduced them to some Kinnell and some Plath, and then finished at 3:59.

That left me almost enough time to get to my 4 PM introductory meeting with Julie, my new writing assistant and accountability buddy. I spent the next 90 minutes explaining to her the parameters of the job. Julie will not only help me send my poems out to more audiences during this school year (I often neglect to share and publicize my own poetry), but she will also keep me on track for the Pub Quiz book that is due to be published before this Christmas. Everyone needs help, right? As Chancellor May says, if you see a turtle on a post, he didn’t get there by himself. To this, Kate later added that “Finding a turtle on a post probably means that there’s a sociopath nearby.”

Speaking of questionable choices, my workday was just beginning. I said goodbye to Julie at 5:30, printed out two pub quizzes (one with answers, and one without), and biked right over to the Veteran’s Memorial Center to help with the final preparations for the North Davis Elementary Auction and Fundraiser. I would worry later if I was really qualified to run a live auction. As with the first time I stepped into a classroom to lead a classroom full students, or the first time I picked up the microphone as Quizmaster, I learned how to become an auctioneer by just doing it.

Do you know how much energy it takes to live-auction ten or more big-ticket items to a bunch of parents eager to donate to their kids’ elementary school? Equivalent activities might include yelling throughout an entire live sporting event (which I hear some people do), or running a pub quiz with a weak microphone. Running full-tilt from about 8:30 to 9:30 that night, I found the experience exciting, but draining.

Of course, I had no business being drained, because as soon as I finished the hour or so of the live auction, fast-talking like one of my Oklahoma ancestors who was tasked with distributing doomed heifers with great speed and alacrity, I immediately started my fundraiser pub quiz.

If you are keeping score, you probably recognize that on Friday I enjoyed a 14-hour workday, and that I spent most of that workday talking, sometimes fast talking or quizmaster-yodeling before large audiences with high expectations. Reflecting on Friday, I remind myself that the day was filled with opportunities I treasure: meeting and conversing with new people who are accomplished and committed to a cause, dining on fine food, teaching poetry to undergraduates, mentoring students, biking around Davis, wearing fancy outfits, raising money for local schools, and pushing myself as a public speaker. Like you, I bet, I actually love the challenges of my work. As Pele says, “Success is no accident.”

My outrageous Friday makes my ambitious Monday feel like a cake-walk. I hope you will join me for part of that walk this evening at 7 at de Vere’s Irish Pub.

 

Here are the hints. In addition to the topics raised above, tonight expect questions on the following topics: English and other languages, presidential anniversaries, distributed anagramic mousetraps, lifted voices, Count Dracula, philosophical parameters, knots, fiction genres, environmental movements, Canada, soccer stars, wine necessities, young adults, family drama outside the human family, light opposition, British souvenirs, the number 33, vocal groups, haunted houses, European towers, urban challenges, seasonal vegetables, the homer habit, surnames, empires, and Shakespeare.

I’ve already been informed that we will have a new team joining us for the first time this evening. If you are part of a new team, or if you have invited a new team, please forward them this newsletter, and instigate introductions! See you tonight.

 

Your Quizmaster

https://www.yourquizmaster.com

http://www.twitter.com/yourquizmaster

http://www.facebook.com/yourquizmaster

yourquizmaster@gmail.com

 

Here are three questions from last week’s quiz:

 

  1. Mottos and Slogans.    The leading supplier of networking equipment and network management (such as internet routers) for the Internet has as its slogans “Empowering the Internet Generation” and “Welcome to the Human Network.” What is the name of this two-syllable company? 

 

  1. Internet Culture. Google’s parent company Alphabet is bringing daytime cell service to Puerto Rico using an anagram of the phrase ENROLL ABSTENTION. What’s the mode of delivery? 

 

  1. Newspaper Headlines: Name the Headliner.   It was announced last night that what singer, songwriter and actor will headline the Super Bowl 52? 

 

P.S. The great insurgent poet Joe Wenderoth will be featured at Poetry Night at the Natsoulas Gallery on Thursday, November 2nd. And then the new Thor movie comes out November 3rd, and my wife has a big birthday on November 4th. The fun never ends!

Davis Community Church

 

Dear Friends of the Pub Quiz,

Yesterday I saw my friend Pastor Bill Habicht’s last sermon at Davis Community Church. My son Jukie and I attended the service to support Bill, his lovely family, and the congregation that has given him a platform for his community-centered ministry for the last 12 years.

Once years ago when Bill and I were becoming friends – he enlisted me to help with one of his many philanthropic projects – I responded to one of his questions by telling him that my family and I were regular church-goers at DCC. He didn’t want to dispute my claim, even though he had no memory of these alleged church appearances. I told him that yes, every Christmas Eve, we attend his church service to hear a favorite story and sing some lovely Christmas carols. Clearly our attendance was very regular, if infrequent. He smiled and knew that he could be as mischievous with me as I was being with him. One member of the congregation cites his mischievousness and wit as elements of Bill and his sermons that they would miss the most.

In his last sermon, Bill retold a story that you might have read once online. Authored originally by Kent Nerburn, a cab driver takes an elderly and solitary woman on her last cab ride before she enters a hospice / convalescent hospital. The story’s author discovers the satisfaction and deep connection that comes from serving others, especially those most needful or vulnerable.

Bill concluded his remarks by inviting us not only to seek out success in our lives, but to live significant lives, the implication being that a life of service (defined as you wish), and attention to the neediest among us will enrich us much beyond that which can be earned, saved, or spent. And then Bill’s remarkable young son Asher danced for the congregation. His was an extended choreographed number, the sort you would expect from a professional dancer twice his age. After he finished, the congregants were so moved that we gave Asher a standing ovation that went on for a few minutes.

Of course, some of that applause was for Bill, a man who has served all the applauders, who has served the hungry and homeless of Davis, and thus who has served all of us for the last 12 years. I elevate and commend this man, and look forward to see how he will enrich we lucky Davisites next.

 

Tonight’s Pub Quiz will feature questions on topics raised above, as well as the following: parenthood, Starbucks, the Dharma, songbirds, quarterbacks, blasts, tenors and vehicles, gas, legal defenses, peninsulae, malt aviators, hard drinks, film classics, Laguna Beach, vampires, midsummer night’s dreams, people named Chuck, nirvana, favorite athletes, bosses, satiric news, modesty, Jack Kerouac, distant wars, warming surroundings, counts that don’t include horses, other banners, successful newspapers, liberty, telecommunications, and Shakespeare.

Please join us this evening. It’s the place to be.

 

Your Quizmaster

https://www.yourquizmaster.com

http://www.twitter.com/yourquizmaster

http://www.facebook.com/yourquizmaster

yourquizmaster@gmail.com

 

Here are three questions from last week’s quiz:

 

  1. Mottos and Slogans.    The servers at the de Vere’s Irish Pub on L Street in Sacramento wear black T-shirts with three words on the back. Those words are “BLOOD. SWEAT. And WHAT”? 

 

  1. Internet Culture. Which World War was trending on Twitter last night. Was it World War I, World War II, or World War III? 

 

  1. Newspaper Headlines.   What two-syllable C word completes this October 5th CNBC headline about worldwide Facebook usage? “Facebook users could outnumber BLANKS before the end of the year.” 

 

P.S. Viola Weinberg and Traci Gourdine are performing this coming Thursday night at 8. Viola will have fire adventures to relay. You are invited. Here is the Facebook event: https://www.facebook.com/events/125188948144412.  

 

 

 

TreeBranches

Dear Friends of the Pub Quiz,

Driving through midtown Sacramento yesterday, I reminded myself of one important reason why Kate and I chose to move there back in 1991: The trees! Huge oaks and maples line the streets where we used to walk, grateful for the shade on hot afternoons in our “City of Trees.” Someone thought that Paris had more impressive tree cover than California’s capital, but that just isn’t so. As Hillary Louise Johnson wrote for Sactown Magazine, “Paris’s “meager 8.8-percent tree canopy coverage can’t touch Sacramento’s 23.6 percent with a 10-foot branch. In other words, when it comes to Mother Nature’s trunk show, the only way the French capital is greener than we are is, dare we say, with envy.”

Somehow, I don’t think Paris is very envious of Sacramento, despite the younger city’s impressive canopy coverage, allegedly the third greatest in the world (after Vancouver and Singapore). But obviously Sacramento has earned its nickname, also a onetime nickname of my childhood home of Washington DC, where I frequented an illegally-constructed tree fort in Glover Archibald Park.

Although filled with more new neighborhoods than midtown Sacramento, Davis can look to its beloved greenbelts for tree cover, as well as those famous walnut trees heading west on Russell Boulevard, planted by the LaRue family in 1876. We in Davis rightfully love our UC Davis Arboretum, but sometimes that quaint redwood grove there seems like a teaser, especially to those who have lived in the Bay Area, as I have. I loved the redwoods of Marin County so much that I took Kate to Muir Woods to propose marriage to her. We had to walk deep into the forest to separate ourselves from the (other) tourists, finding a spot by a brook that was as green as the Forest Moon of Endor. Acknowledging the importance of trees to our growing family, we even gave our son Jukie the middle name of “Forest” (with one R).

As Davis Poet Laureate, I have been asked to write some poems in preparation for a city Arbor Day celebration in February, even though Arbor Day is in April. How soon should one begin such poems? Well, as the Chinese proverb goes, “The best time to plant a tree was 20 years ago. The second best time is now.” With their beauty, majesty, and necessity, trees remind us not to procrastinate, whether it be for a planting project or a poetry project.

Updating the Chinese proverb, and perhaps as a warning to future presidents, Franklin Delano Roosevelt once said this: “A nation that destroys its soils destroys itself. Forests are the lungs of our land, purifying the air and giving fresh strength to our people.” That which is most valuable to us usually has no price tag.

Even though recent winds have shaken the pollen out of our city’s trees, and felled trees that knocked out our electricity while I was writing this newsletter, I hope that you, too, are purified and given strength by the tress you pass by today. Kahlil Gibran, whom I have quoted often as a wedding officiant, said in “Sand and Foam” that “Trees are poems that the earth writes upon the sky.” Grateful for my bicycle commute along the grand trees nourished by Putah Creek, I shall try to draw inspiration for pedaling as well as poems. I wish the same for you.

 

Tonight’s Pub Quiz will feature questions on some of the topics raised above. Expect also questions about rotund bellies, the Caribbean, Winston Churchill, agricultural colleges, Don Lipper’s birthday, Spaniards, habitats, counted centuries, the meaning of “mega,” changed names upon exit of the colonialists, incomplete prognostication, sparsely populated islands, ersatz avengers, beginnings and endings, India, a letter that starts the name of four cities, relevant horns, Oscar-winners, being sorry about having trouble understanding right now (as Alexa says upon being awakened after a power outage), exports of Israel, multiple opinions, intermediate materials, California celebrities, eastern conferences, the world music awards, C words, an opponent’s headquarters, coastal surprises, unusual transportation options, religious groups, and Shakespeare.

I hope to see you this evening, and that from tonight’s Pub Quiz you will learn something new that you can use later. As Emerson observed, “The creation of a thousand forests is in one acorn.” Keeping Emerson in mind, I will help you turn over some fresh soil, but only figuratively!

Your Quizmaster

https://www.yourquizmaster.com

http://www.twitter.com/yourquizmaster

http://www.facebook.com/yourquizmaster

yourquizmaster@gmail.com

 

Here are three questions from the quiz of October 3rd, 2016, when we were all so much younger:

  1. Books and Authors.   The authors and philosophers H.G. Wells, Henri Bergson, and Albert Einstein were all deeply interested in the same specific topic on my answer sheet. Name the topic. 
  2. Sports.  The United States defeated Europe in gold at Hazeltine yesterday, taking a decisive 17-11 victory. What cup did the Americans win? 
  3. Shakespeare.   According to her father, what prime number age is Juliet in the play Romeo and Juliet

 

P.S. You have but two more weekends to see the current production of Midsummer Night’s Dream. See the website http://www.shakespearedavis.org for details and to buy tickets. Thanks, Davis Shakespeare Ensemble!

Tom Petty

Dear Friends of the Pub Quiz,

Miles Davis is bugling unhurriedly through “Nuit Sur Les Champs-Elysees,” the jazz tune that I chose to silence the caffeinated talkers at the café table next to me as I despair the gun violence in Las Vegas, and reflect upon the world in which we live. I never got to see Miles Davis or Dave Brubeck play, though they were both younger than John Lee Hooker, whom I once saw perform in San Francisco. I had my chance to see those jazz masters, but I’m sure that I was distracted. What were the distractions? A lifetime ago, they might have been television shows or New Yorker cartoons or some other combination of pixels: the ephemera of our digital age. Eventually, I would resolve to become less distractible, perhaps learning a lesson from Jack Kerouac: “Great things are not accomplished by those who yield to trends and fads and popular opinion.”

Saturday comedian Paula Poundstone told a Vacaville audience that she wonders sometimes if she will soon wake up from a bizarre and frightening nightmare, meaning the strange world in which we live. Older even than me, most of the NPR-addicted audience nodded in agreement and understanding. When I was a teenager, my friends and I told “Bedtime for Bonzo” jokes when the former actor Ronald Reagan was inaugurated several miles from my childhood home of Washington D.C., but at least we had to acknowledge that he had once governed a populous state out west. You Californians had vetted him.

Trump had no such experience, and he has proved to be just as isolated and underprepared as we might have feared. Because President Trump hasn’t the help of an administration that is completely staffed, principled, or sufficiently experienced, Trump’s callow and unscrupulous machinations are reshaping our government in ways that daily heighten our anxiety and concern. When one thinks of the president’s days-long pause before beginning to mobilize help for people of Puerto Rico (who, notably, do not participate in the Electoral College), or when one considers his use of Twitter to insult past presidents and to undermine his own Secretary of State’s attempts to de-escalate the war of words and threats with North Korea, one can’t help but be alarmed.

Whether our anxieties are sparked by Donald Trump or by calamities and tragedies in the news, we each cope with our resulting worries in different ways, perhaps legal or illegal drugs, therapy sessions, or long walks in the UC Davis Arboretum. I posit that at a time like this we should find comfort in the arts. In my poetry seminar this past Friday, my students and I discussed Walter Pater’s assertion that “All art constantly aspires towards the condition of music”; after hearing early Miles Davis for an hour or two, I understand better what Pater meant. Such music elevates the soul and the sensibilities, reminding one of those forces and influences in the world that seek to counterbalance the crudity evidenced in contemporary politics, and the sadness that results from disasters caused by nature or by man. For me, poetry also works this sort of magic, whether it be a beloved classic from Shakespeare, Lord Byron, T.S. Eliot, Elizabeth Bishop, or Langston Hughes, or something fresh and surprising by a living poet; for example, the spoken-word maestro Fong Tran performs in Davis at the John Natsoulas Gallery on October 5th, while the older Pulitzer Prize-winner W.S. Merwin still turns out amazing and understated masterpieces. Such poetic comfort, discovery, or re-discovery helps us center our thinking, and reflect upon the emotional truths that uplift and endure outside the battling choleric angers and mind-numbing tragedies of our age.

I know or know of storm-ravaged American citizens in Puerto Rico, grieving families in Las Vegas, a forlorn librarian in Portland, and a mom here in Davis who are struggling, who are suffering this week. Many of them are not ready to let in a song or a poem, much less to visit a museum or watch a documentary. The timing or the intensity of their struggles precludes the receptivity and calm needed to receive musical or poetic magic. As the Indian proverb says, “A healthy person has many wishes, but the sick person has only one.” That said, the arts remain for us, ready to help us imagine or eventually make our many wishes.

After telling us about her metaphorical nightmare from which she sometimes wishes she could awaken, Paula Poundstone told us that nevertheless she hoped she wouldn’t wake up until after her conversation with the audience in Vacaville. She recognized the power of performance, and of humor: these were her gifts to us. An obsessive talker, Poundstone also treasured having interlocutors with whom she could share her ideas, her idiosyncrasies, and her comedic reflections on the challenges we all face. Like some candidates for president, cable news is meant to alarm us about an incipient threat, something that would keep us agitated and wanting more, either more reassurance, or more actionable information. By contrast, art, music, and poetry aspire towards the condition of permanency, something outside this era of widespread instability, tribulation, and mourning.

Insofar as they discourage cell phone use and encourage commune, a pub quiz or a poetry reading might just present you a moment of relief from the savage burdens of time, a distraction from the smoke in the air, and the restive and blustery winds that are shaking and emptying our trees in the first weeks of autumn. Join me for such a communal escape this week so that, with a bit of distraction and artistry, I might just be able to help you carry your psychic load.

 

Tonight’s Pub Quiz will feature questions on some of the topics raised above. Expect also questions on the following: The U.S. Constitution, Emily Dickinson, former Pub Quiz champions, ethical codes, innovators, local basketball teams, last words, kite flying, polls of Brits, difficult starts, fancy clocks, gold stars, understanding conflict, sciences with multiple paradigms, differences from Manhattan, CEOs, Allen Ginsberg, Italian capitals, leaders, unforgettable strolls, physics, eternal rhymes, notable tears, Yoda, Sicily, boa hurricanes, pit bulls, human anatomy, Walt Whitman, really unusual words, constants, Tom Petty, and Shakespeare.

The winds are due to die down by the time the Pub Quiz starts at 7 this evening. I hope you will join us!

 

Your Quizmaster

https://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. Another Film Question. Grossing over half a billion dollars domestically, what are the six words in the title of the top-grossing film released in the last 365 days?      

 

  1. Science: The Dining Habits of Raccoons. At 40%, which of the following makes up the largest percentage of a raccoon’s diet? Invertebrates, Plants, or Vertebrates.  

 

  1. Books and Authors. Ezra Jack Keats earned the Caldecott Award for his 1962 children’s book about a boy named Peter exploring his neighborhood after the first snowfall of the season. What are the three words in the title of the book?  

 

P.S. Please visit https://www.fongtran.com to see who we have featuring at the John Natsoulas Gallery this coming Thursday night at 8. View the video presentation of his poem “White Hipsters.” Tran is an accomplished performer who deserves our attention.