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Posts Tagged ‘irrational fear of high school classmates’

Quizo Review: Brittingham’s, Lafayette Hill

Posted by kozemp on June 10, 2009

I’ve been asked over the last two months why I stopped hosting Quizo at the Dark Horse. There are a bunch of reasons. The biggest, most important reason, is that I go to Drexel at night and scheduling my classes around Quizo was becoming a gigantic pain in the ass. Drexel requires a truly obscene number of courses for a  degree and their rostering already seems like it’s done with an orangutan and a fuzzy dartboard, and when you take an entire day of the week out of the equation getting one’s degree in less than 12 years becomes less and less likely.

The other, lesser reason… well, take what happened to me last Friday.

Anne (of former Dark Horse Quizo powerhouse Das Boot) is running the Philadelphia Triathlon (and biking and swimming it, I suppose) to raise money for the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society, so she had a karaoke thing at Fuji Mountain to assist in the raising of money. I went down there and… well, honestly, Japanese karaoke isn’t really my thing, but I’m a sucker for charity and it’s nice to hang out with friends.

After an hour or so some more people showed up and when I was introduced to one of them he looked at me and shouted, “hey! You’re the Quizo guy!”

And there’s the other reason I quit.

I used to play Quizo all the time, but since I started hosting at the Dark Horse my participation as a player has been limited to very occasional trips to the Moron Quizo (called such because it is stupidly, ridiculously easy) and the Milkshake Quizo (called such because the bar serves milkshakes). In terms of the actual Quizo game content these places are both laughable (though Nick’s wasn’t always, a story to be told later). My friends and I go to these games for the food and to hang out, not for any kind of actual competition.

My first post-Dark Horse Quizo experience was about a month and a half ago at the Ugly Moose in Roxborough. It was, to put it kindly, the worst Quizo I’ve ever been to in my life. Even the Moron Quizo isn’t BAD, it’s just easy. This place, though, fucking TERRIBLE. Stupid, vague questions: my favorite was “what is the second-most purchased food at carnivals?” Seriously? How the fuck do you research that? Is there good national data on carnival concessions? I also liked “what recent movie became the highest-grossing foreign-language film in history?” and being told that the answer is Crouching Tiger, I guess because 9 years ago is “recent” and everyone in this country speaks fucking Aramaic. The final highlight was the “name that tune” round where, because the idiot asking the questions was nowhere near anyone playing, everyone in the bar was using Shazam. Ridiculous. Awful. Truly the Worst. Quizo. EVER.

After that horrifying experience there was a gap in my Quizo-playing experience (precipitated by Math 122) until last night, when we played at Brittingham’s. It’s the faux-Irish joint on Germantown Pike about 50 feet from the General.

Beware: Anti-TARDIS. (Not as big on the inside as the outside.)

Beware: Anti-TARDIS. (Not as big on the inside as the outside.)

The verdict: surprisingly excellent. 

I tend to have a rough go of it at places like this, primarily because every time I go to a bar west of Rising Sun Avenue I spend the whole evening paralyzed by an irrational fear that I will see someone I went to high school with. The fact that I can now say, “oh, you’re a securities lawyer, that’s terribly interesting, me, well, I put shit into outer space for a living” does not matter. The fact that in the 14 years since I graduated from high school (last night was to the day, in fact) this has never happened does not matter.  Every time I go to one of these places I am gripped by this unreasonable terror. However, last night was made slightly bearable because I was surrounded by five other people – literally surrounded, I sat back in the corner farthest from the rest of the world and directed the other people at my table to shield me from possible onlookers – and because I had both Quizo and a Phillies game to distract myself from the possibility of impending social apocalypse. 

The Phillies game, obviously, was awful, made more so by having Mets fans on my team, but the overall Quizo experience was excellent. The questions were well-varied in terms of subject and difficulty – some were actually quite hard, though I have no quibble about their level of ridiculousness. They were just hard. While I have yet to play in anyone’s Quizo, not even the vaunted Johnny Goodtimes, who seems to think of it as collaborative performance art in quite the same way I did, I had two exchanges with the guy last night that convinced me his game is one I’ll definitely want to play in when I am able (approximately every 11 weeks or so).

The first came in the speed round, which was “Famous Quotations.” I immediately kicked myself for never thinking of that during my gig at the Dark Horse; as a speed round choice it’s quite brilliant.  One of the quotes was the infamous “Nuts!” from the Battle of the Bulge. I said the right answer – General Anthony McAuliffe of the 101st Airborne – but then said, “he can’t want that. It’s way too obscure. He must want Patton.” This, as we all know, is Classic Quizo Mistake #2: overthinking. After we heard the answers (and we were marked wrong) I went up and talked to the guy.

“General McAuliffe, man, that’s a tough pull,” I said.

“Yeah, most people put Patton,” he said.

“I actually knew it because I’ve seen Band of Brothers like 12 times,” I said. “But I figured no one else had so I changed it to Patton.”

The guy actually smiled. “I watched Band of Brothers again this weekend,” he said. “For about, yeah, the twelfth time sounds right.”

I thought, this is my kind of Quizo guy.

The final round was “Name That Tune,” but in a move that surprised the hell out of me NO ONE WAS CHEATING. I was tempted to use Shazam myself, figuring, as at the Ugly Moose, everyone else at the bar would be doing so as well. But they weren’t. I looked around and didn’t see a single person furtively stealing glances at an iPhone under the table. No one who had gotten 5s and 6s in the previous rounds suddenly got a 10. There was a Name That Tune round, which I have in the past said is essentially unworkable in the age of Shazam, and EVERYONE IN THE BAR PLAYED IT STRAIGHT. And again the questions were excellent, a really well-rounded mix of years and genres. After the round we were talking to him and the variety of songs was mentioned.

He said, “well, I figure, ten questions, five decades of popular music, the 60s through now, so I put in two songs from each decade, and then spread them out across the round.”

That is almost EXACTLY the way I used to think about how to arrange a speed round, balancing what questions go in and which questions go where. That sort of strategic thinking is, to my mind, the mark of an excellent Quizo guy. And even though he doesn’t quite have the flair or panache of a Goodtimes or, dare I say, myself, he injects enough personal humor into the game that it isn’t just a rote recital of questions and answers. I especially liked the constant good-natured needling of Jon and his kids for being Mets fans, and at us for playing with them. There’s something to be said for being good-natured in that position; admittedly it is not something I did very well.

Bottom line: this guy is good. And here’s an extra bonus: the food at this place is pretty fucking great. Quizo night is “burger night,” and while at the Ugly Moose and its Worst Quizo in the Hemisphere all that means is that you can get one absurdly-expensive and badly-cooked burger at a slight discount, at Brittingham’s it’s a full-on cheeseburger and fries for 5 bucks. Let me tell you, it might have been the best five-dollar burger I’ve ever had.

In fact, as far as I can tell, the only downside to this Quizo is the stupid name of the bar. Brittinghams? Seriously? I said to Nick last night, isn’t calling your pub Brittingham’s the real-world equivalent of calling the department store on the Simpsons “Costington’s?” Just… ugh.

Anyway, Brittingham’s, Tuesdays at 8:30, excellent food, excellent Quizo. I’ll be there next week and then, er, sometime in mid-September. Highly recommended.



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