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I lean back on a camp chair at the top of a big snowy hill, and watch some guy ride down the hill on a bright green plastic sled.

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"I coach for the U.S. Physics Team. One of the students this year brought copies of Fluxx and Chrononauts, which were absolute hits. We found ourselves playing at lunch, at dinner, after dinner (when the students should have been studying and I should have been working!), and before class. I'm amazed I got all my exams graded in time. I'm not amazed that I didn't get enough sleep." -- email from Andrew Lin

Thursday, February 27, 2003
by the Writer's Guild of Wunderland

What's New?

What's Going On? The Blizzard of Toy Fair / The Arrival of Marlene

This has been the snowiest winter we've had in these parts in years. I didn't update this page last week because we were still in New York, snowed in during Toy Fair... and as I work now on this week's update, it's snowing again, adding yet more to the previous layers which have yet to fully melt away.

The blizzard that struck DC last week was just starting when we began driving up to New York City for Toy Fair, and 2 days later, it arrived up there with all the same ferocity. Luckily, we were all moved in and the trade show underway by then, and since the Big Apple is a city that can handle big snowstorms without flinching, they never even had to shut down the event. Even so, the second day of the four day show was nearly frozen out by the 20" of snow that fell out of the sky that day. Since our hotel was very close to the convention center, we had no real trouble getting to the Javit's Center in the snow, and most of our exhibitor peers did likewise; but the buyers and other attendees we were there to see mostly stayed away that day. Still, we did good business at our booth during the other 3 days of the show, and it was fun in its way to have time for once to wander around and look at other companies' booths without feeling like we were missing the chance to meet with someone at our own booth.

I suppose I should have some photos here of amazingly tall snowdrifts, but most of the photos I took last week were of our booth at Toy Fair. As you can see, we decided to adapt our Halloween costumes from last year into a booth uniform, and I think we looked really cool.

Our full-time staff on this expedition consisted of myself, Kristin, Alison, and our newest crew member, Marlene, who's taking over our sales department as of this week. On the right is Alvaro, our free-lance sales associate, who lives in NYC and joined us on the first day of the show. As usual, his gregarious enthusiasm was an inspiration to the rest of us.

Anyway, it turned out to be a fine show despite the snow... in fact, it was kind of fun! By comparison, we had a lot more trouble dealing with the snow when we got back home than we did while in New York.

We're very excited to officially announce that Marlene Bruce (known to my readers as Ember) is now a full time employee of Looney Labs! We have been overworked and in need of help for a long time now, and when the opportunity to hire Mar came along, we took a hard look at our finances and decided that the money is there to hire some help. Few people we know offer the combination of skills Mar brings to the table, and since we've known each other for most of our lives, we know we'll be able to work well together.

I've known Mar since she and my little sister were kids and best friends. Many years later (back in 1995) Kristin hired her to do marketing and graphics work at a new startup called TSI-TelSys which Kristin had just left NASA to help build. They made a great team and had a great time helping to build that company together for just over two years, but when things got tight and the lay-offs began, Mar was let go. (Kristin continued to work there until she jumped off the cliff to work full-time at Looney Labs in early 1999.) Mar moved on and had a series of up-and-down experiences with other start-ups, including most recently a new novelty items manufacturer in California. And when she started talking about moving back home, we brought her on as our part-time webmaster, and started scheming to get her on board full-time.

Beside the good personality fit, Mar is just who we need right now, for many reasons. Her web design expertise (gained working with evolt.org and elsewhere) will be of great usefulness to us as we refine the interfaces and functionality of SuperFRED. Her experiences at UnderOneLeaf.com will be vital as she takes over the sales department. Her background in art and graphics work will be great when she has time to help me create marketing materials, and her Macintosh knowledge will be useful as she helps us in maintaining our network of computers. She even earned a teaching certificate years ago (although never became a teacher) which will be great when we dig in to work on the Educational Ideas section of our web site -- and she's even a drug law reform activist! She's the ideal employee for our hippie game company, and we're thrilled to have her help.

Incidentally, she's also been dating my brother Rash for well over a year, and although they are now separated by the width of our continent, Rash has long-term plans to move back here as well. Mar seems so much like a member of the family already that it just seemed obvious for us to hire her when she decided to move back to Maryland. Welcome aboard, Mar!

AndyHave a great week!

Thought Residue
"This is no simple attempt to defang a villain. No. This coming battle, if it materializes, represents a turning point in U.S. foreign policy and possibly a turning point in the recent history of the world. This nation is about to embark upon the first test of a revolutionary doctrine applied in an extraordinary way at an unfortunate time. The doctrine of preemption -- the idea that the United States or any other nation can legitimately attack a nation that is not imminently threatening but may be threatening in the future -- is a radical new twist on the traditional idea of self-defense." -- Sen. Robert Byrd (D-W.Va.)

"Let there be no doubt about what's happening: The federal government is waging war on American citizens via storm troopers carrying gold federal badges.  They don't give a damn about the law, the sick people who are helped by marijuana or even the concept of guilt or innocence.  They care only about enforcing the edicts of distant kings in Washington, D.C.  In the past, a hardier stock of Americans decided they had had enough of that, staged a rebellion and wrote a Constitution so it would never happen again.  But it is happening again, and the worst part is, this time around most people don't even care... It's becoming more clear every day who the criminals in the war on drugs really are." -- Steve Sebelius, "A War Against The People"
"Art has power. Art unmasks. Art tells lies in the service of truth. (Whereas governments lie in order to conceal truth.)" -- Bernard Weiner, "Artistic Sign Language: Signs of the Coming Bush Fall"


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