Speaking Schedule Oct/Nov

  • Wednesday 5 Oct. 17:00. About Fisksätra before the 1970s housing development. Fisksätra shopping centre, HAMN project office.
  • Thursday 13 Oct. 10:00. About Bronze Age sacrificial sites. Uppsala, Engelska parken, Thunbergsvägen 3, Dept of Archaeology.
  • Monday 17 Oct. 18:30. About pseudoarchaeology. Stockholm, KTH, Lindstedtsvägen 5, lecture hall D2, Swedish Skeptics.
  • Thursday 27 Oct. 14:00. About the late-1st millennium aristocracy. Norrköping, Saltängsgatan 7, Senioruniversitetet.
  • Thursday 3 Nov. 14:30. About the new media. Kristiansand, Vestre Strandgate 7, Radisson Blue Caledonien (!) Hotel, Norwegian Archaeologists Annual Meeting.

And buy an Aardvarchaeology t-shirt or mug now! Any day now you may find yourself without any clean t-shirts or mugs!

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Boardgaming Retreat

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My buddy Oscar doesn’t like roughing it at gaming conventions, sleeping on classroom floors, eating cup noodles etc. So for two years now he’s organised civilised boardgaming weekends where he’s gotten a bunch of gamers together and booked a small hotel for us (here’s about last year’s). It’s 48 hours of gaming in good company with meals and nice rooms, all for a very reasonable off-season price. This past weekend. I played sixteen sessions of thirteen different games, as follows.

  • Innovation. Card game out of MIT, nominally about the rise of civilisations, where the cards keep interacting in novel ways.
  • Werewolf. Party game that opened our event, all 24 of us playing. Every night the werewolves eats a villager, and every day the surviving villagers lynches someone and hope it’s one of the werewolves…
  • Stone Age. Worker placement / resource management game about the transition to agriculture.
  • Macao. Resource management among Portuguese traders in 17th century Macao. Innovative resource allocation mechanism using dice and a future-turn track. You can either get small amounts of stuff soon or large amounts in the far future.
  • Ubongo. Solve tile-laying problems against the clock and collect beads strategically.
  • Hansa Teutonica. Nominally about Medieval trade in Germany, but the abstract bones of the game mechanics are much in evidence.
  • 7 Wonders. Card drafting / resource management game where you select a card from your hand, give the remainder of it to the person to the left, receive the hand of the person to your right, play the card you chose, etc. No down time for anyone even when we played it with seven people!
  • Whist. Classic trick-taking game with everyday playing cards. Another practice round for next weekend’s Regency LARP.
  • Dixit. Improvise captions to beautifully surreal paintings by Marie Cardouat. To win, make them just specific enough but not too specific.
  • Dutch Blitz. Sort cards faster than your opponents. I sucked basket balls through drinking straws at this one.
  • Brass. Resource management and route building in early industrial England.
  • Heckmeck am Bratwurmeck. Nifty dice mechanics by the great Dr. Knizia. And nice chunky mah jong-like plastic tiles. Has almost nothing at all to do with the title’s “fuss at the barbecue worm corner”.
  • Ablaze! Three semi-abstract games about forest fires played with the same cardboard hexagons and plastic markers.

All said, my favourites this time around were Innovation, Stone Age, 7 Wonders, Dixit, Brass and Heckmeck. I need to mark them as “Want to play” on Boardgame Geek.

Singer And Jowly Do Drugs On The Commuter Train

Friday was quite a day for me: wake up at 5 after a restless night, travel by air, give test lecture, get praised beyond belief, eat excellent mutton & cabbage, do very friendly interview, become optimistic, meet up with local skeptical buddy, return home. Then a metal gig headlined by Graveyard, whose stellar new album Hisingen Blues is a must for all Zeppelin fans, preceded by Top Hawk with a basso singer and Horisont as fine openers, the latter with a particularly impressive drummer and an 80s-style high-tenor singer. (All three bands also had technically brilliant lead guitarists who looked really shy and introverted.)

I caught the 00:15 commuter train home, and had an encounter that I’d like to share with you, Dear Reader.

I was reading Jane Austen’s Persuasion on my phone (in preparation for a Regency LARP two weeks from now: I’m Mr. William Elliot) when a 40ish man in a purple shirt and no coat sat down across from me. He had a clean-shaven head (except for his eyebrows), jowly cheeks and a paunch. He seemed tired and paid me no attention. Then a short guy the same age sat down next to me, immediately shook my hand and started to talk. He was short, well-dressed, wearing a stylish little hat, and had Near Eastern looks & accent. He smelled strongly of wine and spoke incoherently, alternately singing snippets of Bellman and Vreeswijk and trying to get people sitting around to join in. I put my phone in my pocket and obediently sang along on some tunes, though he didn’t know the lyrics very well. He told me he was a poet and had once been klubbmästare party-section manager at an Uppsala student’s nation, where he’d made friends with one of my colleagues.

Soon it turned out that Jowly, who mainly seemed to want to sleep, was Singer’s buddy, and the latter kept trying to get him into the conversation. Jowly wasn’t very forthcoming, but suddenly he opened his eyes and said urgently (and irrelevantly), “Cooling systems for mainframe computers! The Americans have got it all wrong! They don’t know how to solve the problem!” Here he was interrupted by some singing from his buddy, but then he got back on track and said, “The cooling, it’s my brother, you know, he’s sort of a semi-savant!”

Here came another interruption when Singer asked me if I wanted some pills. Ignoring my demurral he asked Jowly for the two he gave him before, but Jowly said he’d already taken those, and so Singer got out a pharmacy-style box of pill blisters from which he extracted two yellow/green capsules. “This is like cocaine, I promise! Strong shit! Have some!” The guy broke open a capsule and poured out a white powder onto the base of his left thumb. When I still didn’t want any, he held out his hand to Jowly, who eagerly bent forward and vacuumed the stuff up, spreading some across his cheek and upper lip. Singer snorted a capsule too and helped Jowly clean up, while I curiously took the box and read the label.

“Fluoxetine. Against anxiety and depression. One capsule daily. Prescribed for Mr. This-and-that by Dr. So-and-so.”

I didn’t know what Fluoxetine is. But the writing on the box also informed me that the drug was an SSRI, a selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor. That made me laugh a little. The substance is in fact more widely known as Prozac. It will just maybe lighten your flagging mood and dampen its swing amplitude somewhat if you take it regularly for months, though your mileage may vary considerably. And I’m pretty sure that regardless if you eat it or snort it, it isn’t psychoactive at all in the short term. These bozos thought they were getting high off of Singer’s physician-prescribed mild antidepressants, that don’t even carry the “don’t drive” triangle.

When we reached my stop, Singer was loudly and happily singing the “raï-rattiratti-raïraïraï-raïraï” kid’s choir chorus from one of Cornelis Vreeswijk’s hits along with some teens two boxes over, and Jowly was slumped in his seat. As I got up, Singer shook my hand again and said it had been a pleasure.