I am strolling down memory lane – taking it slow because there are too many places to stop at. In 2011, we started out in a room overflowing with all the five people and a few packets of salty sticks. We had absolutely no idea how it was going to be. Today we host meetings with fifteen to twenty guests in a nice bar where the backmost room is reserved for us. After months and years of painful struggle, the club began to live a life of its own. Besides the loyal hard core, it has been a true honor to welcome an enormous group of newcomers recently. One of my favorite stories is a guy who told us that he had taken a flyer half a year before so that he could visit us one day. And there he was.
After long weeks of silence, allow me to give you an overview of how we spent our final session in 2016, and also share a few secrets with you about the covert affairs of the club.
On December 15th we brought back the genuine TAKE FIVE Christmas spirit, like we always do. We began with a few rounds of word chain to get the Christmas bulb rolling. Instead of the regular envelopes, we pulled off a prank on the unsuspecting guests. I stood up and said: “We are having a little technical problem because we forgot to bring the envelopes, but…” We had hidden a tiny slip of paper under the top of each mushroom on the tables. They found out the secret quite quickly. On the slips there was a list of questions related to how we celebrate or what we think about Christmas.
There were no speakers on the stage this time since we did not intend to spark any debate on the topic. Instead, Balázs asked questions like “What is the worst present you’ve ever received?” or “What was your most awkward Christmas moment?” It was incredibly amusing. I finally had a chance to share a couple of childhood traumas, including a disgusting Santa Claus toy that started playing some dreadful music when you approached it. The bullies in elementary school were nowhere near the experience – although as far as the Santa toy is concerned, we were able to lock it up in the chamber, as opposed to the former.
One of the best shots turned out to be our fairly new invention, the Alternative Universes, combined with the Christmas theme. As Woody Allen would say, “I am flabbergasted” by the level of creativity and ingenuity of our guests. Did you know that in the Animal Universe, animals eat roasted politicians on Christmas Eve? The pinnacle of this game was a Jingle Bells song with alternative lyrics sung by the citizens of the Superhero Universe. Sing along:
Smashing through the snow
In a one-horse open plane
All the skies we go
Flying all the way
Bells on Batman’s ears
Making heroes laugh
Oh what fun it is to fly with Santa Claus tonight
Spider webs, spider webs
Shining all the way
Oh what fun it is tonight in an invisible plane
Laser eyes, glowing capes
Soaring all the way
Oh what fun it is to wear your Christmas underwear…
…on the outside.
The main attraction of the night was the all-time favorite, the ever-green classic (labels we arbitrarily stigmatized the game with): the Christmas Taboo, which means forty-eight Taboo cards that we created ourselves. The cards contain words that are connected to Christmas or winter in general. We never play this game with teams. We just sit around the table as one big group, and it’s free for all. As the ultimate motivating factor, we promised a handful of szaloncukor for the winner – which we later regretted. (Contrary to popular belief, there is no proper translation for szaloncukor as it is a Hungarikum solely produced in Hungary and Slovakia.)
After Orsi had won the game by a landslide, she presented us with an offer. She would give away all her candies if we poured the entire content of the two bags onto her. It would have been hard to resist. Here’s the evidence:
What you didn’t know about…
You may still remember that our club once organized an extraordinary session for a group of high school students. We decided to revisit this brand new tradition at the beginning of December. I had an opportunity to meet a lovely group of eighth graders during my first teaching practice in the fall semester. I truly enjoyed all the time we spent together, and I felt by the end that I was not yet ready to let them go. I went back one day and invited them to a special TAKE FIVE meeting organized exclusively for them. They looked a bit puzzled first, needless to say, but on the 7th of December – the first Wednesday in the history of our club – ten of my students showed up (and went straight into the darts room).
The story did not end there. On the 15th, two guys came back to see a regular meeting of ours. They said they would join us for future sessions as well, and that they would try to drag some more classmates along. I am looking forward to seeing them, for a number of reasons.
The show must go on
The club is scheduled to reopen its gates on February 2nd. Our plan is to keep the well-known and well-working TAKE FIVE atmosphere with a format very similar to what you have seen before. My only proposal at this point is to make it slightly more flexible, and maybe broaden our horizons by experimenting with new things. You are welcome to assist us along the way. Feel free to send us feedback on any aspects the club, new activities to try out, not to mention topic recommendations.
Keep an eye out for the first Facebook event of February.
This gallery contains 32 photos.
Ladies and Gentlemen, allow us to present to you a fine selection of the professional photographs taken at a special event celebrating the 5th birthday of the TAKE FIVE – English Language Club. All the credits go to Szilvia Liska.
Ah, how soon the summer goes by. You just blink one – because the darned sweat got into your eyes – and another one (damned blinding sunlight, I can’t open my eyelids, my pupils will disappear) and it’s gone. But don’t worry, TAKE FIVE will resume soon on the 22nd of September! Don’t forget, it will be a special occasion:
our 5th birthday!
The name of the club is TAKE FIVE, so you can imagine what the fuss is about. There will be a special topic and everything. And speaking of topics: the Topic Hat is about to run out, so we look to you to help us! If you have an idea, don’t hesitate to send it to one of the organisers.
Until then, you have a choice: you can read the brief summer summary, or if you have the time, why not read the longer, creative writing approach featuring the dystopian apocalyptic future.
So, for the short summary:
The summer went pretty well. After serious consideration and evaluating several options, we chose to have the first occasion in Muzikum. We had no idea that we would like the place so much that all of the summer sessions would be there. But we did and it was a good choice. We always had a summer themed game: a whacky summertime invention, a summertime cocktail or a summertime photo album that the members had to act out. Also, the organisers got in touch with their musical side, and after rewriting the lyrics to Walk Off the Earth’s Little Boxes, they performed the new version of the song titled Little Mushrooms. Towards the end most people must have been on holiday, as there were a bit fewer people than before. But that was never a problem, and we had fun nonetheless. All in all, it was a good summer to look back on, and now it’s time to look forward to the autumn (or fall for those who prefer US English) season. See you then!
(you can read the creative writing summary below the pictures)
The FALL of mankind
The days of the scorch are gone. We get a few afterburns every now and then, but that’s about it. The long haul to the everlasting winter and soulless cold has begun. Say what you want about heat, but at least it has a soul. It lives, pulsates around you, and like most living things, it can kill you. But I’d rather die at the hands of something that at least gives the impression of life rather than just a passive destructive force, like cold. It’s not even destructive… it just forces out all life. Like darkness, it creeps up, non-threatening at first, but then you find yourself cornered into a small hole, and you know it’s gonna be over soon. Best you can do is hope, but all you can do is fend off insanity. Well, some can do it, anyway. Not all of us. But now’s not the time to reminisce. Now’s the time to try and do whatever we can. For whatever reason you can tell yourself. Tell it hard enough, you might just believe it.
We rounded up whomever we could find. As the deserts started freezing over, it became easier. Those that survived came looking our way. Of course we can’t stay long in one place – I can already feel the ground here getting colder and colder each morning. All life shrivelling up, becoming a frozen memento of what it once was. Soon that would be us. Unless we come up with something. If there is anything to come up with.
I was tasked with gathering information. Whatever information I could get my hands on: art, manuals, a kid’s drawing on a freakin’ fridge, a flyer for some club. I got some good stuff over the time. It isn’t much, but then again, my whole mission is crazy. It is meant to guide those that will come after us. The future generations, maybe the ones born during the fall, perhaps even children of the winter. You never know when you might visit for the first time. You never know how long you might stay.
This one thing I found, it’s really interesting. Reminds me of a world I used to know. Used to be home. It used to be warm there. It’s just a flyer, nothing fancy. Colourful background, mainly orange. It’s an out of focus picture of people sitting around a table, talking. Having a good time. Once there was writing in the foreground, but the powerful rays of the sun have seen to it that it become faded. All you can make out now are ‘IAK IV’. Although some say the first letter is a ‘T’. Whatever it is, it used to be a language club. During the days of the scorch it was quite popular.
I went down to the archives to find out more about this club. It was pretty much the same until, a few months ago, the name ‘Muzikum’ started popping up. Quite a few people visited the club. Their first meeting there went good enough. That place is pretty good. Dear Lord, back in those days you could go outside without protective gear. They must have enjoyed the sunlight and the warm. Letting it shine over them, heat their skin, fill them with energy. Like a loving caress. A warm hand running over you, yet untouchable. Before it became a strangling, burning grip… This club must have been doing something right. The second time they were at this new place they had even more visitors. I can’t tell much from these pictures, but it seems like they were acting out an imaginary holiday in three frames. Seems like fun. The organisers even rewrote the lyrics to a song and performed it. They also took imaginary trips to alternative universes, like a fairy tale or a superhero universe. How sweet. How innocent. Neither of those words mean much anymore.
Summer was a privilege back then, a time to rejoice and welcome the life it brought. We never thought we could have too much of it. After a while the sessions got homelier with less visitors, as if people were on holiday or something. Still, the club carried on and it looks like good fun. Sometimes they were inside, sometimes they could go outside. Their games are clearly of an era of hope. They always had something related to summer – a summertime cocktail, a summertime invention, summertime this, summertime that. I cringe from the phantom heat burning me just by reading about these.
Well, seems like this club had a good run. They say as the cold came, they moved underground. I suppose that’s as good an idea as any. Who knows, it might even make a difference. They might even carry on, keep humanity together with their English speaking and fun games.
I sometimes think that we won’t make it. More often than not, to be honest. I should be keeping hope alive, but… I don’t know. I don’t know if we can survive on the surface. It will become cold and unwelcoming. The rigid, uncompromising cold will take over, step by step, degree by degree. Those that are not frozen will have to endure for as long as they might, watching their breath billow away from them only to disappear in the chilly air. Just a puff of air, an ominous harbinger of what is to come. Of what will happen to all of us. Snuffed out by the cold, withering and alone, drained of all energy. At least in this club you wouldn’t be alone. If the cold’s about to get you, you may as well have fun and spend your time with a bunch of cool people. I guess that’s better.
I think I’ll go to this ‘IAK IV’ club or ‘TAK IV’ or whatever it was originally called. I need to have a look to see what would I find. If they are still there. Who knows, we may even see the sun again. But at least we’ll be together, no matter what.
Ship’s log 2016/05/11
Entry number T-5.
It has been almost two weeks since the last TAKE FIVE session. I swear to God, sometimes those meetings are the only thing that keep me going. When we were asked by the International Multiverse Committee to investigate the gateway and the possible universes we can explore, I didn’t know what I would sign up for. Well, I’ve sure got a handful now. But we have to keep on going. For science.
As I’ve mentioned, it isn’t easy, examining these universes. We never know what twisted world we will set foot on. I mean some universes aren’t so bad: we’ve been to the future, we even met a whole new alien species! But there were some universes that bore an eerie resemblance to ours. I still get chills from the communist society we stumbled upon. Or the one where you are the only person in the whole universe… my blood curdles when I think about it.
The crew is more than satisfactory. It’s a great team, and we complement each other with our individual skill sets. It’s amazing how well-oiled sometimes work goes. Of course, it’s not all easy. But we do try. The experiments are on schedule, and many of our findings may alter the way we think about life and English clubs. The IMC knew what they were doing when they asked us for the job – I can only hope that we’ll continue in the same vein and deliver on the promises that are expected of us.
As the ship’s Speech and Lame Puns Officer it is my duty to check for and analyse all forms of linguistic communication we find in these universes, and try to make a badly formed joke on words out of them. It’s not always easy, but as long as there are inhabitants, we’ll manage. It would be hard to crack a joke about a universe with no-one in it. Although if we called it a blank-verse we might get the literature majors to move there, as long as they don’t notice the hyphen. Well, one can always hope.
The mission was off to a good start, but our work is far from over. We had to send out Era on a special sole expedition. The girl’s got guts, I gotta give her that. I know she can handle herself, but still I worry. Until she returns it’s just Zsombor and I, so we’ve got our work cut out for us. I’ll be interested to see though what she comes back with. I hope it’s not the place where people wear 90s clothes, have 80s hair and talk like in the 50s. Science has so far failed to explain any of those things. They’re just… not natural. All that denim and windbreakers, those curls and waves, and those sounds… I mean if there were a universe where the eyes could vomit and the ears could weep that would be it. I desperately hope for Era’s safe return – this expedition would be lost without her.
Speaking of which, which universe do you think we should go to next?
March 17 was undoubtedly a noteworthy day this year. We organized the fourth TAKE FIVE session of the spring season. Oh, and Saint Patrick’s Day happens to have fallen on the very same Thursday. For this negligible reason we decided to go off the weather-beaten track and invite our visitors to celebrate this special day with us. We also had the honor to welcome an extraordinary guest.
We took off with the following introductory question: what would you be a patron saint of? Then, instead of reaching for the color envelopes, we continued with a nice Saint Patrick’s Day quiz compiled by Era. It contained twelve questions carefully arranged in order of difficulty. We had the wonderful plan of showing the questions on the big screen using a PPT. As the saying goes: man proposes, CD-FŰ disposes. The TV had been moved to the other room for the darts players. Mastering your ability to improvise is among the perks of being a club organizer. We ended up reading out the questions one by one. In each round the members of the three small groups had to put their heads together and find the answer in one-two minutes.
We concluded this exciting show with two extra questions, one of which was “How many million pints of Guinness are consumed world-wide on St. Patrick’s Day?” (The astounding answer is 13 million pints.) The extra questions served as a smooth and almost unnoticeable transition to the topic of the day. The credit for the description goes to Balázs.
IT’S SAINT PADDY’S, HAVE A PINT!
Saint Patrick’s Day is celebrated all around the world. Not only is it celebrated, people celebrate it in fashion – mostly dressing up in green and getting severely drunk. This happens more than enough at other occasions as well, but on Saint Patrick’s Day it is definitely encouraged. Do you think that it is wrong to encourage drinking on a society level because it maximises peer pressure, or it doesn’t matter because anyone can say no whenever they want to? Do you think that peer pressure is harmful in general? Have you ever done something out of peer pressure – because everyone else was doing it?
The questions of social drinking and peer pressure planted the seeds for an insightful discussion, which was later crowned by the four speakers on the podium. After they had presented their thoughts on the matter, the conversation shifted from the original topic to social media – whether creating a Facebook account could also be the result of peer pressure today.
However hard we tried, we didn’t manage to withhold our creative power when it came to the game. We had previously made a list of all the patron saints the people had said as their answer to the introductory question. We started off by giving one patron saint from the list to each group. They were then asked to come up with a name and a brief history for their saints. Finally, one person from each group took the hot seat and read out their stories. The game turned out to be so successful that it became more and more difficult to breathe from the laughter as the speakers took turns. It was indeed the perfect way to end our Saint Patrick’s Day event.
English Club Crossover
As Mac Taylor and Horatio Caine from the two CSI series met occasionally in crossover episodes, a kind gentleman from another English club was among our guests that night. Balázs and I spent an hour talking with Gergő before saying goodnight. He told us that they had founded their club just recently, and we were invited to check it out in the near future. Their club is called Chatterbox Chat Club. (Click here to see their Facebook group.) We were delighted to receive lots of compliments from Gergő on our work.
As you know, you can always find our latest event on Facebook. Keep in mind that we are open to your topic recommendations. Feel free to contact us and tell us about your ideas.