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.
Another rainy night in New York. Another TAKE FIVE meeting in Budapest. As the cigarette smoke cleared I knew it would be our Christmasest evening yet. I was a hot detective working a cold case, but the weather was mild and I knew I had long passed my best shape. Still, it was a holiday club meeting and someone had to do the speaking. And if that someone is going to be someone, then that someone is going to be me. With heart full of determination and Era by my side I knew I might just get it done. Or at least give it my damnedest.
The evening began. At first there weren’t many of them there, but I knew better. I knew that this was always the way, and I wasn’t taken in quite so easily. Oh no, not anymore. Not after my heart was broken in Cairo, when I was still young and I thought I could handle an English Club without any bells. Well, not this time. I came prepared. As I rose from my seat they might have expected me to clear my throat, or to even use the regular bell. They had no clue what the night had in store for them. I wasn’t going to beat around the bush anymore; I took out my phone and rang the special Christmas bell application I downloaded earlier. The effect was exactly as I expected – mild amusement with hearty smiles all around. I knew instantly that this would be a good night to be a Take Fiver.
I felt like having a double whisky and a sad tune on the piano, but I got a pot of tea instead. The bell was a nice touch, but I’ll be damned if I’ll let it go into my head. The night was still early and I needed my English at its best. While we waited for the others I thought of playing word chain with a Christmas and winter theme, and I wasn’t wrong. We didn’t always keep to the theme, but hell, who does. People kept arriving, and we were shaping up to be quite a group. It was time for the introductory question and I thought to myself what the hell, I’ll ask them. And they can tell us whatever they want to. So I looked right at them, and with a smile twitching at the edge of my mouth I posed the question straight off: ’So, what do you want for Christmas?’
I could see I hit the spot; they laughed a bit and I could see them trying to come up with a witty answer. I gave them a few minutes and then told them to get to it: tell us their name and gift idea. We all spoke and had a few laughs. Some of the ideas weren’t all that bad, and in the dimmed lights you could see that they were enjoying this make-believe Take Five Santa. All those Take Fivers, eager to get on with it. What a bunch. I knew I couldn’t make them wait any longer. It was topics or nothing, and I sure as hell wasn’t going to let them down. Not after they came all the way down here. And not at the last meeting of the season. I was the last to answer, and after that I let Zsombor do his thing. He’s got a way with the envelopes, you see, and he is pretty good with the crowd, too. He seemed to be in his element – he even read out the topic.
The first one was a real doozy: Grammar Nazis. It was a club member topic and a fine one at that. But it seems that fate had all the cards and there was no pass at the checker’s table. As we drew another topic, it started to get suspicious. It was also Noémi’s. That’s TAKE FIVE for you. The discussion went fine, and the speakers really gave it their best. The second topic, that Global Citizenship thing, even sparked a bit of debate, but nothing serious. It seemed everyone had something to say about it, which is nice – we are a conversation club, after all. It was time for the break and I went to the bar to get a beer. It was a long day and a cold one was in order.
It took two seconds for the break to be over, or at least it felt that way. I could hardly get a head start on my beer and already I was faced with a crowd ready to play some of our trademark games. Well, Era, Zsombor, and I came prepared, so we didn’t worry. We had something really special up our sleeves. God, we felt invincible. Even if you’ve been around language clubs as long as we have, it still gets in your head. Like a goddamn rookie after their first introductory speech.
Zsombor had an idea for the first game. As if the night wasn’t thrilling enough, he decided to add another mystery to the table, and had the members solve the story of the sock in the metro. Few people know this, but this used to be an actual case of Zsombor’s. The man’s got an obsession, but who am I to judge him. There are worst things to get riled up about, I guess. The group had no idea about all this and they went merrily about coming up with a story. That’s what being a private eye is, that’s what it comes down to. Telling stories. Hoping they are true. Sometimes desperately needing them not to be.
The groups managed to get us smiling with their crazy ideas. And there was still plenty of crazy to go around. The second round saw to that – we asked them to come up with goofy ways of giving gifts. I knew this woman once. Her idea of a gift was knife in your back, a broken heart to go with it. But these Take Fivers deserve better, and again, they made us laugh. God, you’ve gotta like these people. But the main event was yet to come. Taboo has always been a well-known TAKE FIVE game, but this time regular Taboo wouldn’t do. We knew that, we weren’t born yesterday. That’s why we said to hell with it, we’ll make our own Christmas Taboo. And damn, did we do it.
Not all of us could play, but I didn’t mind. When you’ve played as much Taboo as I have, you can’t look at the world in the same way. Some say it’s a gift, but I don’t know about that. We had just enough cards for Era to join. Zsombor measured the time and I was to investigate. Pretty ironic. Me, a private eye spending day after day looking into people’s dirt, just idly walking up and down seeing if anyone uses the forbidden words on the cards. Kind of fitting I guess. At least this time no-one would get hurt if I find something. The game was a rousing success, and we had shared winners: Regina and Noémi. It was nice to see someone win for a change. In my line of work people usually lose and they usually lose big.
We wished everyone a Merry Christmas and with that the last TAKE FIVE of 2015 was over. I knew we would see each other again in February, but I felt depressed all the same. So I did what I do best: I finished my beer, turned my collar up, and wandered out into the night.
Last Thursday turned out to be a TAKE FIVE session for the ages. There were many firsts, lots of laughter, and a lot of games. Oh, and a dear, old-time club member got hitched right at the session!
The first shock came even before the session started. It was 17:58 and there was already a bunch of us, eager to start the session. Usually, people tend to arrive a few minutes late, since it’s not always the case that CDFŰ is open before six o’clock. But that was just the beginning, and we were only starting to grasp what the night had in store for us. And, soon enough, as we were going through the usual motions, more and more people arrived – some during the introductory round, some before we handed out the topic, and a few even came during the discussion. We were astounded to count that all in all there were 27 of us! That is easily a record over the last peak in the number of visitors; that happened on the 24th of July, with 22 of us.
The second great event you may have heard of: we’ve got new topics! With the kind contribution from a few members, and the hard(-ish) work of the organisers, 15 topics are lined up to be discussed by enthusiastic Take Fivers. Last night we drew the first of many (very high-quality) envelopes and had a promising conversation about the topic that lay within: A GLUTEN-FREE TOPIC, PLEASE.
Following this we got to hear about our members’ ideas for strange diets to follow (strange might be an understatement, but there isn’t a word in English for the creatively hilarious surreality that you’re just not sure where to put – clearly a niche in the language), and some disgusting meals were also mentioned. I would like to bring special attention to the team that made us roll with laughter by writing a poem of a fictional menu that truly no-one would or should try.
But now comes the really good part. Because, Ladies and Gentlemen, believe it or not, our longest-visiting club member, a dear friend to us all, the permanent ambassador for the underworld, and soon-to-be destroyer of life as we know it, a.k.a. Zoli got hitched! We actually had a contest: the teams had to present their brides for the dashing young gentleman to choose from, and we are happy to announce that in the end Orsi was found most suitable for this merry joining of evil and love. We wish them a blissful fake marriage, and many macabre moments to look back on!
As a finishing touch, really the cherry on top for this already packed evening, we announced the winner of our online game. We are immensely glad to announce that Boró is the lucky one, who next time will enjoy a free club meeting, a cup of non-alcoholic beverage on the TAKE FIVE budget, and she even gets to decide what game we should play! Congratulations to her!
As you can see Dear Reader, there really were great things happening in the club on Thursday. We hope to see you next time, and don’t forget to check out our new topics in the Topic Hat!
“Fall is my favorite season in Los Angeles, watching the birds change color and fall from the trees.” — David Letterman
September 17th, 2015, a few minutes before 4:00 pm — we can hardly breathe. It is hot and stuffy in here. I am rolling up my sleeves in front of the mirror and wash my face. We are ready to go. Balázs and I step out of the bathroom and set out towards the lobby on the fourth floor. The venue is Building R on our campus. As we get closer, the indistinct noise of a small crowd fades in. We catch sight of Era, greet her, and the three of us settle down on a desk by the wall. The place is jam-packed with people. There are only a few untaken seats. We are waiting for our turn, perplexed.
It is time. Margit Szesztay announces the TAKE FIVE club and calls our names. I grab the packet of freshly printed flyers and take it to the “stage”. We are in the spotlight. Dozens of freshmen, graduate students and teachers are staring at us curiously. Here we go. The presentation doesn’t take off seamlessly, but that is only how we feel. The audience seems to resonate with us. They respond with laughter to every little joke. Before we finish up, I address the freshmen and encourage them to join us today for our fall season opening. “Thank you very much for your attention.” A round of applause ensues.
A couple of students run to us for flyers and ask about the club enthusiastically. A girl and a boy appear. They would come with us and check out the club, they say. While we are waiting to move on to CD-FŰ, I strike up a conversation with them. Dorina and Dani are both first-year teacher trainees of the freshly reintroduced undivided program. I tell them not to worry about the uninteresting introductory courses. The best is yet to come.
6:00 pm — after having woven our way through the jungle of narrow streets, we arrive at CD-FŰ. The ever-delightful manager lady welcomes us with a smile. I fish the stack of flyers out of my backpack and walk up to her. I feel the bonds between TAKE FIVE and CD-FŰ are becoming stronger. They have shared our event first time since we moved here. We have put their logo on the flyer. She is grateful, and so are we. I hand her about fifteen pieces and she places them on the counter.
There is no crowd today. I count thirteen participants, including the three of us. I am holding the first color envelope in my hand. The topic is “Good intentions”. After a few minutes it turns out to be somewhat philosophical, not easily tangible. Nevertheless, the groups are eagerly discussing it, sometimes going off on a tangent. I decide to bring one more topic in, to resolve the tightening philosophical atmosphere. “Cursive writing is obsolete, or is it?” says the description. This will do, I think.
Around 8:00 pm — we are smack dab in the middle of the game. The groups are inventing funny university courses, such as “How to be cool I.” Three more guests arrive and sit down at the farthest table. To my great surprise, James Leavey walks in. He used to be my language practice teacher in the first year. I have been expecting him for a while. He spots the beers behind us and decides to join. On the way to the bar we discuss the problem of quantity. In Hungary, a glass of beer is the small one. A pint of beer is more, but in many countries it is not the same amount as a korsó here. It is not a challenge to bridge the cultural gap, though: he orders a glass of Soproni, in Hungarian.
The fall season of 2015 is in full swing now. I kindly remind everyone to pester us with topic ideas as the black cylinder hat is getting more and more hollow. Contribute to this new season with your precious thoughts and get ready for the upcoming session! The forecast says there is an impending swarm of freshmen arriving on Thursday, 6:00 pm. Besides them, we are missing a few old dogs. Are you joining us next time?