Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Chuck the Writer Discovers the 1981 "Answers Please" Trivia Team has a New Perspective


One of my greatest high school achievements (hell, one of the greatest achievements I've ever pulled off) was when my high school, Street Academy, defeated three consecutive schools on WRGB's high-school quiz show, "Answers Please." Yep, a little inner-city school with about 100 students demolished Albany Academy, Keveny Academy of Cohoes and St. Mary's of Hoosick Falls.

Most of the focus, as far as I can remember of the event, was Street Academy's crushing defeat of the ultra-expensive private school Albany Academy for Boys. It was like the Washington Nationals no-hitting the Yankees in both halves of a doubleheader. By defeating Albany Academy 145-105, we got to return the next week and take on a new opponent, Keveny Academy of Cohoes.

Keveny was no match. We clobbered them 185-105, and then finished off St. Mary's of Hoosick Falls 150-60 to retire undefeated (a school could only play for three weeks maximum).

So it was with great surprise to me that, while puttering along the information superhighway, I came across these two posts - from one of the students at Keveny Academy, the second of the three schools we clobbered. I don't know which of the four kids he is in this YouTube clip

but I'm pretty sure he's still gripping about getting faced almost three decades ago.

Here's his first post from October 2007.

If you don't have time to click the links, let me give you the Reader's Digest version of this.

There was a time when I could shoot facts from the hip. I knew it all. Years of Full Contact Jeopardy and Extreme Trivial Pursuit with the siblings trained me to be a lean, mean, answer machine. Blurting out the correct answers becomes so easy when you practice under the gun. By under the gun I mean sisterly body slams and brotherly head locks for wrong or untimely answers.

I knew, way before 1981 arrived, I had to make the show. Eldest sister was on it. And there wasn't a chance in hell that I would let her stand on that achievement podium solo. When Jim Labate was looking for contestants for Answers Please, I eagerly signed my name. It was time to take my trivial skills to the big time.

It wasn't a huge turnout for the tryout. Maybe ten. Eyeballing the competition, I reminded myself, "Yeah, they can be smart. They could be quick. But smarter and quicker than me, no bleeping way." Hey and if all that fails, I still have a forty percent chance of getting on the tube ...

And that's the team. Cathy Tremblay, me, and two others I can't recall without consulting the archives (Sorry!). We're on our way! Full of promises of Tim Welch accolades and local media glory! Our opponent would be the E Street Academy. I privately told myself that victory would be achieved in short order.

You know what? It was.

We get to the studio and I'm checking out the competition. Muttering to myself, "Idiot. Dullard. Simpleton...wait a minute. WTF?"

And there he stood. Rail thin, Wally Cox glasses, and a speech impediment. He fits the profile.

I turn to Cathy and utter, not the first time nor the last, "We're screwed."

The game is on and your heroes answer the first question with ease. I think we skated on the team question as well. From the very next question and continuing on for the next twenty two minutes, that villain with the Coke bottle glasses ruined Cathy, mine, and the two nameless folk's shot at immortality! Damn you Coke bottle glasses! Damn you to hell!

Wally Cox knew everything. And he knew he knew everything. Tim couldn't finish a question. Wally interrupted him.
Tim: What is the capitol of...?
Wally: Montpelier.
Tim: That is correct. Who holds the record...?
Wally: Joe Dimaggio.
Tim: Correct. What speech...?
Wally: (yawning) The Gettysburg Address
Tim: That is amazing! And correct.

And so it goes. Forever playing in my mind. A nightmare where I can't get a word in edgewise. A fever dream where I futilely press my buzzer while Einstein across the studio has locked me out. Oh how unfair! Oh the humanity!

"E Street Academy"? Funny, I did not know my teammates were Max Weinberg, Clarence Clemons and Patti Sciafla.

Apparently, there's a follow-up.

I don’t know where to begin with the comments ... The dude doing the talking for the Street Academy is the guy who soundly thrashed us all by his lonesome. Memory is failing, but I think the three gals there were mutes.

As for the Keveny Fab Four, the less said the better. My rocking mop could only be eclipsed via some serious Afro action. Thank you George. It’s nice to be vindicated on my earlier claim that Ms. Tremblay has not and will never be seen without a smile. Rock on, Cathy! It all came back to me Saturday night why I couldn’t remember the last member of the team. I think, I’m not sure, young Jimmy there got stage fright. He looks very quietly spooked down there on the end.

Oh well, your narrator does appear to be a little hopped up. There’s one instance in the video where they show both teams in split screen (with our man Chuck buzzing with the correct answer). I’m sitting there, not quite unlike a moron, nodding my head, ready to push my fist through the dais. It can never be checked conclusively, but I’m pretty sure I am saying “Motherf*cker!” right there on camera.

It could have been worse... You could have gotten smoked 150-60 like St. Mary's of Hoosick Falls did.

That... and we got the trophy!!

1 comment:

JMP said...

Enjoyed this tale!!