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"I first played one of the early versions of Fluxx back in college around '97/'98. I didn't know you guys had made it until around 2003; On a whim, I bought a deck of Chrononauts in a WotC shop while I was stuck in a day-long airport layover with a friend. Chrononauts SAVED our sanity, and later I looked up your website, only to discover that you had also made Fluxx! Thanks, guys!" -- James S of Hamilton, OH


Thursday, May 11th, 2006
Sponsored by Looney Labs

What's New?

Yay! Robin is Here!

This is Robin Vinopal. She's one of my oldest and most trusted friends, she's a multi-talented powerhouse of abilities, and she's fantastically organized and enthusiastic. And as of the start of this week, I'm extremely pleased to say, she's also our new Director of Operations!

Robin has already been working for us for a while now... she signed on as our part-time geek wrangler last year, and has been helping Kristin with all sorts of things around the business. But this week she has walked away from a very well paid high-tech management position at a company half way around the beltway, to pour all her efforts into helping us build this dream we call Looney Labs. And we're all incredibly excited about it!

Robin has an impressive list of professional credentials, but I'm not going to even attempt to summarize them all here. Instead I'm going to reminisce about my long friendship with Robin. I first met her in 1987, shortly after John first created a workable Icehouse game. Robin was there for the first-ever testing of the first draft of the written rules for the original version of the game of Icehouse.

After playing the game numerous times with our regular gaming friends and wanting a fresh audience to test it out with, I arranged a little testing party with a co-worker named Kristin Wunderlich. This was before we were dating, when she was living with a guy named Michael. I'd said I was trying to get a group of 4 together, and I had one friend I was bringing who hadn't seen it before (that was Charles Dickson (also known as Number 12) who I knew from Explorer Post 1275, where John and I had originally become friends). Kristin and Mike made 3, so we needed one other playtester, and you guessed it, Kristin invited her friend from college, Robin.

Since the original Icehouse game is actually pretty tricky, and the first version of the rules are never entirely clear, things got off to a slow start. John and I stood on the sidelines, holding clipboards (and wearing labcoats), observing how well they did at playing the game without providing any help.

Off-putting as that might sound, Kristin was so excited by the whole thing that she started making her own Icehouse set that very night (her's becoming the 3rd one in existence) and ultimately starting Looney Labs (and our predecessor company, Icehouse Games).

And guess who made set #4? That's right, it was Robin! Kristin made a Black and White set of pyramids out of Sculpy, and Robin made one for herself using Kristin's technique, painting it Silver and Gold.

Robin was there for the First International Icehouse Tournament. She was in the finals, and she and Kristin spent many hours at Disclave teaching random people how to play the game, drumming up business for the tournament the next day. (I think it can safely be argued that Kristin is the original Rabbit, and that Robin was Rabbit #2.)

Robin was a bridesmaid when Kristin and I got married. Later, she married Michael (the guy Kristin broke up with before starting to date me). Robin and Mike moved into Kristin's old apartment when Kristin and I moved into Wunderland.Earth. The loft we left behind, which Kristin built in college, saved Michael's life one day, when the ceiling in that apartment collapsed unexpectedly. (We accepted the loft back some years later and it's still in use today at Wunderland.Earth.)

In 1993, when Magic: The Gathering came out and all our friends became instantly obsessed with it, and Greykell held a "come as your favorite Magic card" party, I created matching Doppleganger costumes for Kristin and Robin which were the hit of the party. (As for me, I covered myself with fake vines and called my costume Kudzu.)

Robin was there when I invented Fluxx, being among its earliest playtesters. During the development of Chrononauts, she made suggestions I found specifically useful. (I find in the notes in my Inventor's Notebook that I playtested an early version of Chrononauts with Robin almost exactly 6 years ago, on May 6, 2000. In my log, I list some changes that resulted from that session, describing what we had before as being "way too confusing." I also note that Robin was the first person ever to win by collecting "impossible objects" (which came to be known as Artifacts).)

Robin was there plenty of other times, too. She helped out on one of my last big efforts in Live Action Role-Playing development, a game called Takeover: The Game of Corporate Raiders. Robin's skill with a camera helped inspire me to become a more serious photographer, and she's appeared in many of my photos over the years. We've also had many fascinating conversations during our 2-decade friendship, which have given me important new perspectives on the world. (She's also given both Kristin and I some really cool birthday gifts in years gone by.)

In short, Robin is awesome. We're already know we work well as a team, and she's already been along on some of our greatest adventures. And yet, I have a feeling our best times together are still in the future.

Welcome aboard, Robin! We're incredibly excited to have you with Looney Labs full-time!

AndyThanks for reading, and have a great week!

Thought Residue
It's the little differences (as Vincent Vega said) that make international travel so much fun. Here are a couple of little differences I noticed this time in Canada: 1.) Milk Chocolate with Hazelnuts (a particular favorite of mine) is much more readily available in Canada than in the US. 2.) Those Lipton noodle dinner packets are still available in a flavor called Cheddar and Sour Cream, which I beleive is same recipe as the long discontinued American flavor, Noodles Romanoff. 3.) The new US ten dollar bill is a yucky shade of yellow, whereas the Canadian ten is my favorite color: Purple!

"I am vegephobic. I hate vegetables. They are foul-smelling, foul-tasting, and posessed of a texture that seems scientifically engineered to make me cringe. I recoil at the very thought of having to eat vegetables. In short, vegetables are evil. And I suspect that many of you reading this page feel the same way. Here we are, in the supposedly enlightened 21st Century, where we can buy any number of wondrous artifacts to make our lives easier and more pleasant, and can sue somebody just for looking at us funny. Yet, despite all these advances, we are still bombarded from every direction with the message that we have to eat our vegetables, as though it's some moral duty we must all endure. Well, I'm here to tell you: You don't have to eat vegetables! You can get all the macronutrients you need from grain products, meat products, and dairy products. You can get all the micronutrients you need from vitamin pills. The alleged health benefits of having vegetables in your diet have been grossly exaggerated. The instincive revulsion to eating those icky plants, which most of us have felt from early childhood, is there for a reason." -- Roger M. Wilcox, "Vegetable-Free Living"
"Food items solve crimes." -- capsule description of the Cartoon Network series "Aqua Teen Hunger Force," as provided by our cable box (which for some reason we found hilarious)

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