1. The only other dude I know who’s named Jean-Claude is this guy. He should make a wine. 2. Maud Newton, y’all!
What happens when it’s 70 degrees outside in New York City at 7 PM? Obviously, you get 60+ nerds to go to SoHo’s McNally Jackson’s air-conditioned basement to participate in the much-loved, always-drunk Nerd Jeopardy, presented by FSG: Work in Progress and Small Demons. Our affable host and Trebek doppelganger, Ryan Chapman, stepped up the ceremonies with more wine, harder categories, and cameo appearances. We were a bit more debauched this time around, but that only adds to the fun and nerdery of literary events. Like, would you get excited if someone properly pronounced “Lafayette” with a short u/long a vowel couplet because that’s how Faulkner would have said it? Or better, how could you not be excited?
1. Ryan Chapman promised on Twitter that he would get a better Trebek moustache. I’m pissed. But you still have great hair! 2. Vol. 1’s Tobias Carroll with Events Coordinator Michele Filgate slingin’ booze. 3. Definitely poured one for this homie.
As always, three teams of three compete in three rounds of literary brain teasers and trivia for eternal glory, and the respect of everyone in the basement. Though Chapman promised real money this time around, I saw no cash exchange hands. Instead, the winning team won a buttload of books, about seven– too many for me to jot all of them down. The ones that I pined for in my seat: The Collected Works of Philip Larkin and a signed edition of Daniel Clowes’ The Death-Ray. We all know, though, the real prizes are the heckling and the pride of having known the true identity of Wanda Tinasky.
1. Round One, guys. 2. Was ist das?
Collude & Conquer, Skippy Lives and the bravely-named The Winners started the night off in Round 1, which included my favorite category “Read That Tune.” The category mashes a literary figure or work with a musical act or artist to produce a clever, and extremely nerdy, lit-celebrity couple of sorts. For example, a singer of the tune “Video Games” and the author of Fahrenheit 451 made Lana Del Rey Bradbury. One clue had an audio clip as its big hint, and produced my favorite of the whole night: Eye of the Tiger’s Wife (honorable mention: Jhumpa LahiRhianna). Round 1’s Daily Double had a cameo appearance by the venerable Maud Newton reading the clue. Chapman, always infinitely charming, hinted at his affinity for a certain website named after a Roman god while reading a clue in the category “El Norte” – “Guys, 90% of girls have this on their OkCupid profiles…Not that I would know.”
1. Syme: “Twilight Fan Fiction? Mommy Porn?” Actually, it was Christian Romance, but I prefer Syme’s guesses. 2. The winners of Nerd Jeopardy #7, Skippy Lives!: Rachel Syme, whose book on Fitzgerald and gossip is forthcoming from Random House; Robert Colorafi, who works for the MTA; and Tiffany Gibert, who works at Penguin.
During the short break of more wine, the audience prize of $100 to McNally Jackson was awarded to a member who spelled Faulkner’s Mississippi county, Yoknapatawpha. She had her hand up in less than five seconds, which is simultaneously amazing and scary. Round 2 challenged the teams’ knowledge of dead poets, Greeks, ripped bodices, and — *gasp*– the Dewey Decimal System. Readers, writers, editors et al., of course, love words, which also means they detest numbers. Though in true nerd tradition, when the teams were stumped and Chapman informed us that 833 is reserved for German Fiction, and 999 is miscellany, we all oohed. Round 2’s Daily Double had an audience participant to read the clue, and it was previous Nerd Champion Angharad Coates reading a passage from Fifty Shades of Grey. As payment, she received a copy of Susan Sontag’s Against Interpretation. The $1000 clue for Dewey concerned Old English and this modern equivalent. “What is Old English?” “What is Modern English?” “What is New English?” “You’re over-thinking it, guys,” Chapman said. Prickling silence. “What is…English?” Yes! I’d also like to add that Chapman also helped the teams with this very subtle clue: “The answer rhymes with Metraterrestrial Merlds.”
1. Molly McArdle, Assistant Editor at Library Journal, with The-G-is-Silent and Fashion Person Angharad Coates. They’re lobbying for a Tournament of Champions. You should too. 2. Trevor Ingerson, who works at Scholastic and tabulated points, with Ruby Riesling, who owns an awesome name and is a day trader.
Final Jeopardy’s clue addressed the Pulitzer Board’s decision not to award any work of fiction this year. When did it happen last? Cue Jeopardy muzak. 2 of 3 teams were spot on– 1977, though the judges’ favorite was Pynchon’s Gravity’s Rainbow, with Collude & Conquer just one year shy. The winner: Skippy Lives! Noisemakers, hoots and hollers were abound in the basement. Afterwards, a bunch of us milled about for a bit, and most of them went to Botanica to drink some more
Keep your eyes on the FSG: Work in Progress blog for the next Nerd Jeopardy and McNally Jackson’s calendar of events. Party.
–Ryan Chang is from Orange County, CA and lives in Brooklyn. He is the Staff Writer to The Outlet, and his fiction and essays have appeared in Art Faccia and Thought Catalog. He is in the internet here and here.