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The 53rd Semi-Annual Williams College Trivia Contest, January, 1993
Summaries and comments by Des Devlin ("Phasers on Stun: TNG")
A mixed bag. Some truly popular features, and some real flops. Our questions were a little overwritten, but they're always that way. I think I would have enjoyed playing it, in general. This contest will be remembered as the one that got postponed a full month when a huge Friday nor'easter abruptly trapped 90% of the team running it in New York. The conditions were so poor that the Phasers team couldn't have held the contest even if it were IN New York. But that didn't stop several optimistic loons from driving, flying, or dogsledding their way into a trivia-free Billsville. Frantic calls to WCFM and known on-campus players filled much of Friday. Some players from far-flung parts of the country returned home only to find unheard "don't go!" messages on their answering machines.
QUESTIONS (including the must-read index)
- (12:00) MTV -- Piles and piles of questions on MTV. That's it. Worked out pretty good.
- (4 AM) The Trivial 100 -- A list of one hundred names, from Androcles to Abraham Zapruder & Larry Zybysko. Teams had to simply identify who these folks were. Again, this one seemed to go okay.
- (12:00) Lit Slits -- An assortment of page-height slivers of text, an effect like trying to read a 1/7ths of a book through a crack in a doorway. Using these thinly-sliced slits of pages, teams had to name the book. Every squad did very well on this (I believe the low score was a 7), and it was a thorough success.
- (1 AM) The Bradys -- An all Brady Bunch bonus, with questions about specific episodes. If I remember correctly, this was one of those dreaded 9-6-4-3-3-2-1 type bonuses, where one team really whomps on most of the others. A so-so reaction. We wouldn't do it again.
- (2 AM) Alphabet Audio -- (answers) 7 clips, featuring the opening of the Jackson 5's "ABC," then each of the letters of the alphabet. Teams seemed to handle this nicely. I think it was a good audio, and one of the rare ones that didn't take 6 minutes to play.
- (3 AM) Crap Food (answers only) -- This was the unqualified smash hit of our contest. Each team got a plastic baggie with individual items of food (one Skittle, one piece of Kaboom! cereal, one Lemonhead, etc.) plus a small smaple of Yoo-Hoo. A logistical bitch to produce, but roundly cheered. Phasers actually ate all the extra crap the rest of the night.
- (4 AM) Cartoon Word Baloons -- Word balloons, extracted from their original comic books and strips. Scores were generally good, the reaction was generally good, I'd have to say this bonus was generally good.
- (5 AM) TV Backing Audio -- (answers)A theme song-free compilation of background music, noises, sound effects, and other TV show stuff. (A favorite was the four-note-long trill that accompanies the revelation of a new puzzle on "Wheel of Fortune.") Teams didn't identify nearly as many of these as we'd hoped.
- (6 AM) Baseball/Wrestling/Etc. -- A null and void bonus. We'd noticed that the majestic Sports Boni of recent vintage had produced worse and worse results with all the teams, us included. So we planned a narrower focus. Somehow at the team meetings, this was quickly contaminated with stray horseracing questions, fly fishing questions, and all the other ilk we'd originally intended to counteract. A true mess. Oh, well.
- (7 AM) Stephen King (questions only) -- Ouch. Our Neutron Bomb of the night. Even if teams HAD known Stephen King, they sure as hell didn't know the incredibly arcane stuff in this one. Way too long, and not a gimme in the pile. Massive grade inflation provided lots of 3's and 4's. Beware the single-topic bonus, my son.
- Play a Game of Calvinball -- The game with forever-changing, amorphous rules. Great idea, great area, great reaction, great fun, great results.
- Come Down and BE Tom Vu-- Tom Vu was this truly odd infomercial real estate guy who hung around with vapid bikini girls, boasted about his wealth, and insulted any viewer too stupid or lazy to sign up. If you saw him once, you knew it forever. Trouble was, not every team had seen it that necessary once. Those who had, did great. Further goofy details: Tom Vu - Ridiculous Infomercial Review
- Perform as Underdog Woman on "The Howard Stern Show." -- It turned out this frequently-appearing nutjob wasn't nearly well-known enough to support an Action Trivia. Bad idea, but some crazy & funny performances.
- Choice of Three:
Against all odds, a true winner. We could imagine the teams hearing their options, going, "Okay, we'll do the next one. Okay, we'll do the next one." Then, there weren't any more next ones. Of course, the kicker was that each of these choices were totally fake, made-up scenarios. We had serious misgivings about pulling this on people, but they loved it-- go figure.
- From Night Court, perform Dan Fielding's Burrito Mating Ritual.
- Re-Enact The 'Leon Hayes Incident' from the 1989 U.Mass Commencement.
- Act Out the Game-Winning Play and Subsequent Celebration from the Trees Vs. Shrubs Match.
- Do Marlon Brando's "Banana Dance" from His Letterman Show Appearances -- The same type of idea as the Underdog Woman, and the same kind of disappointment. Chris Elliot did versions of this sketch several times, but nobody remembered. One of those most dangerous creatures, the Made-Us-Laugh-At-The-Team-Meeting ideas.
- Do an Episode of "The Joy Of Painting." -- This one was a modest success.