When you hear the word ‘trivia,’ you probably think of some dog-eared Trivial Pursuit cards on the table at some diner. Or Buffalo Wild Wings. Then again, I’m always thinking about Buffalo Wild Wings.
What you probably aren’t thinking about is 50 nonstop hours of hardcore trivia. That’s 2 days, friend.
It does exist. I’ve been doing KVSC’s Trivia Weekend since 2005. The product of the SCSU college radio station, Trivia Weekend is a tradition that debuted in 1980. Wedged between the Superbowl and Valentine’s Day (the two enemy holidays of all geeks), Trivia Weekend is a sleep-deprived, caffeine-jacked, booze-fueled, junk-food-injected rollercoaster. And also the best weekend of my life. Easily.
I do battle as part of the same team I started on back in ’05: Enjoy the Man Explosion! or ETME! when we’re in a rush.
A disturbing team name? Maybe. But it was plucked from the real title of a Cosmo article, so judge that! (A few years back our fearless leader actual found, purchased, and framed the magazine article on eBay. It serves as the trophy of whomever can stay awake the longest.)
ETME! has had many HQs: dorms, apartments, houses. This year, we went back to our roots–well, our leader’s roots–as the internet went down at his place hours before Trivia began. In true Trivia team fashion, we packed up our resources–dictionaries, speakers, snacks, laptops, and comic books–and hauled ass to his parent’s basement to set up shop.
With only minutes to spare, we found out we couldn’t receive the radio signal for KVSC. Luckily technology has advanced enough that we could stream the broadcast online–the risk of course being that it cuts into bandwidth.
And if we lost the internet, we lost the contest.
Why? Because this ain’t your mother’s trivia. “Who was president in 1967?” is hardly worth a Trivia Weekender’s time. That’s a question for mere mortals that get regular intervals of sleep.
Question writers for Trivia Weekend work on this all year; scouring every form of media and event for possible loaded questions.
What is the 7th word of the 5th paragraph of the December 1985 issue of some obscure newsletter put out by an electric company in Akron, Ohio?
One year, we had a question about the man who held the world record for most miles traveled in a Volkswagen Bug. It wasn’t “Who is he?” or “How many miles is it?” That’s kid stuff. For credit, you needed to give his CB Radio Handle.
The answer: Hi-Miler. I will never forget this answer because to get it we had to search the internet like a CSI detective until we found a website where this guy had posted on a message board and left his AIM screenname. We added him to our friends list with hopes that he would pop online. Seconds before KVSC closed the question, he came online. We quickly explained our situation and asked our question and waited with bated breath.
Then he went offline.
Our hopes were dashed. Until he came back online for a split second and gave us that precious CB Radio handle. The radio station was called. Points were awarded. High fives were slapped. Screenshots of the conversation were posted to the website.
We were heroes. I’ll never forget that moment because it was at that second I became a Trivia junkie. I live for that thumbs-up that Anthony flashes the team when the phone bank receptionist gives our team that tell-tale “Correct!”
This was ETME!’s 8th year competing. Coming up on a decade. We’ve lost some teammates–sometimes to other teams. Emotions run high. Lack of sleep and close quarters in a competitive setting have made for some torn friendships at times.
We’ve also gained teammates. Perhaps only for a few hours, but hey, what’s time in a 50-hour contest? It’s the reason we have Beer Hour at 5 a.m. and Super Lion Bombs at noon.
What is a Super Lion Bomb? Well it’s our team’s signature shot: Black licorice schnapps mixed with a Malaysian energy drink.
Nobody loves it, everybody does it.
All in all, this year went pretty smoothly. Gone are the days of running back to somebody’s dorm room to slam tiny bottles of wine or eating Cheeseballs until your mouth looks like Snooki’s. Two of my teammates were pregnant–by two other teammates, no less. (Don’t worry, they didn’t have any Super Lion Bombs.) Doing Trivia for two; what a concept.
If one thing is clear–between technology and babies–is that the times they are a-changing. This year I Tweeted Kevin Smith to get an answer about what the Joker was reading in a Batman comic he wrote.
He very graciously got back to me in time to get the points, earning him an honorary place on roster of Enjoy the Man Explosion! (By the way, the answer is The Fountainhead by Ayn Rand.)
Whether or not Trivia Weekend becomes a staple holiday for the rest of the world, for the 70-odd teams that competed this year, I’m sure it already is. I’ll be back again next year. I’ll be back again as long as ETME! exists.
We’re already planning a black tie affair for our 10th year.
It was worth going home for. Every second. Every dollar. Including the $9 I dropped on an action figure to keep up with a tradition Kell and I started way back when.
We placed 41st, but it’s not about the score. It’s about the camaraderie and the inside jokes–like when Thud tried to call in the answer “Swat Kats” and couldn’t say anything but “Squat Cats” and between fits of laughter had to pass the phone to someone else to get the points.
It’s more than Trivia–it’s family.