I’mma gonna get straight to the point here: Tuesdays at Minsky’s (née Hotel Cremorne, née née Megahole) is my weekly pilgrimage and it is Sydney’s Best Trivia. In fact, that’s the name of the company running this show!
The questions are written by a fellow named Andrew who I first experienced through the trivia prism in 2003, at the Great Northern in Artarmon. He’s an accomplished public speaker with a clear, booming voice and a penchant for cricket, rugby union, The Who and The Sopranos. His catchphrases included (in a whiny voice) “there’s too much sport” (which would then be adapted to “there’s too much opera/poetry/Scandinavia and so on), “…and if you don’t watch The Fall you are wasting your life” and “upsidedown Miss Jane” (probably couldn’t get away with this one nowadays). When we last spoke he said he was all-but retired from hosting duties but the spirit of his outstanding quizmastering flows strongly in his acolytes stationed around Sydney.
And the best of these minions is Elise. Armed with a caustic wit and a confessional style, Elise peppers her trivia with vignettes about life working in the ticket booth at a well-known Sydney performance house and bon mots from her time at a community radio station. She recalls an amalgam of all the good personality aspects from the four girls in Girls, except of course for Jessa, who is pure evil.
Naturally, we have clashed in the past about marking and some answers relating to Harry Potter and the Irish republican movement, but there a few friends/family members/colleagues/trivia hosts/public transport employees/rival hacks/waiters/airline staff/Germans/Members for North Sydney/cinema patrons I haven’t clashed with. I have a highly irritating personality.
Trivia is three rounds of 15 questions. The antepenultimate and penultimate questions in each round are music (name a song by title and artist is the convention but Elise is prone to gimmickery, which I would normally frown upon, but y’know, I am become more accepting of other people peccadillos, and then one week Elise reported that her speakers were broken so she hummed classical music, which obviously I knew nothing about because I reject all culture (“every time I hear the word I reach for me revolver” – Goebbels (but not really)), and but so I called in a few favours from my friends in PRland to score a free Bluetooth wireless speaker for her to use at trivia and in her quotidian life outside the realm of answers and questions — it was a purely selfish gesture — I needed to get back to harvesting 12 music points per week) and the final question is a multipointer worth between 5 and 10 points.
This is trivia for adults: intellectual questions about writing fonts, architecture, cashmere, Wendi Deng and even my beloved Venn diagrams; with exam-like invigilation and a definitive skew towards knowledge > guesswork. The chiaroscuro is ably provided by Elise’s signature logorrhoea, enhanced by the complete lack of filter between her id and the pub’s public address. She has a delicious habit of mocking this team of ancients who can never score any points in the music rounds because Elise unrepentantly plays only modern music. “That one was Dani California by Red Hot Chili Peppers,” she said one week, before looking at the retirees and saying directly but slowly to them, “that’s ‘Red’ (and a pause) ‘Hot’ (…) ‘Chili’ (…) ‘Peppers’).” It was very funny.
Last night I played with my Mum and my Sister. It was a real family affair: Freud would have approved! My sister ate half a burger (vertical, not horizontal) of a very thick rissole and a very orange piece of cheese between a brioche bun comprising milk, butter and cream held together by a handful of sesame seeds. I swear to God: one day I am going to order a beer in Sydney and it will be served in a brioche bun. THERE WAS NOTHING WRONG WITH NORMAL DAIRY-FREE BREAD! She liked it! My Mum had the eye fillet, which I have had before and it is very good, and I had the chicken schnitzel, which was a chicken schnitzel so of course it was fucking amazing.
Trivia is good when points are weighted correctly and there is a broad crosssection of topics ranging from the gimmes to the getouttaheres. I like a good hard question that can be worked out, like which (different) sporting brands sponsor Rory McIlroy and Jordan Spieth? or who is actress Riley Keogh’s famous grandfather? or where were the ANZACs 100 years ago today or? (and my Mum was unusually impressed I knew this; unusual because she does love me very much) what is Australia’s lowest point? There were a handful of multiple choice questions in there as well. I guess you’ve got to keep the Gammas out in the Pleeblands satisfied.
If you are going to play this trivia, homework will pay-off. I probably study more for trivia than I did throughout my 17.5 years of formalised education. Make sure you check the ARIA albums chart, peruse the cast and plots of current release fillums, be completely across major news events, know the scores and key players from the preceding weekend of sport and the actual meaning of ‘peruse’.
After a solid pledge, consolidating turn and fast prestige, we finished second, 1.5 points behind the winners, whose name I can’t remember but they had like 8 members so we were the moral victors. Incidentally, I always make a point of going up to the winning to personally congratulate them.
First prize is a $70 voucher, second is $30 and there are some drinks vouchers for second last. Through the night there are also vouchers for true/false heads/tails and various other guessing games like name an actor from a list of films. Last night Elise played heads/tails by reading out a list of artists who have performed Bond themes and you had to had to indicate whether or not they had scored Australian #1 singles (heads = yes, tails = no). Aside from the fact that she got Sam Smith completely wrong (he hasn’t had a #1) she also include chart stats from before 1988, when Australia didn’t have an official chart, and this is one of my triggers. I guess we are none of us perfect.
Trivia at Minsky’s. Get some!