Trivia: Because it is there

So…I woke up this morning, only to realize about a minute into consciousness that 1 PM technically does not qualify as “morning”. Which means, of course, that today is Post-Trivia Monday – traditionally the final day of my annual April vacation (for what it’s worth, I will have tomorrow off this time around as well), devoted to recovering not only from a weekend of sleep deprivation, but also from the madness of the preceding week (which, for the record, includes a banged-up knee from taking a header at Sunday’s running question; I heartily advise watching where you are stepping when a curb is involved).

The week’s madness was not limited to preparation for the WWSP 90FM marathon, either. The games for the week began on Tuesday and Wednesday, when we met at The Bar and Glass Hat respectively for the night’s America’s Pub Quiz game.   And then there was the annual qualifying test for Jeopardy on Thursday night. But – and this might come across as heresy to any Jeopardy aficionados who may be reading this – the main event for the week kicked off at 6 PM Friday evening, and actually did not end for us until the final reading of the scores starting at around 12:30 Monday morning. The 90FM contest can only be described as Total Trivia Immersion. To be sure, there is a five-minute break every hour as well as a longer break (approximately forty-five minutes) at the twenty-four and forty-eight hour marks. The vast majority of the break time, though, is spent catching up on aspects of the contest that are generally deferred while a question is in play – things like score-checking, music questions, and so forth.   So, for me at least, the only true break came at nap time – for the record, a three-hour island of sleep (from 10 PM Saturday to 1 AM Sunday) surrounded by sixty-four hours of waking time.

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From Jeopardy online test, 4/16/2015

And you are no doubt asking how we did. Tuesday and Wednesday, not so well; I was drop-dead sure of my answer on Tuesday night’s final question..except that I was wrong, and knocked our team out of first place back into the pack. Wednesday, we were unsure (and ultimately wrong) on the final and wisely bet zero; we wound up being passed by several teams and wound up in fourth place (although the consolation prize given out by Glass Hat that night for fourth rivaled in value the $30 drink certificate given out for first place). Don’t cry for us, though; we got a message over the weekend that we qualified once again for this season’s APQ tournament. And then, on Thursday, I scored what was likely my best finish ever on the Jeopardy test; originally, I thought I had 44 right out of 50, although a second look at the transcript showed that I actually nailed 45 (conventional wisdom says that you pass with 35). As for this weekend: We finished with our best showing in four years – tied for 97th place out of some 350 teams.

What does all of this mean? Well…we get another shot at the APQ tournament (where our team has come heartbreakingly close to winning the whole thing on two separate occasions). My passing score on the Jeopardy test puts me into the drawing for an audition slot in Kansas City sometime in the next few months. I have done the auditions in the past but have never been chosen to be on the show; I have no reason to hope for anything better this time around…but, at the same time, you just never know.

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Playing in 90FM contest, 4/17/2015

And then there is the matter of the 90FM contest. We know full good and well that we will never have a prayer of winning this thing. Although we have some very sharp minds in our group, the nature of this contest requires a level of commitment beyond what we are prepared to give if a team wants any reasonable chance of a top-tier finish. Over time, I have had a chance to get to meet any number of players from many of the top teams, and am proud to call a good number of them my friends – and, in fact, have had many of them as teammates in various competitions. We love the contest…we love the people…but, quite importantly, we love doing things the way we do them. I truly believe that the allure of this contest is that every team that takes part likely does things their own way. Some teams play for the win; some use it as an excuse for a wild party, some use it as a vehicle for bringing old friends together every year, some manage to combine several of these aspects, and some likely do it just for the sake of doing it, or just as a way to help the station along. I remember a comment made years ago by somebody that Network – the dominant team in the contest for many, many years – “has no f…ing clue what this contest is all about”. For the reason I just laid out, I would beg to differ with this assessment; Network does their thing, as does the team of the person just quoted…and everybody else, for that matter. And, in my mind, this is how it should be.

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At APQ state tournament in 2014

You see…whether it is a matter of knocking down a few beers with friends at a pub game…whether it is pursuing a dream of stepping behind a podium someday to face the best the game-show world has to offer…or whether it is a matter of holing up in a crowded basement for a weekend and taking multitasking to a ridiculous level: The important thing in trivia, as in so much else in life, is to do the things you love…and to love the things you do. Meanwhile, it is on to tomorrow night at The Bar, Wednesday night at Glass Hat and Thursday night at Applebee’s in Point (and, of course, May 2 in Neenah)… a hopeful KC road trip later this year (and, ultimately, a trip to Culver City, California)…and April 15, 16 and 17 of next year (along with Trivia Unplugged at the end of September). And yes…I will be having fun. Regardless of how the game plays out.

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