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Infinite Rampage!

I have been avoiding quizzes and quizzing for the last seven months, for a variety of reasons that I won’t go into right now. But when there was talk of doing the next edition of Graphic Rampage, the comics quiz ( the first edition of which I conducted for the KQA two years ago and which got blasted into limbo last year), I just had to do it. I am referring to this version of the comics quiz – “Infinite Rampage”, a fanboy touch that I cannot resist. And oh, the original name was supposed to be “Infinite Civil Secret Rampage”, but there’s only so much geek humour one can infuse into a name without the joke falling flat.

So Infinite Rampage it is, this Sunday October the 14th of 2007, in Daly Memorial Hall, Bangalore. Worlds will collide, pulses shall pound, the universe will never be the same again, as Hoary Hyperbolic Homonyms take over your quizzing moments.

Here is where you can take a look at the preliminary round of the previous Graphic Rampage. The quiz will be in the same vein, the only thing I have to take into account is that the Fanboy Quotient has definitely increased in the last two years – I mean, there are more people who have read Sandman and Watchmen and who know the differences between their Ennises and Ellises.

In other news, Hitman/JLA# 2 came out last week, and if it were not for my busted Internet connection, I would be SO reading this book right now.

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Finished William Goldman’s What Lie Did I Tell this weekend. Brilliant book on screenwriting and what makes movies tick, equally good as ( and better than in parts, I thought) Goldman’s earlier Adventures in the Screen Trade. While Adventures was more of anecdotes about the star system and the Hollywood machine, Lie goes deeper into the mechanics of storytelling in films. There are bits of classic screenplay moments – the crop-duster scene from North by Northwest, the zipper scene from There’s Something About Mary, the orgasm moment in When Harry Met Sally – each of these scenes are discussed and deconstructed in detail somewhere in the middle of the book. Elsewhere, Goldman also talks about “the Pitch”, how to sell a story to bored executive producers and studio heads. He comes up with pitches for his own screenplays,using a minimal number of words to describe The Princess Bride, for instance and Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid. He talks of the whys and hows of script doctoring, why a Studio would want the storyline of a movie script to be changed because it isn’t “happening”, and how an idea or two just leads to a completely different angle to the movie. ( The good part: he infuses his writing with good, solid examples throughout. The bad part: He tends to talk a little too much about himself.) All of this written in a witty and affable style that never bores you, or makes you think he’s driving the point home too hard.

Some other high-points of the book – Remember those forwarded emails about “Top Ten Things that only happen in movies”? The kind that go – “You will find a parking space right opposite your building, without fail.” and “In a movie, you can pay a taxi driver the exact fare without looking at your wallet.”. Well, Goldman explains WHY these rules HAVE to exist. I used to be pissed about screenplay writers adapting novels and changing storylines at their own whims. Goldman explains why this is not only an important thing, but also necessary for a movie to work.

In short, a very, very engaging look at the business and the art of screenplay writing.

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Heads-up from Guwahati!

Right, so I am at home and chilling out good and proper. I am chilling out so much that I cannot go to bed without wearing a sweater and socks and two mattresses. Brrr.

So you can download the quiz I did at IIM Kolkata, I was conscious enough after the late-night/early-morning revelries to upload both the powerpoints right here. The prelims are about 3 MB, and the finals are 8.7 MB.

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ANNNNNNNND

The quiz is done.

I am conducting the lit-arts quiz for this year’s Nihilanth, the annual ( well, sort of) inter-IIT-IIM quiz festival, due to be held on the 14th and 15th at IIM Kolkata. This is one of the rare times when personal stuff has taken precedence over question-setting, and I had to stay back late at the office two days before the quiz to finish setting all the questions. I have never cut it this close, and I will be glad, really really glad, if the quiz is well-received.

Reasons behind this lateness: my recent move from Bangalore to Hyderabad, and the fact that I have not unpacked any of my books/CDs/DVDs and my computer. Why? Because I am off, right after Nihilanth, to Guwahati, for a well-deserved two-week vacation, and I didn’t want the hassle of reorganising and dusting the preciousses after I get back. A lot of furniture-buying and room-reorganising are in the pipeline once I return. Also, had to do some major work-related revisions at the office, so not too much time to access the Internet there. The All-Important Call for which I was doing so got over about two hours ago, and I could rush through the final touches to the quiz. Another reason was that my roomie’s internet connection seems to have conked off for the past three days, leaving me unable to do much at home post-office.

The plan for the Guwahati trip is to listen to all of John Zorn’s albums ( a gigatorrent of which did whatever all well-recommended gigatorrents tend to do), and re-read the first couple of books of a series that I plan to finish after I am back. ( What series? I am not saying anything. It might be a question in my quiz, heh) If I am lucky, my sister and brother-in-law will also be at home at the time, on a brief trip from London, where both of them are working at the moment. If I am really lucky, my sister will be able to spare luggage-space to get the 28 volumes of Lone Wolf and Cub at one go, along with assorted signed books.

And in other news, I bought a washing machine. Haier, fully-automatic, 5 year-warranty and all that. Now if only those lazy salespeople would come and set the thing up….

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Of quizzing, and happy coincidences.

What have I been doing?

I conducted a couple of quizzes over the last month. Two of them were for IIT Kanpur, for their cultural festival Antaragni ’05. One (and a quarter) was were for IIM Indore’s management festival IRIS. They went off quite well, or so I would like to think. Met a lot of familiar and new faces over the trips. Happily enough, even the lych-worthy theme rounds were happily received, and that warms the cockles of my heart. ( That was just a figure of speech, I really don’t know what cockles are, and if they are associated with the heart, so whether they are warm or cool doesn’t really matter, because I wouldn’t know. Just saying…)

Though I am generally in varying levels of nervousness before a quiz I do ( the nerviness dissipates only when the quiz is halfway over, and as I reverse the direction of the questions, nobody faints or tries to lynch me.), there was one quiz in particular that made me shake in my shoes. It was the one I did for Class IV students, and it makes me sweat just to think of the fact that it required THREE tie-breaker rounds to figure out which teams got what prize. It is extremely unnerving for the quizmaster when he sees that someone who has answered his question (after standing up, and raising one’s hand even as the question is being read out) also breaks into a war-dance that would put a Native American Indian to shame. And that’s after every question, trust me. It also frightens me when students from Class III, when told that the round was going to be a flag round, start yelling “Eeeeeeeeeeeasy.” and proceed to crack every answer. Note to self – tougher questions the next time.

Did a comics quiz for the KQA yesterday. Note to self: scratch off one of life’s TODOs. Pretty good response, and really good answering by all the teams. Added to the already-generous official prize by adding a couple of comics DVDs/CDs as incentives. There, serioussam, that was me doing my bit for comics evangelism. Graphic Rampage ( for that was its name, precious) was followed by the Ganesh Nayak memorial quiz, conducted by tandavdancer, sonataindica, and their partner-in-criminally-good-quizzing Rajat. Blighters put paid to my no-excessive-geekery-in-the-comics-quiz rule by doing a seven question Sandman theme. One that I cracked at the fifth question, but refused to answer until Mother Teresa’s Racist Doglovers did so first. The propah excuse to make is that they were tagging behind our team by 5 points, and I didn’t want to upset the status quo. But the real reason was that other than Tori Amos, I could not figure out any way to connect the theme. How did I know it was Sandman? Because there is no way that Tori Amos can lead to anything ( or anyone) else in a quiz, other than Neil Gaiman. One of life’s little secrets, and the reason why I stayed away from Ms Amos in the comics quiz. Mwahahahahaha.

The whole question-setting/DVD-burning exercise added much to my stress levels on Saturday, which is probably the reason I fell asleep at 11:30 PM last night. One Perfectly Healthy Sunday night wasted – oh, the inhumanity of it all!

Frightening Coincidences Department

Ok, so last Wednesday night, I decide to read Miller’s Born Again arc off my hard disk. The reason why I hadn’t read this so far was that my Miller-Daredevil download, way back when downloads were at home in Hyderabad, comprised only issues 158-191. Managed to transfer the remaining issues ( 219, which I had owned and read way back, 227-233) from Sam when I was in Delhi, and yeah, so I read them at one go. Life was good, and the next day I came and checked out eBay prices. Just in case, you know.

Thursday Evening. A cursory trip to Magazines, Brigade Road’s gift to humankind along with Bookworm. (Blossom is exempted from the “gifts” category, and adds itself to the “necessary evil” part of the catalogue. ) Actually, I was on the way home from a trip to Bookworm, having bought a hardcover copy of Song of Susannah for a decent price, and Anthony Lane’s Nobody is Perfect, a collection of movie reviews and miscellaneous writings by the New Yorker reviewer ( trivia: where does the book get its title from?) Dropped into Magazines on a sudden impulse, and the guy tugs me by the sleeve and leads me to a corner stacked with Mojo and Uncut magazines, complete with CDs and astoundingly-high price tags. While I am still gasping for breath, he tugs at the other sleeve and leads me to the other corner of the shop, with the magic words “New comics.” And boy, oh boy, are they new or what! Get myself a stack of Supermans some two-three months old, a couple of JMS Spiderman issues, loads of Gotham Knights and Catwomans, when he brings out one more stack – which happen to be in packs of 5 each. I point out that because there’s no discount on the combo packs, he might as well open them up and display them as single issues – we comic-buyers always like to see what we are buying, right? As always, my powers of persuasion have the desired effect, and he slices open all 37-odd packs. At this juncture, I was about to go bill the comics I had selected ( along with a couple of Heavy Metal back-issues) when some familiar images peek out from the lot he’s diligently tagging. YES YES YESSSSSS! Issues 231, 232 and 233 of Daredevil, the ones I had read just the night before. More near-fainting spells ensue when I see the other comics in the lot – which include random issues of V For Vendetta, Elektra: Assassin, The ‘Nam, and Micronauts. (Yes, I love Michael Golden.) Had to pay 35 Rs per comic, but was worth it, really.

At the end of it all, I had to pay an auto-driver ten rupees extra to get the whole bundle back home. 99 comics, 3 magazines ( I totally ignored the Mojo/Uncut lot that evening), and two thick books. Now that was a night to remember.

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Quizmasterly Tips

How Not To Be A Jerk When Conducting A Quiz, part 1: When you are doing the prelims on powerpoint, NUMBER the bloomin’ slides. Otherwise, when someone asks you in the middle of the round – “Was that question 19 or 20?” and you find yourself fumbling for an answer, much Egg shall drip from your face. Especially when the marauding masses ask the same thing every two minutes (with varying question-numbers).

How Not To Be a Jerk When Conducting a Quiz, part 2: Have a test slide before the powerpoint show with embedded audio and video clips in it, and play them before the quiz begins. That way, you will know, when you click on a slide and find out that the bloomin’ audio clip does not play, whether the problem lies with the audio cable, or your moronic miscopying of the folders from the CD. And you will have an idea of the volume levels.

How Not To Be a Jerk After the Quiz is Over, part 1: REMEMBER THE QUESTIONS YOU ASKED, DIMWIT!!!!! Not just the answers, THE QUESTIONS. Because there might be a chance that the quizmaster the next day might ask a semi-mutilated version of the SAME QUESTION YOU ASKED yesterday, and you might be the only person in the auditorium not writing down the correct answer. Faugh!

p.s: Remember my experiences about asking a question onstage and then forgetting the answer? At least that didn’t happen this time. Whew.

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