Friday, October 24, 2008

If you might die when you're 20 then you're old when you're 15

This is an entry for the blogathong, which I heard about from Scary Scary Quite Contrary. I don't know many details about it other than people are expected to write a blog a day, Monday to Friday, for the next 18 days. I like that idea. I've been too lazy lately.

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Fuck Scrabble.

While most board games are plenty dull, Scrabble combines the worst parts of them all, plus there aren’t even any dice which you can use as to induce suicide should the game stretch into extra innings. I’ve tried alternately choking on, and gouging out my eyes, with scrabble tiles, but some consumer safety advocate made sure that, at most, they would just remain lodged in my throat for years. Occasionally, I still hock up a spare I.

I just don’t understand how I, a man with a vocabulary that makes the SAT jealous, can lose at a game where a word like sesquipedalian is only worth ten points, but the word foxes, when properly placed, can be worth three hundred points.

Now, Monopoly, there’s a great game; sure, it goes on just as long as Scrabble, but a dedicated player can find dozens of ways to kill themselves with Monopoly accessories.

In the last month, a departing colleague took us to a free game bar; they have free foosball, free pool, free air hockey, tons of free board games, and even, to my dismay, free Scrabble.

During a particularly heated game of foosball, we started talking about what makes the perfect game: games that rely heavily on chance or games that require a fair amount of skill.

Personally, and only because I like to see everything as a metaphor, I prefer games that involve a fair amount of both but that are heavily weighted against the player. I also scream dead President’s names when I’m about to orgasm, so you can read as much into either of those confessions whatever you like.

Politifilia aside, games that go sixty/forty in the luck to skill ratio are the ones I love the best; they work out just like life. You can plan all you want, but, in the end, using a six-sided random number generator to determine who falls prey to the mousetrap is enough to both delight and frustrate all parties involved.

Nothing should ever go exactly as you plan.

Of course, the real games are not the ones we play on computer screens, Parker brothers cardboard, or our lovers, but the ones we play with ourselves… all day long… inside our heads, the ones we’re too ashamed to admit to any other human beings because they make us sound lamer than an evening spent reviewing slides from your second cousin’s annual trip to the cracker factory; and yet, like so many of our behaviors, it’s something we all silently share, even if we never tell another living soul.

No matter what you do for a living, whether you’re a librarian or a quality assurance tester at the condom factory, it will eventually get boring; so, one of the many ways we hairless apes pass the time is to invent little games for our workplaces.

As a teacher, my favorite is seeing how many children I can make cry in a week.

Maybe a good number of you also play these kinds of games outside the workplace, but I’m not sure; if you don’t, then I offer my congratulations on your exciting life, or advice to start playing some of these games to pass the time if, like me, you’re the kind of human with whom other folks consider it a chore to interact.

What I don’t like are the social games that people play with one another to establish dominance. Couples do this sort of thing all the time. I prefer games wherein competition lasts only as long as the game itself, at which point we can all go back to doing the important things that we need to do like dislodging whatever it is that was stuck in our nose during the three hour meeting your boss called to discuss font selection for the office newsletter, building large balls out of the rubber bands that are on our morning newspapers, or adjusting our testicles until they are in the perfect resting position.

Still, I respect people who turn serious endeavors into childish games; which is why, at least in this regard, I have the utmost respect for President Bush and the Republican party of the last decade.

Games are intended to relax us in our leisure time, but there are a few resourceful people who take the game home, study it, sleep with it, and breath it until they understand the intricacies better than any of us ever will. These are the folks who win rock-paper-scissor and Donkey Kong championships; or, in Bush’s case, the White House.

The only problem is that the amount of time you spend learning the game decreases the amount of time you have to understand the prize. This is no big deal when you take home the giant boulder, shears, and industrial poster board from the rock-paper-scissor championship, but when your prize is the White House, then winning can be the absolute worst thing to receive since you’re not entirely sure how you got it, and you don’t really know what to do with it.

And so, the last eight years have gone by like some kind of a hellish nightmare for a good many people, due largely to the fact that the Republican party of the 1990s was superb at playing the game, but not so hot when it came to actual governance. There’s no reason to learn how the world works and establish solid policy plans when you can just call your opponent a fag and be done with it.

I’m not saying that it was all bad. There were a whole few years there when we barely even had to think, let alone question compassionate conservatisms probably outcomes because the press releases and the photo ops where so good that it actually seemed like winning in politics was the same as winning at international global relations; unfortunately, the sad reality is that it doesn’t matter how well you play the game, because knowing a lot of big words won’t do you any good if you can’t put an x on a triple-letter score square.

I can’t believe I ended this with a Scrabble metaphor.

Sex Mahoney for President

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by MC Paul Barman
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