Assorted Friday Fun

Yesterday, I’d thought to myself that in order to get a head-start on London’s other Christmas shoppers, I’d head out and get to Oxford Street by 10am. This morning I woke up at 9.15 – clearly that wasn’t going to happen. Thus, I have very little time to write a beautiful/hilarious Friday post, plus, I only have two things to share.

1. Possibly the most frustrating flash game you’ll ever play. Entitled ‘QWOP’ (because those are the keys you use to play), “you are Qwop, our small nation’s sole representative at the Olympic Games…”. The idea is to try and run 100m – I think I managed just over 2, it’s nigh on impossible.

In fact, I think I had patience to play this for all of 3 minutes, but others may find it more of a distraction.

2. Discovered via a friend on Twitter, a fabulous re-working of a Christmas classic:

That would be the Dubstep Snowman. Fabulous. It’s not Christmas until you’ve heard Walking in the Air at least a dozen times and had the chance to watch the Snowman. (In fact, I’m still a little disappointed that it wasn’t in the system on our karaoke night out a couple of weeks ago.)

Now, having fulfilled my blogging obligations, I really ought to get out of bed and on with day one of my four day weekend.

Snow Fun Friday

Those of us who have not managed to have any snow days this week and instead have battled blizzards, ice and temperamental transport systems, could do with some fun this morning. (To be honest, I’d have settled for staying under my duvet, but sadly work had other ideas.) Ever the predictable, I thought it would be good to keep to a snowy theme for this week’s entertainment.

First up is an oldy, but a goody. In fact I think this may have started off the whole idea of Friday fun. Many, many years ago when I worked in a draughty office building in Waterloo (its imminent closure meant that during my last winter there, when boilers began to fail, they weren’t repaired) Friday entertainment was often circulated between colleagues. A particular favourite were pointless games, which would then result in highly competitive contests as to who could achieve the highest score, the most memorable of which was the Penguin Tossing game. There’s snow, a penguin, a yeti and a club – I think you can figure out the aim of the game… It’s not sophisticated, but it is diverting for a good few minutes. (There’s also a whole list of other yeti related games, should you be really, really bored.)

One of my favourite occupations during Snow Chaos is reading the Guardian’s live blog of the deteriorating situation across the country. On the one hand, it’s great to keep appraised of what the trains in Scotland are doing when you’re sat at your desk in London; it’s also slightly sickening reading of the thousands of school children enjoying a day of sledging – but this time round, I actually had a practical concern.

On Tuesday night my Dad got stranded at Gatwick after his flight to Belfast was cancelled – so I was keen to keep track of his potential options. [He arrived home late on Wednesday after managing to get to Stanstead for an unaffected flight.] Yesterday morning the blog provided details of a hideous train journey experienced by people attempting to travel from London to Brighton the previous night. This rang a bell with me as my fellow researcher had dashed off to Brighton Wednesday night and yes, she was on the affected train. She’s still not made it back to London.

But none of that’s fun – what is fun is the random videos, pictures and quotes that the Guardian provides as light entertainment. Take this update from 9.46am:
BBC News has just tweeted this: “Woman in Kent criticised by police for calling 999 to report theft of snowman for which she’d used ‘two pound coins’ for its eyes”. I’ll investigate. We need to get to the bottom of this.

As for videos, well I’m a sucker for snow and cute animals, so the combination of the two is rather fabulous. I also have a soft spot for comedy dogs, so this short clip of a small dog in deep snow had me grinning.

Of course, snow also has a bizarre affect upon the population – making them do strange things. In London this manifests itself in people talking on the tube, in Brighton, it apparently results in naked tea-tray sledging. (Possibly not one to watch in the office.) Knowing how painful my fingers were after less than an hour in the snow yesterday, I can’t even begin to imagine the pain this crazy man endured. Ouch.

Just in case you felt that was rather gratuitous, my final suggestion for today is a beautiful video showing just what you can get up to with a couple of chainsaws, a snow mobile and a lot of ice – no blood or gore included. 

Feeling Scrabulous (With an important update!)

I have a confession…
I am (just a tad) competitive. Honestly, just a little bit. It doesn’t manifest itself often – except against my sister, or close friends, or total strangers… Ok. Maybe I’m very competitive.
This character trait (flaw?) is particularly an issue with board games. Take Trivial Pursuit for example, I am the undisputed family champion – well, at least the ‘dream team’ of me and my Dad are. As a teenager, on miserable family holidays in a caravan on a damp and dismal Yorkshire moor, board games were the entertainment of choice. (There was a TV, but who needs a TV when you’re on holiday, with your family, having enforced fun??) It was usually a choice between Trivial Pursuit or Scrabble. I always went for the former, and would often resort to tears if I didn’t get my way.
Here’s the thing – I wasn’t good at Scrabble, therefore I didn’t want to play. Even my little sister was better than me. I’d simply stare at the board in despair, thinking of all the words I could play “if only I had an A” or “if only there was an open T”. In fact, if you looked at the notebook that accompanies our set of Travel Scrabble, you’d see that I sat out of most of these matches and whiled away the time identifying the London bus routes that the different scores represented. If that’s not a truly pathetic image, I don’t what is!
It was therefore a great surprise to my sister, when she rang last Tuesday, to hear that I was in the middle of an online Scrabble game. I was bored, a friend made the suggestion and I figured it was about time I grew up and learned how to play it properly. So, for the last week I’ve been engaged (on and off) in this most wholesome of pursuits…
…I’ve still not won a game. Currently the score stands at 5-0. As my opponent helpfully pointed out after our last game, “you now need to win 6 in a row to beat me”. Thanks very much Mr Stating the Bloody Obvious! (Yesterday I think they realised that I wasn’t a very good loser, I’m just impressed it took them till game 4 to notice!)
Research has been conducted: The Wikipedia page is useful. (So is the dictionary tab on the online version, which I only discovered after loss #2.) Today the Guardian printed a cribsheet for Scrabble, which may or may not come in handy. I’m definitely improving. Today I scored my highest score so far (280) and was only beaten by 10 points.
In fact, I would’ve won, had my opponent – right in the closing stages – not succeeded in using all his tiles spelling a rather controversial word. I’m not going to write it, but see if you can spot in the picture below. Needless to say, he didn’t take Facebook up on their suggestion that he tell all his friends that he’d just scored 72 points in using it!
One day I will win and it will be a joyous experience. In the mean time I’m actually enjoying the challenge of it. It seems a much more worthwhile online activity than Facestalking or aimlessly floating from one page to another.
Only thing is, I’m realising my tactics won’t wash in the real world (no dictionary tab), so I’m definitely not ready to join the wholesome group of Scrabble players I found in the pub before church on Sunday. That was really a sweet sight to behold – bless Phil and his small group!
Update: My Scrabble mojo has clearly been flowing today. Beginning a new game this evening, I immediately used up all my letters, garnering an impressive 68 points (‘venites’ – thanks Latin lessons). My lead was overtaken, so my statement of “here begins my 6 game winning streak” was looking rather presumptuous. However, shrieks (and cackles) of joy could be heard across London (if not the country) as I played ‘eccrine’ – a discovery via the shuffle & dictionary functions – making 3 other words in the process, a total of 91 points if you please… My losing streak is finally over. Whoop!!

A thing of beauty and of joy

A couple of days ago a colleague paid me a visit (others refer to him as “The Rev”, because he is a Rev – original) and shared with me what I knew immediately would have to be Friday’s fun… Auditorium

It’s very difficult to describe (I know, I spent an hour googling it at home last night because I couldn’t remember what it was called!) but essentially it’s a game that allows you to create pretty patterns with music. You have to guide a ‘flow’ of sound into various containers using arrows. Each container has a different line of music, so once all are filled (the object of the game) it produces a delightful piece of polyphony as well as a hypnotising image. Like this:

Be warned – it is highly addictive and oh so slightly frustrating! But, if like me you are easily calmed by pretty patterns and pretty music, it all works out in the end.

Fun & games for Friday

After a dry patch last week, this week I’ve got a variety of things to entertain you with on the dullest day of the week. I however, will not be in need of any of them as I shall be having a mini away day at the British Library, pretending to be all academic and stuff.

First up is another Gizmodo gem, similar to one I posted a few weeks back – every week there’s a different photoshop contest and the results are usually fairly amusing. This week’s was:

There are many gems and some running themes – like various Guitar Hero related games (Lute Hero??) – not to mention a version of Tetris that should get released. It brought light to my Wednesday morning when it arrived, with images often greeted with a muttered “awesome!”.
(I wouldn’t set much of a standard by that, later the same day the discovery that a badge with my employer’s logo on fitted into the hole on a box file was greeted with the same adjective. It seems I exaggerate often.)
But favourite of them all would be this one:

And, should you still need further entertainment, the Borowitz Report is usually good for a laugh. I always forget about it until my amusement-providing friend reminds me, but with headlines like Ayatollah Warns Iranians: ‘I am following you all on Twitter’ and Wall Street Salary Caps Drive Away Assholes, who could resist?