The Problem with ‘Mary had a Little Lamb’

by Claire O’Brien

I heard a child sing Mary Had a Little Lamb the other day, and instantly I knew what I would write about this week.  Not to disparage the author, Sarah Josepha Hale, but I have an issue with this poem.  Here’s the song in its entirety, for your reference:

Mary had a little lamb,
His fleece was white as snow,
And everywhere that Mary went,
The lamb was sure to go.

He followed her to school one day,
Which was against the rule,
It made the children laugh and play
To see a lamb at school.

And so the teacher turned it out,
But still it lingered near,
And waited patiently about,
Till Mary did appear.

“Why does the lamb love Mary so?”
The eager children cry.
“Why, Mary loves the lamb, you know.”
The teacher did reply.

 

While I’m sure that Mary and the sheep loved each other, did anyone ever stop to think the lamb was just trying to get an education? Lambs/sheep are not dogs… we don’t follow people around out of shear loyalty (not a typo, BTW). We’re well educated. Take a look at everyone on the show:  Me, Bob… (ah, yeah, that’s it, just Bob and me). Anyway, we’re smart, we know how to read, write, report, and play games such as Age of Napoleon and China Rails. Find me a dog who can play Hot Tin Roof without salivating and running off to look for a cat to chase. Let’s face it, children’s songs are often inaccurate and should be enjoyed for their musical value only and not used as a source of learning about the subject matter.

This leads me to a related topic. It seems there have been a few rumors floating around lately about the sheep here on The Bob & Angus Show. Time to put my hoof down and dispel some of these myths.

  • Bob, Angus and I all like to be heard, not herded
  • Not all fleece is as white as snow (mine is, of course, but have you seen Angus’s? Talk about having a ‘black sheep’ in the family!)
  • Bob is not the model for the wool resource card in Settlers of Catan! (sheep DO NOT all look alike!)
  • Sheep do not eat everything in sight (goats do, but sheep don’t – we have a discriminating palette.)
  • Yes, wet wool smells, but it’s not something we can control (and no, there is no such thing as sheep deodorant).

There, I feel much better now that I’ve had my say. If you have any other childhood poems you’d like me to clairify (again, not a typo), feel free to email me.

Sing with your children, but don’t be fooled by the lyrics!

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Fish Story

by Bob MacWordell

After a long day at the studio, I like some time to chill out with my best friend. And as you can imagine, when your best friend is Angus McPeters, our usual standby of boardgames isn’t exactly “chilling out.” It’s more like “infernoing up.”

DSC_0108Instead, I convinced him to join me for a fish fry where we’d eat everything we caught.

I had planned ahead for any protestations from the typically outdoors-averse Angus. Seriously, you read what he had to say about being a sheep in Summer, but as much as I agree, that’s basically Angus all the time. I swear, if it weren’t for the walk from his front door to my car and the car to the studio door, I’m not sure he’d breathe unrecycled air.

At any rate, my plan basically involved pointing out how often Angus picks what we do and then having an entire second, matching set of fishing gear to deal with the inevitable, “But I don’t have any fishing stuff.”

DSC_0111So with very little grumbling, Angus and I set up shop next to a lovely pond we drive by on the way to the studio every day. And it was everything I’d hoped it would be! The burbling water reflected watery dapples, and both conspired to give me a sense of peace and well-being.

Surprisingly, the spell even overtook Angus. Is there anything better than the peaceful conversation of two bros over the easy repetition of cast and repeat? After only a few minutes, the tension from weeks of job insecurity and Duncan-fighting melted away.

Our haul was amazing! It seemed like every cast brought a catch promising a delicious meal. We caught probably fifteen pounds of slimy bounty. And after a couple hours, every part of our bodies were relaxed. Except for our stomachs!

So we took our catch back to my place to clean it. Angus set the table (Claire and Laura were joining us for dinner) while I pan-fried up the catch in a bit of olive oil with a few secret spices and a twist of lime.

When the ladies arrived, we sat down to an elegant meal with fine wine and lovely conversation. Angus even tried out table manners.

It was the best pond moss we’d ever eaten.

What did you guys think we were catching? We’re vegetarians! They may have weird faces, but fish still have them, and we don’t eat anything with a face.

You’re all a bunch of degenerates. Sheep eating fish. That’s not natural.

It’s super gross.

I think I just threw up in my mouth a little.

Seriously, you guys.

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Person of (No) Interest

by Angus McPeters

The other day while Bob and I were hanging out at the park, I tried a new game. There were a several <ahem> men of my generation playing it. They seemed to be enjoying themselves. I asked one to show me how to play.

What fools these mortals be.

I know what you’re thinking. I’m just a corporate shill for Mayfair Games. They’re the source of my paycheck. I spend all day being both informative and hilarious about Mayfair and its offerings. So of course I’m in the tank for them.

And all that would be utterly true! It is true, however, because Mayfair deserves it. Their games are so well made, so interesting, so fun to play that only I (and the inimitable Bob MacWordell) could explain to you how good they are. We deserve one another, you see.

So it is established fact that Mayfair is the King of All Games in much the same way Godzilla is King of all Monsters. But that doesn’t mean all other games have to suck! And yet suck this one did!

First of all, the art direction was extremely poor. The entire board only sported two colors: black and white. Welcome to Snorestown. Did the game designers think to snazz it up using the pieces? No, of course not. They, too, were only black and white. Now, look, sheep may have problems with all the color blindness, but even we could do better.

The rules were also confusing. Every piece moved in a different way with no rhyme or reason. Most of the pieces couldn’t move until I spent several turns moving the lamest ones around. And the ones that could move, made no sense! What, is that Knight on a pogo stick? There were no dice, no cards, no chits, not even a score pad. Why, there weren’t even rules inside the box! I spent the game in mild befuddlement.

And to make my muddle worse, the game had no theme! I settled no islands, refurbished no cities, built no mighty towers, and canoed no streams. Nothing! The man who taught me this ridiculous game claimed we were generals fighting a war, but I didn’t see it. Who sends their King and Queen out to war? Let alone Bishops? Do those guys even know how to fight?

In short, the game looked ugly, played uglier, and didn’t make enough sense to pour water out of a boot with the instructions printed on the heel. It didn’t even print the instructions!

It reminded me of the time someone tried to teach me a game about bridge building. Except I couldn’t understand why Kings and Queens were building bridges out of little shovels, hearts, and other detritus. Really, friends, there just isn’t any substitute for a proper Mayfair game.

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It’s a Kind of Magic

by Angus McPeters

The McPeters house recently went through another viewing of the extended Lord of the Rings trilogy. All those glowy swords and magic rings naturally got me to thinking about all the fantasy gaming I’ve tried in the past and how prevalent the magic items are in those worlds.

But we live in the modern world! Shouldn’t we be just as well off as the primitives with their mysticism and arcane knowledge?

I mean, sure, everyone wants to turn invisible or have a cloak that transforms them into a bird or whatever. But we should have magic items in the real world! The next question, naturally, is what would they be? I’ve been thinking pretty hard about it, and I came up with these.

  • The Dustpan of Clean This Mess Up While I Do Something More Interesting – My first realization about magical items in the real world is how we’d mostly want them to do banal things for us. Like say I’m getting myself a bowl of cereal and knock the box off the counter. Now my kitchen floor is wall-to-wall raisin bran. Who has time to clean this up? That’s where the Dustpan comes in. I go on my merry way, and it cleans up behind me.
  • The Mystical Compass Of Never Getting Lost And Looking Like An Idiot – I am not great at directions, as our little post-GenCon trip can attest. I often wished that I had a little magical compass I could just tell where I wanted to go so it could give me directions.
  • The Tome of Answers For Questioners Who Never Shut Up – This came to me while hanging out with Ewan. That kid wants to know how everything works! How do airplanes bank? What kind of cloud is that? How does an emergency brake work? What’s the melting point of iron? The questions just never stop! How neat would it be to have a book he could just ask the question to and get the answer instantly?

I have to say, I feel betrayed by my modern world! In these worlds of mystical powers, these items seem like they’d be easy to come by. But here I am, living in the 21st century, The Future for all intents and purposes, and I can’t get anything like these items! For shame, Modernity! For. Shame.

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No Grazing Allowed

by Claire O’Brien

Last week I went to a bridal shower garden party. I had never been to one before, but I tell you, from the moment I walked along the perfectly manicured, sprawling lawns, past the potted gardenias lining the driveway to the topiaries framing the entrance to the estate, I knew I was in heaven, or close enough. And talk about wanting to keep the guests happy… the hostess used hors d’oeuvres to guide the guests around to the garden in back. Those were the tastiest Queen Anne Roses I had ever eaten.

The backyard could have hosted a wedding, not just a bridal shower. The tent draped in pink and white silk, with a large crystal chandelier, added an elegance to an already beautiful space. For the next hour, the wait staff passed out Mint Juleps while everyone talked about the bride to be, the upcoming wedding and so on. While I’m a social sheep, I took the opportunity to sample the lush food that had been set out everywhere, and I do mean EVERYWHERE. There were flowers on the gift table, garlands wrapped around the tent poles, flowers floating in the fountain and a wide variety of flowers throughout the garden itself. The hostess most assuredly wanted her guests to enjoy themselves. The most convenient food arrangement had to have been the pink and white roses atop tall cylindrical glass vases, filled with floating rose petals, set in the center of each table.

I know I shouldn’t stuff myself before the main meal, but I couldn’t help myself; I had skipped breakfast. I wasn’t as quick to rush off to the seats by the fountain, where the bride-to-be was opening her gifts (I bought her a game that I thought was apropos, at least in title as she enters this new phase of her life: Age of Discovery. The game is about balancing trading with the challenges of being a great explorer, which isn’t that different from being newly married where a couple has to balance their jobs with the challenges of married life.) Don’t get me wrong, eventually I joined the festivities. I just moved a little slower than the others as I tasted my way over to them.

The bride loved all of her gifts, especially my present. I already knew she was a big fan of Settlers of Catan, so I knew my gift would go over well. After the bride finished opening the presents, everyone headed back to the tent for lunch to be served. That’s when we heard a very high-pitched shriek followed by a tray of glasses hitting the ground. I’m not sure what happened next, but there was shouting, sirens and ultimately medics rushing to the bride’s mother. Chaos had erupted, and the guests stood off to the side, clearing a path for the medics to carry the bride’s mother out on a stretcher. Apparently, she had feinted from shock, though what had shocked her still wasn’t quite clear.  he guests were whispering in hushed tones. I heard a few say something about deadheaded flowers, vines stripped of leaves, and ruined decor.

I slowly looked where the guests were pointing and realized that they were pointing to every spot where I had stopped to sample the fine food. A rosebush here, a garland of gardenias there…  is it possible that I had committed some garden party faux pas? I’ve never been one to knowingly break the rules.

Needless to say, I snuck out before anyone could notice the Gardenia bud stuck between my teeth (I really should carry dental floss with me). I don’t know if anyone ever figured out who the culprit was, but if I’m not invited to the wedding, I’ll fully understand. My advice to you, dear readers, is if you ever go to a garden party, observe the #1 rule that I learned a bit too late: No Grazing Allowed!

Enjoy those parties!

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