Sunday, March 29, 2009

#gwiitb Round 7 !

Here is the box for Round 7 of Guess What Is in the Boxes. It is 6" x 6" x 4.5# and weighs 11 oz. I don't have anybody handy right this moment to shake the box and describe its heft, so I will do my best to provide a disinterested description.

The weight is evenly distributed, but the object feels dense and does shake back and forth laterally, hitting the sides in a couple of places but otherwise well packed with something quiet.

Guesses will be accepted until Tuesday, March 31, at 4pm EDT. New players, please see earlier entries and the original post for guidance. Also, please tag your guesses #gwiitb. I am glad you are here, and happy guessing!

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Thank You AJC - Press for Tiny Bedtime Stories

I am as pleased as pleased can be to report that Suzanne Van Atten has featured Tiny Bedtime Stories in the Atlanta Journal Constitution as this week's "Quirky Book of the Week." I am especially glad that the article highlights two of her favorite stories. You can see the article here, and get more information about the book here. If you are interested in poetry that is a little more obviously poetry, you can see this, this, or my chapbook "Just Got No Hustle" here.

Reminder, re The Guess What Is in the Boxes Contest: I am out of town and will be off line the next couple days, so Round 7 probably will not start until next Monday.

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Winners Round 6 !! Certificate Winners

First, @TheStepster gets special certificate for First and Last guesses.

Category: What Some Might Think Is Closest to What Is in the Box

WINNER: @fistsoffolly: It's something that would make me wealthy--only not *financial* wealth.
- The item in the box is ostensibly collectible. Some collectibles bring enormous wealth and satisfaction to their owners. Unfortunately, this is not one of those collectibles – but this guess takes the Certificate! It appears that @fistsoffolly also made the most guesses - 6.

@TheStepster: Something useable. There's space.
- Well, there is space in the box, filled mostly with plastic grocery bags used as padding for the item. The grocery bags are themselves usable, but they are not the designated item in the box. The item itself, well, there are some outstanding questions as to its usefulness.

@epicdeer: It's obviously some Chinese food. Some long, thin, Chinese food, including sliced egg rolls.
- There is no food in the box, but there is something with a now-attenuated International eclat. It was made in China, at least partly, but it should not be eaten. It is thin, but not particularly long. So, there are arguments, but none strong enough to seize the Certificate in this category.

@1sjcorbett: A needle point sampler of the type so prevelant in our memories and Norman Rockwell paintings.
- This guess is on the short list in this category because the item is of a type, and it is designed to evoke nostalgia and fellow-feeling. The sense of craft conveyed by this guess, however, is not echoed in the item itself.

: The Rosetta Stone.
- Again, the International eclat of this item is invoked, but it is not a stone, has no relevance to the translation of texts, and no relation even to the British Museum. International-ness is not enough.

@fistsoffolly: It's something whose intended use involves two or more senses.
- The item in the box has intended uses that involve the senses of sight and touch, but without more detail I cannot award the Certificate on those grounds.

@fistsoffolly: The name of this mystery item has a repeat letter in it. Like "book" or "oboe". (Though it might not be an O, or even a vowel.)
- The name of the mystery item has several repeat letters, but again, without more detail (and in light of the caveat in the guess) I cannot award the Certificate on those grounds

@TheStepster: Something rather contemporary, that contains an old soul.
- It is a modern item that celebrates something ancient, so this guess comes close, but the item itself is not rather contemporary. It is pretty cheesy.

@The_No_Show: The ark of the covenant, rendered entirely in cheese.
- This item is in some sense rendered almost entirely in cheese (see “cheesy” remark above), but there is little that is spiritual enclosed within it.

Category: Best Otherwise Inaccurate Guess

WINNER: @jonathaneunice: Something LOVERLY.
- It is LOVERLY, in its way, but mainly this guess made me laugh the most of any of the guesses.

@The_No_Show: Debauchery, decadence and an endless parade of illicit paraphernalia
- This guess almost made it into the “what some might think” category with a reference to illicit paraphernalia. The item is ostensibly licit, and the occasion that occasioned it had a great deal of paraphernalia. There were accusations of malfeasance, but as far as I know, no debauchery and decadence.

@toddadamson:It's the Kirlian Aura of Harry Crews' barber.
- I looked at a picture of Harry Crews, and I am not sure he has a barber. I always enjoy things associated with Kirlian Auras, but if there is no living being to generate it (assuming it could then be separated from their body), that could mean there was nothing in the box. But there is!

@toldorknown: Something that is less than the sum of its parts.
- This is an excellent guess, very funny, but wrong! This item has very little relation to the sum of its parts – I am pretty sure its parts do not add up.

@fistsoffolly: Please, please, please let it be something that will help me sleep at night. Please.
- I hope that things get better, but this item would do nothing to help you.

@jonathaneunice: It's something that would help a friend in need, or that would enable me to do so.
- This is not a very helpful item. I can imagine a few extremely precise circumstances where this item could be of assistance, but it strains the mind a bit.

@toldorknown: Something to soften the blows.
- This item would be even less assistance in this regard than with sleep or assisting friends. And I can do nothing to help you all.

@fistsoffolly: A carrot and not a stick.
- This item is potentially both, probably more carrot, but really neither.

@fistsoffolly: PEEPS.
- I eat PEEPS. I do not give them away.

@whlteXbread: All the emoticons I was going to use for my #gwiitb guess are in there.
- I will see what I can do about that for a future round, maybe. I apologize if my commentary on your last round guess was a little harsh.

@lindstifa: Is it my dignity? I've been looking for it everywhere.
- Unfortunately, there is no dignity in the box. This item is excessively undignified.

@andreakremer: A mirror.
- There is an argument for this guess, but a vague one. Indeed, I studied some literary theory in college and could probably find whole books that would support arguments that any given thing is a mirror. This item has some shininess and is connected with a form of measurement. But really, it is not a mirror.

@TheStepster: A useful DIY object.
- This item is somewhat useful, but not for DIY. It is almost completely unuseful for that.

@TheStepster: A file/packet of services.
- This item does something, but just the one thing, really. Not a “services” provider or container.

@TheStepster: A bunch of guesses which cost me another follower.
- this guess did not register as on the list ahead of my post about the end of gessing, though it looks to have been a very close thing. Even counting it as a guess, however, it is sad for me to think of people’s participation in this contest driving others away.

Category: Guesses that Seem to Have Something to Do with Paper

The Box in this round was very thin, and I believe this led many to imagine tangible items that would fit in a very thin box. Many of these imaginings seem to have devolved toward an assortment of things connected with paper. The item in the box has some paperiness, but that is not one of its essential characteristics. I have grouped these guesses together, and have decided to judge a Certificate winner closest to what is in the box from among these guesses.

WINNER: @suelyn:a place for trees, flowers, sky, mountains and sea, smiles and tears, the young & old a holder of pictorial memories.
- A photograph album often made of paper and holds pictures that are themselves printed on photographic paper. This guess takes the Certificate in this category because it provokes contemplation of nature, the commemmoration of events, and celebration of human life.

@LidMo: For better or for worse. Stationery of sorts.
- Stationery is made of paper.

@BrianPike: [Guess 1/2] An unglazed photograph frame containing a Braille description of a photograph.
- Photographs are printed on photographic paper.

@BrianPike: [Guess 2/2] A glazed photograph frame, behind whose glass is a Braille description of a photograph.
- Photographs are printed on photographic paper.

@d_g_: What is in the box? A novel way to pass the time.
- A novel is usually printed on paper.

@KT30003k: Box contains small flat things that can be assembled into a larger, three-dimensional thing (models, card houses...).
- Models and cards are usually made of paper, cardstock, or cardboard.

@jshelly: Moleskine notebook
- Notebooks are made of paper.

@1sjcorbett: Fine monogrammed stationery with matching envelopes.
- Stationery is made of paper

@1sjcorbett: I so want this to be an illuminated manuscript from the middle ages. Art in the service of knowledge.
- An illuminated manuscript from the middle ages would probably not be on rag paper as we know it today, but some kind of vellum. Paper-like.

Winner! Round 6 - Grand Prize and Short List

Round 6 of Guess What Is in the Boxes - REVEALED:

HOT 1996 Olympic Summer Games THERMOMETER TRADING PINS (TM) Trading Pin

The illustration thermometer registers just over 90 degrees Fahrenheit, about 42 Celsius. The pin has a thermometer and an illustration that might be a melting ice cube in a pool of water. I compared the temperature on the THERMOMETER TRADING PINS trading pin thermometer with my home thermostat and it seemed pretty accurate, so there's that. The copy on the back promises "Collectible Thermometer Trading Pins (TM) . . . A HOT way to support the 1996 Olympic Summer Games."

I do not think that "HOT" means "stolen" in this context. I purchased the item as a good faith purchaser for value.

Grand Prize

WINNER: @carterbob2: it mirrors the contents of dreams that never achieved escape velocity, and crashed back to Earth.
- This guess wins the Grand Prize because of the double beauty of it. The Olympics themselves are always filled with dreams that never achieve escape velocity and crash back to earth. Sometimes actual people crash. This is especially true of the 1996 Olympics in Atlanta. Atlanta’s dream of achieving its long-sought status as an International city crashed to earth. No one was happy with my home city, clearly in over its head and out of control with the organization and the excessive merchandizing. There was even a terrorist bombing. It was all a dream that crashed back to earth.

@BrianPike: The Ineffable, Rendered Universally Accessible. [That was guess 1 of 2]
- There is a strong argument for this guess, provided one uses “Universal” in the sense of “World wide,” but not enough to move it to the top slot.

@atomicfez: } no more refraint: it's a block of very thin, stiff cheese, reinforced with metal rulers (no cork backing)
- This guess was in the running for the top slot, but it was edged out by a couple of later guesses. The collectible pin is in itself a piece of very thin, stiff cheesiness, and one could consider the thermometer a metal ruler of sorts. Also, I was very proud of saying "refraint" the other day, and was glad to see it in the guess.

@ContemptSlots: A composite creation conceived for containing, constraining, and collecting.
- A good guess – the word “collecting” really caught my eye, and I like the idea of “constraining” in connection with a thermometer. But not enough to take the prize.

@michael_elliott: it's one of those draw-beards-and-moustaches-on-people-with-iron-filings-and-a-magnet thingies.
- I really like this guess, and if it weren’t for the winning guess I would be in a real bind here. This pin is simply shaped like those thingies, and the pictures of suggested drawings are of stereotyped individuals that make a kind of parade of nations.

@jonathaneunice: It's something cheap and aimless, but that will nonetheless inspire an amusing pastime.
- Cheap and aimless – check! You would need to reverse the second part, however – this pin was inspired by an amusing pastime.

@jonathaneunice: It's something that summons, or at least desires, the rain.
- This guess was a very strong contender for the top slot. The Pin is HOT, and tells the temperature. It must need the rain. Atlanta certainly needs the rain, now and forever, future and past. Especially in August. I remember the summer of the Olympics. Some more rain would have been nice.

Sunday, March 15, 2009

#gwiitb Round 6 !

Here is the box for Round 6 of the Guess What Is in the Boxes Contest. The dimensions are 11.5" x 7.5" x 1" and, as packed and wrapped, it weighs 6.5 oz.

I have asked my landlady Mindy to describe the heft of the box. With "shaking like a Polaroid picture," there is "no give in any way." "Feels like whatever is in there fills the box, but not packed in densely."

Guessing for this round will close Tuesday, March 17, 2009, at 5pm EDT.

Please note that there will probably not be any #gwiitb next week. I will be out of town from Sunday evening until late on Tuesday, when the contest would normally take place.

The contest rules are at this post, and you can get a general idea of how it works by clicking the label "Guess what is in the boxes." Thank you for playing !

Saturday, March 14, 2009

People Really Win!

Here is a picture of @CeeBee with his Certificate of Achievement for winning guess in the category "What Some Might Think Is Closest to What Is in the Box." Cool! Some other winners have posted their pictures online: @Tony_D posted his pic here, @1sjcorbett posted her pic here, @toldorknown has posted his pic here, @The_No_Show has posted his pic here, and @bcompton has posted his pic here (he won a certificate AND the Grand Prize). Another Grand Prize winner, @thewesterly, has posted a picture of his prize, the coveted Abalone Trivet (Hotplate). If somebody has sent me a link or a picture and I have missed it here, please let me know.

If you are new to the contest, just check out the original rules post and peruse the prior guesses and winners (link is to label "Guess What Is in the Boxes, including this post). I enjoy running this contest, and it makes me very happy that a few dozen people out there enjoy participating. I will have Round 6 up and ready for guesses either Sunday or Monday.

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Winners Round 5 !! Certificate Winners

This was a difficult round for judging. I have had to eliminate one category and create a whole new one in order to properly encompass and consider all the entries (more than 30 guesses).

First, there is a special certificate for @fistsoffolly, for entering both the First Guess and the Last Guess in Round 5. Congratulations! Both of her guesses are treated below in the "Spooky or Melancholy Guess" category.

Category: What Some Might Think Is Closest to What Is in the Box

Winner: @toldorknown: Two types of things, one singular, the other plural. The singular has a pointed fragility. The plurality contain multitudes in each
- I had an argument prepared against this one, but it is a spot-on mirror reflection of what is in the box.

@ContemptSlots: Something spiked, served, and occasionally aced. Not to say there's alcohol involved.
- There is a connection between what is in the box and sports. However, the item in the box is not a tennis ball nor a volley ball. Neither is it punch, although it might either lead to or prevent punching.

@CeeBee: having won "What Some Might Think Is Closest to What Is in the Box" last week, my guess for round 5 of #gwiitb is a foam brick
- Some might think a foam brick is closest to what is in the box because there are in fact two foam bricks in the box, but are there only as filler. Thus, placing on the "What Some Might Think ..." short list is not a reaction to the wording of the guess, but in accordance with the contents of the box.

@andreakremer: Something that will put me in mind of summer.
- Yes, toning the mind and body is something some do in preparation for summer, and that is very close to being the central concept of what is in the box. It is a circumstantial argument, and is mere conjecture on my part.

@KT30003k: Box is full of clear plastic capsules; each contains either the original gumball-machine prize or a cryptic message.
- There is plastic containment, and what could be considered capsules, but no gumball machine was involved. The message is not cryptic. This guess might fall into that category of things I would keep myself, not give away.

@michael_elliott: it's a cold front!
- If I were faced with using the item in the box, I would have a very cold front indeed. That might not be how the term "front" was meant in the guess, but I am the judge.

@jonathaneunice: It's something composed of other little somethings, tightly nestled and lovingly enveloped.
- Yes, it is something composed of other little somethings. They are packed, rather than nestled, and I am not certain about the “lovingly enveloped” bit. If it weren't for the spot-on winner, this guess would be a strong contender.

@TheStepster: Soft, dense, unbreakable, creaky objects waiting to be discovered by someone somewhere.
- As elsewhere, @TheStepster makes a near guess that is just barely edged out by the uncannily accurate winning guess.

Category: What Might Ought to Have Been in the Box

Winner: @trelvix: The Last Supper as depicted by South Park candles modeled entirely from found wax and subway lint. (Easy.)
- Perhaps what is in the box should have been something @trelvix thought was easy to guess. I am not sure, but it seems appropriate to reward gumption. I do know that I would enjoy awarding people the bounty of my crafty skills, such as they are. I lived in NY long ago, but did not have the foresight to gather subway lint for such a project.

@BrianPike: What is in the box is NOT what you think it is.
- Wouldn’t that be exciting for all of us?! I had some back and forth with @BrianPike clarifying that his guess was that what was in the box was not what I, JS, thought it was. He might be right, but in the end I am the sole arbiter. If it were possible for me to have a prize that is inherently never what the entrants think it is, I would do that. Indeed, it is what I strive for.

@epicdeer: It's my missing hour of sleep. Please be my missing hour of sleep.
- It would be wonderful if I could restore your missing hour of sleep to you, but it is beyond my powers, at least until next Fall. I am sorry.

@1sjcorbett: An antique quill and ink well. The type so often used to write flowery love letters and overwrought poetry.
- Things are just so digital these days. Perhaps we could do with more flowery love letters and overwrought poetry. Perhaps we could do with more of them that are on paper and not posted on the internet!

@lindstifa: When in contact with my skin it takes me back to childhood and the sense of security I haven't felt since.
- Again I feel the urge to award people things that would bring them happiness, or at least a form a peace. I fear it is beyond my power. I am sorry.

@thewesterly: It's the hope of a nation, and the light of something that lights up.
- Oh, entrants keep guessing for things I only wish I could award to you, but it is not possible. There is only one prize at a time, and I must judge the guesses only in relation to that prize. I will say that I am pretty sure this is the guess that made me laugh the most.

Category: Spooky or Melancholy

This category had to be created because so many of the guesses were of a somber or even slightly gruesome nature. The object in the box is tied quite firmly to daylight and healthy vigorous living, and it would be thus inappropriate to match it to a spooky or melancholy guess. As you will see, I have chosen to respond to the guesses in a specialized manner.

WINNER: @odat: One old man's broken heart.
- Though all are strong, I take your part. This prize could break an old man's heart.

@fistsoffolly: I think it is the ingredients for something spectacular (as in "spectacle"). Dessicated eye of newt and toe of frog, perhaps?
- The contents could be well combined, but by the body, not the mind.

@The_No_Show: The ghost of my father's mother (not my mother's mother). She's creaky. My mother's mother's ghost is more "crinkly".
- Too much emphasis on clues will trip you over your own shoes.

@lancehenrikson: The hell that is my existence. Shipped to you so you have to deal with it.
- I have come to welcome this, your personal contrariness.

@suelyn: comfort items for a dark and stormy night, creaking noise creates an eerie atmosphere all the better to snuggle with a loved one.
- This prize could make one less afraid, assuming the electric's paid.

@jonathaneunice: It's something of religious significance. Something with a touch of, or that bespeaks an earnest hope for, The Divine.
- The prize is just a human thing, it never will make choirs sing.

@J1: this has to be several flavors of Beanie babies dancing and staying alive with the breath of hot air in their confinement.
- If they were trapped there for a while, at least they would be trapped with style.

@whlteXbread: I'm goin' to jail, guys. I thought the East River had taken care of my problem, but I think my ex-girlfriend is in there :/
- It's not so much the guess's wrongs, I just can't stand emoticons.

@toddadamson: A litter of stillborn weasels.
- This prize has neither tail nor head, and isn't either live or dead.

@1sjcorbett: An empty eye glasses case. Represents all that is lost and never found.
- It is not any kind of case - and this is easily replaced.

@fistsoffolly: Something that the main character of a southern gothic novel would identify with. Strongly. Darkly. Maybe w/incestuous overtones.
- Identity eludes those types, this prize is not one of their gripes.

More guesses than ever before this round - Thank you, entrants !!

Winner! Round 5 - Grand Prize and Short List

The item inside the box for Round 5 revealed: It is

The Spheroid Fitness Accessory Prize Pack!
The prize pack includes one (1) "Marbelized" hand strengthener, one (1) 100% cotton "footbag" [what I would consider a hackey-sack], and a pack of two (2) Sneaker Balls - that claim to "Power Freshen Sport Shoes, Gym Bags & Lockers!." A further note on the Sneaker Balls - they also claim "Sneaker Balls (R) aren't like any other air fresheners. They're smaller, tougher and rounder. ...." I have not tested these claims.

The Winner is: @d_g_: A large amount of potential energy.
- This Spheroid Fitness Accessory Prize Pack is just brimming with potential energy, its own and anyone else’s. There is no other guess this round that makes me happier as an essential identifier of exactly what is in the box.

@ContemptSlots: It's something terribly erotic. To someone. After all, it's on the internet.
- There are strong arguments for this guess, arguments involving sweat, fitness, squeezing, balls, and exertion. However, these things are not guaranteed erotic, even on the internet.

@cawcaw: It's a bobble head figure made of felt.
- Again, there is a argument for this guess, this time involving a combination of sports and hand crafting. However, the lack of any representational characteristics in the Prize Pack prevent this guess from taking the Grand Prize.

@icecolbeveridge: Three juggling balls hand-woven by a former circus act, blacklisted for reasons he won't talk about.
- This guess, though charming, can’t win because there are four balls, and two of them are only similar to balls. A skilled juggler could juggle all four. I believe this assortment is reputable, and I judge that there is no murky past associated with them.

@BrianPike: 12 snowballs stabilized at room temperature by local anomalies in physical laws. Will melt if shipped outside Georgia
PS: they're unusually small snowballs, but snowballs for sure. Snow is the only possible explanation for the creaking.
- This guess, also charming, also can’t win because there are four balls. None is made of snow. A near thing, however, because there is another brand of sneaker balls called “Ice,” but that is not what is in the Prize Pack. I must disagree with the reasoning here – snow is not the only possible explanation for the creaking. At least one other explanation comes to mind: plastic packaging.

@frageelay: Tribbles!
- This guess, like the others, has a good argument. Tribbles are roundish, touchable, active – all concepts associated with the prize pack – but they are a menace to orderly trade in a way that the Prize Pack is not.

@TheStepster: Something playful and likeable, that brings peace to the mind and a smile on the face.
- This guess is darn close, and if it weren’t for the power of the winning guess, and the great happiness it gave me from the moment I read it, this guess would have a real shot at the prize.

Sunday, March 8, 2009

#gwiitb Round 5 !

Here is the box with something inside it for Round 5 of The Guess What Is in the Boxes Contest! It is another box from the Harry & David assortment, but there are not any apples in there. I ate the apples [insert "This is just to say" joke here - they were delicious, so sweet and so cold.] So. Getting serious. The box was empty, and I packed up the prize in it and taped it up.

The dimensions are 7.5" x 4" x 4". The weight of the box as it is, packed up with prize inside, is 12 oz. (I just found a cooking scale in the back of a closet, so henceforth there shall be weight measurement of unprecedented exactitude.)

My husband knows what is in the box this time, and has asked to be excused from describing the heft. I have recruited my landlady Megan. She says it feels like there are many soft, dense objects packing the box. With vigorous shaking, the objects do not feel or sound breakable. Squishing on the top side of the box produces a creaky noise.

New players should review the original rules post here, and also review the earlier rounds. Please tag your guesses #gwiitb and feel free to guess as often as you like.

Guessing will close at 4pm EDT, Tuesday, March 10, 2009. Happy guessing!

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Winners Round 4 !! - Certificate Winners

Certificate for FIRST GUESS: @LidMo !!

Certificate: What Might Ought to Have Been in the Box and Shortlist

@icecolbeveridge: It's a 1970s West German typewriter secretly smuggled into the East but never used for political purposes.
[It is not a typewriter or anything related to offices or Germany or politics or secret smuggling. It would, however, be incredibly cool if that were the prize. Expensive postage, but still. This guess edges out the others due to its reference to travel, a concept connoted by the item in the box.]

As always, the shortlist guesses are listed in the order they were made -

@The_No_Show: It's a stimulus package.
[This guess made me giggle. It is in this category because it would be an awfully nice thing to be able to award to someone. Many of our problems could be solved! Unfortunately, the item is not particularly stimulating to any economy and I am too prudish to make the really good dirty jokes that go with the term “stimulus package,” which allows this guess to be edged out for the certificate in this category.]

@BrianPike: Lord, will I never know peace? It's a Tempest Prognosticator (Pocket Size Model).
[The item is not a Tempest Prognosticator, unless there is a whole lot more than I had realized I did not know about prognosticating tempests. That is to say, as far as I know this is not one. However, that would be an excellent prize to give away. Quite useful, especially for sailors.]

Certificate: What Some Might Think Is Closest to What Is in the Box and Shortlist

@CeeBee: my guess for this week's installment of #gwiitb is some sort of crocheted article. possibly a small shawl or a giant doilie
[This guess edges out the win against a field of strong contenders in this category. There are two essential elements here: protection of surfaces (giant doilie) and hand crafting. The item in the box is not crocheted, nor is it precisely a doilie, but it serves a similar function.]

@LidMo: Breakfast at Tiffany's coaster
[The item in the box is an item of commemoration, and also serves as a sort of protection to surfaces, and is thus unarguably similar to a Breakfast at Tiffany’s coaster, but this guess lacks the additional connotations of craftsmanship and I cannot judge it the winner in this category.]

@d_g_: What is in the box? An accident waiting to happen.
[The item in the box is something that is connected with possible accidents involving scorchmarks or burns, but its purpose is essentially preventative. Without more detail as to exactly what sort of accident the guess is postulating, I cannot judge this the winning guess in this category.]

@J1: a lovely homemade banana bread, either with or without nuts. I guess this is two guesses.
[Although the item in the box is not a comestible of any sort, there is a reasonable argument for the “with nuts” guess, conceiving lovely homemade banana bread as something lovely and made by hand with natural things in it. Without the other element, protection of surfaces, however, I cannot judge this the winning guess in this category.

@TheStepster: A relatively hefty hearty center display of affection.
[There is a fairly strong argument that the item in the box could have been a display of affection – a gift. It is not, however, relatively hefty. While somewhat hearty (read “eyecatching”), it is not exactly the kind of thing one gets for others but only for oneself. That is a kind of affection, but this guess lacks the key elements cited for the winning guess.]

@arcangeld: .....little porcelain mantle pieces?
[This guess is in this category because I see a strong connection between porcelain and the substance that comprises much of the item in the box. Furthermore, mantle pieces and this item are both functional and decorative. This is a single item, though, and without more detail about the origin and appearance of the little mantle pieces, I cannot judge this the winning guess.]

Certificate: Best Otherwise Inaccurate Guess and Shortlist

@jonathaneunice: Something so cool and sophisticated, it could only have been crafted with captured alien technology. Or magic. Eldritch magic.
[This item is obvious, unsophisticated, and clearly labeled as having been made by humans. Wouldn’t it be interesting, though, if I made awesome prizes with eldritch magic? It would be awfully interesting. So this guess is the winner!]

@rodti: Could it be a sporran made entirely out of meat?
[The item in the box is totally not a sporran made out of meat to any degree. It is not a sporran, and it is not at all made out of meat. As discussed on Twitter, before the prize is revealed, it could theoretically be anything, but the prize is revealed below, and it is not a sporran made entirely out of meat.]

@Tony_D: I wouldn't want to take it with me on an international flight.
[This object is harmless, and would be ignored by TSA employees. There is a connection to travel, but too tenuous to nudge this guess into a more specific category. Like many guesses in this category, this one reminds me of past prizes that this guess would be a shoo-in or strong contender for, but the lightning, she don’t strike every time.]

@KT30003k: It's a small version of a regular-sized thing; the regular-sized thing would float, but this version does not float.
[see next guess -]
@KT30003k: Alternately, this version floats and the original would not. Either way there is a size/buoyancy differential.
[I am treating this guess with #8. The item in the box is “to scale” – one could even say it is in a 1:1 ratio to itself. It is quite diverting to imagine what item could be in the box that one of these guesses would win, but this item is not one of those things.]

@1sjcorbett: An assortment of match box cars. The metal kind with doors that really open!!
[The item in the box is non-interactive and not a toy. I can imagine it being held out as a toy or an object of some interest to a child, but it doesn’t do anything very interesting. If bragged about at school, none of the other children would know what the bragging was about, and that seems to me an essential quality of Match Box cars not shared by the item in the box.]

@J1 : a bar of dark chocolate.
[The item in the box is totally not a bar of dark chocolate. It is not a comestible of any kind, although there is a tenuous connection to a source of nourishment. A bar of dark chocolate I would keep and eat, and would also be worried about sending in the mail. The nature of chocolate is to be eaten, and that does not connect with this item.]

@cawcaw: A representation of a deity or spiritual leader (for example Buddha, who isn't a diety.)
[It is not a representational image. Now, I happen to have little statues of the Infant of Prague, a Chinese monkey spirit, Don Quixote made of shellacked breadfruit, and a Chipper Jones bobble-head, but these are all things I intend to keep and not to give away as prizes.]

@jnobianchi: There is actually another box inside this box. Though I don't know its contents, I know they're *not* cherry raisins
[I have considered putting a box inside the box. Seems a little cheap, though, and not much of a prize, although that might depend on nature of the box inside the other box. If the object were hollow, I could make an argument for this guess qualifying in another category, but it is not hollow.]

@toddadamson: Limbaugh Jerky. Please let it be Limbaugh Jerky.
[The object is not a comestible of any sort. The item in the box does have some tenuous connection with food, but only of the freshly cooked sort, not preserved. I am unfamiliar with that particular brand of jerky, and I think they must not sell it around here.]

@suelyn: a place for what once was,or what may be, where dreams become reality, reality dreams, an empty journal.
[The item in the box is a souvenir, not mine, someone else’s. The item is itself an intersection of dreams and reality already – a solid object, set in itself. Along the lines of the “another box inside this box” guess above, if the item in the box were hollow, I could make an argument for this guess qualifying in another category.]

@1sjcorbett: A string of Christmas lights. It's never too early to anticipate the future.
[The item in the box is moderately decorative, but it is too totally of the past to be an investment in decorating for any specific holiday. I recall that I did once have a string of Christmas lights as a prize, but I cannot remember what the winning guess was.]

@1sjcorbett: An egg timer. I am obsessed with time. It goes by too fast, there's not enough, sometimes there is even too much.
[The item in the box is a vintage object that remains the same as time passes it by. If anything, it is a reminder of the cyclical nature of our societal fads and fancies, that what may seem gone will always come around again in one form or another.]

@epicdeer: Hold on. Yes, I WILL make Electric Bugaloo my guess!
[This guess was made past close of guessing and is therefor ineligible. If it had been entered before the close, I would regretfully pass it by, given the non-underdog, non-dancing nature of this object.]

Winner! Round 4 Grand Prize and Short List

Round 4 What Is in the Box Revealed: It is a Daytona Beach, FLA Abalone Shell Trivet (Hotplate). It is difficult to read in the picture, but there is gold text on the surface that says "DAYTONA BEACH FLA." There are some (apparently) original stickers on the back that give some information about this object. One sticker reads

Handmade With Abalone Shells
Taken By Divers from the Ocean

The other sticker reads

Made by Craftsmen of

If I am doing my Roman numeral decipherment correctly, this Trivet (Hotplate) is from 1969.

@thewesterly: It's a relic of some ancient unspeakable evil, or at least a pewter reproduction of same (3 easy payments of $19.95)
[This was a difficult call. All of the guesses on the short list for the Grand Prize are so close, but then something marvelous happened. I thought of evil creatures in the ocean what might become enraged and take vengeance upon humanity for violently robbing the ocean of its beauty. I thought of the Kraken, in that scene from Clash of the Titans and towards the end of Good Omens, and I thought of Cthulu, who waits in the cold darkness. It made me so happy to consider this the winning guess for an Abalone Shell Trivet (Hotplate) on that argument that it is now the winning guess.]

As always, the shortlist guesses are listed in the order they were made -

@The_No_Show: New guess: The box contains the charred remains of my fundamentally well-rounded childhood.
[This item invokes memories of childhood vacations, possibly, but this souvenir is not destroyed – it is preserved. Many well-rounded childhoods involve trips to the beach and souvenirs thereof, but it seems unlikely that this trivet (hotplate) would be a child’s souvenir. Children are rarely cautious about preserving fine surfaces and are usually more interested in sand dollars.]

@toldorknown: The shadow of a dream, captured in a substrate of collective desire and cast by the blinding light of a future that is yet to be.
[This trivet (hotplate) is indeed a captured dream, dreamy things captured by divers and then enclosed in acrylic by craftsmen, designed to fulfill our collective desire for connection to the mystic deep. If there is a shadow here, though, it is cast by the past. The future that is yet to be can only hope to return to the abundance and arrogance embodied in this trivet (hotplate)].

@AndrewGent: A black hole hidden by clouds (in other words, something precious but opaque, wrapped in something temporal)
[Beautiful abalone shells enclosed in acrylic, become a bit cloudy with time, with sense of timelessness conveyed by the old stickers on the back. However, this item has an essential oneness – that acrylic will not be decaying or blowing away anytime soon.

@fistsoffolly: It is something that I'd want to leave behind to mark my triumph after summiting Everest? (Something cooler than a flag.)
@fistsoffolly: It is something that I'd want to leave behind to mark my triumph after summiting Everest. (Something cooler than a flag.)
[Both forms of this guess have valid arguments. Someone might. There are fads for Florida-style glamor just as there are fads for summiting Everest. I can theoretically postulate someone who might very well wish to leave this behind on the sumit to mark his or her triumph. I don’t know if it is cooler than a flag. I would need to know more about the flag.]

Sunday, March 1, 2009

#gwiitb Round 4 !

Here is the box for Round 4 of the Guess What Is in the Boxes Contest. The dimensions of the box are 9.5" x 13" x 4.5". It is an ordinary box I received a mail order in that was unfortunately a bit torn up, so it is wrapped in brown paper to enhance the structural integrity of the box.

My husband describes the heft as follows. "Weight approximately 1 pound. With vigorous shaking side to side you can feel movement of what seems to be something in the middle of the box. The weight seems evenly distributed."

I will continue accepting multiple guesses from entrants.

In wonderful news, @The_No_Show has posted a picture of his Certificate from Round 2. See? I really do send things to people, and I encourage winners to post pictures of their prizes and certificates, or send them to me and I will post them. ADDED LATER: Certificate Winner @toldorknown has posted a picture of his Certificate from Round 1!

The deadline for entries in Round 4 shall be 12 noon, EST, Tuesday, March 3. Please remember to tag your guesses #gwiitb (guess what is in the boxes).

The entrants and the guesses have been marvelous so far, and I am very happy to continue with the game. Good luck and happy guessing!