Thursday, September 17, 2009

Best of the Bads

Today while on break with Kelli, I found the newest addition to my playing card collection: Disney Villain Cards. This led me to start thinking about who would be my favorite Disney villain of all-time.

But first, let's eliminate some obvious also-rans:

1. Prince John (Robin Hood): Not entirely fair to the Prince, since Robin Hood is more about the team of good guys v the team of bad guys. However, I think Rule 1 of villains should be that they are a fair match for the hero, and since Prince John's defining characteristics are greed and incompetence, I just don't think he measures up. Worse, Prince John gets upstaged by his henchmen, Sir Hiss and the Sheriff of Nottingham, who is so impressive of a henchman that he gets his own henchmen.

2. MAN (Bambi): MAN is scary and destructive enough, and certainly causes enough evil, what with the burning down the forest and killing Bambi's mom and all. However, MAN is portrayed in the movie by a 3-note motif, and I think I'm looking for something a little more corporeal. Oddly enough, MAN didn't make the playing cards. I guess "dun dunnn DUNNNN ::cymbal crash::" was a little too hard to illustrate.

3. The Queen/Witch (Snow White): Probably the most evil of the evil villains, so evil in fact that she has no redeeming qualities whatsoever. I feel like the audience should kind of like the villain and sort of hope he prevails at some point. The Evil Queen hires an assassin to cut out Snow White's heart and bring it back in a golden box. It's just hard to get behind that sort of monster.

So, that leave me with this top five:

5. Cruella De Vil:

Pros: Has a catchy ditty written about her. Friends with the human protagonists. Has hilarious henchemn. Drives a cool car and smokes cigarettes with a holder. Dedicated.

Cons: Wants to kill puppies. You can never cheer for people who want to kill puppies, unless you are an Eagles fan.

4. Jafar:

Pros: Ridiculously powerful. High standing as Vizier, lots of wealth, magic powers, etc etc, making him perfect foil for penniless Aladdin. Friends with Gilbert Gottfried. Gets to say the awesome line, "There is a cave, boy; a cave of WONDERS!" The one villain to survive the movie.

Cons: Not particularly charismatic. No music number. Also, how did he lose? Really. He was already basically running the kingdom, because Lord knows that bumbling Sultan wasn't doing it. I mean, really, he can hypnotize people. Why didn't he just hypnotize Jasmine into marrying him? Or hypnotize whatever dolt she would eventually be forced to marry? Seems there were easier solutions to his problem than seeking out the cave of wonders.

3. Ursula the Sea Witch:

Pros: Runs a legitimate business that takes advantage of saps. Intelligent. Charming to the point of unctuousness. Also contains one of the creepier henchmen, Flotsam and Jetsam.

Cons: Do we ever know what she does with the poor unfortunate souls once she turns them into creepy green plant things? I'm a little bit confused by her tactics.

(Didn't know whether to include Pixar movies or not. If I would have, 3rd place would've been occupied by Syndrome from The Incredibles)

2. Scar:

Pros: Sarcastic, rude, funny, willing to break the rules. Would've been the best uncle ever if it weren't for the whole line-of-succession-based assassination plot.

Cons: Hopelessly overmatched and outnumbered once Simba returns. Plus, he's not...

1. Gaston:

Turns out this was an easy choice, because I decided that Gaston was pretty much right all the way through. Look at the facts:

A. Gaston is successful at everything. He is the best hunter, best fighter, best at everything. He's going to have an excellent life ahead of him. People don't usually get to be liked by EVERYONE by being a jerk. Just sayin.

B. Gaston could've had any woman in town, but he's a one woman man. Sure, he may be a bit superficial, but then, Belle is the heroine for a reason: she really IS the best girl in the village. Gaston merely recognizes this, and, being the best himself, he knows he deserves the best. Even Maurice recognizes this.

C. Belle chooses the Beast over him. I think it's important to remember that the Beast was turned into a Beast because he was the biggest asshole on the face of the planet. And let's not pretend like the Beast was all nice when they met either. She was willing to give the Beast a chance despite the whole imprisoning her forever, but wouldn't give Gaston a chance because he's a bit superficial and not interested in literature? Perhaps she's not so good at looking past the surface herself. In additon, the nice sweet gesture that made her see the good in him? He didn't let her get eaten by wolves. I wouldn't let my least favorite person on the planet get eaten by wolves if I could prevent it. It doesn't exactly take a big dose of empathy for one to stop wolf-maulings.

D. His one "malicious" act is trying to get Maurice committed. As a mental health professional, I'm thinking that if someone were building insane contraptions in their basement that has a tendency to blow up their house from time to time, and even when they work, still involve rickety parts swinging sharp axes at perilous speeds and flipping logs in random directions, they qualify as a danger to themselves and others. So he greased a few palms to get his point across. He at least isn't attempting to murder anyone.

E. As for trying to kill the Beast, I think the larger point that the Beast kidnapped two citizens of the town shouldn't be overlooked. Yes, he let her go, but only when he saw that her father was dying, and the Beast's behavior at best can be called "erratic." Gaston may have gone a bit overboard, but his basic stance, that the Beast could be considered a threat to the town, was valid.

F. And then there's this:

A song and dance number. In 6/8 time. Gaston is the best and the rest are the drips.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

One Song I Heard On the Radio and One Song I Heard on the Radio on a Videogame

Compare and contrast two songs with highly catchy music and lyrics of varying degrees of quality:

"Umbrella," Rihanna:

This song has the dumbest, worst conceived lyrics of any song, maybe ever. They aren't even Jim Steinman-esque Awesomely Bad. They are just terrible, and here is why: Every songwriter and lyricist has to resort to the occasional cliche, just like every songwriter eventually cribs from the Beatles. We understand this. We forgive it.

What we do not forgive is when you have insipid cliched lyric after insipid cliched lyric and don't even bother to make sure they rhyme. Or in some cases have anything to do with each other. Observe the amazing chorus of this masterpiece:

When the sun shines we'll shine together
Told you I'll be here forever
Said I'll always be your friend
Took an oath, I'ma stick it out to the end

Now that it's raining more than ever
Know that we'll still have each other
You can stand under my umbrella
You can stand under my umbrella.

I suppose technically "Forever" and "Ever" rhyme. And they did manage to get that highly imaginative "friend/end" combo in there, I'm assuming by accident. But ever/other/umbrella... that's just not even close. The whole thing is compounded by the fact that "umbrella" isn't exactly an easy word to sing, and therefore Rihanna has to add an extra syllable to it just to get it to fit. My favorite part, outside of the use of the word "I'ma", is that they flat out admit they've got nothing and just repeat the last line at the end.

The wonderful thing is it took 4 people to write this work of art. Good work, all.

"One Step Forward," Desert Rose Band:

You know that story about how Paul Simon wrote "50 Ways to Leave Your Lover" to teach his kid how to rhyme? I'm thinking Desert Rose Band used this song to teach their kids opposites, because I'll be damned if they don't include every set of antonyms in the Songwriting For Dummies handbook. I would like to make fun of it, but I can't, because they fit them all in such perfect rhythm and rhyme over a catchy melody. I mean, you have to respect their dedication to the theme of the song. "We're using opposites, and we will keep using opposites until we have three and a half minutes worth of music." And just to keep us guessing, they alternate the position of the good and the bad one. They even dug deep and pulled out this combo:

You were my fever and my cure
Made me doubt and you made me sure

I mean, if you had me list about 20 opposites off the top of my head, those two sets wouldn't come up, and they fit so easily together.

So, see, Rihanna's gigantic songwriting committee? You can be cliched and not suck. You just have to do it with a bit of panache. That's all.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

And Another Thing!

My Fair Lady wasn't even the best MUSICAL of 1964! How does My Fair Lady beat out Mary Poppins?

Really. Are there any lines in My Fair Lady as awesome as "Feed the birds and what have you got? Fat birds!" I'm also fond of the insane naval commander who lives next door and inexplicably fires his cannon at random things. Plus, Julie Andrews did her own singing. Audrey Hepburn, not so much.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Clean Up

Let's see, where was I?

Oh right.

The Silence of the Lambs (1991): I watched this movie by myself, in the middle of the night, in my giant, cavernous apartment, with no lights on, and boy howdy was it creepy. It deserved every award it got. And then some, probably. I think this movie has no flaws whatsoever, but I still find it inferior to Rain Man. Moving on.

No Country For Old Men (2007): The Coen Brothers weren't shafted! 11 years later, they get their rightful due they were screwed out of when Fargo didn't win. I think I would've liked this one more if I didn't know the Coens made it. I kept waiting for the quirkiness to step in, but just found mountains of unrelenting evil and death. Oh well. I prefer a little comedic relief in my drama, like, for instance, an autistic man who only flies on Quantas. Moving on.

Slumdog Millionaire (2008): Somewhere, somebody must have said, "You know, Andy tries to watch all of the Best Pictures, so let's tailor a movie to his particular tastes and see if we can unseat Rain Man." "Good idea," says his partner, "but what does he like?" "Foreign cultures!" "Flashbacks!" "Organized crime!" "Elegantly intertwining storylines!" "Happy endings!" "Hilarious bits mixed in with serious, heart-rending bits." "Great. Anythin else?" "Game shows!" "Wait, how can we work game shows into this?" Thus, the challenge was laid down, and from this spitballing session came Slumdog Millionaire, complete with game shows, and yes, I did in fact love every second of this movie. If they had remembered "mental illnesses," it might have actually succeeded in unseating Rain Man. Maybe next time, movie producers.

It Happened One Night! (1934): So I was looking on Turner Classic Movies On Demand the other night, and It Happened One Night! was listed. At first I felt it was kind of cliched, but then I realized in 1934 there weren't cliches yet and that pretty much every romantic comedy since has copied its formula, and since I love Frank Capra, I let it go. Pretty enjoyable little flick. In other news, did Clark Gable always look that pissed? A quick Yahoo image search reveals, yeah. Pretty much. Also, one thing I did NOT expect to see was the ending from SpaceBalls sneakily cribbed from this movie, almost line for line. Seriously. And as far as I know, no one else realized that either. Kudos to Mr. Brooks.

Dr. Strangelove, or How I Learned to Quit Worrying and Love the Bomb (1964): HOW IN THE NAME OF ALL THINGS HOLY DID THIS MASTERPIECE LOSE TO MY FAIR FUCKING LADY????? More to come in a following blog post dedicated entirely to why Dr. Strangelove is awesome and My Fair Lady is inawesome, which is a word I just made up. It shall feature lots of capital letters, multiple punctuation marks to end sentences, and possibly some bold print. Along with profanity. When some people think about what they would do if they could go back in time they think of preventing the Holocaust, or changing major mistakes they made in their lives. Me? I want to make Dr. Strangelove win in '64.

In other news, Rain Man is awesome.

So, let's look at the Big Board (don't let the Russian Ambassador in):

2008 Slumdog Millionaire*
2007 No Country For Old Men*
2006 The Departed*
2005 Crash*
2004 Million Dollar Baby*
2003 The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King
2002 Chicago
2001 A Beautiful Mind*
2000 Gladiator
1999 American Beauty
1998 Shakespeare in Love
1997 Titanic

1996 The English Patient
1995 Braveheart
1994 Forrest Gump
1993 Schindler's List
1992 Unforgiven*
1991 Silence of the Lambs
1990 Dances with Wolves

1989 Driving Miss Daisy
1988 Rain Man*
1987 The Last Emperor
1986 Platoon*
1985 Out of Africa
1984 Amadeus
1983 Terms of Endearment
1982 Gandhi
1981 Chariots of Fire
1980 Ordinary People
1979 Kramer Vs. Kramer
1978 The Deer Hunter*
1977 Annie Hall
1976 Rocky
1975 One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest*
1974 The Godfather Part II*
1973 The Sting*
1972 The Godfather*

1971 The French Connection
1970 Patton
1969 Midnight Cowboy
1968 Oliver!
1967 In the Heat of the Night*
1966 A Man for All Seasons
1965 The Sound of Music
1964 My Fair Lady

1963 Tom Jones
1962 Lawrence of Arabia*
1961 West Side Story

1960 The Apartment
1959 Ben-Hur
1958 Gigi
1957 The Bridge on the River Kwai*
1956 Around the World in 80 Days
1955 Marty
1954 On the Waterfront
1953 From Here to Eternity
1952 The Greatest Show on Earth
1951 An American in Paris
1950 All About Eve
1949 All the King's Men
1948 Hamlet
1947 Gentleman's Agreement
1946 The Best Years of Our Lives
1945 The Lost Weekend
1944 Going My Way
1943 Casablanca
1942 Mrs. Miniver
1941 How Green Was My Valley
1940 Rebecca
1939 Gone With the Wind
1938 You Can't Take It With You
1937 The Life of Emile Zola
1936 The Great Ziegfeld
1935 Mutiny on the Bounty
1934 It Happened One Night*
1933 Cavalcade
1932 Grand Hotel
1931 Cimarron
1930 All Quiet on the Western Front
1929 The Broadway Melody
1928 Sunrise
1927 Wings

Next up: Annie Hall (1977)

Tuesday, June 30, 2009


Kelli and I are getting married on Aug. 1. It will be a good time.

Monday, May 11, 2009

When Real Life Makes Me Surly...

...I bitch about unrelated things. With extra ellipses, apparently.

And today, despite the fact that I voted for him twice, I think I'm giving up on President Obama. I have stopped believing in the change. Perhaps I was blinded by the fact that Hillary was trying to court racist republican voters instead of me.

The deficit is still growing so we can throw extra money to investment bankers and encourage people to buy houses, despite the fact that shifty investing and an artificially inflated demand for houses was a major cause for this mess.

We're still kicking gays our of the military for being gay. Go progress.

We're still torturing people.

We're still paying for health care.

But on the plus side, I did get an extra $40 every paycheck. Whoop dee damn do.

Mr. President, Mr. Bush has retired. With the worst approval ratings ever. You do not, and probably should not, follow his example. Just a thought. But thanks for giving me a short break from my real life problems. I appreciate it.

Monday, May 4, 2009

Time to Play Catch-Up

I've got a lot of things to talk about here, so let's get to the bullets:

1. Dick Clark. I watched a rerun of $100,000 Pyramid on GSN the other night, during which Dick Clark took a good 90 seconds to try to figure out how the contestant and celebrity partner whose turn just finished could've gotten the word "Mango." He involved the judges and everything on what would be and would not be allowed to be said as clues. Sure, Dick Clark most assuredly enjoyed hosting the show, but you can tell just by watching it that he really, really wanted to be a celebrity contestant. He thus went through life cursed with seeing the thing he wanted most every day but couldn't get it. Quite sad, really.

2. Peanut butter crackers. You know those peanut butter on cheese crackers sandwiches? The bright orange kind? Who thought of those? How did he do it? Was he sitting around one day, eating a peanut butter sandwich and suddenly think, "You know what would taste good on this? A piece of cheese," at which point snack conventions as we knew them changed forever? Cheese and peanut butter. How? It boggles my feeble little mind.

3. Monopoly. I lost to Kelli. Badly. It was a rout. She was making trades with me out of pity. My mojo is gone. Notice how I bury this halfway down the post. Moving on.

4. Money. I have none. Lots of student loans came due, and so now I have to look at a career change or going to school again. It sorta sucks because I enjoy what I do and I am very good at it. Lucky I also have...

5. Cheap sources of entertainment! Such as 8 year old video game consoles, 6 year old games, board games found at Goodwill for $2, and blogging. Of course blogging. Lately we've even had a few friends to enjoy these things with us, so all in all, I'd say things will be ok.

Sunday, April 5, 2009


This morning was my interview for Under the Boardwalk. The filmmaker, Kevin Tostado, was a really cool guy. I knew this from the start as he immediately began playing with JJ right after we introduced ourselves, and in my estimation, anyone who is cool with my cat is cool with me.

Anyway, the film sounds interesting, as he's taping Monopoly tournaments all over the world, and since it might have a minute or two of me in it, I'll keep everyone updated. And since I am in a Monopoly mood now (as if there's a point in the past month when I haven't been in one), I think it's time for the next token:

The Horse and Rider:

Usability: The Horse and Rider is a tall and thin token. It's easy to grab and move, and quick to find, as absolutely none of the other tokens resemble anything like it. Probably the easiest piece to use of all.

Personality: In a set of random tokens that seemingly have absolutely nothing to do with neither each other nor the game they are used in, the Horse and Rider stands out as being particularly alien, almost as if it's thrown in from some other game entirely. The Horse and Rider is the only piece to have a base; the rest stand on their own, and it is taller than the rest. It seems somehow fitting then that of all the tokens, the Horse and Rider is the one with the actual connection to Atlantic City. In Darrow's time, there was an act on the Steel Pier where a horse and rider would dive off of a 40 ft platform into a tub of water and then swim out. It was apparently quite the tourist attraction. Thus, the player who picks the Horse and Rider may seem a bit off in some way, but is not afraid to stand out and is comfortable and confident because he or she is in their element, right where they belong.

Humor: On the humor front, there aren't a plethora of options, but enough to keep this piece respectable. Should you land on an opponent's hotel, simply park the horse in front of it, face the edge of the board, and charge the owner a landscaping fee for improving the facade with your statue. If that fails, you can use the horse to push it over or beat on other tokens like an episode of When Animals Attack. Should you be struck with a creative mood, you can ad lib conversations between the horse and the rider, with bonus points if you can work in the line "Where have you taken us, Philippe?!"

Verdict: While a bit ostentatious, the Horse and Rider remains one of the better options available. Other than its high visibility, it has no major drawbacks.

Next: The Iron

Thursday, April 2, 2009

Pull It Together

The Thimble:

As I have never picked the thimble (not once!) when playing Monopoly, I know very little about it. In fact, the knowledge I have about thimbles wouldn't fill a thimble. As such, I have turned to an expert on thimblian affairs: Kelli. Kelli picks the thimble every time. After picking her brain, here's what I come up with.

Usability: An average piece. Doesn't stand out much on the board, not exceptionally easy nor difficult to pick up. Has a nice little textured surface though; that should count for something.

Personality: The thimble is the token of choice for contingency planners. No matter how broken things seem, the thimble feels they can fix them. Nothing is beyond repair. It also has the distinction in that it's the only piece that does not have a front or a back; even the Money Bag has dollar signs signifying front and back. Thimble players are balanced and well-rounded, if a bit whimsical and unpredictable. One never knows which way the thimble is going.

Humor: The thimble is one of a few pieces that a player can drink out of. This is useful during good times as a celebration drink, and also useful in bad times to drown your sorrows. The thimble can also be placed on the player's pinky, where it can be used to tap out a beat or to strike the other players in the temple to throw them off their game. Bold players can affix it to their tongue and make faces at the competition.

Verdict: A piece for unorthodox players. The unpredictable nature of the thimble, matched with their tendency toward back-up plans, points to a player who will make deals specifically to take out whoever is winning. If you are a playing a thimble and winning, take them out fast. If you are playing a thimble and a third person is winning, strike a deal quickly to even the playing field, and then take them out before they can turn a deal with someone else.

Next: The Horse and Rider

Tuesday, March 31, 2009


It's been a busy week for me, what with working a crapload of overtime so I can afford my pending trip to Washington, DC and all. On top of that, my beloved Kelli is feeling under the weather. This would normally require a trip to the doctor, but since for reasons unknown my doctor gave me a refill on my antibiotic, we were able to get her some meds without a dastardly co-pay. In the wrong hands, this antibiotic refill could have been disastrous; however, I am a regular reader of Rex Morgan, MD, and thus knew about the dangers of the MRSA, and therefore only used it responsibly.

So, I will soon resume my regularly scheduled blogging about my sudden Monopoly obsession.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Funny You Should Mention It

In comments, Casey asked me if I've seen King of Kong, the documentary about the Donkey Kong world record. I haven't yet, but a filmmaker named Kevin Tostado is doing a documentary on Monopoly and the Monopoly tournaments entitled "Under the Boardwalk" and has asked for some background information on the finalists. You can see a teaser, along with an interview with Matt McNally, the reigning Monopoly champion, at

Monday, March 23, 2009

It's Official!

Got an email:

Andrew -

Congratulations again for earning a spot at the 2009 Monopoly U.S. National
Championship tournament.

Attached you will find three documents that provide additional information
about the championship tournament and that will help you plan your trip to
Washington D.C.

1. Letter
This is your official invitation. This document also includes a basic
tournament schedule and a short list of questions and answers.

2. Affidavit
Please review, sign and return.

3. Questionnaire
Includes important questions about your travel and you. Please answer the
questions and return a copy to us. This information will help us plan for
you and your guests.

If you have any problems with the files, please let us know and we will
resend or overnight hard copies to you.

Please feel free to give us a call if you have any questions.
Donetta & the Monopoly Team

In addition, it turns out that I was the only one who bankrupted all of their opponents, giving me the #2 ranking behind the defending champ going into the tournament. I'm #2! I'm #2!

Sunday, March 22, 2009

The Waiting Is the Hardest Part

I really thought I would know by now if my dominating performance on Pogo this weekend earned me a spot in the National Championship, but for some reason Hasbro/Parker Brothers/Pogo/etc. is dragging their heels. So, in the meantime, here's the full, unabridged story of my tournament experience. Online, I actually played the Here and Now: The World Edition, but to keep things more familiar, I'll refer to properties and money values by the standard gameboard.

My plan on Friday night was to come home, play one last game of Monopoly on Pogo, and then get about 8 hours sleep. However, we had to go to Meijer and wanted to deliver some groceries to our friend and coworker Alex, who is going through a family emergency and has been staying at the hospital. Everything is going well so far, if anyone is concerned about the seldom blogged-about friends of someone they don't actually know. It turned out I didn't get home until 2 in the morning, leaving no time for practice and less than 8 hours for sleep, but after weighing pros and cons I decided that 6 hours of sleep would be plenty and the karmic boost of delivering groceries to bed-ridden hospital patients and their attending family would be more beneficial than one more practice game.

As it turned out, I didn't sleep too soundly that night. Falling asleep was difficult, and staying asleep was difficult, but waking up early was not, for once. Since I rose out of bed at 8:30, an hour and a half before my first contest, I had time to think every aspect of my morning over to relax myself as much as possible.

I took a long, hot shower to ease my raging nerves. I searched for my MONOPOLY shirt, but as it must have been dirty, I had to go with a backup plan. I looked through my closet and settled on a Thoroughbred Music Festival shirt that has a horse playing the banjo on it that was never featured on the blog but made the final cut. It is a tad small but stretches well, but more importantly it was a gift from my friend Alpha Omega from college. Al knew about my collection of bizarre shirts and gave it to me after it shrank too much for him to wear. He instructed me to "wear it when you go on adventures. It's a good adventure shirt." He has been proven right over the years, and I wanted the good karma stored in the shirt. I decided trying for the Monopoly championship was an adventure and put it on.

I then went downstairs to eat some off-brand Honey Nut Cheerios. I also put on some They Might Be Giants as good comfort music, but quickly realized that as much as I love TMBG, they don't pump me up to succeed and accomplish my dreams, so I plotted a new course. I turned on my DVD player, went to special features, and listened to a rousing version of "Walk Hard." I then ate some off-brand Honey Nut Cheerios and tried to keep my confidence up and nerves in line.

By this time it was time to turn on the computer so I could go over the procedures with half an hour to spare. I got all set up, and felt the need to become even more pumped up, so I turned to my good friend the YouTube and listened to the classic Stan Bush tune, "The Touch." Oh man, just searching for that song on YouTube to link it is pumping me up again. PURE ADRENALINE, BABY! (Incidentally, did Stan Bush ever have any hits outside of the animated TransFormers movie from the 80s?)

So, Game 1: I play against Cool Guy and Big Jerk. I trade Cool Guy the 2 Light Blues (giving him the Monopoly) for 2 RRs early on. Big Jerk tries to rip me off several times by demanding I give him 4 RRs, $600, a Red, and a Green for St. Charles Place, which I had been trying to land on the entire game and need to complete the Light Purples. I tell him "No," eventually land on the unowned Red, and work out a deal where I give him 2 Reds in exchange for $400 and St. Charles Place. Cool Guy, with his Light Blue Hotels, hits Big Jerk with a $550 Vermont Hotel bill, and then I finish him off with a $700 Virginia bill. This leaves me with the Red Monopoly, but no cash, as he used all of his cash to pay Cool Guy. So it comes down to my Light Purple Hotels and RRs v. Cool Guy's Light Blue Hotels, Utilities, and Giant Pile of Cash. If I can survive a couple trips around the board, the game is mine. If he dodges my properties and hits me early, the game is his.

Then, an event that I will call "Karmic Payoff 1" occurs. Cool Guy lands on Reading, pays me $200. On his next turn, he rolls double 3s: St. Charles Place with a Hotel: $750. He pays with ease, and rolls an 11, lands on Chance, and draws the elusive "Advance to St. Charles Place" card, for another $750 tab. From here I could unmortgage and develop the Reds, and the game was over shortly. Cool Guy jokes to everyone in the waiting room that he had me on the ropes until I found out a way to digitally stack the Chance Card deck in my favor.

Game 2: Both my opponents are engaging and funny, so I have no nicknames differentiating them. The game begins with what I will call "Karmic Payoff 2." I get the second turn, and promptly roll Double 6s and buy the Electric Co. I then roll a 6 and a 4, land on Chance, and draw the "Advance to the Nearest Utility" card, and buy Water Works. I've never actually owned the Utility Monopoly, so this wasn't in my game plan, but I've heard from various strategy guides that they have a good payoff. I can confirm this now, as one of my opponents kept track of how much he paid my utilities, and noted he had paid for both of them by himself in less than half an hour. As for the rest of the game, both of my opponents were active traders, and offers were flying back and forth the entirety of the game. When the smoke cleared, I held the Oranges, the RRs, the Utilities, and two Greens with the third unowned, one held the Light Blues and the Dark Blues, and the other got shut out of a couple of deals and was left with just the Dark Purples for a short while before he went bankrupt. The cops caught on to our dirty dealings and threw both of us in jail a few times, which was very good for me and not so good for him, as it set him in line to hit my Oranges and let me dodge all of his Blues. The game ended pretty quickly after that.

So, for those looking for actual Monopoly strategy and not just token selection advice, I would say "Karma, Stan Bush, part of this complete breakfast, Railroads, Don't Be a Big Jerk, Oranges." I think that's a formula that can't miss. Now I just have to wait to see if I get to go to Washington.

Saturday, March 21, 2009




Friday, March 20, 2009

In For the Long Haul

Ok, before I get to today's installment, I must apologize for its delay. As far as weeks go, I've had a busy one, filled with drama, humor, excitement, and all the adventures you'd come to expect from one with such a go-get-em lifestyle as mine. There is, however, major news to announce: I have been selected as one of 75 semifinalists in the official US Monopoly Tournament. I must play two games of Monopoly online this weekend, and if my money total is in the top 24, I go to Washington DC for the Finals and a chance to win a Monopoly set with real money in it. Needless to say, I am pumped. Plus, this gives my crucial advice offered here some extra gravitas: I am now an expert and shit. So listen up.

The Wheelbarrow:

Usability: While the wheelbarrow has two handles, they are not particularly easy to grip, and it's pretty wide at all points. On top of this, it seems to tip over rather easily. Thus, it's not the most easily handled piece.

Personality: At first, the wheelbarrow suggests very little about its player. It is not a flashy piece, it does not stand out on the board, and it is rarely associated with any style of play. However,underneath its calm facade, the wheelbarrow tacitly implies, "I plan on making so much money in this game, I am going to need a wheelbarrow to carry it around the board. Moreover, while I am going to have all this money, I am not spending it on any flashy cars or purebreed show dogs; no, I'm just putting it all into a giant pile on this wheelbarrow and rubbing your face in it." Thus, the wheelbarrow is a good piece if you are secretly a jackass but don't wish for everyone to know that about you right away. Incidentally, it has always been one of my favorites.

Humor: The big advantage to being the wheelbarrow is that every single game component balances nicely on top of it, meaning you can steal anything that is not bolted down. That hotel the iron built on Connecticut? It somehow just got relocated to States. You can also give the other tokens a lift and conveniently dump them off at your properties. If all else fails, you can go around the board in reverse and claim you are actually a rickshaw, or hook yourself up to another token and demand they pull you.

Verdict: The wheelbarrow: unassuming on the surface, but masking a deep antisocial streak necessary to unapologetically bury its opponents. Fear the player that picks the wheelbarrow. Do not believe their self-deprecating jokes; they are killers underneath. If it were easier to move around, the wheelbarrow would be my favorite piece hands down. As it is, I have to rotate among several to keep the competition guessing.

Next: The Thimble

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Cash Out

The Money Bag:

Usability: The money bag has no easily-grippable handles and is wide at all parts. It is among the least ergonomic of the tokens.

Personality: I don't understand this piece in the slightest. It's money, which is an intrinsic component used to play Monopoly. When you play Sorry!, you get to pick Red, Blue, Green, or Yellow. You do not get to pick "Move Backwards 4." When you play Clue, you pick one of the suspects; you do not get to pick "The Envelope With the Answer." When you play Risk, you pick your army color; you don't get to be "The Red Dice." So conceptually, the piece is a little confused.

Humor: Uh, you could, pretend like you had all the money in the bag, maybe? Um, I'm a little lost. You could bribe your way out of jail, except everyone has to do that anyway. Perhaps every time you roll the dice, you could act like you're running away from the Beagle Boys. They always had bags of money. I don't know. You're on your own.

Verdict: Let's see, it's difficult to grip, utterly humorless, and doesn't make a lick of sense. I don't think this token has a single redeeming feature, but I still haven't gotten to its biggest drawback. The Bag of Money is the newest Monopoly Token, added in 1999 after a popularity contest was had. When terrible things get elected, it's usually because either the other choices were even worse, or a lot of people are just really, really dense. The other two choices were a bi-plane, which would've been awesome, or a Piggy Bank, which is something that can be used to store or transport money rather than the actual concept itself and thus more sensible. So truly, if you pick the Bag of Money, you are not only getting a horrible piece, but you're also the physical representation of the failure of democracy and a reminder that most people are much dumber than you'd think. Please pick something else.

Tomorrow (or Saturday): The Wheelbarrow

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Don't Tread On Me

The Shoe:

Usability: The old-timey shoe comes equipped with an old timey shoehorn that makes for a handle. This is useful not only in moving your piece, but making your little shoe do a little dance on his way to your destination. Bonus.

Personality: Maybe it's because it has no laces, but the shoe has always looked rather beat-up to me; like someone kicked it off with no regard for its condition. I've always felt like it needed some pewter stank lines emanating from it. However, if you imagine it all laced up, it seems it'd be a pretty nice piece of footwear. Thus, I feel the shoe is like a tuxedo t-shirt; it says "I'm here to party, but I can step it up too," as famed scholar Cal Naughton Jr. once told us.

Humor: The shoe can cause a great deal of mischievous hijinx. In addition to performing various dances while moving, the shoe can hold in a lot of pent up rage. You can stomp hotels, kick houses, flip the wheelbarrow over, kick the puppy, trip the horse, etc. etc. There's very little limit to the havoc you can create. If it's the holiday season, or if you're just a dork, you can even sing the chorus from The Christmas Shoes every time you want to buy something.

Verdict: The shoe is not typically considered a glamor piece, so it's usually available to someone with a taste for goofy hijinx. Shoe players probably won't be seen as intimidating as the battleship, car, or cannon, so use that to your advantage and slide under the radar at the beginning.

Tomorrow: The Bag of Money

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Fire in the hole!

The Cannon:

Usability: One of the perks of picking the cannon is that it is one of the easier pieces to handle. The protruding barrel makes for an easy handle, or it can be easily grabbed by its wheel. Its height makes it stand out on the board so you don't lose track of yourself.

Personality: Cannons serve exactly one purpose: to blow up tons of crap. Cannon players will be seen as hyperaggressive. Since the cannon tends to stick out, players are not likely to miss when you land on their properties.

Humor: Yes, you can point your cannon at enemy properties and blow them off the board, but the true fun of the cannon lies more in the area that it's a long shaft pointing straight up into the air with a round object below it, not to paint too clear a picture. While the full repertoire of Jokes About Penises is too extensive to include here, you can use your cannon to molest your opponent's tokens, especially if some poor sap picked the Horse and Rider or Terrier, as well as make your cannon fake an orgasm when someone lands on one of your higher rents.

Verdict: It takes a lot of confidence to pick the cannon. You have to be confident in your Monopoly skills to offset the aggressive nature of the piece, you have to be comfortable in your knowledge of penis jokes, and you have to be comfortable enough with your sexuality that you don't mind handling a phallus for a couple of hours. Finally, fellas, if you are playing a game of Monopoly and you are trying to impress one of the female players, avoid the Cannon. Nothing says "I'm compensating for something" quite like "I want to be the CANNON!" right out of the gate. Go with something else. Anything else.

Tomorrow: The Shoe

Sunday, March 8, 2009

Pedal to the Metal

One of the many contributing factors to the demise of my blog was the emergence of something that resembled a social life. Before, I'd go to work and yuk it up with all the people there, then go home and do absolutely nothing for 8 hours or so, which left plenty of time for blog-writing program related activities.

Now, in addition to spending time with Kelli, it seems that people like to spend time with the two of us and we frequently entertain people at our lovely townhouse. One of our friends, the immensely entertaining Mike, loves to play Monopoly. Since I also love playing Monopoly, it's been a recent addition to our pasttimes. Kelli does not love Monopoly so much. In fact, she rather hates the game, and was about ready to leave me early on in our relationship over a game of Monopoly in which I was particularly successful/assholish. But, after refusing to play for a year, she is coming around to it and is getting better every game, mostly fueled by her refusal to make any deals with me unless it is for properties I do not want. Occasionally I offer some sound strategies for her, but since she usually tells me where I can shove them, I have laid off of that in recent attempts. I bought a book with winning tips, but she doesn't seem interested in reading it.

The Monopoly knowledge I intend to pass on today, however, cannot be found in any tome, yet may in fact be the most important decision you make in the game: the crucial question "Which of these random, bizarre tokens, most of which have nothing whatsoever to do with real estate, should I pick to represent me?"

As I have a particular fascination with the bizarre and surreal, it should come to no one's surprise that I have paid an unhealthy bit of attention to the process of picking out your piece. I find there are three criteria by which to judge a piece:

A) Usability: How easy is it to pick this piece up and move it?
B) Personality: What does this piece say about me and my game strategy?
C) Humor: What sorts of hilarious possibilities will this piece open up?

Now, let's analyze our options, one per day, so I can milk this into two weeks' worth of posts and possibly re-establish an online presence and win back somewhere in the neighborhood of 250,000 of my MILLIONS of former readers.

So, without further ado:

The car. Let's start with the most popular piece: does old timey sports car live up to its reputation?

A) For being the most popular piece, the car is not really very easy to move. It sits low to the ground, has nothing protruding that makes for easy grabbing.

B) The good news is that everyone loves the car; the bad news is that everyone loves the car. The car is snazzy and it's fun to drive around the board, but it's not good for asserting your personality. Picking the car is pretty much the equivalent of deciding to follow the NFL and choosing the Steelers as your favorite team; yes, there are good reasons, but you still look like a lemming. Some of the rarely picked tokens raise eyebrows and thoughts; if you pick the car, you are simply "The Guy Who Picks The Car." And every table has a "Guy Who Picks The Car".

C) Humor with the car rests solely on doing donuts on your opponents property after you have to pay, or swerving along the board like you're driving drunk and crashing into their hotels. If you roll a 2 or a 3, you can sputter and backfire as you barely make it the few spaces. You can also honk at people in Jail when you visit them.

Verdict: A conservative pick, the equivalent of a poker face. Are you an Andretti who will hotly pursue any opportunity, or more of a Sunday driver who lets the deals come to them? It's hard to tell, since everyone on the planet likes to pick the car. If you can get it without a fight, you may slip under the radar and not reveal your hand.

Tomorrow: The Cannon

Saturday, February 7, 2009

Happy Anniversary!

To me. Today marks one year that I've been dating my wonderful girlfriend Kelli. While it hasn't always been easy, mostly because I am an exceedingly difficult person to be in a relationship with, it has been happy and fun the whole time, and every day I am in a good mood because I am with her.

I love you more every day, Kelli. I hope to be with you for many more years to come.

My millions of former readers probably love you considerably less, seeing as how I am unable to have a relationship and a blog at the same time. They will just have to deal, I suppose.

Saturday, January 17, 2009

It's Only a Theory, Of Course

I think the Colonel put St. John's Wort in his blend of 11 herbs and spices.

Think about it. Everyone loves some KFC. Everyone.

And why 11? Seriously. Who picks 11 herbs and spices? Everyone else would stop at 10. The eleventh spice is the key; the secret ingredient.

And really, why do you need 10 different herbs and spices, for that matter? Obviously to cover up the taste of the bad tasting secret ingredient, herb/spice #11.

So you eat the chicken with the St. John's Wort. You feel naturally happier. You are inclined to return and eat the chicken again. Instant repeat business.

I would be very surprised if this is not true.