Play a game of Monopoly in just 30 minutes? Where’s the fun in that?

Concerned, apparently, that the generation raised on smartphones and YouTube lacks the attention span to play regular Monopoly, Hasbro is coming out with a version called Monopoly Empire that’s supposed to last 30 minutes, start to finish.

I understand what Hasbro’s going for here. When I was a kid, I wasn’t a fan of the game because it took forever. I’d bail after a couple of hours, and I was never around when it ended.

But, then, a few Christmases ago, Thing 1 got a Monopoly game for Christmas. It came in a wooden box, and everything except the logo in the center of the board is retro. It was nice, as Monopoly sets go.

My wife had to work over Christmas break, so I stayed home and decided to give the game a second chance.

Thing 1 set up the board on the dining room table. We played a couple of hours that first day. We bought and developed property, went to jail and collected $200 when we passed go.

I thought we must be missing something, because neither of us were going broke, so sometime on Day 2, we checked the rules, and it wasn’t my imagination.

When you play it the right way, the winner is simply “the last player remaining in the game,” whenever that might be.

Our game lasted a week and ended in a tie, when Thing 1 went back to school and I went to work. I had a little more money than my daughter did, but neither of us had anything close to a Monopoly, which was OK.

Sometimes, the point isn’t to win. Sometimes, the point is just to play.

Before Kindles and bookmobiles, there were pack horses

I was doing some spring cleaning this weekend — OK, so I’m running about 6 months late — when I found an old, fragile copy of The Bobbsey Twins at School, published in 1913. I think I got it after my grandmother died. On the contents page, it said:


“W.P.A.” is short for Works Progress Administration, later the Works Project Administration, a federal jobs programs created in 1935 during the depths of the Great Depression.

I did a little digging and found a book called Cut Down Shin Creek: The Pack Horse Libraries of Kentucky, by Kathi Appelt and Jeanne Cannella Schmitzer. It turns out that the Pack Horse Library project of eastern Kentucky — and it was definitely a Kentucky thing — is considered one of the WPA’s most innovative programs. They say it was aimed at creating jobs for women.

Riding horses or mules, “the book women” might travel 80 miles a week up creek beds and foot paths to reach families who otherwise might not have had access to books (see picture below). The project lasted until 1943.

It’s easy these days to take books for granted.

In fact, one of the reasons we’re doing all this spring cleaning is because we have too many books. Our bookshelves are full, and there’s a growing stack of books in the floor by every bookcase and on the floor by the bed and in the closet. (There are none in the garage or attic, because it’s too humid here in Tennessee.)

If I want a book they don’t have at Barnes & Noble or the library, I’ll buy it online, and a UPS truck will deliver it a few days later. If the price is right, I’ll just download it.

I wonder what “the book women” would have thought about that.

17 things the Class of 2016 has never done, will never do or can’t remember

Here in the South, school’s about to start. Up North, classes won’t begin until after Labor Day, but students in some Southern districts go back as early as Aug. 1, meaning, I suppose, that our students will be about a month smarter than your students, so we’ve got that going for us.

Anyway, if it’s almost time for school to start, it’s almost time for Beloit College to release its annual Mindset List for this year’s incoming freshman class, the Class of 2016.

I love the Mindset List. It’s a pop culture checklist to remind professors who they’re dealing with. Last year’s list, for example, pointed out that as far as the Class of 2015 was concerned, there has always been an Internet and U.S. tax forms have always been available in Spanish. (I think Beloit’s Mindset List also helps remind professors that they’re getting old.)

What got me thinking about all this was a story I read a couple days ago about record sales. It said old albums are outselling new ones, and I wondered if that’s a generational thing, because my 12-year-old never buys albums. She gets songs on iTunes, and that got me thinking about everything else teens and tweens don’t do that my generation did.

So, No. 1 on the list: Buy an album just to get a single. During the CD era, labels didn’t release a lot of singles. If you liked a song, you bought the album. If the rest of the album sucked, you dubbed it onto cassette and traded it in.

No. 2: Trade in their old CDs. I have no data to back this up, so this is purely anecdotal, but back in the ’90s, it was pretty easy to find new CDs at the used record store. When I swing by used record stores now, it’s mostly crappy music from the ’80s and ’90s. Part of the problem, of course, is that you can’t sell old downloads.

No. 3: Sit by the radio to record their favorite songs on cassette.

No. 4: Record anything on cassette.

No. 5: Sound like a broken record. They don’t know records. Sales of vinyl albums, EPs and singles sales hit 6 million in 2011. CD sales, though, topped 242 million, while legal downloads of albums and individual songs topped 1.4 billion.

No. 6: Use a typewriter.

No. 7: Use a film camera.

No. 8. Use any kind of camera. That’s what smartphones are for. 

No. 9: Dial up the Internet.

No. 10: Look forward to hearing, “You’ve got mail!” That was an AOL thing. AOL is still around, but only about 1% of people use it for email,which is about 1% more than I would have guessed.

No. 11: Use email, period. They text.

No. 12: Pick out Mayor McCheese from a lineup. Long story (involving a bunch of lawyers and H.R. Pufnstuf), but the mayor of McDonaldland was recalled in the mid-’80s.

No. 13: Play lawn darts.

No. 14. Get a free pizza from Domino’s. It’s been 19 years since Domino’s dropped its 30-minutes-or-it’s-free guarantee because of the “public perception of reckless driving and irresponsibility.”

No. 15: Stay up late to watch some random B-movie on the late show. As far as the Class of 2016 knows, late night isn’t for cheesy movies. It’s for talk shows, news shows, sportscenters, “Seinfeld” reruns and infomercials or streaming shows on Netflix.

No. 16: Stay up late enough to watch a TV station sign off, because TV stations don’t do that anymore.

No. 17: Use an actual “clicker.” Hey, kids, back in the day, remote controls were mechanical devices that clicked! The loud clicking sound is what turned on the TV and changed the channel. If you couldn’t reach the clicker, you could just jiggle your dad’s car keys.

If you think of anything else the Class of 2016 hasn’t done, won’t do or can’t remember, let me know.