Killing Time with Board Games

What’s the maddest you’ve ever gotten playing a board game? Ever flip the board? Maybe storm out of the room in a huff telling your partner not to talk to you? My son plays a mean game of Uno to which I’ve been guilty of slightly overreacting a couple of times (it’s seriously not fair that he skips me like a gazillion times in a row only to end the streak with a Draw 4 card!). I’m sure we’ve all had our moments during a heated friendly game. A well-made game should get you emotionally invested. And those of us who are a little more on the competitive side, well, we can get a little hot under the collar during a tight match. It might cause dice to go flying.

That all being said, would you ever point a gun at a family member because of a game? No? Well, not everyone has that same answer. It happened – you can read the sad, sordid tale here.

A dad pulls a gun on his daughter over Battleship? Seriously, Battleship!? Not even Monopoly where money is involved? How into the game do you have to be to feel that threatening your kid’s life is an acceptable response to getting your Destroyer sunk? One of the charges the father was arrested for, besides aggravated assault, was suspicion of intoxication. Oh, really? Ya think? You mean he wasn’t totally sober when he dragged his daughter back into the house by her hair and stuck a loaded rifle in her face? Shocking. To think of something like this happening over a board game…there are no words. We live in a world where you might be advised to wear Kevlar before stepping up to a game of Yahtzee. Sad.


"America's All Time Favorite Game" Indeed

“America’s All Time Favorite Game” indeed

Rice Krispy Thanksgiving (Or, Death to Humor)

Put a fork in it, it’s done. No, I’m not talking about the “turkey” pictured below. I’m talking about humor. I’m seriously beginning to think that the concept of comedy—at least in some people—has officially become extinct. I understand that telling a joke on the internet has different parameters than when you’re face to face with someone. You can’t rely on cadence, inflection, and nuance in general. You essentially have to point and say “this is the joke, people” because sarcasm is difficult to type out effectively. That all being said, some things posted are so blatantly for comedy that it astounds me how they can be taken seriously. Either people can no longer determine what is a joke (if it’s not delivered by the hilarious Conan O’ Brien, say) or they’re so over-sensitized that they shouldn’t be allowed online anyways.

Where did this bitter conclusion, that humor is dead, come from you ask? Take a look at the “turkey” again. I stumbled across this over on Facebook. A radio station posted it. Here’s the caption: “If you’re looking for a Gluten Free, Vegetarian Turkey for next week, try this Rice Krispy Treat turkey stuffed with M&M’s. Everybody’s happy.”

Funny, right? I had a good chuckle. And I figured other people would as well because it’s pretty witty. So I start perusing the comments and, good lord, the villagers came out with their pitchforks over this silly, silly turkey recipe! There were roughly 1,000 comments and an overwhelming amount of them were blasting the radio station for their audacious nutrition suggestion. The commenters were going off about how the turkey can’t possibly be gluten-free because Rice Krispies have barley malt as an ingredient. They condemned the post because marshmallows have gelatin and that’s not vegetarian. Then there were those who thought it was insensitive to suggest such a recipe because it will spread diabetes across the nation like wildfire.

First and foremost, let’s address the fact that: 1) There ARE gluten-free Rice Krispies. Go to the grocery store and check. They’re there. How do I know? My friend buys them for her gluten-free son. 2) Gelatin-free marshmallows DO exist. How do I know? I buy them! Plus, you can use Marshmallow Fluff as a substitute. It doesn’t contain gelatin either.

But the x’s and o’s of the recipe aren’t my chief concern. What’s really got me shaking my damn head is how so many people seem to have missed the obvious humor of it all. Neglecting facts is one thing. Not “getting” a joke is another. But the real kicker is how flippin’ obnoxious the commenters were in their remonstrations!

Have we really gotten to the point where we have to put disclaimers before any puny article we post? A big banner at the start that says, “Warning: The following piece contains a JOKE! Please do not read any further if you do not want to participate in humor.”

Me? I got the joke. But that’s not stopping me from taking the recipe at least a little seriously. Don’t worry, I’m not mad at the station. I’m just over here trying to figure out how the hell I can form those legs as perfectly as they did because I just figured out what I’m serving for Thanksgiving.

turkey rice krispies

Doggy Warfare (Or, the Great French Fry Battle)

So I’m fostering a Chihuahua that comes from an abusive home. She’s the sweetest dog. My Rufus kinda likes her. Enough to let her live in the house anyway. Petra’s older than he is and submissive because of her past and I’m sure that has helped him to accept her. She’s not all in his face like a puppy would be.

I’m a sucker for animals. No spoiler alert here. This is a well-known fact. I have a menagerie of four-legged creatures prancing through my house at all hours. I’ve been bringing home strays since I was in kindergarten and it hasn’t stopped since I’ve gotten older. If anything it’s gotten worse since I’ve started paying my own way in the world.

Petra is the last for a while though – I won’t foster any more after her. My new place is just too small.  She’s very sweet and thankfully gets along well with Rufus, the current master of the doggy domain. They’re not BFFs or anything, but they don’t snarl at each other either which is good enough for me. My pets, all rescues, tend to run the house more than I do. Unsurprisingly my love for animals (a.k.a. “pushover-ness“) is a trait that my daughter, Sarah, is also afflicted with. Whether it’s hereditary through an active “can’t say no to those cute eyes” gene or a learned behavior from yours truly we will never know. The point is, she’s got it, too.  Big time.  Not only is she the next generation of what we call ‘bringer home of strays,’ but she actively (and against house rules) spoils the ones we already have.

For instance, she likes to feed the dogs French fries. Yes, yes, I know about the health risks and blah blah blah.  I can almost hear their tiny little arteries slamming shut from the other side of the house, but it’s so hard not to let her feed them because they love them so much. How can we deprive these furry family members a little treat for protecting our house and warding off any evil mailmen?

We’re not quite sure what Petra went through before she got to us, but it’s obvious she was dragged through the gutter and is still a bit shell-shocked from it. When the opportunity comes to nab a free French fry she has no shame in gulping it down as quickly as possible. I mean, you just never know when the French fries might disappear. Sarah holds out a fry and Petra chomps for it so quickly she almost takes a few fingers with her (although in all honesty she’s missing a bunch of teeth so even if she did clamp down on Sarah’s hand it probably wouldn’t hurt). She’s a dog that knows that life isn’t one big living room rug to sprawl out and fall asleep on so you can’t really blame her.

The funny part is the effect it’s been having on Rufus. In pre-Petra times Rufus wouldn’t have touched a French fry if his life depended on it.  Chicken yes. Roast beef, hell yes. French fries?  Eh, not so much. Now, with this little Chihuahua competing for the leftovers, even those he doesn’t want, Rufus has had to step up his own game and show some spunk of his own lest he be dethroned by this overeager street dog.

I watch the games from the comfort of my chair. Sarah will start tossing French fries, one at a time, alternating between the two dogs. If you’re a dog owner then you can understand that dogs don’t quite understand the concept of waiting their turn. They both try to catch the fries in mid-air but with different motivations running through their heads. Petra, the scrappy newcomer, lunges because she wants it in her mouth as quickly as possible in case it disappears. Rufus, the old guard, springs up simply because he doesn’t want to share. More times than not they collide. Sometimes the fry bounces in the air off their noses for a few turns, sort of like a soccer ball being passed between players, as each dog jockeys for the ideal position to have it drop into their mouth. Other times, the fry falls to the floor which lets loose a melee of commotion as their paws slide along the wood floor, and what teeth they have (neither have many) click-clack crazily after their prize. They don’t fight. It never, ever gets mean. They just want that damned fry!

Sarah barely notices. She’s usually tossing the fries willy-nilly while reading or watching TV so the little spars are lost on her. To an outsider she probably looks a little like one of those old ladies in a park feeding bread to pigeons…if the pigeons were a frenzied sort of rabid, savage, Walking Dead kind of pigeons.

It’s Cold

It’s bitter cold and windy where I live and windy…and really cold.  Did I mention cold?  And windy?  When I complain, people always tell me: “Hey!  It could be worse!”   However,  I say “Yeah, yeah, yeah…but, it could be better.  I could be living in the Bahamas right now.  Bet my face wouldn’t hurt in the freakin’ Bahamas.”


The Family Car

A little while ago I saw a Facebook thread from a friend who lives in New York about the transportation system they have there. (Feel free to jump ahead if you know everything there is about the train operations already). She was talking about how during the week on commuter trains, there are special sections called Quiet Cars that adhere to particular rules. You can probably guess what they are based on the name: No Families. Read between the lines and the rule is saying “we don’t want your stinkin’ kids.” This is only during the week, apparently.

She went on to say that kids are allowed on weekends and she was complaining about how noisy and chaotic and hectic it was having these kids ripping around the aisles like they’re at Disneyland. That’s when the brilliant idea hit her—why not have Family Cars all the time? All the kids can be herded there and leave the rest of the riders in relative peace and quiet.

I get where she’s coming from, but the reality of this solution is questionable at best. Peace and quiet? It’s New York for god’s sake, the crème de la crème of somewhat loud train riders. I mean really, any large city is going to have trains with loud people. People on cell phones having wildly inappropriate conversations during rush hour, drunk people having conversations with everybody, rowdy people who just like to make noise or those weird eccentric people who talk to themselves. It’s not just kids who are loud on trains.

However, my friend doesn’t mind the loud adults, apparently. They’re okay in her book. But show her a mother reading aloud to their kids to woo them into a mid-afternoon nap (or at the least an attempt to keep them occupied on the train ride) and she’s got issues. She’s my friend and all but really?  Parents reading Horton Hears a Who is more annoying than a guy who had a few too many at happy hour and he’s now expounding loudly to all and sundry about his Fantasy Football lineup? Oh please, please, please let that be his Fantasy Football lineup he’s talking about.

Don’t get me wrong, I hate screaming kids just as much as the next person; so the idea of the Family Car isn’t falling on totally deaf ears. Just muffled. As much as people annoy me (and they do so annoy me), I am well aware we don’t exist in self-contained bubbles where we’re free from any and all interactions that we don’t approve beforehand. Annoying people will always have access to us. Sometimes these people will happen to be children. Sometimes they’ll be full-fledged adults. You can’t get rid of everyone. That’s just life. Deal with it.

Trust me, I wish we had the technology to change this. Oh how I wish we did! I dream of living in the “Get Smart” days where I could ruthlessly activate a “cone of silence” over those irritating people who think train-riding time is also very-loud-and-very-private conversation time. Or hell, even at the cashier lane! Or in a restaurant!

I don’t want to know about your medical procedures. I don’t care about your husband’s toenail fungus. And I really, really don’t want to hear about what you found in your tissue when you blew your nose this morning. So what if your boss hates you?  Who doesn’t?  And who really cares? “Cone of Silence – Activate!”

Getting back to the Family Car vs Quiet Car why restrict it to certain ages or people?  Why not make it Loud Car vs Quiet Car and then stick every LOUD person in the one and every QUIET person in the other, whether they’re kids or families or not?

I mean there are quiet families.  They do exist.  Why should we “good” parents with well-behaved kids be thrown into that pit of vipers anyway? We hate the screaming and the noise and the misbehaving just as much as anyone.  That’s why our children know how to act in public.  So instead of making it a Family Car, make it a Loud Car.  Drunks, loud talkers, unruly kids and their parents, stick them all in there.  Quiet people of all ages – we get the Quiet Car.

It certainly makes as much sense as the original idea which was basically to throw families willy-nilly into one car assuming they’re all loud and unruly, while keeping childless adults on a Quiet Car because, as we all know, they’re sooo unobtrusive and well-behaved (nary a loud talker or rowdy one in the bunch!).  Yeah.  Right.