I used to enjoy a great deal of power when it came to wielding absurd bits of knowledge. The stuff that fell in the margins, on the cutting room floor, the missing pieces. I had conversational bon mot to last until the next millennium. "Did you know the guy who does the voice for Tony the Tiger also sand the songs for 'The Grinch Who Stole Christmas'?" Thurl Ravenscroft, God rest his soul. And he was one of the voices in the Haunted Mansion - and Pirates of the Caribbean.
Now there are DVDs and the Internet - these things don't stay secret very long. Everybody has access to the blooper reel now. Pop culture comes in nice bite-size servings now, and we are all now film scholars and encyclopedias of the obscure - or what was once obscure.
I knew where the dirty bits in "Who Framed Roger Rabbit?" were. I knew the voice of Roger Ramjet was Gary Owens (who worked for a while in Denver on KIMN radio). I knew that the release date for Bela Lugosi's "Dracula" was Valentine's Day, 1931. These were monumentally important items for me to have ready at a moments notice - especially once a year at the University of Colorado Trivia Bowl. Trivia wasn't just encouraged, it was rewarded. These were the salad days for trivia heads. All those hours of TV, movies and comic books were finally going to pay off.
Until one day, when it stopped. The whole trivial pursuit lurched to a halt. All those boxes of cards that my friends had accused me of memorizing became useless. Who cared what day of the week "Talent Roundup" happened on the Mickey Mouse Club? What was the license plate number visible on the Abbey Road album cover? Ask Al Gore's Internet. Watch the scene over and over on tape - or laserdisc - or DVD. The snob appeal of trivia had disappeared. I was a walking repository of information found more quickly with a remote control or a few keystrokes. That kind of stuff is still amusing at parties, but it wears thin quickly. I have to restrain myself from waxing on about the inscription of Emil Faber's statue in "Animal House": Knowledge is good. The audience for that kind of thing has moved on. We live in the information age, so hang on while the headlines come in every half hour, twenty four hours a day. I confess there are things about Paris Hilton that I just don't want to know. Pop culture has lost its chewy center. We're already doing retrospective shows on the 90's. Remember when Clinton was president? Bill Clinton...
Oh, and by the way - Friday was Talent Roundup Day, and the license plate reads "28IF" - like if Paul had lived he would have been 28.