November 29, 2011

Trivia Blog: Thankgs-gorging

These Trivia Blog posts come from the emails I send out as Quizmaster of the Gael Pub Trivia Night every Tuesday.  But seeing as how they comprise most of the writing I seem to do these days, I thought it fitting to include them on the Pale Writer blog as well.  I won't include things like info about categories or drink specials, but will keep the bulk of the rest.  Hopefully you enjoy, so much so that you come out some Tuesday at 8:30 (3rd Ave. b/t 82nd and 83rd)...

“I discovered a meal between breakfast and brunch.” – Homer Simpson, when asked how he won the Most Weight Gained Award at his high school reunion

Folks, I apologize now if there are any typos in this week’s Trivia email.  I managed to shove enough food into myself during Thanksgiving dinner this year that I pretty sure I have gravy-swollen fingers.  I might need some sort of special fat-person typing stick to get through this.

Why do we do this??  Why do we take a holiday that’s ostensibly about the celebration of what we have and of our fellow man and of the union between different cultures and somehow turn it into a bingefest?  Because we’re America, damnit, and that’s what we do best.  We’re the country that not only produces staggeringly high national levels of diabetes, but 200-pound third-graders as well.  (Of course he’s from Ohio.)  We will take ANY already ridiculously fattening sweet treat and deep-fry it at state fairs to make it even more artery assaulting.  Overeating is our right and our hobby.  It’s American, and it’s beautiful.  Just thinking about it gives me a lump in my throat.  That, or I still have some sort of turkey leg/mashed potato amalgam lodged in my esophagus.

Reflecting on my impressive gastrointestinal accomplishment got me thinking…  Why stop at Thanksgiving?  Why risk the bursting of our stomach linings on only one Fall holiday a year?  This is the country that gave the world the Double Quarter Pounder with Cheese, the Double Big Gulp, the Nathan’s Hot Dog Eating Contest, and both Rex and Rob Ryan.  We can make this a calendar-spanning practice with a little bit of ingenuity.  For instance…

Christmas - Sure, there’s usually a big family feast that goes along with Jesus’ birthday, but why not also bring in the joyful element of surprise that comes with Christmas gift giving?  Don’t just put food on the table, wrap it up and give it as presents!  Along with a new Kindle, give your loved ones a nice cornish game hen in that gift bag.  Then, sing that “Bring us some figgy pudding” portion of “We Wish You a Merry Christmas” over and over while they’re forced to eat whatever they open; no stopping ’til they’re finished.

Easter - If Jesus can rise from the dead after three days, then your appetite can rise again after that first Easter ham has died for your sins.  Only for the next ham, we take the Cadbury approach and dip it in a delectable chocolate shell.

Arbor Day - You might not think there’s even a remote chance to incorporate overeating here, but then, you might be a small-minded, unambitious fool.  For every tree we plant on Arbor Day, we eat a tree made out of Slim Jims and cotton candy.  Plant a bush, eat some bacon.  Grow some flowers, gorge on Funyuns.  But don’t bother eating those healthy fruits or veggies that come from actual fauna; they’ll just take up precious stomach room that could be saved for mounds of semi-dried ranch dressing formed to look like pine trees.

Halloween - You think having all of that candy given to our kids in one night is already enough of an opportunity for overeating?  Wrong.  Kids have to walk from house to house in order to get those Fun Size Snickers; they’re burning way too many calories to have the candy really make an impact.  So here’s my proposal:  Between-House Trick or Treating.  You know how in marathons, people give the runners cups of water on the side of the road so they can hydrate while not stopping?  We do that, but with cups of melted chocolate and Sour Patch Kids.  That way, our little porkers-in-training don’t miss a chance to sugar up their bloodstream while doing something healthy like putting one foot in front of the other.

Thanksgiving - Oh yes, there’s room for more here, too.  Two words: Thanksgiving Eve.  With the rise and constant improvement of growth hormones used to turn normal poultry into freakishly large, uber-meat-yielding poultry, there’s no excuse not to be able to have two turkeys for every Thanksgiving.  Going back to the marathon analogy, you know how runners like to carb up the night before a big race?  Well why not carb up the night before a big day of overeating?  Think of how many more rolls you could fit in your face hole if you properly prepare the night before.  If you can dream it, you can do it!

November 22, 2011

Trivia Blog: Your Cheatin' (Fan) Heart

These Trivia Blog posts come from the emails I send out as Quizmaster of the Gael Pub Trivia Night every Tuesday.  But seeing as how they comprise most of the writing I seem to do these days, I thought it fitting to include them on the Pale Writer blog as well.  I won't include things like info about categories or drink specials, but will keep the bulk of the rest.  Hopefully you enjoy, so much so that you come out some Tuesday at 8:30 (3rd Ave. b/t 82nd and 83rd)...

“We’re number 32! We’re number 32…?”

The concept of sports fandom in and of itself is kind of ridiculous.  We attach ourselves, as the old saying goes, to what’s essentially laundry; laundry that’s periodically inhabited by new human beings from year to year but still always and inextricably makes up OUR team.  We speak as if we had anything to do with what happened on the field/ice/court/pitch/Real World-Road Rules Challenge course, saying, “I can’t believe we lost that game,” and, “We kicked the shit out of your team!”, even though the only involvement we had was drinking a lot of beer and eating something the vendor described to us as “Nachos.”  And yet, despite how a group of millionaires performed on a particular day, we allow our not-really-but-sort-of attachment to dictate how we feel for that day (or longer).  Because we’re fans.  We love our teams.  We root and pray and plead for them to win.

Except when we don’t.

What is one supposed to do when one finds oneself on that sad brink of rooting for a team whose season is clearly over well shy of the actual end of the season?  Do you still pour your heart and soul into their every game, just enjoying each one as a detached, self-contained entity that has no bearing on a larger season?  Or do you say screw it and embrace the suck, pine for a shiny #1 draft pick, and actively root against your team?

I’ve found myself dealing with this rollercoaster situation with my Miami Dolphins this NFL season.  Not that I had much hope for them to begin with, but it quickly became apparent in the first few weeks of the season that my Fins were probably not destined to hoist the Lombardi Trophy and tell cameramen that they were going to Disneyland and all that shit.  So, as any rational fan of a team that hasn’t had a franchise quarterback in 13 years would do, I placed the 2011-12 Miami Dolphins season in a metaphorical basket and left it in front of an also-metaphorical orphanage, and set my sights on our impending acquisition of Stanford’s Andrew Luck, a quarterback who not only gives Mel Kiper a solid erection, but looked to be the answer to all that was ailing my Fins.  I’ve been in this situation before, when in 2002 I pulled for my dearly beloved Cavs to choke down the stretch of the NBA season, which eventually resulted in us landing Lebron James, the hometown boy who would surely lead us to greatness again.  And look how well that turned out.  Wait…

But even as I finally accepted rooting against my Fins as they pulled off a spectacular collapse against the almighty Jesus Tim Tebow, the Gods of Sports Karma bit me in the ass for my heresy by allowing the Fins to start a three-game winning streek two weeks later.  The dream was over.  I was left with little in the way of good choices.  Either I could pull for Peyton Manning to miraculously come back and lead his winless Indianapolis Colts to some meaningless late-season wins and re-secure the Fins’ #1 spot in the draft, or I could go all in, pull for the Fins to win out the season, and pray that a 9-7 record is good enough for a wild card playoff spot.  I feel like a spouse who was caught cheating and is now sleeping on the living couch of fandom, trying to earn back my Fins’ love and trust.  Tough times.  (At least Michigan is probably going to beat Ohio State this year.  Go Blue.)

November 15, 2011

Trivia Blog: The A-hole Train

These Trivia Blog posts come from the emails I send out as Quizmaster of the Gael Pub Trivia Night every Tuesday.  But seeing as how they comprise most of the writing I seem to do these days, I thought it fitting to include them on the Pale Writer blog as well.  I won't include things like info about categories or drink specials, but will keep the bulk of the rest.  Hopefully you enjoy, so much so that you come out some Tuesday at 8:30 (3rd Ave. b/t 82nd and 83rd)...

Dear Loud, Non-discreet Talkers on the Subway:

I appreciate the fact that you’ve managed to overcome your shyness and fear of public speaking. I do.  Truly, afflictions such as these severely hamper the lives, careers, and macking abilities of thousands of people around the world every day.  However, maybe take it down a notch or two when we all have to share a confined metal prison on rails for 20 or 30 minutes a day, huh?

I’m sure you’ve at least heard (during those brief periods of time when you manage to shut your goddamned mouth for a few seconds) of the term “indoor voice.” You know, it’s that thing where you speak as if you’re not standing on an active airport runway or in some sort of barnyard situation with animals braying and carrying on louder than you.  A level of volume that doesn’t cause the ears of the person sitting next to you to bleed.  Pretend that the person you’re talking to is in fact sitting right next to you, and not standing on the other side of some wide, expansive canyon or ravine.  That way, the things you tell this person can remain between just the two of you, and not everyone else on the A train.

Because really, the issue isn’t just your obnoxious volume, it’s the awful things you’re saying.  I could go the rest of the day and be just fine not knowing about your shockingly revealing doctor’s office visit, how poor your current lover’s oral sex skills are, or what colorful racial epithets you’ve managed to pull from the dark recesses of your brain to describe someone you’re not fond of.  And yet, here I am, here we all are, knowing this and so much more about your terrible, terrible existence.

None of us enjoy riding on the subway.  Much like something you just described out loud regarding that recent trip to the doctor, it’s smelly, it’s undependable, and it’s full of people that you’d rather not spend too much time with on the surface.  But you’re making it worse.

When I’m on the subway, especially if I’m on the way to one of our fine Trivia Nights, I just want to be alone with my thoughts, read a book, and prepare myself for whatever it is I have to do that night.  With all your blathering and cackling, I can hardly find enough room in my thoughts to come up with an excuse not to give money to the kid selling candy for his basketball team.  So please, do us all a favor and realize that much like subway preachers or anyone from Fox News, no one wants to hear what you have to say.

Love,
Quizmaster Ryan

November 8, 2011

Trivia Blog: Let's Get It Marath-On

These Trivia Blog posts come from the emails I send out as Quizmaster of the Gael Pub Trivia Night every Tuesday.  But seeing as how they comprise most of the writing I seem to do these days, I thought it fitting to include them on the Pale Writer blog as well.  I won't include things like info about categories or drink specials, but will keep the bulk of the rest.  Hopefully you enjoy, so much so that you come out some Tuesday at 8:30 (3rd Ave. b/t 82nd and 83rd)...

“That boy sho is a runnin’ fool…”

There’s something wonderfully hypocritical yet satisfying about getting drunk while watching others do physically exhausting activities.  It’s something that we, not only as sports fans but as ‘mericans, have mastered over the decades.  Set apart the normal fan experiences of sitting in a bar or in the stands watching a football game, though, is the strange outlier that is Marathon Day.  Oh, how I’ve grown to love Marathon Day…

Not that we ever really need that solid of an excuse for early imbibing as New Yorkers, but Marathon Day has got to be one of the oddest “this thing is happening so let’s start drinking early and often to commemorate it” days in this city.  Really, all you need to qualify as a Marathon Day Drinker is a passing interest in one of the many thousands of people who trained for months on end.  For my friends and I, that was our buddy Eric.  He provided the subject of our rooting, and we provided the willingness to drink our faces off while vicariously accomplishing a monumental task through him.  Because try as we may, none of us could pull off a 26.2-mile run in that kind of time.  I used to be a cross country runner myself, but I could never do that kind of distance.  At this point in my life, I can hardly run to Gristedes and back to pick up extra cheese dip during one of The Walking Dead‘s commercial breaks without my knees turning into Patrick Ewing’s knees, yet alone run through five boroughs of torture.  Things like Marathon Day serve as stark reminders that my glory days as a runner are long behind me.

Another reminder came the next night, when a coed social sports volleyball match left me feeling like i had run a marathon.  I was talked into joining a NYSSC outdoor volleyball league this Fall mainly because of being friends with everyone else on the team.  I also thought that volleyball was going to be like that awesome scene in Top Gun, only without Goose’s mustache, the montage music, and the strong homoerotic themes running throughout.  And while it is a lot of fun, last night was one of our few competitive games (the other teams just can’t hold a candle to Rough Sets), and I woke up this morning sore in places that only those who have bedded me or changed a diaper of mine are aware of.

Is that what it is to get older?  Suddenly and without warning having it be difficult to do things that you could do without effort or care or preparatory stretching just a year before?  To watch runners go by one day and feel like you know their pain because of too much setting and spiking the next?  At only 28 years old, I’m not ready to go on the DL after a simple game of volleyball.  This is why I’m glad you all love Trivia Night so much; apart from the occasional elbow strain from lifting too heavy a pitcher or a neck injury caused by falling off your chair in amazement at my awesome questions, it’s a relatively safe, non-strenuous activity.  And like with Marathon Day, I can sit back, have a few drinks, and watch you guys do the actual work.  And also get paid to do so.

November 1, 2011

Trivia Blog: Sleepless in Apartment 3B

These Trivia Blog posts come from the emails I send out as Quizmaster of the Gael Pub Trivia Night every Tuesday.  But seeing as how they comprise most of the writing I seem to do these days, I thought it fitting to include them on the Pale Writer blog as well.  I won't include things like info about categories or drink specials, but will keep the bulk of the rest.  Hopefully you enjoy, so much so that you come out some Tuesday at 8:30 (3rd Ave. b/t 82nd and 83rd)...

The pipes, the pipes are clan-ging…

My favorite trivia-goers, I apologize in advance if I happen to pass out tonight, mid-question, and fall into one of your pitchers or plates of delicious, delicious nachos.  I’m currently riding a five-day stretch of getting close to no sleep due to the steam pipes in our building having some sort of seizure or conniption fit that can only occur between 2:00 and 7:00 in the morning.  It’s awesome.  Forget the whales or the rain forest or kids with some sort of lung disease, someone organize a fundraiser to help exorcise the asshole demon living in my building’s steam pipes that gets off on depriving fine people like myself of much-needed sleep.

I’ve felt, at times over the last few days, like some sort of tortured war vet.  I have the far-away stare, the painful flashbacks to being jolted awake by constant banging sounds, the crying in the corner while hugging my knees…  Whenever I mention the phenomenon to other people who’ve suffered the same sort of pain, this look of familiar pity and understanding passes over their face, a single tear rolls down their cheek, and we hug, brothers in arms.  Where’s OUR movie, Oliver Stone??

This is how it usually goes down…

2:09 am – The first of the banging starts, waking us up.
2:40 am – The banging continues; earplugs go in.
3:23 am – Somehow I’m still awake, plotting the death of my super.
4:02 am – I’m jarred out of sleep by a particularly loud bang.  Cry.
4:51 am – I can see time.
5:27 am – I’m jarred out of sleep once more.  Cry again.
5:59 am – I start to think that there should be MORE Alvin and the Chipmunks live-action movies.
6:30 am – Sweet, sweet sleep.
7:00 am – Alarm.  Cry.

Why do we accept this as New Yorkers?  Why do we just assume that on top of obscenely high rent payments, dealing with things like clanging steam pipes or roaches or happening upon hobos receiving blowjobs in our entryways (happened to me in the East Village) is just part of living here?  Thankfully, there are things like 3-1-1 and ways to screw over a shitty landlord by legally not paying rent; we were allowed to keep 5 months worth of rent because our last landlord had so many violations (don’t EVER rent a property from Ray Bari, btw).  But still, it makes me long for the days of $525/mo., 2-bedroom, 2-bath, 1,250-square-foot apartments in Ohio.  Almost.