Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Waxing Nostalgic for...BOARD GAMES!

So growing up, me and my sister played a lot of board games. Be it playing with one another, our Grandmas or Mom, let's just say we became best friends with Milton and Bradley. Below is a list of the 18 games that most vividly stick out in my mind, and usually garner some memory of my sister beating the pants off me. You'll notice Candyland does not make an appearance on this list - cuz I never played it (and proud of it).

It should also be noted that "Crossfire" is not listed. Please do not think that game is not worthy. The only reason it is not listed and described below is because this list is about games I used to play and, well....I still play Crossfire. Nostalgia is for wussies, I play the game!

Enjoy the trip down memory lane!

Does anyone remember how annoyingly difficult it was to actually pop that die inside the plastic bubble in a way that actually made it rotate off the number it was on? I swear you'd push down, just to see the die pop up, and either fall straight back to where it was, or roll over one number to the side! I actually don't even remember if there was anything more to this game other than pushing the bubble and moving your game-piece.

Now I know you know this game! Do they have red hair? Do they have a mustache? It's Frans! I swear, the creators of this game were subliminally trying to teach children how to judge people and discriminate. Red hair? Black or white? Male or female? I mean, how many times did you look down, see that you got the red-haired guy with ugly facial hair and think, "Ugh, I hate being Alfred!"

Welcome to the first of many games that my sister absolutely dominated. I have an especially bitter taste in my mouth about this game from my childhood, because when I was young, my Grandma would tuck me and my sister in, and then once we went to bed, Grandma would go in and grab Paige and let her stay up past her bedtime and play Sorry! What the hell Grandma? Just cuz she was eight and I was six doesn't mean I can't party like a rock-star too! As for the game, it was just fun to land on one of those "Slide" spots, where you got to slide across the board like you were grinding on a skateboard.

Now this is probably the only game on the list where even my sister will admit I wrecked shop. The reason I was so good at this game was not because I had great spacial reasoning skills and could guess where her ships were located. It was actually because I was super ballsy and would put the ships in the most bizarre places that would drive her nuts and make her think "There's no way he would line them up all next to each other, that would be dumb!" Well, in that case, "Hi, I'm Mr. Dumb, and I just sank your battleship!"

This one reminds me of my other Grandma (not the wily devil that gave sister preferential treatment past what I thought was "bedtime"). This is definitely an old-school game that dates back well past my childhood, but Grandma taught us the rules at an early age. I really remember liking the sound of the dice in the slim little shakey-cup when I cupped my hands over it to shake up the dice. Solid game.

Another game that my Grandma dominated. This was a really loud one that drove my Mom crazy in the next room, because that blue cup filled with dice was really loud and obnoxious as much as I shook it. But I gotta tell you, I was lights-out when it came to rolling a Long Straight or Four of a Kind. Do you remember how frustrating it was when you didn't get enough points in the upper section of the score-card to qualify for the additional 35 bonus points? Without that, I was done-zo against my Yahtzee-rolling Grandma.

This is one of the more educational games you'll find on this list. I loved word games as a kid, so this was right up my alley. I do remember frequently making up words, then trying to convince my Grandma they were real (NOTE TO SELF - Grandma does the Sunday New York Times crossword in pen...wrong target).

This game was more fun just to set up than it was to play! Does anyone remember how touchy that final contraption was? It was that long post with notches with a basket on the top that falls on the mouse at the end of the entire domino-effect system. If you touched the board, the thing would fall over! Then there was that rubber-band spring-loaded arm, and the plastic dude who jumped into the "pool"? Oh man, that game rocked!

I have a feeling this one could be a relative unknown for some of you compared to the others on this list. Grape Escape was the "Squish 'em, Squash 'em, Squoosh 'em Game!" It was basically a bunch of purple play-dough that got put through a plastic torture chamber of fun. Not sure what the premise of the game was, but me and Paige used to run those guys through the contraptions for hours!

Ah yes, a classic. It really bothered me that the tweezers were attached to the board by a rope. What if I wanted to take a crazy angle at the Bread Basket? What if the only way for me to get the Funny Bone was to stand? Quite an inhibiting rule I think. But nonetheless, we all can remember easily grabbing the Adam's Apple, and breathing with a sigh of relief as we pulled out the Heart, and laughing uncontrollably as your opponent, without fail, developed a case of the shakes as they attempted pull out the Wishbone! Educational for the aspiring doctor, entertaining for the creator of the Saw movies.

We have all played Scattergories, the fun adult game that always stirs up a bit of controversy and argument in interpreting the rules and responses. But how many of you have played the kid version of this game? I can tell you with 100% certainty that there was nobody in the world better at this game sister. Now, of course I may be a bit jaded as our two-year age gap probably affected most outcomes, but I tell ya, that girl came up with some creative shi*! As a 10-year old! She may be a dipstick, but man she knows her Scattergories Junior.

Another game I did not play frequently, but I feel like a lot of my friends probably played this, so I let it make the cut (and yes, I stand by my decision to omit Candyland from this list). For the same reason I liked SORRY!, this game allowed me the chance to slide my game-piece around the board. Anybody have good C&L stories?

I was proud that I remembered this one. Remember the little "ice pick" (aka plastic hammer) you had to use to tap out a single block of ice (aka sugar cube) underneath the little red man without knocking out the whole floor? I loved this game! You wanna know how I know I loved this game? I always lost! I didn't care! How fun is it to be able to take a swing at some ice with a pick-axe? I wrecked shop on that little red man!

Ok, so this technically isn't a board game. But it's a childhood game, and it's my damn blog, so screw you nay-sayers trying to catch me on a technicality. This was a game that we always modified to fit our own youth desires which, in this case, meant flipping those little suckers all over the house! I think the original objective of the game was to flip your tiddlywinks into a receptacle of some kind in the least number of attempts? But that was too boring, so we created our own games, which I'm sure were way more fun.

In addition to being the best titled game I can remember, it also had the best drama! In my warped head, this game of marbles and sticks is a mix of Jenga and Hearts. Jenga because of the obvious pulling out the base without the whole thing crashing, and Hearts because you can knock over a couple marbles and still be in the game. You just don't want to knock them all over, like the Queen of Spades. You see what I did there? I'm crafty.

This game had great TV commercials. I wanted this game so bad because of the commercials. And the game did not disappoint! How fun was it to hit the tail-lever on their butt as fast as possible and watch all the white balls fly across the board? Everything was perfect about this game. The stretchy necks, the board size, the colored hippos, the catchy commercials, the apparent promotion of binge-eating, and a solid name. What's not to love?

Another dream-game for kids. Unfortunately, I did not have the pleasure of owning this game, so I had to take advantage of the times I had sleepovers and after-school care with kids that had it. And man was I missing out! Despite the heavy violence in the game (trying to punch a guy so hard you knock his block off?), it was so awesome that they put them inside a boxing ring. I feel my childhood was slightly less-whole without this game.

"Pop Goes Perfection!" Man that is stuck in my head now! This was kind of a reversed version of Operation, but on speed. Another game on the list that some of you have never seen or played, and that's a pity. You had a set amount of time (maybe 60 seconds) to fit all the shapes in their respective places before the buzzer sounded and popped all the pieces out, ruining your masterpiece. An aptly named game, and for my OCD personality, I did not like it when it shot all the pieces out. What can I say, I was high maintenance...sue me.

PHEW! That was a strong list. Now I'm gonna go set up a life-sized version of Mouse Trap at my house to try and trap Julie. Complete with cage!

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Let's Explore That Further....

Here's what I'm thinking about. Sorry, this is just how my brain works.

What does that mean? People say that and usually are inferring that someone is so attractive, that if personal appearance were a way to end someone's life, that some smokin' hot babe could cut me down? Now, of course she could be so hot that my heart stops and I suffer a massive coronary, or I could see her across the street and want a better glance and step in front of a rapidly approaching semi filled with Krispy Kreme doughnuts...but I tend to think these ideas are just slightly far-fetched.

And even beyond the obvious absurdity of this idiom, I have a fundamental problem with the argument that attractive people would be doing the killing. I actually believe the exact opposite. Let's explore this further. Are you really trying to tell me that an ATTRACTIVE person is more likely to kill me with their looks than an UGLY person? There are some unfortunate looking people out there that have fallen out of the ugly tree, beaten with an ugly stick, and kicked with the ugly shoe, and you're telling me that "if looks could kill", Charlize Theron has a better chance of whacking me than this fool...?

Joakim Noah, President, Team Ugly

HUH?! Who here has ever seen a cute button?! I wonder what a cute button would even look like. Do you think it would be a button that has a kitten or bunny on it? Or do you think it's just some button on a pair of regular pants that, for some unexplainable reason, gives everyone the warm-and-fuzzies inside because of its awesome color, shape and symmetry? "Aw, that little girl is cute as a button!"...Why do people think human babies resemble buttons?

-What is a "heeby-jeeby"? (i.e. "Man, that Joakim Noah guy really gives me the heeby-jeeby's.")

-Who would win a fight between the Crazy Burro and El Pollo Loco (crazy chicken)?

-What percentage of the world likes to be "it" (the seeker) in a game of hide-and-seek? I would like to see this in the next census poll. My guess - under 15%.

-How sweet was Connect Four? I loved that game.

*Stay tuned for the next blog post on board game nostalgia from my childhood!

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

How Do I Follow That?

So I've been looking at my last blog post, and I feel like that set the bar so high for the rest of my posts that I've been hesitant to write anything else! So now this post is meant as a "mental blog reset". Now I can look back, see this as the most recent post, and not feel the pressure to write an epic opus like my last LaserTag post.

In the meantime, I'll leave you with an ESPN photo taken of Marcus Thames striking out in last Friday night's Padres vs. Dodgers game in San Diego. Recognize anyone?

Here's the link to the ESPN recap of the game, just in case you're thinking I'm just good at working in Photoshop.