Who was 1975 nose king of Italy?

The Appleton Post-Crescent, February 8, 1976.

Who was 1975 nose king of Italy?
By Maureen Blaney - Post Crescent staff writer

Stumped? So was everybody else on that question as Lawrence University’s FM radio station presents its 11 th Annual Midwest Trivia Contest this weekend.

That question was among more than 500 that are being tossed out between tunes over 91.1 FM on WLFM through midnight tonight. More than a handful of questions could not be answered.

But hundreds of others were and are being answered by collections of students, professors, housewives, workers from throughout the community and beyond in off-campus and on-campus teams.

It is addictive, several trivia fanatics attested Saturday afternoon, surprisingly alert after 33 hours of being semi-awake.

This trivial enterprise began, according to Larry Page, director of WLFM, in 1966 with a student named J. B. DeRosset, the first master of trivia.

There had been a time in the spring of the year when the intellectuals on campus went on retreat. DeRossett apparently decided there should be some activity for the trivial minds left behind. And the trivia contest was conceived.

Eventually, said Page, the intellectuals realized they were missing out on an interesting experience and the two activities were scheduled so that intellectual and trivia minds alike could participate in the trivia contest.

Participating takes on a different connotation from its common usage, as in joining a bowling team. Being a trivia freak means staying at the headquarters of your team for a weekend to listen to the FM radio station announce questions. Meals are largely from the peanut butter jar on a table, the box of crackers and bottles of cola.

Usually, teams like to keep their locations secret, Page said that a few years back, one team in close competition with another, had a spy deliver chocolate chip cookies – with a laxative added – and sabotaged the other team.

Other tricks also have been tried in past years. Some teams had planted team members as volunteers answering the incoming calls at trivia central. But Page said calls are monitored now to check on possible cheating.

“Traditionally, teams also will to wheedle answers out of the telephone answers,” said Page. The volunteers get sympathetic and may volunteer some hints.

If teams are caught cheating though, they could be penalized 100 points, or if caught seriously cheating their point total could be reduced to zero, said Page.

The planning for the trivia contest begins about three months before the extravaganza when Page picks the trivia master, which is “an ideological being, sometimes composed of a junta if about five persons,” said Page.

They think up and research the trivia questions and get help from experts in various fields. One of this year’s trivia masters, appropriately disguised with the moniker St. Tuchalous, said “The Lawrence professors are some of our best sources of trivia. They know a world of trivia.”

Other trivia masters agreed. A heightened awareness of trivia was how they went about arriving at the appropriate trivial questions. One trivia master said he was watching a college football game and realized the great possibilities of “What was the second song played by Pete Fountain during halftime of the 1975 Sugar Bowl game?” Of course the answer was “Do You Know What It Means to Miss New Orleans.

Other trivia masters, like Wolfgang Q. Fawz, said trivia questions can be garnered from just about everything, even newspapers. But they are researched to insure their reliability. Often teams will protest when their researched answer conflicts with WLFM’s. Saturday afternoon, for example, a team representative protested a question on latitudes and the question was tossed out.

At Tuna Tower, one of the typical unusually named teams, Saturday, about 12 students gathered in the lounge in a somewhat zombie-like state, noiseless as the disc jockey read off the question: “Who was the first person inoculated with five cancer cells voluntarily?” Then there was a quick rush to a jumbled collection of reference books where the answer lay – like a needle in a haystack.

Bob Brightman, a junior from New Jersey, was among the troop at Tuna Tower, addicted for his third year in triviamania. “Unless I collapse, I’m going to stay up,” he said as he sat through the afternoon. “I have a mid-term Monday, but such is life.”

“It’s a good mental exercise,” he explained. He admitted he can catch a bit of rest while the contest is on by listening as he “sleeps” in the dormitory lounge. “They read a question while was sleeping which was just something I happened to know. I never moved so fast.”

As questions were read, Tuna Tower came alive in sparks.”Oh, I know that one, I just read about that in Time magazine,” shouted one girl. Another jumped up, “Was it….?” Another started for the door to run down the hall to a phone.

Awaiting the winners of the trivia contest are, naturally, appropriate trivial prizes. In 1974, for example, Monty Python, the off-campus winner, received a 25-pound sack of dog food. Filbold Studge, the runner up, got “a very short stool”. The 3rd place 1974 winners got a five-pound “Pail of peanut butter with all the peanut butter (crunchy) gone, having been consumed during the course of the contest by trivia workers.”

“An on-campus winner that year got a “plumber’s helper, suitable for unclogging minds stopped up with playing trivia” and another got “two tickets to a 1972 game between the New Orleans Saints and the Los Angeles Rams.”

The trivia contest has become an institution which other campus groups refraining from scheduling activities the same weekend to avoid losing attendance to the trivia contest.

It has attracted attention from around the country, according to Page. A Marine stationed in California submitted 200 trivial questions. Another person came up from Madison to man the trivia phones – and slept on the concrete floor over night.

The contest continues through midnight tonight. Volunteers sit at several telephones, awaiting the guesses of team members. Two guesses are allowed per team. The pace is often hectic, especially after supper hours, and in past years has caused problems with the college switchboard.

In 1973, such a great demand developed during the day on the telephone equipment that a repairman was called in. Complaints were received by outsiders that they were unable to come into the system and the campus operator was unable to handle calls properly. Finally, the telephone company notified the university that the company could do nothing as the system was being overused and they could take no responsibility in the ability to handle calls in case of emergency.

Since those days, however, the pace has slowed so calls do not jam the lines and a special direct line number has been added for emergencies.

But it’s all meant to be in the spirit of fun…..and trivialities.

Said trivia master St. Tucholous, this year’s theme – Five Guys Named Mo” – illustrated the spirit. And action questions were especially aimed at “to get everybody running around, digging for everything.”

For the 20 or so teams still surviving tonight, it looks like a race to the end. And what better way to use knowledge you might never have found a place for a conversation to fit it into.

And how else would Aromi Smaroni’s 68 centimeter nose have gained such wide recognition?