Dear Friends of the Pub Quiz,
"Will the Real Mr. Howell Please Stand Up?" is not the title of an essay about the multimillionaires currently running for US President, but rather the title of an episode of Gilligan’s Island in which a man who looks uncannily like Thurston Howell III shows up on the island, and reveals his plan to take over the life of the ever-vacationing patrician. This might have been my first exposure to the concept of the doppelgänger, the twin that supposedly each of us has running around the world somewhere.
The image of a double spooked all of us who watched the 2010 film Black Swan. According to Abraham Lincoln: The Prairie Years, by the biographer and poet Carl Sandberg, Abraham Lincoln was even more spooked when he confronted images of his own two-faced twin:
A dream or illusion had haunted Lincoln at times through the winter. On the evening of his election he had thrown himself on one of the haircloth sofas at home, just after the first telegrams of November 7 had told him he was elected President, and looking into a bureau mirror across the room he saw himself full length, but with two faces. It bothered him; he got up; the illusion vanished; but when he lay down again there in the glass again were two faces, one paler than the other. He got up again, mixed in the election excitement, forgot about it; but it came back, and haunted him. He told his wife about it; she worried too. A few days later he tried it once more and the illusion of the two faces again registered to his eyes. But that was the last; the ghost since then wouldn't come back; he told his wife, who said it was a sign he would be elected to a second term, and the death pallor of one face meant he wouldn't live through his second term.
Although without the forebodings of doom that typically surround doppelgänger stories, I had two doppelgänger encounters yesterday that are beginning to convince me that I resemble a generic Davisite. Yesterday at the monthly Davis Flea Market that takes place across the street from de Vere’s, a woman mistook me for the head of a Davis Elections Commission, and thanked me for agreeing to accept her as a new volunteer. I had to confess to her that I don’t work for the Davis Elections Commission, and that perhaps she was mistaking me for Freddie Oakley, our County Clerk Recorder (who looks nothing like me).
Then yesterday afternoon after a KDVS meeting in Freeborn Hall on campus, a nice man who evidently recognized me introduced me to his wife and to their two year-old daughter. I always enjoy meeting people that I supposedly already know, even as I told myself that I can’t be expected to remember the context of everyone I meet on the streets or in the restaurants and art galleries of Davis. Then, as I started to bike away, the man told his wife that I was Professor McCarthy, Chair of the Food Science and Technology Department at UC Davis. If you check out the faculty page of Michael McCarthy, you will see that at least that guy looks somewhat like me, though Professor McCarthy earned his PhD a full decade before I did (no offense to me).
None of these people compare in likeness to my true doppelgänger, Ken Norman of the Psychology Department at Princeton, who once was a Fellow in our McDonnell Summer Institute in Cognitive Neuroscience. I was in de Vere’s for the after-party of a bi-monthly poetry reading, and a bunch of people asked if they could photograph me and share the picture with a friend who looks just like me. Ken sent me a nice note (Subject: Doppelgänger) soon thereafter that I must respond to. Because Professor Norman is an expert on how the brain remembers, maybe he can explain the psychological phenomenon of the doppelgänger. Have you met your doppelgänger, a discovered twin somewhere in the world?
Tonight’s Pub Quiz will feature questions on remembering, twins, American wars, Maine, fashion, famous marriages, blogging, the presidential campaigns, blood, dogs, Cleopatra, pistachio ice cream, boots, fighters, baseball, protein, expensive things, freeways, detectives, togetherness, raciness, likable levies, Oscar-winners, Italian cities, regarding fall elks, Chinese-born Americans, extant 60s rock bands, the middle ages, murals, SNL alums, Irish geography, political math, world capitals, red states, astronomy, magazines and journals, explosions, famous gangsters, shipwrecks, Shakespeare, and cats. According to my wife Kate, at least one of the questions that I will share tonight is too easy, but she is a close follower of the political scene. I expect everyone to score in the double digits.
I hope to see you this evening. October newbies will overrun the Irish Pub tonight, so come early to claim a table.
Here are five questions from last week’s quiz:
10. Face Cards. Which suit is ruled by the suicide king?
11. Unusual Words. What verb with two consecutive F’s in it means “To reject (someone or something) in an abrupt or ungracious manner”?
12. Popular Films. According to the Library of Congress, what is the most watched motion picture in history?
13. Pop Culture – Television. Andy Griffith’s Andy Taylor was named No. 8 on TV Guide’s list of the “50 Greatest TV Dads of All Time” in 2004. What dad with the initials CH was number one?
14. Another Music Question. Who had a big hit in 2010 with “DJ Got Us Fallin’ In Love”?
P.S. I hope you will join me at a reading this Thursday by Davis therapist and award-winning poet Julia Levine. She will be accompanies by Ruth Schwartz, and between the two of them, they have authored a great number of books on topics that you will interest you if you care about the human condition. We start at 8 at the John Natsoulas Gallery. Add your name to the Facebook event!