Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Beyond Lightspeed

You see I have this mate Ben, who greets me with terms like "Hello Slag" and "Howdy Dumbcrap", quite naturally as it happens, as if Slaggy Dumbcrap was my real name, and he was talking about an Indian Mastermind contestant.

Being one of those people, who doesn't really listen to the person speaking on the other side of the phone because they are instead thinking up cutting bon mots and perverted subjects of conversation and outrageous flights of fancy, my ears perked up when he said he was working on something with someone - a publisher who works in Delhi and was described as being "very sharp" - who had scored the Indian Mastermind record.

The score? 43. 43. Yes, two more than Kevin Ashman's hallowed record. Quite astonishing. I'd like to see a vid of it but haven't found anything on the usual channels via my exhausting and thorough two-minute scans through YouTube and Google searches. Apparently, her final subject was female Nobel Laureates, which is actually quite interesting for once, rather than so geeky it makes you want to shake someone by the lapels, if they have lapels, and large ones at that, so violently that their eyes will jigger out of their sockets and their teeth shatter into thousands of dental crystal slithers.

Can anyone verify this? Nah? Fine. Oh wait. I could always ask Ben her name. Like DUH. Seems like I'm getting ready for the stupid: the stupid being my eighth Glasto or my ninth. I dunno. They all merge into one giant mudsplurge tinted with live music in the distance.

Quiz Life Intercedes

How to Kill a Blog

Once again, quizzing in its near infinite guises has disrupted the cyber-correspondence of this blogger, what with involvement in a number of quiz shows on the contributor and contestant front, as well as non-televised tourneys and competitions. Funny how becoming a professional quiz writer and making it more of a career and a life distracts me from this three-year-old venture. One of those peculiar consequences that changes the way you spend your time on the internet. That and having my sodding PowerBook break down with its thousands of questions and random missives. Steve Jobs!!! Grrrr. Such a tragic incident has had a terrible effect on the blog because that was where I did most of my writing and setting rather on this shared house computer, which is a filthy XP-ridden PC. Writing questions for the dough also means that there is less of an urge to splurge thousand-upon-thousand here for free: my pseudo-Olympian ideals gone to pot. My apologies once again to daily visitors who used to get their regular fix of trivia obscurity, but you know they will pop up from time to time. Promise.

So far it's been a busy summer, though I know the hazy lazy lull of this time of year is about to set in. There is/was of course Are You An Egghead? of which I will say nothing until it is broadcast in darker months, but don't worry, commentary will all actually be flowery and nice. Other things remain top secret: contracts, accusations of collusion etc. I never leak, and nowhere near like a truly hole-some sieve, in public forums.

After The Blockbuster
Instead, there are other projects on the horizon. My next big quiz has been tested by a couple of Quiz Deities and is ready to go but this time I have decided to make a substantial change, or perhaps, more accurately monumental extension to the format. It will be a summer-long quiz, called something like The Double Whammy, in which over the course of the hopefully sundrenched, possibly a two-and-a-half period, I will release it in two halves making up a grand total of 1002 questions.

Once you have completed the first 501-question set and sent it in, you will then receive the second half, another 501 q's. There will be no half-time deadline. As long as you do both sets over the 75-day time limit, you will be entered in. You can, of course, do the first just to see what it's like for the usual £7.50 fee, then if you want to do the other the total will be £14. Though if you only do one quiz it will still be £7.50. So it's an admittedly £1 off sale offer.

Sorry if this is getting rilly complicated, but the tables will be divided into competitors in the first quiz and the second quiz, as in my past big quizzes, but there will naturally be a Double Whammy table with aggregate scores at the end of it all.

This is basically all down to the fact that doing a 2-for-1 makes setting up the quiz - the admin, the taking in the money once rather than twice for the most part, the opportunity for a bigger participant flow, the predictably scandalous pimping - all the more easier.

I mean, I still haven't chased up monies for about a dozen people for the Blockbuster quiz. But I do remember. Only I won't go all loan sharky about it.

No doubt I will remind visitors to these parts of the quiz/quizzes on a regular and irritating basis. I will bend everyone to my will eventually MWA-HA-HA is my thinking.

Details to follow soon. Well, soon-ish.

The Quiz Book. At Last. Possibly
Yep, the long awaited harder than naily nails quiz book, i.e. the quiz book which will have questions that have never appeared in any other quiz book ever!, I have been prepping for two years or more is in the final proofing stages. 95 per cent of the 2350 questions are original because during the compiling process I kept on taking out ones that had already been on the blog because it made me feel less lazy and also because I want to give you, my fine and lovely potential customers value for money. I will also price it under £10. Er, one penny under. I was going for a £15 figure, but Stainer persuaded me to be nicer on everyone's pockets and stray from any feelings of quiz addict exploitation. What a jolly good fellow, eh?

In other news
The South, aka Sussex aka the Kinda Broken Hearts won The Don Bisset Trophy. Hurrah! My sixth team title in the last calendar, and it might well have been the seventh, were it not for my having to leave my Derbyshire Sevens table quiz team at an unfortunate time to get the soul-destroyingly delayed train home from the WQC. It could have also been the eighth, but let's not dwell on the European Pairs disintegration that set in at Blackpool.

Will I taste such abundant amounts of team glory every again? Sadly, I doubt it.

Friday, June 13, 2008

Sloppy Seventh

Disturbing the Tumbleweed Down Peace

Howdy. It's been a quiet time around these here parts, as someone or three pointed out at the weekend. That's because I've found that writing questions for a living, and furiously, and in many ways completely pointlessly preparing for the World Quizzing Championships - jeez, too much learning of obscure pre-20th century artists and African and Arabic novelists - resulted in a refocussing of my undivided attention upon the faint chance of victory, or far more realistically a Top 5 spot. It didn't quite work out as the results bear out, though looking back whilst dosed up with a bigger measure of reality, 7th was more than reasonable.

Of course, there were self-inflicted reasons as to why I didn't do as well as I could have, the most important of these being not actually sleeping the night before due to my screwed-up circadian rhthyms and heinously early train times; getting the 5.45am Chesterfield express was my only option. But that was my own idiot fault for not making more sleep-fulfilled arrangements. And not living in London. And imitating the vampire lifestyle, without the murderous blood lust. If you want to wreck your usual powers of recall, there's nowt like the despair of devastating insomniac fatigue preceded by the fear the mind will go utterly blank during the crucial two hours of reckoning.

But truth be told, I didn't commit any shameful errors - the kind that haunt every waking and dozing moment for all time - and that any DOH! mistakes came from not reading the question thoroughly enough. I adopted my usual Billy Whizz approach, doing each paper in 15 minutes and only scanning the questions for keywords - oh yeah, that's how I roll, in the name of needless inefficiency - then going back to clear up any terrible messes I left behind: the first question on the Entertainment round being one. First I put Lionel Richie, oh dear, then The Supremes, you silly spam javelin, then finally, The Commodores, thank God for that. This said technique is something I must change. It's too hasty, well obviously, which means I miss the emergent clues in a thoroughly stubborn manner, the colour blindness question being one pertinent blaring in my brain example.

Thankfully, my going over old WQC papers like an obsessed maniac solidified my Papp and Perec answers, though in the latter case I was wondering whether it was a trick question and instantly put Brisco-Hooks, before realising things can and do come up again and again and this was no different. Nice to see the obligatory Ingmar Bergman question make its near annual appearance too. Unfortunately, I didn't do the same on the Teotihuacan question, see WQC 2005, putting Chichen Itza which annoyed me in extremis. I mean, I was all over the Mayan cities in my prep: Tikal, Copan, Palenque, Uxmal, and the only one that mattered was summarily ignored in the weeks running up to the competition.

Anyhoo, congratulations must be afforded to annual, one-time Sussex player Mark Bytheway: newly crowned Champion of the World, and also to Ronny Swiggers for getting the highest aggregate score. But my heartiest lot of congrats goes to Tero. Definite future world champ material, being a relatively young 'un an' all. He's improving fast and very impressively so.

PS Broken Hearts didn't do too badly either, as Nic pointed out. Five in the global top 20, as well as occupants of the 4-to-8 berths in the UK Top 20. Our team ain't too shabby. Was thinking about writing how we will crush all our enemies and grind them into dust for years, nay generations to come, but that sounds a bit Genghis Khan-y, and wouldn't do at all.

Yes, I know I am being disingenuous. But that's just me. To the very last.