Contact:  Rick Peterson, Manager of News Services, 920/832-6590
For Immediate Release                                 
January 21, 2000  

Lawrence University Trivia Contest Shines Spotlight on the Obscure,
Insignificant 

  
     APPLETON, WIS. -- Regis Philbin won't be there and no one will walk
away with so much as a buck, much less a million of them, no matter how
many questions they answer.  But when it comes to games where ordinary
people are supposed to know significant amounts of insignificant things,
television's "Who Wants to Be a Millionaire" is merely the featured
flavor of the month.  Lawrence University's Midwest Trivia Contest is
the true, time-tested champion 
     Starting Friday, Jan. 28 at 10 p.m. and running until midnight
Sunday, Jan. 30 -- that's right, 50 straight hours -- Lawrence hosts its
35th annual tribute to the obscure and inconsequential.   
     The country's oldest ongoing salute to matters of minutia, the
contest features questions that are as charmingly off-beat as they are
difficult. On-campus and off-campus teams, with names ranging from
wonderfully creative to those that tickle the boundaries of good taste,
vie for meaningless prizes by phoning in answers to questions with
varying point values.  The entire contest is broadcast on WLFM, 91.1 FM,
Lawrence's student-run campus radio station.
     John Brogan is typical of the hundreds of trivia fans from far and
near who ritually set aside the last weekend of January for the contest.
He'll be one of five team members making a pilgrimage from Iowa next
weekend to his parents' empty home in Kaukauna, which will serve as team
headquarters for the weekend.
             Joining him are friends from his Appleton East High School days
who will return to their hometown from Seattle, San Francisco, Chicago,
Minneapolis and Madison. 
     "My parents always take a vacation at the end of January and
they're kind enough to let us use their house while they're gone," said
Brogan, whose team played under the name Laughing All the Way to the
Bank of Kaukauna last year.  
     While Brogan and his friends first dabbled in the trivia contest as
sophomores in high school in the early 1990s -- answering one question
the whole contest -- they dove in head first three years as a full team
and won the off-campus title in their debut.  They successfully defended
their title in 1998, but settled for second place last year, edged out
for the title by Triviagra. 
     "We're out for blood this year," warned Brogan, a computer
consultant at the University of Iowa.  "We definitely want our title
back."
     To that end, Brogan said eight phone lines have been installed in
his parents' house, four for calling in answers and four for computer
hook-ups to search the Web.
     "In order to be competitive, you have to take it to the next
level," he said.
     What magnetism does the Lawrence Midwest Trivia Contest possess
that it draws people from as far as Seattle and San Francisco to
Appleton for a weekend in the dead of winter.  For Brogan and his
teammates, it's simply the thrill of the hunt.
     "What unites us is we're incredibly competitive.  Now that I'm out
in the  work force, this is my one outlet a year to be pig-headedly
competitive.  What better way to spend a weekend than hanging out with
good friends and playing a game.  It's really just a lot of fun."
     Since its inception in 1966, fun has always been what the trivia
contest is about.  What started as an alternative for students who
didn't participate in the Lawrence's annual academic retreat to discuss
esoteric issues of the day, the contest has evolved into a mecca for
otherwise normal and sane folks who take temporary leave of reality to
spend a weekend in a short-lived fit of obsession with the obscure.
     Matt Pickett, a senior from Oregon, Wis., and one of this year's
"trivia masters" asking the questions, said a few rule changes related
to team names will make for a faster-paced contest this year, allowing
more questions to be asked.  The contest typically goes through some 350
questions, which are collected by the trivia masters during the course
of the previous year.
     The final hour of the contest is devoted to extra difficult 100
point "garruda" questions.  By tradition, the contest's last question --
the virtually unanswerable Super Garruda -- becomes the first question
asked the following year.  The answer to the Super Garruda is widely
circulated, however, assuring most teams an easy 100 points right from
the start. 
     Through the years, the lengths some teams have gone to answer
questions has become legendary, all in the hopes of winning the top
prizes of things as valuable as a package of chicken Ramen noodles or a
squirrel pelt.
     Registration and a primer on the contest rules begins at 7 p.m.
Jan. 28.  At 10 p.m., the contest opens with this question:  In a room
of the Escuela de Musica Popular de Avellaneda in Avellaneda, Buenos
Aires, Argentina, Rodolfo Mederos, bandoneon player and composer, holds
a weekly rehearsal for the tango orchestra he directs.  On the wall
there is a piece of paper with the lyrics to a song.  What is the song
title and who composed the song?  
     If "El Poeta" by Atahualpa Yupanqui is your final answer, you win
100 points.


Current Press release page