So here’s the thing….  We need readers and scorekeepers for the Garfield QuizMasters to go out to vanquish our intellectual foes in upcoming Academic Challenge competitions.  Do I see any volunteers?

Really, the hardest part is getting up EARLY on a Saturday morning to go ride a bus to the designated venue for the tournaments.  Of course, riding in a bus with a bunch of adolescents who are…how shall I say?…a little “left of center” can be an adventure in itself.  The other thing is that the whole bunch of people  in the tournament are like that aaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaalllll of the time.  I am always amazed when they do math problems in their heads (I thought that I’d spend my entire life in the sixth grade, when I couldn’t grasp the concept of the division of fractions; these people are doing binomials—whatever they are) and can rattle off the atomic numbers of obscure elements on the periodic table.  Then again,  sometimes they don’t know spit about quite a few important time periods and/or historic figures.  And sometimes the question-writers don’t seem to have a real firm grasp of what’s being taught in schools lately.

The big TRASH Tournament is a fun one that the kids like, because it is focused on so-called Pop Culture—movies, TV, video games, sports, music,–definitely non-academic stuff.  I told them that I worried about anybody who knew too much about those kinds of goofy things but they immediately discount anything that I—as a person without a television–have to say about the topic.  We scored on one round of questions once upon a time because our ace female contestant beat the clock by calling out, “Bad Grampa!”  How’s that for non-academic?  This particular tournament has moved around a bit.  When we started, it was held up at Case-Western Reserve University, starting in one of the old

Take Up A New Hobby

halls with wooden floors and a blackboard, and moving into other buildings  around the Quadrangle.  We went to lunch at Rainbow Babies and Children’s Hospital(closest food source…pretty good).   Lately, it’s been at Olmsted Falls Middle School, which is probably large enough to hold most of the population of Garrettsville.

Aurora’s Turkey Tourney has morphed from a connection to Halloween to the weekend before Thanksgiving.  There’s often an invitation to arrive in costume; a couple of the bodysuits invited comparison to alien invaders or cartoon characters.  Our local competition guru out of the PCESC(Portage County Educational Services Center) urges us to do themes for contests around the county. We’ve never really gotten into that.  My earmuffs are as far out as I get.

The new tournament coming up this Saturday is terra incognita, since it’s a brand-new tournament that we’ve never attended before (It didn’t exist before).  This one’s at Hawken Middle School, which I’ve never seen before either.  One more adventure!

None of these places are about gourmet lunches either.  The standard is $5 for lunch, consisting of (nutritionists avert your eyes) pizza, cookie, apple, maybe chips.  Rainbow Babies is lots better.  One competition we haven’t been to in a while is down in Copley, where the kids get the $5 standard and the coaches, readers, scorekeepers, et al. get goodies solicited from local food establishments, plus Copley team members’ donations.  That place is like a labyrinth too, with two or three floors, ramps and corners and identical-looking corridors that make just getting to the room that the team is supposed to be in quite a challenge.  Gotta be smart just to be in the right place, let alone answer questions.

One of the best parts of doing this Academic Challenge stuff is that we have never gone   to any meet that I didn’t learn something interesting.  And not just about Pop Culture either.  That trivia goes by so fast that it really doesn’t register a being important enough to latch on to.  I’ve only got so much brain space left and would rather not have it occupied by whatever it is that Nikki Minaj is nominated for or who’s got the best batting average for a right fielder in the World Series since 1989.  Hell’s bells, I forgot my own cell phone number the other day…I don’t call that often.  Nah, it’s more like the questions that we practice on : Who wrote the Wizard of Oz?  Who had the nickname “Satchmo”?  Where’s Kolkata?  What’s a parsec?  That kind of question.

So….  How about it?  Anyone out there up for a challenge?  The scoring system isn’t that hard to learn.  You get to hang out with some pretty fun kids and see “how the other half lives”, so to speak.  You get to make meaningful contributions to education.  You get to talk to me and the bus driver on the way to and from.  You get to offer directional advice when the abovementioned bus driver and I are not real sure of where we’re going, despite the directions from the bus garage –road closings happen, just like that other stuff.

Call the high school (James A. Garfield High School—330-527-4341—those office people take good care of me) or call me direct (I’m in the book).  This could be your new hobby!