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Pursuit of trivia leads to mind-stretching fun

Host John Hise reviews a question with a team at Pub Quiz at The Irish Embassy Pub. Team members, from left, are Tim Ascher, Amber Hiibschman, Cole Sweetser and Elena Benavides. The group regularly attends the Wednesday night trivia event. Enlarge photo

STEVE LEWIS/Durango Herald

Host John Hise reviews a question with a team at Pub Quiz at The Irish Embassy Pub. Team members, from left, are Tim Ascher, Amber Hiibschman, Cole Sweetser and Elena Benavides. The group regularly attends the Wednesday night trivia event.

There’s nothing trivial about Durango’s various trivia nights.

This week, I undertook the mammoth task of attending three trivia nights in three days, and while my brain is feeling the effects of all the stretching, it was great fun. People – who love competition, are energized by thinking and deducing and enjoy a good laugh – have plenty to choose from in Durango.

If it’s Tuesday, it must be Ska Brewing World Headquarters at 225 Girard St. in Bodo Park. Starting at 6 p.m., my colleague from the Herald, Arts and Entertainment Editor Ted Holteen, holds court over Super Ted’s Trivia Night, the largest (25 teams) and arguably the most difficult – although all of them are challenging – of the events I attended. (Note: This is the only one I had attended before the project, which gave me the idea.)

Holteen is a trivia expert himself and is definitely the grandmaster host in town. He began hosting trivia contests during his years at KDUR-FM in the 1990s and has hosted at Ska for the last three years. He takes summers off to play softball.

Holteen’s questions range across categories, with one “Name that Tune” music round of 10 questions put together by his friend Bryant Liggett, three rounds of eight general category questions, and a bonus round of 20 questions on a single theme that can break a winning streak or make up for an abysmal evening of competition depending on the theme chosen. Previous themes have included naming the cities where various prominent people were assassinated, the make of various model of cars and the musicals from whence various songs come. On Tuesday, the final was to name the colleges where famous athletes began their careers.

Sample questions: 1. What vegetable is served with steak Oscar? 2. What is the arch over a stage called? and 3. What prominent American’s father was the captain of the New Jersey police who investigated the Lindbergh baby kidnapping?

(Answers to all questions posed are included at the end of the column.)

Team WWW – which is named for the three members of the Winkworth clan who form its core, Peggy and Howie Winkworth and their son Mark, along with Scott Dehnisch and Stan Parks – had a perfect final round in the category of naming which colleges various star athletes had attended. That brings us to question 4: Roger Clemens and Mary Lou Retton. WWW’s score? 44 points.

In second place, Los Jefes – Aaron Sinberg, Janet Spear, Justin Erickson, Jarrod Regan and Jeff Leith – had 43 points. Third place went to the Charlie Team, Shay Lopez, Scott Dye, Dan Garner and Jeff Wollenberg, with 41 points. The fourth-place finishers were The Rest of Us. This group, which scored 40 points, preferred to remain mysterious geniuses.

My team, the Poor Choices, came in with a respectable 38 points.

As befits a craft brewery, the top four places go home with their choice of Ska beers, with the champions enjoying a case.

Wednesday’s Pub Quiz is held at the Irish Embassy Pub (12 teams) with host John Hise, a literacy coach at Escalante Middle School. He’s been hosting for about 1˝ years, and has a geographical challenge with the ups and downs of the cubbies at the pub. This crowd is heavily weighted toward the under-30 crowd, and let’s just say imbibing can limit a team’s scoring ability.

Hise’s competition includes five rounds of five questions each, with some sort of loose underlying theme. On Wednesday, it was the letter “F,” with the categories of Crossword Clues “F,” Firsts, Fungi, Fast Food and France.

Sample questions: 5. What president lit the first National Christmas Tree in 1923? 6. What is Henri Matisse’s style of painting called? 7. What is the study of fungi called?

Teams are allowed to double their points in a round by starring it if they think they’ve done well, and teams can also win points by taking a mutual shot of Jameson, Absolut or some other potent potable off the shotski. The winning team that evening was Two Ryans and One Pint Glass, who won after breaking a tie of 25 points with a think-off and a drink-off versus Kids Your Parents Warned You About, My Girlfriend Doesn’t Wrestle, But ... and Just the Tips. Winning team members included Ryan Owens, a sportswriter at the Herald, Ryan McCardell, Oscar Palacios Jr. (who was also celebrating his birthday), Carl Delacatio and Dara Blackmore. They quaffed their prize of a bottle of champagne at the pub.

The Kids, meanwhile won the Irish Embassy Pub’s generous $100 gift card as the monthly winners. They are Taylor Hanchulak, Brendan Lararski, Cade Levinson, Travis Holeman, Pat Brennan, Arrit Navaraj, Tim Fletcher and Connor McGooch.

I played solo and scored 23 points, so no shame there.

And Thursdays, it’s the newest of the trivia night offerings. This one at the Durango Discovery Museum, starting about 6 p.m. Host Brett Cadwell, who doubles as the finance officer for the museum, spends up to eight hours a week crafting a quiz of five rounds of 10 questions each, including one called “Name that Tune and Artist,” one to estimate the number of some object and the only multimedia round of the three trivia nights, name that image.

Sample questions: 8. How many chimneys are there in the White House? 9. What geologic era are we currently living in? and 10. What was the name of Charles Darwin’s ship?

The winning team was I Eat Mop Who? with 42 points, Reagyn Germer, Kathleen O’Connor and Sean and Ashley Hein (ably assisted by their new baby, Soren), and another genius who likes to hide his light under a bushel. They won a $50 gift card to Carver Brewing Co.

My team, the Multigenerational Studmuffins were on their heels with 41 points, winning a round of drinks at the museum. Congrats to my fellow teammates Chris Cable, Esther Belen, Bliss Bruen and McCardell, who was on the winning team two nights in a row. (He attends all three most weeks.)

The bottom line is that you can’t go wrong with any of these trivia competitions. The Discovery Museum may have the edge in the summer, when the competition will be held on the plaza by the Animas River, and it’s good to be a night owl for the Irish Embassy Pub. And, as his bumper sticker says: “Ted’s Neat.”

I can’t get out of the newsroom often, but when I can, count me in for another evening of mind-testing fun.

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Happy birthday wishes go to Emmy Miller, Nathan Gain, Madeline Robertson, Josh Walker, Rickey Cooksey, Matthew Haber, Nya Martinez, Jaime Marquez, Kristin Roessler, Kevin Simonsen, Damien McCadden, Marian Rizzo, Sandy Seibert, Cory Kindle, Lauri Kloepfer, Anne Swanson, Haley Cotgageorge, Lillian Boe, Randy Bondow, Jane Pearson, Bud Halldorsen, Haley Fleming, John Gerhart, Janice Martin, Ed McCoola, Cindy McClean, Duane Speh, Julie Ward, Randy Bondow, Jim Schoultz, Bethany Bieth, Robert Ludwig and Bill Luthy.

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Celebrating early March anniversaries are John and Deb Seglund, Bob and Jan Newlin, Kyle and Cory Kindle, Guy and Beverly Tomberlin, Dale and Reba Warren, Bill and Anne Butler O’Flanagan and Jerry and Sara Davis.

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Answers: 1. Asparagus 2. Proscenium 3. Gen. Norman Schwartzkopf 4. University of Texas 5. Calvin Coolidge 6. Fauvism 7. Mycology 8. 28 9. Cenozoic 10. The H.M.S. Beagle.

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Here’s how to reach me: neighbors@durangoherald.com; phone 375-4584; mail items to the Herald; or drop them off at the front desk. Please include contact information for all items.