Trivia Atop the Castle at Highline

Takoma Bibelot, 2007.

The Bar: Highline sits atop Seattle's smutty favorite Castle Super Store like a regally haphazard crown, combining stiff drinks and foosball tables with a pleasantly dim aesthetic, delicious vegan eats, and a variety of home-infused spirits (not just vodka, either!). Highline's current artwork on display exhibits the naked, dead, and dismembered, bathing in pools of blood as they cry out to something, anything--all while dense, solemn metal blares on the house speakers.

It's immediately apparent this isn't a trivia night for the Ken Jennings crowd, but Highline does raise a couple of interesting questions. Is there a gap aching to be filled in hardcore 20-something vegans who love trivia? More importantly, does Highline fill it?

The Quiz: (Mondays, 9 p.m., free to play) Five themed rounds of 10 questions make up the Highline's media-heavy standard. While the first round is always based on current events, rounds two and four usually have some kind of audio component, ranging from movie quotes to song excerpts. To quote quizmaster Dustin, the final two rounds are based on "whatever pops into his head throughout the week."

The fourth round of this week's trivia night was particularly inspired. One round featured a wide variety of music bound only by the fact that every song title featured the number of the question being asked. Question #1 mentioned "One Week" by Barenaked Ladies (the host sends his personal apologies for that one), while "Six Underground" by the Sneaker Pimps helped fill the middle and "Ten" by Jimmy Eat World finished the category. It was great to see a bold category work so adeptly, especially by a trivia-host tyro--you know a lot of work had to go into it. It's in choosing difficult themes like this, as opposed to something easily researchable like "Grammy Winners," that make weekly quizzes shimmer with potential.

If there is one big quibble with Highline's trivia night, it's the lack of a team limit. Dustin had hoped that having to split a prize too many ways would keep teams from stretching past five or six members, but Highline standings have apparently been increasingly controlled by monstrous teams of eight to ten. Certainly there's more to the game than winning Highline's bar cash, but a competitive edge is inevitably part of any great trivia night's entertainment. This edge is considerably harder to keep once competitors begin to resemble small armies. However, in Highline's defense, Dustin is considering a member cap.

The Host: Dustin has been helming Highline's trivia night for about six months. He'd never hosted trivia before, but the witty UW double English/philosophy major and admitted Jeopardy! fan stuck out among his friends at Highline as an obvious choice for a solid quizmaster to bring in a healthy Monday crowd. He certainly didn't disappoint, with a healthy and consistent 40-50 people showing up for tonight's entertainment.

Drink Specials: Happy Hour ends about two hours before trivia starts, but the Highline's ever-present Redneck on Vacation (a pint of Pabst Blue Ribbon with a lime garnish) is at least good for a cheap laugh.

The Verdict: Dustin is still hungry, searching out that elusive gap between trivia and arcana, but admits to running out of the questions he'd always thought of asking an audience before actually making the plunge. Here we see a host in a very crucial, fascinating period--one who still retains their passion for the craft after having exhausted the stock of questions they'd prepared for their dip into quizmastery.

I'm happy to say that Highline's trivia night doesn't play to the select crowd it would have appeared to carve out for itself, but fans out to a much friendlier medium. Highline may only serve vegan food, but that doesn't mean they only serve vegans. Dustin and his quiz provide a universal appeal that will hopefully benefit the animal-friendly haunt for countless weeks to come.

Trivia Pro Tip: You can win a free pitcher of beer early in the game by coming up with the best team name. It's judged by Highline's bar staff, so for a sure bet, try any name containing the words "blood," "knife" and "fucked to death."

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