Like a Literary Lion | Newberry

Like a Literary Lion

I was leafing through the Interwebs to find out if anyone obscure enough to merit a blog had a birthday in March. Along the way, I picked up a mammoth pile of trivia which I thought I would present to you as a quiz rather than as a mere blog. Just a gesture toward the new century before interactive entertainment itself becomes passé.

A poet whose birthday falls in March (the 10th) is Ina Coolbrith, the first person ever to be named a state’s Poet Laureate (California, natch.) Name one other poet laureate. (Not including Michael S. Harper, born March 18, who was the first poet laureate of Rhode Island.) No fair declaring yourself Poet Laureate of your block.

Max Shulman, whose birthday falls on the 14th, was the author of a large number of humorous novels, which were seized on by Hollywood and Broadway. How many television shows, plays, and movies based on works by Shulman have you seen, and would you voluntarily see any of them again? Not a reflection on Shulman, so much: more a matter that a LOT of his stuff was turned into one star movies. (Clue: anyone recall what Bob Denver did before he appeared on Gilligan’s Island?)

Explain astrologically the fact that Vita Sackville-West and Mickey Spillane have the same birthday (March 9). Okay, how about Robert Frost and Tennessee Williams (AND Erica Jong: March 26)?

Invisible Man author Ralph Ellison (March 1) was named Ralph Waldo Ellison. Give three reasons you’re glad he dropped his middle name besides the possibility of confusing him with American philosopher Ralph Waldo Emerson.

Dav Pilkey, author of the Captain Underpants books, writes the Dumb Bunnies books under the pseudonym Sue Denim. (Say it out loud.) The number of websites which state this without so much as cracking a smile is legion. IS the Internet making it impossible to get a joke?

Two March birthday authors shared an intense disgust for politicians. One was former Naval officer William Lederer (March 31) and the other was former Hollywood agent Richard Condon (March 18). Which one wrote The Ugly American and which one wrote The Manchurian candidate? For extra credit, which one wrote that one of his characters took in enough cannabis smoke to allow a Lipan Apache with a blanket to transmit the complete works of Tennyson? (He is considered one of the masters of the bizarre simile in American literature.)

Sid Fleischmann (March 16) wrote his first book on magic tricks you could do with a book of matches. After several more books of magic tricks, he wrote a series of mystery novels, and then wrote humorous children’s books. Which is he most famous for? (Hint: Dav Pilkey may one day win the Sid Fleischmann Award.)

Louis Dearborn LaMoore (born March 18) is best known for westerns written under what name? (Ten points OFF your total score if you don’t get this one.)

Tell me anything you want to about 18th century writer Tobias Smollett (March 19) without mentioning the TV series Empire.

Theodore Geisel (born March 2) became an advertising illustrator, but after ten years wrote a book called And To Think That I Saw it On Mulberry Street, setting off a string of classic books. He originally pronounced his pen name in German fashion, to rhyme with Joyce, but came around to the correct pronunciation because it rhymed with Mother Goose. What was it? (Hint; his father always wanted him to be a doctor,)

Don’t lose much sleep over these. March will be over before we know it, and who has time to mail all those birthday cards?

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