Thursday, June 18, 2009

The Terror of Doing

All I want to do is plan around, sonny

So the wire-balls of tumbleweed roll on in their legions and a chilly wind plays its silent tune around these here stultified and barren environs. You can laugh, if you want.

I know that I should have written about the WQC (4th ain't so bad) in far, far more excruciating depth than I did in my two long essays on the Quizzing site. I'm sure you've read them and been frightened to your very core, but I assure you I am a very fast typer and when the random thoughts keep coming, no matter whether they are actually quiz-related or not, I have no way of stopping them connecting with my fingertips and letting them do their merry, rapid dance across the keyboard. But even then I had to hold back my in-depth analysis. How doth that go, if it had the chance to shimmy?

Well, I immediately totted up 20 SHKs at the train station (I am a sad, sad basta..), including at least five - struck, as if in stone -upon the face of the project I will write about in the next few hundred words. Answers like DRAGON'S LAIR (I put Dragonquest ... must have confused it with EverQuest at a critical writing moment, even though I had practically written the same question word for word a few weeks before... grrr goes the angry motorbike of hindsight-powered frustration). And KAZANKINA ... grrrokillstop).

But then again I caught a bit of the old serendipity. About two days before Ludlow I was watching the excellent Claire Denis's "Billy Budd goes French Foreign Legion and a sight more gay" film Beau Travail (one of the few French films to keep its original title in the States, where they often suck a little bit of the magic out of Franco-flicks by slapping them with the translated name: e.g. The Children of the Gods and Zero for Conduct, because distributors must think their audience are slightly thick and easily confused by Yerpean words like "de" and "les") and it started with a familiar sounding Holly Valance song in a Djibouti disco. Only it was in Turkish. Weird, I thought, so I immediately hunted its true origin and found Tarkan. Which, thank Dieu, I remembered. And yes, isn't such a hunt most glorious and exciting, non?

Just one more instance, otherwise this navel-gazing will turn into a small intestine exam, I decided - on a whim - to fill in all the blanks from my Lesigny EQC 2006 paper on the morning I left for rain-drowned Shropshire and tried to find a Czech city with a chess tourney, a steeplechase and a birthing place for goaltender Dominik Hasek (it's Pardubice; never even bloody heard of it ... all those damn anonymous Eastern European cities, which aren't capitals, damn them). I hadn't seen Hasek's name since I did 500 ice hockey questions last year for a job when it merged into a kind of Brodeuroyasek confection. Luckily, Pardubice got it all crystallised and, um, stuff.

Thus, it all balances out. Although if I had looked at the 2004 WQC paper in the last week, and because it would have been just enough, I wouldn't have beat my head (in a metaphorical fashion against a wall made of pure metaphor) for at least 10 minutes about the Kuril Islands. The other 35 or so head-beating minutes were taken up by Jelinek and that other easy thing I cannot recall even now. Blast it to hell.

Fourth was good, fourth is contentment, only ... I could have gone one better (which is what everybody else in the entire room could say, with the brilliant exception of Kevin). But there's always next year ... and the rest of our lives! (And suddenly, a note of reality-suffused depression brings us mighty low)(more brackets)

QLL Quiz Rally Note
Seven days later ... I usually come ninth and I came *drum roll* ninth, which had been 11th until I dared to do a query and gave a viable alternative name for the Portland Vase (the nice Italian name I can remember thanks to its foreignness and more numerous syllables). So how could I be disappointed? I mean, I actually got questions about The Goon Show, Bassenthwaite Lake, Alfred Wainwright, Rock of Ages, and the Gavotte right. There was a time when such questions would have made me all weep in my juvenile impotence, but the years, which roll towards me like relentless Indiana Jones boulders in my private world of rocky and hard metaphors, are gradually accommodating me with the answers I need to finish ... NINTH ... again. Let's say I will be in true toppermost contention in about 25 years time. That's a decent time-scale.

But, seriously, I am beginning to apprectiate Donald's questions more and more (especially, the ones on science, which I really liked for a nebulous reason or two), as well as find them increasingly interesting.

They are well-crafted and shine a light on subjects, e.g. the finer points of English poetry, rugby football rules, engineering, plumbing (I think) and train engines, that I never think to give a single glance in all the 364 days before the quiz. And because of the huge volume of quizzes I do every year, the ones which are shaded differently tend to stand out more. The Clockwork Quiz is a great example, the Quiz Rally equally so because - and for radically different reasons to Leuven, as you might guess - it makes for a great alternative challenge, what with the time limits and bonus-penalties thingameejigs.

If all quizzes were the same with the same predictable topics and focus, we'd just be bored to death. Change is good. Qualification: In certain proportions. I think the three preceding sentences may well be packed with platitudinous garbage, but still, do ya get me?

Plus, it was nice to see Pat - the Victor Ludorum of the day - and Barry add their names to an already scarily good field this year. Even if they gave me a right old slapping (must be the sense of rebound vengeance propelling them from the WQC a week before; we're all fighting long, attritional conflicts against each other, if you think about it).

Wait, I was meant to write about the Big Thing. Just a few moments...


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