Dear Friends of the Pub Quiz,
Happy Presidents’ Day! I need this day off, for I have spent the weekend participating actively – I served on five panels – at the San Francisco Writers Conference, the foremost such event in the country. This weekend I got to see Apple evangelist Guy Kawasaki speak on the topic of his new book APE: Author, Publisher, Entrepreneur-How to Publish a Book. Kawasaki is an excellent speaker – he typically is paid five figures to speak at technology conventions and trade shows – so I was certainly entertained by his remarks, but I think everyone’s favorite keynote was presented by R.L. Stine, whom you probably know as the author of the Goosebumps books, which have sold more than 350 million copies. Telling us the story of how he got started in publishing, Stine informed us that he came to New York from Ohio to write humor. He had been the editor of the humor magazine at Ohio State University, and was hoping to continue such work on a larger scale. Funny and self-deprecating, Stine included choice quotations from some of his favorite letters from children. My favorite was from a boy who wrote, “Dear R.L. Stine. I have read 40 of your books. They are really boring.”
Lucky me, I got to talk with Stine and his wife for about 45 minutes at the VIP party Saturday night. I asked him about the inspiration of his interest in humor. He told me about his love for Burns and Allen, Sid Caesar, Jack Benny, and others. These were all radio comedians that I knew well, for in my childhood home we had records of those old radio shows that I would listen to repeatedly, with the encouragement of my father. I told Stine that my brother and I had grown up hearing routines by these comedic masters, as remembered by my father who had studied their work as a young magician, and then later as a college student when he hosted a live kids puppetry and variety show on Columbus television called Davey Jones’ Locker.
That’s when R.L. Stine revealed to me, with incredulous enthusiasm, that he and his brother Bill watched my Dad’s TV show every week, regaling me with stories of my father’s attempts at humor, and what he used to do with puppets. He couldn’t believe the coincidence. Evidently his love of comedy, and mine, were fostered by the same source: My Dad.
Tonight’s Pub Quiz will feature questions on books not written by R.L. Stine, online education, Wild Watermelon, food and drink, best-selling albums, physics, World War II, football, keeping on your toes, cities that start with the letter A, mammals, wild fruits, gardens of roses, transformations, genetics, scorpions, unusual modes of travel, English novelists, bonus sports topics, basketball, Europe, chickens, macho sheep sweat, security guards, power plants, Americans born overseas, 80s detectives, RJ, science fiction, blind women, Ireland, hometown newspapers, and Shakespeare.
My wife and her brother will be joining us at the Pub Quiz tonight as players (unless too many friends volunteer for the team, in which case they will audit). See you tonight at 7!
Here are five questions from last week’s quiz:
- State Parks. Bashful Peak, at 8005 ft., is the tallest mountain in Chugach State Park, the third-largest state park in the United States. In what state is it found?
- Film Quotations. The title character of what 2004 film says the following words: “I'm very important. I have many leather-bound books and my apartment smells of rich mahogany.”
- Pop Culture – Music. What is the mononym of the musician who had hits, of sorts, with the songs “Trouble,” “Sober,” “Funhouse,” and, this week, “Try”?
- Sports. Michael Vick has agreed to a pay cut, and to continue to work with his coach, Chip Kelly. In what city does Coach Kelly coach?
- Science. What is the chemical symbol for GOLD on the periodic table?
P.S. As a special treat, we will be joined at the intermission of tonight’s quiz by The Spokes; I believe they are the best all-female a cappella group in California. They are prepping for Hella Cappella on March 1.