On Friday night, I went to a banquet, and a Trivia Bowl broke out. At least it felt that way. Somewhere in between the speeches, the shout-outs, and the auctions, your humble Los Angeles Metblogs team (mislabled as the “MetLA Bloggers”) represented the blogosphere and the new media in Trivia Bowl XIV, against such old media stalwarts as the Los Angeles Times, local television stations KNBC and KCBS, and food donaters Wahoo’s Fish Tacos and Dot’s Cupcakes.
Local television affiliate KABC7 hosted Trivia Bowl XIV under the bright lights at its large studios in Glendale, just over the border from Burbank. I don’t want to knock KABC and its staff, because they were obviously very generous in donating their facilities and their time, but the cheese oozing from the speaker’s podium rivaled the amount that I could stuff into my complimentary Wahoo’s fish tacos.
Speaking of old media, the teams competing in Trivia Bowl XIV (which is sponsored and organized by the Asian American Journalists Association) were composed primarily of print journalists, television journalists, and lawyers. The L.A. Metblogs team (which included myself, our local captain LucindaMichele, authors Will.I.Am, Frazgo, Ruth 666, Markland, Mack Reed, and a couple of our readers) had several disadvantages. First, we only had nine members while most other teams had 12. Second, we didn’t field “specialists” in various categories (sports, science, international news, etc.) the way that the news organizations did. Third, no one on our team had participated in a Trivia Bowl before.
The Trivia Bowl consisted of five rounds (Current Events, History & Geography, Arts & Entertainment, Science & Literature, and Sports & “California Living”) of twenty questions each. The questions were read in rapid succession, and then each team had two minutes to write down and submit their answers. Many of the questions (name the Cyclone that hit India, name the four lead actresses in “The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants” movies, name the type of fish that was thought to be extinct but was recently found, name the Jonas Brothers) were so unsuited to our team that all we could do was laugh. Nevertheless, each member of our team contributed a couple of really obscure answers that no one else knew, which often saved us. Despite our disadvantages, your L.A. Metbloggers came in a respectable 16th place out of 25 teams.
More importantly, what we lacked in specialized knowledge, we made up for in shits and giggles. There was much by which to be amused: the parade of speakers, the corny jokes, the auctioning of useless items to a crowd that really wasn’t there to buy stuff (although Ruth 666 managed to wheedle a Phyllis Diller painting from a lawyer who had already won the item), the prizes, which could have come from a David Mamet play (first prize, the “Rice Cup,” last place prize, box of Ramen noodles), and the level of geekdom displayed by the top teams. I felt like I was at a D-list awards show. Toward the end, we were cheering for answers that we didn’t know, and encouraging the leading teams to drink more beer.
When the event was over, I lobbied one official to include a category about the Internet and blogging in next year’s Trivia Bowl. I explained that we have come a long way from print newspapapers and broadcast television, and that the Internet and blogs have a huge impact on our lives and our culture. I guess I was pushing a bit hard, because he said “I get it.”