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autochthon (oh-'tock-thun) n. one that is autochthonous. pl. form: autochthones (oh-'tock-thun'-ez).
{see autochthonous (oh-'tock-thun-'us) adj.1: indigenous; native. 2: formed or originating in the place where found.} [from Greek auto- "same, self" + chthon "earth."]

Haiku Reviews

Star Wars Episode III: Revenge Of The Sith  :)

Let go of the past.
Search your feelings. Push aside
your expectations.

Tirade's Choice
Unisphere Image from Maps.Google

"I went to my Mom's house on Sunday (Mother's Day) and when I walked in there was a Fluxx deck sitting on the kitchen table, and it had nothing to do with me. Her live-in bought it for her for Mother's Day because a friend told him about it. I'm no demographics expert, but you couldn't hope for more mainstream customers than my Mom and her boyfriend Dave. Video game publishers would literally kill for that kind of mass appeal." -- email from Paul, whom Andy used to work with in the videogame programming biz

Thursday, May 26th, 2005
by the Writer's Guild of Wunderland

What's New?

June 5, 2005

What's Going On? Montreal On My Mind

There are a lot of things I could write about this week. On Saturday we had a big role-playing day, and Alison ran an adventure for our group called Thieves Island, which was particularly cool because of all the special props she created for the game (some of which were quite elaborate... she's been collecting, assembling, and creating props for this game for months). On Sunday the weather was beautiful and we took a geology hike up to Cunningham Falls, in Catoctin Mountain Park. (I tried using a pair of really old hiking boots I found in the closet, and the soles totally came apart on me! Luckily, I'd brought backup shoes.) We've been to see Revenge of the Sith (which I actually really liked) and the Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy movie (which I also thought was mostly excellent). The beta edition of Just Desserts is almost ready to ship, the artwork for Eco-Fluxx is coming along nicely, and our Origins preparations are moving into high gear. The relocation project is crawling along at the speed of ice... we've taken some more stuff over to the new office, but I've only managed to pack 20 more boxes since March. (We're working on hiring some help.) But instead of talking about any of these things, I'm going to yammer about Montreal.

I've officially become obsessed with Montreal. We haven't been back to Canada since our trip to Hamilton in February, but I've been checking it out from afar, and I can't wait to go visit. Here are some of the reasons I've got Montreal on my mind:

  • People keep telling us how great the place is and how much we will like it up there. The most recent time this happened, I was reminded that the Just For Laughs festival, which I've been hearing about for years, is held every year in Montreal. I really like the idea of a city that's known for having a sense of humor.
  • I read an article I really liked in the June 2002 issue of AAA World magazine about "Six cities with a lot going on underground," which describes the Montreal underground network as "An Answer to Canadian Cold and Big City Congestion." I love underground cities... if you've read my book The Empty City, you'll recall that a well-integrated underground network is a vital part of my idea of the perfect city. (The other cities detailed in the article were Seattle, Beijing-China, Edinburgh-Scotland, Cappadocia-Turkey, and the NORAD military base under Cheyenne Mountain in Colorado.)
  • I'm not a sports fan, so I don't share in the joy that many of my fellow Washingtonians do about finally having a baseball team in this city again. (In fact, I found it immediately aggravating, as coverage of the Nationals' first games kept pre-empting the last few new episodes of Star Trek.) Thus, I find it intriguing that our city's new team used to be known as the Montreal Expos. As we contemplate the decision of what city to move to, I'm amused by the idea of trading places, if you will, with the baseball players who just moved from Montreal to DC.
  • I've been having fun looking at places with the satellite photos at Google (see this week's Tirade's Choice) so of course I've been checking out Montreal from above. I'd heard the Biosphere burned down, yet there seems to be something similar in its place at the old Expo fairgrounds... did they rebuild it, or what?

This brings me to the thing that really has me obsessing about Montreal at this time: Expo '67, the world's fair they hosted when I was 3 years old. Unlike all the other world's fairs in history, Expo '67 wasn't torn down when it was supposed to be over, but instead persisted for almost 15 years. After the first year it became known as Man and His World (which was the theme/slogan of Expo '67) and each year it was a little different, with some attractions being closed and others opening in their places.

As Rash describes in the final section of his New York World's Fair memoirs, our family visited Expo '67, and we went again in 1970. Much like my trip to the New York World's Fair in 1965, I was too young to remember anything about Expo '67, but I do vividly recall several things from our visit to Man and His World in 1970. I remember riding around on the wonderful little PeopleMover monorails. I remember visiting the Cryogenics pavilion, and being freaked out by the whole concept. (The images of bodies wrapped in foil being stuck in a freezer really gave me the creeps at the time.) I remember buying a souvenir gold coin from a vending machine, with "Man and His World" written on it in lots of different languages. (I still have it, but it's packed into box #18, so I can't describe it more completely than that just now.) And I remember being at our campground and getting a little toy airplane from inside a box of unusual-because-it-was-Canadian breakfast cereal. And I have other, more hazy memories, just of being amongst the futuristic pavilions and unusual buildings...

Oh, for a time machine! What I wouldn't give to be able to step through a time portal to Expo '67! But just as it was with my obsession over the New York World's Fairs, and indeed, as with any historical fascinations, there are ways to take imaginary time journeys. One way is to visit the site where it all took place, to see what still remains, and I'm still hoping we can take such a trip before Origins (it will depend on how productive we manage to be in the next couple of weeks).

Another great way to take an imaginary journey to a bygone world's fair is by reading a vintage guidebook. It happens that I have an Official Guide to Man and His World, which someone in our family bought for 75 cents in 1970, and I've been getting a big kick out of some of the descriptions it contains. Here are a few selections:

  • Cryogenics: "... in the last room, a film vividly describes the emotions of a man who awakes sometime in the future after having been frozen for a long period." Wow, I wonder if that film is still intact somewhere -- I'd love to see it!
  • Spectrafonia: "Sound becomes visible in this pavilion," it says at the start of the description of what sounds like a wonderfully trippy light show. At the end, "a final room, the 'return to calm', is provided to help bridge the gap between the experience and the world outside."
  • Space: Obviously, they had real space hardware on display in this pavilion, but I'm fascinated by the last part of the exhibit: "The visitor is given a look at the future, through scientific data on mars and prototypes of new space vehicles and life support systems. The 'trip through space' culminates in a room of mirrors where images flash around the visitor from all directions to convey psychedelically the infinity of worlds yet to be discovered."
  • Science Fiction: Again, my favorite part is the description of the ending: "...in the last section, a chill, silent world of metal, the bewildered visitor is directed toward the exit by aluminum robots." I love the assumption that the pavilion would have a "bewildering" effect on all visitors.
  • Strange, Strange World: "The strange, yet fascinating phenomena of the universe -- mysteries as bizarre as UFOs, voodoo dolls, and the Loch Ness Monster -- provide a bewitching presentation on the second floor of this pavilion," where "the unusual is the rule."
  • LSD/Pot: This is the one that really blows my mind. Here's the complete description: "Drugs in contemporary North American society are the theme of this pavilion on Ile Sainte-Helene. The history of drugs is highlighted and the pavilion's objective is to inform and educate, rather than to preach. In a psychedelic atmosphere created through the use of light, sound, and music, visitors observe displays of hallucinogenic drugs and such administering equipment as syringes and pipes. In one of the cells, visitors participate in a simulated drug 'trip'. Legal, medical, and educational approaches to drug use and misuse are explored."

Whoa. Do any of my readers have any memories of this exhibit? I'd love to see a photograph of it! The description makes it sound like actual stoners were on hand to answer the visitors' questions about drugs, much like the international pavilions staffed by visiting natives of other countries. But that's hard to imagine... was it really a trick, then, intended to attract hippies but featuring an anti-drug punch-line at the end? (Perhaps the simulated trip turns out to a bad one...) Who was the sponsor of this exhibit? How long was it featured at Man and His World? It certainly wasn't there during the original year of the fair, and if it was really as pro-drug as it sounds, it seems like it would have been shut down almost immediately after they printed the guidebooks. I asked Rash about it, and he has no memory of it, so I'm guessing it was already gone by the time we arrived, since I can't imagine him not noticing and remembering such a thing. But regardless of how long the exhibit ran, I'm very curious about its history!

There was a time when my family and friends knew that almost any random artifact from the New York World's Fair (which they might find at a yard sale, thrift store, used book store, etc.) would make a great gift for me. Then there came a time when I had so much such stuff that it was no longer a safe bet. Well, let it now be known: I'm starting to collect stuff from Man and His World, and my display case is almost completely empty.

A final thing about Expo '67 that I simply have to mention: the Canadian Pulp and Paper company. They had a beautiful pavilion featuring a "forest" of giant, tall, pyramid-shaped pine trees, seen here in an image I found on Jeffery Stanton's very excellent Expo '67 website. (Visiting his library of pages about the world's fair is yet another way to take an imaginary journey to the past. He has an excellent NYWF site, too.) Could it be that visiting this forest of giant green Icehouse trees, at a very impressionable age, first inspired my life-long obsession with pyramids?

Well, I think I've yammered enough for now...

AndyHave a Great Week, and Thanks for Playing our Games!

Thought Residue
Monorails are really cool, and they're a whole lot cheaper to build than subway tunnels. Once they were seen as the transportation of the future; a monorail was featured at every World's Fair of the 1960s. So why haven't they caught on as a general tool of mass transit? A lot of the visionary ideas for the Future that we dreamed of as kids have come true, but where are the monorails, beside at Vegas and Disneyworld? Unlike jet-packs and flying cars, monorails seem both cool and practical. Why aren't there more monorails?

"How could a board game that advocates sensibility before crime be more harmful than the thousands of video games, toy guns, and warfare games that have killing and war as their main theme?" -- Ivan Solomon, commenting on the decision to ban the Grow Op board game from Toy Fair 2005
"The circle is remarkable for what it doesn't contain: signs or signals telling drivers how fast to go, who has the right-of-way, or how to behave. There are no lane markers or curbs separating street and sidewalk, so it's unclear exactly where the car zone ends and the pedestrian zone begins. To an approaching driver, the intersection is utterly ambiguous - and that's the point. Monderman and I stand in silence by the side of the road a few minutes, watching the stream of motorists, cyclists, and pedestrians make their way through the circle, a giant concrete mixing bowl of transport. Somehow it all works. The drivers slow to gauge the intentions of crossing bicyclists and walkers. Negotiations over right-of-way are made through fleeting eye contact. Remarkably, traffic moves smoothly around the circle with hardly a brake screeching, horn honking, or obscene gesture. 'I love it!' Monderman says at last. 'Pedestrians and cyclists used to avoid this place, but now, as you see, the cars look out for the cyclists, the cyclists look out for the pedestrians, and everyone looks out for each other. You can't expect traffic signs and street markings to encourage that sort of behavior. You have to build it into the design of the road.' It's no surprise that the Dutch, a people renowned for social experimentation in practically every facet of life, have embraced new ideas in traffic management." -- Tom McNichol, Roads Gone Wild

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