Inquire Within

Ever since the Back Porch Cafe discontinued quiz night (and subsequently went out of business*) and IHJ's short-lived but incredibly well done Tuesday Trivia went on temporary(?) hiatus, my trivia needs have gone unfulfilled. Sure a nightly rendezvous with Alex Trebek helps, but it is just so one-sided. You can imagine my delight at hearing the Longhorn Saloon in "Historic" Edision, WA has started their own trivia night.

Last night, we got a table early, filled our bellies with brain food (cheeseburger, grilled oysters, and beer) and planned our strategy, which mainly consisted of picking a team name. To make a long story short, Inquire Within came from the ranks of obscurity to conquer the day. After 4 rounds of 10 ?s each (categories of Saturday Morning Cartoons*, Visual Identification, General Knowledge, and Song Recognition), we stood in a tie for first. For the tie-breaker round, each team selected one member to compete in a final 3 question sudden death. Barely edging out My Two Dads, Inquire Within won it all with Paraguay*!

Yes, Longhorn Saloon, I will be back to play your trivia again.
Thursday July 31 2008File under: games, Anacortes

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Easy Like a....

After a week of hard work, Sunday mornings are supposed to be that time when we can all relax. Staying in bed late while listening to the puzzler on NPR. A big breakfast, of french toast and eggs – maybe even some fresh carrot, celery, apple juice if I am feeling saucy. Divvying up the paper and everyone retreating to read; comics here, sports page there, ads in the recycling.

For the past 8 years or so, every time I see a newspaper, there is really only one section for me: the crossword. It has become somewhat of an obsession, actually. I've worked my way through my back stash of puzzles and am now always on the lookout for more. I find myself going through recycling bins in public places to get my fix (ferries and airports are treasure troves of discarded papers). To eat breakfast without a crossword is my own little torture.

All this is to say that if in your household competition for the crossword puzzle is stiff, fear not! I've just finished creating my 5th crossword*, and I am glad to say that there are no clues* that I am ashamed of, making it my best yet. If it wasn't for a minor oversight in the grid construction*, I would be submitting it to the powers that be and expecting my $60 check in the mail.

Without further ado, I present Large Places. If you do give it a try, and I hope you do, I would love any feedback you can share. My journey to be a published crossword puzzle author can use all the help it can get.
Sunday May 18 2008File under: games

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Wednesday is Crossword Day

I know these crossword are getting old for the majority of you. As for the other three people that actually look at them, I assume the novelty is even wearing out for you. Does that mean I'm going to stop creating them? No. Will I stop posting about them? Maybe. This one, however, should be the last one for a while, as I am soon to enter the working world again* (at least for a short time) and I won't have all this time to kill.

I was tempted to call this crossword BOOBLESS and let it stay as an inside joke until you solved it, but I figured that would be too tactless, so I've called it CALCULATOR SPEAK. I hope that isn't too much of a give away. Because I incorporated more theme elements, this one took me much longer than the previous ones but I can't say if that actually made it any better.

Anyway, if anyone out there is actually doing them, I would love feedback. Do you think any would be newspaper worthy? Maybe not NY Times yet, but perhaps USA Today? Are you at least having a good time doing them? Should I give up on this an refocus on, say, making sudokus?*
Wednesday February 20 2008File under: games

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Another Crossword - FAMILY TIES

As often happens with me and creative energies, I find an outlet and stay with it for a while. It happened about this time last year with writing nerdy word games*. This year's borderline obsession is creating crosswords. I've incorporated the feedback I got from the 3 people that attempted the last one("It's too hard!" and "Weak!") and hopefully this one will prove much better. Check it out and let me know what you think: FAMILY TIES.

Since I seem to be taking to writing crossword puzzles so eagerly, I thought it might be fun to look into what it takes to get one published (and how much it pays.) Cruciverb.com seems to be the site to go to for that type of information. In a nut shell, you gotta minimize black spaces, use symmetric grids, use as few dumb clues as possible, and do a good theme. That seems straight forward enough. Each paper/organization has its own guidelines on top of those as well as prices. It looks like the going rate is between $65 and $200*.

Anyway, I've got a new goal for the list: become a published crossword [author/creator/artist/guy]. Any feedback you can give would be great. I'll be sure and thank you in my acceptance speech for "best crossword dude from a personal blog" category at next year's Crossies.
Tuesday February 12 2008File under: games, coding

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Create a Crossword - CHECK

Years ago, I made a list of things I wanted to do before I died. I was reminded of this list recently by a [great!] post over at IHJ. (Another great example of a life list, and actually the one that inspired me to make my own years ago, can be found here*.)

I'm not going to post said list because it is still a work in progress (both in terms of refining goals and attempting to accomplish them). One of my proudest to cross off, however, was trying out for Jeopardy*. I didn't get on, but that's okay because it still felt great to have tried.

But I digress. This post is supposed to be about the latest thing I've been able to cross off my list*. As an avid crossword puzzle doer for years, I've always wanted to create my own – not a ghetto one like we made in high school using all the words from the spelling list, but a newspaper worthy crossword that adheres to strict standards (at least in format if not in content).

So here it is: You're in My Top Level Domain Now. There are a few words that I am not overly proud of and a few others that are obscure pop culture references that only very very few people will get, but it's not bad for a first try. Have a go. Tell me what you think.

(You can either print the puzzle (please make sure it shrinks to just print on one page) or you can do the puzzle as it is on your computer screen. The "software"* isn't as fancy as the commercial ones, but it does the trick.)
Wednesday February 6 2008File under: games, coding

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Quiz Night - Crisis of Doona

This past Friday was another fun and successful Quiz Night at the Back Porch Cafe. The categories fell in our favor this week (for the most part) and at the end of two rounds, Crisis of Doona* was in a three way tie for first place. The tie breaker question was about Shakespeare. It turns out that wasn't our strongest subject so we again got narrowly edged out for the win. Next time, though. I can feel next time is going to be the time.

Anyway, as has become our habit here, I thought I would go ahead and post the visual round. Category: Wrastlers. How many can you name? (As always, hover for answers: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8)

(Previous Quiz Night posts (with scans of the visual questions): Return of Quiz Night, Filler, and Quiz Night!)
Sunday November 11 2007File under: Anacortes, games

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Return of Quiz Night

After a longer than normal hiatus, the Backporch Cafe's Quiz Night returned this past Friday evening. A lively crowd* battled it out for the fame and prizes. With my regular team absent, I recruited a crack team of first timers to help with the pursuit. Through round one, we held our own. It turns out our knowledge of indigenous plants, world rivers, classic literature, and Antonio Banderas is above average. Round two was a bit of a suck fest for the Imperfect Ladies*. Out knowledge, or lack thereof, of current events, (post?)modern literature, the Clash, and starlets took us from second place to second-to-last. In a quiz tournament so heavily topicized*, you live and die by the topics.

Anyway, as always, it was a good time made even better by the other folks who played. Keep an eye out for the next go round. After all, the more, the merrier.

And for all of you who enjoy playing along, I'll share the two identification rounds. Above (click for larger image) are starlets. How many can you name? Or try your knowledge of indigenous plants. I'll post the answers in special hover code in the comments.

The Backporch Cafe's Quiz night has been covered before here and here.
Sunday October 14 2007File under: Anacortes, games

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Link Letter

Huzzah huzzah! BdW has to come the rescue to save you all from another boring Monday*. That's right, folks, I am pleased to announce the debut of my eighth self-conceived*, home-coded nerd game. (To view all the games, be sure and check out the games page so conveniently listed on the left hand column of this very page.)

The goal of Link Letter is to create a chain of words, each one letter apart, starting at one word and working your way to another (hopefully the in-game instructions will be a little more articulate than that). Currently, there are 20 levels with the possibility of adding more levels (or maybe even separate tracks) later, so get some while the getting is good. Oh, and I've brought back the community high score board with this one, so you can fight tooth and nail to beat out Joe Mama.

Link Letter is written with a javascript front end, so I must deliver my standard hasn't-been-tested-on-Mac caveat. If someone gives it a go, please let me know if it works. As the matter of fact, I'd love any kind of feedback anybody has. I'd love to make this game as good as possible so it might have a shelf life of more than, say, a week*, like all the other games.

Happy linking!
Sunday September 30 2007File under: games, coding

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Match Em!

With all this trivia that has been floating around in my head and life of late, I had to find an outlet. What I've come up with should prove to be lots* of fun.

The game is Match Em, and as the name suggests, it is a matching game. I consider it accessible trivia, because even if you don't know each and every one, you can usually reason out at least a few correct answers. The game also tracks the average score of everyone who has played for a given data set. Examples of data sets currently included are Painters and Paintings, States and Nicknames*, Car Makes and Models, and much more. So try it out. Let me know if you have problems or questions. (Please to note: it hasn't been tested on any Macintosh browsers. If you try it out on one, let me know if it works.)

The part of this whole shebang that I am excited about it the ability to add new data sets easily. For this, I was hoping that I could call on you, dear reader, to help out. What matching sets can you come up with? Send me (via e-mail or the contact page)* anywhere between 7 and 14 matching items in a given category. In about a week, I'll add all [appropriate] submissions to the game.
Sunday August 12 2007File under: games, coding

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Quiz Night!

A wise man once said, "If you put your vibe out into the universe, the universe will respond", or something along those lines*. Well, I've been putting out the trivia vibe into the universe recently (reading Ken Jennings's Braniac, watching Jeopardy as often as possible, and composing a little trivia challenge of my own (to be released at the next game night)). The universe did its job and responded brilliantly.

The Back Porch Cafe (the cute little cafe/restaurant/food-buying-for-eating* place connected to The Business) held its first monthly (or so they say) Quiz Night. There were 5 teams of four members each. Play consisted of 2 30-minute rounds in written format. Topics included 80s metal*, geography, food additives, the heart, Antarctica, and pictures of dudes (as seen here). While the style of these questions didn't quite suit me, I had a great time nonetheless.

After a rout in the first round putting us in the lead by 5.5 points, we got to feeling pretty cocky. Yep, we aced geography and food additives. Round 2, however, we didn't do so hot, getting only 1.5 points on the pictures of dudes category*. In the end, we came in second by a lousy half a point. Oh well, there is always next month. I, for one, will definitely be there.
Friday July 6 2007File under: Anacortes, games

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