Bourbon Cowboy

The adventures of an urbane bar-hopping transplant to New York.

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Location: New York, New York, United States

I'm a storyteller in the New York area who is a regular on NPR's "This American Life" and at shows around the city. Moved to New York in 2006 and am working on selling a memoir of my years as a greeting card writer, and (as a personal, noncommercial obsession) a nonfiction book called "How to Love God Without Being a Jerk." My agent is Adam Chromy at Artists and Artisans. If you came here after hearing about my book on "This American Life" and Googling my name, the "How to Love God" book itself isn't in print yet, and may not even see print in its current form (I'm focusing on humorous memoir), but here's a sample I've posted in case you're curious anyway: Sample How To Love God Introduction, Pt. 1 of 3. Or just look through the archives for September 18, 2007.) The book you should be expecting is the greeting card book, about which more information is pending. Keep checking back!

Saturday, January 26, 2008

An Evening of Games!

(Above: cartoons I created for "Luck of the Draw" for the words "dead end" and "giant." For some reason, none of the cartoons for "chickens crossing the Delaware" survived.)

Last night, Kid Beyond (aka Murdoch, to Puzzlers League people; it suddenly occurs to me that I actually don't know his real name) came over to my temporary pad for an evening of games. Participants included Francis/Lunch Boy, Lorinne/Ennirol, and Rob (nom pending), a welcome surprise drop-in by John/Chainsaw, and not only Kid Beyond, but Robin, the very Oscar-nominated producer I mentioned yesterday! Gee, I had a great time! And it points out one of the sad facts about New York city life: It's hard to get people together mostly because nobody has room enough and chairs. For the next few months, I've got it covered.

The whole point of the evening was to play a game that Murdoch had invented, called Squizzblick. (Although it really could have been called any two phonemes you like. But what a Scrabble score that baby would give you!) The premise is so simple I can't believe no one's thought of it before. But the execution is so pristine I'm glad Murdoch came first, for reasons I'll shortly go into.

The gameplay is relatively simple:

[NOTE: It was brought to my attention that I probably shouldn't describe the game in any detail until Murdoch--Andrew Chaikin! Thanks, Francis!--has had a chance to pitch it. So if you read an earlier version of this blog post, please forget it. Thanks!]

As in most such games, the thing lives or dies by the cards, and these seemed bulletproof: broad enough to offer many ideas, interesting enough to not hamstring us with strictures. (The production values in the mockup were also quite impressive.) And the game is also clearly designed to appeal to people who aren't strong players: unlike with, say, Scattergories, in any round it's almost impossible to get more than five points, so even a bad player won't feel like they're being completely trounced.

The point is, we all loved it, and I hope he sells it to Hasbro soon. There's no reason he shouldn't make thousands of dollars with it. (He should make millions, but it is, you know, a boardgame.) Congratulations, Kid! You've done the game community proud!

Then, because we were all having such fun, we played a game Francis brought, called Luck of the Draw, which applies the Apples to Apples idea to Pictionary. You're told to draw something, but then, AFTER the drawings are done, you find out (through drawing a card) which aspect of the picture you're actually voting on: "Worst drawing," "Scariest," "Most moving," and so forth. In this particular case, however, I think the gameplay is ever so slightly flawed in that I suspect it tends to reward extreme people who don't follow the rules at all. (You stand a good chance of winning, I think, if in round after round you simply draw a crappy-looking letter X.) But, like Apples to Apples, it's not a game that's intended to be taken seriously, and while I may wish for a different scoring system, the fact is that it's just plain fun to draw silly things and see what everyone else did too. So thanks, Francis, for bringing that along!

(I also attempted to rope people into a game of Modern Art, but by the time we were interrupted by the arrival of Murdoch, the game itself had failed to gain any rabid adherents, though John remembered the game fondly when he saw it, so I didn't feel too completely indie.)

The other nice thing I discovered about a game party: if you have it at, say, 9, everyone has already eaten and there's precious little detritus to clean up afterward. Here are a few more leftver pictures for your delectation. You know it's a fun game when it's also fun to remember as you're cleaning up:

Pictures are of "It sprang a leak", "dead end," "dead end," and "spoiled." "It sprang a leak," by the way, was drawn by the inimitable Francis Heaney, whose "Six Things" cartoons, I learned yesterday, are archived here. Enjoy!

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