We don't watch no stinking Super Bowl: Trivia buffs go all out

Super Garruda XXXII beats out Super Bowl XXXI for local trivia buffs
by David Horst
The Appleton Post-Crescent, January 26, 1997.

So, watch the local heroes in their first Super Bowl appearance in 29 years, or spend your 44th straight hour competing in a meaningless college radio station trivia contest?

It won't even be a close call thisevening for Jim Froeming, an Appleton computer systems analyst.

"I'll be playing trivia," he says. Froeming points out Lawrence University's annual Midwest Trivia Contest is a year older than the Super Bowl, if you want to talk tradition.

He acknowledges he'll probably tape the game for posterity. Trivia masters are nothing if not slaves to saving things for posterity. He may even sneak a look between questions, but he has a monumental accomplishment of his own to attain.

Froeming has played for several years on a team that has won the contest for seven straight years and eight of the last nine. He decided the contest loses its appeal when one team dominates so he has broken away, and has taken his 1,300 reference books with him, to form a one-man team.

The contest began broadcasting on Lawrence's WLFM, 91.1 FM, at 10 p.m. Friday and runs through midnight Sunday.

Competing as "The Trivia Zone" - the same name he uses for his trivia page on the World Wide Web - Froeming intends to stay up for the full 50 hours of the contest.

"I have three cases of Pepsi in house," he says.

He is expecting to finish in the top 12, but that depend upon whether he stays awake. He said he's gone the distance for 10 years, but he had teammates to nudge him when he began to drop off.

"I'm a zombie, there's no doubt about it," he says of his condition following a trivia contest.

His old team, which goes by different names each year and won as "Cheese Schnapps" in 1996, may not finish on top this year, Froeming says. Besides loosing him and his personal trivia library, two other team regulars are gone to New Orleans for the Super Bowl.

The junior of the two contests may intrude on the trivia marathon tonight admits Ben Kroll, a Lawrence senior and grand master of this year's Midwest Trivia Contest.

"I expect we will definitely experience a lull in play," Kroll says. "We'll just keep going."

Half a dozen on-campus and about 50 off-campus teams signed up this year, about typical in recent years, he says.

Teams such as "Hassle Me Elmo," "Iowabonics" and "I Don't Give a .Com" compete in answering such questions as: "How did 73-year-old Cincinnati judge Fred Cramer attempt to fit in with modern trends?" (He wore a judicial robe of blue denim.) or "What is the official state sport of Maryland?" (Jousting).

The trivia masters ask about 350 questions over the 50 hours, each worth five or 10 points. The final hour is devoted to the extra tough "garruda" questions, worth 100 points each.

The contest ends with the virtually unanswerable "Super Garruda," a masterpiece of the obscure repeated the following year as a freebie garruda.

Contacted 18 hours into the contest, Froeming was alert and still in the hunt, though frustrated that he missed on a dozen answers he knew because he couldn't get through to the station within the allotted five minutes.

Did he still think going solo was the right move?

"It was for me." he said. "I'm not playing to win anymore. I'm playing for personal enjoyment. ... I can stop playing if I want. I won't, because I'm addicted."