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Oh, SmAlbany!

Daily posts and occasional longer essays about politics, culture, and life in the Capital Region...updated M-F, midmorning


"I write this not as a booster of Albany, which I am, nor an apologist for the city, which I sometimes am, but rather as a person whose imagination has become fused with a single place, and in that place finds all the elements that a man ever needs..." -W. Kennedy, from O Albany!

Pub quizzes...

I'll take Budweiser for $200, Alex: Thursday's Preview section of the TU had a restaurant review of Graney's, a pub up on New Scotland Avenue about halfway between the medical center and St. Peter's Hospital. Now, I haven't been to Graney's since it was the hot spot for Albany law students on Thursday nights in 2002-2003. Since then, it has burnt down, been rebuilt, and lost it's hotspot ALS status. I've never eaten anything there except late-night pub grub like chicken wings, so i can't really speak to the food.

I was, however, intrigued to see that they now have a Monday night Pub Quiz at Graney's. For those who don't know, pub quizzes are team trivia contests played for cash or other prizes over the course of a night. It's remarkable how smart the contestants can be - the quizzes are populated by know-it-alls and wannabee know-it-alls who are cool enough to hit the pub on Monday night but geeky enough to want to play psuedo-Jeopardy there. It's a larger niche than you might think. I've heard there is also a "smart-ass" pub quiz on Tuesday nights at Bombers on Lark Street that is very popular.

I've been to a few pub quizzes in my day. As you might suspect, these things are uber-popular at the bars around Yale - you'll never find a place with a greater density of goofy barstool know-it-alls than New Haven, CT. The Anna Liffey's Tuesday trivia down there routinely draws 40+ teams of five people. They play for cold cash - the entry fee is $20 per team and the top-placing team often walks out with better than $500, plus a nice ego-stroking. It sounds like Graney's and Bombers keep it more on the SmAlbany tip, playing for free drinks and such. That's a good thing. It keeps it light.

Pub quizzes aren't for everyone - some people are bored by them or turned off by the fierce competition, both between teams and within teams (That really is the sinister aspect to the whole thing. Even if your team stinks, you can at least prove your brainiac dominance over your own friends by being the best player on the crappy team.) But overall, I recommend giving one a try. If you get the right crowd, they can be wildly fun. Worst case scenario is that you're getting out with your friends for some drinks on a weekday. And you don't need to win - I've never been on a winning team - to have a good time. P.S. If you do want to win, the trick isn't necessarily to have the smartest people, but to have a team of people with the most diverse smarts - music, pop culture, history, politics, literature, sports, science, etc.
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