Head & Shoulders

Many parents track the height of their child by having them stand next to a designated wall every year or so and making a hashmark just above their head.

I’d use this method, if I trusted myself to remember to do so every 12 months. Fortunately, I have figured out an alternative way to track The Squirrelly’s growth. Whenever I have him on my shoulders, walk through a doorway, and hear a “Twump!” from above, I just stop for a moment and jot the current date on the wall next to the frame.

The Bad Review Revue

Benchwarmers: “Aimed at second-graders and anyone else who thinks farts are still funny.”

Final Destination 3: “There’s nothing fresh or off-beat in Final Destination 3, no talent that is struggling to get out. The only thing struggling to get out was me from the theater.” — Peter Rainer, Christian Science Monitor

Stay Alive:Stay Alive has none of the vicarious thrills of, say, ‘Konami: Silent Hill 2.’ It’s barely even Pong unplugged.” — Marc Savlov, AUSTIN CHRONICLE

Doogal: “It’d take more than potentially lethal amounts of alcohol to make this derivative trash endurable. ” — Nathan Rabin, THE ONION AV CLUB.

Basic Instinct 2: “The accidental comedy sensation of the year!” — Ty Burr, BOSTON GLOBE

Games For Two

I’ve received a number of requests for two-player game recommendations in the last few weeks. So here ya go, IntarWeb.

  • Lost Cities: This is my default recommendation for a two-player game, unless I know the person well enough to suggest something more specific — and even then it’s often my recommendation. Lost Cities is a very clever (and remarkably fun) rummy variant, which makes immediately accessible to non-gamers. The rules can be explained in three minutes, an entire game takes about thirty. Plus, chicks dig it. It’s considered politically incorrect in gaming circles to imply (or state outright) that one sex prefers certain games over others, but, I’m tellin’ ya: girls like rummy (see also: Ticket To Ride — another game based on Rummy that women enjoy.) All and all, Lost Cities is just about the perfect “couples game.” If you’re looking for something with a smidgen more strategy, check out its sister title, Shotten-Totten (sold in the US as Battle Line). And they can be tried-before-they’re-buy’d at Flex Games, which has online versions of both.
  • Lord Of The Rings: The Confrontation: Easily one of my favorite two-player games (read my full review here), LotR:tC uses the classic Stratego mechanism of having pieces visible only to their owner. The Light player wins if he gets Frodo (and the One Ring) all the way across the board and into Mordor; the Dark player wins by catching Frodo or overrunning The Shire with bad guys. Each character has a unique ability, and although a whole match can be played in 20 minutes, each game has its own narrative: in one, Aragorn sacrifices himself so that Frodo can trudge forth to victory; in the next, Wargs beset the ringbearer just as he descended from the Misty Mountains. And a Deluxe edition of the game was just released, doubling the number of characters and special powers in play.
  • Another Stratego-esque favorite of mine is Hera & Zeus. Some complain that the game is too “fiddly” — that is, there’s a lot of special cards to keep track of, and a lot of shuffling of the cards — but, amongst experienced players, I think it’s a tense and exciting battle. A bit more a learning curve on this one than the prior games, though. You can read my full, (and, by Internet standards, ancient) review here.
  • Jambo also takes a game or two to get the hang of, but has been one of the most well-received two-player card games in recent years. Players are merchants in a Swahili market, trading wars and occasionally siccing pumas on one another. Read my full review here.
  • Though most of the Carcassonne games can be played with up to five players, they also work exceptionally well with only two. They also number amongst the best “gateway” games of the market, perfect for those new to the boardgaming hobby. Players take turns adding tiles to a shared map, trying to create various landscapes. There are a lot of games in the Carcassonne line, but I’m of the opinion that Carcassonne: Hunters and Gatherers is the best for those new to the series. There is also an exclusively two-player version called Carcassonne: The Castle, which is a bit more strategic (and, in my opinion, a bit more fun) that the rest.
  • Another “works for many and works for two” game is San Juan, The kid brother to Puerto Rico. I think the game works best with three, but two is also quite good. Read my full review here.
  • There are, of course, no shortage of two-player wargames, but many of them require the players to memorize a 104 page rule book and dedicate every weekend for a season to playing a campaign. Memoir ’44, on the other hand, allows you to recreate the pivotal battles of WWII in about 40 minutes a scuffle, using a light, intuitive combat system. An even simpler wargame — albeit one with a fantasy bent — is Heroscape. Though clearly aimed at the 12-year-old boy market, I know a lot of adult game players who swear this is one of the most fun games ever released.
  • I’m not a huge fan of abstract games, but even I think Travel Blokus is a blast. It’s a very quick, very light strategy game — almost like a snack. Try it out online at blokus.com/. Or, if you are in the market for something meatier, try the titles in the GIPF series, a collection of abstract, two-players games that have been getting rave reviews. YINSH, the highest rated of the bunch, falls somewhere between draughts and Reversi; DVONN was named GAMES Magazine’s 2003 “Game of the Year;” and ZERTZ is like Chinese Checkers with an IQ of 145. Check them out at the GIPF Project homepage.

defective yeti Xtreme Makeover!

When we first interviewed this week’s subject, it confessed to feelings of low self-esteem and general dissatisfaction with its appearance, describing itself as “doughy,” “a big loaf,” and “day old.”

Fortunately, we knew just what to do. The dyXM team swung-or-possibly-swang into action, giving it an Xtreme Makeover it will never forget!

Warning: some of the following images are graphic in nature

First we put the subject under the knife, to trim away some of that excess bulk.

A vast improvement, I’m sure you’ll agree. Already the subject is looking good enough to eat.

Next we addressed the subject’s pasty complexion, placing between two heating coils to give it a rich, golden tan.

And then our team went to work with the cosmetics, first slathering the subject with a foundation to cover up imperfections.

And then applying some color, to ensure that it would stand out in a crowd.

And because a beauty is nothing without a wardrobe to match, we ditched that plain, uninspired and put it on something with a little more pizzazz!


Thanks for joining us on defective yeti’s Xtreme Makeover. Join us next week when we peel the years off our subject, giving it the youthful appearance of a baby.

Next Week on defective yeti Xtreme Makeover

Before & After

My College Days Are Official Over

I lost a pair of pants about two weeks ago. One day I had them, the next they were gone. I looked for them everywhere, but they were nowhere to be found.

Today The Queen walked out into the living room holding them. “Are these yours?” she asked. “They were in my drawer. I must have put them in there by mistake.”

Damn. I’d been holding out hope that a hazy memory about a J

Undercooking Light

The Queen and I subscribed to Cooking Light magazine last year. Great recipes, as long as you’re aware of the algorithm they use to encrypt them and can translate them back into Actual Cuisine. For those not in the know, here’s the secret: before you begin, run your finger down the list of ingredients and quintuple the amount of any foodstuff that you look forward to ingesting:

Cooking Light amount Actual Cuisine amount
2 tsp. butter 3 ½ tbsp. butter
1 tbsp. balsamic vinegar 1 tbsp. balsamic vinegar
1 endive, washed and torn 1 endive, washed and torn
1 egg white 3 eggs
¼ cup sugar 1 ¼ cups sugar
½ tsp. capers ½ tsp. capers
4 cups chopped chicken 2 chickens

I stumbled across the secret one evening while making a recipe that called for “1/8 cup cheddar cheese,” a quantity as wildly improbable as “17 ounces of black pepper.” “One cup” is the fundamental, atomic unit of shredded cheese — did the editors of Cooking Light think we would not know this?

Another thing you need to increase by an order of magnitude is the recipies’ cooking time for anything that involves meat. Maybe the guys who write Cooking Light are all vegans and have to guestimate on matters of carnivory or something, but the directions are always, like

Add ginger, minced lemongrass, garlic to pan and saute until browned. Add soy sauce mixture, cook for 3 minutes on medium-high heat. Add raw chicken, cook for an additional 30 seconds stirring frequently, serve over rice.

I know that you are supposed to increase cooking times at high altitudes, so I can only assume that these recipes were field-tested by a race of svelte merfolk dwelling on the floor of the Pacific.

I will say that I have lost a considerable amount of weight using Cooking Light’s recipes. Eating undercooked pork three days a week will do that to a guy.