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The thrills of trivia night


I tagged along to trivia night recently as hosted by a community of grad students. The theme was the Oscars; consequently, many of the questions asked were about movies — more specifically, movies that had been nominated for (mostly) Best Picture and one for Visual Effects. 

It was a hilarious and entertaining set of questions, not the least driven by how tenuously questions could be related to Oscar-nominated movies. Some were rather direct — there was a question about which movie’s silhouette was shown on screen (it was Olaf in 2013, so “Frozen”), and there was one that asked about which two high-scoring football teams were not in the Power Five conference. The answers are Notre Dame and Yale. Who knew Yale was good at football? And where is Notre Dame anyway?

The last question was greeted with hollers and cheers by sports fans. My team had the vaguest idea of what the Power Five was.  

One of my favorite portions of the night was the eating round. Each team was handed nine samples of baby food, the kind fed to babies just moving from formula, and asked about the flavors of each and every one of them. Strawberry and banana tasted like a smoothie from Jamba Juice. Sweet corn and green beans resembled peas blended with pears. Macaroni and cheese blended with vegetables tasted like the mixture of apple and butternut squash. One of my teammates described them as a bit like the eternal sweet potato surprise at Ricker, but with squash instead, since many of the baby foods had butternut squash or apple to buoy the taste or texture. The baby food was very popular among the teams; I saw someone down cups of it after the tasting had finished. If the food was spruced up in little glass cups, I doubt anyone would question the odd combinations thrown into a blender and pureed into a paste. By the end, I was seriously considering just eating the pureed prunes, even if it was marketed as natural constipation relief. 

This is also when I realized that Family Feud’s America uses language that is still pretty much in use today. Considering that the questions used were sourced from a show that started in 1976, and respondents are polled through random calls using landlines, either the questions are timeless or language just hasn’t changed as much as I thought. Slang remained mostly the same (people still say “off the cuff” and “off the wall”) and we remained, invested as ever, into the results of whether or not we won or lost. 

Trivia is great fun. It is frequently hilarious, punctuated with odd rivalries and mostly full of wacky questions and equally wacky answers. 

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