June 28, 2011

Getting Out of Dodge


 A recent trip to Picton reminded me that getting away from one's routine is necessary. My three day trip to Prince Edward County brought perspective and writing renewal.
Lake on the Mountain Provincial Park
My sister and I relived childhood memories by touring Main Street, beaching at Sandbanks, driving around Waupoos while eating Black River cheese curds, and buying moccasins in Deseronto.
Giant Tigers and me at the GT Boutique
New Picton haunts: the Queen's Inn, a homey hands-off hotel on Main Street; City Revival, a vintage store with finds galore; Lake on the Mountain, a natural wonder full of history; and The Acoustic Grill, a local perfect for drinks and cribbage after a day at the beach.

June 20, 2011

Best Board Games of the 1970's

A discussion about childhood toys got me thinking of 70's board games I was fond of, or obsessed with.

Cribbage - My favourite game of all time. Granny taught me, and my whole family plays and bets. I even wrote a story called "The Invisible Cribbage Players" about a travelling troupe of two who plans to amuse the masses. It's a dying game, so get out there and learn it kids.

Monopoly - The Oakburn Road gang would meet for days on end in basements and play until dinner. The boys were brutal wheelers and dealers. My favourite set was the red ones, and I always played with the top hat. Forget the new version with an electronic banker; the coloured money is what it's all about.

Operation! - Mum made me play this in my room with the door closed. The buzzing red nose and my screams when tweezers hit metal annoyed her. I bought this again as an adult, and she wouldn't play with me. The hardest to excise was a toss up between the spare ribs and the bread basket.

Trouble - Another annoying game for parents with its pop-o-matic dice bubble. Found an imitation version called Frustration - pretty much the same except you get out and pop twice with a 1, not a 6. Simple and still fun. Good revenge factor.

Stop Thief! - An electronic cops and robbers game. You follow a thief around the board through various clues given out from a batteried-operated device. Haven't seen or played this since, but I think of buying it on ebay.

Full House - 2-4 players are innkeepers who rent their 1 & 2 bdrms and suites to guests. Goal is to go from an economy to luxury joint. Not sure if it would be as fun as an adult.

Scavenger Hunt - Good memories playing this at cottage Willow 5 in Waupoos. A basic board game with players collecting strange items from the garage, attic, etc. Not a lot of strategy, so gambling may have increased its likability factor.

Life - It gave us kids back then a make believe view of adulthood and all those pleasant things such as marriage, work, and kids. I have no desire to play this game now.

Yahtzee - A good game for a foursome of family or friends. Not super competitive, more a laid back cottage game. Annoyance factor high when played with plastic cups for rolling dice.

Masterpiece - A friend owned this, and I've never seen it since. Cards with famous paintings were clipped to various amounts of money that players bid on. Each game, a different painting would be worth the coveted million.

Clue - Professor Plum in the study with the revolver. Not so great as one grows older, but a timeless classic for kids. Very Sherlock Holmes.

Mousetrap - A game I always wanted but I think my parents knew the pieces would go missing by Christmas afternoon. My cousins owned it but it never looked as cool as it did in commercials.

Battleship - You sank my battleship! I prefer the old school version although the electronic upgrade did offer some cool sound effects and insured cheating was not possible.

What were your favourite games as a kid? Are you still playing them?

June 11, 2011

F&G Writers

F&G Writers is a Toronto-based writing group that was forged in May 2010. We workshop short fiction every six weeks. Members also get together for talk-shop dinners and literary field trips.

Susan Alexander  lives in Toronto. In addition to her satirical newspaper, The Mammalian Daily , she is working on a book of short stories entitled Substitute Decisions. Check out her innovative short story site She Came to Play. Read "Cecilia" at Joyland.

Julie McArthur grew up Ottawa. She works an a nanny and freelance editor. Read "The Promise of Puppies" at Dragnet Magazine and , "Hybrid Love" at Lies With Occasional Truth.

Tavish McGregor lives and writes in Toronto.

Nadia Ragbar lives and writes in Toronto. Her non-fiction has been published in the Globe and Mail. Read her flash fiction, "RR 21" at The Glass Coin and "Wolves Using the Patio Furniture" and "The Fair" at Dragnet Magazine.

Rob Shaw is enrolled in the Creative Writing Optional Residency MFA program at the University of British Columbia. His work appears in The Dalhousie Review.

Brad Weber lives and writes in Toronto. His work has been published in The Dalhousie Review and The Toronto Quarterly.