is one of the most fun board games I've ever played. It was great
to sit back and watch my opponents try to annihilate each other
while I quietly invaded and conquered the country of my choice,
thus winning the game without having to fire a single shot or
defend myself." -- Message from Jim Dunaway
written on Andy's Facebook Wall, 12/23/8
Class Photo plus lots
Back From Disney World!
Our Christmas season got off to an awesome start as we just returned
from a week at Disney World!
It's a tradition in many families to visit Disney World during
the holidays, but while most people go during what I call National
Play Week (the last week of the year) the parks are actually
at their least crowded of the year (and cheapest too) during
the run-up to the holiday season. And that's why we chose last
week as the time to go!
We had an incredible time. There were 8 of us on this trip:
Myself, Kristin, and Alison, my brother Jeff and his wife Judy,
and in center stage, their kids James and Sharon and my other
nephew Eric, son of my eldest brother Howard. This was the first
time for the three kids, whereas I've been a number of times
over the years, previously with Jeff and with Kristin, most recently
over ten years ago. So it was fun on many levels, ranging from
seeing old favorites through the eyes of the kids, to noticing
changes, to discovering big exciting things for the first time
(in particular the entire Animal Kingdom park and Mission: Space
and Soarin' rides). Along the way, we feasted like kings in exciting
faraway lands, most memorably that awesome restaurant inside
the Mexico pavilion at EPCOT.
Best of all, since we were there during the off-season, and
took full advantage of the FastPass system (my favorite new thing)
we spent very little time standing in line, often being able
to walk right onto various rides. We spent so little time standing
in line, in fact, that we barely found time to playtest
the new minimalist Treehouse game I'm currently developing for
situations where you're standing in a line and don't even have
a table, so that all pieces are held in the players' hands at
all times. (But so far, it's looking really promising!)
As a traveler, I'm all about the details, and I love noticing
the things that have changed -- and haven't -- since my last
visit. Some of the updates have been improvements, but usually
I found the new versions disappointing. I felt particularly let
down by the new Imagination ride, and its after-ride, and the
changes to the Living Seas pavilion. I also mourn the loss of
many things that are closed or gone, including the SkyRide,
Mr. Toad's Wild Ride, Cranium Command, and most of all, the Adventurer's
Club. But it's the nature of the Disney parks that they change
and evolve - that's how Walt wanted it.
It was also interesting to speculate about what they might
build next. I have to believe they have plans on the drawing
board for a fifth park, and beyond. But when are they going to
build some more monorails?
One other thing
that made this trip different from previous trips is that many
of us now have cellphones, making rendezvous issues so much easier,
and I have an iPhone, allowing me to read my email and post little
updates to my FaceBook,
Twitter, and LiveJournal pages
all throughout my adventures. This allowed my fans to make on-the-fly
suggestions, causing us to see a show we probably would have
otherwise missed (the Finding Nemo musical, with amazing puppets)
and resulting in this photo of me with Mickey (which I otherwise
wouldn't have posed for).
Also, speaking of other websites where I post content, I've
finally gotten a Flickr site now too, where I posted the
best of our vacation photos!
All in all, it was a simply fantastic trip, although it was
also utterly exhausting, particularly when factoring in the long
car trips to and from Florida. Here's a special thanks to the
folks who held down the fort for us at home while we were vacationing,
in particular Gina
(for dog-sitting Molly),
(for processing all those holiday orders without Alison's help)
and especially Robin
(for running the office. watching over both our houses, and taking
care of our five cats). Being on vacation is so much nicer when
you know things back home are in good hands!
Upon returning, we got swept up in the frantic chaos of holiday
celebrations... while the timing was great from the standpoint
of avoiding crowds and expenses, it did leave us scrambling to
prepare for our usual holiday traditions at home. But even so,
we had a great Christmas... hopefully you are enjoying the rest
of National Play Week as much as we are!
Thanks for playing our games -- and for giving
them as gifts!
Happy New Year!
||Last April we
got a dog, and ever since then Alison has been yearning to
know what breeds she is made up of -- particularly whenever someone
asks, "What kind of dog is she?" So, as a holiday gift,
we decided to find out. Robin secretly got Molly's DNA tested,
and since it's an expensive process, we got lots of friends and
family members to chip in a few bucks to fund the research. Anyway,
the results are in, and Molly's strongest component is American
Eskimo Dog, along with some Shih Tzu and Boston Terrier.
||"It's called 'A Salute To All Nations
But Mostly America'" -- Sam Eagle, Muppet*Vision
3D, a line which became frequently quoted by us during the rest
of our visit to Disney World (another favorite was his shocked
gasp at being told his three hour epic would have to be done
in a minute and a half)
||I'm really hoping Obama heeds the call at DrugCzarOfMyDreams.com
and chooses Ethan Nadelmann to be the next Drug Czar. Please
sign the online petition and urge the President-elect to consider
selecting this extremely well-qualified candidate. I really can't
think of anyone I'd rather see in this position than Ethan Nadelmann.