CLOSE
Original image

The [adjective] History of Mad Libs

Original image

Leonard Stern, the [adjective] creator of Mad Libs, the wacky fill-in-the-word game we all [past-tense verb] as kids, died this week at the age of [number]. OK, I’ll give you that one: he was 88.
Stern was a writer for shows like The Honeymooners, Get Smart and Steve Allen’s Tonight Show. Like all writers sometimes (…often…) do, Stern was sitting over his typewriter, stumped. “I need an adjective,” he told his friend, Roger Price. Before he could give some context by explaining the storyline thus far, Price gave him the words clumsy and naked. It turned out Stern was searching for a word to describe Ralph Kramden’s boss' nose. After laughing over it for a time, the pair spent the afternoon coming up with a rough draft of Mad Libs, which they debuted at a party later that evening.


Despite its massive success amongst their friends, Mad Libs didn't debut until several years later for a couple of reasons. First of all, Price and Stern couldn't think of a catchy, clever name for their product. Secondly, publishers just didn't know what to do with it. Book publishers thought it was more game than book and game publishers found it to be more book than game. Eventually, the duo decided to publish it themselves. It was a pretty smart decision considering the series has sold more than 150 million copies since then, not to mention more than two million downloads on a Mad Libs app for iPhones and iPads. Versions include Mad Libs books based on Indiana Jones, Family Guy, Star Wars, iCarly and Napoleon Dynamite, among others.

Despite the commercial success enjoyed by the series today, the book/game might have not taken off if Steve Allen hadn't intervened. Stern was writing for The Steve Allen show when he and Price decided to self-publish Mad Libs. Sick of storing 14,000 copies in his dining room, Stern asked Allen to give the game a plug so he might sell a few copies and actually be able to eat at his dining room table. Luckily, Allen was a fan of word games and ended up often using Mad Libs to introduce his guests, asking the audience to fill in the blanks. This resulted in guest intros such as one of Stern's favorites: "And here’s the scintillating Bob Hope, whose theme song is “Thanks for the Communist.”

Though they're more than 50 years old now, Mad Libs still has maintained a strong following over the years. Some video evidence:

A bizarre game show for kids based on Mad Libs

A spoof of Mad Men

A reference on The Office:

Image Link

Original image
Courtesy Ben Barrett-Forrest
arrow
Design
Learn All About Fonts by Playing With These Poker Cards
Original image
Courtesy Ben Barrett-Forrest

Want to learn about fonts? Try playing poker with the Font Deck, a pack of cards designed to help users learn the finer points of typography and font design.

The deck is the work of Canadian designer Ben Barrett-Forrest, who runs a graphic design studio based out of Ontario and the Yukon. In 2014, Barrett-Forrest designed the precursor to the Font Deck, a product called the Design Deck that aimed to teach users about the ins and outs of graphic design. Some of the Design Deck cards feature typography lessons, but the Font Deck—available for $17 a deck on Barrett-Forrest’s website or on Kickstarter—gives the topic a deeper dive.

A male hand holds fanned-out cards next to a Font Deck box and a stack of playing cards.
Courtesy Ben Barrett-Forrest

The deck includes topics like letter anatomy, old style typefaces, the difference between a font and a typeface, and profiles of specific typefaces, like Helvetica. The cards themselves are printed by the same company that makes popular playing cards like Bicycle and Bee, so they’re gambling ready, if you feel like betting your fortune on that slab serif card.

Original image
iStock
arrow
fun
Dungeons & Dragons Gets a Digital Makeover
Original image
iStock

Since the 1970s, players have been constructing elaborate campaigns in Dungeons & Dragons using nothing but paper, pencils, rule books, and 20-sided dice. That simple formula has made D&D the quintessential role-playing game, but the game's publisher thinks it can be improved with a few 21st-century updates. As The Verge reports, Wizards of the Coast is launching a digital toolset meant to enhance the gaming experience.

The tool, called D&D Beyond, isn’t meant to be a replacement for face-to-face gameplay. Rather, it’s designed to save players time and energy that could be better spent developing characters or battling orcs. The resource includes a fifth-edition rule book users can search by keyword. At the start of a new campaign, they can build monsters and characters within the program. And players don’t need to worry about forgetting to bring their notes to a quest—D&D Beyond keeps track of information like items and spells in one convenient location.

"D&D Beyond speaks to the way gamers are able to blend digital tools with the fun of storytelling around the table with your friends,” Nathan Stewart, senior director of Dungeons & Dragons, said in a statement when the concept was first announced. "These tools represent a way forward for D&D.”

This isn’t the first attempt to bring D&D into the digital age; videogames inspired by the fictional world have been produced since the 1980s. Unlike those titles, though, D&D Beyond will still highlight the imagination-fueled role-playing aspect of the game when it launches August 15.

[h/t The Verge]

SECTIONS

arrow
LIVE SMARTER
More from mental floss studios