Five games guaranteed to kill friendships and alienate people

It started out as an innocent little suggestion. “Hey, let’s all get together for a game night!” A little wine, a few snacks, a clear table, and five happy couples all gathered around for an evening of fun and amusement.

It…did not end that way.

So here are five games to keep clear of — or plan your evening around, depending how much you like your friends.

White Elephant Gift Exchange

Also known as Yankee swap, this game never fails to rapidly devolve into a social litmus test. Players bring gifts and take turns choosing an unwrapped gift or stealing one already open. It seems like a simple enough concept for a group who don’t know each other that well, but that’s just what the game wants you to think.

First, there are the rules. Does everyone choose a gift before opening? Can you open and steal? Can you steal back what’s been stolen from you? What about trading? Price limit?

Then, there are the gifts. You get a bottle of locally made hot sauce, how neat!  The next player gets two bottles of wine. The next player gets a complete barbecue set. One of these things is not like the other. One of these things stuck to the price limit. Inevitably, something will become the dud gift. If it’s that thing you carefully picked out and put thought into, then your evening sucks just as much as that unlucky soul who got the hot sauce.

Then, there’s the stealing…

You open a gift, and it’s a lovely box of chocolates! Oh, but there’s something more too. It’s…$5 worth of scratch cards! Um, thanks? That’s basically just $5 less of a gift than all the rest. But then that gift gets stolen, “for the chocolates.” Ha ha, sure, I bet. And then I–I mean you–spend the rest of the evening wondering if you’ve just had $1,000 dollars snatched out of your life forever. Sneaky jerk.

Or there was the time with the tacky gift exchange when the 12 year old got to join the adults from the office opening their gag gifts, and got one of those ice cream punch toys, which was totally super cool and clearly the best gift there! And then the 12 year old had that gift stolen by some 40 year old who totally wasn’t going to play with it or anything, and the game wasn’t fun any more. What? I’ve clearly gotten over it. Read more

Globsters — A tale of sea monsters, tides, and blubber

Artist’s rendition of Trunko by Bill Asmussen

Fortean Times recently published an article unveiling the identity of a South African cryptid I haven’t thought about in years.

Trunko was a sea monster described by witnesses as covered in snowy white fur and possessing a long, perhaps elephant-like nose, seen doing battle with two whales off the coast of Margate, South Africa, in 1922…or 1924, depending which account you read. The creature’s carcass washed up on shore shortly after, possessing no discernible facial features and no noticeable limbs. Some accounts also state the creature had no blood, despite the recent and violent battle. Ten days later, Trunko vanished back into the sea, washed away by the tide or under its own power, depending which version you go by.

In the article, You’ve Been Trunkoed, Dr Karl Shuker works through the variations on the Trunko story, the details which help or confuse the facts, and at last, with the discovery of actual photos of the beached carcass, unveils the true identity of the lesser known sea monster.

Cryptid fans and folklore enthusiasts, go read it, it’s a great article and a lovely look at how truth can be dug from those old first-hand accounts, even long after evidence has vanished. Then come back here, of course!

Gore-gawkers and curiosity seekers, you can stick around, because I have pictures. Tons and tons of pictures.

Trunko’s beached ‘carcass’
The St Augustine monster
The Four Mile Globster
And my favourite for sheer OMGWTF factor:
The Chilean Blob
What on earth are all these beached creatures?

Globsters. Blobs of organic matter from dead sea creatures, washed up on the shore by the tide.

In many cases, they’re blubber from whales, which floats to the surface after separating from the skull and other major bones. Globsters may still have one or two bones in them, and are often covered with fine ‘hairs’ — exposed connective tissue fibres.

As for how something like this could be seen doing battle with two whales? Just search “orcas playing with food” on youtube sometime.

I don’t know about you, but personally, having an explanation for these eerie masses does absolutely nothing to diminish the flail-scream-panic response in me. If I found something like this on the beach I’d still expect it to writhe, rise up, and lash at me, to absorb me into its invertebrate mass and revitalize itself upon my bodily fluids.

Photos from Wikimedia Commons.

How to Kill (or brutally maim) Your Problems and Reclaim Your Productivity

Your life has just imploded. All hell has broken loose. Or maybe you’re just moving, or its Christmas — or both at the same time! Either way, you’re getting jack all done, and your stomach/brain/small intestine has decided its time to burst into flame as means of punishment for your slothful, selfish ways. How dare you.

Quite simply, things happen. Things that will sap your energy, steal your free time and quiet hours, and snicker at you while you attempt to get work done anyway. But you can beat them.

With my fool-proof three-step system for only three easy payments of $19.95

By kicking their asses.

Know Your Enemy
First, acknowledge you have a problem. Something is screwing with your workload, and you are not writing (or Insert Work Here!) as much as you should be. Understand what’s screwing with you, what’s really screwing with you. It may be the visiting relatives, but it may also be the (self-imposed) pressure to make everything perfect while they’re visiting. Or it may be that you’re lazy. Don’t worry, that happens to me a lot.

Embrace It
You know what’s holding you back; now accept it. You are incredibly sick and cannot stay awake/upright. Or you are a lazy, slothful, sorry sack of a writer (you can come sit by me!) Whatever the obstacle, accept it and you won’t wind up wasting even more time on excuses. It may not be the fact that you are moving, but that you need to learn to partition your thoughts into Crap To Do For The Move/Writing Joyous Writing, and ne’er the two shall bump into each other in a dark hallway, bungle things up, and stumble out with bits of each others’ dinners all over their clothes.

Now Crush that Motherf*cker to Death
You’ve got your arms around it. There’s no escape. Squeeze the life out of the bastard until it stops twitching and wheezing. When it turns a faint purplish hue and the eyes bulge, that’s usually a good sign to stop.

This is the part of the process they call Problem Solving. Usually it means implementing a practical solution while wearing great big household-cleaning-products smile the whole time. I prefer to think of it as the part where you leap out of the shadows with a tire iron and bludgeon your problem to death. Is it the lack of help around the house? Bludgeon! Is it an excessive work load? Eviscerate the lesser tasks!

But the problem, just as often, may not be that you are busy and can’t get your work done. The actual problem may be the stress or guilt springing from your lowered productivity. You are ill? You just damn well have to rest or your work will continue to suck for twice as long. You are packing and moving and cleaning and unpacking? It’s only a few days and then you can work your ass off again when things settle. It’s not the situation that’s the problem; it’s the emotion that’s screwing with your work. Accept the situation, embrace the fact that you’re your own worst enemy, and the rip to pulpy shreds the guilt you’re throwing on yourself.

And, of course, if said guilt and shame flies at you from some other source, by all means, rip that person to pulpy shreds instead. And enjoy it. You deserve it. And they do too.

Keelhaul? Garrote? Bamboo torture? How do you murder your problems?