8 Best Things About Participating in and Winning the 2011 AAJA- Chicago Trivia Bowl for ChicagoNow

8 Best Things About  Participating in and Winning the 2011 AAJA- Chicago Trivia Bowl for ChicagoNow

On Saturday I was lucky enough to be one member of eight to represent ChicagoNow in the AJAA Trivia Bowl. I had a blast and here is why.


1. Meeting Fellow Bloggers

We don't get many chances to meet one another so it's always fun when we can. I knew Curtis and Exavier (both in the above video) from softball and football, but I hadn't met our other five teammates. I was relieved, but not surprised that I genuinely liked all of them instantly and knew they'd be good teammates.

2.  85%
Before the competition began, our hostess, CBS 2's Susanna Song asked Curtis how confident he was that ChicagoNow would win today and he quickly answered, "85%". It turned out to be a good answer, which I guess you'd expect from a ChicagoNow trivia team member.

3. Teaching the Newcomers

The three of us that had played softball and football for ChicagoNow quickly schooled our newbie ChicagoNow teammates (Margie "Swim Tri Sail" Sutherland,  Melanie "Fitness At Home" Bolen, Joe "Going for Gusto" Grace,
Reggie "The Male Perspective" Nievera, and Mark "The Beeronaut" McDermott) to our chant: "Chicago when? ChicagoNOW!".

I like to think we both demonstrated and inspired. And by that I mean  I'm pretty sure that our demonstration inspired other teams say, "Who are these chanting guys I've never heard of? What team with any kind of a chance at a trivia competition actually chants before it starts? There went any chance they had to win. Clearly they're excited to be out of their mom's basements.".


4. Realizing we Were Actually Good

The first round's topic was General Knowledge and we knew the first few answers easily enough then the next one after that, and then we all noticed the pattern. Mark McDermott is, trivia-ically speaking, a savant. A man among boys,  a goose among goslings, a badger among kits, a boar among shoats, or a newt among efts. You get the point. Which other obscure names for young animals  am I missing, Mark?

5. Outstanding Hosting

The Asian American Journalists Association puts on a great event for a great cause at an awesome venue, provided by Jenner and Block,  with gorgeous panoramic views.  Throw in an abundance of food and drink to go with outstanding trivia questions, complete with ridiculously clever (and helpful) visual clues, and top it off with a two great hosts and you have a can't-miss awesome event.

6. People can Still Disagree Civilly, Afterall 

If you've heard anything about Congress in the last two years, watched any daytime political tv show in the last 5 years, or read anything about the NBA lockout recently you may be wondering if it's possible anymore for people to disagree respectfully and set aside their differences and compromise. On Saturday I was reassured that it is.

After hearing a brief audio clip of Eve 6's "Inside Out" we were told to name the artist and the song's title. What ensued was a refreshingly civil disagreement over the song title betwixt (sorry, but I like that word) two opposing parties that were both positive their answer was right. Since they were both certain of their correctness it took us a while to collevtively divine only one answer. Those of us non-positives laboriously played midwives to help birth our answer.

After a few tense minutes of waiting for the answer we found out which of the disputed answers was actually right. It was neither of them, naturally.


7. We Beat WBEZ. Twice.

I heard through the Chicago media grapevine last week that some people at WBEZ still hate ChicagoNow over a heated softball game this summer. Fair enough; But let the record show WBEZ entered two teams in the Trivia Bowl on Saturday and we beat them both.


Did you think I was going to show a pic of Charlie Sheen instead?

8. Winning

We had an almost-comfortable lead heading in to the final round and suddenly a  vibe (or perhaps it was an undercurrent) of, "Wait, can ChicagoNow actually win this thing?" began to loom ominously in the room.  It was palpable.  I overheard the host, Robert Feder,  lean over ask someone what ChicagoNow even was [note: I heard him ask, "....what ChicagoNow is?" and assumed incorrectly he was asking what it was. Mr. Feder cleared that up in the comments section below]. He'd later announce to everyone that if ChicagoNow were to actually hold on and win it'd be one of the biggest upsets in the history of trivia. Capping off his trifecta of doubt, he asked us during the final round if we were going to choke. [note: Mr. Feder also denied making that comment. I trust him, but I'm certain I heard some adult male say that into the microphone during the last round while we compiled our answers.]

Actually, w increased our lead in final round.




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  • For the record, I am very well aware of ChicagoNow. I have written about it many times on my own blog and was even asked to write for it before it launched in 2009. What you may have overheard — and taken out of context — was my asking my co-emcee, Susanna Song, if she knew what ChicagoNow was (since she's been working in Chicago less than a year). While I did try to convey my genuine excitement at the prospect of ChicagoNow beating the Chicago Tribune teams and everyone else, I never, ever asked if you were "going to choke." I did say I hoped you'd be treated with more respect by the Tribune. I tweeted my sincere congratulations afterward and I'm happy to repeat them again here.

  • In reply to Robert Feder:

    Thank you for reading and correcting me! Maybe it was the trivia writer who made the choke comment. I didn't mean to paint you as a villain- I thought you were a great emcee and I would never begrudge any emcee for playing up an upset story. The reason I mentioned them at all was just to highlight the pressure we felt, not to question your work. And we very much appreciated the tweet- I retweeted it shortly after I saw you sent it.

  • In reply to TRSlyder:

    Someone definitely asked if we would "choke." We were definitely feeling the pressure in the last round but in the end...no worries! Chicago when? ;)

  • That is great! You guys rock! Even better outcome? YOU KICKED WBEZ'S BUTT!!! WOOHOO!

  • Great job team!

    Whenever I need a little inspiration I will come back to this article, and visually imagine Robert Feder saying, "gwill, you are going to choke."

    Then I'll say to myself, "Stop underestimating me like you did our trivia team you big bully! I will not choke! I WILL bring home an attractive coed with self-esteem issues tonight." ...or something along those lines.

  • In reply to gwill:

    But what if the chick with self-esteem issues you brought home asked you to choke her?

  • In reply to TRSlyder:

    That's a lot to think about TR, let me just finish my lunch at potbelly's right now ok.

  • Could I say a Three Floyds Dark Lord among Coors Lights? A Westvleteren 12 among Landshark Lagers? Either way, it was an honor and pleasure to be representing the Blogosphere with some of its sharpest representatives. And before I let all this puffery go to my head, remember that I knew only one of the sports questions cold; and it was the one bit of sports trivia that has somehow stayed in my head all my adult life…

  • In reply to Mark McDermott:

    Beer analogies are always ok with me, my man.

  • For the record, that was me asking if Chicago Now would choke. It was said in jest and obviously to create some competitive tension in the room. Congratulations to your team for winning the Trivia Bowl. You knocked off some tough competition. Thanks for the kind words for the organizers. Hope to see you again next year to defend your championship.

  • In reply to Ameet Sachdev:

    You were my next culprit! Thanks for clearing that up for us, Ameet. And thank you again for putting on such a well-organized and fun event.

  • ChicagoNOW! Woot woot!

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