Astoria is a game that punishes everyone who plays (part one)

I drove to the beach house on Saturday, which took nearly half an hour longer than anticipated, owing to a crawl through Long Beach proper due to a city-wide garage sale. I suppose that city council members have the very best of intentions when planning these events: “It will draw people into our community! Perhaps they will spend additional money at local businesses!” but in reality it means that everyone puts out a cardboard and sharpie or plywood and spraypaint misspelled sign* every few feet, a nouveau shanty-town facade indicating that perhaps the townspeople believe you might like to pay for the privilege to paw through their filthy offcast items, grubbing to the bottom of a bin for a moth-eaten t-shirt or a warped record that’s “only a quarter!”, eyes shining like you’re a modern-day Columbus, scouring the seas for a new world of bargains. One of these signs even indicated they sold guns, the subtext being that they could shoot out your tires if you did not stop and rummage properly through decaying cardboard boxes of clips and rusty tractor parts. When I finally arrived, the plan was to load into a few vehicles and drive to Astoria to visit the brand-new Goonies museum located inside the Heritage Museum, so we dutifully packed in and made the drive, only to be informed by a bemused and patient woman behind the counter that not only was the Goonies museum NOT located inside the Heritage Museum but it was also not yet open; the grand opening was set for the following weekend. She then gave us a map and indicated on it where the museum would be opening, the location of the Goonies house, and other notable filming locations in the area, and we decided to check those out, after we checked out what the Heritage Museum had to offer, since we had to wait for the rest of the group to show up, regardless. 28726_398696328939_4234008_n In many, many cities, museums dedicated to local history are soul-crushing book reports of boring, with hand-lettered placards wobbling and trailing off as even the writer passed out through tedium and disinterest. History only ever comes alive when you focus on people’s pettiness, their foibles and jealousies and greed-based motivations, their lusts and passions, to the point where you marvel that anyone accomplished anything whatsoever. My high school history teacher, Mr. Burmeister, knew this, as he whispered to the class about cocaine addictions and powerful whores, and passed around bayonets with a thrust that indicated that he knew precisely how to disembowel an enemy combatant or a bubblegum-popping girl at the back of the classroom. The Astoria Heritage Museum knows this as well, not only focusing on the seedier elements of their town’s history, calling themselves ‘The Most Wicked Place on Earth’ but actually offering up a role-playing game so you could picture yourself as the bar-fighting, prostitute-visiting, bootlegging, opium-smoking, born-again Christian who gets sucked right back into bar-fighting and visiting prostitutes you know you would have been in those less-lawful days. 28726_398695443939_3894503_n Each player decides what job they might have had in those days (cannery worker, traveling merchant, etc), and that job determined the starting amount of chips the player had, representing the amount of money you had for shenanigans and sundries. You then spun a wheel to determine your destination/fate; you could be off to visit the prostitutes first thing or perhaps chat with a policeman on his beat. We played the game rather half-heartedly until Rachel shouted from another room “I JUST *DIED*. My body was washed away in the river, never to be seen again!” Our collective eyebrows shot up; our interest was piqued. “You can DIE in this game?” Some of us became opium addicts. Some of us were hung by our necks until dead. Some of us were beaten to death with our own brass knuckles, or shot with our own guns. Some of us tried to live the honest life of a policeman only to be killed by bootleggers. Some of us were shanghaied and sold into slavery. Some of us made infamous friends in prison who led us into yet more trouble. Soon, we were skipping around, spinning the wheels and having more fun in a history museum than anyone has a right to have.   Should your journey lead you to the church, they had a pulpit from which you could preach fire and brimstone…



Holy shit, I’m going to make an amazing benevolent dictator!

…before getting sucked right back into sin.   28726_398696358939_5646329_n





After a while, we had all died in pretty much every way possible, so we made our way back downstairs to see whatever else there was to see. As we thundered down the stairs, the woman at the front desk laughed and said it certainly sounded as if we had enjoyed ourselves, and we chorused back that we absolutely had an excellent time. Could a museum that housed the Death Game possibly hold any more treasures? By law of averages, isn’t one supremely fun thing more than most museums have? This museum also contained a tiny fort. Clearly intended for children, we wedged our way through the hole in the wall and claimed it in the name of immature adults everywhere.   Inside, there was a lighted campfire, a few bunk beds, the bottoms of which were coated in hay, and an animal skin of one sort or another. Now that I reflect upon it, it actually is entirely possible that NO ONE was supposed to go inside, that it was intended as a peepshow display instead of as an interactive playground. Regardless, we had our fun.


28726_398695453939_2385842_n  28726_398695463939_360786_n


How DARE you awaken She Who Has Hair Full of Hay?

  I know what you’re thinking. Surely, surely a museum of this caliber could not possibly have three fun things, right? WRONG. 28726_398695243939_5756543_n




After we finished our coloring pages/word searches, we realized the others did not intend to join us, so we decided to traipse around Astoria ourselves, coins in pocket, as if we hadn’t just learned about the dangers of the town. To be continued… *Seriously, if you can’t spell ‘garage’, why not try for ‘car hole’?

18 Comments Astoria is a game that punishes everyone who plays (part one)

  1. amazoni June 8, 2010 at 10:24 pm

    I just hope this becomes a beach house tradition, since I wound up having a nap instead.

    1. admin June 8, 2010 at 10:34 pm

      Emily suggested that next year I have a ‘choose your own adventure’ birthday party complete with spinners, and I do tend to agree that it’s a fine idea.

      1. faerieburst June 9, 2010 at 12:40 am

        Please. Please do this.

        And please invite me.



        1. admin June 9, 2010 at 2:17 am

          You’ve got it!

    2. poetrix618 June 9, 2010 at 1:57 am

      I definitely second Amazoni’s request! I sincerely regret having gone through a breakup and my first week of work before Saturday, because I totally missed out! *pout*

      1. admin June 9, 2010 at 2:17 am

        Usually this sort of thing is only fun once.

  2. echoeversky June 8, 2010 at 11:26 pm

    Classic Endgame..

    on the fridge. 🙂


  3. rimrunner June 8, 2010 at 11:29 pm

    I totally want to go to Astoria now.

    1. admin June 8, 2010 at 11:45 pm

      I should write a travelogue. 😉

  4. earthdotprime June 9, 2010 at 12:23 am

    Vacations with Mellzah > all other vacations

    1. admin June 9, 2010 at 2:17 am

      <3 Speaking of which, when is your next Vacation With Mellzah?

  5. corellian_sugar June 9, 2010 at 1:07 am

    Oh, I am so taking my international company to Astoria when she arrives in August. We must spin the WHEEL OF DEATH! It is a moral imperative! Or would that be immoral imperative? Hmmm.

    1. admin June 9, 2010 at 2:18 am

      I prefer immoral imperative. 😀

  6. mcfnord June 9, 2010 at 2:59 am


  7. cheeserock June 9, 2010 at 4:46 am

    not only does the heritage museum sound amazing – BUT THERE IS A GOONIES MUSEUM??????!!!!!!!!!!

    1. admin June 9, 2010 at 7:35 pm

      Yup, when I head down next year I’ll check it out and report back. 🙂

  8. weaselmom June 11, 2010 at 8:55 pm

    This has been a very educational read. I did not know until now that people historically entered and exited forts through an opening shaped much like a YOU KNOW WHAT.

    I don’t even know where Astoria IS but this makes me want to mix up a big batch of S&Ms and hit the road.

    1. admin June 15, 2010 at 6:35 am

      Oh I noted the shape, and pretty much re-enacted my birth going through it. My poor mom. 🙁

Comments are closed.