|Our printer had a major snafu on the production
of the new edition of Chrononauts,
and we had to recall the whole print run just as we were starting
to ship it to our distributors. (It's a severe error; 5 cards
on the TimeLine have the wrong years on the backs.) Anyway, as
a result we've had to push the release date back from October
23rd to December 4th. But the good news is we'll still have them
out in time for holiday sales, and it's a reminder of how nice
it is to be working with a printer here in the states, rather
|Our friend Josh
Drobina has moved to the neighborhood! He experimented with
living here a few years ago but after moving back to Ohio for
awhile, he decided to make our town his home. He's currently
living in Luisa's spare room, and is suddenly a regular again
at all the local gaming events. Welcome back Josh!
|What's going to happen to the Space Shuttles
when NASA decides to stop using them? I say one of them should
just be left in space, attached to the ISS. Wouldn't that then
give the ISS the engines it needs to move into higher orbits,
or even out into space, as was proposed by Michael Benson in
that brilliant editorial he wrote in July '08? Even if it's
not viable to fly the ISS to the moon with the shuttle's engines,
it still seems like it'd be more useful to have an old shuttle
attached to the ISS than sitting around in a museum...
|I'm a non-drinker -- I've only gotten drunk on
a handful of occasions. I'm a super-taster, so I find the flavor
of alcohol bitterly nasty, even in drinks people tell me "you
can't taste the alcohol" in. But lately I've been playtesting
a drinking game, so I decided to try it again, and to find out
what "my" drink should be. After conducting some taste-tests,
I've settled on something of my own invention, designed to appeal
to my fussy taste buds as much as possible. It's chocolate milk
(the rich-and-creamiest you can get please) spiked with Bailey's
Irish Creme. I've been calling it a Count Chocula. Hey bartenders
-- is there a real name for my drink?
it out! Some dude got the artwork from of the Toaster card in
Fluxx TATTOOED on his leg! (This
photo was taken at Gen-Con, which I missed again this year...
:-( Here's a big thanks to Shane and the other rabbits
who ran Looney Labs gaming without us!) I'm so glad we didn't
totally change the art for that card when we published version
4.0! We did colorize it, but it's still the same old toaster.
I would have felt so bad if we'd made his leg obsolete!
|We've been playtesting a Zark
City rules revision: adding an automatic card draw to each
turn. There's already a strong need to cycle through cards, and
I hate having to stop myself from grabbing at the draw pile at
the start of my turn. That's like a signature Andy Looney game
design element now, so I think this game should have it. Yes,
you can still choose to Draw 3 more as a turn option. This makes
it more Fluxx-like: Draw 1, Take 1 Action, comply with Hand Limit
|I learned a great road-trip game while driving
back from Origins with Alison (who'd just learned about it from
my Arch-Colleague, James Ernest). It's called French Toast. It's
best described as a cross between Zendo and 20 Questions. I really
enjoyed it, much more so than either Zendo or 20 Questions, because
it also has an Apples-to-Apples element of strange comparisons.
("Is it more like Clowns, or more like the Idea of Clowns?")
|I recently learned that my Kolbe
Index number is 7-4-6-4. The Kolbe Assessment "measures
a person's instinctive method of operation (MO), and identifies
the ways he or she will be most productive." While that
may sound like a lot of psycho-babble, I've actually found the
test results extremely revelatory and eye-opening, even life-changing.
We all took the test together, so now everyone at Looney Labs
has this new perspective on each other's work styles. It's very
cool to have gained this better understanding of the different
ways in which different people do things.
|I'm digging the Secret Data I learned from Wired
Magazine (page 20 of the May 2009 issue): How to enable the 30-second
skip forward button on your Tivo remote control! You just enter
this sequence, like a videogame cheat code, and suddenly your
remote will have the function we've always wanted -- and which
the advertisers don't want us to have. It's great! (Here's the
trick: press Select, Play, Select, 3, 0, Select.)
|Congrats to Erik Dresner, designer of Apophis,
winner of the Spring
IceGameDesignContest! I was pleased to see this one win,
since it was my standout favorite of the entries. I love the
theme and the way it does so much with just a single Treehouse
set. Most of all, we had a lot of fun playing it, even when we
ended up losing, it was always thrilling. My only suggestion
for the rules would be to add a dice roll for the fuel test phase
as well as the other 3 phases. Seems to me that even if we have
enough fuel, there should be a chance of the rocket exploding
on the pad. But otherwise, great game! Well done Erik!
|"The most successful interrogation of an
Al-Qaeda operative by U.S. officials required no sleep deprivation,
no slapping or 'walling' and no waterboarding. All it took to
soften up Abu Jandal, who had been closer to Osama bin Laden
than any other terrorist ever captured, was a handful of sugar-free
cookies." -- Bobby Ghosh, After
Waterboarding: How to Make Terrorists Talk?
| 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
|"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
|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.
|I was pleased to hear that Monty Python Fluxx
was nominated for an Origins Award this year, but I think it
unlikely we'll win this time. It's up against Dominion, a powerhouse
of a new game, and judging by how much my friends have gotten
into this game, I expect it to win our category. But of course,
it's an honor and a joy just to be nominated!
|Our friends at Bucephalus
Games made my day at GTS
by presenting me with a packet of special cards they made for
their new game Bill of Rights. In the game, various political
factions are represented with generic stereotypical viewpoints,
but as promo items they made a set of add-on cards featuring
six noted game industry personalities: James Ernest (Totalitarian),
Mike Selinker (War Monger), Matt Forbeck (Peacenik), John Zinser
(Economic Liberal), Mike Stackpole (Revolutionary), and me --
the Social Liberal!
|Jonah Ostroff pointed out to us that if you
lose your Treehouse die but you have a Boggle set, you can use
one of those dice as a replacement. The cube with the letters
W-T-H-E-R-V works great! Those letters stand for, of course,
Wild, Tip, Hop, Exchange, Reorient, and Down-arrow (i.e. Dig).
Wow, that's cool! It's almost like I planned it that way!
|"America imprisons 756 inmates per 100,000
residents, a rate nearly five times the world's average. About
one in every 31 adults in this country is in jail or on supervised
release. Either we are the most evil people on
earth or we are doing something very wrong." -- Parade magazine, March 29, 2009, teaser text for
the article by Senator Jim
Webb called "What's
Wrong with our Prisons?"
|My favorite feature in Wired magazine is always
the thing on the last page: Found
-- Artifacts from the Future. The current issue features
signs from a Truck
Stop of 2021, where regular unleaded gas costs 29.99 a gallon,
and where, among the many products being advertised, there's
something called "Uncle Willie's Kind Green" being
offered. Gosh, I wonder what that is? :-) I also loved the Happy
Meal of 2013, when McDonald's has apparently adopted a new
catchphrase, "Robble, Robble, Yo!"
|"The president believes
that federal resources should not be used to circumvent state
laws." -- White House spokesman Nick Schapiro, on
the president's decision to end
DEA raids on medical marijuana dispensaries in states which
have legalized such use
|I had a fun Small-World moment last week with
-- turns out we went to the same Elementary school, 25 years
apart, and both had the same memorable and influential music
teacher, Mrs. Scott! I was one of her earliest students, and
she was one of her last but we were both in her famous spring
musicals! We were even both in the same play, Oliver! (And speaking
of coincidences, we just saw my nephew Eric portray the Artful
Dodger this weekend!)
|Being a super-taster is like being able to hear
those high-pitched noises only dogs (and small children) can
hear. It seems like it should be cool, even "super,"
to have the ability to detect things others in your group cannot,
but in reality it's annoying, because the added elements we are
notice are never pleasant. Like an irritating high-pitched squeal,
the extra flavors we super-tasters detect are bitter and nasty.
|"Banish procrastination. If you wait more
than a week to get an idea done, abandon it. The point of being
done is not to finish but to get other things done. Once you're
done you can throw it away. Laugh at perfection. It's boring
and keeps you from being done." -- Bre Pettis
and Kio Stark, "The
Cult of Done Manifesto"
|I didn't find much to get excited about in other
companies' booths at Toy
Fair this year, but Robin did. For years she's been on the
lookout for these tiny frog aquariums, like the one her Godmother
used to have, and so she was thrilled to discover the booth of
the company that created them, called Wild
Creations. These cool little aquariums require very little
maintenance and the miniature ecosystem inside includes a pair
of tiny African dwarf frogs that are ever so cute! Robin immediately
worked a deal for one, and they're so cool that Alison brought
home a tiny frog Aquarium as well!
|My buddy Keith Baker is planning a
big trip around the world this summer, running D&D games
in exchange for crash space and hospitality. Given his reputation
as a world-famous game designer, he's gotten an impressive list
of offers; he's going to have quite an adventure! What a great
way to see the world! (I'll be watching his story unfold with
particular interest; if it goes well for him, I might try stealing
his idea someday!)
|Recently my brother Rash
and I were discussing The Twilight Zone and debating the
question, "What was the very best episode?" We each
came up with our own list of greatest shows, and when we compared
notes later, exactly one episode appeared on both our lists.
Clearly, we'd found the winner: A World of Difference
(which we usually refer to by quoting its most memorable line:
|"Games should have their rough spots, their
peaks and valleys in the mathematical sheet of balance. They
should be crunchy, not smooth, filled with secret caves of hidden
knowledge for players to discover, ponder, and exploit." -- Matt Forbeck, "Game
Balance Is Overrated"
|I have a new trick for collecting egg whites
for use in making meringues
and angel food cakes. You
can buy 100% liquid egg whites now (causing me to wonder, what
do the folks who make that product do with the egg yolks?) but
while the carton may indeed contain nothing but real egg whites,
they don't whip up like fresh ones. So here's the trick: substitute
pasteurized egg whites with the whites from fresh eggs when making
cookies, brownies, and popovers, and save the fresh whites for
whipping! It works great!
Here's a random thing about myself that almost made it onto
my list of 25 Things -- It's my favorite
joke, which is this riddle:
- Q: How many surrealists does it take to screw in a
A: Two -- one to paint the giraffe orange, and the other
to fill the bathtub with brightly colored machine tools!
|"To those who cling to power through corruption
and deceit and the silencing of dissent, know that you are on
the wrong side of history; but that we will extend a hand if
you are willing to unclench your fist."
-- President Obama's Inauguration Speech, 1/20/9
|I'm very pleased with my poker statistics for
2008: I played 72 games (either open-ended penny ante sessions
or $5 buy-in tourneys) and I had an overall profit of $41.30.
And I'm off to a great start this year, too -- on Monday night
I won $15 in our regular weekly tournament!
|I was excited to see that Ending
Marijuana Prohibition was the #1 idea on the list of suggestions
for the new president generated and voted on by internet users
through Change.gov. With
this being the most popular suggestion in the forthcoming Citizen's
Briefing Book, how can it continue to be ignored? Is this
issue finally about to break open? Could Obama bring about real
change? Could he get America to "unclench the fist"
that is drug prohibition? He's got the power, he's got the mandate,
he's got the perfect economic & political conditions, and
he's on record as having the wisdom... but does he have the guts?
|"Lots of people love this movie of course.
But I'm convinced it's for the wrong reasons. Because to me 'It's
a Wonderful Life' is anything but a cheery holiday tale... it's
a terrifying, asphyxiating story about growing up and relinquishing
your dreams, of seeing your father driven to the grave before
his time, of living among bitter, small-minded people. It is
a story of being trapped, of compromising, of watching others
move ahead and away, of becoming so filled with rage that you
verbally abuse your children, their teacher and your oppressively
perfect wife. It is also a nightmare account of an endless home
renovation." -- Wendell Jamieson, "Wonderful?
Sorry, George, It's a Pitiful, Dreadful Life"
|"I like that I append pants
to the end of people's names sometimes. It's like wa, only pantsier."
by Sorcyress, aka Kat Dutton
|"I'm feeling really out
of it because I'm wearing so many hats right now."
-- a sentence featuring two confusing expressions which a Japanese
student needed to have explained by Rash