9

As this digital space has spent recent days illuminating, my weekend just closed was turned over almost entirely to the World’s Largest Trivia Contest, an annual fundraiser staged by the student-run radio station at University of Wisconsin – Stevens Point. Hundreds of teams participate, the most serious holding the goal of reaching the top ten, placement that results in a trip to the radio station to collect a trophy. For the third time in our thirty years of history, my team fought to that very accomplishment, finishing Trivia in ninth place:

standings

Trivia runs for fifty-four hours straight, and, like several of my teammates, I was awake for significant number of the contest. With that in mind — in combination with the annual difficulty of transitioning back into the the mundane day-to-day after the dizzying wonderland created by my team of happy hooligans — I am going to gift myself with one of my periodic vacations from daily posts in this space. Coffee for Two will pull the shades down and do dark for the next few days.

We’ll be back to full operation starting on Sunday, with the next College Countdown post.

vision

From the Archive — 90FM Trivia 1989

2089

The general intent of this “From the Archive” weekly feature is to drag some old piece of my personal writing and drop it into this shiny digital space. For today, I’m instead going to use the retrospective aspect of my Saturday task to tip my hat one more time to the World’s Largest Trivia Contest, being staged at WWSP-90FM, the student-run radio station at the University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point. This is the fiftieth edition of the contest, and it is the thirty year anniversary of the first time I operated within the confines of the station, helping the run the whole endeavor. It had been a wild, wonderful journey with this strange endeavor, and as I type, I am far too weary to add more, except for one more major thanks to everyone who’s shepherded the event along over the years.

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 — 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.

15

cakers 2018

I and some of the most brilliant people I know once again devoted a huge swath of time in recent days to the annual staging of The World’s Largest Trivia ContestTM  by a college radio station with an enduring hold on my heart. In addition to the usual straining of brains and testing of livers for which my crew is semi-famous, the geographic location where we gathered was pummeled by a historic blizzard, delivering over two feet of snow over the course of a couple days.

The weather added plentiful complications, and yet my team, the Cakers, finished right in our regular zone, landing in fifteenth place. I’m too tired to add much more. We’ll get back to non-Trivia words tomorrow.