I’ll Have an Order of Humble Pie with that Super Bowl

By Angus McPeters

I walked into a diner last week and asked what type of Super Bowl they had on the menu. The waitress looked at me as if I was talking with my hoof in my mouth. I left without another word, more because I was hungry than because I wasn’t sure what to say to her. I needed to find a modern establishment if I was going to taste this Super Bowl everyone’s so excited about. I guess if I had pulled myself away from playing Settlers of Catan long enough to actually see the advertisement on TV last night, I would have caught an address.

I moved on to an upscale cafe around the corner from The Bob & Angus Show, where, when I asked for a Super Bowl of Clover, the hostess threw me out. That must have been following one of our less popular episodes. I really should have told her to air her grievances with the writers, as I’m just the face and talent of the show. You would think that would be obvious from looking at my handsome visage.

By the time I entered my third choice for lunch, a food truck, where the owner literally drove off rather than give me a Super Bowl of alfalfa sprouts. I was convinced the people in the local food industry had all lost their marbles. Either that, or this Super Bowl was such a fabulous treat, they were all conspiring to keep it a secret. It was when I was heading back to work to snag Bob’s emergency stash of hi-energy bars that he thinks is securely hidden in his dressing room closet that I realized my error. And of all places to have a revelation, but standing at a light as a bus zipped by, splashing my fine wool coat, I might add. There rested my answer in the form of a Super Bowl ad spread across the side of the bus. Imagine my confusion when I spotted no clover, alfalfa or even a super large bowl in the ad, but rather two burly men going head to head in helmets. In this culture of supersized drinks, fries and meals, how was I to know Super Bowl didn’t refer to yet another scrumptious delight? Imagine my disappointment when I realized there would be no Super-sized Bowls of clover, grass or oats in my future. The only Super Bowl I’d ever find was nothing more than a bunch of oversized behemoths trampling each other.

I returned to work, weak from my lack of food, and heated from embarrassment. Once again, the American vernacular had succeeded in midirecting me. Well, fool me once, shame on me. Fool me twice, shame on… well, me again. But this was the last time I was going to let something like this happen! Especially when it wasn’t my fault! If you native-born Americans would call things by their proper names, I wouldn’t look like a fool. First, a thief steals the name Football from a superior sport in which players use a football (a soccer ball in your vernacular) and their feet – which is why it’s called FOOT– BALL, people! Then, that same thief attaches the name Football to a sport that thrives on people running one another over while carrying or catching an odd-shaped ball that doesn’t even roll! At best, the daft thing wobbles!

And for those of you who may be thinking, “What does a mere Scot, a ram no less, know about Football?” do not underestimate me. I know of what I speak. After all, the world’s oldest football (once again, what you call a ‘soccer ball’) comes from the place of my birth, Scotland. Per the BBC, this football, from the 1490s, belonged to Mary, Queen of the Scots, and was made from cow leather and pig’s bladder. I’ll excuse my ancestors for their use of animals in constructing their footballs as they didn’t exactly have modern day technology to create plastic footballs. But at least they never named the game of Football, excuse me – SOCCER – after a bowl of food!

What’s next? Is someone going to steal the name Settlers of Catan and apply it to a game where players destroy entire cities, burn the land, and drive the people away? I beg of you, stop befouling time-honored traditions such as my Football and heaven forbid, Settlers of Catan! Take this Super Bowl – Ball – or whatever the heck it is, and run with it. Just leave my beloved Settlers of Catan untainted by your local traditions!

Now, it’s time to finish filming and head home. I have a long day tomorrow. While I never got my super sized bowl of clover, I will at the very least find that special brew that I hear whole groups of men fight over. Not sure where to look, but eventually I WILL find Stanley’s Cup.

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All About the Benjamin

By Angus McPeters

While Benjamin Franklin was instrumental in the creation of the United States of America, he was also a man of enlightenment in so many ways (much like myself). Thanks to Mr. Franklin’s foresight, we have many inventions, such as the stove, bifocals, lightning rod, and the public library. While I rarely touch a stove (except to taste what Laura’s cooking), and I have no need for bifocals or a lightning rod, I do champion the notion of the public library, where anyone can educate himself or herself on any topic. And with Ben’s birthday fast approaching (January 17th… no gifts please, just make a nice donation to me, I mean your public library, in his memory), it is in the memory of Ben Franklin that I propose an improvement to our public library system.

Every public library should own a complete set of Mayfair Games so that that people and sheep of all ages can gather, exchange stories, and borrow board and card games to enjoy and enhance their cultural knowledge base. Only the truly enlightened like Ben and I can see the value in making the gaming experience available to anyone with the courage to expand his or her mind. As Ben once said, “The Constitution only gives people the right to pursue happiness. You have to catch it yourself.”

Let’s make these games available so that all may pursue happiness! Anyone should be able to borrow Settlers of Catan, or try the Catan: Cities & Knights Game Expansion where players build a force of knights that will defeat the barbarians. For in real life, one cannot slay the barbarians we find at work, at the grocery store, and in the neighborhood (though the idea does have appeal). You will improve your cities with commodities in the areas of Science, Politics and Trade, much like our founding father. Forget about the largest army. Concern yourself with commodities of cloth, coin and paper in addition to your basic resources of lumber, sheep, ore and wheat. Progress, people, that’s what I’m talking about. Let our libraries educate all, young and old, rich and poor, human and ovine, in the way of board games. And to that I say, Happy Birthday, Ben Franklin.

This has not been a public service announcement (but it should be).

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Post-Holiday Reset

By Claire O’Brien

After the parties are over and the relatives go home, what do you do? Your routine has been destroyed by party after party where you’ve no doubt stuffed yourself with decadent foods like chocolate covered strawberries, lemongrass lemonade and alfalfa gingerbread cheesecake. If only I had a reset button, then I could do everything over, a bit wiser this time, moderating myself. Then again, I guess if I haven’t learned how to party in moderation during the holidays over the past few years, one more go ‘round isn’t going to help. At the very least, I need more time on the treadmill.

I thought a nice relaxing board game with a few close friends where we could hang out in baggy clothing would be a nice way to relax and return to reality. You know, a few rolls of the dice in Settlers of Catan where the only wheat consumed would be in the game – the zero calorie approach I need right about now. After all, I don’t normally recommend baggy clothing, but I’m presently too afraid to see what does or doesn’t fit after a bit too much time grazing the dessert tables.

My problem is how to get back into the casual swing of playing board games with friends. I know some rams have a regular board game night, but that didn’t work out well for me. When you’re dating, working and volunteering your time at various charities, your schedule has to be flexible. That’s where the beauty of social media comes in. Unlike Angus who can get a bit grumpy and frustrated with social media (you can read his post Anti-Social Media), I find it a useful tool to send out the alert. No, not “HELP! I’ve Eaten Too Much Chocolate and I Can’t Get Up”, though that would have been useful last night. I’m talking about the quick Facebook post of something like, “HELP! I’m stressed and need to relax. Anyone want to play Catan or Rocket Jockey?” A few minutes later, the replies roll in and before you know it, you have a bunch of randomly chosen friends agreeing to meet for coffee and Catan. With just a quick post, you’re back on the path of socializing, with a board game –NOT FOOD – as the focal point. Social Media can essentially save you thousands of calories!

And that, dear friends, is how one returns to reality, where friends, family and fun – NOT FOOD! – become the focus of one’s routine!

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Board Game, Beer and Baskets

By Claire O’Brien

I’ve been so wrapped up with the holidays, I totally forgot to tell everyone about a great idea I have for gifts. This idea works great for any occasion such as birthdays, welcome to the neighborhood, farewell gifts and so on.

If you like customizing gift baskets and you know the recipient loves board games (or you suspect they will once they receive your incredible gift), then this is for ewe and you. Take any decorative basket (e.g. wire, wood or plastic), and layer the bottom with grass or shredded color paper. The materials you use should be based on the recipient. I like to use real grass in the bottom for my sheep friends. Real grass becomes like the prize at the bottom of a box of cracker jacks. Only this is in reverse. You have to dig past the inedibles to get to the delicious grass! Now that I think about it, you don’t have to use paper grass for humans. You can use the edible approach. Throw some caramel popcorn or foil-wrapped chocolates in the bottom for a festive base.

Next, pick out a variety of games, maybe two or three, depending on the size and shape of your basket. If you are using a larger basket, try to use one or two larger board games such as Builder’s Duel and of course the classic Settlers of Catan to fill most of the space. For smaller baskets, focus on those easy to pack, travel-sized games such as Catan Dice Game Deluxe and Le Boomb. Keep in mind if you’re giving this board game gift basket to a child, choose games such as Karnickel and Dino Dice.

Now comes the incredibly fun part of putting together a Board Game Gift Basket: imagine yourself playing a board game with the lucky recipient-to-be. What decadent snacks would he or she like to have on hand to celebrate building the largest army? What sugary consolation prize will they need when you steal their wheat? Nestle a bag of chocolate covered Oreos, sugar cookies, or even beer into your board game basket. Or skip the food and stuff that basket with beer, wine, or some other soothing liquid. Have fun with the basket, adding anything you can dream up that will enhance the board game experience! If I were creating a board game basket for Angus, I’d include a Bubble Wrap Calendar. I mean, who can resist Bubble Wrap and with this, Angus wouldn’t have to rely on technology to keep track of the date of his next board game night.

Before you take that final step of wrapping the basket up with cellophane and a ribbon, add the most important item to your basket: a handwritten card (that you’ve already decorated with glitter), stating that you expect to be invited over for a board game night. After all, if you’re going to provide some of the best board games out there along with the snacks and drinks for a fun evening, you might as well get invited to play!

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Secret Santa Surprise

By Claire O’Brien

It’s that time of year again, when the inevitable Secret Santa present exchange will find you at the office, school, or in social circles.  Why is it that so many people grumble about doing a secret present exchange?  Angus complains about it every year from what I hear.  Granted, he complains about a lot of things, from clothing tags to car washes, but I have to agree with him on this one.  There have been many times when I’ve spent hours searching for the perfect gift for my giftee, and that can be hard if you don’t know much about him or her.

What if I end up as the Secret Santa for Angus or Bob? I can’t exactly give Angus a kingdom to rule or Bob a magic wand to shut Angus up whenever he wants. I’d love to give a present that lasts and brings tons of enjoyment – a board game – but which one? Le Boomb is perfect given its size and the fact that many groups put a $10 limit on gifts, and Catan Dice Game Deluxe is small enough to hide in a bag until I can place it on the desk and escape unseen.  But I think Angus and Bob already have those.  In fact, it seems they have just about every game out there.

I got it!  I can personalize the city and settlement pieces in my giftee’s Settlers of Catan!  Oh, better yet, I’ll add one of my Glitz Kits.  This way, my giftee will have the fun of decorating the board himself.  Even Angus should like that.  Don’t you just love when you find a gift and you just know it’s THE gift for that person?  I know it took him a while to get used to the glitter make-over I gave Jules, but I think he realized that the make-over helped boost Jules’ confidence by making him shine.  I know how to be subtle with my crafts (it’s not like I put glitter all over the Elk Fest box).

If you’re stuck for a gift idea, take a look at the dozens of Mayfair Games card and board games. There are games for every age group and interest out there, so you can choose the perfect game for your friend, co-worker or family member.  And if you already have a gift picked out, then look over the list of games for yourself and drop a few hints  among your circle of family/friends… it’s a great way of avoiding getting those boring ties and sweaters that always end up shoved in the back of a drawer, never to be seen again!  Which reminds me, why do I keep finding my glue gun shoved in the back of my dressing room drawer?

Have fun choosing a board game this holiday season!

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