Grandfather Watches the Grandfather Clock

There have been whispers circling around Madison over the last few weeks about a crowd-sourced trivia show happening on April 25. It was all speculation at the beginning. Then, I confirmed such talk. I made it official and took down my profile on (a partnering website that pairs trivia hosts with categories and theme ideas. It works well, but I’m selective and a bit of a size-queen as I guess as I only work with trivias with 10+ categories).

And now here I am, waiting by the metaphorical phone, hoping someone sends me some categories. You know Spoony Bards have submitted. They aren’t a wait-six-months-to-text kind of team. In fact, fact they gave me an extra category, in case I need it.

Then we’ve got the darkhorse team coming in from Planned Parenthood of Wisconsin. Will they be good? I don’t know, but you better believe they are going to be there.

For all the other teams, I suggest you get your five questions to me, before 4:30 today.

Then you need to round up a crew of players and get down to Glass Nickel Pizza on Atwood tonight. They show starts at 7pm. And as always, we’ll be in the basement. See you there.


Earth Day

We all know it’s Earth Day, right? The one day of the year when you’re supposed to care, even though we’re all insufferable consumers. Just last week we received a 20-pound box of new pens here at Wisconsin’s Hardest Trivia. That is essentially 20 pounds of new plastic that is on the slow road to a landfill. Even if they were made from recycled plastic, they would ultimately meet the same fate.

After opening this box of pens, shipped directly to my door, I felt bad about the plastics. So I took a minute to reflect by staring out over Trunch Lake. It was then that I saw Wisconsin’s Hardest Nick with his Dieselgate VW–hood open–parked at the end of the Wisconsin’s Hardest Trivia Global Headquarters, Wax Museum and Rap Emporium swimming dock. Upon closer inspection I noticed he was changing the oil in the car and had parked it there to drain the old fluid directly into the lake. Saving him the time and effort of finding a city storm drain that does the same.

“WTF?” I texted him
His insanely fast response was, “Every 5000 miles, baby!”
And the next text read, “Gotta keep the pig greased”

He’s not wrong.
One of the tastier ways you can celebrate Earth Day is to bring your growler in for a refill at Company Brewing tonight. If you don’t have a growler, maybe it’s time you get one. And while you’re there, settle in for 50 questions with Wisconsin’s Hardest Nick.

Tonight, he’s coming at you with topics like The Grand Slams of Tennis, Season One of Barry, and the Life and Times of Weird Al Yankovic. So rideshare, or hop on a bike, or simply walk yourself down to Company Brewing tonight. The show starts at 7pm. See you there.

Winter is Here, or Whatever

I’m unsure if we’ve got any motion effects masters in the trivia crowd, but I was thinking we should get a Game of Thrones-style opening sequence. Imagine the strength of the emotions elicited when players heard those first opening notes Dun Dun Dun Dun Dun dun dun dun dun dun Dun Dun Dun Dun Dun dun dun dun dun dun Dun Dun Dun Dun Dun dun dun dun dun dun…and just when you think that familiar cello is about to drop, you get a strings arrangement of Van Halen’s Hot For Teacher.

And the imagery, that pretty easy. Obviously, we’ve got a map of the great state of Wisconsin, with Company Brewing rising up first. The mash tank and fermenting kettle ripping skyward would be an awesome sight. Then a waterfall of beer appears, draining from the open mouth of a statue of Wisconsin’s Hardest Nick. To fill out the scene, we could have some standard Riverwest images surround the towering Company Brewing building. It would be a powerful juxtaposition to see such greenery and then Kate’s stolen car and bunch of used needles in a park.

Then the POV pulls back and pans over to the Up & Under. It’s darker here, more organic. Instead of buildings shooting skyward we see an army of figures emerge from swampland. As we push in close on the figures we see that each one grows its hair long, tosses one hand up with the horns and starts bobbing its head to an unheard thrash rhythm. Then a PBR truck slides in from off screen, the backend opens and an avalanche of cans spills out as the POV again pulls back.

Panning over the map to Glass Nickel Pizza is going to take a little longer. This is where we could have TPIODITMOSL pass through the screen and maybe an Axolatl forged of gold.

The Glass Nickel location would probably just be a cave on an Isthmus with a replica of the Edmund Fitz parked just off shore. As the shot zooms in, we follow a team of players rowing to from the tanker towards the cave. In the cave would see statues to the pizza gods, many of them with dough in mid-toss. And the the final image would not be of a weirwood tree, but of  a bunch of trivia players gathered round as a 100-foot high dragonglass representation of Willy Cauley-Stein dunking on those fools appears.

So, if you’ve got some serious motion graphics skills, or you can do something like this in Flash, get to it. If not get ready for a banger of show at Company Brewing tonight. I’ve heard Nick spent all weekend in the kitchen cooking up categories like The Lego Movie, Old-ass Beasts and Your Milwaukee Bucks’ Season in Review. To prove your mettle in a style of battle only slightly more civilized than that of Game of Thrones, I suggest you get a team together and get to Company Brewing tonight. The show starts at 7pm. See you there.


Off The Tracks


Earlier this week I was out here in these streets, going on about how the Wisconsin’s Hardest Trivia Express was blasting into stations bringing joy and blowing minds.

That was a lie.

Maybe someone could claim minds were blown, but it was not in a good way. And just by looking at the questions stack, it’s clear no one found an ounce of joy in trivia this week. Five days ago I was here hyping Latvian Athletes, Prog rock and Kei cars as the week’s highlights. THOSE WERE THE HIGHLIGHTS. Foreign jocks, foreign car guys and rock nerds. Which of these factions are you sitting with during lunch?

I think it’s pretty clear there are no joy rides on the Wisconsin’s Hardest Trivia Express. And to that, I have to ask, ‘What did you expect?”

Take a look at the history of trains, the train tracks that traverse human history if you will. How long after the development of the steam engine were European settlers rolling through the American West, wiping out millions of Bison bison, and frankly using no parts of the buffalo? And how long after that was it before trains in Europe we used to facilitate the Holocaust and Porajmos? And then, less than a century later, we have the Snowpiercer revealing the only true ending for a committed capitalist society through a rather heavy-handed and very linear class struggle allegory.

I know you’re probably thinking, but what of kindler, gentler trains throughout history? What about Watty Piper’s The Little Engine That Could? Or Thomas the Tank Engine? Or the Amtrak Acela? And my response to all off those is simple. “Train-washing”. Big locomotive is constantly trying to sell us on the idea of “good trains”, but good trains don’t exist. In fact, the most accurate representation of trains in fiction is the 2004 animated version of The Polar Express, which everyone agrees is at best a grotesquerie and quite possibly a saccharine story of child abuse and neglect and the life-long triggering effects of the weird sex bell.

But, I say this trivia players. You were not wrong to trust us. At Wisconsin’s Hardest Trivia we strive to make each trivia show if not fun, at least entertaining. Next week will be better. We may still be using the Wisconsin’s Hardest Trivia Express, because I signed a 48-month lease on this metaphor, but we’ll be pushing for more Crazy Train and less Lincoln Special. Thanks for sticking with us and hopefully you’ll hop aboard again next week.  


The WHT Express

Sometimes it’s like Wisconsin’s Hardest Trivia is just a cold, heartless, hunk of steel. Unable to love. Unable to care. Unable to read the cues from players, “this is just too hard now and no fun at all,” and “No one cares about Dave Coulier”.

When I think of Wisconsin’s Hardest Trivia like this, I like to think it’s a 19th century locomotive. But not just any locomotive. This locomotive stands no less 30-feet high to the top of the stack. Drive wheels 11-feet across, if they were an inch. In the smoke box one has to assume it’s just a conveyer belt, feeding the engine a constant source of coal, because there is no “Chug, Chug, Chug” from the WHT Express. It’s just a low guttural roar that never wavers.

And the iron. Legends says when they were forging the metal for the boiler, the blood from losing teams was added to the molten mass. This mechanical beast is crafted of the blackest iron and then further darkened by the soot that falls expended and worthlessly from the chimney. This is a black that should heat-up to skin-scalding temperatures in the sunlight, but somehow is always cold to touch, as though it is unreactive to its environment.

Hopefully, I have painted a strong enough word picture of the Wisconsin’s Hardest Trivia Express. But if you still feel a need to see it, to feel it, in person, be at the Up & Under on Brady Street in Milwaukee tonight. Get there before 7pm so you feel the intimidation of the a blood-splatter wedge plow we use like a cattle catcher, with a message written as tall as the blades , “Ask me about my Bamboo Harvester of Sorrow”, as it grinds to a stop.

From there, Celebrity Guest Host Andy Berg and Lewis, a man who coincidentally dressed in hickory-striped overalls and carried a wooden train whistle at all times from 2002-8, will be coming at you with 50 questions. Word on the street is this week’s trivia is the most difficult collection of questions since forever.

The show starts at 7pm. See you there. Toot! Toot!


April’s Fool Day

Ahhh April’s Fool Day. A day that used to be for children tucking firecrackers in grampa’s cigars and causing him to lose his sight and job. Then it became bigger because of Google being all like, “we can intercept all those emails from your parents, filter the information, relay the pertinent facts–your cousin’s getting married in June–and trash the rest of the message. Also, all of your recent search inquiries have been circling “Maria Ginesta + bikini”. You doing alright?”. LOLZ.  

But now it’s just passé and it’s more about a certain hacktion of society reminding you to stay on guard.

Like the players on Gentrifiers of Catan, for example. I can imagine their text thread last night, each of them curled up on their respective couches, giggling, firing-off speculation about how they think Nick is going to come out with 50 questions about the band Garbage.

That’s a fucking, 100%, laugh out loud, gut-busting, chuckle fest to the Gentrifiers. “The band Garage, can you believe it? So insane”.
C’mon. Get it together.

Instead, we at Wisconsin’s Hardest Trivia can best be likened to those hard-drinking nightcrawlers and barflys who are quick to tell you New’s Year Eve/St.’s Patrick Day/Ash’s Wednesday is amateur hour, so they don’t go to bars on that day.

Similarly, we at Wisconsin’s Hardest Trivia thinks April’s Fool Day is amateur hour. We live this life every-god-damned-day. Sure, those close to us, or formerly close to us, would probably call it gaslighting, but it’s commitment.

All April’s Fooling aside, Nick’s bringing the heat to Company Brewing tonight. He’s got questions about Kei Cars, Latvian Athletes and Prog Rock. I know you might be thinking, this must be a joke. But, this is for real. This is how you live now. This new and exciting and confusing life starts tonight. All you have to do is get your crew together, get yourselves to Company Brewing in Riverwest, grab a couple pints and get your learning swerve on. The show starts at 7pm. See you there.   


Canadian Invasion

Gather ‘round, trivia players. Let me tell you a story. This story takes place last Thursday night when Neil got all spicy and told me the Dead, Canadian, Both or Neither was not a good category.

Now, we should address the fact it is NOT a good category. Nor was the Wild Hearts Can’t Be Broken, or the one about candies. We’ve been writing trivia since like 1973 and a vast majority of the work we’ve done has received a “Not so great” ranking from the International Council on Trivia Inquiries and Team Nomenclature. In fact, the best category we’ve ever had was a crowd-sourced stack that simply asked players to rank these celebrities–that was it, just ranks these people on whatever. The second best is a tie between a Bamboo Harvester of Sorrow category and whenever we saw the first TPIODITMOSL show up.

But back to Neil. Neil’s complaint wasn’t about the quality of the questions. Neil was bitter because no one at trivia was Canadian and frankly no one wants to talk about Canada unless it’s Justin Trudeau /Fic.

This statement is only half true, and so now MFing Neil and all of you are going to play though this week’s Canada-heavy show. That’s right, some how someone scraped up five questions about David Coulier, and none of them involve Alanis Morissette. We’ll also be talking about the high-quality, contemporary television programs we import from our fine neighbors to the north. Then to balance it all out we’ll also dive into the Great State of South Carolina. I can only assume Neil, a Tennessee native, will be quick to tell us no one is from the south. What a jerk.

Anyway, Nick is putting on his Habs sweater right now and getting ready to deliver 50 mid-quality questions tonight at Company Brewing. Anyone or any team is welcome to join in the fun. All you have to do is be at Company Brewing in Riverwest tonight. The show starts at 7pm. See you there.



The bad news about Wisconsin’s Hardest Trivia at Glass Nickel Pizza tonight is that by the time we fill that basement and kick off the show, 85% of the crowd is going to be talking about busted brackets, unforeseen upsets and melted minds. That’s a lot of pressure to out on college hoopermans. That’s also a lot of pressure to put on yourself. Trying to pick the right team like it’s not going to be Duke or some other team with a creepy ass coach. But you’re still riding hard for Bradington State. That seems like good name for a college no one cares about. The team is just five, six-foot-two dudes named Brad.

The good news is all that will be behind you as soon as trivia fires up. We already know there is going to talk about Viggo Mortenson, Candy and Presidential Pets, but did you know I’m also going to be pressuring each of you, individually, about joining the Wisconsin’s Hardest Trivia Ragnar crew. We’re looking for a couple more people to fill out the team. And what could be better than spending a couple days in September running 15 miles through the woods of Northern Wisconsin?

All that a more, TONIGHT! All you have to do is be at Glass Nickel Pizza on Atwood. We’ll be in the basement and the show starts at 7pm. See you there.


(No title)

I’ve consulted with the sentient being that is this week’s questions, and I return to you with good news. Even after a drawn-out slug-fest that saw Das Tunnelsnakes take first place from Shart of Glass and 3 Guys on a Fact Hunt last night, The Questions are ready to kick down the door at Up & Under and show Brady Street what’s what.

I’m sure some of you are thinking the, “the sentient being that is the collected information of one week’s worth of trivia questions? That concept is dumb as hell.” Well sure, maybe it’s not great. But what is consciousness, but ongoing awareness of information gathered, interpreted and used to anticipate what is ahead. Consider how just the simple knowledge of The Physical Impossibility of Death in the Mind of Someone Living changes the way you look at a stack of Girl Scout Thin Mint cookies, or your aging grandparents.

Or, consider the way you studied for this week’s questions. We know there is a Viggo Mortensen round so there could very well be some Lord of The Rings questions. Using all of your collected trivia knowledge, you have to assume that I set out to write solid Viggo questions, but instead spent 6 hours trying to convincingly render images of Gritty into the naked fight scene from Eastern Promises.

That seems reasonable? But a sentient stack of questions is ridiculous? It’s like you guys have never seen Marjorie the talking trash heap from Fraggle Rock. Or Pythia. At least these trivia questions do not stink of rot.

Anyway, Wisconsin’s Hardest Trivia heads to Brady Street tonight. There you can find Lewis, a man who as been has spent the last seven years espousing the theory that The Beastie Boys’ Fight for Your Right to Party and Make Some Noise videos are part of the Lord of the Rings universe because it’s actually Elijah Wood playing Frodo playing Ad-Rock playing younger Ad-Rock and the whole pie thing because we all know how Gimli loved some whipped cream pies, coming at you with 50 questions. The show starts at 7pm. See you there.


Post St. Patrick’s Day Massacre

Hello trivia players, I hope you’re all doing well and have had a chance to shower to today. It’s important to wash off the St. Patrick’s Day almost immediately. I’ve heard that residual Irishness, if it remains in contact with your skin, it soaks in and just makes you insufferable. You end up with a propensity to buy things like Irish themed tee shirts and you opt for the Aer Lingus credit card so you can rack up some miles.

As the Madison players know, I recently made my pops do an test (because I want to know what’s up, but I don’t want to put my info in the system). Sure when the results came back there were some surprises, an unexpected 22% Frenchness and an unknown half-brother, for example, but I cannot express my relief when I saw that Irish category at <0 percent. I immediately removed that copy of Boondock Saints from Amazon wishlist and I spent St. Patrick’s Day watching Chinatown and Annie Hall guilt-free. Such relief.            

But all that is behind us, except for the half-brother thing. The days are getting longer. The weather is getting warmer. And league play is getting tenser. I mean, look at Company Brewing. I would say Shart Shaped Box, Das Tunnelsnakes, Scrambled Eggs and Dennis, Nell, Edna and Ellen Sinned are all in the running. With 3 Guys on a Fact Hunt and Gentrifiers of Catan as potential dark horse contenders.

Of course, the path to league domination runs directly through tonight’s show, where Wisconsin’s Hardest Nick is coming out hot with with questions about Candies, Presidential Pets and the naked body of Viggo Mortensen’s work.

So if these all seem like things you and your trivia-playing friends might be into, or maybe you just like trivia and fine craft beers, I suggest you get to Company Brewing in Riverwest tonight. The show starts at 7pm. See you there.


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