Episode 1 — September 11
I'm not sure if I'm on board with this every-Tuesday-night-for-twelve-weeks thing Mike D's got set up, especially since the layout of the Claddagh Irish Pub is somewhat like an English muffin, with all these nooks and crannies, making it hard for you to hear the quiz questions. Hearing the quiz questions is paramount because there is no video display of the quiz questions, making it especially awkward when you have an overly conscientious waitress that insists on checking on you every five minutes and asking if you need anything else WHILE MIKE D IS READING THE QUESTION. (No, I'm not bitter. What makes you say that? I just miss Marcus [aka Tricep-Tattoo Boy] is all.)
The answer sheet and prize packages are completely different. Instead of 8.5 by 11 pages, we have half sheets that have two columns of ten answer blanks. You have to fill out each answer twice and rip the half-sheet in half so that one quarter-sheet can be traded and graded and the other half-sheet can be collected by Mike D or his minions before the answers are revealed. Instead of awarding the top teams various portions of the money collected in entry fees, free appetizers and desserts are given to the top teams at halftime and the end. The winning team also gets a big gift basket (pasta, some kind of fudge sauce, tea, cookies, etc.) donated by some store in the area. I did spot a gift-boxed bottle of Jameson's on the prize table, but I'm not sure who won that — probably Mike D.
Mike D's outfit has been upgraded. (Our team name was "Mike D's New Outfit.") Instead of the plain black sports jacket, he now has one with gray stripes, all the better to go with his stripey shirt. He showed it off to us when he stopped by before the quiz started. I told him that I was thisclose to calling his mom to see what was going on, since we hadn't heard from him all summer. That freaked him out, according to Cathy.
What freaked her out was the fact that I was taking copious notes about the experience. I said that I would have to fill in Christine and Missy later, but she couldn't get over how embarrassed she was about it. I contend that nobody even noticed that I was taking notes, unless she pointed it out to them. Mike D mocked me for it sometime later, and then told his godmother/aunt at the next table that I was a reporter for the Akron Beacon Journal. (Ha! My mother wishes!)
Since Mike D's parents were in Rome and were thus unable to shout "You suck!" at opportune moments, I told his godmother she would have to fill in. She said, "Oh no, I couldn't do that here!" (So. . . she could at Brendan's?) Cathy asked her why nobody buys Mike D any clothes for Christmas or his birthday. His godmother: "Oh, he's got clothes!" All in all, some hilarious insights from Team Jellybrains.
The quiz questions themselves have shrunk. Instead of eight rounds of ten questions, there are six rounds of ten questions. (This, coupled with the fact that the quiz supposedly starts at 7 instead of 8, meant I was home around 10:15 instead of 11:45 or so.) Round 1 was Animals, and had a lot of questions about reptiles, amphibians, and insects. (Susan, we needed you!) We only got a 4 or 5 on that. The next two categories were right in my wheelhouse: For Round 2, he named three movies, and we had to identify the actor or actress who appeared in all three. For Round 3, he described the plot of a Broadway musical, and we had to provide the name of the musical. Thanks to Cathy's pineapple answer of Hair, we had 7 and 8, respectively. Thus, we managed our usual fifth-place finish at halftime.
Round 4 is when everything started to go downhill. Mike D announced that this round was for the guys, and all the people who read Us Weekly and People can go back to reading those magazines, because this category was Transportation: Aviation. Or, as Cathy and I renamed it, We Should Have Listened to Our Dads. Her dad was in the air force and took the family to the museum in Dayton all the time, and my dad is a huge WWII aircraft buff. Seriously: When I told my dad some of the questions later, he knew all of them. He said the fact that I didn't know all of the answers made him question whether or not I was really his kid. (Thanks for the support, Dad, really. What are you doing on Tuesday nights? We only got 3 right.)
Round 5 felt even worse, and we scored another 3. The category was something like Crime Password. The opening questions were about the names of Chinese criminal gangs and Japanese criminal gangs, and then moved into the East German secret police, the Mossad, and the KKK. Oh, and the Freemasons. A hearty "Whatever!!" to that round. Round 6 was All Irish, since we were in an Irish pub. We only got a 3 on that round, too. The only bright spot: At least it wasn't The Missing Link. Also missing: The Picture Round and The Video Round.
I don't even think Mike D announced all of the final standings, since there were ties for first, second, and third place. He went to a sudden-death tie-breaker for Team 11 and two other teams. Team 11 won, the jerks. Of course, then they had to figure out how to divide the pasta and other foodstuffs in that gift basket, so maybe taking first place isn't as great as it once was.
Episode 2 — September 18
Christine made it last night, and she agrees: It's not as good as it was at Brendan's. We rilly, rilly, rilly miss Brendan's. She thinks that it could get expensive doing this every week — especially when I said that the beer was a dollar more than at Brendan's. (Ok, it was Sam Adams Octoberfest; it was Murphy's Red at Brendan's.) The only bonus: Being finished by 9:30 makes it a relatively early night.
This time our team name was Arrrrrr! in early observance of Talk Like a Pirate Day. Added bonus: It annoyed Mike D. Also annoying Mike D? The fact that we mocked him about the need for carbon paper on our answer sheets. At any rate, he abandoned the whole two-versions-of-the-answer thing after the first round. (And there was much rejoicing.)
Speaking of the first round: Drinks. Mike D promised us that we would do well tonight, and that he thought this week's quiz was going to be pretty easy. It would be, if any of us knew how to make mixed drinks. Since we don't know our Rob Roys from our Manhattans from our B & Bs from our Sidecars, I think we only got a 4.
Next up: Some kind of fake Jeopardy! Rhyme Time nonsense with rhyming occupations. We got most of those (agriculturalist ladies' man = farmer charmer), but hardly anyone got "gullible town official" (naive reeve) so we were pretty happy about our 9.
Round 3: Commercials. Finally! All our television-watching pays off! Another 9! Some oldsters at the other end of the room (aka Team Pub Quiz with Happy Ending) were quite put out that "Tide" was the answer for "Tougher than dirt," even going so far as to sing the old Ajax jingle that apparently used the same tag line. Mike D put it to a vote; the crowd voted no. (And there was much rejoicing.)
Halftime: We're in our usual fifth place. Well, technically we tied for fourth, but same difference. We're seated in a room just to the right of the door, quite near Mike D command central. It's impossible to see the rest of the crowd, but Mike D stops by a lot during the rounds, so we don't feel too neglected.
During his jaunts to our neck of the woods, he made fun of Cathy for working on her term paper, and for asking him to ask his mom to get her a job. At some point I was mocked for not having my notebook with me. (I kind of wish that I did have it — I ended up taking notes on a Bass coaster, which was hardly enough room.) He wanted to know if he could get a transcript of last week's quiz, and asked if I was going to put it on my blog. I said I just e-mailed out the recap on Monday, and that it and tonight's recap were going to be posted on Wednesday. He also threw out the idea of doing a podcast, which Christine and I decided later might be doable: I have a mini tape recorder, so I could just set that up on the table and then not worry about bringing my notebook. Hmmm...
At any rate, after some happy fun time raffle prizes (a "Le Bron James–inspired" Miller Lite headband; a "Bonjour Kitty" stationery pack [which I totally wanted, btw]; a beer cozy; some t-shirt; etc. — Oh, and the Jameson's gift box I saw last week? He keeps the raffle tickets in there until it's time to draw one. Or spill them all on the floor, whichever.), it was time for Round 4: All Irish. So, apparently we're going to have to study up on Ireland, because it seems to be a recurring category. The questions were nowhere near as difficult as last week, although we abandoned my pineapple answer for the longest river in Ireland (Shannon) to go with some comedy: Everything we didn't know was Bono. That got some big laughs, but only 5 points.
Round 5 was Cartoons. Yay! Perfect 10 — thanks mainly to Cathy and Christine. Our favorite: The last question was "What is Foghorn Leghorn?" The oldsters who complained about Ajax earlier wrote, "A rooster. Or, I say, boy, I say, a big cock." Lots of giggles over that one, but even more giggles later in Round 6, Art, when Mike D asked what the man in American Gothic is holding. Christine said, "His cock," and apparently every other team was making similar smart remarks, because Mike D had to clarify, "In the hand that you can see!" and called us all gutter dwellers. Heh. On the plus side: Another perfect score.
However . . . a rising tide must lift all boats, because we finished in fifth place again! The oldsters came in first and won the prize basket. Our consolation prize? That Team 11 placed sixth! Apparently one of Mike D's relatives has infiltrated the team and brought it down to his or her level. Awesome!
When we were on our way to our cars, Cathy and I wanted to show Christine some crazy painting we saw last week in the pretentious art gallery a few doors down from the pub. I forget what it was even of, but I remember that I enjoyed mocking it. It wasn't as off-the-wall crazy as those freaky paintings in The Royal Tenenbaums, but almost that good. Sadly, it was gone — replaced by interpretations of various rock stars, including Bono.
Oh wait: I did some poking around on the site, and I think it might have been this painting: "The Roch." I seem to remember laughing about the Vespa. And the fact that the asking price was $2,500. Ooh, bonus: According to the gallery's Web site, the artist, "acclaimed surrealist Saint Victor," will be unveiling a new collection the first weekend in November. Mark your calendars!