Sunday, 27 April 2014

Mr Brownstone

Head up: Mr Brownstone is no more, but I'm told the quiz will return at the same location once the new owners open up. 

A quick word: The quiz at Mr Brownstone is run by IQ 2000 Trivia, a quiz company started by my friend Mike. If you were really paying attention, you would also remember when I said that he is the very same Mike who writes reviews for us here. I guess you could call this "Full Disclosure." Set you indignity level accordingly, and let's get started.
It's not actually so easy
Where: Mr Brownstone Bar and Grill, 2904 Main Street

When: 7pm, every Tuesday. It has been pretty full the last few weeks, so showing up ahead of time would be a smart idea. 

Web Presence: As mentioned the quiz is run by Mike Whitaker, aka IQ 2000 Trivia. Their (The royal Their) facebook page will keep you reminded of upcoming quizzes, drops subtle hints, and will keep you entertained with quiz questions throughout the week.

Team Info: I think there is a team size limit of seven, but it isn't too strictly enforced. There have been no 12 person mega-teams as of yet, so this rule has kind of been a technicality.

Format: Four rounds of 10 questions each. In practise it is more like 2 rounds of 20 questions each, with teams swapping papers to mark at the intermission after round 2. Slideshow accompaniment as well, which is nice.

Prizes: For a quiz with two official sponsors, the prizes are a pretty pedestrian pitcher of beer for the top two teams. Not that a gift pitcher should be looked in the mouth or... wait... Nope. Crossed my wires on that comparison, so let's move on. Last week 4 passes to the Scotiabank Theater went to the winning team, so it looks like the prize pool could be expanding.

Food and drink: I'd never given much thought to the food and drink at Mr. Brownstone before, but now that I've been there I actually like it quite a bit. Their tap selection is smaller than most craft beer bars, but it is well maintained with local beers and several interesting microbrews from the US. The food is good, and Tuesday is cheap taco night. I haven't had them yet, but all reports I've heard are that it is tasty.

Did you used to quiz a little, and then a little wouldn't do it, so you need to quiz more and more? Do you want to participate in a quiz on Tuesday, but can't be bothered to leave Mount Pleasant? Well, worry no longer - the fine people at Mr Brownstone Bar and Grill have heard the cries of the voiceless, and given us a great quiz to those of us who live South of Broadway and East of the Main.

I was curious to see how Mike (We remember him, right? I don't need to say that he writes for us sometimes again? I already did? Great!) would handle the transition from quizzer to host. Not that I doubted his ability for a second, but I was excited to see how he would synthesize his myriad opinions on quiz into an actual, living, breathing, hosted organism. The good news is that after a long and complicated labour, the result is a quiz that combines the best of most worlds. It is a fast paced, funny, and interesting quiz, accompanied by a multimedia presentation which, while a few steps short of spectacle, just may be the best in the town. It is pretty clear from the start that a lot of care went into the making of this quiz. The answers are often accompanied by short film clips, snazzy pictures, Goldie the singing waitress, and total system restarts from the high quality ASUS laptop running the slideshow.

So that's the show, but what about the questions themselves? You can't put lipstick on a pig, or so I'm told (though Google Image Search disagrees). The questions are quite good, traversing a wide range of topics, and spanning the spectrum of difficulty. The standard quiz topics you are used to make their appearances - Geography, Drinks, Sports and History, but you'll also see more questions that don't commonly get touched on - internet culture, video games, fashion, Canadiana and more detailed questions on TV shows/movies. It's a lot of fun to see people flexing their deep knowledge about Adrian Mole, or show that they were paying attention in between games of Street Fighter II, or recalling old Bob Newhart routines. IQ 2000 is not shy at all about throwing legitimately challenging questions in there, which I love. For the most part the quiz is fair and fun, but there are definitely a few questions that will separate the brains from the super-brains. After all, we can't have tiebreakers every week.

Kick him on down the line: A challenging and broad quiz that will be a lot of fun for everyone, from quiz maniacs to people just looking to have some fun.

But they do get a free pitcher of beer!

Wednesday, 23 April 2014

Yet more quizzes?!?!

The boom cycle of quizzes in Vancouver continues - I'm pleased to have found out about 2 new quizzes tonight, one which is currently running, and one which will start up next week. First off, Displace Hashery is running a Monday night quiz, aptly titled "Quizplace" - weekly at 8:30PM. Secondly, The Locker Room Pub on Kingsway will be starting a trivia night on Thursday evenings as of May 1st. It will be hosted by IQ 2000, aka our very own Mike, who has seen some success at Mr. Brownstone in recent weeks. Speaking of that devil, look for a review of said quiz coming soon! Spoiler alert: it is a lot of fun. After that, I'll be doing by best to venture into deepest, darkest Kits to attend The Bimini's quiz night, which likewise sounds like a good time.

It is officially more work to go to every quiz night in the city than I ever thought it would be.

Tuesday, 22 April 2014

Woo Hoo! Classic Simpsons Trivia

Where: SD Galleria + Sushi Lounge, 4316 Main Street

When: 7pm, one Monday a month. As with EXP Bar's video game trivia, I'm not entirely certain of the dates. See their website below for the up to date information.

Web Presence: The official website for the whole continent spanning operation is found here, but the Vancouver-specific twitter account will give you better information regarding upcoming events in town.

Team Info: 6 people per team, but they don't enforce this at all - if you can fit around a table, you're golden. Also, this is one of the rare quizzes that has a fee! the first week was $5 per team, but it has since been upped to $5 per player. Officially the steepest entry fee in town, but check out the prizes!

Format: Half quiz, half Simpsons love-in. 3 rounds of 10-20 questions each, with an intermission after each round where you watch an episode of a certain television show.

Who indeed?
Prizes: Check this out! There's a whole boat of prizes to be won here, mostly through raffles. You can win things such as: Simpsons comic books, autographed by the talented Nina Matsumoto! Simpsons guest star action figures! A one-third obsolete Simpsons day calendar! $25 Gift Certificates to SD Galleria! An impressive display of more or less interesting swag.

But... what about the team that wins the whole thing? What about the Gay Robots From Star Wars, as the kings of trivia mountain were so named? Well, they get a reserved table for next week (see below), a pitcher of beer, and their entire team immortalized in a drawing by Bongo comics illustrator James Lloyd. Best prize in town? Very probably. I guess the only question is, who gets to keep it?

Food and drink: The food is sushi and various other Japanese delicacies that you'll recognize if you've ever been out for sushi before. There is also a bonus menu with Simpson's themed dishes (Million Dollar Birthday Fries!A Galaxy of Prawns!). The drinks are ludicrously cheap, from their $3 Ryes to their $4.25 pints of White Bark. They aren't full pints, but that might help you out in the long run, especially at that price.

I've a friend, who shall remain nameless, even though he has a name. He lives in Toronto now, and has been frothing at every single orifice that one may politely froth over the fact that Toronto has a Classic Simpsons trivia night. It has been running there, and in cities throughout the United States for several years, and last month Vancouver was lucky enough to have Woo Hoo! Classic Simpsons Trivia open up a branch on the west coast. It is even polite enough to put on its show on a Monday, when there are relatively few quizzes to compete with.

The next order of business is an administrative warning. Even though it has only been around for 2 months, it is proving immensely popular. There were few seats remaining at 6:30, let alone 7. The place starts filling up around 6, so I suggest your team shows up early in order to guarantee seats for all. You can send someone down to hold a table, but you'll have a tough time reserving more than 5 chairs, and if you do manage to do so, you're probably an ass. But that's enough judgement for now.

The show goes along swimmingly with able hosts Simon and Leonard enthusiastically sharing MC duties before a captive audience. The enjoyment was widespread, although yr corrsp thinks that it was a little like shooting fish in a particularly crowded barrel, but he is a noted curmudgeon. A question I don't want to answer: Would people have less fun if everyone just gathered in a room and watched 3 episodes of the Simpsons without host or quiz? Somehow I doubt it.

That is not to slander the questions - they were fantastic. First off - it was all "Classic" trivia - i.e. seasons 1-9 i.e. the seasons you watched and loved. Also, the questions were all about on-episode content - gags, characters, plots, etc. Nothing about the creators or episodic ephemera, which means there will be no nasty surprises at their definition of trivia. There were few gimmies, and those were hilarious, so no one minded. A delightfully unique aspect to this evening was the post-question reactions. At most quizzes, a question is read, followed by (a) the muffled sounds of furtive discussions, or (b) stunned silence, based on whether or not a team knew what was up. Here the question would be met with either (a) howls of laughter or (b) the same stunned silence, which was excellent.

The difficulty ranged from easy-medium, to fiendishly hard. If you've only seen a few episodes and think you can remember who Homer's boss is, this is probably not for you, although you will still have a lot of laughs. But if you, like your humble author, grew up watching the Simpsons religiously at their 5:30 and 7:30 time slots, these questions will delight and challenge you. I can sense that you may want a brief taster, so I'll leave you with a sample of the fine work of Woo Hoo! Simpsons Trivia:
- True or False: Riding the monorail gives you mono?
- Name any 2 of Homer's lifelong dreams in the first 9 seasons.
- Troy McClure turned down the role of McBain's sidekick in McBain IV: Fatal Discharge to direct and star in what film?

Play "Taking Care Of Business!": Do you enjoy watching the Simpsons? Come on down.

Yours truly

Monday, 14 April 2014

Literary Trivia Quiz @ North Shore Writer's Festival

Sadly, it is an event held but once a year, but a quiz I had this much fun at deserves a writeup of its own.

The Ambiance: Located in the Atrium across the street from the North Vancouver Public Library, the quiz was held in very comfortable confines - a reserved table for each of the 20 teams, a bowl of pretzels, a paper table cloth to doodle on with attendant pencil crayons, and friendly beer and wine prices. CBC personality Grant Lawrence, hot on the heels of a reading from his new book, did an fantastic job of hosting. There were a few technical difficulties which resulted in a bit of a late start, but no one seemed too perturbed - until we had to clear out at the end. And did I mention the trophy? No? Well, there was a trophy. Easily the most impressive trophy I've seen at a quiz night. 2 and a half feet of glory, wrought in imitation gold.

The Main Event: The quiz itself was 3 rounds, and veterans of The Cascade Room's once and hopefully future quiz would have surely recognized the format and answer sheet. The first round was a mix of literature questions and trivia questions with a literary introduction. Round 2 saw a rather fun picture round with follow-up questions, and the third round, well, it was the third round.

To expand on the third round: there are a couple of ways of interpreting the phrase North Shore Writers Festival Literary Trivia Night. The most naive interpretation is that it is a literal trivia night at the NSWF. The next, probably that it is a Writer's Festival trivia night, held on the North Shore. But, the final, terrible truth was this: It is a a literary trivia night about North Shore Writers. The third round consisted of questions based on works of North Shore writers, a brilliant touch to remind us of where we were, and why. The questions were tough, responded to with general acclaim from the locals, and went a long way to deciding the victor.  Rightfully so, I say. The quiz writer promised me that next year would not have so many questions on North Vancouver's literary pedigree, but brushing up on your Douglas Coupland and Malcolm Lowry couldn't hurt.

I haven't mentioned the quiz's writer, Julie Backer, but I would be remiss if I didn't mention the Kindly One herself. On top of writing an excellent, difficult, and balanced quiz, she was on hand to adjudicate any answering disputes. Woe to the team that asked for her mercy, as more often than not the vengeful Eumenide would descend, scorpion whip poised, and deny their petition. It was a harsh, yet fair justice. I appreciated it, but I can't imagine everyone did. So next year, make sure you know your John Kennedy Toole from your Timmy O'Toole, your Hester Prynne from your John Prine.

The Movie Version: An excellent quiz that, like any narrow focus quiz, is a challenge and a lot of fun. If you like reading, there's no good reason you should miss this.