Tuesday, September 24, 2013

SnoutCast #188: Chasing the Raven (Part 1 of 2)

What was it like playing in the Ravenchase 2013 Great America Race? Rich Bragg, Dan Egnor, Wei-Hwa Huang, and Jonathan McCue tell us all about it! (You can read their daily blog posts, including photos and puzzle details, at "Bloody, Smoking, and Burning.")

You'll hear the second half of this conversation next week. Meanwhile, tell Curtis how you first met him!

[ Download mp3 - 22 MB ]

00:59 - "American"
23:39 - The End

Tell us we're wrong on the Internet! E-mail podcast@snout.org or post a comment at www.snout.org/podcast.

Music: instrumentals from "Code Monkey" and "Tom Cruise Crazy" by Jonathan Coulton

[ Subscribe to SnoutCast / iTunes link ]

Curtis DeeAnn Rich Dan Wei-Hwa Jonathan

Sunday, September 22, 2013

Puzzle Reciprocity

TL;DR: solve this video clue and get a tiny prize!*

(Famine Game peeps: find Curtis at the Friday night event, tell him the answer, and collect a physical tchotchke. Everyone else: e-mail your answer to "ZBIVRF NG FABHG QBG BET" [rot13] and receive a more intangible reward.)

ALSO: Please tell Curtis how you first met him!


This past Saturday was crazy. In a good way. My friends and my wife apparently conspired for months to plan a surprise birthday party for me--the biggest surprises were that the party (which I was expecting) happened two weeks before I thought it was scheduled, and that it was preceded by an all-day, Star Trek-themed puzzle hunt my friends had created (which I was most definitely NOT expecting). It. Was. AMAZING.

I'm still overwhelmed by all of it: the magnitude of the event they organized in secret (even as we met multiple times per week to work on other projects and for social gatherings), and the fact that people even came from out of town to join us for the big EndGame party. I'll write more about the whole experience later, and "Game Control" has also promised some wrap-up documentation. For a start, here's some of what I tweeted during the weekend.

Meanwhile, feel free to solve the modest little puzzle I put together for my party! (See the video and instructions above.) I knew there would be some puzzlers there, and I wanted to provide a structured activity people could enjoy while eating, drinking, or just being introverted. :) Twenty people picked up prizes during the party--probably over thirty percent of the guests--and that makes me very happy.

Thank you to everyone who was there on Saturday, everyone who contributed to the event from afar, and everyone who sent me well-wishes through other media. I don't actually turn forty until October first, but you've already made this the best birthday celebration I could never have imagined.

* Offer only valid if you didn't already get a prize from me on Saturday! Duh.

Do You Speak Spanish?

You do? Great! Want to tell me what this voicemail (apparently a robo-call, almost certainly spam) says? I'm just curious.

Thanks in advance! :)


Wednesday, September 18, 2013

The Famine Teams: District 12, Mining

Jasper here! This is part twelve in a twelve-part series, looking at the teams who will be playing in The Famine Game this fall!

District Twelve is home to a whole lot of miners! No, not minors, miners! People who do mining! You know, digging stuff out of the ground! Like coal, or diamonds, or ancient alien artif--oh, never mind!

Trivia question: Two of the players shown below are working together on a puzzle hunt event scheduled for 2014! Do you know who they are? Scroll to the bottom of this blog post for the answer!

12 Hangry Nerds
South Bay CA and Seattle WA


That person is wearing Google Glass! They may even have recorded part of this video #throughglass! I guess that is pretty cool, but cats don't like wearing things on our heads. I don't even like wearing things around my neck! Anyway, that training montage sure is something--all it's missing is some 1980s rock 'n' roll music! I have every confidence that Dan, Ederlyn, Francis, Richard, and Yuan will be prepared for whatever challenges await them in the Capitol!

Coeds on Fire
SF Bay Area


Hey, wait a minute! These six people are actually three couples--two of them married, and the last engaged. Now I'm just a cat, but going into a possibly life-or-death contest with your significant other seems like a terrible idea! What are Dale & Linnsey and Wei-Hwa & Trisha and Melinda & Corey thinking? Well, maybe they just love each other so much they can't bear to be separated for even a single weekend. I suppose I can respect that! Humans are weird.

And that's all the Famine Game teams!

If you have more free time, you can watch all the public Famine Game application videos, including some teams who were not selected as tributes. I feel bad for them, but on the bright side, they've got that whole weekend free to do other fun things!

Trivia answer: YUAN NIU and COREY ANDERSON are the "lead coordinators" for next year's DASH 6!


Tuesday, September 17, 2013

SnoutCast #187: Shameless Self-Promotion

Well, hello there, friend! Have you filled out Curtis' 40th Birthday Survey yet? Why not do it while you listen to this week's show? He'd really appreciate it!

[ Download mp3 - 25 MB ]

00:59 - "miscellaneous"
05:08 - a record-breaking Puzzled Pint September event in Portland, Oregon!
09:51 - Tell Curtis how you met him: snout.org/40survey
12:02 - The Octothorpean Order reveals itself on November 16th, 2013
13:55 - FREE to read (and vote for) online: Curtis' short story "Born to the Legion"
16:33 - Jasper's Famine Game team profiles
21:03 - Now on sale: Song Stories: Blaze of Glory (Kindle or paperback), featuring Curtis' short story "Don't Fence Me In"
25:45 - The End

Tell us we're wrong on the Internet! E-mail podcast@snout.org or post a comment at www.snout.org/podcast.

Music: instrumentals from "Code Monkey" and "Ikea" by Jonathan Coulton

[ Subscribe to SnoutCast / iTunes link ]

Curtis DeeAnn Jasper

Friday, September 13, 2013

tell the humans what you think of SNOUTCAST

hello... i'm TYE and i know some of you listen to the humans on their podcast every week... if you enjoy their talking... please consider rating or reviewing SNOUTCAST on the ITUNES STORE... i know they would really appreciate it...

i'll tell you how... it's so easy even a DOG could do it... OH SNAP

first try this... click on this link here...


that web page should have a blue button that says VIEW IN ITUNES... click that blue button to launch your ITUNES app... then SKIP DOWN to the DETAIL PAGE instructions below...

otherwise... if that doesn't work for you...


first... open ITUNES and click the button that takes you to the STORE... as shown below...

easy huh... next... go to PODCASTS and then type SNOUTCAST in the search box at the upper right corner of the window... look at the screenshot here if you have trouble finding it...

you should see some search results... at the bottom should be the spiffy new SNOUTCAST logo... click on that...


now you are at the DETAIL PAGE for the humans' podcast... just select RATINGS AND REVIEWS and you will be able to RATE their show... anywhere from one to five stars... or write a detailed REVIEW so other humans can know more about this show...

for example... you could tell them that they do not have enough CATS on the podcast... i know they talk about us quite a bit but we have never been featured guests... WHY IS THAT I ASK

anyway... i'm sure the humans will appreciate any feedback you would like to give on SNOUTCAST... you can also e-mail PODCAST@SNOUT.ORG if you have stuff to say to them directly... bye now


Thursday, September 12, 2013

Haven't We Met?

I've ordered some rain for tomorrow
PDX will be sunny but wet
And out of nowhere you're suddenly there
And I say, "Yeah, pardon me, have you filled out my 40th birthday survey yet?"

(with apologies to the late Kenny Rankin)

Don't worry, I'm only going to be nagging you to complete this survey for a couple more weeks. And if you're not convinced you want to participate, for whatever reason, please scroll past the form and read on.

(scroll down to see all questions)

Embed not working? Go to http://snout.org/40survey

Back in 2010, I ran a birthday art project called "37 Postcards", in which I asked people to send me postcards from their home area and tell me why they lived there. DeeAnn and I had cross-referenced a lot of city data before deciding to move to Portland; we weren't constrained by jobs or family, so we could choose to live anywhere we wanted.* I was curious why others lived where they did, and what they liked about their home areas.

I scanned in each postcard as it arrived, and you can see all of those images under the 37postcards label on this blog. I've received 59 so far--and counting! So, to coin a phrase, HUGE SUCCESS.

I've been wanting to do another "birthday ask" for a while, maybe even make it an annual tradition, but I didn't hit upon something that seemed interesting and worthwhile until now.

I have never really been sure how I appear to other people, and though I know I've changed over the years, personality-wise, I don't know if my outward appearance has altered significantly. And it's not really something people will tell you directly; very rarely do people look me in the eye and say, "I think you are _____." It's something I have to suss out indirectly, by noticing their reactions to my behavior. And I'm not very good at reading people.

So, I figured, why not just ask people about where they met me, and what their first impression of me was? Which would also capture how long we've known each other, which is interesting information, and totally quantifiable. (Even though this is a completely unscientific survey, I still like to have some hard facts.) It would be a weird question to ask out of the blue, but hey, it's my party, I'll poll if I want to.

Just to be clear: I am not fishing for compliments here. I'm very glad to see that at least a couple of people have given not-necessarily-complimentary answers, because they were honest, and that's what I want. I want to know if I seemed less than friendly when we first met. I want to know if I did something especially good or especially bad. It's all signal, and I want the feedback.

So. If you haven't completed the survey yet, it should only take a few minutes. At least take a look?


If you can, please respond by the end of this month (Monday, September 30th, 2013). Thanks in advance!

* We did limit ourselves to the continental United States, because we didn't want to risk any international quarantine issues which might prevent our cats from coming with us.


Wednesday, September 11, 2013

The Famine Teams: District 11, Agriculture

Jasper here! This is part eleven in a twelve-part series, looking at the teams who will be playing in The Famine Game this fall!

District Eleven is all about agriculture! That means growing plants and stuff! Or so I am told. Cats aren't really into gardening. We are mighty hunters! Anyway.

SF Bay Area


These impressive young men certainly seem confident! I don't know who the unfortunate orange-haired victim is, but that fellow appears to have frequent and unfortunate encounters with Daniel, Eric, Mike, Jeremy, and/or Troy.

By the way, I love watching outtakes! Don't you just love watching outtakes? Let's watch them together.


Here Be Dragons
Seattle WA, Washington DC, San Francisco CA


Boy, there sure is a lot of information packed into this one video! Not only does each team member have his or her own pangrammatic set of personal details, there's also action footage featuring other Gamers at what appears to be a Shinteki event!

At any rate, it's nice that they're so up front about their intention to be TOTAL CHEATERS. Other teams, you'd better watch your backs around Evan, Carl, Mark, Tanis, Sean, and Gaby! Their plan is so crazy, it just might work!

Next week: meet the teams from District Twelve!


Tuesday, September 10, 2013

SnoutCast #186: WARTRON Coast to Coast! (Part 2 of 2)

The info-packed, extra-long second half of our interview with Sarah Leadbeater from WarTron Boston Game Control! (LISTEN TO PART ONE)

[ Download mp3 - 30 MB ]

01:29 - (and now, the conclusion)
32:18 - The End

Tell us we're wrong on the Internet! E-mail podcast@snout.org or post a comment at www.snout.org/podcast.

Music: instrumentals from "Code Monkey" and "Skullcrusher Mountain" by Jonathan Coulton

[ Subscribe to SnoutCast / iTunes link ]

Curtis DeeAnn Sarah

Sunday, September 08, 2013

OryCon is Coming

It's now two months until OryCon 35, and DeeAnn and I are once again volunteering! We hope to see some of you lovely people at the con. (But not on Sunday. See below for details.)

DeeAnn has been acting as pre-con liaision for all the Guests of Honor (GoHs), including author Anne Bishop, artist Larry Elmore, editor Liz Gorinsky, and media GoH Matt Vancil. This seems to involve lots of e-mail, intermittent telephone calls, and making maps and gift baskets. I do my best to help where I can, and stay out of her way otherwise.

Myself, I'm running the Open Read and Critiques (ORCs) again, as I have since 2009. Here's this year's blurb:
An Open Read & Critique (ORC) is an opportunity to read the first 750 words of your short story or novel aloud to your peers and receive a Clarion-style critique of your work. Our theme is "How to Hook a Reader." All writers and genres are welcome! Look for sign-up sheets outside our meeting room starting Friday morning (first come, first served). Content should be rated PG-13 and contain no explicit sex, graphic violence, or excessive profanity. More info online at: http://35.orycon.org/activities-events/orc/
Because I can't resist tinkering with the schedule, this time around the one-hour ORC sessions will happen:
  • Friday at 2pm
  • Friday at 8pm
  • Saturday at 1pm
  • Saturday at 2pm
I'm also going to be on a panel titled "Social media, time suck or revolution" on Saturday at 11am, and then I have a writers' workshop critique session with two pros at noon. Finally, DeeAnn and I have to catch a flight to California Saturday night, because our good friend Chris is getting married in Calistoga on Sunday. I will also theoretically be doing NaNoWriMo the whole time.

So yeah, that second weekend in November is going to be pretty interesting.


Thursday, September 05, 2013

Be a Part of My 40th Birthday Project

TL;DR: Tell me how we met! :)

Back in 2010, I ran a birthday art project called "37 Postcards" which went very well. It's taken me a while to come up with a sequel, as it were, but here it is now, in the form of a short survey which should only take you a few minutes to complete!

(scroll down to see all questions)

Embed not working? Go to http://snout.org/40survey

Please respond by the end of this month (Monday, September 30th, 2013). I'll share some of the collected data on this blog the following week.


Wednesday, September 04, 2013

The Famine Teams: District 10, Livestock

Jasper here! This is part ten in a twelve-part series, looking at the teams who will be playing in The Famine Game this fall!

District Ten raises livestock! Like cows! And sheep! And... cows!

Seattle WA

No video for you, but I believe many of the people on this team help run the annual Microsoft Intern Game! I also believe it's a thing for them to make their team name into a different acronym for every event, and this time they're the "Redundant Extraneous District Ten Agrarian Prairie Enforcers!"

Golden SmokingJay
San Francisco CA, East Bay CA, Los Angeles CA



Game veterans Brent & Linda Holman (Shinteki), Jonathan McCue (2013 Ravenchase Great America Race), David Andre (Cerebellum Capital), and John Owens (Associate Professor in Electrical and Computer Engineering at UC Davis) have combined to form a Voltron-like super-team of puzzlers! And when I say Voltron, I mean lions, not vehicles. Lions are super awesome!

Next week: meet the teams from District Eleven!


Tuesday, September 03, 2013

SnoutCast #185: WARTRON Coast to Coast! (Part 1 of 2)

At long last, we get to talk about WarTron with our Boston-area counterpart, Sarah Leadbeater! Enjoy our behind-the-scenes banter, and tune in next week for the second half of this conversation. (LISTEN TO PART TWO)

[ Download mp3 - 28 MB ]

00:59 - "serialized"
29:57 - The End

Tell us we're wrong on the Internet! E-mail podcast@snout.org or post a comment at www.snout.org/podcast.

Music: instrumentals from "Code Monkey" and "The Future Soon" by Jonathan Coulton

[ Subscribe to SnoutCast / iTunes link ]

Curtis DeeAnn Sarah

Monday, September 02, 2013

Wait For It

Just so you know: tomorrow's podcast will be delayed until after our triumphant return from PAX! But we believe it will be worth the wait. :)

Check snout.org/podcast in the evening, or get our feed:
[ Subscribe to SnoutCast / iTunes link ]

Hope you're all having a relaxing and fun-filled Labor Day Weekend!

Curtis DeeAnn