Your “Can You Dig It?” Quizo Update

This is how close you came to going completely off the rails tonight.

I forget how it started exactly, but yesterday morning my father and I were talking and somehow the conversation turned – I am not making this up – to tonight’s Charity Quizo and the theme from Shaft.

“You know,” my father said, “you could actually get a number of quizo questions directly from the song.”

I said, “you mean just go, ’round one, question three, who’s the cat that won’t cop out when there’s danger all about?’ I’m not sure how great an idea that is.”

“Or how about ‘who’s the black private dick who’s a sex machine to all the chicks?’ I think this is valuable unexplored territory.”

I stroked my chin in a bad parody of contemplation. “Or ‘who is the man that would risk his neck for his brother man?'” I paused for a second. “Let’s call that Plan B.”

My father said, “you’re damn right.”

Now that we’ve thankfully moved past that, let’s give the final rundown for how it will all go down.

We are at the Brauhaus Schmitz, 7th and South, in the private room. Doors open at 7, and Quizo starts at 8. $10 to play. There will be opportunities during the game to buy answers. First place gets a $100 Brauhaus gift certificate, second place gets $50, and third $25.

There will also be tiebreaker-style trivia raffles between rounds for $5 a pop, and the prizes for those are:

– A pack of gift cards, $50 to the Reading Terminal Market and $50 to Amazon
– A Keurig K75 coffee maker
– A 7″ Kindle Fire HDX

As ever, the FB event is up and has all this info and more at:

Beyond that, I’m looking forward to seeing folks for some quality trivia action tonight. It’s going to be great! Bring money!

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Your Unfortunate Word Choice Quizo Update

Before we get into the meat of this week’s tale (pun vaguely intended), I realize now that I was so moved by my own ineptitude last week that I forgot to mention two things:

One was any info about the actual Quizo game itself. There isn’t a ton of new data to report right now – I’m still working on prize support and will hopefully have more on that later – but I can say that there is a Facebook event that you can get on and share with your friends, enemies, Swiss bankers, etc. That’s at:

The more the merrier, as I’ve said. Please pass it around.

I am continuing to forget the other thing, so let’s move on.

There is this new BBQ restaurant in Cherry Hill that my friends and I like a lot, called Whole Hog BBQ. It is most excellent. We go there as often as we can. The ribs there are so good that it is entirely plausible that you might consume an entire half rack without the addition of sauce. That is how good this barbecue is: when presented with the option of drenching your ribs in a combination of garlic and liquid sugar, you will often decide against it. Madness, right?

We found ourselves there on Saturday night after I spent my day 1) watching my high school football team stage a comeback-slash-ass-whomping against Haverford School, 2) shopping at Penzey’s Spices, in which I successfully managed to only buy 4 things I didn’t reallyneed, and 3) dodging “Harry Potter Day” in Chestnut Hill, aka “oh now what the fuck is THIS?”


What I’m REALLY doing on Saturday afternoons in the fall is watching the team my father coaches, which unfortunately also happens to be where I went to school. The problem is that my desire to watch my father’s team clashes with my desire to never see, talk to, or interact in any way with anyone ELSE involved with my school. My solution to this problem is to sit on the opposite end of the stands from the Chestnut Hill/SCH/whatthefuckever students and teachers, and pray that no one looks too closely.

Though there are no “official” areas of the stands, what this means in practical terms is that oftentimes I find myself surrounded by opposing team parents and scouts from other schools. This Saturday I had both – guys from Episcopal behind me and Haverford parents on all other sides.

In the first quarter, on a particularly impressive blown defensive assignment, Haverford broke out a 70+ yard sweep and ran in for a touchdown. However, there was a truly awesome holding penalty around midfield, and the running back started his celebrations about 2 yards too early and ended up fumbling the ball through the end zone. There would be no touchdowns on that play.

I snorted, started typing on my phone and muttered, “coming back” as the Haverford parents were still cheering. When the ref announced the touchback I started cackling.

One of the mothers sitting at about my two o’clock glared at me and said, “the SCH section is over there.”

I stared at her for five seconds, then said, as deadly serious as I could muster, “do you know who I am?”

She turned around and angrily grumbled to herself.

At halftime, when she had gone for a drink, one of the Episcopal guys leaned over and asked, “so who are you?”

I shrugged and said, “I’m not anybody.”


Anyway, Whole Hog is quite delicious. I had ribs. My friends had things that for some inexplicable reason were not ribs.

At some point the conversation somehow turned to the fact that my one friend, let’s call him… say… “Nick of Oprah’s Book Club” had lost his voice earlier in the week, and that he and his wife, let’s call her… say… “Regina of Oprah’s Book Club” had some hijinks ensue when they were at the grocery store earlier in the week.

I cannot recall the exact genesis of it but at some point someone said, “we were trying to figure out what kind of bread to buy.”

“Hold it, hold it, hold it,” I said. “How hard is it to buy bread? How much figuring out does this take?

Nick said, “a lot, sometimes.”

I cannot think of a situation in which any discussion is required before buying bread. I said as much.

Reg said, “it might happen that two people get married who like different kinds of bread. One person might like wheat bread, the other person might like white bread.”

Now, while my feelings on marriage are broadly known (c.f. Romeo and Juliet I.iii.65-70), I do have some knowledge of it from observation if nothing else and as interpersonal issues go this isn’t exactly up there with marrying across religions or political parties or anything like that.

I said, “why would you even do that? Marry someone who likes the same kind of bread. This seems like an avoidable problem.”

It’s conversations like this that are the reason one of my friends says that cameras should follow me around.

Nick said, “I like white bread.”

I said, “for starters, that’s terrible, and secondly, you probably should have thought of that before you married her.”

Reg said, “we settled on whole wheat white bread. That works for everybody.”

I said, I thought not unreasonably, “that sort of defeats the purpose of white bread.”

Our friend Kevin, also sitting with us, snorted in what I took to be agreement with my thinking that whole wheat white bread is right up there with low carb cereal, i.e. the culinary equivalent of that kid who repeated sixth grade three times.

Little did I know that, at this point, one of the greatest moments of my life was less than a second away.

Reg said, and I am not making this up, “John, sometimes in a marriage you need compromise bread.”

Let me repeat that:

“John, sometimes in a marriage you need compromise bread.”

Compromise bread.

Kevin started laughing uncontrollably – I’m talking Pac Man Card uncontrollable laughing. Actual tears. I was having trouble staying in my seat myself.

When I regained 100% control I said, “oh my god I am putting that on the internet on Monday.”

Reg said, “I don’t want that on the internet!”

I said, “then you really shouldn’t have said the words ‘compromise bread.'”

I wonder what the compound German word for THAT is.

See you at the Brauhaus on the 11th. Maybe we can find a native and ask.

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Your “Once More Unto the Breach, Dear Friends” Quizo Update

Before we begin, a few notes on my forthcoming modification of the word “annual.”

After the reasonable success of the first two charity events I was totally ready to have one last year. Then, as most of us know by now, right around the time when I would start working on it the Dark Horse ceased to exist, god rest her.

Not gonna lie to you, folks, I was pretty bummed about that. I had spent a lot of very good times at the DH, a lot of it on Monday nights with a lot of the people reading this. Also maybe a time or two involving a soccer game. Landon Donovan against Algeria, man. I… sorry, just… some sawdust in my office, give me a second…

Anyway, that happened. And at the time I had just started a new job and some other stuff and didn’t have a ton of free time and, well, let’s just say the stars weren’t right for it. And so, like the One Ring, the charity game faded into legend.

Slight interlude:

I was at a wedding this past weekend – longtime readers of this space may recall some of my tragicomic history with weddings – and at one point the groom came over to our table and we were admiring his wedding ring which, and I want to stress this part, looks an awful lot like it’s made of obsidian.

“Hey,” I said. “Is your wedding ring made of dragon glass?”

“Yes, John, it is,” he said. “My wedding ring can kill the White Walkers.”

I said, “that would actually be pretty rad. I once knew a guy who convinced his fiancee that their wedding rings should be the One Ring.”

One of the many not-single women my age at the wedding said, “oh, that sounds nice.”

I replied, “I can assure you it is not. For starters, the One Ring is, you know, evil. His cruelty and malice, and all that. I mean, Chrissakes, I’m such a goddamn nerd that I can recite the inscription on the ring in English AND the Black Speech of Mordor and -I- wouldn’t want a woman who would agree to the One Ring as a wedding band.”

I was about to roll into the Black Speech version when she said, “you wouldn’t?”

“No,” I said. “I want a woman who agrees to that when I ask for it but when we get to the jeweler says ‘are you out of your fucking mind?'”

End interlude.

So the charity event sat in the mud at the bottom of the proverbial Anduin. But circumstance, as it always does, conspired, Now, a great darkness stirs in the (North)east, the Nine are abroad, and while the Black Tower/Dark Horse may not have been rebuilt – yes, I understand that the actual building the Dark Horse was in never went anywhere, but I’m running this metaphor into the ground as far as it will go – yes, folks, Charity Quizo has returned.

Things are going to be a little different this year. Let’s talk about how they’ll be different.

For starters, obviously the Dark Horse is out, since despite persistent rumors to the contrary I do not have the power to raise the dead. Yes, again, I am aware that there is still a bar at that location but it is, as a wise man once said, more machine now than man, twisted and evil.

So, then, the Third Quasi-Annual Charity Quizo will be held at the Brauhaus Schmitz on South Street. Fun fact about the Brauhaus: I hate German food. I hate it. The entire national cuisine makes me want to start my own culinary Marshall Plan based on Santucci’s pizza and chocolate chip cookies. But I LOVE the Brauhaus. It is my favorite restaurant in Philadelphia. The food there is outstanding. And they have, to my understanding, something like 845 beers available. The game will be in a private room at the back that I didn’t even know existed. Our new location is a very, very good thing.

The beneficiary this year is also different. Folks who know me well are aware that most of the time I am a supporter of children’s charities – LLS, the Philadelphia Children’s Alliance, CHOP, things like that. But, again, circumstance conspired. This year we will be holding Charity Quizo to benefit the Wounded Warrior Project.

Since 2001 more than 50,000 US servicemen and women have been wounded in Operations Enduring Freedom, Iraqi Freedom, and New Dawn, along with 320,000 traumatic brain injuries and more than 400,000 cases of post-traumatic stress. In 2012, for the first time ever, more active duty US soldiers died by their own hand than in combat, and more than 6,500 veterans took their own lives. The WWP provides programs, services and support to to veterans and their families dealing with the physical and emotional scars of war. You can learn more about them at

Now let’s talk about what’s the same. Most of this stuff repeat offenders will already know, but it’s good to keep everyone on the same page, at least until I start keeping score.

Charity Quizo happens on Monday night, November 11. Doors open at 7, trivia questions start flying at 8. It costs $10 to play, and the limit is 6 people to a team. There will be Brauhaus gift certificates for the top 3 teams – $100 for first, $50 for second, and $25 for third. There will be tiebreaker-style trivia raffles between rounds for other prizes. In the past these have been golf clubs, big gift cards, game consoles, things like that. More on those in the coming weeks. And, of course, since the whole point of all this is to raise money for a good cause, during the game you will be able to buy answers. And there will be beer. Lots and lots of beer.

I wonder now if I might not toss in a gift card to Cavanaugh’s Headhouse or Despayre or whatever it’s called now as a lark.

Either way – now you know. Charity Quizo returns next month. There will be an event on Facebook you can sign up for, and I will provide the usual Monday updates from now until the happy day. Hope to see you at the Brauhaus. As I say every year: it’s going to be great! Bring money!

(As ever, apologies to anyone who gets this twice, and let me know if you want out of the updates.)

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Your Stranger Than Fiction Quizo Update

So, like last year, it’s time to start making serious preparations for Charity Quizo at the Dark Horse. This also means that, like last year, I just got back from New York Comic Con. Now some of you may be thinking, “why, John is a year older and a year wiser, surely this time his trip to NYCC involved no misadventures whatsoever.”

If you’re reading this I’m not sure WHY you’d be thinking that, because thinking that would indicate that you are barely intelligent enough to parse a sentence, let alone actually play Quizo. While I suppose it is theoretically possible that someone reading this could have amnesia and somehow forget that I am the plaything of an angry trickster god, that seems fairly unlikely. More likely you are just, like me, an incurable optimist.

At the show I ran into a girl I knew ages and ages ago – just randomly saw her on the floor, because at a convention with 100,000 people you’re bound to just walk past folks you know and haven’t seen for years. We made the usual small talk and in the course of this conversation she mentioned that she was going to an afterparty at a bar near my hotel on Saturday night and it’s going to be GREAT and you TOTALLY have to come.

Some of you may recall that my experience with comic convention afterparties isn’t exactly positive in the first place, and this had the “added benefit” of being in Manhattan on a Saturday night. If you’ve never done extensive drinking in Manhattan, let me explain something to you: with very few exceptions, every bar on the island is exactly the same. It is a very long and very skinny room with a bar running along one long wall. Everything is done up in a dark hardwood that is covered in high-gloss lacquer.There aren’t enough lights, it is very crowded, and very loud. They all play the same 80s music, they charge way too much for drinks, and the people there make you think “you know, that Hannibal Lecter fella may have been on to something.”

As I noted in the story of the last comicon afterparty I went to, this is so far from my scene it’s hard to accurately describe the distance. But, I thought, old friend, comic book people, I’ll make an effort.

Late on Saturday night I met her at the bar, and the place turned out to be every other New York bar I’ve ever been in (except one, but that’s another show). Wood, dark, loud, full of people. Lots of people were wearing nametags, which I guess isn’t too weird at a convention party, but there was an odd bit: almost everyone’s nametag also had a Twitter handle on it. I figured this was some kind of 21st century communication thing, or at worst a way for a bunch of people to collect new Twitter feeds to follow.

Somewhere, when I thought this, that angry trickster god had a nice little chuckle, grabbed a handful of popcorn, and peered closer into his scrying mirror.

Now, here is what transpired from my point of view at this party:

I was there for maybe 25 minutes. I spent three of those minutes talking to my friend about comics, and the rest of the time making awkward small talk with other people who I had never met. Because, you know, I’m GREAT with new people. And new places. Yeah, good times.

The other 22 minutes I was there the girl I know was flitting all over the bar with her phone in her hand, running up to people and doing that girl-hello-scream thing. I figured, it’s a big show and she probably has people she knows coming from all over.

At the 25 minute mark my social anxiety got the better of me, I made the (true) excuse that I had to be up early in the morning, thanked my friend for inviting me, and headed back to my hotel.

This is what ACTUALLY happened at the party:

After talking to me for three minutes and then leaving me to make small talk with perfect strangers – which I suppose she may not have known is something that absolutely terrifies me – my old friend pinballed around the bar, running up to people and doing that girl-hello-scream thing and saying hi to them…


I am not making this up.

She would walk up to someone, make the noise, and then, on her phone, fire off a tweet that said “OMG! HI! @soandso”

I say again: I am not making this up.

I learned this after the fact, last night, when I got home and took a look at her twitter feed and the time I was at the bar (and several hours thereafter) is just tweet after tweet of “[internet interjection]! [random greeting word]! @[Twitter handle].”

Now, don’t get me wrong. I like Twitter. I am a Twitter user, though not a terribly active one (@kozemp, if anyone cares). I think Twitter is great for certain things, especially as a sort of personal news aggregator. While my friends are all pretty universally smart people, not all of THEIR friends are, and Twitter spares me a lot of the idiocy I see on comment threads on my friends’ Facebook statuses. So, overall, I am Twitter-positive.

This, though? Saying hello to people on Twitter that you are literally standing in front of? That is a bridge too goddamn far.

That isn’t the worst part, though.

The worst part is that I started to click on some of the people she was hello-tweeting…

And they were all doing the same thing.

I sat there at my computer, staring at this hideous perversion of social networking, and thought, “I’m living in a bad William Gibson parody.”

Somewhere, in the bowels of the earth, Loki chewed on a pretzel bite and started planning next weekend.

Charity Quizo. Monday, November 14, at the Dark Horse. Doors open at 730. Can’t wait to see you there.


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Your “Son of a BITCH” Quizo Update

This just happened. I mean literally, in the last two hours, just happened:

I’m seeing my GI for my regular visit on Friday, and I’m supposed to get blood tests done before I go. So this afternoon I went to the little lab right near my house where I get this stuff done.

Now, I had just been in there about a week ago to get OTHER blood tests, and when I was there I got what was easily the best blood drawing ever. It used some kind of tiny little needle attached to a plastic butterfly-shaped thing with a flexible tube that hooked into the vial. It was great.

Today, I walked into the place and it was easily 90 degrees in there. It was SWELTERING in this joint. I signed in and they immediately called me back to the little room. I sat in the room and the nurse came in.

I’m not a fan of needles – any sharp things, really – and in an attempt to make pleasant conversation I said, “wow, is it me or is it REALLY hot in here?”

The nurse gave me a nasty look and left the room for five minutes without saying a word.

I thought, that’s not a good sign.

She came back with the not-tiny gigantic ultra-painful blood test needle and proceeded to spend about 2.3 seconds finding a vein before jabbing the needle into my arm. The blood test was not, suffice it to say, particularly delicate.

I have since been reliably informed by two female acquaintances that my nurse was pretty stroppy because APPARENTLY my perfectly-innocent question is in actuality some sort of pickup line. The nurse regarded my question as a crude attempt to extract sexual favors from a health care professional in a clinical setting. I was actually making a legitimate request for information about the ambient temperature.

I can’t live in this world.

Assuming I can go two more days without accidentally provoking someone into sticking another sharp object into my guts, we are go for Charity Quizo this Wednesday. Doors open at 8, we start at 8:30, we have got tons of awesome stuff to give away from Reading Terminal, Best Buy, Taylor Made and others. If you have any questions and I haven’t been murdered yet I’ll be happy to answer them.

Until then, see you all on Wednesday night.


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Your On The Run Quizo Update

Not a whole lot this week folks – busy busy busy running around trying to get everything ready for next week. Also, you know, I have to eat and sleep, and that takes up an awful lot of time. As does Netflix.

So, just some quick info:

– As you can see, there is a new prize listed up on the other page: a $50 gift card to Best Buy. You may of course use it at your leisure, but if I might suggest a lovely Rock Band 3 or DJ Hero 2 bundle…?

– On a related note, DJ Hero 2 is REALLY FUCKING HARD. Just, wow.

– I mentioned last week that I would talk this week about seating, and here it is. There will be plenty of seating. However, the earlier you get there the better. We’re going to have a whole big bunch of people (which is obviously awesome) and prime real estate is going to be… well, prime real estate. Doors open at 8PM. Dawdling is discouraged.

– “Dawdling” is a funny word.

– I am working on finalizing all of the raffle/auction prizes. The awesomeness of these cannot be overstated. What information about them I am willing to reveal before the actual event – which is not all of it – will be released next Monday.

– I’ve started working on the questions, which are going to be MOSTLY brand-new. I really can’t stop myself from tossing in some old favorites. I’m trying to lock down a speed round, though, and kinda hitting the wall on that one. Obviously we want something entertaining, but I don’t want to focus too narrowly at a one-time event. Suggestions?

All right, folks, that’s all for this week. See you next Wednesday.


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Your Slightly Inconsistent Quizo Update

You may have noticed that there was not an update last week. You noticed correctly, and I apologize for that. There is, of course, a reason that there was not an update last week and that reason is, of course, hilarious.

Allow me to explain.

In the intervening time since leaving the Quizo fold I have, believe it or not, actually made a commitment to healthier living. Now, obviously, this isn’t really a NEW thing. My abiding commitment to healthy living goes back a ways, though it might be observed that my decision to stop drinking 11 years ago was more a commitment to “living in general” than “healthy living” necessarily. And the last time I quit smoking seems to have stuck – it’ll be two years come Christmas and I have ZERO desire to ever smoke a cigarette again. This amazes me; I actually don’t want to smoke MORE than I don’t want to spend twelve dollars a day on cigarettes.

Earlier this year, though, I decided to really take the plunge and tackle the last healthy living frontier: I decided, finally, to get in shape. I made this decision for two reasons. One is, obviously, that living healthily is, you know, good. That’s admittedly a kind of flighty reason, but thankfully I also have reason #2: my doctor is an evil little gnome, but if I show up at her office weighing less than I did the previous time she doesn’t bitch at me and I don’t have to answer a lot of stupid questions.

Yes: I am motivated to lose weight primarily by laziness. Sometimes I amaze even myself.

Now this, obviously, is a long process. Right now the best guesses are that it will take something on the order of 2-3 years to get where I “should” be. But, hey, no time like the present, right? So I went insane on getting healthy.

Getting healthy, in case you haven’t heard, involves exercise. Lots of regular exercise. So, I bought myself an exercise bike and planted it in front of my television. That worked for a little while, but now there’s two problems. One, unless you’re willing to spend a CRAPLOAD of money on it, exercise bikes are incredibly uncomfortable, and two, even if you’re watching your complete run of The Muppet Show while you’re doing it, riding an exercise bike every day gets really boring really fast.

I had mentioned this to a friend of mine who told me, “why don’t you try lifting weights?” I thought, you know, why DON’T I try that?

So, I joined a gym. I joined a Bally’s up here near me, actually, which ended up even surprising me. I had assumed the experience of going into one would be some horrifying ordeal, so before I did I visited basically every gym within half an hour of my house. All of them either had no free weights – supposedly respectable gyms with not a single barbell to their name – or were very scary hardcore-type lots of grunting and screaming places, or were just dingy ratholes (you know who you are).

Finally, convinced I’d never find a gym I could stand, I walked into Bally’s and braced myself for what was supposed to be the legendary Bally’s hard-sell.

The legendary Bally’s hard-sell consisted of a five minute tour of the place – with its very well-stocked free weight room – and the manager telling me once how much my month-to-month membership cost. I’ve been sold harder by a newspaper box.

Over the course of maybe two months I went from reluctant gym visitor who occasionally maybe skipped a workout to rearranging my schedule to make sure I got my workout time in. I’m hardly a gym rat or anything – I am only in there three times a week, after all – but if you told me two years ago that I would eventually be someone who woke up three hours early on a Saturday morning so I could make sure I’d get to the gym before the Chelsea game I’d have sent the men in white coats after you.

Funny old world, ain’t it?

Anyway, flash to a week ago last Friday – the 15th, to be exact. I’m still in the beginning of that day’s workout, which starts off with squats. When I lifted weights in high school for crew I used to love doing squats. Whether I loved them because I was in way better shape back then or I loved them because I was a teenager and thus an idiot back then is a reasonable question, because now I HATE them. I hate squats. Out of every single exercise I do that involves moving large masses of metal and rubber, squats are the only one I actively despise. I do them, however, and I do them without complaint because they are just about the most efficient weightlifting exercise known to man.

(Note: the without complaint part is not actually true.)

So last Friday, I’m onto my fourth set of squats. Close to done.  I’m already eyeing the guy at the bench press, figuring he should be finished by the time I’m done my fifth set. I step under the bar, hitch it up off the rack, and start my lift.

When I’m about four inches down I feel like I’ve been shot. There’s a sudden, sharp pain in one spot on my lower back that half a second later has exploded all over my lower back. I managed to get the bar back up on the rack and backed away from it, but even five seconds on I knew what had happened: I herniated a disc in my back.


I somehow stumbled out of the gym and into my car, and then once I got home I somehow stumbled into my bed, where I proceeded to stay for the better part of the next 24 hours. The next day I woke up and the pain was so bad I had to go to the ER, where they very cheerfully gave me prescriptions for steroids (not the good kind) and painkillers (very much the good kind) and wished me good luck sticking it out until I could see my orthopedist in three weeks.

All of this, then, is why there was no charity Quizo update last Monday: I wasn’t upright until about sometime last Tuesday night, and by then it seemed a little late to bother.

No new or pressing information this week, but remember: tell your relatives. Tell your friends. Hell, tell your enemies. Their money is as good as any. Unless they’re that counterfeiter guy I saw a special on MSNBC about last week, his money we don’t want. But everyone else’s actual currency? That we want. So spread the word, stay tuned next week for some actual information about prizes and seating, and I’ll see you on the 10th.


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