Saturday, October 17, 2009

Around the World On A Stage

One of the things I have picked up through my travels is a love of the theater. I saw my first “Broadway” show in London (and just to further confuse the geography of that sentence it was a production of Chicago). Some of my favorite shows have addressed issues ranging from inner city life in Upper Manhattan to the AIDS epidemic in Africa without adding a single stamp to my passport.

So, when my beautiful and talented friend Taryn Darr, star of the 5th Avenue Theater’s Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat, invited me to an opening night performance I threw on my theater-going heels and raced out the door. 

I'll admit to being slightly religiously-challenged and a little skeptical of a “family” show, but I was quickly converted. This silly storyline takes the audience on a journey from Israel to Egypt riding on the backs of every musical genre they can cram in. I was especially impressed with Jennifer Paz, the narrator whose kid-friendly voice could soothe a rabid dog to sleep yet still manages to remain saccharine-free, and the band of brothers whose vocal prowess and comedic timing were more memorable than any of their names.

And of course, the entertainment industry loves any excuse to throw a party. Palomino hosted the cast, crew and lucky few who took advantage of a buffet dinner and “Technicolor Coolers”. Theater parties rival Halloween for costume watching with attendees in satin dresses, baseball caps and jeans (lead Anthony Federov…), and a fabulous older man in a sequined Technicolor coat (where was my camera when I needed it?!).

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Six Key Members of a Winning Pub Quiz Team

The Over Achiever Consider this person your team captain. They will invite the maximum number of players (with alternates on-call if a team member doesn’t show up) and organize the time and meeting place to get the best seat. This isn’t just for fun - they take trivia seriously! They’ve got spare cash to cover those who forgot their wallet and are the first to shush members caught talking when the questions are being read. Sure, their obsession with the rules may seem a little overbearing at times, but when they argue their way into that extra half-point that puts you in the lead, you’ll be glad to have them on your side.  

The Frat Boy This American boy in a beer logo t-shirt may not have aced economics, but he can quote movies from classic Caddyshack to the latest Will Farrell blockbuster, not to mention the lyrics to every classic hair metal or nineties boy band. He’s got a memory for mindless pop culture knowledge that anyone with their nose in a book through school may have missed out on. As an added bonus, he’ll go through drinks fast enough to ensure that the bartender/server checks back on your group on a regular basis throughout the night, so your glasses will never go empty. 

The Old Timer It never hurts to have a generational gap among team members. When those “classic movies” and “World War II” rounds come up, someone who actually remembers these events can contribute much more than those who studied them in film school or enjoy the history channel. The best way to learn general knowledge is through life experience and those additional years can add invaluable depth.

The Super Fan I have never been to a pub quiz that hasn’t had at least one round or question devoted to sports. You may have trouble keeping this person’s attention if there is a televised game anywhere else in the bar, but that friend who can spout off statistics or MVP’s in any given sport, and follows everything from rugby to racquetball deserves to be a first round draft pick on any trivia team. Warning: they may even expect their first beer as a signing bonus.

The Backpacker As a world traveler you already bring a wealth of knowledge to the table. What city is that famous monument located in? What language is spoken in this small South American city? What is the national anthem of Luxembourg? It just so happens that on your travels you somehow stumbled upon the answer and it involves a story embedded firmly in your memory. You may not become a Slumdog Millionaire, but you’ll never forget why you’re sure of this answer.

The "Dead Weight" There is always one member of every team who is just along for the ride. They swear they’re not any good at trivia, are just out for the company and apologize in advance for bringing the team down. Then that one question comes up that has your entire team staring blankly at each other, and this person jumps in with the perfect answer to save the day. That’s the joy of a pub quiz, you never know what you’ll need to know until it’s too late.

What tips can you add to organize a winning trivia team? And which important members did I forget? 

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

What Comes First, the Sports Team or the Fans?

After a particularly brutal weekend of Seattle football (not to mention coming off of the worst year ever for any sports fan), I got to thinking about the relationship between sports and the city. There is no denying that an athletic presence contributes to the identity of both a city and its people.

Seattle has a reputation for good, but not great, professional sports teams. The Seattle Seahawks made a Super Bowl appearance in 2006, but our rings ultimately ended up on the fingers of the Pittsburgh Steelers. We invested in a gorgeous baseball stadium, spent $100 million dollars on star-studded Mariners talent like Ichiro Suzuki, but still boasted a baseball team that lost a heart-breaking 100 games in 2008. And then there was the winless college football season of my alma mater, the University of Washington…

And yet somehow, Seattlites look for something to cheer about. We rally around individual records, monumental moments and the pure joy that comes from the unexpected success of a perpetual underdog. Our fans actually celebrated the loss of UW’s first college football game simply because we held our own with the highly ranked LSU. In the face of defeat, we remain hopeful.

I find this attitude interesting because as a city itself, Seattle is a bit of an underdog. Sure, it has a reputation for being beautiful, but it doesn’t hold the worldwide the recognition of Los Angeles or New York City. And yet, residents are fiercely loyal in the belief that we don't need a title when we know how great we've got it. So are our sports teams a product of our environment, or an example of it? And how much of this resilience, or is it acceptance of disappointment, finds its way into the everyday life of our residents?

Every city’s fans have their own reputations. I’ve witnessed in-your-face New Yorkers boo their own players if they didn’t feel up to their standard of excellence. Still, this was unsurprising in a city that attracts worldwide talent and accepts only the best in every arena. Could this be a contributing factor to the championship ring collection of the New York Yankees? Or a byproduct of it?

Every sports fan I know wants to feel like they make a difference in the outcome of the game. We bring our attitudes, cultures and our personalities into the stadium, I’m simply curious how much of this mentality actually factors onto the field.

Saturday, October 3, 2009

Toilet Humor

I'm always entertained by the signs, customs and advertising campaigns I discover while traveling, but don't always expect it at home. This was before discovering the wall of a bathroom stall in the women's restroom at The Duchess in Seattle's University District:

"Please secure your cell phone before flushing!"

Cue mental image of drunk college female trying to explain to the significantly older gentlemen who run this bar why she was on the phone with her pants around her ankles in the first place....