That Championship Season: Idle Time Trivia’s Year-End Triumph

WEEK 1 (12/01/08)

The first round of the December season began Monday, December 1st, and it was not a very auspicious start. We stumbled right out of the gate by failing to come up with the last names of “Alan” and “Charlie” from the puerile sitcom Two And A Half Men, which airs on a pretty much constant loop on Fox 40, eating up airtime that could be used on reruns of worthier sitcoms, like Too Close For Comfort (that Monroe was such a card!), or One Day At A Time (Bonnie Franklin — rowr!! And that Schneider? A card!). The quizmaster appears to have discovered our weak spots (shitty TV, shitty 2000s-era pop music, celebutards, college sports, vital current events) and exploited them.

One question threatened to tear the whole team asunder: What is the #2 selling British group in the U.S. after the Beatles? At first, it seemed easy — the obvious choice was the Rolling Stones. But Will began the hallowed tradition of casting doubt. The devil’s advocate. The Doubting Thomas. The dickhead. “I think it’s Pink Floyd, guys,” he said. “Dark Side Of The Moon has sold, like, 40 million copies.” It wasn’t long before he had convinced me. Ever since the late 1960s, the Rolling Stones sales pattern has been to release a new album, shoot to #1 or #2 on the charts for a week as the hardcore fans snap it up, and then fade until the next new album. They don’t have the cachet with young stoners just getting into music, and thus, their back catalog remains pretty stagnant. Pink Floyd is considered “cool” by high schoolers and junior collegers making the simultaneous discovery of music made before 2002 and controlled substances. The fact that the Rolling Stones are approximately 1000 times better than Pink Floyd does not translate into continuous sales. The Rolling Stones are not cool. MDG then tossed in another possibility: Led Zeppelin, which he pointed out would have healthy sales for the same reasons as Pink Floyd (and are also about 1000 times better.) MDG’s opinion was absolutely valid, but may have been subconsciously discredited by the rest of us because his knowledge of classic rock is pretty much nil. Or is it?

JH had almost won me back to the Stones camp by pointing out sales figures also count greatest hits albums (which always fly off the shelves when the Stones tour), but I couldn’t ignore the sales behemoth Dark Side Of The Moon, which spent 741 consecutive weeks on the Billboard charts (over 14 years), and is owned by 1 in every 14 people under the age of 50 in the United States. Google it yourself if you don’t believe me. Will and I called the very first Double Doobie — Pink Floyd had to be the answer…

…but it wasn’t. It was Led Zeppelin.

Who very recently took over the #2 spot from…the Rolling Stones. So we finished fourth for the night.

The points standings after Week 1:

1. Shelby Drink Your Juice                  27
2. Mistletoe Gang                                  27
3. Suburban Underground                  25
4. Idle Time                                            24
5. Perverse & Often Baffling                23
6. Hung Like Mistletoe                         23
7. Brown-Chicken-Brown Cows        23
8 The Duncecaps                                 21
9. G-Unit                                                 20
10. The Taco Stand Has Moved        19

Looks like it’s going to be a close season. Which is just the way we like it. Three measly points out of first place. Striking distance, and we don’t mind coming from behind. You can drive faster looking through the windshield than in the rearview mirror.

WEEK 2 (12/08/08)
Although Idle Time had a poor showing on Week 1, we redeemed ourselves by snagging the win last night. Unfortunately, the difficulty level of the questions was on the low side, which means we were not able to gain much ground on the new trivia bad-asses, Shelby Drink Your Juice. I was able to size them up by the time-tested method of craning my neck and staring rudely at them for extended periods. They appear to be a group of all-male, well-fed, smug-looking recent college grads with all the oily confidence of a crew used to dominating trivia games and pontificating on college-y type things like sports and Monty Python. Worthy opponents, and we can’t afford any more mulligans if we expect to overtake them.

Luckily, our wheelhouse was a clean, well-lighted place last night, with everyone pitching in and group harmony at a high. Your Humble Narrator did the unscrambling of the anagram (SAT RATTLING AT SEA into STARGATE: ATLANTIS), there was lots of sketching maps of Europe from memory to determine that the body of water between Italy and the Balkan Peninsula was, in fact, the Adriatic Sea, and a little bit of debate over whether the voice we were hearing on Rock and Roll Recall was Britney Spears or Pink. (We were all wrong. It was Ashlee Simpson. One of us has to volunteer to take a bullet for the team and begin listening to horrid, horrid music if we want to go 5 for 5 on that part of the game.)

We gained a point on the leaders, catapulted into second place, and a splendid time was had by all.

The points standings after Week 2:

1. Shelby Drink Your Juice                            56
2. Idle Time                                                      54
3. Suburban Underground                            53
4. Mistletoe Gang                                            52
5. Brown-Chicken-Brown Cows                   52
6. Perverse & Often Baffling                          49
7. Hung Like Mistletoe                                   49
8. The Duncecaps                                          49
9. G-Unit                                                           44
10. Team Awesome                                       43

What cookie consists of chocolate, marshmallow, and graham crackers and is only made available by Nabisco from October to April? Well, my friends, it’s the mallomar, which I had predicted, but just wasn’t confident enough to slap down a doobie. We submitted the incorrect answer when the correct one was there to be taken. What southern California city has had fantastic success with its “Gifts For Guns” programs? Some at the table vocally supported the troubled L.A. suburb of Compton, but I insisted that Compton was not in and of itself an incorporated city, and insisted Los Angeles be written down on the answer sheet. Who rolls up on Dr. Dre and Co. and tries to corral them into the hooscow for smoking their marijuana cigarettes and other general ne’er-do-wellisms? Not the Compton PD, for there is no such organization! It is the LAPD, always. But Dre and his cronies are always vocalizing in their little “rap” numbers about the “city of Compton“, their civic pride blinding them to zoning realities. But usage determines correctness, and if enough people say something enough times, it can become an actuality. Compton was the correct answer. The moral: Doctors, even those of the “Dre” variety, are usually right.

And a whiff of scandal this week! A team of newcomers was discovered by JH in the women’s bathroom blatantly cheating, huddled en masse in the handicapped stall texting for all they were worth (which isn’t much) and audibly discussing their treachery. Filthy cheaters were the reason we boycotted the trivia game over at Brew It Up.  If this affected the outcome, it would have to be reported! Luckily, the three ladies in question (average age — approximately 22) looked as though they didn’t have the equivalent of one brain in working order amongst them, and we suspected that texting their equally dim-witted chums would not get them much in the way of correct answers. Hopefully, the combination of 1)  JH totally busting their sorry asses in the bathroom, and 2) the sad fact that they finished near the bottom of the pack despite their underhanded maneuvering will have their tails between their legs and make them re-consider trivia at Bella Bru. A festive round of Trouble (with the Pop-O-Matic dice shaker) and some Jell-O shooters would be more their speed.

And oh, by the way, we fucked Shelby Drink Your Juice six ways to Sunday and picked their bones clean before they knew what hit them. We are now in the lead.

The points standings after Week 3:

1. Idle Time                                               81
2. Shelby Drink Your Juice                     79
3. Suburban Underground                     78
4. Perverse & Often Baffling                   74

This is who it’s between. The others are slowly but surely falling by the wayside.

This week’s round of trivia was an especially festive event, coming on the heels of the Scoring Summit, the raison d’etre of the Institute of Idle Time. At 6:00 P.M. Pacific Standard Time, we gathered around the MDG hearth and revealed our scores for the Best Albums of 08 (the fallout of which is still being felt even as I write — expect an interesting list & compilation come January!), and by 7:30 we were all seated snugly at Bella Bru for a round of Christmas-themed trivia. Christmas-themed trivia, of course, played directly into our hands as I consider myself somewhat of an authority on the holiday. The closest we came to a misstep was when I almost put “Kwanzaa” down for a holiday made up by a Harvard professor in the 1966 and gained widespread popularity after 1997. I was set straight by the rest of the team. The answer was, of course, “Festivus”. Both owe their origins to a professor, and both were born in 1966, but the key difference was that Festivus gained widespread popularity after it was featured on a Seinfeld episode, and Kwanzaa has yet to gain any popularity beyond pretentious cultural studies majors and public school teachers anxious to appear all-inclusive. Needless to say, we won last night, and we’re looking good for taking the season yet again.

I should also point out that I mis-characterized opponents Shelby Drink Your Juice in my Week 2 write-up. I was looking at the wrong team. We altered our seating arrangement slightly last night, and found ourselves right across from the real Shelby Drink Your Juice. They appear in all aspects to be a very agreeable group, captained by a fellow who is a dead ringer for the closeted gay guy on Mad Men, and we exchanged pleasantries. Speaking of exchanges, our official Trivia Team Secret Santa Gift Exchange took place. I was guilty of being the lone jackass bearing a gift card when everyone else came with exquisitely wrapped parcels, but 25 clams toward a purchase at Best Buy is nothing to sneeze at, and I don’t think WH minded the rather plain presentation. What did I get? Let’s just say I’m happy someone is concerned about my health, and provided me with some moving insight into it.

The points standings after Week 4:

1. Idle Time                                        112
2. Shelby Drink Your Juice              107
3. Suburban Underground              106
4. Perverse & Often Baffling            101 (tie)
Brown-Chicken-Brown Cows     101 (tie)

WEEK 5 (12/29/08)
Our December season ended somewhat anticlimactically. JH was sick in bed at home, and Gilly was still on her holiday visit to New York. MDG’s neighbor Nelson was kind enough to fill in, but as good (and smart) a guy as he is, there is no re-creating the chemistry of a team. How many people ponied up to see The Cars perform a few years back with Todd Rundgren instead of Ric Ocasek? How many rushed out to buy the recent Queen record with Paul Rodgers replacing Freddie Mercury? Damn few, I tells ya, because the magic is diminished. (Don’t get me started on that Filipino guy singing for Journey.) The point is, three or four of us are good enough for a top 5 finish, but it takes all six of us to come in first. The last game of the December season saw us limp to the finish line in fourth place for the night. It was another theme night, with all the questions based on events that happened in 2008. Gilly is our main current events person, and with her gone, the rest of us stared stupidly at each other like a group of bleary-eyed badgers recently awakened from a year-long hibernation. All of us had paid next to no attention to major news stories of the past year. We knew the buzzwords like “bailout,” “Angelina Jolie,” and “Gaza,” but we couldn’t really put them together.

Luckily, we had enough of a points cushion built up that we won the Finlandia Cup for the fourth month in a row.

FOUR-PEAT! A $100 Bella Bru gift card ensured a helluva feast for the first week of the January season, when we were back to firing on all cylinders.

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