A weekly Wednesday tradition for the myself, Catfish, and Extra Medium has been going to a local pub and partaking in their trivia night competition. We are quite proficient at it and have become known as the team to beat. The prize for winning is $25 off your tab but we do it for the love of the game, and winning the title is paramount to any monetary compensation for cerebral mastery of superfluous knowledge. This week, Catfish and XM found themselves in possession of two fourth row tickets to the Bobcats' game versus the Thunder. Catfish was debating what to do when I simply told him he had to attend the game. He agreed and it seemed our team would be absent from the weekly trivia contest. Faced with the prospect of going home from work and plopping myself on the couch and watching college basketball or having a few drinks and maybe, just maybe having a good showing for our team at the pub, I chose the latter. I decided to ride solo, and what ensued that evening was one of the greatest performances, maybe ever. But not really.
The name we chose for our team was 'Mookie Blaylock'. No special reason for the name, we were(are?) all big Pearl Jam fans and that was the name they had before becoming Pearl Jam. I'm sure Mookie is glad they made the switch otherwise most people would only think of the band when his name was brought up. Before Mookie Blaylock, the band was known as 'Mother Love Bone'. I think in the end they made the right decision.
It is really a challenge coming up with a good team name and the important thing to remember is that if you want to become known as an icon of trivia, you have to come each week with the same team name. You can't go around switching names if you are going to instill fear in the competitors they have to know you'll be there everyweek on top of the leaderboard. There are certainly much more clever names out there but as we sat and tried to come up with something witty or even slightly uncouth, we decided on something that most people would probably not understand.
We used to play at another establishment but left that place for various reasons. We won the first time we played there and perhaps that kept us coming back for awhile before we had to ditch the game. It turned out the game was as crooked as a politician and it makes a mockery of what trivia night is and as we told our waitress at our last game that we would be leaving she informed us that we were not the first ones to take our game elsewhere. I do not want to call the bar out, but maybe this picture will give you a hint:
There were multiple problems with the game, the first one being the guy who ran it was a complete and utter douchebag. Every week he would solicit tips from the crowd and whine about how no one was tipping him. Maybe he should have read something into that. He had a powerpoint set-up that used the same format and categories of questions every single game. Just like anyone who had all their stock in Wachovia has learned, you need to diversify. His sports category was always some lame lay-up question and he included a top ten list you had to guess at that was the product of some subjective on-line site or survey. I guess it is not a tragedy to include these type of questions but they are worth a lot of points and can be the difference maker. Trivia is supposed to be based on facts, not top ten lists.
Our team is only three members whereas others are usually anywhere from 5-10+, but we complement each other well. I am and have always been a fount of useless knowledge including history, music and movies. Catfish is good at a variety of subjects including the more technical subjects, T.V. (where I am weak) and he is very good at anything involving words and language. XM is strong in mechanical and music, and by far the master of random pulls from the deep recesses of his brain. His most infamous one was his recollection of Count Duckula. Together we are the perfect Triangle Offense of Trivia.
By far the most egregious of acts in our previous trivia locale was the cheating. I mean how ridiculous do you have to be to cheat in a bar trivia contest. The worst part about it is they got away with it. We caught multiple teams in the act including one team that had a guy run out of the bar on his phone, come back in and share the answers he received with his team. There was one team that won pretty often that would do it in plain sight of everyone, they would sit at the bar and pull out the Iphones. As if this were not bad enough, they brought a little trophy which they paraded around and drank beer out of.
I equated this form of cheating to using steroids. It would not make you a superhuman team since you could not find every question using the devices, but it would give you a tremendous advantage in the game. The team with the trophy I viewed as Barry Bonds. They were brash, cocky and put up great numbers. Without using the devices they still would be a great team, but they just couldn't help themselves. The other teams were probably more akin to Andy Petite and Fernando Vina, they were just trying to compete. When we had had enough Catfish approached the host to let him know what was going on. He received the Rafael Palmiero response, "Those guys are not using cell phones, period." Turns out the team was comprised of this guys friends. After that night we were out of there.
We found our new setting much better all around. The clientele were more of our style and to date I have no seen one popped collar in the joint. The two guys who run the trivia have fun with what they do and the answers are submitted one at a time and they make the rounds during the time you have to answer the question. This has eliminated the cheating element and a few people have even been called out for checking their phones. The questions are also more diverse with different categories every night and the format is great as well.
So in I walked that night, hoping that maybe it would not be too crowded and that maybe I could land in the top three at night's end. The second place prize was a bucket of domestic beer and the thrid place was a bucket of mini-Bud Light's which I consider no prize at all. If I came in as a runner-up it would be myself and a bucket and sadly it would not be the first time I would have taken on a tin ice chest of ale all by my lonesome.
When I entered the place I saw that it was packed, and the usual table that our team sat in was in fact taken. Not a good sign. The Blaylock Table had been combined with another to accomodate a group of 12 middle-aged people. If there is one thing me or the other members of Mookie Blaylock possess it is age. Not a bad thing but in trivia, the older you are the more likely you are to have picked up more usless knowledge along the way. I picked out an empty table up front. One of our regular waitresses, Amy, came by with my first High Life without even asking.
Sigh, Miller High Life. A beer that I do not have a special affinity for, but yet can swill all night long. The most prominent memory of the beer goes back to my days in the dorm at Miami. Unfortunately I did not live on the 7th floor, but down on the 3rd floor of Mahoney and we had plenty of good times. The guy at the end of the hall who was disabled but also one of the coolest guys I've ever met had the extra large suite connected to his room vacant so he did what anyone else would do, he turned it into a beer pong lounge. The beer of choice was High Life, not by my choice, but everytime I have a High Life I think about that room at the end of the hall. One of the big problems I have with High Life, beside the taste is the fact that it comes in clear bottles. I'm not a fan of clear bottle beers because light is a natural enemy of beer. It's science. But at $1.50 per beer, it is the most economic in the establishment and in these troubling times I have yet to receive my bailout from Henry Paulson.
It really does make for an affordable night especially if you come out the victor because you get the tab reduced. So there I was, with my champagne of beers and my pencil, answer pad and scoring sheet ready to go. They announced the names of the teams and the host made sure to point out that the other two members of our dynasty were absent.
"And last but not least in the front, here all by himself give it up for Mookie Blaylock!"
Thanks dude, point out to everyone that I'm at a pub, drinking by myself on a Wednesday night. I had to focus though as the game was beginning. The first round of the first half (there are 3 rounds per two halves) I got 2 of the 3 questions right, but from then on I got in the zone. I was hitting question after question. Like Jordan in the first half Game 1 of the 1992 Finals, "the rim looked like a huge big bucket." 4:23 for the shrug.
By Halftime I had a 9 point lead and like Jordan I felt I couldn't miss. Sports, Music, Movies, Science it jsut did not matter I was hitting them all. The halftime question was perhaps a harbinger of the tough half that remained. The question was which 4 cities have all of their 4 pro sports teams play within the city limits. I broke down the cities by listing all the divisions in the NFL and going through them one by one by process of elimination. I came up with 3 I knew to be true and 2 I was unsure about. Chicago, Philly, and Atlanta I knew for sure. I was split between Denver and Minneapolis. I went with Minneapolis but upon further review the Wild and their hideous uniforms play in St. Paul. I missed two points for the wrong guess and an additional bonus point I would have received for getting all four cities.
The second half did not start well, I missed all three questions in the first round. A question on 'Philadelphia Freedom' by Elton John, a John Dillinger question and I was flustered. I could feel my lead evaporating but luckily by the end of the second half I was hitting all my high point value questions. By the time the last question arrived I had a 3 point lead. In the last round you can wager up to 15 of your team's points. Depending on the question, I could actually win this thing. The question came:
"What is the northernmost country in Africa?"
Wow, I knew this and I don't know why but I knew it. I wagered the 13 points that would give me the one point win even if the team of 12 (who were called 'The Pansies' but had originally chosen something more distasteful, use your imagination) wagered their full 15 and got it wrong. To my amazement I was the only person who knew the answer, which is Tunisia. I had done it, I had one solo against a whole pub full of people. I felt like leaving the hand up just a while longer, like I was in Salt Lake in '98.
The team at the table behind me asked how I just did what I did, the only thing I could do, was shrug. Since the pub has $3 Cuervo shots specials on Wednesday when Mookie Blaylock wins we throw one down and tonight would be no different. I asked Amy how much my tab was after the first shot. Oh what's that you say, only 21 and change you say? Another shot and beer later I truly was living the high life and as fate would have it Catfish and XM had just returned from the Bobcats' game. They told me an amusing anecdote about life four rows behind Larry Brown but at that point, the spoils of victory had worked its way through my blood stream. Catfish took my keys as I lurched out of my chair and out the door.
Yesterday at work, my head hurt and I had a mountain of work on my desk, but the win helped me feel better, even when Jose tried his best to say hello. I do hope that Mookie Blaylock will be at full strength next week and start an incredible winning streak through the new year. I'm not the greatest, I'm not perfect but for one night, Mookie and I took it down.