Battery Bear Hustle

Battery Bear Hustle: Instructions for Play

It’s 1972 and your bears have been making a killing selling illegal car batteries. But now the IRS is on your case! Your only option is to evacuate the parking structure and fly away, but can you get enough bears to your UFO before President Nixon catches you?

1: Place your bears at the top of the parking structure.
2: Place the IRS agents on their Vans
3: Randomly distribute the Skateboards, Flamethrowers and Peerages by rolling two dice for each, and placing them on the corresponding parking space
4: Place President Nixon and the Lame Duck beside the board
5: Each player rolls a dice. The highest roll goes first

1: Each turn you may move your bears up to five places within the parking structure. You may move one bear five spaces, five bears one space, or any combination between.
2: Two bears may not occupy the same space without Fighting
3: You may not fight your own bears
4: A bear may move through another bear as long as the owner of the bear allows it. Otherwise a fight starts
5: When bears fight, each player rolls a die. The highest die roll wins the fight. In a draw, the attacking bear wins.
6: The losing bear is sent back to the top of the parking structure.
7: If a bear enters a space with a Skateboard, Flamethrower or Peerage they take the item and their movement ends.
8: A bear with a flamethrower rolls 2 dice when fighting
9: A bear with a skateboard may make one free move down the parking structure each turn
10: A bear with a peerage counts as two bears when entering the UFO.
11: If a bear enters a space with a disco ball, the player may roll one die and move an IRS agent up to that many spaces.
12: If an IRS agent enters a space with a bear, the bear must surrender a Flamethrower, Skateboard or Peerage. If they cannot, they are sent back to the top of the parking structure. The item they have surrendered is placed randomly on the board as during Setup.
13: If a player rolls two sixes and President Nixon is not on the board, they may replace an IRS agent of their choice with President Nixon
14: If a player rolls two sixes and President Nixon is already on the board, they may swap President Nixon’s position with that of any IRS agent
15: President Nixon is treated the same as an IRS agent, but two dice are rolled for his movement
16: If a player rolls two ones and President Nixon is on the board, replace President Nixon with the Lame Duck.
17: If a player rolls two ones and the Lame Duck is on the board, replace the Lame Duck with President Nixon.
18: The Lame Duck never moves
19: The first player to move ten bears into their UFO wins the game.

Culinary Adventures

Tried out a new Italian place on Thursday which claims to offer “geniune Roman cuisine”. It was pretty good, apart from that I ordered a side of peas and they bought me a bowl of ice cream.

And not cold ice cream, melted ice-cream. Warm, melted ice cream.

Apparently in Rome they bake a dessert and call it peas.

The Seven Wonders of the Second World War

1: The HMS Habakkuk (UK/Canada)
2: His Majesty’s Artillery Barrages, Brixton and Leyton (UK)
3: The USS George Washington and USS Theodore Roosevelt Invasion Carriers (USA)
4: The Mukhoboyka Sonic Anti-Aircraft Array (USSR)
5: The Landkreuzer P. 1400 Ratte II Super Tank (Germany)
6: The Silberadler Intercontinental Bomber (Germany)
7: The Mount Takao Grand Imperial Bunker Complex (Japan)

Where are they now?

Much has been made of the fact that this year is the tenth anniversary of the end of seminal 90’s sitcom Friends (half of which was of course set, filmed and broadcast in the 2000’s). So with that in mind I figured we’d take a look at what the cast are up to, ten years after their multi-million dollar feedbags were forcibly removed…

Jennifer Aniston continues with a comfortable  career in big screen comedies, and manages to look damn hot while doing so.

Courteny Cox has finally managed to land some post-Friends television success with Cougar Town and is engaged to some guy from Snow Patrol.

Lisa Kudrow has gone from strength to strength with guest roles on numerous TV shows, ads for computer games and a successful web series.

Matt LeBlanc hit a bit of a slump with the not-entirely successful spin off Joey but bounced back by playing a fictionalised version of himself on BBC comedy series Episodes. He also toppled Rowan Atkinson from poll position in the Star in a Reasonably Priced Car segment on Top Gear.

Rob ‘David’ Schwimmer was last reported living rough on the streets of Tallahassee Florida. He has been sighted with a crudely lettered cardboard sign indicating that he will say “We were on a break!” for loose change.

Matthew Perry is reported to have reclaimed three of his seven horcruxes and continues on his quest to cast the Earth and everyone on it into the pit of eternal flame for the greater good of his dark master. We wish him every success.

M.C. Surveyor General in the Upper House

People are currently expressing a great deal of surprise that the hip-hop term “diss” (that is to disrespect someone) first appears in the December 10th 1906 edition of Perth’s own Sunday Times.

Those of us familiar with the history of our fair state however know full well that rap was an important and influential part of Western Australian history and politics from the 1880s right up until the first world war.

Take for instance Lord John Forrest’s maiden speech to Parliament in 1890…

I’m Lord John Forrest, G.C.M.G.,
Raised in the hood of Bunbury,
With Dr John Ferguson my Pop did sail,
I learned to rhyme at the feet of Bishop Hale,
First native born son to become a surveyor,
For the Lands and Survey crew of Western Australia,
Searched the deserts for Leichhardt with Tommy Windich,
Then from Esperance to Adelaide showing Eyre he’s my bitch,
Pinned the source of the Murchison down real pretty,
Then cruised the red centre to Adelaide city…

It continues like this for several paragraphs, but they’re mostly just demands for a knighthood and/or railway and poorly worded insults leveled at John Septimus Roe (let’s not even get into the infamous East Coast/West Coast feud with Sir Henry Parkes).

The Russian Village

When I was kid I was really in to the paranormal (I still am, although I like to think I’m a lot less credulous today than I was back then). At school we had a book club where they’d hand out a catalog three or four times a year and (if you could convince your parents to fork over the cash) you could put in an order, and a couple of months later the books would arrive and get handed out. Now and then the catalog would contain books about monsters, ghosts and other “unexplained mysteries” and I’d always convince my parents to buy them for me.

In one of these books – it had a rowboat being capsized by the Loch Ness Monster on the cover – there was a story that has always stuck with me.

It was about an isolated village in Russia. Just over the hill from this village was another village that had once been run by monks, but in the middle ages there’d been an investigation by the Tsar’s troops who’d discovered that the Monks were devil worshipers and had put them all to the sword. Ever since, the village had been abandoned, and even though it was surrounded by fertile land the locals wouldn’t graze their sheep on it because it was ‘cursed’. The buildings were mostly collapsed, but the church belltower was still standing on one side of the village square, which was surrounded by stone benches.

The only people who used to go to the ruins were the local youths who’d prove how brave they were by trying to run from the top of the ruins to the bottom and then back between when the sun started to set and when the last rays left the belltower. There were all kinds of stories about what would happen to anyone who failed, but no one ever came to any harm, although no one would visit the ruins after sunset.

Now supposedly in the late 1800s a teacher named Swerts was sent to the village by the government to help “modernise” the area. He’d been brought in from Germany and was highly dismissive of the Russian peasants and their beliefs. When he learnt about the ‘cursed’ ruins, he decided that he was going to prove there was nothing to the story, and announced that he was going to spend the night there. The locals tried to talk him out of it, but he was insistent and eventually convinced some of them to assist him. They set out in the afternoon before a night of the full moon, and helped him get into the belltower by stacking up some of the benches from the square. They then hurried away, promising to come back and help him down the next morning.

When the sun came up they headed back to the ruins. They reached the square and called for Swerts, but he didn’t respond. After some nervous discussion two of the bravest men climbed up into the tower. On the top floor they found Swerts, huddled in a corner in terror with his arms wrapped around his head, weeping quietly and whimpering under his breath.

They couldn’t get any sense out of him, but they managed to get him down the tower and into the square. Here he went into hysterics, shrieking in German and apparently gesturing at the piled up benches. In the end one of the villagers had to knock him out, and they carried him back to the village.

After several weeks there was no change in Swerts’s condition, so the villagers sent a message to the authorities. A new teacher was sent out, and Swerts was sent back to Germany, where he was confined to a lunatic asylum in Cologne. No one dared to visit the ruins again, and after the Soviets came to power the site was cleared and the land put back into production.

As I said, this story stuck with me for some reason, always floating around in the back of my head. As I got older I discovered that most of the stories in the book were excitingly rewritten but exaggerated accounts of well known (and often completely debunked) ‘paranormal’ incidents, but I never found any other references to that particular one.

Then a few years back a friend of mine moved to Germany for work and ended up living just outside Bonn (which is just down the road from Cologne). I jokingly asked if he could say hi to Swerts at the local lunatic asylum for me, and in the resulting discussion ended up telling him the whole story. It turned out that one of the friends he and his wife had made was a member of the local historical society and he’d said he’d ask her if any records were available.

It turns out that there was a lunatic asylum just outside Cologne in the late 19th century, and although it was destroyed during World War II some of the records survived. Looking though these (they’d recently been digitised) she found that a teacher named Ralf Swartz was admitted to the asylum in 1882 with ‘hysterical paralysis’ after a trip to Georgia. He remained an inmate until he died of a seizure in 1907 and in all that time was completely non-communicative. He simply repeated just one phrase, over and over under his breath – Die heiligen Brüder nicht gerne auf dem Boden sitzend.

“The Holy Brothers don’t like to sit on the earth”

On Spiegeltents

People will tell you that ‘spiegel’ is Dutch for ‘mirror’, and a spiegeltent is hence called because of the mirrors used to decorate it. This is untrue.

A spiegel is a cross between a spaniel and a beagle. The breed was developed in Belgium in the late 19th century and became famous for its ease of training and ability to howl in tune. Choirs of spiegels toured Europe in tents and these ‘singing dogs’ were a major attraction of the age.

Spiegel choirs fell out a favour during the rise of fascism in the 1930s, and the last of the touring companies folded at the start of the second world war. Today only the tents remain.

(Went to the Perth Fringe Festival last night with Rebecca. We ended up seeing Face the Music, which was fantastic – highly recomended. We also saw the Spiegeltent, but without the dogs we judged it not worth paying to go in…)

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