Monday, July 28, 2008

#73: Bumparena

  • designer: Forrest-Pruzan Creative
  • publisher: Cranium
  • date: 2005
  • BoardGameGeek rank/rating: 3359/5.73
  • age: 7+
  • # of players: 2-4
  • print status: in print
  • cost: $11.30 (Amazon)
My first reaction to Bumparena on taking it out of the box was "how in the heck did they figure out how to build it so it would fit back in there?" (Which, btw, it does.) My second reaction was "how are they able to set this low a price point with all this custom plastic work?"

When I actually played the game, I found a silly but enjoyable game that reminded me a bit of the old Ideal game, Avalanche, and a game of Pachinko that you could manipulate. Players take turns drawing a card & then playing a card from their hand to manipulate the layout of the sloped board - adding bumpers & (rubber) balls as well as re-orienting pieces that are already on the board. Some of the cards in the deck are what we here at the Jackson house call "release the hounds" cards - whoever drew the card gets to let the down the gates & let the balls fall through the maze & into the scoring bins at the bottom. Players score one point for each ball that falls into their bin - first to seven wins.

One of the odd choices with the game that works well with kids but actually reduces the tactical level is the use of rubber bouncy balls (again, custom-made for Cranium) - there's a lot of ricocheting & bouncing going on that sometimes completely negates any thoughtful placement of barriers. It might be more tactical with hard marbles - but probably less "fun." Another odd but understandable choice is that the game works best with 2 players (using the yellow triangle shown above to block the center scoring area) or 3 players (with all three scoring areas). Four players is a partnership game - sort of - that's much less successful.

This is NOT rocket science - but it's a lot of fun and can often be found for great prices (we bought a number of copies for party gifts last year when Toys'R'Us was blowing them out at $7.00.)

Sunday, July 27, 2008

#74: Au Backe!

Au Backe!
  • designer: Frank Nestel
  • publisher: Zoch Verlag
  • date: 2001
  • BoardGameGeek rank/rating: 2508/6.18
  • age: 5+
  • # of players: 2-6
  • print status: in print
  • cost: $10.00 (Game Surplus)
Frank Nestel (who is, btw, the "Frank" of the noted independent game publishers, Doris & Frank) claims that Au Backe! was designed as the card game version of Chicken Cha Cha Cha - and yes, you'll see CCCC later in the countdown.

Still, Au Backe! is a good game in its own right - and it doesn't hurt that it has Doris' wonderful artwork. There is a special deck of cards spread out face down in the middle of the table: most of them have animals on them, but a couple of them have piles of poop & a couple of them have shovels. The players are dealt a hand of five cards (all animals) from the common deck and a pile of cards which varies in size with the number of players.

On your turn, you reveal one (or more, if they are identical) cards from your hand, then turn over one of the cards in the center of the table. If they match, you get to discard the cards you revealed & reveal another card from your hand. If they don't match, your turn is over & your card(s) return to your hand. When your turn is over, you refill your hand to five cards from the pile in front of you.

Of course, if you find a pile of poop, that's bad. You are allowed to turn over one more card: turning over a shovel negates the effect of the poop, turning over an animal means you must take 2 cards from another player... and turning over the other poop means you must take 4 cards from another player! (Once a player has "stepped in it", so to speak, all of the cards turned face up that turn are mixed together and randomly placed.)

It's a very portable memory game that works well with 2-6 players... this is one of those "I'm not sure why I like it so much but I do" kind of games.

Saturday, July 26, 2008

Hard To Believe

July 25, 2003 - my first day on staff here at NewLife Community Church. (Which means that this weekend marks 5 years of ministry here - pretty cool, eh?!)

Straight Outta San Diego: TR2N!

The following comes from Jim Hill Media:

As the "Race to Witch Mountain" panel ended yesterday at Comic-Con, 6,500 people got to their feet. As these folks made ready to head back into the San Diego Convention Center, that panel's MC hurried back onstage. Saying "Stay in your seats please. We have something else to show you folks. Something that won't be in theaters for another year or so."

And then the house lights went down again. The Walt Disney Pictures appeared on the screen, then quickly faded to black. A very familiar sort of black.

And then -- as muted neon-like lines of color appeared on the distant black-marble horizon -- a gasp went up in Hall H. It couldn't ... It can't be ... Tron 2?!

But that's what it was, folks. Three minutes of CG goodness. Showing two lightcycles zooming across a seemingly infinite game grid. Of course, this being 2008 rather than 1982 ... The game has changed somewhat over the past 26 years. Now players can race across different levels of the same terrain, using spiral ramps up or down in an attempt to gain an advantage over their opponents.

And as for the lightcycles themselves ... They were very reminiscent to the bikes seen in the original Steve Lisberger film. Only bigger and meaner-looking. Which -- given the way that these two vehicles battered against one other as they raced across the course, sending showers of blue & yellow sparks flying everywhere -- only seemed appropriate.

Yeah, this was definitely not your Daddy's "Tron." As was apparent by the appearance of first a grey, bearded version of Flynn (Jeff Bridges). Who was holed up in this austere furturistic penthouse which overlooked the game grid. This was then followed by the appearance of a much younger looking CG Flynn. Who -- as the injured lightcycle rider lay crumpled at Flynn's feet said "Hey, it's only a game" -- he powered up his energy disk and then said "Not anymore." And as this CG Flynn moved in for the kill, the "TR2N" logo formed onscreen.

And at that point, the crowd in Hall H went absolutely nuts.

Oh, man, how many hours did I pour into that videogame...

Friday, July 25, 2008

No, I'm Not Cynical

OK, maybe a little.

Send a JibJab Sendables® eCard Today!

Thanks to Nashbabe for reminding me this was out there in the zeitgeist.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Post #600: "Blasts from the Past"

Here's Liz & I back in 1971... I'm seven years old (the same age as Braeden). Clearly, his mother dresses him better than mine did. :-)

And here I am showing my incredible athletic prowess back in 1967... I'm three years old (the same age as Collin.)

Monday, July 21, 2008

Framing the Conversation: My Atheist Friend Has It Right

Jonathan & I do NOT see eye-to-eye on spiritual issues... I'm not even sure sometimes we're looking at the same thing! However, he's a good friend & a blast to play games with ("take your turn already, Degann!") and he's been known to say wise things, like the following about news coverage:
When I read a newspaper article about a subject I know nothing about, I think: "hey, this is interesting; I learned something." When I read an article in the same newspaper about a subject I know a lot about, I think: "This article is filled with lies and misconceptions, and the reporter doesn't know what he's talking about."
Which brings us to today's edition of "Framing the Conversation"... in which I send you bouncing about the web, looking at the fair & balanced (cough, hack, cough) coverage of the issues surrounding same-sex marriage. Actually, you won't bounce so much as you will land at, a site that does a fantastic job of examining media coverage of issues of spiritual significance.

Cruising For Critical Coverage

That story ran almost four years after New York Times public editor Daniel Okrent eviscerated his paper’s handling of the same-sex marriage issue. I’ll repost a few paragraphs:

But for those who also believe the news pages cannot retain their credibility unless all aspects of an issue are subject to robust examination, it’s disappointing to see The Times present the social and cultural aspects of same-sex marriage in a tone that approaches cheerleading. So far this year, front-page headlines have told me that ”For Children of Gays, Marriage Brings Joy” (March 19); that the family of ”Two Fathers, With One Happy to Stay at Home” (Jan. 12) is a new archetype; and that ”Gay Couples Seek Unions in God’s Eyes” (Jan. 30). I’ve learned where gay couples go to celebrate their marriages; I’ve met gay couples picking out bridal dresses; I’ve been introduced to couples who have been together for decades and have now sanctified their vows in Canada, couples who have successfully integrated the world of competitive ballroom dancing, couples whose lives are the platonic model of suburban stability.

Every one of these articles was perfectly legitimate. Cumulatively, though, they would make a very effective ad campaign for the gay marriage cause. You wouldn’t even need the articles: run the headlines over the invariably sunny pictures of invariably happy people that ran with most of these pieces, and you’d have the makings of a life insurance commercial.

It goes one from there. Anyway, I thought of Okrent’s words when I read a piece in the Times yesterday that presented, as he put it, the “social and cultural aspects of same-sex marriage in a tone that approaches cheerleading.” Apparently the Times doesn’t care to look at the same-sex marriage issue in any different way.
Holy Matrimony from Cana to California

But even so, the vast majority of churches in the region limit the role of gays and lesbians. Only one mainline Protestant denomination - the United Church of Christ, which ordained Johnson - marries homosexual couples with the same rite used for heterosexual couples. And the number of churches friendly to gays and lesbians is much lower than the number of Catholic, evangelical or other conservative Christian churches in the region.

So while liberal churches helped change the state, the state now has a far more liberal view of same-sex marriage. Flat-out opposition has come from evangelicals and the state’s Catholic leaders - including San Francisco Archbishop George Niederauer and Oakland Bishop Allen Vigneron. Joint support for a November ballot initiative seeking a constitutional amendment that will codify marriage as between one man and one woman will probably come from them.

In case the language wasn’t clear enough, the bad people “limit,” “flat-out oppose” and aren’t “friendly” to gays. The good churches “help change” the state’s views on same-sex marriage, ordain and marry homosexuals and condone homosexuality. And that bizarre last sentence is conditional and passive why?

A barely there, skinny 19-point margin
There are four paragraphs of narrative before we get to the numbers:

Either way, the poll suggests the outcome of the proposed amendment is far from certain. Overall, it was leading 54% to 35% among registered voters.

Yes, you read that right. In the Los Angeles Times newsroom, 19 percentage points constitute slim, narrow, bare majorities. Gosh, I wonder how the story would be played if the opposite results were found. I know, as Barbie says, that math is hard. But this is truly inexcusable and the Times’ cheerleading in support of same-sex marriage is anything but journalism.

As you're trying to have a rational & reasonable conversation about all these difficult & controversial issues, please remember that the tone in the media is patronizing towards folks with more traditional views - and that the tone they set sometimes affects your viewpoint.

Time To Start Planning That WDW Trip

I grew up going to Disneyland once a year... and sometimes, when things were a bit tighter financially, once every couple of years. For those of you scattered across the country, that may seem like a pretty regular schedule - but we lived about 15 minutes from Disneyland.

One of the good things about this extended schedule is that it kept the park "fresh" for me - every time I went, there was something new to see, another area to explore I hadn't taken time with before. The thought of having an Annual Pass to the parks seems downright decadent to me.

Since we moved to California, we've been to the Disneyland Resort twice with the boys: once in 2003 with Braeden & last year (2007) with both of them. In our minds, we'll probably wait another 3-4 years before doing another Disney trip...

...and when we do, we'd like to hop a plane & go to Walt Disney World - in 2011, the boys will be 10 & 6, almost perfect ages to enjoy the vast majority of the rides & attractions.

So, why am I writing about this today? I just got word (via Jim Hill Media) that:
Disney's Hollywood Studios is actually getting the attraction that theme park enthusiasts have been itching for ever since "Monsters, Inc." opened back in November of 2001. DHS will be soon be home to an inverted coaster that recreates the Door Hangar sequence from that Pete Docter film.
Here's a bare-bones description of the ride:

This family-friendly attraction will be housed inside of Soundstage One. Though -- in order to queue up for this ride -- WDW Guests will first have to go around to the backside of this building and then enter through the old Jim Henson Creature Shop.

Here, they'll find an elaborate recreation of the Monsters, Inc. lobby. With Ceilia (You know? Mike Wazowski's one-eyed, snake-haired girlfriend?) working behind the reception desk. Given that this attraction will be set in the post-film world (After monsters have learned that laughter is 10 times more powerful than screams), Monsters, Inc. is holding an open house today. Actually inviting humans in the Monster world to come tour their energy-gathering facility.

Speaking of energy-gathering ... As they make their way through the queue, Disney World visitors will periodically encounter scream / laugh cannisters with funnels sticking up out of them. These Guests will then be encouraged to scream / laugh into these funnels. Which will cause the sides of these cannisters to light up and reveal how much energy was just gathered.

As they make their way up to the attraction's load area, these WDW visitors will learn that this Open House is all Mike Wazowski's idea. That -- along the route that their coaster is supposed to travel through the Door Hangar -- this wiley one-eyed monster has placed even more scream / laugh cannisters. Which will then collect all of the energy that these humans produce as they scream & laugh their way through this attraction.

These Guests will then board a train that's two seats wide and eight-to-ten cars long. After chugging up the lifthill past show scenes where Mike & Sulley will quickly recap the backstory of this attraction, these WDW visitors will drop down into the Door Hangar building. Where they then quickly whip past various comic tableaus featuring some of the more memorable characters from the "Monsters, Inc." film. Not to mention some far-too-close encounters with huge scare / laugh cannisters (Whose sides -- once again reinforcing this attraction's interactive aspect -- will light up depending on how loudly the Guests on board that particular coaster train scream).

As for the finale of this two-minute-long attraction ... Well, it seems that these Disney World visitors will produce so much energy with all of their screams & laughter that the cannisters in the Door Hangar just can't contain it all. So there's this huge explosion near the end with bright lights & smoke. And just before their train rolls back into the station, these Guests will see a slightly charred versions of Mike & Sulley. With Wazowski telling his big blue friend "I think we need to get some bigger cannisters."
I think we need to start saving up for WDW tickets. (Wowsa.)

Sunday, July 20, 2008

Boy Week: Days Four & Five

The weekend of Boy Week has included a number of delightful moments:
  • the second (and more profitable) outing for the lemonade tycoons
  • a trip to Target for milk, freezer bags & sunscreen
  • Braeden playing Star War: Epic Duels again (this time as Anakin & Padme)
  • the boys getting ready for church & being extra-helpful
  • taking Collin (and Braeden) to lunch at Sonic as a reward for progress in potty-training
  • playing a bit of Heroscape with Braeden (his Marro army is working down my Roman/Greek forces)
  • having a pizza picnic while watching America's Funniest Videos
The lemonade stand - they are ready to serve customers!

Later in the morning, they take a bit of a break & enjoy some watermelon...

Braeden & Greg were a team for Star Wars: Epic Duels... but Richard (that's his hand at the left of the picture) still managed to beat them.

Braeden thinking carefully about his next move.

Yes, I probably shouldn't encourage eating in the living room & watching TV at the same time... but it's fun! (This is from our Sunday night post-NL@N pizza party.)

A Post Just For Liesl... Who Shouldn't Complain About Not Getting Answers To Her E-Mails

Yes, Liesl, a little birdie (a pretty little birdie!) told me that you were unhappy that I managed to answer your husband's Facebook wall msg to me & ignored your sweet response to me posting pictures of the boys. So, to make up for it, a picture of all of the tc@hh mommies hard at work parenting our children. (This was taken at Braeden's 2nd birthday party.)

I promise I'll post more boy pix in a few hours (after NewLife @ Nite). I also want you to know that the things you said were wonderful & encouraging.

There, is that better?

Saturday, July 19, 2008

Boy Week: Day Three

No pictures today - Anna Campbell again (yes, she is the Queen of Generosity) took the boys so I could work this morning. They went to the library, played at the track, ate hot dogs & went to swim lessons (including some bonus swim time!)

After nap time, the boys & I ate KFC leftovers (mmm, cold chicken!) and played Disney Scene-It. Then about 6:30 pm, the gamer guys started showing up & Braeden and I got to play Star Wars: Epic Duels, Eulenzauber & Ringel-Rangel before it was time for them to head for bed.

#75: Quackshot

  • designer: uncredited
  • publisher: Goliath B.V.
  • date: 2001
  • BoardGameGeek rank/rating: 2549/6.5
  • age: 6+
  • # of players: 2-4
  • print status: OOP
  • cost: 7.50 British pounds (the only copy I could find for sale was at a site unknown to me in England - the game itself is in very good condition, while the box - no surprise here - is in poor condition)
At one point in time, Quackshot was being touted as "this year's Loopin' Louie" - in other words, a kid game that has serious adult appeal. That didn't turn out to be true... Quackshot never reached the same level of popularity. (I'm not sure if that's because of some things about the game which I'll get into in a minute or if the difficulty in finding copies precluded mass popularity.)

Quackshot is a shooting gallery game - where the targets (barnyard animals) turn on a mechanized spinner in the center of the board while the players (ducks who look suspiciously like Donald Duck and are dressed up like Robin Hood) shoot arrows (plastic flatheaded darts) at them. When a dart make contact with an animal, the animal (also spring-loaded) pops out of the spinner & flies into the air. Meanwhile, there are four farmers (one in front of each duck) that jump about eccentrically trying to block your shot. Your objective is to knock off all of the other players animals before they can knock off yours.

As you can easily guess, the appeal here is the sheer chaos - zipping arrows, flying pieces, hooting & hollering.... and this game delivers on that with interest. We try to play only in rooms with few hiding places as arrows & animals have a tendency to find hiding places during play.

Which brings us to the reason I think that Loopin' Louie is the superior kid/adult game - reset time. Once you've played a round, you must scavenge all the arrows, reset the spring-loaded animals, and then play. In contrast, Loopin' Louie simply requires you to reset the chicken tokens & put Louie upright and you're on your way.

Please don't hear me bashing Quackshot - I'm VERY glad I own a copy of the game and it comes out a couple of times a year in the right situations. Braeden (my 7 year old) loves it... and that's why it's here on the list.

A trio of oddball closing notes:
  1. the version I own (from Sweden) has one of the scariest "we're playing the game" models on the back of the box... this is a child who is enjoying the game WAY too much
  2. for some reason, the game is designed where you have a full range of fire... you can not only shoot the target in the center of the table but also your fellow players. Interesting.
  3. This is the game that "A Christmas Story" warned you about - "You'll shoot your eye out." Which explains, I think, why it hasn't been published in the U.S.

Friday, July 18, 2008


Big question for Shari & I over the last few weeks: what do we call "home"?
  • Is it where we live - Fresno, CA? (Well, to be technical, we live in an unincorporated town called Easton and have a Fresno address, but you know what I mean.)
  • Is it where we lived the longest - Nashville, TN? (We were there for 11 years.)
  • Is it where we grew up - which means North Richland Hills, TX (a suburb of Ft. Worth) for Shari & Placentia, CA (north Orange County) for me?
  • Is it where our families live? This one's a bit more complicated: Shari's immediate family is in Willis, TX (north of Houston) while my folks are in Columbia City, OR (north of Portland) and my sister is in Highlands Ranch, CO (a suburb of Denver).
For me, all of this is complicated by the "calling" process of being a full-time pastor... in some ways, "home" is where I'm called by God to serve & plant my life.

As I was thinking about it while driving on Wednesday morning, it occurred to me that all of those definitions could be correct - but are inadequate to describe the spiritual realities of my life - oh, heck, of anyone's life.
  • Home is where my wife & boys are... they are both generous gifts from God and great responsibilities.
  • Home is my church... we used to sing an old praise chorus about "the family of God" which sounds cheesy when you're belting it out but actually encapsulates a spiritual truth - those of us adopted as God's children through Christ's sacrifice are family.
  • Home is the larger capital "C" Church... everyone who is a follower of Christ is my brother or my sister. We're family - and we're admonished in Scripture to live & to love in light of that.
  • At the deepest point, home is with Jesus... now, through the presence of the Holy Spirit; eventually, when I see Him face to face in Heaven.
The settled happiness and security which we all desire God withholds from us by the very nature of the world; but joy, pleasure and merriment He has scattered broadcast. We are never safe, but we have plenty of fun, and some ecstasy. It is not hard to see why. The security we crave would teach us to rest our hearts in this world and pose an obstacle to our return to God: a few moments of happy love, a landscape, a symphony, a merry meeting with our friends, a bath or a football match, have no such tendency. Our Father refreshes us on the journey with some pleasant inns, but will not encourage us to mistake them for home. (C.S. Lewis, The Problem of Pain)
More to come next week... this is a subject deep enough to swim in for a while.

Thursday, July 17, 2008

#76: Am Fuß des Kilimandscharo

Am Fuß des Kilimandscharo
  • designer: Reiner Knizia
  • publisher: Hans im Glück
  • date: 1993
  • BoardGameGeek rank/rating: 3637/5.6
  • age: 7+
  • # of players: 2-4
  • print status: OOP
  • cost: $20.00 canadian (BGG)
Translated, the title means "At the Foot of Kilimanjaro" - each player is attempting to get his expedition to the base of the great mountain first. Well, in this case, it's actually the end of a 100 space track, but you get the idea.

Movement is pretty simple - there are four suits of cards (themed for various modes of transporation) and each player has 3 cards face up in front of him. On your turn, you play a card on a pile - yours or another players - and then move. The distance of your movement is based on the 3 cards in front of you - if none of the cards match, you move the highest number of the cards. If there's a pair that match, you add the values together. If all three cards match, you add all three values together.

So the game is a balancing act between keeping your guy moving forward & slowing down other players... so far, so good. But there's one more element to the race. At the beginning of the game, players are given some tokens which they can place face down on (almost) any space). The majority of them are "food" tokens, which cause the player landing on them to move forward the same amount again. There are also "lion" tokens which send you back to the next village & "swap" tokens which cause you switch places with another player.

The trick, of course, is to place & remember your tokens - then manipulate your movement to take advantage of them. Younger kids can do the memory part but aren't always able to do the appropriate math to get them to the spaces. Adults have trouble remembering where they put the coke glass, let alone a bunch of small pieces - but they can do the math to get where they want. It balances out in the end.

The game is quick & enjoyable - a little bit of hosage (which is good training for kids - they need a little hosage in their life to prepare them for Diplomacy... he he he) but nothing over the top. It does have a potential kingmaker problem (you can let someone win by not playing cards on their tableau) but the game is so short it really isn't an issue.

Final note: use the variant that the swap tokens have reduced powers.

Boy Week: Day Two

Thanks to Anna Campbell (whose son, Canaan, is Braeden's best friend & Collin's hero), the boys set up a lemonade stand across from the cattle auction - in other words, in our driveway. They made a tidy profit (Braeden was "doing math" tonight to figure out how close he was to purchasing the next Mars Mission Lego set on his list) and plan to do it again on Saturday for the livestock auction. (They even shared some of their profits with Collin - nice guys!)

While Collin napped, the lemonade tycoons began working on their product for Saturday. (As a satisfied customer, I'd have to say that they did a rather nice job of making drinkable lemonadte.)

Later in the afternoon, the boys & I went to KFC for a bucket of fried chicken & settled back on the picnic blanket to watch Disney's Treasure Planet.

Boy Week is in full swing, he sez with a grin.

"I'm Not Listening..."

"Nobody's hearing nothin'..."

I know that's what it feels like right now with the excellent questions from Jeff & Jon on the Framing the Conversation series - but you guys hold onto your hats. I promise I'll answer you - and it will be worth the wait.

While you're at it, stop saying that name...

Framing the Conversation: It's Got A Good Beat & I Can Dance To It - I'll Give It An 85

Since I haven't blogged about this lately, a quick review:
  • I'm a conservative evangelical pastor of a Southern Baptist church who has been (very) happily married to my wife for 18 years.
  • I believe homosexuality is one of many sexual sins - all of which subvert & warp God's intent for one woman/one man marriage.
  • I hate the way most discussion about this stuff devolves into "dork recess" (thank you, Sports Night). My reason(s) for this series of posts is my attempt to frame the conversation in more reasonable, gracious & thoughtful terms.
OK, now that we've got that out of the way, let me point you to a thought-provoking article by someone who doesn't agree with me but raises some very important questions. Linda Holmes is a lawyer, blogger & freelance writer - I've recommended her work on this blog before (particularly her commentary on Survivor). Her online article, Marriage Rights & the Myth of Activist Judges (at, questions one of the premises under which a number of folks have attacked the legal decisions here in California - the validity of judicial review in the face of the vote of the electorate.

Those of us who support a Biblical view of marriage have to deal with this stuff - we must make our cases without accusing judges of usurping power... when historically, that's the role we have asked the judiciary to play in this country. We've put the courts in the position of the kids on American Bandstand - listen to a snippet & rate the record. It's not fair to accuse them of hijacking the legal system when we're the ones who gave them the headphones.

There's a profound difference between saying that the court acted unwisely or that the principles they used (sexuality as a protected class, for example) are bad law... and saying that the court acted illegally. So, what do we do now? For starters, we have to argue for the marriage amendment based on reason, not on emotion. The Catholic bishops of New York have done a fine job with their position paper, Statement on "Same-Sex Marriage". Go read it.

Boy Week: Day One

Shari's out of town this week - meaning it's time for "Boy Week"... during which the Jackson men attempt to take care of themselves while ingesting massive amounts of sugar & other less-than-healthy foods.

The first event of Boy Week was watching Wipeout on the VCR. (Wipeout, btw, is a spectacularly odd piece of summer TV programming - it's like someone crossed the greatest youth retreat game ever with an episode of Talk Soup.)

Event #2 was Dad having to go to prayer gathering & a church council meeting while the boys played in the back room at the office - and used markers. Note that you need two pictures to find all of the purple marks on Collin.

When we got back home, we printed out a copy of the Jelly Belly flavor chart & took turns sampling Belly Flops (irregular Jelly Belly jelly beans you can buy by the metric ton at their outlet store in Gilroy.) Here's Braeden consulting the chart.

Saturday, July 12, 2008

The Gospel Blimp

Talk about a blast from the past! It's a pdf file... but it's worth your time to download & read, esp. if you're living somewhere inside the evangelical bubble. (And, yes, it's from the 70's - and isn't it interesting that it's still so timely?!)

Thanks to Reformissionary for pointing it out...

Wednesday, July 09, 2008

Happy Birthday to my sister...

Yes, I'm rockin' the bright blue socks that match Liz's outfit - thanks once again to my mother for dressing me in style (snicker/giggle).

Happy Birthday, Liz - I love you!

I Want A Broken Heart

Derek Webb freaks me out... it's like he's reading my brainwaves.
i’ve traded naked and unashamed for a better place to hide for a righteous mask, a suit of fig leaves and lies
Oh, Jesus... that's me.

Tuesday, July 08, 2008

Framing the Conversation: Kodak Moment

"A picture is worth 1000 words..."

Don't get bogged down in the whole "submission" thing, please...
And further, submit to one another out of reverence for Christ.

For wives, this means submit to your husbands as to the Lord. For a husband is the head of his wife as Christ is the head of the church. He is the Savior of his body, the church. As the church submits to Christ, so you wives should submit to your husbands in everything.

For husbands, this means love your wives, just as Christ loved the church. He gave up his life for her to make her holy and clean, washed by the cleansing of God’s word. He did this to present her to himself as a glorious church without a spot or wrinkle or any other blemish. Instead, she will be holy and without fault. In the same way, husbands ought to love their wives as they love their own bodies. For a man who loves his wife actually shows love for himself. No one hates his own body but feeds and cares for it, just as Christ cares for the church. And we are members of his body.

As the Scriptures say, “A man leaves his father and mother and is joined to his wife, and the two are united into one.” This is a great mystery, but it is an illustration of the way Christ and the church are one. So again I say, each man must love his wife as he loves himself, and the wife must respect her husband. (Ephesians 5:21-35, NLT)

So, if that's the picture in the Bible, citing marriage between a man & a woman as a "great mystery" that gives us a picture of the relationship of Christ & His church... should it really be a surprise that redefining marriage is problematic to some of us?

Monday, July 07, 2008

Quaker Meadows

Here's where I'll be spending the week (July 7-11) as the camp pastor for our Mid-Valley Associational Children's Camp. Nifty, eh?

I'm just praying that:
  1. my voice will survive speaking 10 times in 5 days
  2. the kids won't abuse me too much
  3. I can hold onto the zip line the whole way down & not embarrass myself
  4. Shari & the boys have a good time while I'm gone
  5. something meaningful is accomplished in the spiritual lives of the folks who are up there with me
  6. oh, yeah... it'd be nice if something spiritually meaningful happened in my life, too!
See you on Saturday!

Sunday, July 06, 2008

Acts of Reconciliation

Thanks once again to, I want to send you away from my blog towards an incredible story that appeared in the Washington Post entitled Acts of Reconciliation. It's about Rwanda & the Student Academy Award winner for Best Documentary Film & forgiveness & getting serious about what you believe & the hard way to happy endings both here in America and overseas.

Seriously, you need to read this story. And I need to see this film.

Saturday, July 05, 2008

Pre(re)view: Say Anything

Proving once again that my superpower is Getting Random Strangers To Give Me Things (though, frankly, there are not enough Random Strangers and not enough Things Given), I just received a pre-release copy of Northstar Games Say Anything.

The game itself is very simple - take the rotating Judge concept from Apples to Apples, add in the answer submission system (tiny dry-erase boards & pens) from Wits & Wagers, and top it off with a kinder betting system, also from Wits & Wagers. Players take turns being the Judge, who draws a question card & picks one of the five questions to read. The rest of the players then race to scribble out answers that they think will entice/entertain or otherwise engage the Judge.

Example from one of our games the other night - my wife asked us: "Aliens have just landed on earth? What do you do?" Some of the answers were (from memory, so I'm not sure I'm completely accurate here):
  • "Hide!" (this was my answer)
  • "Run away"
  • "Kill 'em"
  • "Feed them something" (this was the answer that Shari picked)
After all the answers are in (the Judge gets to decide if answers are duplicates - you can't have those - and who got their answer down first), the Judge secretly picks the answer they like using the Select-o-Matic 5000, which sounds a lot more sophisticated than it is. (It's a spinner that doesn't spin very well - which is how it's supposed to work.) Then the rest of the players quickly lay their bets (each has two betting chips) on the answer or answers they think the Judge will pick.

With the chips played, the Judge reveals their answer & points are scored - the system is designed to reward players who guess correctly without creating chances for runaway victories... in fact, the entire game is designed for maximum party enjoyment rather than maximum gamerness. (Yes, I know "gamerness" is not a word - but most of you get what I'm talking about.)

I've had the opportunity to play the game twice now - once with 5 players and once with 7 players. The five player game was fun - enough so that we promptly roped 2 more people into the game & played with seven, which was a LOT more fun. I think the sweet spot for the game is probably 6-8 players.

Here's what I like about the game:
  • plays quickly - a huge plus for party games
  • nobody feels dumb - you can approach how to answer the questions in whatever form you wish: you can try to please the Judge, you can try to be the class clown & make with the silliness, you can simply try & entertain yourself...
  • the score doesn't matter much - sure, if you're playing a 2 hour game of El Grande, you want to know the exact score at the end, but the draw here is not the winner(s) celebrating, it's the journey getting there
  • the rules - they are incredibly easy to explain
  • it's got the good parts of Apples to Apples with added creativity - the free-form questions means the game doesn't devolve into the same kinds of jokes & picks (as A2A has a tendency to do)
  • it simplifies the Wits & Wagers scoring - I love Wits & Wagers... but the betting system is tough for non-gamers to wrap their heads around. Say Anything uses the same kind of system in a way that's friendlier to non-gamers.
A warning: some of the questions on the cards could cause certain crowds to head in a PG-13/R-rated direction with their answers... while that's a selling point for some folks, I know a number of folks who read this blog work with youth & adults in faith-based settings. None of the questions are smutty (as in some other party games) but you'll want to be aware of this possibility. Please don't misunderstand me - I really, really enjoy the game; I'm just aware of the potential for problems in these kind of arenas.

A final word: I saw the folks who played the game with us a couple of days later - and they were still talking about it. That's the kind of reaction you want from a party game! I see Say Anything getting a lot more play around here, esp. with Bible study groups & small parties.

A Day Late... But Still Worth Seeing

Thanks to my good friend, Keith Monaghan, for pointing this out to me.

#77: 13 Dead End Drive

13 Dead End Drive
  • designer: uncredited
  • publisher: Milton Bradley
  • date: 1993
  • BoardGameGeek rank/rating: 3858/5.5
  • age: 9+
  • # of players: 2-4
  • print status: OOP (but see the article)
  • cost: $14.33 (Amazon)
Yes, I realize that the manufacturer suggests this is a game for 9 year olds... I also realize that setting up the board & various traps requires an engineering degree. That doesn't change the fact that this bluffing game is well-suited for younger elementary kids with the pitch perfect mixture of mechanical silliness & easy game play.

The article at Wikipedia does a splendid job of describing the play of the game, so I won't bother with trying to do that again. What I want to do instead is try & explain the attraction of the game as a kids game:
  • the traps: it's fun to spring the traps on the various characters... I'm esp. fond of the fireplace trap.
  • the bluffing: there's a certain point (with most kids, it's between age 6-8) where the concept of bluffing "clicks"... where they understand pretending that they are rooting for one piece when they really control another piece
  • the timer & the portrait: these two mechanisms combine to make for some pretty serious tension... tension that builds throughout the game
Yes, there is potential player elimination... but the game is short enough that elimination shouldn't be a big deal.

The game was republished with slightly tweaked rules & pieces in 2002 as 1313 Dead End Drive... that edition is easier to find and is the one listed in the "cost" section above.