Dear Friends of the Pub Quiz,
I hope you’ve been enjoying this past weekend’s storms. After sweeping floodwater away from the foundation of our home yesterday, my sons and I took the dog on a long walk to survey the downed branches and the deep gatherings of leaves on the greenbelts of South Davis. The sun was out and strong by noon, so we didn’t even bring jackets. Despite the recent intense winds, our weather events certainly seem shorter and milder than what others have endured in New Jersey or Louisiana. Like Frederick Douglass, I will always welcome a strong storm with thunder over a gentle shower. Douglass famously said, “It is not light that we need, but fire; it is not the gentle shower, but thunder. We need the storm, the whirlwind, and the earthquake.” Of course, unlike most of us, Frederick Douglass probably never lived through an earthquake.
I got to thinking about literary storms, and the extent to which a writer can represent the tumult of an ongoing storm. Probably the most famous storm in literature and film is the one that sent Dorothy Gale on her adventure:
“The north and south winds met where the house stood, and made it the exact center of the cyclone. In the middle of a cyclone the air is generally still, but the great pressure of the wind on every side of the house raised it up higher and higher, until it was at the very top of the cyclone; and there it remained and was carried miles and miles away as easily as you could carry a feather.
It was very dark, and the wind howled horribly around her, but Dorothy found she was riding quite easily. After the first few whirls around, and one other time when the house tipped badly, she felt as if she were being rocked gently, like a baby in a cradle.”
The dramatic and tragic events late in Zora Neale Hurston’s Their Eyes Were Watching God are prompted by the 1928 Okeechobee hurricane. At one point, the protagonist Janie is huddled in a flimsy shack with two friends:
“The wind came back with a triple fury, and put out the light for the last time. They sat in company with the others in other shanties, their eyes straining against crude walls and their souls asking if He meant to measure their puny might against His. They seemed to be staring at the dark, but their eyes were watching God.”
My favorite literary storm is, not surprisingly, more poetic:
Blow, winds, and crack your cheeks! rage! blow!
You cataracts and hurricanoes, spout
Till you have drench’d our steeples, drown’d the cocks!
You sulphurous and thought-executing fires,
Vaunt-couriers to oak-cleaving thunderbolts,
Singe my white head! And thou, all-shaking thunder,
Strike flat the thick rotundity o’ the world!
Crack nature’s moulds, all germens spill at once
That make ingrateful man!
This comes, of course, from Act III, Scene II of King Lear, one of my favorite Shakespeare plays. Is there another storm that stirs you more than these?
Tonight’s Pub Quiz will feature questions about meat companies, soft opens, India, dogs, elementary schools, The Civil War, Anglo-Saxon noblewomen, brothers that we’ve heard of but couldn’t pick out of a lineup, meager homes, fearsome creatures, Europe, anchormen, musical time travel, the NBA, roses, winners and losers, random three-syllable adjectives, Canadian and Californian cities, Islam, songs to dance to, simian restrooms, security guards, pulp fiction, having character, wedding parties, Dublin, films with multiple Oscars, unemployment, Lincoln, names in the news, Shakespeare and, for a second time in two weeks, Moses. I hope this is helpful.
I’m hosting a poetry reading Thursday night – details after the sample questions. See you this evening!
Here are five questions from last week’s quiz:
10. Great Americans. In office for more than four years, who preceded Condoleezza Rice as Secretary of State? People who got this wrong seemed to have blocked the first four years of the George W. Bush administration.
11. Unusual Five-Syllable Words That Start with the Letters ACC. What word denotes the process of adopting the cultural traits or social patterns of another group?
12. Food and Drink. What is the primary ingredient in a lassi, something that you might order in an Indian restaurant? By the way, lassis come in all sorts of flavors, not just mango!
13. Pop Culture – Television. Who played Norm on Cheers? Most teams answered this correctly.
14. Another Music Question. What 50 year-old musician and actor won an AMA award and a Golden Globe in 1991 for his song “Blaze of Glory”? I would not have known the answer to this question. I’ve almost already forgotten it!
P.S. This coming Thursday night at 8 The Poetry Night Reading Series will be proud to welcome Joshua McKinney. He will be performing at the John Natsoulas Gallery at 521 1st Street. Joshua McKinney is the author of three books of poetry: Saunter, co-winner of the University of Georgia Press Poetry Series Open Competition in 2002; The Novice Mourner, winner of the Dorothy Brunsman Poetry Prize in 2005; and Mad Cursive, just published in 2012. Details at http://www.poetryindavis.com. Please join us!