Puzzlebox

This is a preview of a new puzzle I am working on based on intricate wooden puzzle boxes. If you’ve ever spent hours working on a simple wooden box that your grandpa left lying on a table, after saying “there’s a treat inside”… then you know what it’s like to drive yourself nuts only to discover that it was a tiny, simple panel on the back left corner that was the key to opening the whole thing.

So without any explanation (for now), here are the prototypes for some letter-based puzzles I am presenting at an upcoming L.A. Puzzle Party.

For now, I know it’s a bit of a tease… when I have the completed puzzles — and after the Puzzle Party has happened — I will post them here.

Zumfarter

Asking for a friend…
I mean, designing this game for a friend…

You’ve all been there. The Monday, all-hands company meeting over Zoom. Everyone signs in and turns off their video and mutes their mic. Only, some people forget to mute themselves. Then it happens: the unthinkable. But, isn’t your mic off? You check, and it’s green. You double check on the bluetooth headset. It’s green. You triple check via the Participant drop-down. The mic icon is green.

You panic. You turn it off. You check to see who else had their mic on. A few did! There’s a slim but nonzero hope that no one can narrow it down to you!

Then again, the presenter did pause, clear their throat and say “oh my… tee hee… moving on.” The presentation continues, but you can tell from the heaviness of the atmosphere that something lingers. Nobody is concentrating on the topic. Everyone is looking at panel view, gallery view, trawling Slack for some real time water cooler gossip.

And when the video is disseminated to the team in the morning, everyone will have a permanent record, including that wonderful green border that highlights the quadrant of the attendee whose mic auto-activated… the “Spotlighted Squeaker” you might say.

So what else can you do but make a game out of it?

Below are some preliminary renderings of roles that might make it into the playtest version of “Zumfärter”, which will be a hidden identity game involving players taking clandestine actions while a presenter drones on. Meanwhile, the Management, IT, Slacker and Farter factions scheme to give each other the blame for a business meeting gone awry.

So… Kickstart it?
Eventually someone else is going to have the same experience… I mean someone’s friend is going to have the same experience and rake in the big bucks. So, in the meantime keep an eye out for a playtest copy. I will try to construct several decks and hand them out.

Good Social Distancing

If there’s one thing we can all agree on it’s the value of Social Distancing. Whether you are in a hard-hit area or a region that has thankfully been spared the worst, we must continue to lead by example.

Since you may be getting your guidance from a mish-mash of sources, we have collected several of the important ones here to help you remember the basics:

When outdoors, remember to stay at least 6 feet apart from others.

Adhere to proper etiquette when lining up in queues.

Maintain even spacing whenever possible.

Respect others when purchasing essential supplies.

Patronize local businesses if at all possible.

Observe spacing indicators on floor while shopping.

Wear face coverings and do not overcrowd aisles.

Keep away from areas where distancing is being ignored.

Try not to mix family groups.

Avoid locations with large gatherings of people.

Stay away from Florida.

Mask Making 101

You’ve pulled out all the fabrics from the closet and you’ve done a few curbside deliveries from Jo-Anns and Michaels. Your spools are at the ready and the bobbins are loaded. It’s time to make your first mask.

And time to make a few decisions! Will it be an Olson style mask or a standard surgical? Cotton or poly? Tie straps or elastic bands? And what should your backing material be? Plus, you’ve heard a lot about pocket masks and coffee filters… and who will be the benefactor of your first batch? Family and friends? Or perhaps the local assisted living facility?

Here’s your first piece of advice: Just relax and breathe.

SELF CARE

Before you settle in for an eight- or ten-hour stretch in front of your sewing machine, just take a moment to center yourself and breathe. So much can come from that simple act. Remind yourself what your reasons for starting this project are. Perhaps you have a loved one who asked for a mask and you don’t just want to make one, you want to make as many as you can!

Or perhaps you have seen all the other volunteers posting about taking their sewing supplies out of mothballs and you want to lend your own hand. You might be a crafty person who just happened to be looking for the next big project to keep those artistic juices flowing. In the end, your reasons are your own to savor and simply wanting to help out during this time of need is enough.

Rest assured, we are going to talk about styles and materials and outreach organizations in just a moment, but for now you won’t be any good to anyone if you don’t take a moment for yourself! All good?

MASK STYLE

There are a plethora of options for mask types: surgical, Olson, neckerchief, bandana, biker, and an assortment of undergament-turned-face-covering masks. Which is to say nothing of the much-ballyhooed N95 masks — which wouldn’t be a home project anyway. 

Nevertheless, we will focus on two styles: Olson and Surgical. These two styles are very common, easy to make and most everybody knows them when they see them. Other styles such as neckerchief and bandana are easy enough for people to DIY themselves and bikers already have their own supplies of higher quality masks, so it’s best to focus on the area you can make a difference in.

Also, these two main styles complement each other nicely. Many people who have problems with one are often much more comfortable with the other and vice-versa.

OLSON MASKS

These are the form fitting masks which go over the nose, mouth and chin and snugly follow the contours of the face. Typically they come with a bendable nose piece and heavier elastic straps on the sides. A larger Olson mask will cover the upper bridge of the nose and go well over the chin. Smaller ones might only cover the tip of the nose. And if you are wearing one that is slightly large for your face shape, you might think it’s covering too much, but if it is comfortable, allows breathing and does not have gaps around the edges, it is just fine. 

By that same token, if you are wearing an Olson mask that feels too small, it might simply be that it’s intended to only cover the minimum area of your breathing surfaces. Some people prefer a mask which goes further in either direction while others prefer something that only covers as much as is needed. For your soon-to-be-growing mask supply, feel free to have a variety of sizes in case your recipients express a desire for one over the other, but keep in mind the fact that if a mask is doing its job, it’s doing its job. 

There are more details about Olson masks later, but for now, let’s look at the other style:

SURGICAL MASKS

Also known as “pleated” masks, these are the ones that you may see TV doctors wearing. These are rectangular in shape, with pleats that go lengthwise (left to right) and typically are fitted with tie straps as opposed to elastic bands, although both are seen quite often. 

Surgical masks have the advantage of being able to fit the contour of one’s face due to the pleats which open up upon fitting. Another advantage is the fact that they pull down from the bridge of the nose and allow for “natural” form fitting of the face. 

Whether you have tie straps or elastic really is an independent decision from the style of mask. Tie straps allow for more of a variety of head shapes and sizes, but they also tend to get stuck in hair. Elastic bands don’t impinge upon hair, but they can arguably pull on one’s ears and irritate. Some people alternate between the two styles when choosing what to wear while others stick to one style or the other.

Again, it will be useful to have a variety of tie methods for each style of mask in your collection.

MASK MATERIAL

Picking the material for your masks is perhaps the biggest sticking point for DIY makers. In the early weeks of mask making, much was said about various fabrics. At one point, very specific blends were being bandied about as the optimal mask material, but in the end you cannot go wrong with something we all have lying around: cotton.

Cotton t-shirts, cotton bed sheets and fitted sheets, cotton pillow cases… just make sure it is well-laundered and not threadbare. One measure of a fabric’s suitability for masks has been the “hold it up to the light” test. This test still holds water! If you hold a material up to a light and you can easily see through it, perhaps you should choose a denser cotton. This is a very subjective test, however. You are not striving for zero translucence. Be fair in your assessment of the fabric. And consider the fact that you will have two layers (the outer fabric and the backing fabric), so the combined 2-ply is what you essentially want to be testing.

As an alternative to cotton, you can use cotton-poly blend, denim or chiffon, but an exhaustive list would be pointless since you probably have plenty of cotton at hand. Additionally, the outer layer and the backing layer can be of either material, so feel free to experiment with combinations that are pleasing to you and (most likely) your recipients.

MASK PATTERN AND INSTRUCTIONS

Just like cooking and computing, let’s leave this to the experts! A quick search of the internet will yield any number of well-reviewed mask patterns, instructions and how-tos. Here are just a couple to get you started. I recommend you follow them to a T before you start down your own road of variety and exploration.

Olson style:  https://www.avera.org/app/files/public/76443/Olson-Mask-with-Pattern.pdf

Surgical style:  https://www.nytimes.com/article/how-to-make-face-mask-coronavirus.html

POCKETED MASKS

Pocketed masks add an even greater level of protection to the apparatus, but they extend the construction time as much as three-fold. Basically, they allow for the user to insert a filter material in between the outer and inner layers of the mask’s fabric. This filtering material is typically a finer mesh than the cotton and the idea is that this layer will collect the brunt of the particles coming in or out. These are not necessarily disease or infectious particles, but simply those airborne particles we all exhale and inhale which cause masks to build up and soil. With the introduction of a removable filtering layer, your mask has a longer life between washings because you can just dispose of the filter.

Common filter materials include:  Hepa filters, vacuum bag and furnace lining, carbon filters, paper towels, coffee filters and shop towels. However, since the whole point is to make the filter bear the brunt, it would make sense to focus on easily replaceable materials. In tests, coffee filters and paper towels were just as effective as vacuum liners and expensive Hepas, so there’s no reason to go ripping your appliances apart!

WHERE TO DONATE

Finally, where do you want to offer your generously hand-made masks? Just like we started at the beginning, focus on yourself first. Make a mask that you enjoy looking at, are happy to wear and will proudly don in public. The most important thing is to get the word out that it is ok and, in fact, important to wear face coverings while the spread of Covid-19 is still in full effect. If you are the last one at your grocery store wearing one (apart from the workers, let’s hope!), then I’d say “mission accomplished!”

After you have one or two for yourself, make sure loved ones are well-stocked. Look into your local service groups or churches, if you have connections there, and also assisted living facilities in the area. Additionally, there are many medical facilities which are still looking for donations. Please be aware, however, that there are guidelines that need to be followed for any masks you donate to these facilities. And finally, make a point to look into areas of the community which are hard hit and who do not have an infrastructure that readily lends itself to sewing and outreach. There are numerous regions, many perhaps not local to you, that are in need of masks even if your immediate area is not.

Below are a number of websites currently asking for mask donations, but you can also do your own homework and search Google for reputable organizations accepting mask donations. 

Whatever you do, do it with love, and do it from a place of generosity. If you feel that you are not of a mind to accept payment, then don’t. But if you get repeated requests to donate supplies or give to a fund, consider doing that on occasion. It is entirely possible to get so focussed on a selfless act that you don’t even realize you have worked yourself to the bone and are, in fact, losing money you didn’t realize. It would be a shame to find yourself regretting all your hard work when an offer of a few dollars for supplies is exactly the way in which your mask-recipient wants to say “thanks.”

Happy mask making!

https://www.deaconess.com/How-to-make-a-Face-Mask/Mask-Donations

https://seedingsovereignty.org/mask-drive

https://www.nndoh.org/donate.html

https://www.kennedykrieger.org/coronavirus/donate-masks

https://www.orlandohealth.com/covid-19/donations-with-locations#/

Move along; there are no games here.

This whole week of civil unrest is weighing on me. It was a powder keg waiting to go off and I sincerely hope we see substantive change as a result. As an American in 2020, I’m trying to do my part to slow the spread of Covid-19 out there while also trying to quell the spread of horrible misinformation on the internet when I find it.

Of course what I’d rather be doing is designing games and puzzles! But there’s no puzzle to be made from all this unrest. And any game ideas I have can easily be held until things settle down.

Yet my puzzle constructor brain won’t shut down. I see the game inside so many of these events in the news. I feel like Ed Harris in Westworld methodically scalping robots amid the insanity, looking for some higher meta-puzzle. Except that he was clearly evil (I’m not spoiling anything there… it’s Ed Harris, people!).

So I wont make a game from what I see in the news, but I nonetheless see a lot of games playing out. After all, it takes a gamer to know a gamer… or a player to know a player.

  1. SCRABBLE
    Talking crap about an area of the Scrabble board so that your opponent focusses there and plays right into your hands.

    In the real world, I saw it play out in the news and on Twitter the other day. The real troublemakers post “ideas” for general areas of the city in which to protest. This gets protesters together on a similar page. The instigators throw out names of streets and parks in the area. Unsuspecting protesters indicate a few preferences. Those controlling the game then nudge the fired-up parties toward nearby areas with upscale stores. Internet-savvy looters send out an updated rendezvous location and time. They get their cars together while many other opportunist looters simply show up with no coordinated planning. If and when protesters show up, the two schools of looters blend into the crowd, they guide them toward the intended stores if they can, loot and escape under the cover of civil demonstration.

    From my estimation, the above happened almost verbatim yesterday (June 1, 2020) in Van Nuys.

    This is no indictment of the protestors. In a time of unrest and grassroots energy, it’s easy to get caught up in the moment. It’s easy to forget to check sources. Unfortunately, in this media dominated arena, the message that somehow comes across all too often is that there are some bad people out there you should be afraid of… and then unscrupulous propaganda machines use that to their own ends.
  2. Diplomacy
    Setting up a skirmish with an opponent on one of your fronts on the map board and then running to other players complaining of oppression to get their sympathy.

    Perhaps you saw scenes of the homeless man in Austin whose mattress was supposedly set on fire the other day by protesters. There was an online war sparked by alt-righters saying it was an indictment of the protest, and then a response from the other side insisting it was the right wingers who staged the whole incident.

    I have my doubts that it was legit. And at any rate it was used as a tool to sow division. This happens way more than we think. And in the end I’m willing to bet that the people who always seem willing to bandy about the “crisis actors” claim are in fact using that term because A) they devised that term, and B) they use that tactic themselves.
  3. Stratego
    Pulling a trusty high-strength attack piece back, hoping your opponent forgets which one is which so you can spring it on them later.

    There’s no doubt that the police department takes care of its own. When an officer gets too much heat on them, they seldom remove them or retire them. Instead, they pull them back from the public eye and they let people forget. It has also come to light that there are somewhat arbitrary and premature end dates on their databases of complaints alleged against their ranks.

    The system clearly needs more oversight, but do you know the name of the oversight board for law enforcement? Or how many there are? I looked it up. There are purportedly a lot of them, but none of them are on the tip of our tongues to be sure. Wouldn’t it be nice if you heard from them once in a while, as opposed to the old “Rest assured it’s being reviewed by Internal Affairs” chestnut.

    One the other hand I applaud the fact that we see body cam footage much more these days than we used to. I’m honestly impressed by how quickly that was adopted and (often times) how quickly the footage is made public. We need more of that.

  4. One Night Werewolf
    Creating a problem (dead villagers, usually), waiting until the townspeople are in a frenzy and then swooping in to be the voice of reason when in fact you are one of the werewolves.

    Let’s see if I can think of some examples:
    – Letting a pandemic get worse so that you can try to be the governmental savior?
    – Creating and/or allowing unfounded information to flourish so that you can come in and “clear things up once and for all”?
    – Letting someone do your dirty work and then firing them?
    – Blaming others from something you did and then finding a scapegoat?
    – Dropping hints and speculation just to see which way the wind blows so you can side with your voting constituents?

    Okay. This one I’m just gonna call out straight away. We have an orange werewolf in the White House.

Inner Sleeve Bingo

Bingo albums

What do Led Zeppelin, George Carlin, the J Geils Band, and Yes have in common?

Apart from sharing the same label (Atlantic) at one point and being in my vynil collection, they all appeared on the same inner sleeve. Remember those printed ads for Decca and RCA and ATCO on the inner sleeves of album jackets?

First off, do you remember vynil albums? Ok good.

Some of us may remember that back before the 80s the inner sleeves didn’t have lyrics. They didn’t even have weird unrelated art that the amateur photographer sister-in-law of the bass player somehow managed to get the band to use even though it barely relates to the album’s theme. Nope, they either had crappy plastic inner sleeves that scrunched up when you slid them back in, or else they had a paper ad like this one here…

Man of La Mancha sleeve
Hawaii Tattoo… perhaps it’s bagpipers wearing leis.

I used to be annoyed by them. I mean, who is Robertino? And is there really enough of him to warrant a ‘Best Of’? Does Roger Williams really remember me? You don’t have to be Jewish? (to what?) Shani Wallis is a Girl? Bobby Helms is the Man? Burt Bacharach is the Man?

Actually, Burt Bacharach IS the Man!

Mystery photo
Can you guess the mystery photo?

One thing I did love was the smell of those thin, aging paper sleeves. Nothing like it! If I worked at a winery I would probably design an oaked chardonnay just so that I could give it tasting notes like: “The nose opens with notes of cardamom, currants, barn loft hay, and 60s record sleeves.

Sleeves are a lost art. I remember one of my favorite albums of childhood was Roberta Flack’s “Killing Me Softly” simply because it had a piano-shaped gatefold outer jacket. A piano-shaped jacket!

Roberta Flack
Atlantic, softly killing it with this packaging

And while we are on the topic of sleeves (and before I make them into a game… like I do), does anyone know how many of my records are missing inner sleeves! Half of them! It’s a travesty! Who’s collection did these come from? Oh, right: my parents. That explains all the first edition Beatles and Nazz. But if it weren’t for their Nazzes (Nazzi?) I would have never discovered Todd Rundgren! But hello, it’s me the Gamurgist, so let’s…

FIND THE GAME IN VYNIL ALBUM INNER SLEEVES

Bingo sleeve 2
Yes! Songs!

Grab one of those old inner sleeves with the advertisements, like the one pictured here. Pick one with sixteen albums on it, if possible. If you don’t have one, feel free to use any of the examples at the end of this article. Then grab a handful of marbles or pennies or, better yet, those plastic, yellow 45 adapters and let’s play some bingo!

Now, go look through your collection and put a marker down for any of them you own. If noone playing wins, feel free to widen the rules to include ANY album by the band pictured. If that fails, move on to solo albums. But if you try using cassettes or CDs I will come over there and slap the Divine Miss M right out of your Sticky Fingers!

Bingo sleeve 2 played
Sorry, I only own one adapter. You’d be surprised have few singles require them!

So, where was I? Well, I own Yes, the Bee Gees, Zep, J Geils, ELP, CSNY (and CSN, SNY, CS, Y, CSI:NY) and of course the Rolling Stones. But none of them give me a bloody bingo!

You get the idea.

If you win a bingo on any horizontal, vertical or diagonal line, send me a photo of your winning sleeve. The sample bingo boards below should give you hours of playtime, depending on how large your collection (or memory) is. In the collection of bingo cards below I’ve included some large boards, several small boards, and maybe one fake board if you can figure out which one that is. Also, let me know if you figure out what the Mystery Photo is.


Situquations

Below is a puzzle I presented at the January 2018 L.A. Puzzle Party. Looking back I would say it is Difficulty Level: HARD.

Situquations sample

Some say the worst thing about sitcoms is that they are too formulaic. Let’s test that! Take a moment to print out the two PDFs linked below.

You will see that I have written out a bunch of EQUATIONS that represent either the Title or Plot (or else the major plot point of famous Episode) of two dozen of the most famous sitcoms. Just like in math, these equations feature several variables. Wherever you see a LETTER in an equation, it refers to the name of a major character in the show (either their first or last name, whichever is more recognizable). Likewise wherever you see a box  in an equation it refers to one of the ICONS you see on the page (ie. the icon will go in the box). Both LETTERS and ICONS are constant and wherever you see them they have the same numerical value. Note: the character name MAY BE DIFFERENT from show to show, but it will have the same value no matter which equation it is in.

Here is an example:

In the example above, “E” refers both to “Earl” (in the first equation) and to “Enough” (in the second) but in both cases it has a value of 8. Solving for E, you will find that the “Hello” icon is likewise 8! Where possible, I have given artistic hints for the tougher equations. Once you have all the ICON and LETTER values, move on to page 2 for the hilarous conclusion to this week’s laugh-filled episode.

Instructions for Page 2 are included in the printout.

Once you have the final answer, contact me to see if you have it right!

Situquations Page 1

Situquations Page 2

Game Report: “Hunt Someone Playing Hunt a Killer”

There’s a new game out there that you’ll probably kill someone just to play!

May 26, 2020 (Note: This is part of the Humurugy series of satirical posts.)

You’ve probably seen ads for Game Boxes and Mystery Crates filling up your Facebook feeds for months now. Since the pandemic hit it seems like every game designer in the market is offering a mail order Sherlock Holmes-style puzzle, tailor made to keep your kids busy ripping open envelopes and your family busy unfolding old-timey maps.

Ha, maps! Remember those?

Well, the already crowded play-at-home mystery game genre has a new entry… and we bet you’d kill someone just to play it! The makers of the game-in-a-box assassination game “Hunt a Killer” already had a hit on their hands with the popular “Hunt a Killer” gamebox in which voracious stuck-at-home gamers get to experience the thrill of hunting down a fictional murderer through a series of insidious clues and riddle-stuffed envelopes.

But the successful Baltimore, MD publishers were not satisfied to rest on their laurels. This week, the label announced the coming release of their new entry in the burgeoning genre: “Hunt Someone Playing Hunt a Killer.”

Hunt a Killer Hunter
Imagine picking off this clueless first-time gamer before he even finishes his unboxing!

Capitalizing on their initial game-in-a-box blockbuster, this new offering from Hunt a Killer LLC allows players to blur the lines between reality and gaming even more. In their new take on the genre, players who purchase the game will receive a kit, delivered to their home, which contains all the clues, suspects and tools to engage in a hunt for a real player of a pseudo-real game of hunting an imaginary killer.

Your adventure begins when you open the box and meet your unsuspecting victim and fellow game enthusiast. The “contents drop” will reveal several pieces of photographic evidence, a cornucopia of personal information, and a list of the hunter’s crimes. In addition, there are intimate photos, non-non-identifying data and crimes for the hunter’s fictitious killer, which you can just throw away.

Your content drop
We actually wont give you any of this crap. Just the email, facebook id and social security number of the “Hunt a Killer” player.

As you dig through the enclosed materials, you will in short time find yourself immersed in a world of detective work, deduction and doxing. Every turn could bring you closer to your unwitting prey or down myriad rabbit holes, including other killers, other hunters or even just players who gave the publishers bad Yelp reviews.

When you finally narrow in on your prey, the adrenaline will rush through your body as you gain valuable proof you are on the right track, including street addresses, family members and access to the killer-hunter’s private home webcams.

Although the game’s victory options vary from entering your winning time on the leader board to posting the unsuspecting victim’s financial data on the Dark Web to SWATting, in then end, what you do with your quarry is completely up to you!

Hunt a Killer Hunter sequels
Sequels include “Kill a Hunter”, and a yet-to-be-named version.

Hunt a Killer, founded in Baltimore, Maryland in 2016, has found great success with its pioneering game-from-the-confort-of-your-own-home business model, and even more success with it’s prey-on-your-own-customers’-naïveté business model. In the coming months, the company plans to widen its array of products with even more self-cannibalizing games and has announced the following titles scheduled for later in 2020:

  • “Hunt Someone Playing Hunt Someone Playing Hunt a Killer”
  • “Hunt Someone Hunting You While You Continue Solving a Pointless Fictional Killer Game”
  • “Hunt Someone Playing Hunt a Killer Legacy”, and
  • “Just Kill!”, which comes in both Co-op and Solo modes.

-g

In Which I Turn My First Blog Entry Into a Game

You are Spider-man!

The other day I was thinking about how I haven’t posted on my blog in a long time. Blog. It sounds funny to say it.

Blog.

It’s short for “web log”, a thing I forget and then remember every time Iook it up, kind of like how I have to remind myself that the Dakotas are east of Montana, not below Montana (just double-checked, yup that’s where they are alright!).

Side note:  Blog is not, apparently, short for “blogosphere” — at least not any more than ATM is short for “atmosphere.” 

And for those more than a year-and-a-half older than me or a year-and-a-half younger than me, blogging was all the rage… for about three years. Anyone blogging before that was updating their unread GoDaddy webpage. Anyone doing it after that was just stalling while they waited for one of their East Coast college friends to gift them an unused Facebook invite. Was I the only one whose friends kept sending them expired Facebook invites? Anyway…

For a brief, shining three years, give or take :D, from 2004 to 2006, blogs certainly sort of definitely maybe existed. I guess I have my doubts because accessing my old Live Journal account is like requesting a home loan while wearing an overcoat and being three babies on each others’ shoulders… there are a lot of security questions, proving who you are, and peering.

But after several attempts, I got in and was able to see my very first blog post. Here is it in all it’s unedited glory:

“Currently moving over to LiveJournal. Pardon the construction. In the meantime… your results: You are Spider-Man. You are intelligent, witty, a bit geeky and have great power and responsibility.” (click to take the test again!)

I guess I was moving over from maybe Blogspot? Blogger? I seem to recall that my previous content — prior to this beauty of a first post —  was mostly game related. Perhaps some of my best material, but lost to the sands of time. And before that my content was comprised of pretentious ramblings on AOL. Like you do.

And, perhaps we should be thankful that social media is limited to 40 or 140 characters… or to a six second video. Although a staged reading of my pre-2000 AOL Hometown pages would be must-see community theater if I do say so myself. And all of it does exist on a thumb drive somewhere.

Side note:  Does anyone know if you can just give those VHS & DVD converter services — the ones you see on fliers taped to telephone poles — an, I don’t know, ziplock bag full of USB drives and tell them to throw it all up on Google Drive? Asking for a friend.

Or better yet, can we make our first, embarrassing blog posts into a game?

Introducing the “Predictive First Blog Post Game”…

  1. Guess at what platform you first blogged on.
  2. Remember the name of your first girlfriend or first car you owned.
  3. Log into the oldest email service you can recall using.
  4. Fat-finger a few wrong passwords, then give up and reset it.
  5. Scroll way Way WAY back to your first blog post.
  6. Read it. Laugh. (Grammarly doesn’t sound so stupid now, does it!)
  7. Open a new text doc.
  8. Type the first few words of your nascent post and then let predictive text complete the post for you.

Yup. I didn’t invent the predictive text game, but I sure may have discovered what it was meant for. Here’s what mine turned into (original post’s first words in CAPS):

CURRENTLY MOVING OVER TO theater is a great place for kids and family and we can wine or dinner and the food was good but we had a great experience and the service is excellent game to play like this app facebook or facebook facebook or facebook facebook facebook or…

Cool. I like facebook and food. Checks out. But what happens if I try it with a slightly older device that has several years rather than just a couple months of predictive content to go off of.

CURRENTLY MOVING OVER TO a new home next week and I’ll probably go to the store to get some stuff for my moms house and then I’ll drop off the kids and I can do them a few times before… 

Okay, that went south pretty quick. Here. Let’s try it again but this time using my grandmother’s 10 years old old first generation iPad.

CURRENTLY MOVING OVER TO the best of the day and I love you so much after a long time ago when he said a thing better about myself and friends.

Aw. So sweet! We make a good team. But let’s throw a curveball at this predictive text by looking at Trump’s first post on twitter which was back in 2009:

“Be sure to tune in and watch Donald Trump on Late Night with David Letterman as he presents the Top Ten List tonight!”

Using my iPad’s predictive test that becomes:

BE SURE TO TUNE IN AND WATCH DONALD TRUMP card is a great idea and we had a good time and it’s the day you were thinking of going back into a game of a game and a couple days of fun.

Harmless. I like a good trump card game it would seem! Now, let’s see what my grandmother’s sweet words have to say:

BE SURE TO TUNE IN AND WATCH DONALD TRUMP is the best thing ever to have happened in my life and I love it so hard…

And it went south again. Some things are better left unknown. 

But I would definitely love to know what YOUR first blog post was and I would especially love to see what your post turns into when you predictive text it. Share them on your own blog or on FB or wherever (as of this moment I don’t have comments turned on for this site).

As a special reward for getting this far, I have included below my predictive text for first blog posts of Katy Perry, Billie Eilish, John Green, and Gary Gygax.

– – –

My version of Katy Perry’s first blog post:

NOT BATTERY OPERATED I was a great game a good app to play the games on the way home from my local theatre people and the other people who have a lot to choose.

The original:

NOT BATTERY OPERATED! I am a real person! HA!
Me and my little kittehnnnz first video blog about UR SO GAY! 😛 

– – –

Teen lit author John Green:

THE REINVIGORATED JOHN GREEN BOOKS has always been the perfect way to share your beautiful face and memories and your doorstep and your address and your name on the table.

Original:

THE REINVIGORATED JOHN GREEN BOOKS-dot-com contains all of the questions and answers you need for your book report, trivia night, or recreational dossier.

– – –

My version of Gary Gygax’s first column in TSR newsletter, 1975:

THE STRATEGIC REVIEW is the best way to get to the q&a app and the new one place to get the best of experience with a great game and it would totally make the best game of all time the games i have been the most interesting thing to do this is amazing and it’s fun. 

The original:

THE STRATEGIC REVIEW is the newsletter of Tactical Studies Rules which will quite naturally be used to carry advertisements for all of TSR’s product line.

– – –

Billie Eilish’s first tweet:

THIS IS THE ARTWORK FOR BILLIE’S debut album “WHEN WE ALL FALL ASLEEP, WHERE DO WE GO?”. The new single is out tomorrow at 9am PT.

My version:

THIS IS THE ARTWORK FOR BILLIE’S we are both in love with the new fabric choices and we are making them look like they are all together for the best ones. 

– – –

So it appears I like games, theater, food, fabric, doorsteps and beautiful faces. Again, it checks out!

Post-Pandemic Theatre

Sample Night of Fun
A sample reopening night of fun.

This has been quite a year for theatre people… and it’s not even half way over.

I’m a Scenic Designer and when the coronavirus hit I had three shows in their first or second week of performances. Plus, I was working on the next one in the scene shop. I don’t even know if any of the sets are still there, honestly. I know only a handful of performances happened.

Undaunted, I started mulling over how the eventual reopening would play out. The possibilities seemed to be changing almost every day for that first month (March?). But I got together with other creatives in those first weeks and we brainstormed.

The result is the PowerPoint/Google Slides document below (or click here).

I have put together some ideas regarding how theaters can open up with content when the Coronavirus lockdown eases up. The file represents the opinions and thoughts of the author only, and not those of any person or any theatre implied either explicitly or implicitly within.