‘We really like puzzling’? That’s puzzling.

I’m not opposed to the occasional jigsaw or even three dimensional puzzle.  I like mind games, and seeing how all the tiny pieces of something fit together is, in and of itself, interesting.  Ravensburger (a major puzzle brand name) is a name well-known to me.  I even like the puzzles with 1000+ pieces,  which are often quite time consuming.  However, I don’t necessarily think a bigger puzzle is better.

Ravensbuger evidently does.  In order to celebrate their 125th anniversary of operation in that town, they’ve created the biggest puzzle in the world in the town square.  The puzzle is 1,141,800 pieces big and nearly covers the square, and was created in five hours from an assemblage of smaller (252-piece) pre-assembled puzzles. About 15,000 people contributed and participated.  Great publicity stunt, and probably a fun thing to participate in.  Still, I wish there was more.

Why did the thing have to be made out of smaller puzzles?  What’s wrong with a town square-sized giant puzzle with one pattern?  Sure, it would take considerably longer to assemble, but so what?  Think of what an awesome public park installation that would be – giant puzzle.  Hey, you may have to carry this tiny piece over a yard-square area to find where it fits, but so what?  Think of it as both mind and body exercise.

Now I just have to figure out logistically how to make this thing and where to put it…

Words I love.

Ok, so I’ve been meaning to write this post for awhile, and today, I’m extra-bored. SO –

Punk – Jo says this one is the hard consonants, which I think is true, as far as sound goes. But

Wiggins – As in ‘Weird old guys really give me the wiggins.” Did anyone else have Mr. Wiggins in high school? I’m sure he was not creepy, but he has a name that sounds like it should be a ridiculous butler.

Wapiti – not only are these little deer things cute, they also have a name that stings like a sandwich in the FACE. Also, the plural gives you a Scrabble bingo.

Eunuch – I love this word, and I hate it. The hate comes from my inability to pronounce the thing. I see the ‘e’, and think it should start with a ‘ee’ sounds, not a ‘you’ sound. I love this word, because it’s better than you’re basic threat: “I’ll make you a eunuch.” See, that even looks wrong.

Ragamuffin – Not only for the aspirated ‘f’ sound do I love this word. It looks like what it is – a little ragged around the edges, possibly spongy like cake. And when you say it, it sounds as if there are little sprouts growing out of it. Delicious!

Tomfoolery – This is Corina’s input. It does have a certain hickish/grandpa ring to it. ‘Dagnabit, quit your tomfoolery, Huckleberry!’

Bebop – This works both as a music genre and as a name for a cute little robot.  What other word could encompass the pep, energy, vim, and vigor of both?

Smorgasbord – Maybe it’s my European blood, but this word just sounds like THE ULTIMATE.  It’s like an infidel conqueror of a word, something reserved for total annihilation.  Who can resist the power of the mighty SMORGASBORDI?!

Tsunami – Ok, that last one got me thinking about destruction, and what natural disaster is more fun-sounding and anime than !Tsunami! ? For real though, it sounds even like the title of a cheesy
70s beach movie, which I would love.  Actually, it may be the title of a cheesy 70s beach movie.  In fact, I’m going to be disappointed if it’s not.

Money vs. Sportsmanship

In the wake of Speedo’s new LZR swimsuit and a rash of cries of unfairness, questions are being made as to the base nature of swimming as a sport.  Are Olympic competitions in swimming driven by the skill and effort of the individual alone, or do other concerns play a part?  Obviously the Olympic committee wants to be as fair as possible regarding the rules and the way each race is carried out, but who determines which suit you wear?  If not for endorsements, contracts, and the money that gets dropped into Olympic coffers, wouldn’t you just simply wear the suit that helps you to be the best you can be?  Why wouldn’t everyone just wear the LZR?  If it is a technologically advanced suit, or even a buoyant suit, should that be considered cheating?  Don’t we continue to break Olymic records of the past as competition increases?  Is this not an extension of that competition?

I’m not saying that I want swimming as a sport to become something like racing.  Sure, in racing there is a great deal of skill involved, but there’s also heavy technological reliance on the machines being used.  Both skills and machinery work together, I would say equally.  In swimming things are a little more one-sided.  If I put on the LZR, I’m still not going to win the Olympics tomorrow.  But it could certainly mean the difference between a silver and a gold, if not more.  And if it is so important, wouldn’t all these other manufacturers (Arena, Adidas, Descente, Diana, Nike, and Mizuno) all want to develop their own answer to this new faster, better suit, rather than crying wolf to the Olympic Board?

The Banana Monkey.

Some people like bananas.  Some people like monkeys.  I personally happen to like cards and cheese, but that’s another story for another time.  Finally, Some monkeys like bananas.  It is this group that gives rise to the Holy Grail of monkeydom, the Banana Monkey. He’s a fearful creature, with cheeks poodged out in banana revelry, spending his days munch munching away and playing Scrabulous with me.

As some of you may know, I am a big fan of Scrabulous. A big, big fan. In fact, I’ve lost count of the number of times I have mentioned the game in this blog. Some enterprising young person could do a search and perhaps count them, but that will not be me.  I need to put away such youthful games in my struggle to be a crazy old lady.  I am moving every closer – not many days ago, in a stroke of rare senility, I lost a game to the Banana Monkey.

Now, some of you may say, ‘how can this be? You’re so much smarter than a monkey!’  I know, I know.  Yet while it is evidence of progress towards my only life goal, I myself was initially flabbergasted.  My intelligence, of course,  is superior to monkeys, even an imposing figure such as the Banana Monkey.  But then I remembered the monkeys, typewriters, and Shakespeare theories of randomness.  The answer was simple:  I’ve been playing too much Scrabulous.  With an infinite amount of time, eventually I must get such crap letters that the Banana Monkey must triumph.  Perhaps (gasp!) even more than once.  It’s a simple fact of the nature of chaos.

Late Night video games

Last night for me was a night of distinct putzing.  True, I did clean up the bathroom a little, which needed major work, and a I got a load of laundry done.  But I really feel like I did less.  Why?  Video games.  Specifically, Bioshock, which has evidently won lots of video game awards.  If you’re like me and don’t really follow computer games and don’t really care about what you’re missing, here’s a nice article on why you might want to care.  Maybe.

Granted that Bioshock is a good melding of genre types, with enough shooting for hard-core first person shooters, but enough other stuff for people like me who haven’t really been into similar games since Kings Quest and the first-generation Carmen Sandiego games, I still find it oddly attractive outside its video game role.   Why?  Perhaps because I don’t really play it.  Mike does.

When I was a kid playing KQ with my sisters, there was always a fight about who got to be in the driver’s seat.   If you were playing together, of course you all wanted to be there when various plot points unfolded, but it was always more exciting to solve the puzzles and discover things yourself, rather than watching someone else do so.  With Mike and Bioshock, this isn’t really the case.  I suck at first person shooters, and I don’t care to experiment with the different fun ways to kill things very much.  Is it amusing when you accidentally throw a corpse at an enemy?  Yeah, probably, but not that amusing.

The real fun comes from  getting to boss Mike around without actually being mad at him.  Comments such as “You haven’t gone down that hall to your left yet.  No, no your other left.  Go back!” or “There’s an Eve hypo on top of that rock.” or “B! B!  You need more health.  Nope, you’re dead.” are perceived as helpful, rather than pissy.  I get to yell with drama, rather than anger, which is always fun.

For that, I will stay up till midnight even though I was sick and meant to get to bed early.

Scrabulous? Perhaps

Though I was pulled kicking and screaming into the Facebook world by my two younger sisters (Thanks, both of you, for the giant GAPS on my Myspace Top 12), I have found my permanent niche there. That niche is online Scrabble. I love it, I’m addicted, and I’m half-torn between admitting I have a problem and dancing with joy at the thought of procrastination which may actually sharpen my mind. And while it’s probably not so good to be constantly online checking on the multiple games I have going at once, it is nice to have a little brain bender to turn to when I need a little break. Call it the World Wide Water Cooler.

In addition I have recently encountered a new type of Scrabble that makes clear what I love about Facebook’s online version, Scrabulous. It’s called Scrabble Scramble. In some unknown way it differs from Scrabble Express, which I have no experience with. Anyway, the point of this game is speed.  No more waiting for the slow one to tediously spell out three letter words. No more dancing around the room hoping that your perfect bingo is not destroyed before you can play it. It’s a roll-and-go game that forces you to think on your feet and adapt to changing situations under pressure.

While I do still love and cherish the online dictionary of Scrabulous, some have said that checking your words in such dictionaries is tantamount to cheating. I prefer to think of such use as a way to learn new words and expand my mind, but I will say it’s rare for me to actually look up the words I’ve discovered. Still, what really draws me to both Scrabulous and Scrabble Scramble is the flexibility of the game. Both take up just a little bit of time, are portable or readily accessible from multiple locations, and demand flexible thinking as well as game strategy and a large vocabulary. Where could you go wrong with that?