At moments during the final Geek Trivia, held as it has been since 2011 in the McMenamin's Kennedy School theater and originally held at North Portland's Vendetta bar, I didn't even try to articulate why I have been so fond of this event and why so many people have been so committed to it. I just made a high-pitched joy noise instead. I'd think back to some question, some dispute, some joke, some Flawless Victory, and just squeal. Relatively quietly squeal, you understand, but still, a squeal.
This event has been a big part of my and many another Portlander's geek life since it started in 2009. And it ended on the terms of Andrew McIntire, the person at Things From Another World who inaugurated it, and Cort Webber and Bobby Roberts, who about a year into the event became the sole hosts and question writers. An event that started December 2009 happened every other Tuesday (with only occasional preemptions due to holidays) for five years. It outgrew the original bar and quickly filled a 200-plus-seat theater, so with player rotation there have been thousands and thousands of players. (Heck, last night there was at least one player who'd never played Geek Trivia before.)
My team had drama at the start. I've most often played on a team spearheaded by my friend Riona, one of the PDX Browncoats, who'd show up early and find a spot at the front and just to the right of the main aisle. She arrived early still this last time, to find a friend of hers had claimed that spot for his own team. Don't ask me how, but while that friend of hers didn't move, another friend of hers (Andy) somehow finagled a table, couch and seats practically next to where we usually sat at. Almost flawless victory!
I ate. I shared tater tots, as I sometimes have at Geek Trivia and other Cort-and-Bobby events like the Midnight Movies (2006-2012, may it rest in peace). I visited so many people (including Ryan Reid, my teammate back in one especially insane Geek Trivia event and now a chiropractor in Medford -- yes, he drove four hours to be there last night!), and almost never bumped into anyone in the very, very crowded theater. Lots of returning players and teams, as so many of my fellow Portland geeks didn't want to miss one last shot at fabulous TFAW prizes. Which included the famous Soap Box, made by good guy Jaime Kirk (a.k.a. Master Dingo of PDX Yar, the pirate cosplay/education group) for Bobby to stand on whenever we had Mob Rule.
Mob Rule explained quickly: if a team wanted to argue that its slightly incorrect answer was correct enough, Bobby would get up on the Soap Box and ask if the players would accept or decline that answer. Last night included a first for me and maybe a first for the entire event: one Mob Rule question got NO YELLS OF "YES." We were strict.
My team didn't win any prizes, but as I've won multiple times (and have won one of the biggest prizes Geek Trivia ever offered), I was OK with that. And we did respectably, especially in the second round: 52 out of 61 possible points. The two teams that tied for first in the second round? THEY GOT 60 OUT OF 61. Props to them like whoa. Luckily, Round 2 required a tiebreaker, which meant one last game of Mortal Kombat played by one member each from those two teams. Round 1 had not required a tiebreaker, and I'll be honest, many of us were a little disappointed by that.
The language of Geek Trivia helped make it special: Bobby and Cort worked hard to write their questions stylishly. Example: Bobby Roberts has long been fond of questions that could be summed up "name the film based on my describing its characters with the names of OTHER characters they've played." To give an easy example I thought of, the original Star Wars features the Joker and Jack Ryan rescuing Jake Blues' gun-toting ex-partner from King Mufasa. Or as Bobby said last night, "The Mist is a movie where sensitive artist The Punisher gets trapped in a Thriftway with Andrea from The Walking Dead, where, with the help of Truman Capote, he fights off a mild insect infestation that breaks out thanks to The Starkiller goofing off at work." That much writing could go into just the set-up for a question. Our hosts took Geek Trivia seriously, and that was a pleasure to hear.
The questions last night were often fiendishly specific: the address of Bert and Ernie's apartment building, or the exact placement of colors on the original Rubik's Cube. (I got up at that question, threw my remaining $2 in cash into Cort and Bobby's tip jar, and told them "You are bastards for that question and I want to support that.") Star Wars acronyms, Star Trek movie villains, the late great Raul Julia's 1990s acting work, heroines from Miyazaki animated films, words you can spell with the Periodic Table of Elements, even the color of ramen packages were among what we needed to know. The game had over 100 possible points across the two rounds, thanks to questions with multiple points and potential bonus points (and, more than once, questions with "bonus bonus points" that you could only earn if you got both the main question AND the bonus question correct).
It wasn't the very last question, but I appreciated that one question required matching up final words to the characters who said them and the films where the characters said them. Why not finality? Like "Clever girl," for instance, which Muldoon said in Jurassic Park before a raptor chomped him, or "You always were an asshole, Gorman," said by Vasquez before she and Gorman blew themselves up to stop an alien in Aliens. This list included a certain character's last line in The Iron Giant; you might be able to guess it, but I won't quote it here. I'll just say that Jesse Graff, the former local Mr. Spock for Atomic Arts' Trek in the Park, yelled "Goddamn it, you're going to make me cry!" Yes, a lot of us are very fond of The Iron Giant, and Cort and Bobby knew how to use that.
For a note of finality. Finality for this one thing, one big thing yes but one thing. We've done other neat things; we can create more neat things. Geek Trivia might loom large over Portland's pub-trivia scene: Bobby hopes that Geek Trivia players will use their skills at the many other trivia events, and really USE those skills. Let's impress people and win stuff!
Questions were asked and answered. Off-color jokes were made (porn!). Songs were sung, like several of us post-game singing the opening of Dirty Dancing's "I've Had the Time of My Life" to the hosts. Screams were screamed, because while playing we got all worked up. (I've personally had to be careful about how spun up I get at trivia events, especially this one. It's one of the relatively few places where my need To Be Right can get obnoxious. We all like to be right, and sometimes I'd slip into being an asshole
I hope they and all Tuesday night's contestants slept the sleep of the zombies after that. They've earned that, too.