Head Games


Let’s face it, the pub quiz is played out, especially if you don’t care to know the capital of Saskatchewan or the year in which Microsoft was formed. Following are some headier ways to spend your happy hour.

Series: Adult Education
Where: Union Hall, 702 Union St., Park Slope
What: Brooklyn lawyer-by-day/comedian-by-night Charles Star hosts this ongoing lecture series where speakers expound on tongue-in-cheek topics loosely related to a changing theme, chosen by Star, his wife Carrie McLaren (who used to publish Stay Free! magazine), and writer Jim Hanas. The night we attended, “School for Scandal” inspired lectures on “The Lurid World of Student Gossip Sites” and “The Firing of My High School Physics Teacher.” As a host, Star (above) is at once self-deprecating and earnest; he understands people want to have fun while learning something new.
When: Tuesdays on a semi-monthly basis, 8pm, $5 cover. Nov. 11 theme: “Lies and Liars.”

Game: Williamsburg Spelling Bee
Where: Pete’s Candy Store, 709 Lorimer St., Williamsburg
What: Like an elementary school spelling bee, but with more forgiving moderators than your childhood. These hosts will let you misspell three different words before you are officially O-U-T. And even then, you get a lovely consolation prize and lots of praise for trying so hard. Of course, the actual winners get a bar tab, so winning is still better than losing. The words aren’t the easiest (do you know how to spell allopatric?), but you’ll feel good about yourself if you get just one right. And if you place in the top three, you’ll get a chance to compete in the Dec. 8 finals.
When: Alternate Mondays at 7:30pm. Nov. 10 and Nov. 24 are the last regular season bees.

Game: Name That Tune/Outsmarted
Where: The Bell House, 149 7th St., Gowanus
What: Once a semi-regular staple at Union Hall, host and comedian Sara Schaeffer would entertain teams who played her version of “Name That Tune.” Winners received random items that she had on hand, like VHS tapes of “Annie” and Tonka Trucks. Now, Schaeffer will make a guest appearance with Takka Takka drummer Conrad Doucette at “Outsmarted: The Bell House Music Trivia Night.” Doucette, who ran a similar series at Pianos, promises it will be “one of the funnest Mondays you’ll have in any given month.” But prepare to be stumped — naming “an obscure assistant engineer on some Pink Floyd album” is the kind of trivia Doucette considers easy.
When: Nov. 3, and periodic Monday nights afterward, 8pm, free.

Series: Cringe
Where: Freddy’s Bar & Backroom, 485 Dean St., Prospect Heights
What: A monthly reading series (and now a book) that’s like a support group, comedy night, and a retelling of random strangers’ awkward teen years in one. Run by Sarah Brown since 2005, she invites people to read from their teen diaries, letters, and poems before a crowd that comes for the laughs and perhaps to feel better about their own high school experience. At a recent reading we heard unrequited love letters to Rick Springfield, a love song in the form of country ballad, and a real life mean girl reading from her high school diary. The quality of readers is high and the kindness of the audience the same.
When: The first Wednesday of the month, 8:30pm, free. Next one: Nov. 5.

Sent by Leila, Nina, and Chrysanthe. Photos from top by Maryanne Ventrice (Adult Ed), Ryan Brenizer (Spelling Bee), Sarah Brown (Cringe).

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