In What Are You Playing This Weekend?, we discuss gaming and such with prominent figures in the pop-culture arena. We always start with the same question.
Elizabeth Morris is the lead singer, songwriter, and ukulele player in the band Allo Darlin’. Their sophomore album, Europe, was released in April. The band has just finished up tours across both North America and Europe. Morris told The Gameological Society all about the best games to play in the pub and on the road.
The Gameological Society: What are you playing this weekend?
Elizabeth Morris: I’m going to—not necessarily playing—see Paul Simon play Graceland at Hyde Park. So I’m playing at possibly drinking beer in the field. [Laughs.] I’m also probably going to be playing some games in the pub with my sister, who’s leaving London after 10 years. But I’m not quite sure what board games we’ll be playing in the pub yet.
Gameological: What is the preferred pub game for you and your sister?
Morris: My sister is less keen on games than I am, but over here in London it’s very popular for people to play darts. Do you have darts in America?
Gameological: Oh, absolutely.
Morris: It seems completely ridiculous that you would get a room full of people drinking beer and then give them sharp, pointy things to throw around the room. [Laughs.] Last time I was with friends and playing darts, one of my friends did manage to throw a dart into someone else’s arm. It’s kind of surprising that doesn’t happen more often. [Laughs.] So it’s slightly terrifying.
We also play cards. I like to play gin rummy, or those really basic card games that all have different names depending on what your family calls them, but they all end up being the same. There’s one called Shithead, but I’ve heard it called Asshole. I quite like that.
The most frustrating ones are games like Monopoly. It’s such a depressing game. [Laughs.] It goes on and on, forever. I was so bad at Monopoly as a kid that my cousin—who was really good at Monopoly and ended up being really rich and successful as an adult—we ran out of enough notes given how far in debt I was to him, that we had to build our own notes.
Gameological: And you managed to stay friends despite this?
Morris: Well, we’re family. It was at like $50,000, and it was just horrible, and generally, that would end with a massive temper tantrum from me, and storming off saying, “I’ll never play again.” Trivial Pursuit can often be like, too.
Gameological: When you’re on the road with Allo Darlin’, what games do you and the band play to entertain yourselves?
Morris: We played quite a few when we were touring America. A really lovely lady in Atlanta gave us a big bag of snack food—she said they were healthy snacks, but they were like caramel almonds—but she also gave us a bunch of mix CDs. One game we played was a roundtable of putting on one of Betsy’s mix CDs, and marking each song out of 10, and getting to the end.
There’s a really stupid game called Horse, which is where you’re driving in the van, you just say “horse” if you see a horse. [Laughs.] Over the course of the tour, people make up their own rules, like if you see a white-faced horse that’s more points. If you mistake a mule or a donkey for a horse, then you lose, say, 10 points.
We also play a lot of frisbee. We played frisbee in a park in New Jersey, and a policeman pulled up and told us to stop playing because apparently the park was closing at 9, but there were no fences or anything around the park. Basically he just wanted to stop us playing. Frisbee is pretty inoffensive, right? [Laughs.] It amused us to no end that that’s what the fuzz caught us for, playing frisbee.
Gameological: He was probably having a very, very bad day. “I don’t want them having a good time!”
Morris: This was Stanhope, New Jersey. Funnily enough, when we played that night, the Wave Pictures—who we were on tour with—have a song about a friend who becomes a policeman and becomes a real jerk when he puts on his uniform. So, [Wave Pictures singer] David [Tattersall] retold the hilarious frisbee story just before they launched into this song. We were told afterwards that the bar we were playing in was a cop bar. [Laughs.] So in all likelihood, the policeman who pulled us over was in that bar, which is kind of embarrassing. But he was a jerk. Who tells someone off for playing Frisbee?
Gameological: What’s your victory story? What was the absolute worst thing in the world when it was happening, but now it’s your favorite story?
Morris: The last day. After five weeks of every day not knowing how we were going to make the show, a nine-hour drive each day to get to the venue, having a van that doesn’t start in the morning, and no proper insurance so every time you need to get the van fixed, it just costs you more money. So the very last day we’re driving through the Black Forest in Germany on our way back to Belgium, and the van just started smoking. And I don’t mean cigarettes. Never a good sign. Eventually we had to take it to a garage in France, and the nice men [listening to] our very bad French could tell us that the van was stuffed and needed a part, but because it was a British van, the part had to come from Britain, and it could take up to eight days to arrive.
So while this was happening we were thinking we were never going to make the show—we had a five-hour drive, and three hours to get there. We hadn’t pulled any of the shows so far, but just this very last one so we were really, really down about it. Anyway, the rest of my bandmates were amazing, and ended up hiring a car, which obviously couldn’t fit all of our equipment in to it, so we took the barest [amount] that we could get away with playing. Mike [Collins], our drummer, took charge of the wheel. From France to Belgium, he’s never driven that fast in his life. His knuckles were white, and the sweat and the stress was unbelievable. But we made it, and we played the show, and I don’t think anyone in the audience could have really appreciated it, even though we told the story, just the fact that we made the show. That’s probably the one that collectively is the worst and best day of all of our lives.
Gameological: That’s an astounding victory.
Morris: The thing is we were so shattered that we couldn’t even do a victory dance or anything. There’s a really funny picture that was taken on the ferry home. The look on our faces is amazing. When I write my complete history of how to be in an indie-pop band, I’ll include that picture. [Laughs.] “This could happen to you.”
And now, we put the question to you. Tell us what you’ve been playing lately, and which games—video or otherwise—are on your playlist for the weekend.