Geek Bowl X question recap

Ahhhhh… Geek Bowl. It has become one of my favorite days of the year. And this year, it was held in Denver once again (as it was for its first 5 years, before moving on to Austin and then Albuquerque.) So I saved a little travel money, and didn’t have to ask Laura for as much childcare time. Woo!

Geek Bowl would be super fun even if I was terrible at it, but enormous good fortune has landed me on an incredible team of trivia players. Two years ago, at Geek Bowl VIII, we won the whole thing as “How I Met Your Mothra“. Last year we came in 2nd place as “The Mothras Of Retention.”

This year we were going to be “Mothra Hoople” (my personal favorite Mothra joke so far) but then our team captain got a peculiar message from Geeks Who Drink CEO John Dicker: “Hey Brian – weird request… any chance I can talk you into having your Geek Bowl team be named How I Met Your Mothra? I can’t explain why, but it will make sense at the event. Trust me, you’ll understand and be happy I asked.” Who are we to refuse a request like that? So we were “How I Met” again, and it did indeed make sense at the event. More about that in a bit.

This year we decided to splurge and get ourselves some team t-shirts — 6 shirts, each with its own letter to spell out “MOTHRA”. You know what, it’s just easier if I show you. Here we are in our MOTHRA t-shirts.

Team MOTHRA in our t-shirts.

From left to right, that’s Larry, me, Don, Jonathan, George, and Brian. And here we are in our MOTHRA t-shirts holding the oversized novelty check that came with our SECOND PLACE FINISH!!!

Team MOTHRA holding a big $5000 check

For perspective, last year we came in 2nd out of 134 teams. This year we came in 2nd out of 228 teams. Did I mention it’s an incredible group? Wow. The team we lost to last year came in 3rd this year. Who came in 1st? And 4th? And lots of other places? Little story there.

TCONA Story

Five years ago I went to the first annual TCONA, or “Trivia Championships Of North America”, which they aren’t really. It’s more like a big woolly 3-day Basement Bowl, but with lots of different kinds of trivia events, held in Las Vegas, and attended by some of the real elites in the American trivia world — people who run trivia companies, kick ass at quiz bowl, and/or have won life-changing money on Jeopardy!, Millionaire, and elsewhere. Obviously, not everybody there is at that level, but enough are that it’s pretty heady company.

TCONA has been going on for 5 years now, and it has created a community among these players. Most of my teammates have been to it multiple times, and in fact that’s how Larry connected with and later recruited Jonathan for our team. (I’d have been happy to go back, but can never quite justify the money + time commitment to myself each year. Hopefully as Dante gets older, summer will get less complicated.) Geek Bowl has now become a big enough deal that it draws quite a few people from that TCONA community, who travel to wherever it’s held and compete in teams.

In fact, for the last couple of years the estimable Bill Schantz has hosted a Geek Bowl Eve get-together for this group, in which everybody converges on a rented house and quizzes the night away. This year, the game was a Jeopardy-inspired buzzer format called “5×5” — 5 players compete across 5 categories. So, I spent my Friday night getting absolutely slaughtered on the buzzer by a bunch of game-show/quiz-bowl champs, and loved every second of it. I also got to read/host a number of games, which was fun, and spend a little social time with trivia rockstars. Awesome.

On Geek Bowl night, many of those same faces graced the stage, and no surprise: they are really good. It’s quite a privilege to be up in that company, and I think part of how Mothra gets there is through its excellent team dynamic. There is a whole lot of mutual trust and respect there — everybody gets a voice, nobody puts their ego on the line, and we’ve gotten really good at sifting quickly through a large number of inputs to find the output we collectively feel best about. We’ve also got some good ground rules in place, refined a bit from last year:

Mothra’s Rules Of Pub Trivia

  1. Read/listen to the damn question.
    1. Read it again.
    2. Pay attention to the category.
  2. Don’t interrupt the question/audio; let it finish before guessing out loud.
  3. If you think of an answer, say it/write it.
    1. Make sure at least two other teammates hear/see it.
    2. If you heard a teammate suggest a good possible answer that’s not being discussed, throw it out there again.
  4. Everyone look over each answer sheet before turning it in.
  5. If the answer is a name and surnames are enough, we don’t need to write the first name.
  6. If spelling doesn’t count, don’t sweat it.
  7. If an answer is used once in a quiz, nothing prevents that answer from being used later in the same quiz (the Quincy Jones Rule).
  8. Avoid facetious answers (the Ernie Banks Rule – so named after we got a question wrong in a practice round when somebody jokingly said that Ernie Banks, aka “Mr. Cub”, was “obviously from the Mets,” and then our non-sporty scribe dutifully wrote down “Mets.” Heh.)
  9. Put an answer for each question, even if the whole team believes it’s probably/certainly wrong. You can object to that bad answer, but have a better answer at the ready.

Having these rules in place, and following them as consistently as possible, allows our scores to become a true measure of our collective team knowledge without any distortion or missed opportunities from arguments, confusion, or miscommunication. That really helped us out this year, because with the Geek Bowl time limits in place, there’s no room to get sidetracked. We also worked out a joker threshold in advance, which really really helped. (If the words “joker threshold” mean nothing to you, see the Geek Bowl format info below.)

The team met at Ernie’s Pizza on Saturday afternoon for lunch, and warmed up with some homemade questions. Since it was the 10th Geek Bowl, Don thought they might ask about various 10s — 10th Academy Awards, 10th Super Bowl, etc., so we brushed up on those. (Of course, they did do 10-themed rounds, just not anything we’d thought to study. Heh.)

Jonathan brought a sheet he’d made, listing #1 songs from the 80s forward, anagrammed. Some examples:

Me Fattier Item
Pecans Balk
Avalanche Heater Ponies
Salsa Bathtub Alto
Airplay Reek
Yellowing Mothra

(Answers provided in the answers post.) After a fine afternoon, we headed to the Magness Arena, where the Geeks had set up tables, stage, screens, and so forth. As in the past few years, Geek Bowl was extremely well-run. They’ve figured out that if hundreds of teams are playing (and paying), but only 5 are getting money, everybody else had better have a great time. Consequently, they make the entire night very entertaining, and reduce tedium (i.e. during scoring breaks) as much as they possibly can. It’s amazing to me that they processed as many answers as they did and I still never felt like I was waiting too long.

They also bring in talent to provide musical entertainment during those scoring breaks, and this year the featured band was Metalachi, self-proclaimed as “The World’s First And Only Heavy Metal Mariachi Band”. They lived up to their billing — lots of fun, with legit musicianship underneath. This Geek Bowl was also the first to have a semi-celebrity host, in the person of Eugene Mirman, comedian and voice of Gene on Bob’s Burgers.

This, in my opinion, was less successful. I hope he didn’t charge the Geeks very much, because he did virtually no comedy material, and in fact occupied his sections with all the panache of a middle manager on “Beyond Casual” Friday. Every time he came out, the best he could do was stuff like, “Who here is from Vancouver? Raise your hands! Wow, how about that. Who’s from Arizona? Great to see you!” He tried to engage the longstanding GWD animosity against Philadelphia (not going to try and explain that one here), but just landed on (paraphrasing), “Aw, Philly is a sort of nice place!” Sheesh.

The Geek Bowl Format

This is the part where I copy and paste the Geek Bowl info, rules, and disclaimers from previous years, slightly updated. Feel free to skip to the Opening Ceremonies section if you know all this already.

As I’ve done in previous years, I’m going to recap the questions and answers here. A few caveats about this, though. First, the Geeks are pretty careful about their intellectual property, and the agreement we’ve worked out is that I won’t post these recaps until at least a week has elapsed since the Geek Bowl. (Though all things considered I’d have a hard time getting this together in less time anyway!)

Second, I consider these recaps a tribute to the excellent question writers of the Geek Bowl, and an advertisement for a really fun event, but I am in no way officially associated with Geeks Who Drink, and I have not been supplied with question material. The recap below is not a verbatim representation of the Geek Bowl 10 questions. They are reconstructed from my notes and memories, which are very fallible. I do take photos of some of the question slides — cameras are allowed at Geek Bowl as long as they can’t receive data. However, even those slides are very frequently paraphrases rather than verbatim reproductions of the questions as read. I am certain I have left out some of the cleverness, some of the humor, and some of the pinning precision. Anything in the questions and answers below that is wrong or crappy is my fault, not theirs.

The GWD question material leans heavy on pop-culture and light (though not zero) on sports. In between, there is plenty of academic trivia: history, geography, science, and so forth. They have also always tried to make a point of being edgy, often self-consciously so. This has evolved over the years from “We insist on sex, cursing, and gross-outs” to “Don’t be surprised when you encounter sex, cursing, or gross-outs.” Especially at Geek Bowl, it used to feel like there was some obligatory raunch, and that those questions were kind of pandering, lowbrow stuff that didn’t really match the rest of the quiz. Now the raunchy stuff is just as erudite and clever as anything else in the question set, and its prominence has been toned way down, but it’s also always still there.

Here’s the format: each team has its own small table, with 6 chairs. (Though some late registrants had to sit in the fixed arena seats, which had to be a bummer. I salute you, arena seat teams!) Quizmasters read questions from the stage, and the questions are also projected onto large screens throughout the venue. Some rounds are all-video, meaning rather than anyone reading questions, the whole round is encapsulated in a video presentation on the screens. Once all the questions in a round have been asked, a two minute timer starts, by the end of which you must have turned in your answer sheet to one of the roaming quizmasters. (Though rounds 3 and 4 had a 4-minute timer, for reasons that will become clear in the recap.)

The game consists of 8 rounds, each with its own theme. Each round contains 8 questions — usually, each question is worth one point, so there’s a maximum possible score of 8 points for each round. However, some rounds offer extra points — for instance, Round 2 is traditionally a music round, with 8 songs played, and one point each awarded for naming the title and artist of the song. In a regular GWD pub quiz, it’s only Round 2 and Round 8 (always the “Random Knowledge” round) that offer 16 possible points. However, in this year’s Geek Bowl, one other round was upgraded from 8 potential points to 15 — we could see from the pre-printed answer sheets that question #8 in Round 3 would have 8 answers, for a total of 15 answers in the round.

Finally, teams can choose one round to “joker”, meaning that it earns double points for that round. Obviously, you’d want that to be one of the 15 or 16-point rounds, unless you really believed you wouldn’t score above 8 in any of them, which is highly unlikely. We discussed our jokering strategy ahead of time, and decided on thresholds. In previous years, our Round 2 threshold has been 14 — in other words, if we felt very confident about 14 out of 16 answers in Round 2, we would joker it. However, last year’s Round 8 was really freakin’ hard, so in fear of that we lowered the Round 2 threshold to 13. We didn’t do a good job of settling on a Round 3 threshold — that’s a note for next year, because it did cause some unnecessary debate. In any case, if we didn’t joker Rounds 2 or 3, we would automatically joker Round 8.

Opening Ceremonies

The doors had opened at 6pm, and at 7pm, the event began! Three runners carrying huge red flags bearing a “G”, “W”, and “D” sped around the perimeter of the arena, heralding the entrance of a miniature marching band, complete with drum major. Behind this legion came the rest of the quizmasters, dozens strong, all carrying little pennants and wearing sashes. Some carried effigies of the GWD logo characters, who have names that I can neither remember nor Google at the moment. These official Geeks ascended the stage to sing the GWD fight song, which was hilarious but on which my memory also fails me. My note-taking mojo was not yet in gear! Hopefully GWD will release a video of it at some point.

Speaking of video, the next event was a special video welcome from Colorado’s head geek, John Hickenlooper. That one, we do have:

Gubernatorial shout-out for How I Met Your Mothra! Totally worth keeping our old name. As Gov Hick said, the first round was homecoming-themed, since this was Geek Bowl’s triumphant return to Denver. So let’s jump right into the recap! Our team’s experiences are in [square brackets], and as with previous years, answers are in a separate post, since this one is already too long.

Round 1: Hormones On Ice

The homecoming round was a bunch of questions about, well, coming home. The questions themselves were adorned and interspersed by little skit vignettes depicting moments at a homecoming dance: teens dancing, a sleazy DJ, kids hanging out around the edges and chatting, a misfit yelling at popular classmates, everybody making out, etc. These sketches didn’t really have a whole lot to do with the questions themselves, and they went by too fast for me to take really detailed notes, so I’m not going to attempt to recap them. Just envision a little bit of high school drama between each question and you’ll get the picture.

1. First and last name required: What name is shared by the authors of You Can’t Go Home Again and The Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test?
2. In Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas, C.J. goes home to fix shit in what L.A.-lookalike city that was also the setting of Grand Theft Auto V? [Some of us are gamers, but none of us are GTA-ers, so we tried to cobble together a guess based on what tiny scraps of knowledge we do have.]
3. Young adult Jews can get dirty in the Dead Sea through what 10-day heritage trip program that has been sponsored by Sheldon Adelson? [Oy. No clue on this one.]
4. Which Star Trek movie was subtitled The Voyage Home? [Here, on the other hand, is a wheelhouse question for all 6 of us.]
5. The Prodigal Son’s homecoming story appears in which gospel, the only one that is purportedly written by a medical doctor? [Very grateful for that “medical doctor” clause, which led us in the right direction.]
6. In his 2001 essay “On The Justice Of Roosting Chickens,” University of Colorado professor Ward Churchill infamously compared 9/11 victims to what Holocaust organizer with the same first name as the Führer?
7. Allegedly mistaken for an elk, which explorer was shot in the ass on his way back from the Pacific: Lewis or Clark? [Lots of pooling general knowledge to weight the coin flip towards one side or the other.]
8. What was the name of the Sean Combs-led band that did the poignant Top 20 single “Coming Home” in 2010? [And here we fall into another knowledge gap: Puffy bands. Took a wild guess.]

[This was a dispiriting round. We ended up with 5 correct answers.]
See the answers

Round 2: Metalachi

Round 2 is always a music round, and at Geek Bowl, always a live music round. This time the featured artist was Metalachi, who performed a variety of non-metal songs in heavy metal mariachi style. Well, not exactly non-metal songs: each song had the name of a metal in its title or artist.

The funny thing about this is that the last time Geek Bowl was in Denver (for Geek Bowl V), the Round 2 artist was also a mariachi band, albeit a traditional one. In fact, my team that year (The Anti-Social Network) won partly on the strength of a team member recognizing when the band played Johnny Cash’s “Orange Blossom Special”, which very few other teams got. So perhaps this was yet another callback to Denver Geek Bowls of ages past.

Previously I just listed the answers here, because I couldn’t describe the round without giving them away. But in 2017 the Geeks posted a video recap of the round, so now I can just embed that! The answer summary has moved, appropriately enough, to the answers post.


[We felt good about 12 of our answers, but that was below our jokering threshold, albeit only just. We stuck to our guns and did not joker the round. So we ended up with 12 points, plus our previous 5 made 17.]
See the answers

Round 3: A Bag Of Dicks

Round 3 in the pub quiz generally has some kind of gimmick to it — true/false, multiple choice, speed round, a choice between hard clues and easy clues, etc. At Geek Bowl, most of the pub-sized stuff is hard to pull off, so it almost always ends up being a 50/50 round, and this time was no exception. The theme was all about bags, sacks, and so forth. Was the title just a case of GWD giving the round a gratuitously X-rated name? Put that thought on pause for a minute, while I recount the first 7 questions.

1. Who was the last named owner of Bag End: Meriadoc Brandybuck or Samwise Gamgee?
2. Dimebag Darrell Abbott was best known for playing in what band: Pantera or Sepultura?
3. Which purveyor of tea bags is genuinely based in jolly old England: Bigelow or Twinings?
4. Who has the NFL career record for getting sacked: Brett Favre or Peyton Manning?
5. Otherwise known as that bag you can’t afford, the Birkin handbag is named after someone. Is that person a designer or an actress?
6. What did Oliver Sacks primarily write about: neurology or paleontology?
7. Satchel Paige’s Major League Baseball debut was on the same team that broke the American League’s color barrier. Was that team the A’s or the Indians?

So far, so ordinary. But on the answer sheet, there was a section below the questions, saying that each team would be given a bag, that we were not to open the bag until instructed, and that there would be instructions inside the bag for what to do. Perhaps you might have an inkling of where this is going. The sheet had 8 spaces, with a color next to each: Green, Yellow, Teal, White, Red, Pink, Purple, and Orange. 8 points’ worth.

So. We were given a brown paper bag. Once we were allowed to open it, we discovered that yes indeed, it was a bag of dicks. Or, to be precise, dick-shaped candles, individually bagged in Ziplocs, and each with its own color and special, special scent. Like so:

Penis-shaped candles in small ziploc bags. I'm not exactly doing you a favor with this alt text, am I?

The instructions in the bag told us that the challenge was to determine the scent of each candle, from the following list of 12 possibilities:

BACON
BRUT MEN’S COLOGNE
CHANEL NO. 5
CHARDONNAY
FENNEL
GINGERBREAD
HEINZ 57 SAUCE
NACHO CHEESE
PUMPKIN PIE
ROSEMARY
SLIM JIM
SRIRACHA

People, these candles were horrible. Not because they were dicks, but because they smelled so, so awful. They ranged from merely unpleasant to “brutal assault.” About the ony one we felt sure on was “fennel” — the rest were brave attempts, especially given that some of the options (e.g. slim jims and bacon) aren’t terribly distinct from each other, odorwise.

Not that the smells are meaningful to anyone reading this recap (well, I suppose with the exception of other unfortunate dick-sniffers), but I’ll provide them in the answers post, along with the answers to the more traditional questions.

[No way did we feel good enough about this round to joker it. And rightly so: while we did well enough on the regular questions — 6 of 7 — we just barely scraped above 50% on the candles, getting 5 out of 8 correct. So 11 points, added to our running total of 17 for a grand total of 28. Or, as I stupidly wrote on the sheet and told people at first, because math is hard, 38. But really, 28.]
See the answers

Round 4: Mother’s Little Helper

Back on familiar trivia territory, this was a round about parenting and mind-altering substances.

1. Mommy’s Time Out and Dad’s Day Off are pandering brand names for what beverage?
2. With a runtime of just six minutes, Samuel L. Jackson recorded the definitive audiobook of what Adam Mansbach bestseller? [I think I was first with this answer, but I’m sure other teammates knew it too.]
3. To help induce labor contractions, women are sometimes given Pitocin, a synthetic version of what pituitary hormone. [Jonathan nailed this science question.]
4. Apparently, Dare To Discipline is a popular pro-spanking manifesto by what Focus On The Family asshole? [Gosh, it’s almost as if GWD has a point of view on this. Anyway, we struggled toward the name, and eventually Jonathan got it.]
5. In public restrooms nationwide, and perfect for snorting cocaine, what alliterative brand of wall-mounted changing stations has a cuddly brown-on-blue logo? [Thank goodness for that cocaine reference or I might have thought GWD was losing their edge.]
6. The 2008 documentary The Business Of Being Born featured a water birth — specifically a healthy baby boy emerging from what former talk show host?
7. This is a spelling question, so unlike most Geek Bowl questions, SPELLING COUNTS! That bald four-year-old Canadian fuck who’s had his own shitty cartoon since 1997: How do they spell his dumb French name? [Again, detecting a subtle non-neutrality here. Also detecting the awesomeness of Jonathan, who pulled out this name and its correct spelling.]
8. Starts with a D: In the Rolling Stones song that gives this round its title, what is the generic name for the “little yellow pill” mentioned in the lyrics? [The lyrics themselves don’t actually cite this D-word, or I might have had a shot at remembering it. We tossed out several candidates, and in the end, Mothra went with Jonathan’s answer. Good call as usual, Mothra.]

[Finally, a round we could feel unequivocally good about! We aced this one, for a total of 36.]

After round 4 but before the scoring break, there was one more question: a tiebreaker. In early Geek Bowls, ties would be broken by asking extra questions on stage to the teams involved, but that kind of left everybody else out of the fun. So recently GWD has taken to asking a complicated question with a numerical answer, and using it for a tiebreaker. This year they made a further improvement by asking that question at the end of Round 4, rather than at the end of Round 8 when everybody’s brains are fried. The question was this:

Take the number of kittens (K) in the children’s book Goodnight Moon, and multiply by the number of dog breeds (D) that compete in the Westminster Kennel Club Dog show. Subtract from that product the number of women (W) currently serving in the U.S. House of Representatives, and multiply the resulting number by the number of Sharknado movies (S) that have been made. Or, in other words:

[(K x D) – W] x S

See the answers

After this it was time for a scoring break. Metalachi played, people hit the restrooms or got food, and I went to check in with some geek friends on other teams. Let’s break up this post now with one of the excellent videos GWD made to kill time during scoring breaks. (They didn’t actually show this one until after round 7, accompanied by drag queen Bianqa LeGata and Harmony Chorale singing “My Way”, but I’m spreading the video love here.) Note that the following video has spoilers for: Arrow, Supernatural, True Detective, Inside Out, Hunger Games, Avengers: Age Of Ultron, Mad Max: Fury Road, Agents of SHIELD, The Flash, Gotham, Jessica Jones, The Walking Dead, Game Of Thrones, and Star Wars: The Force Awakens. You’ve been warned.

After the scores had been tallied, they scrolled through the standings on screen. We were in 55th place.

Round 5: X Gon’ Give It To Ya

It’s Geek Bowl X, so how about a visual round that’s X-themed? Or, I guess, kind of lightly X-themed: iconic images missing a key component, to the tune of DMX’s “X Gon’ Give It to Ya.” Thanks to the Geeks for posting this very fun video:

[This was a relatively easy round, and we got full points, for a new total of 44.]
See the answers

Round 6: Continental Fight Club

This round was, by the Geeks’ description, “highfalutin.” Basically, the theme was fancy things and ideas from France and Germany.

1. Headquartered near Dresden, NOMOS and A. Lange & Sohne are well-regarded makers of what luxury accessory? [We really talked this one out. People started throwing out luxury accessories — handbags, watches, jewelry. Don offered that Dresden was an industrial city, so perhaps machinery like watches was more likely than something like handbags. Then George recalled that Dresden is famous for china. While this didn’t precisely fit the bill of an “accessory”, it seemed plausible that the question could be referring to it as such, i.e. a home accessory, and we felt better about it than any of the other answers we’d discussed, so we went with it. Too bad we were wrong.]
2. If your wine tastes like elderberries or your weed smells like lavender, it’s due to what French T-word that describes a crop’s environmental conditions? [Thank you, Jonathan, for knowing yet another thing.]
3. Recorded by both Louis Armstrong and Bobby Darin, what song about a stealthy serial slasher is the most famous number from Bertolt Brecht and Kurt Weill’s Threepenny Opera?
4. If your horse is doing a piaffe or a pirouette, you’re probably taking part in what specific competition?
5. Not to be confused with the capital of Lebanon, what Bavarian city is home to a very famous festival for the music of Richard Wagner? [Thank you Jonathan.]
6. Named for the color of all the costumes, what term refers to a classical 19th-century ballet style? [Another one we hashed out. We considered ballet blanc, ballet noir, and ballet rouge. Ballet rouge sounded slightly familiar to me and George, though Jonathan rightly inquired whether we were mixing it up with Ballet Russe, the Russian ballet company. Don argued that 19th century culture, with its Victorian love of purity, would be more likey to embrace blanc rather than noir or rouge. Good argument, Don.]
7. The Phenomenology of Spirit is the magnum opus of what 19th-century German philosopher, who revived the ancient Greek concept of dialectics? [Thank you Jonathan. I would have gotten there, but not as fast as you.]
8. Grand Central Terminal and the New York Public Library are examples of what architectural movement, named for a French school that taught exactly what it’s called? [Once again, thank you Jonathan.]

[We got 7 of 8 on this round. Thank you Jonathan. That brought our total to 51.]
See the answers

Round 7: Children Of Ten

This was another video round, this time focused on movies. Thank you Geeks for posting the video, because no description of mine could have possibly come close to communicating how much fun this was.

[Once again, we got 7 of 8, bringing our total to 58.]
See the answers

At this point, there was another scoring break. Metalachi played for a while, and then once again Bianqa LeGata and Harmony Chorale took the stage, this time to sing “Rocky Mountain High”, accompanying this glorious Colorado tribute video:

At the end of this break, the standings once again scrolled onscreen: we stood in 23rd place.

Round 8: Random Knowledge

Round 8 is always “random knowledge”, i.e. no particular theme, and questions that can span any domain. In the pub quiz, the point values vary from question to question (at first unpredictably, but now in a stable pattern of 1 2 1 3 1 3 1 4), but in Geek Bowl each round 8 question is always worth two points.

1. a) Who created the TV series Scandal? b) How about the TV series Orange Is The New Black?
2. a) What is the easternmost African nation that straddles the equator? b) Though it does so several times, what’s the only Asian country whose land is crossed by the equator?
3. a) In Japan, what is the only profession that still rocks the traditional chonmage haircut? b) What Unilever brand makes the Bed Head line of hair products? [George had a star moment on Bed Head — rocked it when the rest of us were clueless.]
4. a) Bill Simmons was removed in 2015 as chief editor of what ESPN web site that folded soon after? b) What other ex-ESPN guy once got shoved by Jim Everett for basically calling him a woman?
5. Math time! a) Express the base-10 number 69 in hexadecimal. b) Find the product of the following terms: (2x + 7) and (3x – 4).
6. a) Which Grace and Frankie title star married longtime partner Jane Wagner in 2013? b) What eight-letter hashtag trended highest after the Supreme Court’s 2015 decision in Obergefell v. Hodges?
7. a) A maar is a common landform caused by what geological rupture? b) The Smiths’ Johnny Marr more recently did a three-year stint in what Issaquah, Wash. band?
8. The only multi-time winners of the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction are Booth Tarkington and what other two dead white guys? [We debated this one a lot, throwing out a variety of names. In the end, one of our guesses was right but not both.]

[We ended up with 14 correct answers in this round, and boy were we glad we’d saved our joker, giving us 28 points for the round overall. That brought our final Geek Bowl score to 86. I’ll note that our 2nd place score last year was 91, in a quiz with the same number of points available. Must have been a harder quiz this year, since we dropped 5 points and still retained 2nd place!]
See the answers

There you have it: the questions of Geek Bowl X! Thanks again to Geeks Who Drink for a fun night, a finely-wrought quiz, and that big, gorgeous check. See you next year in Seattle!

Post-credits stinger: For posterity and those who are interested, here are the rest of the #1 song anagrams:

Clef Rodent
Homeward Snort
Hide In Plots
Eek! Hurry Batman!
Spirited Hook Tilt
Black New Girl
Ephedrine Gin Toll
Madam Coke User
Africa Rolling Us
Rebid Sell Run
A Static Poet Ports
Mama Bye Cell
Mitts Redefine a Mop
Hebrew Toggle Note
Eyes Furl Solo
Whitish Wood Ties
One Puny Vinegar Vogue
A Fleece Photo Stat Hitler
See the answers

Geek Bowl IX question recap

Well, another Geek Bowl is in the books, and once again, I am happy. We didn’t win, but we came in 2nd place! Given that 134 teams played, and that the 2nd place prize is $3000, we feel pretty damn good about that. This year, sticking with the “Mothra” theme from last year, we were “The Mothras of Retention.” (No, not that kind of retention. Like, retaining facts. Come on.) We had the same lineup as last year, and boy do I love this team. Not only is it a great mix of specialties and styles, they’re also just a lovely group of people, with whom I always enjoy spending time. Not a blowhard or prima donna in the bunch. Oh, and did I mention that they’re all really frickin’ smart? Oh my god, I can’t even tell you. (But I’ll try.)

Mothras Of Retention team photo
L to R top row: Larry, Don. Bottom row: Brian, George, Jonathan, me

This year the bowl was in Albuquerque (henceforth ABQ), at an Indian casino called Isleta. I drove down from Denver, which was mostly fun. I’m always up for a road trip, but boy is there a whole lotta nothin’ between, let’s say, Colorado Springs and Santa Fe. (Uh, no disrespect to anybody’s town in “driveover country.” You could make a case for Pueblo.) Anyway, I got into ABQ around 5:30pm and checked into my hotel. (As always, hat tip to the awesome “name your price” feature on Priceline.) Teammate Don is a former ABQ resident, so he made reservations for us at a great New Mexican restaurant. Our team met up with another team, comprised of a couple former members of the Anti-Social Network and the friends they recruited to play along. That team’s excellent name: “I Can’t Believe It’s Not Rutter.” Also, teammates Brian and George had brought their wives, and Don invited a couple of ABQ friends. It was a big table. Great meal, too.

After that, about half of us headed to a house rented by Shane Whitlock and his wife, where a towering collection of trivia minds ate awesome food, drank good wine, and answered question after question, most prominently a Buzzer Battle tournament run by “Not Rutter” member Bill Schantz. There was also a really fun pub quiz created by Jeremy Cahnmann, whose game you should totally check out if you’re ever in Chicago. Ah, a fine time indeed. The next day I slept until 10:30am, which I mention because it is an AMAZING occurrence which never ever happens in my life anymore. The team got together at 4:30pm to run warmup rounds for 90 minutes or so, and then it was on to the main event!

As we gathered near the door, George passed around a small sheet of paper, upon which he had written down some guidelines that we’d always talked about but never formally codified. We quickly came to call them the Commandments, and here they are:

  1. Read/listen to the damn question.
    1. Read it again.
    2. Pay attention to the category.
    3. Don’t interrupt the question/audio. Let it finish before guessing.
  2. If you think of an answer, say it/write it, so the whole team knows.
  3. Everyone look over each answer sheet before turning it in.
  4. If the answer is a name and surnames are enough, don’t write the first name.
  5. If spelling doesn’t count, don’t sweat it.
  6. If an answer is used once in a quiz, nothing prevents that same answer from being used later in the same quiz. (The Quincy Jones rule – so named because QJ was an answer twice in one Geek Bowl.)
  7. “No” is not enough. Offer a solid alternative or a clear reason why the suggested answer is definitely wrong.
  8. Avoid facetious answers.

Following all these rules consistently is a lot harder than it sounds, and in fact we flubbed one of them one time at this Geek Bowl, but more about that in the answers post.

The event was held in a large auditorium, which apparently serves as a Bingo hall most of the time. It was very well suited for this night — good sound, lots of space, broad tiers with no fixed seating, friendly staff, etc. As has been the case for the past few years, the Bowl itself was very, very well-organized. Geeks Who Drink (GWD) has really got this down to a science now, and it came off expertly. The big change this year was that they had a headlining musical act, an outfit known as The Dan Band. In case you’ve never heard of these guys (I hadn’t), they’re a comedy/music group led by a guy named Dan Finnerty, who dresses like a gas station attendant (literally) and sings all songs by women. They were the wedding band in Old School, and also appeared in The Hangover. Knowing nothing else about these guys, I feared they would be boorish and obnoxious, but they actually turned out to be pretty funny and charming. As Don pointed out, the concept could be done in a very lazy way, but these guys weren’t lazy. For instance, their opening number — a medley of “Genie In A Bottle”, “No Scrubs”, and “I’m A Slave 4 U”, was proficient and professional, from the actual instrument-playing band to the smooth choreography. Sure, it’s a goof to have this guy singing these songs, and he throws in a lot of “fuck”s, but they don’t expect the gimmick alone to do the work of the act.

The Dan Band

In fact, the same thing can be said of Geek Bowl itself. As I’ve said before, the signature GWD tone is “self-consciously edgy”, but as time has gone on they’ve gotten a lot less self-conscious. I even noticed a considerable difference between this year and last year in terms of the questions. Last year had a round about nasty team names, songs about sex, and historical figures’ faces Photoshopped into vintage porn. This year had half a round about incest, and that’s about it for the raunch. It used to feel like GWD had a compulsory smut/obscenity quota, and that it could get in the way of, y’know, actualy having good or interesting trivia questions. Now it feels like they’ve got good question writers who don’t happen to be constrained by the bounds of good taste, but aren’t particularly obligated to leap over them either. (Nothing against sex and swearing, by the way — these are a few of my favorite things, actually — I just don’t like it when they feel mandatory in writing.)

Now here’s the part where I copy/paste and adapt the rules & disclaimers from last year’s post. If you don’t care, you can skip ahead to the questions, directly after the video.

As I’ve done in previous years, I’m going to recap the questions and answers here. A few caveats about this, though. First, the Geeks are pretty careful about their intellectual property, and the agreement we’ve worked out is that I won’t post these recaps until at least a week has elapsed since the Geek Bowl. (Though all things considered I’d have a hard time getting this together in less time anyway!) Second, I consider these recaps a tribute to the excellent question writers of the Geek Bowl, and an advertisement for a really fun event, but I am in no way officially associated with Geeks Who Drink, and I have not been supplied with question material. The recap below is not a verbatim representation of the Geek Bowl 9 questions. They are reconstructed from my notes and memories, which are very fallible. This year I had the bright idea of taking photos of some of the question slides — cameras are allowed at Geek Bowl as long as they can’t receive data. However, even those slides are very frequently paraphrases rather than verbatim reproductions of the questions as read. I am certain I have left out some of the cleverness, some of the humor, and some of the pinning precision. Anything in the questions and answers below that is wrong or crappy is my fault, not theirs.

Here’s the format: each team has its own small table, with 6 chairs. Quizmasters read questions from the stage, and the questions are also projected onto large screens throughout the venue. Once all the questions in a round have been asked, a two minute timer starts, by the end of which you must have turned in your answer sheet to one of the roaming quizmasters. (Though the final round has a 5-minute timer.) The game consists of 8 rounds, each with its own theme. Each round contains 8 questions — usually, each question is worth one point, so there’s a maximum possible score of 8 points for each round. However, some rounds offer extra points — for instance, Round 2 is traditionally a music round, with 8 songs played, and one point each awarded for naming the title and artist of the song. In a regular GWD pub quiz, it’s only Round 2 and Round 8 (always the “Random Knowledge” round) that offer 16 possible points. However, in this year’s Geek Bowl, one other round was upgraded from 8 potential points to 15 — we could see from the pre-printed answer sheets that question #8 in Round 4 would have 8 answers, for a total of 15 answers in the round.

Finally, teams can choose one round to “joker”, meaning that it earns double points for that round. Obviously, you’d want that to be one of the 15 or 16-point rounds, unless you really believed you wouldn’t score above 8 in any of them, which is highly unlikely. We discussed our jokering strategy ahead of time, and decided on thresholds. The Round 2 threshold was 14 — in other words, if we felt very confident about 14 out of 16 answers in Round 2, we would joker it. We didn’t end up settling on a Round 4 threshold, but it turned out not to matter. We probably would have jokered on at least 13, and failing that we’d automatically joker Round 8.

Now, for posterity and enjoyment, the questions of Geek Bowl 9. I’ll note our team’s experiences in [square brackets.] As I did last year, I’ll put the answers in a separate post, since this one gets long enough as it is.

Round 1: Duking It Out In The Duke City
Albuquerque is apparently nicknamed “The Duke City”, so this round was all about dukes.

1. Born in 1899, Duke Ellington came to be a major participant in the “Renaissance” of what New York City neighborhood? [I think all of us answered this one in unison.]
2. If you wanted to correctly spell the name of Duke University’s basketball coach, how many “z”s would you use? [I’m so out on questions like this, but between Larry, Don, and Jonathan, we got there.]
3. Patty Duke played both roles, Helen and Anne, in separate film versions of what play?
4. Here’s something you won’t understand: what band, on the album track following “How I Could Just Kill A Man”, sampled the song “Duke Of Earl”, by Gene Chandler? [We were clueless on this one. Took a wild guess.]
5. Due to a 1982 contract dispute, cousins Coy and Vance briefly replaced what TV siblings? [Brian (who served as our scribe) actually has a running “Coy and Vance” replacement joke on one of his podcasts, — I think he was writing the answer before they finished asking the question.]
6. Which was longer, the infamous gap between Duke Nukem 3D and Duke Nukem Forever, or the infamous gap between Guns ‘n’ Roses’ Use Your Illusion albums and Chinese Democracy? (Just answer “Duke” or “GnR”.) [We guessed wrong on this one.]
7. What “P” word means the entire system of noble titles? [Slam dunk by George.]
8. According to Channel Islanders, and despite her presumable lack of male sex organs, who is the Duke of Normandy?

[Not our best round. We ended up with 6 correct answers.]
See the answers

Round 2: Dude Sings Like A Lady
Round 2 is always a music round, and for the last few years, they’ve had 8 different live bands each play about 25 seconds of a cover version of some song, and then performing that same 25 seconds again. This year, though, since they’d gone to the trouble of obtaining a “name”(ish) band, Round 2 was all about The Dan Band performing snippets of 8 different songs. Same approach — about 25 seconds, repeated once. The extra twist was that the round was “Bechdel Tested, Mother Approved” — true to The Dan Band ethos, all the songs were both by women and about women. The round description made a fairly big deal of specifying that we were to name both the song title and the “original female PERFORMING artist” for each tune, for reasons that will become clear below.

Previously I just listed the answers here, because I couldn’t describe the round without giving them away. But in late 2016 the Geeks posted a video recap of the round, so now I can just embed that! The answer summary has moved, appropriately enough, to the answers post.


[We felt really, really good about this round, and jokered it without hesitation. We were right to do so, as we aced it. So that gave us 32 points, plus our previous 6 made a total of 38.]
See the answers

Round 3: Red Or Green?
Round 3 at Geek Bowl is pretty much always some kind of 50/50, speed round, or multiple choice situation. This year it was a 50/50, based around New Mexico’s official state question: “Red Or Green?” In case it’s not clear, the question refers to what kind of chile you’d like on your food. (Though when I was asked on Friday night, I was also offered the option of both!)

1. Who bought Reddit in 2006: Condé Nast or Yahoo? [We guessed wrong on this one, and I’m sorry to say I was one of the ones steering us wrongward.]
2. Which team wore a green shirt at the 2014 World Cup: Italy or Mexico? [Don’s a soccer guy, and was all over this one.]
3. Which chain has more U.S. locations: Red Lobster or Red Robin?
4. In which book did the Red Wedding occur: A Clash Of Kings or A Storm Of Swords? [Don is also a Game of Thrones guy, and once again, was all over it. Go Don!]
5. Did Greenpeace’s initial cause concern nuclear testing or whaling?
6. Not including gulfs, which has more Red Sea coastline: Egypt or Saudi Arabia? [Jonathan drew a map for us that looked not terribly different from the one that accompanied the answer.]
7. The Green Book is the credited work of which controversial political figure: Gerry Adams or Moammar Qadaffi?
8. Which color of light is most conducive to photosynthesis: Red or Green? [Jonathan got to this by knowing about optics, Brian got to it by knowing about the habits of Colorado pot growers. We all got to it! (Not that Brian is a Colorado pot grower, mind you.)]

[We got 7 of 8 here, for an updated total of 45.]
See the answers

Round 4: The World According to LARP
Now, here is where things started to get seriously awesome. I mean, they were already good, but this is where they started to get awesome. This round was done all in cosplay, with each new cosplayer coming out and defeating the previous one, and then asking a question, in character, somehow related to the character. Not only that, sometimes the character was a clue to… well, you’ll see. Now, my account of this is going to be a little bit compromised by the fact that I was furiously taking notes while it was going on, but I’ll try to give you the gist.

The first thing that happened was a wizard took the stage, with resplendent robes and staff and so forth. After an impressive pretend-magic display, she asked us this question:
1. With a name that comes from the Latin words for “heap” and “rainstorm”, what kind of cloud normally produces lightning?

Suddenly a knight emerged, in full Crusades regalia! A mighty battle ensued, in which the wizard was struck down, the knight emerged triumphant, stepped to the microphone, and asked:
2. While we were killing Muslims during the Crusades, Paladins like myself called them by what slightly longer term, which is the same as the name of the quarterback on the show Friday Night Lights? [I knew the word, Don and Brian know Friday Night Lights. Cross-referencing FTW!]

Like a shadow, like a ghost, the ninja struck. The knight never stood a chance. Over his dead body, the ninja asked:
3. Speaking of things white people know nothing about: every year, dozens of people go to the Aokigahara Forest to do… what? [Boy did we struggle with this one. I’ll put the full story in the answers post, but suffice to say we got it wrong.]

Zzap! The phaser blast of a dour Klingon proved in short order that no pajama-wearing human is a match for an honorable descendant of Kahless The Unforgettable. The Klingon approached the mic and asked us a question… in Klingon. We could make out the words “falcon”, “eagle”, and “kestrel”, but that’s it. Then on the screen behind her appeared a translation:
4. What bird is biologically closest to a falcon: a hawk, an eagle, or a kestrel?

Klingons are strong with honor, but you know their challenge area? Friendship. Especially the magic of a magical friendship, which can really be magically friendly, and magical. Thus it was that a very approximate human equivalent of a My Little Pony character defeated the Klingon, and asked:
5. Ponies are defined as measuring less than 58 inches at what specific shoulder area, which the composer of “Lean On Me” would be proud of? [I knew the “Lean On Me” part, and as soon as I thought of it the horse part made sense.]

POW! What puny pony can withstand the full fury of the Rampaging Hulk? Down went the pony, and Hulk asked:
6. WHAT 2012 NBC DRAMA CENTER ON KATHARINE MCPHEE TRYING TO PLAY MARILYN MONROE IN BROADWAY MUSICAL?

You have a Hulk? Well we have a Quiz-Bot! A large robot, carrying a large pencil in one claw and a large drink in the other, with a digital crawling display on its chest reading (I think) “42… 42… 42…” battled the Hulk. Hulk is strongest one there is, but Quiz-Bot is smartest one there is, and it was victorious. It asked us:
7. In statistics, the standard deviation is signified by what 18th letter of the Greek alphabet?

Finally, the players’ mom stepped onstage. Everyone got up, and she distributed some tasty snacks from her purse to all players. Everyone munched happily, while she strode to the mic. Remember how I said that we could see from the answer sheets that question #8 in this round would have 8 possible answers? Well here’s that question:
8. Besides Barbara Walters, name eight of the nine women to date who have been panelists on The View for more than one season. [The full team collaborated to come up with seven, and at the last minute Brian pulled an eighth. WHOO!]

[A strong round – we got 14, raising our total to 59.]
See the answers

Round 5: LandMark Wahlberg
This was a video before and after round. I used to have a long explanation here about it, but happily, just about a year after Geek Bowl 9, the Geeks finally posted the video itself in all its glory on YouTube. So here you have it:

I’ll copy the old explanation, and the answers, over to the answers post.

[We aced this round. 59 + 8 = 67 total points now.]
See the answers

Round 6: The Round You And Your Sister Have Been Waiting For
This was a round on inheritances and incest — that old-time GWD spirit shining through, or at least partway through.

1. According to the King James Version of the Bible, “He that troubleth his own house shall inherit” what?
2. Named Adult Video News #21 All-Time Greatest Porn Film, what 1980 family fuckfest shares its name with a family board game from Hasbro? [Oh, Geeks. Then again, George later said, “I had it at ‘family fuckfest.'”]
3. Named for a geneticist called Reginald C. Something, what’s that quadrilateral chart that biologists use to determine the likely genotype of offspring? [Jonathan came through here.]
4. A pair of federal agents encounter an inbred Pennsylvania clan called the Peacocks in “Home”, a classic 1996 episode of what TV series?
5. A product of over 100 years of inbreeding, the drooling, slow-witted Charles II was the last Hapsburg to rule what nation?
6. Owners of most of Colorado’s sports teams, plus a few others, the Kroenke familly actually got most of their cash by marrying into what Southern family? [Larry knew this one right away.]
7. Unpublished for almost 150 years, The Inheritance was the first novel by what precocious teen, who later quite extensively covered the March family? [Yay, a literature question! I had this one right away, and Jonathan was a half-second behind me.]
8. What famous actress thankfully inherited her looks from her mother, Marcheline Bertrand, rather than her father, the title star of Midnight Cowboy?

[Another perfect round for us. 67 + 8 = 75.]
See the answers

Round 7: Bust A Movie
Okay, so I’ve been a trivia guy for a long time. I’ve seen a lot of great, clever concepts for questions and had a lot of fun. And I am here to say that Round 7 of Geek Bowl 9 was, I think, my favorite trivia round I’ve ever seen. As the moderators explained, “We’ve had video rounds, audio rounds, movie rounds, singing rounds, celebrity rounds, and lots more. But tonight, for the first time ever, we are having a dance round at Geek Bowl.” Here’s what this means: GWD hired a dance troupe called the Keshet Dance Company to re-enact 8 dance scenes from movies. Players had to name the movies.

Keshet was phenomenal — exuberant, fun, and accurate. They drew enthusiastic cheers throughout, and a MASSIVE, IMMEDIATE standing ovation at the end. God, I loved it. My descriptions could not possibly do justice to the round, but lucky for me, there is video!

[Brian was an absolute star on this one, naming 2 dances the rest of us didn’t know at all, and getting there first on several others, even sometimes before they started dancing. Thanks to him putting us over the top, this was another perfect round for us, bringing our total to 83.]
See the answers

Round 8: Random Knowledge
Round 8 of any Geeks quiz is always called “Random Knowledge”, and random it is. At a regular pub quiz, it’s 8 questions whose point values vary anywhere between one and four, for an ultimate total of 16. At Geek Bowl, the Random Knowledge questions are all worth two points each. In addition, at Geek Bowl 9, the Random Knowledge round was EXTREMELY FREAKIN’ HARD! There were 16 points theoretically possible, but according to their official recap post, the highest anybody scored was 13, and the average was SIX points. Out of sixteen. It was brutal. And here it is:

1. According to Statista.com and several other sources, what two countries have the most Facebook users?
2. Which two cable shows were the last ones to win the Primetime Emmy for Outstanding Drama series more than once?
3. a) What is the relative minor key of C-major? b) What’s the mathy-sounding name of the wheel that shows the tones of the chromatic scale with their major and minor relative tones? [Hooray for Jonathan, who spent his middle and high school years as a cellist.]
4. a) The Pleiades and the Crab Nebula are both in which Zodiac constellation? b) The Australian flag features the Southern Cross, otherwise known by what Latin name?
5. a) Now in Lebanon, what ancient Phoenician city lent its name to the purple dye favored by ancient rulers? b) Chemically, that dye owes its color to the presence of what halogen element?
6. a) What sort of environmental sensor did Apple add to the iPad Air 2? b) To the nearest hundred, what was the U.S. retail price of the original entry-level iPad?
7. a) The Bhagavad Gita takes the form of a conversation between a Hindi prince and his driver, who is actually what deity? b) They spend a lot of time discussing what Sanskrit word, which signifies the Hindu concept of “what is right”?
8. a) Half the people currently on the International Space Station are from what country? b) Since it’s expedition #42, they made a mission poster that’s ultimately based on the works of what novelist?

As with last year, there was a pre-emptive tiebreaker, a great idea to reduce the awkwardness of two teams standing on stage answering an extra bunch of questions. Also like last year, this was a convoluted and time-consuming question:

Take the number of ounces in a bomber of beer (B), then subtract the number of living original members of the Wu-Tang Clan (W). Multiply the difference by the number of landlocked member countries of the European Union (E). Add to the product the number of seasons the show Gossip Girl (G) ran. Or, in simplified form:

[(B-W) x E] + G

Thankfully, this round had a five-minute countdown to write down answers rather than two minutes.

[We scraped out of this one with 8 points. I sure am glad we didn’t wait to joker! So, our final Geek Bowl score was 91.]
See the answers

And there they are, the questions of Geek Bowl IX. If and when the Geeks release new video from the rounds, I’ll incorporate it here. Until then, see you next year!

$3000 novelty check made out to Mothras of Retention

Geek Bowl VIII question recap

Just to make sure I don’t bury the lede: my team, How I Met Your Mothra, won Geek Bowl VIII. It was unreal. 147 teams competed, and we came out on top. The second place team, I kid you not, was made up of Jeopardy! champions. That is some trivia firepower! Any quizzer will tell you, though, that you’re never going to get everything right, no matter how smart you are. The close wins come down to getting asked the right questions, and this time, we got asked enough of the right questions to edge the Jeopardites by one point. Considering it made the difference between a $3,000 team prize and a $6,666.66 team prize, that one point ended up being pretty important!

GeekBowl8-01

Our team this year had some shakeup in its makeup, which may have affected the outcome as well. A married couple (Dave and Lori) that has been part of our Geek Bowl team for the past 5 years dropped out this time for various reasons, and teammate Larry recruited a couple of new members (Don and Jonathan) who are very strong indeed. We hung out together in Austin the night before and day of the Geek Bowl, and as usual that was a lot of fun. Thanks to teammate Don’s organizing efforts, several of us had even brought practice rounds of trivia questions to quiz each other with. So we toddled around different Austin locations, warmup questions flying.

We also went to the Geeks Who Drink pre-party (the “Freak Bowl”) on Friday night, at a place called Recess Arcade Bar — the Geeks had rented the upstairs space, away from the arcade games. That kind of party is not really my scene — my introverted self would much rather hang out someplace quiet with a few people than someplace bludgeoningly loud with a boatload of people. They did have a good live band, though — Guilty Pleasures, an all-girl rock & roll cover band who did a fine job with Blondie, AC/DC, ZZ Top, Beastie Boys, Nazareth, and so forth. They also had these dancers called The Hell Katz, who slung fire, showered sparks, and so forth, which, wow. It was awesome to see, but I was kind of glad I was in the balcony.

As for the Bowl itself, it was held in easily the nicest venue it’s ever had, the Moody Theater in downtown Austin, where Austin City Limits is filmed. The place was gorgeous, roomy, and had absolutely top-notch sound and video, which is especially important in an event like this, where the ability to see and hear clearly can mean the difference between a right and wrong answer. A beautiful building won’t compensate for a poorly organized night, but lucky for us, Geek Bowl 8 was a beautifully organized night, even before it ended so well for us. The early Geek Bowls were pretty rough going, but at this point the organization seems to have solved whatever problems needed solving, allowing them to accomplish some pretty remarkable feats of logistics, like getting 8 different live acts on and off stage quickly enough that we never felt like we were waiting for anything, even though each act only played for 25 seconds. (Well, they each did their thing twice, so I guess 50 seconds.) I feel like GWD hit a peak last year in event management, and it was gratifying to see them not slip an inch, and even improve in some areas.

Then there were the questions. The GWD signature tone is one I often describe as “self-consciously edgy.” They go to great lengths to position themselves as “not your father’s trivia game,” which means you are pretty much guaranteed to hear some combination of f-bombs, sexual references, and scatological humor, along with general irreverence and attitude. This has tended to be my least favorite GWD quality, because it has often felt like a bunch of well-written questions interspersed with two scoops of lowest-common-denominator crap. Over time, though, at least in the Geek Bowl, I feel like they’ve figured out how to integrate those themes well enough that they end up with a bunch of well-written questions that just happen to have raunchy elements. The question-writing has hit a very strong, very consistent stride, and this year’s quiz was no exception.

As I’ve done in previous years, I’m going to recap the questions and answers here. A few caveats about this, though. First, the Geeks are pretty careful about their intellectual property, and the agreement we’ve worked out is that I won’t post these recaps until at least a week has elapsed since the Geek Bowl. (Though all things considered I’d have a hard time getting this together in less time anyway!) Second, I consider these recaps a tribute to the excellent question writers of the Geek Bowl, and an advertisement for a really fun event, but I am in no way officially associated with Geeks Who Drink, and I have not been supplied with question material. The recap below is not a verbatim representation of the Geek Bowl 8 questions. They are reconstructed from my notes and memories, which are very fallible. I am certain I have left out some of the cleverness, some of the humor, and some of the pinning precision. Anything in the questions and answers below that is wrong or crappy is my fault, not theirs.

Quoting myself from 2012, here’s the format: each team has its own small table, with 6 chairs. Quizmasters read questions from the stage, and the questions are also projected onto large screens throughout the venue. Once all the questions in a round have been asked, a two minute timer starts, by the end of which you must have turned in your answer sheet to one of the roaming quizmasters. The game consists of 8 rounds, each with its own theme. Each round contains 8 questions — usually, each question is worth one point, so there’s a maximum possible score of 8 points for each round. However, some rounds offer extra points — for instance, Round 2 is traditionally a music round, with 8 songs played, and one point each awarded for naming the title and artist of the song. In a regular GWD pub quiz, it’s only Round 2 and Round 8 (always the “Random Knowledge” round) that offer 16 possible points. However, in this year’s Geek Bowl, one other round was upgraded from 8 potential points to 16 — we could see from the pre-printed answer sheets that Round 5 would have 16 answers.

Finally, teams can choose one round to “joker”, meaning that it earns double points for that round. Obviously, you’d want that to be one of the 16-point rounds, unless you really believed you wouldn’t score above 8 in any of them, which is highly unlikely. We discussed our jokering strategy ahead of time, and decided on thresholds. The Round 2 threshold was 14 — in other words, if we felt very confident about 14 out of 16 answers in Round 2, we would joker it. The threshold for Round 5 would be 13, and of course for Round 8 there was no threshold — if we hadn’t jokered by then, we certainly would do so.

Now, for posterity and enjoyment, the questions of Geek Bowl 8. I’ll note our team’s experiences in [square brackets.] I’m also going to try something a little different this year and put the answers in a separate post, since this one gets long enough as it is.

DSC01310

Round 1: These Team Names End Tonight
Remember how I said that the GWD tone is intentionally raunchy? Well, that carries over to some of the names people give their teams, and sometimes you see these names week after week, year after year. Often, they weren’t that funny to begin with, but even the ones that are funny tend to wear out their welcome after a while. So the Geeks, to their credit, mock them mercilessly, and in this round they announced (tongue in cheek, I assume) that the team names mentioned in these questions are herewith banned forever, and anyone with one of those team names will score 0 points for this round.

1. Banned team name: My Grandma Doesn’t Wrestle, But You Should See Her Box. If your boxing grandma were 124 pounds, she would be in what boxing weight class, in between bantamweight and lightweight? [We batted this one around for a while, and then Don nailed it.]
2. Banned team name: Cunning Linguists. Noam Chomsky was a very cunning linguist, who was born in the latter part of what decade? [Jonathan had an answer for this one, but alas, it was not correct.]
3. Banned team name: My Couch Pulls Out, But I Don’t. Even if you did pull out, your method of contraception would be rated very poorly on what scale, which shares its name with a pretty mineral ball?
4. Banned team name: Kitten Mittens. In the nursery rhyme where three little kittens lose their mittens, what food is withheld from them as punishment?
5. Banned team name: Turd Ferguson. In that SNL sketch which we have apparently all seen, Turd Ferguson is the alias used by what film star, being played by what SNL cast member? BOTH answers are required.
6. Banned team name: Ramrod. In the movie Super Troopers, which half of “RamRod” was also the director: Ram or Rod? [None of use knew this movie, so it was basically a coin flip. 50/50 was good to us that time.]
7. Banned team name: Hermaphrodite Barbie Comes In Her Own Box. The more widely accepted word for someone who cannot easily be categorized as male or female is what “I” word, which has its own advocacy group, the ISNA? [I was first out with this one, but I’m sure others at the table knew it.]
8. Banned team name: Just The Tip. Now that she’s split from Al, you could play “just the tip” with Tipper Gore, but her predecessor as second lady is still married. Give that predecessor’s first name.

[We ended up with 7 correct answers in this round.]
See the answers

Round 2: Sexy Songs Of SEX
Round 2 of the Geeks Who Drink pub quiz is always a music round, and in the bar that tends to mean mp3s played over speakers. At Geek Bowl, though, it’s live music all the way. Each year in Austin, they’ve actually brought in eight different live acts, each one of which plays for about 25 seconds, then repeats that same 25 seconds. Obviously there’s no way to present that here without giving away the answers, unless the Geeks choose to put up some video. So it’s all descriptions here — our one hint was that all the songs would be about sex in some way. (Ah, Geeks.) I will note that I am just awful at identifying songs when they’re played without lyrics and in a different style. Lucky for me, Brian, Jonathan, and especially Don are awesome at it.

1. A xylophone-and-drum group called The Djembabes played “Girls” by the Beastie Boys.
2. The best group name of the night was: Cello, Is It Me You’re Looking For? That was an ensemble of six cellists, but they seem to have no web presence, so no link on their name. (Maybe a pickup group of cellists? Can that happen?) Anyway, it was six cellos playing “Push It” by Salt-n-Pepa. [Don recognized this right away, and was kind of annoyed when the cellists went on to play a much more recognizable phrase from the song.]
3. Reggae band Tribal Nation played a rastafied version of Missy Elliott’s “Get Ur Freak On.”
4. Then there were the bagpipes. A peck of pipers (and drums) called Silver Thistle played Monty Python’s loving anthem, “Sit On My Face”. [We were absolutely clueless on this one. We ended up guessing “I Want Your Sex” by George Michael.]
5. Afghani group Atash played a lovely and rather haunting bit of “Sexual Healing” by Marvin Gaye.
6. At this point, the MC introduced something called The Gams. I can’t find anything on the web about them either, but maybe that’s not too surprising. Essentially, what happened was that a guy came on stage cradling what looked like a case of soda. “Hot Legs” by Rod Stewart started to play. Then, as the vocals began, a puppet popped out of the case to sing “Who’s that knockin’ on my door?” And that was it. This was probably the lamest part of the night.
7. The next act made up for it. This was a country outfit called Horse Opera, who played a perfectly country-fried version of “Too Drunk To Fuck” by the Dead Kennedys. [Don latched onto a lyric about getting into a fight at a party and was calling the answer as “Kiss Me Deadly” by Lita Ford. However, on the second listen, it became apparent that was wrong. Suddenly Jonathan jolted to life, grabbed a piece of paper, and scribbled down TOO DRUNK TO FUCK. At which point Brian said, “Yes! Dead Kennedys!” And we were off. Awesome.]
8. The final act was The Capital City Men’s Chorus. The amusing thing about this act was that a line of men walked up on the stage, and then behind them another line of men walked up on the stage. Then, behind them, another line of men walked up on stage. And AGAIN. They just kept coming. Very funny. Then they started into their number, but flubbed the beginning. Their conductor turned to the audience, flashed an imaginary Men In Black neuralyzer and said, “That didn’t happen.” Heh. Anyway, the second time the song came off fine, or at least as well as it could considering it was “I Wanna Sex You Up” by Color Me Badd. [Don ROCKED this one. He recognized it almost immediately. From the verse, mind you.]

[We felt very good about 14 of our 16 answers this round, and since that met our previously-agreed-upon threshold, we jokered the round. That gave us 28 points, to combine with our previous 7 for a total of 35.]

Round 3: Lather and Rinse, But No Repeats
Round 3 of Geeks Who Drink is typically some kind of a gimmick round. Sometimes that means a speed round (name everything in some category in 2 minutes), sometimes it’s a “stop” round (the quizmaster reads increasingly-obvious clues to an answer until somebody in the bar shouts “stop”, and then everybody has to answer — something that obviously wouldn’t work at Geek Bowl.) Most often, though, it’s some kind of 50/50 round — true or false; real or made-up; multiple-choice with two answers; or some mix of these. Sometimes it’s even something very specific like 8 South Park questions to which the answer is either Timmy or Jimmy. Round 3 at Geek Bowl 8 followed this trend: it was a 50/50 round about hygiene.

1. In those old toothpaste ads, who fought the Cavity Creeps: Colgate or Crest?
2. True or False: The average cellphone has more germs on it than the average toilet seat.
3. Which one was a real slogan for Irish Spring soap: “Smell like you’re worth exploring” or “Get a little Irish on you”?
4. When you go take a shit during the next scoring break, which toilet should you select if you want the lowest bacteria levels on it: the one closest to the bathroom door or the one farthest from the bathroom door?
5. According to the American Congress Of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, which is better: to douche or not to douche?
6. True or False: A recent study by the FDA found that antibacterial soap gets your filthy self cleaner than regular soap.
7. Which has more blades: the manual Gilette Fusion or the Schick Quattro?
8. Who wrote an 1867 paper entitled “On The Antiseptic Principle of The Practice Of Surgery”: Oliver Wendell Holmes or Joseph Lister? [Larry knew this one before they even read the names.]

[We got #3 wrong, but all the rest of them right — a 7-point round which brought our total to 42.]
See the answers

Round 4: I Went To Geek Bowl And All I Got Was This Lousy Anal Probe
This was a round about the paranormal (titled in classic GWD fashion), and lucky for us, George has a particular interest in the topic. He was very strong in this round, though everyone contributed.

1. Before being thoroughly debunked, what spoon-bending Israeli proto-douche insisted that his abilities were a gift from extraterrestrials?
2. 108 Ocean Avenue, formerly 112 Ocean Avenue, is an infamous house in what New York town of 10,000, located on an inlet of South Oyster Bay?
3. Shadow people keeping you from moving? Don’t worry, it’s probably just this phenomenon. [This was another question where Jonathan scribbled something down, and as soon as I saw it, I knew it was correct.]
4. The Zapruder film is to the JFK assassination as the Patterson-Gimlin film is to what? [George nailed this one.]
5. Peruvians may have been communicating with aliens, or maybe they were just high, when they created what UNESCO-recognized geoglyphs? [I had never heard of these at all, but George was all over it.]
6. The Jersey Devil is a legendary creature said to stalk what area of southern New Jersey, also the name of a classic Sopranos episode?
7. The Time/Life books series Mysteries of The Unknown had this many volumes, the same as one of the best episodes of Battlestar Galactica as well as a Smashing Pumpkins song. Coincidence? We think not.
8. This volunteer, nonprofit, paranormal-investigation organization is headquartered in Cincinnati, Ohio, has Dan Aykroyd as a Hollywood consultant, and has a 5-letter acronym for its name, the middle three letters of which are “UFO”. Name it. [Hilariously, George knew about two different such organizations with “UFO” in the middle, and decided to go for the better-known one. Good decision!]

[We nailed this one. 8 points, for a new total of 50.]
See the answers

Round 5: A Pervert’s History Of The United States
Round 5 of Geeks Who Drink is always a visual round. At a bar, that means half-sheets of paper, usually with some kind of photoshopped craziness on them. At Geek Bowl, it has tended to mean images displayed on large video screens. This year, though, they upped the ante with a full-blown video. Each clue was a still picture, but the camera panned over them in a lingering fashion. This is one of the ways Geek Bowl 8 improved upon its predecessors, especially last year. Geek Bowl 7 showed pictures into which famous faces had been photoshopped, but the pictures went by super fast, and depending on where you were sitting it could be hard to see enough detail in the images to have a reasonable shot at answering the question. By slowing it down and doing documentary-style pans, they solved both these problems and made the round way more fun.

As it turned out, this year was another version of “familiar faces in an unfamiliar context,” but this time the faces were pasted into vintage porn pictures — nothing super graphic, but plenty porny. (Boy, there really was a lot of sex stuff this year.) The idea was that each picture would show a couple, but the faces of the couple would be people who were somehow linked in American history, with the picture sometimes putting a funny gloss on the relationship. Each question was worth two points — one for each face.

Oh here, let me just show you, at least until YouTube gets wind of the content and takes it down. In case you hadn’t figured this out yet, you probably shouldn’t watch this one at work:

[We got everything but #6, wrongly guessing Susan B. Anthony and Elizabeth Cady Stanton. So that was 14 points, for a total of 64.]
See the answers

Round 6: William Shakespeare, Product Support Specialist
This was my favorite round of the night. Eight different quizmasters walked onto the stage, along with one or two others whose job it was to explain the concept, which is as follows: each clue consists of support instructions for eight different modern products, but the clues are written in Elizabethan English, even iambic pentameter sometimes. In any case, the clues were very well-written and extremely clever, and each one was read by a separate quizmaster in fine Royal Shakespeare style. Sometimes the screen would show an additional hint to provide a little context, along the lines of “Name this product whose first model debuted in 2008.” Unfortunately, the style of the round makes it basically impossible to reproduce from memory. I tried scribbling down notes, but they are woefully insufficient.

However, lucky for me, when they showed the answers, they repeated a bit of the prose from each question, so I was able to snap pictures once I figured out that was the thing to do. (Cameras are allowed at Geek Bowl as long as they are not capable of receiving information.) So, because I’m unable to fully reproduce the questions, my recap of this round will display the answer along with just a snippet of the question. (I’m winging it on #1 because I only have notes.) Just take it from me that each one had quite a bit more amusing quasi-Shakespearean diction.

1. “In bouncing the coil just move thy wrist / For hours and hours of fun, what ho!” Slinky
2. “Cook the noodles, eight minutes or so / Stirring occasionally as they soft’n and swell…” Kraft Macaroni & Cheese [I recognized this one right away.]
3. “Grip thou the handle if thou wouldst transport / This technologic dream in Bondi blue…” iMac
4. “Eleven lets thee swap spots with thy foe / Unless he be inside the safety zone…” Sorry!
5. “Swipe the temple touchpad to and fro / And perhaps with thy mouth thou could go ‘whoosh’…” Google Glass
6. “Two hundred miles or farther may thou go, / Before thou must recharge the thing again…” Tesla Roadster
7. “Music, Podcasts, Photos, touch them all / Or ‘FM’ to the radio turn on…” Sony Walkman [We were tossing around things like the iPod touch or iPhone, but the screen indicated that the product’s first version was released in 1979. I thought of the Walkman as the only thing that came out in 1979 and might have the listed capabilities today. I managed to talk my team into it, too — I think this question is the contribution I’m happiest about for myself.]
8. “Should its magic work beyond four hours / Seek help, if thou wouldst not thy todger maim…” Viagra

[We got all 8 on this one, for a total of 72.]

Round 7: Even More Celebrities (We Could Get!)
In the bar version of Geeks Who Drink, round 7 tends to be a second audio round, usually of clips from movies, or tv shows, or commercials, or some such. (Though I hear that some lucky venues get video round 7s — sadly my home bar is not one of these!) In any case, the first several Geek Bowls I went to had movie clips for round 7, but last year they had a little breakthrough and managed to get 8 minor (but geekily beloved) celebrities to read questions, people like Wil Wheaton, Katee Sackhoff (from Battlestar Galactica), and Will Shortz. This year, they repeated the feat with 8 new celebs:

Just in case that video ever evaporates, here were the questions:
1. Levar Burton: In the Reading Rainbow theme song, following the words “I can” are a couple of two-word phrases. What are they? [We struggled on this one. Jonathan came up with “go twice as high”, but that’s not two two-word phrases. Still, nothing else we could come up with, so that’s what we put.]
2. Steve Inskeep: The day before Morning Edition came on the air, the Iran hostage crisis began. The hostages were held for a multiple of 111 days. How many days were they held for? [This felt like a real softball. We would have known it even without the “111 multiple” thing.]
3. Mondo Guerra: Every Project Runway designer is familiar with Tim Gunn’s famous three-word catchphrase, when he’s less than impressed with a design’s progress. Hint: it shares one word with RuPaul’s. What is it? [Brian knew that RuPaul’s catchphrase was, “You better work,” but from there we didn’t have much. I suggested “This doesn’t work,” and since nobody else had anything better, that was what we went with. Not big Project Runway watchers over here.]
4. Rich Sommer: The man who plays my boss is named Robert Morse. He first rose to fame in 1961, playing a window-washer who rises through the ranks to become a big business executive in what big Broadway musical? [Don knew this as soon as the guy said, “Robert Morse.”]
5. Jim O’Heir: Historically, the Pawnee people lived mostly along the North Platte river, in the territory that became what great plains state?
6. David Koechner: You might know me as Champ Kind from Anchorman, or Todd Packer from The Office, but I was also Uncle Earl, from what? [We were again clueless on this one. I knew he was an SNL cast member for a year, and that is the only thing any of us knew, so we put down SNL]
7. Elijah Wood: Alfred Hitchock’s North By Northwest and my early film North are both rightly hailed as classics of American cinema. How many years elapsed between the films’ release dates: 25, 35, or 45? [Larry knew exactly when North By Northwest was released, and Don knew North, so there you go.]
8. Jim Parsons: You probably remember me as a Medieval Times knight in Garden State. A few years earlier, Janeane Garofalo played a Medieval Times waitress in what film that Ben Stiller directed between Reality Bites and Zoolander?

[This was the toughest round for us. We ended up getting 5 correct, for a total score of 77.]
See the answers

Round 8: Random Knowledge
Round 8 of Geeks Who Drink is always a “random knowledge” round, and always worth 16 points. It’s a last chance to joker if a team hasn’t already, and kind of an equalizer in that it is a total potpourri. In the bar version, the points are all over the map — a question can be worth anywhere between 1 and 4 points. In Geek Bowl, it’s a little more stable: each question was worth two points.

1. Giorgio Moroder worked on the soundtracks of two different movies with “Top” in the title, one in 1986 and one in 1987. Name them both.
2. Adam is the first prophet of Islam. What two famous dudes are the last prophets of Islam?
3. Louis Sullivan was an American architect known as the “father of the skyscraper.” First, with what alliterative three-word phrase is he most closely associated? Second, what devoutly midwestern guy was Sullivan’s most famous protege?
4. What child development word comes from the Latin for “speechless”? Before babies leave the hospital, they are usually vaccinated against what form of hepatitis? [We felt good about our second answer, but struggled on the first. We put “aphasia”, since that does mean inability to speak, but had qualms about the fact that you couldn’t really call it a “child development word.”]
5. What subatomic particle was thought for a few months in 2011 to have been measured traveling faster than light? What is the name for the edge of the solar system, where the solar wind is stopped by the interstellar medium?
6. What monarch instituted the tradition of the white wedding dress by wearing a white lace dress at her 1840 wedding? What Romantic composer wrote the theme most of us know as “Here Comes The Bride”, or the “Wedding March”?
7. What old bearded man was the subject of Leonardo Da Vinci’s “Portrait Of A Man In Red Chalk”? Vincent Van Gogh’s “Man In A Red Beret” was a portrait of what other artist, who was involved in the ear-cutting incident? [Larry had a great pull on the Van Gogh question.]
8. Finally, here’s that Friends question you’ve all been wanting. Which two of the 6 central characters on Friends also worked as servers at Central Perk?

After those eight questions came probably the best innovation of Geek Bowl 8: the pre-emptive tiebreaker. In previous years, there would very frequently be a tie among some of the top-placing teams, and that was handled by giving them 5 additional questions, letting them huddle, and then breaking the tie based on who got more of them right. However, this method was logistically awkward, and involved a lot of sitting around waiting for everyone else in the audience. So this time, the Geeks asked this extremely convoluted question:

Pre-Emptive Tiebreaker: Take the number of years Facebook has been a company as of February, and add the number of years Hitler served as Fuehrer of Germany. Multiply the total by the year in which the Colosseum was built, and then subtract the resulting number from the actual population of Amityville, New York as of the 2010 census.

They simplified it a bit with this expression, projected onto the video screens:

Amityville 2010 – [(years of FB + Hitler as Fuehrer) x year of Colosseum] = ?

[We amazed me by getting 15 points in this round. The child development word was the only one we missed. So, combined with our 77 points so far, we had a final total of 92 points.]
See the answers

And there you have it, the questions of Geek Bowl VIII. Before we move on to the answers, let’s enjoy this awesome “In Memoriam” video which played at the Geek Bowl. WARNING: spoilers within for True Blood, Dexter, Downton Abbey, Sons Of Anarchy, The Walking Dead (so, so much), Game of Thrones, Homeland, Doctor Who, and especially Breaking Bad.

Geek Bowl VII question recap

I went to Austin again this year, to attend Geek Bowl VII. Bottom line: our team (Fifty Shades Of Grey Matter) didn’t win, though we did manage to land in a 4-way tie for 8th place. (Yes, 8th place rears its head in my life again.) Nevertheless, a fine showing considering that there were 144 teams playing. We’ll get back in the money one of these years!

As with last year, I had a great time in Austin. It’s a really fun place, not to mention a nice respite of warmth from the Colorado winter. We made some return visits — to Chuy’s and Waterloo Records. We hung out in a Taco Cabana where I quizzed teammates from the 70’s section of a Rolling Stone Rock Trivia book. We checked out a pre-party at Scholz Garten, before wandering out to play Buzztime Trivia at a 6th street bar while having our ears blasted off by a Gin Blossoms soundalike. We spent some time with the charming Valerie Thatcher once more, and hung with Ed Toutant for a bit. (I also got to see Rob Wheeler and Jan Fall on Sunday, which was FANTASTIC.) We even Sporcled in the lobby, as it were.

DSC00396

Sidebar: Sporcle In The Lobby was tossed around as a candidate for a future team name, and it’s got potential. But an even better one came along as we were having some pizza on 6th street and trying to recover our hearing after Buzztime. We’re standing there talking and some dude starts winging random crap at us — napkins, plates, etc. This got our attention, which was apparently his aim, and he wandered over trying to start a conversation, or a fight — hard to tell which. He’s complaining about how it’s Friday night and there’s nothing to do. (Which is weird, given that he was on a long street full of inviting doorways full of lights, music, and even more alcohol than he’d already had.) After a few minutes of this, he takes a closer look and susses out the situation, which he summed up as follows, disgustedly: “You guys are too old to be drunk!” And then he left. Too Old To Be Drunk really needs to be a team name in the future, methinks.

As for the main event itself, I thought it was the best one ever. Over the years, Geeks Who Drink have stripped away more and more of the pieces that feel amateurish or self-indulgent at the Geek Bowl, and replaced them with material that’s funny, interesting, and professional. Geek Bowl always has an opening number, and in the past this has been a little cringeworthy, but this one started with the mayor of Austin proclaiming unofficial Geeks Who Drink day, followed by a straightforward explanation of the rules, which then suddenly rickrolled into a very funny event-specific parody of “Never Gonna Give You Up.” (“You’re never gonna fuck with us / never gonna look shit up / never gonna dick around on your iPhones…”) Scoring breaks had live music and, at one point, an awesome (albeit HIGHLY SPOILERIFFIC) “In Memoriam” montage.

Then there were the questions. I thought they were clever and challenging, and lived up to the hype. As with last year, I’m presenting my reconstruction, from memory and notes, of the Geek Bowl 7 questions. I worked a deal out with the Geeks about this after my 2012 post — they’re cool with having the questions posted as long as there’s at least a week’s distance between the event and the recap. I consider it an advertisement for their quality, and a fannish tribute, but that said, please keep in mind that these questions are NOT verbatim as they were asked at Geek Bowl. It is very likely I have removed lots of clever turns of phrase and precise hinting, and possibly introduced some errors as well. Where something is crappy in them, blame me, not the Geeks.

If you need a reminder of the format and the rules, check the 2012 post. I’ll put side comments about our team’s experience in [square brackets.] And now, the questions of Geek Bowl VII…

Round 1: Get Off My Ass, a category of things you might find on your ass, either literally or figuratively.
1. In MAC cosmetics, shades of this include Lickable, Cockney, and Politely Pink. [Thanks to teammate Lori for this one.]
2. The D7, Bird of Prey, and Negh’Var are all warships belonging to what sci-fi race?
3. In 1969, The 5th Dimension hit number one for five weeks with a medley of songs from what musical?
4. This is the medical name for the condition known informally as “cottage cheese skin” or “hail damage.”
5. This Russian duo released the faux lesbian schoolgirl masturbation fantasy “All The Things She Said” in 2002. [Teammate Brian nailed this, though that may not be a point of pride.]
6. In November of last year, Starz cancelled this drama starring Kelsey Grammer and Connie Nielsen.
7. Rebus time! Take the northernmost peninsula in County Kerry, Ireland, and add the last name of the singer who hit number one with “My Ding-a-Ling” in 1972.
8. This 3-letter term is the Latin word for “with.”

[We did well this round, getting all 8 answers correct.]

Round 2 – Music round: Numbers, Lucky and Otherwise
[Round 2 is always a music round in Geeks Who Drink, and always worth 16 points, 1 point each for naming the artist and title. Austin being the “Live Music Capital Of The World”, GWD brought in 8 different artists to perform live cover versions of the songs in the round. The “numbers” theme, they made clear, meant that either the artist or the title in each answer had a number in it. They also helped by having the projection screen give a clue or two, usually the year of the song’s release. Hat tip to Ed Toutant for capturing most of the artists’ names so I can link to them.]

1. First out was an opera singer, who sounded amazing singing some a capella lyrics. “How do I say goodbye to what we had? / The good times that made us laugh / outweigh the bad. / I thought we’d get to see forever.” [Unfortunately we did not recognize them at all. We thought maybe it sounded like a Taylor Swift song, and for a second I got excited, remembering Taylor Swift has a song whose title is a number. Then the screen told us that the song was from 1991. So not Taylor Swift, then. We ended up guessing “It Takes Two” by Rob Base and DJ E-Z Rock, since that has a number and felt like it was around the right era.] Turns out it was “It’s So Hard To Say Goodbye To Yesterday”, by Boys II Men. (Get it? II?)
2. Next up was That Damned Band, an accordion-driven steampunk band playing “Rock Lobster” by the B-52s.
3. Harpist Kristen Smith playing “One” by Metallica on an electrified harp. [Which was, by the way, awesome. In fact, teammate Larry had just seen her play the previous night at a club.]
4. Surf rock band The Poi Pounders playing “1985” by Bowling For Soup, without vocals. [Brian nailed this, thankfully — it turns out I am terrible at name that tune when lyrics are removed.]
5. Beatboxer Maestro doing “Kernkraft 400” by Zombie Nation. [Ever heard of this song? I hadn’t, but it apparently gets played at lots of sporting events. In fact, most of the people on my team recognized it, though none of them knew the title or artist. According to Lori, this is the song that gets played right before Ralphie the Buffalo is released at CU football games. Teammate Dave had a vague memory of it, but the closest he could get was “Alien Nation.” We ended up guessing Alex Clare as the artist, since somebody said his music gets played at a lot of sporting events.]
6. Irish band The Tea Merchants playing “Pop Song 89” by R.E.M.
7. Americana band 2 Hoots and a Holler playing “One More Night” by Maroon 5, without vocals. [Once again, we were a little mystified, but when the screen told us it was a 2012 song, we guessed “That’s What Makes You Beautiful” by One Direction. If only we’d known about this 2012 song with a number in the title and the artist!]
8. I don’t know how to describe this band. Dixieland, maybe? There was a marching bass drum, a snare, a trombone, a trumpet, maybe some other horns. Oh, and they were all dressed as zombies. Anyway, they’re called Dead Music Capital Band, and they played “I’m Gonna Be (500 Miles)” by The Proclaimers.

[This was a disappointing round. We’re usually very strong in music, but the Boys II Men slipped through our generation gap, the Maroon 5 through our inattention gap, and we just plain didn’t know Zombie Nation. Needless to say, we didn’t joker, so we earned 10 points, for a total of 18. (If you don’t know or don’t remember, you can “joker” one round in GWD to double your points.)]

Round 3 – Multiple choice: Things You Shouldn’t Put In Your Mouth
[Round 3 in GWD is often a slightly different format — true/false, multiple choice, speed, or other variants. This one was a multiple choice round, followed by a speed round, for a total of 16 possible points.]

1. When the elusive McRib makes its appearance, does it usually show up in July or November?
2. According to BBC Food and Alton Brown, which of the following should not be included in an authentic haggis: heart, kidney, or oatmeal?
3. Which shroom will make you trip balls, Copelandia or Reishi?
4. In 1919, 21 Bostonians met their deaths in an explosion of what old-timey treat, custard or molasses?
5. The durian is the king of smelly-ass fruits. In what country is it banned from all public spaces, Jamaica or Singapore?
6. Which can you legally bring into the US: 2 dozen green and black poison dart frogs, or a cooler of African bushmeat?
7. How many of the Olive Garden’s endless breadsticks would it take to get you to your recommended daily allowance of 2,000 calories: 7, 14, or 21?
8. The slumber party game and YouTube meme “chubby bunny” involves talking with a mouth full of what: marshmallows or cotton balls?

On top of the multiple choice round, there was a speed round, in which we were given two minutes to answer the following question: The Joy Of Cooking is a cookbook first published in 1931. The meatloaf recipe in the sixth edition, published in 1975, had only eight ingredients besides the meat itself. Name them.

[We ended up doing surprisingly well in this round, but our confidence was not high. As it turned out, this was the round we should have jokered (though see the note at the bottom of round 8), but we didn’t, because it seemed far too chancy to risk it when so many of our answers were guesses. So we got 13 points, for a total of 31.]

Round 4: A Round About Surrendering
1. The Battle of Bataan ended with the largest U.S. troop surrender in history. To what nation did they surrender?
2. Earlier this year, Lance Armstrong finally gave up his fight against an agency with what 5-letter acronym?
3. [This was meant to start with a video clip, but there was a technical problem, so it didn’t.] In Searching For Bobby Fischer, Josh offers a draw to Jonathan Poe before beating him, but first he learned from a street chess hustler played by what Pee-Wee’s Playhouse alum? [This question may be pretty different from how the Geeks asked it — I was a little confused and disoriented when making the notes.]
4. The clothing line Tapout once had its own MMA reality show on what network, now known as NBC Sports Network?
5. Jack Kevorkian was present for his own death, in what state where he lived and worked? [Larry nailed this.]
6. Winston Churchill’s famous 1940 speech ending with “We shall never surrender” is often used as an opening for the song “Aces High” by what London metal band? [My mind went immediately to Motorhead, before remembering that their song is called “Ace Of Spades,” not “Aces High.” George wisely talked us out of being distracted by that, and we ended up guessing the correct answer.]
7. [The film clip was successful on this one, so it started with this, ending right after you see “Surrender Dorothy” in the sky.] The character who wrote that message in the sky was played by what actress? (And no, smartass, not her stunt double.)
8. Finally, we couldn’t do a surrendering category without mentioning France, so: the French turned Paris over to the Nazis and signed a pretty heinous surrender agreement in what year?

[We aced this round as well, for another 8 points, bringing our total to 39.]

Round 5 – Visual Round: Family Business (Give the last names of these real or fictional families.)
[Round 5 of GWD is always a visual round. At the regular pub quiz, that means a half-sheet of paper for each team with pictures of something or other to identify. At the Geek Bowl, it means pictures of something or other projected on the big screens around the venue. This time, with the family theme, what they seemingly did was to take the faces from various famous families and photoshop them onto the bodies of typical family photo shots, perhaps from Awkward Family Photos, though I’m not sure about that part.

In any case, if I have any quibble with Geek Bowl 7, it would be this round. It was a cute and clever idea, but it went wrong in a couple of ways. First, the pictures went by SUPER FAST. They ran through them twice, but still, I don’t know that any picture even showed for a total of 10 seconds. That added a major challenge on top of the already challenging aspect of extracting faces out of context, which made it basically a visual speed round — something I’m not sure the Geeks intended. Finally, we were seated in a way that made the faces mostly visible, but I’ve heard from other teams that for them the details where just too small to figure out, based on either their seats, the size of the screen near them, or both. In any case, the families were:]

1. Corleone (from The Godfather)
2. Partridge
3. Vanderbilt [We recognized Anderson Cooper right away, but because they went by so fast (and because we had others to debate), we just put down “Cooper.” If we’d had 15 or 20 seconds more with this one, I have no doubt we would have gotten to “Vanderbilt.”]
4. Tudor
5. Lannister (from A Game Of Thrones) [We were clueless here, and spent most of our time debating it. We guessed “Steele”, thinking perhaps it was Joan Crawford and her fourth husband, Alfred Steele.]
6. Addams
7. Osmond
8. Bluth (from Arrested Development)

[So 6 out of 8 on this round, for a total of 45.]

Round 6: The Fabric Of Our Lives… And Slavery
1. Cotton candy was invented by a dentist, who called it “candy floss” and debuted it at the 1904 Louisiana Purchase Exposition held in what city?
2. [This movie clip showed.] Name this actor, who played Cotton Weary in 3 Scream movies.
3. Analogy time! Cotton is to the cotton plant, as linen is to what?
4. “I wish I was in the land of cotton / Old times they are not forgotten.” What are the next two words? (And the next two words, and the next two words after that.) [Almost my entire team was all over this. Apparently they sang it in school? I was grateful, because somehow this song passed me by completely.]
5. In a game held in 1966 at the Cotton Bowl, the Cowboys hosted what Western Conference champion that went on to become NFL champion? [Hooray for Dave and Larry knowing this one.]
6. Name the New Englander who was responsible for over 400 books and pamphlets, most notably Magnalia Christi Americana.
7. [This video clip showed.] This often-misquoted speech was given by Sally Field after she won the Oscar for playing cotton farmer Edna Spalding in what 1984 movie?
8. Who invented the cotton gin? No, not really, we’re kidding. Here’s the real question: Eli Whitney was an Eli in more ways than one, having graduated from what university? [Dave even knew their fight song!]

[Another perfect round — too bad it wasn’t happening on any that we could joker! We now had a total of 53 points.]

Round 7 – Video round: Celebrities (That We Could Get!)
[Round 7 in a normal GWD quiz is generally another audio round, often of movie clips or some such. Though according to fellow Geek Bowler bobb x ha, video-capable venues have been having video rounds for a while now. Lucky! In any case, in Geek Bowl, Round 7 is generally a video round, and this time around, it was THIS. Go watch it. Seriously. It’s awesome. For posterity, in case this video ever gets taken down…]

1. Doug Stanhope: On Newsradio, Joe Rogan’s character was originally meant to be played by what comic who soon went on to headline his own successful sitcom?
2. Kara “Starbuck” Thrace, aka Katee Sackhoff: Katee played a nemesis to fellow cyborg Jamie Sommers in a 2007 reimagining of what ’70s show that was itself a spinoff?
3. Andrew WK: Andrew WK’s first album cover was censored due to a photo of fluids streaming from what body part?
4. Peter Sagal: What Chicago landmark was home to Obama’s first election party, and is now the permanent home of Lollapalooza?
5. Will Shortz: Spelling question! Founded by two guys named Richard and Max, what big publisher debuted with the first crossword puzzle book?
6. Top Chef Hosea Rosenberg: Hosea’s winning dish included what French/Cajun condiment that’s often served with French fries?
7. Dan Savage: What was the name of George Bernard Shaw’s pet Socialist organization, which came from the same Latin name as that Italian model from the romance novels?
8. Wil Wheaton: Wil Wheaton’s first feature role was providing the voice for a non-rate character in what classic Don Bluth film?

[We had great teamwork on a lot of these, tossing answers back and forth until we had one we felt good about. And we got them all! That brought us to 61 points.]

Round 8: Random Knowledge
[Round 8 of GWD is always “random knowledge”, and it really is random. In Geek Bowl, the Round 8 points tend to be more evenly distributed than in a regular quiz, and this time was no different — there were exactly two points per question.]

1. The first and last wives of Henry VIII shared a first name. Who were they?
2. What two natural seasonings are mentioned in the lyrics to Aerosmith’s “Love In An Elevator”?
3. What are the titles of the two sequels to that fine piece of literature, Fifty Shades Of Gray?
4. James Earl Jones and Madge Sinclair played a king and queen (not the same king and queen) in what 1988 and 1994 movies?
5. Give the civilian professions of these two superheroes: Daredevil and She-Hulk.
6. Name the science guys played on kids’ TV shows by Don Herbert and Paul Zaloom.
7. First, the Danish manufacturer of Lego brand toys insists on what ridiculous plural of Lego? Second, what is the name of the larger version of Lego made for younger kids?
8. Canada’s northern border touches Baffin Bay, Hudson Bay, the Arctic Ocean, and what two seas?

[We got 12 of these, and since we hadn’t jokered yet, we used it on this round. 61 + 24 = 85, which by my reckoning was our final score. Now, the official score listed at the Geek Bowl 2013 standings page gives us 84, else we would have been tied for 6th rather than 8th. Thanks to eagle-eyed Ed Toutant, I think I now know the problem: we missed the “besides the meat” part on the meatloaf question, and therefore would have lost a point for listing “meat.” Interestingly, that means that in fact round 8 and round 3 were equivalent uses of our joker. ]

Let’s take an intermission with this excellent video, which I warn you once again is spoilery. Specifically, it spoils part of the Avengers movie, and the most recent seasons of: The Walking Dead, True Blood, Game Of Thrones, Boardwalk Empire, Dexter, Sons Of Anarchy, Homeland, Downton Abbey, Breaking Bad, and Mad Men. Especially Walking Dead. Hoo boy.

And now…
THE ANSWERS

Round 1: Get Off My Ass, a category of things you might find on your ass, either literally or figuratively.
1. In MAC cosmetics, shades of this include Lickable, Cockney, and Politely Pink. Lipstick
2. The D7, Bird of Prey, and Negh’Var are all warships belonging to what sci-fi race? Klingon
3. In 1969, The 5th Dimension hit number one for five weeks with a medley of songs from what musical? Hair
4. This is the real name for the condition known informally as “cottage cheese skin” or “hail damage.” Cellulite
5. This Russian duo released the faux lesbian schoolgirl masturbation fantasy “All The Things She Said” in 2002. t.A.T.u.
6. In November of last year, Starz cancelled this drama starring Kelsey Grammer and Connie Nielsen. Boss
7. Rebus time! Take the northernmost peninsula in County Kerry, Ireland, and add the last name of the singer who hit number one with “My Ding-a-Ling” in 1972. Dingleberry
8. This 3-letter term is the Latin word for “with.” Cum

Round 2 – Music round: Numbers, Lucky and Otherwise
[Answers are in the questions.]

Round 3 – Multiple choice: Things You Shouldn’t Put In Your Mouth
1. When the elusive McRib makes its appearance, does it usually show up in July or November? [Teammate George knew this one cold. Er, warmed by heat lamps, I guess.] November
2. According to BBC Food and Alton Brown, which of the following should not be included in an authentic haggis: heart, kidney, or oatmeal? [We debated this one a lot and ended up guessing “heart.” Which was wrong.] Kidney
3. Which shroom will make you trip balls, Copelandia or Reishi? [We thought Reishi sounded slightly familiar as an ingredient in Japanese cooking, so we guessed “Copelandia.” Which was right.] Copelandia
4. In 1919, 21 Bostonians met their deaths in an explosion of what old-timey treat, custard or molasses? [George apparently saw a story about this on the History channel!] Molasses
5. The durian is the king of smelly-ass fruits. In what country is it banned from all public spaces, Jamaica or Singapore? [We theorized, correctly as it turns out, that Singapore has more weird laws.] Singapore
6. Which can you legally bring into the US: 2 dozen green and black poison dart frogs, or a cooler of African bushmeat? [We thought perhaps that safari spoils might be more tightly regulated than live animals.] The frogs (The screen showed a close-up of a poison dart frog saying, “Sleep tight, America!”)
7. How many of the Olive Garden’s endless breadsticks would it take to get you to your recommended daily allowance of 2,000 calories: 7, 14, or 21? [Lots of napkin math here — we decided that the breadsticks were more likely to be 143 calories apiece than 286.] 14
8. The slumber party game and YouTube meme “chubby bunny” involves talking with a mouth full of what: marshmallows or cotton balls? [Brian, for some reason, totally knew this.] Marshmallows

Speed Round: The Joy Of Cooking was a cookbook first published in 1931. The meatloaf recipe in the sixth edition, published in 1975, had only eight ingredients besides the meat itself. Name them.
[I think we somehow missed the “besides the meat” part, so we ended up guessing: meat, bread, onion, garlic, ketchup, worcestershire sauce, salt, and pepper.]
Breadcrumbs
Eggs
Onions
Ketchup
Parsley
Thyme
Salt
Pepper

Round 4: A Round About Surrendering
1. The Battle of Bataan ended with the largest U.S. troop surrender in history. To what nation did they surrender? Japan
2. Earlier this year, Lance Armstrong finally gave up his fight against an agency with what 5-letter acronym? USADA
3. In Searching For Bobby Fischer, Josh offers a draw to Jonathan Poe before beating him, but first he learned from a street chess hustler played by what Pee-Wee’s Playhouse alum? Laurence Fishburne
4. The clothing line Tapout once had its own MMA reality show on what network, now known as NBC Sports Network? Vs.
5. Jack Kevorkian was present for his own death, in what state where he lived and worked? Michigan
6. Winston Churchill’s famous 1940 speech ending with “We shall never surrender” is often used as an opening for the song “Aces High” by what London metal band? Iron Maiden
7. (Film clip, ending right after you see “Surrender Dorothy.”) The character who wrote that message in the sky was played by what actress? (And no, smartass, not her stunt double.) Margaret Hamilton
8. Finally, we couldn’t do a surrendering category without mentioning France, so: the French turned Paris over to the Nazis and signed a pretty heinous surrender agreement in what year? 1940

Round 5 – Visual Round: Family Business (Give the last names of these real or fictional families.)
[Answers in the questions.]

Round 6 – The Fabric Of Our Lives… And Slavery
1. Cotton candy was invented by a dentist, who called it “candy floss” and debuted it at the 1904 Louisiana Purchase Exposition held in what city? St. Louis
2. [This movie clip showed.] Name this actor, who played Cotton Weary in 3 Scream movies. Liev Schreiber
3. Analogy time! Cotton is to the cotton plant, as linen is to what? Flax
4. “I wish I was in the land of cotton / Old times they are not forgotten.” What are the next two words? (And the next two words, and the next two words after that.) Look Away
5. In a game held in 1966 at the Cotton Bowl, the Cowboys hosted what Western Conference champion that went on to become NFL champion? Green Bay Packers
6. Name the New Englander who was responsible for over 400 books and pamphlets, most notably Magnalia Christi Americana. Cotton Mather
7. [This video clip showed.] This often-misquoted speech was given by Sally Field after she won the Oscar for playing cotton farmer Edna Spalding in what 1984 movie? Places In The Heart
8. Who invented the cotton gin? No, not really, we’re kidding. Here’s the real question: Eli Whitney was an Eli in more ways than one, having graduated from what university? Yale

Round 7 – Video round: Celebrities (That We Could Get!)
[Here is the video with all the answers, and you should totally watch it. But if that ever goes away…]

1. Doug Stanhope: On Newsradio, Joe Rogan’s character was originally meant to be played by what comic who soon went on to headline his own successful sitcom? Ray Romano
2. Kara “Starbuck” Thrace, aka Katee Sackhoff: Katee played a nemesis to fellow cyborg Jamie Sommers in a 2007 reimagining of what ’70s show that was itself a spinoff? The Bionic Woman
3. Andrew WK: Andrew WK’s first album cover was censored due to a photo of fluids streaming from what body part? Nose
4. Peter Sagal: What Chicago landmark was home to Obama’s first election party, and is now the permanent home of Lollapalooza? Grant Park [Well done Larry.]
5. Will Shortz: Spelling question! Founded by two guys named Richard and Max, what big publisher debuted with the first crossword puzzle book? Simon and Schuster
6. Top Chef Hosea Rosenberg: Hosea’s winning dish included what French/Cajun condiment that’s often served with French fries? Remoulade
7. Dan Savage: What was the name of George Bernard Shaw’s pet Socialist organization, which came from the same Latin name as that Italian model from the romance novels? The Fabian Society [Dave had a great pull on that one.]
8. Wil Wheaton: Wil Wheaton’s first feature role was providing the voice for a non-rate character in what classic Don Bluth film? The Secret Of NIMH

Round 8: Random Knowledge
1. The first and last wives of Henry VIII shared a first name. Who were they? Catherine of Aragon, Catherine Parr
2. What two natural seasonings are mentioned in the lyrics to Aerosmith’s “Love In An Elevator”? Sassafrass, Honey [This was the one I was happiest about contributing to.]
3. What are the titles of the two sequels to that fine piece of literature, Fifty Shades Of Gray? Fifty Shades Darker, Fifty Shades Freed [We knew “Darker,” but not “Freed,” guessing “More” instead.]
4. James Earl Jones and Madge Sinclair played a king and queen (not the same king and queen) in what 1988 and 1994 movies? Coming To America, The Lion King
5. Give the civilian professions of these two superheroes: Daredevil and She-Hulk. Lawyer, Lawyer [George, Brian, and I are all Marvel guys, so we were all over it.]
6. Name the science guys played on kids’ TV shows by Don Herbert and Paul Zaloom. Mr. Wizard, Beakman [We knew Mr. Wizard, but Beakman slipped through our generation gap.]
7. First, the Danish manufacturer of Lego brand toys insists on what ridiculous plural of Lego? Second, what is the name of the larger version of Lego made for younger kids? “Lego Bricks”, Duplo [We got the second but not the first, as I suspect was the case for lots and lots of people.]
8. Canada’s northern border touches Baffin Bay, Hudson Bay, the Arctic Ocean, and what two seas? Beaufort, Labrador [Cheers to George for coming up with “Labrador.” We didn’t get Beaufort, though, guessing “Bering” instead.]

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Geek Bowl VI question recap

At Geek Bowl V last year, my team The Anti-Social Network ended up winning all the marbles, except the marbles were actually considerable sums of cash. Hooray! This year, the event moved from Denver to Austin, Texas, and we didn’t fare quite so well, coming in 10th out of 146 teams. Still a respectable showing! But not enough to get paid, as only the top 3 teams win money.

Nevertheless, a great time was had! I got to spend quality time with my wonderful teammates, met the delightful Valerie Thatcher, spent a great afternoon with the estimable Rob Wheeler, and got to experience the Austin 6th Street bar strip during a pretty freaky power outage. Turns out that the bar scene is really not my scene, and the bar scene when none of the bars or streetlights have electricity, and thousands of people are roaming through darkness, is really REALLY not my scene.

Of course, the reason I went there was Geek Bowl VI, which now bills itself as the biggest live trivia event in the U.S. It’s a pub quiz multiplied by 20, and every year, Geeks Who Drink does a little better job with the event. It’s never without its flaws, but it’s quite impressive to manage 150 or so teams and deliver a variety of good questions in a fun way. Not to mention the cash prizes, which make for a very cool incentive.

Here’s the format: each team has its own small table, with 6 chairs. Quizmasters read questions from the stage, and the questions are also projected onto large screens throughout the venue. Once all the questions in a round have been asked, a two minute timer starts, by the end of which you must have turned in your answer sheet to one of the roaming quizmasters. The game consists of 8 rounds, each with its own theme. Each round contains 8 questions — usually, each question is worth one point, so there’s a maximum possible score of 8 points for each round. However, some rounds offer extra points — for instance, Round 2 is traditionally a music round, with 8 songs played, and one point each awarded for naming the title and artist of the song. In a regular GWD pub quiz, it’s only Round 2 and Round 8 (always the “Random Knowledge” round) that offer 16 possible points. However, in this year’s Geek Bowl, two other rounds were upgraded from 8 potential points to 16. Finally, teams can choose one round to “joker”, meaning that it earns double points for that round.

For posterity and enjoyment, here are the questions from Geek Bowl VI. Note that I’m reconstructing these from memory and notes, so they may be missing any clever turns of phrase that they might have had originally, and any inaccuracies that result from my paraphrasing are solely my fault. I’ll put any commentary about our team’s experience in [square brackets].

At the request of Geeks Who Drink, I had taken these down. Then, in a pleasing and surprising turn of events, we had a good conversation over email in which they decided that having the questions posted might be okay after all, as long as they were posted at least a week past the date of the event. So, I’m pleased to say, the questions have returned to this entry! Thanks, Geeks!

Round 1: Austin-tatious, a round about Austins and flamboyance
1. What is the name of Stone Cold Steve Austin’s trademark finishing move? [We were clueless on this one, guessing “cold cock.” Nope!]
2. What fancy-ass palace was built by Louis XIV of France on the site of his dad’s hunting lodge? [Teammates Dave and Lori had actually visited there, so they had this one well in hand.]
3. Who wrote the theme to Austin Powers, 30 years before the movie came out?
4. Ryan Good rocked the Twitter-verse by announcing that he was resigning as what musical artist’s “swagger coach”?
5. Jane Austen wrote two novels with one-word titles. For one point, name them both.
6. How many yards is an NFL team penalized for excessive celebration after a touchdown?
7. Spelling counts for this question: What is the first name of President Obama’s former economic advisor Mr. Goolsbee? [Again, clueless. We guessed “Osten.” Not even close! Well, except for the fact that we knew it was some variant of “Austin.”]
8. Tawûsê Melek is a peacock angel in the Yazidi religion of what ethnic group of Russia and northern Iraq?
[Our score for this round: 6]

Round 2: Music
[The usual GWD music round has some theme or other. They play 8 mp3 excerpts, and teams must name the title & artist of each song. Geek Bowl is usually a little grander — for instance, last year they brought in a mariachi band to cover 8 different songs. This year, they took advantage of Austin’s self-billed status as the “live music capital of the world” by bringing in eight different musical artists, one for each question.]
1. An 80’s hair-metal band covered “Teenage Dream” by Katy Perry. [Our team is fortunate to have Brian Ibbott, creator and host of the very entertaining Coverville podcast. Brian nailed this one right away.]
2. A Cuban band covering “Careless Whisper” by Wham!. Or Wham! featuring George Michael if you want to get technical.
3. A rockabilly band covering “I Got Stripes” by Johnny Cash. [We knew it was Johnny Cash, but couldn’t identify the song.]
4. An air guitarist and air drummer “covering” “Hot For Teacher” by Van Halen.
5. A classical string quartet covering “Everlong” by the Foo Fighters.
6. A local theater group doing an a capella version of “The Money Song” from Avenue Q. [For this one we named the musical instead of the artist, which was no problem. However, we were unable to come up with the title “The Money Song”, instead taking a shot with the unwieldy “When You Help Others (You Can’t Help Helping Yourself).”]
7. A brass group covering “Crazy Train” by Ozzy Osbourne.
8. A glee club from the University of Texas doing a vocal version of the beat from “Kill You” by Eminem. [We were nowhere close to this, guessing “Cuban Pete” by Desi Arnaz. Hey, it never hurts to guess.]
[Our score for this round: 12, giving us a total of 18.]

Round 3: A 50/50 round about sex
[Round 3 is often some version of 50/50 chance questions like true/false or multiple choice with only 2 choices.]
1. On the Kinsey scale, would Waylan Smithers be closer to a 0 or a 6? [We guessed in the wrong direction on this one. We didn’t know the scale, and I thought it might have had a slight anti-gay bias by putting homosexuality closer to 0 than 6. Nope!]
2. Who first coined the phrase “vaginal orgasm”, Sigmund Freud or Margaret Mead?
3. Who did Frank Sinatra bone first, Ava Gardner or Mia Farrow?
4. Who released the song “Let’s Talk About Sex”, TLC or Salt-n-Pepa?
5. If you were tying up your partner for some traditional Japanese bondage, what sort of rope would you use: jute or sisal? [Another one with no clue, but here we guessed right. Teammate George literally wrote the two answers down on two scraps of paper, held one in each hand, and had Lori pick a hand.]
6. If you’re a dacryphiliac, which one are you turned on by: yelling or sobbing? [Guessed wrong here, though. We reasoned that “lacrym-” has to do with tears, therefore “dacrym-” must be something else. Nope!]
7. In the 17th-century Japanese woodcut by Hokusai called “The Dream Of The Fisherman’s Wife”, is she getting it on with the crew of a fishing-boat or with octopi?
8. What was the power source of the first known vibrator: wind-up or steam-powered?
[This round had a bonus 9th question, a speed round worth 8 points in itself, making the round worth a total of 16.]
9. In three minutes, name the eight characters besides Carrie Bradshaw who have appeared in more than 20 episodes of Sex And The City. First names are sufficient. [We got 5 of these: Miranda, Charlotte, Samantha, Big, and Steve. That we even got that many was thanks to Brian.]
[Our score for this round: 11, bringing our total to 29.]

Round 4: High-culture/low-culture Before And After
[This round used the old “Before and After” format seen on Wheel Of Fortune and Jeopardy! to lock together two different answers, one to a high culture question and one to a low culture question. For instance “A William Shakespeare and George Romero production about cross-dressing zombies” might be “Twelfth Night of The Living Dead.”]
1. A philosophical principle for selecting the simplest answer as the correct one chooses a 90’s wheeled kid’s toy.
2. A 2100-year-old armless statue of a hottie goes on an adventure with a pug puppy and his kitten pal.
3. The English monarch who went on the Third Crusade helps Debbie Harry with her fragile cardiac organ.
4. A teaching strategy devised by Plato’s mentor educates a founding member of the Wu-Tang Clan.
5. An ancient Greek’s machine for moving water somehow helps Samus Aran destroy enemies. [Brian’s video game knowledge came through on that second part.]
6. Dickens’ only novel featuring a female narrator depicts what Kid ‘n Play get up to when their parents aren’t around.
7. An award-winning play about Sir Thomas More introduces some new biker characters from a drama series on the FX channel.
8. Two Brazilian ladies eat poo from a dome-like architectural structure atop a larger dome.
[Finally a perfect round score! Our 8 on this round gave us a total of 37.]

Round 5: Hips and Hops
[Round 5 of GWD is always a visual round. In the regular pub version, this consists of a half-sheet of paper with 8 pictures on it. At Geek Bowl, it was 8 images projected onto the screen, with questions alongside. Not having the images to hand, I rely on my rather lamer powers of description.]
1. Image: a picture from Dr. Seuss. Question: What Dr. Seuss book is this image taken from? [Answer: Hop On Pop]
2. Image: An assassin in a black hat and cowl. Question: In what movie did Doc Hopper hire this assassin to eradicate a certain amphibian? [Answer: The Muppet Movie. That’s your basic wheelhouse question for me.]
3. Image: 3 different pictures of hips, decorated variously. Question: To what performer do all these hips belong? [Answer: Shakira]
4. Image: The painting “Night Hawks” by Edward Hopper. Question: What is the name of this famous painting by Edward Hopper?
5. Image: A vaguely C-shaped organ. Question: This was ripped straight out of somebody’s head. What in the hell is it? [Answer: Hippocampus. George caught onto this answer very quickly.]
6. Image: Some hops. You know, the plant. Question: What variety of hops are these? Hint — they happen to be named after a city in Texas. [Answer: Amarillo hops. Somehow my unconscious brain knew this. I do not know how.]
7. Image: Close-up on a male statue’s groin. Question: These famous hips belong to what statue? [Answer: Michelangelo’s David]
8. Image: An African-American guy from the 1980s. Question: This man is sometimes called the Grandfather of Hip-Hop. Name him. [Answer: Afrika Bambaataa. Major kudos to teammate Larry on this one. Half the team was leaning towards “Grandmaster Flash” for this answer, but Larry insisted that the man pictured was tougher-looking than any picture he’s ever seen of Grandmaster Flash. He was arguing for Afrika Bambaataa, and since he’s our team’s closest equivalent to a hip-hop expert, we went with it. Glad we did!]
[Another perfect round! 37 + 8 = 45.]

Round 6: No Straight White Males Were Harmed In the Making of This Round
1. The National Women’s Hall Of Fame is located in what central New York town, which was also the site of the 1848 Women’s Rights Convention? [Great pull by Lori on this one.]
2. What model of Pontiac did Oprah give away to every member of her audience in 2004? [Hilariously, a variation on this very same question came up in the trivia game some of us had played the night before. How I love quiz synchronicity.]
3. Manon Rhéaume, the first female goalie to play in the NHL, was signed to what expansion team in 1992? [Larry and Dave puzzled this one out nicely.]
4. Future coin star Sacajawea was a member of what Native American tribe? [I knew this thanks to Dante’s recent coin-obsession.]
5. On October 1, 1989, Axel and Eigil Axgil entered into the world’s first legal civil union for a gay couple, in what Scandinavian country? [Toss-up between two countries on this one, and we guessed wrong, with Sweden.]
6. Reggie and Cheryl Miller are basketball-playing siblings who played for what two rival universities?
7. In her book Pornography: Men Possessing Women, what feminist argued that pornography incites men to rape? [This one KILLED me. 18 years ago, when I was steeped in academia, I’d have had it cold. In 2012, however, I just could not retrieve it, and nobody else had even heard of it.]
8. Fill in this 4-word quote from Spike Lee’s Do The Right Thing: “I’m just a struggling black man trying to __________ in a cruel and harsh world.” [I have seen that movie at least 3 times, though none recently. I think all of us around the table had seen it. Yet none of us could recall it at this level of detail.]
[This was a bit of a struggle. 5 points scored, bringing our total to 50.]

Round 7: A Movie Round About Pizza!
[In regular GWD, Round 7 is a second audio round. It’s often movie clips, but can be a wide variety of other things, like clips from NPR interviews or 1980s commercials. In Geek Bowl, though, Round 7 seems to have solidified as a movie round, with onscreen movie clips. The twist this time was that 16 points were available. Each clip contained a 1-point question and a 2-point question. You had to answer one or the other — answering both would net an automatic 0 points.]
1. Video: Party aftermath scene from Sixteen Candles, with a pizza on the turntable. 1-point question: Name the movie. 2-point question: Where does Jake find The Geek? [We answered the 2-pointer]
2. Video: This. 1-point question: Name the movie. 2-point question: What movie did the director make immediately after this one? [We answered the 1-pointer.]
3. Video: This, stopping at about 0:26. 1-point question: Name the movie. 2-point question: Name the producer, a famous b-movie maker who helped launch the careers of Jack Nicholson, William Shatner, and Robert De Niro, among others. [We answered the 2-pointer.]
4. Video: This, stopping at about 0:32. 1-point question: Name the movie. 2-point question: How does Pizza The Hutt die? [We answered the 1-pointer.]
5. Video: This, stopping at about 0:22. And, obviously, sans the top and bottom text. 1-point question: Name the movie. 2-point question: What is the name of the fat kid who burns the vampire with garlic pizza? [We answered the 1-pointer. Great job George even identifying that much.]
6. Video: This, stopping at about 0:22. 1-point question: What is Wayne’s last name? 2-point question: What Pepsi slogan does Wayne recite at the end of this scene? [We answered the 1-pointer.]
7. Video: Navin and Marie eating “Cup-O-Pizza” in his trailer. 1-point question: Name the movie. 2-point question: Give the last name of the director, which he shares with his son, director of “The Princess Bride.” [Kind of a heavy-handed hint there, dontcha think Geeks? We answered the 2-pointer, grimacing at how easy it was compared to the other 2-pointers.]
8. Video: This. 1-point question: Name the movie. 2-point question: In what New York City borough does this scene take place? [We answered the 2-pointer — way to go Lori.]
[Good but not great on the movie round. We scored 12 points, for a total of 62.]

Round 8: Random Knowledge
[Round 8 of GWD is always a hodgepodge, and always worth 16 points. Usually, the point distribtion is random too, with some questions worth 1 point and some worth as many as 4. However, in the Geek Bowl, each question was worth 2 points.]
1. Exact answers and first names required. For 1 point each: Name the author of The Princess Bride and the author of Lord Of The Flies. [Abbott and Costello-esque confusion ensues as members of our team try to tell each other the answers.]
2. In 2003, Peyton Manning and Steve McNair shared the NFL MVP award. The last time that happened was 1997. For 1 point each, name the two players who shared the award that year. [We got one right, but guessed wrong with Troy Aikman on the other.]
3. Unlike headhunting, head-shrinking has only been found on one continent. For one point, name the continent. For another point: the process uses herbs containing what organic compounds, also found in red wine and tea? [We got the compound but missed the continent, guessing Africa.]
4. For one point each: in the acronym HDMI, what do the M and the I stand for? [Got the I but not the M, guessing “Multiple.”]
5. Famous Browns. For one point, who preceded Gordon Brown as prime minister of England? For another point: The landmark Supreme Court Case Brown vs. Board Of Education overturned what controversial 1896 decision?
6. Three installments of the Final Fantasy series were released for the Playstation: VII, VIII, and IX. Each of these games has a central protagonist. For one point each, name any two of them. [Thank goodness for Brian pulling out one of these. We guessed wrong on the other, with Sephiroth, who was actually the antagonist in Final Fantasy VII.]
7. Scientists with effects named after them. Question 1: The effect that causes water to swirl counter-clockwise in the Northern Hemisphere and clockwise in the Southern Hemisphere is named after what scientist? Question 2: Christian Doppler, discoverer of the Doppler effect, was born in what Austrian city, also the birthplace of Mozart?
8. After Hungarian-British conductor Georg Solti, who has won more Grammy awards than anybody else with 31, the 2nd and 3rd place record for most Grammys are held by a 78-year-old producer and a 40-year-old bluegrass singer and fiddler. For one point each, name them. [We guessed wrong on the producer, saying Clive Davis.]
[11 points scored this round. We hadn’t used our joker yet, so we used it here, doubling our points to 22 and bringing our final total to 84.]

And now…
THE ANSWERS

1. What is the name of Stone Cold Steve Austin’s trademark finishing move? The Stone Cold Stunner
2. What fancy-ass palace was built by Louis XIV of France on the site of his dad’s hunting lodge? Versailles
3. Who wrote the theme to Austin Powers, 30 years before the movie came out? Quincy Jones
4. Ryan Good rocked the Twitter-verse by announcing that he was resigning as what musical artist’s “swagger coach”? Justin Bieber
5. Jane Austen wrote two novels with one-word titles. For one point, name them both. Emma and Persuasion
6. How many yards is an NFL team penalized for excessive celebration after a touchdown? 15
7. Spelling counts for this question: What is the first name of President Obama’s former economic advisor Mr. Goolsbee? Austan
8. Tawûsê Melek is a peacock angel in the Yazidi religion of what ethnic group of Russia and northern Iraq? The Kurds

Round 2: Music
[Answers are in the questions.]

Round 3: A 50/50 round about sex
1. On the Kinsey scale, would Waylan Smithers be closer to a 0 or a 6? 6 (exclusively homosexual)
2. Who first coined the phrase “vaginal orgasm”, Sigmund Freud or Margaret Mead? Sigmund Freud
3. Who did Frank Sinatra bone first, Ava Gardner or Mia Farrow? Ava Gardner
4. Who released the song “Let’s Talk About Sex”, TLC or Salt-n-Pepa? Salt-n-Pepa
5. If you were tying up your partner for some traditional Japanese bondage, what sort of rope would you use: jute or sisal? Jute
6. If you’re a dacryphiliac, which one are you turned on by: yelling or sobbing? Sobbing
7. In the 17th-century Japanese woodcut by Hokusai called “The Dream Of The Fisherman’s Wife”, is she getting it on with the crew of a fishing-boat or with octopi? Octopi
8. What was the power source of the first known vibrator: wind-up or steam-powered? Wind-up
9. In three minutes, name the eight characters besides Carrie Bradshaw who have appeared in more than 20 episodes of Sex And The City. First names are sufficient. Samantha Jones, Charlotte York, Miranda Hobbs, Mr. Big, Steve Brady, Stanford Blatch, Trey McDougal, Aidan Shaw

Round 4: High-culture/low-culture Before And After
1. A philosophical principle for selecting the simplest answer as the correct one chooses a 90’s wheeled kid’s toy. Occam’s Razor Scooter
2. A 2100-year-old armless statue of a hottie goes on an adventure with a pug puppy and his kitten pal. Venus de Milo and Otis
3. The English monarch who went on the Third Crusade helps Debbie Harry with her fragile cardiac organ. Richard The Lionheart Of Glass
4. A teaching strategy devised by Plato’s mentor educates a founding member of the Wu-Tang Clan. Socratic Method Man
5. An ancient Greek’s machine for moving water somehow helps Samus Aran destroy enemies. Archimedes’ Screw Attack
6. Dickens’ only novel featuring a female narrator depicts what Kid ‘n Play get up to when their parents aren’t around. Bleak House Party
7. An award-winning play about Sir Thomas More introduces some new biker characters from a drama series on the FX channel. A Man For All Seasons Of Anarchy
8. Two Brazilian ladies eat poo from a dome-like architectural structure atop a larger dome. 2 Girls 1 Cupola

Round 5: Hips and Hops
[Answers in the questions.]

Round 6: No Straight White Males Were Harmed In the Making of This Round
1. The National Women’s Hall Of Fame is located in what central New York town, which was also the site of the 1848 Women’s Rights Convention? Seneca Falls, New York
2. What model of Pontiac did Oprah give away to every member of her audience in 2004? The Pontiac G6
3. Manon Rhéaume, the first female goalie to play in the NHL, was signed to what expansion team in 1992? The Tampa Bay Lightning
4. Future coin star Sacajawea was a member of what Native American tribe? Shoshone
5. On October 1, 1989, Axel and Eigil Axgil entered into the world’s first legal civil union for a gay couple, in what Scandinavian country? Denmark
6. Reggie and Cheryl Miller are basketball-playing siblings who played for what two rival universities? USC and UCLA
7. In her book Pornography: Men Possessing Women, what feminist argued that pornography incites men to rape? Andrea Dworkin
8. Fill in this 4-word quote from Spike Lee’s Do The Right Thing: “I’m just a struggling black man trying to __________ in a cruel and harsh world.” “keep his dick hard”

Round 7: A Movie Round About Pizza!
1. Video: Party aftermath scene from Sixteen Candles, with a pizza on the turntable. 1-point question: Name the movie. 2-point question: Where does Jake find The Geek? [We answered the 2-pointer] Movie: Sixteen Candles, of course. Jake finds The Geek under the coffee table.
2. Video: This. 1-point question: Name the movie. 2-point question: What movie did the director make immediately after this one? Movie: Goodfellas. Scorsese directed Cape Fear immediately afterwards.
3. Video: This, stopping at about 0:26. 1-point question: Name the movie. 2-point question: Name the producer, a famous b-movie maker who helped launch the careers of Jack Nicholson, William Shatner, and Robert De Niro, among others. Movie: Rock And Roll High School, directed by Roger Corman.
4. Video: This, stopping at about 0:32. 1-point question: Name the movie. 2-point question: How does Pizza The Hutt die? Movie: Spaceballs. Pizza The Hutt dies by eating himself.
5. Video: This, stopping at about 0:22. And, obviously, sans the top and bottom text. 1-point question: Name the movie. 2-point question: What is the name of the fat kid who burns the vampire with garlic pizza? Movie: The Monster Squad. Character’s name is Horace.
6. Video: This, stopping at about 0:22. 1-point question: What is Wayne’s last name? 2-point question: What Pepsi slogan does Wayne recite at the end of this scene? Wayne’s last name is Campbell, and at the end of the scene, he says, “Pepsi: The Choice Of A New Generation.”
7. Video: Navin and Marie eating “Cup-O-Pizza” in his trailer. 1-point question: Name the movie. 2-point question: Give the last name of the director, which he shares with his son, director of “The Princess Bride.” Movie: The Jerk. Director’s last name: Reiner.
8. Video: This. 1-point question: Name the movie. 2-point question: In what New York City borough does this scene take place? Movie: Saturday Night Fever, which takes place in Brooklyn.

Round 8: Random Knowledge
1. Exact answers and first names required. For 1 point each: Name the author of The Princess Bride and the author of Lord Of The Flies. William Goldman wrote The Princess Bride, and William Golding wrote Lord Of The Flies.
2. In 2003, Peyton Manning and Steve McNair shared the NFL MVP award. The last time that happened was 1997. For 1 point each, name the two players who shared the award that year. Brett Favre and Barry Sanders.
3. Unlike headhunting, head-shrinking has only been found on one continent. For one point, name the continent. For another point: the process uses herbs containing what organic compounds, also found in red wine and tea? Continent: South America. Compounds: Tannins
4. For one point each: in the acronym HDMI, what do the M and the I stand for? “Multimedia Interface”
5. Famous Browns. For one point, who preceded Gordon Brown as prime minister of England? For another point: The landmark Supreme Court Case Brown vs. Board Of Education overturned what controversial 1896 decision? Tony Blair preceded Gordon Brown, and Brown vs. Board of Education overturned Plessy vs. Ferguson.
6. Three installments of the Final Fantasy series were released for the Playstation: VII, VIII, and IX. Each of these games has a central protagonist. For one point each, name any two of them. Cloud, [which was the one we got] Squall, and Zidane.
7. Scientists with effects named after them. Question 1: The effect that causes water to swirl counter-clockwise in the Northern Hemisphere and clockwise in the Southern Hemisphere is named after what scientist? Coriolis Question 2: Christian Doppler, discoverer of the Doppler effect, was born in what Austrian city, also the birthplace of Mozart? Salzburg
8. After Hungarian-British conductor Georg Solti, who has won more Grammy awards than anybody else with 31, the 2nd and 3rd place record for most Grammys are held by a 78-year-old producer and a 40-year-old bluegrass singer and fiddler. For one point each, name them. The producer was Quincy Jones. [Yes, again, dammit. George was arguing for Quincy Jones, but we couldn’t believe he’d be an answer twice in the same game. Those tricky Geeks! This answer even had a parenthetical comment: “(That’s right, two Quincy Jones questions!)”] The fiddler is Alison Krauss

Thanks for a great time, Geeks. Hope I can afford to make it there next year if it’s held out of town again.