Ask a fifth-year: I bless the rains down in Appleton

 Dear Sarah,


—Totally Sober Appleton Cops Battling the Twerking Iowan Trivia Pirates (Aaaarrrgghhhh)


Dear Appleton Cops,

Trivia is fun. Trivia is amazing. Trivia is SKULL SQUADRON (skull squadron). Trivia is death and destruction hour (or possibly dungeons and dragons hour). Trivia will take over campus and your life if you have any sense starting Jan. 23 at 10 p.m. and, I believe, 37 seconds. Trivia is no sleep and a constant craving for Topperstix. Trivia is time checks and SKULL SQUADRONS. For three days, it becomes a way of life.

Here’s how it works for those who have never played before. Teams register in the WLFM office in the Conservatory of Music the morning of the contest. By nine in the evening, Lawrentians and a variety of off campus teams are poised and ready in front of their computer screens for the contest to begin. That evening, the trivia masters take over Lawrence’s radio station, WLFM. For the next 50 hours, they read question after ridiculously tangled question. They might require you to read a Wikipedia article. They might require you to watch a YouTube video and count the number of pianos smashed. They might require you to determine what is carved into the pavement to the left of the word “lulu” in a sculpture by Mike Sullivan.

Every so often, theme hours will occur. Death and Destruction hour. Sonic the Hedgehog hour. NPR hour. Viola hour. Gay hour. Game of Thrones hour. Remember that one friend you had in high school that you thought was a little odd because they spent hours a day reading My Little Pony FanFiction? They just might be your team’s saving grace for an hour. Personally, I’m really hoping Kurt Russell hour is finished, but I’m eagerly awaiting the return of Polish hour.

The third key element in Trivia questions are the action questions. Dig out those weird clothes in the back of your closet. Find friends who can bake. Sight read string quartet arrangements of pop tunes. Send your boyfriend running across campus looking for bottles with messages in them. These questions are only for on-campus teams and usually require players to go somewhere and do something for the Trivia Masters. Sometimes you have to make them food, sometimes you have to seduce them and sometimes you have to build them a giant snow sculpture. You will end up crashing a Delta Tau Delta party.

The final element of Trivia are the garrudas. These questions take up the last two hours of the trivia contest and are the hardest questions of the entire contest. Last year, no garrudas were answered correctly by any team. These questions often involve incredibly obscure written works such as rare books that are out of print, airplane dinner menus, captain’s logs, graffiti on Copernicus’ final resting place. Other times, these questions require you to get information from a specific person. This generally means you have to call them at some ridiculous time in the morning when the last thing they want to be doing is answering questions about your trivia contest.

The Great Midwest Trivia Contest might be one of the most famous things about Lawrence. Apparently it’s been written about in everything from the Chicago Tribune to Playboy magazine. But ultimately, trivia will always be about Lawrence. As current fifth-year student Schuyler Thornton put it, “Trivia weekend is a time to bond with friends over the quirkiness that embodies Lawrence.”

P.S. Shrek is going down. Love, David and the Bells.

Send in your questions to and have them answered by Sarah, a double-degree student in her fifth year at Lawrence.