May 16, 2004

Trivial matters

Sorry for the dearth of blogging this weekend, but I left town Friday afternoon to attend the Williams trivia competition, a twice-yearly event that runs from midnight Friday to 8 AM Saturday. Since I normally stay up until all hours of the morning, this was practically a regular evening for me.

The Williams event is similar in spirit to the MIT Mystery Hunt, although much shorter, much less rigorously themed, and faster-paced. The core of the event involves listening to the college radio station, where the DJ reads a trivia question (and, in the case of our event, mispronounces half of the words; I shall always remember "salmon mousse" coming out as "Solomon Mouse") which is then followed by a song. You get one point for answering the question and another point for identifying the song. The answer and song are usually thematically related somehow, so getting one of them will often help with figuring out the other. For instance, one question we had was, "In 1996, who was the heaviest chess grandmaster?" The song was Pink Floyd's "Welcome to the Machine", and the answer was...Deep Blue, weighing in at 1.4 tons. (Previous competitions' questions are archived here. The questions from Winter 2003 are particularly good.)

There are also lots of other things going on simultaneously with the radio trivia. Bonus puzzles are released hourly, and there is also "action trivia", where team members run over to the radio station and perform silly skits upon a given theme. The most entertaining moment of the night for me was putting together "next week's Strong Bad e-mail". I got to trot out my Strong Bad impersonation and led Strong Mad, Strong Sad, and the Cheat in a trivia contest. Strong Mad prevailed, because Strong Bad happened to ask two questions that could both be correctly answered by Strong Mad yelling "Douglas!!!" (running gag from the cartoon).

The most surprising thing about the evening was that it turned out the beloved-by-Pitchfork Wrens were playing a free concert on the Williams college campus that Friday night. We didn't find out about it until the show was almost over, but we made it in time to catch one great song and one tedious we've-been-playing-awhile-and-now-we-just-want-to-fuck-around-and-make-sloppy-noise song which obviously didn't do much for us. The first song was good enough to make me interested in following Pitchfork's advice and buying their latest album, though. We were also amused by the lead singer's (paraphrased) comment that "We've been a band for a long time...We used to think we were going to be bigger than U2, and obviously that's never going to happen, but this is ten times better than that could ever be!" The lead singer doth protest too much, we thought.

Posted by Francis at 10:38 AM

"Solomon Mouse" ... very nice. My favorite mispronunciation of the morning, though, is still "Juaneau."

Posted by: debby at May 16, 2004 02:01 PM

I'm still peeved that they signed off without grading four of our hour boni and the super bonus Dave Savitt spent hours compiling. Right now we're listed as seventh, but I'm pretty sure we'd jump to fifth if they'd just finish the scoring process.

(PS - We = Cambridge = me, Tahnan, Kray, and Shadow, with guest appearances by Nori and Michelle.)

Posted by: Dan at May 16, 2004 04:15 PM

I was tempted to jump in as a satellite team on my own, with the name JLA, after the mispronunciation from the last contest of "jai alai." But that didn't happen.

(I helped out Bacchae for a little bit, but had to turn in.)

Posted by: Maelstrom at May 17, 2004 02:47 AM