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.
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.