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Meanwhile, there are other trivial schemes afoot. Doug Brunkow, who chaired CU's program council during the early Seventies, is organizing an effort to stage the 27th Annual Trivia Bowl at Currigan Exhibition Hall on June 10-12. His plan is nothing if not ambitious: He wants the 32 teams he hopes will compete to obtain corporate and media sponsorship, with the proceeds going to the charities of the specific teams' choosing. And more funds could be raised, he says, by getting interested parties to pledge a certain amount per point for each point the team scores in its matches. If that happens, he says, "we could put $5 or $6 million into the charitable coffers of the state of Colorado."

Brunkow insists these are realistic goals and says he has gotten positive feedback from the corporate representatives with whom he's spoken, including, he says, "the three beer companies." And even if the Bowl can't be pulled together by the early June dates, he is certain it will happen later in the year. After all, the program council has offered to lend the new organizers the old Bowl's equipment, and past Bowl judges and players have pledged their support.

"Maybe this is outer-space-type thinking," Brunkow says, "but I think it can work."

Fahrni will be out of town when the Trivia Bowl is scheduled, but he says, "I hope it works, and I hope I can play in it next year."

In the meantime, there's the Basement Bowl. Upon completion of the first game, which takes a little less than an hour, Dave Gatch perches on a stool behind a music stand that serves as a lectern and hosts a game he's written. At one point, he asks, "How do Mr. and Mrs. Ron Howard determine the middle names of their children?"

With a straight face, Whelan responds, "I think they name them after aircraft carriers." Wrong: The middle names of the former Opie's kids commemorate the places where they were conceived (no, none of them is called "Backseat"). At the match's conclusion, Gatch gives special prizes to the high-point scorers who competed--an LP version of The Best of Stan Freberg and a recording of music by Batman TV theme composer Neal Hefti.

Next up as emcee is Klein, a stand-up comic who lards his game with questions about (surprise) stand-up comics, as well as Broadway musicals. "Everyone hates my games," he grumbles afterward. "Mine are too eclectic for them. All they want to do is talk about television." The exception to the pro-TV crowd is Whelan, who, upon noticing that Fahrni's TV is beaming an episode of the Scott Baio series Charles in Charge at them, points his finger and shouts, "That's the reason we're losing. Turn that off."

The buzzer system stays on, however. It stays on through the afternoon. It stays on through the evening. It stays on through fifteen separate matches until 1:15 a.m., when the last eight players finally give up and return to a world that doesn't care that Chuck Woolery was the original host of Wheel of Fortune. Even Young Leonard Fahrni is bleary-eyed, but he can't hide the exhilaration the Basement Bowl produces in him.

"It's spring," he says. "People are supposed to be answering trivia questions.

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Michael Roberts has written for Westword since October 1990, serving stints as music editor and media columnist. He currently covers everything from breaking news and politics to sports and stories that defy categorization.
Contact: Michael Roberts