Trivia Answer of the Day — Garnet Amplifiers

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. This time around, I’m going to focus on one of the recurring question topics that’s become a passion for certain members of my team: album art.

BTO

As noted previously, WWSP-90FM’s Trivia employs an inspired methodology to determine the point value of individual questions. Those calling in the correct answer split the kitty of points equally, so the fewer teams that alight on the proper response, the higher the points. There is reward for rarity, in essence. The biggest answer a team can net is five hundred points. Across nearly thirty years of playing, my crew of rapidly researching ruffians had never claimed the glory and difference-making outlay of point that came from being the only team, out of hundreds, to answer correctly.

That changed during the 2018 edition of the contest.

As with most album art questions in the current era, a flurry of telling yet cryptic details about a record were offered. It was the debut release from a rock band with a stylized version of their logo on the front cover. The back included a photo of the band, each member reaching out their hand toward the camera lens. And the inner gatefold featured several more photos, including some clearly taken in a junkyard. In those pictures, one of the band members is wearing a shirt with two word on it. Teams were charged with providing the two words on the shirt.

The album, we determined with reasonable speed, was the 1973 debut from Bachman-Turner Overdrive. Although we found images of the gatefold cover online, the resolution was a challenge. If we had the album right there in front of us, it would have been easy. We didn’t and so it wasn’t. We went on a wild hunt of cross-referencing, eventually determining with reasonable certainty that the answer sought was “Garnet Amplifiers.” With seconds left, we got through the station and submitted the answer. Not long after, we received the great, entirely unexpected news: five hundred points.

I have to admit, as silly as I can admit this whole Trivia endeavor might be, the sense of accomplishment was real and potent. It would be nice to get another one of those, preferably without another thirty years or so of build up.

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.

Trivia Answer of the Day — Hoy Hoy

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. This time around, I’m going to focus on one of the recurring question topics that’s become a passion for certain members of my team: album art.

little feat

I noted yesterday that questions about album art in the WWSP-90FM’s Trivia have shifted in recent years to asking teams to provide a title on the basis of a description of the unique imagery on the sleeve. Another variant has arisen the past couple contests. The question seeks some trivial detail from the album art, but the name still isn’t provided. Instead, teams are given one of those oblique roundabout descriptions of the cover, and identifying the release in question is only the first step. Once the album is identified, the addition piece of trivia must be spied on its surface. This is tougher than it sounds, because though the artwork of essentially every album that saw major release is widely available online, the scans may be subpar, or the digital images not large enough to discern a detail easily readable on a full-size record jacket.

At one point last year, the description of an album cover was provided. The album cover features a Lincoln automobile being driven on a mountain road. The driver appears to be none other than George Washington. A bolt of lighting strikes downward toward the car. A couple people on my team quickly realized the album art belonged to the Little Feat release Feats Don’t Fail Me Now, but we couldn’t find an online rendering of the album cover large enough and sufficiently sharp in detail to reveal the answer to actual question: What words are on the license plate of the Lincoln?

Teams participating in The World’s Largest Trivia ContestTM draw readily on the voluminous masses of information on the Web and whatever additional reference books they accumulate, but the real difference comes from those resources that are self-created. We couldn’t find the answer online, but one of my teammates who is most dedicated to our album cover mission had, while flipping through his own record collection, long ago taken it upon himself to write down the words on the license plate. We called in the answer: “Hoy Hoy.” And another robust batch of points were added to our tally. The mixture of pride and relief we felt in the moment didn’t officially register in our tally, but it was perhaps just as highly valued to us.

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.

Trivia Answer of the Day — Seven Wishes

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. This time around, I’m going to focus on one of the recurring question topics that’s become a passion for certain members of my team: album art.

night ranger

The trivia contest hosted by student-run radio station WWSP-90FM is celebrating its fiftieth year this weekend, so it has weathered a complete transformation in how participants hunt for answers. Questions are often less a test of knowledge than research skills, and Google and similar online tools have made researching markedly more easy. In adjustment, the writers of the contest have increasingly turned away from more straightforward questions — like naming an album and asking about some odd little detail on its cover — in favor of intricate, occasionally convoluted descriptions of sleeve art followed by the directive to identify the music release in question.

Like other teams, we’ve made adjustments in our prep and resources to accommodate this shift. Even so, there are plenty of times when it’s a requirement to draw upon deeply embedded memories. A few years ago, a 1985 album was described, noting the front cover featured the band members in the cockpit and turret of a fighter plane, and the back cover pictured them standing next to the tarmac. Participants in the contest were asked to provide the title of the album. We clicked and scrolled fruitlessly for the length of the first or two songs teams are afforded before time runs out on the question. The question is repeated in between the two songs, and some indefinable thing about hearing the description anew stirred up a notion in me. We confirmed my theory was sound and called in the answer “Seven Wishes.” It netted us a sizable amount of points.

I’ve never owned Night Ranger’s Seven Wishes. It’s not an album I encounter with any regularity, in used bins or elsewhere. It’s quite possible I hadn’t thought of that album in conscious way in the twenty years or so preceding the question. And yet somehow there it was, part of the scattered detritus in my brain, presumably clogging the pathway that should give me quick access to things like passwords and important dates on the calendar. When this junk drawer of information I possess happens to help yield a momentary uptick in the standings for my team, the problematic trade-off seems fully worth it.

 

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.

 

 

Trivia Answer of the Day — Hit Trip

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. This time around, I’m going to focus on one of the recurring question topics that’s become a passion for certain members of my team: album art.

hit trip

Officially, The World’s Largest Trivia ContestTM is a weekend event, beginning at 6:00 p.m. on Friday night and lasting until Cinderella’s curfew on Sunday. In practice, the process of furiously trying to answer questions starts almost as soon as the team registers and picks up their copy of the rulebook, dubbed The New Trivia Times. For the serious contenders, this happens on the preceding Monday. Scattered among the thick publication’s pages are decontextualized and entirely unexplained pictures, usually thirty in total. The teams know these images will inspire questions during the fifty-four hours of the contest. What precisely those questions might be remains a mystery until those moments when the on-air announcer instructs, “It is now time to get out your copy of The New Trivia Times.”

Fifteen years ago, in the contest staged in April 2004, one of those pictures was of a songbird seemingly perched in the sound hole of an instrument, likely a guitar. The strings of the instrument were in front of the bird, looking similar to the bars of a cage. Before the weekend came around, my team was able to determine that the image was pulled from the cover of the 1968 Charlie Byrd release Hit Trip. The accompanying question was fairly straightforward, asking for the album’s title. We called in the correct answer and, as I recall, didn’t think much of it.

In a configuration that is the epitome of fairness, 90FM’s Trivia assigns point values to questions on the basis of how many teams answer them correctly. A significant portion of the questions end up in the range of ten to thirty points. Anything above that is coveted, and indeed necessary to push into the upper reaches of the ranking among the hundreds of team playing in the contest. Hit Trip wound up nabbing us 95 points, which was a happy surprise.

In truth, the Hit Trip answer isn’t all that memorable to me, but it has a small but nice significance in my team’s history. It was one of many that year that tilted our way, leading to our first finish among the top ten, the truest measure of accomplishment in 90FM’s Trivia. We already had a well-fortified reputation among other Trivia participants as rambunctious hooligans. Now, we were suddenly seen as a team that could actually compete in this odd endurance test of research and knowledge. A Wisconsin Public Television host best explained the new variant on our reputation: “They’re smart, but they’re drunk.”

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.

Trivia Answer of the Day — The Breakdown

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. This time around, I’m focusing answers on the supplemental “Unplugged” version of the contest, which is staged a few times per year in Central Wisconsin. 

breakdown

A side effect of participating in 90FM’s Trivia is that I feel less compelled to hold in my memory banks the most basic facts of the pop culture I consume with its eventual contest usefulness in mind. It wasn’t always the case. At one point, I took ludicrous pride in being able to rattle off the fundamentals of touchstone movies and television series, as if the skill would someday prove heroic. A building is burning down and the only way these people can be rescued is if someone can quickly provide the name of the rival drinking establishment that regularly engaged in a prank war with the gang at Cheers! Now, that information can be readily Googled up before I could even push through the crowd. Whoever has the strongest signal on their phone saves the day.

Things are a little different in the Unplugged competition, though. Material that can be mined from the internet in a matter of moments is unavailable. Suddenly, it’s prime fodder for questions. For example, the question could be “What is the name of the news program co-anchored by Chuck Pierce and Portia Scott-Griffith?” Or maybe something like “What is the name of the network program that is taken over by executive Diana St. Tropez?”

These questions were posed in successive Trivia Unplugged events I attended. I have watched every episode of the television series Great News and immediately recognized it as the source for the questions. The name of the fictional television news program at the heart of Great News is all over the place in every episode: on clothing, on coffee mugs spoken multiple times by various characters, in gigantic letters on walls and in the studio where there characters practice their noble broadcast journalism.

In the first Unplugged in which I was confronted with this should-be-easy question, I quickly and confidently provided my answer: “The Rundown.” That is the title of a well-regarded BET late night program, an E! Snapchat series, and a movie costarring Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson and Rosario Dawson. It is not, however, the name of any fictional program on Great News.

A smart person would learn from this mistake, of course. But my intellect is evidently more in the range of Bart Simpson confronted with an electrified cupcake. Mere weeks later, I was at another Trivia Unplugged, and another Great News question was asked, again seeking the name of the fictional news program. This time I agonized over two options, eventually settling again on “The Rundown.”

I share my pain to cleanse and heal. And I also detail this blundering shame in hopes of putting out the necessary mojo into the universe to deliver unto me a Great News question this weekend that can provide some personal redemption. Because in this nutty game we play, no matter what glories or heartbreaks we have just endured in our answer hunts, there is always the next question.

 

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.

Trivia Answer of the Day — Steve Rogers

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. This time around, I’m focusing answers on the supplemental “Unplugged” version of the contest, which is staged a few times per year in Central Wisconsin. 

bernie

There are a multitude of ways in which 90FM’s Trivia — especially the “Unplugged” version — can leave a participant feeling deeply humbled. For me, few things rankle more than when I am left utterly blank-minded up against a question on a topic that I once mastered with encyclopedic command. It can be tough to accept how decisively I could be bested by the fifteen-year-old version of me.

We were asked to provide the first and last name of the comic book character who was once engaged to Bernie Rosenthal, one of the most talented glass blowers in New Yorker metroplex. Luckily, as I sat there agonizing over gaps in my memory, one of my teammates — whose current comic acumen should inspire envy in all — piped up and said, “That’s Captain America, right?”

Sure enough, the civilian alter ego of the star-spangled Avenger was the correct answer, and we secured a hefty amount of points. Pleased as I was to celebrate with my teammates, I knew the teenager I once was looked on with a touch of disappointment that I wasn’t the one who confidently piped up as soon as the question was read. I guess I need to go back and do some devoted rereading.

 

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.

Trivia Answer of the Day — Pittsburgh

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. This time around, I’m focusing answers on the supplemental “Unplugged” version of the contest, which is staged a few times per year in Central Wisconsin. 

simon garfunkel

In the different iterations of 90FM’s Trivia, missing a question isn’t that troubling. The contests are built to be challenging, and some information is simply beyond the reach of our collection of finely honed minds. There’s no shame in that.

Then there are the instances in which the fumbled response to a trivia question causes deep spiritual agony, even if there were clear impediments to the retrieving the right answer from the data bank of the mind. For my squad, made up of quite a few alumni of the sterling college radio station airing the main contest, I suspect its misfires on the music questions that hurt the most.

For Trivia weekend, with digital resources always the ready, questions about song lyrics have dwindled in  recent years. Typing in a few key words brings the answer up with too much ease to make the strain of questions viable. In the “Unplugged” edition, though, simply asking for a detail found in the words of a familiar song can make for an exceptionally tricky task, especially when the venue’s speakers are booming out a different track than the one that is the subject of the question. It’s hard to run a song, even a beloved song, through the mind while some competing pop monstrosity is bullying its way through the space.

So it was at “Unplugged,” when team were asked to identify the city in which two youthful travelers boarded a bus in the Simon and Garfunkel song “America.”  As time ran out, we scrawled “Saginaw” onto an answer slip, I’m pained to report. As soon as the music in the room dropped away, the whole of “America” came rushing into my head, like a fire hose being twisted open. I knew at once that Saginaw was a starting point for a hitchhiking trip and the Greyhound seats were claimed in Pittsburgh (a city with, as another song asserts, has a “real cool tunnel”). It was too late. All I could do was groan.

I will help answer many questions this coming weekend. But I also know the near-misses — the ones that again make me groan — will make the sharpest memories.

 

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.