Miss Flame in the Bedroom with the Shoe: 4 Board Games that Changed With The Culture

iStock.com/martince2
iStock.com/martince2

Plenty of board games have debuted special editions, integrated electronics (who wants to roll dice anymore?), and upgraded to fancy carved pieces. But here are four classic games that had to change their rules just to stay relevant in the culture around them.

1. The Game of Life

the board game Life
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Unsurprisingly, the quintessential American culture game has gone through quite a few changes to keep up with American culture. From the first printing of the modern version in 1960, the dollar amounts have gone up in each new edition to keep track with inflation (it just wouldn't make sense to keep paying $40,000 for a mansion). In keeping with the rising cost of education, the game's college debt has increased from $40,000 in the 1992 edition to $100,000 today. The game has also added do-gooder spaces and replaced the original "poor farm" ending with a retirement option. Even the game piece has changed—in 1980, the vehicle was switched from a convertible to a mini-van to reflect the cars families were really driving.

2. Scrabble

Scrabble tiles on the board
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Scrabble's official dictionaries have seen several changes to adapt to evolving language. New editions have integrated slang words, like a 2011 update to Collins Official Scrabble Words (the official list for British players) that added words like "grrl," "thang" and "blingy." In another high-profile incident, complaints from interest groups led to authors of the American counterpart, The Official Scrabble Player's Dictionary to remove nearly 200 offensive words from its 1996 edition, including fatso, fart, gringo, and some four-letter curses. Eventually the words were allowed back in for official tournament lists, but were removed in the dictionaries for school and club use.

But nothing will compare to the purist outrage felt in 2010 when Mattel announced that it was updating Scrabble to allow for (gasp!) proper nouns in a bid to expand the game's popularity. The rules were actually for a spinoff game called Scrabble Trickster and Mattel said the original would remain capitalization-free.

3. Monopoly

British version of the board game Monopoly
iStock.com/Marco Rosario Venturini Autieri

When the British company Waddingtons took up the American Monopoly, they had to make some obvious changes. The locations were all replaced with London streets and properties and the dollars were swapped out for British pounds. But one of the more interesting changes was also one of the more subtle—the normal income tax square was replaced with flat tax (in the U.S. version, you can pay either 10 percent of your holdings or a $200 fee) and the luxury tax was replaced with a higher "super tax" to align with actual British tax codes.

4. Clue

Cards for the board game Clue
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In its original patented form, Clue, or Cluedo, actually had 10 characters, nine weapons and 11 rooms, far more than made the final cut. But international editions have made some unusual changes to the game, including some unusual choices of weapons. The Japanese version, for example, replaces the wrench, candlestick, and lead pipe with an iron, a trunk and, most suspiciously, a shoe (check out some of the game cards here). A Spanish version of the game not only changes the host's name from Mr. Boddy to Dr. Lemon, but also switches the rooms in his manor around to include a bedroom, solving the age-old question of where anybody slept. And the character of Miss Scarlet has been renamed in several international editions, largely owing to "scarlet woman" being slang for prostitute. In Greece, she's known as "Ms. Flame" and in a Spanish version she's identified as "Senorita Amapola," or "Ms. Poppy."

This piece first ran in 2012.

5 Hilarious Discoveries from the 2019 Ig Nobel Prize Winners

andriano_cz/iStock via Getty Images
andriano_cz/iStock via Getty Images

Each September, the Ig Nobel Prizes (a play on the word ignoble) are given out to scientists who have wowed the world with their eccentric, imaginative achievements. Though the experiments are usually scientifically sound and the results are sometimes truly illuminating, that doesn’t make them any less hilarious. From postal workers’ scrotal temperatures to cube-shaped poop, here are our top five takeaways from this year’s award-winning studies.

1. Left and right scrota often differ in temperature, whether you’re naked or not.

Roger Mieusset and Bourras Bengoudifa were awarded the anatomy prize for testing the scrotum temperatures in clothed and naked men in various positions. They found that in some postal workers, bus drivers, and other clothed civilians, the left scrotum is warmer than the right, while in some naked civilians, the opposite is true. They suggest that this discrepancy may contribute to asymmetry in the shape and size of male external genitalia.

2. 5-year-old children produce about half a liter of saliva per day.

Shigeru Watanabe and his team nabbed the chemistry prize for tracking the eating and sleeping habits of 15 boys and 15 girls to discover that, regardless of gender, they each produce about 500 milliliters of spit per day. Children have lower salivary flow rates than adults, and they also sleep longer (we produce virtually no saliva when we sleep), so it seems like they may generate much less saliva than adults. However, since children also spend more time eating than adults (when the most saliva is produced), the average daily levels are about even—at least, according to one of Watanabe’s previous studies on adult saliva.

3. Scratching an ankle itch feels even better than scratching other itches.

Ghada A. bin Saif, A.D.P. Papoiu, and their colleagues used cowhage (a plant known to make people itchy) to induce itches on the forearms, ankles, and backs of 18 participants, whom they then asked to rate both the intensity of the itch and the pleasure derived from scratching it. Subjects felt ankle and back itches more intensely than those on their forearms, and they also rated ankle and back scratches higher on the pleasure scale. While pleasure levels dropped off for back and forearm itches as they were scratched, the same wasn’t true for ankle itches—participants still rated pleasurability higher even while the itchy feeling subsided. Perhaps because there’s no peace quite like that of scratching a good itch, the scientists won the Ig Nobel peace prize for their work.

4. Elastic intestines help wombats create their famous cubed poop.

In the final 8 percent of a wombat’s intestine, feces transform from a liquid-like state into a series of small, solid cubes. Patricia Yang, David Hu, and their team inflated the intestines of two dead wombats with long balloons to discover that this formation is caused by the elastic quality of the intestinal wall, which stretches at certain angles to form cubes. For solving the mystery, Yang and Hu took home the physics award for the second time—they also won in 2015 for testing the theory that all mammals can empty their bladders in about 21 seconds.

5. Romanian money grows bacteria better than other money.

Habip Gedik and father-and-son pair Timothy and Andreas Voss earned the economics prize by growing drug-resistant bacteria on the euro, U.S. dollar, Canadian dollar, Croatian luna, Romanian leu, Moroccan dirham, and Indian rupee. The Romanian leu was the only one to yield all three types of bacteria tested—Staphylococcus aureus, Escherichia coli, and Vancomycin-resistant Enterococci. The Croatian luna produced none, and the other banknotes each produced one. The results suggest that the Romanian leu was most susceptible to bacteria growth because it was the only banknote in the experiment made from polymers rather than textile-based fibers.

Visit Any National Park for Free on September 28—or Volunteer to Help Maintain Them

Yosemite National Park
Yosemite National Park
Nick Hanauer/iStock via Getty Images

By the end of September—which always seems especially busy, even if you’re not a student anymore—you might be ready for a small break from the hustle and bustle. On Saturday, September 28, you can bask in the tranquility of any national park for free, as part of National Public Lands Day.

According to the National Park Service, the holiday has been held on the fourth Saturday of every September since 1994, and it’s also the nation’s largest single-day volunteer effort. It’s up to you whether you’d like to partake in the service side or simply go for a stroll, but there is an added incentive to volunteer: You’ll get a one-day park pass that you can use for free park entry on a different day. Opportunities for volunteering include trail restoration, invasive plant removal, park cleanups, and more; you can see the details and filter by park, state, and/or type of event here.

If you’re not sure how you should celebrate National Public Lands Day, the National Park Service has created a handy flowchart to help you choose the best course of action for you—which might be as simple as sharing your favorite outdoor activity on social media with the hashtag #NPLD.

National public lands day celebration flowchart
National Park Service

There are more than 400 areas run by the National Park Service across the U.S., and many of them aren’t parks in the traditional sense of the word; the Statue of Liberty, Alcatraz Island, and countless other monuments and historical sites are also run by the NPS. Wondering if there might be one closer than you thought? Explore parks in your area on this interactive map.

For those of you who can’t take advantage of the free admission on September 28, the National Park Service will also waive all entrance fees for Veteran’s Day on November 11.

And, if you’re wishing a free-admission day existed for museums, you’re in luck—more than 1500 museums will be free to visit on Museum Day, which happens to be this Saturday.

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