Wednesday, June 27, 2018

80's Trivia for Grown-ups

I did this team trivia night on a Thursday evening in April during National Library Week. We had our best turnout yet with 69 adults in attendance. This was one of my favorite trivia nights I have ever done because it was such an interesting mix of people. Unlike pop culture fandom trivia nights this evening brought together people who loved different aspects of the 1980's from movies, to music, fashion and cartoons. The spirits were high and the music round even inspired sing-alongs which I recorded and can be watched on my library's facebook page. 

This trivia night is pretty movie heavy because I figured film was a unifying topic that most people can appreciate. I could have created a dozen more rounds of trivia on different topics! It was actually quite a challenge to limit myself.

Below is the rounds and supporting documents you will need to run this trivia. I tend to make my trivia nights a little on the hard side which die-hards appreciate.

All correct answers are worth 1 point, no points for incorrect answers. Teams turn in their answer sheet for grading to judges after each round. Halftime scores announced during break after round 3. I always go over the answers from the previous round before I start a new one. Instant gratification and all.

Grading Sheet
Team Table Signs

ROUND 1: Name that TV Show or Movie
Questions you read
Blank Answer sheet for teams
In this round you will read a brief synopsis (found on IMDB mostly) of a movie or TV (at the end.) Teams will write down what show to film you are referring to. Read each twice through.

ROUND 2: Name that Robot or VHS Tape
Powerpoint with answers
Answers for judge
Blank worksheet for teams
A ton of fun! The worksheet looks great printed on 11x17 paper too. Han
d out the worksheet and have teams write in either the name of the robot or the name of the movie. The robots are famous 80's robots
or androids. The VHS tapes I took images of tape covers and photo-shopped the title out. Teams had a blast with this round because they could talk as a team to figure things out and it was more visual/hands-on as opposed to just listening. When you go over the answers you can use the powerpoint and the answers are filled in there. There is also a text only answer key for the judges.

ROUND 3: Mondo Mix Tape
Powerpoint with questions (sound bites built in)
Blank answer sheet for teams
My favorite round! I used Wavepad Sound Editor to clip mp3 songs into 20 second clips. I tried to crop the song at a chorus so it was more recognizable. Open the Powerpoint and each audio file is embedded into the screen. Play each once through and then ask if anyone wanted any a second time at the end of the round. Teams write down the band, don't need the name of the song. Don't be alarmed if teams starting singing along!

ROUND 4: Traditional Trivia
Questions you read
Blank answer sheet for teams
This is what you think of when someone says trivia night. A real m
ixed bag of questions. The Stephen King question really threw people! You read the question 2x through and the teams write the answers.

ROUND 5: Movie Dialog
Questions/Script for readers
Blank answer sheet for teams 
In the beginning of the evening have these printed out and collect them at
the break. Put them in a basket and during this round you will have Reader A, B, or C read the script/dialog from a film. If their name is called to read they earn 1 bonus point for their team. You can have them read twice or once if you are short on time. This is always a good time and gets the audience up and out of their seat. The teams will listen to the volunteers read the lines of dialog and write down the name of the film which it is from.

You can see from the photos here that I got a mixture of vintage 80's prizes off Etsy and newer replicas from I made 3 piles of prizes and first place got to choose their pile first and so on down the line.

Best costume won a Teenage Mutant Ninja Tutles Chia Pet

Best Team Name (Skeletor's Legwarmers) won fishnet gloves for their whole team

Last place team won the pictured t-shirt clips. I had a lady from the audience show us how you use them and funny enough the team that won them was all men! I always give a prize to last place as it keeps all the teams from leaving early and is always good for a laugh.

The team names that my creative patrons came up with: Weird Science, Skeletor's Legwarmers, ThunderPuss, Malachi Crunch, The Breakfast Club, L-Squared, Member Berries, Mutually Assured Instruction, Masters of the Universe, The Goonies, Hey You Guys!, Tiff and the Holograms, Back to the Fu-Trivia, The Brat Pack, 13% Attitude, Baby's Corner, the Outsiders, Cat Memes

Thursday, May 17, 2018

Book Discussion: Handmaids Tale

Interesting article from 2018 NRP about US birth rate statistics and the fact that we are now not reproducing at a rate which would replace us.

Discussion Questions:

What do you make of the 3 quotes in the beginning of the book?

Gilead's society is obviously quite sexist and repressive, yet do any aspects of it seem to be an improvement over our contemporary society?
  • The misogynist and violent sexual treatment of women. Women are held in such esteem that rape is a capital crime. As one of the Aunts tells the Handmaids, "There is more than one kind of freedom….Freedom to and freedom from. In the days of anarchy, it was freedom to. Now you are being given freedom from. Don't underrate it" (emphasis added, p. 24)
  • No longer do citizens suffer from confusion in interpersonal relations, nor over one's role, position, and purpose -- these things are settled for them.
  • No longer must women suffer the "indignity" of singles' bars, blind dates, and personal ads; no longer must they worry about being beaten by a husband, or being left with children to feed on a measly paycheck. 
  •  banned pornography and prostitution
  •  sexual objectification -- they no longer have to wear makeup, oil themselves for tanning "like roast meat on a spit" (p. 55), dress in certain ways, or starve themselves and/or have surgery to obtain the right figure (as all bodies are cloaked in uniform, figure-disguising robes).
Though Gilead is a blatantly patriarchal society, do the men really have it better than the women do?
  • Some guardians are not even allowed wives. "They will suffer, later, at night, in their regimented beds. They have no outlets now except themselves, and that's a sacrilege. There are no more magazines, no more films, no more substitutes; only me and my shadow [Ofglen], walking away from the two men, who stand at attention, stiffly, by a roadblock, watching our retreating shapes (p. 22)."
  • Nor is it much easier for more powerful men. At the ritual Bible reading prior to the Ceremony, Offred sympathizes with the Commander: "to be a man, watched by women….To have them putting him on, trying him out, trying him out…We're all watching him. It's the one thing we can really do, and it is not for nothing: if he were to falter, fail, or die, what would become of us?…[It] must be hell, to be a man, like that…It must be very silent. (pp. 87-88)"
  • The women in a way have a name more personalized in the novel. She is Offred meaning of Freds and he is only known to us as the commander.
Who is in power in Gilead? Where does power ultimately reside?

What do you think the colonies are?

Why Scrabble?
  • Language is power
What do you think motivates the Commander to risk his life by having a taboo relationship with Offred?
  • Moira's speech actually offers two motives: first, his need for the excitement and stimulation of breaking rules; and second, his need to exercise personal power.
  • Earlier, the Commander told Offred that men created Gilead partly out of boredom. "There was nothing for them to do…. There was nothing for them to do with women…. [Sex] was too easy. Anyone could just buy it. There was nothing to work for, nothing to fight for….You know what [men] were complaining about the most? Inability to feel. Men were turning off on sex, even. They were turning off on marriage." (p. 210)
What do you think of Offred's relationship with Nick?
  • With a man, she no longer needs to fight society; with a man, she can survive, can in fact surrender. Is this the womanist perspective Atwood sanctions? Once Offred has decided to surrender to Gilead with Nick, it does not take long for her to decide to surrender altogether, with or without him: "Dear God, I think I will do anything you like. Now that you've let me off, I'll obliterate myself, if that's what you really want; I'll empty myself, truly, become a chalice. I'll give up Nick, I'll forget about the others, I'll stop complaining. I'll accept my lot. I'll sacrifice. I'll repent. I'll abdicate. I'll renounce….I don't want pain….I want to keep on living, in any form. I resign my body freely, to the uses of others. They can do what they like with me. I am abject. (p. 286)"
What does Moira symbolize in the novel?

  • In Jezebels she wears a tattered bunny costume. Submissive and caged animal. 

Why did Attwood make Harvard the "hall of the eyes?"

Do you care for the open-ended ending? Why do you think Atwood chose to do it?
  • Did she leave it open in order to not silence our minds and imagination? To give the reader the power. 
How do the last lines of the Historical Notes section connect with the last line of the novel? "As all historians know, the past is a great darkness, and filled with echoes. Voices may reach us from it; but what they say to us is imbued with the obscurity of the matrix out of which they come; and, try as we may, we cannot always decipher them precisely in the clearer light of out own day." The end of the novel is" Whether this is my end or a new beginning I have no way of knowing: I have given myself over into the hands of strangers, becasue it can't be helped. And so I step up, into the darkness within; or else the light.
How does the "Historical Notes" section affect your understanding of the novel?

What do you think happens to Offred in the end?

Tuesday, March 27, 2018

Book Discussion: Stranger in the Woods

What did you think about the relationship between Knight and the author Michael Finkel?

On page 5, Finkel states that Knight has a “moral code” that he lives by, which determines what he will and will not steal. How would you describe his moral code? How does his moral code relate to larger ideas about capitalism and materialism in the United States?

In the early pages of the book, Finkel states that Knight has “stripped the world to his essentials.” Consider the lifestyle that Knight leads in North Pond. What are his essentials? How many of these essentials are material versus immaterial? What does he value the most?

Knight enjoyed some modern products such as batteries, game boys, junk food. At the same time he craved solitude. How do you rectify those two things? Is he truly a hermit?

Some of the familys who owened the cabins Knight broke into stated he stole their sense of security and "every bit of their piece of heaven." How do you think you would feel about Knight if you were in their shoes.

When he was arrested there was a lot of fanfare surrounding Knight. What do you think the appeal of a hermit is with the public?

In the book the author divests and writes about historic hermits. What are some examples you have thought of while reading the book?

Early in their relationship, Finkel reveals to Knight that he is a “flawed journalist,” based on past actions during his reportage. Why does he choose to do this? Discuss the “lofty ideals” that both men strive for in their lives. How are they both committed to seeking truth?
 On page 50, Finkel states that Knight “seemed to say exactly what he was thinking, raw and true, unfiltered by the safety net of social niceties.” Discuss this statement. How does Knight’s time in the woods affect his understanding of human interactions? What is his general standpoint toward humanity? How does his exposure to media (books, radio) keep him connected to society at large?

When reading Notes from the Underground, Knight felt that Dostoyevsky was reaching through time and speaking directly to him. What books have made you feel that way?

Discuss Knight’s childhood and family. How does the idea of rugged individualism and self-reliance color his upbringing? The value of privacy? Consider his absence in the lives of his family members, and his sudden return to them. Does he feel any guilt about his decision to disappear? How does his family interpret his return?

On page 112, Knight wonders if “modern society, with its flood of information and tempest of noise, was only making us dumber.” Reflect on this statement. What are the pitfalls of technology in relation to modern living? How does our reliance on technology undercut some of the most essential human functions?

Tuesday, January 23, 2018

Book Discussion: Geek Love by Katherine Dunn

Some great insight into the book

The original book cover showed 3 mutant letter "e"s. The Knopf logo on the spine that is a Russian Wolfhound has a fifth leg in honor of the Binewskis. Chip Kidd is the designer of the cover and he also designed these famous covers: Jurassic Park, several David Sedaris Books including Dress Your Family in Corduroy and Denim, covers for Donna Tartt, John Updike, 1984 by Haruki Murakami.

Geek Love was a finalist for the National Book Award in 1989, up against E. L. Doctorow’s Billy Bathgate, Oscar Hijuelos’s Mambo Kings Play Songs of Love, Amy Tan’s The Joy Luck Club, and John Casey’s Spartina. (Spartina won.) Do you think this recognition was deserving?

Katherine Dunn employs many unusual words in Geek Love: skootching, skuttered, rooched, snorking, frowzled, etc. What do such words add to the flavor of the novel? In what ways is such language appropriate to the story Dunn is telling? Did the language add or take away from the story. Did it set a tone for the book?

The book is full of illustrative adjectives and descriptive sentences such as on page 137 when papa states "you girls look a bit better now. Less like a demon crew and more like hungover angels." p. 187 "to doss down on a cot in a trailer shared with twelve sweaty, spitting, cursing, chortling roustabouts who viewed him as one rung lower than last nights beer farts" Were there some passages that you found particularly shocking, funny, offensive?

The novelist Karen Russell (whose Pulitzer-nominated Swamplandia! owes an obvious debt to Geek Love, and who thanks Dunn in the acknowledgments) describes Dunn’s prose as a “pyrotechnic medium so far removed from our workaday speech that it feels unfair and inaccurate to call that fire-language ‘English.’” An example from chapter 8: “A carnival in daylight is an unfinished beast, anyway. Rain makes it a ghost. The wheezing music from the empty, motionless rides in a soft, rained-out afternoon midway always hits my chest with a sweet ache. The colored dance of the lights in the seeping air flashed the puddles in the sawdust with an oily glamour.” Or this reflection from Arty, the boy with flippers, in chapter 9: “We have this advantage, that the norms expect us to be wise. Even a rat’s-ass dwarf got credit for terrible canniness disguised in his foolery. Freaks are like owls, mythed into blinking, bloodless objectivity.”

This book was written in the early eighties. Does is reflect or satirize American culture from that time period?

In what ways did you have to suspend your disbelief in this story? Were you successful and how did this allow you to enjoy or not enjoy the story?

In his journal, Norval Sanderson writes, "General opinion about Arty varies, from those who see him as a profound humanitarian to those who view him as a ruthless reptile" [p. 273]. Which of these views is more accurate?

What power does Arty hold over each of his family members?

What are the Arturians seeking? How does disfiguring them give them a sense of purpose?

Why do you think Vern the Bag Man went to Arthuro after being released from prison for killing his ex-wife. What drew him in?

On page 251 Why did Al go along with the idea that the twins were to marry the Bag Man? Why was he so dismissive of them when they were expressing their true feelings to him? What power did Arty have over him?

On page 109 Chick describes to Oly how he is able to move things with his mind. stating that "it moves itself. I just let it." He goes on to give the illustration of water always wanting to move. That he lays the path for things to move. How did this description help you visualize or understand how Chick was able to perform so many great feats with his mind (eg: Impregnating Oly, performing surgery)

In the second half of the book when the dreamlings are teenagers Al and Lil seem to be fading away and are no longer a guiding force in the children's lives. What is the reason for this? How would it be different for the children if their parents were more like they were in the beginning of the book?

What are Arty's believes on cults? Do you think he believed he was running one?

Where do Elly and Arty get their selfish drive. What holds Iphy, Oly and Chick back from becoming more like them?

In the end Oly kills Mary Lick and herself. Why did she make this sacrifice. What did it mean for her to stop Miranda from amputating her tail? Was it for the best for all three women? What are Oly's hopes for Miranda?

Oly writes a letter she leaves for Miranda explaining who she is and where Miranda came from. Do you think it was always going to be her intention to let Miranda know upon her death. Do you think she ever would have let Miranda know while she was still alive?

What do you think happened with Chick and the fire that destroyed the circus and so many people?

In what ways are Al Bineski and Mary Lick similar and different from each other?

Olympia says that Miss Lick’s purpose in arranging disfiguring operations is to "liberate women who are liable to be exploited by male hungers. These exploitable women are, in Miss Lick’s view, the pretty ones." After they lose their beauty they can "use their talents and intelligence to become powerful" [p. 162]. Is this a valid critique of the constraints of attractiveness for women? What does the novel as a whole say about the relation between appearance and power?

In one of Arturo’s statements to Norval Sanderson, he says, "I get glimpses of the horror of normalcy. Each of these innocents on the street is engulfed by a terror of their own ordinariness. They would do anything to be unique" [p. 223]. Is he right? Do most people fear being ordinary?

The reviewer for Kirkus wrote that the novel is about "love and hubris in a carnival family." How does love motivate the main characters in the novel? Who is guilty of hubris? What are the consequences of this overreaching ambition?

Why do you think this book has risen to the status of "cult classic?"

Monday, September 25, 2017

Book Discussion Questions:

Why do the two stories make sense together?

In comparing Burnham and Holmes what are some similarities/differences?

  • both handsome and blue eyed
  • Burnham tall, Holmes small and slight
  • Both able to gain trust of others with relative ease
  • both self-made men
  • Both created great facades: the castle and the white city which is is to evoke sheer awe. The facades of the fair buildings are meant to appear as marble and are in fact painted staff. 
In what ways is the Columbian Exposition, as the subtitle to Larson's book claims, "the fair that changed America"?
  • Shredded Wheat cereal, Cracker Jacks, Aunt Jemima's pancake mix, Juicy Fruit chewing gum
  • choosing Westinghouse over General Electric, Burnham established the superiority of AC power over DC
  • clean water 
  • Preventing crime
  • A carpenter named Elias Disney was among the thousands of men who helped build the White City; he would later share memories of that experience with his son, Walter (p. 153). Readers who have visited Disneyworld will undoubtedly see echoes of the White City in Walt Disney's vision: in the lake that flanks the park, in the careful landscaping and utter devotion to cleanliness, in the proliferation of carefully engineered, but "seemingly accidental moments of charm" like those Olmsted recommended for the White City (p. 276). The White City also shaped another magical city: L. Frank Baum visited the fair and patterned his Oz on it (p. 373). It is in these idealized cities, perhaps, that those of us less attuned to architectural history make our closest emotional contact with Burnham's vision and with the legacy of the fair.
Do you think a fair of this size could happen in today’s America? What advantages or disadvantages can you foresee with such a project?

What did you learn about architecture? What do you think the fair contributed to the architectural landscape in the United States?

What is the relationship between the White City and the Black City that surrounds it?
  • The White City was Burnham's dream of what a city could be
  • The White City is a dream, offered so much to Chicago when it was in operation but the black city took over after it closed 
  • The White City became the black city-many buildings burned
What do the "secondary characters" contribute to the primary story?
  • Frederick Law Olmsted, George W. G. Ferris, and Patrick Prendergast
How does Larson’s description of the time period help set the mood for the story? Did any of the descriptions surprise you?

What narrative techniques does Larson use to create suspense in the book?

At the end of The Devil in the White City, Larson writes "The thing that entranced me about Chicago in the Gilded Age was the city's willingness to take on the impossible in the name of civic honor, a concept so removed from the modern psyche that two wise readers of early drafts of this book wondered why Chicago was so avid to win the world's fair in the first place" [p. 393]. What motives, in addition to "civic honor," drove Chicago to build the Fair? In what ways might the desire to "out-Eiffel Eiffel" and to show New York that Chicago was more than a meat-packing backwater be seen as problematic?

How was Holmes able to get away with so many murders without becoming suspect? Were you surprised by how easy it was for him to commit crimes without being caught?
  • Could this many murders and/or disappearances have gone undetected in a different city?What about today?
At the end of the book, Larson suggests that "Exactly what motivated Holmes may never be known" [p. 395]. What possible motives are exposed in The Devil in the White City? Why is it important to try to understand the motives of a person like Holmes?

Tuesday, July 25, 2017

Book Discussion: In the Heart of the Sea: The Tragedy of the Whaleship Essex

Did you find one narrator to be more reliable than the other?

Was Captain Pollard a coward?

What do you think happened to the african american crew members?

What would have you done within the first few hours of the shipwreck.

Would Chase have been a better captain than Pollard?

Were there any moves that the survivors made that you would have done differently?

If you were a survivor would you have stayed on Henderson Island or gone on to sail?

Tuesday, May 23, 2017

Book Discussion: Kitchens of the Great Midwest by J. Ryan Stradal

Which story did you enjoy most? Was there one you didn't care for?

Throughout the book characters intersected in interesting ways. What are some that you made note of?

Which characters story allowed you to connect with Eva the most?

Food is one of the main themes in this book. What are examples from the book where food brought people together or apart. Do you have any examples from your own life?

There are times where the author seems to be poking fun at foodie culture. Can you find some examples of this commentary?

Eva remains very mysterious throughout the novel. What is it about her that draws people to her?

Cindy has always claimed she would never be a good mother. Why does she insist on this and do you believe her? Do you think Eva was better off without her?

The recipes prepared in Eva's feast at the end of the book chronicle her memories and life. How do foods or recipes play a role in your own memory or life story?