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Test your wits

The holidays past, the winter doldrums upon us, some distraction, some entertainment, some event would be welcome. Let me suggest, if you are local, Quiz Night at Trinity Episcopal Church in Towson.

It is tomorrow night, January 21, 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. or so. For $20 a person, you will get an excellent dinner—you may want to supply your own booze and a few snacks—and an opportunity to pit your wits with the teammates at your table against the competing tables.

The quizzes themselves, some questions easy, some questions challenging, over a variety of topics, have been compiled by an expert quizmaster, who will preside over the activities.

There is no point in being coy here; I am the quizmaster.

Trinity Church is at 120 Allegheny Avenue in Towson. You can call the church office today at 410-823-3588 to reserve space at a table for yourself or your party. Or you could show up a little before 6 p.m. tomorrow and a place will be found for you.

Proceeds go toward the expenses for the church’s youth group’s pilgrimage, so your evening of entertainment will also benefit a worthy cause.



Posted by John McIntyre at 10:25 AM | | Comments (9)


"There is no point in being coy here; I am the quizmaster."


Prof. McI.,

John, just curious if tonight's Quiz Night skill-testing questions are both secularly and religiously in nature, since your venue for the event is your Trinity Church/ Towson? (Goes without saying that you have to keep the tenor of the evening pretty much on the moral high-ground. No blasphemies, or crudities. HA!)

Hopefully, you've taken a few cues from my fellow Canadian expat, veteran "Jeopardy" TV host (that OTHER Alex), Trebek. Even though his manner is generally on the more serious, slightly pedantic side, he does exhibit that occasional charming Canadian self-deprecating sense of humor, or a quick off-the-cuff zinger, which appears to set most contestants at ease.

He also appears especially determined to get his foreign (non-English) words and phrase pronunciations just perfectly spot-on. IMO, a bit of a showoff in that regard. (I suggest you keep the foreign content of your quizzes to a minimum.)

John, maybe you could go w/ the fake mustache, although Trebek got rid of his permanently, several years back. (Word is his wife got tired of it.)

Curious about your church's youth group's pilgrimage program. I doubt it's comparable to say Mormon youth mission work where their young people of faith go off into the world for a few years (?) to proselytize for their Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints?

Rather, I could see your pilgrimages as perhaps entailing all-expense-paid trips for Trinity Church's youth to specific noted holy places of worship, or historically significant sacred sites, say in the Holy Land, or even closer to home in the U.S. Just guessing here.

Nonetheless, in my view, a very commendable cause.

Best of luck this evening quizmaster McIntyre. Hope it's a rousing success, and you raise oodles of cash for the cause.

Perhaps you might want to don your straw boater to give a little additional class and flair to the occasion? Needless to say, bow-tie and suspenders are de riqeuer sartorial accessories.



In my last post, that should have read ..."secular and religious in nature", rather than secularly and religiously in nature".

At the last minute before clicking on "Post" I changed "themed", to "in nature", and neglected to catch the required dropping of the "ly" in both the words "secular" and "religious".

Oh well.


Alex --

The quiz: Topics are varied, and obviously I can't let them out in advance of the event. Some questions should be easy, some obscure; I have some experience in gauging the range in these operations.

The pilgrimage: Part of the Journey to Adulthood program. Spiritual pilgrimage with supervision.

My attire: Dinner jacket.

Prof. McI.,

Thanks for those clarifications, John.

Clearly, your youth group's pilgrimage program involves not so much far-flung treks to sacred destinations, but more of a guided spiritual journey of the mind and soul, if you will--- an intensive Christian (Anglican)-rooted educative exploration of the honored texts, tenets, and rituals of the faith. In other words, a kind of ongoing spiritual mentoring exercise, to fully prepare the maturing child of faith for his, or her future place as an adult member of Towson's Trinity Church's full congregation. (Sorry for sounding so formal, there.)

Although, as veteran comedian Jackie Mason* might say, "a little trip to the Holy Land couldn't hoit, either."

*Interestingly, the younger Mason was a full-fledged ordained rabbi prior to opting for what turned out to be a highly successful career in standup comedy.

(Except for that time on the Ed Sullivan show where he was permanently banned from old stone-face's variety program, over an alleged obscene hand gesture (by Mason) directed toward host Sullivan.

For most folks watching the telecast at home and those in the live theater audience, Mason's hand gesture was about as obvious as Mohammed Ali's famous "phantom knockout punch" that felled heavy-weight opponent Sonny Liston up in Maine, back in the '60s.

There was definitely more gelt (cash) to be made as a young, rising Jewish comic in the Catskills' Borscht Belt way back in the late '50s and into the '60s, then later the burgeoning nightclub comedy circuit, and ultimately guest appearances on early network TV, than teaching Old Testament parables, the Holy Writ chapter-and-verse, and the Torah in some obscure little Reform temple in Brooklyn, NY., or Yonkers**. (Not that there's anything wrong w/ that. )

Filthy lucre will always win out in the end. (Not really.)

**Since I was a kid I always liked the sound of the town name, Yonkers. Flushing, NY was also a catchy name for a town borough (?). I guess it had something to do w/ the obvious "flushing"-and-"toilet" association. Thankfully, I out grew the adolescent potty humor phase.

Being a huge tennis buff, I would follow the U.S. Open National Championships from Flushing Meadows, every year.

Thank you very much for supporting Journey to Adulthood. I'm a J2A leader out here in Ellicott City going with our kids to Iona later this summer.


I believe you and your young J2A charges will have a most wonderful time come this summer visiting the Isle of Iona, which back in the era of the revered St. Columba (6th C/ AD) was part of a greater expansive bifurcated coastal territory known back then as Dalraida.

This region of myriad archipelago, inlets, and peninsulas encompassed a segment of the north-east corner of what is today's Ulster, and across the sea bridge included the present day districts of Argyll, Lochaber, and Bute in western Scotland.

In my own admittedly limited experience----a most memorable visit to the area back in mid-summer of 1996---- I had this sense that the entire region of historic Dalraida just exuded ancient history, and that one could almost feel the ethereal presence of parted old souls.

That summer of '96 I kind of self-toured most of Scotland by rented car in eleven days----from Glasgow, up to the glorious west Highlands (visited my ancestral castle, Eilean Donan), then over to Inverness in the north-east (sadly nary a 'monster' sighting along the great Loch), down thru the Spey River Valley to check out the various famed whiskey works, and finally off to to Edinburg, all steeped in rich Scottish history and past glory.

Yet aside from the emotion of being up in MaCrae country, touring the restored Eilean Donan castle, and an ancient abandoned kirk close by w/ its neglected graveyard, all the headstones bearing the surname "MaCrae", and the occasional "Matheson", my time in Argylshire and Bute proved to be the next most moving and mystical of my entire Scotland adventure.

Unfortunately I never did make it out to Iona where the aforementioned St. Columba established his Celtic Christian mission---his base for scholarship, religious teaching, and dedicated hand-rendered transcription of the Holy scriptures during what has been termed the early Middle Ages.

Although many have ascribed the entire creation, penning and illustration of the glorious Book of Kells* to St. Columba himself, most current historians of the period feel he may have initiated early work on the revered tome, but actually the bulk of this world famed illustrated holy book was completed a couple of centuries after St. Columba's passing.

However one cannot understate the impact that St. Columba, (and his fellow missionaries) had in spreading the Celtic Christian Gospel throughout Scotland, establishing an estimated 300 churches in the land. The once dominant Pictish druidic/ pagan religion gradually faded into history as the power of the Christian faith took hold during the time of St. Columba, and beyond.

Kem, I hope you have time in your Scotland itinerary to take in the magic, and
sheer scenic beauty of Kilmartin Glen in Argylshire/ Bute. This enchanted wee glen offers the most ancient historical 'monuments' (individual archeological sites) of any district in all of present day Scotland. There are remnants of civilizations-past from the Neolithic stone age, to the Iron, and Bronze ages---- amazing standing stones, burial cairns, chambered (underground) cairns, stone prayer circles, and distinctive early petroglyphs, mostly rounded 'cup' marks, coils, and such.

In the actual town of Kilmartin you'll find a modest-sized late-medieval era kirk w/ fascinating inscribed elongated, flattish stone grave markers w/ incised reliefs of warriors, common-folk, and maidens past. As I recall there may be a few old Celtic standing crosses in the cemetery, as well.

As well, try to visit the ancient Dalraidan former hill-fort of Dunadd, which for centuries was the site of the coronation of many a Scottish/ Irish king, and several Pictish, and Viking sovereigns before them. This outcrop of ancient granite, thought to be a former island, physically imposes itself on the surrounding flat pastoral landscape, w/ the meandering River Add traversing the bucolic plain just below.
There is little evidence of Dunadd's past glory, save a partial brick-and-mortar base of one fallen fort wall at the summit, a curious crudely carved footprint, and what is believed to be an early Pictish carved pictograph (no pun intended) of a running boar.

The footprint depression in the solid granite summit is thought to be where a future king would place his foot during the coronation ritual. Just an educated guess it seems.

Kem, I hope this little impromptu travelogue adds even more anticipatory intrigue and excitement to your summer sojourn to the old sod. Your kids (and you, of course) will have so many treasured memories that will hopefully last a lifetime.

I wish you God speed, and a safe, and wonderful trip.

*There's a very charming, beautifully crafted little 2-D animated film that was released in 2009 called "The Secret of Kells". It's historical fiction, but there's enough factual integrity in the film, and fine story telling, as well, that I think by showing it to your J2A charges, it might be a neat way to get them into the spirit of what they'll be experiencing this summer on their trip to Iona. Not, I would guess, that they aren't already completely stoked about their upcoming overseas travels.


I loved your descriptions and thoughts on Scotland. Thank you. I've been doing the Journey to Adulthood leader gig for many years and my upcoming pilgrimage to Iona will be my second. This time, as last, we will spend an entire week living with the Iona Community, creating a deep map of a small area of Scotland rather than a broader map of the country. We’ll have ample opportunity to hike the island and we’ll take a boat trip to the island of Staffa. (Supposedly the inspiration for Mendelssohn’s “Hebrides” Overture.) We’ll also have some little time to tour Edinburgh. Unfortunately for logistical reasons, this group, unlike my first group, will be unable to visit Aberdeen and St. Andrew’s Cathedral where Seabury was consecrated first bishop of the ECUSA. While most folks would regard a week of dorm living and twice daily worship in an ancient stone abbey with 27 American teenagers as hell, it’s actually pretty cool. The exploration of Scotland that you propose will have to wait till I go back there on vacation.

Samuel Johnson visited Iona in his travels to the Western Island with James Boswell and wrote afterward:

"Far from me and from my friends, be such frigid philosophy as may conduct us indifferent and unmoved over any ground which has been dignified by wisdom, bravery, or virtue. That man is little to be envied, whose patriotism would not gain force upon the plain of Marathon, or whose piety would not grow warmer among the ruins of Iona!"

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About John McIntyre
John McIntyre, mild-mannered editor for a great metropolitan newspaper, has fussed over writers’ work, to sporadic expressions of gratitude, for thirty years. He is The Sun’s night content production manager and former head of its copy desk. He also teaches editing at Loyola University Maryland. A former president of the American Copy Editors Society, a native of Kentucky, a graduate of Michigan State and Syracuse, and a moderate prescriptivist, he writes about language, journalism, and arbitrarily chosen topics. If you are inspired by a spirit of contradiction, comment on the posts or write to him at
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