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Geeks Who Drink: A Nationwide Pub Quiz

on Wed, 01/28/2015 - 00:00

In 1976, Sharon Burns and Tom Porter decided to formalize the popular pub quizzes of Northern England as a marketing tool for bar and tavern owners to increase business. Starting in Southern England, the pair travelled from one end of Great Britain to the other, organizing teams and leagues throughout the country. Their efforts paid off to such a degree that a 2009 study estimated there were 22,445 regular weekly pub quizzes in the United Kingdom. That same study placed the number of pub quiz events in the United States at only approximately 2,000, however, a fact that John Dicker and Joel Peach attempted to change in 2006 with the introduction of Geeks Who Drink.

“The whole impetus for the founding of Geeks Who Drink was that bar trivia, especially at that time, was just really, really bad,” explains Geeks Who Drink acting director of marketing Ken Brill. “It wasn’t terribly imaginative, it wasn’t terribly interesting, and to be honest, most of the folks who hosted, their format was ask a question, play a song, give you the answer to the question. Do that for an hour and a half and call it a night. John and Joel both looked at that and thought, ‘We can do better than this.’ And from there they came up with a format they thought was more engaging.” John Dicker and Joel Peach organized their first bar trivia night in Denver in 2005, officially launching Geeks Who Drink in February of the following year. By 2007, Albuquerque had joined the fray with San Antonio and Austin coming on board in 2008 and Seattle in 2009.

Leverage and San Diego Comic Con

on Mon, 01/26/2015 - 00:00

Over the course of five television seasons, Nate Ford and his team of highly-skilled former criminals assisted an assortment of ordinary citizens who were left with little recourse in the face of corporate greed and government corruption. The TNT drama not only provided “leverage” against such injustices but hours of entertainment for fans of the series as well. On December 25, 2012, Leverage aired it series finale, bringing closure to the character arc of Nate Ford while setting up a future for his colleagues that ensured that the “little guy” would continue to have someone looking out for them, especially during situations in which the legal system failed to provide protection.

Although Leverage the television show may have ended, the story of “hitter, hacker, grifter, thief and mastermind” briefly continued in 2013 through a series of paperback novels published by Berkley. The different medium allowed for longer storylines than a standard television episode and plots that would have been difficult to film for the small screen. The first release, for instance, almost exclusively takes place during San Diego Comic-Con International, and is a literal “Geekfest” for both the characters of Leverage and fans of the television show alike. Real life celebrities such as Stan Lee make appearances with the pages of The Con Job, while hitter Eliot Spencer impersonates comic book writer Warren Ellis during the proceedings. The plot, meanwhile, revolves around a fictitious illustrator whose artwork was in effect stolen when the proceeds he was promised for the items never materialized.

Cloudy with a Chance of Pickles

on Wed, 01/21/2015 - 00:00

The best children’s books can be enjoyed by anyone. They not only entertained and thrilled us as kids, but bring back nostalgic memories in adulthood. From The Cat in Hat of Dr. Seuss, to Where the Wild Things Are by Maurice Sendak, to The Little Prince of Antoine de Saint-Exupéry, the illustrated tomes of youth are filled with adventures and mystery, humor and suspense, with images that have become part of our collected cultural experiences. In 1978, Judi Barrett added another entry to the list of memorable children’s stories with Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs, a tale that chronicles the experiences of two youngsters in the land of Chewandswallow. The book has been cited on many “Top 100” lists in the years since its initial release, and was even transformed onto the big screen with a 2009 animated film adaptation.

“I think of a sentence,” Judi Barrett explained to Celebrity Parents of her writing process. “For Cloudy, the sentence was, ‘Henry walked outside and got hit in the head with a meatball.’ That is literally how it started. It was a crazy, crazy sentence. From that, this book came. It grew.” Twenty-two years after Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs was published by Simon & Shuster, meanwhile, Barrett released a sequel in which the main characters of the original once again visit Chewandswallow. While meatballs were the inspiration in 1978, apparently pickles played a role in 2000, as well as the Steel City itself. Pickles to Pittsburgh may not be as well-known as Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs, but is an effective children’s narrative nonetheless and has forever connected Pittsburgh to the imaginary world of Chewandswallow.