Wednesday, March 16, 2005

Ah, Balderdash!

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Growing up, I played board games only from time to time. I remember we had Monopoly, Tiddly Winks,The Game of Life, Scrabble...and in the early 1970's we acquired "pop-o-matic" games like Trouble, Headache, Don't Cross Over the Bridge. For the most part, however, I didn't play too many board games, much preferring my own company so I could read books or write stories.

Yes,these days we have games for the children and I enjoy playing some of them: Coconut Drop, Don't Break the Ice, Hi Ho Cherrio, Junior Monopoly, etc.

But last summer I discovered a game that is not only entertaining, it is therapeutic, as well. The game of BALDERDASH. This particular one, ABSOLUTE BALDERDASH, has different Here are the basic rules.

Playing the Game

For the very first turn of the game the Dasher takes the first question card from the card box and chooses one of the five categories on the dark green question side. He states which category he has chosen and reads the relevant question to the other players who then write it on their Bluffing Sheet. (Make sure no-one can read the answer on the back of the card.)

Each player, except the Dasher, then makes up an answer to the question that he thinks will bluff the other players and writes it on his Bluffing Sheet. The answer can be as wacky or as serious as you want.

Depending on which category the Dasher has chosen the kinds of answers required are as follows:

WORDS - what is the definition of this word?
PEOPLE - what is this person known for?
INITIALS - what do they stand for?
MOVIES - what is the basic story line?
LAWS - complete the law!

While the other players are writing their answers, the Dasher writes the real answer (found on the light green answer side) in his own words on his Bluffing Sheet, so as to disguise it when he reads it out with the made up answers. He then returns the card to the rear of the card box.

The players hand their completed Bluffing Sheets to the Dasher. The Dasher makes sure that the answers can be read clearly, arranges them with the real one in random order, then reads each one aloud. He can reread the answers as required. The other players CAN collapse in fits of laughter but MUST NOT give away which is THEIR answer in any way - no shouting "that's mine", no nudging, winking or grunting!

Moving left from the Dasher, each player in turn decides which answer is the real one. As each player chooses an answer the Dasher writes this player's initials in the score segment on the corresponding Bluffing Sheet. After each player has guessed, the Dasher reveals the right answer and awards points as follows:

You'll notice that I didn't bother with points-- there really is no point to doing so. Yes, there is a game board with markers to move, but who cares! It's the actual playing that works.

Because I work in a creative field, I work with creative people. During lunch hour, once or twice a week, a regular group moves to a corner of the lunch room, with the board and announce: "Let the games begin...!" The more creative or obscure an answer, the funnier the round can be. Once this summer the category was Laws, and the question went something like this: "In Brooklyn, NY, it is illegal for a donkey to..." Because I was "the caller" for that particular round, reading the answers, one of my co-workers supplied a real winner: "...wear a yarmulke." The real answer was: "...sleep in a bathtub." But can you imagine how hard I had to try to refrain from laughing when I read all the answers, the correct one among them as well as the yarmulke one? I couldn't refrain myself, and I laughed until I cried. During an hour's lunch, I can have at least three of these hysterical fits of laughter-turning-to-tears...and it's usually when I'm the caller. I apologize to the others for my reaction, and then think "To hell with them, this is great for me."

The brilliant responses from the group that plays shows how we might have a misconception of someone; we think they're serious and quiet, and then they give such a twisted, offbeat idea, it makes you wonder when you hear it the right answer after all?

If you're willing to play Absolute Balderdash with me, I'm more than game...

Classical or Jazz?

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I was raised in a household in which classical music prevailed -- we had countless records (among them, A Treasury of Greatest Classical Music Recordings, volumes 1-12, at least) devoted to the music genre, which were later replaced by cassette tapes and CDs. The radio stations in the family room and kitchen were set to classical music stations; I studied classical piano for years; we attended classical music concerts from the time we were young.

Yes, my music tastes began to range the older I got, but I was always drawn back to classical in some form or another. And so, I decided that I would pass on to my children that music appreciation gift my parents bestowed on my brothers and me.

From the time my children were infants, I had an all-classical radio station playing in the nursery. Of course, when I'm roused at 2 a.m. by a wailing baby, I want him/her to relax with milk and I should relax with music. So I'd sit in the rocking chair, baby and bottle in arms, listening dreamily to the lulling sounds of middle-of-the-night classical music (which is indeed lulling; no raucous booming cannon sounds or timpani at that wee hour of the morning, thanks to brilliant radio programmers). And even when my children slept through the night, or for daytime naps, I'd keep the music playing softly in the background.

As they got older, I introduced them to jazz music, listening to the music while we were driving in the car or were hanging out in the kitchen or family room. And then I started to test them to see if they could differentiate between what was jazz music and what was classical music.For the most part, these children enjoyed this quiz and managed to get the answer right. Sometimes when I'd say: "A, that's right! How did you know?" I got a shrug of the shoulders in return. Just a good guess, or perhaps the inability to put into words the differences they were hearing...?

My daughter's bedtime routine now consists of arranging her stuffed toys alongside her, putting on a couple of night lights, putting on her sound machine with the sound of a heartbeat that will play for an hour, and putting on her radio to play for an hour -- she often can't decide between a jazz station and a classical station, but nine times out of ten, it's the classical station that wins out.

I guess those early days of classical music in the nursery have paid off...