Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Ship of Fools, Part 5: Our Short-Lived Career As Grifters

Relatively early on in the cruise, Ian became convinced, because of a total fluke occurrence, that we should all quit our jobs — or, in his case, school — to become the latter-day equivalent of riverboat card-sharp grifters.

Here's how and why that happened:

On like day two of the cruise, we saw in that day's edition of the Fun Times — Carnival's liberally-biased, Marxist. lamestream daily newspaper, which, inexplicably, still hasn't endorsed the ticket of Palin/Hannity 2012, so QED on teh liberal bias right there — that there was going to be this Sports Trivia Contest outside the sports bar on deck five at 5:00 p.m.; and when Ian heard that, he said we had to go because he was delusionally convinced we would win. As with most — I daresay all — delusions, there is no basis in reality for his thinking that, other than that I know slightly more about sports than he does1.

But he was all, "Dad, you can beat them! I know it!" And I'm all, "Ian, we'll be playing against guys whose whole, pathetic lives are about hanging out at bars, drinking Miller Lite and quizzing each other about sports trivia. They'll basically hand us our butts on a platter."

But I figured the only way to get Ian to stop hero-worshiping me regarding my alleged knowledge of sports was to let him witness me abjectly failing firsthand2. And so he, Teh 'Bride and I went to the Sports Bar3 and grabbed one of the many nubby little miniature golf-type pencils and a sheet of paper and prepared to Play Sports Trivia!1!

And the Assistant Cruise Director who MC'd the contest was both a skirt and and a Kiwi and that is what we Yanks4 call "Having two strikes against you from the get-go5." But my purpose in pointing this out, other than to be obnoxious, is to clue you in to the fact that the questions asked in this Trivia Contest were largely about activities that Americans, especially Penile-Americans, aka dudes, wouldn't consider to be sports, strictly speaking. Things like "fütball" (which is what Kiwis and the rest of the uncivilized world call soccer, because they, like the Brits6, can't speak English) and tennis.

And to give you an idea of how poorly we were performing, we were getting questions like, "This famous football [i.e., soccer]  player, nicknamed 'Booter' ..."

I really don't have to include the rest of the question — which I don't remember anyway — do I? But rather than leave that question blank and thereby look ignorant, we put down the answer: "Booter McGee". Which was wrong.

You'd be surprised how many of our answers derived from our belief in a Secret Sports Hegemony by the Infamous McGee Family, whose existence we posited just so we wouldn't leave any questions fucktardedly unanswered. Because I think there was a "Famous" boxer question for which our answer was "Punchy McGee" and a tennis question for which our original answer was "Goat-fucker McGee" but we ultimately changed it to "Rod Laver" because we thought that would be more insulting7.

And of course every time the Kiwi Cruise Director asked, "So, how does everyone think they're doing? Good? Bad? Cahn't tell?" I'd give the old "thumbs down" gesture because I though we were sucking worse than The World's Worst Sports Trivia Contestant, the Notorious Sucky McGee.

But — long story short — we ended up getting 10 out of 20 questions correct, which, much to our surprise, tied us for the lead. And we ended up having a sudden death showdown with this other guy, coincidentally also from Joisey, and the question was an American football question about the former head coach of the Redskins, to which I knew the answer was "George Allen" but simply could not pull his name up from the disk in time and the other guy beat me by a split-second in a photo-finish8 that had everyone on the edge of their seats because they were impatient to leave because questions about "famous" fütballers like Booter McGee make pastimes such as wandering the Lido deck aimlessly sound like very attractive alternatives indeed.

And so we got second place, which won us THREE (one for Ian, one for Teh B. and one for me) of the medals you see below (no, I don't know where the third is) :

Which may seem like a chincy prize. Until you see what the guy who won got:

A plastic Ship-on-a-Stick, painted gold. Which we ended up in possession of because the guy who won didn't want it and tried to give it to Ian — who did want it — by saying, "You knew the answer to that last question, right?" And we raised Ian right, i.e stupid, because all he had to say was "Yes" but he gave an honest answer, which was "No". So the guy didn't give him the trophy.

But the next time we played Sports Trivia — and we again got 10 questions correct, which this time didn't put us anywhere near the money — the same guy won (with like 18 correct this time) and Ian went to congratulate him and this time the guy just gave him the stupid trophy.

We also played '80 Music Trivia — which was done kinda Name That Tune-style and which I sucked at because all of that music sounds the same when all you get to hear are the first 4 notes and none of the synthpop groups of the '80s was named "Crap-Music McGee" though they all clearly should have been and if they had been we'd've won — and I think we got 10 questions right yet again but the winners got like 18-and-a-half (giving themselves half credit for calling "What a Feeling" "Flashdance", which the foax next to us assured us was totally bogus and we pretended to care).

And so Ian reluctantly conceded that both his Dad and his Mom should keep their day jobs, because we'd all starve if we tried to make money as Trivia Quiz Contestants.

But he still thinks he should be allowed to quit school.
1 When, for example, I say to him things like, "Did you hear the TV guy just say 'Rollins went for the high cheese'?  'High cheese' is when the pitcher throws a high fastball just out of the strike zone and hopes the batter will chase it", he thinks I'm the only person in the world who knows that — a misconception I kinda don't even try to disabuse him of because it make me feel like A Big Man — whereas in fact it's just common baseball jargon, and you can pretty much grok its meaning from context even if you never heard it before.

But don't tell Ian.

2 It's possible he could have witnessed it secondhand, because Carnival Cruises all have Official Videographers2a going around videoing various events which are then shown on one of the TV channels on the ship. (This is their way of attempting to convince you to buy a DVD of all this videoed "fun" — the equivalent of Cruise Line High Cheese.)

By the way, the TV channels on the ship (from memory) were as follows:
  • CNN (Picture and sound froze all the time, which made watching CNN almost tolerable for a change)
  • CNN Headline News (Motto: The World Leader in Hiring Anchors Whose Desperation to Be Liked Is Palpable and Painful to Witness)
  • ABC and FOX affiliates from fucking Denver (Because when you're cruising on the Atlantic Coast, there's nothing you want more in your morning than news, weather and traffic reports from a landlocked state 2000 miles and two time zones away)
  • The Front-of-The-Ship Channel (Which broadcast LIVE!1! footage from the bow of the ship, 24/7. Where exactly zero was happening, 24/7)
  • The Pool Deck Channel (Bringing you Fat, Drunken Tourists on The Pool Deck, 24/7)
  • The Daily Videos Channel (Which was where they broadcast all the footage of the Fun Times You Were Having On Ship and was the channel where the trivia contest could theoretically have shown up, but didn't, because a Trivia Contest was evidently too lame and boring even for the ship's videographer to want to attend and video)
2a Accompanied by one or another of the many cruise directors, whose job it is to try not to look too bored while interviewing the half-drunk and probably-inarticulate-even-when-not-half-drunk cruisers, who, when asked, e.g., where they are from, usually offer such trenchant responses as: "Hoboken! Woooooooo--ooooooooooo-OOOOO! N*ts@ck-leather Tannery Capital of Teh World!1! HELLO JOISEY!1!1!"

Sorry! I'm so jaundiced. Because this is probably a too-harsh assessment of my fellow cruisers' level of articulateness because I for one did not know, until this cruise, that Hoboken was the N*ts@ck-leather Tannery Capital of Teh World. Because there I was, out on the pool deck everyday, like a total fucking CHUMP, tanning my own n*ts@ck the old-fashioned way, which, seriously, don't ask.

3 Actually, we sat just outside the sports bar — Ian is only 10 — on the sofas along the windows, near where the reggae duo often performed, because even though we were cruising north to Canada, it is evidently easier and more cost-effective to hire two-piece reggae bands doing Bob Marley covers than it is to find affordable two-piece ... O, let's say say ... Rush cover bands.

For which I thank God.

4 To be clear: "Yanks", here, in the sense of "Americans" — WHO RULE!1!1 — not in the sense of NY Yankees, who suck @$$.

5 Told you — in my last SoF post, which nobody read — that I myself am a bit of an Ugly American, and I ask you: What is uglier than misogyny and xenophobia (which, taken together = Fear of Xenia)?

But I hereby apologize to all skirts and Kiwis.

But not Xenia, because there are legitimate reasons to fear her.

6 Proof re: Teh Brits and their inability to speak English: The second Sports Trivia Contest we participated in — yeah, we did two — was run by a Brit-Chick; and one of her questions was about baseball (for a fucking change); but in reading it, she referred to the position "shotstop" as "shawt-stoppah".


Jebus Aitch Chryslerbuilding!

7 The actual question was something along the lines of, "In 2001, this famous ["famous"! Pfffttt! —ed.] Aussie tennis player called a line judge 'spastic' and was fined 1,000 pieces of whatever shiny rock it is they use for money in Australia." And I knew Rod Laver was Aussie, but I also knew that in 2001 he was like 90 years old, but I didn't care because who the fuck ever heard of Lleyton "Buy One 'L' And Teh Second Is Free" Hewitt? And so at least I got the nationality right so partial credit as far as I'm concerned.

8 I'm assuming here for the sake of my horse-race rhetoric that sounds can be photographed.


  1. Sweet, there's now a phobia of me. Well, officially that is. My family's going to be super happy about that. There's finally a name for their worst fear. Tee hee.

  2. Why is the "entertainment" director of a cruise ship always such a d-bag? The moron who was on that cruise I went on a coupla years ago was so obnoxious I couldn't stand to even walk by the bar, much less sit in there.

    The most disturbing piece o news in here today is this: Hoboken is the N*ts@ck-leather Tannery Capital of Teh World!

    Last fall I bought a leather purse from the Village Tannery in Greenwich Village. What are the chances it's made from 100% genuine Hoboken N#$s@ck? :(

  3. Spoiler! She is not even done with her dissertation yet and I have to think ol' Xenia is thinking, "Why the fuck am I wasting my life on this goddamn PhD, when I already have a disorder named after me?"

    That is pretty much all you can hope for with a PhD anyway. It sure as shit ain't a livable wage and college co-eds? Not nearly as fun to... umm... teach as you would think.

    I highly doubt that Ian will be scarred by the knowledge that his dad used contextual clues to decipher "high cheese" (and by the way, WTF?!) given your propensity to go all archaic and use terms like 'card sharp.' 'Goat-fucker McGee' may get you nominated for father of the year, though

  4. My comedy standards must be falling: first I laughed at the dramatic rodent video and now at Rod Laver. Well, I used to laugh at Rod Laver all the time, but he was almost relevant once upon a time.

    Hoboken N#$s@ck was an early nickname for Sinatra. The people who called him that have mysteriously disappeared.

    I've got a friend who's my go-to guy for sports trivia. I once asked him the ultimate baseball question (feel free to use it): Name the two Fordham University second basemen to later become Cardinals. His response (correct)was, "There's only one. Frankie Frisch, the Fordham Flash. Unless you mean Cardinal Spellman of the Catholic Church, but that'd be a trick question." He's wasted so many brain cells on sports trivia when he could've been using them to imagine cocktail waitresses naked until the alcohol burns those particular cells out!

  5. I thought "high cheese" was the brand of deodorant I use. My favorite baseball term is "frozen rope" - I know exactly what that means, but I've never seen an actual frozen rope.

    My most embarassing lack-of-knowlege thing in baseball (and I understand the ground rule double rule) is when I hear that a strike hit "the outside corner" of the bag. The strike zone's from the letters to the knees and the width of the bag, so it's a rectangle, which means there should be TWO outside corners.

    Oh, and I've actually grifted (part of my school's "talented and grifted (sic)" program)!

  6. I had the original Moody Blues album that had "Question" and "Nights in White Satin" (perhaps it was Every Good Boy Deserves Favor) and thought it was great stuff at the time.

    Pompous twaddle-monkeys.

  7. @ SteveQ - "Nights in White Satin" was on Days of Future Passed (all the songs were times/parts of the day).

    "Question", not being a time of day, appeared first on the album A Question of Balance - but it was a single first ... three years after DoFP came out.

    I'm possibly being pompous by pointing this out, but it's not twaddle.

    And I have thrown my share of feces in my day so, okay, maybe I'm a monkey.

  8. we were cruising north to Canada

    You did not refer to our Neighbors to the North as "Kanadia"! Does this mean you're softening your stance toward our northern brethren?

    For the record, I guarantee I would have rocked the house on that 80s music trivia. I would have crushed those 18.5/20 people. Losers. Clearly they did not spend their formative musical years in the 1980s unlike yours truly.

    Sarah (D-MI)