Michael Allen Smith, 2009.
The Bar (sort of): Neptune Coffee (Greenwood, 8415 Greenwood Ave N) first appears as another run-of-the-mill North Seattle coffee shop. Indeed, there are a scarce few material things that set the establishment apart from any other coffeehouse: hearty sandwiches, a ping pong table, and a fridge full of bottled beer. Here, the coffeehouse makes an effort to please a variety of palates, offering Chimay for the sophisticated and Pabst Blue Ribbon for the utilitarian (with an armful of other beers in between).
Of course, there isn't any liquor at Neptune Coffee -- but with a lack of the hard stuff comes one of the very few weekly trivia nights in Seattle that isn't 21+. Bring the kids!The Quiz: (Free to enter, Friday, 8PM) Another wild and welcome departure that Neptune brings to Seattle's quiz scene is that every single week is devoted to a different television show, movie franchise or other pop culture sub-genre (Anime and Romantic Comedies were on deck for this season). Neptune takes the philosophy of entertainment specialization that All-Star Pop Culture thrives in and takes it one step further, allowing would-be contestants to look ahead on the calendar to their point of expertise and, hopefully, crush it.
A fan of ironic pastiches of '60s adventure cartoons? Come to Venture Brothers Night on January 21st! Loaded up with Simpsons trivia you have absolutely no idea how to utilize? Come to the Neptune on February 4th! There's even a Lost trivia night coming up for all of those crazy JJ Abrams fans who must have a lot of free time on their hands now that there's no reason to perfect their asinine theories about how the show's going to end (spoilers: The Island was actually just Edward Norton trying to work out his daddy issues).
In any case, all quizzes are broken down into two rounds. For this week, it was twenty questions and twenty quotes. Quotes are identified, ideally, by the character who said them. For example, in the case of this week's Arrested Development quiz, you'd need to give the name of the character who said "If this is a lecture on how we're all supposed to whatever and blah-blah-blah, well, you can save it, because we all know it by heart." (If you could, awesome! Please don't e-mail me about it.)
Neptune's prizes are easily the most non-alcoholic I've featured. While first place took home a DVD, the top five scoring teams were showered with certificates for free coffee, Neptune-branded swag and even a couple bags of beans. While the festivities are usually free to enter, the coffeehouse has done a few benefit nights in the past with affordable buy-ins.
The Verdict: For Seattle trivia buffs under 21 looking for a weekly fix, this is pretty much your only option (easy A!). For those of you of age, it's certainly not the worst choice. Neptune Coffee's trivia is the king of niche appeal, even if it is a different niche almost every week.
With this positioning unfortunately comes a lack of depth -- Quizmaster/Neptune Owner Dan Baumfield is sharp and funny, but thinking up over twenty interesting questions out of a specific, finite well is no enviable task (especially since Dan says this is the seventh Arrested Development trivia Neptune had hosted). Neptune even had the guts to put on a Glee trivia night while the show was barely halfway into its second season. Making a full night out of such limited content puts most quizmasters in the position of either having to ask questions that are easily snagged by anyone who bothered to show up for a particular topic or questions that are so aggressively detail-oriented that you either fail miserably or silently resent the person you've become.
Luckily Mr. Baumfield hits a happy medium often enough to carry a solid hour of brain-racking. The result is a trivia night that might not be the best to commit to every week, but one that's perfect for a novel start to the odd Friday night with a few similarly obsessive friends.