The First Annual Nerdbowl

Feature written by James Baughn on Sunday, January 30, 2000

from the he-shoots-he-scores! dept.

John Spladden: Hi, and welcome to the first annual Nerdbowl in sunny Silicon Valley. I'm your host John Spladden...

Bryant Dumbell: ...And I'm Bryant Dumbell. We're coming to you live from the Transmeta Dome to watch the battle between the North Carolina Mad Hatters and the Michigan Portalbacks as they compete for the coveted Linus Torvalds Trophy.

Spladden: This is shaping up to be one hell of a match. The Mad Hatters -- sponsored by Linux distributor Red Hat -- have been on fire the past month. But the Andover.Net sponsored Michigan Portalbacks are on a tear as well, thanks in part to the stellar performance of Rob "Taco Boy" Malda.

Dumbell: Taco Boy is quite a star, John. Last week at the Kernelbowl he blew away the Transmeta Secret Agents when he scored 51 points singlehandedly in the Flying CompactDiscus round.

Spladden: But then Mad Hatter's Alan Cox was voted this season's Most Valuable Hacker in the Eastern Division. So, this game is going to be quite a show.

Dumbell: That's right. If you're just tuning in, welcome to the First Annual Nerdbowl. This is the grand championship game in the Nerdleague, an event that's destined to become even more popular than the Superbowl...

Spladden: Super-what?

Dumbell: These two teams will compete against each other in four different preliminary events before going head-to-head in the Final Round. Over 5,000 people are watching this live ASCII broadcast worldwide.

Spladden: Before we introduce the starting lineup, it's time for a word from our sponsor...

Voiceover: We at Andover.Net, the World's Leader In Linux Portals(tm), would like to wish everybody a happy and safe Nerdbowl Sunday. For over 1 year Andover has been providing quality Linux news, opinion, and flamewars that live up to our acronym, All Nerds Depend On Very Erroneous Reporting(tm).

Dumbell: And now the starting players on coming out on to the field! For the Mad Hatters, it's Number 4 Alan Cox, followed by Number 42 Bernhard Rosenkraenzer... Here comes Number 32, Robert Young...

[snip]

Spladden: The Andover.Net Portalbacks are now taking the field... Look, here comes team captain Number 1 Rob Malda followed by Number 33 Jeff "Hemos" Bates. Here comes some fresh meat for the opposition -- ha ha -- it's Number 51 Patrick "scoop" Lentz.

Dumbell: Where's Jon Katz?

Spladden: He was attacked yesterday by an angry mob of irate people demanding refunds for the book "Geeks". Apparently the book didn't go over too well. Anyways, Katz was uninjured, but badly shaken, so he decided to abstain from participating today. Also, Robin Miller is currently stuck on the 101 Freeway because his limousine broke down... he's going to be a couple hours late.

Dumbell: Look out! Here comes Linus Torvalds himself to deliver the starting chug. The crowd is going wild... all 64 people in the stands are on their feet! Here we go... Linus is lifting up the Ceremonial Beer Can... he's flipping off the top...

Spladden: You can feel the excitement in the air! Wow!

Dumbell: ...And there he goes! Wow... he chugged that beer in only 1.4 seconds... Let's see Bill top that! What a remarkable display to kick off this grandest of all nerd sporting events.

Spladden: "Nerd sporting event"? Isn't that an oxymoron?

Dumbell: Linus is now waving to the crowd... Oops! He just belched.

Spladden: Even Barney Gumbel on the Simpsons would have trouble competing against that one.

Dumbell: With that done, it's time for the game to begin with Round One: The Flying CompactDiscus.

Spladden: That's right, Bryant. Each team member will hurl one CD-ROM and receive points for both the distance thrown and whether the disc is still readable afterwards.

Dumbell: First up is Mad Hatter's Alan Cox. He struts, he winds up, and there it goes! Look at the trajectory on that baby.

Spladden: That one is going to be hard to beat. Wait a minute! Eric S. Raymond, the head referree, is coming on to the field waving his arms wildly!

Dumbell: That can't be good. Let's take a look at the instant replay of Cox's throw... Uh oh. Look, John, he stepped over the line right when he made the throw.

Spladden: He's going to be penalized for that one.

Dumbell: Alright, now it's time for the Portalback's Anonymous Coward #521 to throw. This guy was voted as the best CompactDiscus thrower in the league by popular vote on Slashdot.

Spladden: Indeed, AnonCow has got some powerful muscles. No brain though. Did you know that he dropped out of college to join the Andover.Net team?

Dumbell: Yeah, what a tough decision to make. It's now becoming quite common for nerd superstars to ditch college and move to Silicon Valley and receive Big League stock options. Still, AnonCow was out for several games this season due to a Carpal Tunnel flareup. I hope he isn't squandering his millions... he might be forced to retire early.

Spladden: AnonCow is stepping up to the line... he squats... and lets it fly. Nice throw!

Dumbell: That one is going to Omaha!

Spladden: What is that supposed to mean?

Dumbell: It was a nice throw...

Spladden: Whoops... It's now time for another word from our sponsor.

Voiceover: 95% of "dot com" Superbowl commercials are produced by SuperMegaGeeWhizHyperMetaPublicRelations.Com. Is yours?

[snip]

Dumbell: Welcome back. After Round 1, the Mad Hatters are ahead 15 to 12. Round 2, the Caffeine Craziness event, is now underway.

Spladden: This is my favorite part of the Nerdbowl. Each player tries to consume as many gallons of caffeinated beverages within one minute, and then points are awarded based on the redness of their eyes.

Dumbell: I like this event too... I must admit, it's much better than the "Crash It" event that was played in the Zeroth Annual Nerdbowl last year. Players were each seated in front of a PC running Windows 98... points were awarded based on how fast the player could cause a Blue Screen.

Spladden: Ah, yes, I remember that. Everybody complained that the event was too easy. "Where the hell is the challenge?" yelled Chris DiBona while doing a victory dance after the VA Linux Rich Penguins beat the SuSE Cats In The Hats last year 121-96.

Dumbell: Whoa, with all this chatter we're missing out on the action... CowboyNeal is gulping down a Jolt at breakneck speed right now.

Spladden: "Breakneck" is right, Bryant. I didn't think a human could keep their neck tilted at such an angle for more than a few seconds.

Dumbell: 60 seconds is up! That's an unbelievable amount of caffeine to gulp down. Only Master Nerds can pull that off.

Spladden: Let's go in for a close-up. Now those are some red eyes! The judges will probably give him maximum points for that performance.

Dumbell: He'll definitely be wide-awake for the next rounds, although I don't even want to think about the headache he'll have tommorrow morning.

Spladden: Let's see how Eric Hackerson from the Mad Hatters does. This guy is another rising star that shows great potential.

Dumbell: That's right, John. A scout discovered him in a Slashdot discussion thread. He went from poor college student to billionaire code jockey overnight.

Spladden: Look at him go! He's really enjoying the cool, refreshing, pleasant taste of EyeOpener® brand Caffeine-In-A-Can(tm). That reminds me, it's time for another commercial break...

Voiceover: Having trouble staying awake for weeks at a time working on that latest hack? Worried that some young punk will take over your cushy job because you sleep too much? Don't worry, EyeOpener® brand cola is here to save the day. You'll never feel sleepy again when you drink EyeOpener®. Surgeon General's Warning: This product should only be used under a doctor's immediate supervision, as it contains more caffeine than 512 cases of Coca-Cola. Caution: When sleep does occur after about three weeks, optometrists recommend having someone on hand to close your eyelids. Coming soon: ExtremelyWired(tm) cola with 50% more sugar! May or may not meet FDA approval... we're still trying.

[snip]

Dumbell: What an exciting Round 2! Thanks to BOredAtWork's steller performance, the Portalbacks are up 43 to 37 against the Mad Hatters.

Spladden: Round 3 could be critical for these two teams.

Dumbell: Indeed. The Portalbacks have a slight advantage in Round 3, the Obstacle Course Round, due to their higher speed, but this game is still wide open.

Spladden: In this round, the players must travel through a cubicle farm and avoid the hordes of Lawyers and Microserfs that pop up and block the path.

Dumbell: It's always fun to watch this round, John. It's a shame that lawyers are not in season in California this time of year, however, or else this event could be much more exciting -- and bloodier.

Spladden: There's the starting buzzer... the two teams are off! Hemos quickly takes the lead... he turns the corner... and whoops! A lawyer tackles him from behind and starts punching him.

Dumbell: Now that's a subpoena he won't soon forget.

Spladden: Good one, Bryant. Taco Boy jumps up from behind and strangles the lawyer! What a great play... the judges will be very generous with points on that one.

Dumbell: Look out! The Mad Hatters are making their move... Alan Cox is far in the lead... a Microserf has popped up out of a cubicle... he's aiming a stack of four-color glossies at Cox's head! He shoots... he misses as Alan makes a dive and topples the Microserf.

Spladden: But wait! A team of ambulance chasers are in hot pursuit... Alan is in trouble! Here comes Bernhard Rosenkraenzer and Havoc Pennington!

Dumbell: Havoc grabs a lawyer and swings him around in a wide arc. Now that's what I call habeas corpus!

Spladden: Oh no... Scoop has been hit over the head with a briefcase by an attorney that came out of nowhere! That's gotta hurt. Now we know how that DeCSS hacker in Norway must have felt.

Dumbell: Look out, Taco Boy, there's a Microserf right in front of you. Wait... the Microserf is turning blue! Could it be?

Spladden: It is! He's suffering a Blue Screen! While he's rebooting, Taco Boy makes it safely past...

Dumbell: Robert Young has found a shortcut! He's racing towards the end of the obstacle course... All he needs to do is find away around despised Microserf Fred Mouth.

Spladden: This could be interesting... Young fakes left, then right, but Mouth is not easily confused. Wait a minute... Young just said, "Look behind you! It's Bill Gates!" Fred Mouth hesitates... Young breaks through! He's made it to the end!

Dumbell: Now this is exciting! The judges are awarding mondo points to the Mad Hatters!

Spladden: Now the Portalbacks are down by 23. It's going to be hard to overcome that shortfall with only 2 rounds left.

Dumbell: While the players assume the position for Round 4, the Who Wants To Be A Billionaire? Round, let's break to a commercial...

Voiceover: [Homer Simpson's voice] Need cash quick? Don't mess with a bank loan... just con a Venture Capitalist into forking billions over to your fly-by-night garage operation! We have the contacts at VentureD'oh.Com. VentureD'oh.Com: Helping People Buy Cars, One Rolls At A Time(tm).

Spladden: We're back. The players have assumed their positions and are ready to answer computer-related questions posed by referree Eric S. Raymond. Let's listen in...

Raymond: Okay, men, you know the rules... And now here's the first question: Who is the most respected, sexy, gifted, and talented spokesmen for the Open Source movement? [Bzzz] Taco Boy, you buzzed in first.

Rob Malda: The answer is me.

Raymond: No, you egomaniacal billionaire. Anybody else want to answer? [Bzzz] Yes, Alan Cox?

Alan Cox: Well, duh, the answer has to be Eric Raymond.

Raymond: Correct! That answer is worth 10 million points.

Rob Malda: Protest! Who wrote these questions?!?!

Raymond: Moving on... second question: Who is the primary author of the world-renowned fetchmail program? [Bzzz] Yes, Hemos?

Rosenkraenzer: Eric.

Raymond: Be more specific...

Rosenkraenzer: Mr. Eric Fetch of Cincinnati, Ohio.

Raymond: No, no, no! The answer is me, me, me, you idiots! Sheesh. I'm taking that 10 million points back.

Alan Cox: Are you going to ask any questions that are not about you?

Raymond: Um... let's see... yeah, there's one or two here... Okay, here's question three... What loud-mouthed hippie-spirtualist founder of the GNU Project keeps demanding that everybody use the crappy term "Free Software" instead of "Open Source"? [Bzzz] Yes, Anonymous Coward?

AnonCow: Eric Raymond!

Raymond: Why you little [expletive]! I'm going to...

Spladden: Whoa! Let's cut to commericial while this show is still suitable for children!

Voiceover: Forget Network Solutions, DotComDotCom.Com is the source for dot com domain names! Over 3 million registered... get yours today before every single domain with the word "Linux" in it is taken! DotComDotCom.Com: All The Good Ones Are Taken, Suckers(tm).

[snip]

Dumbell: Welcome back. Round 4 is now over... we get the distinct feeling that Eric S. Raymond won't be invited back for the next Nerdbowl.

Spladden: Indeed. Did you see the way he threatened the Anonymous Coward with that portable flamethrower? It's a good thing AnonCow always wears an asbestos suit.

Dumbell: You got that right. It's now time for the Final Round.

Spladden: This is it. The winners will bask in fame, fortune, and glory while the losers will be the butt of every joke posted on Humorix for the coming year.

Dumbell: I'm quite excited, and so are all 64 people in the stands.

Spladden: This has been quite a game, hasn't it Bryant? This final round should be no exception. In this event, the two teams must assemble a 16-node Beowulf cluster from scratch, install Linux on them, and then use the system to calculate pi to 1 million digits. This is the ultimate test for nerds... only people in the Big League should attempt something like this.

Dumbell: And there's the starting gun! The two teams are off...

Spladden: While that's underway, a very special visitor has just dropped by... James Baughn, webmaster for Humorix and founder of the Nerdleague.

Baughn: Hi, everybody. You might remember me from such fake news articles as Tuxissa and Google Chase.

Spladden: What possessed you to start the Nerdleague and the Nerdbowl?

Baughn: Simple, I needed cheap filler material for my Humorix site. A transcript between two sports announcers is easy to write. Besides, meta-humor is always an excellent ploy to get cheap laughs with little effort.

Dumbell: Who do you think is going to win this game?

Baughn: I haven't decided yet.

Dumbell: Umm, yeah. One more question... [beep beep beep]

Baughn: Oh, sorry, that's my beeper. Apparently the Slashdot Effect Prevention Kit software on my webserver has just detected the possibility of a Slashdot Effect... I better run and check it out.

Spladden: Alright, that's James Baughn, everybody. Let's get back to the game... the Mad Hatters have taken the lead... they've got most of the machines assembled now.

Dumbell: Look at that! Instead of messing with screws, the Portalbacks are using duct tape to attach their motherboards to the cases! That should save some time.

[snip]

Spladden: You wouldn't happen to have one of those EyeOpener® brand colas would you? I'm getting sleepy. [Yawn]

Dumbell: I know, this game is getting really boring. Oh wait, are we still on the air? Uh oh...

Spladden: Aw, don't worry about it. Nobody is listening right now anyways.

[snip]

Dumbell: They've done it! The Mad Hatters have completed the Final Round in 2 hours, 15 minutes. That's one hell of a Beowulf cluster they produced... drool.

Spladden: They're probably going to sell the cluster on eBay next week. I'm sure it will be quite a collector's item.

Dumbell: The five people in the crowd still remaining are going wild! Alan Cox is doing a victory dance.

Spladden: With that, the Mad Hatters win the Nerdbowl 105 to 68! There's going to be some serious beer-drinking tonight back at the Red Hat offices.

Dumbell: Linus Torvalds has emerged from the sidelines to present his Linus Torvalds Trophy to the winners. What a glorious sight! This has definitely been the best Nerdbowl ever. I pity those people that have been watching the Superbowl instead.

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