Hal Mayforth

Hal Mayforth

What’s the name of the area of the brain that produces dopamine? How many stars are on the Alaskan flag? Can you name the former teen idol who voiced Captain Shang in Disney’s animated film Mulan?

If so, Pub Quiz at the Graduate College D-Bar may be just the pastime for you. (The answers, by the way, are the substantia nigra, eight, and Donny Osmond.)

Every other Wednesday night, Pub Quiz organizers Jordan Boyd-Graber and Benjamin Gross put together six rounds of challenging, obscure, and humorous trivia to test the 40-plus participants who show up to compete for the evening’s title. Boyd-Graber and Gross read the questions aloud, and each team writes its answers on a score sheet. Prizes (usually snack foods) are awarded to the highest-scoring team in each round. The top overall team is awarded a final prize and bragging rights for the next fortnight.

Pub Quiz is lively and fast-paced, with lighthearted trash-talking between the teams and triumphant cheers at right answers. Rob Hunter, a Pub Quiz regular and politics grad student, said he enjoys the event “for the same reason I like the D-Bar: It’s full of incredibly smart people who also enjoy being loud, silly, and generally obnoxious.”

Boyd-Graber and Gross, graduate students in computer science and history of science respectively, use a combination of reference books and the Internet to come up with their questions. In addition to “general-knowledge” rounds, the two keep the players on their toes with various theme rounds, such as an audio round on the top musical hits of 1978.

“We try to be a little more academic than the typical pub quiz,” said Boyd-Graber. The contest “definitely rewards an eccentric memory,” added Gross.

Annie Twitty, a grad student in history and another regular player, said the competition gives her a chance to get to know members of her department outside the seminar room or the library. It also helps her put her non-academic knowledge to work. “It’s good to know that the hours I’ve spent watching TV and movies and listening to music actually amount to something tangible,” she said, “like bags of Doritos and Chips Ahoy.”

By Isia Jasiewicz ’10

Princeton has added a new tagline to its name. Well, maybe not officially, but 700 students and counting are now calling Old Nassau “Princeton University: Where Your Best Hasn’t Been Good Enough Since 1746.”

Another 30 call it “Princeton: Where No One Has Slept for More than 7 Hours Since 1749.” (Students for the first three years may not have been good enough, but apparently they weren’t yet insomniacs.)

These new slogans were coined on Facebook, the popular social networking Web site that, among other functions, permits students to form “groups,” or discussion boards. When a Facebook user joins a group, its title is listed on his or her profile page.

“Facebook groups are just an alternative way to define yourself,” said Christine Schoppe ’10, a member of Native Americans at Princeton and Mathey ’10 (a group of Mathey College Class of 2010 members). “Looking over someone’s groups, you can instantly see their interests.”

Not all groups that Princeton students join have to do with the Univers-ity; many are listed on Facebook under “universal” networks, meaning that anybody can participate. Still, there are so many Princeton-specific groups that they’re nearly impossible to number; there are more than 500, the number at which Facebook stops counting.

Among these are groups based on cultural backgrounds: “Her Majesty’s Princetonians: Britons at Princeton,” “Half-Asians at Princeton.” Other groups advocate for causes: “Princeton Students Against Quintiles,” “Princetonians for a Campus Without Guns.”

A sizable contingent of groups forms around pop-culture references. One of the most popular is “Batman Went to Princeton,” which has attracted 625 members since its founding in 2006 to boast that in the film Batman Begins, Bruce Wayne attends Princeton.

Some groups reflect real-world happenings, however. After Princeton dropped to the second spot in U.S. News & World Report’s college rankings, the group “Princeton Is No. 2 Because We’re Gone” was founded by Max Staller ’08 “to articulate how we miss Princeton. It really is the ‘best damn place of all.’”  

And though there is no empirical evidence that Facebook believes this particular slogan to be accurate, 19 Facebook users do declare: “Princeton is better than Yale.”