Intellectual Face-Off or Trivial Pursuit? A Personal Look Into WCFM’s Semi-Annual ‘Trivia’

[Editor’s Note: Oren Cass ’05 kept a running diary during last Friday night’s Trivia on WCFM.]

11:32 p.m. – We return to my room, after acquiring a wide range of caffeinated beverages and snacks. Tonight’s contest will be a David vs. Goliath battle pitting our lowly team of seven competitors against cohorts of thirty or more. We will be sprawled around a single Mission room and hallway, while they will be holed up in computer labs, with team members assigned to sub-committees with stockpiled props. OK, so maybe it’s more like David vs. Big Groups of Dorks. Our goal is not to win – that would obligate us to design the next trivia contest, a task better left to a Big Group of Dorks. But we would like to make a good showing, have a great time, and get to bed by 4 a.m.

11:45 p.m. – We need a team name. Last year as freshmen (the top-scoring group of freshmen, I might add), we were the Thirsty Goat Blowers. But that’s just immature. We need something more mature, more refined. . . I suggest a Zoolander reference.

11:47 p.m. – We’re down to “Mugatu,” “Three Times Bigger Than This,” “Team That Can’t Read Good And Wants To Learn How To Do Other Stuff Good Too,” and “The Really, Really, Really, Really Good Looking Team.”

11:50 p.m. – Despite a late push for “We Can Derelick Our Own Balls,” ultimately rejected because of its remarkable resemblance to our previous entry, we settle on being “Good Looking.” We’ve got a Streeter, damn it.

12:00 a.m. – The Trivia Contest begins with an explanation of the rules. This is a good opportunity to stick to my clever-columnist-diary format while explaining how this game works. The radio host reads a bizarre and obscure trivia question over the air, and then plays a song. A team has until the end of the song to call the station, name the song and group (for one point) and answer the question (for a second point). There will be about 100 questions during the contest. Meanwhile, there is a bonus trivia packet of even more obscure trivia to be picked up from the station at the beginning of each hour and returned by the end of that hour, a super bonus packet for each four hour segment and an ultra bonus for which clues will be given throughout the night. Finally, every hour on the half hour, there will be an Action Trivia bonus which requires team members to go down to the station and perform a bizarre skit – here is where the big dorks will have a particular edge. By the end of the night, more than ninety teams would be listed on the scoreboard as having participated, with twelve teams having gone the distance.

12:02 a.m. – My team decides that I should trek up to Baxter to pick up the first Bonus packet. I march off, missing the first question. That would have made a nice diary entry. Sorry.

12:08 a.m. – All right, so I sort of dogged it to Baxter and back. But let’s see you run up the stupid hill that doesn’t get plowed or shoveled for God-knows-what reason. Six minutes is respectable. I’m back, and we’re on the second question. It’s a good one: On Dawson’s Creek, what does Joey ask Dawson to do to help her apply to college? We know the answer: Write a peer recommendation to Williams. And we know the song too. Two points! Boo-yah!

12:12 a.m. – Things begin to move quickly. Two team members split off to work on the first bonus trivia, which has pictures of toys set up to depict various pop culture scenes (the goal being to name those scenes). Another member is responsible for finding song titles/groups, one is working on the super bonus, two are working on answering each question, and one has to call up and get the answers in.

12:25 a.m. – Apparently “Heston” is Greek for “soil one’s pants.” We had no idea, but a nice Trivia feature is that the phone operator is willing to help out. So when our initial guess, something way more obscene than what those Dork Groups could have come up with, is off the mark, we are guided towards bodily fluids, then towards potential accidents, and finally to the correct answer. Every point counts. Even if it requires yelling “uh, pee on oneself” really loudly into a telephone.

12:37 a.m. – I am finally assigned to search the web for answers. Google may very well make this competition obsolete in a few years, but at this point searching can still be difficult. My very first question: What is strange about Marshall Lewis’ cameo in ‘The Truth About Charlie’? I choke, flailing around through reviews of the movie as the song slowly winds down. As the last, dramatic chords blare over the radio, emphasizing my humiliation, angered team members expel me from my post.

12:50 a.m. – My team realizes that I am slowing everything down by taking notes (darn), and makes me stop. They have no appreciation for this reporter’s code: “God, Record, Team.” But like Tom Cruise in “A Few Good Men,” they shall come to respect me. They need me on that wall.

From this point forward, reported times will only be approximations. I solemnly swear to burn any letters from embittered Big Dorks complaining that something took place at 5:21a.m., not 5:17a.m.

1:22 a.m. – For the first time, we do not get through to an operator. We know the song, we know the answer and no one will pick up the phone. We sit in sullen silence, picturing the operators helping other teams work through the question at our expense.

1:25 a.m. – Ha ha, we didn’t know the answer to this one but were talking to an operator when it was announced over the air, and we repeated it to the operator before he knew that the song had finished, and we received two points that we didn’t deserve. What a rollercoaster ride!

1:37 a.m. – The two team members sent to perform the first action trivia return. The task was to act out a Darwin Award. They, unfortunately, decided to act out him suffocating while his head was lodged in her chest. Someone was thinking with his. . . well, not his brain. That’s going to cost us. Everyone else seems to think it was a fine idea. All nod approvingly.

1:54 a.m. – Scores for the first action trivia are read over the air. We got a two. That’s a terrible score. All nod approvingly, again. I am beginning to feel very bitter about the Marshall Lewis incident, now that “staring at her breasts” constitutes a good contribution to the team.

2:03 a.m. – There is no caffeine left. Extremely unfortunate.

2:21 a.m. – As part of a “terrible song quartet” (four very bad songs played in a row), they played the greatest song I have ever heard: “I’m Sad the Goat Just Died Today” (by the Frogs). It goes, “I’m sad because my goat just died today / I’m sad my goat just fell in the hay, hey.” Come on, you know the words. Feel free to sing along. But seriously; find this song and download it. Play it next time you have an attractive girl (or boy, or transgendered blue alien, etc.) in your room. Instant magic.

2:40 a.m. – Uh oh, I look at the clock for the first time. I’m starting to have that feeling of “I can’t keep this pace up much longer,” and I see that we’re not yet a third through the competition. Other, more thoroughly caffeinated teammates are clamoring to go the distance and stick it out until 8 a.m. That just sounds like an awful idea.

2:53 a.m. – OK, I’m just making that time up. I have no idea when this question came over the air, but it was a great one. What two nominees split the vote for the 1938 Nobel Peace Prize, forcing the committee to find a third candidate that all could agree on? Answer – Hitler and Chamberlain. Now, I don’t want to suggest that the Nobel Peace Committee (since vindicated with selections such as Yasser Arafat and Jimmy Carter) was wrong to be considering those two, what with their massive contributions to peace and all, but let’s just say there was some squirming on the part of liberals in the room. They can’t handle the truth! There, I have now used both quotable lines from “A Few Good Men.” It almost counts as a theme.

3:10 a.m. – From the next room, our team member assigned to identify songs calls out probably the 30th correct answer in a row. She’s on fire, easily our most valuable player so far.

3:22 a.m. – It’s Action Trivia time, and the challenge is to act out a show that would be on Al Jazeera. Despite being somewhat intimidated by the Big Dorks performing before and after us, with full scale replicas of Mecca and the like which they had just constructed from Paper Mache, I was proud of our showing.

4:03 a.m. – It doesn’t look like anyone else wants to pack it in. That means I’m going to be up until at least eight.

This is definitely the end of my coherent observations. All that stuff they tell you in DARE, about turning the cold shoulder and using the broken record. . . well, it doesn’t work.

Kids, there is no answer to peer pressure. And boy, am I going to have a hangover. I’ll let you know what happens at the end.

And thanks to this immediate-gratification society that we live in, you can find out what happened right now! We finished third, behind two huge teams of Big Dorks. I don’t like losing to Big Dorks, but I think a dose of realism is in order. We were all very proud. I won’t say we felt good about ourselves, because at 8:30 a.m, after running around non-stop for more than eight hours, feeling good unfortunately just isn’t an option.

But we slept the sleep of babes, and dreamt dreams about babes, and when next semester’s Trivia contest comes around, we will be ready. As David returned to avenge Jack Nicholson’s “Code Red,” so too shall Goliath and President Schapiro give the dorks the cold shoulder.