That's Something You Don't See Every Day, Chauncey

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Posts Tagged ‘quizo’

I’m all dressed up and ready to play.

Posted by kozemp on October 1, 2009

When I got home from work yesterday I felt… not bad, not sick, but a little weird. Head felt a bit funny. Let’s say that systems were not operating at 100%. So I had an easy night planned. Sit around, watch some TV, get to bed. Nothing serious.

Early in the evening I’m fixing my dinner between catching up on DVR’d episodes of Bones when my father says, “hey, do you want to play Quizo tonight?”

Now Wednesday was normally the night of the Moron Quizo at Nick’s Roast Beef. We haven’t played there in a while and even though the Quizo is super-easy we usually have a good time. I start thinking, okay, I’ll only have a little bit of food now and eat at the bar… I’ll call Nick and Reg and Sabs, get the old team together… I can DVR Glee, and the Phillies game will be on at the bar… yeah, this sounds like a decent idea.

However, in what would later be revealed as a moment of great cosmic providence, instead of just agreeing, for some inexplicable reason I say, “where?”

My father says, “I don’t know the name of the place, it’s at 3rd and Chestnut.”

I think, what the fuck?

I say, “what the fuck?”

I don’t know anything about a Quizo at 3rd and Chestnut, and the thought of heading downtown with a headache is strike one against me going.

“The bar is owned by a Girard graduate,” my father says. “Fisher told me about it.” My father and Fisher both teach at Girard College.

“Let me get this straight,” I say. “You want me to go to a bar downtown, the name of which you don’t know, with you and FISHER, to play Quizo?”

“I’ll call Mister Fisher and see what I can learn about this Quizo.” While he dials the phone I realize that going to a bar with Fisher means we will likely be there until the middle of the night – strike two.

After he hangs up my dad says, “okay, the name of the bar is National Mechanics.”

When I hear that I flash back ten-plus years to a play I wrote in college. The play itself was remarkably wretched – I found the last remaining copy of it a couple months back and oh, god, it was so bad – but it had a running gag in it that the characters hung out in a bar called Cadillac Ranch that, instead of posters or sports memorabilia, hung used auto parts on the wall.

Give me a break, I was 20 years old and drunk.

Anyway, I remember this bit I wrote about a bar with the automotive décor and I think, surely someone hasn’t actually DONE this horrible thing.

I say to my father, “let me see what I can find out.”

I go upstairs and Google this place and learn that thankfully the bar is NOT what I had originally feared, that it’s just in some kind of historic building in Olde City called the National Mechanic’s building. I also learned as I perused the bar’s website that whoever wrote the site’s copy should be shot. “The space is alive, bursting with vibrancy and dynamism[…]” Whoever wrote that sentence, FUCKING KILL YOURSELF. Put the English language down before you hurt someone with it.

While trudging through the horrifying swamp of overwrought mediocrity that was the promo copy, I come across the information on the Quizo and read two words that hit me like a brick between the eyeballs:

Irish John.

Strike. Fucking. THREE.

I say, loudly enough to be heard downstairs, “oh HELL no!”

“What?” my father shouts.

“There is no fucking WAY I am going to an Irish John Quizo,” I shout back. This is the guy who did the Quizo at the Dark Horse before I did. His game is neither very good nor particularly pleasant.

“So you’re not going?”

“No,” I say. “I am fucking well not going.” Compared to an evening with my father and Fisher at an Irish John Quizo, sitting at home watching TV is a veritable orgasm.

So I stay home to watch TV and try to get rid of my nagging headache. The last few episodes of Bones on my DVR: watched. Special features on the DCAU Public Enemies: watched. Glee: watched. Life is good.

After Glee I turn on the Phillies game. They’re up 10-3. The Braves are losing. The Phillies are about to clinch their third straight pennant. Pretty damn sweet! I start hunting around my desk for my shoes – when the game is over I’m going to want to head down to Cottman and Frankford and see what’s going on. I start to mutter to myself: “god dammit, where are my fucking shoes… here somewhere… so much crap in this room… what the FUCK?” The last comes as I learn my shoes ended up being behind the toolbox under my desk, raising any number of questions, not the least of which is the recurring theme of “why do I still have this toolbox?”

I finally get my shoes on while Brad Lidge is warming up. A text message comes in: “Can Lidge blow a seven run lead?” I respond: “God let’s hope not.” I would legitimately feel bad for the guy. Charlie’s giving him a chance to get the out that will win the division, if he melts down there…

First pitch, ground ball to Ryan Howard, steps on the bag… clinch!

I actually jump up from my desk chair and put my arms up in the air and shout “woohoo!” like Homer. NL East Champions! Another baseball October! I grab my camera off my desk – I was going to use my phone to upload pics to Facebook, but I needed the camera for video – and as I cross the threshold from my bedroom to the hallway, perhaps 90 seconds after the Phillies have won the NL East, my phone rings. It’s my father.

I answer the phone. “Hello?”

“John,” my father says.

“Dad!” I shout.

He has called to celebrate the Phillies win, of course. He will say something like “I have pennant fever!” as he does after every single Phillies win. (Conversely, he will without fail say “I have lost pennant fever” after every single Phillies loss.) He will say something about the performance of players with one of the idiotic nicknames he and I use when talking about individual Phillies, something like “how about that play by Dangerous?” or “we call him Dobbsy!” or “clearly there will be No Questions Asked.” Possibly even “it’s a good thing Stumpy will be back for the playoffs” or “the Phillies are really going to miss Bleh in the postseason.” Maybe, just maybe, a sarcastic “Phillies suck!” like he would normally shout when they are losing. It will be another great all-American father-son baseball moment.

This is what my father says:

“On the Simpsons, who played the two bikers who abducted Marge?”

The Phillies won their third straight NL East less than two minutes ago and my father is calling me to cheat at Quizo.

I say, “are you fucking KIDDING ME? You call me NOW with shit?”

Now this is the point where a normal father would say, realizing that he is ruining an all-American father-son baseball moment, “sorry, you’re right, how about them Phils?”

MY father says, “John, we really need the answer.”

Now this is the point where a normal person would say, crushed by his father’s insensitivity to the all-American father-son baseball moment he is ruining, “how can you ask that at a time like this?”

-I- say, “John Goodman and Henry Winkler.”



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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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