You may have noticed Max and Julia’s Eugene Word Fill floating around Eugene. This free little puzzler is a local version of Mad Libs, a game first invented in 1958 — where a list of words blindly chosen by one player is filled into the blank spots in the story by the other player to create funky, humorous sentences.
“We live in Eugene, Oregon. It is a fine place to _____. There are lots of parks, trees, _____ , and lots of _____ people,” is the first sentence in the booklet. Other stories like “The History of Eugene,” “Trip to Portland” and “Eugene Saturday Market” are featured as well.
The creator is Joseph Alford, who named the booklet after his children, Max and Julia. They are featured both in the title and stomping around Eugene on the cover. Alford is a graphic designer in Eugene who says he decided to make the “Word Fill” because he was out of work and needed to do something on his own.
“I didn’t really make much money on it, but hopefully it brought a little joy to the town. I just wanted to get my name out there a bit,” he says.
Alford says that of the 10,000 copies that he personally distributed to schools, storefronts, offices and elsewhere, he has no idea how many were picked up. He has, however, received emails from people who personally played the game saying that they enjoyed it.
The hardest part of the entire project, Alford says, is selling the advertisements that pay for printing.
“I’m good at giving something to someone and saying, ‘I hope you enjoy it,’ but that’s as far as I go. I have a hard time convincing someone to enjoy it. So I’m a lousy salesman,” Alford says.
Alford says that perhaps if he could have a partner to deal with the business side of things he would consider making a second version for the Oregon Coast, where he thinks traveling families would get a lot of enjoyment out of it. “Print has its place,” he says. “I don’t believe that it died.”