Thursday, December 26, 2002


Caveat lector: This is probably going to be my


Blog entry.


Because I’m still recovering from the hilarity that was Christ-X at Fort Sherrod.

The day started off as most modern Sherrod family Christ-Xs might; my cell phone ringing and rattling and vibrating itself right off the table as the Collie of Follie (actually, now, more appropriately designated the Corrie of Forry after we watched “A Christmas Story” one too many times on Christ-X Eve. Those of you who know this brilliant film, really the only proper Christ-X film ever made, unless you count “Blazing Saddles” and “The Frisco Kid”, know why her designation has been changed. The rest of you... oh, there’s no hope for you unless you get a copy and watch it. Go. Now. You are forbidden to gaze at any more of my pixels until you do. Quit cheating. Go watch the movie, you fools!) barked at it.

I stumbled from my relatively newly-established bedroom (the Big Room at the Unabomber Cabin having finally gotten too cold even for Your Humble Polar Bear Blogger to sleep in) to retrieve the phone before the Corrie of Forry carried it off and dropped it into the toilet or something, and answered it.

Of course it was My Own Dear Personal Mom. Of course.

And of course I was late for Santy Claus. The family was gathered merrily under the tree, merrily hungry, and merrily waiting for me, tapping their merry feet, checking their merry watches, merrily asking MODPM where the hell was I, already.

Morry the Corrie of Forry, too, was anxious to head Over the River and Up the Hill, having fallen completely in love with my Own Dear Personal Sister, a dog junkie of rare quality, here in town for a holiday visit.

Were Morry and MODPS Pyramus and Thisby, the wall would not have survived ten minutes. The person whose hand represented the wall would have had it licked away like a salt block on one side, and clawed to ribbons on the other. Or something.

And so began a typical Christ-X, much, I am sure, like all of yours: opening presents, gasps of thank yous, 20-minute pauses while the new gadgets MODPD bought for MODPM had to be assembled and explained by the family techno-geek (that would be Your Humble Blogger, surely getting some payback for childhood toys that came with “some assembly required”)... then a big, carbohydrate-laden breakfast and then, what else but...

Many, many hours of Trading Spaces, of course. Perfect, non-ideological holiday fun; running a 24-hour marathon of this show is a stroke of genius on the part of Discovery Networks as diverse families large and small can gather in front of the small screen and bury past resentments, future anxieties, lingering commercial-generated distress (MODPM still has a twitch from overexposure to that STAPLES commerical in which a demented older lady apologizes for all the year’s she’s inflicted hand-knit gifts that she’s worked all year to make on her loved ones. Far better to give stupid gadgets that will be technologically obsolete before they’re completely unpacked from the styrofoam) and food comas, united in their hatred and derision for the choice to put moss on a bedroom wall or paint absolutely everything in a living room either silver or hot pink.

At least that tides folks over until the football starts. But, as I’ve already shared with LIANT readers, I’ve suffered enough pigskin-generated emotional damage for one season. Thank god the skiing is still good. I think.

Things took a turn for the bizarre after supper, as MODPD settled into the recliner to watch yet more football. Even MODPS, who is possessed of greater fortitude, resilience and other laudable qualities vis a vis football than I, thought maybe she’d had enough, and so she, MODPM, and YHB sat around the kitchen table and stared at each other for a bit, our supply of small talk mostly exhausted, until MODPM made the fatal suggestion...

“Well, what kind of three-hand card game could we maybe play?”

Immediately these words had flown out of her mouth than YHB flew into a moderate tizzy.

You see, back in March I took some time off after the Great Corn Pop-Off and headed to more civilized climes for a marathon D&D session with old friends, a big-screen viewing of the first Lord of the Rings film with Buzzmo (the man whose wedding I almost missed in July), and a pilgrimage with Buzzmo to Games Plus, where, knowing my Saratoga friends are way too cool to actually play anything more complicated than poker, I managed to refrain from buying any D&D, Call of Cthulu, Car Wars, or other games (though of course I had to get some spiffy new dice).

But then I came across the Cheapass Games section, where I found both “Kill Doctor Lucky” (almost a prequel to CLUE, players are trying, desperately, to kill a man named Doctor Lucky, who is, as one might suspect, rather hard to off) and “Captain Park’s Imaginary Polar Expedition” (in which players race around “London” trying to gather up various props and forgeries to use to prove they had made an expedition to the North Pole without ever actually having left home) too ludicrous to exist.

And then...

I saw it.

An innocent looking little card game called FLUXX.

What the hell, it’s just a few bucks, and it looks amusing, I thought.

And there it sat, upon my return home, sitting pristine, wrapped in cellophane in its little box, on the edge of one of the many bookcases that grace the Big Room at Kate’s Landing, until MODPM made her fatal Christ-X utterance.

I raced home and grabbed the game, vaguely remembering that it’s supposed to be a bit challenging – it was given a special award by MENSA in 1999 – but figuring if it sucked we could always just play Spades or Cribbage.

I had no idea those MENSA people had such fabulous senses of humor!

Though I gotta wonder if they realized how much fun that damned game is when the players thereof have all been sampling heavily from the Booze that Santa Brought.

But really, some of you are no doubt asking, what game isn’t extra fun with BTSB?

Or, in other words, what’s so great about FLUXX?

It starts off with deceptive simplicity, the game does. Draw one card, play one card, each turn. You could say it’s like UNO, but you wouldn’t be able to say it for long.

UNO has but one goal, you see: get rid of all of your cards.

FLUXX has about 40 goals, judging from the number of GOAL cards in the deck. At any given point in the game, the aim of the game may be to get ten cards in your hand, to have “death and taxes” showing in your meld, or to have “love” and ONLY “love.”

Plus the rules are always changing; there are in the deck about 40 RULE cards that, when played, supersede the original “draw one, play one” rule. Suddenly the rule may be “draw five, play one” or there may be a sudden hand limit of 0 cards in hand.

You can maybe get a sense of the silliness that may ensue already. What happens if the GOAL of the particular game being played is to get and keep ten cards in your hand, but the hand limit is zero?

Drink and giggle, giggle and drink and wait until someone plays another GOAL card.

There can be a lot of silly, split-second strategy involved; I won one game by playing, first, a card changing the rules so that each person’s turn now required her to play four cards (thus extending my turn quite a bit), then, a card called “steal a keeper” (KEEPERS being the “death,” “taxes,” “love” cards, etc.), which allowed me to steal the “death” card from MODPM, then a new GOAL card that said the aim of the game was now “death and taxes”, and then laid down the KEEPER I had drawn at the start of my turn, which was, of course, “taxes”.

You probably had to be there, to watch the puzzled, shocked, annoyed, wounded and eventually apoplectic looks that crossed and recrossed the faces of my near and dear (including the Corry of Forry, who frequently nosed her way in to investigate despite her obvious humor impairment, and my wary father, who had to endure all of the women in his life nearly spitting with laughter every time he came into the kitchen to freshen his drink. We couldn’t get him to play for some reason).

Anyway, my family and I are now hooked, and I plan to spread this game like a new gospel. So, dear readers, brace yourselves, if you are personal friends of mine, and if you’re not, well, go read about the game on the wunderland website and think about giving it a try.

Monday, December 23, 2002


Such was our only comfort, our only joy yesterday afternoon as we watched a certain football game between a team that will remain nameless because this is my website and I’ll not profane it and our own ill-starred regional favorite, whom I can now simply name “The Donks.”

Before settling in to witness the horror, my ski buddy and I had had a magnificent morning on the trails outside Encampment. Long my favorite place to ski anyway, yesterday the Bottle Creek trails were, and I do not exaggerate, perfect. Good, cold weather (though not so cold as today, when the air itself froze and crystallized and made downtown Saratoga look like the interior of a snow globe with extra glitter), a bright, clear, achingly blue sky, and immaculate, untouched, light and powdery snow, snow made for cross country skiing, snow that couldn’t stick if it tried, snow that could be compared to that sand on particularly desirable beaches that is “like flour.”

Snow it’s a pleasure to slice through on skis, even if one is slogging uphill most of the way (ever the contrarians, my buddy and I had to take our favorite trail backwards).

Snow into which those skis completely disappear as they sink down, but snow that never weighs down the feet or packs on to the skis or boots.

Snow that clings only to the wool of one’s sweater when she loses her balance and falls (only the second foray this year, and I missed the season entirely last year), not at the gnarly turn where the trees are, not at the bottom of a downward slope, but just at a careless moment when she was busier gawking at the view of the North Fork of the Encampment River than in paying attention to her still-precarious balance.

And because my ski buddy and I were recently also choir buddies, the least Christmas-y of our recent songs ran pleasantly through our minds… Snow had fallen/Snow on snow/Snow… on snow.

It was an easy thing to cling to, this memory of snow, and cling to it we did as we watched one of the most horrible football games since, well… since the last time these two teams met. On Monday night. In front of millions of people. And the Donks stank up their home field.

And so it was, again at coffee this morning, when an impertinent staffer at our coffee hole periodically emerged from the kitchen to which she had been banished (a disloyal Benedict Arnold of a fan of that other team, she is) to ask, again, “What was that score last night again? Oh yeah.”

“At least the skiing was good,” we chanted under our breaths and tried not to pout.

But then the dam burst as I sat, vulnerable and a little careworn, in the living room of my Own Dear Personal Parents and found Frank Gambino, of K2 television infamy, enumerating, in grotesque detail, every single possible scenario under which the Donks could still make the playoffs. As he chanted them out, two Pittsburgh losses, one NY Jets win, one Tampa loss or tie, blah blah blah I felt I was being subjected to the worst performance of “The Twelve Days of Christmas” since I found myself trapped, many years ago, in Newark International Airport on an evening much like this one while a buzzard-like flock of evil mutant carolers circled round and round, drenching us all in vomitous holiday cheer while the airline lied to us about when we’d be released from our torment.

Never again. Never again.

And it is still possible that the Donks could continue onward, it is. Some of the scenarios Gambino listed off for us are almost plausible. But, and I imagine I am not alone in saying this, I’m to the point where I’d really rather not see them in the playoffs. I’m to the point where, yes, maybe I’ve had enough football for one season and it’s time to, yes, maybe think about something else for a while.

Because, though yea and verily we took comfort in the quality of the snow and the skiing we had just experienced as the game unfolded in its bumptious idiocy, it was, truth be told, small comfort.

We could have stayed on the trails instead of rushing home to watch that $%&@#ing game.