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Thursday, May 21st, 2009

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What News Anchors Do During Commercial Breaks

Tirade's Choice

How History's Most Popular Board Game Helped Defend The Free World

"We've played FLUXX for nearly five years now. We have introduced it to a number of friends who have also gone out to get their own set. We LOVE it! I'm ordering now to pass it out to Airmen who are deployed who look for something entertaining and social after long hours defending our nation. Thank you for this game - it is addictive! " -- Brian N, comments with Order #101450

Assorted links & comments on topics including Driving Through Future's Past, a portfolio of probabilities for US Steel, the tenth conversation class he's taught so far, Searching for value in ludicrous ideas, A Toast to Toast, Hightower on Populism, Shannon Wheeler's first New Yorker cartoon, Southern hemisphere stars, Odd Day, the Kalakala, the link between 'Peanuts' and Beethoven, the Ten Most Photographed Cities, the chocolate-fueled race car, Van Gogh ear revisionism, Mallards in the swimming pool, Vinegar as deoderant, Chop Chop Square, and more

Welcome Jessica! / Origins Prep

This week we're incredibly pleased to announce that we've hired another full time employee! Her name is Jessica Blair and she is now the Director of Sales and Marketing for Looney Labs.

As you can see from our Press Release about this news, Jessica is very well-qualified for this job. Not only does she have executive-level skills and talents, she also has years of experience in the hobby game industry. Her most recent position was with Wizards of the Coast, where her titles included Brand Manager of Publishing and Manager of Direct Sales & Merchant Relations. (She's also previously worked for Games Workshop and Sabertooth Games.) Best of all, she says it's a dream come true for her to be working for Looney Labs.

The timing of her arrival couldn't be better, since we're just about to release a major new product (Are You The Traitor?) and we have beautiful new packaging and literature for our product line. Jessica has plenty of great stuff to talk about as she picks up the phone and calls all our retailers and distributors.

For the last couple of years, we really have not had anyone making outbound sales calls. Our sales team has been focused only on keeping up with incoming sales (i.e. sales support) while Kristin has led our marketing efforts as part of her general duties as President and Business Czar. These marketing efforts along with several hot new versions of Fluxx have doubled our sales in the last two years - but that doesn't mean we don't need a sales department! So we're all very excited to be bringing in someone new who can really pick up the ball and run with it.

Jessica will be continuing to live in Renton, WA with her husband and young baby, but we're confident she'll be able to do great work for us with telecommuting and frequent working visits.

Anyway, welcome aboard Jessica! It's great to have you "here"!

In other HR news, we're bidding farewell this week to our office temp Susannah. As with Nikki before her, the demands of school and the complexities of part-time scheduling have made it necessary for her to move on, but we've already got someone else from the temp agency lined up and ready to start next week. So good luck with your next adventures Susannah! It's been fun having you around, and have a great summer!

The other big news around here at this time is Origins Prep. It's just a few weeks away now, and as usual, our big event of the year requires a lot of our time and attention. This will be our 10th Big Experiment and our 20th Icehouse Tournament, so we've got quite a bit of experience now in getting ready, but even so, it's always a lot of work.

For one thing, there are the medallions. At this point, most of the events we run every year have a standardized medallion design, but every year we add a few new events and/or new designs. This year, there were nine new designs we needed. Four were simply updates, replacing the old-style artwork on the Fluxx finalist medallions with the new color Keeper art, but the other five were for new games: Monty Python Fluxx, Are You The Traitor?, World War 5, Zark City, and a Floating Treehouse tournament. Of those, the first 3 were easily enough created using existing artwork -- look for them on the new Medallion Gallery page to see what they'll be like. As for the last two, I drew new images for them, which are shown here:

Of course, there's a lot more to the Origins planning than the prize medallions and the event schedule... we're also debuting a new product there, which means now is also the time when we're sending all the required files for the game off to the card printers. But I'm delighted to report that the last piece they needed, the rulesheet, was submitted last night, so Traitor is officially at the printer! Woo-hoo!

As always, there's lots of other stuff going on too... for example, our house was used as the set for a murder scene in a 48-hour film project we helped with, called Execute, we attended Kate Jones' annual gaming party, and were dazzled by the mind control magic of Ian Rowland, and we planted a pair of new hopefully-blight-resistant American Chestnut tree seedlings we were lucky enough to be given the responsibility of nurturing by the American Chestnut Foundation.

AndyThanks for reading and have a great whenever!

Thought Residue
In the film Fanboys, the characters call out "Chewie!" instead of "Shotgun!" as a way of saying they want to sit in the front passenger seat. But we don't need a different word for that, we already have a perfectly good term. What's actually needed is a way of calling the driver seat, so in our household we've started calling "Han Solo!" while heading out to the vehicle.

These are exciting days for long-time anti-prohibitionists like myself. After decades of being ignored, dismissed, and told to shut up, our arguments are finally being listened to. "It's an idea that's taking hold across the nation," reports the Christian Science Monitor (seen quoted in The Week). In California, where pot has become "semi-legal," the Republican Governor has called for an open debate on taxing marijuana sales. The new drug czar wants to abandon the phrase "war on drugs," and in national surveys, support for legalization has tipped over the 50% point. It's just like 1933 -- violence by gangsters is out of control and the public coffers are too empty for us to continue this nonsense. Drug prohibition is crumbling before our eyes.
"Science fiction writers build castles in the air; the fans move into them; and the publishers collect the rent." -- Sharyn McCrumb, from the intro to her novel about sci-fi conventions called Bimbos of the Death Sun

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