From The Times
August 30th, 2007
Jaime Valdez / The Times
Julie Smith, Kristina Barton and Rodrigo Hulse (left to right) confer with one another on an answer during a Thursday night pub quiz.
"What is the only state lying south of the Tropic of Cancer?"
"Who wrote the theme song to "Friends'?"
"What was the price of the first Model T Ford when introduced in 1908?"
Do you know the answer to these questions? Do you love beer? Do you have $3 to be pooled together and used as a cash prize?
Thanks to Alisa Stewart of Beaverton, Pub Quiz Oregon combines all these elements into an interactive, social event that helps teams of regular people test their smarts on a variety of topics.
As described on the organization's Web site, "A pub quiz, in the most traditional sense, is a trivia night played in teams. The team with the most correct answers at the end of the game wins a cash prize and the illustrious pride of being the Winning Team of the Week. But don't call this a "trivia night!' We offer up MUCH more than just plain ol' trivia. We've got audio clips from your favorite movies, quirky questions, match 'em games, and rounds as varied as Name That Tune and Jeopardy to Bonus Bingo and Who Wants to Be a Turkish Millionaire. Add pencil puzzles in the mix, and you've got a well-rounded evening of fun and camaraderie for you and your friends . . . and you just might win some money, too!
"Pub Quiz USA is dedicated to the UN-geniuses! We take pride in providing questions that challenge but not overwhelm, so you can drink beer and still score high. From pop culture to philosophy, from geography to gas prices, it's anyone's game!"
Stewart said she first got introduced to pub quizzes during a trip abroad, though she only really got hooked after she moved to Seattle and was encouraged by a British friend to compete. She soon became a regular competitor in the pub quiz circuit, but after moving to Portland some time later, was disappointed to discover the city does not have anything resembling a traditional pub quiz.
"It was such an addiction that I wanted to get involved and get back to it," she said. "[Bars in Portland] had a trivia night here or there but nothing like they did in Seattle."
After some research and a whole lot of planning, Stewart launched Pub Quiz USA in February 2005. She teamed up with a local bar to host the event and was given clear instructions from the owner to bring up attendance; after just five weeks the event went from 25 to 70 people and outgrew the venue. She said she brainstormed ideas for what would personally entice her to come out to a quiz night, including a better prize than the usual basket of fries offered to winners, and used it to guide what would be included in the weekly events.
"It's for one thing getting out of the house, getting away from the day-to-day watching TV, and it's doing something different. And also the biggest part is the social aspect. The camaraderie is the biggest part I would say," she said. "Running the quizzes I see that going on. It's very gratifying to see people having a good time because of what I'm bringing to it, and these people, especially the regulars, they come out every week because they get to have fun with their friends.
"That's really what I'm doing it for. I'm providing the sort of backdrop for their camaraderie, I'm providing the means."
Labor of love
Stewart said one of the best factors in the pub quiz is the interaction. Unlike going to a concert where you are just passively watching, people get to participate in the pub quiz and exercise their minds. Stewart's mind also gets a workout during the time she spends creating the quizzes, which encompass a number of different subjects and multimedia formats. She shares quiz-writing duties with another person, with each of them putting together between two and four per week. Having another writer has been good for Stewart because she said it "helps not only in terms of time, but it's also good to have another person's point of view and background."
It takes Stewart about three hours to write a full quiz, with much of the time spent skimming through reference materials such as Merriam Webster and Encyclopedia Britannica. She tries her best to avoid the Internet and Web sites such as Wikipedia because the info listed can be subjective or inaccurate, but sometimes she has no choice but to rely on them. Coming up with quality questions is important for her because she knows how much it adds to the enjoyment of everyone present during the quiz.
"I think the best question is the one where you hear the crowd go, "Oh my god, what is that, what is that?!' That's the best question," she said.
Though Stewart writes half of the quizzes, she only plays quizmaster one night each week at Bridgeport Brewing Company. The rest of the quiz nights - which will soon total nine - are led by other knowledge enthusiasts, including fellow Beaverton resident David Rosenbaum, who leads quizzes at The Belmont Inn on Belmont Street.
Though Stewart enjoys her position as the force behind the pub quiz movement in Portland, she still misses the days when she was able to simply show up and match wits with her fellow man.
"I miss playing," she said. "I have thought about it, it's like, "Do I want to do this forever?' I don't see myself doing this forever, but at the same time I don't see how I can pass the torch.
"For the time being it's what defines me. Right now everybody loves it so much that I want to keep going. It's self-perpetuating. How can I give this up? As long as I keep having a good time, as long as it's still fun, I'm going to keep doing it."
One thing Stewart has been working hard to put together is the first ever Pub Quiz Tournament, taking place around Portland beginning Sept. 15. The tournament will be played over the course of three days at three different bars, with teams competing for a $2,000 cash prize, championship trophy and individual medals; second- and third-place finishers will receive medals and gift certificates from local merchants. All proceeds from the tournament will go to the Oregon Humane Society.
Stewart said she was inspired to put together such an event after people began asking her for a tournament more than a year ago. She said she talked to the other quizmasters to see if they would be interested, and after compiling more than 100 suggestions from people for what they would want to see in such a tournament, she began hammering out the details to make it happen. Up to 200 teams are able to participate in the tournament, each with four to six players and they must register by Sept. 5.
Some of the details she thought necessary were to spread the tournament out over time and in different locations, keep the entrance fee low ($20 per person) and make sure all the profits go to a worthy cause.
"I can't profit from people," Stewart said. "We had to give it to somebody. I'm not interested in profiting."
She chose the Humane Society because of the new facility being built that will give animals 24-hour medical care and help medical students get firsthand experience.
"It was such a groundbreaking kind of idea and it's just a remarkable center that they're building. I thought, "Why not, let's benefit that,'" she said.
And by the way, the answers to the questions at the beginning of the article are Hawaii, the Rembrandts and $850.
From The Oregonian
Friday, July 29, 2005
From The Portland Tribune
Friday, March 4, 2005
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