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

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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

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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

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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

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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.

Amazon's Best Cyber Monday Deals on Tablets, Wireless Headphones, Kitchen Appliances, and More

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Amazon

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Cyber Monday has arrived, and with it comes some amazing deals. This sale is the one to watch if you are looking to get low prices on the latest Echo Dot, Fire Tablet, video games, Instant Pots, or 4K TVs. Even if you already took advantage of sales during Black Friday or Small Business Saturday, Cyber Monday still has plenty to offer, especially on Amazon. We've compiled some the best deals out there on tech, computers, and kitchen appliances so you don't have to waste your time browsing.

Computers and tablets

Amazon

- Amazon Fire HD 10 Tablet 64GB; $120 (save $70)

- Amazon Fire HD 8 Tablet 64GB; $84 (save $35)

- HP Pavilion x360 14 Convertible 2-in-1 Laptop; $646 (save $114)

- HP Pavilion Desktop, 10th Gen Intel Core i3-10100 Processor; $469 (save $81)

- Acer Nitro 5 Gaming Laptop; $973 (save $177)

Headphones and speakers

Beats/Amazon

- Bose QuietComfort 35 II Wireless Bluetooth Headphones; $200 (save $100)

- Sony Bluetooth Noise-Canceling Wireless Headphones; $278 (save $72)

- JBL LIVE Wireless Headphones; $100 (save $30)

- JBL Charge 4 - Waterproof Portable Bluetooth Speaker; $120 (save $10)

- Bose SoundLink Color Bluetooth Speaker II; $79 (save $50)

- Powerbeats Pro Wireless Earphones; $200 (save $50)

Video Games

Sony

- Watch Dogs Legion; $30 (save $30)

- Marvel's Avengers; $27 (save $33)

- Ghost of Tsushima; $40 (save $20)

- The Last of Us Part II; $30 (save $30)

TECH, GADGETS, AND TVS

Samsung/Amazon

- Amazon Fire TV Stick; $30 (save $20)

- Echo Show 8; $65 (save $65)

- Nixplay Digital Picture Frame; $115 (save $65)

- eufy Smart Doorbell; $90 (save $30)

- Samsung 75-Inch Class Crystal 4K Smart TV; $898 (save $300)

home and Kitchen

Ninja/Amazon

- T-fal 17-Piece Cookware Set; $124 (save $56)

- Le Creuset Enameled Cast Iron Curved Round Chef's Oven; $180 (save $136)

- Ninja Foodi 10-in-1 Convection Toaster Oven; $195 (save $105)

- Roborock E4 Robot Vacuum Cleaner; $189 (save $111)

- Instant Pot Max Pressure Cooker 9 in 1; $80 (save $120)

- Shark IZ362H Cordless Anti-Allergen Lightweight Stick Vacuum; $170 (save $110)

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A Hair-Raising History of the Flowbee

The Flowbee revolutionized the highly suspect idea of cutting one's own hair.
The Flowbee revolutionized the highly suspect idea of cutting one's own hair.
I Love Fun, YouTube

Like many great ideas, there is some confusion surrounding how California-based carpenter Rick Hunts was struck by inspiration for the Flowbee. The infomercial sensation of the late 1980s is a vacuum cleaner attachment that straightens hair, munches on it with clippers, and then sucks the trimmings into the canister.

In one version, Hunts is beguiled by a television show he saw in 1979 that demonstrated a person getting their hair cut while hanging upside-down, freeing their locks for clipping. Another has Hunts using a vacuum to get sawdust from his workshop out of his hair and having an epiphany.

The latter sounds more like the kind of mythologizing that accompanies inventors—one questions the wisdom of using a vacuum to remove sawdust from their hair rather than simply showering—but it doesn’t matter much. However he came upon the notion, Hunts’s vision of an at-home substitution for a barber was the Soloflex of hairstyling. It promised convenience, affordability, and the novelty of boasting your hair had been trimmed by a Hoover upright.

Hunts’s device, which he initially dubbed the Vacucut, took six to seven years to develop. By one estimate, he went through four prototypes—the last one involving 50 modifications—before he perfected the vacuum attachment. (Hunts’s children—or, more specifically, their hair—were used for testing.) The Vacucut took hair anywhere from a half-inch to six inches in length and, thanks to the suction of the vacuum, pulled it straight in the same way a stylist holds hair between their fingers. Once extended, clippers inside the attachment trimmed the excess, which wound up in the vacuum.

It required no skill and no additional pairs of hands; the length was adjustable using the included spacers. Owing to the air flow and the fact the device made a buzzing noise similar to a bee, Hunts decided to rename it the Flowbee, with a bumblebee-esque black and yellow color scheme.

Hunts, who raised more than $100,000 from investors and even sold his cabinet shop to obtain additional funds to mass market his creation, clearly felt the Flowbee would be a slam-dunk. He approached major personal grooming companies like Conair, Norelco, and Remington to see if they’d be interested in the Flowbee. He also approached beauty salons to see if they’d consider selling them to customers. He later recalled that all of them said the idea was nuts. In the case of the salons, they were afraid the Flowbee might actually work as advertised and see a reduction in foot traffic from people content to cut their own hair. 

Dismayed, Hunts took to trying to move product out of his garage. He also went to county fairs, where he would have a volunteer come up on stage. One side of the person’s head would be trimmed with scissors, the other side with the Flowbee. The results were comparable, and Hunts began selling a modest amount of inventory at $150 each.

The reaction of the county fair crowd may have been on Hunts’s mind when he saw an infomercial one evening for a food-sealing product. The program-length paid advertisements were really just barker shows broadcast to a mass audience. The Flowbee, Hunts knew, needed to be demonstrated. So Hunts spent $30,000 to produce and buy airtime for a 30-minute spot that began airing in 1988. Soon, the entire country was watching people aim a vacuum nozzle at their heads and clip their own hair.

The Flowbee entered popular culture, getting mentions in films like 1992’s Wayne’s World, where Garth (Dana Carvey) is menaced by a Suck Kut, and on shows like Party of Five. Imitators like the RoboCut and the Hairdini appeared to bite into market share, but the Flowbee enjoyed brand recognition. A Flowbee Pet Groomer was introduced, and Flowbee barbershops were considered. By 1992, the Flowbee was being sold in major retail chains. By 1993, Hunts’s San Diego-based company, Flowbee International, had sold 200,000 units. By 2000, the number was 2 million. While that may not sound like a lot, consider that this was a vacuum cleaner attachment selling for $69.95 to $150 retail that was intended for use on one’s head.

While millions of people enjoyed the Flowbee’s kitsch appeal, some people thought it sucked. Stylists believed it lacked the artistry of a professional, while others complained it wasn’t effective on hair longer than six inches or on curly locks. It was also difficult for the Flowbee to trim the sides or around the ears. George Clooney, however, swears by it; in December 2020, he admitted that he's been using one to cut his own hair for decades.

While they no longer air infomercials, Flowbee International is still in business—and has seen increased interest in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic as people avoid salons and look for alternatives to becoming Howard Hughes. Unfortunately, health concerns have prompted a cessation of activity at the Flowbee factory in Kerrville, Texas. They don’t intend to ship new product (which now sells for $99) until things settle down. The RoboCut, however, is still shipping.