M. Giant's
Throwing stuff at the internet to see what sticks

Thursday, September 19, 2002  

I’ve been going to bar trivia contests downtown on and off for the last year or so, and Trash joined me earlier this year. We always enjoy going, even though we never win. Actually that’s not true; we won once, but in order to do so we had to fly to the West Coast and join forces with other web celebrities to form a Voltron-like juggernaut of unstoppable trivia power (read about our triumph here).

I’m not saying that to diminish the brainpower of the people we play with here at home. After all, the questions at Kieran’s and Brits tend to be harder than the ones we had to contend with in Seattle, and I’m also not saying that to diminish the brainpower of our Seattle peeps. I mean, here on the Internet, nobody blinks an eye if somebody asks you what percentage of the British Isles is occupied by Britain, or what percentage of Minnesotans claimed to be Irish in the 1990 Census. Anybody reading this can probably do the research and have an answer inside of three minutes. But when you’re sitting around a table, and the nearest computer is the one that’s keeping track of beer orders, and the host asks that question in his thick Irish brogue or British lilt, and your only resource is the faces around the table that are just as blank as yours, you can kiss that point goodbye. And you’d think that a question like that wouldn’t hurt you in the standings, but you’d be wrong because there are thirty other teams in the bar and somehow all the rest of them know it. I don’t know how. They just do.

I tend to prefer Brits because the questions are easier. Also, for the music round, they play actual snippets of songs instead of having the host read them in his trademark arrhythmic and atonal cadences. I’m used to being in a top three team there (although the last time found me walking out at the end of the evening with a sixth-place prize, i.e. bupkes). But last night wasn’t the night of the Brits pub quiz; it was the night of Kieran’s.

Which is why, after three or four of the six rounds, at which point we learned that we were more than twenty points behind the leaders, and tied for third-from-last in a field of twenty-one teams, we were more resigned than surprised. It’s good practice, we told each other; we’ll do better next month, or the next time we play at Brits. We’ll be back.

“And hey,” I said with bleak gallows humour, if everyone else bricks the next two rounds and we get perfect scores, we might still pull this out.” Nobody even bothered laughing, because it was too far out of the realm of possibility to be funny.

That was before the movie round and the picture round. Quick: who played Chet, Buddy Holly, Willy Wilhelm, and Carl Showalter? Get away from IMDb, you cheater. Yes, it was Steve Buscemi, and it was one of the few we got wrong that round. We did even better on the music round, where we got nineteen out of twenty points. Between having a musician and two record store employees on our team, it would have been hard to screw up that round. So it’s good that we didn’t.

After the final round, we were daring to hope that our recent surge had landed us in fourteenth place. The host started reading off scores and team names, lowest to highest. After the first few losers, we expected every team name to be ours. Instead, team after team was read off, including some of the local barroom think tanks. We began to suspect that we’d missed our name somehow.

If this were a movie, we’d be at the point where the underdog team pulls out the last-minute victory, redeeming the aging veteran, humiliating the villain, and saving the orphanage. Fortunately this isn’t a movie, so you all have no choice but to believe me when I say that we ended up in third place.

We celebrated. We exulted. We reveled. We emptied coolers full of Guinness over each other’s heads. This was the highest any of us had ever placed at Kieran’s, and we’d earned it. Even better, we were more then ten points behind the second-place team, so there were no recriminations about the correct answers we’d talked ourselves out of. We had a third-place finish we could be proud of, and damned if we weren’t.

Next month we’ve decided to shoot for last place, just for novelty’s sake.

posted by M. Giant 3:36 PM 0 comments


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