Wednesday, December 03, 2008

I wish Sandy Denny had the answer to where the time goes

The Agenda

Promises, Promises, apart from being the name of the musical version of The Apartment (come to think of it, that I would like to see) seem to be broken the moment I lay them down here to rest.

My time-management skills, or complete lack of them, are the main instruments of their inevitable destruction. A Xmas quiz - the kind that must be done since it has been commissioned and I must preserve future sources of income - that was supposed to be done and dusted by Monday morning was only finished a few hours ago. I looked at the logged-on internet time and, gosh, it was over 20 hours. And I didn't even bugger about watching lame live versions of songs on YouTube that I already have on CD.

And lo, a seemingly simple repeat feat transmogrified into one of those overperfectionized 4,000-word total beasts than are written in the name of 'volume' and 'better safe than sorry' and, wait up, should I really put in so many joke questions and nonsensical multiple choice answers? Yet. Alas, it is done and delivered. To the river I cast thee, as Woody does with every one of his films (he should really rethink that policy; he cast Bullets Over Broadway to the East or Hudson River in a thoroughly entertaining state; everything after: meh ad infinitum). Until it gets chucked back at me, of course, for what turn out to be vital amendments. In the meantime, I'm grateful for the respite.

Therefore, I was going to get on with the Giant business but - guess what Christmas time, Mistletoe and another end-of-year quiz commission comes in on a super-tight schedule that will consume the next few days.

To be honest, I'm not really complaining. How can I? Tis my trade. However, I'm just looking at a whole list of other stuff, kerfuffle and kaboodle I was meant to be getting on with. Like filling out the fragments of posts I have been amassing like broken bits of pottery waiting to be glued together inartfully and glazed over with a profusion of style-crazed prose, then set on display. Here. So much like George Steiner's book about books he never wrote, but lacking in the interesting diversions about making love in different languages and being on a far crappier, scrappier and erudition-free scale.

I still have to finish up all these posts:

a) Guest v. Hoggart: the young optimism versus the old apocalyptism about the state of the pub quiz. Both a bit wrong, both a bit right.

b) the full AYAE analysis, which becomes ever more diluted and more like some weird fever dream. Was I even there? Or was I taking a trip on a river in a boat called a NUGGAR? Certain syllables stay with you for ever.

c) the same going for the EQC, though it still reeks Proustian-like of lovely coffee and cake in the memory and, like any good pretentious little twit (just like the journalist/concept-superman I am about to reference) I have come to define what I call 'Post-EQC-Recall-Syndrome' (it's a truly painful condition).

d) the Malcolm Gladwell theory about the 10,000 hour rule (clue: you may have great innate talent but it takes a lot of bloody-minded, time-consuming work to fulfill the promise that wraps the said talent around you in a kind of aura-sarong, but which inevitably frays and disintegrates with age). However, you could have already learnt that from watching the first few seconds of the trailer for The Natural.

e) An old 10 Quizzer Archetype essay-thingy I dug up from an old, unused interview I never used, but which has now blown up into an even more complicated 16 Quizzer, not so much Archetypes, but common personality traits and habits and stand-apart individuals essay-thingumyjig, grouped under headings like "The Pub Quiz Loyalist", "The TV Whore", "Rainbow Chaser", "The Undiscovered Keyser Soze" (3000 words and counting)

f) The PEN dispatch. The bloke who wrote The Last King of Scotland was on the winning team apparently. That's a further taster. Or nip.

g) President's Cup & QLL: well, my teams beat Cambridge 45-30 & Gray Monks 51-44 (maybe? Not sure). I don't know what else to add with regards to league and cup action anymore. I''m sure I'll conjure up something later.

h) Finished The Importance of Being Trivial by Mark Mason. Therefore a review is due. It will be nowhere near a gargantuan read as the one that dissected Brainiac sentence by sentence. But it seems that I couldn't stop myself from scoring the margin spaces with illegible "react quotes", slashing passages with violent underlinings and scribbling the textual exclamation "I KNEW THAT ALREADY!" in hollow, pointless triumph. So I may be able to confabulate as much as two or three sentences of valid and enlightening criticism. Fingers crossed.

i) The New Statesman online article about Oxbridge bias on UC. I think the will to think about it any longer drained from my brain before I got down to writing my riposte and maybe that's a good thing. Still, the fragments are still there. Sitting on my computer desktop. Actually, I'll just stick it in myoldquizshite file.

j) AYAE? as a viewer - Barry winning addendum. (Um, I think this is a proper post actually and not an excerpt, so skip if you wish) Stunning performance, but already forum folk all over the cyberkingdom are accusing him of astounding smugness. How long did it take? One show, with an admittedly prolonged aperitif. Dear lord. I cannot stand the way some quiz shows - the ones where contestants are given more than enough rope to hang themselves because they are told to talk out the answer (blame Millionaire) by either making themselves sound like idiots or know-it-alls (exemptions due to necessary time limits being Brain of Britain, UC and ya know da rest ... that Joan Rivers's catchphrase pops into my head "Can we talk?" My reply is: "Piss off!")** - give viewers the chance to turn it into a popularity/personality contest and they are bound to come up with some very odd conclusions indeed. The audience at home sees Barry smiles alot. Some see enthusiasm and enjoyment and an endearing love of facts, while others - infected with real inferiority and chop the tall poppy down syndrome - perceive the blaring neon sign of a smug git smugged up to his smugging eyeballs smugging away at the world. The smug-detectors are the kind of judgemental idiots who make everyone's journey in life that much more gloomier and spite-filled.

** I know. I should begin writing David Foster Wallace footnotes. The hyphenated and bracketted digressions really break up the flow.

The point of AYAE? was not about finding the most likeable addition to the team, it was about getting the winningest candidate and in the end they got one of the very finest in the competition. The gulf in all-round knowledge between Shaun and Barry when the questions reached a certain level where the hard-but-fair knowledge came into play was all too apparent when the multiple choices were whipped away in the final round, in Shaun's case like much-needed crutches (33.33% is a real chance, especially with a forensic, eye for a telling detail kind of guy like Shaun; I reckon his barrister skills helped him a great deal).

It then became clear that Barry clearly had a far deeper well of facts to reach into than Shaun and even more impressively was answering both questions sets (which what might be termed medium-standard GP with the odd hard-as-hell bastado) when Shaun went into his downward spiral of pass-after-pass. Barry displayed by far the greater knowledge when it truly mattered and there can be no argument that he deserved to win.

Yet still some viewers post-show said they liked Shaun better and wanted him to "join the most fearsome quiz team in history" instead because he was a decent bloke (which Shaun is and cool enough to convince you that you should put his name as "Shaun da brief" in your mobile contacts, which I did).

I was bemused by these comments, though hardly outraged. Then you realise. Why should absolutely everyone take sides with the seemingly better player? It doesn't happen when we watch football matches between sides we don't support. If Manchester United was playing Aston Villa or Stoke City or Hull and practically every other team in the land (except for Chelsea) I would always opt for the cheering on their opponents. Just because my mind's wired that way.

And it's only too natural for Shaun fans to wish Egghead status be bestowed upon him because it is a TV show they watch every single weekday and they would rather have Shaun hogging their telly, a guy you can have a beer with (even though he's teetotal) and watch the football (shades of Bush v. Kerry 2004 come into play here) even if he supports a team of tossers, as well as give Kevin a decent run for his money on history, politics, law and sport - an identifiable likeable Everyman with a special talent for some impressive, cornerstone quiz subjects. He would be a great Egghead, unless challengers started to hit him on TV & Film and Music and Food & Drink and you know what I'm tapping aimlessly now.

But then that's the thing, it's television show. It comes under the banner of light entertainment, not mind sports with full televised coverage. And people take sides with that 'entertainment' thing ringing in their minds and arousing totally irrational reasons to love or hate the folks on the screen (body language, accent, shirt colour, word inflections, regular smiling). So it's back to reality and remembering that's its only a TV show with some resemblance to a quiz. A far better resemblance than 85 per cent of the shows that come to mind, but still an entertainment package that has to excite emotions in some way - no matter how illogical or weird - otherwise it's dead in the water.

k) A few weeks ago I would have let that all out on a forum. Not now. For reasons deranged and stated in another blog draft on zee psychology of der repeet forum poster - detailing the hilariously, stupid and insane cycle of clumsy exchange and ugly repartee. The weird thrill of seeing an insult aimed at you and you returning fire or the equally strange sensation of compulsive bystanding induced by seeing an insult chucked at another forum poster and waiting for their payback. And even when you mean well and try to make intelligent comments you know every word is practically wasted. Maybe I will go back and rescue those block paragraphs and dress them all dainty and proper for their blog homecoming, with the fanciest purple prose I can muster from the least-used, dustiest areas of my vocabulary *now repeat the last sentence in the style of Blanche Dubois". It's the least I could do in the name of all those hours I sacrified, just to make a stupid point or two or point out a grammatical error. I don't think I will ever let this particular slither of horsebollock sausagmeat be sampled by readers of this blog.

l) I must finish 'Giant D' (53-q done), who knew the German mastery of board game design could be so fascinating! Whoever gets a Giant D will thank me to the end of my days. I have begun to repeat the phrase of Giant D because I now have visions of him collaborating with his relatively svelte brother, the early 90s musician Heavy D.

m) Unrelated quiz matter. I still have to sort out my Top 50 albums of all time list for Chris's FB group/night. The longlist is 107-strong, but that includes multiple band selections and remembering my once strongly held precepts about the orthodoxies of authentic and educational list construction, each act is allowed only one album. Which is a bit of a shitter because it looks like a roll-call for conjoined twins at the moment, call it one of the most flippant renderings of Sophie's Choice if you will. I know I am.

n) I noticed one of my unpublished blog drafts. One single paragraph broken up for sight's sake by the intervention of dozens of dragging ellipses It was my Beat-inspired riff - because it sure wasn't writing - on my unfathomable obsession with the US presidential elections every four years (well, I say unfathomable; maybe I mean, because it is estimated to be about one gagillion-billion times more fascinating than our country's general election, but that's the small price we have paid for the beautiful centre-left-liberal consensus most voters have agreed on) and my obsessive consumption, reading and watching of the associated media, especially Jon Stewart and Rachel Maddow. In the latter's case. possibly the one news presenter who makes you feel like you have grown smarter and become better informed after watching her show, which makes a nice change from everything else (sweet Jesus: Paxman interacts with Dizzee Rascal *shiver*). And there were 2,285 words of this stele; 97 of which may have been Palin. Pity I missed the topicality window. But then again, just like TB, I'm sure Palin will come back and be far more resilient.

And that's that: a blog about blogs I should have blogged some blogging time during the last blogging month and a half. Back to work on an empty brain. I could always fill it with something ... like slumber


Blogger Tim Footman said...

Strictly Come Quizzing, anyone?

7:11 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hi, Olav.

2 things.

1. Please still do your write-up about your AYAE experience.

2. Please post your top 5o albums list on here when you do finish it.


4:55 AM  

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