The pursuit of stockpiling completely useless information is an art. Don't let anyone tell you different. Like any muscle that takes years of hard training and meticulous cultivation to be in top shape, the nerd muscle requires that same serial-killer-esque attention to detail. And bonus! Training the nerd muscle doesn't require any physical work, and you can eat all the pizza you want.
When I watched Usain Bolt dominate the sprint competitions at the Beijing Olympics, crushing world records like it wasn't a damn thing, I looked at my television screen and thought, Yup. I know how that guy feels. I know. I understand triumph of the heart, of the mind, of the body. Why? Because I can name every Mariah Carey single that has hit No. 1 on the Billboard charts.
I'll never forget the moment I saw that question on a trivia quiz, looked up at my teammates with a blaze of knowing in my eyes and said, "Dudes, I totally got this." It's all over! Gozer wins the cup!
I can't do more than five pushups, but I can drop some random pop-culture knowledge that few others in my company know. The moments I can do that, no matter how small, are moments when I experience a true sense of triumph.
That immense self-satisfaction was apparent in everyone who came out to Whistle Stop Bar in South Park last Thursday to tap the useless information that rents a large section of their brain. My friend and ultimate music nerd Adam Gimbel came out of retirement after three years to host his popular music-trivia night, "Musical Pursuit."
This trivia night sets the bar high on the popular-music dweebage scale. It's hyper-specific and obscure while also hitting mainstream music, so you can't just know the name of the producer on the first Can album. You also have to know things about people like Ariana Grande and Taylor Swift.
This is why assembling a strong team with various strengths is key, and also why the night's always been so beloved by a very specific set of nerds. Anyone who's ever seen the movie High Fidelity knows the type I'm talking about ("It was Dean, you fuckin' idiot!"). Music nerds are kooky elitists draped in dark hoodies and thick-rimmed glasses who spout out factoids about anything from Mancunian rock bands of the late '80s and early '90s to the best rhymes crafted by 2 Chainz. Coincidentally, this also describes pretty much every dude I've ever dated. What can I say? I have a type.
The room was full of these unappreciated scholars who definitely know more than you. We were all hunched over, looking at a past quiz left out on the tables to get the juices flowing, yelling out answers to "Name That Tune" and prepping to show off our skills. The paleness of our skin serves as a badge of honor. It says we are all too busy on the Internet all day learning things that, yes, in the long run, may not matter. But they matter to us.
While I fancy myself more of a pop-culture maven, with an emphasis on television, I love coming to trivia nights like this, seeing my bespectacled brethren and sistren in dorkery flaunt their knowledge and show off some of my own. And, damn, does it feel good. I don't think I ever puff my chest up higher than when my sister calls me to ask the name of that one guy with the weird front teeth who was in that movie where he was a game-show host but also in the CIA, and I immediately tell her Sam Rockwell and hang up without saying bye, like a boss.
My team comprised some of the brightest minds in random music knowledge, with strengths in various genres and periods of pop-music history. We were told absolutely no cell phones allowed (except to use as flashlights because it was really dark in there and we're old). The thing is, cheating is really not what makes for fun winning. I mean, who are we, the New England Patriots? Knowing what we know and remembering it without any high-tech help is what sets us apart from the dumb-dumbs of the world. We banded together against our one true foe.
[ Clint Eastwood scowl ] Terich.
As many of you CityBeat readers know, Jeff Terich is our music editor. Being the music editor of any publication means being pretty knowledgeable about music in general, though many definitely have their genres of expertise. That's pretty standard. Jeffrey Terich, however, is a freakin' beast. That dude is a music-trivia monster. He's going to read this and his ego is going to feel like it just got its 12th round of roast beef from Hometown Buffet.
And, of course, he's also kind and awesome—he would be, that son of a bitch. Along with his equally brilliant wife, Candice Eley, and Ryan Bradford (another CityBeat staffer who knows so much about pop punk that you're surprised he doesn't have a lip ring) and other team members, they presented our biggest challenge.
Actually, no, they didn't. They're so damn good, we never stood a chance, but we came in a very respectable fourth place, high-fiving when we got something particularly difficult right. Because, at the end, the knowing is the win. This is a challenge to ourselves and how we honor the years we spent collecting records and going to shows and watching cool rock docs and generally not getting laid because we were collecting information on things we love. Maybe I'm speaking for myself on the last part. And, yes, that does sound like loser talk. Whatever.