I had this post all written in my head. After handing in The Road to Geek Bowl V last Friday, I already had the victory lap primed and ready to go. Victory at Geek Bowl V was to be a culmination of everything the Cru Jones Society is: Humor | Analysis | Pop Culture | Backflips.  

Humor represented by the choice of J. Thurston Rockefeller Meowington IV as our silly, yet dignified choice of team name.

Analysis represented by our impeccable preparation, prescient category prediction, and tireless training schedule at a thorough representation of Denver bars and quizmasters.

Pop Culture represented by our daily conversations comprised of nothing more than snippets from TV shows, movies, Goldfinger crank calls, and questions of “If you could be any famous historical tyrant, who would you be? I’ll go first…”

Backflips represented by our raucous celebration after supreme Geek triumph…

I’m pleased to report that what went down on Saturday, while not a Geek triumph, was at least not a Geek tragedy. Here’s our story of Geek Bowl V.

Lady E was nervous all day. You’d never guess it by how late she slept in, but a thick current of electricity ran through the air in the house from the time she woke up until the time we left to meet the rest of the team at the Cheeky Monk before the quizzing commenced. She chattered at me all day like a coked-up poodle.

I myself was less nervous for two reasons. 1) My lunch of Qdoba was acting less than graciously in my stomach, and 2) I put a nice big scratch in the side of my whip when I misjudged pulling into the garage and scraped our grill like I was trying to get crap off a cowboy boot on the edge of the sidewalk. Couldn’t stop thinking about how fucking dumb that was considering it’s my own damn garage. Also, a giant burrito? How’s that for jackass planning?

I put it past me, split an energy drink with Lady E (another brilliant idea, I might add – pour 80 decagrams of taurine and caffeine into a nervous chick and a dude gorged with Mexican food – outstanding), and dressed myself in jeans, our team shirt, a novelty bow tie, and a tuxedo jacket that hasn’t fit since 2001. Oddly enough, the outfit couldn’t have felt more right. And considering Lady E wore the same t-shirt, but gussied it up with an audacious string of pearls and one of those Audrey Hepburn cigarette holders, we looked like a million bucks. Or geeks. Either way…

So we get to the Cheeky Monk for some last minute training (read: I reviewed my European capitals flashcards a couple last times and we all got a buzz on), and who’s there? Why it’s Johnny Goodtimes and his band of Philadelphia dickheads just one table over.

So like the dorky twats we are, we send Amber over to take their picture. They’re actually very nice, but why wouldn’t they be in the face of a blond girl with a drawing of a cat on her shirt who wants to take their photo? Thankfully she managed some trash talk, so at least we didn’t look like complete douche farts.

With our nerves sufficiently numbed thanks to a couple of Belgian beers that were like moonshine and the burliest of burly man shots, the, er, raspberry kamikaze… J. Thurston Rockefeller Meowington IV strode confidently to the Fillmore Auditorium to take down Geek Bowl and bring home the mantle of smartest d-bags in Denver.

But first: Pageantry! With everyone good and fired up after Adam Cayton Holland’s series of city trash talk vids (my personal favorite was Seattle) and Johnny Goodtimes’ absurd battle rap, Geek Bowl had a lot of anticipation to live up to. And live up to it, it did. A rousing opening song and dance number that included not only elements of musical theater, but hip hop, and a huge chorale crescendo proclaiming what we all were thinking as the dastardly interlopers tried to steal the glory from our fair city: Fuck Philadelphia! Y’know what, see for yourself.

That’s how you kick off a quiz! Get everyone nice and loose. Lubricate everyone with $8 beers. Take Philadelphia down a peg or two. Yet, we couldn’t shake the anticipation that awaited us. This is what we studied for. This is what we’ve built to. This is why I’ve gone to work hungover for the last two weeks. LET’S QUIZ, BITCH!

Round 1: Cold Facts on Colfax. All the answers pertain to cold somehow. Question 1, and Oh Hosanna! we know the answer! It’s Cold Mountain. I used to ask Senor Limon about nerves before a football game, and he said you’re nervous until you hit someone. Then you’re fine. In this quiz, with the first question out of the way, we’re good. We’ve figuratively hit this quiz, and now we’re good. Second question’s answer is “Jim Halpert” and now we’re rolling. We kick this round in the teeth.

Round 2: Songs performed by a mariachi band. They play the thing in that charmingly mariachi way, and you have to identify artist and title. “La Bamba” by Richie Valens. Boom. “Oblidi Oblida” by The Beatles. Bam! “Livin’ La Vida Loca” by Ricky Martin. Fuck yeah! “Unchained Melody” by The Righteous Brothers. Bamaku! We’re sure of 12 of 16 which brings us to an important question. To joker or not to joker? The joker doubles points for any one round, and since Rounds 2 and 8 are the only ones worth 16 (compared to the usual 8), they are thus the only rounds worth jokering. Round 8 is always “Random Knowledge,” which makes it a total crapshoot. And since we’ve been shitting the bed on Round 8 in our practice rounds, we reluctantly opt for the joker.

Round 3: Our proctor tells us we have time to hit the bathroom, so 5 of the 6 team members scoot off to the toilet. Since I’m a paranoid, neurotic freak, I sprint to the bathroom and back not wanting to miss anything. Ferris and Hart stop for beers. Horrifyingly enough, the round starts and only Brad, Lady E and myself are back. Geek Bowl rules state that in order to uphold the integrity of the quiz, anyone not in their seats when the round starts cannot be let in. Fuck. Thankfully, it’s a True/False round on True/False. Sample question: “‘Falsk’ is Danish for false.” Of all the rounds, this is the most acceptable round not to have the entire team there. We feel only marginal about our answers.

Round 4: A round on “Pop” something or other. What does “POP” stand for in relation to email? What candy comes from the Spanish word for “suck?” This round is a killer. We feel the wind slightly go out of our sails. Geek Bowl victory demands perfection, and we’re slowly dying on the vine. We resolve to press on and continue to have fun.

They take an intermission which is greatly appreciated by smokers, drunks, and those who really have to pee.  At the end of which, they reveal the answers and scroll the scores. We feel decent resigned to finishing only modestly and hope for Top 1/3. So the scores roll from lowest to highest. The scores roll. And roll. And roll. And what the fuck? How high up are we? Rolling, rolling, rolling… and then finally – BAM! J. Thurston Rockefeller Meowington IV – 9th place.

Holy shit! We erupt in celebration never suspecting we’d be that high after our performance. Then we remember that we’ve jokered and we come back to earth slightly knowing that many teams likely haven’t. No matter, we think. If this quiz is kicking our ass, it’s likely kicking everyone else’s too. We press on renewed with hope.

Round 5: Visual round! name these famous ships. Choke on the Flying Dutchman by thinking it’s the Black Pearl. Nail the SS Minnow, go 4 for 6 on the rest. Decent, not what we needed. By the way, during the entire round, we get audio of Cartman singing “I’m sailing away!” which makes me laugh uncontrollably for some reason. Hard to concentrate with big, fat Cartman caterwauling in your ear.

Round 6: Feminists and Meatballs. What these two have to do with each other, we have no idea, but we brick spectacularly on this round getting only 3 of a possible 8 (if memory serves – and any help from my teammates would be appreciated at this point on any of the point totals). Would’ve been 4 if I didn’t change my original answer of “Alka-Seltzer” to “Tums” for the question, “What product used the tag line ‘That’s a spicy meatball!’?” Goddammit.

Round 7: Movie Round! Identify the movie clips. Definitely a missed opportunity here as Brad has Harold and Maude on the tip of his tongue, but doesn’t write it. We should have jerked off this round in the shower and instead just ended up with shampoo all over our hands. It’s disappointing and we fear a precipitous drop in our score.

Another intermission, and we sit with baited breath awaiting our score. J. Thurston Rockefeller Meowington IV – 12th place. Whaaa? That’s amazing considering the quiz has not gone our way at all. We’re 12th and we’re not even on our best game. Imagine if we were…

Round 8: Random Knowledge. And it truly is random. Name the 2nd most populous city in the 2nd most populous country and the 3rd most populous city in the 3rd most populous country. Name Nick Hornby’s first novel and Kurt Vonnegut’s last novel. Name the first names of both Heisman (Trophy) and Stanley (Cup). Sonofabitch, these are all over the map. We get 8 correct which renders that Round 2 Joker brilliant in retrospect resulting in what would be an 8 point swing.

Before we get to the finale, wanna see what a Geek Bowl scratch piece of paper looks like? Here you go. And keep in mind this was one of six at the table.

For those of you who can’t read it, here’s what it says going roughly from top to bottom (commas inserted for easier reading): Zellweger Minghella, Leonard Snart, Captain Cold, Email: POP stand for Protocol?, Falsk, Nazi or Cuba?, 603 area code?, WY, AK, Facsimile, Spanish word for suck Chupa, Virginia Woolf: A room of her own & what else?, Spicy meatball!, Kate Chopin 1899 affair drown, Cloudy w/a chance town, 2nd city in 2nd country 3rd city in 3rd country, 1st Nick Hornby Last Vonnegut, Jim Varney, Hornet’s Nest Elsenburg Ridge, Top Chef Tender @ the Bone, Orangutans 2 islands, Heisman Stanley, Raging Bitch Long Hammer.

Yep, that’s Geek Bowl. We’re guardedly excited about our chances considering just how fucking hard that last round was, but appropriately pessimistic knowing so many teams haven’t used their jokers yet. The scores roll and it’s do or die time. We see our mates from our home bar’s scores roll by – 51st for Team Drunky Punch; 24th for Stimulus Package meaning we’re kings of our bar, which is something. Just a little further and here’s J. Thurston: 13th!

13th place out of 150 possible teams is pretty damn good, if we do say so ourselves. That’s top 10%, baby! That’s an “A” grade, right there. That rates as exceptional on a report card.

And that’s what we hang our hats on.

It’s not exactly what we’d hoped, but it’s far from a choke job, miles from disappointment, and light years from regret.

Bottom line: We had a blast at Geek Bowl. We drank some beers. Wore some costumes. Played some trivia. Reveled in a dork bacchanal. What else could you want out of a Saturday night? Except victory…

But that’s next year. Think you can stop us? Think you can finish better than top 10%? I threw down the gauntlet to some of our peeps in Colorado Springs, Salt Lake City, and Austin. We want to see if you can take down the CJS and J. Thurston Rockefeller Meowington IV. If you don’t… whatever. If you do… first round’s on us.

But either way, let’s see you at Geek Bowl VI in 2012.

Until then…

edagger@crujonessociety.com