Trivia coordinator upset because some like prizes

The Appleton Post-Crescent, January 28, 1988.

Larry Page is a little upset. A couple of people have said they actually like the prizes he has picked for first place in Lawrence University’s 23rd annual Midwest Trivia Contest.

Page, as director of radio at Lawrence, annually takes on the title of Pope Pontius Page the one-quartereth, one of the contest’s long line of meaningless traditions, which gives him general oversight of the annual foray into the world of minutia.

This entails, among many other things, choosing the prizes, which inevitable are gag prizes, which term as often as not refers to their effect on the recipients. There have been such things as painting on black velvet, pint plastic flamingos and blocks of salt. “Tacky art always goes well,” he said.

This year, Page thought he had the perfect first place prizes. At one of those temporary sales spots at a mall, he found fiber optics lamps.

“But I found out that what’s tacky to you and me may not be tacky to everyone else,” he said. “A couple of people have said they look nice.”

“I’m always crestfallen when somebody likes the prizes.”

He figures he is on safer turf with the second-place prizes. They are rubber chickens.

The 50-hour contest officially begins at 10 p.m. Friday on Lawrence’s 10,500-watt radio station, WLFM, 91.1, and ends at midnight Sunday.

More than 125 teams, with four to 50 members each, will compete for points and Page’s dubious prizes while answering some 400 inconsequential questions that carry varying point values. The on-campus and off-campus teams with the most points at the contest’s end will be declared the winners.

The contest began in 1966, when a Lawrence senior decided that stay-at-home students needed a light-hearted alternative to LU’s annual academic retreat, where students and professors spent a serious weekend discussing great issues.

As in past years, LU President Richard Warch will ask the first question and Appleton Mayor Dorothy Johnson the second before WLFM staffers take over.

After questions are asked, teams will have a specified amount of time to call in answers to WLFM and two chances to answer the trivia questions correctly.

The phone number for off-campus teams is 735-9338. On campus teams can call extension 6566.

This year four Grand Masters and 10-15 assisting Masters will run the contest. They’ve been compiling questions on music, literature, movies, sports, television shows, politics and other subjects.

The Grand Masters include Lawrence senior Bob Hope of Hales Corners; senior David Larkin, Cedar Rapids, Iowa; junior Steve Siegel, Weston, Mass., and sophomore Cynthia Gibas of Appleton.