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aglet (ag'-lit) n. 1: a tag or sheath, as of plastic or metal, on the end of a lace, cord, or ribbon to facilitate its passing through eyelet holes. 2: a similar device used for an ornament, sometimes on lace corners as well. [From Middle English aiglet, from Old French aguillette, diminutive of aguille, "needle," from Latin acucula, diminutive of acus, "needle."]

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"A NOTE ON THE FLUXX: This is a great game, and we thought everyone should have a deck. It's made by Looney Labs, who cut us a generous deal and came all the way from Maryland to do the hunt. There's some downtime between the end of the hunt and the after-party -- it could be a great time to play Fluxx at a bar, cafe, etc. We hope you enjoy it. We do." -- from the instructions packet in MetroMetro's 3rd New York City scavenger hunt

Thursday, May 5th, 2005
by the Writer's Guild of Wunderland

What's New?

June 5, 2005

What's Going On? Hunting and Scavenging in NYC

This weekend, the 3 of us went up to New York City to participate in a really big scavenger hunt put on by a group called MetroMetro. It was great! Even the rather yucky weather couldn't keep 58 teams of 3 from running all over the streets of Manhattan (in the vicinity of Chinatown and East Village) in search for over 100 neat little things. We didn't win (of course) but we got a very respectable score, particularly given that almost all of the other teams were made up of New Yorkers who knew the area much better than us Washingtonians.

Who arranged this, and how did you find out about it? I hear you asking. A month or so ago, we were contacted by the organizers, who wanted to know about bulk pricing on Fluxx. Everyone who signs up for the hunt gets a little package of goodies as part of their $20 entry fee, and they were asking abut bulk discounts since they wanted to include a Fluxx deck in everyone's goodie bag. The 3 hip gents behind MetroMetro (whose motto is "Playing is Better than Working") are driven by a desire to help people get out and play and have fun interacting instead of just working and watching TV, and they spend their free time arranging parties and gaming events for their friends.

We liked the idea so much that we not only gave them a great discount on Fluxx, but turned out to play as well! It helps that we've long been needing to go to New York anyway, to visit our dear friend Dawn (who just bought a house in Brooklyn and is engaged to a cool dude named Robert) and because Kristin wanted to have a meeting with our PR consultant, Ann. We also really like the fact that all teams had to be groups of 3 people, and being a household of 3, Kristin and Alison and I really liked that. (3 because 4 is too many and 2 is not enough, it said somewhere on their website.)

Since we obviously didn't need Fluxx decks, our goodies bag included copies of the Not For Tourists Guide to New York City, which was apparently the central object in last year's goodies bag and which was a great asset for us that day.

What kind of stuff were you hunting for? They did a great job of creating tasks and clues. Mostly they were informational: go to this specific space, and count the somethings, or fill in the blanks of a quote from a plaque or a sign or a piece of graffiti. Often these clues directed our attention to some interesting little something to see. For example, #67 was "Linda is resting peacefully at the corner of 2nd Street and Avenue A. What is her last name?" The photo here shows the tilework you'll find when you look around at that intersection. Little "preciousnesses" like this were often the focus of our clues.

A bunch of the clues, including some deemed Compulsory, required that we take a photograph. Since my arsenal of cameras includes an old Polaroid, we brought that, and it was just the perfect thing to use for this. We wanted to be able to use every available minute on searching for clues, not searching for a way of getting digital photos printed before the deadline for turning in our materials.

Here's a selection of the photo challenges we accomplished:

  • a photo of a teammate being fed by a stranger
  • a photo of a teammate hugging a uniformed fire-fighter
  • a photo of a teammate arm-wresting a uniformed police officer (and winning)
  • a photo of a stranger getting a haircut (this was apparently a difficult one for many, but we had no trouble with it)
  • a photo of someone that makes you go "Whoa! Look at THAT guy!" (we got a picture of a guy with a great big mohawk)
  • a photo of our entire team under a clock at the Hamilton Fish Recreation Center between 12:15 PM and 1:00 PM, with the time being visible on the clock. (This was my favorite clue because it meant all teams had to rendezvous in the middle of the day to kind of do something at the once, meaning we got to encounter each other again officially and see how we were all doing.)

The hunt ran from 9 AM to 4 PM. Then we had several hours of downtime, during which we had dinner at a tasty dumpling place in Chinatown while killing time until the After-Party that evening. (The Metro-Metro guys needed that downtime to tabulate the scores.) At the party, we got to hang out with the crowd we'd been competing against all day, swapping stories about clues that got away, and so on. Then the top 3 scoring teams got some pretty nice prizes: trophies and games! Also, the team with the best costumes (team outfits were highly encouraged) got a prize for being the best dressed: a case of Girl Scout Thin Mint cookies!

Anyway, it was a lot of fun. It was also a really great way to visit a city. Even for those who live there, it was a chance to go look at a lot of interesting little out of the way places with nifty little things to see which you'd probably never noticed before, and for a group of out-of-towners it was an awesome way to get an unusual tour of the city. We're already looking forward to next year's hunt, and we encourage other groups of 3 of our friends to consider taking a weekend trip to New York City to join in the fun with us next time around. (We were already joined this time by some rabbits from Fiver's Warren!)

What else did you do in New York? We stayed with our friend Dawn and even though she and hers were busier than we are (she's the lead set designer for Radio City Music Hall's big Christmas Extravaganza this year! Wow!) we managed to work in some quality time together. Dawn's fiancée Robert has a really charming 6-year old daughter named Sabrina, who beat me 3 times in a row at IceTowers. (It helps to play me first thing in the morning... I'm really not at my best when I've just woken up.) We also shared in the adventures of a small stuffed bear named Manhattan, who finally fulfilled his dream of visiting the island that bears his name, and we got stuck in a traffic jam caused by a huge swarm of bicycles on the Bronx-Queens Expressway. And as if all that weren't enough, I also got to visit Flushing Meadows again!

What's in Flushing Meadows? Many are drawn there by sporting events, but I'm interested only in the park itself, which was the site of the New York World's Fairs of 1939 and 1964. I enjoy going to visit this park whenever I have time to kill in the NYC area, but it's a long way from Manhattan and it's been quite a few years (notably since before Alison got here and before I started doing these weekly reports) that I've made the trek, despite numerous trips to the Big Apple for other reasons (typically, Toy Fair).

The Unisphere and the Rocket Thrower look grand as usual; the New York State pavilion (immortalized in my current all-time favorite movie, Men In Black) continues to crumble but is still standing; the Hall of Science has a huge new wing (we wished we'd had time to explore it); the Court of the Universe has been repaved (and the marker has been damaged but preserved anyway); and the Time Capsule marker is as always a wonderful, tranquil spot to sit and contemplate the really distant future.

It seems like the weather is always crummy when I visit Flushing Meadows, and this trip was no exception, but I enjoyed the visit very much. It was a lot of fun wandering around finding artifacts and explaining the history to Alison, as I have repeatedly for Kristin and various others before. I estimate that I've made the pilgrimage to the site of the Fairs 10 times since attending as a baby, with quite a range of different friends & family members. (I just barely remember the first time I returned to the Unisphere, when we were on a summer vacation and Rash convinced Dad to stop off in Queens to see what remained of the fair he so vividly recalls attending.)

In honor of this recent visit, I have this week finally updated my antiquated and previously-lame New York World's Fair webpage! (Since October 17, 1998, all that's been on this page is that photo of me as a baby and this statement: "...for some reason I find it (and the '39 New York World's Fair, too) fascinating and compelling. Why? That's a good question. At some point, I'll try to explain it on this page.")

Anyway, it was a great weekend. Thanks again to Brady, Bo, and Will, for creating the Metropolitan Odyssey and letting us join in the fun! You guys sure know how to show a bunch of your friends a really good time.

AndyHave a Great Week, and Thanks for Buying Our Games... even though they are a bit more expensive!

Thought Residue
"In a Mirror, Darkly" might have been the best episode of any Star Trek series ever. I think the only one that could beat it was the DS-9 episode where they went back in time to "The Trouble with Tribbles," which reminds me once again that what I (and what I think legions of other Star Trek fans) really want is another series set in the same time period as the original one, with the classic look and feel of the original show's technology. Perhaps with "Enterprise" being canceled and the franchise looking for the next think to do, the Star Trek people will realize this as well. (I'm hoping they already have, and that they preserved, with this in mind, the beautiful recreations of the original sets which they built for IAMD.) My idea for such a series is to focus on another ship in Star Fleet, with a captain who is one of Kirk's rivals. I'd pick the USS Constitution. (The original Enterprise was described as a "Constitution-class starship" but we've never seen the NCC-1700 nor any of its crew.) They'd have their own adventures, but sometimes they'd go to the same places Kirk had recently visited, arriving perhaps just a few weeks later, and following up on some of those storylines. I'd also do it as a half-hour situation comedy. Now that would bring in new viewers, don't you think? And if UPN wouldn't pay for it, I'll bet the Sci-Fi channel or Comedy Central would (I wish I had the ear of "the right people"...).

I love using under-utilized currency, like the $2 bill, the Golden Dollar, and the 50 cent piece. They are always fun to spend. I love them all, but I think I like the JFK half dollar the most. When it comes to flipping a coin, no currently circulating US coin is better than JFK, and I like having at least one in my pocket at all times, just in case I'm ever accidentally shifted into an alternate universe where JFK wasn't assassinated. Think of what a neat artifact that coin would suddenly become! Of course, in such a universe, everyone would just assume it was a fake, like those dollar bills with Clinton or Bush's face you can get at novelty shops now, and anyway, I don't really believe time travel is possible. But hey, if you're playing Chrononauts and someone reverses the 1963 Linchpin, you can get that coin out and impress the other players with it! In fact, it might be a neat House Rule to say that if you have a JFK coin in your possession, you get to draw an extra card anytime his assassination is prevented.
"Think back to the 1950s, when courts and Northern legislators began to recognize the rights of black people, triggering angry and often violent reactions in the South. At the time, white Baptist preachers insisted that integration was sinful and cited biblical passages to back up their bigotry. Now we hear the same, Scripture-based attacks on gay marriage. But after they cite "traditional religious values," the forces of reaction can offer no rational reason for denying a whole group of Americans the right to wed the person they love. It may take years or even decades, but other states will eventually follow Connecticut in legalizing civil unions, and finally, gay marriage. The train of equal rights has left the station and isn't going to stop halfway." -- Robert Scheer, of The Nation, as quoted in The Week, May 6th, 2005

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