Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Dwile Flonking: More Fun With Beer

In 1967, an ancient pub game was brought back into the light, complete with the discovery of an old text—the Wavenly Rules of 1585—to bolster its legitimacy. Dwile flonking had been played since the 16th century at least, and now was at last returned to its rightful place among the regular pub games of Suffolk.

Except that it was all hoax. The game was invented in 1967 in an attempt to draw attention to a village fete in Beccles, Suffolk. Creators Andrew Leverett and Bob Devereux created the imaginary “Wavenly Rules” with plenty of pseudo-old-English terms and traditions to give it a veneer of age. Despite these dodgey origins, dwile flonking actually caught on and became an actual tradition. After more than 40 years of continuous play it can be considered “aged” if not “ancient.”

In dwile flonking, a group of festive drunks link arms and dance in a circle to traditional music. At the center of the circle is a bucket of beer. Inside the bucket is a beer-drenched rag and a stick. Outside the bucket is another drunk, called the flonker. The circle begins moving counter-clockwise at the referee’s command of “Here y’is t’gether,” while the flonker turns in the opposite direction. The flonker lifts up the dripping rag with his stick and flings it at the circle, attempting to nail someone with several ounces of warm, flat beer.

Different hits score different points. A head shot (or “wonton”) is worth three points, while a torso hit (or “morther”) is worth two and a leg (or “ripper”) is worth one. A flonker gets two or three tries, but if he misses all three he has to gulp a pot of ale in the time it takes to pass the dwile all the way around the circle. If he can’t finish in time, he looses a point.

The game has plenty of colorful terminology to go with it. The stick is called a “driveller,” or sometimes a “swadger” (provided by a “swadge-coper” sold by the “tardwainer’s nard”). The circle is called a “girter” and the referee is a “jobanowl.” Other people call the whole thing “nurdling” rather than “dwile flonking.” Of course, there is a Waveney Valley Dwile Flonking Association, as well as competitions.

You can watch a Pathe News reel about dwile flonking here, and a more recent video below.

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

The iPhone Not-Quite-5

By now, you're probably aware that the Big Apple Announcement was not an iPhone 5, but an iPhone 4S. That "S" stands for, "So ... that's all you got for me?"

What's this mean for gamers? It means an A5 chip, same as the iPad 2, which adds up to a significant performance bump for games. 

The bigger news was the central role played by Siri (click this link to watch the video of it in action) in the presentation. Siri is voice recognition software, and it isn't new at all. Apple bought Siri and is integrating an improved version of it right into the OS. You can already use voice commands to do searches and the like, but the new Siri integration seems to take that the next logical step, with almost complete voice automation. It can read your emails aloud in that creepy GlaDOS voice, and then let you dictate a reply. If I asked it to open the pod bay doors, do you think it would?

It's certainly a more robust integration of voice recognition, but hardly the stuff of Apple's legendary press conferences. On the other hand, it was probably a smart move not to call it an iPhone 5, because if they did people would say, "Well, really, this doesn't feel like a generational upgrade, more like an iPhone 4 with a random letter after it."

Skynet goes online in 5...4...3...2...

Monday, October 3, 2011

The Game of Trussing

We found this one in the American Boy's Book of Sports and Games (Dick & Fitzgerald, 1864), and thought it sounded like the kind of weird fun kids just don't do anymore, probably for a good reason. (Although I think we may try it at a Cub Scout event.) I decided to call it by its alternate name rather than its original name ("cock fighting") for obvious reasons. The prose of the Boy's Book is worth quoting directly:
This game, which is productive fun, is a trial of skill between two players. It is also called "trussing," The players are made to sit down on the ground, and draw their legs up, clasping the hands together below the knees. A stick is then passed under the knees, and over the elbows of each player, as shown in the cut; and then the two players, being placed face to face, try to overbalance each other, by pushing with the points of their toes. Of course, the hands may not be unclasped; and when a combatant rolls over, he lies quite helpless, until set up again by the spectators, or by his backers. The cock who overturns his adversary twice out of three times is considered to have won the fight. 
The interesting part about this description, by some unknown and long forgotten writer (only the illustrators and the engraver are named), is the notion of "backers". Was there some kind of underground Trussing Syndicate?