Late-night bar trivia is only fun if you occasionally know an answer or two. Otherwise you end up quietly resenting your teammates for knowing so much about 1980s sports and leisure. Not that I’m speaking from experience.
So when I heard about Star One, Eugene’s science fiction and fantasy happy hour at Starlight Lounge downtown, I squeaked with delight. The nature of the event varies month to month, but when I attended in February, trivia maven Dr. Seven Phoenix had taken the helm and was orchestrating a killer game of science fiction-themed trivia.
As someone with moderately nerdy inclinations (think Star Trek, Doctor Who, Lord of the Rings, Harry Potter), I immediately realized that sci-fi trivia could be a thing of wonder. And it was.
“My vision for this is the idea of bringing people together,” says Starlight Lounge co-owner Julie Anna. “Let’s say you’re new to town and you love Firefly. If you’re here, you might meet someone else who enjoys the show, and friendships can start from there.”
Anna and Starlight Lounge co-owner Jocee Moine are big sci-fi fans, and when they noticed a lack of sci-fi meet-up groups in Eugene, they decided to start their own in late 2015. Anna says previous meetings have included guest speakers and game nights, but trivia has proven the most popular.
I can see why. The packed bar hummed with energy and excitement as trivia moderator Dr. Seven Phoenix announced the first topic: Star Trek. I sipped on my hard cider and braced myself for the first question.
For those not familiar with trivia, here’s how it usually works: Participants split into teams of varying sizes — you can go solo if you want — and choose a team name. My fiancé and I christened ourselves “The Beverly Crushers,” a witty reference to a Star Trek character who … never mind — let us not venture into unnecessarily geeky terrain.
Moving on: The trivia moderator selects a number of rounds, and each round has a theme and a set number of questions. Once the round is over, a team member brings the filled-out answer sheet to the moderator, who scores all the sheets between rounds and keeps a tally.
Dr. Seven Phoenix’s questions were challenging, and even though I’m a Star Trek fan, I can’t say I did well.
I knew which character made a come-on to an android (Tasha Yar) and I knew which Sex and the City actress had played a character in Star Trek VI (Kim Cattrall), but when asked to name the planet on which Worf’s father had died, I came up short. Overall, we scored 4/10 for the round.
Round two featured sci-fi and fantasy novels on a sheet of paper, the objective being to identify the author from the book cover and title. My partner and I did much better on this round, gleefully scribbling “Ursula K. Le Guin” and “George Orwell” on the page. We nabbed 7/10 and treated ourselves to free samples of cider from 2 Towns Ciderhouse, which happened to be repping that night.
Round three brought more challenges — we had to name the sci-fi or fantasy TV show theme song after listening to a clip. Game of Thrones and Angel were a cinch, but Babylon 5 stumped us.
By this point in the night, we found ourselves seriously out-nerded and trailing behind in seventh place, but there was plenty of cider, so we didn’t even care.
I have to say, the level of sci-fi commitment in the room was palpable. I’ve never been more proud of Eugene, and even though I seriously got my nerdy ass kicked, it was all in the spirit of camaraderie and fun.
“I think it’s great how mainstream sci-fi is becoming, as more people are coming out of the geek closet,” Anna says.
In continuing with that spirit, Starlight Lounge will host a Serenity watch party at 7 pm Friday, March 18, 830 Olive Street in downtown Eugene; 21-plus. It’ll be the shiniest sci-fi happy hour yet.