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Riddle Me This

tricia dorkEarly this past summer a friend of mine invited me to play on his team in a weekly trivia contest, held every Wednesday at a local wing joint. Having a certain capacity for useless knowledge I said "Sure!"

It was fun for a while. The weather was great, the people were nice, and the girls were cute but it didn't take long to figure out that it wasn't really "trivia" we were playing. Week in and week out it was the same categories: movie quotes, name that tune, TV theme songs, name that singer, sports and, occasionally, one crummy round of science questions.

Ooh, and sometimes they'd throw in a math question. Math skills are very useful but, and I'll put this as nicely as I can, Math problems are not fucking trivia questions!

Almost all of the questions in this contest were not trivia, they were trivial, plucked from the recycle bin of industrial entertainment. It was pure pop culture, also known as "mass-market media", the exact oposite of "trivia". Trivia is not just knowing all the words to the "Gilligan's Island" theme song, it's knowing who wrote the tune. Trivia is not remembering the movie a specific quote came from, it's knowing who was the casting director of that film.

It's a shame, really, as this sort of contest is perfect for expanding knowledge. If you knew in advance, for example, that the categories would be "Moby Dick", "the human circulation system", "Francisco Pizarro", or "industrial welding" you might take the opportunity to escape your comfort zone and learn something new in order to win.

Yes, I broached my concerns with the nice man who ran the program but it was clear that his job was to keep the crowd coming back each week, and he knew that no one has time to study these days when they have twelve hours of sitcoms queuing on the Tivo.

"I'll take 'Who Gives A Shit?' for 200, Alex."


end rant

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