Apples and Anthropology: Current Obsessions

I am currently reaching a level of excitement which, were my psyche equipped with the appropriate warning gauges, would be dangerously approaching the red zone. Watch out. So, first of all, last weekend was the College Group retreat on Whidbey Island, which was absolutely glorious, and involved eleven wonderful individuals (joined by a few more on Saturday) who spent the weekend joined in fellowship, worship, conversation, and a rather impressive assortment of board and card games. The latter included Scattergories, Boggle, True Colors, Pictionary, Risk (which I learned to play for the first time), Slingball (a fascinating game involving a sling composed of two golf balls linked by a string which one attempts to hook on a three-runged PVC goal), and Imaginiff. All in under 26 hours! It was great fun, and I felt like I really connected with everyone there, which was wonderful.

And then late Saturday night, talk turned to Apples to Apples. Having by now discerned that I was in the presence of a collection of true game aficionados, I promptly produced my Apples to Apples Recipe Book to see if anybody had any favorite or signature rule variations that I hadn't already included in my book. To my surprise, they were all initially perplexed at the very idea of rule variations, having, apparently, never actually played Apples to Apples any way other than according to the ordinary, official rules. To my delight, upon discovering that I was so enthusiastic about rule variations that I had compiled them into an alphabetized, cross-referenced book, and even invented a number of my own, they did not look at me like I was a raving maniac and back slowly into a corner, but rather they enthusiastically asked for permission to peruse my book and requested that I teach them some of the variations listed therein. Sadly, it was by that point to late to launch into that process at the moment, but I do hope to do so sometime soon. (I did get to show a few people Barrel of Apples and Apple Bundles the next night after the College Fellowship dinner, but that barely scraped the surface of the possibilities, of course.)

And the renewed promise of some Apples to Apples gameplay has reawakened my passion for the game, and has resulted in a new proliferation of ideas for potential variations. I created a list of apple-related terms that I had not yet employed in previous variations, and then couldn't prevent myself from thinking up ways of playing to fit some of these terms--for instance, I came up with a method of launching a "Trojan War" to contest a winning card, and invented a "Snow White" version of the game complete with evil queens and poisoned apples. So now, first of all, I have to reprint my recipe book to include the recent additions, and secondly I am even more eager than ever to get together a group of people willing to test out my various variations and recipes. I'm definitely looking forward to a promised game of Xtreme Apples to Apples (whatever that means--I am bursting with anticipation to find out!) at a friend's upcoming birthday party.

And then, when I have managed, over the past few days, to tear myself away from working on my recipe book, I have begun to conduct some research into graduate programs in Anthropology. So far, I've read a great 1997 longitudinal study of Anthropology PhDs--their distribution, make-up, concentrations within the discipline, and employment, conducted by the American Anthropological Association, which you can find here if you're interested. I've also started looking at the courses offered by Harvard's grad program, just to get an idea of what's out there and to see what sparks my interest most, so I can decide what I'd most like to focus on and select programs and departments and faculty accordingly.

Before I began this research, I was still slightly uncertain whether the study of Anthropology really involved precisely what I thought it did, and thus whether it would actually be as enticing to me as I imagined it would be given my assumptions of what it involved. Thus far, my research has revealed that my understanding of Anthropology as an encapsulation of everything I have always been fascinated by was in fact quite accurate. Right now, the hardest part has been identifying courses among those offered that I am not incredibly eager to take. I want to enroll in them all! So, that is very encouraging, and I am looking forward to beginning the process of selecting programs and preparing my applications.

I also just got invited for a phone interview for the internship I've applied for, which would fill the upcoming year between my current time writing and my entry into a grad program. So, that's pretty exciting, and we shall see what comes of it. And that's all I have new to report at the moment (luckily, or some of those aforementioned gauges might just overexert themselves, potentially resulting in some severe mechanical malfunctions).


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