fans in their glory
Team's frenzied search finds the right answers
Tribune Staff Writer
Ama Napla Naca Nalpa Nama, a trivia team from Wisconsin Rapids, held tenaciously to its spot among the top 100 teams during early Sunday evening, in hour 45 of the 54-hour "world's largest trivia contest" in Stevens Point.
Led by team captain Evan O'Day, an 11-year-old Howe Elementary School fifth-grader, the team of roughly 25-40 people ranged in number of players throughout the never-ending, Friday-to-Sunday contest, depending on the time of day and the opportunity to play croquet.
of our team members are more committed than others," said Evan's father,
Stora Enso North America employee Tim O'Day, who has been playing trivia
with the team since the early 1980s. "We've got, maybe, a dozen hard-core
players and lots of people who hang around ... This is fun and it's aggravating
and it's a great way to kill a weekend."
Evan, who said he's been playing with the team since he was one year old, earned the captain's title last year by racking up the most points with the most correct answers. "The hardest part is trying to stay up long enough until they answer a question you know the answer to," Evan said.
Evan's sister, 21-year-old Corrine, came back for the weekend from the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, just for the chance to play. "It's not like anything else you can do," she said.
fun," Dan Muleski said about playing in the contest. "Last year, I didn't
get any sleep at all." Hugh Mechesney, who teaches fourth grade at Howe,
wondered if the word "addicted" even began to describe the experience,
while, for longtime trivia player Rick Durrant "now, more than ever, it's
just a chance to get together with friends."
The team's name reads the same forward and backward - a linguistic trick known as a palindrome - eventually emerging, if you carefully space the letters, as "A man, a plan, a canal, Panama."
Mainly playing in the basement at the Wisconsin Rapids residence of Dan and Maggie Muleski, the team had earned 3,185 points, reaching 77th place, by about 6:30 p.m. Sunday. During a visit at the home Saturday, there were two computers in constant search mode, as well as a library of roughly 200 reference books in steady use. Elsewhere, there were stacks of magazines - recent issues of "TV Guide," "Rolling Stone" and "Sports Illustrated" - as well as bags stuffed with candy wrappers.
Hamburgers were on the grill out on the patio, with bags of pretzels and crackers scattered throughout the basement, while "the drinkers" had been dispatched to the garage.
Everywhere you walked in the house, including the bathrooms, there was the ghostly voice of a radio announcer, asking eight trivia questions per hour. In between, there were eclectic song selections, giving team members a chance to find the answer, then frantically telephone with a response. As they dialed, sometimes 20 or 30 times by speed dial, team members watched a live public access TV feed of the folks manning the phones in Stevens Point.
Team members relied mainly on reference books to find answers, consistently getting the right responses to four to six questions out of every eight. What's the name of Hank Hill's obnoxious father on the animated TV show, "King of the Hill"? (Cotton Hill). What were the names of all the performing Marx Brothers? (Gummo, Groucho, Harpo, Chico and Zeppo). What was the name of the actor who played the drama critic on fictional New York Inquirer newspaper in the Orson Welles film classic, "Citizen Kane"? (Joseph Cotten).
really helps to brainstorm with a lot of people," Tim O'Day said about
the team's ability to find answers. "That can really trigger stuff."
(Final results of the contest, which ran until midnight Sunday, were not available at press time.)
You can reach Mark Scarborough at 422-6728 or email@example.com.