- [Guide] [Games] [E-Books]
- pessimal (pess'-im-ull) adj.
1: maximally bad, opposite of optimal. 2: of an organism's environment,
least favorable for survival. [from Latin origins.]
The Life Aquatic With Steve Zissou
All the characters
in this film weren't quite as good
as David Bowie.
"I was introduced to Looney Labs by a friend in my gaming
club in September 2003. I played Fluxx then, and enjoyed it enough
to buy my own deck. Now, I've since progressed beyond Fluxx into
Chrononauts, and then Icehouse. I love the Icehouse pieces. Being
able to cram dozens of deep games into a single drawstring bag
really aids in keeping me and my friends entertained."
-- Joshua Thompson's rabbit bio
yeah, I know I announced last
week that I wasn't going to do an update this week. So what.
This is National
Play Week, and one of the rules of National Play Week is
that you get to do what you want, and this is what I felt like
doing. Maybe I'll take next week off instead. Today, I feel the
blogger's urge to write.
Anyway, we're having a wunderful Christmas time. Corny as
it may sound, the gift I got this year that I will cherish the
most was simply the chance to get together with everyone at my
parent's house for the traditional Christmas dinner. There were
several issues working against us this year, including the fact
that my dear mom has been suffering with persistent and severe
chronic pain for a depressingly long time now, and therefore,
quite understandably, wasn't feeling up to the Herculean task
of feeding the small army our extended family has become. Fortunately,
my brother Jeff volunteered to becoming the temporary host, and
he marshaled the rest of us as assorted members of our different
households prepared the various parts of the feast.
And what a feast it was! Since Jeff & his family were
running the kitchen, the dinner was a mix of traditional favorites
with some new specialties he's developed. I was particularly
delighted to sample their roast emu, a meat-eaters treat I'd
yet to encounter, which has become a traditional Thanksgiving
favorite at the Charlottesville-Looney's home. It was delicious!
Mom's recipe for world famous dinner rolls, and they were very
yummy. I have to admit that they weren't really up to the usual
standard set by Mom, but then again, she set the bar quite high.
Everyone knows her rolls are difficult to make... I think that's
part of their allure. On the other hand, Alison's
mincemeat pie, featuring Mom's recipe for pie crust, was reportedly
just right. (I of course passed over the non-chocolate
desserts in favor of the bountiful cookies...)
After dinner, the twins demonstrated their
emerging musical abilities...
... and then it was time for the usual exchanging of gift-wrapped
objects. There were plenty of gifts for all, but of course, the
younger kids got the most, which is really how it should be,
in my opinion. I'm delighted with all of the gifts I was given!
descend again into the corny, the coolest object I received as
a gift is this old photo Rash gave me, which he found somewhere
among one of our grandmother's lingering artifacts. It's a photo
of me, taken in the early seventies, and it's amazing how little
about me has changed. There I am, wearing my favorite bathrobe
(featuring wonderful colorful atomic age blobs), playing my favorite
card game at the time (Rook) while sitting at a low-slung, game-themed
table, with my beloved cat (our family's first, named Mat) close
at hand. At the same time, it's obviously fascinating to consider
how much things have changed since this photo was taken, in the
very same room as the 3 photos above it.
And all of that was just one of the Christmas celebrations
we've had! We also spent Christmas Eve with Kristin's parents,
and we'll be spending New Year's Day with Alison's parents (who
by then will be back from Florida), and in between we've had,
and will be having, several other parties with friends. Plus
we have yet to decide where we'll be at midnight on New Year's
Eve... We plan on keeping the celebrations going for the full
12 days of Christmas... the tree must always stay up until Jan
6th. We're having a jolly good time! Here's hoping you are too.
Of course, no Christmas season is complete without Christmas
shows on TV... I really enjoyed a special I caught part of on
cable called "The Christmas Special Christmas Special,"
which of course told the story of the evolution of the Christmas
Special. Naturally this got me thinking about all the various
holiday specials I've seen and all the different stories they
I bet you'd get a lot of different answers to the question,
"What is the story of Christmas?" Many of course would
recount the tale of an unwed mother giving birth to a remarkable
baby in humble shelter, visited by angels and wise men with gifts.
Others would describe a fat man in a red suit giving presents
to good children everywhere. Some would mention a ghost story
about a miser who learned to be kind and generous by being shown
the reality of how others perceive him. A few might describe
a snowman who came to life, or a reindeer who saved Christmas
because of his shiny nose, or even a mean green grouch who stole
everyone's gifts and then gave them back because they reacted
to the theft unrealistically. Someone would certainly mention
a guy who got to see what the world would have been like if he
had never existed. There are many stories of Christmas, ranging
from the earliest of pagan rituals (which cause us to install
trees in our houses during these, the shortest days of the
year) to futuristic tales (like the infamous Star Wars Christmas
Special, which I saw during its original broadcast but haven't
seen since). Which one is your favorite Christmas story?
For me, it's the Dickens classic, A Christmas Carol. It is,
after all, a time
travel tale (and you know how much I love those)! The ghosts
of the past and future are time travelers, who take Scrooge on
some life-changing journeys of the sort I'd love to embark on
myself. How could I not like it best?
Moreover, the moral of this story is as powerful as any Christmas
message ever penned. Like the spirits who didn't give up on Scrooge,
I believe it's never to late to look in the mirror, see what
sort of person you really are, accept your faults, and seek to
improve. As one who believes strongly in cultivating my ability
to my change when I'm wrong, I consider this the most perfect
But then the question becomes, what's the best adaptation
of A Christmas Carol? Of course, I'd recommend everyone read
the original text someday, if you never have... it will always
be the "best version." But after that, which one to
choose? There have been so many... I've seen the story told on
screens both small and large (I remember seeing Mickey's Christmas
Carol new in a movie theater), on stages both tiny and famous
(we went to NYC one year and got terrible seats for Captain Picard's
one-man stage version), and in incarnations both accurate and
wacky (I really liked the Northern Exposure episode that translated
the story into Hebrew, so to speak, as a series of Yom Kippur
visitations upon Joel Fleishman). I'm partial to many, like the
George C. Scott movie and yes, even Mr. Magoo's Christmas Carol,
but of course, some versions are just plain bad and certainly
one can get tired of seeing the same story told over and over
All that said, my favorite adaptation remains the 22 minute
animated version produced by Richard Williams in 1972, which
I saw for the first time on ABC at about the same time that old photo of me
was taken, when I was as old as James
and Sharon are now. (Incidentally, I fondly remember wearing
that bathrobe on more than one Christmas morning...)
The Richard Williams version is a bit obscure but it's worth
seeking out. It features excellent animation -- Chuck Jones was
executive producer, and they used a woodcuts-in-motion style
that suits the material wonderfully -- and Scrooge's voice is
done by Alastair Sims, a voice known to many as the "real"
Scrooge because he famously performed the role in a black and
white film adaptation made in the early fifties. And while the
Richard Williams version zips right through the story, it's delightfully
complete and faithful to the original. I make a point of watching
it every year.
To me, the lessons of generosity at the root of the Dickens
classic are really what this holiday is supposed to be about.
If I had to choose just one Christmas special to anoint as the
one which best answers Charlie Brown's question, "Can anyone
tell me what Christmas is really all about?" that's what
I would choose. (Runner-Up: "Karl Bertie Jonsson's Christmas
Happy New Year!
PS: Congrats to 'Becca
on the baby! Welcome to the world, Nicholas!
||There actually WERE Olympic games held in 1944
in Poland! It's not just a wacky alternate
reality I thought up! The story was suppressed for decades,
but apparently 6000 prisoners of war, including former members
of the Polish Olympic team, held their own 22 day series of Olympic
competitions *inside* their prison camp, in Poland, in June 1944.
||The current edition of the Rubik's
Cube, now under the Milton Bradley imprint, has an incorrect
alignment of colors! The 6 colors are the same, but they're in
the wrong places on the cube! It may not seem like much to you,
but it's a bummer to anyone who's intensely familiar with the
cube, like Kristin.
||If you don't realize just how willing the "Just
Say No" warriors are to exaggerate, distort, and even outright
lie in their campaigns to suppress certain activities, consider
the recently-revealed untruths being taught in "abstinence-only"
sex-ed programs. A new report by congressman Henry Waxman concluded
that $170 million federal tax dollars were spent this year on
falsehood-laden programs intended to "overstate the negative
consequences of sexual activity." (Children are being taught
that any genital contact can cause pregnancy, that HIV can be
spread through sweat and tears, and that condoms fail 31% of
the time.) When authority figures are obviously lying about sex,
why should anyone believe their claims about drugs?
(They probably hate rock & roll, too.)