Stray Thoughts That Stuck in Andy's Brain in 2001

We've been living in this house for over 10 years, and for the first time ever we've been invaded by mice! Our Little Cat is on the job though... she's caught about 5 so far.
Game distributors are dropping like flies! A few weeks ago Zocchi announced it was folding, and now Wargames West is following suit. Bummer!

We got to see it just in time... that last standing piece of the WTC that I took a photo of last week was taken down just a few days after our visit.

"I really do like my 'Me-Time'." -- Elliott to Finch, as they discussed the upside of being in a three-person relationship on a recent episode of "Just Shoot Me"

In response to last week's residual thought about chocolate, caramel, and almonds, I learned not only that several such confections are available from See's Chocolates, but also that for those of us not lucky enough to live within their radius of availability, you can order custom-packed boxes of these delights via their website.

"Hey, now, no one's saying that death isn't sad. But it's also the Mt. Everest of Life. And I say when your time comes, climb it! Who knows what wonders may lay at the icy summit of Death Mountain. It might be nice up there! And think of all the people that have gone before you... you may get to shake hands with some of the greatest minds in human history! Maybe death's just nature's way of saying 'try again'." -- The Tick, in his eulogy to the Immortal

"Best is the enemy of Good." -- A saying I adopted from Jay Costenbader back when I was at TSI, which struck my sister-in-law Ruth's fancy during her recent visit to town

Is there a candy bar that features chocolate, caramel, and almonds? Settle for peanuts instead and you've got a Snickers bar; or cover pecans with chocolate and caramel and you get one of my favorite treats, Fannie May brand Pixies (they're even better than Turtles). However, the only way I know of to enjoy the unique blend of chocolate with caramel and almonds is to unwrap both a Rolo and an almond Hershey's Kiss, and pop 'em into your mouth at the same time.

"There was a full lunar eclipse that evening, and our games were constantly being interrupted as people went trudging out into the snow to watch its progress. In a scene which will be forever etched in my memory, John called out in frustration to a group of players who were heading for the door yet again: 'The students are not allowed to leave the classroom!'
'But Master,' replied Andy as he shuffled out with the rest, 'there is a demon eating the moon!'" -- Kory's Design History of Zendo

Kristin has been experiencing a lot of pain and weirdness in her hand this week. As you may recall, she seriously injured it last summer; she's since regained full usage, but not full sensitivity. She figures the recent pains are the nerves in her still numb fingers finally re-establishing contact up the arm...

"Throughout the federal government, agency after agency is shifting priorities in order to fight the war on terrorism. Except, apparently, the Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA). Amazingly, the biggest news out of the DEA since September 11 has been a massive new crackdown on drug users whom we know not to be associated with terrorist suppliers: medical-marijuana users. Can't the DEA or Congress find a better way to use the DEA's resources?" -- Dave Kopel, in his National Review column this week, entitled "Wasted"
Zocchi Distribution is going out of business! (And they owe us a bunch of money, too!) They were the very first distributor to give our product line a chance, so they had a special place in our hearts. We are very sad to see them go.
Annie's now has a microwavable single-serving macaroni & cheese, and I pronounce it to be the best of any rapidly prepared single-serving M&C on the market. Yum!
Assets from Iron Crown Enterprises were sold off in a bankruptcy auction, and the buyers (a wealthy long-time fan and several former ICE employees) are reviving the company!

"You can't stop Thursday." -- something I've started saying when we're prioritizing tasks, to remind ourselves that some deadlines are more firm than others
Alison has become hooked on the classic real-time computer game Warcraft, so I finally have a willing opponent again! (They're hard to find, since I'm an old-school die-hard who refuses to "upgrade" to Warcraft 2...)
I'm totally excited about this plan to save the crumbing New York State pavilion by filling the walls and ceilings with glass and turning it into an Air & Space museum. What a great idea! Among other things, the new museum would beautifully showcase the original space shuttle Enterprise, which there isn't room for in the NASM. I hope this project succeeds!

"The National Air & Space Museum in Washington, D.C. consistently ranks among that city's most popular draws for visitors. There is no reason to believe that a world-class museum of that order in New York would not have the same draw... Could there be any other location in the city so ideally suited for an aeronautic/space related facility? Could there be any other building so ideally suited to such a project?" -- A Proposed Air & Space Museum for Flushing Meadows

"Here's a troubling source of toxins that hasn't made it onto the average environmentalist's radar screen: methamphetamine labs. For every pound of the illegal stimulant produced, six pounds of toxic waste are left behind. Not surprisingly, there's no environmental oversight for meth labs, so the toxic waste is often dumped into rivers or directly onto the ground. The waste contains benzene and phosphene gas, among other toxins, and can cause explosions, burn skin, impair mental functioning, damage lungs, and, in the worst cases, lead to brain damage and cancer." -- Grist Magazine's Daily Grist for 10/31/1

"Cannabis is a 'wonder drug' capable of radically transforming the lives of very sick people, according to the results of the first clinical trials of the drug. Tests sanctioned by the Government are proving far more successful than doctors, patients and cannabis campaigners ever dared hope." -- Anthony Browne, writing for UK's the Guardian, "Cannabis a Medical Miracle - It's Official"
I would say the turnout for trick-or-treating in our own neighborhood was about half of what we're generally used to. But I guess that's not too surprising, with the national paranoia level being what it is today...
Yay! We have DSL again! We've been without it (getting by with dial-up phone line access) for many months.

"Those who do not remember the past are condemned to repeat it." -- George Santayana (1863-1952)

I was pleased to notice, when I tuned in for the annual rebroadcast of "It's the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown", that 2 of the 3 "I got a rock" trick or treat scenes have been restored! They've been absent for almost as long as I can remember, presumably cut to make more time for commercials.

There's been a lot of chatter on our mailing lists this week, concerning the idea of making, for promotional purposes, a Christian expansion for Fluxx. We've never been entirely sure about this idea, and after reading all the email, we're even less sure about it now. But that's precisely why we describe plans like these on our What's on the Stove pages... to find out how people will react. (One thing we do know for certain: we love the internet. It's the ultimate tool for focus group testing.)

The United Kingdom is re-classifying marijuana, so that possession will no longer be an arrestable offense! This means that, on this issue at least, the country we once fled to find freedom will soon be more free than our own.

Chrononauts made this year's Games 100! That bring my total such listings to six: Icehouse, Icebreaker, Fluxx, Aquarius, Icehouse:TMCS, and now Chrononauts.
All that coca-cola I drink is catching up with me... I have several new cavities! Tomorrow morning, I go under the dentist's drill.

I got a Notice of Allowability yesterday! My IceTowers patent application has been approved, as submitted! I'm getting my second patent! (Odd fact: the same examiner handled my case a decade ago, when John and I were granted patent #4,936,585, for that other real-time pyramid game.) I don't know yet what number this patent will get; hopefully, we'll have the number in time to make mention of it in Playing with Pyramids.

In my experience, standard helium balloons have a life expectancy of 12-18 hours. But some of the balloons Alison got for John lasted nearly a week! This dramatic increase in balloon lifespan was apparently achieved with some sort of sealant they glop inside the balloon before inflation.

Ikea has started building a new store, just up the street from us! (Ikea is totally our favorite furniture store, but currently we have to drive for an hour to get to one.)

There are times when it's actually frustrating for a TV show *not* to have a commercial break for a really long time. (Similarly, there are times when I'd really like to be stopped by a red light, which of course is when the lights all turn green.)
Today, my sister-in-law Judy is undergoing surgery, to remove a brain tumor. Assuming the surgery goes well, everything should be fine, but they're saying it will be a slow recovery. This means the weeks ahead will be a tough time for their whole family (she and Jeff are raising a fine pair of twins) so I hope everyone will wish them well.

Judy's surgery went very well and she seems to be on track for a speedy recovery. It'll be awhile before they can be sure that they got the whole tumor, but they are quite optimistic and everything seems to be going as well as can be expected under the circumstances.

A new purple metro line, which would run along the beltway from Rockville to New Carrollton, is actually being seriously discussed! (The plan even has opponents!)

"What can we do but eat cookies at a time like this?" -- sentiment of an article in the LA Times, "Americans Fend Off Sorrow With Laden Fork and Spoon"

"Indeed, where is the United States military to fight? Afghanistan, which has sheltered deadly terrorists for years, is an almost certain target. But Pakistan, which has sheltered deadly terrorists for years, is suddenly an ally. And how is the United States military to fight? It could bomb Afghanistan to mountains and scrub, but Afghanistan is already little more than mountains and scrub. It could send in troops, but if you are a terrorist, and you see the US Army coming, you make like a civilian and head for a crowd - or better, the border. The Soviet Army killed more than a million people in Afghanistan before giving up and withdrawing in defeat. Washington has fought this kind of war before. Every president since Richard Nixon has declared "war" on drugs. Every presidential candidate has emphasized that he will win the war on drugs, because each president before him has failed. But there is no drug lord in chief, no single network to break, no one nation to beat or sanction into submission. The idea of a war on drugs implies that we can eradicate the problem - as likely as police eradicating crime or firefighters eradicating fire - and that dooms the US to failure." -- Douglas McGray, "Don't Oversell An 'Idea War'"

"I call my plan 'Operation UNCLE SAMta Claus,' and it would work like this. Every year the State Department could release a list of naughty and nice nations. The former will get rewards in the form of desirable American consumer goods; the latter, lumps of coal. If we're afraid the naughty nations might use the lumps of coal for fuel we could give them Chia Pets, handkerchiefs, or other completely undesirable gifts. Nations falling in the middle would get nice cards wishing them happy holidays. The whole world would spend the year trying to get on our good side so that come Christmas they'd get nice presents. Governments whose representatives calls us dirty names at the U.N. or who taught their schoolchildren to chant 'Death to The Satanic Zionist Yankee Imperialists' would be overthrown by angry mobs when their citizens realized they were getting stale fruitcakes for the holidays while the residents of nearby pro-American nations were getting attractive Timex watches or Amana Radar Ranges." -- Alvin Orloff, I Married an Earthling, page 19

It seems to me the best way to combat anti-US terrorism would be to figure out why so many foreigners hate us, and craft a foreign policy designed to at least make them stop feeling that way, and maybe even give them cause to like us instead. It's hard to see how any sort of retaliation-oriented military action will have this effect. Shouldn't we just "do the Christian thing" and forgive them?

The current issue (Oct 2001) of Wired magazine features a really cool map among the illustrations for an article on all things Tolkien: The world of the Lord of the Rings rendered as a subway map, showing the routes of the Middle Earth Transit Authority.

"If a significant number of people convince themselves, or are convinced by their priests, that a martyr's death is equivalent to pressing the hyperspace button and zooming through a wormhole to another universe, it can make the world a very dangerous place. Especially if they also believe that that other universe is a paradisical escape from the tribulations of the real world. Top it off with sincerely believed, if ludicrous and degrading to women, sexual promises, and is it any wonder that naive and frustrated young men are clamouring to be selected for suicide missions?" -- Richard Dawkins, "Religion's misguided missiles"

With the War on Terrorism now heating up, can we please finally call off the War on Drug Users? I think we as a nation should be limited to one expensive, military-oriented "solution" to a complex and impossible-to-completely-eradicate social problem at a time. One thing we can be sure about: the suicidal hijackers weren't pot-smokers.

I'm surprised we haven't yet heard any officials vowing to rebuild the WTC towers... but then again, will we ever feel truly safe in such huge buildings again? Remember how the searing image of the burning Hindenburg ended the giant airship era? Perhaps this will be the death-knell for the mega-skyscraper...

All Hail The Internet! Via email, we were able to determine that the close friends we have in NYC were all OK, even though the phone lines into the city were all jammed. (Meanwhile, others were doing the same thing to check up on us, since we live in the DC area (though not actually near the Pentagon)...)

I guess I'm going to have to add a specific rule to Q-Turn which says that if I'm attempting to move onto my victory space, for the win, but an opponent is blocking my space and has just been sitting there re-orienting, specifically to try to keep me from winning, then that player's piece is ejected from the board, and I get to move in. It's very fiddly, but seems to be necessary...

I was sad last week because my classic old Mac SE, which I've been using as a glorified typewriter, refused to reboot. But since then, I've switched to a vintage Powerbook, which I was given by Kerin Schiesser while we were visiting California. At the time, I wasn't quite sure how to make use of it, but now it's my new writing computer. Thanks again Kerin!

"I think the Emperor's new cards look just stunning!" -- Jesse Welton, on the BetaTesters mailing list, after several others had posted messages saying the PDF files of two new Nanofictionary card sheets they were supposed to be able to download for playtesting were coming out completely blank

"Interesting fact - I have as many email addresses as I do telephone numbers. Only Andy Looney had an email address in the 15 year reunion memory book!" -- Sandy Roush Caho, in an email to planned attendees of Northwestern High School's 20 year reunion

"Two decades ago, the author book tour was almost a novelty. Today it can be the deciding factor in a book's success. Touring has always been as much about selling the author as the book. Turn the author into a traveling salesman, and those personal appearances generate real sales -- important when a few thousand books can make a best seller -- not to mention media attention on local radio and television and reviews in the local press." -- writer Malcolm Jones, in an article in this week's Newsweek entitled "The Hard Sell"

"There are a lot of people like me who can smoke weed and still get a day's work done." -- award-winning film director Kevin Smith, in an interview in High Times magazine (the current issue also has a description of the first time the Beatles tried it, written by the guy who brought both the weed and Bob Dylan to the party)

"The sad story about Marlene's father reminded me of a new research finding I read about just yesterday: Children who watch an average of more than 4 hours of television per day are significantly less likely to intervene or call for help in an emergency. Speculation is that this is related to a) the overrepresentation of happy endings on TV, and b) being accustomed to 'experiencing' emergencies passively." -- email from 'Becca Stallings

Now that we have Fluxx Blanxx to work with, I've started trying out new card ideas. My favorite of late is the New Rule "X = X +1" (submitted to the big list of ideas by Neil Raynar). It has great results that aren't immediately obvious. For example, Secret Data lets you hide 2 cards, Draw 3, Play 2 Of Them becomes draw 4, play 3, you need an extra Keeper to win with 5 Keepers, and Everybody Gets Two!

Some of my readers were unclear as to why I'm bothered about thieves stealing the aluminum cans out of my recycling bin during the night. No, it's not as if I'm losing anything personally, but I count myself as lucky for living in a neighborhood with curbside recycling, and I hate seeing it undermined by robbers. I'll be really upset if the city kills the program because it's not cost-effective...

Alison started a new part-time job at a flower shop this week, and it's much closer to home than the one she worked in this spring. In fact, it's within walking distance, and it's such a nice route that Kristin has started walking Alison to work in the mornings. And it sounds like it's a nicer work environment, too!
Someone in our neighborhood is stealing our aluminum cans. Once a week we put out the recycling, and in the wee small hours of the night, just before the recycling truck starts making the rounds, someone is apparently driving around, stealing the aluminum cans out of the curbside bins, leaving behind all the less-profitable plastic and steel recyclables.

"The great thing about time travel is that you can make up the rules. Nobody knows." -- Simon Wells, great-grandson of H.G. Wells, in an article about upcoming time travel movies entitled "Time travelers arriving in far greater numbers", appearing in USA Today

"Yeah, OK, sure! Even though you didn't invent the game, you can be in the picture too." -- a fan named Tony who didn't realize he was talking to James Ernest as he sought to take a photo of the team from Looney Labs

"Another one of them new worlds... no beer, no women, no pool parlors, nothing. Nothing to do but throw rocks at tin cans and we gotta bring our own tin cans." -- Cookie in "Forbidden Planet"

Writing a set of game rules is really very much like writing a software module. In both cases you are creating a set of instructions that must be clear and concise, as short and efficient as possible while also addressing all cases and possibilities. I find that streamlining a set of rules draws on the same skills as debugging a piece of code. (So if you want to be a game designer when you grow up, be sure you study computer programming.)

Among gamers one often hears the term "rules lawyer", which makes me wonder: do lawyers make good game designers, or at least, good rulesmiths? How does writing a set of game rules compare to writing a contract?

I'm really getting into having a pet snake! I'd never spent any quality time with a snake before Alison got this one, and was slightly worried I'd feel about them as I do about insects (i.e. "Ick! Get it off me!"). But instead, it's the exact opposite: I dig having Benji curled around my neck as I putter about the house...
Marlene's father was on his way home from Korea when he suffered a cerebral hemorrhage and was found unconscious. He passed away today at a hospital in California. As some of her closest friends, we wish we could be home to help comfort her in these difficult times.

"Dude, you have to, like, pay attention to cards other people are playing, and actually remember things, and stuff. Pffffffffff. Just thinking about it makes me feel frustrated. Give me a Time Vortex any day! Here lies the ruins of your delicate, five-turn look-ahead strategy! See the smoking embers of your carefully figured hand probability ratios!" - Jason McIntosh on the Chrononauts mailing list, describing why he likes my style in game design

"Once upon a time, in 1773, a few brave patriots painted their faces, converged upon Griffen's Wharf, and hurled 342 crates of British tea into Boston Harbor. Paul Revere was there. Samuel Adams organized it. John Hancock was a tea smuggler, and actively supported it. Today, we venerate these men as heroes. They all broke the law, because the law was absurd, and deserved to be broken." -- Jeff & Tracy, in a full page ad they placed in their local newspaper, admitting that they smoke pot and urging others to stand with them

Tomorrow is July 20th, anniversary of the first moon landing. I think in 50 or 100 years, Moon Day will be a national holiday. It will be a day to celebrate exploration, and a good day for trying something new. Got any plans?

"It's nice arriving somewhere at night - night cloaks the mundane with intrigue." -- Brian Eno, on arriving in Egypt on Feb 23, in A Year with Swollen Appendices (his diary of 1995)

There's a new creature here at Wunderland.Earth: Alison got a new snake! His name is Benji (the second) and he's a ball python. (I've never lived with a snake before... they're cool!)
We just started getting used to the idea of ordering our groceries online and having them delivered, when suddenly discontinues this service!

"Everything purple belongs to me... everything else can be painted or stained." -- Bumper sticker slogan I heard described by someone who wished she'd bought one when she'd seen it

You really notice the lack of insects in California when you return to hot muggy Washington DC after a week in San Francisco. I asked Kory how he could stand the mosquitoes, since he move here from San Jose two years ago. "I still just love the fireflies," he replied. "It's like having fireworks every night."

"When reviewing the game of Darts, I couldn't see any reason not to put all the darts into the bull's eye." -- Robert C Atwood, sarcastically replying to an old review of Icehouse by Peter Sarrett ("We also couldn't see any reason not to play attackers so that their tips touch the pieces they're attacking"), posted to the Icehouse Mailing List along with "other possible reviews by that reviewer" of Bowling, Chess, and Snooker

Steve Hauk has started a new story featuring the Emperor of Da Universe, and will be posting it on his website as he creates it!

We attended the TSI-TelSys annual shareholder's meeting this week, and although the stock is barely worth a dime, the company is still going full-steam ahead and may yet become a success. There were many new faces, morale seems good, they have paying customers, and they're developing new lines of business. Go TSI!

After years of loyalty to the Reese's Peanut Butter Cup, I have recently decided that my all-around favorite item from the candy aisle is: Nestle's Wonka Bar. Not only does it have an unbeatable gobstopper factor, but I also think it's an ideal candy bar: delicious milk chocolate (with the delightful crunch of graham cracker bits) of the perfect size and shape, sealed in a purple wrapper. What could be better? I wish I had one right now!

It's so great having help! For months, I've been casually trying to think up a scenario to use as an isolated example of the Chrononauts time travel mechanism (for use in my patent application) without getting much of anywhere; so I asked Dave to come up with something, and he did, instantly! And it's great, too - just what I wanted. And that's what he always does when we ask him to do something!

While in a comic book store on Divisidero, Kristin bought me a new book by the Quit Your Job guy, James Kolchaka, called the Sketchbook Diaries. It's great! Each day for a year he drew a little four panel comic about whatever happened to him that day.

And then there's Lauren, our pretend employee. The help she's been continuing to provide Kristin during her recovery has been absolutely incredible, and we're really going to miss her when she does finally find a job. (If only there was some way we could afford to just hire her ourselves...)

Thof (thoaf') v. to spill a sugar-based beverage (preferably large) on a gaming table, such that a new and/or expensive parlor game is damaged (or at least made sticky), e.g. "Dang, I thofed Coke on my copy of Shaufenster!" [from an incident involving Eric Celerier (aka Thof) at a meeting of the Zen Pirates]

"The things I dislike about dogs are the same things I dislike about drunken frat boys. They're always slobbering and trying to jump on you." -- 'Becca Stallings

This was the first time Balticon was held on a weekend other than Easter, and it was definitely disorienting, particularly since the feeling of Eastertide was still to be felt here and there: the refreshment tables in the Con Suite and the Green Room were stocked with leftover Easter candy!

Chrononauts won a Parents' Choice award! It's a Silver Honor Winner! Woo-hoo!

I find it terribly ironic that the Supreme Court has decided to make a special exception for a golf star to break the rules of the game, by using a golf cart to ease his sore legs, just weeks after ruling that even people with terminal illnesses cannot smoke pot to relieve their pain, despite the fact that many states have explicitly legalized such use. Never mind compassion or the will of the voters, but Sports Über Alles!
We receive Chrononauts from the card printer in a carton designed to hold 48 decks; however, if you load them in a different way (5x5 vs. 4x6) you can actually fit 50 in the box! I've seen it happen once! So, it's like a contest: buy 48 copies of Chrononauts, and you might win 2 extra decks free!
"The moral bankruptcy of the drug war was highlighted again last week as US officials announced that the Taliban rulers of Afghanistan would be receiving about $43 million in anti-drug funds for forcing farmers to abandon opium crops that had previously been tolerated. As columnist Robert Scheer pointed out in the Los Angeles Times, the Taliban has created one of the world's most repressive governments. Women have been effectively stripped of all rights in Afghanistan, and leaders have caused other recent international uproars by destroying ancient Buddhist statues and announcing that religious minorities will soon be required to wear identification tags. But all this can be forgiven by the Bush administration, because these totalitarians are allies in the drug war." -- DrugSense Focus Alert #210 May 23, 2001: "Taliban's Tyranny No Problem For Anti-Drug Aid"

Though I disagreed with many of their omissions and inclusions, I was pleased to see that A-Ha's "Take On Me" placed 8th on VH-1's countdown of the 100 Greatest Videos ever. For me, this one set the standard by which all videos are measured.

Though I'm disgusted by their refusal to acknowledge the glaring unconstitutionality of drug prohibition as a whole, I'm not too concerned about the Supreme Court's rejection of the medical necessity defense for marijuana use. Though I mourn the plight of the sick and dying for whom it would have been beneficial, exemptions for the seriously ill do little to address the real harms of prohibition. Legitimate medical uses are an excellent way to bring up the subject, but legalizing pot for such uses alone is like treating cancer with a band-aid. We must accept the reality of recreational use as well, and tax and regulate the stuff as we do with tobacco and booze. The law is the law, says the Supreme Court, and only Congress can change the law.
"Apparently, Clarence Thomas and Co. forgot a slightly more important statute than the Controlled Substance Act -- the Constitution of the United States! Remember that one? I think it's still mentioned in high-school civics classes. Grab a copy if you have one handy and open that grand, national operating manual to Article 1, Section 8. This section lays out in very clear terms the enumerated powers of Congress -- what our representatives are permitted to do. ( Pay attention, Clarence. ) There are not many items listed, and you'll probably notice the striking absence of anything about regulating marijuana -- or any drugs for that matter. It's not in there. Establishing postal roads, declaring war, coining money -- that much is enumerated, but not a word about dope." -- Joel Miller, "Supreme Court's Reefer Madness"
"Cannabis can also be used as a catalyst to the generation of new ideas. Experienced cannabis users know that under its influence new ideas flow more readily than they do in the straight state. They also understand that some are good and others are bad ideas; sorting them out is best done while straight. ... An illustration comes to mind. ... Would the idea have come or come as easily in a straight state? Maybe." -- Lester Grinspoon MD, "To Smoke or Not To Smoke: A Cannabis Odyssey", presented to the NORML Conference 4/20/1

We got the comment cards back from this year's Mensa games competition, which selected Dao (a game I've heard is as broken as tic-tac-toe) as a winner this year, over Chrononauts and Cosmic Coasters. As I read through numerous complaints from people who apparently found our games too complex and/or confusing, I have to wonder if these people are really as bright as they make themselves out to be. Maybe my mouth is just full of sour grapes, but compared to most of the rulebooks I see Gamers absorb without flinching, our rules are simple, and our games easy to learn. I guess it just goes to show, Mensans are no match for Gamers.

Regarding all the controversy over the first Tourist in space, all I can say is: It's about damn time! This is the year 2001, isn't it? Didn't anyone see the movie? We're supposed to have a whole hotel up there by now! Of course someone who ponies up $20 million bucks for a trip into space should be allowed to go!
"This game is horrible. Never allow the person(s) who invented this game to breed." - Comments on Cosmic Coasters from a male Mensa Judge between the age of 14-33, collected at the 2001 Mensa Mind Games competition (but hey, he still gave me a 7 for "originality"...)

The guy with an empty place-holder site at let the site registration lapse, and Kristin was able to snap it up, so it's ours now and we didn't even have to pay someone off! (It wasn't a big deal, but people often misspell our name, so it'll be nice to be sure we're capturing that traffic.)

We tried doing our grocery shopping over the internet this week, using, and it rocks! (They're only operating in the DC and Boston areas so far, but if you live there, check 'em out!)
What more proof do you need that drug prohibition is the work of Satan than for a plane filled with Christian missionaries to be shot down by an "anti-drug" fighter plane? And would this story have gotten any press attention if the civilians murdered had been ordinary drug dealers?
"The thing that struck me was that this whole scare story was a lie. I had been brought up believing lies. It was like when I found out that Santa Claus didn't exist. My God, that meant that the tooth fairy didn't exist! And neither did the Easter Bunny! This was kind of the same thing. I thought 'Gee, this is all a lie!'" -- New Mexico Governor Gary Johnson addressing the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws (NORML), as reported in the Washington Post, 4/20/1
"I have nothing to add. I just like saying "the player who has sex on the table wins.'" -- Andrew J. Petrarca, on the Fluxx mailing list, in a discussion of new Keeper and Goal ideas
We're now sold out of several products, and we're just gonna be out of stock for awhile. We've run out of blank Fluxx cards, but Fluxx Blanxx is still on the Stove; we've finally sold out of the original printing of The Empty City, but the new Icehouse book series we'll be re-issuing it under is also still on the Stove; we've started rationing Nuclear War (the leftover Fluxx promo we have the fewest of); and we're so low on Aquarius decks now that we're turning away store requests, reserving the last few dozen for our direct customers, and I fear we'll run out completely before the next printing is completed. I wonder how long those Icehouse sets we built last weekend will last... Question for any Californian Rabbits in the San Francisco area: What's going on between June 8-18th? That's right, Looney Labs will be in town, and we're looking for parties and gaming events to drop in on. We're starting to hammer out a tour schedule, and we need to know who's interested in hosting what when...
"Holy Cow! Once again I have to remember that you are a "Bolt From the Heavens" game designer, while I am an 'Old Guy Tinkering in the Back of a German Shoe Shop' game designer..." -- Kory's response when he heard I already had a prototype for the new game I'd just thought of
"I'm with Andy, Gaming Goodness is in inverse proportion to size." -- Ross Andrews, in a discussion on the Rabbits list of the purple bag and other ways of carrying around your games
"I'm not sure who to direct this email to but, I want to thank you for promoting my Londa Tarot deck and giving it such high praise... AND you are long hair enthusiasts! Unbelievable...You made my day." -- Londa Marks, of the Londa Tarot, in an email she sent us after discovering our site
"At Pop Tart Cafe #3, I spent a bunch of time teaching people to play Icetowers, and I was getting to the point where I could beat three beginners almost every time. I thought I was getting pretty good, then Andy sat in on one game and proceeded to stomp all over everybody and keep me humble. He assures me that Alison is much better than he is. Eep. =^>" -- Elliott C. "Eeyore" Evans, on the Icehouse mailing list
"This [customer service via e-mail and telephone] was an unheard-of innovation in the gaming industry, where rules questions were usually answered by whatever bearded company grognard opened the fan mail on a given day, and only then if you included a SASE and made an intelligent reference to Robert Heinlein." -- John Tynes, in an article at entitled "Death to the Minotaur"

I didn't gamble away a single cent in Vegas, but as soon as I got home I found myself wishing I'd looked into placing a highly specialized bet: I wonder what odds they're giving on who'll win Survivor 2? I'm rooting for Amber.
"I have a friend who once told me that when he was a little boy he lived in the north of our country, a desertic zone. He said his father used to smoke a joint and take him and his little brother out walking in the desert. His father, being stoned, was in a similar condition of amusement walking in the dunes and looking at the cactii as the kids. He remembers it as the best quality time he ever spent with dad." -- story accompanying one of the many emails I get in regards to my Stoners in the Haze piece (the vast majority of which, by the way, are positive), in this case from someone in Chile named Javier [I also recently played advice columnist to a non-smoker in a rocky relationship with a daily stoner, codenamed "Stoney" (they still broke up, but I think the email exchanges we had helped her sort through their various issues))]
"It was an incredibly thrilling experience." -- Steve Jobs, "Triumph of the Nerds", describing the satisfaction of simple Basic or Fortran programming in the early days of the micro-computer revolution
"To me, the spark of [the Hippie movement] was that there was something sort of beyond what you see everyday. It's the same thing that causes people to want to be poets instead of bankers. And I think that's a wonderful thing. And I think that this same spirit can be put into products, and these products can be manufactured and given to people, and they can sense that spirit... If you talk to people that use the Macintosh, they love it. I mean, you don't hear people loving products very often - you know, really." -- Steve Jobs, "Triumph of the Nerds"
"What's more, the side-effects of smoking marijuana day and night for 15 years appear to be zero. DeQuattro said his team tested Kubby for cognitive function before and after smoking and found his mind, memory and motor skills unimpaired. But the discovery that really jolted them was the lungs. Here they had a subject who admittedly smoked a couple hundred joints a month for 15 years -- a perfect opportunity to measure the damage from chronic high level consumption -- but they couldn't find any. 'His respiratory functions are the same as for someone who never smoked at all.'" -- "The War on Drugs Takes Another Hit" by Mike Gray
The last two cat fatalities we went through both involved intestinal troubles. Could this be because we've been using clumping cat litter, which I've suddenly learned may have significant health risks?
According to recent tests conducted on pipes found at his home, William Shakespeare was a marijuana smoker! (It just goes to show you, those stoners never amount to anything...)

There's a game of sorts I like to play when wandering around a convention: I get points whenever I discover a group of people playing a game I invented. I get bonus points if the people are strangers, if they're playing a game when they should be doing something else, etc. This weekend at JohnCon I scored big: I found the demo team in the Steve Jackson Games/Cheapass Games demo room playing Fluxx!
"Work fully in the open and I'll quit *saying* (no insinuations here) that you're a secretive clique. Display basic competence in performing your basic duties and I'll show some basic respect. Keep on prancing around in tuxedos and I'll keep laughing at you." -- Steve Jackson (yes, of SJ Games) during a minor flamewar that erupted this week on the Academy (of Game Design) mailing list, relating to a big scandal unfolding now in the adventure game industry, regarding recent changes to the Origins Awards procedures

I'm just dying for That 70's Show to "do" Gilligan's Island (like they did with Star Wars and more recently I Dream of Jeannie). I can totally see it. Donna & Jackie would be perfect as Ginger & Mary Ann, Kelso is obviously Gilligan, and Eric the Professor, leaving Hyde to be the Skipper, with Red & Kitty obviously being the Howells. And Fez? He'd either be a Marubi headhunter or the wacky guest star who shows up in the lagoon with a boat (or other rescue mechanism) for Gilligan to wreck.
"Cigarette butts can be soaked in water to make an extremely toxic bug spray. Nicotine is a very powerful poison that can kill just about any living creature." -- Ellen Sandbeck, Slug Bread & Beheaded Thistles

Our Little Cat has learned to play fetch! I throw a toy mouse down the hall and she'll chase after it and bring it back, over and over again, just as if she were a little dog!

I finally took (informally) the Myers-Briggs personality type indicator test, and came up as XNTJ (Introvert/Extrovert - Intuitive - Thinking - Judging). This apparently makes me a "Scientist/Field Marshal," whatever that means.
"That's not how I would have handled that."
"How would you have handled that?"
"I wouldn't have had kids."
-- the father and his stoner brother on this week's episode of "Grounded For Life"
We received the new Chrononauts T-shirts, and they're flawed! The text accompanying the logo on the sleeve is shifted and overlapping. And of course, there isn't time now to reprint them before Toy Fair, so it looks like we're stuck with them. The printer is trying to make it up to us by slashing the price, so if you pre-ordered one, you can look forward to a discount, since we naturally wish to pass these "savings" on to you...
The DARE program's own people held a press conference to admit that their program doesn't work! They announced that DARE graduates go on to use drugs at an equal or higher rate than students not exposed to the program, and are scrambling to invent a new curriculum. Meanwhile, researchers in the UK have determined that marijuana prohibition plays no role whatsoever in deterring pot use.

Why are Star Trek calendars always so full of pictures of the actors, with so few images of starships and space battles? That's the stuff you want to freeze frame on -- the stuff that goes by so fast you can hardly see it. I got a desk calendar this year, hoping that with hundreds of images instead of just 12, the ratio would be better, but no. I wish they'd make a calendar with nothing besides scenes of starships and space battles.
"One of the best and most unique puzzle games ever made" -- that's how they introduce Icebreaker at, a site devoted to making abandonware freely available. Apparently, you can download the complete 150 level version from them, along with a "no-CD crack" designed to override the mandatory CD-style copy protection that the Magnet management insisted on. I've not tried it yet myself though, since only the Windows version is available and anyway I prefer to play it on the 3DO
Kristin slipped on the stairs while she was carrying her iBook, and it flew out of her hands and tumbled down the stairs! Amazingly, it seems completely unharmed. Good thing it was fully closed and shut down (and that we have carpeted stairs...)

I know two people who I think would do really well on Survivor: Chris Welsh and Alison Frane. I wonder which of the two would be the first voted out?
"Any possession of cannabis for personal consumption will no longer provoke a reaction from the justice system unless its use is considered to be problematic or creates a social nuisance." -- Magda Aelvoet, Belgium's Health Minister, on that nation's recent decision to legalise the personal use of pot for anyone over the age of 18
"In our society today, much of our drug policy is based on misleading and even patently false information about illegal drugs, the physical and psychological effects of illegal drugs and the effectiveness (or lack thereof) of current drug policies. Even more disturbing, the advisory group determined that false information frequently comes from sources that we expect to be reliable, including our own federal government." -- Advisory Committee Chair (and retired state judge) Woody Smith, in a transmittal letter accompanying New Mexico's Drug Policy Advisory Group's recommendation to decriminalize marijuana

We've just heard that a new course at Rice University, called World History Through Games, will be featuring Chrononauts on their syllabus! In fact, they're starting the class with it! They apparently bought every copy they could find in the local game stores and then came to us to get more, since the class was heavily oversubscribed. Assignments will reportedly include creating other TimeLines.
"The rules for Cheapass Games often include witty or ridiculous remarks, and I was wondering if y'all have favorites. Here's mine: 'You can use the pieces from a regular chess set to play Tishai, or you can carve your own pieces out of horn or bone.' That quote alone made me want to play the game." -- Clark D Rodeffer, on the Cheapass Games mailing list (The thread went on to conclude that the best line of all is from The Great Brain Robbery: "What do we want? Brains! When do we want 'em? Brains!")

The subway is complete! This week, the last 5 stations on the Green line were opened, thus finishing out the original design of the system. I've been watching them color in the posted plan all my life, so it's pretty amazing to think that it's really done. And of course, it isn't, for now they can start expansions... already, a new in-betweener station is being built on the Red line at New York Avenue, and among the new routes being considered is an Orange line extension out to Dulles Airport!
"It's time to bring on a drug czar who can skip the cheery rhetoric, face the fact that the facts aren't good, and turn the wheel before we head over the cliff.  I nominate Gov. Gary Johnson.  Is there a second?" -- Arianna Huffington, "Bush's Drug Czar: A Modest Proposal", The Sacramento Bee, 1/11/1

Gobstopper (noun): A real-world incarnation of a product or object depicted in a work of fiction. The term was coined by Ron Hale-Evans after a confection made by the Willy Wonka chocolate factory.
"Surely the Arch-fiend of semi-mythical Icehouse games." -- Alexandre Muñiz's description of Kory Heath, on his page about semi-mythical Icehouse games
"McCaffrey is reported to have often uttered to his cowling subordinates, 'I'm sometimes wrong, but never in doubt.' Unfortunately for the American public and international community, 'Fibber' McCaffrey was often wrong and undoubtedly a failed Czar." -- Allen St. Pierre, Executive Director of NORML

What became of the moon around the Planet of the Apes? It would have been a dead giveaway for Taylor and his chums to see that familiar body hanging in the night sky, so instead they explicitly pointed out that the planet has no moon. So what happened to it?
"The essence of the Liberal outlook lies not in what opinions are held, but in how they are held: instead of being held dogmatically, they are held tentatively, and with a consciousness that new evidence may at any moment lead to their abandonment. The trouble with the world is that the stupid are cocksure and the intelligent are full of doubt." -- Bertrand Russell, as seen quoted by Rash
Inferior, well-marketed products are routinely more successful than superior goods sold by smaller companies who can't afford the saturation advertising used by their larger competitors. For value not lost to advertising budgets, seek out the quietly advertised.
"I don't know any 50-year-olds who wear tie-dye and have long hair, but I can extrapolate a little. I'm 20, have long hair, and wear tie-dye. Andy Looney, proprieter and resident mad scientist of Looney Labs, is 35, has long hair, and wears tie-dye (shameless plug: Mr. Looney's games really are excellent. Swing by for a peek -- I especially recommend Fluxx and Aquarius). I can imagine both him and myself and others doing the same for a long time. It's not, as you seem to claim it is, an expression of childishness... For me, and for others, bright colors and wild patterns are simply a way of expressing vibrancy, life, and independence from arbitrary societal restrictions. History shows that true progress is made by those who are different, and refuse to be ashamed of their differences.... It is very petty of you, Mr. Engle, to denounce someone's capability to function in society on the basis of their fashion choices." -- Jack Bishop, in a message on alt.drugs.pot I found when I typed "Andy Looney Labs" into the deja news search engine

News Search Gift Shop Games About Us | contact us