The always-brutal Morning News Tournament of Books has begun. Blood will be spilled.
I finally read the Olbermann filing against his former employer, Current TV, because it's Friday and I needed a laugh. (PDF.) It's pretty dramatic and overly aggrieved and not that damning, but then all he's claiming is that contracts were breached; it's not like anyone punched him. On the plus side, at least Olbermann is represented by real lawyers—Patricia Glaser (who did well for Conan!) and litigator Jill Basinger. Among Olbermann's complaints: Olbermann was treated as if he was hired to be a puppet! Not literally, I guess, or this would be a much better read.
Remember Magic: The Gathering? It was a game very popular in the '90s, and if you were like me, you may have spent hours in your bedroom, the sounds of Nirvana or Soundgarden bouncing off the walls around you, flipping through your cards. But then it might have gotten too expensive (a pack of 15 cards went for something like five bucks then, which doesn't sound like much except you were 16, had virtually no income and always needed more, more, more cards to compete)—or maybe you just moved on. But if you didn't know, the game has been enjoying a recent resurgence, and if you need proof, you [...]
"In the 8-bit days, death meant losing all your character's attributes, all his jewels, coins, weapons and experiences. It was in some ways like real-life death (or maybe the Buddhist version of it.) You were forced to start over absolutely, from nothing. There was a certain Puritanical satisfaction in this hard reality, I must say. You must learn your lesson, the game's underlying message seemed to suggest. There is no free ride for you, not ever. (Human ingenuity being what it is, there were, and are, a number of ways to foil the unpleasant consequences of total 8-bit doom. For example, there's this gang of modern NES enthusiasts I [...]
Those who say clubbing baby seals is the cruelest activity imaginable have clearly never witnessed a group of "intellectuals" and/or "pop culture enthusiasts" try to work together in an evening of casual trivia at a local bar. With the right mix of hubris, self-doubt and pun-making, this simple game of knowledge can render an evening into a series of heated silences and hurt egos. (The only solution to which—or perhaps a cause in and of itself—is copious amounts of alcohol.)
But what makes trivia in particular socially taxing are certain traits that become manifest in our friends. Among them:
1. The friend who insists on using the same Ron [...]
The word “quale” is a noun. It comes from Latin, rhymes with Pixar’s robot, and means, most commonly, “the quality of a thing.” For instance: the particular redness of a particular McIntosh apple. According to the OED, this usage first appeared in 1675, then again in 1875, which, as far as I can tell, was also its last usage. Or it was, until a few weeks ago, when a friend of mine earned 32 points by playing the “e” on a Double Word Score in a game of the Scrabble-simulator “Words with Friends.”
More than ten million people have downloaded “Words with Friends,” and many others play similar versions: [...]
There was a slight chance we were being indoctrinated into a cult.
The night before, during a tough trivia night at the Pig and Whistle, my friend Michelle had scribbled a name and address on a cocktail napkin. “Go to 580 California Street, head up to the 16th floor and ask for the Jejune Institute.”1
“What is it?” I asked.
“I can’t tell you anything but that. Trust me, you’ll like it.” She saw me wavering. “It’ll take fifteen minutes. If you want to stop after that, you don’t have to do anything else.” And so with a few hours to kill on a rainy Saturday, my [...]