I flew down to LA today (SJC -> BUR is the only way to go in my opinion) and spent part of the afternoon watching Jeopardy! with my dad. We got all caught up on this week’s Tournament of Champions and it reminded me of when we used to watch it together. I told him that we used to have our own competitions at home and he would pay me ten cents for every answer that I got right before him. He doesn’t remember this at all. Well, I remember it and it instilled in me a love of trivia and also trivia competitions.
In grad school I started going to a weekly pub quiz with a bunch of fellow grad students. It was a nice break for us each week and allowed us to get together, drink beer, think of pun-filled team names, and nerd out together (outside of school). We quickly developed rivalries with other regular teams at the Irish pub (Rula Bula in Tempe, AZ) and were always super happy when we won free beers. We had a core group of hard-core trivia people that showed up almost every week and then also a rotating group of people that would occasionally show up and help out with the sports rounds that we usually did horribly at. When I finished grad school and moved away, I was sad to leave my friends, of course, but I was also sad to leave that weekly fun time.
When I was doing my post-doc in Madison, WI I went to pub trivia a few times but didn’t really find a good regular group. Coming back to California I also haven’t quite gathered together a big enough group of people with enough free time on a week day evening. But, luckily, the company I work for (SRI International) puts in two trivia teams to an annual fundraising trivia bee. The trivia bee supports the Redwood City Project READ which is a program that works with the Redwood City library to help people at all stages in life with literacy and academic skills. I’ve competed on one of the SRI teams for the last three years. It’s even more intense and serious (and more difficult) than the pub quiz (and there’s no beer during the bee) so I’m kind of glad it’s only once a year. Last year, our three-person team got 3rd place and this year we got a respectable 6th place.
My brain is full of random facts, movie quotes, and groan-worthy puns and it’s really nice to know that society supports that in some strange way.