James Joyce taught briefly at the Clifton School in Dalkey, a seaside suburb of Dublin, during the spring of 1904. To commemorate the centennial-plus-eight of that schoolmasterly interlude, attendees at this summer’s ReJoyce Jubilee―a smaller, less abstemious version of Bloomsday― were asked to compose a sample test question in the gleefully subversive spirit of the wizard of wordplay. The following is a selective compendium of those inventions, transcribed from boggy cocktail napkins and edited with wild(e) abandon. Please scroll down to the end for selected answers.
What did Leopold Bloom drink with his famous Gorgonzola sandwich?
a. Cantrell & Cochrane Ginger Ale (Aromatic)
b. A mug of Murphy’s Stout
c. O’Connell’s famous old Dublin ale
d. A glass of burgundy
e. Whiskey falling into a glass
f. A sybaritic sip of Celtic coffee
g. Rich white milk from dewsilky cattle
Where did that postmeridian repast take place?
a. The Bird & Baby
b. Basil’s Bar
c. Davy Byrne’s (a moral pub)
d. The Pale Vampire (a crepuscular café)
e. Earwicker’s (a tavern in the town)
f. The Moon Under Water
Pick (or invent) a name for an imaginary Irish pub band.
a. Icarus Surf Wax
b. Signed, Céilidh, Delivered
c. Giggle Pending
d. X. K. Ottis
e. Sugar Parrots
f. Pennywhistler’s Mother
Circle each essential ingredient of Irish whiskey.
f. Lacrimae rerum
Select one substance to sweeten your Irish breakfast tea.
a. Honey soit qui mal y pense
b. Glucosi fan tutti
c. Treacle-down economics
d. Crushed crystal, at threepence per pound
e. A spoonful of siúcra
f. Nice beet . . . but can you dance to it?
What type of sugar is preferred by Sikh pastry chefs?
Underline all the recipients of degrees from Trinity College, Dublin.
a. James Augustine Aloysius Joyce
b. Dominic West
c. Cashel Boyle O’Connor Fitzmaurice Tisdall Farrell
d. Oscar Fingal O’Flahertie Wills Wilde
e. Courtney Love
f. Narcissus Marsh
g. Basil Fotherington-Thomas
Which academic honors are offered at York University?
a. Cum laude
b. Magna cum laude
c. Summa cum laude
d. Summat cum laude
e. All of the aboon
How did you spend your summer vacation?
a. In media res
b. At a seaside music hall
c. Hiking the Ballyhoura Hills
d. In Ibiza, with Tabitha
e. In media rays
Why did the Slovenian cross the border into Northern Italy?
a. To enroll at the Berlitz Language School
b. To order a caffè lungo molto macchiato
c. To keep a tryst in Trst
d. To get to the other side
e. Deus ex macchiato
Zinc carefully, then circle all the names of Montparnasse cafés.
b. Le Coeur Brisé
c. Au Chat Noir
d. Le Rotonde
e. Closerie des Lilas
f. La Coupole
g. Beaux Sartres
Fill in the blanks, using squid ink and a porcupine quill.
You will receive 3.1415+ pointillions for each correct answer.
~ In the old song, who awoke at Tim Finnegan’s wake? __________________________
~ In another old song, what was in the jar? ___________________ What proof? ______
~ Who recorded the “jar-o” song: The Dubliners, Thin Lizzy, Metallica, or The Pogues?__
~ When is a pun not a pun? _______________________________________________
Which of the following sounds most appealing to you, right now?
a. Venusian lovephiltres
b. Nettles and rainwater
c. Birdseed and desuetude
d. Some ripe shamefaced peaches
e. Whiskey in the jar
f. A glass of burgundy
In Ulysses, only one of these remarks was not attributed to “the pussens.”
f. “Prr. Scratch my head.”
What is the must-have fashion accessory for dapper young swans?
b. A down vest
c. An extra-long ascot
e. A cygnet ring
Choose some words to live by, just for today.
a. Carpe diem
b. Carpe noctem
c. Ex chaotis pulchritudo
d. Se non è vero, è bel trovatore
e. Gaudeamus igitur
f. Kindness is the bottom line
g. Making it up as we goes along
Now go forth and party like it’s nineteen-aughty-four. And remember: Always polish your glosses with what you know.
Q: What did Leopold Bloom drink with his famous Gorgonzola sandwich?
A: A glass of burgundy.
Q: Where did that postmeridian repast take place?
A: Davy Byrne’s (a moral pub).
NOTE: The official name of the Dublin establishment is Davy Byrnes, minus the possessive apostrophe that Joyce added in Ulysses. (But: Finnegans Wake!)
Q: Circle each essential ingredient of Irish whiskey.
A: Water; barley; time.
Q: What type of sugar is preferred by Sikh pastry chefs?
Q: Underline all the recipients of degrees from Trinity College, Dublin.
A: Dominic West; Oscar Fingal O’Flahertie Wills Wilde; Courtney Love.
Q: Which academic honors are offered at York University?
A: Cum laude; Magna cum laude; Summa cum laude.
Q: Zinc carefully, then circle all the names of Montparnasse cafés.
A: Le Rotonde; Closerie des Lilas; La Coupole.
Q: In the old song, who awoke at Tim Finnegan’s wake?
A: Tim Finnegan.
Q: In another old song, what was in the jar?
Q: What proof?
A: Possible answers: (1) Any appropriate number between 80 and 120.
(2) “Aromatic residue in the bottom of the bottle” (or other evidentiary wordplay).
Q: Who recorded the “jar-o” song: The Dubliners, Thin Lizzy, Metallica, or The Pogues?
A: All of the above, brilliantly.
Q: When is a pun not a pun?
A: Every second Shatterday in Jejune, but never on sundaes.
Q: In Ulysses, only one of these remarks was not attributed to “the pussens.”
Copyright © 2012 by Deborah Boliver Boehm, used by permission of The Wylie Agency LLC.
Image source: konradfoerstner