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. Or rather, in past year. Every one of these answers figured in the 2016 edition of the contest.
The World’s Largest Trivia ContestTM officially gets underway on Friday night at 6:00p.m., when “Born to Be Wild” is played, the rules are read, and the first question (inevitably with the answer “Robert Redford”) kicks off fifty-four straight hours. Realistically, though, things begin in earnest when teams register earlier in the week and get their hands on the New Trivia Times, a rulebook that includes a least two dozen pictures of indeterminate origin. Team don’t know what specifically will be asked. They just need to figure out as much as they can about the black-and-white images scattered across the publication’s pages.
Invariably, there are a few we can’t figure out, but there’s always the hope of a clue showing up in the eventual question. When we’re holding an answer that we believe no one else knows, the added identifiers in the question can be heartbreaking. Sometimes, we’re counting on the bolstering details to come across the speakers.
Last year, we spent the whole week agonizing over a a strange image, clearly cropped from a larger landscape that would provide more telling information. It was a hand holding a strange glowing object, roughly shaped like a cylinder. There were spikes of some sort coming in from one side.
Once the question rolled around in the contest, there was indeed some supplemental material in the phrasing, letting us know that it was from an album cover. Better yet — and somewhat atypically — the question added that the album was from a fusion jazz artist.
Our Trivia contest is more of a research challenge than anything else, and my sizable team — knowing there was only six to eight minutes available to call in an answer — charged to it. As someone who has done his time as the Jazz Music Director at the campus radio station loudly listed fusion jazz artists, directing us like a football coach, everyone frantically searched, scouring discographies presented through album covers. Late in our allotted time, the correct answer was found: Dave Grusin’s Night-Lines. With seconds left, we successfully called in the answer. It wound up earning us more points than we managed any other single question during the contest.
Best of all, the experience of hunting for that answer recalled the days of the contest before the internet put everything at our racing fingertips, when knowledge and brainstorming could yield major victories. It may seem silly to those well outside of the experience, but it was a potent example of the sheer pleasure in being part of an utterly fantastic team.
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.