The Exaggeration Game

It pains me to add another category, but I think you’ll all agree that we need this one. The game I’m highlighting today could be called the “exaggeration” game, although I’m open to a better name. I think David and I invented it, but I could be wrong. The basic idea (also used by politicians during debates) is to take something your opponent says, exaggerate or modify it into something reprehensible, and then berate him for it. It usually starts spontaneously when one party says something that the other party thinks they can “jump on.” The game ends when the loser is rendered speechless, or is laughing too hard to respond.

For example, somebody might say, “I like ice cream.” Innocent enough, but this leaves him wide open for an initial attack like, “I can’t believe you think so little of your body that you would ingest such empty calories of saturated fat.” You might respond, “I can’t believe you would defend, let alone attempt to emulate anorexics.” The answer might be, “Making fun of skinny people with eating disorders is just plain mean.” And so on.

Here’s an example of an email exchange between Patrick and myself that took place last year. It started when I made a comment about the fact that Patrick doesn’t use his full legal name, which includes the III, and this got him in trouble (or me, I don’t remember).

To: Patrick Madden, III
Subject: RE: story for ND mag
Date: Thu, 01 Aug 2002 09:06:00 -0600

It is your fault that there is confusion about you and me. Your legal name is PCM III, but you have chosen to ignore that. I know you like to joke about it, but it really does bother me that you have failed to use the third. Also, I don’t really think that the possibility of mistaking you for the father and me for the son is very funny either. You made your bread, now sleep in it! [note the mixed metaphor.]

1) But it’s your fault that I’ve got the same name as you (I like the name; I’m not complaining, but it’s your fault)
2) Less than 1% of writers use their full legal names when they publish (I made that statistic up)
3) There are at least hundreds of Patrick Maddens in the world. In fact, there’s one who’s published a book. There’s another who owns There are college professors who show up when you search for the name in google. If you check, you get over 100 listings of Patrick Maddens in the U.S. alone. Must be more in Ireland and Canada and perhaps other places (i.e. Uruguay come September). Among all of those, there’s probably even another Patrick Charles Madden II, though I can’t prove it.
4) Brian Doyle has an even commoner name, and there are more than one Brian Doyle publishing articles in magazines.
5) If we both published our writing under the name Patrick Madden, we’d both be correct and nobody could complain.
6) If your name was Richard Bachman, and you wanted to be a writer, would you be pissed off, or grateful?
7) Who cares?
8) Patrick Madden III looks pretentious for a writer.
9) Patrick Charles Madden III is even more pretentious.
10) If you keep this up, I’m going to use my mother’s maiden name, like Galeano did. And my middle name. I’ll be Charles Stone. III. That’ll teach you.


p.s. check out my new award for sustainable agriculture: I’m really hoping this will change the way we grow food in this and other countries.

p.p.s. I show up in sixth place on google when you search for “Patrick Madden” in quotes. And that includes two double-listings ahead of me (so, one could say, I’m fourth). You’re not even on the first page, so I win! I’m also 13th & 14th (double-listing), and then 16th & 17th (another double-listing), 38th, 52nd, 87th …

p.p.p.s. C’mon, Dad, lighten up! Have fun in life!

p.p.p.p.s. There was a Patrick Madden (ND ‘58) working at the Pentagon when the plane hit; he escaped unharmed. Another Patrick Madden (owner of was visiting downtown Manhattan when the planes hit and took a lot of photos.

PC2 Then you could be Chuck Stone, which sounds kind of cool too. Anyway, you brought it up in the first place.

Now I’m gonna have to get myself listed in who’s who. They called me the other day to set up a conference call about listing me. so there.

What? Now you’re comparing yourself to Stephen King?

I could make myself pop up on google too, but I am not self-absorbed
enough to care about stuff like that.

You think it’s funny that people were killed when the plane hit the

PC3 How can you say that the Wright Brothers’ desire to fly like the birds is self-absorbed?

PC2 Is that any more self-absorbed than fighting brain cancer through sustainable agriculture?

PC3 People with brain cancer have as much a right to eat as the rest of us. Just because they’re going to die soon doesn’t mean you should starve them!

PC2 That shows how much YOU know! Reducing food intake has been shown to prolong life in laboratory rats specially bred to mimic human physiology. Unless you want to give THEM brain cancer too!

PC3 I can’t believe you would feed rat meat to cancer patients in the “hope” that they’d prolong their life!

At this point, I let Patrick, III win.

DadGames07/29/03 13 comments


Patrick • 07/29/03 5:21 PM:

Note that in order to “get” the beginning of this round of exaggeration, you should read (skim) the information at the Patrick Madden Award for Sustainable Agriculture page mentioned in the entry (note that the URL has changed; I’ll go change it in Dad’s entry), and the short biography of Patrick Madden. Otherwise you might really wonder how on earth Dad got the line about fighting brain cancer through sustainable agriculture.

And hey, Dad, what do you have against categories? Without them, Darwin’s work would be meaningless. Do you think all animals are the same? That an ant is in the same category as a blue whale?

Dad • 07/29/03 6:27 PM:

What you’re saying is that you want a category for each animal, insect, and plant on earth. This would require billions of categories and would be so unwieldy as to be unusable. Darwin was smart enough to know this even if you aren’t.

Patrick • 07/30/03 11:45 AM:

You’re always more concerned about how useful things are to you. Did you ever stop and think that maybe animals were not put on earth for your personal use? That maybe they are living creatures like you and me?

Dad • 07/30/03 4:34 PM:

If you think giving your poodle a “perm” is more important than feeding the starving children of Somalia, that’s your business, but I for one, opt to throw my lot with the less fortunate humans of the world.

Patrick • 07/30/03 4:47 PM:

What’s this about throwing lots? Do you realize that that’s how Jesus’ garments were divided amongst the Roman soldiers who scourged and crucified him!? And you think that was a good thing!

Dad • 07/31/03 9:19 AM:

Now you’re talking about going to Rome? What do you have against living in your own country?

David • 07/31/03 1:06 PM:

I can’t believe you just let Pat win. His comment was great, I admit it, and cleverly worded so as to discourage further remarks. As a co-founder of the game I wonder whether, for the sake of the game, its integrity, and our laughter, we should always exaggerate ridiculously enough to warrant further attack/exaggeration. Good question. I’m now going to search the neural connections of my brain for cool and funny examples of the history and prehistory of the game.

Patrick • 08/01/03 4:55 PM:

Honestly, I thought Dave was saying that Dad let me win this bout of exaggeration, because Dad’s latest reply was so lame. But if you want to keep going, then I guess I should ask you whether you really believe everything your country tells you, even when you’re slapped in the face with evidence to the contrary.

Dad • 08/03/03 10:28 PM:

No Patrick, being slapped in the face does not cause one to become lame, unless, of course it causes you to trip over something and fall down the stairs. That would be another story!

Patrick • 08/05/03 9:16 AM:

And that is just the sort of misfortune you would wish on someone who made such an innocent mistake, isn’t it? Have you ever heard the motto “Let the punishment fit the crime”? Your draconian methods are not only outdated, Dad, they’re illegal!

Dad • 08/07/03 9:40 PM:

I don’t know why you bleeding-heart liberals insist on blaming society for the criminal behavior of it’s citizens. If you commit the crime, you’ve got to do the time. Anyway, if wishes were horses, then beggars would ride.

Patrick • 03/04/08 11:47 PM:

And I suppose you feel justified in getting rid of your leftover rat meat, after the protesters shut down your cancer-research laboratory, by giving it to those lame beggars on the sidewalk!

Dad • 03/08/08 2:48 PM:

You take 5 years crafting your response and you’re still fixated on feeding rat meat to beggars? Sorry Charlie, but contrary to what you believe, sustainable agriculture does not mean using beggars as slave labor and feeding them dead rodents.

Post a comment

Thanks for signing in, . Now you can comment. (sign out)

Please capitalize your name properly and use the same information each time you comment. We will not send you spam, and your email address will not be posted.

Remember me?


Related Entries
  1. Jack Handey: “This Is No Game”
    “I went waltzing along, not caring where I stepped or if the other person even wanted to waltz.”
  1. Baby Guessing Game
    Guess the baby’s gender, birthdate, height, weight, hair color, and eye color.
  1. Let’s make a deal
    Say you’re on a game show and given a choice of three doors.
  1. White Castle pledge
    …the finest products for the least cost, with the cleanest surroundings and the most courteous employees.
  1. ESPN’s Game Flow Chart
    I was on and saw a “Game Flow” chart, measuring point totals vs time for basketball games.