The Auctioneer’s Strained Vocal Cords Edition of the de Vere’s Irish Pub Pub Quiz Newsletter

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


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!