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Monday, March 31, 2008


My readers are not alone

Picked up a drunk family at Trapper's Tavern (the old Klondike Lounge, for you locals). The family consisted of Grandpa, Grandma, and 4 intoxicated 30-year-old grandchildren.

"Take us to Denny's."

And in a flash we were on our way. For those doing the math in your heads, no, we did not have enough seatbelts in a Crown Vic for all passengers.

Denny's Restaurant is quite close to the Klondike (aka Trapper's Tavern), and we were there in a matter of minutes.

............"Why are we stopped here?"

"..........Crap. I'm sorry. I thought you said 'Denny's'..... Where did you want to go?"

"We want to go to Denny's, Dumb Ass."

".......................We are at Denny's."

"Take us through the drive through."

".......................There is no drive though at Denny's."

"F*** you! We just went through the drive through this afternoon!"

...................... (Trying to be helpful) "Perhaps you went through the drive through at 'Wendy's'?" (Which is two doors down from Denny's.)

"No. I said take us to Denny's, a$$hole! We want the f***ing Denny's drive through."

About this time everyone in the cab except Grandpa started following grandchild number one's lead and started talking rudely to me.

"How long have you been driving, Dumb Ass?" "Don't f***ing know where Denny's is, Dumb Ass?" "Since you don't know s#!t, this will be a free ride, right?" "F*** this bulls#!t, Grandpa. Let's call another cab."

(Grandpa was obviously paying.) Grandpa seemed sensible and said, "Why don't we just go eat inside?"

"F***. THAT. S#!T. GRANDPA. THIS A$$HOLE CAN TAKE US THROUGH THE DRIVE THROUGH!..... I'm too drunk to go inside."

Someone else said, "Me, too."

"Me, three." Chuckle, chuckle.

"I'd like to sit down inside," said Grandpa.

"Let's go through the drive through, Grandpa."

Intense family conversation ensued with the consensus being we should go through the drive through.

".....................Look. Denny's. Does. Not. Have. A Drive through. Wendy's is closed. The McDonalds drive through is right across the street. If you want to go through a drive through, McDonalds is the only drive through open this time of night. Would you like to go to McDonalds?"

In unison, "F*** THAT S#!T WE WANT DENNY'S!" "You gotta be kidding me!" "Grandpa, this guy is trying to rip us off."

Up to this point Grandpa seemed sensible and was the only one not calling me "Dumb Ass" so I was holding Grandpa in high regard.

Then Grandpa, who was sitting in the front seat, scowled at me and said, "Well, you don't like natives, huh? We'll give our money to a native cab driver."

I was stunned. "Look.... Denny's doesn't have a drive through. I have never seen a Denny's with a drive through. If you want, I will take you to McDonalds, which is the only drive through open this time of night."

Grandpa said, "F*** you. We'll get out here. Let's go inside." Grandpa got out and flicked me a $10 bill with contempt as a$$holes will sometimes do.

With Grandpa on their side it was over for me. I was called every curse word in the book plus "bigot" and a few other choice words as the others exited the cab.

As luck would have it, the lady who was sitting directly behind me could not find the door handle, and could not exit the cab. She fumbled in the dark for the handle. "You f***ing bastard, are you locking me in?"


"Let me out, Dumb Ass."

"The handle is right here," I said reaching around with my left hand to find the door handle. As I fumbled around for the handle behind my back she said, "See, it's not there, Dumb Ass. You won't let me get out."

(Thinking to myself: You gotta be f***ing kidding me.)

When I finally found the door handle behind my back and opened the door, she had more choice words for me.

I sat in stunned amazement at what had just happened, thinking, "No one will ever believe this in my blog."

I then called the dispatcher to clear my trip. Being me, I couldn't just clear the trip, I had to make a comment.

However, the dispatcher is a new chick who is really a quick wit.

With so much material to draw from I said the last thing that stuck in my head. "I'm clear in the Central Zone...... This chick couldn't figure out how to open the door, so she started calling me 'Dumb Ass'."

"That's great. Go pick up Mike at Shenanigan's.... Dumb Ass."

Got a good laugh. Don't think I tipped her enough that night.

Monday, March 17, 2008


Notes to self

Really. Just a reminder for myself.

Next Brimfrost try the Westmark. It is right across from the Eagan Center. Days Inn isn't bad for a cheap hotel, but the beds are too short and generally did not suit me. Woke up achy all over. If I stay at the Days Inn, bring my own pillow, and my own shampoo.

Bring fruit. Oranges, apples, maybe a couple bananas. I always forget to eat when I get caught up playing games.

Bring a case of soda. Eagan Center soda is pricey.

Bring AoS. I think the Anchorage guys would love that game.

Monday, March 10, 2008


For the first time since I can't remember...

... I had a great weekend just playing boardgames. To add icing on the cake, next weekend is the Brimfrost game convention in Anchorage. Wooohooo.

Played La Citta for the first time, I bought it 3 years ago. Played Tigris and Euphrates (my favorite game) for the first time in a year or more. Had a blast playing Rattlesnake and Zooloretto with a mixed group of kids and adults. Tried Kingsburg with hidden scoring, and must admit that this twist improves the game immensely. Played Fire and Axe for the second time (the first time since BGG.con). And I played a couple other games that evade me at the moment.

La Citta is a long out-of-print game that by every measure is a game I should love. My Geekbuddies rate it highly, and the BGG recommendations tool predicts that I should love it. I liked it. La Citta is a game of expanding your cities, all the while having to keep close tabs on your population, food, money, city improvements, and your opponents cities which may steal your population away.

I've read the rules to La Citta several times over the years, but getting my head around the game took one play and will probably take two. Implementing a solid strategy will come later. It is a solid optimization game involving a little luck, and quite a bit of tactics and strategy. I could grow to love it. Right now I'll give it an eight.

Kingsburg was a disappointment when I first played it. I had read some reviews, read the rules, and thought it sounded like a pretty fun, but light game. After playing and commiserating my disappointment I wondered if hidden scoring might put the game over the top into the realm of decent games. It did help.

Most of a player's score is easily calculated by adding up the victory points of the buildings he has built. However, the game is won or lost by the few points that are earned through other means, such as choosing the Joker or Queen, or having the most buildings at different stages of the game. Open scoring just makes this light game a little too long and a little too heavy as people eye-ball the score and try to eek out a point here and there.

Kingsburg is just too light of a game to agonize over. Hidden scoring helps immensely.

We played a couple rules wrong on Fire and Axe, but I still found this Ameritrash/Euro hybrid to be a good game. Gameplay and game aesthetics are weighted toward the Ameritrash end of the spectrum, yet the game is not burdened with randomness and player interaction is minimal. Another solid game.

Monday, March 03, 2008


Strike th-h-h-h-h-h-h-h-h-irteen! You're out!

Picked up an under-age, drunk kid (strike one) with a bad attitude (strike two) on the south side of town (strike three). He was escorted to the car (strike four) by an irate woman who clearly wanted to make sure the kid left. The kid wouldn't give me the address he wanted to go to (strike five), he would only give me a general area.

It was a fairly long trip, probably 35-40 dollars, possibly more since I didn't have an exact address. About two blocks into the trip the kid questioned the direction I was going (not normally a strike, but in this instance he was so rude that it was two additional strikes, strikes six and seven). I asked where he wanted me to go and he indicated he wanted to take the long way (strike eight).

"It's a lot longer to go that way."

"I don't care." (Strike nine)

A fair rule of thumb is that people who request the long way are not paying for their own cab. Usually it means someone on the other end is paying, but sometimes they are planning to pay with a bum check, or they just plan to refuse to pay.

"This is going to be a $40 ride, if we go the short way. It'll be more to go that way."

"Just go that way."

"You got money?"

"Of course I have money. You want to check my wallet?"


"Are you serious?!?!"

Pulling over to the side of the street. "Yeah. I need to see it."

"I need to stop at the Denali State Bank by Justa Store to get the money." (Strike ten for lying about having money).

"Why don't we stop by the Denali State bank that is right over here? It's on the short route."

"(expletives deleted)! I want to stop at Denali State Bank by Justa Store."

"But this one is on the way."

More rudeness. (Strike eleven.)

"I'll tell you what. We will stop at this Denali State Bank, you can get your cash and pay up front."

"You want me to pay in advance? I ain't paying jack s*** in advance." (Strike twelve.)

"OK. You can wait for the next cab."

"You ain't taking me?!?!"

"No. And I'm warning the next driver to check you for money. And I'm calling the other company to warn them about this address."

"What did I ever do to you, man?"

"Nothing. And I plan on keeping it that way. I'm gonna go pick up someone with money."

"Can you call me another cab?"

"Absolutely. You want one of our cabs or one from another company?"

".........Just forget it, man."

Forgotten. Remembered just enough to blog about it.


What's with the RIPs?

I was asked this question recently.

It occurred to me that I know many people who die. Primarily they are people whom I come to know through my nursing job, but a couple of the recent RIPs are people I knew through cab driving.

The last one is a little iffy, but I think I knew the kid from giving him a few cab rides in the recent past. The rest are all people who I knew fairly well. I simply decided to note their passing in order to better remember them.

Indulge me.



Aaron Smoke


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