Tag Archives: House Rules

House Rules: Puking in Public

None of us want to admit it, but we’ve all been there. Even your own humble Chop has, on a certain few occasions chundered mightily in the most inappropriate of places (mostly when some asshole friend insists on buying rounds of Jagermeister). We know better now, and thanks to our ironclad moral code and vast knowledge of social etiquette, we are proud to report that we can still show our face in most of Baltimore’s finest dive bars.

Of course, there is only one right and proper place to retch, and that’s in the privacy of your own home in your own miserable commode that you really meant to scrub out really well this week and now really wish you had.

Failing that, the best you can hope for is the side of a road far from the bar(s) where you spent your evening. You’d better also hope for a compassionate and understanding designated driver. While the shoulder of a highway is possibly the best place to puke publicly, the inside of someone else’s car is possibly the worst. And God help you if you ever get retarded enough to sick up in a cab. Not even the Chop can help you out of that one.

At any rate, you should at least be able to get yourself out of the bar. Once you’re outside though, you’re not in the clear just yet. A good rule of thumb is to avoid vomiting in any place where you’d think twice about peeing in broad daylight. Behind a dumpster is cool, a parking meter on Aliceanna Street is not. Behind a tall bush is acceptable, a bus stop on North Avenue is not.

But supposing, just supposing that you’ve imbibed so well that you can’t possibly effect egress in a timely fashion. All hope is not lost.

Listen closely Baltimore: You must make it to the toilets. Run if you have to. Scream as loud as you can if that’s what it takes. Don’t worry- when people realize what you’re about they will get out of your way, even if they have to stop mid-stream to do it. Don’t worry about making a scene, because you’re making a scene anyway.

But here’s the most important thing… whether you make it to the lavatory or whether you ‘stand and deliver’ right in the middle of a crowded tavern, you’re on the hook… and certain things are expected of you.

You have to own up to it. This is best done by approaching the nearest bartender and making a sincerely contrite apology. Apologize profusely. To everyone in sight. The Bartender-Customer relationship is an ancient and sacred trust. Your doctor can’t treat you if you’re not forthcoming. Your priest can’t absolve you if you don’t confess, and your bartender can’t help you if you try to weasel out. Bartenders are professionals, and have seen much worse than you in their day. Never approach a barback, waiter, or other staffer. You are the province of the bartender, and he is your point-man in this situation.

Get your check. It doesn’t matter if you’re drinking alone or a party of twelve. You’re not going to be served anymore, so you might as well leave. Hastily.

Play the victim. You know that routine you break out when you’re calling in sick to work on a Monday? Don’t be afraid to break that out at the bar after you’ve tossed it all. Don’t look at it as ‘this horribly embarrassing thing that I did.‘ Instead look at it as ‘this terrible thing that happened to me.’ Preserve your dignity at all costs.

Tip Lavishly. We really can’t stress this enough. If you’re nauseated in a bar, you need to tip ridiculously well. If your tab is double digits, a 100% tip is in order. If you’re in the triple digits, 50% is your starting point. These are minimum standards. There is no ceiling in this situation.

Get the hell out of Dodge. Don’t try to say goodbye to that college classmate you bumped into. Don’t wait for everyone else to finish their drinks… just GO. Drunken hookup rules apply here. Gather your things and GTFO. If there’s unsettled business or a guilty conscience, you can stop by 3-4 days later during happy hour to discuss things in the light of day.

Don’t do it again! Impeccable behavior is expected from this point on. If you show up the next Friday and perform an encore, you’re sunk. When you heave in a bar, you had better be a perfect gentleman or a proper lady from that point onward.

Now who wants some Jager bombs? We’re buying!!!

___________________________________________________________

Note: The Chop does not endorse or condone the buying or drinking of Jagermeister. If we see you do it in public, we will walk the other way. Fast.

Share

2 Comments

Filed under House Rules

House Rules: Baltimore Bar Trivia Nights Part 4

Well, it’s finally happened. The Chop has officially run out of things to say about bar trivia. Fortunately for us, a trivia pro is stepping in to help. Today we’re happy to present you with a guest post written by Final Score Trivia MC Bruce Voge III. This will be the final installment in this series. For the last word on trivia, take it away Bruce…

My name is Bruce H. Voge III, and I have been a trivia MC for Final Score Maryland for nearly 2 years. This opening sounds a lot like the first of 12 steps, but it really is the easiest way to tell you who I am, and why I would be writing a guest spot for the Baltimore Chop. I started in this industry the same way you find a great S&M date, or a mediocre coffee table, on Craigslist. I had been in entertainment for years, and have always been fascinated with game shows (I even proposed to my future wife at the Price is Right). So once I realized there was such a job, the fit was very natural for me, and luckily Final Score Maryland felt the same way.

Not quite the Stanley Cup, but it'll do.

The Chop wanted me to talk a little bit about why I think pub trivia works, and what I think the future holds, as well as why I think each and every one of you should consider playing a live trivia game. I believe the answers are more or less tied together like Prince and Vanity 6 were most nights in 1986. Pub trivia works because if you are already going to get together with your friends at a bar to get food and drink, why not also be entertained? It’s really that simple. If two bars are more or less equal, would you rather go to the one that would provide entertainment and a shot to win some house cash, or the one that will let you stare at the same 11 screens of baseball? The choice seems pretty simple to me, you take the one with the entertainment. The choice also seems pretty simple to many other people in the area, and that is what makes Pub Trivia so attractive to bar owners and players, and most likely always will in some shape or form. The other great thing about trivia is that if you want to stare off and watch the 11 screens of baseball, go ahead, trivia is not going to stop you.

“Why would a group prefer trivia over a movie or bowling?”

The answer is quite simple; they won’t. Let me be honest with you, I have been in entertainment for nearly 11 years, and I have been emceeing trivia for nearly two years. I think I am very good at it, however I am no match for Iron Man 2. I cannot ask enough questions, or make enough quick jokes about the capability of a Wang computer to make up for a persons desire to see a well written story acted out by highly paid actors along side millions of dollars of complex visual effects. It’s almost like asking “Why would a group prefer trivia over talking about architecture or eating an apple?”

The only answer I might be able to come up with if you must compare, is that trivia nights will provide nearly everyone with a “High Five” moment. One persons astrophysics is another persons Sex and the City. It takes all types to do well at bar trivia, so your mother, father, brother, next door neighbor and spouse will find common ground in not believing that everyone else did not know the answer to that last question. Not all of them can throw a strike, or pick up an 8-10 split, but they all have some base of knowledge.

This is a lot of the appeal that many find in the game. Over the years I have met Jeopardy winners, Millionaire winners, rocket scientists, doctors, lawyers, college students, plumbers, craftsmen, marines and I have seen them all lose at least once to a couple of people that just came out to have a few beers, and just happen to answer some trivia questions.

So remember, the next time you have a group of friends, coworkers and family that might be fun to be around, but might be awkward to have to watch create subjects to talk about, bring them out to a Final Score Maryland game, you can check us out at www.finalscoremaryland.com.

If you want to check out my games, feel free to friend my personal trivia mascot Victory the Trivia Flamingo on Facebook. Finally, if you like my rambling style of writing check out my blog at bruceonthebackroads.com. It’s all about odd travel destinations, souvenirs, and things like smooshed pennies. Read the blog! Tell your friends! Click the Ads! Thanks for your time, and thanks for the space Chop.

No no, Bruce. Thank you. We’ll be sure to check out your game tonight at Manhattan Grill in White Marsh, although we’ll never admit that Iron Man 2 was particularly well written or interesting. If you, Gentle Reader, would like to check out one of Bruce’s six weekly games, you can find out where via the Victory Flamingo Page.

Share

Leave a comment

Filed under House Rules

House Rules: Baltimore Bar Trivia Nights Part 2

On Tuesday, the Baltimore Chop took a look at the burgeoning pub quiz industry in Maryland. Being fun and free for bar patrons, and profitable for tavern owners and trivia producers alike, the popularity of bar trivia shows no signs of abating any time soon.

The Chop had only played live trivia once before now, so we hit the streets early in the week to see how a few of Central Maryland’s more than 85 (!) trivia nights stack up next to each other pound for pound. There are currently five companies actively producing live trivia events locally, and we made an effort to check out 3 games on Monday and Tuesday evening.

Photo Question: Name the actor who played know-it-all barfly Cliff Clavin on Cheers?

Brainstormer

Our first stop this week was the James Joyce Pub on Monday for Brainstormer trivia. Brainstormer is a large, slick franchising operation based out of the San Francisco Bay area. With several dozen game locations nationwide, it seems the James Joyce is the only place to play in MD. We didn’t get too many details though, since the MC still hadn’t shown up at 7:30 for the 7 pm game. When we asked the bartender about it, she pretty much said ‘Yeah, he just shows up whenever he feels like it; 8 or 8:30.’ Far from an isolated incident, the Washington Post also reported a tardy Brainstormer host a few years ago at a DC Irish pub. With no bar specials to entice us to stay, we thought it best to move on.

Charm City Trivia

It was only a short walk to the next game, when we checked out Charm City Trivia at the Green Turtle’s Fell’s Point location. CCT is active in 4 states with 18 games in MD, and hosts 10 games in the City, including the Wednesday night game at Mad River, which is reputed to be Baltimore’s most competitive trivia night. The game at the Green Turtle was much more relaxed though. In fact, it seemed most of the players had just signed up for the hell of it, because they were there already. The pair of Fell’s townies who’d been drinking since noon certainly fell into that category, and they quickly recruited the Chop to their team. Questions were easy enough, and at the end of 3 rounds (when we all pretty much lost interest) we were good for 4th place, not quite good enough to win the buckets of bar swag and a fistful of bar dollars. The drink special was a none-too-special $2 Miller Lite bottle, but the odds of winning shots at the end of each round were pretty good. Since the PA also connects to the speakers out front, you can sit outside while you play too. We’d recommend it for cheap Monday entertainment.

Showtime Trivia

The next night we were right back at it for Showtime Trivia at Frazier’s on the Avenue. Showtime is currently running 23 area games, five of which are in the city. We found the Frazier’s game to be a nice intermediate/ middle of the road game. It took up most of the larger bar, and was a good mix of regular teams trying to get into the $1000 playoff tournament of all area Showtime teams, and casual players looking to win a $30 bar tab. But with $5 pizzas and $2 domestics as a Tuesday night special, aren’t we all winners at the end of the night?

One thing that was noticeable of the crowd at Frazier’s that seems to be true of trivia players across the board is their decidedly un-hipsterish nature. There’s not a lot of crowd crossover at these things with DJ nights or obscure indie film screenings.

Quiz-a-ma-jig

Quiz-a-ma-jig is the little engine that could of Baltimore Trivia. With only two games in Fell’s Point (Max’s and Alexander’s) it seems to do more with less. We played the Thursday night game at Max’s last winter, and our experience was somewhat similar to that of two Citypaper staffers in 2005. Although the night we went was crowded, like standing room only for more than 2 hours crowded, and very, very loud and shout-y. Factor in a pretty competitive crew of regulars and no effing drink specials and we aren’t in a rush to go back any time soon.

Trivia Maryland

Trivia Maryland runs 13 games in the Baltimore suburbs, but unfortunately none inside the City itself. The closest they get are two games in Towson. If you’re downtown and want to see what they’re about though, you can play all of the “Trivia Maryland World Series” games on their website.

Final Score Trivia

Final Score operates in 3 states, and is the largest player in the local trivia market. With 25 separate events in the area they reach all points of the compass, but have only 3 games in the City. We’ve never been to the Camden Pub, Hazelwood Inn, or Field House for a game, but the Baltimore Sun recently profiled the company’s owner, who turned a pub quiz hobby into a full time job. From what we can tell, most people who host, score-keep, or are otherwise involved in trivia production started out as avid players at their own local bars.

In-House Games

A few local bars even go their own way for trivia nights, some doing it quite successfully. Federal Hill’s No Idea runs its own game, as does Fell’s Point’s Waterfront Hotel with their popular ‘WTF Do You Know?’ trivia nights. Around the corner from them the Wharf Rat has a few ‘best trivia night’ awards under its belt, although local blogger Zombie Girl prefers the atmosphere at Baltimore Taphouse, speaking highly of their regulars and staff.

The original purpose of these posts was to let you know what your options are for pub quizzes and bar trivia in Baltimore, and maybe even pick out a few of the best. At this point, we’ve come to realize that there are so many from which to choose, that we still haven’t fit them all into these two posts, and as far as choosing a favorite, you’re on your own, Choppers.

Next week, we’ll attempt to come up with something more comprehensive to help you sort out all the dates and locations where trivia is happening regularly. It might be a regular post sorted by night of the week. It might be a geographical chart, and it might even be a fancy Google map. We’re also interested to hear your experiences with trivia nights in the comments, and if you’ve played as a regular in multiple trivia games/tournaments or have been a trivia MC in the Baltimore area we’d like to know your thoughts via email to thebaltimorechop@gmail.com.

Share

1 Comment

Filed under Baltimore Events, House Rules, Other

House Rules: The Chop Approves of Brunch

It’s Mothers’ Day in Charm City, and that could only mean one thing; its time to sit down to brunch.

At this very moment, cooks all over Baltimore are scrambling massive quantities of eggs, bartenders are making sure the Champagne is well-chilled, and servers are already daydreaming about how to spend an apron full of tip money. While Mothers’ Day is very closely associated with brunch nationwide, this scene plays itself out here in town every Sunday, and most Saturdays too. Baltimoreans have fully embraced brunch culture, and if you’re looking for a late-morning repast on the weekends, its almost easier to ask yourself who doesn’t offer brunch around here?

Nothing says decadence like Pernod and eggs Florentine in a fancy hotel on Sunday morning.

The Chop approves of brunch. If you find yourself at a brunch table, you know that you’ve done something right. More than a meal, brunch is a lifestyle choice. Even more than that though, its a lifestyle choice that is almost exclusively the province of the urban middle and upper classes. You won’t find proper brunch offerings at Granny’s Country Kitchen in Podunksburg, WV. Likewise you’ll notice that most of your better options for brunch are more Manhattan than they are Bronx.

Its always been this way. According to some website we found, the English invented brunch near the turn of the century when their aristocratic, fox-hunting, Tory asses came back to the Manor after a ‘hunt’ and had their butlers lay table with a proper meal decidedly different from a traditional English supper. Supposedly the practice was adopted at places like Oxford and Cambridge when the Brits wanted to combine eating with all manner of WASP-y pursuits like tennis matches, crew rowing tournaments, yacht regattas, etc.

Some other website we found suggests that the popularity of brunch is in inverse proportion to the popularity of Churchgoing. This would explain why its so well favored by coastal elite types and not the ‘real’ ‘heartland’ Americans in the flyover states. Still other sources note the link between urbanites who make a habit of drinking heavily late into Saturday nights and look to a long, leisurely meal of fruits, carbs, and protiens (along with a couple of brunch cocktails) as the best remedy for a hangover. The Chop falls firmly into this category.

A little old-fashioned, just a touch elitist, Godless, gossipy, drunk and delicious. Is it any wonder the Chop, and Baltimore, approves of brunch?

Share

1 Comment

Filed under House Rules

House Rules: How to Make a Polite Introduction

It’s Monday Baltimore. It’s a new week, and the perfect time to introduce the first in an occasional series of posts called House Rules. House Rules will focus primarily on Barroom etiquette. The art and science of buying rounds, what to drink and how to tip, rules for last call, how to choose the proper bar for the right occasion… all will be covered. Over time the House Rules category will become a comprehensive guide and one-stop resource for proper behavior in the modern bar and nightlife scene.

A visual approximation of the Chop's weekend.

Rule #1: Introductions

It constantly amazes us how many people we know in Baltimore that we don’t actually know. It’s a shameful testament to the poor social graces of the Chop’s friends, who have failed to introduce us. It’s shocking when we come across someone on Facebook who shares more than 20 Friends whom we’ve never actually met socially.

The point was driven home at a show recently when a friend failed to introduce us to a friend of theirs. It really stuck in the Chop’s mind, because we had encountered the same non-acquaintance at the same bar a month prior, where she was chatting with Roommate, who also failed to make the introduction. We bumped into her a third time this weekend, this time with no common friends present. It would have been nice to be able to say hello and chat for a bit.

Now, the Chop is no wallflower, and isn’t afraid to introduce himself to anyone on principle, although in practice this can be very socially awkward, as a self-introduction will never go as smoothly as a proper social introduction.

An introduction must be made. It sounds simple, but the first and most important step in making an introduction is that you actually have to do it. This is a case where doing it wrong is far preferable to not doing it at all. Don’t ever assume that two people you know know each other also. If you’re unsure, there’s no shame in simply saying “Do you two know each other?” In any case, if you’re in a bar and someone you know joins your circle or takes the next stool, an introduction is required.

Respect is due. Social Primer gives the guidelines for who should take precedence in an introduction. A lot of the old rules don’t fully apply to Baltimore nightlife, but it is a good idea to present men to women. All things being equal, the Chop says give deference to the friend you’ve known longest, or to whom you’re closest.

Say who’s who. In any case, you should say the full names of all the people you’re introducing. It’s also good form to state your relationship to each party or how you know one another. For instance: “Brian Matusz, this is my cousin from Colorado Garrett Atkins. [then to Atkins] I met Brian at the University of San Diego.” or something similar to that.

Note what’s common. It’s always good form to let your friends know if they have anything in common, aside from knowing you. In our example above, you might say something like “Garrett has just been signed from the Rockies, and Brian was actually born in Grand Junction.” This will go a long way toward helping two strangers feel much more familiar with one another.

State the facts. It will be polite to note something current and significant about each person. If you’re introducing a guitarist in a local band to someone who regularly does volunteer work for a non-profit, you should say so. If you’re introducing someone who engages in no particular notable activity, it is also acceptable to address a hobby or interest they might have. This is to encourage conversation between your friends.“Garrett can play first or third base and Brian likes dinosaurs and gummy bears.”

It’s pleasure, not business. While there are exceptions, it is traditionally impolite to mention someone’s job during a social introduction. Not everyone particularly likes their job. Some people can even be downright ashamed of what they do for a living. Still others have good jobs they may enjoy, but which are conversational dead ends. No one wants to discuss desks and cubicles and memoranda while they’re out at night. A fairly large income gap between your friends might also be a factor. Personally, the Chop has a very interesting job which we like and usually don’t mind discussing, but it’s uncommon enough that it provokes the same set of questions often, and answering them can become tiresome quickly.

Keep the conversation going. If you’re in the middle of a conversation you mean to finish when one of your friends approaches, You should pause to make a quick introduction and then resume the conversation, now including the person who just approached. If we were talking with Brian Matusz about who in Baltimore serves the best hamburgers when cousin Garrett stepped up to the bar, we might say to Atkins “I was just telling Brian about the burgers at Alonso’s. Have you had a chance to try Abbey Burger Bistro in Federal Hill yet?” Which will go a long way toward making a new arrival feel welcomed and valued.

And really, isn’t feeling welcome and valued the goal with all social interactions?

Share

1 Comment

Filed under House Rules