For some reason, trivia games played with strangers in bars was a pastime that never really engaged me while working and living in the U.S. For the last four years, however, retired and living in Thailand, I’ve come to relish participation in a friendly “pub quiz” every month, typically, played in a bar or restaurant, with strangers (other expats, mostly, some of whom become friends and acquaintances over time, of course, as people who enjoy exercising their brains flock together like birds of a feather – or, a ‘murder of crows’, to quote one popular pub quiz answer).
In the pandemic years, our team of five regular players (along with occasional “add ons” who arrive to play but don’t have a team to join) has competed under the moniker, Where Is Your Moose? The name comes from a t-shirt worn one night by our youngest member, a teenager from Russia who competes with his mother; our other members include an ex-military globetrotter originally from Canada and a retired Belgian hair stylist turned to professional photography.
Obviously, this diversity is helpful in covering as much trivia ground as possible. Rob is great at historical events, languages and culture; Patrick knows a lot about nature and travel; Genia is a bit of a prodigy, with a broad knowledge of geography and science (there is no Periodic Table question he can’t answer); he and his mother (who is well-read and consistent in her contributions) bring a completely unique perspective, and we often must translate their Russian answers into English to achieve the correct response. Of course, the team relies on me for having lived through seven decades of “American influence” as well as All Things Music.
It’s a big responsibility. 5555 (for those arriving late, the Thai word for 5 is “ha.”)
Happy to report here that Where Is Your Moose? won the first quiz of 2022!
We amassed 66 points, enough to squeak by the second-place team at 62 points. (A perfect score would be 85; there are eight rounds of 10 questions each, but one round is a “bogey” round, where scores are halved, and another round is a “bonus” round where scores are doubled. A bit here about strategy. Many teams seem to think the “bonus” round should be their strongest category, and the “bogey” their weakest, but we feel this is hurting scores. To maximize points, the teams’ two strongest categories always should be the bonus/bogey rounds.)
It was a rewarding comeback, as the team (unfortunately playing without me) came in dead last at the December quiz to finish 2021.
For most questions, several people on the team typically know the answer. That kind of confidence is valuable. But I always find it interesting to review the answers that I alone was able to contribute — things that nobody else on the team knew. (Yeah, I’m good at music and pop stuff, but in the end, they are all way smarter than I am).
It’s never a very long list. For this quiz I knew that Red was the title of a Taylor Swift album; something about Frankie Goes To Hollywood; that Jeffrey Dahmer would not eat tattooed victims; that John Wayne Gacy also worked as a party clown (obvs, there was a Serial Killer category); that SMH in text-speak stands for “smack my head”; that May 4th is considered “Star Wars Day;” that the translation of “egg” and “watch” is how the Tamagotchi was named; that Burning Man is held in Nevada’s Black Rock Desert; and finally, that “I Want To Hold Your Hand” was the Beatles’ first #1 record. Sadly, we submitted “She Loves You,” because I thought someone else’s answer was better, violating one of my pub quiz guidelines, to trust first instincts and only change answers with irrefutable reason. Never mind. We won.
The pub quiz, however, is also a great place to LEARN STUFF. For example, until last night I did not know:
That “22” on a BINGO card is also known as “swans”;
That Venezuela has produced the most Miss Universe winners from South America;
That a camel’s hump is comprised of primary fat;
That astronauts cannot easily fart or burp in space;
That dogs can bark, but wolves cannot.
So, the point of all this is to say, let 2022 be a year of learning and acceptance for the things known and unknown that manage to join us on this next hurtle around the sun.