Posts from September 2003.

Hugo House Annual Inquiry: Games

There will be few (if any) posts this week, because I am working on a side project: the Hugo House Annual Inquiry. But if you are a Seattlelite (or will be in town next weekend), read on — this may be something you’ll be interested in attending.

Hugo House is a Seattle-based non-profit somethingorother that focuses on literacy and the arts. Every year H.H. hosts a big event called a “Cultural Inquiry,” where they pick a theme and host a number of activities and installations related to that theme. Two years ago the theme was Maps; last year the theme was Surveillance. This year, the Annual Inquiry is all about Games. As it turns about, a couple of the folks over at H.H. read the yeti and know about my fondness for games and hornswoggled talked me into participating.

There’s a lot of really great stuff going on (check out the schedule), but here are the pies that I have a thumb in:

  • Friday, 10:00-11:30 pm — A Guide To Visitors Story Slam: I am a frequent participant in A Guide To Visitor’s storytelling shows. The theme of this evening’s tales will be “Oh, What a Tangled Web We Weave: the way we use others as pawns and the mind games we play on each other.” I helped arrange this, and there’s a fair chance I will also tell a story.
  • Saturday, 2:30-3:30 pm — “Break The Safe” Tournament: Local game company Forrest-Puzan Creative will be showcasing a new game they designed by throwing a “Break The Safe Tournament.” Break The Safe is a very-cool cooperative boardgame where the players work as team, finding keys, disarming booby-traps and evading guard dogs. (More details on the game here.) The winning team will win an seminar on the art of locksmithing sponsored by Broadway Locksmiths, which is so cool that I wish I wasn’t disqualified from winning (although I’ll probably try to finangle myself into that seminar just for helping put this thing together). The tournament will include a tutorial on the game, so even if you’ve never heard of it you are still encouraged to participate. If you’re interested in joining, assemble a team of four and register by either emailing tournament@forrest-pruzan.com or calling Wendee (206-547-7155 ext. 106). (Please note the caveat mentioned below, though.)
  • Saturday, 10:30-midnight: Late Night Lying Game and Gamenight: Come watch me sit in front of a crowd of people and lie my fool head off. Afterward I will be participating in the Hugo House’s casual gamenight. And by “participating in” I mean “drinking”.
  • Sunday, October 5th, 10:30 am — Treasure Hunt: I’ll be hosting a Treasure Hunt similar to those I hold for my friends every year. (See this as an example.) I’ll have a semi-official page up for this later today or tomorrow. The hunt will be run in teams of three or four and should take around 90 minutes. If you want to participate, I’m asking that you let me know in advance (Again, see the caveat).

The Caveat: To participate in any of above events (including the Break The Safe Tournament and the Treasure Hunt), you have to pay that day’s admission. That the bad news. (Well, it’s not really “bad,” since all the $$ goes to a good cause — namely, Hugo House.) The good news is that once you pay the admission, you get access to all of the events that are held during that time frame. And, like I mentioned before, there’s a lot of good stuff going on. Sherman Alexie will be talking about “Dungeons and Dragons” (seriously), James Ernest (the guy who is Cheapass Games) will be there giving game design seminars and talking about high-stakes poker, there will be a couple of panel discussions about video games and society … it’s gonna be cool.

You can get ticket information over on this page. Hope you can make it!

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Squirrelly Update

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Draft Clooney Movement Gains Momentum

Four days after its inception, the "Draft Clooney For President" (DCFP) movement has received a groundswell of support from democrats dissatisfied with the 10 candidates currently seeking the nomination.

Martin Morch, DCFP chairman and webmaster of draftclooney.com, initiated the drive Monday after becoming disenchanted with General Wesley Clark. "I was a big Dean supporter before he got all popular, so then I became active in the Clark recruitment. But now I think that George Clooney is what the nation needs. And there's a pretty good chance he's a democrat."

Clooney benefits from the waning of enthusiasm for Clark that followed the general's official announcement of candidacy. "Voters are weary from Clark's non-stop, one week of campaigning," said Joanne Hutter, professor of political science at Idaho State University. "And we've seen his poll numbers plunge since it was discovered that he has 'flaws' and 'positions'. The thrill is clearly gone."

Clooney supporter Kathy Teck agreed. "Clark is so last August." Teck was asked which issue convinced her to back Clooney. "He could totally win," she replied.

In a phone interview, Clooney denied that he was seeking the nomination or had any knowledge of the movement to draft him. In related news, a Reuter's poll of registered democrats had the actor leading all actual candidates by a margin of 22%. DCFP insiders say they are ready to launch draftjustintimberlake.com the moment Clooney declares his intention to enter the race.

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Hell Mouth

The Queen: While you’re paying bills online, could you take care of this dentist bill too?

Me: Sure. [Takes bill] Wha-? Geoffrey Strange? Your dentist is “Dr. Strange”?

Q: Uh-huh.

Me: Who does he have as dental hygenists, the hoary hosts of Hoggoth?

Q: …

Me: Uhh, never mind. That was kind of a nerd joke.

Q: I assumed.

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The Quencher

When I first saw the USA Today headline reading Flame Retardant Found In Breast Milk, I thought they had found a natural substance in there that could be used to put out fires. And I was all, like, “Damn — isn’t there anything that stuff can’t do?!”

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Letterman Is For Glovers

To understand this story, you must first watch this video [windows media player].

That’s Crispin Glover on Late Night With David Letterman. If you can’t see the clip, or you just want to immerse yourself in the sheer lunacy of the appearance, check out the transcript of the “interview” over at Waxy.org.

Anyhow, I saw this episode when it first aired in 1987, and, at the time, it was pretty much my only exposure to Crispin Glover (aside from his role as the father in Back To The Future, obviously). My best friend, on the other hand, was a big Glover fan: he would tape all of Glover’s television appearances (which is how I saw this Letterman bit); he would see any film that had Glover in any role, no matter how minor; and he would occasionally subject me to portions of Glover’s record, including the nightmare-inspiring Clowny Clown Clown.

So fast-forward a few years to 1991 and the long-delayed release of Crispin Glover’s film Rubin & Ed. My buddy is psyched because not only is Rubin & Ed premiering at Seattle’s own Grand Illusion Cinema, but Crispin Glover himself will be on-hand to answer questions after the movie. Sensing that I will become infinitesimally hipper by attending this event, I agree to go along.

But I still don’t really know anything about Glover, aside from his freak-out on Letterman. So I prepare by reading up on Glover, hoping to learn enough to ask an in-the-know-sounding question during the Q &A. And one of the things I discover in my research is that Glover has offered an explanation for his bizarre behavior on the Late Show. According to an interview he gave later, he was “in character” throughout his appearance on Letterman, behaving not as himself, but as Rubin, the titular character from Rubin & Ed.

Armed with this one fact, I go to the premiere of Rubin & Ed feeling like a true fan — after all, while thousands of people saw the Letterman interview, I am one of the few people that knows The Secret True Story behind the event: that Crispin was having one over on those gullible American to unhip to know the truth. And Rubin & Ed totally validates this theory: the Rubin character wears the same clothes that Glover wore on Late Night, he exhibits the same mannerisms, and acts every bit as deranged as he did on the talk show.

The movie ends and out comes Crispin Glover. The crowd becomes all humble and respectful, and I quickly realize that I am the only phony in a room full of True Believers. Most of the questions are phrased not so much to elicit a response from Glover, but to showcase the knowledge of the asker; e.g., “I noticed that the sound engineer on your album Big Problem Does Not Equal the Solution. The Solution = Let It Be also served as the gaffer in your movie Twister, so I was wondering blah blah blah.” That kind of thing.

As the Q&A session is drawing to a close, I am amazed that no one has yet asked Glover about Letterman. Maybe, think I, maybe I am the only one in the room who knows The Secret, that it was not a disaster but, in fact, a brilliant piece of performance art. So I raise my hand and resolve to prove myself equal to the other Crispinphiles in the room. Glover calls on me almost immediately.

I stand, and say “Is it true that, when you appeared on the Letterman show a few years ago, you were simply practicing the Rubin character we saw here tonight?” Of course I already know the answer — of course it’s true, I read it! — but I just want to show off the one bit of knowledge I know.

Glover suddenly looks profoundly sad. There’s a long, expectant pause, and he says “I — I don’t, don’t like to talk about that show ….”

Every person in the room turns to me and scowls. You made Crispin sad! You asked about the Letterman show, the very show that he doesn’t like to talk about! What the hell kind of Crispin Glover fan are you?!

I sit down in my seat and sink as low as I possibly can.

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Designated Derider

At the grocery store.

Checker: I’ll need to see some ID.

Me: What, for that? It’s non-alcoholic beer.

Checker: [Flustered] It is? Oh, uh. Well I still need to check your ID.

Me: What, you think I’m a 19 year-old trying to buy non-alcoholic beer?

Checker: [Recovering] No. But I won’t sell you non-alcoholic beer if you’re over 21. It’s the principle of the thing.

Oh-HO!

You win this round, Mr. Smartypants checker guy.

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This Looks Like A Job

If Wesley Clark wins the Deomocratic nomination, I think he should pick Senator Kent Conrad as his running mate. With any luck, the 70% of Americans who still think Saddam Hussein was behind the 9/11 will vote for a “Clark / Kent” ticket thinking they’re gonna put Big Blue in the White House.

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Blog Entry … With Animals!

I went and visited my Grammy last night. We chit-chatted for a while and then got down to the serious business of watching TV. Grammy has, like, 700 cable stations, of which she watches four: PAX (the default), the FOX Sports Network (when the Mariners are playing), whatever station shows those reruns of Golden Girls, and Animal Planet. Tonight it was Animal Planet.

Lacking cable myself, I’d never seen Animal Planet before. What a weird network. We watched this show called Animal COPS, where they ride around with some Humane Society guys and pretend like they are as exciting and dangerous as the police officers profiled on COPS. In fact, everything on Animal COPS mimics the original COPS format: they show the time and location at the start of a segment, the officers give little philosophical monologues while driving around, and the whole thing is set to an unrelenting gloomy-action-adventure-techo backbeat specially designed to keep you on the edge of your seat while the Humane Society Guy herds a possum into a box.

Most hilariously, the show has a narrator who always speaks in this ominous and deadly-serious tone of voice, doing his level best to make the essentially boring routine of these guys seem fraught with peril.

First Humane Society Guy: Well, here we are.

[Humane Society Guys get out of car.]

Narrator: Getting out of the vehicle is a crucial step in any Animal COPS crime scene investigation.

[Humane Society Guys nonchalantly approach front door and knock.]

Narrator: The Animal COPS cautiously edge towards the front door, bracing themselves for a confrontation.

[Man answers door.]

Man: Yeah?

Narrator: Suddenly, the Animal COPS find themselves face-to-face with the perpetrator.

First Humane Society Guy: We’re here about the pigs.

Man: Oh right. They’re around the side of the house, follow me.

Narrator: The officers received a tip that the perpetrator is keeping pigs as pets, an act that’s not only illegal in this county, but also against the law.

Then, as they arrive at the crime scene, the case takes an unexpected turn.

Man: Here they are.

Second Humane Society Guy: Oh, so they’re pot-bellied pigs, then.

Man: Uh-huh, pot-bellied pigs.

Narrator: Reeling from this unforeseen twist, the Animal COPS struggle to regain control of the situation.

First Humane Society Guy: Well, like we said on the phone, we gotta take ‘em.

Man: Whatever.

The show after Animal COPS was called The Planet’s Funniest Animals, which was exactly like America’s Funniest Home Videos except … with animals! And I saw an ad for a show that was like Survivor … with animals! In fact, that seemed to be the theme of every program: Well-known Show … With Animals! Lord knows what else they have in this vein.

  • Sex And The Kitty
  • Law & Order & A Three-Spined Stickleback
  • The Gilmore Squirrels
  • Everybody Loves Raymond’s Ferret
  • Mad About Ewe
  • JAG (uar)
  • Murder She Wrote, “She” Being A Cockatoo

Update: From the comments: “Buffy The Canine Spayer” (BillB), “Who Wants To Be A Millipede” (Greg), and “Welcome Back Otter” (Geena). But Tom pretty much wins with “Queer Eye For A Pig Sty.”

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Research Day: VPs and Teenage Girls

Can You impeach the Vice-President? I don’t mean you, personally. Although, if you can, go nuts.

No, but what I mean is: what if, hypothetically, in some bizzarro, alterna-universe, it was discovered that the Vice President of the United States was receiving compensation from a company that landed a bunch of questionable, no-bid contracts in a nation that the US had recently invaded largely at the Vice President’s instigation. Could Congress just impeach the VP, leaving the Commander in Chief in place?

In answer this question, I went to the site I always turn to first when I am in the market for some rock-solid, unbiased information: LaRouche In 2004 (dot net). “You cannot stop this process unless you get rid of the Cheney factor,” LaRouche says in an essay about Cheney’s machiavellian influence on the administration. “So, therefore, ” he continues, “various people are conducting investigations aimed at impeaching Cheney on grounds of his financial dealings with Halliburton and so forth … there’s a movement to impeach the Vice-President of the United States, a movement that may not succeed in getting an impeachment, which is intended to break the White House free of control of the influence of Cheney.” (Dude, why not change your name to Lyndon LaRun-on?)

Well, if there’s really an “Impeach Cheney” movement afoot, then it must be legal. But a Google search for the phrase impeach Cheney doesn’t really turn up anything of the sort, leading me to wonder if LaRouche isn’t a nut. (Y’think?) Still, such a movement could exist, according to this online copy of the Constitution. Article II Section 4 states, “The President, Vice President and all civil Officers of the United States, shall be removed from Office on Impeachment for, and Conviction of, Treason, Bribery, or other high Crimes and Misdemeanors.”

Hey, speaking of the Vice-President … I know Bill Clinton is constitutional barred from running for President again, but could Al team up with Hillary and form a “Clinton / Gore in 2008″ ticket? Setting aside the fact that Al and Hillary aren’t exactly chums, and that neither would ever agree to be subordinate to the other, is there anything that prevents Gore from serving more than two terms as a Vice-President? This was a pretty easy one to look up, since I just had to find the text of the Twenty-Second Amendment. The amendment states that “no person shall be elected to the office of the President more than twice, and no person who has held the office of President, or acted as President, for more than two years of a term to which some other person was elected President shall be elected to the office of the President more than once,” but never once mentions the vice-president in any context.

Why don’t we just make this an All Vice Presidents Research Day? Sure, what the hell.

Who was George Washington’s vice president, and what else did he do? Well, let’s see. A Google search for “first vice-president” reveals that Washington’s second in command was … oh, it was John Adams. Shit, I knew that. Seriously: I totally knew that. No, for real. I knew that. I did.

Whoa, that was embarrassing! Let’s quickly distract the readers by talking about breasts: Okay, I don’t really know how to do research on this without getting arrested for sexual harassment, so I’ll just throw the question out and maybe one of my readers can shed some light on the subject. What’s the deal with teenage girls walking around with their arms folded? In the last year or so I’ve started seeing this everywhere, and it looks profoundly unnatural. The girls usually have they arms folded under their breasts, which makes me think this is some idiotic “Cosmo Girl” technique that supposedly makes the walker look more buxom or something. Anyone? The comment are open, so give me the lowdown if know the scoop on this regrettable trend.

Update: In the comments, Kelly says “Funny you should mention it, a friend explained this ‘technique’ to me just the other day. Apparently the crossing arms thing is for girls with low self-esteem who want to make sure that no one sees that their stomach is not completely flat in tight tee-shirts. The crossing of the arms serves as a physical reminder to suck in when walking past cute guys in the hall. ” Thanks, Kelly!

Previous Research Days

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