This is Geek Bowl wrap-up week. Every day this week, I’ll post something from our recent trip to Austin for Geek Bowl VII.
Having now participated in our 3rd Geek Bowl, I think we realize for us to win, it will require a full 1.0 on the Slumdog Millionaire scale. The dweebs who win this thing are at least a level above us in terms of skill that it will take a lot of hyper-specific questions that reside right in the sweetest spot of our respective wheelhouses to take home the grand prize.
I don’t want to speak for anyone else, so I’ll just say: I’m fine with that. And I’ll be happy to continue to attend Geek Bowl for as long as they have it.
Pub quiz is one of my favorite things to do, so getting to do the biggest one in the country with my friends in a cool city is something I will continue to look forward to and something I hope we do until we’re old as fuck and young nerds look at us like, “What are these old motherfuckers doing here?” And then we can say, “Eat a dick, young’un. I saw the Black Keys open for Beck!” And they won’t know what either of those things are. It’ll be great.
Here’s what happened this year.
Thanks to not having the plague this year (it turns out last year I wasn’t just hungover, I had the stomach flu that I largely managed to fend off for two days through sheer force of will before vomiting nearly 10 times before my flight home on Sunday), I was already feeling much better about this year’s Geek Bowl than last year’s.
And considering we had a larger friend contingent along for the ride, things were already set up for success no matter how we did at the quiz itself.
We learned from last year’s mistake and actually read the instructions carefully this year which helped us play our joker correctly for a change. We had a waitress and all took turns buying rounds for the table. We were in a very Zen place.
So when our host took the stage to explain the rules and a giant choreographed Rick Roll broke out, I became worried that symbolically they were Rick Rolling my confidence and I should have been more worried about the quiz.
OK, that’s not actually true, but I felt like writing it because I feel like that’s the sort of quasi-journalistic horseshit I read from 95% of sportswriters that I fucking hate and wanted to see how it felt to write that. Answer: Not good. In truth, it was a clever way to explain the rules, and the best kicker came at the end when they showed the actual email from Rick Astley’s representative responding to their request for his performance at Geek Bowl. $100,000 and four first class round trip plane tickets from London to Austin. Overshoot your value much, Rick? Jesus.
We jumped right into Round 1: Things You’d Find On Your Ass (Literally or Figuratively). And joy of joys, the round is easy as shit. Sample questions: “What is the Latin word for ‘with’?” Answer: CUM. “What Starz show starring Kelsey Grammar and Connie Britton was recently cancelled?” Answer: BOSS. I can’t remember the exact question, but another answer was DINGLEBERRY. Getting to write that on a paper for credit is satisfying in a way I can’t fully explain. We obliterate this round and score a perfect 8 out of 8.
Round 2, as always, is the music round. And just like last year, we get 8 separate performances as our clues. Also like last year, some of these are much better than others. The opera lady who sang “So Hard To Say Goodbye to Yesterday” by Boyz II Men absolutely killed it. The harpist who plucked out “One” by Metallica made me want to spend the rest of the night listening to her play metal songs.
The beat boxer was really good, but holy fuck was his song impossible to pick out. Turns out it was some techno bullshit anyway. I can’t remember who performed it, but Corrie sniped in perfectly by recognizing it was the new Maroon 5 tune. The last answer was “I’m Gonna Be (500 Miles)” by The Proclaimers, but the highlight came while they revealed the correct answers a few minutes later. The clue cut off right after the second rendition of the chorus, and the crowd, in perfect nerd unison kept the song going with the “Da-da-da! Da-da-da! Da-da-da!” Everyone was in great spirits and the vibe in the room was tremendous. We scored about 11 out of 16 possible, so our non-deployment of the joker (doubling your points for a round) was a good decision.
On a personal note, I had already suspected this, but my 3rd straight Geek Bowl confirmed it: I suck shit at music rounds. I have no idea why, but my brain doesn’t work the way it does on all other types of trivia questions. It seizes up and I can’t think. Kristin, Jason and Corrie were the all-stars on the music round. Keith and Jamie were the driving forces on rounds 1 and 3.
Round 3 was a combo This or That? Round and a Speed Round. Multiple guess rounds are usually tough, but in true Slumdog Fashion, everyone has some sort of weird personal connection to all the questions. We feel awesome about our choices. The Speed Round question emerges and it’s “Name the 8 ingredients besides ‘meat’ in the meatloaf recipe from The Joy of Cooking. Kristin just made a meatloaf, so fuck yeah! We turn it in and know at least this year we won’t fuck up the joker use. 28 out of 32, BOOM!
Round 4: Surrenders. We brick this round a bit with only 5 out of 8 (if memory serves), but a key moment emerges. Video question: It’s from The Wizard of Oz! Shit yeah! The Tin Man’s on my shirt. I say to the team, if I get this wrong, I’ll have to take this button off because I don’t deserve to wear it. Someone suggests I merely have to wear it upside down like it’s in distress. That’s way funnier. But I’ll be honest, I was sort of panicked because this question falls squarely on me. You can’t wear a button from a movie and then get a question about it wrong.
The clip shows the Wicked Witch of the West skywriting “Surrender Dorothy” above Emerald City, and the following question is: “Who is the actress who plays the Wicked Witch?” I think for a second, and the name pops inside my head. Margaret Hamilton, I calmly write. No one else knows who that is. I don’t care at this point what else happens in this quiz tonight, at least I didn’t miss that one.
We take a break, they read the answers, and then it’s right back into it. I would be remiss if I didn’t mention they scroll the standings up to that point on the screen and that the wait is interminable until you see your team. Out of 150 teams, we were 18th. We’re certainly pleased, but with our joker already played, we know we’re not winning. And considering we’ve had a good quiz so far, that certainly speaks to the level of talent in the room.
Round 5 is the visual round. This year they’ve taken bizarre family portraits and superimposed the faces of famous fictional and non-fictional families onto them. For some reason, I fucking nail this round. Corleone, Addams, Bluth, Vanderbilt. We get 7 out of 8, and it’s not until the answers are revealed that Jamie gets to feel the shame of missing “Lannister” from Game of Thrones, a show he loves. In his defense, Tyrion wasn’t included, which made it tough. But still, his feeling is the one I successfully avoided with The Wizard of Oz question.
Round 6 is all about cotton. I have almost no recollection of this round except for an insight I shared with Jamie. One of the questions is “MMA t-shirt brand TapouT had a TV show on this network, recently re-branded NBC Sports.” I said to Jamie, “I think when people claim to be bad at trivia, they’re just not good at unpacking sentences. In that question, all you have to know is that the NBC Sports Network used to be called Versus. But I think people see ‘MMA t-shirt brand’ and they seize up like ‘Oh, I don’t know anything about MMA.’ Your ability to get to the heart of a question is half the battle.” I remember we did fine on this round.
At previous Geek Bowls, Round 7 was a video clip round. At this Geek Bowl, it’s a celebrity round, but celebrities they could get. So, we get clues from the likes of Doug Stanhope, Katee Sackhoff, Will Shortz, FUCKIN’ ANDREW WK, and Wil Wheaton who makes the place go apeshit with his mere presence. He’s a Pied Piper of Geeks, he is. We do great on this round, and hearing the Wheaton-driven geekgasm is a bonus.
I think it was right around here Jamie and Kristin expressed the feeling they were getting dumber as the quiz went on. This is fine because I started slow as shit and have rolled on the last several rounds. Jason is right there with me. This is the essence of playing on a quality team. You pick each other up. Kristin and Jamie start out white hot like the Ultimate Warrior, it takes me a bit to get going like I’m Greg “The Hammer” Valentine. If you know why that analogy makes sense, please email me and let’s be friends.
Round 8 is Random Knowledge, as always. I cannot for the life of me remember any of the specific questions, but I suppose that’s understandable given that you’re pretty much fried after taking a test in a heightened environment for 2 hours. We do mediocre-decent on this round.
While the scores are being tabulated, to kill time, Geeks Who Drink gave everyone the opportunity to win their entry fee back by participating in a talent show. It unfolds mostly as you expect with impatient nerds unwilling to give any quarter to these daring weirdos who chose to expose themselves to likely ridicule and stand in the way of finding out how we did on this test we took for fun. Naturally, one guy broke through. And how do you win over a bunch of nerds? By a capella singing the entire Muppet Babies theme song complete with all the voice parts, of course. It was one of the most staggering live performances anyone’s ever seen, and I’ve seen Willie Nelson! I can’t find any video of him doing this which, if there is none, has to be one of history’s greatest tragedies.
They roll the scores, and we all hold our breath. The Mislaid Jokers (our rivals from our home bar) – 29th Place. Morbo’s Family: Belligerent and Numerous – 27th place. Nice! Top 20%. 11th best score overall. 5th best Denver team. Something to lord over our rivals for a whole year. We’ll call that a victory.
The very next week at pub quiz, we see The Mislaid Jokers, and we name our team Margaret Hamilton, FTW! since they missed that one at Geek Bowl, and our margin of victory was a mere one point. Also, we’re jerks.
Geek Bowl VII was my favorite Geek Bowl yet. Kudos to Geeks Who Drink for creating such a great event. Barring something life-changing, we’ll see you next year.