The insane thing is, I wasn't planning to play for it.
This got me gently razzed last night, when I went to the bi-weekly Geek Trivia Night at :Vendetta Bar in North Portland. I've gone about four times before this: just watched the first time, played a few times on teams, and guess what? I hadn't done that well. For that and other reasons I don't feel like unpacking, I decided I'd rather play last night on a team, which could win us prizes but wouldn't win that night's big prize: tickets to the con, the biggest comics and other geek media event on the West Coast, airfare and hotel included, thanks to Things From Another World. But I wanted to be around that geek energy, no question, so after an afternoon of wandering Portland I made my way by bus and foot over to the bar.
Cort Webber and Bobby "Fatboy" Roberts were there to MC, and Cort was the first to get on my case when I said Well, I'm not gonna play on my own. "Oh, come on!" was the gist of his commentary. But you probably know I'm perverse and unexpected, and I told myself I would stick to that.
I also assumed that the friends I was sitting with were forming a team.
But when it came time to get the play sheets, instead of one set for the table there were four sets for the four people at the table. Kind of a tacit Come on. Try it. Can't hurt, right? I signed my forms and got ready.
Three rounds. Twenty questions each. Cort and Fatboy had sweated over the questions to be sure they couldn't be nitpicked or have more than one possible answer, so there could be no disputes. They had warned us for weeks that they would be hard questions, and covering LOTS of subjects. (Which didn't keep someone from screaming when there was a sports question. "SPORTS?!" one guy said. "Sports geeks are geeks!" Bobby countered. And one beautiful thing was, I'm not the biggest sports geek and I GOT THAT ANSWER RIGHT.) "You're going to have to be a Swiss-Army Geek to get these," Bobby had said more than once. And, again, I hadn't been a Swiss Army Geek at the other contests, except for obscure answers here and there. (Two weeks ago it was Blipverts!)
Geek-friendly music played before and between rounds. There was an unexpected, and good, mashup of Nirvana's "Smells Like Teen Spirit" and Lady Gaga's "Poker Face"; there was also Weird Al Yankovic's "Ode to a Superhero" and "The Saga Begins" (his Spider-Man and Phantom Menace tributes), Jonathon Coulton's "Re: Your Brains," sound clips from Mortal Kombat and Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan ("Khan -- I'm laughing at the 'superior intellect'"), and more.
Some samples of what we needed to know: the highest-grossing video game, the FULL list of Big Mac ingredients in the 1970s McDonalds jingle, when the Oregon Museum of Science and Industry opened here in Portland, which actor named John was NOT A Klingon (John Laroquette, John Spencer, John Colicos or John Tesh (yes, JOHN TESH WAS A KLINGON)), the second video MTV ever aired, the speed of light, the name of the hero in Dragon's Lair, the number of seconds (not hours or minutes) Hudson predicts the Marines will survive in Aliens, the full name of the character who gets screamed about at the end of the Japanese anime Akira, whether Robert Downey, Jr. and John Cusack have ever acted in a film together, the inventors of VHS, how long the Lost survivors are on the island before Locke enters the hatch, the Atlanta street where the Cartoon Network's Adult Swim offices are (I cracked, "Does Tyler Perry have a street named for him yet?"), Ralph Macchio's age when he shot the original Karate Kid, how long an AU is... ALL OVER THE PLACE, these topics are. No one was going to get all of them or even most of them.
I thought my highlight of the night was when I got 12 out of 20 correct in Round 1, because I won a gift certificate to TFAW. Seriously, I was happy with that. (Plus I like the place.)
No, the real highlight happened at the end. Even though my score went down in Round 2 and only went up slightly from that in Round 3, the only people doing better than me were on teams. WHO WEREN'T ELIGIBLE FOR THE BIG PRIZE. And, um, I'm still wrapping my brain around winning that big prize.
Another insanity? I did wonder during the contest what would happen if I won the big prize. I'm not going to go all false-modest on you. I didn't think I had a chance, I didn't count on having a chance, I tried not to be too invested in whether I won or not, but still I knew: going to San Diego Comic Con would be sweet.
Now I can amend that to: Going to San Diego Comic Con will be sweet. (I've said before that it would be an overwhelming experience, since I felt the smaller Emerald City Comic Con was closer to a more comfortable size and Stumptown Comics here in Portland is an even better size, but now I'll see if I can actually deal with the size of San Diego Comic Con. Likely I'll manage. Heh.)
At the bar I got big congrats from lots of people -- many handshakes and hugs -- and I laughed a lot, laughing a bark-laugh when it would hit me again what I'd won. I was slack-jawed quite often as I talked to the TFAW people. (At least I wasn't slack-jawed when Aaron "Geek in the City" Duran snapped my picture. Well, slightly slack-jawed.) There's been plenty of spontaneous giggling since then, such as when I headed home (on foot and then by cab).
San Diego, here I come. More details to follow.