Archive for the ‘Game Shows’ Category

“The Price Is Right Live” in Syracuse: Coming On Down, Moving On Up

Wednesday, June 19th, 2013
I'd like to imagine he's sitting over three feet of shark-infested waters. Makes him seem more heroic in my eyes.

The set looked pretty much like this, only in full color, without Bill Cullen, and with slightly less wood trim. Oh yeah, and we wore the price tags on our chests, too.

“Here it comes!  From the Landmark Theater in Syracuse, New York, television’s most exciting hour of fantastic cash and prizes, it’s ‘The Price Is Right Live!”  When that opening line reverberated throughout the spacious theater on Sunday, June 9, 2013, the whole place erupted into cheers and wild shouts of joy.  I was one of those screamers, thrilled to be part of the viewing audience for the first performance in my area of the touring version of one of my favorite game shows.  True, I didn’t get to be a contestant on this night, but at least I had a chance to potentially be one, along with about three thousand other people, all adorned with yellow price tags proudly announcing their first name to the world.  The stage was set up to look like a close approximation of the original Price set with huge double doors and swinging ’70s color schemes; it looked very impressive for such a small stage.  In addition, all of the sounds and music I heard during the show were exactly the same sounds the viewer would hear on the TV show.  It was the closest most of us might ever get to actually attending a taping of the Price TV show at CBS Television City in California, so being able to get even a taste of that experience was rewarding in itself.  It also helped that it was an inexpensive endeavor that gave a lot for my money.

The live show was set up in the same way that a typical episode of the TV show would play out, with a few small differences, mostly in terms of how many people were selected to participate.  Four people at a time were called out from the audience to “come on down” to a small “Contestants’ Row” where they would place bids for a prize.  The contestant closest to the manufacturer’s suggested retail price without overbidding won the prize and got to come up on stage to play one of the world-famous pricing games.  (Incidentally, one of the winning bidders managed to bid the exact correct price.  She won a gift card for her perfect bid, a pretty rare feat, so way to go, kiddo!)  Four new contestants were called down for each new game (twenty-four people in all), four more were selected for two spins of the big “Showcase Showdown” wheel, and at the end, one more contestant was picked to take on the Showcase, in this case a normal pricing game, “10 Chances,” but with more exotic prizes including a new car.  In all, whereas a typical TV episode would see only nine contestants play out the whole show, our live show saw closer to forty people able to play along on stage, not to mention the people who won Subway and Home Depot gift cards.  I was surprised to see just how many people were picked, but I think it’s cool that this show opens up so many more opportunities for the audience to play along.

The game’s host was just as impressive to me, and, I hope, to everyone else in the theater by the time the show was over.  Todd Newton has had years of experience hosting numerous game shows including Hollywood ShowdownWhammy! The All New Press Your Luck, and Family Game Night, and it certainly showed during his time in Syracuse as our master of ceremonies (apparently, he’s been hosting the touring live show for most of its existence, so I am sure he has this gig down to a science by now).  He was warm, genial, and always worked to keep the mood light and breezy.  The games may have been the star attraction, but in my view, Todd did an excellent job of making them larger than life for everyone watching; he even led everyone in chants of the show’s signature catchphrases, “Come on down!”  and “Spayed or neutered!” (Todd joked afterward that that was probably the only time those words would ever be chanted anywhere; we did it a total of three times throughout the show).  In fact, I’d be interested in him hosting the show on TV if he ever gets the chance to do so; he showed a lot of respect for the show and its history, and he seemed able to handle the show’s signature brand of organized chaos very well.

The selection of pricing games for Price‘s first night in Syracuse included some of its most famous ones.  Right off the bat, the first game played was Cliff Hangers; Todd led everyone in a rhythmic clapping along to the game’s iconic yodeling theme which kept the energy up in the room (the mountain climber fell off the mountain, in case you were wondering).  We also had a relatively low-stakes version of Plinko where the top amount on the board was $2500 (the contestant walked away with a only a small amount but it wasn’t too shabby).  The other games included Any Number, Punch a Bunch, and Hole in One (or Two), in which I thought the contestant’s first putt would be a sinker, but it just missed the hole.  Overall, there weren’t any huge money winners on this night, but having so many well-known games as part of our show felt really special to me.

This first Price is Right Live show in Syracuse was a fun way to spend a Sunday afternoon.  It almost perfectly captured the feel of the TV show and enthralled all who attended.  It was good-old-fashioned entertainment that delivered a lot of bang for the buck.  I hope it can make it around to Central New York again because I would definitely consider “coming on down” again!

My Hopes for “The Price is Right Bingo”

Wednesday, April 24th, 2013
Yes, I know I8 doesn't really exist, but you know, for the sake of the joke, people...

Haven’t I seen this game somewhere B4? Must’ve been something I8.

The other day as I was looking over messages on my Facebook page, I noticed that there was an ad for a new bingo game on the site based on The Price Is Right.  It felt to me like the world stopped turning for a few seconds while I tried to take this in.  There are times when I like to pass the time with a quick game of online bingo and watch The Price is Right.  Put the two together?  Well, I don’t plan on being in front of my computer all day, but I do want to give the game a shot.  Bingo with Bob Barker might be one of the best combinations I’ve ever seen since that Reese’s guy put peanut butter and chocolate together.

From what I have seen from previews and screenshots of the game so far, the game makers seem to have the basics of bingo well in hand and matched up with a few show features already.  Getting a bingo will allow the player to participate in a minigame based on the familiar toss-up game where contestants bid on prizes.  Players can also somehow earn “Master Keys” which can unlock bonus prizes such as decorations, wallpaper, and other cosmetic features; I wonder if the “Master Key” pricing game is in there as well.  You can also spin the big wheel from the Showcase Showdown to get a multiplier which can increase your winnings, a feature I naturally assumed would be implemented in just that way.  I think all of these make for nice bookends for each game you play and they are a pretty big part of the show so I’m glad they made it in there.

The different bingo rooms in the game seem to have themes based on different pricing games from the show.  However, from what I have seen so far, I do not think any elements from the games themselves play a role in the actual bingo gameplay.  I’m surprised at that because when I first heard about the game, I kept picturing images of Plinko chips being placed on random numbers on a bingo card.  Thinking a little further, I started imagining gimmicks that the game makers could take from different pricing games and match up with an aspect of bingo.  For example, if the room theme was “Secret X,” one column on your bingo card could be hidden from view.  At the end of the game, the column would flip over and reveal a hidden marked number, just like the hidden X in the namesake pricing game.  If that number fell into a line of other numbers you had marked, you would have an instant bingo.  Also, I think it would be interesting to have players write out their own row of numbers at the beginning of a bingo round, in a manner similar to writing out your amount in “Check Game.”  Small additions like these could bring out the personality of the show a bit more while staying true to the traditional gameplay of bingo.

If ever there was a true application of the phrase, “two great tastes that taste great together,” then that might be The Price is Right Bingo.  It is a combination I never expected to see, but which I now can’t wait to check out.  After I “Come on down,” I hope to have a review of it for all of you shortly. 

What do you think of this new game, and would you want to play it?  If you’ve played it already, is there anything you like or dislike about it?  What would you add or take from it?  Leave your thoughts in the comments.

Looking Forward to The Next Three Days

Saturday, March 30th, 2013

Sorry I haven’t been blogging too much this week, guys.  I’ve been a little busy writing my next column for AutismAfter16 and getting started preparing a speech I’m going to give at a meeting of a local special education group.  I’ve wanted to write some more blog posts, but I also want to tighten up these other pieces of writing and they took a bit more time to work out than I anticipated.  I’m still looking forward to this weekend and this coming April Fools Day, though, because there’s a lot of other stuff coming up during that time which I am really excited about.  Here’s a few of the reasons why I’m so pumped for the next three days.  (And before you mention that Easter Sunday falls on this weekend, yes, I’m aware of that, and it is certainly very important to me, but I want to focus on some other stuff you might not know about.)

Syracuse is in the Elite Eight!

The NCAA men’s basketball tournament is in full swing, and heading into this weekend’s games, my hometown team, the Syracuse Orange, is in the quarterfinals.  I caught small portions of the team’s first few games on TV, but I haven’t watched a full game yet.  I intend to take a little time to watch their quarterfinal game against Marquette on Saturday and see how they do.  I’ve watched a few college basketball games in recent months, and I really appreciate how quickly they can go, unlike football and baseball games which, to me, seem to move at a snail’s pace and sometimes even slower than that.  I think the Syracuse game will be a fast and fun diversion for me, and I might check out the other Elite Eight games, too.

Two of my favorite game shows are doing special episodes on April Fools Day!

It’s been a tradition for the past few years for The Price is Right to air special episodes on April Fools Day in which things get a bit weird.  For instance, the 2009 edition saw everyone on the show from host Drew Carey to the models and even the contestants all wearing Groucho glasses, Drew’s friend Kathy Kinney making a cameo appearance as Mimi Bobeck, her character from The Drew Carey Show, to serve as a model, and one of the Showcases at the end featuring all of the items facing away from the camera, even the car!  The 2010 show , the first April Fools show I remember seeing, featured Kathy Kinney returning as Mimi to act as an executive producer for the day and going on the ultimate power trip; the highlight was probably the Showcase round with both contestants bidding on the exact same prizes, except that the second contestant’s version had an added Mini Cooper.  The 2011 show (here’s part 1, part 2, and part 3) was easily the weirdest game show episode I have ever seen, where just about everything on the show managed to go wrong in some way, and the special “ten thousandth thing” Drew kept saying was going to happen on the show never actually occurred.  It was one of the funniest shows I’ve ever seen, and I’ve wanted to see something like it again ever since.  I missed last year’s show, but I hope to see what they will do this year.  From it’s description, this year’s April Fools show sounds a little less weird to me; Drew and announcer George Gray will serve as models while the regular models take turns hosting the show.  I sure hope things will be stranger than normal.

On the same day, Let’s Make a Deal will have a special April Fools episode.  I don’t recall Deal ever doing an April Fools’ show before, so their first try should be very interesting.  Several contestants who got losing “zonk” prizes during past episodes will return in this show to try to get something better, and host Wayne Brady has promised to do a special group deal involving the entire audience.  If it’s as strange as the Price is Right April Fools shows have been, then I’ll be quite the happy camper.

Sale of the Century is coming to GSN!

A couple of weeks ago, I was perusing one of the game show news websites I have bookmarked on my iPad, when I saw a breaking news story on it that took me quite by surprise.  I thought it might be an early April Fools prank, although it was further supported by an ad that started airing on GSN (the name Game Show Network has gone by for the past few years) which said the same thing: Sale of the Century is coming to GSN on April 1st at 9:30 A.M. Eastern time!  I really hope this news is true, because over the past few months, Sale has become one of my favorite game shows ever.  It feels like Jeopardy crossed with Let’s Make a Deal.  Some general knowledge questions are asked with correct answers earning contestants a bit of money.  Every so often, the contestant in the lead has the opportunity to “buy” luxury items such as furniture or exotic trips at the cost of a portion of their earnings.  The contestant with the most money at the end gets a fabulous prize like a 52-day cruise, a ten thousand dollar check, or even a new car if they stay on the show long enough.  I’ve watched a few episodes of Sale on YouTube, and it looks like it could be a really fun show for me to play along with.  There’s also a bunch of new episodes of other classic game shows on GSN on April 1, so that could be a really good day for me to “call in sick,” at least in the morning.  I sure hope those new shows aren’t an elaborate prank.

These are a few things I’m anticipating over the course of the next three days, and I’m sure there will be a few surprises along the way.  Leave your thoughts in the comments, and have a great weekend, everybody!

Random Top Five: Obscure “Starcade” Games I Think Would Be Fun to Play

Wednesday, March 20th, 2013
Not bad for a TV screen and a wooden box.

Life’s all fun and games!

One of my favorite game shows of all time is Starcade, a show from the early 1980s in which kids played new arcade games in order to win such prizes as their very own arcade machine, a personal robot, a jukebox, and in a rare case, vacations to Hawaii with a large supply of quarters to spend in arcades in that state.  I became familiar with this show through frequent reruns on the G4 cable network and was entranced by some of the more unusual games featured on the show.  Tucked in between Pac-Man and Donkey Kong were some unique games which I think I would greatly enjoy playing if I were to come across them in a real arcade.  The following is a catalog of five of those games as well as links to videos of the games in action.  If you’re interested in learning more about the Starcade show itself, I highly recommend checking out the official website set up by JM Productions, the company responsible for making the show; it contains a lot of cool stuff including complete episodes, videos and trivia of all of the games featured on the show, and music from those games, the show itself, and some of JM’s other shows.

5. Pooyan

One fine day in a nondescript virtual forest somewhere in the arcade, Mama Pig’s little piglets were kidnapped by a band of wolves.  Apparently the wolves decided to celebrate by freefalling from the top of a tree with balloons attached to their backs (Why balloons instead of parachutes?  Oh well, that’s video game logic for ya!).  Unbeknownst to them, Mama Pig will soon be taking revenge on them by firing darts at their balloons from the safety of an elevator controlled by some of her liberated children.  You, the player, must move the elevator up and down and fire darts at the wolves while avoiding the pinecones (or are they acorns?  Oranges?  They definitely look like circular objects, at least!) the wolves throw back.  It seemed to me that Pooyan was the game I saw being played most often on Starcade, as it was picked by one of the contestants in just about every single show in which it was one of the featured games.  I have wondered what made it so popular.  Is it because it was a horizontal shooter in an era when vertical shooters like Space Invaders and Galaga were still considered the norm?  Is is because the characters could quite possibly be the cutest-looking video game characters ever?  Whatever it’s appeal was, the Starcaders flocked to it like groupies at a rock concert.  I’d like to experience that phenomenon firsthand and see what all the fuss was about.

4. Pengo (not to be confused with the animated penguin character Pingu)

As announcer Kevin McMahan states at the start of the video I linked to above, “Pengo is a penguin.”  He is trapped in a maze of ice blocks with the Snowbees, round Q-bert imposters, chasing him down.  They are trying to stop him from completing his mission of lining up three specially marked ice blocks in a row for big points.  Fortunately, Pengo can fight back by sliding ice blocks across the playing field and over the Snowbees to make them vanish for a few seconds.  He can also destroy ice blocks to create new paths through the maze and to get rid of places where the Snowbees can regenerate.  Like Pooyan, I think this game has some very cute characters and provides a nice twist on an established arcade game genre, in this case maze games like Pac-Man and its ilk.  I also find it interesting that it seems to be a variation of an old Japanese game called Sokoban in which you push crates around a warehouse (ice blocks around an ice field?  Pretty much the same thing to me.).  I feel this game would appeal greatly to Pac-Man fans who want to see a different kind of maze game, and I think it’s a very “cool” game concept (come on, the pun was right there!).  (Incidentally, I love the background music this game has.  It sounds like a classical piece to me, but I’m not sure which one it is.  The Wikipedia page doesn’t seem to have the answer I’m looking for.  Does anyone else know?)

3. Popeye

Before Nintendo hit the big time with Donkey Kong, a game about an average man trying to rescue his girlfriend from a big hulking brute, they tried their luck in arcades with a game focused on, get this, an average man trying to rescue his girlfriend from a big hulking brute.  In this case, Popeye is attempting to beat the stuffing out of Bluto in order to rescue Olive Oyl, just like in all of his classic cartoons.  Popeye doesn’t have much of a fighting chance against the much stronger Bluto in his normal state, but luckily, the game makers have provided a few cans of spinach for the sailor to gulp down.  Naturally, eating one of these gives Popeye tremendous strength so he can knock Bluto’s block off and send him down into the water below the playing field.  In addition, Popeye can grab hearts and notes of love that Olive sends down from above for extra points.  I’m surprised that I haven’t seen this game outside of Starcade as it looks like a solidly built basic aracde game that could’ve been a big hit.  I’ve heard that Nintendo had a bit of trouble with King Features over the license to use the Popeye characters.  The game did get a release on the Japanese Nintendo Famicom (the original version of the NES) and Namco made a new game based on it for mobile phones in 2008, so at least some people are still able to play it in some form.  I’d still like to play the original arcade version, though.  It’s an interesting footnote in video game history, and I would be interested in playing it myself to see if it’s just as fun as Donkey Kong.

2. Cliffhanger (not to be confused with that Price is Right game with the mountain climber; that one’s spelled “Cliffhangers” with an added “s,” but I do think that yodeling music is very catchy!)

I think this game is probably the most unusual one on this list because it’s not really much of a game at all.  It’s actually an interactive version of a classic Japanese animated movie!  Actually, there’s two movies featured in the game: according to this Wikipedia page, the bulk of the game is based on Castle of Cagliostro with a small bit extracted from Mystery of Mamo.  In any case, the player is tasked with guiding the dapper chap Cliff in an attempt to rescue his girlfriend Clarissa from the clutches of the fiendish Count Draco.  You don’t control Cliff or his friends directly, though: instead you move a joystick around and tap a button to play the next section of the movie.  This game was one of many such “interactive movie” games including Dragon’s LairSpace Ace, and Mach 3.  I’ve played all of those other games except Mach 3, and I think this type of game is very fun, if a bit limited.  I’d like to seek the Cliffhanger game out and play through it to complete my quest through all of this genre’s most notable games.  I wonder if such a bizarre source of footage would indeed make for compelling game play.

1. Super Pac-Man

 Since Starcade did focus on the world of arcade games, of course Pac-Man would be a fixture on the show.  In addition to Pac-Man and Ms. Pac-Man, there was also a trio of unusual spin-off titles.  Pac-Man Plus was a souped-up version of the original game in which all of the characters moved faster and Pac-Man could consume a soda can which made all of the ghosts invisible (a bad thing if you hadn’t eaten a power pellet yet; those ghosts could pop out of nowhere Alien-style and get you when you least expected it!).  Professor Pac-Man wasn’t a maze game at all but rather a math quiz game with a graduation cap-wearing Pac-Man as the quizmaster.  The spin-off game I would most like to play, though, is Super Pac-Man.  In this game, Pac-Man is still playing “chase or be chased” with the ghosts and can still swallow power pellets to turn his enemies blue and then chomp them away for a time.  However, the familiar small dots have been replaced with more nutritious-looking apples for Pac-Man to consume.  Also, there’s a bunch of doors which block off certain sections of the maze.  Thankfully, someone apparently keeps dropping keys into the maze; whenever Pac-Man swallows one, he turns into Super Pac-Man and grows to ten times his regular size.  In this huge form, the ghosts can’t harm him and he can unlock the doors.  Even though the style of game play is, for all intents and purposes, fairly typical for a Pac-Man game, the small differences in this game is what I like.  It adds a couple of new wrinkles to the usual Pac-Man strategy: Do you want to unlock this new portion of the maze and give the ghosts more space to roam?  Which power-up do you want more at the moment: the key for the Super Pac-Man form or the old power pellet to get rid of your ghostly adversaries?  I’m not sure what my strategy would be, but I would like to play this game to find out.  Not to mention Pac-Man is just plain fun in any form, so ten times the size could surely equal ten times the fun!

There were a lot of neat games featured on Starcade that I liked to see or was interested in.  Would you like to hear more about them or about the show itself?  Are there any arcade games you really enjoyed or still enjoy?  Leave your thoughts in the comments.  And until next time, in the words of host Geoff Edwards, “May all your troubles get zapped!”

Pop Culture Questions (And My Answers!) 2: Walking the Plink

Tuesday, February 26th, 2013

A new batch of pop culture questions have popped into my head since the last time we met.  These are becoming very fun for me to think about and come up with answers to, and I hope you are enjoying them.  This time, let’s start off in that magical realm sandwiched between the talk shows and the soaps, the home of spinning wheels, big bucks, and the proverbial “No Whammies,” daytime game shows.

How come Plinko is called Plinko? 

I’m a big fan of the game of Plinko from The Price is Right (the one where contestants drop a bunch of oversized poker chips down a peg-filled vertical board to win up to fifty thousand dollars), but I think it could have easily been called something else.  From what I have read, the name of the game comes from the distinct “plink” sound the chips make as they hit the pegs on the board.  Depending on how one thinks of the sound, I can imagine that the game could have had a different name.  Who wouldn’t want to play “Plonk-o,” “Plunk-o,” “Plank-O,” “Bump-o,” or even “Metallic-impact-off-of-a-peg-on-a-vertical-board-o?”  I’ve also heard “plink” being used to describe the sound made when you pluck guitar strings with a pick.  Maybe it’s time for a version of Plinko where you toss acoustic guitars down the board instead of chips.  I would really like to hear the sounds that game might make!     

How come Charlie Bucket is the successor to Willy Wonka, but the other kids don’t get jack squat?

At the end of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory (spoiler alert for anyone who hasn’t read the book or seen either of its movie adaptations), Charlie Bucket, the last boy remaining from one of the world’s strangest tour groups, is selected by eccentric candy maker Willy Wonka to be his successor, promising to put him in charge of the factory and the Oompa-Loompas when he comes of age.  There’s a part of me that feels the other kids got the short end of the stick, though.  After all, Charlie may have come from nothingness to achieve great things, but as far as I’m concerned, beyond a good heart and what seems to be a good head on his shoulders, I don’t know if he’s got what it takes to keep a chocolate factory up and running. 

If he really wants to be a success, I think Charlie should bring the other kids into the fold and put them in charge of certain factory departments that could use some new life.  Augustus Gloop could lead personal tours of the chocolate room and lead swimming classes in the chocolate river on alternate Thursdays (Of course, they’d need to seal up the pipes whenever he was around, but what’s a few lost hours of business when the whole community can get some exercise?).  Veruca Salt could head up the new roast goose (or roast squirrel if you read the book or saw the second movie) division which could diversify the factory’s food offerings.  Violet Beaureguarde might have some good ideas for new types of gum or ways to work blueberries into existing candy recipes, and if we’re going with the first movie’s Violet, then I think her dad, the used car salesman, could put together an aggressive advertising campaign.  Mike Teavee, having experienced the wonders of television chocolate firsthand, could work with the Oompa-Loompas to send small samples of candy products over the airwaves and thus creating the phrase “must-eat TV”; at least you could put him to work with a focus group watching the commercials Violet’s dad makes and testing the general public to see if is ready for distribution.  If Charlie puts the kids to work in the right ways, at least the little brats won’t be terrorizing the rest of the world!        

How come “I am the Eggman, they are the Eggmen, I am the Walrus (goo goo gachoo)?”

To be quite honest, I always thought this lyric from the Beatles’ “I Am the Walrus” was a little weird, although it is very catchy.  The whole song itself is a bit out to lunch, but for me, this part really takes the first prize in terms of absolute lunacy.  If I were to take this lyric literally (and why wouldn’t I?), I would be both the Eggman and the Walrus, but there would still be two or more Eggmen off in a corner somewhere, “sitting on a pillow, waiting for the van to come” (and take them away from this crazy song?).  Who are these other Eggmen, and what are they doing elbowing in on my Eggman-based territory?  How can I be both an Eggman and a Walrus?  Am I an Eggman dressed as a walrus or at least wearing a walrus pelt?  Am I a walrus wearing the husk of an Eggman (and would I be arrested if I did that in real life)?  What’s the “goo goo gachoo” part for; is it the cry of a baby confused by why Uncle Paul McCartney and his three weird friends are singing a weird lullaby?  I think there’s a lot more questions this song raises than it actually answers!

I hope you all enjoyed this question-and-answer session as much I enjoyed writing it.  If you have any other questions you’d like to see answered, let me know in the comments.  Thanks for reading, and be careful about what cornflakes you sit on!

Weekend Thoughts: Feb. 24-25, 2013

Monday, February 25th, 2013

When I started this blog, it was my intention to post at least one new entry every weekday while taking weekends off to rest and recharge.  During my first weekend away from the blog, however, I noticed that there were a few things I wanted to write about based on what I had seen and heard during the two-day period.  Therefore, I have decided that that from now on, my Monday entry will be devoted to various  thoughts I came up with during the weekend based on what I have experienced.  This way, every day of the week can feel like they have a home here.  My base thought is presented in boldface followed by my personal opinion and analysis.

The bonus puzzles in Wheel of Fortune can be ridiculously hard and unfair sometimes.  I was playing a version of Wheel of Fortune on my iPad over the weekend, and I noticed that some of the puzzles used during the bonus round turned out to be a very obscure turn of phrase that I doubt would occur to most people.  I often feel frustrated when I see such puzzles turn up on the TV version of Wheel, but at least in that context they provide an interesting problem for contestants to solve and even if they don’t get it, they usually have enough money and other prizes to have done a good half-hour’s work anyway.  Such puzzles in the video game, however, leave me feeling like I am missing something.  There is a line of logic the puzzle writer sometimes follows which does not occur to me as a player, not just because I picked the wrong letters, but because the kind of English phrase being used just isn’t one I would use normally.  Unless its something I might commonly use or hear other people using, there’s a good chance I won’t get it.  I think it would probably be the same way for most people.  If I was writing a puzzle for a game like Wheel of Fortune, I would first test it out on a focus group before unleashing it on the larger public.  I feel that such puzzles need to be understood by a wide variety of people in order to be successful thus keeping the videogame just as exciting and interesting as the television show.

The old and new styles of Spongebob Squarepants actually do go well together.  Nickelodeon programmed a seven-hour marathon of Spongebob Squarepants episodes for Sunday; I watched quite a bit of it.  It was a mix of episodes from two different eras of the show, one consisting of the first three seasons, and the other containing episodes released from season four onward after The Spongebob Squarepants Movie came out.  Normally, I consider these two eras to be wildly different from each other based on the changes in the animation teams that made them and the different styles of humor on display during a typical episode from each era.  Shockingly, I found the episodes picked for the marathon fit very well together thematically and had roughly the same sense of humor emphasized throughout.  I happily gobbled down the episodes like popcorn and left feeling satisfied, but also wanting more.  Even though I am a big fan of the show, I haven’t felt that way about Spongebob in a long time.  This marathon was a much-welcomed surprise, and I wouldn’t mind seeing another one like it soon.

Even after a 150 year separation in time and space, there still can be such a thing as “too soon.”   I was watching the Academy Awards with my parents on Sunday night, enjoying the attempt to merge host Seth McFarlane’s controversial style of humor with a more sedate, understated event like the Oscars.  For the most part, everything I saw worked on a basic level and didn’t take away from the glamour and honor the event typically displays.  He did show off his talents for song and dance in ways that I thought were very tasteful.  However, there was a weird moment involving a McFarlane joke which my mom and I had slightly differing opinions on.  Shortly after mentioning the movie Lincoln as part of a monologue bit, the host joked that the only actor who ever truly succeeded at getting “inside” Abraham Lincoln’s head was John Wilkes Booth (his assassin).  Naturally, the entire audience seemed very uncomfortable about this joke, prompting McFarlane to comment on this by saying something along the lines of, “What, don’t tell me that after 150 years, that kind of joke is still too soon.”  My mom was very disgusted by the joke and McFarlane’s response to the audience’s groans, and I can understand why.  Lincoln’s death at Booth’s hands remains to this day one of the great tragedies of American history.  Any attempt to make light of it could be considered unthinkable by most people.  However, I think McFarlane was pretty brave to even attempt to do something like that on such a prominent stage, and to his credit, his “too soon” line went over much better with the crowd.  I thought the “getting inside Lincoln’s head” part was a slightly clever turn of the traditional meaning of that phrase, and the way that that particular moment was just about the edgiest thing McFarlane did all night made me glad that he held his composure on one of the most important nights in Hollywood.  Not to mention that having seen and heard some of his edgier material myself, in my opinion, it is not the worst thing he has ever done, and thank goodness he didn’t try anything worse!

On that note, I believe it is time we let this weekend blog post come to an end.  I hope all of you enjoyed it.  Please leave your recommendations and other thoughts in the comments.