By one of those odd cosmic coincidences, yesterday marked the centennials of the loss of the Titanic and the birth of Kim Il-sung (one wonders if the father of the Juche philosophy may not perhaps have been a prompt reincarnation of one the illustrious victims of the disaster in the North Atlantic, such as the super-wealthy property magnate J.J. Astor IV). Since I was unable to get over to Pyongyang with my friends from Koryo Tours for the big knees-up in honour of the latter event, I was glad that Steven Schwankert of SinoScuba had volunteered to commemorate the former with a Titanic-related trivia quiz at my local bar, 12 Square Metres.
I have long been a bit of a Titanic nerd, and have been treated to a slew of documentaries about the disaster on the National Geographic channel over the past week; so, I was feeling quietly confident about my prospects for success. Ah, hubris! My personal iceberg came in the person of a former schoolteacher from Halifax, Nova Scotia (closest landfall to the site of the sinking, and hence the place where most of the recovered bodies were eventually buried), who knew... well, everything there was to know about it; even more, I suspect, than Steven himself, who is extremely knowledgeable on the subject. It seemed likely he knew the names of most of the crew (he did know the names of the members of the ship's band!)... and the passengers... and how much they'd paid for their tickets and what their cabin numbers had been. He was not even stumped when Steven broadened the scope of the questions to tangentially related topics like other maritime disasters and films about the Titanic. The chap only dropped one mark in the entire thing, and this solitary lapse soon began to seem so out of character that I began to fret that I must have made an error in marking his answer sheet. He really was robotically perfect (most folks, even if they know all the the answers, will usually blank on something here or there in the heat of competition, or make a careless error in writing down the right letter for a multi-choice answer, or be undone by phantom doubts and second thoughts about something they're only 98% confident of; this guy didn't falter the least little bit - uncanny!!). This was the most devastatingly comprehensive quiz performance I have ever witnessed - a worthy winner indeed. I was a very, very distant second.
Well, congratulations to Canadian Bruce, the most formidable Titanic expert in Beijing. And many thanks to Steven for an extremely well-balanced and entertaining quiz.
I think such themed quiz nights could perhaps become a semi-regular event at our little bar. We're a bit too small and off-the-beaten track to sustain a regular type of quiz, but a special event like this once or twice a month might draw a modest crowd.