Friday, February 27, 2009

Winners Round 3 !! Certificate Winners

Category: Otherwise Inaccurate Guess:

@AndrewGent: 1 or more scrolls, written in a foreign language, possibly ancient, possibly illustrated, on carved wooden spools?
[Winner: This guess wins in this category because it would be so awesome if that was what was in the box. It is totally inaccurate, except possibly “ancient” (depending on one’s perspective), but awesome.]

@The_No_Show: Based on the box, the weight distribution and your blog name, it has to be: the slowly-thawing head of Carmen Miranda.
[Oh, The_No_Show. My blog name does have something to do with creepy things pertaining to heads, but it is my own skull I am referring to. I know that your job is to “judge books by their covers” but you should have observed after two rounds that in this game the box is not an indication of what is inside it. I like that you supported your guess with the steps of your deductive process, but why do you think I have her frozen head?]

@michael_elliott: it's a kaleidoscope!!! it's a kaleidoscope!!! (wow, i can spell kaleidoscope! can't spell "thier" or "recieve" see?)
:WHAT? i can guess AGAIN?? it's still a kaleidoscope.
[As always, I love enthusiasm, but this object is totally not a kaleidoscope. It is completely opaque and has no moving parts – at least, no parts that are supposed to move.]

@CeeBee: after much consideration and deliberation my #gwiitb would have to be a pair of binoculaurs. yeah, i'm sticking with that
[It would be interesting if the object had been a kaleidoscope, because I would be very tempted by a guess of binoculars. Unfortunately, it is totally not a kaleidoscope nor a pair of binoculars. The lone argument I could imagine making involves distance (in time, not space), but it is not a strong one.]

@threebaddogs: pear ghosts.
[I can’t rule out the possibility that there are pear ghosts in there, but I can’t conclusively determine that either way. I do enjoy this guess very much, but it is just not on point.]

@texburgher: Is that a bottled beverage in that box? That's my guess.
[Here is a hint to future entrants. The prize is destined to be mailed if the winner is in the continental United States, and there are limits on the mailing of liquids. Also, mailing beverages is the kind of thing that just brings one to the attention of authorities, which I prefer not to do. If the type of beverage had been specified, or even the type of bottle, I suspect that might have had an effect on the judging, but without more detail, the short-list is where we stand.]

@extremecraft: A curry comb. Not the pony kind, but some kind of obscure absinthe spoon-like utensil for eating curry.
[Due to a hashtag mixup, I almost didn’t see this entry, but I did find it. I love this guess, but it is not accurate. There is no argument for tool-likeness, food-relatedness, or even spiciness with this prize, and this lovely guess is unfortunately confined to the shortlist.]

@1sjcorbett: An hour glass to gauge all my wasted time on Twitter. Especially following the antics of one @JSvanBuskirk.
[Come now. How can I be expected to concur with any guess that equates (even in jest) my antics with a waste of time? Additionally, this object has slipped free of time, and cannot be connected with the measurement thereof.

Category: What Some Might Think Is in the Box:

jnobianchi: Is is something ornamental but built on principles of physics, and so therefore has some not terribly useful uses?
[Winner – Yes. This object is shiny and decorative and designed to sit on a shelf or some such, and principles of physics are vital to its design in a few different ways (although probably not the ones you meant). And, as far as I can tell, it has no useful uses except to exist and to be seen.]

@TheStepster: An artsy fartsy unbalanced ornament.
[As discussed above, this object is ornamental. It is not, however, artsy fartsy, nor is it unbalanced. It would have been an accurate guess for prizes in the past, and I think it shows promise.]

@d_g_: What is in the box? A very happy plastic banana.
[This guess is on the shortlist for “What Some Might Think Is in the Box” because a very happy plastic banana is a joyous fake thing made in an unnatural way to replicate a thing that exists in nature. There are key differences between the natural thing this object represents and a banana that prevent this guess from taking the top spot.]

@ShiftyWriter: It's a Buddha laying on his Buddha belly. That explains the muffled rocking sounds (his moans). Don't kill the Buddha!
[There is a representational element in this object, but it is not an object of veneration, the founder of any faith, nor is it alive at all. What do you take me for?]

@BrianPike: A pestle, but no mortar.
[I like this guess, and had to think a good bit about the part of this object that is made of marble, but it is not a useful item, not even a partially useful item, and this guess cannot then be the winner.]

Category: Unspecified

@wrens: Something that reminds one, in both good and bad ways, of time spent at sea.

[I have removed the “Made Me Laugh” category this round because so many of the guesses made me laugh. I just thought this peculiar and charming guess (for which no argument could be made of it winning any of the other categories) should get some kind of special recognition.]

Winners! Round 3 - Grand Prize and Short List

What Is in the Box, Round 3, Revealed: It is a Somewhat Specific Tennis Trophy! How specific is this tennis trophy? The engraving on the front reads as follows:


A mysterious item, in many ways. Why were they so stingy with the engraving? Why didn't someone in charge of proof-reading take the "quotes" out of there? What does "R." stand for, and why would he sell his trophy? I actually know who would buy it - the people I bought it from and also me. So, it has its mysteries, but it is definitely a tennis trophy awarded to someone known as R. Mineo, probably for men's amateur tennis, probably from 1977, and probably from Doraville, Georgia. There is a sticker on the bottom of the base (fine marble, made in Italy) that gives the name and address of the company that made the trophy.

WINNER – Grand Prize:
(also the first entry this round)

@bcompton: The punchline to a joke written by the intelligent monkeys of tomorrow.
[I feel that it needs very little explanation that this is the Grand Prize winning guess. What is a tennis trophy for High C ’77 “Champs” but a grand jest at the pretensions of human-style primates written by the intelligent monkeys of tomorrow? What else could it be? I am more pleased than I could have anticipated, having a guess entered that so elegantly unravels this enigma of a trophy.]

[NOTE: As always, the short-list entries are addressed in the order they were posted on Twitter]

@LidMo: Shrinky dink Hockey Stick
[This guess had to be considered for the Grand Prize because it includes connotations both of miniturization and of sports. Even a sport that involves hitting a roundish mass with a specially-shaped wooden stick. Unfortunately, a Shrinky dink Hockey Stick alone does not echo with all facets of the essence of this trophy, and so this guess is eclipsed by the Grand Prize winner.]

@melmaren: A crazy big Pez dispenser! Or a soup ladle! I like this game :)
[This guess was a strong contender for the Grand Prize. I might be alone in this, but I see many similarities between this trophy and a Pez dispenser. Some online research suggested that this trophy was probably for an adult division, and is thus not demographically aimed at children. Furthermore, it is not interactive, and so “crazy big Pez dispenser!” could not be judged the winner. Also, a trophy is totally not a soup ladle.]

@arnied: Because of the size, I am guessing it's Hello Kitty stationary, Hello Kitty pencil and Hello Kitty Pez dispenser with pink candy.
[As stated above, I consider “Pez dispenser” generally a strong guess for this prize, but there are no other items associated with the trophy, and the trophy is not branded in any way (except by the company in Doraville, GA, that made it) and is not for any practical use, as are stationary, pencils, and Pez dispensers.]

@russmarshalek: one small stuffed puppy
[One of two guesses for stuffed animals. A weak argument could be made that a trophy is at least partly in the form of a living creature and is hollow-ish. This entrant made a further boast that he knew he would win, which only tempts the gods, and me, to defy that prediction.]

@fistsoffolly: Something that will inspire temporary synesthesia. It might be deliciously inedible or loudly muted, for example.
[There is really something to this guess, both this one and @toldorknown’s below. I had to ponder these for a while. The trophy is deliciously inedible. Furthermore, it is a little old and crappy looking, but still unmistakeably a trophy and a gaudy symbol of triumph. This guess does not get the Grand Prize because the effect this trophy has on people must be a matter of circumstance and the eye of the beholder.]

@toldorknown: It's a maintainer of the status quo, albeit without opinion regarding it. It is both easy to grasp and easy to reuse.
[As mentioned above, I was very interested in the first part of this guess. A trophy of any sort celebrates and reinforces the hierarchy and thus maintains the status quo. The rest of the guess does not hold up, unfortunately. For example, this contest might well be the only possible attempt to grasp and actual reuse of this trophy since 1977.]

@fistsoffolly: It's something that will lull me into a false sense of security. [2d guess]
[I will need to again echo a previous note. The maintenance of the status quo discussed above and the cheers and excitement of award giving may lull one into a false sense of security. It is not guaranteed to so lull one, nor is any such sense of security guaranteed to be false.]

@cawcaw: A stuffed toy with floppy ears. (I know, I'm too late.)
[As discussed above, there is a weak argument that a trophy is at least partly in the form of a living creature and is hollow-ish. This guess was entered after the closing bell, and I cannot consider elibible to win.]

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

#gwiitb Round 3 !


Here is Box 3! It is from a Harry & David holiday gift assortment I received at some point in the past few months. I think there were fancy pears in this one. Now it is just a box, albeit one with a nicer design on it than the other boxes have had. Now there is a prize in there!

What keen "Guess What Is in the Boxes Contest" players really want are the numbers. OK. The dimensions of the box are 8.5" x 12" x 4". Weight, just over 1 pound. Again, my husband has had to leave already this morning and I am going to do the best I can to describe the heft. The box is just slightly heavier on one end, and a bit of shaking gives a muffled impression of something rocking back and forth longitudinally.

It is now Tuesday morning, around 7:40 am EST. The deadline for entering guesses will be Thursday, Feb. 26, at 12:00 noon EST. New players are advised to read this and to check out the results of the first two rounds. Remember to tag your guesses with #gwiitb or I might miss them. Thank you for playing!!!

Saturday, February 21, 2009

Winners Round 2 !! Certificate Winners

Shortlist for Made Me Laugh:

WINNER: @The_No_Show: The winter of my discontent. (A shoo-in, really.)

@toddadamson: Midget strudel. (This guess can be interpreted in so many ways, but I choose not to consider the gruesome one. I did laugh when I saw it!)

@lancehenrikson [second guess] : OK, one more guess - The Mao Tse Tung compendium of games (This is a fantastic guess, not tagged properly (I almost misssed it), but very awesome. I had to go with @The_No_Show because it made me laugh and really resonated with what is in the box.)

Shortlist for Best Otherwise Inaccurate Guess:

WINNER @michael_elliott: umm...a music box. with a tiger on it. (As soon as I read this guess, I wished that I had a music box with a tiger on it.)

@electroginge: something green (There is something green ON the object, but the object itself is not green, nor is it even remotely ecologically responsible.)

@thewesterly: it's a hard drive! (The object in the box is totally not a hard drive, but I like your enthusiasm, @thewesterly!)

@Tony_D: We document the things that are important, else we otherwise forget. (Yes, this object evokes a sense of important moments likely forgotten, but I can’t make a stronger argument than that.)

@AndrewGent: I know! Ernest Hemingway's hunting jacket. Complete with leather elbow patches. (I was tempted by this one, just for the detail and enthusiasm, but it’s the wrong social scene entirely.)

@cawcaw: In the box is something to replace a missing part of anatomy: a glass eye, false teeth. (I suppose that abuse of this item could lead to missing eyes or teeth, but it would not work particularly well as a replacement. I find it hard to imagine what one could replace with this object)

@andreakremer: a Lite-Brite [tm] or similar creative box-shaped toy. (Oh, this is not a toy at all! The best argument I could make would involve “getting lit” but this is not for children, and for legal reasons I am obliged to emphasize that.)

@arnied: Solid, not shifting, no noise, an even distribution of weight. It's a foundation, something to build on. (Using the same strategy that won the last round works for Rock Scissors Paper, but not necessarily for GWIITB!)

Shortlist for What Some Might Think Is Closest to What Is in the Box - Literal

WINNER: @KT30003k: I think it's a heavy glass cutting board, with whimsical kitchen designs decorating its surface. (This is darn close – translucent kitchen ware with appropriate decorations!)

@trelvix: something that could cause death by choking or suffocation in the hands of the right Republican. (While the first part of this statement is technically true (could cause death by choking or suffocation), I fail to see what would make the right hands and what political affiliation would have to do with it. It is not good to go around killing people, and I wouldn’t want a prize that was likely to be so dangerous.)

Shortlist for What Some Might Think Is Closest to What Is in the Box - Metaphorical

WINNER: @fistsoffolly: An idea whose time has come. (Clearly to all who see this, it is an idea whose time came at some point perhaps in the mid 1980’s but has never really left. So, not the Grand Prize winner, because it is an idea of long standing, but an evergreen idea of continuing relevance.)

@LidMo: Lingering regret. (This object could lead to lingering regret, or could become symbolic of lingering regret, but I am not able to judge it a winner on such circumstancial arguments.)

@d_g_: A bell that tolls for a lost era. (As discussed above, this is an idea of long standing, but its era is by no means lost. It is self renewing and lives every day around the world without any need for mournful remembrance.)

I had to make a new separate category for these three guesses, all of which I loved and all of which made me laugh. After a good deal of contemplation, I concluded that they made me laugh because I knew what was in the box. Given such powerful potential associations with alcohol in these guesses, eventually I concluded they must be treated separately – not as literally closest to what is in the box, but with recognition for the strength of their resonance with what the object is used for.

Winners! Round 2 - Grand Prize and Short List

Revealed: Inside Box #2 was an Astonishing Plastic Martini Glass & Pitcher Set, packed tightly with several t-shirts left in this apartment by the previous tenant. I am just guessing here, but I expect one would need two pitchers-full to fill up all of these martini glasses, but then I don't drink gin or vodka.

It is a tie !

Competition for the Grand Prize was so fierce that it is a tie between @catrocketship and @1sjcorbett. The Grand Prize shall be awarded to @catrocketship because hers was the first entry and because it appears she might benefit the most from possessing this Astonishing Plastic Martini Glass & Pitcher Set. As a tied-for-winner, @1sjcorbett will receive a personalized Certificate of Achievement! There was almost a three-way tie, but @toldorknown’s guess was edged out due to the essentially introspective, nurturing, and low-energy life-style connoted therein.

Shortlist for Grand Prize:

WINNER: @catrocketship: One giant painkiller. One that is 2-3 pounds. This is wishful thinking on my part. (These glasses are giant and decorated with giant olives. This set kills pain just by being so compelling to look at. Furthermore, properly used in convivial company, it could kill a lot of pain.)

WINNER: @1sjcorbett: A blanket to hide under/in. Preferably with special powers to ward off all incoming bad news. (This guess gets at the whole lifestyle connotated by this set. A lifestyle of endless partying, where the only possible bad news is that we are running low on olives.)

@toldorknown: A boon companion to lean on as you laze, soften your falls, hold close when dreaming, and fight without harm. (As discussed above, this is too emotionally healthy to really correspond completely with this martini set.)

Thursday, February 19, 2009

#gwiitb Round 2 !

Here is the box with something in it for Round 2 of the Guess What Is in the Boxes Contest! Entries will be accepted via Twitter with the tag #gwiitb starting with my Tweet opening this round and ending with my Tweet closing this round. Please review prior posts on this topic for guidelines. Grand Prize winner wins what is in the box, if their mailing address is in US! All winners not receiving the actual Grand Prize get personalized Certificates of Achievement!

Unfortunately, my husband has already left for work, so I will have to do my best to describe the heft of the box objectively. Dimensions are 11" x 13.5" x 8". The weight is 2-3 lbs. Solid. No shifting, no noise, an even distribution of weight. I apologize for the blurry picture: tremor + camera-phone = blurry picture. That is an Office Depot bubble mailers box. Trash came yesterday, and somehow all the boxes I'd been saving for the contest ended up gone. Alas.

Guesses will be accepted until 8am Saturday morning, my time, 48 hours from now!

No cats, living or dead, are in the box, not even coincidentally.
There are no Office Depot bubble mailers in the box. I took them out and put something else in.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Winners Round 1 !! Certificate Winners

There are a few categories to cover. I am awarding a certificate to the winner in each category, and within the groups the entries are listed in the order in which they were Tweeted.

First - The guesses that made me laugh the most:

WINNER @LidMo: Pleather soul talkin' Made for walkin' GO GO Boots. (LidMo gets extra recognition as first entrant of the first round, and guessed the thing I would most like to actually have and would not give away if I did)

@andreakremer: a rasher of bacon! (I am not sure the USPS would let me just mail that, assuming I would not fry it up and eat it, again, something I am more likely to keep!)

@fistsoffolly: Is it an Etch-A-Sketch with the first canto of The Divine Comedy on it? (I really wish I did have this, and it would be an extremely cool prize. The big problem would be preserving the Divine Comedy in shipping. "Do Not Shake – Etch-A-Sketch Inside" would just be asking for trouble.)

Second - The Best Otherwise Inaccurate Guesses

WINNER @Tony_D: What goes into it is not always what comes out of it. (I really like this guess, but I don't have a good argument for how it would win the Grand Prize. The object in the box is used to put other things into other other things, not get other things put into it. For this category, I judge this the winner on elasticity and elegance.)

@threebaddogs: - a brand new Kindle (Like some of the other entrants, it appears threebaddogs subscribes to the "wish for something you want" school of gwiitb guessing. A Kindle is a mechanism, but the guess is for a brand new one, for new and unknown uses, whereas this object has a mysterious past, being certified pre-owned, and not just by me.)

@extremecraft: A PONY!!!!!!!! (subscribes to the "wish for something you want" school of gwiitb guessing, and always has. My awareness that he always guesses “A PONY!!!!!!!” possibly affects my selection of prizes, so future entrants might consider putting ponies in the same category as cats – not in the box.)

@CatRocketship: A placard depicting historical information about a building. (I really like this guess, but don't have a good argument for how it would win. Objects like this make history, but are merely tools of men. They are not permanent in historical memory. Sometimes the use of things like this one give occasion for historical noting, but the thing itself is unlikely to be preserved.)

@closethipster: It's a sweater! (This should be recognized as the most elaborate guess - it had a link! However, this object is totally not a sweater, and the video he included with his guess suggests to me he might be willing to cheat at what-is-in-the-box guessing.)

@lancehenrikson: A really large cat called Hector who is dying to get out and claw you. (Note that this entrant changed his guess twice, and he will possibly be sad to learn that his second guess (something about dignity) might have been in the running – I could make an argument that someone's dignity, possibly Dan Rather's, would be a potentially winning guess. As it is, the only eligible guess involves a cat, which you should all know will not ever be what is in the box. I do very much like the name "Hector" for a cat.)

@michael_elliott: crushed newspaper and a brick of olive green plastelina (I know that one could argue the general concept of "crushing," newspaper being made of wood, and bricks of all sorts being similar to a part of this object. I had to look up what plastelina is. If the entrant had specified whether it was shaped and baked, that might have affected the judging.)

Third - What Some Might Think Is Closest to What Is in the Box

WINNER @toldorknown: rubber mallet (Even I agree, a rubber mallet is very similar to what is in the box.)

@frageelay: Ball peen hammer (A ball peen hammer is not quite as similar, but very similar to what is in the box.)

@KT30003k: I am guessing a child's croquet set, with mallet ends/balls in a long plastic blister pack. (there is an objective overlap between this guess and what is in the box.)

@texburgher: I'm pretty sure there's a hand-carved wooden penis in that box, and I really need to win it to complete my set. (Er, yes. It is wood. It is long and skinny with a big part at one end. Freud said some stuff about that I think might be relevant here. The object in the box is NOT hand-carved.)

The Grand Prize and Short-list Entries are featured in the last post

Winners! Round 1 - Grand Prize and Short List

Grand Prize ! A Rustic Wooden Mallet was in the box -

WINNER @arnied: I am guessing there is an "opinion" inside the box due to the clue about the weight being on one side and not shifting. (Oh, how to list all the ways an opinion is like this mallet. You should have your own, if you use it right it will echo, sometimes you should keep it to yourself and not go hitting people over the head with it even if that is tempting, it can be useful and even persuasive, dangerous in the wrong hands, as old as civilization and essential to an ordered life. You should be careful with whom you are sharing either your opinion or your mallet, when times are dangerous.)

Short List for the Grand Prize:

@toddadamson: Jesus bait. (This is a tricky explanation to formulate. Given that a mallet is a primitive kind of hammer, and that Jesus was crucified, there is a connection between mallets and Jesus. One could further argue that much of Jesus’s purpose on earth was to live as a man and to die for all men, and that therefore anything connected with Jesus’s execution could be considered a goal for Jesus, or “Jesus bait.”)

@ereuben: Joystick (Like some of the other guesses, a joystick is a tool for getting things done in a specialized way. However, you don't really get that same sense of heft and possible smashing. Joysticks can be violent – steering missiles or controlling little guys in violent video games, but mallets just aren't digital.)

@jshelly: laptop (I wonder if he or she subscribes to the "wish for something you want" school of gwiitb guessing. A laptop is a tool for getting things done in a specialized way, as is a mallet, and it is also something that might be satisfying to smash somebody over the head with. However, without some further indication of the nature of the laptop guessed, I cannot judge it a winning guess in this round.)

@d_g_: An afternoon of potential fun for the whole family. (It seems likely there are at least a few families out there that could have fun for a whole afternoon all together with this mallet: staking out new landscaping, smashing balsa-wood props, tormenting bound victims, or such-like.)

@AndrewGent: My guess: inflatable bop bag (deflated, with weighted end at one end of the box). (The connection between an inflatable bop bag and a mallet falls in the general category of hitting things and stress relief. A nicely detailed guess, but it can't edge out the winner.)

@The_No_Show: My guess: The box contains the hopes and dreams of a generation. (I could make a very good argument for this guess being the winner. If a particular generation had been specified, that might have clinched it. Certain generations have had hopes and dreams that could impose themselves with sheer bludgeoning force while retaining a decorative charm similar to the cute lathe-work on this mallet.)

Monday, February 16, 2009

#gwiitb Round 1 !

Here is the box with something in it for the first round of play for the revived online version of the Guess What Is in the Boxes Contest. There is something in this box, right now sitting on my kitchen table. Tweet your guess with the hashtag #gwiitb and I will review all guesses and select the winner from guesses Tweeted between my Tweet announcing the commencement of play and my Tweet closing play 48 hours after that. Please see the rules set out in the last post for some guidance. Note! Only the last entry by any one person will be eligible for consideration.

The dimensions of the box are 9.5" x 13" x 4.5". My husband describes the heft of the box as follows: weighs 1 or 2 lbs, most of the weight is on one end of the box, no loose movement, no sound of anything shifting when box is tilted or rotated.

Sunday, February 15, 2009

The Guess What Is in the Boxes Contest

1) The word “boxes” is plural because the contest will be held more than one time. There will be a single box with something in it for each round of play.

2) I will post a photograph of the box here at the blog. There will be a description also – dimensions of the box and the approximate weight. My husband will pick up the box and shake it slightly, also tilt it in different directions, and I will post what he says about the heft of the box.

3) It will not just be an empty box. This is not a thought experiment. Something will be in there that I have acquired and packed up in there. If you win, and your mailing address is in the continental United States, I will mail the box and what is in it to you as your prize. If you win and your mailing address is outside the continental United States, I will mail you a personalized certificate of achievement.

4) When the photo and description are posted, I will also post a deadline for entries. Entries must be submitted via Twitter with the hashtag #gwiitb. I will not consider entries timestamped prior to my announcement on Twitter that the picture is posted, nor will I consider entries timestamped after the deadline. Entries should not be addressed to @JSvanBuskirk as replies – I will consider entries with the hashtag only. CHANGE EFFECTIVE AS OF ROUND 3: I will be pretty slack about this. If I come across your guess somehow, I will consider it. Also, guess as many times as you like up to the close of guessing. I will pick which one I like best for the final judging.

5) There is no business proposition involved here, and I am in it for the fun of picking out prizes and deciding who wins. I plan to stick to the start/stop times, and I will not play favorites with people I know. If they have the best entry, they will win – if not, not. My husband is not eligible to win, nor are my landladies, nor are members of my immediate family. It helps that none of the aforementioned people are on Twitter and all seem to wish I would be quiet about it.

6) A cat that is neither alive nor dead will never be what is in the box. I love cats, and I do not have access to the doohicky that would release the poison. Also, see #3, above: it wouldn’t work anyway. I will open the box and post a photo of what was in it before mailing the prize or the certificate to the winner. If you open the box in the alive/dead cat scenario, it collapses the probability wave-front and ruins the whole thing. That should be obvious.

7) There will be a winner. I will select the winning guess based on my sole opinion and fancy, with no appeals or negotiations. The winning guess will be the one that I consider comes closest to capturing the essence of what is in the box. If there is a tie, I will determine who gets the prize based on various factors, including but not limited to mailing address location, elegance of Tweet, prior wins, or some other factor that may become apparent at the time. The other tied entrant(s) will get personalized certificates of achievement.

8) It seems appropriate that I should give prospective entrants some idea of the history of this contest. I remember particularly these outstanding guesses from my INFO DEMO days:
Inside the box was a peculiar vase in the shape of two green and yellow polka-dot gardening boots, and the toes of the boots had googley-eyes glued on to them. The winning guess: “Biodome.”
Inside the box was a child’s party set with matching plates, napkins, little hats, streamers, and sparkly-fringed noise-makers. The winning guess: “Something that means one thing to children, another thing to adults, and yet another thing to cats.”
Inside the box was a miniature plastic bust of James Madison. The winning guess: “A shrunken head.”

Other past prizes (I can’t remember the winning guesses) have included a bamboo vegetable steamer, a large glass heart-shaped paperweight, a beer-stein decorated with maritime imperialist designs, a cheese-grater. Sometimes there have been themed collections: the latch-key child’s lonely afternoon prize-pack (two Matchbox cars, a pack of ramen, and a dying houseplant), the prize-pack of what was found in the motel room after that one guy disappeared on Senior Trip (a promotional plastic beer mug and a baseball cap), the Tiki princeling dinner set (a Tiki-torch candelabra, a fake flower lei + matching fake flower wrist bands, plastic Tiki goblet).

Prospective entrants should be aware that I am not interested in precise and literal guesses. I once refused to award a small storm lantern to the person who guessed “light bulb.” This contest is silly in many ways but serious in others. Light bulbs are about light. Storm lanterns are about light, but also about the danger of being in storms, being in primitive conditions, and dying by fire when the lantern is knocked over. The winning guess came closer to capturing that sense of threat.

9) Thank you for reading this far! I hope to have the first box packed, pictured, and posted tomorrow (Monday February 16) in the afternoon sometime, and we will get this show on the road! These rules are as complete as I can make them, but we should all anticipate that I will be more or less making some things up as things proceed.

Best regards,

Saturday, February 14, 2009

New Old Thing!

Back when I ran Info Demo, there was a contest. The contest was called the "Guess What Is in the Boxes Contest." As people arrived, they had the opportunity to write their guess for what was in each box on a slip of paper. At the end of the show, I would review each guess. The winner for each box, the guess that most perfectly (in my sole estimation) captured the essence of what was in that box, won what was in the box. One wag sagely suggested to other participants, "So guess something you want!"

I have decided to do the contest again. There will be one box, and guesses will be accepted via Twitter. I will mail the actual prize within the United States, winners from outside the US will receive a certificate with a picture of the prize. Sorry! I will post more information about this contest soon - right now I am in Illinois at my sister's house and can't really get this all set up. But I am very excited about this - it should be fun.

Also, I would like to call attention to my new motto, up there under the title. I am pleased. My last motto (which was not on this blog) was "Our cause is just, our methods are for sure!" and had been getting a little wear-worn, so we can all thank the van shuttle service called "Rochester Direct" up in Rochester, MN and their motto "Moving people into the future" for the inspiration they give to me.

More on the contest soon !!!

Sunday, February 8, 2009


Another friendly link from an appealing blog - JP posted about the Twittered Shakespeare at confused of calcutta - Thank you JP!

Monday, February 2, 2009

I am very sorry. Sometimes these things just come over me.

Twittered Decameron, Part 2/2

Day V ends – Elisa is crowned Queen. She sets a theme for the next day: A clever remark or device averts trouble.-

Day VI. - This is the continuing feed of Boccaccio's Decameron –

VI,1 A lady escapes rough narration by remarking on the rough gait of her escort’s horse. He takes her meaning & tells other tales.-

VI,2 Servant tries to con classy baker out of more wine than Lord sought. Baker sends servant back til Lord catches on, then gifts wine.-

VI,3 When Bishop teases virtuous lady in public, she retorts, invoking scandal that involves Bishop’s pal and Bishop's brother’s family.-

VI,4 When Lord gets angry about getting served crane w/only one leg, Cook makes him laugh with joke that cranes have only one leg.-

VI,5 A wise judge and a brilliant artist, both ugly, ride through rain and mud, and taunt each other’s appearance.-

VI,6 A guy wins a supper by playfully proving a notoriously ugly family is the oldest (noblest) in the world - God was still practicing.-

VI,7 Lusty wife acquits herself of adultery charges by showing it’s husband’s fault. She never denied him, he can’t keep up with her.-

VI,8 Vain girl is warned by uncle: if she doesn’t like to see tiresome people she shouldn’t look in the mirror. She doesn’t get it.-

VI,9 Rich intellectual blows off dandies who want to hang out with him by basically calling them dead from the neck up.-

VI,10 Friar promises the folk an angel’s feather, but finds only coals to show them. Ah! They are from the martyrdom of St. Lawrence.-

Day VI ends – Dioneo is crowned King. He sets a theme for the next day: Tricks played by Wives upon Husbands.-

Day VII. - This is the continuing feed of Boccaccio's Decameron –

VII,1 When lover knocks, wife convinces very stupid husband it’s a bogey and sings a convincing exorcism. -

VII,2 Husband comes home to sell barrel. Wife says it’s sold to guy inspecting barrel. So husband fixes barrel while adulterers disport.-

VII,3 A foolish husband is easily convinced that the friar and the wife were locked in the bedroom saying a charm to save the baby.-

VII,4 Locked out by angry husband, wife convinces him she’s jumped in well. He hears big splash & runs out. She runs in & locks door.-

VII,5 A jealous husband is tricked into watching the wrong door, just when he thought he had tricked errant wife.-

VII,6 “Oh, him? He came by looking for some other guy, who’s hiding here somewhere, not like they’re both my lovers or anything.”-

VII,7 After bedding Lady, man goes to garden where Lord waits in Lady’s clothes to catch her lover. Man beats Lord: “Unfaithful Lady!”-

VII,8 Wife turns table on jealous husband by putting maid in her own place. When husband calls wife’s brothers, they beat him instead.-

VII,9 Young wife passes 3 challenges & wins her chosen gallant, then arranges the dalliance so Lord sees it but thinks it illusion.-

VII,10 Two buddies in love with the same woman. One gets action, so much he dies of it, & comes back as a ghost to tell of afterlife.-

Day VII ends – Lauretta is crowned Queen. She sets a theme for the next day: Tricks people play on each other.-

Day VIII. - This is the continuing feed of Boccaccio's Decameron –

VIII,1 Friar borrows money from merchant to pay merchant’s wife to sleep w/ him, then tells merchant “I paid the $ back to your wife.”-

VIII,2 Wife has affair with a priest. They exchange tokens and banter, including dirty jokes about mortars and pestles.-

VIII,3 A foolish man is tricked into looking for, and believing he’s found, a magic rock. His wife makes fun of him.-

VIII,4 Priest won’t let lady alone. She sends maid in disguise, her brothers arrange for Bishop to catch priest with maid.-

VIII,5 Three mischievous guys pull a judge’s pants down while he’s on the bench.-

VIII,6 The guys from VIII,3. Foolish guy is tricked into believing he had missing pig the whole time, & pays them not to tell his wife.-

VIII,7 She leaves him waiting in the snow all night. He arranges revenge, leaving her on the roof in the sun and miserable all day.-

VIII,8 A sleeps w/ B’s wife. B’s wife helps B lock A in chest. B has sex with A’s wife on that chest. None really minds the swapping.-

VIII,9 The guys from VIII,3, again. Practical jokers convice a guy that he can join a secret magic club, leave him in a foul ditch.-

VIII,10 A merchant tricks a woman into thinking he has more goods than he really does. He extracts cash on credit and absconds w/it.-

Day VIII ends – Emilia is crowned Queen. She sets no theme for the next day.-

Day IX. - This is the continuing feed of Boccaccio's Decameron –

IX,1 Clever lady rids herself of 2 undesired lovers. Ones fake dead in a tomb, other goes after him, neither can “prove” their love.-

IX,2 Abbess, thinking to surprise a nun in flagrante with a lover, accidentally reveals her own affair. The ladies reach agreement.-

IX,3 The guys from VIII,3, again. Practical jokers convince buffoon he is pregnant, and he trades many goods to them for a “cure.”-

IX,4 One guy loses both his and his buddy’s money and tries to run for it. The buddy gets him back as he deserves.-

IX,5 The guys from VIII,3, again. Practical jokers “help” buffoon try to get his way with damsel. All he gets is trouble with his wife.-

IX,6 Bed mix-ups w/ two guests, the host’s wife, the host’s daughter, & the host. “Wake up (wink) you’ve been sleepwalking again.”-

IX,7 Man tells his wife of terrible dream that a wolf tears her apart. She doesn’t heed the warning, and the dream comes true.-

IX,8 One freeloader tricks another regarding breakfast. The second gets revenge by getting a violent man enraged at the first. -

IX,9 King Solomon advises the lonely man to find love by loving, and the balked husband to beat his ill-tempered & obdurate wife.-

IX,10 Man interrupts the spell for turning his wife into a mare when he sees how his friend attaches the tail. Spell doesn’t work.-

Day IX ends – Pamfilo is crowned King. He sets a theme for the next day, tales of generosity, nobility, magnificence.-

Day X. - This is the continuing feed of Boccaccio's Decameron –

X,1 Generous king shows petulant knight that reward comes from luck, not fairness, but then gives knight some treasure.-

X,2 Bandit captures abbot, cures him of ills, frees him. Abbot reconciles bandit w/ the Pope, who makes bandit head of a hospital.-

X,3 Bully searches for nice guy to kill him. Friendly guy explains how to catch him. Turns out, same guy. They become friends.-

X,4 Guy digs up the lady he loves and revives her. She was pregnant, has son, and guy restores her and son to lady’s husband.-

X,5 Result- A magic garden that blooms in January. Generous husband inspires everybody to release others’ promises.-

X,6 An old King realizes he has no business with a young girl. He dowers her and her sister generously in good marriages.-

X,7 A King is kind to a young woman heart-sick in her crush on him. He sets up a good marriage and is quite chivalrous.-

X,8 Everybody is so determined to declare themself the murderer that the Emperor frees them all and it’s happy ever after.-

X,9 Saladin recognizes captured man who had treated him well, and magically arranges for man to reunite w/his wife.-

X,10 Mind boggling story of King who takes peasant to wife, treats her like God does Job, then loves her for her patience.-

End Day X – Like Boccaccio, I could defend this work by saying: Take it as you will, and good fortune to you who wish it to me.-

Sunday, February 1, 2009

Twittered Decameron, Part 1/2

The Decameron, by Boccaccio, in Tweets-

A brigade of 10 beautiful young people flee the plague, pass time in the country by each telling a tale a day for 10 days, and flirting.-

Day I. Pampinea is Queen to command the activities for the day. She sets no theme for the tales for today.-

I,1 A wicked money lender falls ill far from home. Dying, he tells a friar such lies of his own goodness, all believe he was a saint.-

I,2 A devout man converts from Judaism after concluding that Catholicism must be God’s will, for Rome thrives despite much corruption.-

I,3 A Muslim ruler & a wealthy Jew reach accord. All three religions of the Book are of God, it is not for men to say which is highest.-

I,4 A monk seduces a woman, and knows the bishop knows. He arranges the bishop’s seduction by the same woman. Problem solved.-

I,5 A beautiful Marquess puts off the King’s unwanted advances by serving him chicken. He asks about hens, she answers about women. Burn!-

I, 6 A man ends unjust persecution by an inquisitor by expressing fear what will happen when that cleric’s generosity returns 100-fold.-

I,7 A witty man enlightens a great man (re generosity) with a tale about a great man who gets enlightened with regard to a witty man.-

I,8 A miser, for once moved to seek someone’s approval, is challenged by an admirable man to learn generosity, and he seeks to do so.-

I,9 An injured Lady asks a useless King for advice in handling insult, since he clearly bears it so well. At last he is moved to virtue.-

I,10 A Lady makes much fun of an older man who is smitten with her, but is baffled and set down when he responds with wit and good humor.-

Day I ends. Pampinea appoints Filomena Queen for Day II. Filomena sets theme: people who struggle and succeed unexpectedly.

Day II. - This is the continuing feed of Boccaccio's Decameron -

II,1 A man fakes a miracle and is saved from a mob only when his friends tell cops he's a thief. He barely escapes hanging. Good times.-

II,2 A merchant beset by thieves finds warm welcome with a lovely widow and sees the thieves captured. St. Julian is much honored.-

II, 3 After brothers waste 2 fortunes, nephew catches the eye of a disguised English princess & marries her, raising the family status.-

II,4 Adventure! In poverty, a young man turns pirate, is captured, then shipwrecked. Ashore, he finds treasure and goes home wealthy.-

II,5 Tricked & robbed, merchant is then tricked & trapped in a tomb by robbers. He frightens later tomb-robbers and escapes w/a ruby.-

II,6 Father imprisoned by king, mother separated from boys, all endure separate hardship until recognition and uprisings reunite all.-

II,7 The Sultan’s daughter, intended bride for a King, is taken by 9 men in 4 years. Home again, she passes as virgin, marries the King.-

II,8 Unjustly accused man takes steps to protect his family, lives in exile, works hard, and finds happiness once his name is cleared.-

II,9 Wronged wife of wronged man dresses as a man, frees man, gets revenge on wrongdoer. Like Cymbeline, but w/Sultan & Italians.-

II,10 Young guy carries off old rich guy’s young wife & will only give her back if she wants. She doesn’t. Old guy dies. Happiness.-

Day II ends. Neifile is crowned Queen & declares a weekend break, and sets the theme for Monday: changing fortune that ends well.-

Day III. - This is the continuing feed of Boccaccio's Decameron -

III,1 A man pretends to be deaf & mute to get job in convent, & gets lots of action with all the nuns. He lives a long & happy life.-

III,2 King snips hair from groom suspected of bedding queen. Waking early, that groom lops hair from other grooms’ hair and escapes ID.-

III,3 A lusty lady tells a corrupt cleric his handsome friend is pressing advances. She gets her way while seeming virtuous.-

III,4 Pious man + (neglected wife + amorous scholar monk) = complicated 40 day penance for one/ simple 40 paradise for others.-

III,5 Gallant has fancy horse to trade for a few minutes speech w/ greedy man’s beautiful wife. In a way, all three get what they want.-

III,6 Mr. Tricky tricks lady into thinking lady’s husband is meeting Mrs. Tricky. Lady goes as Mrs. Tricky & sleeps w/her "husband."-

III,7 Oh the drama. Turned away by his lover, back in disguise to get apology, saves her husband from execution, reconciles w/family.-

III,8 Naughty abbott tricks man into believing he has died, gone to purgatory & been revived. He raises wife's new baby as his own.-

III,9 All’s Well that Ends Well – really. The names are different, and in this version she has two sons before he returns to her.-

III,10 *NSFW* Hermit teaches girl how to put the devil into hell. She settles to marriage when assured husband will know how.-

Day III ends. Filostrato is crowned King. He sets a theme for the next day: Loves that ended unfortunately.-

Day IV. - This is the continuing feed of Boccaccio's Decameron –

IV,1 King dotes on but neglects his daughter. He sends her lover’s heart to her in a gold cup. Defiant, she drinks poison. He mourns.-

IV,2 Cleric has his way with beautiful lady by appearing to her in the guise of the angel Gabriel. He gets caught and locked up.-

IV,3 Brothers (ABC) run off w/ sisters (DEF). Jealous D kills A. Wrathful B kills E for saving D. D&B run off. C&F escape but die.-

IV,4 An intemperate prince breaks family honor to rescue beloved princess. In shipboard attack, she is killed. Then he’s beheaded.-

IV,5 Brothers kill her lover. She finds head and keeps it in a basil pot, watered w/ her tears. She dies. Creepy story, but it sticks with you.-

IV,6 Lovers tell each other their spooky dreams, then one drops dead. Accused of killing him, she defends herself, then becomes a nun.-

IV,7 He rubs sage leaf on his tooth, drops dead. Taken up for killing him, she shows what happened with the leaf & also drops dead.-

IV,8 Mom insists guy go to Paris. He comes home, his girl is married. He sneaks in to die by her side. She goes & dies by his body.-

IV,9 Lord slays his wife’s lover and presents lover’s heart to her as food. She figures out what it is and throws herself out a window.-

IV,10 He takes opiate, thought dead. She hides body in chest. Chest stolen. Awake, he’s accused of theft. Truth out, thieves hanged.-

Day IV Ends – Fiammetta is crowned Queen. She sets a theme for the next day: Lovers that go through troubles that end happily.-

Day V. - This is the continuing feed of Boccaccio's Decameron –

V,1 Love kindles couth in a brute. Hero captures girl temporarily. Buddy helps him out of prison, they both get their girls.-

V,2 In despair at word of his death, she sets adrift in a boat. She comes ashore where, surprise, he is risen high and rich. They marry.-

V,3 Lovers run away and encounter ruffians. She runs and makes it to safety, he escapes later. They reunite, marry, and go home.-

V,4 Girl arranges outside bed to “hear the nightingale.” Parents find her w/ lover asleep, "nightingale" in hand, and approve the match.-

V,5 One suitor turns out to be beautiful orphan's brother, so she marries the other. The suitors needn’t have fought, really.-

V,6 Well connected lovers piss off a King (he wanted the girl) & are almost burned alive before an Admiral tells King who they are.-

V,7 He gets his Lord’s daughter pregnant, is to be hanged but is set free & marries his love after his Dad recognizes him.-

V,8 Spurned suitor arranges for Lady to see ghost of man cursed to repeatedly kill ghost of cruel woman who spurned him. Lady relents.-

V,9 Suitor spends and spends but is spurned. Lady comes to breakfast. He cooks and serves his last possession (a falcon). She relents.-

V,10 Husband comes home early, and it seems no one is in a position to throw stones. The more the merrier, actually.-

Day V ends – Elisa is crowned Queen. She sets a theme for the next day: A clever remark or device averts trouble.-