- Bring it on, Short Man, I ain’t scared o’ you.
Island Packet — Are you supposed to let your kids win at board games? Let me rephrase that: Are you supposed to let your kids win at board games if you can beat them at board games? Because frankly I lost a shocking amount of Candy Land to my son when he was 4, but in my defense, there is zero strategy to Candy Land, and that dude had no idea what he was doing. It’s not like I lost because of some series of tactical errors, right? The little mop-top just pulled the colored cards in the right order and avoided Gloppy when he needed to, right? Everyone just smile and nod, please, thanks.
On the whole, we’ve yet to establish a consistent routine about this winning-and-losing situation. Sometimes when we play games I’ll take a dive in Battleship, make a ridiculous accusation in Clue or make a lousy chess move or two to let the Little Man stay a competitive step ahead. Sometimes I’ll spot-decide that I should use this game of Ticket to Ride to teach that life is an unending thread of disappointments that he must begin enduring as soon as possible. Sometimes my 9-year-old straight up beats me at chess, which naturally makes me want to immediately crush him at Ticket to Ride.
But there’s no rhyme or reason to these games, and there probably should be, at least while I maintain the ability to keep an upper hand at some of them. Because there is one game at which he regularly throttles me, one game that I lose, regularly, badly, to a person who routinely puts his shirts on backward and ends 85 percent of all dinners by falling out of his chair.
The game is called Blokus.
GateHouse — First of all, the good news is that Monopoly is NOT getting rid of jail. JAIL IS SAFE, EVERYONE. Well it’s not safe, because it’s still jail, and I’ve heard enough about “Orange Is The New Black” to know what I’m talking about, but you get the point.
This is a big deal because last week there was concern when The Internet, which is the thing you read when you sort of want news but mostly want to know about “14 Things That Happened When A Waffle House Opened In The Braves’ Stadium,” reported that a new version of the venerable board game was doing away with jail.
That’s right: NO MORE JAIL! Why, the very thought of it was enough to send the Internet’s army of unpaid clones into a tizzy about the injustice of a world that allowed modified board games, an injustice that was so fierce and disturbing that it left little energy for fact-checking, which would have saved loads of time since the story turned out not to be true. I KNOW, you’re saying, The Internet usually doesn’t get things wrong, unless it’s Boston bombing facts or the name or the occasional school gunman, but it’s straight-up all over this “32 Signs You’re A Weasley” thing.
Let me back up a little: For you youngsters reading the paper (HA!), this “Monopoly” is a Precambrian “board game” once played by children before the invention of a video game you played by hopping around your living room like a lunatic, and it basically made family-friendly sport out of basic economics. That’s probably why fewer people are playing it now, because most modern parents can’t hand over even fictional cash to theoretical utilities without bursting into tears.
Thanks to Change, this letter can now be used to score points on everything from Zappa to Zoltar to Zombie
.Island Packet — Not to sound like a jerk, but I am better than you at Scrabble. And I can prove it with shocking mathematics: In March I played a single word for 117 points, 117 nasal passage-melting points, a startling, Bob Huggins’ head-sized accomplishment that is difficult to process with your mortal human brain, so I will pause here to let you absorb it with reverent silence.
Go on. It’s OK. I’ll cool myself with tropical foliage while being hand-fed cheeses and star fruit while you stand slack-jawed with wonder.
OK, now that your heart rate has relaxed and most of the major sweating has slowed, I will tell you that the 117-point monster I conjured with my brain-wand was DOOZIES, a word which is far too cartoonish for the verbal firepower and childish gloating it unleashed. If you are not a Scrabble player, this is the equivalent of Albert Pujols hitting a home run that counted for 30 runs, or Duke’s championship victory coming in part because Jon Scheyer hit a 75-pointer (which NCAA officials would happily allow, incidentally, but whatever).
Indeed, at any given time, I am engaged in three or four games of Scrabble, mostly on my iPhone, where I play the free Scrabble app called Words With Friends (a name which no doubt resulted from Lawsuits Among Companies), a diversion that helps exercise my mind while causing considerable terror in the drivers behind me.
But this has all taken place under what will soon be known as Old Scrabble Rules, the board-game equivalent of the pre-‘roid era. Because a new edition of the game will for the first time allow proper nouns — including the names of celebrities, places and companies — because a board game adored by language enthusiasts for 62 years can’t possibly navigate the rocky transition to the iPad Age unless it can somehow work in “Beyonce.” (I note with no small degree of pleasure that the person who established the anti-proper noun rule was Alfred Butts, whose name is now worth a great many points and immeasurable awesomeness.)
• Cameo – Word Up!