This coming weekend, I’ll participate in The World’s Largest Trivia ContestTM. As per tradition, this week is filled with idle reminiscing about memorable answers in past years. For this go-around, I’m further commemorating an anniversary. The weekend before the contest, the radio station sponsoring Trivia holds a midnight movie screening as a kickoff event, a practice that just celebrated its twenty-fifth straight year. Though it had been done a couple times prior to my tenure at the student-run radio station, I was the one who revived the practice, drawing upon my dual status as an on-air movie critic and a popcorn slinger at one of the local theaters. I booked Richard Linklater’s Slacker in April of 1992. The event has been happening ever since.
Certainly any event is bound to change over the course of twenty-five years, and I’ve already noted a few challenges that cropped up in the booking process for the Trivia Kickoff Movie as time went on. Toward the end of the first decade of the twenty-first century, it was becoming clear that sneaking an otherwise unavailable new film into town was impossible. No matter how obscure the title plucked from the festival circuit, teams could raid the various bays of pirates and have the full feature downloaded onto their hard drives before the radio station got around to selling a single ticket. Complicating matters further, the theaters in our humble Central Wisconsin town were laggards when it came to converting to digital projection, and there simply weren’t 35mm prints available for the smaller titles. So a shift was made. Instead of recent indies, the Kickoff Movie was programmed with classic films, presumably of the sort that people would be happy to see on the big screen. The title of the film was kept secret, announced only the night of the first midnight screening, to further encourage teams to attend.
Being honest, I’ve been less enthused about the new selection methodology, if only because one part of the event’s original mission — introducing the Trivia players to independent films they likely wouldn’t see otherwise — was now completely gone. Still, as I’ve continued to help select the film, there have been little personal pleasures, such as the instance when I pushed for a title that currently stands as the only one to play as a Trivia precursor in two different years, showing in both 1985 and 2014. And I largely pushed for it on behalf of one of my teammates.
My friend and teammate Shannon is known for her titanic levels of enthusiasm, more than her question-answering acumen. Given that, it was a little bit of a surprise when what seemed like a relatively difficult question about the film American Graffiti was met by her spouting off the correct answer as casually and confidently as if someone had asked her for a piece of deeply embedded personal information, like her address or the name of a beloved pet. The George Lucas film, it seems, was such a favorite in her household while she was growing up that even the name of an airline, glimpsed only briefly toward the end of the movie, was locked into her brain forever. It represented something that I love about our silly little contest: that no matter how much prep is done, sometimes a major answer (and it netted us a lot of points) comes from one person’s predilections and personal history.
And one of these years, I’m going to ask Shannon to write about the time she spent the whole afternoon on the phone with the parents of a Mad TV writer. That will be the great “Trivia Answer of the Day” post of them all.
(image borrowed from elsewhere)
More info about 90FM’s Trivia can be found at its official website or at the radio station’s online home. There’s also a feature documentary about the contest, but it’s fairly hard to come by these days. To see how my team is faring over the weekend, Twitter is probably the best bet.