Big Mamma’s House: Volume IV

There is a tendency among lawrentians to assume that the city of appleton is an uninteresting place, leading many to rarely leave campus. This column seeks to profile spots in the city to burst your lawrence bubble, while i use my experience as a townie to give them a side by side comparison with my eponymous mom’s house.

A funny thing happened on the way to the Con. A host of adults and teenagers congregated around the diversity center. As students passed by, some wondered whether this was a strange function of the parents’ visitation weekend. Alas, it was just a “Pokemon Go” meeting. 

Making up for this disappointment, there is not only a gaming house on campus, but a bar a block away from it called Player 2. Located on College Avenue adjacent to the construction site, Player 2 is a bar and arcade with classics and novelties galore. Their lineup of pinball machines stands like sentinels right inside the entrance. Their four-player “Pacman” and “Mario Kart” games are always busy. Their backroom has hidden treasures like “Burger Time” and “Q*bert,” and on the way to the back room you pass the “Guitar Hero” machine which nearly always has a line.  

Senior Peter Lagershausen (left) and Liam Wood.
Photo by Anton Zemba.

The bar in the front and back rooms have good selections of beer and novelty cocktails and the bartenders are very friendly. The bar opens at 2 p.m., closes at 2 p.m. and only cards at the entrance on Fridays and Saturdays. The bar is always hopping and a great place to meet locals. This may not be a hidden gem, but it is one of the city’s best establishments. For those who like fighting games, it also has more titles than you can fathom and all games have options for two players. My favorites have to be “Guitar Hero” and “Burger Time.”

Of course, the main rival to Player 2 is my mom’s house. Unlike the arcade games of Player 2, my mom’s house is stocked with millions of board and card games. This is due to such games being a popular and loved gift for any holiday, birthday, Christmas or Easter. My house, also for this same reason, has a lot of science experiment boxes of the type you buy in the learning shop. The best-loved game has to be “Settlers of Catan,” locally referred to as the Catan Massacre. My siblings also love playing “Sheriff of Nottingham,” “Pyrimex,” one of a million variations of “Monopoly” including the Spongebob one, “Phase 10” and “Stratego.” My favorites are “Nerts,” which is a card game, and “Blockus,” which I almost always win. We have “Exploding Kittens” and “Card Wars” as well. 

As far as video games go, our house is pretty sparse. This is a huge contrast. The buck starts and stops with the Wii staples “Mario Kart,” “Mario Bros” and “Wii Sports.” This is why I suck at nearly all video games, and am terrible at “Smash.” We have a lot of video games that come with their own controllers, like “Pacman” and “Avatar the Last Airbender.” I played “Mappy” a lot as a kid, and didn’t really like “Pacman.”  

Let’s talk about one huge oversight in Player 2, which is the lack of cards tables. I’m not talking about “Poker,” “Blackjack” or even “Go Fish.” The biggest fault of Player 2 is the lack of “Nerts.” “Nerts” is a game like competitive solitaire, in which everyone starts with a deck of cards and play cards both in their own piles and in group piles, trying to get rid of cards. This game is almost as good as “Sheepshead” and a staple of high school math classes everywhere. In addition, my mom has more chess pieces than will fit on her boards, but no complete set of pieces. Finally, my momma’s house has “Skipbo.” Who can refuse “Skipbo”? 

In this case, my mom’s house is once again the certifiable winner, lack of beers on tap notwithstanding. My mom’s house doesn’t really go for typical games like “Candyland” or “Chutes and Ladders,” and prefers games with robots or inflatable lizards on the board. However, my house has also suffered from a recent obsession with “Secret Hitler,” which is just a more fascist (and less fun) version of “Avalon.” Don’t mention it and you should be fine 

This decision is perhaps most sound in the case of Appleton suffering a power outage. At Player 2, the arcade machines could shut down and your high score could be erased. At my mom’s house, you could play anything and your score would live on forever in a very serious game notebook.