Recaps, commentary and more from a former contestant and a hopeful one.

Who will win the Battle of the Decades?

Sunday, April 20, 2014

This one time at O'Brien's


     So of course I have a lot I can't wait to tell you about my week in Los Angeles watching the Battle of the Decades finals. I don't have to wait to tell you about this: the O'Brien's pub quiz!
     This week the episodes taped on Wednesday and Thursday instead of Tuesday and Wednesday! Remember the guy who has attended every taping for years? (Sorry, I can't find where I've referred to him in the past.) His name is Joe. He's guessing that the schedule was arranged that way because Tuesday was the first day of Passover. I'd been worried that regular episodes taped on Tuesday that week, because I could've been there. But Joe says nothing taped.
     Mark May was Tom Cubbage's guest on Wednesday. Mark and I determined we were both going to the pub that night. He asked if I had a team, and I was sorry to say I didn't because I know it's my responsibility and I didn't want to burden Mark. But ever the gracious host, he said "We'll take care of you."
     I saw Stefan right away when I walked in to the pub. I didn't talk to him long then because he had a full team, and I had to kind of hurry and find one since it might be a challenge. I got to talk to Stefan after the quiz, and it was highly entertaining!
     Since the pub quiz would be happening smack in the middle of the finals instead of at the end, I thought that might impact attendance - contestants who advanced might want to rest because they'd play again the next day for such high stakes. You'll have to wait to find out who, if anyone, among these people advanced to week two: Colby Burnett, Robin Carroll, Dan Pawson and Mark Dawson! Also, India CooperShane Whitlock and their spouses were there. They were alternates in the Battle of the Decades tournament. Maria Wenglinsky was the alternate for the 2000s, but she wasn't at the pub. I did tell her the next day I looked for her! Here she is at the taping, with Dan Pawson's wife Andrea Saenz. Thanks to Bill MacDonald for this picture!

     Incidentally, Maria had gone to the Getty that morning. She was only present for the afternoon session. She said she arrived at 1:30 but no one would let her in. (We'd been told to be back in our seats by 3:15.) She'd said this in front of contestant coordinator Maggie, who was understandably bummed!
     I came upon Jerome Vered as I wandered around the pub looking for a team with space available. He yelled at a guy at another table, asking if his team was full. It wasn't, but at the same time I was being led to another table, and that's where I wound up. There was some uncertainty because apparently that team had been expecting someone named "Mary Beth" and her husband, which would've made them a full team. Jerome yelled to the team he'd asked, "You snoozed, you losed!" The guy yelled back that he said his team wasn't full! It makes me laugh out loud even now. I didn't even see the guy he was yelling back and forth with. By the way, I loved Jerome's green glasses this week, and I never told him! Here we are at the party after taping the next day:

     Bill MacDonald took this picture too! When Bill looked a little exasperated, I was like "Oh no," but it was because of what Jerome's doing! Here was the next attempt:

     Unfortunately Bill wasn't at the pub! By the way, I could only attend this party because Mark Dawson let me be his guest. I'm forever grateful.

     I didn't take any pictures at the pub, and to my knowledge no one took a picture of me. It's too bad because I liked my dress and hair that day:

     So who was on the team I joined? Colby, Robin, Dan and Andrea. I'm serious. Robin's daughter wasn't there. I thought she might be since Robin told me in our Q & A that Alison is 21. Apparently Alison was doing something else, but I met her the next night. That's her next to Robin in the picture below. Kelly and Jimmy from the Clue Crew are on the left. Contestant coordinator Maggie and Pam Mueller are on the right.

     When I approached my team's table, I was surprised Colby knew my name and that I was behind this blog. (I didn't say any of that when I was on his team the last time!) He recalled a few things I'd said in my post about the last quiz. Remember, "he'd be back"? :-) He'd said that after he'd known a correct response but it didn't get to the scorekeepers correctly. Colby was on his game again at this quiz, but there were two responses he knew and was talked out of. I wish I had them for you verbatim, but one was about tax brackets, which Colby knew something about since he'd won so much money last year. The other was about Barry Sanders.
     At some point during the quiz, my teammates mused about how much money the people in the room had taken Jeopardy! for. This prompted a chorus of "I've won [suchety-such] hundred thousand dollars...I've won [blank] hundred thousand dollars." Andrea is a Jeopardy! champ too. And this was just my table! I didn't have much to say there, but I didn't the whole night. Again. I remarked I don't think there was anything I knew that someone else didn't too. And there was very little of that. This was a hard quiz, and probably the most vulgar of the ones I've been to! I doubt there's been another 5 minutes of my life where I heard a certain body part word as often and from as many different people. Even in nursing school. Believe me, I never expected to hear it out of these mouths! Later, at the post-mortem, Mark M. noted he'd have to tweet the name of the winning team. (See below.) The discussion continued the next day at the studio, between Jerome and Michael Rooney. The latter had hosted the quiz with Dileep Rao. I think poor Bill was a little surprised at what he was hearing! We broke off into a different conversation at that point.
     Remember at the last quiz, when I had pointed to a picture and wondered if it was Mecca? Colby showed me the real Mecca and it looked nothing like the one I'd pointed to. Something like that happened this time too. We had a handout where we were given names of "second bananas," and we were to name other half. There was a name "Archie," and I'd asked Colby if it could be the Archie from the comic strip. Colby knew that Archie's last name (it wasn't the one on the handout), and that Archie wouldn't have been considered the second banana anyway!
     Here's a picture of the winning team. Look: every face a familiar one!
     As I mentioned earlier, I went to the post-mortem afterwards at the coffee shop across the street, which was a treat. A lot of people came, including Robin and Mark D. Jerome was bringing chairs from another room but he was missing some of the discussion he obviously relishes about the evening's questions. He stopped what he was doing so he could stand and be close to the people who had the scoresheets. I told him we could switch places but he wouldn't hear of it!
     Here are a couple of questions from the quiz (mercifully G-rated), courtesy of Michael Rooney:

Who, in a 1914 novel, was the first to coin the term "atomic bomb"?

The only circular state line in the U.S. lies between which two states?

     Mark M. offered to walk me to my car, but I'd already asked Warren Usui since he did it last time! It was a sad goodbye with Mark, since he had to work the next day and wouldn't be at the taping. I don't know when I'll be out that way again! I told contestant coordinator Robert the same thing. That's Bill MacDonald on the right, and he gave me the picture! This was also at the party after the Thursday taping.

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