Monday, May 08, 2006


I'm Back!!!

And I have to tell ya... it feels good too. The last several months have been a dark and desperate blot on my usually sunny and cheerful disposition. I blame it all on being forced to live in that Hovel for five months. Yuck. Old, smelly, pitiful lighting. It had ceilings that were probably only about 7 feet tall.... well, maybe 7 feet 6 inches. I stand just about 5'11" and -- allright, I used to be 5'11" but now that I'm older I may have lost half an inch or so -- anyway, I could stand flatfooted and touch the ceiling. The Hovel was badly designed and had at some point suffered one, some or all of the items on this list:

* leaky roof
* life-threatening mold from leaky roof
* feline habitation
* feline carpet urination (has a half-life longer than plutonium)
* excessive use of curry in the kitchen
* dandelion infestation
* Federally approved habitat for box elder beetles
* felony use of yellow paint
* assault with a bright red shag carpet
* toilet refill time of 1 hour and 17 minutes

There were other things wrong with the Hovel that I didn't put on this list... after all, this is a blog about games, not living in bad houses. But since I've bitched so much about this place I figured I ought to include a picture of it...

Note the roof in need of repair. That's my dad's Toyota parked on the street. It's an older model so most of you Euro-Snoots probably won't recognize it.

The big move to the new house began Friday. I did the whole back and forth thing with small loads in my pick-up truck and then my Dad and his "friend" arrived. My dad will be 80 in a few weeks, so I'm at a total loss as to what to call his companion. He and Evelyn never married, but girlfriend doesn't quite fit when describing the relationship of two people who have already outlived the national average by nearly a full decade. So anyway, we used my dad's little Toyota pick-up to carry the oddly shaped items that wouldn't fit quite right in my 6,000 pound "utility vehicle". The most important thing we needed his Toyota for was to pick up and deliver my new game table. More on that later.

I really appreciated their help. But they are 80 years old. Eighty Years Old! So they're both kind of shaped like an upside-down capital "J" and they aren't in quite as good a condition as they were when they were young... say back when they were my age. On top of which, they have the "old person shuffle"... that slow gait that gives the impression of movement below the knees but real motion is not discernable unless time-lapse photography is used. The only other place I have ever seen that odd form of ambulation was when I was observing a Pakastani Air jumbo jet deplane in Chicago. Hundreds of little brown caterpillar segments appeared (actual Pakastanis, I think) and their feet shuffled so fast they blurred, but the line inched forward at a glacial pace.

But I was acknowledging my Dad and his "friend", who both helped quite a bit. The whole Pakastani thing must have been some sort of flashback related to Hovel Stress Disorder and the curry odors still lingering in my olfactory cells.

On Saturday Jumbo-Tron, Lyle and Shaun came to help. And help they did. They carried all the heavy stuff while I rushed around appearing both useful and knowledgable. We all knew though that my sole purpose was that I rented the U-Haul and I was buying the Pizza and drinks. The boys were suitably impressed with my new digs and the plan formulated that we would be done moving by 2pm and we could have pizza and goodies and a game going on my massive new game table by 3pm. Here's a picture of the new place...

It is a nice house. So nice in fact, that if Elvis were alive today he'd probably feel right at home here.

Since I have mentioned my table so much I guess I'd better include a picture of a real gaming table so all you city-slicking, apartment dwelling, Euro-trash metrosexuals can turn green with envy. I had this one custom made and it included set-up and delivery, all for a reasonable price...

I snapped this picture during a recent game
of my old favorite RPG from the 80's... Slugs & Ditches. This is a Live-Action session, which is easy to see because the third player from the left is struggling vainly to get out of the ditch while everyone else is staring vacantly at everyone else.

Lyle and Shaun wanted to learn Formula De and despite the fact that any time Lyle and dice are involved the whine-o-meter reaches inhumane levels, I agreed. Lyle doesn't do any worse with dice than any human being involved with cubes and other odd shapes and numbers. But dice bring with them a convenient whipping post for any mistakes, errors, lapses of judgement or just plain boneheaded decisions Lyle makes.

So, Lyle lost... badly and the rest of us had a great time. When Lyle swore he would never play Formula De again I made him sign a contract to that effect.

At that point Vegas Showdown came back on the table for the first time in maybe 6 months. Shaun had played but Lyle and Jumbo were newbies. I was reminded that I really do enjoy Vegas Showdown. It's not outstanding in any specific catagory whether it be component quality or game mechanics. But the sum of all the parts is greater than the whole...or is it that the sum doesn't add up to what the math would be if you simply added it? Whatever. It's a fine game made better by the fact that Avalon Hill gave me a free copy. We all had a great time. Lyle excelled and whipped us by a respectable point differential.

He then decided that, having actually won a game, he needed to go to a BBQ and get drunk. Jumbo's brother, Robee came by to tell us he too was going to go get drunk, so that left Jumbo, Shaun and myself. We decided to try out a game called Techno Witches, published in the USA by Rio Grande and designed by one of those European people with a name that makes me chortle every time I read it.

Here... hang on a moment, I'll look it up... Heinrich Glumpler. Woah. Man, if I was named Glumpler I'd drop $400 on the local court for a name change, pronto!

Which reminds me of this used car salesman I once worked with named Richard Hedd. I always asked him if I could call him Dick for short. He never laughed, never even chuckled at my little joke, which suprised me, it's not as if he'd heard it all his life or anything. I used to inquire about why, if his parents didn't want him to be known as Dick Hedd, they didn't name him something else... like Block. Or Penis. I don't know how that guy ever sold a single car because all I ever saw him do was frown when I was around. All of this brings to mind another guy I knew when I was in school in Southern California. His name was Daniel Dick. Daniel was an aspiring actor. He actually had a part in the Las Vegas production of Hair... HAIR! Daniel Dick.

So of course we all called him Daniel's Dick. That was mainly due to those 70's hip hugger jeans he wore, all tight around the groin area. Daniel would walk in and there'd be a chorus of, "Hey! It's Daniel's Dick!" And we'd all wave at his groin. Daniel decided that he'd never get anywhere in Hollywood with a name like Daniel Dick so he did pay the $400 for the name change. He got his name altered to Chad. Yep. That's a real Hollywood name... Chad Dick.

Most of you were probably not even born when HAIR was "all that", but I assure you, it was very profound. HAIR exemplified an entire generation (probably your parent's) by showcasing really grubby clothes, afro's on white people, exposed butt cheeks and "down with the establishment" lyrics of such lasting quality that I will forever be saddened by the fact that I grew up with these people.

She asks me why...I'm just a hairy guy
I'm hairy noon and night; Hair that's a fright.
I'm hairy high and low,
Don't ask me why; don't know!
It's not for lack of bread
Like the Grateful Dead

For all I know Glumpler also means "dick" in German, which has nothing to do with Techno Witches, but it's worth considering before you commit to any game designed by a guy with a name that may possibly describe a sexual organ in a foreign language.

Heinrich did design an okay game though. Borrowing a lot from several other games, such as the recent Wings of War and the more distant Sopwith, Techno Witches is a semi rip-off of the Harry Potter theme. All the players race vacuums around in the sky snagging cats, running obstacle courses or chasing Luddite wizards on broomsticks. The theme pretty much sucks. The game itself though works very well indeed. There are 20 little curvy pieces that you arrange in order around your "spellbook" and anytime you want you can "fly"... meaning you must use, in order, all the pieces you have selected. So you move one, two or more times all at once.

The results can be hilarious and the game plays in about 20 or 25 minutes with three players. I'm not much of a drinker but I can imagine Techno Wizards would be a great drinking game. Jumbo was all over the table and Shaun and myself crashed frequently. I think I sold at least one or maybe more future copies that night so Herr Glumpler can expect an increase in royalties... maybe even enough to pay for that much needed name change.

I believe things will now get back on track for me. New house, Tivo working, room to game, my boy sleeping in the living room with a Van Morrison special playing on CMT... transmitting those semi-Godlike Van Morrison vibes directly into his resting brain... what could be better?

See ya next week!


sodaklady said...

You are indeed back and feeling good, DW. It shows in your writing--sharp, funny and scathing. ;)

About that new house of yours...are those magnolia trees in Idaho?!

Whozfan said...

Interesting blog. Man if you moved from that place to the mansion, you are doing real well. That truck sure looks like a Chevy to me. I can relate to selling cars, I did that for a while. It was a fun job. And Van Morrison, you betcha. One of my favorite songs "Cleaning Windows". You'll have plenty of those to clean in the mansion.

Gerald McD said...

Nice looking new hovel you have there. I didn't know you could actually move one of those things from the deep south; probably screwed up the Interstates for a month.

That's one hilarious "game table!"

Ah, it's good to have you back to "normal," DW.

Friendless said...

DW, it's people like you that become Unabombers. Whatever that story was about, it was a beauty. I'm glad you're back. Enjoy your new digs.

Mike Pennisi said...

I believe the word you are looking for to describe Vegas Showdown is "gestalt" and I agree the whole is greater than the sum of its parts (not that I know how to perform arithmetic on game mechanics, I'm just guessing).

I have a sudden craving for a peanut butter and fried banana sandwich so I have to go. Glad you're back.

the moe said...

[...]For all I know Glumpler also means "dick" in German,[...]

...huh? who told you that? i never heard of smth like that. ok, i'm swiss and not german, but i'm pretty sure i should have heard of. to me glumpler sounds a bit strange but not in a way like 'dick'. but much fun to read anyway :)

Peer Sylvester said...

No, it doesnt. But i know Heinrich quite well and had a laugh anyway. Im thinking of giving him the link to the story... :-)

BTW: The original theme were "Spacerockets in an asteroid field", but "Spacegames" dont sell well, so Kosmos changed the theme to the witches.