For a variety of reasons - work, high ticket prices, other commitments, lack of easily accessible theaters where I live - I didn't see very many movies last year. Maybe a dozen in their initial theatrical runs. Once a month isn't bad, of course, and it lets me keep up with the cultural conversation (and every once in a while see something I like). But it does still leave me feeling left out in certain critical ways.
Like the Oscars, for instance.
This year, I was the partisan of no particular film, hadn't seen nearly enough of the nominated pictures to have informed opinions about them. There were plenty of causes and individuals worth championing, of course, and many of them triumphed last night, but sharing in that triumph was more of an academic exercise for me. So as a shared pop cultural event, this year's Oscar ceremony didn't hold any particular excitement for me this year.
But the Oscars, as a social event, have a life of their own, quite apart from the films they honor in any given year. And so, despite having seen few of this year's honorees, I felt obligated to take part in the event somehow. And fortunately, there was an easy way for me to do so.
By being a huge trivia nerd.
When not writing, or acting, or blogging about writing or acting (don't get me started), I belong to one of New York's most dangerous trivia teams. (And if you don't regularly attend trivia events in this city, trust me when I tell you that we do indeed get dangerous.) There are a number of arts professionals in our ranks - in addition to myself, the makers of the award-winning film Millie and the Lords, which you can still download from HBO streaming services (and upon whose cutting room floor a performance of mine was left), are members of our team. We mostly attend events put on by the Big Quiz Thing, which is a deluxe and highly polished trivia event which used to go up monthly in New York, but which now, for various reasons, limits itself to special events here.
Like, every year, Oscar night.
And so we came, and nerded out during the Oscars preshow, as three trivia rounds plus a buzzer battle for the finalist teams played out in our Lower East Side venue. And we won - getting plastic medals and cookies for our troubles. Which would have been all we required for our troubles - you nerd out for the love of nerding out, after all.
But somehow, the Big Quiz Thing publicists must have outdone themselves this year. Because among the throngs of film geeks was a small crew from the local ABC Eyewitness News affiliate. Covering our trivia event. Which my team won. And they decided that simply covering the trivia event wasn't enough for their human interest coverage story.
They needed to interview us.
And so it was that after twenty years working as an artist in this city, I was finally interviewed by the local news - not for any play of mine, but for my achievements in remembering trivia under pressure. (I'd link to the story, but I haven't been able to find it - I don't know if it's exclusively online, or set to be part of something larger, or what.)
Imagine what will happen next year, once I've actually seen the movies!
Posted on March 5, 2018
by Michael C. O'Day