Saturday, March 24, 2007

Kentucky Fried Birthday, or Food is the New Golf Punk and Other Stories

iced tea à la AEB AEB Sweet Tea

We seem to have forgotten Michelle's birthday altogether last year. Can't exactly recall what the mix-up was, but her birthday clearly wasn't significant enough to warrant mention in the pages of this very blog.

We got back on track in 2007, though. Months ago Michelle told me that the "only thing" she wanted for her birthday was a batch of MO-style ribs. I was all too happy to comply, and as the blessed event came into view we decided to turn the occasion into a little party, a little party with a Southern theme to it, a Kentucky Fried birthday.

This is the menu we devised:

1 punchbowl of AEB sweet tea (pictured above), hooch optional
1 large bowl poor man's caviar
1 large bowl tidewater cole slaw
1 casserole macaroni & cheese
24 pieces of AEB fried chicken
4 racks of MO-style ribs

We sent out invitations, and, sure enough, a dozen eager guests turned up on the appointed night.

Under the influence of our fortified sweet tea our conversation roamed far and wide, from the impending provincial election here in Quebec, to whether food is the new golf punk. I kid you not. I can't even remember how, but at some point the phrase/cultural phenomenon "golf punk" came up. Most at the table weren't familiar with the phrase, so I went ahead and tried to describe that moment sometime in the mid to late '90s when golf punk was some kind of "thing." Maybe it was just an ugly nightmare, but I think there was even a golf punk magazine at some point there. Anyway, as it turns out, our friend A. had recently met with the editorial board of an L.A.-based culture rag to talk about a food piece he was working on. Apparently during the meeting some guy from the magazine turned to A. and, in a rhetorical flourish worthy of Sex and the City, asked, "What is it with food these days? Is food the new golf punk?" We all laughed, decided, "No, thank god!," and dug deeper into our Southern spread.

When we'd eaten and eaten well we moved on to the after-dinner entertainment, a rousing round of our very favorite game, a game that we'd tentatively titled One Linerz some months ago, but which we since have had the good sense to rename The Favourite Game because, frankly, it is, but also as a kind of loving tribute to "Laughing Lenny" Cohen, whose oeuvre came into play on that particular night. "How do you play?," you ask. Good question. Since we're not providing you with any other recipes this time around, might as well provide you with the recipe to a game that has a lot of similarities to Balderdash, but which we find endlessly more entertaining.

The Favourite Game

First, you need a goodly amount of witty people. You also need a fully stocked set of bookshelves. By drawing straws, playing rock-paper-scissors, arm wrestling, or some other means, you pick someone to go first. This person goes to the bookshelves and selects a title. He or she returns to the group and presents the selected title. The book is displayed to the crowd and they're told whether it's a fiction or non-fiction title. Then the presenter reads some material off the back of the book or from the dust jacket: a brief description, a blurb, some biographical information about the author. Not much, just enough to give the contestants a feel for the book, its author, its style.

When the mood has been set, the contestants are asked to take a pen and a piece of paper and secretly compose what they believe could be the book's very first sentence (from Chapter 1, that is). While the contestants are busy scribbling away, the presenter writes out the actual first sentence from said book. When each of the contestants has composed their contribution (5-10 minutes is quick enough to keep the game moving at a fair clip) the presenter collects the compositions, reads through them to his or her self to become familiarized with them, shuffles them, and then reads each of the first sentences in a credible and impartial tone of voice, including the actual one. When the presenter has read all of the possibilities, he or she will probably have to read through them one more time so that the contestants can really wrap their heads around them, especially if the contributions are good.

Each contestant must then try to guess which one of the possible first lines is the real one from the actual book. Each contestant who successfully identifies the first line of the chosen book gets one point. But contestants whose sentences are mistakenly chosen by other members of the group get a point for each time their sentence was chosen. The presenter is ineligible from scoring and takes pleasure solely from having chosen the book in question, from presenting it to the crowd, from collecting the contributions, and from reading each contribution out loud to the contestants.* In other words, it's good if you can identify the voice of an author to the point that you can successfully determine which sentence is actually taken from the book in question, but it's much, much better to be able to pen a sentence that fools one or more of your fellow contestants into selecting it. The real skill here is in forgery (and actually, now that I think of it, F is for Fake would be yet another appropriate name for this game).

Note: strictly speaking, this isn't a "drinking game," but we've found that alcohol, although technically a depressant, can stimulate the creative juices necessary to serially compose the kinds of apocryphal texts needed for a lively soirée.

Books selected on this particular occasion included Death in Venice, Beautiful Losers, Libra, The Anaïs Nin Reader, Labyrinths, Classic Crews, and Philosophy in the Bedroom. Imagine the possibilities.

An earlier session, some months ago, ran the gamut from American Country Cheese to Psychotic Reactions and Carburetor Dung.

By the time we finished playing it was already 1:00 a.m. (on a school night!). We moved back into the kitchen, awarded each of our guests a chicken-'n'-rib prize pack, bid them some fond adieus, and called it a night.


R.I.D. to A. and L. for introducing us to The Favourite Game.

* As long as you play The Favourite Game in full rounds everyone at the table will be on equal ground in this regard.

1 comment:

kirin said...

Now there's a game to get the creative juices flowing, how ingenious! I'm including it on my entertainment list for my next big bash. Thanks so much for sharing.