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vigorish (vig'-er-ish) n. 1: charge taken (as by a bookie or gambling house) on bets, also the degree of such a charge ("a vigorish of 3%). 2: interest paid to a moneylender. [probably from Yiddish, from Russian vygrysh "winings, profit".] also shortened to just vig.
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Keith's Australia Log

"I think the idea of making experiment kits and having people do mini and little experiments during National Game Week is a great idea. I've been toying with the idea of doing a demo of some sort for a while, but haven't really been able to figure out how or when to do it. Now that there are specific instructions and tools for running experiments, I feel a lot more comfortable doing a demo, since I don't have to worry about how to run it or what sorts of prizes to give. Thanks to all you Looneys (and other assorted folks) for putting all of this together, as well as creating some wonderful games." -- Brian Campbell, on the Rabbits mailing list this week

Friday, November 12th, 2004
by the Writer's Guild of Wunderland

What's New?

Get your Experiment Kit orders in by Monday to receive them in time for National Games Week! (after Monday express shipping is recommended)

What's Going On? It was a Wonderful Birthday

I had a really nice birthday this year. On Friday I turned 41, and I couldn't be happier about the way my life is going right now, so I'm feeling great. From a gift standpoint, this year's birthday was nothing compared to the amazing birthday of 1990, when Kristin conspired with my friends to present me with over 500 individually-wrapped gifts. (Some of those gifts were literally pennies and junk, but most were at least useful and they were all individually gift-wrapped!) On the other hand, this year was way better than 1996, when I woke up on my birthday in some of the worst pain I've ever had, having somehow injured my C-7 neckbone, the back pain from which took months to heal, and I hated turning 30, since I wasn't at all happy with where my career was headed in November 1993, which was just before I left NASA and joined Magnet Interactive Studios. But my life at 41 is just what I want it to be, and I've been having a great time celebrating it. (Sorry said celebrations have made the site so late this week!)

I got a variety of nice gifts this year, including the cool new tiki hawaiian shirt you can sort of see in this photo, but my favorite thing is the object I'm shown holding, a Tibetan Singing Bowl, given to me by Alison & Kristin. I've been entranced with these ever since discovering how cool they are when playing with Marlene's at her cabin last month, and I'm really happy to have my own. It's a really nice one too... Alison went to the House of Musical Traditions (it's THE place to go in DC if you're looking for unusual and exotic musical instruments and noise-makers) and tested out all of the ten or so they had, choosing for me the very best one.

It's really a wondrous object... you rub a stick around the outside of the rim to bring out its bell-like tone, kind of the way people make wine glasses hum at weddings. These bowls are made out of some mysterious 12-metal alloy, hammered out untold years ago in mountains on the other side of the world, and when you hold one in your hands and feel it vibrate as it sings, it is wondrous to imagine the journeys this bowl has taken, and will continue to make when I'm gone.

Another really nice gift was a big Looney family gathering in my honor. (There are times when I choose to cast off the photographer's hat, to fully enjoy the moment without fussing over attempting to take photos of it, and such was the case on this occasion. But Jeff was taking pictures, so perhaps someday I'll add something to this part of this page, where there clearly ought to be a photo.)

It was great to see Mom & Dad again, and Howard and Jeff & Judy, but most of all it was fun seeing the kids. Since I decided long ago (with Kristin's encouragement) to surgically opt out of parenthood, I particularly cherish my nephews and nieces, and especially enjoy getting to see them. I expect these kids are the closest I'll ever come to having children of my own, and I'm officially partial to Sharon, since I am her Godfather. My nephew Eric was selling coupon books for his school, and remembering how much I hated selling stuff like that when I was his age, I was an easy sale. As for the twins, James & Sharon, they had wonderful crayon-based creations to share with me. They're 7 years old at this time, and they're currently the only kids actively play-testing Fluxx Jr (I gave them a prototype on Sharon's Day) and the game has inspired them. Sharon made me a birthday card based on her suggestion for a Keeper (called the Book), and James is inventing a complete new card game of his own, featuring a stack of cards (slips of paper of non-uniform size and shape with artwork done in full-color crayon) that dealt with gods of good and evil with magic swords and power crystals. He gave me one of the cards from his deck, a "god of light" card, with a 1000 point strength value. (Hey, it's a thousand points of light!) As he taught me the rules, such as they were, he said "On your turn, you draw one and play one, just like in Fluxx Jr." He also announced that he'd decided to publish it! If only it were that easy...

Anyway, thanks again for dinner, Dad! There have been other splendid feasts and parties this week, including the traditional consumption of my all-time favorite food, a chocolate angel food cake, which I shared with 14 of my best friends, and only got a few bites of. (Click on the photo of the cake for a clip!) Plus I also got a nice wad of birthday money to spend on whatever I want, and since money continues to be tight for us as we keep pouring everything we can into the funding of Looney Labs, this is a special pleasure. All in all, it was a great birthday!

So, even though I'm over 40, I couldn't be happier with my life at this time. I wish I could somehow preserve this moment, this instant in my life, like a save point in a computer game, so that if things go down the toilet later, I could restore from this point and try to make things go differently next time around. One of the elements I find fascinating about the Kennedy assassination is the moment just before change, just before the limo made that fateful left hand turn at the Book Depository Building. Just then, JFK's life was a picture of perfection: there he was, President of the United States, riding through a street crowded with cheering fans, on a beautiful day with his lovely wife at his side... if Life were a videogame, that would be the perfect point for JFK to restore his saved game, telling the driver to turn right a block early. If only it were that easy...

Obviously, I have no "save game" crystal to preserve the way my life is here in November of 2004... but I do have cameras. Since our lives are about to radically change (having recently decided to move away) I'm doing what I can to capture this pre-linchpin time in our lives. I've taken almost a thousand photos in and around our house, and I've also been using a video camera (on long-term loan from Kristin's parents... thanks again, Marv!) to make a series of what I call video snapshots, photos that move, if you know what I mean. They make great Neutral Television, and in future years these little films will remind us of this happy time in our happy home. And when I'm done documenting the place, we'll start dismantling it. In some rooms, the process of packing has already begun!

AndyAre you planning an Experiment for National Games Week?

Thought Residue
I have an extra experiment I'm planning to run for myself during National Game Week: that's when I intend to try out the 6 games in the 2nd Ice Games Competition (the voting deadline is December 3.) But I'm not suggesting that rabbits play these games at Little or Mini-Experiments, since these games aren't yet proven winners.... testing out new pyramid games is better done at private gaming parties.

"People ask if I miss it, but they don't understand that American culture is so ubiquitous that there's nothing to miss. I don't see myself moving back. It's not that I hate the United States. I just always thought it would be a shame not to live in a foreign country. Plus I like being a foreigner. It keeps me on my toes." -- David Sedaris, who lives in London, answering an interview question, "Will You Ever Move Back To The U.S.?"
"As a psychologist who studies drug abuse, I worried about these ads from the beginning.  The 'facts' in them are exaggerated and out of context.  Their single-minded emphasis on marijuana, rather than far more addictive and lethal substances such as cocaine and methamphetamine, makes little sense. Now, scientific data -- from the very surveys that Congress set up as yardsticks to measure the success of the drug control policy office -- tell us that these ads have boomeranged." -- Mitch Earleywine, "Anti-Pot Ads Have Backfired"



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