Archive for June, 2007

Guess who’s coming to dinner

June 30, 2007 - 1:26 am 1 Comment

It’s been a long time since I saw Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner. I can’t help but wonder what it was like around the time it was released. Was it scandalous? Were people blase about it? Did they have problems finding financial backing to make it? Who was impacted by the film? It’s easy enough to read film reviews and look at income statements; it’s entirely different to grasp the feeling of the moment.

Wikipedia says that Spencer Tracy was dying at the time the movie was filmed. Katharine Hepburn made this movie with him, knowing it would be his last. How heartbreaking could that have been?

This is not a Mickey Mouse

June 30, 2007 - 12:59 am Comments Off on This is not a Mickey Mouse

Here’s a post I wrote on the IGDA ARG mailing list in reference to someone asking about ARGs for kids:

I’m sure I’ll get shouted down by the anti-Disnites ๐Ÿ˜‰ , but I’ve spent quite a bit of time pondering lately about the nature of Disney World. They treat all the characters as absolutely real, to the degree that the person in the Mickey Mouse suit doesn’t say later, “I was in the Mickey Mouse suit,” but rather, “I was _working with_ MIckey Mouse.”

Everything that’s not roped off at Disney World is available to touch and play with. When the sign at the Muppet Show 3D says “Key’s under the mat,” the key is really under the mat. If there’s an old-timey phone in a store, you should pick it up and hear an old-timey conversation.

Those who take behind the scenes tours are warned not to say anything about the characters not being real while “on stage,” or in view of other guests. If they do, their guide will play absolutely dumb.

So while there’s not really a game (although they do have different scavenger hunts), it’s definitely an alternate reality. Obviously the curtain is hair-thin, but within the milieu of Disney World itself, the TINAG principle stands tall.

Resume updated

June 26, 2007 - 1:50 pm 2 Comments

I’ve updated my resume to reflect my last two projects – working as a community liaison for World Without Oil and working as the writer (and eventually head writer) for the extended reality campaign that promoted the premiere of USA Network’s television series The 4400.

You can see my ARG resume in all its glory at my portfolio site.

Speaking of Las Vegas

June 21, 2007 - 1:05 am Comments Off on Speaking of Las Vegas

Here’s a piece I wrote for The 4400 “Battle Over Promicin” campaign. I guess I have Las Vegas on the brain lately!

Casinos Go Promicin-Freeโ€จ
Mikki Grayson | Staff Writer

Las Vegas casinos are scrambling to deal with the effects of promicin. The city, famous for its tourism and gambling industries, has suffered a huge economic hit after a loose consortium of major casinos suspended operations for three days last week.

The unprecedented move was due to worries about the substance promicin, which is known to give special abilities to those who take it. The possibility of players with extra-sensory perception or telekinetic powers has casino officials running scared.

“It might have just been coincidence, but at the same time the promicin story hit the news, our casino’s take decreased dramatically over three days,” said an executive who would prefer not to be named. “I guess there were several possible causes, like people canceling their trips and so on, but we just can’t risk the chance of having some freak come in here and manipulate the cards or dice.”

Casinos rely on a house edge – rules that make gambling statistically more likely for the players to lose money – in order to turn a profit. But that house edge is dependent on equipment that hasn’t been tampered with.

“The Gaming Commission would be in here like white on rice if they thought there was monkey business going on. That equates to even longer-term closure,” the unnamed executive explained.

Shutting down the casinos was not a decision to take lightly. Even a 24 hour closure equates to the loss of millions of dollars in revenue. But for those casinos which have reopened, some say that the cure is worse than the disease.

The two largest casino groups opened their doors Friday to picketers and riot police after it was announced that they would require any potential gamblers to fill out a lengthy questionnaire. The information the casinos ask for ranges from a social security number to a lengthy physical and mental health history. Casino spokespeople insist that the answers are necessary in order to gauge the possibility of whether players might have taken promicin.

“We would have done a blood test instead, but the government isn’t allowing anyone to use that technology for non-governmental purposes yet,” said the unnamed executive. “This is the next best thing we could think of that would let us stay open and keep those promicin-users out.”

Public reaction is profoundly angry. “I never would have spent my hard-earned dollars coming to this town if I thought they were going to demand my most personal information,” said tourist Miles Bradford from Indianapolis. “Doesn’t the Constitution say something about ‘unreasonable search and seizure’? Where the hell is privacy these days?”

Others agreed. A crowd estimated to be 1,000 strong marched south on The Strip Saturday night, completely blocking traffic for three hours on what is normally the busiest night of the week. In some spots, things got ugly. The Las Vegas Police Department reported arresting 109 protesters between the hours of 8-10 PM, for charges ranging from disorderly conduct to vandalism.

Until Monday, those who consented to the questionnaire were issued plastic wristbands to be worn for the duration of their stay. Casinos quickly regretted the decision when several thousand counterfeit wristbands were confiscated in North Las Vegas on Sunday evening. Since then, casinos have been issuing special Players Club cards to questionnaire takers, but plans are in the works for a standardized identification card. The new card will not only be available to those who fill out the questionnaire at casinos, but also at the airport and bus station. However, the thought of giving out such personal information to lowly-paid transportation workers concerns some.

“Yes, you might give this information to your doctor, but medical practices are highly regulated by law and physicians could lose their licenses if they disclose your details. There’s no such law for the casinos. These people [who are collecting questionnaires] didn’t even have background checks,” said Jackie Kellner, a practicing attorney in Clark County.

It would appear that many agree. Airlines have reported a 40% drop in traffic to McCarran International Airport. The Convention Center has had over half of its upcoming bookings cancel.

Casinos? Some experts estimate that profits are down as much as 50%. The anonymous executive echoed the sentiments of many in the gambling business when he said, “I wish to God I never heard of promicin.”

Another dog update

June 15, 2007 - 10:04 pm 2 Comments

So what happened to Cuervo was a bad reaction to one of the immunosuppressants he was taking for his anemia condition. His front feet swelled up really badly and basically just sort of blew out. His left foot has almost no black pad on it at all. We’ve been having to tape socks on to protect his wound from getting dirty. He’s got nine separate medications to take – 18 pills in all, daily – to treat both his pure red cell aplasia and the infected foot.

The good news is that, a week after the blood transfusion and the human immunoglobulin treatment, his blood count is up from 19% to 26% today. Normal is around 40%, so you can see he was in pretty bad shape. His foot wound isn’t healing up by itself because of the pressure of walking, so he’s got a bandage, a sock, and a boot to wear. We call him Clunky. Or Thumper. He’s disgusted with the boot and hates walking with it, but he’s got to.

He’s still pretty emaciated – 69 lbs, down from a normal 80 – and has some muscle wasting, so his head looks a little sunken in and you can count his ribs. But he seems to be feeling better than he was, a little more so every day.

I think it’s time to look into pet insurance, though. ๐Ÿ˜ฎ


June 11, 2007 - 1:18 am Comments Off on Woof

My history class brought up early feminism this week. I think I’m relatively lucky in some ways that, although I may have bumped heads from time to time with a few old coots who just don’t believe that chicks can do stuff, too, I haven’t really run into anything major career-wise. In fact, I’d venture to say that the ARG industry in general seems to be run almost by a majority of women. Truly, there is no feeling that guys run better ARGs, or make better puzzles. I don’t think I’ve ever been paid less because of my gender (or age or religion or number of pets or anything else).

On the internet, nobody knows what color you are, or whether you’re an innie or an outie, or if you have teeth. Could it be the great equalizer?

Doggie update

June 10, 2007 - 1:53 pm 2 Comments

Quickie update – Cuervo’s still staying at the vet, but they have been calling us daily with reports. He’s “scarfing down food” and keeping it down. He’s also said to be in good spirits. The only problem is that they had to stop treating the big bad long-term problem in order to treat the big-bad short-term problem, so once his infections are healed, we have to restart the steroids and immuno-suppressants. And Kona is lonesome.

We hope to bring Cuervo home tomorrow.

Other stuff that’s been going on lately:

– Every time the neighbor’s AC goes on, our lights dim.
– I spent the night in NYC last Monday and had a great time. I left my camera in a cab, though. I did manage to grab the pics onto the computer beforehand.
– At least two more weeks of insane busyness ahead. I’ve also got a research paper due this week and a final exam next week. I’ve decided that I will not flip out if I get a B in this class. My GPA would still be a 3.9.
– We tried two new restaurants this week – Ventana (cooking school restaurant; okay prices, shaky service, uneven food) and Drakula (Romanian; good appetizer plate but when one makes polenta, one should use the salt; also, it smelled like someone’s grandmother’s house – a mix of cleaning products and cabbage – and was about the same 85 degree temperature atmosphere a grandmother would like, too).
-Two profs from last semester told me I should submit two different papers for publication.

Back to the grindstone!

Bad news

June 7, 2007 - 9:15 pm 3 Comments

The kids are with their grandparents in Houston right now. The dog is really sick. He’s got a particularly virulent form of autoimmune anemia and dogs with this condition have about a 40% survival rate. He’s been in and out of the hospital a few times over the last couple of weeks, most recently to get a blood transfusion and immunoglobulin. The steroids he’s on have knocked his immune system down – on purpose, so that it would quit attacking his red blood cells – but he’s developed a couple of infections and is in a good deal of pain. Today he couldn’t keep anything down, so he’s in the ICU.

I figured it would be better for the kids to be prepared that their dog might not be here when they get home, so I told them over the phone that Cuervo was sick and might not get better. Jo took it okay, although I’m sure she’ll privately fret about it. Caroline started sobbing. ๐Ÿ™

Gawd, this sucks.