Monday, March 18, 2013

The World's Deadliest Drinking Game

About a week ago, we more or less accidentally discovered the deadliest drinking game in the history of human civilization.

We realize this is a bold statement to make, and one that requires a certain amount of qualification. We admit that it is, in fact, possible to create a drinking game more deadly than the one we’ve discovered. Some examples that we absolutely recommend you do not ever, ever try include:
  1. That drinking game where you take a shot every time you breathe.
  2. The game where you take a sip every time somebody writes something offensive or stupid on the internet.
  3. That one that involves turpentine.
  4. The one where you re-create a day in the life of Oliver Reed.
The difference here is that the above games are obviously deliberately designed to kill you, whereas our discovery, is intended to be fun and entertaining, with your unavoidable death being merely an accidental if unfortunate side effect.

The single rule of this game is as simple as it is devastasting: listen to Mike Emrick talk, and take a shot every time he says something weird.

Hockey play-by-play announcer Mike Emrick, wo earned the nickname “Doc” after having graduated with a PhD in Phraseology from Thesaurus State University in 1976, is well known among America’s six dozen hockey fans for his enthusiasm for the sport and for his unusually wide-ranging vocabulary. So when this drinking-game rule demands that you take a shot when Emrick says something weird, it doesn’t mean talking (or, God help us, dressing) like Don Cherry. It means, rather, that you should have a drink whenever Emrick uses a puzzling or intriguing replacement for some of the sport’s more mundane verbs.

Let’s face it, there aren’t that many ways to describe propelling or directing a puck with a hockey stick—not for most of us, anyway—so we tend to stick with a small, meat-and-potatoes variety of verbs: Shot. Sent. Passed. Pushed. Bounced. Deflected, flipped, tipped, fed, held, lobbed. That’s about it for most people.

Not for Mike Emrick, though. Emrick seems to view this linguistic limitation as a challenge, and throws out a cavalcade of synonyms as easily and naturally as we might down an impossibly large number of alcoholic beverages.1

Lest you think we’re exaggerating, the following is a mostly-complete2 list of words used by Emrick during his call of the March 10, 2013, NHL game between the New York Rangers and Washington Capitals. Words used more than once are indicated by the numbers in parentheses:

  • Knifed (4)
  • Careened (2)
  • Filtered (6)
  • Ricocheted
  • Swatted (2)
  • Kicked (2)3
  • Rocked (2)
  • Jammed (3)
  • Sailed
  • Spiked (4)
  • Banked (4)
  • Pushed
  • Tucked (2)
  • Corralled
  • Speared (4)
  • Chipped (2)
  • Nudged (4)
  • Squirreled4
  • Floated (6)
  • Plucked
  • Popped/plopped (3)
  • Flagged (2)
  • Muscled (3)
  • Cancelled (2)
  • Punched (3)
  • Hoisted5 (5)
  • Reversed (2)
  • Pitched (3)
  • Brushed (2)
  • Ripped
  • Jabbed (2)
  • Stymied
  • Dealt (6)
  • Paddled (2)
  • Batted
  • Blistered
  • Shuffled (2)
  • Shanked (4)
  • Padded (2)
  • Hacked
  • Rattled
  • Squibbed
  • Lugged (2)
  • Trigger-pulled6
  • Steered (3)
  • Chopped
  • Scooped
  • Spiked
  • Slugged
  • Shaken
  • Twisted
  • Angled
Conspicuously absent from this list is “scaled,” which we know from viewing experience is one of Emrick’s favorites. Also worth noting is that near the end of the game, a clearly exhausted and mentally drained Emrick describes a puck as going into the corner. Even the greatest have limits.

So, at the rate of one shot per oddball word,  you have now just consumed 116 shots in the span of a single three-hour game on a Sunday afternoon. Congratulations! You are now dead, unless of course you are Oliver Reed . . . in which case, congratulations! You are now dead.

1. When we write “we” here, what we actually mean is “you.” We can stop any time we want. You’re the one with a problem.
2. For some reason, our wife and houseguests seemed to think it was appropriate to talk about hockey when there was a hockey game playing on the TV in our living room, so we were somewhat distracted and can’t guarantee that this list is comprehensive or 100% accurate. But given how little headway has been made in the scientific study of Mike Emrick’s vocabulary, we’re satisfied with our results.
3. As stated above, all of these terms were used to describe propelling or directing a puck with a stick, and not to describe any of the hundreds of other actions possible on a hockey rink, including but not limited to kicking. So in this case, the puck was not kicked in the traditional sense—that is, with, you know, a kick—but rather not-kicked with a stick, in a non-kicking motion.
4. See note 3, above. To the best of our ability to tell, enhanced by repeated slow-motion replay, the puck in question was not, in fact, propelled or directed in any way by a squirrel.
5. In some cases, Emrick may have used the word “foisted.” We are aware that the word “foisted” rarely makes any sense in a hockey context, but that doesn’t mean Emrick didn’t use it.
6. Emrick did not, in fact, use this phrase in the more conventional arrangement of “he pulled the trigger,” but rather as written, along the close lines of “the puck is trigger-pulled down the ice.”

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