Games People Play at 3 in the morning (otherwise known as Numberwang!)

First, a little backstory:

Numberwang! A bit of silliness from the BBC show That Mitchell and Webb Look.

As you can see from watching this little clip, there’s no rhyme or reason at all to any of it, which makes it all the more fun.

We have a clock from Brookstone (I’ve had it for literally ages) that projects the time and outside temperature on the ceiling when it’s dark, and also functions as a barometer.

Unordered Strait: Numberwang!

At first glance, this looks completely random – but notice that it uses all the numbers from 1 to 6 – what I call an unordered strait. And that’s Numberwang! Points if you see it and call it out and wake up your partner. More points if you can get a picture of it (because, naturally, pix or it didn’t happen).

Random numbers don’t count for anything, but the minutes tick off, and the temperature typically drops .1 or .2 degrees at a time as the night goes on, so depending on the season of the year, all sorts of combinations are possible.

In my own schema, some configurations are worth more than others:

That’s a match. Numberwang!

As you lie there at night with the hamsters running on the wheels in your head, as you remember all the embarrassing things that happened to you in eighth grade, you can often spot one of these coming up. Of course, if there’s five minutes to go before Numberwang! it’s entirely possible that the temperature will move by a tenth or two, and then you’ve lost until the next combination comes around.

Numberwang!
Numberwang!
Numberwang!
Numberwang!
Numberwang!
Numberwang!

Matches are good, and I’ve seen a lot more than I’ve been able to capture. They’re pretty high on the list of scores. But there are some others that are fun to find as well.

This is what I call a “jagged strait.” (This one is simulated)

When the numbers run in sequence, but sort of zig-zag up and down.

Palindromes are fun to catch.
Numberwang!

But the ones that are the hardest of all are what I call the bonanzas. I’ve only caught two of them in 11 years, and you can imagine why they are so difficult – the confluence is very rare, and you have to be awake at just the right time.

Bonanza 3’s
Bonanza 4’s

Strangely enough, I caught these two within a week of each other, after playing this silly game for about 5 years. And I haven’t been able to get another one since.

Here are some of the ones I hope to get as time goes on (simulated images):

Bonanza 5’s

This one is hard for another reason – by the time the temperature gets into the 50’s at night, it’s going to be too light in the morning or the night to see the time on your ceiling unless you sleep in a very darkened room, which we don’t.

Bonanaza 1’s

This one is only going to happen in the winter, and it can also happen at 1:11 AM. Double your chances, but still difficult.

Bonanza 2’s.

Also cold!

Bonanza Null

Colder still! Nulls will only happen if you have your clock set to 24-hour time, which we don’t.

Ordered Strait – Numberwang!

This is a Winterwang, when it’s still dark at 5 AM – but have never yet been able to nail this one.

Numberwang also shows up in the wild – on grocery receipts and gas pumps, or car odometers. In fact, any time you happen to notice an interesting pattern in numbers anywhere, it’s Numberwang! and you can award yourself as many points as you want… before you rotate the board!

The Old Wolf has spoken.


Wang tax:

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