As fast as it came, it went.
Trivia Weekend crept up on me faster than ever before. It was like all this hype, planning, and waiting and then all of a sudden I was running late, pulling underwear right out of the dryer to pack in my overnight bag.
It was a long (and somewhat icy, and at times, blizzardy) drive from the North Shore to Brooklyn Park. And as white-knuckled as I was, I’m relieved that I didn’t skip this year’s 50-Hour Caffeine-and-Shots-Mixed-with-Pure-Google Useless Information Contest-O-Rama, because it was truly one for the memory books.
This year was all about traditions. Whether it was adhering to old ones or creating new ones, our trusty team (Enjoy the Man Explosion!) was all in, even as the calendar struck one decade.
That’s correct, ETME! celebrated its 10th year doing Trivia Weekend this year. And it was glorious.
All the classic elements were there. Last minute booze runs to cobble together the components of the Team Drink, Super Lion Bombs. Buying action figures that you’ll never touch again. Stockpiling snacks even though Alison probably made more delicious food than you could ever eat in one weekend.
And then there were the new elements: new faces, [relatively] healthier food choices, and a much classier dress code.
The team classed it up with dress shirts, dresses, and ties–or in some cases that shall remain nameless–a borrowed tie zipped around the neck of your hoodie. The team looked ravishing and thus the weekend could only be captured in classy black-and-white by our fearless leader.
So after a second last-minute liquor store/Transformer run, I loaded up my energy drink with rum and slid into my designated spot just in time to snag a pic of my favorite TW tradition:
And then Hour 1 started with a bang. Off and running. Sort of. We had a little internet incident: we didn’t have any. Yet another tradition: the Ol’ Start Trivia With a Dramatic Technical Issue thing.
Last year, it only affected me. I couldn’t get my brand new laptop to connect to the network, which led me to having a classic “Mikel First Night Freak-out” which, in turn, led my teammates to calling me a big babby [sic] and even making up memes for the incident.
So, this year, it was just sweet, sweet justice as I watched my team struggle for answers on their smartphones. (Ain’t technology great?) Still, we survived. Perseverance is not something ETME! lacks. Obviously–I mean, we’ve been doing a 50-hour trivia contest for a decade with no chance in hell of winning for crying out loud!
Other than the expected Great Internet Blackout, the other greatest predator of ETME is the human body’s need for sleep. AKA “the first night drop-off.” Usually we are all so gung-ho about Trivia–and who wouldn’t be?!–that everyone tries to stay up all night and then, inevitably, we all end up crashing at the same time, leaving some sleepy-eyed sucker to try and carry the weight.
Now we try to sleep in shifts. And it only took us 10 years to figure it out!
But it’s tough. I personally hate sleeping at all during Trivia. Every hour you’re in Slumber Mode is an hour you weren’t spending quality time with your best buds. It’s actually painful to think about. But people gotta sleep.
Unless you’re Dunkel. That guy’s a machine.
I actually did pretty well sleep-wise. I survived off two hours the first night and four hours the second. It’s all about strategic cat naps! Efficient!
And, for me, this year was all about efficiency. Let me tell you how the first night usually goes: I answer maybe one question, drink myself into a coma, wake up Saturday morning at 10 going “What the hell happened?”
Not this year, folks. Old Mikel stayed fast. Just suckin’ down enough of my upper-downer cocktail to stay focused. When it came to answers, I scored a personal best (approx. 45).
Of course, it certainly helped that this year’s theme lent itself quite well to my expertise.
This is literally what I’ve been waiting for my entire life. A Trivia theme tailor-fit for my couch-lovin’ ass! I mean, I guess it could have been, like, real science instead of sci-fi and I would’ve been just as screwed. But fortunately, a good chunk of the questions had to with fictional spaceships, species, and robots.
In fact, there was an entire Audio Speed Round made just for me. Usually when the words “Audio Speed Round” leave the KVSC DJ’s mouth, it’s like a magic spell that puts me to sleep…or at least conjures me into watching YouTube videos for an hour. But this particular Speed Round was solely about TV/Movie robots.
Are you kidding me? I almost threw my laptop out the window in an act of defiance! Can you say “cakewalk” in a fluty, sing-song voice? I was like 4 credits away from majoring in Fictional Robots in college before I realized it wasn’t a real major! Come on!
It was glorious. I was like a multitasking machine during that round. Searching for the answer to one question while mindlessly barking out the answer to another. It’s like I blacked out for an hour and when I came to, the scoresheet looked like this:
Paradise. Absolute Nerdvana. I was home.
The rest of the weekend went by the book. Fingers flashing along keyboards like pale, pasty daggers, clacking away to the tune of a thousand crustacean claws. Fine-tuned minds programmed for the most precise possible way to phrase our Google searches. This has been the greatest gift of my time with ETME! My researching speed has increased exponentially. It helped me in college, it helped me last week. You don’t even realized how super-charged your post-Trivia searching becomes until you’re casually hunting down a factoid with coworkers and suddenly you’re telling them the answer off your smoking smartphone while they’re still reaching for their holsters.
Heart rates fluttered as we waited to see if we’d get through to the phone bank, then to see if our answer was correct, incomplete, or wrong altogether. If it was right, we were awarded with not only points, but the iconic Dunkel thumbs-up. Much like the gladiators of old, for 50 hours, we live and die by that thumb.
And then, of course, the cathartic laugh at the phone bank volunteer’s clever moniker. “Thanks, Steaming Pile.”
The food was exquisite and plentiful. Too plentiful. And the exotic, 24-hour buffet of snacks are always there, begging to be eaten. Strange cravings and a surreal sense of time passing mingle with the usual munchies that accompany drinking–and the end product is as shocking as it is beautiful.
It’s not rock bottom if you’re eating a barbacoa-beef-and-provolone sandwich made out of French Toast at 3 a.m….
It’s just Trivia Weekend!
Right, guys? That’s normal, right?
Super Lion Bombs flowed like neon waterfalls. It gets harder and harder to find the ingredients. But it’s not about what’s in the cup(s), it’s what it symbolizes.
I could tell you about the specific questions and answers, or list all the goofy team names. I could even link you to YouTube version of Bicentennial Man I watched all weekend in 10-minute increments as an end-of-the-round treat to myself. But that’s not what Trivia is.
This is my third Trivia Weekend recap and, truthfully, I struggle to write them every time. In my opinion, no words will capture the stupid shit we find ourselves laughing at until we’re in tears, the squint of our eyes as we try to read the poster in the background of a grainy YouTube video, or the bliss of chasing the world’s worst schnapps with the world’s worst (and probably nuclear) energy drink.
Luckily, I don’t have only words at my disposal. In honor of the team’s 10th year anniversary, I’ve set some of my favorite Trivia Weekend moments in that classy black-and-white. So queue up “Time of Your Life” or something equally cliche and enjoy.
From our early days, when our HQ was the dorms and some Mountain Dew to the strategically-placed stronghold we’ve developed, Enjoy the Man Explosion! packs a punch, intellectually-speaking. Every year could be our last, and every moment is a missed opportunity for a photo in my opinion.
We’re a different breed, man. Always have been, always will be. I love you all, guys, and here’s to Year XI.
original photos: kell sanders