Guide to Wunderland
- News Archives
I'm sitting on a bench at town
center with Gina leaning against me, listening to Nonchalant
Peak, a large industrial punkish band, playing a cacophony of
sounds. One of the members shouts various quick scat sounds into
dulcorate (dull'-cor-ate) v.t.
to sweeten, to make less acrimonious (n.: dulcoration)
- Van Wilder :(
A bland plot spiked
with Jim Carrey wannabes.
Second-rate teen raunch.
I loved this enchanting French film about a young woman who
devotes herself to helping others via eccentric secret favors.
But Alison and Gina liked it even more than me... they both immediately
declared this to be their new Favorite Movie Ever. So you know
it must be good.
Cat and Girl
- "I read a review long ago, and recently did a Google
search on abstract games, and found Icehouse. It's excellent
(I've made some paper stashes), and makes me think the reviewer
was very dull, as he "didn't get it". Congrats on changing
the face of abstract gaming for the next 100 years!" -- Aaron, of Naperville, Illinois, via email
||NORML Fluxx / Goodbye Gwen
past week, Kristin and I attended the 2002 NORML
Conference, and as usual, it was great. This was the 4th year
we have attended, and each year has been bigger, better and more
encouraging than the one before. Each year the mood gets more
positive, because even though complete victory over prohibition
is still a distant dream, there is no question that we are making
progress. As I heard more than one person observe at this year's
conference, we are gradually winning the hearts and minds of
the public, even though the Bush Administration still operates
on the president's father's attitudes about drug use. But while
they may be called leaders, our elected officials are actually
followers, and as public attitudes about this issue change, so
too will the policy-makers. More and more polls are showing that
fewer and fewer Americans support the idea of arresting peaceful
pot-smokers, and increasingly prominent public figures are speaking
out against the drug war. The tide is turning, and soon (I predict)
there'll be a watershed event (of some sort) that really breaks
this issue open.
Another encouraging thing we heard about at the NORML conference
is the way governments around the world are rejecting the drug
war. Once upon a time, Americans rebelled against tyranny imposed
by England, and fought against fascism over in Germany. Ironically,
German and English stoners are now starting to enjoy more freedom
than are most of the 10-20 million American stoners secretly
living among us. And it sounds like things are really loosening
up in Canada. They've already legalized medical use at the national
level, and soon they may legalize pot outright. I wonder how
that would affect things here?
But while it's always great to hear about progress on this
issue, we had several actual business reasons for attending the
conference this year. For one thing, the trip gave an opportunity
to meet with several people (both in the movement and out) about
possible growth funding options for Looney
continues to be an issue for us... I hate to say this, but we're
looking now at needing to postpone the publication of Nanofictionary
until after Origins.) We also used the occasion to launch a new
11th set of Looney Buttons, which we call "Freedom
vs. Prohibition" and which goes on sale at our online
gift shop starting
the real focus of our discussions on this trip concerned a new
card game we're working on, entitled NORML Fluxx. As you might
expect from the name, NORML Fluxx will be a special edition of
a marijuana theme. I've been thinking for a couple of years about
making up a game for my stoner friends about getting stoned,
but at Toy
Fair it occurred to me that one way to do that would be to
just use the Fluxx engine and change all the Keepers into items
relating to the marijuana-smoking scene.
At the time, I just wrote the ideas down in a notebook. But
a couple of weeks ago, with the NORML conference nearly upon
us, we had the idea of calling it NORML Fluxx and giving them
a cut of the proceeds. We could even devote a card to promoting
NORML's cause, with a membership form on the back to encourage
anyone who buys the game to also join NORML. All of these measures
will hopefully allow us to keep the game focused on ending prohibition
rather than simply "glorifying pot use" (a phrase our
critics will undoubtedly use).
Of course, we recognize that if we publish this, we'll be
sticking our necks out farther than we ever have before. But
we believe that nothing will ever change unless people like us
start sticking our necks out. (Plus of course, we'll be covering
our butts in as many ways as we can think of, including saying
"ages 18 and up" on the box and such like.)
However, we believe the climate is changing and that we won't
be hurt by publishing this. Besides being emboldened by the NORML
conference, we are also encouraged by some market research we've
been doing. We certainly aren't the first to think of publishing
a marijuana-themed game... there are several other entries in
the market, the most successful of which is a long-enduring classic
We went to the Wizards of the Coast store to see if and how Grass
is being sold there, and they have it right out on the showroom
floor, displayed at knee-height no less. We asked the clerks
how well it sells and if they ever get complaints from concerned
parents, and they said it sells great and that they've never
heard a peep. So, we figure it'll be OK. (And if it ain't, well,
there's no such thing as bad publicity, right?)
Also at the NORML conference, Kristin made contact with a
big distributor of goods sold in so-called "headshops,"
these being stores that sell rolling papers and water pipes and
other pieces of equipment supposedly for use in the smoking of
tobacco. Although these places lurk in the shadows of the retail
world, headshops apparently abound... we were amazed to discover
that the number of headshops in America is twice or three times
as big as the number of game stores of the sort where our games
are currently sold. Our hope is that by publishing NORML Fluxx,
we will finally be able to get our games into these outlets (something
we've been trying to do with Aquarius
ever since we published it, with very little success).
Anyway, last week I started making a prototype, and the game
basically invented itself. I'll tell you the list of new Keepers
now, and let you work on thinking up a set of Goals on your own.
NORML Fluxx will feature 4 copies of the Weed Keeper, which is
required by more than half of the Goals; there will also be two
different versions of a Keeper called "A Friend." Then
there are things that go with Weed, like Rolling Papers, the
Pipe, the Bong, and Fire, and finally there are things you want
handy after getting high, like Ice Cream, Pizza, Brownies, Nachos,
and Good Music.
We immediately arranged for some playtesting by our stoner
friends, and they liked it so much we knew we were on the right
track. A few tweaks later, and we had a version worthy of showing
to Keith and Allen, the big cheeses at NORML. Neither of them
have actually played it yet, but they got enough glowing feedback
from others who did play it as to convince them we're "onto
something". And when they saw that we plan to say on the
box "$1 from each deck sold will be donated to the National
Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws" they were,
naturally, ready to give us preliminary approval. (Of course,
we will need to get their official permission on a formal agreement,
and we'll be setting up a meeting with them at their office downtown
just as soon as we (and they) can find the time.) We also have
to figure out how to pay for the initial print-run, but that's
Meanwhile, Alison stayed home to continue working
on the pond
she's building in our backyard. Here you see a giant load of
rocks she had delivered earlier this week. (One of the big-burly-guys-for-hire
had to yank an old fence post out of the ground to get this behemoth
of a machine into the side yard.) The pond is really coming along!
sadder news, the beloved family cat Guinevere has gone away for
that final nap in the sunshine. Gwen was a great little cat,
much beloved by everyone in our family, who reigned supreme at
the house I grew up in for almost 18 years. Although she was
my parent's cat, she was mine once too... I still remember going
with my mom and sister to pick her out from a litter of kittens
at a house in the neighborhood nearby. And it was I who came
up with her name, which reflects my medieval obsessions of that
Here's a picture of me and Gwen, taken back in December 1984,
when I still lived at home. As you can see, Guinevere was the
first cat I had any success in teaching to ride upon my shoulder.
(As you can also see, I wasn't always bald, but I have been wearing
that watch on a chain for a really long time.)
Anyway, we all loved Guinevere and my parents and sister are
in mourning now. As am I.
To close on a happier note, I got to go to see Paul McCartney
in concert this week! Ginohn had an extra ticket they couldn't
sell, so they gave to me. Yay! Thanks Ginohn! It was grand to
see a real Beatle perform, and he did an outstanding job, too.
It exceeded all my expectations. Now go read the GinohnNews
for a much more detailed report!
a Great Week!
- We've been invited to attend Arisia
'03 (a major sci-fi convention in Boston) as Special Guests of
Honor! (As in, all expenses paid! Etc!)
- I'm stunned to learn that Landover Mall is closing its doors.
I suppose it is kind of run down now, but I can still remember
marveling at its opulence 3 decades ago, when it was new and
I was a kid. (Two floors of indoor shopping! With fountains and
sculptures and trees! And it's all indoors! We'd never seen the
||I've really gotten into the History channel.
There's just so much good stuff on it! Never has history been