Sunday, December 28, 2008

Five & Dime: 2008

It's coming... start compiling those lists.

And if you don't know what I'm talking about, check out some of the previous Five & Dime stuff.

Friday, December 26, 2008

The Giant Sucking Noise Is The Detroit Lions...

...and you can play Pizza Box Football & attempt to save them from complete & utter defeat.
The Detroit Lions are on the verge of making history as the first team to ever go 0-16 in an NFL season. (In 1976, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers were 0-14.) The Lions play the Green Bay Packers this Sunday at Lambeau Field. The creators of the board game Pizza Box Football are giving fans a chance to see if they can rescue the Lions from a spot in the record books that no one wants to occupy. They have released new free team cards (PDF files) for both Green Bay and Detroit. A copy of Pizza Box Football is required to use the cards.
Thanks to Erik Arneson & & Card Games for posting this story.

Monday, December 15, 2008

Crackpipe Remote - December 2008 Edition

And here we go:
  • The Amazing Race was more enjoyable than the past couple of outings... gotta say, watching Dan of the "Frat Boys" try to march was a treat all by itself.
  • I'm pleased that Chuck got a full season order... and has managed to avoid the dreaded "Curse of Ed", in which shows with whimsy & character lose that character and become stupid & annoying in their 2nd season.
  • Heroes has had some great moments - more than the much-maligned 2nd season - but there have been some real Idiot Plotting and a couple of outright oopidstay twists (Hiro as a 10 yr old?!). Of course, much of that was redeemed by last week's episode.
  • 24:Redemption was a decent segue back into the world of Jack Bauer - but I'm still a little iffy about Zombie Almeda (back from the dead?!) coupled with the return of Spawn (Kim Bauer).
  • A fond farewell to Pushing Daisies... you died way too soon.
  • I know some people haven't liked it, but I really enjoyed Survivor: Gabon... and was pleasantly surprised that I would have been happy for 3 of the final 4 contestants to win. (And my favorite did win... I think Bob & Yau & Earl would be a blast to hang out with.)
  • I watch Life in spurts, thanks to - it's inventive & I don't always know where it's going, which is fun. It's not perfect - the freeze-dried corpse episode, for example - but actually has a lead character whose beliefs affect his actions.

Bonus Remote Comment:

  • I watched Independence Day while playing Race for the Galaxy solitaire last night - I was waiting for the Survivor finale to finish taping. I discovered the reason the movie works - it certainly isn't the script. It's the acting chops of a number of the participants who manage to invest a lot of heart & character into an SFX-driven popcorn-fest.

Sunday, December 14, 2008

the violent burning - divine

Free Christmas music from an odd & wonderful band... the violet burning's divine.

Merry Christmas!

Tuesday, December 09, 2008

#34: Break The Safe

Break the Safe
  • designer: Forrest-Pruzan Creative
  • publisher: Mattel
  • date: 2003
  • BoardGameGeek rank/rating: 1839/6.17
  • age: 8+
  • # of players: 2-4
  • print status: OOP
  • cost: the cheapest copy I found was $125.00, which is ridiculous... keep an open for it in remainder bins & at places like Tuesday Morning (or watch for it on eBay)
This is probably the worst cover art of the entire Kid Games 100 - ugly computer-generated stuff that screams "Hi, we're Mattel & we decided to go cheap on the packaging!" at the top of its lungs. Which is sad, because hidden under the weak packaging is a very good cooperative game that uses an electronic timer to create truckloads of tension.

Players are the good guys, trying to steal the Key To Unbelievable Badness & Evil (well, actually, I don't remember what you're trying to steal - but trust me, it's for the good of mankind.) You set the timer depending on the level of difficulty you want... and away you go.

On your turn, you roll the die, which gives you movement points to run from room to room - but also can trigger the guard or the guard dog to start on a pre-programmed route around the complex. If the guard can see you (straight line of sight) or the dog can smell you (6 spaces but even around corners), your secret agent gets thrown into a holding cell, which means that your team has to break you out, as they can't win & leave you behind.

Meanwhile, the purpose of your visit is to find the four keys that unlock the safe & allow you to steal the WhateverItIs. Each room has a plastic piece (which could be a key, a blank, a secret passage or a trap) and an obstacle on top of it. In order to get the item, you must defeat the obstacle.

You do that by using the right tools - which are distributed (on cards) at the beginning of the game. The majority of the tools work against the traps - there's a mirror contraption, for example, that defuses the laser trap. The other tools help to either evade the guard & dog... or even get them to stop their appointed rounds!

There's a robot (I call him "Fetch") that can be used to send the appropriate tool to the player facing an obstacle - good management of "Fetch" is vital to winning the game. (There's one obstacle - the Ring of Fire - that only the Robot can defeat, but it destroys him.)

There's a little more to it than that, but not much... what makes the game "work" is the tension brought on by the timer, particularly if you have trouble and need to break a couple of people out of the lock-up.

As you can probably guess, the whole Mission Impossible/spy theme is golden with young boys - and kids who can read (the cards have text on them with a small picture) are ready to play.

Monday, December 08, 2008

DLR in a Day: Afternoon

This is actually Part Two of a trip report about our day at the Disneyland Resort... Part One is entitled DLR in a Day: Morning. (Go read it now & come back here for more!)

Space Mountain - Following lunch, Collin wanted to try the "other Star Wars ride" (as he calls it). Braeden rode this with Shari last year and we had a tough time convincing him to give it a second chance. Once again, he was brave & gave it a shot... and once again, it's not the ride itself that bothers him but the visuals. (I'm not sure if I was like this as a kid - I know he & I both have vivid imaginations - I'll have to ask Mom when she visits at Christmas.)

I love all of the new effects, the smoother ride, the cool soundtrack (by the same guy who wrote The Incredibles music), the profound darkness (you can't see the track anymore)... they took a great ride & made it amazing. Of course, it's pretty overwhelming, esp. for 3.5 year old kids. Collin wasn't freaked out but he was stunned by it.

And with that, we decided to park-hop over to California Adventure for a major chunk of the afternoon.

Monsters, Inc: Mike & Sully to the Rescue - Our first stop was not a new ride, but it was new to us. (Last year, this was closed for rehab the week we were at DLR.) It's about the same quality level as the Pooh ride, which is to say that it's a sophisticated version of the Fantasyland "dark" rides with a cute sense of humor & some nifty effects. The door warehouse is the coolest - of course, I'm hoping that the "blue sky" plans for a door warehouse rollercoaster for Disney Studios (in FL) comes through.

Soarin' Over California - The boys & I went on Soarin' together while Shari went to see the High School Musical show (moving seats + moving pictures = sick Shari Jo). This was Collin's first flight and he loved it. I continue to be amazed at what a huge effect the ride has on my emotions... it makes me all gooey inside, which makes me sound like a big ol' girl.

HSM3 Show - We got back to Shari just as the HSM3 show was finishing... and we ended up following the stage/float past Grizzly Peak & A Bug's Land on the way to Paradise Pier. I am VERY impressed with the physical conditioning of the performers... they kept going almost the entire way just after doing a 15 minute show at one side of the park - and knowing they were going to repeat the show at the other end of the park! (BTW, Shari said the show was cheesy but good.)

Toy Story Midway Mania - This is the newest addition to DCA... and the best short description of it is "Buzz Lightyear Space Ranger Spin + 3D". That's not entirely fair, of course - the cars spin around in some fun ways, a number of the higher point targets generate effects (the first time I broke the 1000 pt plate & it shot a virtual ball at me, I ducked), and the games are fun to play. Shari & Braeden & I all really enjoyed it - Collin thought it was fun but since he couldn't really operate the pull-string gun very well, he didn't get the full experience.

This was, btw, the longest line we stood in all day - about 25 minutes.

Orange Stinger - Last year, Braeden talked me onto this glorified version of a standard carnival ride which I ought to know better than to strap myself into... but I did. (In my defense, I'd read that this particular version is a "cream of the crop" version, with plenty of "chop" - that's where it feels like your feet are going to hit something - and the neat orange smell & the buzzing.) I ended up green around the gills.

So this time, we encouraged Braeden to ride alone... I walked up & waited in line with him, then walked through to the exit where I took this picture. (He's the kid in the black shirt in the center of the picture with a big grin on his face.) He liked it... but he did say that it made his stomach feel weird.

According to the Blue Sky Cellar displays (more on the Blue Sky Cellar later), this ride is slated for a major thematic overhaul to bring it in line with the rest of the pier... it'll be themed after the classic Mickey Mouse cartoon,
"The Band Concert."

Jumpin' Jellyfish - Braeden told me that he heard someone describe this as "the kiddie version of the Tower of Terror", which is true insofar as it goes up & down at some height. The boys enjoyed it but it's not worth your time unless the line is tiny - which it was.

Mulholland Madness - It looks like this will be re-themed as well... not that the current theme is overwhelming, mind you. It's a pretty standard little coaster with nice cars & a mountain road theme, which works. Braeden loves it - and Collin would as well, but he's one inch too short to ride it.

Braeden & I rode with a young woman & her daughter (about the same age as Braeden). We talked to them about the ride while we were waiting in line... and then I asked the daughter as we left the station if she was going to scream in my ear. At the end of the ride, the daughter asked, "Mom, can we ride this again!?" Mom answered, "Only if your dad or this nice man in front will ride it with you."

Heimlich's Chew-Chew Train - At this point, we cut across the park to A Bug's Land, which is truly a land of Disney magic. Standard carnival rides (twisters, little trains, bumper cars, etc.) are transformed by being dipped in Pixar pixie dust. Heimlich is the best example of this: it's just a little train ride, but the narration (provided by Heimlich) is delightful & funny - and you get sprayed with water (from the watermelon) and doused with fresh cookie smell (in the cookie box). When we took Braeden back in 2003, we rode this 11 times in 3 days.

Tuck & Roll - Nothing real notable here - it's bumper cars, ahem, bugs. The big deal is that Braeden is now old enough to drive his own car!

Flik's Flyers - Now THIS is a spinning ride I can enjoy... it doesn't go too fast & it's over quickly. The boys love it, of course.

I managed to get Braeden to agree not to ride Frances' (a weird figure-8 spinning ride) that made me seriously ill last year in exchange for riding the Mad Tea Party with the two of them when we went back to Disneyland. More on that in a minute.

Christmas Pictures - A Bug's Land is supposed to make you bug-sized - so there are some giant Christmas ornaments... we took the opportunity to take our pictures in front of them. Here they are!

If you haven't guessed, it's tough to get a straight picture of Braeden - he's always mugging for the camera. (I wonder which parent he inherits this trait from?!) He may grow out of it; he may not. I certainly didn't.

Blue Sky Cellar - The wine-tasting cellar has been converted into a new much cooler version of the old Disney preview gallery. (I have strong & fond memories of looking at Discovery Bay concept art there back in the early 80's.) At this point, it's all about the DCA renovations - and much of the art you've seen online if you're a Disney fan. They're going to revamp the entrance area, add a Walt Disney interactive walkthrough, fix up some of the cheesy facades (particularly in the Hollywood area), create a new evening show (the Wonderful World of Color) in the lagoon - which was dry so they could start putting in equipment while we were there, build a Little Mermaid ride where Golden Dreams used to be, spruce up & re-theme chunks of Paradise Pier to make it more Disney... and, most importantly, build Radiator Springs ("Cars Land") in what is now the Timon parking lot.

There was footage of them testing the Luigi tire ride (very cool!), some great scale models of Paradise Pier, and artwork of Radiator Springs that had me salivating - the race ride (slated to combine the sophistication of the Indiana Jones ride with the speed of Test Track at EPCOT) is huge. Anyway, it's supposed to open in 2012.

I'll be back in a day or two with our return in late afternoon to Disneyland...

Saturday, December 06, 2008

DLR in a Day: Morning

We managed to surprise the boys with a one-day visit to the Disneyland Resort - for more on how that worked (and some spiritual ruminations on it from yours truly), you can check out my post Surprise! at the NewLife Community Church website.

This post will be a trip report (of sorts) of our day at DLR... if things work out like I want them to, I'll get the boys to help me fill out these comments in a second post so you can get a kids-eye perspective of the experience. But for now, you're stuck with me.

Parking - I'm still blown away by the Mickey & Friends parking structure... even though we got there early enough (8:15 am) that we actually parked in the open lot next to the tram stop (Pinocchio).

Stroller Rentals - In the past, we've always brought our own "umbrella" stroller because we've been walking back to the hotel or the shuttle. This time, since we were only going to be in the parks for the day, we "rented" a DLR stroller. (I put quotes around "rented" because one of the perks of a Disney Visa is free stroller rentals.) The stroller was comfortable, sturdy, easy to handle (even on the tracks down Main Street), and best of all we didn't have to re-rent a stroller at California Adventure... we just drove it over to the other park! The stroller gave us a great place to park coats, drinks, snacks & an extra change of clothes for Collin... and gave Collin enough breaks that he had the "juice" to make it through 11 hours of DLR.

No Meltdowns - Let me just stop right here to note that neither Collin nor Braeden (our 7 year old) had any kind of major in-park meltdowns... they were WONDERFUL.

When Shari & I went to WDW back in 1996, we made up a game while waiting for the parade to start of finding families/individuals who fit various descriptions: "family with twins," "family where the parents are more exhausted than the kids," "family who didn't check the weather before coming to the park today," etc. For years, we've joked about the category "couple most likely to get a divorce before they reach the end of Main Street"... the only real meltdown of the day was in the World of Disney store after the park closed trying to find souvenirs - and that was me. Luckily, we'd already gone past Main Street.

Rope Drop - While we learned that WDW almost always drops the rope early (anywhere from 5-20 minutes early, depending on the anticipated crowd), I've yet to see that happen at Disneyland or California Adventure. They wait right until opening time (9 am on Wednesday) before letting people past the end of Main Street. Of course, this might be because I haven't been to Disneyland on a "busy" day since sometime in the '80's.

Finding Nemo Submarines - I wasn't sure if I wanted to split the family up first thing... but Shari (wonderful wife) reminded me how much Collin (our 3 year old) had loved it last year. So he & I took off in the mad dash for Nemo when the rope dropped - last year, the wait had been 30+ minutes if you reached the line within a minute or two of the park opening. This year, we managed to get on the first sub (evidently, the demand has eased a little bit).

It's a great ride - the effects are wonderful, esp. the angler fish & the jellyfish. I caught the throwaway homage line to the old ride finally, when one crewman asks another if they should log anything they've seen: "No, they'll just expect us to see mermaids & sea serpents next time."

Buzz Lightyear - The Space Ranger Spin was probably the favorite ride of the boys last year - it's a cross between a video game & a Disney ride and it proved good enough this year for two runs - one early in the day & one shortly before we left. (Part of the attraction of the attraction is that the line moves at light speed, thanks to the continuous loading... there's never a long wait.)

Star Tours - Collin is now 41 inches tall, which means he was able to ride a number of rides that he couldn't a year ago. His first request was to ride "the Star Wars ride" - Star Tours. Braeden is Star Wars-obsessed (we just re-watched Episodes 4-6 a few weeks ago) and Collin is catching the obsession from his close proximity to his brother.

Shari doesn't ride bouncy movie rides - the old CircleVision movies (which still exist down at EPCOT) make her greener than a St. Patrick's day beer. So it was a boys-only trip to Endor via a Star-Speeder. The loading area bothered Collin a little bit - in fact, this was the only place I saw him edge towards balking about a ride, but Braeden & I talked him into going on.

We sat in the front (important safety tip: if you don't like the bounce/bump part of Star Tours, sit in the front row, it's much calmer) which gave the boys an unobstructed view... and once Cpt. Rex (the robot) appeared, Collin was fine. All three of us came out with big grins... and Collin was even singing along with the Star Wars theme playing in the exit area. (Watching Collin "direct" the orchestra when the theme from Star Wars is played is a real treat, btw.)

Autopia - I realized that I've been riding & driving in these cars for forty years... weird. Braeden is old enough now to drive on his own, but he enjoyed being my chauffeur. There was some major traffic jams this time (it felt JUST LIKE L.A.) but that actually gave the kind lady in the car next to us a chance to take our picture. (not like L.A., unless you replace the camera with a loaded weapon.) I still think the combining of the two old autopias to make one long road was a brilliant idea.

Matterhorn Bobsleds - Collin's next request was to ride the Matterhorn so he could "go scare the monster." (He was remembering the technique we used last year to help Braeden deal with his fear of the Yeti - we suggested he "growl at the monster & scare him" - Collin evidently thought this was a great idea.) Braeden had a bit of trouble with this one - it's not the turns & drops that bother him but the monster... but he was brave & went for it. We rode the Tomorrowland side which I believe is slightly faster than the Fantasyland side... and a better ride.

Collin was telling church friends on Thursday night that he saw the white monster & the black monster in the Matterhorn - it took me a minute to realize that he thought that the first time you see the monster (glowing red eyes in the dark) that the monster was black. Smart kid.

And with that, it was time for lunch at Redd Rocket's Pizza Port... I didn't go into any detail about Shari & Braeden riding Peter Pan or the Astro-Orbitor, or about Shari's trip to Honey, I Shrunk the Audience (which she believes needs to be retired), but that gives you a good picture of our morning... lots more to come!

Friday, December 05, 2008

This is for my mom...

...who has loved this ride as long as I can remember. (Not bad for a handheld shot, eh?!) BTW, Small World is quite lovely with everything repainted & fixed up (including the sound system) and the new boats.

The Idea Camp

Stuff like this always scares me - since I have the pride/sin problem of wanting to be the smartest/most creative guy in the room - but if I'm going to learn/grow/mature, I need to expose myself to more stuff like this. (I also need to use less slashes, but I'm guessing that won't happen any time soon.)

So, in the interest of personal development/spiritual growth (yep, the slashes are still here), I'll be going WAY outside of my comfort zone & connecting with this community of innovation.
The Idea Camp is a FREE, open source hybrid conference designed to help people move from the realm of ideas to implementation.

We are gathering some of the most innovative and creative leaders from around the country (this means YOU!) to share ideas, intentionally network, and move collaboratively into idea-making. Whether your passion is church leadership, non-profit work, social entrepreneurialism, technology, media, creativity, culture making, church planting, spiritual formation, compassionate justice, etc., this is the conference for YOU.
Check out the website... spread the word... plan to join us in February in the thriving metropolis of Irvine, CA (registration is free!).
All we ask is that you come with the following posture:
  • Be Open & Listen to Others
  • Be Communal & Share What You Know
  • Be Intentional & Collaboratively Invest in Each Other
  • Be Optimistic & Don’t Be a Jerk ☺
The Idea Camp

Thursday, December 04, 2008

Braeden is Mastering His Cup-Fu

He hasn't got it nailed down yet, but yesterday when we got to have a special surprise day at the Disneyland Resort, Braeden got the cup spinning on his own. Not good for Dad, who does the spinning rides with the boys because they make him less sick than they do Shari Jo.

More details on trip later...

BoardGameGeek World Record Holder

It's no surprise to any regular reader of this blog that I deeply enjoy board & cards games... in fact, some of you probably consider the depth of my interest a "sickness" or an "obsession". I'm not gonna lie - you're probably right.

And now, for those of you wanting proof of how deep the madness goes, I bring you the latest honorific I've received - I'm the BGG World Record Holder in 2008 for Most Different Games With Logged Plays. (BTW, if you're interested, that 1501 different games which I've played & logged onto the BGG database.)

I'm also the runner-up for Most Games Rated (some 30 or so behind the leader with 1737 games rated). I do not, by a great amount, hold the record for most games owned - I have 985 games in my collection and the winner for that has 3158 games. (I also know of one couple in Colorado whose collection is over 20,000 games... but they haven't listed it on BGG.)

BGG =, which is the 900 lb elephant of the boardgaming community online - their database has over 36,000 board & card games & they receive over 800,000 unique visitors each month. To be singled out for my obsessive note-taking over that many people is either (a) a high honor, (b) possible evidence of OCD-like behavior, or (c) all of the above.