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Lampooning a Legacy - Blather. Rants. Repeat.
A Møøse once bit my sister ...
Lampooning a Legacy
The pictures I was fiddling round trying to copy from Pinterest yesterday were from an issue of National Lampoon. It's amazing to look back at how central that group of humorists was to the modern American tradition of comedy.  So many of the future performers, writers and directors of film and television- P.J. O'Rourke to John Hughes, to a good chunk of the original SNL writer-performers- came from either the magazine or its offshoot shows or albums.

And Otter killed them.

No, really.


In 1989, the magazine was acquired in a hostile takeover by a business partnership headed by actor Tim Matheson (who played "Otter" in the 1978 film National Lampoon's Animal House). After seeking financing to resurrect the Magazine for two years, Matheson was forced to sell, in order to avoid bankruptcy due to mounting debts.


In 1991 the magazine (and more importantly, the rights to the brand name "National Lampoon") were bought by a company called J2 Communications, headed by James P. Jimirro. (J2 was previously known for marketing Tim Conway's "Dorf" videos.)

J2 Communications' focus was to make money by licensing out the brand name "National Lampoon". The company was contractually obliged to publish at least one new issue of the magazine per year in order to retain the rights to the Lampoon name. However, the company had very little interest in the magazine itself; throughout the 1990s the number of issues per year declined precipitously and erratically. In 1991 there was an attempt at monthly publication; nine issues were produced that year. Only two issues were released in 1992. This was followed by one issue in 1993, five in 1994, and three in 1995. For the last three years of its existence, the magazine was published only once a year.

1998, last issue

The magazine's final print publication was November 1998, after which the contract was renegotiated, and in a sharp reversal, J2 Communications was then prohibited from publishing issues of the magazine. J2, however, still owned the rights to the brand name, which it continued to franchise out to other users. In 2002 the use of the brand name and the rights to republish old material were sold to a new and otherwise unrelated company, National Lampoon, Incorporated.

Most of their most creative minds survived the various corporate machinations, although it's sad to have seen many of those geniuses die too soon (from Belushi and Radner to, more recently, John Hughes), as well as bemoaning the brand itself gone dead. MAD and Cracked, even, have managed to retain their presences for future generations, while all we can remember of NatLamp are the movies from Animal House to the Vacation series (many, far more forgettable, titles came and went with "National Lampoon" in their titles but merely sold for the purpose).

And, for today's purposes, these.


On the day after the New England Patriots are once again under investigation for cheating, it's almost prescient that I thought of this old Lampoon effort hours before the tainted game.  The subject was the Parker Brothers game Monopoly, and the issue contained a veritable treasure trove of tricks to gain an edge in those marathons.  Simplest was adding some extra scratch to your personal bank:


Next, some "revised" property cards were provided- to add some value at the low end of the neighbourhood (Baltic being the lowest-rent district in the US version), while "Steel Pier" added a third high-end property to paste over the Luxury Tax space at the highest end):


There were quick as-needed replacements: for Jail, for re-using a help-you/hurt-somebody Chance or CC card, or for safely passing over a high-rent set of houses and hotels:


Then there were nice cards to add to the standard deck:


And a few more tricks to slip up your opponents:

"But wouldn't the Official Rules call you out on these?" Ha. They conveniently added a page that fit, size and textwise, right into the pamphlet:


Finally, there were suggestions on how to pull off the needed sleight-of-hand for these moves:


It's been over 40 years since that issue came out. I never actually used any of these devices, but they did make for conversation more than once- because they've been in my game box, ready to deploy, for all these years:


I'd best GO. Now where's that $200? (or is it $400?)
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