This weekend, I’ll participate in The World’s Largest Trivia ContestTM. I’m a little preoccupied with preparations for that, including some significant travel. To provide some sense of the madness of minutiae that dominates my mind this week, I’ll return to a bit of a tradition around these parts and share a few personally memorable answers from the twenty-five years or so that I’ve been involved with this contest, in one way or another.
There are a few numbers that are important to Trivia teams during the weekend: their team ID and the phone number to call in answers chief among them. There’s another that’s first shared around four hours into the contest, on Friday night. That’s the Complaint Line, which disgruntled teams can call up to point out, often unkindly, the problems they found with the questions or the announced answers. Calling in a complaint is its own form of Trivia art, something I first learned from my honorable teammate Paul, who monopolized the chief contest writer’s time many, many years ago. On his very first year with the team, as legend has it, there was a question about the very special pachyderm who starred in a 1941 Disney animated classic. The question asked for the character’s name, which Paul correctly noted is Jumbo, Jr. Dumbo, you see, is a derogatory nickname bestowed upon him by the other elephants. When the deejay announced the correct answer as “Dumbo,” Paul was immediately on the phone to argue his case. The contest impresario quickly cave and offered my team the points for the question (it was an easy one, and thusly not worth much), but Paul kept valiantly arguing that it should be thrown out. It was a matter of principle. It is that tenacity I think of any time I’m the one charged with calling the Complaint Line. Every few years, Paul will punctuate a call into the Complaint Line about a completely different subject by saying, “I’d like to talk a little more about the Jumbo. Jr. problem from back in ’95.” The guy on the other end of the line usually hangs up then.
More information can be found at the official Trivia site or try to get your hands (and eyes) on a certain documentary. You can also listen in to the radio station that hosts the contest. In order to see how things are going with the team I play on, Twitter is your best bet.