Wednesday, May 7, 2014

Get Smarter, Have Fun

Drinking, as a rule, tends to make people dumber. But if you sip your spirits while listening to a presenter at Happy Dog University, there's a good chance the opposite will be true. These free gatherings, sponsored by Belt Magazine and Brokaw Advertising and held the first Tuesday of the month at The Happy Dog, are a chance to hear well-educated, knowledgeable experts talk about subjects they find fascinating. In early April, I attended one that explored the question of truth in photography by Oberlin professor of Hispanic Studies Sebastiaan Faber. After being introduced by Belt's founder and editor Anne Trubek, he announced that it was the first lecture he'd ever given while enjoying a beer.

The place was packed and every table taken but I snagged a barstool. Sadly it was next to an overly-friendly, loud and thoroughly-hammered guy, who had clearly not come for the learning opportunity. He started telling me filthy jokes the minute I sat down (thus proving my opening statement), but with a little encouragement from the staff, he and his pals soon departed. With that distraction gone, I could focus on the conversation, which was lively and thought-provoking, the Power Point presentation that accompanied it, a glass of hard cider and my basket of tater tots. It was an excellent combination.

"Class" will be in session again at 7:30 p.m. May 13. The topic is Hamlet: World's Longest Knock Knock Joke.  These evenings are part of the tavern's ongoing and fabulously successful efforts to provide a laid back, unpretentious setting for intellectual discussions, classical music performances and other pursuits often considered dry, highbrow and unapproachable. It works — just about anything seems like fun when paired with craft brews and a $5 sausage stuffed into a bun and loaded with kraut, baked beans, pickle relish or any of the other 50 topping options.

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