14

2017 finish

My crafty clan of cohorts has a certain place in The World’s Largest Trivia ContestTM. For the second year in a row — and the third time in the past four years — my team, the Cakers, finished in fourteenth place in the fifty-four-hour exercise in mental mayhem. Considering this placement is among three-hundred sixty competing teams, it’s an accomplishment the stirs up a little bit of silly pride.

With that piece of personal reporting complete, I’ll get back to non-Trivia content tomorrow.

Trivia Answer of the Day: North Oconomowoc Ocelots

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.

maddie

There are times when participating in the The World’s Largest Trivia ContestTM may call upon an individual to consume media they might otherwise avoid — or perhaps to which they’d be entirely oblivious. Those ventures might include the woolier reaches of television scheduled pitched at those craving entertainment after a hard week of middle school. Usually, I’ve personally approached those program options with only glancing attention. There is an exception, though — a program that I have watched with uncommon devotion. I am prepared to confess that I have seen every last second of Liv and Maddie.

Why would I tune in religious to exploits of twins Olivia and Madison Rooney, both played by Dove Cameron? The answer is simple: it is improbably set in Steven Point, Wisconsin, the small, Midwestern college town that is home of the radio station and Trivia. Surely, this show was destined to have questions asked from it.

For many years during its recently-completed four season run, Liv and Maddie did not feature in the contest, to my aching frustration. And yet I kept watching, dutifully recording information and becoming far more well-versed in the romantic travails of these young women who are sisters by chance but friends by choice, as well as the misfit adventures of the entire Rooney clan.

The drought ended last year, as my extensive Liv and Maddie learning finally came into play. I’m hardly the only Trivia player to figure out that the Disney Channel program required attention, so there were not rafts of points to be had for noting that it was the North Oconomowoc Ocelots who were defeated by the Ridgewood High girls basketball team in the Wisconsin state championships. It didn’t matter. No matter the value of the question, asked late in the fifty-four-hour contest, it was a glorious moment. And the triumph was, as the song says, better in stereo.

 

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: Dave Grusin, “Night-Lines”

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.

night lines

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.

 

Trivia Answer of the Day: Zeke and Luther

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.

zeke

While The World’s Largest Trivia ContestTM is dominated by the kind of topics that would be immediately recognizable and comfortable to anyone who has spent time conjuring up answers at the quiz night at their favorite purveyor of adult beverages, there are a few peculiarities. For instance, I’m not sure how many other major trivia battles devote quite so much time to the vagaries of print advertising. But the commerce come-ons that make magazines fiscally viable — if just barely — are invoked a lot in our endeavor.

We’ve tried different methods of gathering relevant print ad Trivia fodder over the years, including, for a time, heading to the local Barnes & Noble to raid their magazine shelves and feverish take notes on the material is as many titles as we could, trying to stay at least one step ahead of irritated staff members asking us, “Are you going to buy any of those?”

We write things down so we don’t have to remember things. That’s how our contest works. So when a question came across the speakers last year, urging players to call up and identify the television show once promoted in print advertising with the phrase “Skate. Eat. Sleep. Repeat.,” I immediately assumed it would require skillful web-hunting to retrieve the answer. Instead, someone around our assembled tables announced we had it.

There it was, in six-year-old notes: Zeke and Luther. Like yesterday’s “Trivia Answer of the Day,” the question wasn’t worth a dazzling amount of points. But having long-gone effort paying off in an answer held its own satisfaction.

 

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: Debra Winger

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.

winger

Those with long memories know just how dramatically The World’s Largest Trivia ContestTM changed about twenty years ago. Once the internet made its seismic shift from a tool exclusively for the tech-savvy to the depository for seemingly every last bit of information ever, it became far trickier for the writers of our beloved annual trivia tangle to come up with questions that could be happily answered by individuals with unique globs of information in their brain, at least more quickly than someone who knows how to use Google can pull of the same quasi-obscure details. Since the point values for the contest are determined by the number of teams that provide the correct answer, decreasing in value as more get an individual question right, it is rare that a top-of-the-head answer yields a bushel of points.

Last year, a question arrived with some deliberately vague wording (generally speaking, the more specific the details in a question, the easier it is to spin up the answer with mildly artful use of a search engine). It asked teams to identify the name of the actress who made her television debut playing the younger sister of a superhero, appearing in the show with the narrative charge of returning that towering titan home. Around the table, plenty of my teammates immediately knew the question referred to Debra Winger, who played Wonder Girl in three episode of the nineteen-seventies series Wonder Woman. Sure, some of us were mostly aware of this because of a memorable appearance on Late Show with David Letterman, but we still knew.

Identifying Debra Winger didn’t get us a huge amount of points, but it pushed a little higher than we expected given the relative ease with which we arrived at the answer. If it was far from our biggest answer, I remember it as one of the more satisfying from the earlier portion of last year’s contest. It was an nifty reminder of the days when knowing was as important as — more important than, really — having some sharp research skills.

 

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: Magic Carpet Airlines

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.

magic

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.