BEST PLACE TO PLAY BOCCE - 2001
Half Time Rec
Saturday afternoon in January and we're whiling away the winter hours stupidly drinking beer in the middle of the day--again. A pint here, a bottle of Bud there, another pint God knows where, until we somehow find ourselves jacketless at the Winter Carnival, standing slack-jawed in the middle of the ice-sculpture maze wondering if there's actually a way out of the thing or if we've fallen victim to some perverse cosmic joke--again. And that's when we decide it's time to head to the nearby Half Time Rec for some bocce (and more beer). Don't ask us why an Irish watering hole features Italian lawn bowling in its basement, but weekend afternoons are the perfect time to take advantage of this unlikely sports facility. Choose your poison at the bar, then waltz past the handful of skells drearily passing the afternoon at the bar watching golf on the TV. Flip the light switch in the stairwell at the back of the bar and proceed down to the basement and your own personal bocce court. The basic premise of bocce (the second most popular participatory sport in the world!) is simple. A racquetball-size sphere, known as a pallino, is tossed down the court. Each player then gets four attempts to place a larger, grapefruit-size ball as near as possible to the pallino. Whichever team ends up with balls closest to the pallino gets a point for each one. There are various styles that can be employed in bocce, but we generally prefer the raffa, or "strong smash" theory of play, in which you hurl bocce balls down the court in an attempt to dislodge your opponents' markers. Could there be any doubt that this style goes well with liquor?