The trivia game that helped to beat cancer

I’ll admit it.  I haven’t played as much competitive team trivia as I did in years past.  With the exception of tournament games or a challenging “friendly” competition, I’ve reduced my weekly trivia night play.

But when my friend Loretta – a member of the trivia team A Few Cards Short of a Deck – asked me to join her team as part of a Relay for Life trivia event, I couldn’t say yes fast enough.

So last night, I went to the American Legion hall in Green Island for the trivia game.  There were twenty-two teams at the event – including the hybrid Street Academy / A Few Cards Short of a Deck team, which because it would be too unwieldy to play under that merged name, we rebranded ourselves “Better than a Hallmark Christmas Movie.”  Because, let’s face it, every Hallmark Christmas movie stars Candace Cameron Bure and / or Lacey Chabert and / or Sam Page, amirite?

The game was set up as a two-round, 10-questions-per-round matchup, with a second game at halftime involving TV theme songs.

The first round started off with very easy questions, including naming the item used to wrap sushi (seaweed), what a group of lions are called (a pride), and what is the largest living bird (an ostrich).

Many of the trivia teams were drinking beers, and servers were handing out daiquiris and Jell-O shots … our team, however, stuck to sodas and waters.  And it paid off.   As the alcohol kicked in, several teams stumbled … but we stayed razor sharp.

Who averaged three patents a week over his entire lifespan?  Thomas Edison, of course.

What is the only rock that humans normally consume?  Salt.

What was the first planet to be discovered by a telescope, in 1781?  Cue the jokes about Uranus.

After the first round, our Hallmark Christmas Movie team was in a three-way tie for first, with a perfect score.

The second, separate game – a “Name That Tune” TV theme round in which you had to identify the TV show based on the theme music and the year of the show’s debut – well, we did reasonably well, nailing nearly every show (except for the theme from 30 Rock, which none of us watched).  As for the years of debut, we either hit the date on the spot (Batman, 1966) or we were off by a year (Charlie’s Angels is 1976, not 1977).  We came in third place in that game, the winners received a table of drinks.  Fine for them.

Now back to the main game.  All we had to do was keep answering questions correctly and we would stay in the lead, as teams were not deducted for wrong answers.  Knowing that a ream of paper contains 500 sheets broke the three-way first place tie down to two teams, while a question about the original color of LED lights (red) gave us solo possession of the lead.

The Canary Islands are named for what animal?  Dogs, of course.  We’re still leading.

What is 1500 in Roman numerals?  MD.  We’re pulling away from the pack.

In what year did Hanson’s “MMMBop” hit the top of the charts?  The fact that I’ve teased my son Kris about how much he “loves” this song meant I knew cold it was 1997.

Final question.  We’ve got a perfect score of 220 points, the closest team to us – a team called the Table of Misfit Toys – had 196.

We bet a lockout amount of 173 points.

The category was the Oscars.

Great.  This could be anything.  Who won the Oscar for best picture in what year?  How much does an Oscar weigh?  When did Oscar the Grouch make his debut on Sesame Street?  On what day did Oscar Madison welcome Felix Ungar into a mutual living arrangement?

Here’s the question.  “Robert DeNiro has two Oscars.  For which film did he win his first Oscar?  And be specific.”

I’ve played enough competitive team trivia to know that when a host says “be specific,” that usually means a person could write down a specific answer that could be interpreted to mean more than one correct result.  For example, if the question were “Who was President during Desert Storm?” the host would want specificity – at which point, you could surmise that the answer HAD to be one of the two Bush presidents.  Now if you’re not sure, you have at least a coinflip’s chance of getting it right.

But when the host asked for specificity on this question, it locked in our answers immediately.  They wouldn’t need specificity if the answer for DeNiro was Taxi Driver.  Or if it was Raging Bull.

No, specificity meant that it had to be one of the Godfather movies.  And since DeNiro wasn’t in the first Godfather movie, it had to be The Godfather Part 2.

Which was the correct answer.

And it meant that for the trivia game, Better Than a Hallmark Christmas Movie had a perfect trivia night and won the trivia event.  We each received special first-place medals, as well as $25 gift cards (hmm, Date Night at Carraba’s).  And even though Loretta couldn’t be at the trivia event, her husband George won at least two raffles with some very nice family-themed prizes.

All in all, a great night and a great event to help bring the world one step closer to eradicating cancer.

Those are the moments when it’s fun to play competitive team trivia.  And maybe … just maybe … I might get back in the weekly game somewhere.

At least in time for the upcoming Trivia Bowl. We shall see…