Gift ideas!

If I were not a Bear of Little Brain (and Great Anti-Flim-Flam Instincts), I would make these links the kind that pay me if you click them. But I didn’t! Consider that a giftie. *grin*

Frustrated finding the right (cheapish) gift for the person who has everything–possibly because if he wants something, he goes out and buys it immediately (husbands!)? Well, these are REALLY GOOD gifts that I have found myself playing with (ahem) for days on end.

First, let me press on you the SCRABBLE FLASH CUBES (actually TILES, but we’ll let that go).

This is “Boggle,” not Scrabble. But oh, what they’ve done to make it gadgety and whiz-bang.

The game consists of a set of five tiles that communicate electronically to figure out whether you have formed a word that is in their dictionary (which is Scrabblish and may or may not be realistic) and keep score for you as you play a timed game. You get five letters, one on each tile, and you form as many 3-, 4-, and 5-letter words as you can within a minute. If you form a word they don’t know, they don’t light up. If you accidentally put them together to form a word that can’t exist but that IS in their dictionary, they light up and beep–and you get points! More time if you spell five-letter words. No credit for 2-letter words, unless you have an “S” you can add and it recognizes a legit plural. (“ADS” works, but not “BES.”) It will beep once to tell you that you’ve already gotten credit for a word (I tend to “see” the same words again near the end of the 60 seconds.) Because the tiles keep score and serve as a timer, you can’t cheat. (Some may count that as a downside.) When your time expires, the tiles display your score and the maximum possible score for the round. And then you play again!

I have only played the “solitaire” version, as people can’t get these tiles away from me.

It is really addictive. The coolest part is they come in a little black plastic box that they store in vertically, and you can carry it around because they’re light. You can play on any flat surface. It’s fun to slide them around and see the words that you can form. You turn them on and off individually, because they’re mini-processors. Can any nerd NOT WANT THESE? Portable, too!

Frustration factor: I spell as many words as you could POSSIBLY spell with this rotten set [for example] ZXPLQ, and it says I got 5 out of 18 possible words. THERE CANNOT BE 18 WORDS out of these five.

Cool factor: I got 17 out of 20! Not too bad this time. Even if it inadvertently counted a couple of words that could not possibly exist.

The game costs around $20 at Target. I recommend it highly. I got it as an “early” gift because when I was shopping for the Angel Tree, we saw it and Hubs thought it would lift my spirits to sneak an extra one into the pile and give it to me. It has helped. A little. But remember, I have reason to be Blue. If you aren’t blue, this will be a BLAST for you.

Highly recommended! (But it isn’t Scrabble at all! It’s a form of Boggle, dangit!)

ANOTHER game we have really enjoyed here at Casa el Dumpo is the
We got this for around $7 at Big Lots, one of the remainder/odd-lots discount retailers, but you could probably find it many places. We plucked it off the rack on a lark, but it has turned out to provide many hours of “Ha! Gotcha” excitement.

It’s a card game that is played by answering trivia questions and collecting the “colors” for each category, like the standard game, but it adds fun in the form of “STEAL” and “DOUBLE STEAL” cards which allow a player to steal one or two of YOUR wedge cards instead of playing a question during his or her turn. And it has a card that allows anyone to answer the question you were asked before you get the answer out. These two factors really add a dimension to the game. Consider this: I am the Queen of all trivia games (if you omit the sports questions, which are NOT IMPORTANT THINGS TO KNOW ANYWAY, and some of the stuff about recent entertainers), but Hubs has beaten me at the last moment many a time by keeping in reserve his many “DOUBLE STEAL” cards. I never get “DOUBLE STEAL” cards.

A game runs around 20 minutes. We have never had more than three players because my mother is a REALLY SORE LOSER, but it says you can play with up to six.

Really fun if you like trivia games and IF you don’t get too enraged when JUST before you WIN somebody double steals your toughest categories. Highly recommended.

It occurs to me that both of these are Hasbro products. I swear Hasbro has not paid me for these testimonials. (Although, HINT OF THE CENTURY to HASBRO, I am open to offers!) I have always thought I should work at Hasbro or Mattel. Or as a question-writer for Jeopardy! or other trivia games. I know every useless little thing. As one of my heroes, author Raphael Carter, once said, “My brain is like a deck of Trivial Pursuit cards flying in formation.” Or as my daddy used to lament when his students would blink cluelessly as he handed out exam papers, “I feel like an encyclopedia no one opens.”

That edification stuff ain’t all it’s cracked up to be. Th’ dumber y’are, the happier. But anyway, I never set much store by happiness. Obviously! *GRIN*

And there’s always YAHTZEE and MASTERMIND. There aren’t any new flashy editions of those two, but I thought I’d mention them as two games that we still play. At least we play YAHTZEE. I play MASTERMIND with the computer. When I play with people, they tend to make mistakes when they place their clues (they mess up and say I got two in the right position when I really got three, for example, which ruins my next guesses), and violence ensues.

We also enjoy Mancala, which you can get at import stores. Hubby claims I make up the rules as we go along like in “Calvinball,” but there are rules for this game that comes out of Africa somewhere. We tried to play Go, but (again) too many rules foiled us and something shiny caught our attention so that we never finished a game. . . .

On the PC gaming side, Hubby enjoys playing the inexpensive game package “Bicycle Totally Cool Card Games,” published by Expert Software, Inc. There are several games in the package, and he gets to play against three electronic competitors. It seems to keep him happy for a couple of hours at a time when he can’t start one of those online role-playing sessions. Check it out.

Anything “Hello Kitty”-themed, orange in color, or encrusted with diamonds and opals is always welcome, if you need a general gift guideline. No need to thank me.

Happy shopping!


Author: shalanna

Shalanna: rhymes with "Madonna" and "I wanna," and is not a soundalike with "Hosanna" or "Sha-Na-Na." Aging hippie with long hair, husband, elderly mother, and yappy Pomeranian. I've been writing since I could hold a crayon. I started with fiction, which Mama said was "lying." “Don’t tell stories,” she would admonish, in Southern vernacular. “That's all in your imagination!” When grownups said this, they were not approving. So, shamed, I stopped telling stories for a few years--rather, I stopped letting anyone read them. I'm married to a fellow computer nerd who doesn't really like hearing about writing, but who reads sf/fantasy and understands the creative drive. I'm actually a nonconformist/hippie still wearing bluejeans and drop earrings and the Alice-in-Wonderland hair with headbands and sandals. Favorite flavor is chocolate/orange, favorite color is either Dreamsicle orange (cantaloupe) or bubble-gum pink, favorite musical is either Bye Bye Birdie, Rocky Horror, or The Producers . . . wait, I also love The Music Man. Is this getting way too specific and irrelevant yet? Obvious why I don't sell a ton of flash fiction, isn't it? To define oneself, I always say, it is good to make a list. How about a booklist? Harper Lee, To Kill a Mockingbird Frank and Ernestine Gilbreth, Cheaper by the Dozen C.S.Lewis, The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe (all the Narnia books) J.R.R.Tolkien,The Hobbit/LORD OF THE RINGS trilogy Gail Godwin, The Odd Woman F. Scott Fitzgerald, The Great Gatsby J. D. Salinger, Catcher in the Rye (before dismissing it, actually read it) George Orwell, 1984 Kurt Vonnegut, Cat's Cradle Donna Tartt, The Secret History Mark Twain, The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn James Allen, As A Man Thinketh Mark Winegardner, Elvis Presley Boulevard James Thurber, My Life and Hard Times The Wizard of Oz, L. Frank Baum Winnie-the-Pooh/House at Pooh Corner, A. A. Milne Peter Pan, J. M. Barrie The KJV and NIV Bible (each translation has its glories)

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