Teesside Snog Monster (jiggery_pokery) wrote,
Teesside Snog Monster
jiggery_pokery

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There are mooooooooore questions than answers

I've not yet done the "ask me anything" meme LJ viral concept, partly for no particularly better reason than "because everybody else does it" and partly because I'd hope that people felt happy to ask me anything at any time. Nevertheless, I can see the appeal, I like the concept and I'm interested in the principle. Accordingly, here are two similar virals which are twists on the theme which pose improvements as far as I'm concerned.

While this was mentioned yesterday, slowfox's collaborative meme really is a cracker. The idea is that instead of it being a list of questions for people to answer with no indication given to the questions' origin, each person answering the list will have contributed one question to it themselves. It's a giant communal "Ask me anything" and the commonality makes it much cooler. The fact that it's the people asking who will answer gives it a sense of sharing, of common purpose and almost of honour. Still time to get a question in if you like; there are some very interesting ones there already.

The other vaguely similar survey-activity which is doing the rounds - and which, I think, will spread like absolute wildfire - is the Interviews game. Here are the rules.
If you want me to interview you, post a comment which includes such a request. I'll respond with questions for you to take back to your own journal and answer as a post. Of course, they'll be different for each person since this is an interview and not a general survey. At the bottom of your post, after answering my questions, you then ask if anyone wants to be interviewed by you. So now it becomes your turn; in the comments, you ask them any questions you have for them to take back to their journals and answer. Repeat ad nauseam.
The reason why I am so taken by this is that it becomes effectively a co-operative exercise between questioner and questionee to get some interesting tales out, possibly ones which might not otherwise see the light of day. It's also very much about personal attention - as questioner, you have a responsibility to come up with good questions and to pay attention to your subject. Seems to me to be the epitome of LJ surveys discovered so far, really.

Being what is technically referred to as a Greedy Bugger, I asked two people to set me five questions each. Questions and answers within.

hawkida asked:

1. What does "geek" mean to you?

It means gags from computer magazines from 10 or 15 years ago. It means self-reference and arbitrary complexity just for the fun of it. It means specialisation rather than generalisation. It means gadgets which have little practical advantage over past technology. It means thinking about things far more deeply than could be considered reasonable. It means ascribing significance to places and people and things which most people wouldn't. It means not worrying about some majority-established norms. It means someone who bites heads off chickens. (No, that's the other sort of geek.) It means that you should think of the emotional baggage which accompanies a label or a counter-culture. It means nothing really more (or less) rebellious or outrageous in practice than being a biker or a devoted fan of a particular type of music. It means a way to establish commonality, to join a club. It means another way to define yourself.

2. Have you been on any gameshows apart from 100%? Which (or why not)?

I was one of the children who gave definitions of words on "Child's Play" in the early 1980s, at the age of about 7 or 8. As a contestant, my sole experience has been as one of the 100 contestants on each of three episodes of the second series of Whittle hosted by Tim Vine in 1997, winning a total of £7.14 - one thirty-fifth share of the show's prize of a quarter of a thousand pounds. The reason for the latter was that it was being taped in Maidstone and a friend who lived there, who appeared with me at the same time and who had a very similar sense of humour, provided me with somewhere to stay. I haven't since seen another show that I'd like to appear on, other than that ericklendl and I made a (slightly half-hearted) unsuccessful attempt to appear on the new incarnation of Treasure Hunt, not least because it seemed to offer at least an easy £600. The next game show that I apply for will feature a game so spectacular, intricate and interesting that there is no way for it to be played other than as a game show on television.

3. "Could care less" or "Couldn't care less"? How pedantic are you?

It varies. :-) When I feel the subject is important - for instance, in co-operative projects such as work - I try to be as precise as possible, which can often be interpreted as being pedantic. When the subject matter clearly isn't so life-or-death, though, I tend only to be pedantic if I regard that the target audience will find my pedantry to be amusing. The example you quote, though, which refers to my use of "could care less" in my bio to indicate that I could care less as opposed to couldn't care less, refers to a modern grammatical tic of American slang which peeves me unduly. On three occasions, when I have been confronted with an American whose senses of humour and intelligence I respect and who clearly used "could care less" out of nothing other than carelessness, I have playfully ranted at their imprecision. The natural evolution of language and slang is a reasonable thing and the tradition of sarcastic comments where the opposite meaning was intended is well-established, but other than that, missing "not" from sentences is as irrational and counter-intuitive a trait as I can imagine.

4. Who is the person (other than family) that you have known and stayed in touch with for the longest?

Roger ("Roj") Littlefair, who lives 18 houses down the road. I met him fairly soon after we arrived in Middlesbrough when I was aged seven; I don't remain in contact with anyone from our previous home in Tanfield Lea. The inspiration for our friendship was our similar age (he is seven months older - so a year ahead at primary school, but even not unreasonably distant when you're as young as we were) and a reasonable degree of physical resemblance in terms of hair colour, facial shape and similar (NHS!) children's spectacles. We had similar interests in mathematics and developed reasonably similar interests in computer games up until about 16 or so. Our contact became much more infrequent from university onwards; now he is a Quantity Surveyor in Newcastle with a family of his own. However, we still touch base with each other every month or two, if only for half an hour's conversation while walking his dog or similar. He's doing well and I'm pleased for him. (He has this LJ's URL, though I don't think he's ever looked at it.)

5. What would you like to be remembered for?

Creating something which stood the test of time; what it actually is matters very little. My book is set to be little more than an ISBN in a few months, the articles I have written aren't regarded as classics and I don't believe I've yet invented a game which has been played even once solely by people who I don't know. Nevertheless, it might yet be something as small as an administrative procedure, a piece of rubric, an instructional document, a concept or a tradition which survives long after I depart. Just so long as it's something constructive rather than destructive - I wouldn't like to be remembered for the famous Dickson Massacre of 2047 - then I don't mind too much what it is.

lnr asked:

1. What's your favourite journey? An individual trip you made one time maybe, or one you do every day, or anything in between.

One I've made possibly ten times and always enjoyed is to the twice-a-year "StabCon" board games convention in Manchester. The TransPennine Express train goes directly from Middlesbrough to Manchester Picadilly and has the most attractive, comfortable, convenient rolling stock to call at our station and the journey itself is pleasant without being too long (about 2½ hours). The arrival at Manchester is at Picadilly station, which is airy and attractive, and the walk to Picadilly Gardens always has a wonderful sort of nervous excitement about the weekend to follow. Then round the square (which used to be a big public garden, though alas is being transformed into flats) and take the forty-whatever bus down the Curry Mile to a particular Hall of Residence. Never as much fun in reverse, but always a lot of pleasant anticipation attached.

Honourable mention: out of chrisvenus's room at Keble College through the window, down the Lamb and Flag passage doing a somersault over the cyclist-slowing bars (which may not be there any more?) and doing the Monkees walk across St. Giles to get to Houssain's kebab van. That's the journey with the happiest, studentiest memories attached, as much for the peculiarities and the company associated as for the locations involved.

2. If you were to have a dinner party who would you invite and what would you cook and why? If you really can't cook then what would you ask me to cook if I was throwing the party?

There are lots of ways to approach this question, from the pragmatic to the fantastic. The fantastic strikes me as most fun. My A-list wish list, in no particular order: J. K. Rowling, Stephen Fry, Johnny Ball, Mike Myers, Carol Vorderman, Dan Glimne, Sir Clive Sinclair, Tony Blair, Alex Lovell, Richard Branson, Nelson Mandela, Dean Kamen, Tanni Grey-Thompson, Demis Hassabis, Gyles Brandreth, Floella Benjamin, Sir Alex Ferguson, brad, Evan Davies, Roger Black, Alicia Silverstone, Jacques Antoine, Tim Vine, Danny Baker, Dr. Jocelyn Elders, John McCririck and about two-thirds of my Friends list. Michael Buffer to act as toastmaster. (Hmm - no musicians. Not deliberate.) Meal: lots of small courses, lots of very familiar food (including roast beef and yorkshire puddings, pizza, pasta, curry, noodles, finger buffet, soup, salad, a fajita each and several desserts) . Given that you and I will be enjoying the party, could we get Jamie Oliver to cook that night? How about Delia Smith, is she doing anything? Nigella? Ainsley? Can we just get food in from the Kurdish place in town?

3. What was the last game you played that really made you go "wow!"? At the gameplay or a concept or the interaction of the players in one particular instance or whatever.

I love this question! Tanya Fox and I played in the "Blank" tournament at MSO Cambridge. In the finals, we did spectacularly, disgustingly well, scoring something like 330+ points between us in one of the three rounds, when the second-placed pair scored about that over the three rounds together. We couldn't stop laughing about how well we happened to do for about a minute. That was one particular playing, a particular instance of a game that was well out of the ordinary. In the same vein, there was a particularly silly instance of The Chairman's Game at a friend's housecon in about March with a couple of gags that will last long in the memory. It was played with four decks of cards, one of which had come from the host's mother's visit to an Ann Summers party because she didn't want to buy nothing, she didn't see anything else she wanted to buy and she knew her son collected packs of cards. That wasn't the only reason why it was a memorable game, but it got us off to a particularly silly start.

However, as for games in general, the last new board game which really did a lot for me was Kohle, Kie$ and Knete, being reprinted in English this year as I'm The Boss! after author Sid Sackson's death. Given that I discovered that in (I think) March 2000, it's been a slightly barren patch for breathtaking new board games recently. Computer games: I suppose it must be hearing mention of Rez + Trance Vibrator (never enough links to that and it never gets work-safe) late last year. Role-playing: nothing on the recent horizon. Game shows: the last good wow came from hearing about the concept of The Mole and seeing the games they played in it. Game concepts: I'm still really taken by the potential of (my, ahem...) I'd Like To.... I suppose the last of these is the single most recent new game to excite and intrigue me.

4. Who was the last person you spoke to, and who would you most like to be able to speak to now, if you could pick anyone still alive? What about dead?

Disinterestingly enough, my father, discussing a possible trip out for dinner tomorrow to celebrate Mother's birthday. Second part: very hard indeed to know how to approach this. I'm not sure whether I would benefit more from talking to a celebrity or to a personal friend. If the former, one of my dinner party guests; Dean Kamen would probably have the most to teach me, Nelson Mandela would probably be the most inspiring and Tim Vine would probably be the most fun. All told, I think that I'd pick J. K. Rowling if I could actually be sure of getting answers out of her. :-) In terms of personal contacts, probably dancingrain. JKR or dancingrain? Now that's actually a tricky one. :-)

Someone dead: it'd be nice to speak to Fermat, just so we could know whether there's something much more simple that we've all missed. Presumably there isn't, but the world would be able to release its held breath by knowing once and for all. (I am far more unhappy with my answers to this question than to any of the others.)

5. Do you have interesting dreams? Do they stay with you afterwards or fade away? Can you tell me a recent one, or one which was particularly vivid?

Not very often, but once every few months I will go through a patch of two or three interesting, memorable ones in a week. In fact, there's one I've written about but not yet told you about. It must date from about four weeks ago, shortly after my trip to see j4 and company and MSO Cambridge. I have a suspicion I was saving it up for when I talk about the Millionaire Moments Tarrant WWTBAM? autobiography (£3 from remainder shops) and WWTBAM? in general. However, I haven't got round to it, so here's a good place to reuse the dream instead.
I was travelling back home on a train from London, sitting in a standard class carriage that was next to a first class one. Suddenly I recognise a familiar voice; I look round and get confirmation that it is that of Chris Tarrant, the host of the British original version of Who Wants To Be A Millionaire?. I have a copy of Millionaire Moments as described above in my bag; at a convenient gap in the conversation, I ask him if he would be kind enough to sign it. He does. Unfortunately, the tile page already has a lot of comments on it already and he writes a complicated multi-part autograph, mostly over parts which are signed already. I ask him a number of questions; mostly he seems happy to answer them, but eventually I ask a perfectly innocent question which offends him and he gets up and leaves.

A little later he walks back into the carriage, sitting a few seats away from me, and gets into a discussion with other people about how the French language spoken by the population of France is radically different from that learnt at school. He asks for volunteers and I stick my hand up. He speaks French very quickly which I cannot understand, but I reply generic, sensible French (something like "Excuse me, sir, it has been several years since I have spoken French and I cannot understand you - please could you repeat that a little more slowly?") with a big smile on my face. Eventually I get the impression that he approves and he comes back over to sit near me again.

I dig three more copies of Millionaire Moments out of my case (which, in the dream, I had purchased to send to other people) and ask if he will sign them; he slightly reluctantly acquiesces. (I get the impression that he always does almost all his interactions with the public slightly reluctantly, by way of a gimmick.) I get the first two signed for lambertman and LJ not-user David Hammett and am getting the third (a hardback, though again the title page has been written on already) signed for LJ not-user Matt Ottinger. I keep asking him questions about the US version of the show, partly because I want to know the answers and partly because I want to impress him by asking different questions to the ones he must always be asked.

(Oh yes, the train is pulling down a fairly sharp hill into a train station. From the road signs around it looks like we'll be arriving in Scarborough, which would be a very unusual route for a train journey home. However, it turns out we've arrived in Aberystwyth.)

Unfortunately his pen falls on the floor and I reach down to pick it up. I see that he is wearing socks without shoes. In a fit of inconsideration, I experimentally tickle his feet very gently. He stops the autograph immediately, stands up, cusses me and the rest of the carriage out and leaves. I wake up, a little hurt. Stupid dream.
Hugely cool! Many thanks to both hawkida and lnr for some very fine, fun things to think and write about; I hope you feel the answers were worthy of your questions.

If any of you would care to submit yourselves to five questions from me, please reply forthwith and allow me 24 hours to set my probes on you. ;-)
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