Archive for the ‘Games’ Category

Girls With Good Luck Charms - Raphael Kirchner, circa 1905

Girls With Good Luck Charms – Raphael Kirchner, circa 1905

Here’s a system you can use. Let’s say you’re playing an old-fashioned three-reel machine at a dollar a spin with a max bet of three. A reel is a mechanical wheel that spins inside the machine. When the symbols on the reels line up in a designated pattern, the player wins. This line is called the payline. If you put in $10, the credit meter will display 10. You can bet one, two, or three credits. If you bet three credits, i.e. max bet, when the reels spin your credit meter adjusts to 7. Congratulations, a single spin on a $1 machine just cost you $3. It’s particularly frustrating when the first reel of your $3 bet stops between symbols. At this rate, you’ll be broke in no time. So start with a single credit. If the first reel doesn’t stop with a symbol on the payline, stick to a single-credit bet for the next spin. But if that first reel puts a symbol on the payline, up the bet, even if the second or third reel doesn’t. As long as the first reel puts a symbol on the payline, keep upping the bet all the way to max bet. But as soon as the first reel stops cooperating, drop back down to a one-credit wager. I call this system the Rule of Firsts. The thing about this system, of course, is it’s not really a system.

This is what happens when you press the spin button on a slot machine: the button sends an electromagnetic signal to a random number generator, which assigns a value to each reel that determines its position. In other words, before the reels even begin to spin the outcome of the game has been decided. So much for systems.

What about luck? Luck has nothing to do with anything unless you’re the kind of person who thinks it has everything to do with everything. People who believe in luck tend not to be system players. Luck isn’t what’s making the casinos rich. Luck doesn’t pay the rent or the car payment or the cosmetic surgeon. Luck doesn’t keep the lights on at Thunderclap. But going to a casino and not believing in luck is like going to church and not believing in heaven.

Jim Ruland, from “13 Ways of Looking at a Slot Machine” in This is Not a Camera (originally published at McSweeney’s Internet Tendency as part of the series “Dispatches from an Indian Casino” under the pseudonym “Leslie McDonald”)

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I’m no techno-geek, but I’m pretty sure YouTube’s “Automatic Captions” feature is made possible by farsighted lip-readers and voice-recognition software developed by capuchin helper monkeys. See if you can guess the following movie quotes as translated by this hysterically imperfect program:

1. “The pet of the right to communicate with their on backed by the inequities, the Philippines, and upheaval.”

2. “Hi style, Steve Hess.”

3. “Benedetto without government: Radon!”

4. “Economies? Economies?”

5. “Over the religion is amazing organized for good last year.”

6. “Pilots public public aborting!”

7. “Dividend. David Mattingly.”

8. “Possibilities, braces.”

9. “A bubble is best for Mrs. Moon.”

10. “Believe dot here, failure get milkshake.”


1. “The path of the righteous man is beset on all sides by the inequities of the selfish and the tyranny of evil men.” Pulp Fiction

2. “Why so serious?” The Dark Knight

3. “They can take our lives, but they will never take our freedom!” Braveheart

4. “You talkin’ to me? You talkin’ to me?” Taxi Driver

5. “Hokey religions and ancient weapons are no match for a good blaster at your side.” Star Wars

6. “I love the smell of napalm in the morning!” Apocalypse Now

7. “Leave the gun…take the cannoli.” The Godfather

8. “Hasta la vista, baby.” Terminator 2: Judgment Day

9. “A boy’s best friend is his mother.” Psycho

10. “What we’ve got here is failure to communicate.” Cool Hand Luke

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(Part 28 of an Ongoing Series)


You have to play the game to find out why you’re playing the game. It’s the future, Pikul. You’ll see how natural it feels.

Allegra  Geller (Jennifer Jason Leigh)

Maybe The Matrix is King Shit of ’99 Mountain, but in some ways, eXistenZ totally out-1999’s it. Where The Matrix has a little Cronenberg in its human embryo battery baths, eXistenZ actually is Cronenberg, so its hardware throbs and squishes so intensely you can taste its disease. And while The Matrix is Philip K. Dick for the multiplex masses, drawing a stark new boundary between “reality” and reality?, eXistenZ is way more Ubik (perhaps the Dickiest of all Dick’s 438 novels), glitching the “reality”/reality? border so often the word “mindfuck” practically loses all meaning.

In one of its myriad meta-moments, a character claims to detect a strong “anti-game theme” within the movie’s virtual reality world. Yet although eXistenZ quivers with its own marrow-deep paranoia about virtual reality, ultimately it’s not above having fun with it. Instead of ending with a Matrix-like triumphant call to action, eXistenZ ends with a scream, a shrug, and a cackling middle finger.

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SPOILER: Orson Welles’ F For Fake contains several untruths.

…The truth- please forgive us for it- is that we’ve been forging an art story. As a charlatan, of course, my job was to try to make it real. Not that reality has anything to do with it. Reality… is the toothrbush waiting at home for you in its glass. A bus ticket. A paycheck. And the grave…

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Not that it’s a huge tragedy that Jordyn Wieber and numerous other Olympians won’t qualify for things they should’ve qualified for, but these Kindergartenish Olympic rules about handicapping better athletes for the sake of diversity remind me an awful lot of the sad, hilarious world of Kurt Vonnegut’s “Harrison Bergeron.”

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Certain words and phrases have been censored during syndicated airings of 30 Rock even though they passed standards & practices when they originally aired on NBC.  Can you guess which of these words are too raunchy for reruns?

1. erection

2. pooping

3.  jags

4.  ball

5.  Micks

6.  Hot Richard

7. douche

8. McFlurry

9. squeezer

10. boning






Censored: 2, 4, 5, 7, 10  Uncensored: 1, 3, 6, 8, 9

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1. Hazel Motes

2. Pappy Van Winkle

3. George Poker Sash

4. Manley Pointer

5. Basil Hayden

6. Elijah Craig

7. J.W. Dant

8. Tom Shiftlet

9. Scofield May

10. George T. Stagg






Kenutcky Bourbon: 2, 5, 6, 7, 10

Flannery O’Connor Character: 1 (Wise Blood), 3 (“A Late Encounter With The Enemy”), 4 (“Good Country People”), 8 (“The Life You Save May Be Your Own”), 9 (“Greenleaf”)

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1. The Jungle Died Laughing

2. My Valuable Hunting Knife

3. Underwater Explosions

4. Night In The Cramped Forest

5. Kiss Only The Important Ones

6. Mom, I Missed The Plane

7. Captain Supermarket

8. Running Off With The Fun City Girls

9. Jane of the Waking Universe

10. Mysterious Murder In Snowy Cream

11. His Powerful Device Makes Him Famous

12. Unleashed! The Large-Hearted Boy

13. Meetings And Failures In Meetings

14. Everywhere With Helicopter

15. Super Speeding Cleaning Evil Accounts

16. Hardcore UFOs

17. Dimwit Surges Forth

18. The Stir-Crazy Pornographer

19. I’ll Replace You With Machines

20. I’m Drunk And You’re A Prostitute

Guided By Voices Song: 2, 3, 5, 8, 9, 12, 14, 16, 18, 19

English Translation Of A Foreign Title Of An American Movie:

1 (George Of The Jungle in Israel)

4 (The Blair Witch Project in China)

6 (Home Alone in France)

7 (Army Of Darkness in Japan)

10 (Fargo in China)

11 (Boogie Nights in China)

13 (Lost In Translation in Portugal)

15 (Drive Angry in Thailand)

17 (The Waterboy in Thailand)

20 (Leaving Las Vegas in Japan)

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Last night in a lucid dream I saw Thomas Jefferson & I asked what he thought of last Tuesday’s Final Jeopardy where the clue was, “Adding up the denominations of circulating bills with US presidents on the front gives you this total.” I, like all 3 contestants on the show, thought the question should be “What is $76?” Yet Alex Trebek said the correct question was “What is $78?” because of the $2 bill. But lucid dream-Thomas Jefferson totally agreed with me & said, “The bill which bears my likeness is spent by virtually nobody, and it is highly misleading to imply said bill is ‘in circulation.’ That Final Jeopardy is, indeed, bullshit.”

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I try not to call things “mind-blowing” too often, at least now that I’m no longer a college student who smokes weed every day.  But I think “The Tetris Effect” just blew my mind.  A third of it is basically a summary of the Fred Savage movie/feature-length Nintendo commercial The Wizard, a third of it is excerpted verbatim from books about hedge-funder/financial crisis catalyst Michael Burry, and a third is a memoir about the author’s life-long relationship with video games.  Wolfe threads all these thirds together brilliantly, illuminating each strand in unexpected and eye-opening ways.  “The Tetris Effect” certainly doesn’t claim that video games caused the recent economic collapse, but it does underline the similarities between the two, especially when you factor in Asperger’s Syndrome and God mode-cheat codes.  A long read (at least by internet standards) but absolutely worth it.

1. Computer Space

When I was in second grade, my teacher sent a note home to my mother. I had recently been skipped ahead from first grade to second grade and the new teacher was worried about me. I was keeping up with the class fine, I was having no problem with that, she said in the note, but she was worried about me because all I would ever write or talk or draw about in class or in my journal or for homework were video games. They seemed to be the only thing that I thought about. She wondered whether maybe there might be something wrong with me for me to be so obsessed with games.

In the opening scene of the film, a boy is wandering along an empty stretch of highway, the frame filled with waves of desert heat. His face is blank and he carries a metal lunchbox in one hand, swinging it back and forth as he goes. He is no older than six or seven. The batteries of the sun are slowly dying; heat waves play with the orange light, bending it into shimmers. As the last credits fade into the skyline, a policeman in an SUV pulls up alongside the boy and asks him where he thinks he’s going. “California,” the boy says. His face is blank, his eyes ciphers. The policeman keeps talking to him, but all the boy will say in response is “California.”

“When [he] was born, in 1971, his steel blue eyes seemed crossed in an unusual way, drawing immediate concern from his parents. A local pediatrician…dismissed [their] worries, ensuring them that the boy had a lazy left eye that would improve with time…. Finally, an ophthalmologist diagnosed retinoblastoma, a dangerous cancer that strikes one in twenty thousand children…. Doctors removed the boy’s left eye, to prevent the tumor from spreading…. Before he turned two, [he] was fitted with a glass prosthesis. It was an approximation of his natural eye, the best they could produce at the time, but it had no movement, making it quite obvious.”

Click here for the rest of “The Tetris Effect”

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