May 10th, 2003


More trip anecdotes to follow soon

1) Puzzle people: a useful and interesting guy (sadly off-LJ) called Michael Colao who organised a puzzle hunt at MayCon points to Intercoastal Altercations III, a primarily web-based three-hour puzzle hunt for teams of 3-6 people. Teams are recommended to gather together in the same place, but can play remotely with sufficiently good communication. It's on this Sunday, but it's scheduled to take place between 7 and 10 in the evening Eastern time, which is 4 to 7 Pacific and a rather inconvenient 12 to 15 o'clock UK time. If there's anyone UK-based who's interested and doesn't have work on Monday - or, Toothbrush-stylee, just doesn't mind getting the sack - then contact me soonest accordingly. Overseas folks are also welcome - after all, we're going to be a team operating remotely however we work this - but might want to try to find a team who are all about to physically meet to play first. Last year's hunt is on the web site and looks mighty fine to me.

2) There was some good-natured slashy humour on Coronation Street on Wednesday. I approved. Collapse )

3) I was pleased to see a far stronger shift towards coalition politics in the recent Scottish Assembly elections with a number of smaller parties picking up stray seats on the regional top-up lists. There must be few finer callings in life than being your party's only member in a government and proudly bearing your entire party's weight on your shoulders. Very entertaining to see a member of the Scottish Socialist Party playing silly buggers when swearing the oath and Presiding Officer Sir David Steel's mild-mannered reaction. Now such political protest misbehaviour has a long tradition; addedentry points to wrestler-politican The Great Sasuke (pronounced more like Susky, to rhyme with husky) following in the Antonio Inoki tradition, except without fighting Muhammad Ali (yes, really). Now did Sir David Steel, knowing that only the next day he would be replaced in his job, choose to give a glorious example of speakerly authority by smacking Colin Fox upside the head with a steel chair™? No, he did not. Damn Liberal.

4) As is at least frequent, the BBC's best comedy writers seem to be those writing for the sports news web site. Some gloriously laboured puns to be had in "The Blair Pitch Project" and "Sheep National fleeces bookies".

5) Odd dream last night in which I received a copy of Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix. I didn't actually read it, principally because I was most put off by the fact that there was no secret made of the fact that it wasn't actually written by JKR. The writer's name wasn't anyone famous and wasn't even anyone whose name I knew from fanfic. (Of course, many fanfic authors' real names are secret, but if yours has three syllables and ends in STONE, for that's all I can remember, then bounce and claim now.) The mildly cool thing was that the author's name was printed in special inks on the side of the pages which you could only see by looking at the thickness of the book. All the same, it meant that I didn't want to read OotP so much. Bloody dream.

Oh, and there was a not-so-pleasant dream the other night about I'm A Celebrity Get Me Out Of Here! too, but it did have Emma "Baby Spice" Bunton therein which was partial compensation.

6) Sunderland AFC are now absolutely certain to be relegated tomorrow, finishing bottom of the league with fourteen (? I lose track) losses in a row and fewer points than any other team in the ten years of the Premiership. Collapse )

7) URL burst:
  • Current Music
    R.O.C - (Dis)count us in (edit)

History Today

(Puzzle folks: join our Intercoastal Altercations online puzzle hunt team. Play online from wherever you live. Tomorrow night, 7-10pm Eastern, 4-7pm Pacific, midnight-3am British. Contact me ASAP.) Oh, bugger. It helps if you get the evening right. The event takes place tonight, not tomorrow night, and we have not got our act together. Whoops. We call ourselves puzzle fans, too... *facepalms*

I've just enjoyed a bit of research for a post to the newsgroup. There's a cute story behind it.

The thread is about trying to adapt board games for unusual numbers of players. One person suggested a chess variant for 32, "Committee Chess", and David Brain followed up with
The BBC once held a chess game between Jon Speelman and the television audience, who rang in to suggest the next move for White after each move by Black (Speelman). The most popular move was accepted, regardless of how good it actually was. IIRC Speelman did manage to win the game, but it was fairly close.

Probably one of the earliest examples of telephone voting too (mid-1980s I think.)
This brought back a distinct and happy memory for me. My goal was to try to date the event.

I've kept a handwritten diary before this LiveJournal, starting on Christmas Day 1989 and carrying on until last July. I kept entries extremely regularly for the first six years; a thousand entries before Christmas Day 1992, a second thousand before Christmas Day 1995 and a considerably more sporadic 737 since then. (All numbered, of course. Oh yes. After all, once you start a tradition as a 14-year-old and keep it going for a few years, it's hard to break.) In the LJ era I have only made factual entries like Christmas card lists, but I might make further in the future. Besides, my LJ is at least as (not particularly) worthy of record as anything I ever wrote at the time; I must sort out some sort of hard record lest the LiveJournal empire ever collapse horribly. (Does the ljdownload script come recommended?)

Now I do recall a mention of this in my diary at the time, so I dived through my own archives for further information. My "top TV show" charts (inevitable, really!) of 10th December 1990 included the show, but my charts of September 1990 didn't; accordingly, interpolating between the two, we discover this entry:

Fri 7th/Sat 8th Dec (8) E322 X-17
Fun, happy days! maybe not. Had improper tie at
School on Friday but got away with it. Talked Crime!
Saw stormy, "wind chil -12" weather- & kept indoors.
It didn't even snow. But it did knacker TV reception             chess.
0120 - 2000ish - just after move 34 of YOUR MOVE - well skill inter^active.
So this dates the show as December 1990, and suggests that it may have been "well skill", which from context is a good thing; three days later, I would declare it to have been the fifth best TV show ever.

With regards to the style, I submit in my defence that I would only have been 15 at the time and I was most definitely not writing for subsequent publication. (It's the old "journal as performance art" thing. I dread to think what I might have produced for the world had LiveJournal been available at the time.) Please temper your judgement accordingly. Game historians might also appreciate the passing reference to then-popular play-by-mail game "It's A Crime!", also strongly indicative of the early '90s.

Now the really cool thing we can do now that we have a date is cross-reference it to the USENET archives at, né DejaNews, in order to get some contemperaneous comment on the event. From at the time, we have a summary of the entire event, some reasonably full commentary on the game move by move (written by the guy who still does the best UK National Lottery site) and a rumour from behind the scenes. I doubt there is much more information about this little footnote in both chess and interactive TV on the 'net that I haven't covered.

This is where the post ends. (In fact, the post has less explanation than this.) However, because your reading this indicates you are at least nominally interested in me, I can be a little more self-indulgent here.

Only about thirty of you will understand half the references, but I can't leave it hanging like this; here is my list of Collapse )

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  • Current Music
    Recordings of "The Mary Whitehouse Experience" from 1990 R1