As the sun set over the Front Range, hundreds of geeks from across the country descended on Denver for the fifth annual Geek Bowl, the first to be staged at the enormous and historic Fillmore Auditorium. Among the 750 players on hand, those who had come out to previous Geek Bowls were astonished at the size of our newest venue.
But first-time players were no exception. This first team I chatted with was my Albuquerque team, Who Needs KY When You Have Tears? who made their first GB trip despite only discovering quiz five months ago. They were psyched, and pregamed it with some good ol' drinking and playing of Catchphrase. While they were pretty sure that wasn't going to help them, they remained hopeful and dedicated. How dedicated? Seven-people-in-one-hotel-room dedicated.
Of course, while Albuquerque brought the most teams outside of Colorado, Texas wasn't too far behind. I spoke with Beans & Golden Cornbread, hailing from Red's Porch in Austin, who all agreed that it felt pretty damn good to represent Texas. "We hope to perform respectfully to our beloved state of Texas and try not to vomit," they said. Whether from drinking to excess or nerves, I think that was a feeling shared by many that night.
Before I got a chance to bother any more out-of-towners, the lights dimmed and it was time to begin. As in the past, Geek Bowl was opened in epic style and flair, led by Quizmaster Aaron Retka. While it could be described, it was best seen and heard, so please sit back and watch the video of our eight-minute opening extravaganza:
And after all that preparation, before you could say “fuck Philadelphia” (again), Austin quizmasters Evelyn Hurley and Brad Temple kicked off the first round: “On the Street Where We Quiz: a Colfax round on Cold Facts.” While most quizzes begin with laughter and talking, this one began with cold, sober silence. There's no place for crackin' wise, this is Geek Bowl. Even the spelling question, which would normally elicit jeers and boos, met nary a complaint. These geeks needed a bit more drink in 'em.
Mariachi America De Jesus Diaz provided the music for Round 2, provoking confused stares that all seemed to shout, "How the hell will this work?" It worked well, as los mariachis’ arrangements started easy and progressively moved to the difficult. By song four, applause for the performance between songs was all but gone. People were far too busy discussing and writing down answers. Of course it was number six, Beat It by Michael Jackson that brought the room to a deafening quiet. It turns out that Mr. Jackson was not something that mariachis are keen on adapting. Let's just say that artist interpretation went a long way with that one, leaving no one in the room with a correct answer. Still, before the round was even repeated, dozens got up to get beer, food, and ultimately lock themselves out of being able to change any answers. They were all either very confident or very clueless.
By the time they got back to their seats, Seattle QM Jon Pio and Tucson’s Joe Montoya led us in our True/False Round On True and False. With dubious statements like “‘Falsk’ is the Danish word for ‘false’” and “True Blood takes its name from a Faulkner novel,” this round drew the most second guesses and “are you sure?” looks. I witnessed some players go into a trance-like state that I'll refer to as "the zone," where their eyes shut, they sit back stoically, and dipped into their long lost memories of listening to Spandau Ballet and watching John Madden pitch hardware. It was a sight to see and sadly, I don't think this technique helped most people.
Round Four was read by Salt Lake’s Nick Johnson and Jesse Brake, and concerned Pop, Culture. I took the opportunity to track down the lone team to make it out from Salt Lake, SLUTS and Co, a collection of the best SLC had to offer. "Jesse is a giant piece of shit," I heard from one of their players. I still don't know if he was joking or not.
As the mariachis reclaimed the stage for our first intermission, I found another lone team, Seattle's Village Idiots. Proudly representing Buckley's In Belltown, I found out that their home bar actually paid their entrance fees and gave them all personalized T-shirts, something no other team could claim. Much like all else in the Fillmore, they said it would be awesome to bring home the win, but they were there to have fun. As to their thoughts on the quiz so far? "That was a doozy."
Sitting not too far from them were two teams from San Marcos, Texas. They didn't know each other, but both the Doomicorns and Paul Allen's Card hailed from the same bar, The Taproom, and they weren’t rooting for each other. Doomicorns' perseverance and determination to win was cemented when half the team got violently ill on the 18-hour drive, but their competitors were just as determined, downing dozens of caffeine pills and proudly proclaiming that this quiz was not the hardest they've played before.
Before the scores came up, I had to find the most-hated team of all, Philly Ray Cyrus. Featuring Johnny Goodtimes, familiar to all with his diss-filled rap against every city represented at Geek Bowl, they admitted at the halfway point that they were a little nervous. Naturally, after weeks of buildup, I was a bit taken aback from their candidness on their performance. Still, they were proud of their reputation, and despite still being hurt from last year's loss were still happy that they proved themselves superior to almost all of the Geeks. Oh, and on that fuck-filled opening number: ”It was very well done and what we've come to expect from Dicker and Co. It really proves how much they deeply respect us.” Pfft, as if.
After some anxious reciting of answers and standings, it was time for the visual round: Ship Happens. Eric Cartman serenaded the crowd with his Styx cover while images of famous ships both real and fictional sailed across the screen. That is until for ship seven the scene panned skyward towards space to reveal Firefly's Serenity and Star Wars' Slave I. Needless to say, for all the nerds in the crowd, this was an epic moment to behold.
Colorado Springs’ own Aaron Retka and Derek Knight presented Round Six, on Feminism and Meatballs. Teams of all males - sausage teams, if you will - stared at each other with a toddler’s “uh-oh” look. More than ever, the room remained eerily silent. Standing on the balcony overlooking the crowd, I briefly entertained the notion of dropping my pen to if the whole auditorium could hear it land. Is that how the expression goes?
Denver QM Nathan Lund and Austin’s Ozzy Zion took the stage next to introduce our video round on Slapstick, bantering on which state was better. Dare I say, the hatred for the Lone Star State may have outweighed the hate for those Philadelphia bastards. As for the round itself, any respectable nerds in the room were easily able to identify the funnier moments from UHF and Monty Python's The Meaning of Life, but when it came down to movies like Love and Death and Borat, it was quite a different reaction.
Comedian and Geek Bowl personality Adam Cayton-Holland took stage for the next intermission, finding a crowd that was not in the mood for jokes. "Surly, surly nerds," he lamented. At this point in the night, the geeks didn't want to be entertained, they wanted to be quizzed.
During this break I had a chance to talk with last year’s winners, who now went by the name The Unholy Voltron. Already certain they made poor use of their Joker ("We pulled an Elway."), they felt confident they were still doing all right, and regardless of the outcome they were still having fun. I wanted to chat with them further, but we got interrupted as Geeks Who Drink’s chief editor, Christopher Short, took the mic. It seems that several people had complained about a question from Round One. After checking for the umpteenth time, he found that every single complainer had heard the question wrong, and in a game where every point counted, their dreams of getting just one more were squashed. “Fuck you, and have a good night,” indeed.
Amid the dulcet strains of the Golden Girls theme, it was soon revealed that a relatively unknown team held first place, with the Unholy Voltrons and some Albuquerque folks right behind. However, most people were looking at Philadelphia in fourth, fearing that Round Eight would strengthen their position.
Quizmasters Paul Nagy and Dave DeNovellis read our Random Knowledge round. Again, the silence took hold of the Fillmore during questions on world geography, Toy Story, novels, battles and beer. Some smiled, some hung their heads whilst tugging their hair, and all kept wondering what the outcome would be.
And just as soon as it began, the round ended, the sheets were turned in, and people began scanning the crowd for signs of confidence.
During the final intermission, the Quizmaster Talentless Show fared about as well as Adam Cayton-Holland’s set from earler. Despite some excellent work by Nathan Lund, Ukulele Loki, Andrew Fabry, Derek Knight and Johnny Goodtimes, the routines were no match for the roar of the unruly crowd, demanding to know where they stood in the pantheon of geek gods.
Then, finally, as the sounds of a Lady Gaga and Journey mashup filled the auditorium, the air filled with a thickness as teams stared at the rankings scrolling down the big screen. When the scroll of teams stopped at number four, telling 121 teams it wasn’t their night, Philly Ray Cyrus jumped and danced. They had made it to the top three, and even if they didn't get first, they showed everyone in the room their power.
According to ancient tradition, Quizmaster-in-Chief John Dicker and Operations Manager Matt Angell took stage to award prizes for the tied fourth-place teams. Chuck-E-Cheese tokens, band-aids, and alcohol were amongst the prizes meant to aid the bruised and battered winners, who lost it all when it was just within an arm’s reach away. Then, John and Matt announced the winners. Philly Ray Cyrus, hated enemy of the crowd and possibly the country, took third place. It was a respectable win, but most were relieved that it wasn't any higher.
Second place went last year's winner The Unholy Voltron, from Denver's Irish Snug.
And the winner of Geek Bowl V was The Anti-Social Network, from The Glenn in North Denver. To find out more about these supreme winners of geek, be sure to read Jesse Brake's interview!
Geek Bowl is a big event, and it's put on with the hard work and dedication by many. While the number of scorers, proctors, volunteers, and staff go into the dozens and all should be named, here are a few that really put everything together: John Dicker, Matt Angell and Sabra Anckner were responsible for making it all a reality. Kent Wilhelmi, Sean McNeil, and Drew Hutchison made all the sounds, scores, and videos run. Senior Fuckmaster Aaron Retka composed the opening number, and Christopher Short shaped the questions you liked and loathed. A huge thanks goes to Brooke Marcellino, whose photos you see adorning this blog. Be sure to visit her and thank her at http://www.claraimages.com/ Again, there were many more people than these responsible, so if you see anyone who worked Geek Bowl, give that person a high five and a drink; they've earned it. Of course, I can't go thanking people without you. You're the reason Geek Bowl is awesome, fantastic, and all those other adjectives for greatness in the thesaurus. We had 129 teams at Geek Bowl V. Geek Bowl is a competition for sure, but it's a love letter to you, our players. Thank you. I personally want to thank John Dicker and Matt Angell for once again providing me an opportunity to record and create the permanent record of our Geek Bowl. It's an honor and responsibility that gives me great pride, along with some great panic attacks and ulcers. Thanks are also due to Christopher Short for helping edit this blog. I'll end this Geek Bowl with a look at some raw numbers, sure to please all of our dedicated and loving nerds.
GEEK BOWL BY THE NUMBERS:
53 teams (318 people) purchased tickets in the first minute
Last years ticket sales (74 teams) topped in under 3 minutes
Roughly 100 staff and volunteers
129 Teams hailing from 6 different states
Denver's Irish Snug had the most teams represented with 5
~900 total participants
Thanks to Drew Hutchinson for the graph!
Geek Bowl V Final Scores
The Anti-Social Network 78 The Unholy Voltron 73 Philly Ray Cyrus 69 The Droids You're Looking For 68 No Insulin On The Table! 68 Team Drunky Punch 65 Beans & Golden Cornbread 64 David vs. Super-Goliath 64 Ewok Reach Around 64 The John Tesh Experience 63 Franklin Pierce 63 Powderkeg Jesus 63 Demented and Sad But Social 62 The Picadilly Twitz 62 Coffee Cake & Xanax 61 Heebeegeebees 61 gentlemen beekeepers 61 Hands Off Our Penises 60 Carpe Scrotum 60 Lick My Love Pump 60 J. Thurston Rockefeller Meowington IV 60 Team Laser Explosion 59 Mr. Wong's Bush Removal and Manscaping Service 59 Wolfman Has Nards 59 Serious Pursuit 59 Golden Girls Gone Wild 58 The Monkees 58 Battlestar Prophylactica 58 Village Idiots 58 The Drunk Dialers 58 The Velcro Jess Foundation 58 DU-h 57 Bingo The Wonder Pony 57 Unrestricted Submarine Warfare 57 Meow! I'm Moist 56 WTFWJD 56 Big Beat Manifesto 56 The Strangers 56 Ronwell Dodge 55 Senor Moosenuckle 55 Stimulus Package 55 Blow It Up Across Town 55 Not Bad for a Bunch of Morons 55 Baked Mac & Cheese 55 A Brain, An Athlete, A Basket Case, A Princess, A Criminal, and Jim 54 3+1=5 54 Longmont Six Pack 54 Master of Muppets 54 We Are Team Serious 54 The Honey Badgers 54 The Hooded Ones 54 Tejon Street Hamburger Never Sleeps 53 Quiz Quiztofferson 53 The Human Quizipede 53 Triple Nerd Score 53 I was saying Boo-Urns 53 Delusions of Mediocrity 52 Sic Transit Gloria 52 Busey 52 Nerdy Sanchez 52 Diamonds in the Muff 52 Geek Tragedy 52 Mind Melt 51 Alderaan Insurance Co. 51 Thespians Not Lesbians 51 Voltron Jesus 51 Plate of Shrimp 50 Talk Nerdy To Me 50 Just Past the Final Frontier 50 Just The Tip 50 The Hot Carls 50 Bastard Children of the World - Unite and Take Over! 50 Mustachio 49 Nerd Force 20/20 49 More Retarded Things Have Come Out of Sara Palin's Mouth Than Her Vagina 49 Wolfman: the More Dangerous Game 49 Bigger Than Jesus - Better Than Ezra 49 Heap o' FIBONACCI 48 Team Cootercat 47 Humorous Social Commentary 47 Duke City Death Panels: Buy One Get One Free! 47 black sheep united 47 The Unfriended 46 Kitten Frenzy 46 Leeroy Jenkins! 46 The Codpieces 46 Boner Gemz 46 Vally of the Unicorns 46 One Little One Little One Little Indian 46 ugh we just geeked on your face 46 Poop Benedict the Turd 45 \/ Dumbshits----Need to Get Laid /\ 45 Large Marge Sent Me 45 If you're not part of the solution you're part of the precipitate 45 Carl Sagen's Turtleneck 45 Paul Allen's Card 44 The Dukes of Valmont 44 Four out of 6 Teacher can't be wrong 44 Chris Hansen is a Cockblock 43 Who Needs KY When You Have Tears? 43 Dazed But NOT Confused 43 Nobody Puts Donkey In The Corner 43 SLUTS and Co 43 We Thought This Was A NAMBLA Convention 42 Encyclopedia Browneye 42 Bridge and Tunnel 42 $2 To See ME Touch it 41 We'd Like To Go To The Pie Pod 41 Killer Tofu 40 Don't Hate me because I'm a blowhole hate me because I'm a sweater vest 40 Who Moved My Vagina? 38 U Got Served 3.0 38 Prison Ho's 38 Rogue Satellites 38 Shake the Lettuce 37 Big Grimace and the Fry Girls 36 Beef Tits 35 Schrodinger's Cat 34 That One Quiz Master is an Easy Lay 33 Hot Fuck Action to the Max 32 The Doomicorns 31 Off the Wagon 30 The Angel On My Shoulder Just Pooped On Me 29 I Gotta take a wicked yes 28 Get them to the Geek 27
Interview by Boba Fatt
Gaze upon the glory of The Anti-Social Network.
In terms of hype, they were a dark horse; completely unknown, a team whose combined age is around the amount of Spartans that were at that one gay parade that got out of hand. Before I ran into the members of The Anti-Social Network post-Geek Bowl V, there were rumors flying around that ranged from the believable (they were professors at Colorado University), the absurd (they were an all-star team of various quizmaster's relatives), and finally to the bitter (the team was a plant to ensure Philly didn't win). OK, so I made that last one up.
But seriously, fuck Philadelphia.
Moving on, Lori Bailey of TASN was kind enough to return my emails for an interview shortly after Geek Bowl. Now, the Geek empire can finally learn the sordid truth behind the members of this year's championship team...
Boba Fatt: Everyone wants to know more about The Anti-Social Network, mostly because in comparison to Unholy Voltron and Philly Ray Cyrus, your team didn't have any sort of hype behind it. Did you guys follow any of the coverage leading up to Geek Bowl V? Blogs, public radio, newspaper article, viral videos, etc.
Lori Bailey: Some of us went online and read the blogs, but until we win it's just not our style to join in the pre-Bowl hype. We were pleased to see an article in our local papers, though. Unfortunately the person that was interviewed for the Boulder CO article did not show up to Geek Bowl!
Was this person a team member of yours?
No but a long time trivia buddy. He planned to field the Nostradumbass team.
Let's go ahead and introduce the readers to the rest of The Anti-Social Network before we go on. Can you tell me who your team members are and maybe a brief description/talents/strengths?
Yes but it won't be brief. I'm on the staff of CU-Boulder and I've been playing in trivia competitions since high school (30+ years). I know a little about random things - I was the one who knew that 603 area code was New Hampshire. Otherwise I'm really good at hanging out with smart people like...
...David Bailey (my husband, attorney and most experienced trivia player on the team, or in other words, the oldest)...
...Larry Ferguson, sports expert extraordinaire but very good at music and random knowledge...
...George Doro, who has seen every movie and remembers just about every minute of them...
...Brian Ibbott, who hosts the website Coverville.com so has a broad music knowledge...
...and Paul O'Brian, who does IT at CU-Boulder by day and knows so much about so much I can't even fathom...
Are you all friends or was this a recruited super group?
We've known each other many years and have played as a team in various incarnations before. David has known Larry longer than he's known me. George and Brian are uncle and nephew. Paul can loosely be described as the "new guy". There used to be a huge event at CU called the Trivia Bowl which took place every April between 1968 and 1993, and again for a few years starting in 2000. It involved 64 teams and was played College-Bowl style with buzzers (like TRASH these days). We all met during those years.
Have you won any past competitions before? Is this the most you've ever won?
This might be the biggest team prize. Four of us got 3rd place at Geek Bowl I. A couple of us have been on game shows. Larry was on "Stump the Schwab" and I've been on a few shows.
Our editor Christopher Short's Jeopardy debut is April 1st. What shows have you been on?
I'm definitely going to watch J! on the 1st. I was on J! in 1988 but didn't win $$ - came in 2nd and in those days you only got cash for 1st. I won more $ on Who Wants to be a Millioniare in 2000-2001 and won a couple of regional tournaments that led to some special shows on TVLand and GSN. Going way back to CU Trivia Bowl, David's team won during the 60s, Larry''s team won during the 70s, and my team won during the 80s. But we just got t-shirts (not complaining - it was a big deal back then!)
Did Regis try to mack on you?
I can tell you some stories...but I'll save that for another time :-)
Tease! In all seriousness, you and David have been married since 1986 (at which time I was 10 months old). How did you meet? Whirlwind romance?
No whirlwind. He was a moderator at the Trivia Bowl and I was playing on a team. However he barely acknowledged my existence until my team finally won. That took about 3 years. I'm sure that quizmasters nowadays are not so clique'ish!
Sorry about the delay, I had to recover from that laughing fit. I understand you're fluent in English, Français, Russian, and Spanish. Hobby?
I always considered trivia my hobby. I studied foreign languages because I was good at it. It did help me get a job with the Olympics once. If you want to consider an all-non-English GWD tournament, I'm there! If you want to have the rest of the interview in French, je veux bien!
Sure but mon Français est terrible. Et mes lecteurs pensent probablement que nous parlons la merde au sujet de eux.
Et pourquoi pas, c'est la verite'! Very cool that you found the c with the sedilla. I'm not competent enough to find the accents.
Any exciting plans for the prize money?
We were going to take a trip to Europe for our 25th anniversary, but now David tells me we got something in the mail from the IRS...something about 2008 taxes...aw hell Paris here we come! But I don't really know what the rest of the team is planning for their share. We certainly do appreciate it. As my previous long-winded stories have shown, it's not about the money!
Walk me through Geek Bowl. Any questions that stuck with you afterward, either because of difficulty or fun?
I think there is a consensus that Round 2 was a hoot. The mariachi band was genius and the best entertainment of the night (next to certain quizmaster talents). The fact that Brian nailed "Perhaps Perhaps Perhaps" by Doris Day impressed the hell out of the rest of our team - he is the youngest! Another highlight was round 7 - Brian and George cleaned up on those (One Crazy Summer!???). We remember some of those tricky true/false - my teammates were ready to say TRUE on the John Madden question until I said NO, it wasn't Tru Value it was ACE. Our most memorable pull-it-out guess was the Battle of the Bulge. Paul and George did really well on the literature. Then there were the pure guesses that were so totally wrong. Really it was all fun!
Any pre-quiz rituals? Food, studying, anything?
We tried to watch our DVR'ed Who Wants to be a Millionaire (the Meredith Vieira version). Food is a must for any pre-game! That evening we got together at Steuben's for the pre-game dinner - love that place! Try the egg cream next time you're there.
Any post Geek Bowl plans while waiting for next year's title defense?
We'll be going back to our "host" pub, the Glenn, next week, then check out some other GWD places, plan that Europe trip (seriously!) and of course scout out new game shows to conquer (and maybe win money...but didn't I say it's not about the money?). Denver metro geeks should check out the new Louisville venue! And although Nostradumbass was a no-show, my friend who bought the tickets for the team, Paul Bailey (no relation) who was interviewed for the newspaper is planning the Trivia Championships of North America (TCONA - you can find it on Facebook) for July in Las Vegas. I believe that GWD has been invited to participate.
Any chance you'd go to some of the other venues for Geeks Who Drink around the area, like a Championship Tour...bring the trophy along and gloat?
Ooh good idea. Were there any SLC teams at Geek Bowl?
Yes, Slutco was half SLC, half Denver. We had another as well whose name is escaping me but I mostly want to rep Slutco since they are my regulars.
Cool. Well we actually won't gloat too much at other Denver metro venues, mostly 'cause we could easily get our asses kicked around the block, both figuratively in competition and otherwise...however if we can get a sponsor we'd love to take a victory tour to SLC, Philly, Austin, Seattle, etc. Some of us will be making regular road trips to SLC now that CU and Utah are in the same football conference.
If you guys could somehow get to my venue while you're visiting for a football game, I'd have to offer incentive to beat you. Like a bounty or something. Or if you win, you just burn the gift certificate in front of my regulars and snort the ashes out of spite.
We will definitely get to your venue the next time we are in SLC. If all six of us can't be there, getting beat by the locals will be distinctly in the realm of probabilities.
I always ask this when I interview one of our own, tell me: Are you guys more geek or more drink?
Geek - drink was in a former life.
Any advice for our quizzers/quizmasters out there?
The quizmaster's scoring decision is FINAL!
I officially love you for that.
Seriously thanks for all your hard work week after week and especially at Geek Bowl! You're making a lot of geeks happy out there. Thanks to Round 2 and mariachis.
As always, we're nothing without you just saying no to shitty DJ trivia, so thanks to you as well. Now that the interview is over...tell me these 'stories'...
Sorry it's getting towards my bedtime. Later.
So there you have it. The Anti-Social Network are not a group of cyborg assassins sent from a future where Philadelphians have enslaved quizkind nor are they a fluke. Lori and her team embody the type of success, camaraderie and "for the love of the game" attitude that I see every night at one of my quizzes.
This is what I love about Geeks Who Drink. This is why I arrange my career around hosting the quiz. When I've been asked why I would pay out of pocket to go to Denver from my home state and work "for free" at Geek Bowl, I'm almost insulted. I hope that if you don't know what I'm talking about, some day you will. Now if you'll excuse me, that guy from Adaptation has to shoot me in the face.
Till then quizzers- Boba Fatt