Monday, November 16, 2009

It's Not a Question...

... it was Seven Questions Away

(I know: the above song reference doesn't really make enough sense)

Oh the burden of question-writing. 'Tis weighing heavy this week, last week. Poor me. Poor me dripping with sarcasm (which is better than dripping with a lot of other stuff). Tempus fugit and it's already been a week since I trekked across the old German sea to participate in the European Quizzing Championships. And only afterwards, in the exhausted afterglow, did I realise how the preparation had trussed me up good and proper with nervousness and jittery agitation brought on by last year's four medal haul. The nagging fear that I wouldn't do as well lurked in the back of my mind, which was incredibly silly since merely winning a single Eurobauble of any metallic hue is a fine achievement. Bloody rubbish expectations created in my mind. All they do is kick you in the goolies when the reckoning rears its ugly, apocalyptic head. A bit of a metaphor cocktail for you there.

But not to worry - hurrah! - I came away with another quartet of trophies ... twas 200% more golden in colour, and there's no way I can write that sentence without feeling like a smug tossbucket and thinking you think exactly the same thing, only more so and with a sneer curling up your nonplussed face. All that brain-busting, insane prep I did; all those questions I reread until my mind felt like popping and I was on the verge of weeping like Gazza in a crisp advert. It all helped, um, marginally and I probably would have done just as well had I just sat back and relaxed, and maybe watched more Isabelle Adjani films (I'm having an accidental season of the said actress).

Anyway, it's a relief I feel, a big exhaling wooohhh of a "Thank god, that's done with for another year; I can stop with the silent screaming fits" feeling. Then I think back to all my proper, hardcore prep plans and wonder why I never - sorry - "actioned" them. Because, come to think of it, the last paragraph was pitted with lies. In reality, my prep was scatty and rubbish and vulnerable to distraction by film and TV DVDs. Rather than getting down to it with nary a fuss, eyes fixed resolutely on the prizes, I buggered about and just stressed, as inconsequentially as you can, about finding all the time I wanted for it, which was more hours than each day actually contains.

So I spent most of the time panicking about the fact that time was running out because time always runs out. It's a damn Usain Bolt of a sometimes bafflingly abstract concept.

Because if I had done all those things; things that made my fellow Broken Hearts recoil in a kind of awe-filled horror, could I have made up the deficit in the individuals and done the Golden Clean Sweep?

Then I look at the final 20 questions; realise that I would have only got four more correct on a day when everything was going right, then come to the conclusion: "Nah".

There was nothing I could do to stop Kevin taking the title again (he's that awesome), unless I had constructed a quiz-bound cocoon of EQC training insanity some 364 days before I took the trip to the Netherlands. And even when I was leading, the sensation was disturbing, chest-constricting even, while the head felt lighter, more woozy. I'm not kidding either.

As Randy Newman didn't quite sing - it's lonely at the top and makes you hyperventilate for the first time in your life, while making you paranoid that every silly question you bugger up kickstarts a mildy mental monologue in your mind, which goes along the lines: "No, Kevin has got that. He's definitely got that. He's breathing down my neck. He's Reinhold Messner and he's using me as a hilariously easy training rock climb. His boots are treading on my face (but he's still ever so polite). Now he's over and away! And I've got another one wrong that he will have got. Slag-gnash-it!"

But no. Forgo the thought and implementation of the year of training insanely. Must have a normal life. Or at least one that bears believable similarities to a quotidian human existence. Must not let quiz consume absolutely everything in a Borg-like fashion, as it has already taken over my work, space reserved for old hobbies and large proportions of other life sectors. I believe that there's still a pure air-bubble left uncontaminated by trivia (says the deluded quiz slave).

Right. Was going to pen more shambolic EQC musings, but realise today's too short and that you can have a word or four hundred on non-Euro matters like:

Quiz League of London: Top of the table clash with the Pericardiums tomorrow night. Insert insipid Premier League football analogy here. What else to say? Apart from: Hi, Pericardigans! Er, rubbish weather, isn't it? I hope you like Domino's margheritas. Feel free to call us things like "Broken Hats" or "Bum Tickers" or "Congenital Heart Defect Sufferers" (I know those crap name suggestions are too stupid to live).

To be honest, I think - and this is pathetic - I'm more concerned with keeping my 2-point average at 6.50. It's insane that I now think about the individual scoring tables when choosing to pass or answer a slightly tricky question, if only for a 0.2 of a second. In the past, it was safety first. Now it's: "I wonder how many two-pointers he's/she's/they are getting right at this very moment, somewhere across town. I bet they're getting more than me". Damn statistics making me reckless and selfish.

Radio Times interview: I might be appearing in the said publication this week, spouting rubbish and rhubarb crumble about setting questions for a certain quiz show. I remember saying that sending questions in was like "chucking them into a well". I'm not at all sure that sounds good. Gulp. I'd like to clarify that there was nothing critical about the comment, though "chucking" (being careless, as well as bowling illegally) and "well" (the Stygian, bottomless one from 300 comes to mind and that was a place ... OF DEATH) have, I admit, pretty bad connotations.

Are You an Egghead? Apparently not. Ho hum. I haven't even watched a full episode of the series yet, but like the Murphy's (whatever that is/was), I'm not bitter, twisted to feck and poised to launch a vengeful arson attack on the 12 Yard offices, while spouting bon mots from Ezekiel - the show's just a shade on the slow side and is broadcast at a very internet-intensive time of the afternoon.

Some say my Final Five* questions sucked spherical objects, while others point out that I should have known my UK town planning codes and Scots slang for cottages. Ach, so what if they were and shut your cakehole! Far more crucially, methinks the way AYAE? is formatted, it's designed to more-or-less even-up the chances of the contestants. Therefore, it is liable to scupper your best laid plans or, come to think of it, plans laid in every which way. As in poker, getting a bad beat on the show is more than likely; it's inevitable; the chances of which are amplified by the three-answer multiple choice jiminy.

Lest we forget, it is an entertainment show designed to amuse and enthral the viewer. The contestants are really only amusing, sometimes sentient set decoration. Or puppets, if you don't like to be compared to non-humanoid forms, like light fittings. For what's the point of having gruesome one-sided contests that resemble bloodsports more than an actual quiz? So it leans heavily on the luck factor and, let's be honest, is better for it - in terms of a TV spectacle.

Thus, the spectacle rounded on me and I fell foul of fortune, but them's the breaks. 12 Yard's much beloved penalty shootout format leitmotif - look, it's in their name - ensures an exciting, surprising finale, as in football, and therefore, one just as likely to be riven with injustice. But, since you can see it coming a mile off, when it crashes into you the only option left - the one which will give you some peace of mind - is to be stoical about it.

I was more suspicious of the realisation that the two subjects I highlighted as my weak areas - Sports & Sciences - in Big Capital Letters on my contestant application form were frontloaded in both of my Series 2 shows.

That's right: stuck up front. One in the driver's seat and the other riding shotgun. Now why was that? But as it was in the relatively unimportant bit of the show, the "pick me an Eggy" part, the one that takes up 30-35 minutes of the running time, there is no need to be too suspicious and start delineating intricate, spidery conspiracy matrices.

And, in hindsight, it was unbelievably foolish to moan about sports and the sciences being my Achilles heels - in writing! and in my interview! Like I did last year! - and therefore give me and them a long enough rope to string myself up. Even if sport isn't actually one of my weakest subjects anymore. Though when they ask me sodding horse racing betting questions, then yeah, I'm stitched up like a helpless, naive kipper.

As for "A1" and "but-and-ben". Well. Well. Well. well well well. If that kind of Brit-centric factage is the stuff that Eggheads are made of, then I am an absolutely F... [JUMP CUT] But such arcane gubbins was to be expected. It's (a kind of) Eggheads, remember.

Anyway, I'd just like to say that my opponents Gill Woon and Dave Clark were lovely people, as well as highly skilled quiz players (they have done far, far better on Mastermind than my sorry Caribbean-leaning self), and that we were more united in terror of the show, the lights, the etc (not the Eggheads though), than enmity with each other. Or so I thought - DUM-DUM-DAHHHH!

Masoquizm III this Saturday: As man-lady cool-assed-gun-cannon-toting Vasquez said in Aliens: "Let's ROCK!!!" (oh, I will fall, and the landing will hurt, unless ... unless I start rabidly reading thousands of my NAQT/ACF questions right now. Insanity rising; taking me over)

*Talking of which, the "new" Battlestar Galactica TV movie - The Plan - does chow down on big steroid-boosted bull balls. So very disappointing. I can only imagine the extent of my disappointment had I paid to viddy it, rather than utilise the piratical side of the interwebway.


Blogger Will Jones said...

Gavin only got 5, so now you're top.

5:28 AM  

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