My harrowing account of frozen microwave pizza wrasslin (“a drama .. in real life!”) made it onto This Is Broken, but several commenters said they had never encountered this kind of box. So I went to the Lean Cuisine website to see if I could find an image. (I’m not saying that the pizza in question was a Lean Cuisine, though the circumstantial evidence certainly points in that direction.)

I was unable to find an illustrative picture, alas. But I found something better: pages and pages of “customer reviews” for the various Lean Cuisine products. Maybe it’s just me, but the unfettered enthusiasm and wanton exclamation pointal abuse in these reviews struck me as both vaguely suspect and terribly amusing. A sampling:

Shrimp and Angelhair Pasta: “OH MY GOD THAT WAS SO GOOD! WAHOOO!!!”

Macaroni and Cheese: “These are my favorites! I just bought 20 of them today.”

Cafe Classic Salisbury Steak: “Simply put on a scale of 1-10, this Cafe Classics Salisbury Steak is a 15!Enough said!”


Curiously, my review for the Four Cheese Pizza (“The box was complicated.”) has yet to appear.

Update: I’m getting a surprising number of emails about this (four) so I’m turning the comments on.

An Open Letter To The Frozen Microwave Pizza Makers Of America

Today for lunch I had a microwave pizza. To cook it I had to pull a strip on one side of the box and then carefully lift the lid making sure that the sides of the box came apart on the perforated lines and then remove the pizza from the box and then turn the box upside down and fold the lid all the way back so that the a square of metallic-color paper affixed to the inside of the top of the box was now resting on the outside of the bottom of the box and then remove the pizza from it’s plastic wrapping and then set the cooking-platform-n

The 2004 Good Gift Game Guide

My 2004 Good Gift Game Guide appears in The Morning News today.

In my games archive you can find full reviews for three of the games mentioned: Ticket To Ride, San Juan and Hansa. You can also see previous G3 Guides for the years 2003, & 2002, 2001, and 2000. Enjoy the broken links and images!

Other Good Games

This was a pretty good year, and I had a tough time narrowing my choices down to ten. Here are some worthy of honorable mention:

  • High Society and Razzia (Society: Uberplay; Razzia: Ravensburger; Both: 3-5 players, 30 minutes, $20): Two of Reiner Knizia’s classic games, High Society and Ra, have been out of print for a while. Both were rereleased this year, although Ra has been given a new name (Razzia), a new theme (Mafia) and simplified rules. Players are obscenely wealthy in High Society, purchasing yachts and mansions while dodging the taxman; gangsters divvy up their ill-begotten booty in Razzia, and try to secure getaway cars and drivers before the cops arrive to shut their operation down. Both games have ingenious auction systems at their heart, and are perfect for families or friends at a pub.
  • St. Petersburg (Rio Grande Games, 2-4 players, 45 minutes, $28): Hire craftsman, build buildings, and recruit aristocrats in eighteenth century Russia. St. Petersburg was considered by many to be the best game of the year, but I find it a little to mathematical to make an effective G3. Thematically similar to San Juan , and the “gamier” of the two.
  • Attika (Rio Grande games, 2-4 players, 45 minutes, $33): I got totally addicted to Attika for a while, but the game is too abstract (and the rules a smidgen to convoluted) for make it suitable for gift-giving. Expand your city across the Greek Peninsula, beating your opponent to best building sites and making the best use of the available resources. Although rated from 2-4 players, I find that it really only works well for two. That said, it was my favorite two-player game of the year (aside from Memoir ’44).
  • Hoity Toity (Uberplay, 3-6 players, 60 minutes, $35): While not a new game — it was first released in 1990 and promptly won the German Game Of The Year award — this is the first English edition in a long time. In Hoity Toity, players purchase antiques and earn points by showing off their collections to others, while dispatching burglers to swipe the valuables of opponents and employing policemen to capture rival thieves. This game uses a game mechanism called “blind bidding” which is one of my least favorite, so it’s a testament to Hoity Toity’s quality that even I think it’s terrific fun.
  • 10 Days In The USA / 10 Days in Africa / Europa Tour (10 Days in *: Out Of The Box; Europa: Schmidt Spiele; All: 2-4 players, 30 minutes, $20): The same game (with minor modification) set on three difference continents. Despite the frightening “educational game” appearance, these arefirst and foremost ight and fun rummy variants — learning the capital of Tunisia is strictly a fringe benefit. Another of those rare games that plays up to four but works wonderfully well with two.

The Canonical G3 List

All of the games listed at The Morning News and above were released in the past year. There are, of course, hundreds of great G3s from year’s past. Here a sampling from the Canonical G3 List:

Family Board Games

  • Settlers of Catan: Now and forever the #1 G3.
  • Carcassonne: This is “the original Carcassonne” mentioned in The Morning News article.
  • TransAmerica: Looks similar to Ticket To Ride to the untrained eye, but they are two entirely different games.

Family Card Games

  • Bohnanza: A game about bean trading. For real.
  • Mamma Mia: A game about making pizzas. For real.
  • 6 Nimmt!: Recent rereleased as “Category Five”

Two-player Games

Party Games

Second Opinions

Don’t trust the yeti? Here are the highlights of some other “best game of the year” lists:

Spiel des Jahres (a.k.a. “The German Game Of The Year”):

International Gamer Awards:

GAMES Magazine’s game of the year:

Gamerdad’s Unplugged 2004 Game Guide.

Gamefest’s Gift Games Guide.

Where To Find

If you live in Seattle, check out the stores page of SeattleSpiel, which lists all the outlets for these games in Puget Sound. Online stores are listed there as well, for those readers who live elsewhere.

The Burdens Of Parenthood

The Queen:

“I took The Squirrelly to the hospital today for his second flu shot. After he got it I was out in the waiting room getting ready to leave, and there was this old lady sitting near us. And she starts asking me all these questions, like ‘how old is he?’ and ‘how much does he weight?’ — but not in a friendly way, she was all aggressive about it. So I got all ready to go, and stood up, and started rummaging around in the diaper bag for his hat, and she totally yells at me, “you need to put a cap on that baby!!” And I turned to her and started to say ‘how about I put a cap in your ass?!‘ But I stopped myself. Because, you know: I’m a mother now.”

Auld Lang Resigned

I’m going to make my New Year’s resolutions today and strive to break them all by the end of the year.

By getting all my capitulation out of the way now, I figure I can keep 2005 100% failure-free.


There is a woman just outside my office door who, for the last five minutes, has been talking to someone on a cell phone about (a) what order they are going to “hit” the various stores at the mall when they go shopping this weekend, and (b) how they are going to dress their dog (??!) for an upcoming Christmas party. IF ANYONE WHO WORKS IN MY BUILDING IS READING THIS BLOG PLEASE PULL THE FIRE ALARM IMMEDIATELY!!!!


It’s finally December, and you know what that means: only one more month until I can* buy a Boris Vallejo Scantily-Clad Buxom Women Of Fantasy 2005 Wall Calendar at the local Waldenbooks for 75% off!

It is truly the most magical time of year.

* Unless a certain someone ruins everything by giving me another “Pi Digit Of The Day Desk Calendar” for Christmas again this year.