Public knowledge

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Pub Trivia NightIn the basement of Ida Noyes, bartenders at the U of C Pub poured pitchers of PBR and Carlsberg as University students, alumni, staff, and their friends prepped for one of their favorite forms of intellectual combat: Pub Trivia Tuesday.

A trivia neophyte, I spent the evening as a guest member of team Null Set, also known as the Six Sigma Deviants, n Angry Men, and Edmund Mozzarella Fitzgerald (depending on what suits the team's fancy on any given week). They’re a longtime Pub Trivia force composed of Dean Armstrong, Carolyn Jannace, Dan Lascar, Benjamin Recchie (all AB’03), and Peggy Wilkins, AB’92. Facing approximately 12 other teams with spirited monikers like Guido and the Hugo Chávez Reelection Committee, we were ready for battle.

When Johanna and Jeff Jay, AM’98, covered Pub Trivia basics back in 2004 for UChiBLOGo, they noted a “reservoir of knowledge” necessary for success. This week, drawing on their own data pool, Null Set aced questions about science (what does the acronym LASER stand for?) (Light Amplification by the Stimulated Emission of Radiation); the classics (whose death does Achilles avenge by killing Hector of Troy?) (Patroclus); and pop culture (in Battlestar Galactica, what sport does Sam play before the attack on the Twelve Colonies?) (Pyramid). A few of the more challenging questions (e.g., Dhaka is the capital of what country?) sparked debate: “I got it—Dhaka is the capital of Bangladesh.” “Are you sure?” “Can you name the capital of Bangladesh?” “No.” “Then write that down.” Others—like name one of Abraham’s eight children besides Isaac and Ishmael (Zimran, Jokshan, Medan, Midian, Ishbak, and Shuah, all with third wife Keturah)—left us and everyone else stumped.

As the organizers tabulated final scores, the Jerry Sadock Experience surged from behind to seize the top spot. Null Set spent the evening flip-flopping between second and third place but somehow finished a disappointing fifth. Perhaps the burden of my dead weight was too much for the team to bear, though I did know that the Jeffersons “moved on up” to Manhattan from Queens. No matter—the contestants will be back next week, hungrier than ever for a win.

Katherine Muhlenkamp

After announcing the final standings, the Pub Trivia organizers kick back and discuss.

February 20, 2009