Thursday, January 31, 2008

A Trip (And Fall) Down Memory Lane

You know what's fun and not a cop-out at all? Copying and pasting Revisiting old stories from the FMD days. Since Sean and Sandra Bernard took their hump'n and dump'n act to more hospitable doorways, and the Metro doesn't have any blatant mistakes today, let's take a look back to another time, when cataloging every single event in my life was a suitable, if temporary, distraction to the ad nauseum blather of Joe.

Back in December of 2004, we had only just recently moved into our new office on Newbury Street, and most days I walked from Park Street Station to work, via Boston Common and the Public Garden. Let's have a look back at one such cold, December day, shall we?

The past couple of days I've had a few close calls with icy patches on the sidewalk, so I guess it was only a matter of time before I finally ended up sprawled out on the pavement. This morning I slipped in the park and landed on the right side of my back. I got up after a few seconds, but my chest, back and right knee are sore. Also, I kinda dented, the company's laptop. But it works fine, since I'm using it.

Over three years later, and it's still working fine! Just a little dent. Woot! And my chest stopped hurting after about seven hours. I can't remember, but I'm sure Michele sent me 700 emails telling me to go to the doctor. Well, I'm still here, aren't I?

Some Asain guy was doing kung fu or something and saw the whole thing, but he didn't help, he just kept swinging his arms around and making weird noises.

Yeah, I know. He was doing Tai Chi. There's a bunch of people who do Tai Chi every morning, usually led by a little old Asian guy that shouts "Hup!" or something. They're out there every day, no matter the weather.

Since I was up all night watching football, all I can think of is having my fall replayed over and over with commentary by John Madden and Al Michaels...

Michaels: There appears to be a man down on the play. It looks like generic_screenname.

Madden: You hate to see that happen to young graphic designers. Let's see the tape again. Oh, look at that. Here's the fall right here. (draws circle on screen)

Michaels: Looks like he's able to get up on his own.

Madden: Yeah, and I tell you what, he's lucky. You have to look out for those ice patches. See, right there. His foot is just touching the ice, but it's enough for a down.

Michaels: That was a close call.

Madden: Yeah, I tell you what. They used to put stickum on their cleats, but...

Michaels: Wait...what? When did they ever put stickum on their cleats?

Madden: Well...see...the, um...(waves hands at Al) FOOTBALL!!!

(read the whole dang thing here.)

And speaking of football, this Boston vs. New York stuff is getting old real fast. The fact that neither Boston nor New York City actually has a football team doesn't seem to register with the idiotic reactionary newspapers of said cities (That would be the Boston Herald and New York Post, respectively.) Why are the mayors of Boston and New York making the traditional "friendly wagers?" I wonder if the comptroller of Spokane, WA and Prime Minister if Sri Lanka made a friendly wager on Sunday's game? It would make about as much sense. Yeah, yeah, Boston vs. New York plays out better in the media than Foxboro vs. East Rutherford, but it just seems like these city wankers are riding the coattails of other people's success. If I was whoever the hell is in charge of Foxboro or East Rutherford, I'd be pissed that someone else came in and ate my breakfast. Foxboro is practically in Rhode Island, and the Giants literally don't even play in New York state, let alone New York City. Give it a rest. Wankers.

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Whatsa Mata?

As I've mentioned before, the Metro is my favorite paper. Both ironically and non-ironically. It's free, it's exactly the correct length to read cover to cover from Braintree to Park Street, and when they run out of space for an article, it just ends mid-sentence. I come for the free news, but I stay for the hilarious typos.

While not technically a typo, one thing that always gets me is when a story reads "on yesterday" as opposed to just "yesterday" or "on Monday/Tuesday/Whatever day preceded this one." I don't know if "on yesterday" is grammatically correct (although I'm almost positive it isn't), but it definitely I can only assume all the "on yesterdays" are the result of a computer program that automatically changes the name of a weekday to "yesterday" if it falls on the day before the story was written. My favorite example of this, and the best proof I have that it's the doing of a cold, emotionless computer program and not a living human being that just happens to think "on yesterday" has a certain ring to it, came a few weeks ago. It was the day after Martin Luther King Day, and the article explained that "King's birthday is Jan. 15, but the federal holiday bearing his name is observed on the third yesterday in January."

For the record, the third yesterday in January is January 2.

Today's top story was that crime on the T is down from last year. Or, violent crime, anyway. Less people are getting shot, stabbed or robbed, but weird old guys are still coping feels at their usual clip. Anyway, the first line of the article is "Violent crime on the Mata hit a 10-year low in 2007." What the hell is Mata? Did they mean MBTA? Mata shows up four times in the article, each time with only the M capitalized. Mata. Mata! I thought that maybe Mata was a separate entity from the MBTA, and it just so happened that I'd never heard it mentioned until now. But a much better and more accurate thought would be that the Metro editors take the short bus in to work. And good for them, working in a real office. God bless those goofy bastards.

Meanwhile, everyone's favorite ebony and ivory ragamuffins, Shawn and, um...Shawna, have been sleeping in front of the door every day this week, staying later and later each morning. This morning I walked by the door and saw the familiar gray hump obstructing my path, so I decided to go get some coffee instead of trying to do that weird dance to get past them and open the door. I went down the street, got a coffee and donut and leisurely read the Metro. After twenty minutes or so, I headed back to the office, thinking I'd given them enough time to either get up on their own, or be kicked out by one of the less passive occupants. But no, there they were, still blocking the door, still smelling like urine.

A guy from the sixth floor had some clients with them this morning and couldn't get in because they were blocking the door. The guy said he was going to call the cops. That's the second time in as many days that someone's threatened police involvement. I don't think I like where this is headed. There's going to be a confrontation. I hate those. I don't know if it's going to come to actual physical contact, or if we're going to come in one morning and find a revenge dump spattered all over the entranceway. Either way, it won't be pretty.

It's been really cold the past few days, and I feel terrible that anyone has to sleep (and hump...ugh) outside, but by now they have to know this building has several businesses in it, and people start coming and going early in the morning, so it makes sense for all parties involved if they packed up and found some new digs. There's a church across the street, I've seen some guys sleeping on the steps. Unless that spot's already been claimed. Some of these guys are territorial. Maybe that explains the huge turd in front of Brooks Brothers. Well, there's a ton of other doorways on this end of the street alone. Hell, the place across the street has had a For Rent sign since we moved in here. They could sleep and crap and hump over in that doorway 'til their hearts' content. It's win-win, right?

UPDATE! They weren't there on Wednesday morning. That was anti-climactic.

Thursday, January 24, 2008

Mmm...Floor Chocolate

I'd never heard of Amy Vanderbilt, but she was one of those Annie Cavanagh-type purveyors of etiquette and taste until she fell out a window. Does my ignorance of Ms. Vanderbilt mean that I'm uncultured? Perhaps. For example, I had no idea that black suits are only proper for servants or the dead. That doesn't really make a whole lot of sense, and why lump servants in with dead people? Apparently this obscure rule that most people have never even heard of came about as a result of President Abraham Lincoln being assassinated in a black Brooks Brothers suit. According to Brooks Brothers' Wikipedia page, anyway.

Incidentally, that's the second instance that someone's made a point to mention that Lincoln died in a Brooks Brothers suit. The Duck Tour guides usually mention it when they drive by the Brooks Brothers at the corner of Newbury and Berkeley Streets. Is that really a big selling point? "Brooks Brothers reminds you that if you're going to be assassinated, why not go out in style?" Even their logo, which I think is a sheep suspended by a pulley system, reminds me of the goat from Jurassic Park. I guess it's supposed to represent the Golden Fleece, but I can't help seeing Sacrificial Lamb.

Anyway, I walk past that particular Brooks Brothers every morning on the way to work, and this morning there was a MONSTER turd (monsturd?) on the front steps. This thing was immense, and oddly rectangular, about the size and shape of a croissant from nearby Au Bon Pain if it was dipped in chocolate coating. Actually, that sounds pretty delicious. Or gross. I'm torn.

The worst part is, this wasn't the work of a dog. No, this was human plop.

Coinciding with the appearance of this mystery loaf is the reemergence of the homeless couple that used to sleep in the doorway of our building. I can't find the link, but I know I've mentioned them before; a black guy named Sean (or Shawn, he doesn't wear a name tag so I can't be sure of the spelling) and a white woman who I'm almost positive is Sandra Bernhard. Now I'm not saying it was them, only pointing out the serendipitous timing of their latest camp-out and someone indiscriminately dropping a brick in front of a classy place like Brooks Brothers.

The last time these two hunkered down in the breezeway of our building, completely blocking the front door, they slept well past seven AM every morning, when the first wave of workers from one the six businesses in the building begin to arrive. They'd groggily move their blankets and soda bottles out of the way so someone could get by, then go back to sleep, only to repeat the process a few minutes later, and again a few minutes after that. Usually they were compliant, but occasionally one or the other would get aggravated that their sleep was being disrupted by, you know, people who work and don't smell like crotch. They were there every morning for a few weeks, maybe even months, and then one day, they were gone. But not before leaving behind a gift of...something...smattered all over the wall and floor. Maybe it was explosive diarrhea, maybe it was vomit, I still say it's a little of Column A, a little of Column B. Whatever it was, it was a chunky burnt sienna mess, and the last we saw of Sean and the missus for a while.

But now they're back, and perhaps the giant dump down the street is an indication that they've learned something on their sabbatical: Never shit where you sleep.

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Sweet Tapdancing Jesus!

Heath Ledger died! I did not see that one coming. And Michele did it to me again! People really need to stop dying before I find out about it. It messes up my whole day.

I wonder if they finished all his scenes as the Joker? What if they left the ending open-ended for the Joker to return in future installments? I mean no disrespect, I feel terrible for his family and his daughter, and the whole this is very tragic, but it seems like they finally got this Batman franchise right, and I wonder what kind of effect his sudden death will have. Do they keep the Joker out of any further Batman movies, or do they find a new actor to fill the role? And could replacing him kill the franchise? Well, it hasn't seemed to hurt the Harry Potter movies. And The Dark Knight already has one cast change since Batman Begins; Katie Holmes has been replaced by Maggie Gyllenhaal in the role of Rachel Dawes, much like the real Katie Holmes has been replaced by a zombie-like Scientologist Pod person. Oddly enough, Katie Holmes was on Dawson's Creek with Michelle Williams, who was married to Heath Ledger. Also, Maggie Gyllenhaal is the sister of Jake Gyllenhal, who was in that gay cowboy movie with Ledger. Oh yeah, and Michele Williams was in that, too.

In his most recent movie, I'm Not There, Heath played Bob Dylan. Here's a weird question: is he the only person who's starred in a biopic about someone and died before the person they were portraying? There could be a few others, but I can't think of any.

Death of a Clown (reprise)

My makeup is dry and it clags on my chin
I'm drowning my sorrows in whiskey and gin
The lion tamer's whip doesn't crack anymore
The lions won't fight and the tigers won't roar

So let's all drink to the death of a clown
Wont someone help me to break up this crown
Let's all drink to the death of a clown
Let's all drink to the death of a clown

The old fortune teller lies dead on the floor
Nobody needs fortunes told anymore
The trainer of insects is crouched on his knees
And frantically looking for runaway fleas

Let's all drink to the death of a clown
So wont someone help me to break up this crown
Let's all drink to the death of a clown
Let's all drink to the death of a clown.

Heath Ledger,
We're the same age. Jeez.

Monday, January 21, 2008

Things I Found Out In My Twenties

The first in an ongoing series, unless I change my mind and don't do any more

I've got less than a year and a half before joining the creaky ranks of the thirty-and-over crowd, so now is a good time to reflect back on some things I've learned in the past decade.

For example, while there very well may be someone named Annie Cavanagh somewhere on this planet, she is not mentioned by name in the J. Geils' song Love Stinks. For the first twenty-odd years of my existence, I'd thought Annie Cavanagh was someone who'd spurned Peter Wolf, and calling her out by name was some sort of revenge. Take that, Annie! You got served in a top 40 radio staple!

The other idea was that maybe Annie Cavanagh was a noted romance or etiquette guru with a weekly advice column/radio show, like Dear Abby or Dr. Joyce Brothers. I'd never heard of her, but lots of songs name-drop people who were famous when the song came out, but lose their relevance as time goes on, like Sir Edward Heath in Taxman, or the little-known fifth verse of America the Beautiful that praises James Henderson Blount's plan to overthrow the Kingdom of Hawaii. So the idea that Annie Cavanagh was a well-known talking head in the late seventies/early eighties that has since drifted from the public's consciousness is not unheard of.

But alas, there was no Annie Cavanagh. Turns out the line is actually "I don't care what any Casanova thinks". Even so, I still think Annie Cavanagh sounds better. That Casanova line sounds like it's missing a syllable. Cas'nova. And really, who cares what Annie Cavanagh thinks?

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

And If You Should Die Before You Wake...

Thank you, University of Sheffield. The school, which I totally heard of before reading the BBC News article, recently concluded a study of more than 250 children between the ages of four and sixteen, and discovered that they all saw clowns as "frightening and unknowable."

The study showed that hospitals "decorating children's wards with paintings of clowns to create a nurturing atmosphere could backfire," because, according to child psychologist Patricia Doorbar, "Very few children like clowns. They are unfamiliar and come from a different era. They don't look funny, they just look odd."

A companion artilce asks "Why are clowns scary?"

And it probably comes as no surprise to horror fans that a University of Sheffield study of 250 children for a report on hospital design suggests the children find clown motifs "frightening and unknowable".

One might suspect that popular culture is to blame. In It, made into a television movie in 1990, Stephen King created a child-murdering monster that appeared as a demonic clown.

King's It has sparked a slew of schlocky movies over the past 20 years, known as the killer clown or evil clown genre.

I don't know if I agree with that, though. Intentionally scary clowns aren't scary at all. In fact, to me anyway, they are the funny clowns. It's the innocent-looking ones that creep me out. Making clowns look "scary" takes away what makes them creepy in the first place. It's like Leslie Nielson. When he started doing comedies like Airplane! and Naked Gun, it was funny because he was spoofing serious genres, as well as his own previous roles as a serious actor. But then he started doing goofier and goofier roles, because by then he was known as a comedic actor, but it didn't work anymore because the reason his shtick was funny to begin with was lost along the way. The same thing goes for movies that spoof comedies. How do you spoof a comedy? It's a double-negative.

Clowns = scary.
scary clowns = not scary.

In light of this story, I sort of feel bad for clowns now. The ones that aren't serial killers are just trying to make kids happy. And how are they repaid? Kids screaming in fear, pants-wetting, angry parents, unemployment, and now even their images are being taken down from hospital ward walls because they're deemed too frightening. They just want to help the sick little kids. It's not fair that Hollywood has turned clowns into a horror genre goldmine. It's not the clowns' fault. You guys can point the finger at them, you can talk about Pennywise and Gacy, and if you do that. It's not fair. That's my quarterback. I mean clown. That's my clown.

My eyes have been opened. Sure, the makeup still creeps me out and the blood-red smiles are unsettling, but I'd like to open up what is hopefully the first of many talks to further improve human-clown relations. And I'd like to end today with a little selection from The Kinks

My makeup is dry and it clags on my chin
I'm drowning my sorrows in whiskey and gin
The lion tamer's whip doesn't crack anymore
The lions won't fight and the tigers won't roar

So let's all drink to the death of a clown
Wont someone help me to break up this crown
Let's all drink to the death of a clown
Let's all drink to the death of a clown

The old fortune teller lies dead on the floor
Nobody needs fortunes told anymore
The trainer of insects is crouched on his knees
And frantically looking for runaway fleas

Let's all drink to the death of a clown
So wont someone help me to break up this crown
Let's all drink to the death of a clown
Let's all drink to the death of a clown.

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Soak it in Dishwater!

I found this joke online:

A young bride and groom-to-be had just selected their wedding rings. As the young lady admired the plain platinum and diamond band she had chosen for herself, she suddenly looked concerned. "Tell me," she asked the rather elderly salesman, "Is there anything special I'll have to do to take care of this ring?" With a fatherly smile, the salesman said, "One of the best ways to protect a wedding ring is to soak it in dishwater."

I've got to be missing something here. Where's the punchline? Are you not supposed to get dishwater on wedding rings? I feel like there needs to be another paragraph or two. Maybe a genie or a talking goat could also give her advice. There could be some wordplay at work here that I'm not picking up on. Soak it in dishwater. Maybe if you say it really fast it sounds like something else. Soakitindishwater. Sew kitten this otter? That doesn't make any sense. Anyone? They made a point to say the salesman was elderly, so his answer must be some sort of comically incorrect thing, right? That must be a clue.

But "soak it in dishwater" is more odd than funny. Like, if you went up to a guy and asked him what time it was, and he said, "Gophers! There's gophers controlling the New York Stock Exchange!" That wouldn't really be a joke. A non-sequitur, sure, but not a joke in the tradition of "Three guys of differing races, religions and or nationalities are doing something fairly innocuous when suddenly a figure of either mythical, religious or historical significance appears, and hilarity ensues." If it had been a leprechaun talking to a hillbilly, it would have been instantly funnier.

What is the joke? This is killing me. Is that it? Is the joke that it's not really funny? I've heard of those, I think Mr. Schprock talked about it before. It's when you tell a completely nonsensical, unfunny joke and then laugh uncontrollably, leaving the other person completely baffled. So they start laughing because they don't want to look stupid, and then you ask them to explain why the joke is funny. Which, of course, they can't. I don't think this is one of those, but...soak it in dishwater, what does that mean? Can someone please explain this freaking joke? I don't get it.

Friday, January 11, 2008

Why I'm Afraid of Clowns, Part II

Clown hunt
Cave paintings recently discovered in Lascaux depicting a Clown Hunt

Clowns. Clowny clown clowns. Man has feared clowns since the dawn of time. Whether we're pitting them against our super heroes, or turning them into sewer-dwelling giant spiders, man has looked to clowns as inspiration for dredging up our darkest fears.

But clowns are funny, you say? Clowns are harmless. Well then, riddle me this: whenever you think of circus clowns, what song instantly plays in your head. It goes something like this "Do do doodle-oo do do do do do...", right? Do you know what that song is called?

Entry of the Gladitors by Julius Fucik, a Czech military orchestra composer. The clowns are mounting an army. On Bozo's command, unleash Hell.

Incidentally, if you've ever wondered the name of a classical piece that you always hear in movie trailers or when Jerry is setting Tom's tail on fire, check out

Wednesday, January 09, 2008

The Stinkening

There was a weird smell emanating from our pantry. So Michele asked me to go find out what it was and get rid of it. I walked over to the big white cabinet, but before I could open the doors, before even getting within a foot of the thing, my nose was assaulted by the most foul smell it had ever encountered. I opened the doors and to my horror, the stink was even worse, but I couldn't immediately find it's point of origin. It could have been coming from anywhere, so I'd have to...ugh...sniff around.

I started with the top shelf. Some time during the summer, the shelf had collapsed, cascading all manner of dried and canned goods all over the other shelves and onto the floor. We never did find the last of the four tiny L-shaped bits of plastic that hold the shelf in place, so ever since then, it's been teetering on three pegs. To keep the whole thing from tumbling down again, the heavier stuff was moved down the the lower shelves and the top shelf held mostly spaghetti and other dry noodles, maybe a couple of those seasoning packets for tacos, and nothing in the back left corner where the peg is missing. I checked to see if one of the packets had opened up and spilled out, but I couldn't find anything.

And so it went, moving down to the next shelf, and then the next, trying to locate an expired can of...something, or a broken bottle, leaking putrid stink juice all over. But again, I didn't find anything.

Finally, I reached the bottom shelf. There, we have some onions and potatoes. Deep in the back was a bag of little yellow potatoes. Little yellow potatoes leaking terrifying brown stuff. I'd just found ground zero.

Who knows how long they've been there, only that it was too long. It looked like the potatoes were secreting their own soy sauce. That bag was without a doubt the culprit, but because the onions had other potatoes had been trapped in there with the soy-sauce potatoes, they suffered from second-hand stink and had to go, too. Fortunately, the onions and potatoes were all in bags which in turn were sitting in wooden crates that oranges come in, so the smell had a buffer in the wood that prevented it from seeping into the white plywood cabinet. All I had to do was lift up the orange crate and toss those suckers in the trash.

But then the most awful thing happened. When I picked up the crate containing the smelly potato bag, the smallest, tiniest droplet of liquid stink dripped onto my bare forearm. The drop was so small, it couldn't sustain a flea, (assuming a flea would drink rancid potato juice) but a little goes a long way. I brought my arm up to my nose to assess the damage. Dear God, it was even worse than I'd imagined!! My options were few, reign as Prince of the Land of Stench, or that arm was going to have to come off.

In the end, I decided against amputation because the loss of an arm might throw me off balance, so I just scrubbed it with soap and water for a good half hour or so until only my own pleasant musk remained.

But heed my warning, ye who would touch little yellow potatoes leaking soy sauce: don't.

Tuesday, January 08, 2008

Nuts to You

Let's say you're walking down the street, when suddenly you see a car parked alongside the road with a license plate that reads "NO NUTS." It's probably the best thing that's happened to you all day, perhaps all month. Now, you have you're trusty camera phone with you, but all around you are...

Ahh! PEOPLE!!!

And you suddenly feel a bit awkward whipping out a camera to take a picture of a vanity plate, regardless of how hilarious said vanity plate is. You briefly consider a cover story in case someone wonders why you are taking a picture of someone's license plate (apart from the obvious, "It says NO NUTS"). You'd say that you were involved in an accident and you need photographic evidence for insurance purposes. But that won't work, because the car doesn't appear to have sustained any damage, and you are on foot, so there's no second car. You suppose you could say you were run over, but then you'd have to start limping until you turn the corner. And what if you run into the rare Good Samaritan who wants to help you, a poor injured pedestrian, while the jerk that ran you down is across the street, doing a sudoku and sipping a latte, chuckling to himself about the pain he's brought to you. Is it worth the escalating pile of lies, just to get a stupid picture? I offer that is it not.

Of course, you could just take the picture and not worry about anyone seeing you. So what, right? And anyway, if you had to, you could do that thing were you pretend you're on the phone, but you're really taking a picture. How many times have you gotten away with that one? Too many to count. Well, five. It was five times.

But then, then you think even if you did take the picture, well...then what? You can't put someone's license plate on the internet, can you? I think that's an invasion of privacy or something. Unless that person is a convicted sex offender. I'm pretty sure they put sex offender's license plates on the internet. But then how would you find out if someone's convicted a sex offender? I guess you could run the license plate. Although, if you're plates say "NO NUTS" you're pretty much announcing that you're libido isn't a threat to anyone. Unless that's what you want people to think. Very clever, possible convicted sex offender. Very clever indeed.

So let's say you took a picture, but decide not to post in online because it's probably illegal, or at least immoral to post someone's license plate and you don't want No Nuts tracking you down, because maybe "NO NUTS" doesn't describe the driver, but what he does to people that tick him off. It's a warning! Maybe the car belongs to a militant lesbian gym teacher out to castrate our patriarchal society one pair at a time.

All of this assumes that "NO NUTS" is referring to male danglies. Maybe "NO NUTS" is a former mental patient who was given a clean bill of health. What better way to announce your newfound sanity than with vanity plates? Or it could be someone who's had it up to here with these damn crazies and won't stand for them to be in or anywhere in the area immediately surrounding their car. NO NUTS ALLOWED. Maybe it belongs to a New Orleans fan.

It's probably just someone with a peanut allergy.

Well, whoever it is should have put a little bit more thought into what to put on the license plate.

Monday, January 07, 2008

His Hair Was Perfect

Welcome to this, the first full week of 2008! I think I've let enough time roll by to throw Kimmie off my scent. What, that was my plan all along. I can't have people ripping me off-- inserting their wenis wherever they see fit--and the best way to prevent that is to not write anything at all, right? Sounds like a perfectly reasonable excuse, err...explanation to me. How about you, LL?

Okay, so back to business. The Friday before New Years, we gathered at Nick's house to exchange Christmas presents. No, we don't do anything on time. Nick gave Jose that little robot guy from FOX NFL Sunday that jumps around and points at people. Well, the CGI one does, I don't think this one does anything expect look like the one on TV. Actually, did he get that from Nick? I thought Wah-Kee got Jose in the name-pool, because then Kee handed him a Carolina Panthers jacket to wear when he moves down to South Carolina later this year. Oh yeah, Jose's moving to South Carolina because he met some girl online. What is the world coming to? Anyway, someone got a FOX NFL robot and someone got Jose a Panthers jacket. I think either Nick or Jose got my gift. How am I supposed to remember, it was like three weeks ago. Whoever it came from, I ended up with a Best Buy gift certificate and Michele and I each got a tickets to a movie and a gift certificate to Smokey Bones. Other gifts exchanged hands, but all I really remember are the Mojitos. I don't think it's a gay drink. Mo-ji-to.

After the gifts, Heidi announced that she had a new game/social experiment gone awry for us to play. It was called The Werewolves of Millers Hollow, and it plays pretty much the same way as Mafia, if you've ever played that, which I haven't. The story for the game goes that there is a village that is being slowly picked off one-by-one each night by werewolves. So during the daylight hours, the villagers gather in town hall or wherever villagers gather (Village Hall?) and try to weed out the werewolves by way of democracy and lynchings, the chocolate and peanut butter of lycanthrope-plagued-townships. Whoever the majority of the village accuses as the murderous beast is strung up by their necks until they're dead. Only after their death is it revealed whether the village has finally destroyed the werewolf, or just offed another one of their own dwindling numbers. The battle of wits has begun. The game is over when either all the werewolves have been hung, or when the last villager is eaten.

For replay value, and to a lesser extent, legal and moral issues, no actual blood is shed during the game. Instead, a non-playing moderator holds out a deck of cards and a group of eight or more chose one card each. On the back of the card is either a werewolf, or a villager (or one of the various subsets of villagers with special abilities). When everyone has chosen their cards, the moderator informs everyone that it is night, and all players close their eyes. Then the moderator, in our case Heidi, says the werewolves wake up, recognize each other, and chose a victim. The werewolves merely point to the unsuspecting chump, and when Heidi says it's morning everyone opens their eyes, with one person discovering they've been killed. And how do you know when you've been killed? When you've got shiny purple beads tossed at your feet. Once everyone's eyes are open, then the accusing begins. And that's when it really comes in handy to have a poker face. A poker face not being one of the things Santa left in my stocking, I was in for a long night. My problem is, I always look guilty, even when I'm just a lowly villager, which was the case in the first round when they metaphorically strung me up just because I kept smiling. Well that's just great. I was actually the Fortune Teller, a villager who is allowed to look at one person's card during the "night" each turn to try and learn the identity of the werewolf or werewolves. But instead, I sat out the rest of the game. Lousy stupid villagers. The werewolves turned out to be Wah-Kee and his girlfriend, Des. Pssh! I could have told them that. They were both even worse at lying then me.

After that first game, I managed to not get myself killed through most of the others, except for the one time I actually WAS the werewolf. For that game I was also voted as the sheriff, which is a position that gives that person two votes. But no matter what kind of math you use, two votes are never going to beat six, I was voted out, and of course I was the only werewolf and at under two minutes it was the shortest game of the night.

Several games in, Heidi passed the moderator duties onto someone else so that she could play for a while. And I got her voted out in the first round. That was perfect. Michele wasn't immune, either. During one of my stints has a werewolf I gleefully pointed to her and danced in my seat. I can't really say why I did. Maybe I was afraid that if I didn't pick her, it'd look like I was playing favorites. I wanted to keep an even playing field. I suppose I could have done that without dancing, but why do anything if you can't do it while dancing?

On Nick's first go-round as the moderator, he left out the all-important "the werewolves go back to sleep" before saying "the fortune teller wakes up" so the werewolves, including me, had our eyes wide open when Des, the fortune teller, opened hers, so we had no choice but to kill her. Rookie mistake.

I don't know how many times we played, but it seemed like Wah-Kee and especially Des turned out to be werewolves an inordinate amount of times. We didn't keep a running score, so I don't know how many times the villagers won versus the werewolves, but considering the werewolves were usually outnumbered two to six, the village got wiped out a lot more often than I would have expected. I think that says something about people being more interested in "revenge killing" for previous games than trying to win.

The final game of the night answered a question that had come up a few times earlier in night; what happens when there are only two players left; a werewolf and a villager? If the two are remaining, during the "daylight" hours, the werewolf wins, because each one would obviously claim the other was the werewolf, resulting in a draw and no lynching, and the werewolf would claim it's final victim that night. That actually happened a couple of times. But, in the case of the last game, the final two were Josh (my understudy for when I'm not around to hang out with Nick and co.) and Michele. Each accused the other of being the werewolf, which would have been a draw, but...Josh was the sheriff, so his vote counted twice. So then we had two votes for hanging Michele and one for Josh. Josh wins, right? No! Michele had the hunter card. And the hunter, if voted out, is allowed to kill any other player with their dying breath. So Josh, the sheriff/werewolf hung Michele and Michele shot Josh. Nobody wins. It was awesome.

I don't know how to end this one. I guess I'll leave you with this advise for 2008: If you're constipated, DO NOT TAKE KAOPECTATE! That stuff is for diarrhea. Taking it for the other thing makes it much, much worse.