Tuesday, September 08, 2009


A Brief [sic]Word on the Brits

Hurrah! I came 21st= in the British Quizzing Championships. 'Twas a blood-red letter day. And to think I came 8th in my very first one. TEN YEARS AGO.

(you know whenever I write "Hurrah" I almost always write "die Butter ist alle!". Thank you John Heartfield. And I really do mean that with all the sincerity I can muster)

But seriously, I don't mind so much. Because I have a veritable legion of excuses/mitigating factors crowding out all disappointment.

Number 1: A concerted focus on the World Knowledge side of things has obviously had a detrimental effect on my ability to get a decent hold on the British Bulldog domestica.

Then, ah yes, the exhaustive book drafting process.

A design whim took hold of me last week and it took me four and a half hours just to bold up half the question numbers. Do you know what it's like to spend 270 minutes highlighting and clicking the little b icon?

This weird creepy crawly kind of madness starts to spread and ... well, it's over now. Not a word more about bolding up stuff.

Another thing that is driving me nuts is the poor sentence-structuring of questions written two or three years ago. How could I be so grammatically incompetent? Ach and grrr. (Yes, these are the kind of thoughts that strike me during the proofing process on a regular basis. Thoughts that disturb me with their ferocity. Thoughts that then become bloody hilarious when remembered in tranquility)

Wait up. There's more of the post-mortem to come...

Oh, and missing about 23 kinda 50/50s (e.g. pineal or pituitary/pistil or stamen) due to my impressionistic - as opposed to stringent and serious - attitude to tackling the paper.

And not reading recent UK news stories in a sure enough way to remember the names that matter. For quiz purposes. If only more of these one-off wackos/criminals/record-breakers/local heroes/entrepreneurs were called Smith or Jones (I always go for Smith. And I know this is bad, but whenever an Irish national is required and I haven't even got a stinkin' miniscule clue to go on, I put "O'Reilly").

And reading proper novels in the run-up to and during the championships (but it was worth it in the case of Replay by Ken Grimwood - the fastest, most compelling read I can remember in a long time).

And getting caught in a weird time window where work is drowning me in a flash-flood fashion; meaning I have concentration issues and am indulging in sleep patterns that feel as if they are wrecking the very core of my soul. Well, the "very core" bit may be overdoing it a touch. But you know, sometimes it feels that way.

It galls me all the more when I remember that I missed Rob Hannah's brilliant August GP paper (let's just say I would have finished somewhere in the top two and averaged 7 tiebreakers per genre). That's my kind of set. Boohoohooo...

Hilariously, Jesse marked both my papers and found that I was getting everything he was getting wrong and vice versa. Only the proportions of wrong/right fell heavily in his favour. Obviously.

However, in terms of the Broken Hearts team dynamic this is a brilliant thing and all the more so because he will be coming to the Euros in Dordrecht. 'Tis painful to part with David on team terms, but he's a pericardigan now. Though he and I have agreed - or shouted slightly beerily across a Flitwick pub table as the Capital Connect trains rumble-zipped past the garden - that our amusingly effective, but ultimately self-destructive Pairs tournament campaigns will continue. (You know, how always we hover around the summit then drop precipitously at the last. This tumble was minimised in Oslo, but still. We didn't get things like Furtwangler - things that would have taken us to the very top - simply because I wasn't paying attention to all the words my partner was saying.)

I think I've reached this weird juncture where I score about the same on every paper, no matter the difficulty. Same thing happens with the President's Cup where my 2-point average is almost identical to my QLL one. Me and my mercurial mind, eh?

I really should sweat the easy stuff, because I have found it can be very damaging to my competition placings. Even though - and this is a truth so divine - I really do find Iranian cinema 500% more interesting than British reality TV.

On the bright side
At least I came 5th=equal in sport. Despite the fact that I made five idiot mistakes on that category too. Sport comes pretty easily now; helped by the fact that I find it extremely interesting and, as a result, this makes things like Chinese diving legends a lot easier to remember. Also, newspapers are very helpful with their wanton and wild allocation of infinite daily column inches to sport (well in relation to say, something like, books. Jus tink 'bout it).

Because let's face it, sport is only a lovely pointless distraction in which the extreme dexterity of one or two physical traits, allied with optimum mental acuity, has brought its finest exponents fame and fortune beyond all reason; the fame/fortune being abetted by our fellow man's weakness for gawping in awe at the things they can't do themselves - like chucking darts in precise tiny areas, or lobbing pickled onions into distantly placed thimbles - and the urge to pay money in order to watch it. It is all very silly when I think about it.

One or two sports remain kind of blecchy; kinda double-meh; mentally insoluble. British ones that is (not Dwile Flonking though; I love that sozzled Suffolk madness). And if I name the ones that induce a glassy bored fog in my brain, people will surely come after me. Me? Paranoid? Nah...

Sheeeeedddd, work to be done. It really was meant to be a brief word, like "Ko". Didn't notice the day was almost finished. Which reminds me...

Commenting on the commenters
There are time management issues too. I must stop leaving vituperative defences of things that need defending in website comment sections. This often happens in the wee small hours of the morn.

Funny thing is that I never ever leave an original comment; it is always an enraged vocab-bloated reaction to some thick twazmuppet who has made the kind of outrageously ignorant outburst super-facilitated by the beautiful concealing cloak of Web anonymity. And there are so many of them out there. Twazmuppeting in the cybervoid.

My goodness. I even used my maximum word allowance on Have Your Say to tell people in the Evans4Wogan to basically stop being such goddarned judgemental internet-crazed frugbluckers; the insinuation being that the BBC were smothering Terry in his bed in a Ginger Whinger-instigated coup as Step 1 in the Beeb's all-out bid to destroy the Radio 2 breakfast audience.

Reading the views of those angry enough to leave comments on a website also made me ponder whether there is a literary term for a part-eulogy/part-Philippic. A "eulippic" perhaps?

So I commented on the comments again in the name of fairness! reality! compulsion!

And you know what? I haven't even listened to the radio for 9 years.

Makes me think that I might be turning into one of those other internet nutters - not the angry web crazies I described above - who leave utterly pointless and uninformed wibbles on heartfelt blog tributes to, say, a recently deceased author: "I haven't even heard of the guy, or his really really famous novel. I have no personal connection to him; whether gleaned from his work or a solitary encounter in the street. But he sounds like a bit of a dick and you make his books sound wayyy boring. I thought I should just write something - anything to join in the busy looking "dialogue" - that makes me feel about a 1/200th more important than before I left the faecal trail of my facile flaccid words on this patch of interweb (IT'S MY PATCH NOW). It makes me look like an idiot; an idiocy of which I will remain blissfully ignorant. This enclosed state of mind means that I will continue polluting the eyes of strangers with my supreme powers of banality. If there's one thing that the internet is good for it is munificent freedom of expression. Even if that expression comes in the form of the most god-awful, stupid, angrifying vehicles for idiocy you could NOT possibly imagine. Because there are far too many of them. As Einstein asked himself, what's the difference between stupidity and genius? Genius has its limits."


Anonymous Chris Quinn said...

Emboldening - I think you are an Apple user, but don't know your WP of choice. If using Word (ok - I know it's Microsoft, but they did save Apple in the 90's) - if you use the numbering option, rather than typing the numbers, you can change the style for the numbers and automagically change them all to bold, or whatever strange format you would like to use

1:51 PM  
Blogger That Quiz Guy said...

Thanks for the advice. It's the latest version of Word, but because I didn't like the assumptions it was making in the formatting and because I wanted more space for questions on each page, I eliminated the auto-numbering/insta-paragraphing and made the 1. 2. 3.'s etc part of each question. So the program can't differentiate. I think that makes sense. But essentially, I wanted to cram more words on the page. Which meant I had to do it manually. And disregard common quiz book protocol. You'll see what I mean.

2:08 PM  
Anonymous arf said...

I happened to read Replay over the summer too (recommended via one of Doc Jensen's Lost columns i believe).

Fantastic book.

2:20 AM  

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