A Word for Word’s Sake

Mystery Castle, Phoenix Photo Credit: Doree Weller

Mystery Castle, Phoenix
Photo Credit: Doree Weller

When I was in college, I ran a recreation program at an inpatient state psychiatric facility.  We did the normal things like art projects and games, but one of the men I worked with liked to play what he deemed, “The Word Game.”  I was puzzled by The Word Game at first.  The game was played by him saying a word, and then me saying a word.  They didn’t have to connect in any way.  There were no winners and losers.  We would just say words back and forth to one another, with his occasionally interjecting, “Oh, that’s a good word!”

Flash forward, years later, and I met a friend who started texting me random words.  It had been years since I played The Word Game, but I was reminded of it almost instantly.  We once spent a Saturday afternoon texting words back and forth.

I was reminded of how much I liked words just for their own sake.  Yes, I like putting them in order and forming sentences, but sometimes exchanging a word like “cimmerian” can be fun for no other reason than I’ve not run into that word before.  Through the new and updated Word Game, I’ve learned the meanings of new words.  This is different than a boring word of the day program, and it leads to interesting discussions about how the correct pronunciation of cimmerian makes it sound less interesting than it did in my head.  I “know” a lot of words, but I’m sometimes a little embarrassed when I try to use them out loud in a sentence, and realize I have no idea how it’s pronounced.  Or even worse, I sort of know, but just can’t make my tongue cooperate.

In any case, I missed The Word Game.  When else do I get to use words like “psychopomp,” “chimera,” “soporific,” “phantasm,” or “troglodyte?”

(Incidentally, troglodyte has always been one of my favorite words, though I do love psychopomp.)

Do you have a favorite word?

Sore Loser

DSCN2922Once upon a time, I was a pretty sore loser.  I’m generally pretty good at games and I’m used to winning.  There was a time when, if I lost, I got cranky about it and generally pouted.  I finally realized how stupid I was being one day when I realized I couldn’t remember who had won last time we played.

Now, I’m not one of those people who believe winning doesn’t matter and that everyone should get a trophy just for showing up.  Nope.  When you do well, you win, and when you do poorly, you’ve lost.  Kids need to learn the difference between winning and losing.  They need to learn to be good sports when they lose, and if they don’t like it, they can practice more!

Winning both matters and doesn’t matter.  The fact is that we can’t all be winners every time.  We need to know what we’re good at, and what we aren’t.  And if we enjoy something we suck at, that’s okay, but we shouldn’t get trophies just for showing up.  I can’t sing.  It’s a well-known fact.  If I ever went on American Idol, I can guarantee I’d be booed off.  And I should be.  Why?  Because I can’t sing!  I can, however, remember jingles and song lyrics for everything I’ve ever heard.  I like singing.  Alone, in my car.

Last night, we played this great game, bezzerwizzer.  It’s a trivia and strategy game.  My brother in law, who is very competitive with me, switched my tiles so I got a geography tile.  I tried to answer geography questions for maybe 10 turns.  I lost the game, but we all laughed at my inability to remember any kind of world geography.  We also played Shrek Super Party, and during that game, he sabotaged me whenever I was involved in a duel against someone else.

For a brief moment, I thought about getting upset with the sabotage and the fact that I was losing.  Badly.  Then I checked myself and remembered… It’s just a game.  We’re all laughing and having fun.  So I relaxed and went with it.  Later, I got my revenge during Life.  Game Karma bit my brother in law in the you-know-what.  He couldn’t land on any positive space and ended the game with $1000.  And you know what?  I laughed just as hard at him as I did at myself.  Who needs a trophy?

I Feel Dumber

imagesMy sister in law and brother in law are in town, and one of the things we like to do together is play board games at night.  It’s sort of a family tradition.

Well, we went to Target for some Play-Doh, since the clay in our Cranium dried up.  While we were there, we decided to look for a new version of Trivial Pursuit, since ours is from…. well, it’s old.

They had some classic games, like Scrabble and Clue, but they also had a Storage Wars game.  And not a single Trivial Pursuit to be found.  So we looked in electronics, figuring that would be a perfect X-box or Wii game with live updating.  Nope.  We tried Wal-Mart, since Wal-mart usually has pretty much everything.  Does no one sell Trivial Pursuit???  When did the game go away??

We ended up buying a game called bezzerwizzer, which is fun, but it’s no Trivial Pursuit.  The questions are mixed for easy and hard, and there are more categories.  You can also steal attractive categories from other people and steal questions.

You know, sometimes I say that I think people are dumber, but I don’t really mean it.  Kids know more and harder stuff than they used to.  Maybe it’s laziness?  We don’t want to think too hard during leisure time.  I found some versions of Trivial Pursuit on Amazon, but they look like older versions.  Where’s my updated version?

Either way, we had fun, and that’s what matters.  We have a new game, but it’s not the same without Trivial Pursuit…

In the Cards

These days, cards are paper with some sort of plastic sheen.  They’re not usually very pretty, but do their job for a couple games of Rummy or Go Fish.  Most of my decks actually have 52 (yes, I play with a full deck- haha), but I can’t imagine any of my decks getting passed on to someone else, and especially not for 400 years!

A 400 year old set of silver and gold playing cards has been discovered.  The cards probably were meant to be art for a collector, and not really meant to be played, but it’s still interesting that they managed to stay together all this time.

You can check out the original article, if you’re interested, here.

Best Games for Auxiliary Thinking

I’m not a “stare off into space while thinking” kind of gal.  If I’m staring off into space, it’s probably because I imagine little green men there.  When I need to work through a plot problem or think about what my character would do next, I like to play computer games.

There are some games that require your concentration, but there are some that really don’t.  They allow you to think in one part of your brain while keeping your fingers and other parts of your brain busy.

1.  Snood- I’ve been playing this game since college.  It’s addictive, it’s fun… It’s good for you!  I have a copy for my mac and one for my iPad/ iPhone.  I play everywhere.  http://www.snoodworld.com/

2.  Super Collapse- You just click on colored blocks of three or more in a row or column, and they disappear.  You don’t move anything around; you just click.  Depending on how high you are in the levels, they move up and you have to clear a certain number of lines before they touch the top.  http://games.yahoo.com/game/super-collapse

3.   Angry Birds- Have you been living under a rock?  No?  Well then, I’m guessing you’ve heard of angry birds.  It’s available through the iTunes music store.  This one is another addictive game.  Basically, you’re armed with a slingshot and some birds, and you need to destroy structures and kill the piggies.  http://www.rovio.com/index.php?page=angry-birds

4.  Cubis- Basically, you’re playing on a square board, and you have to slide colored blocks down the board to make three in a row.  Sometimes the cubes are stacked, and you have to match the ones on the bottom and drop the tops ones to get to those, or you have colored wedges that “lift” other colored blocks.  You’re racing against a clock.  Just a very fun game.  http://zone.msn.com/en/cubis/default.htm

5.  Boom Blox- This is actually a Wii game, but I’m including it, because sometimes you have to get your body up and moving in order to think.  Or I do, anyway.  Basically, you’re “throwing things” at the screen to break up the blox and defeat various enemies.  It’s fun, and a decent upper body workout.  Prepare to work up a sweat.  http://www.amazon.com/Boom-Blox-Nintendo-Wii/dp/B000YDIYFG