The toughest part of writing about San Francisco's Jejune Institute "thing" was trying to describe it, something I attempted to do for this site twice. In a first piece about the citywide game, which was put on by a group called Nonchalance, I went with "[p]art public-art installation, part scavenger hunt, part multimedia experiment, part narrative story." For the follow-up, I added "underground alternate reality game" to the mix. Both summaries missed the mark, partly because of my own inadequacies as a writer, but also a symptom of the project's sprawling originality—it wasn't like anything else out there, and that was part of what made it [...]
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 [...]
The other night I attended the premiere of a video game. It was an odd little duck—the premiere, that is. The video game is L.A. Noire, an interactive thriller from Rockstar Games (coming out in May), and it was not odd at all. But the premiere was a bit of a puzzle.
In many aspects, it was more traditional roll-out than premiere—a demonstration of the product, followed by prepared remarks from the company and then a Q&A for the fans. But this was not Comic Con or E3 Expo, where we’d expect a whole weekend’s worth of such events; this was at the Tribeca Film Festival. And to [...]
The crossword puzzle can seem utterly authorless. If you haven't caught the documentary Wordplay, or bothered to look up the name that appears in tiny agate type below the grid in The New York Times, you might join many others in assuming that the crossword is written by editor Will Shortz. Or volunteers. Or a computer.
In fact, crosswords are made by people (called constructors) whose status is roughly equivalent to freelance writers—that is to say, low. Puzzles are sent on spec to editors, who buy them or turn them down, and who fine-tune the ones they accept without, as a nearly universal rule, consulting the constructor. Submissions may sit [...]
"I have so many darn cards—active and not. With the exception of the cards I’m working at any given time, I keep them semi-organized in a small zip lock (actually it’s a quart-sized bag). I use a black sharpie and write right on the cards '2x gas' '50k w/ 10k spend' 'cancel 1/2012' etc. I can only imagine what waiters and clerks think, but who cares?" —This is an awesome light introduction to how to work credit cards to your advantage. Should you be paying fees on credit cards? NO, NUH UH, YOU SHOULD NOT.
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: [...]
Diablo 3, a hack-and-slash role-playing game for the PC published by Blizzard (which also makes World of Warcraft), was released a month and a half ago. There was about a decade’s worth of anticipation from fans of the series who had profoundly nostalgic memories of late nights with Domino’s Pizza and cans of soda and Diablo 1 or 2 and a depressingly short AOL Instant Messenger buddy list.
Within 24 hours of Diablo 3’s May 15 release, about 3.5 million people had bought it, either that day or as a preorder. Many of them have been playing it obsessively since the release. But all is not well, because, [...]
By definition, being a quizmaster is about asking questions. As host of a live trivia game show, the Big Quiz Thing, I’ve spent the past eight years asking thousands of them—many good, some lousy. And in that time, countless others have approached me with questions and comments of their own—many good, some really, really stupid. Now that you’ve met the different types of people who play trivia, learn about some of the more amusing things people say to your esteemed host:
1. "I don’t know any trivia." Assuming you’re not a moron, this is nigh impossible. Everyone knows trivia, or at least a good quizmaster’s definition of trivia, which [...]
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 [...]