I thought I’d have a change of pace from the usual post about writing and creativity and propose something fun to provide a mid-week diversion. In the spirit of summer nostalgia that's been prevalent these last couple of weeks on some of my favorite blogs, pull up a wicker chair on the screened in porch.
My stepmother’s family has a simple game they often play when they get together. I’d never heard of it the first time I played one Thanksgiving visit and have never seen anyone else play it, but it is easy and it’s really a lot of fun. Kids can join in too and usually manage to do pretty well. With all the kids home and/or visiting for summer, it might it make a fun family night for some of you.
One of the relatives put this out on a blog that he helps to run recently. He posts under a pseudonym, so although I’d like to give him credit, I'll honor his anonymity. He devised this method of playing the game in the blogosphere, as opposed to playing in real life. It takes about two minutes to explain the game and its rules. I copied the explanation and rules that follow verbatim from his post:
We call it The Alphabet Game, but there are a lot of games that use that name.
Every player takes a pencil/pen and paper. We all write the alphabet down the sheet. Then someone picks up a magazine or newspaper or book and reads a short passage.
We only care about the first 26 letters of the passage. We write those down next to the letters of the alphabet, creating 26 pairs of letters.
For example: if the chosen passage were "The Road Not Taken," with its first line "Two roads diverged in a yellow wood," each player's sheet would now begin:
Now the game begins. (There are two italicized points about the game that I'll explain further in a moment.)
Each player tries to think of a famous person with each of those 26 initials. Players write them down on their sheets; an experienced player may get 15-20 names on an average game.
After time is up, we score. If a player has a famous person that no one else named, s/he gets two points. If several players have chosen the same famous person, each gets one point.
We've recently tried a variant that has promise: adding a bonus point for names in a particular category. So, if the bonus category is "Music," 'Stevie Wonder' earns three as a unique pick and two as a shared answer.
(The scoring is the raucous part in my family. We refuse to go round-robin and announce our answers -- we keep interrupting each other. But we keep playing, so I guess we like it that way.)
Those are the rules -- pretty straightforward. But we have developed a history of "case law" (translation: consensus reached after an extra beer) on several matters of definition.Who is a "famous person"? Lots of case law here.
- It cannot be someone that we only know within our group. So, "Benny Nogood, that boy Aunt Edith used to date," doesn't count for BN.
- In cases of doubt, another player must vouch that the name is indeed famous. In our house this is seldom invoked. We tend to accept it when one player says, "If you weren't such bookish dweebs and lived in the Real World, you'd know all about Nomar Garciaparra!" Or conversely, when someone says, "Oliver Gogarty is the guy that Joyce based Buck Mulligan on, and I've been to the pub of that name in
, and if you don't believe me you can Kiss My Royal Irish Arse!" Dublin
- The same person may qualify under multiple initials. It's common to use "Dwight Eisenhower" and "Ike Eisenhower" for DE and IE in the same game. "Queen Elizabeth" also counts (sometimes a player specifies QE I or QE II, just to make a duplicate less likely and get a 2 rather than a 1.
- "Person" is the wrong word, based on case law. "Character" is closer to the rule. It need not be a real person: Oliver Twist counts. It need not even be a person-person: Mickey Mouse and Mister Ed count. Non-character names do not: no Led Zeppelin for LZ, no General Electric for GE. (But Jethro Tull and Aunt Jemima would count.)
- When is "time up"? We don't use a timer. When someone thinks it has been long enough, and no one else seems to be inspired, s/he proposes "Are we done?" Usually someone says "Not yet!" and we keep going. But the peer pressure timer is now ticking. By the third quorum call we usually get agreement to score.
The above description completely describes the face-to-face game. I recommend it. Now comes the experiment.
We'll need a few rules changes from the face-to-face game. My proposal:No Googling. Not for finding names, and not for confirming someone else's name.
No points for dupes. The first person to post a particular name gets two points; there is no point earned for saying "I was thinking of him/her too!"
No "Are we done yet?" discussion. When the game gets posted, it includes the deadline.
The diarist cannot post any names until someone else has posted a name on the diary. (The diarist is a player in the game, too. Otherwise s/he has an advantage: just formatting the diary will trigger thoughts of people.) Lisa’s Note: I think what he was saying here was that since he was going to play, he wouldn’t post his answers until someone else went first.
Less latitude on "famous." I know I can rely on my cousin Freddie's knowledge of Famous Racecar Drivers, but we don't know that about each other. So, feel free to challenge another player's answer on the "famous" ground. If I use "Dick Tuck," I'll need another Old Person to back me up. Lisa's Note: In this forum, assume anybody published or with a book deal is famous :)
Lisa’s Bonus Point Category: I propose an extra bonus point for every debut novelist named.
Lisa’s Made Up Rule on the Text Source: I propose an extra five bonus points if you can guess the name of the book these first letters come from. I’ve chosen the very first sentence of the book.
Lisa’s Time Limit: Scoring as of whatever time I decide to go to bed Wednesday night. If you copy down the game below, it’s normally about a 5 – 10 minute process to come up with as many answers as you can without any references except what’s in your head.
Note on Posting Your Answers: Once you decide to play (and who wouldn’t!), don’t look at any comments posted first because they’ll get stuck in your head before you think of yours. Work out your answers and when you go to post them, scroll past comments without reading them and post first, then look. I’ll check periodically and keep a running tally. When you post your answers, if you’ve got esoteric names feel free to note next to them who they are so we all learn something. Also, for those of you Type-A personalities (like me); accept the fact that you will spell names wrong or say one name when you really mean another. That's what happens in the in-person version of the game since we can't look anything up. It's OK!
OK, here’s the game:
Not about art, literature, publishing, creativity or struggling, but we all need a break from our day sometimes that’s just fun. Come on -- play!