elwen: (Yukino)
So due to too many people wanting to do the Harry Potter stack, I ended up being kicked off at the last minute and not being able to do Pirates of the Caribbean nor Silmarillion either, so I signed up as overflow on the "Where is Mr. Rogers?" stack. It was lots of fun, though, and seeing the Harry Potter stack, I think I would have been more disappointed if I had just done one of my secondary choices and not even tried to get a spot. [However, [livejournal.com profile] eaudrey and [livejournal.com profile] smamole are both required to give an account of their activities in gory detail, under pain of death.]

So Mr. Rogers was kidnapped, and we, the people of the Land of Make Believe, were to travel to the real world to find him, being the ones who knew him best. In the morning we visited a few places in the Land of Make Believe, gathering things we would need later, like a guide to sign language and book about the trolley. We had to find the trolley station and wait there until the trolley came to take us to the real world. Apparently people really liked the trolley, which was just two boxes glued together with their bottoms cut out and painted red, and we just walked along inside them. But all the people we passed stopped to take pictures of us, including some people from the Star News who jumped in front of us to snap pictures and then was frantically taking notes about the details of our stack.

We arrived in the real world in Mr. Rogers' house. Which happened to be Munth. We all had to struggle with that image for a bit, finally concluding that Mr. Rogers must have been kidnapped so they could use his house for a beer party. The FBI investing the case asked us to interview the neighbors and see if they knew anything.

We visited Handyman Negri and performed a skit for him, which we ended up doing two more times during the stack because everyone wanted to see it. [The stackers had gotten puppets of their character in addition to costume elements, although I didn't have one because I was overflow.] The story was about how Daniel Tiger had the willies, and Lady Elaine wanted them, too. King Friday thought he could command her to have them, but it didn't work. Then Queen Sara came and told her how they just came to people, and Lady Elaine was disappointed. Just then, though, X the Owl flew by and Lady Elaine got the willies and discovered how unpleasant they were.

Handyman Negri sang a really funny parody of Ghostwriter in the Sky for us, about ghost Techers in the sky trying to take revenge on their math professor who had killed them with problem sets. Then we followed a trail of food, each one telling us what came next, that led us back to Munth for lunch.

After lunch we went 'to the pool "by the sea"', which was the pool in Del Mar. There was a doll in the water, tied to cement block but kept afloat by balloons. We tried to fish out the doll with the pool net, but it tore and we ended up with the head and legs, which didn't seem to have any clues. So we dragged out the cement block. We'd already seen a sledgehammer nearby that said to "be considerate of neighbors" and use it responsibly, so we rotated smashing at the block until we got the clue. [I thought having brute force of a Mr. Rogers stack was kind of odd, but it's the only time I've ever gotten to do it, so I can't really complain.] Apparently the doll had been for voodoo, so we were told to look for the culprits' DNA.

That led us to the Gene Pool where Mayor Maggie was waiting for us. Except she spoke to us only in sign, and we spent quite a while trying to figure out what she was saying and trying to ask her about Mr. Rogers. It was a lot of fun, though, looking up words and trying to hold a conversation with her. I hope she wasn't too frustrated with us, because she did have to repeat herself a lot and ended up showing us gestures from the book to help us figure it out.

Then we went to Chef Brockett, who gave us popsicles and a clue with a picture of a pea plant and suggested that we try singing to see if a neighbor would come help us. We went to p plant and did as told, and met Keith David, who was supposed to show us a secret message on a card we had. Only we had accidentally given the card to Chef Brockett, who had thrown it away, so we had to track him down and fish it out. Then we had a pen that was supposed to reveal the message. We tried scribbling over the card, but nothing happened. Apparently the pen had a UV light on the end, and the ink showed up only under UV. Fortunately, we had scribbled on the wrong side of the card, so we could still read the message that told us to go the auditorium.

We had a clue that told us we couldn't open it before we'd interviewed all the neighbors, so we got stuck at this point because we hadn't met Neighbor Aber, but it turned out that he was sick. So we opened the clue and found out that it was Broad Auditorium. On the way there, we were attacked by people from the Pulp Fiction stack posing as the kidnapper's henchmen. This was the only unpleasant thing that happened, as they underfilled the balloons so that they hurt on impact, and apparently some of the balloons were dirty and I ended up with mud in my pocket. They were also just generally being jerks about it and didn't do anything to indicate that their actions were part of our storyline, although we knew it was part of their stack. We argued a bit about this with one of the people who helped with the stack. I still think the fault lay almost entirely with the people on the Pulp Fiction stack. There was nothing wrong with the idea of having their stack intersect with ours, but they handled it extremely poorly. After being hit a few times, we asked them to stop, and they just retorted that it was part of their stack, and my impression from their tone and attitude was really that their stack had just told them to go harrass other stacks. But I guess some fault may lie in the seniors, as I think it's pretty obvious that the kind of people who would sign up for a Pulp Fiction stack are going to be somewhat violent, and the kind of people who would sign up for a Mr. Rogers stack might be somewhat averse to it. So we didn't take it very well.

Anyway, we made it to Broad Auditorium and rescued Mr. Rogers. We were basically done with the stack, but while we were having ice cream floats, the FBI agents arrived, having captured the kidnapper, Keith David. Apparently he resented Mr. Rogers for his perfection and just couldn't stand it anymore after Mr. Rogers saw him picking Neighbor Aber's flowers. Mr. Rogers forgave him, and we had pizza to end the stack. We also had extensive conversations about anime, Japanese language, and Chinese culture, since it turned out that the lady who had been Mayor Maggie was an avid anime fan.

So it was a fun Ditch Day. As much as I wish I had been on the Harry Potter stack, I think it was more educational to do mine. [But the hats and cloaks and wands were so cool...] It's easier to create clues when all you need to do is follow a storyline you already have. I saw Fluffy guarding the grate in the middle of the lawn south of the Gene Pool and all the keys hanging from the ceiling of the dining hall with the locked chest and broom on the table. But after seeing all the themes this year, I'm not sure there are any themes with such strong storylines and well-known enough for me to do. So seeing the variety of things on the Mr. Rogers stack will be helpful for our Tomorrow. I mean, as totally amazing as the Lord of the Rings stack was, we did basically spend the morning playing FUCKED. There was nothing remarkable about it, and the only thing that kept it truly interesting was the hope that with the next clue we'd find another shard of Narsil. That's what I meant by having strong storylines. And with those kinds of things, you really need to choose something well-known enough that everyone on the stack is doing it as a top choice and can really appreciate the attention to detail. I'm not sure there is really anything left for me like that.

I mean, we had been thinking of doing the Silmarillion, which was done this year. I had also considered Ender's Game, which ended up being a huge Ruddock stack. There was an Ocean's Eleven stack, and Shipwrecked, and Fantastic Four, and Indiana Jones, and Calvin and Hobbes, and Disney princesses, and World of Warcraft, and Halflife. The Blacker stacks were Harry Potter, "Sex in the C.I.T.", Pirates of the Caribbean, the Art of Gardening (also known as "the art of getting arrested"), Where is Mr. Rogers, Pulp Fiction, Silmarillion, Godel Escher Bach, and American Gladiators.

Well, I'm sure if I think about it hard enough, more stack ideas, even of the story-driven variety, will come to me. I'm considering creating a friends group of authorized individuals to post about Ditch Day ideas and planning. Alumni and ghosts: how kosher is this? Is it being too open? Is the danger of discovery too great? Are we just supposed to keep this kind of stuff to ourselves?


elwen: (Pucca)
I figure I really ought to write this entry before it's chased right out of my mind by other third term insanity.

So Ditch Day was last Thursday, corroborating the ChE prof's "empirical evidence". Being horribly predictable, I did the Lord of the Rings stack, and I didn't regret it for a moment.

[I liked the dinner announcement. "One stack to rule them all." "One stack to find them." "One stack to bring them all." "And in the darkness bind them . . . to a stack." The back of the t-shirt says the same, minus the last, er, editorial remark.]

The LotR stack was pretty big, with sixteen slots, although no overflow. The characters were the nine Fellowship members, Arwen, Elrond, Galadriel, Eowyn, Treebeard, Quickbeam, and Gollum. I was Eowyn. Naturally, we didn't all stick together the entire time.

First, everyone split up to get their costumes and solve separate puzzles that told us all to meet in Rivendell for breakfast. The seniors made up their own "Horse-Code of Rohan" for Eowyn, which involved pictures of soldiers on horseback. Different things in the picture represented different letters. For example, a shield was "o", a spear was "l", a hoofprint was "a", and so on. For my costume, I had a beige dress and a sword. The Fellowship members got cloaks, which I thought was cool.

After Rivendell, we split into three groups. The Fellowship followed the crows of the Dunedain (a string of black paper cranes) and went to the top of Caradhras (roof of Firestone), where they found a chest of ice with a clue. Then they went down into Moria (the tunnels), including a visit to Balin's Tomb and the Bridge of Khazad-dum. Apparently some of the puzzles were quite tricky, as they ended up about forty-five minutes late to Lothlorien (Grant Park), where we had lunch.

Meanwhile, the Ents, with Gollum, solved little puzzles to find Entings, which were little bags with keys in them, which would later help them flood Isengard.

The seniors didn't know what to do with me, either, so I went with the Elves to reforge the Sword that was Broken. Aragorn had come to Rivendell with the hilt of Narsil, part of a real katana (d'oh) that had been cut up. We sought the master swordsmith (an alum), who gave us our first clue. The rest of the morning was spent with clues a la FUCKED [Fortieth Underground Cannes-Kremlin Espionage Dance (?)]: pictures of places on campus, cut into pieces, which you put together. Then you go to that location to find the next clue. There were a lot of clues, making for a fat packet that's now in Elrond's keeping. We started near Avery, went down past P Plant with clues every ten feet or so, past Steele and Spalding to the C-store. Here we met with a brief delay, as there were two clues hidden inside the C-store, and it wasn't open yet. Then we had several clues in Sherman Fairchild Library, including some inside random books. [Plant engineering, anyone?] Then the clues led us out the other side, to Bridge, and finally to the roofs of Bridge and East Bridge.

I forgot to mention, with the first clue, we also got a shard of Narsil. After that, though, it was a long wait for the next, as there were only four shards and at least twenty-some clues. After we found all the clues, we returned to the swordsmith, who took us to the Barrow Downs where we were to find the plans for remaking the sword. He told us we were short one shard, but we were certain we'd followed all the clues in sequence, save one, which we found later. We ended up calling the seniors, who said they weren't sure they'd actually placed the shard, and assured us the smith could "extrapolate" from what we had.

The Barrow Downs were a cool three-tiered maze being used by several stacks. It had a slide in the back, although I didn't make it that far. Eowyn's costume wasn't designed for the crawling around, and it's a bit worse for the wear, including some mud and grass stains. Ironically, the only group that never went to the Downs was the Hobbits, the only ones who go there in the books.

After that, we had an hour until lunch, so to occupy us we received the "final test", a wood block puzzle that had nothing to do with the stack. It did succeed in occupying us, however, for we weren't quite sure what it was supposed to make, and even after we had some idea, we couldn't do it. We went to lunch anyway, after receiving Anduril, which looked, as far as we could tell, just like our shards would have had they been whole. [So they must have gotten two swords that were the same. Also, I just noticed tonight that the sword used in the Zelda stack looks a lot like mine. Hm.] During lunch Elrond managed to solve the puzzle, but he says it was harder than the Palantir, which had many more pieces, as you'll see later.

So after lunch, we had different groups. Merry and Pippin went with the Elves and the Ents to talk to Saruman (another alum), answering some puzzles for him. Then they flooded Isengard, a small model next to Millikan, by unlocking the valves with the keys the Ents had found in the morning. When they did, clues hidden at the base of the tower floated up and told them to find the Palantir, which was under Millikan Bridge. As I already mentioned, it was another wood block puzzle, with runes on it, and involved a lot more pieces than the one we'd been playing with. The wood pieces were different lengths at least... The Palantir directed them to Minas Tirith (athletic field).

Meanwhile, I, Aragorn, Boro/Faramir, Legolas, Gimli, and Gandalf were given a Red Arrow from the Rohirrim. It was a cool maze made out of a rod inside a pipe. The rod had paths cut into its surface, and there was a screw at the top of the pipe, so the arrow could be removed only by turning the rod along the paths of the maze. Inside was another message in the Horse-Code, which, when deciphered, told us to go to "Hlems Deep" [sic]. Helm's Deep was one of those random rock sculpture things on campus, but when we arrived we found that the Orcs had been slain for us by people from some other stack. The orcs were supposed to be black balloons that, when popped, had messages that said, "Another foe has been slain! Add one to your count, but don't stop!" or something like that. We gathered them up and a couple of them told us to go to Robinson Pit.

I've never been to Robinson Pit, but apparently it's this room deep, deep down under one of the astronomy buildings, that was originally built to filter sunlight down. They still run experiments there. We climbed all the way down to find that it was the Paths of the Dead. We were confused then, as the puzzle said to use the "scraps" with the letter board, and we couldn't find them. We started translating the hint -- all the hints were written in Cirth runes, but fortunately Legolas had become an expert at them by the time the Fellowship got out of Moria -- which began, "the fabric..." At that we all stopped and asked, "Fabric?" Then we looked up, and hanging from the beams was a fabric ghost. A few attached scraps of fabric had chalk lines, which we placed on the letter board to spell "Minas Tirith".

We arrived at Minas Tirith, a scaffolding structure with white sheets, which looked suspiciously scavenged from Interhovse, and out stepped the Witch King (alum) to meet us. We drew our weapons, but he led us around to show us the real siege of Minas Tirith, a really messed up chess-based game. The instructions said we couldn't start until Aragorn and Boromir were there, but since we had arrived before the Ent group, we spent our time shooting arrows from the top of the scaffolding into targets on the field. I found it really fun, since the last time I tried to fire an arrow, I failed miserably. This time I almost got the hang of it, although I never hit any of the targets.

When the second group arrived, we began the fscked up chess game. The rules were meant to show that the odds were stacked against us. Each character had his own way of movement, some of which were modified based on whether we had solved certain puzzles. Between each of our turns, the Witch King could move one orc, and he could respawn orcs if we captured any. The legend had been modified to say "no male or elf can slay the Witch King", which meant, despite our protests as to accuracy, that only Eowyn could. Since I have no idea about chess, and my piece was the most important, I mostly left it in the hands of the others, some of who concluded there was no way to win. In the end, though, the Witch King kind of suicided after three of his turns or so, based on secret rules such as his not knowing that Eowyn could kill him. Then he gave us the key to the Black Gate of Mordor (senior's room).

While we were doing this, Sam, Frodo, and Gollum had set off on their own. First they passed through the Dead Marshes, solving another typo-ridden puzzle involving the skeletons in the water. It told them to go to "Stelob's Lair", which was in the tunnels. They had to walk through the dark, so they activated Galadriel's Phial, jars of "lightstick juice", one containing the main solution and one containing the stuff from the glass capsules. We all thought it was really cool when they showed it to us later. Anyway, they had to walk through a place with bells hanging from above, and had to retreat every time one of them rang. At the end of their path was a huge spider -- I never heard the exact nature of this, although apparently it was not an alum playing the part. At some point around this, they also went to Cirith Ungol, an metal door in the middle of a lawn, and also the Gene Pool. After Shelob, I think, they were told to run like hell, which they did. It was really funny to hear them tell about it, as apparently Gollum got ahead of the Hobbits, until they couldn't see her flashlight anymore, and she wouldn't respond when they called for her. Very creepy and appropriate.

We met up with the Ringbearers at the Black Gate. We opened it, and they opened the door with the combination they had gotten. The room inside was dark with a reddish tint. It was the Cracks of Doom. [Or the "special Place To Throw Stuff Into Lava room".] We piled in, finding t-shirts on the way. There was a ramp, and the far end of the room had a drop-off, into a shallow pool of water. We clamored for Frodo to throw in the Ring, and pushed Gollum in after a bit as well. Then we all cheered and flooded down to the courtyard to await the firing of the Cannon and the end of Ditch Day 2004.

Our bribe was dinner at Tom Mannion's, which was exciting. Unfortunately, some communication problems forced rescheduling to Friday, which several people couldn't make, including four of us in Glee Club. Fortunately, Tom Mannion's dinners apparently go on quite long, and we were only one main course behind when we got there after the concert. Skipping two dishes, we were still stuffed full, so I don't know how the others managed it.

So that's the summary of my awesome Ditch Day. The other groups' activities I pieced together from hearing them retell it, just because I think it's amazing how well coordinated the stack was, and how detailed in recreating the story.

And then . . . there are pictures.

Cut to spare your friends pages, and my bandwith. )


elwen: (Default)

March 2015



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