Memorable Moments from The 1999 Game
In the end, the Purple Team manages only a disappointing fifth place
out of a twelve teams. We've still managed to fulfill our overall goal:
collecting fun stories. It's impossible to stay awake for twenty-four
hours straight, driving around in a van with friends, playing with
high-tech toys, banging your heads against impossible clues, sprinting
through crowded public spaces, sneaking through abandoned buildings,
asking complete strangers ridiculous questions—and not have fun.
Here are some quotes and situations we particularly enjoyed in this
- "Embrace the hate." — Bruce and Jeff's take on how to
drive in NYC
- "Jus' don' lean on it." — Hardware store salesman
with heavy New York accent, to Bruce, in regards to a cheap wrench
Bruce was considering purchasing. Bruce was deliberating between a
very expensive wrench and a much cheaper one. Since Bruce couldn't
foresee any need to really "lean" on a wrench, he bought the
cheap one. Barely an hour after buying it, we directly tested the
wrench's strength ourselves by whacking on it repeatedly with a
hammer. We were trying to loosen some stubborn nuts. One of us
eventually realized that we were trying to loosen the nuts in the
- "'Pickle' doesn't really rhyme with 'vertical'." — Bruce
complaining about a mime's charades tactics
- Scaling an indoor climbing wall in street clothes, and discovering
that, under the strain of scaling an indoor climbing wall, casual
linen shorts can easily tear.
- Listening to the debate over whether the location of the next clue
is worth $500. A SoHo gallery owner told Bruce he would reveal the
location of the next clue for this amount, and we were sorely tempted.
- Performing field repairs on Jan's torn shorts with red duct tape
- "How do you spell Mr. Scorpion's name?" — Skeptical
hotel operator. By a small miracle, when I'd asked a telephone
directory service operator for "the hotel at the World Trade
Center", they put me through to the Marriott World Trade Center,
which turned out to be the correct hotel. We were trying to find a
room registered to a "Mr. Scorpion", and were extremely
doubtful we would actually find such a person. To our surprise (and
the surprise of the Marriott hotel operator), there indeed was a
person registered under this name at the hotel.
- "I thought you all were the A Team!" — visibly impressed
World Trade Center security guard, taking notice of us, our radios,
and our unmarked van full of equipment.
- Hearing how Jeff opened a package at the Marriott World Trade Center
and found Bruce's clothes inside. This was Game Control's subtle way
of letting us know that Bruce had been kidnapped.
- The surprise on a parking lot operator's face after I'd just given
him the key to the van, as I hopped right back in the van and fired up
the engine with one of our many spare keys. The parking lot operator
was evidently used to treating an individual car key as a unique
enabling device for the corresponding vehicle, and hence believed
that, if he held the key, a car couldn't be driven away. To his
relief, I didn't drive away, but I sure did make him nervous.
- "Umm... I'm full." — Bruce, when asked if he wanted a
sandwich after being
sprung from his captivity at Lucky Cheng's ("New York's Premier
Drag Queen Dance Club"), having spent the past two hours next to
a buffet table groaning under the weight of catered food.
- Thane Plambeck finding a box marked "Poison" near the
designated clue location at Columbia University, and taking the empty
rat trap he found inside, only to realize that it was a real rat trap
for killing real rats.
- "Is 'Thane Plambeck' an anagram for something?" — Member
of another team, upon hearing Thane's name.
- Triumphantly racing past the White team van on the highway, only to
be stopped at a toll booth a minute later while the White team cruised
through the EZ Pass lane.
- Having Thane recognize a page of writing as the Unibomber manifesto,
and successfully downloading the full text over the wireless web link,
allowing us to bypass the tedium of reading microfiche.
- "Must... stay... awake.... Must... stay... frosty." —
Jan, desperately trying to snap back to full awareness at 7:00 am
Sunday. On Team Purple, the term "frosty" refers to the
state of being awake, alert, and otherwise capable of participating in
- "Mmm... lamb." — Jeff, getting hungry Sunday morning,
upon hearing Roger read a verse from the Book of Revelations that
includes the word "lamb".
Some teams ran into a little more adventure than they anticipated,
triggering crises at the World Trade Center and Columbus University. These
escapades were written up in articles by the New
York Times and the Seattle
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