TEXTures: words create surfaces
KaleidoQuiz: masochistic pursuit of trivia

This weekend I participated in a battle of epic proportions, KURE's annual behemoth of a trivia contest, KaleidoQuiz. Competition in the 26-hour marathon -- which is a huge undertaking both for the teams involved and the folks at the station running the thing -- was intense and laden with drama. During the competition, I kept something of a journal of highlights, lowlights and just lights, some of which I'll share here.

Notable happenings include:

1. When less than an hour into the show, the DJ played a tune off of Curve's new album, "Come Clean." This was cool because Curve is one of those relatively obscure bands that I like, and I didn't know they had released a new disc.

2. When it was revealed that cornflakes were invented to cure masturbation, or something like that. This sucked, because it's hard to prove anything about a motive, and our team had information from the Kellogg's Web site saying they were invented as a "flavorful alternative" to the otherwise bland vegetarian diet maintained by those in the Battle Creek Sanitarium. On one hand, quackery was rampant in the nineteenth century: like many other products from the era, the flakes' true origin may not be something Kellogg's is interested in disclosing. On the other hand, the masturbation explanation has all the ingredients of an urban myth. Suffice to say, I think the question shouldn't have been asked because it's pretty much impossible to know for sure.

3. When I went to the library and was told they didn't have any issues of Playboy from before 1990. I mean, this is a library for an institution of higher learning; you can't tell me that Playboy isn't worth carrying!

4. When, shortly after a number of my teammates complained about the large amounts of ska being played and said "Anything but this," a new DJ came on, playing metal. I thought that was pretty funny.

5. When they asked us to name "the battle that Napoleon lost" and our resident military historian named about a dozen off of the top of his head and then complained that they never stipulated if they wanted Napoleon or Napoleon III.

6. When I drove out to a friend's house, picked up his Rubik's cube, and promptly left. No time to waste being overly social, you know.

7. When, not 10 minutes after I woke up at10 a.m, I learned that we needed a high school letter, which I had lying in my closet for no apparent reason. It was an academic letter, so I never bothered shelling out enough for the accompanying jacket.

8. When, a scant 10 minutes after that, I found myself using a bulletin board tack to rip the stitches out of the little lamp patch sewn on said letter, because apparently we needed an athletic letter rather than an academic one.

9. When the station erroneously announced that the Pope played rugby. After a great deal of research we found that the online Rugby FAQ mentioned John Paul II "represented Poland at rugby." However, none of the ten or so biographies of John Paul II ever make any mention of this, though many of them say he was an avid soccer player, swimmer and skier. You'd think that if he had played rugby at the international level that a 300 page biography would mention it. And honestly, which is more likely to be right here: an online FAQ about the sport, or a well-researched biography?

It's also interesting to note that KQ rules prevent teams from using the web as a source with which to challenge announced answers (which is why we couldn't get credit for the Kellogg's thing earlier). So all evidence suggests that the folks running the tourney were held to significantly lower research standards than those participating, since I can't imagine they got this piece of information from anywhere but the rugby FAQ (they refused to tell me what their source was). I think maybe they forgot why they have the no-Internet-for-challenges rule (which I actually think is a good rule).

10. When one of our captains told me about the "exam" we had turned in for one of the scavenger hunts. I guess we needed to turn in a test where the score was less than 10 percent, so he administered a geography test to someone else on the team. It had incorrectly answered questions like "Is Ames, Iowa, in California?"

11. When they played "Even Hitler had a Girlfriend" by the Mr. T Experience. MTX, my favorite band, is an obscure pop-punk group that probably has never enjoyed the number of on-air listeners it did Saturday morning. One cool thing about having the contest conducted by KURE is that we got to hear a lot of music not normally played anywhere else.

12. When, near the end of the competition, it was announced that Disney's "Snow White & the Seven Dwarves" had won eight Oscars for best picture, but had also won absolutely none. This was due to their initially accepting eight as correct, and then having us successfully challenge that answer. Since it's the policy of those running KQ not to remove points from teams when challenges are successful, it created this rather bizarre contradiction which in all honestly I wasn't too happy about at the time.

For the second year in a row my team finished second, which we were all a bit disappointed with (some, I fear, a little too disappointed). Though I've mentioned a few of the times where I feel the people running the show messed up, I don't hold anything against Casey and Matt, the guys in charge. Coordinating an undertaking like this requires a lot of organization and effort, and on the whole I think they did a great job.

Although such mistakes may have interfered a bit with the joy of the chase, I don't think they really affected where our team finished. There's a lot more to KaleidoQuiz than just winning, anyway. You don't engage in a masochistic 26-hour trivia contest simply to say you won: You do it for the experience.

There's no environment other than college where I'll ever have the opportunity to participate in something like KQ, and that's what I love about it. It's a really memorable time for everyone involved, and I encourage you to put a team together next year, even if you've never participated before.


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