It is Time…

… for the first Captain’s Quiz of 2022!

The theme for this latest fun challenge is ‘new’. There are 10 questions, plus some bonus questions. For the rules, please see the link to Paul’s site above.

1. In the first High School Musical movie, Troy and Gabriella sing a song called, “Start of Something New”. What are three things you would tell kids before they start high school?

Hmm. As a parent, I don’t think I’ve actually armed my daughter with any specific advice for high school! If I were to offer three pieces of advice, I’d say 1, it doesn’t last forever, 2, you’ll make friends, and 3, don’t let anyone push you around.

I include teachers in that assessment. Many teachers are hard-working and deserve a lot of credit. A few have power trips. Teachers should inspire their students to learn and think, rather than dictate. Discipline is important and I wouldn’t expect my daughter to answer back or give attitude in class, but I’d like to think she’d talk to me or her mother about any problems. In fact, an unofficial fourth bit of advice – talk to someone if you’re struggling.

2. The first iPhone came out in 2007 and thousands of people lined up to get one. What is the longest you’ve ever stood in a line? What was it for? Was it worth the wait?

I think I’ve never had to queue too long for anything! The longest queue in recent memory is waiting for my covid booster jab, which took around an hour. Was it worth it? Yes. Beyond that, I’ve waited in customs at airports when travelling to the USA, which after years of fast-tracking through European airports as an EU citizen, came as a bit of a shock. Was the experience of waiting in line to wave a passport at a clerk worth it? Yes, on each occasion.

3. On the game show, The Price is Right, they often give away a brand new car and most contestants jump up and down in excitement. If you won a new car on TV, how would you feel?

I don’t drive, so aside from the elation of winning something, I’d be thinking ‘I’ll sell this or gift it’. The selfish person in me would want money from selling it, but if I had a friend or family member who I could surprise, that would be great.

4. Four teams in the NFL have the word “New” in their name: New Orleans, New England, and New York (x2). What are three words that have “new” anywhere in the word.

Erm… Newcastle is a town in England and also a town in Australia. I’ve been to the Australian Newcastle, despite the English Newcastle being considerably closer to me, being roughly 285 miles away, whereas the Aussie Newcastle is 10,499 miles away. Just to make things even more confusing, the UK Newcastle I’m referring to is Newcastle-upon-Tyne, and there is another Newcastle in England – Newcastle-under-Lyme.

New Year’s Eve is a strange and faintly emotional time of year. We humans are funny creatures in how we mark time, but the passage from one year into the next always seems more… intense, than most. It’s like we’re tying off one piece of string before unravelling another, only this piece of string marks all our laughter, tears, scars, dreams, loves and passions for the past twelve months. New Year’s Day marks the beginning of a new stretch, filled with potential.

The New Moon is, ironically, when the Moon disappears from view. The only way we can infer its presence is if it blocks out the stars behind it. The sky without the Moon never seems quite right to me.

5. In what year did your favourite artist/band put out their latest album? How many songs are on that album and how many of them do you like?

This is quite difficult for me, because I don’t really have a defined favourite artist or band. If pressed, I would say Christina Aguilera was at one point an artist I adored, and my wife took me to see her in concert as a birthday present. Back to Basics is a great album, but I have to confess I haven’t heard anything from her latest album, La Fuerza, a Spanish album that’s being released in three stages. Mind you, it came out on the 21st of January 2022, so I haven’t had much time to listen to it!

6. Many items (books, cars, video games, clothes, etc.) can be bought used, instead of new. Tell me about some used items you’ve purchased.

I didn’t buy it, but I inherited a sofa from my brother that’s quite different from previous sofas. This is a chaise-end sofa, meaning it has a portion you can stretch out and lay down on. This is often the prize seat and my daughter will often manipulate myself or my wife into moving so she can grab it. Sometimes the cat grabs it too. It’s quite the competition to have the ‘spot’! No, we are not Sheldon Cooper…

Over the years we’ve picked up various little toys for my daughter in charity shops, though the precise details escape me. I have no problem with second-hand goods, as long as they’re in good enough condition for me to enjoy. Reusing stuff is key to saving our planet.

7. What foods are just as good, if not better, as leftovers?

Pizza. Whether reheated or dare I say it, cold, pizza tends to work nicely. Also, roasted meats become epic sandwiches.

8. You need a new pair of shoes. Describe the process of finding the perfect pair.

My shoe-buying process is boring. For new work shoes I’ll choose the same design, over and over again – comfortable black slip-ons from Asda. I know what I’m getting and I spend little time on the decision, as I don’t need to. For casual footwear I might take a little bit more time, but ultimately it’s still a quick process. I don’t like shoe-shopping and will move to end said shopping with haste!

9. Would you rather have a new friend, a new book, or a new TV show to watch? Explain your choice.

Hmm. Whilst I enjoy meeting new people and I tend to find it reasonably easy to mingle, my circle of close friends has grown slowly over the years. I am quite happy with the friends I have. New TV shows can be great, especially when discovered accidentally (my wife and I stumbled upon the BBC series Around the World in 80 Days and we both loved it), but ultimately I am a bookworm and new reading material is always welcome. I am quite picky – if in a bookstore I’ll tie myself in knots over a decision – but I have to say new books as my answer.

10. The Newlywed Game is a game that married couples, as well as friends, play to see how well they know each other. The last person you texted/sent a message to, is your partner. How well would you do at this game?

The last person I texted was my mother! However the last person I messaged in any form was my step-daughter. I’d like to think I know them both pretty well (especially my Mum!), so I’d also like to think we’d do well in any questions that came up. Of course, it depends on the categories and I am not familiar with the format of the show, so who knows?!

Onto the bonus round…

1. You just got a new job and must introduce yourself by sending a group email to your new co-workers. Write your introductory email as if you’re typing it while riding a rollercoaster.

Oh lord! Um…

‘Greeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeetings to you allll! I’m Ben, and I’m sooooooooooooooooooo pleased to meet yoooooooooou! I look fooooorrrwwaaaaarrrd to a looooong and productive…. eeeeeeeee… time…. with…. youuuuuuuuuu!’

2. A new restaurant is opening in your town. You decide to go there for dinner a month after they open. Write a review of your experience. (All the details: name of restaurant, food, layout, etc., are up to you).

‘The Square Circle’

I’m generally a big fan of Italian food. Pizza, spaghetti, carbonara, ravioli, it’s all good. What intrigued me about this new restaurant is that they go in for a somewhat different style of presentation. The pizzas are square. Everything is presented square. Even the beer and wine glasses are cubical! Each set of tables is square, and finished in beautiful black glass, with low-hanging light fixings (cubes, what else!) providing a pleasant glow that doesn’t gleam off the glass in an uncomfortable fashion. The chairs are black leather and comfortable. The flooring is a dark grey tile with flecks of gold, complimenting the gold trim that lines the edges of the tables and the pillars in the building.

Of course, good décor is great, and everyone looked clean and fantastic, but a restaurant is about the food. Bad food (and bad service) can ruin an experience. On the service front I must say that every waiter and waitress was pleasant and happy and engaging, so I can’t fault that, but what about the food?!

I went for something I have always enjoyed – spinach and ricotta ravioli. Garnished with fresh spinach leaves, served with a little jug of chilli oil on the side, and finished off with a bit of grated parmesan cheese, the pasta parcels looked beautiful. The filling was generous and a good balance of spinach and ricotta. The ricotta was creamy and the other key thing – the food was hot! Plus, the price, whilst a little high, reflected the value and quality of the meal, so I can have no complaints there either. Overall, 10/10!

3. You are the creator of a new social media platform. Tell me about it.

Is this a good time to shamelessly plug my site’s forums? Mind you, I can’t really call them a social media platform…

I guess, Meerkat Media would be the title. Can you guess the theme!? It would revolve around meerkat avatars, the backgrounds would all be based on the desert and savannah, and there’d be opportunities to win scorpions. New prizes daily! Largely because the scorpions would escape.

Even the emojis would be meerkat-themed. I’d run competitions to adopt meerkats too. I’m really struggling with this question, for all I can think of is to copy Facebook and stick meerkats all over it.

Well, that’s me done! Will I have a serious crack at Monty’s crown?!

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