Eternal Sunshine #134

July 2020

By Douglas Kent - 911 Irene Drive, Mesquite, TX  75149


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Quote of The Month“Never being happy isn't the same as being unhappy. Is it?” (Montgomery McNeil in “Fame”)


Welcome to Eternal Sunshine, the only zine published by an individual as sick, as twisted, as myself.  Believe me when I tell you.  I’m just….sick.  Things you shouldn’t know about, things you couldn’t know about, things you wouldn’t know about.  I have a doctor’s note.


I don’t have a lot of stuff to talk about this month.  It’s just more of the same.  Work, home.  Work, home.  Toby’s still doing pretty good.  I haven’t noticed any major changes in his appetite or energy level.  As a matter of fact, both he and Sanka bug the hell out of me when I come home.  They want me to play with them, letting them case around a car wand.  They’re demands have gotten more frequent and louder; I think they got used to having me home all day, and now that I have to go to the office they want to make up for lost time.  Of course, I try to accommodate them every time I can; I know me, and I know that when Toby is gone, I’ll beat myself up constantly if I skimped on spending all the time with him I could.  He’s on my lap as I type this, as it happens.


Sales (and reviews) for Helplessly Hoping have been hard to come by so far.  I’ve been doing a “Virtual Blog Tour” of book blogs where they either post an ad, or occasionally I write a Guest Blog entry for them.  One of the first ones I did was a list of some of Mara’s favorite movies or all time.  If you want to check that out, go here: .  It was kind of fun to do, and not difficult as I’d been thinking about stuff like that more lately.  There’s going to be a list of songs that meant a lot to Mara on another blog on July 2oth.  If you remember and want to check that out, wait until the 20th and head this way: .  If you miss it, you can scroll through the site or click on “Older Posts.”  I’ll also post a link to my Author Twitter feed, which you can find here (it’s different than my Eternal Sunshine feed or my Diplomacy World feed): . 


I know the subject matter of Helplessly Hoping is something some people don’t want to deal with, and I have no issues with that.  But even if you personally aren’t interested, it would be a huge help to me if you could suggest the book to two or three friends who might want to read it.  And don’t forget to encourage them to leave a review on Amazon and Goodreads if they like it.  I’ve got them set now to where any Amazon Prime member can “borrow” the Kindle version for free, so there’s really no excuse.  You can find the book in paperback and Kindle format here:


In zine news, I’m pleased to announce that Peter Sullivan has rejoined the Eternal Sunshine family.  Some of you may remember that he used to run a subzine called Octopus’s Garden which ran mainly Railway Rivals.  It used to appear here in Eternal Sunshine, often in the form of a subzine to the zine-turned-subzine Abyssinian Prince (published by the late Jim Burgess).  Peter asked if he could join the gang again, and I’m more than happy to have him.  You’ll find his homecoming issue of Octopus’s Garden elsewhere in this zine.  Go read it, or else!


Besides that, we’ve still got Andy York’s great subzine Out of the WAY….and yeah, all the usual crap that I throw in this rag.  I’ve had a few nibbles for the Acquire and Kremlin games I’ve mentioned, so if you want in on either of those let me know ASAP.  I’ve still got my obligatory Diplomacy opening, and Woolworth is on offer.  Check out the Game Openings section for full details.


That’s about it from me.  On to the zine, and I’ll see you in August!

Game Openings

Diplomacy (Black Press): Signed up:  Brad Wilson, needs six more.

Woolworth II-D (Black Press): Rules and map at the end of issue #132.  Each player controls one power publicly, and one secretly, on a slightly revised board.  Signed up: John David Galt, Brad Wilson, needs three more.

Gunboat (No Press): Check out the opening in Any York’s subzine.  Sign up for this opening ONLY through him at

Railway Rivals: In Peter Sullivan’s subzine Octopus’s Garden.  Sign up through Peter Sullivan ONLY!

By Popular Demand: Ongoing.  Join in the fun!  You can join at any time.

Where in the World is Kendo Nagasaki?: Ongoing.  Join in and play NOW!

Also In Andy York’s Subzine – You can find his ongoing “Hangman, By Definition” and Facts in Five, plus openings in Gunboat (listed above) and Breaking Away.

Coming Soon: Open to suggestions.  Anybody want to play Acquire or Kremlin? (One person expressed interest in Acquire so far, and two in Kremlin).

Standby List: HELP!  I need standby players! – Current standby list: Andy York, Andy Lischett, Paul Milewski, Harold Reynolds.


Meet Me in Montauk

The Eternal Sunshine Letter Column


Mark Nelson: It was very nice You ask what have you done with your life? But what have most people done with their life? I think you could say that most people are "replaceable, unimportant, forgettable and unnecessary".


[[Possibly true, but what other people have or have not done isn’t my concern.  I can only control what I do…or don’t do…or haven’t done.]]


Being old fashioned I don't read book blogs nor any other kind of blog...


[[Actually, neither do I, not on any regular basis.  I have three of my own, but I don’t write much.  I just post announcements for this zine, Diplomacy World, and my writing projects.]]


I'm glad that John sent in his email about the Naples-Sicily link.  I noticed that the Sicily province didn't seem to make any sense when I looked at the map, but didn't read the rules to see what was happening.


[[Yeah, it’s not an idea way to illustrate what’s going on.  The “ugly” map gives a better idea.]]


Gyms have been shut in Australia through COVID19. They're now open in NSW subject to the following restrictions:


*   Any class or organised event can have 20 or less participants (excluding staff).

*    There can be no more than one person per four square metres (including staff) on the premises.

*   Operators must have a COVID-19 Safety Plan.


[[Fortunately, I see no reason to join a gym.  The only two things I can imagine wanting to use are a swimming pool and perhaps a sauna.  And hardly any have a pool.  Geeze, when was the last time I was in a swimming pool?  Decades.]]


Logan's Run. Got a vague recollection of that as a TV series - 1977, but perhaps shown in the UK in 1978. Don't have a strong recollection of watching it, perhaps it was shown a little latter in the evening. I've not seen the movie too many times, I guess only once or twice. Must have been a long time ago since I don't have a good handle on the specifics of the story. Ah, the old computer overload trick!


When we go to Sydney I sometimes go into one of the comic stores to see what's happening. But I've had a firm resolve not to get back into comics -- too addictive and I don't have the time. But I did buy the first volume of Lucifer a while ago... and I've got the intention of buying the other volumes at some point in the future.


[[No no no, not going back.  Can’t afford it, and if I’m going to read more I should stick to books.]]


From memory... Inside Out is the standard diplomacy map but redrawn so that instead of Swi being in the centre of the board it's an impassable province that runs around the outside of the map. I don't think they'd be any point running Inside Out diplomacy, because players could just use the regular map. The way to run it would be to print the rules without telling anyone that its topologically the same as the regular map. You'd have to rename the provinces, but perhaps even they the adjacency of "Tri-Ven" would give the game away. So, to conclude.

It's an amusing idea. One might even argue that it should not have been considered a dip variant.


[[I found it in my files.  You’re correct, the map only looks different.  Bruce’s hope was that one day someone would use the map in a face-to-face game without explaining it, causing the players to perceive the game differently.  I’ll include a copy of the map at the end of this issue, so everyone can have an idea what we’re talking about.  When you first look at the map it DOES seem to be an entirely new one.  It’s only when you begin to examine it more closely that you realize it’s the standard Diplomacy map.]]


The Taking of Pelham 1-2-3 was shown on TV here recently. I think it was part of a series of five "definitive 1970s movies". I don't remember what the others were, except that The Godfather was one. One that I didn't watch... in my typically not very accurate plot summary. A couple's daughter had died and the movie was about how they accepted her death. Identify that movie Doug!


[[Knee-jerk guess is “Don’t Look Now” starring Donald Sutherland and Julie Christie.  I saw it again less than a year ago and discovered how beautifully it is shot.  The first time I saw it I was way too young to appreciate such things.]]


I've never watched The Taking of Pelham 1-2-3 from start to finish, but I've caught bits of it on occasion. I see that they remade it in 2009 - why?


[[Because Hollywood loves to recycle things for audiences that don’t care enough to watch anything more than ten years old.  It’s actually been remade twice, but the John Travolta remake is the one people heard about.  There was another remake a decade earlier with Vincent D’Onofrio and Edward James Olmos.  It’s bad enough to remake things, but to remake such a gem of a film, full of brilliant dialogue…it should be illegal.]]


Andy York: Still waiting on BookPeople to call about your book that they ordered for me. Probably shipping issues, hopefully it'll be in soon so I can collect it and the other books I ordered at the same time.


[[Odd, they should have a copy by now…although Amazon has been slow with print-on-demand during the pandemic.]]


Did a quick check and found two of the book reviews as part of that new service. They seem perfectly reasonable reviews, just no idea how many eyes see them.


Nope, no streaming service. I do have the free Pluto TV app, but don't watch it much - no time. I'm finding a fair number of new movies, and ones I haven't seen in a long while, on my cable system. Also, I have quite a backlog of DVDs including too many I have yet to watch. So, I'm not twiddling thumbs here - plenty to watch.


[[I have way too many DVDs, and still accumulate new ones now and then.  Speaking of which…I know you don’t NEED more movies, but Grindhouse Video Tampa ( is the select U.S. store for the big annual Arrow 50% off sale.  Mike sells mostly horror but there may be more mainstream stuff he offers during this particular sale.  It runs July 1 to maybe July 21.  I haven’t seen Sixteen Candles in a while, so I know that’s one title I might pick up at a nice discount.  He’s one of the few independent DVD retailers left.


My boss also buys a lot of DVDs.  Most of what he chooses are awful action films…I don’t even take them to “try” when he’s done, because they’ll just get added to my pile of unwatched movies.]]


Not much really new around here. A couple I know had me over for a fish fry in their backyard several weeks ago, but beyond that pretty much the same. I did check out the gym, but not comfortable with how they have things set up. However, since then the city has imposed a facemask order inside buildings which would have given me a better impression at the time. So, still walking ever day or two in the mornings before the sun starts shining too brightly.


[[I’m sticking with the broken-down stationary bike.  Between that and watching what I eat, I’ve dropped 15 pounds.  I need to lose at least 5 more, and I’d prefer to lose 25 more eventually.]]


Richard Smith - Your US-free round of BPD made me think of UK TV shows and US-related questions. Names of states and names of presidents both come up a lot on shows like Pointless and Tenable. On a recent Who Wants To Be A Millionaire? show the contestant had to answer "Which letter of the alphabet does not appear in any US state names?" with the choices being J, Q, X and Z. The contestant thought of Texas and Arizona quite quickly, then he dredged up New Jersey giving him the right answer.


[[That’s an easy question for me because I know there is so Q, so I wouldn’t need to consider the other letters.  I guess it all depends on how your brain works.  What zine you play BPD in certainly changes the answers you give if you’re trying to do well (I never try to “win” since I never win).  When I play in Variable Pig of Damn the Consequences, I adjust my answers knowing most players are not in the U.S.]]


The Dining Dead – Eternal Sunshine Movie Reviews


Rememory (Netflix) – I’ve been a big fan of Peter Dinklage ever since I saw The Station Agent.  He carries a very old-soul presence on the screen, and even when he’s doing comedy there’s an inner sadness in his expressions.  Of course, most people know him from Game of Thrones, which I never watched.  I have viewed a couple of compilation videos of his “best” scenes, and it’s easy to see why people lauded his performance there as well.


With that in mind, when I came across Rememory (and watched the one-scene trailer Netflix loaded for it), I was anxious to sit back and enjoy it.  But it wasn’t what I expected, and although I can’t find fault with Dinklage’s performance, I feel the movie set out with lofty goals that it never came close to realizing.


Dinklage plays Sam Bloom (although he uses a few names in the film).  It seems there’s a Dr. Dunn (Martin Donovan) who has invented a machine called the Rememory device.  This machine can record memories from your brain onto glass slides, allowing you to play them back and see them accurately instead of through the lens of your present self.  It can also uncover memories you may have forgotten.  Sam attends a launch party for the machine held by Cortex, the company Dunn works with, and while it is clear he wants to approach Dunn and speak to him, he never gets that chance.  And that evening, in his office, Dunn dies.


Now the film becomes more of a whodunit, as Sam takes it upon himself to solve the question of how Dunn died, and who may have killed him.  It’s through the story of his amateur sleuthing that the film tries to question the positives and negatives of the device, the way memories affect us, and whether we’re better off remembering or forgetting certain things.


Because I have an annoyingly strong memory for personal experiences, this is a topic that interests me greatly.  The film seems to be of two schools of thought, depending on the character: should we be focusing on the best memories we have, or should we be appreciative of the common ones?  Or, if the debate was meant to be something else, there’s the two points of view spoken by Dunn and his widow (played by Julia Ormond, and really the only other character besides Sam you might find yourself caring about): are we the sum of all our memories, or are we what’s left of all our broken dreams and unrealized plans? 


As with most mysteries, many of the characters have their own personal secrets and demons (Sam included).  As I mentioned, I simply found the characters too undefined to care about them.  The direction wasn’t particularly effective, and the plot has a lot of holes.  There are a few surprises which were well executed, and it seems clear the general idea for the film was built around those surprises.  I imagine a “what if a guy…” brainstorming session, followed by writing the script.  But because you don’t really care much for the other characters, and because the film is determined to reveal Sam’s secrets only a little at a time, the whole thing comes off slow, poorly paced, and doesn’t address the larger philosophical questions in a stimulating way.  It should be the kind of film that makes you think and talk after seeing it.  But the flaws damage the effect too much.  What we’re left with is two decent performances by actors who could have done much more if given the proper material.  It wasn’t a waste of time, but it wasn’t anything I’ll want to revisit.


Warning: Do Not Play (Shudder) – Films about the search for lost horror movies that kill the viewer, or simply the lost most frightening film of all time, are not that uncommon.  A good example is John Carpenter’s Cigarette Burns, which is a kind of movie-themed Ninth Gate (which I reviewed last issue).  In that vein I found Warning: Do Not Play on Shudder.  This is a Korean film from last year, focused on a young female director named Mi-Jung.  She’s parlayed a horror short that won festival accolades into a one-film deal making a full-length horror film.  But she is suffering from nightmares, and is suffering writer’s block.  She hears a rumor about a film that was supposedly made by a ghost, and when screened caused the death of one viewer and the fleeing of the rest of the audience.  Soon her obsession over this film grows; she needs to find it and see if there are ideas she can adapt into her struggling screenplay.  And the more obsessed she becomes, the more fragile her mental state is.  As I suggested a the start of this review, this isn’t new territory, and it’s been done better other places.  Warning: Do Not Play is not a bad movie, but sadly it’s not really a good one either.  There are so many great horror films made in Asia, it would be a shame if this was the one someone chose to introduce themselves to the Asian horror genre.  Let’s hope that doesn’t happen.


Marcella (Netflix) – I hadn’t intended to review this show (an ITV police drama), because I watched Season 1 and Season 2 a few years ago, and hadn’t thought it about it since.  But while putting some rude comments in a message threat between two of my siblings, I discovered Season 3 just came out on Netflix.  Since I watched it, I realized I could review that, and talk a bit about the series as a whole.


First, a word of warning: I like Marcella.  I think Anna Friel does a great job of portraying a complex, erratic character without going over the top.  But from what I see online, a lot of people seem to hate this series.  Some said it was too complex, with too many unimportant characters introduced.  Others have complained the series delights in throwing red herrings left and right in an attempt to frustrate the audience.  That may actually be one of the reasons I enjoy the show.  I can’t help it; my brain tries to solve any mystery a film or show presents, even if it has to do so in the background, without me being aware of it.  When a character in a movie forgets his umbrella and goes back and grabs it, my brain makes a mental note, recognizing there’s 100% chance the umbrella is going to be an important clue or plot point later on.  The only way I seem to be able to override this annoying habit is either a) misdirection or b) great dialogue. 


Anna Friel plays a police detective who retires ten years ago while she was pregnant, so she could focus on her family.  Now her husband has left her, the baby she had died tragically, the relationship with her children is strained, and she finds herself needing to return to work in order to regain some purpose in her life.  Season 1 starts with a killer she had once been investigating returning to kill again.  Actually, I can’t tell you too much about the plot.  There’s almost no way to go into sufficient detail without putting spoilers in.  There are multiple story lines in each season, involving all the major characters, and they push those lines together constantly.  Sometimes they’ll wind up crossing, sometimes not.  Like life, there’s no specific rhyme or reason.  My opinion is the writers have done that deliberately; some hold the opinion that it suggests the writers had no real plan and are just making things up as they go along.


Season 2 ends with an obvious, but very different, opening for Season 3, and I wasn’t sure if they’d decide to follow it or instead just end things.  But they did, and Friel’s character is now in an entirely different situation, but still struggling with some of the same demons.  I think I enjoyed Season 2 more than Season 3, but all three were worth my time. If nothing else, you should give Marcella a try.  Oh, and I’ll also admit that unlike most shows, before watching Season 3 I had to go back and watch parts of the last episode of Season 2 to remind myself exactly how they wound up the various storylines.  I knew what the final scene was, but forgot a few details of how we’d gotten there.


Black Sunday (Amazon) – I read the novel, and I know I must have seen the film at least once, but it was so long ago I decided to watch this again.  John Frankenheimer directed this 1977 thriller about a Black September plot to detonate a shrapnel bomb on the Goodyear Blimp over the Super Bowl, killing 80,000 people.  When the film came out it was a bit of a fantastic “what if” kind of story.  Post 9/11, it’s almost absurd to think they’re even far-fetched.


Robert Shaw stars as Major Kabokov, an Israeli agent who is working against the terrorist group Black September.  He and his team raid a meeting place where plans are being made to detonate a bomb on the Goodyear blimp at the Super Bowl.  Kabokov has a chance to shoot a woman in the shower during the raid, but he is losing his edge; he closes the door and moves on.  That woman is Dahlia (Marthe Keller), who is the mastermind of the plot.  She is handling Lander (Bruce Dern), one of the blimp pilots, and a former Vietnam POW who has become completely disillusioned with life and the United States.  It was Lender who approached Back September about his idea for bombing the Super Bowl.


Unfortunately for Kabokov, the raid results in some useful intelligence, alerting him to a major terrorist plot, but not enough to know what the plan is, or exactly when it will be committed.  The best guess is sometime in January.  He alerts the U.S. government, and starts to work directly with the FBI and Agent Corley (Sam Weaver) to uncover who the woman is, and in the process possibly learn what the plan might be.


There are really only two characters that matter in this film, which is one of the main weaknesses, as it should have been three.  Kabokov and Lander are fleshed out and you can identify with both of them.  Bruce Dern feels betrayed by his own country; a former war hero disgraced.  He plays the role well, and provides a manic edge without falling into bad acting.  And Shaw, as Kabokov, sees that his ruthlessness in prior years has, in its own way, helped create the situation for groups like Black September to operate and thrive.  As one character tells him “You’ve begun to see both sides of the question.”  And in his line of work, that’s no good.  It leads to hesitation.


Sadly, the third part of the triangle is supposed to be Dahlia.  But Marthe Keller, who was so good in Marathon Man, feels wooden and dead.  Even when she’s showing true emotion – fear, anger, regret – you feel nothing for her.  Not sympathy, not hatred, not anything.  In fact, none of the Black September members evoke the slightest response from the viewer.  We’re given enough detail to understand their motivations, but they’re not written well enough to make us care about them.  So, they fail as villains, and as interesting characters.


I’ve read numerous times that the studio expected this film to be the “next Jaws,” and not just because Robert Shaw is in both.  It tested better than just about any movie they’d screened in that era.  But it fell flat at the box office.  Part of the blame is placed on another “terrorism at a football game” film that came out a few months earlier.  The rest of the blame probably should be laid at the feet of the lack of interesting characters, and the slow pace in the first half of this long film (nearly 2 ½ hours).  The last thirty minutes is very taut and holds up well, but the rest probably dragged just as much back in 1977 as it does now.  It’s not a disappointment, but it could have been a whole lot more.  A lot of authentic Super Bowl footage is used during the latter parts of the film, and that helps a lot.  It all feels real then.  And dangerous.  The rest of the time, it’s just a movie.


Removed (DVD, sort of) – This is a movie I backed on Kickstarter about five years ago, which I finally got a chance to see.  It’s available on Amazon Prime under the name Evolution of Evil, although that may be a different cut of the film (I haven’t tried that version so I can’t truly compare).  They never did a true DVD release, so streaming is the only way you’d have a chance to watch it.  Not that it’s necessarily a film worth tracking down.  For a low-budget suspense film it isn’t that bad.  The audio is good, the cinematography is very pretty; it opens with a drone shot over a car travelling through a forest in the Pacific Northwest which is kind of old hat now, but when they made this movie it wasn’t that common yet.  There’s a lot of nice b-roll footage: plants, insects, a dead deer that I imagine they just happened across.  All that scenic beauty makes up for a generally clichéd plot.  A man and a woman – both a bit snide and both hipster types – are going camping.  They choose a location away from other people in the area, so they can be “removed” from civilization.  And then we get a sorta combination Deliverance/Motel Hell plot line.  Because I disliked the main characters from the start, I didn’t feel all that bad about the nightmare they found themselves in.  And while there are a few minor twists, and an attempt at a more original ending than you’d suspect otherwise, it’s nothing to write home about.  This was Writer/Director Kevin Forrest’s first feature-length film, and his more extensive history of camera work is evident here.  I think he may have better films in his future.  You can do worse than this film when you’re looking for something to watch, but you can also do better.


Fringe (IMDBtv via Amazon) – It was at the urging of my oldest brother than I started watching this show that originally ran from 2008 to 2013.  Anna Torv stars as Olivia Dunham, an FBI agent who gets assigned to a strange case of disease, terrorism, or something worse on a flight from Frankfurt to the U.S.  In order to figure out what happened, she decides she needs the help of Dr. Walter Bishop (John Noble), a scientist who has spent the last 17 years in an institution.  And to get permission to talk to him, she needs the help of his estranged son Peter Bishop (Joshua Jackson).  That’s how they set the series up, and as the first episode resolves you know the three of them will be working together in one fashion or another as the main characters.  One of the reasons I never watched this show was the inclusion of Joshua Jackson, because for some reason I haven’t been able to think of him as anyone but his Dawson’s Creek character; that or his small role in Cruel Intentions.  And to be perfectly honest, as I get close to the end of the first season, I haven’t fully adjusted.  But there’s enough tension and interesting fringe science concepts (hence the name of the series) to keep me committed for at least another season.  The other knock on the show was that it was too much like The X-Files.  There’s some crossover in mood and sometimes in subject matter, so that could be a valid criticism.  When I told my brother that I was starting the series, he said “You’ll see it’s more than just The X-Files minus the X.  There’s a great father/son story throughout.  And it’s more about guilt, and not living up to your potential.”  My only response was “Guilt?  Not living up to your potential?  I have real life for both those things, why do I need to watch a TV show?”

A Musical Interlude


I was invited to join a “Music Countdown” group on Facebook.  It’s a private group where members list their 30 favorite songs in a given category, one per day from #30 to #1.  When I first joined, they were just finishing up “songs about loneliness.”  I’d missed that one so I just posted a couple of Honorable Mentions that hadn’t been listed.  This time around was “Songs with Number in the Title.”  I figured I’d include my list here for you to enjoy; it includes links to the appropriate version of the song on Youtube.  However, please note: this copy of the list is NOT in the proper order.  It’s just in the order I wrote them down, and then I chose them one by one and reordered them as I went along.  I can tell you that “Six Underground” by the Sneaker Pimps was my #1 selection when all was said and done.  Some people used Ordinal Numbers, while I did not.  “Once in a Lifetime” would have made the list if I did.  The only two rules I stuck with were no Beatle songs, and no post-Beatle solo work.  The only song I am certain would have made the list without that restriction is “#9 Dream.”  So here are my top thirty songs with numbers in the title (out of order).  An eclectic mess.  Among the “Honorable Mention” songs I posted outside the list for this topic (songs that missed my list by a few spots) were Anna Nalick’s “Breathe (2am)” and the Split Enz song “One Step Ahead.”


1.    One Way or Another by Blondie – Initially my only exposure to Blondie was Heart of Glass, and then this track which I probably first heard while watching the film Little Darlings.  It wasn’t until a few years later that I was able to absorb and appreciate the depth of their catalog and how great the non-singles were.

2.    25 or 6 to 4 by Chicago – A clear favorite over Questions 67 and 68.  Aside from borrowing a few Chicago albums from the library in my early teens (Chicago II and VII), I never really listened to the band beyond what I heard on the radio.  And consequently, I lived under the misimpression that the songs were usually written by whoever sang lead; I loved to read every word of an album’s cover, inside (it if was a fold-out), and sleeve, but the library used standard sleeves and the covers were secured in thick plastic protectors.  Terry Kath’s guitar solo is a prime example of how he was underappreciated.

3.    700 Miles by Mary Lee’s Corvette – I saw Mary Lee’s Corvette open for The Joe Jackson Band on Sunday, March 16, 2003, during Jackson’s “Volume 4” tour.  All I knew of the band (and Mary Lee Kortes) was the live “Blood on the Tracks” song-by-song cover album they’d released.  They opened the show with this song, the title track to their 2003 release.  I bought the album the next week.  That weekend was the happiest weekend I’d had in a decade, and nearly every moment of it, including the Monday that followed, remains burned in my brain.  I finally was able to see one of my musical heroes live, with his original quartet.  And the day before I spent seven hours talking on the phone to a woman who I would meet face-to-face on a date on Monday, would eventually become my second wife.  For the first time in my life, for a brief couple of weeks, it felt like the stars had finally aligned in my favor.

4.    Sixty Years On (Live) by Elton John – Elton John is probably the second artist I was obsessed with, after The Beatles.  It was my oldest brother who got “Captain Fantastic and the Brown Dirt Cowboy.”  And soon we filled in all the holes, going backwards.  I much prefer the energy and emotion of this live performance of the song, from “17-11-70,” to the orchestrated version on the “Elton John” album.  Some of Paul Buckmaster’s orchestrations are tremendous (as the “Live in Australia” album helps point out) but I never felt his work on this song brought it where it needed to be.  The scaled-down trio of Elton, Dee, and Nigel do it a greater service.  It is THIS version that makes my list; the studio version wouldn’t make it to the top 50.

5.    I’m One by The Who – There are, obviously, two choices you can pick from on Quadrophenia, the other being “5:15.”  We moved to a different rent house in 1984, and I found the double album of the movie soundtrack in the attic.  As an awkward and unpopular teenager, “I’m One” spoke to me much more personally.  Besides, when I was “out of my brain on the train” it would be returning FROM New York City late at night, not riding the NJ Transit trains into the city in the late afternoon or early evening.  Because there are slight differences to the film versions, I’ll link to the version I loved first.

6.    I’m the One by Van Halen – I suppose loving the first Van Halen album start to finish can be regarded as a guilty pleasure these days.  I’d heard “Running With the Devil” on the radio a few times, and then their cover of “You Really Got Me” in the film “Over the Edge” which I’ve seen thirty times in my life.  That cover got me hooked, and I was a big Kinks fan.  So there’s little doubt a song from it would appear on this list.

7.    One Was Johnny by Carole King – “Really Rosie” was huge when I was in elementary school, and they’d show it to us once a year.  My parents were kind enough to buy us the LP too, and we worse it out.  Maurice Sendak and Steven Kellogg were my favorite authors as a little kid.  Of course, this album and movie led me to a great appreciation of Carole King in the years that followed.

8.    Clock Strikes Ten by Cheap Trick – I don’t really need to explain how big the Budokan album was, but I’d already become a fan from the studio versions found on the soundtrack to “Over the Edge” (“Downed” was the first song that really grabbed me, and then “Surrender” is featured in a memorable scene).  Budokan was just one of those albums everyone seemed to own, and I played that thing a lot, especially Side 2.  “Clock Strikes Ten” closed out the album in the original release; I think the order has changed quite a bit in the remastered expanded edition.

9.    One Word by Conjure One – A Diplomacy friend, Joakim Spångberg, saw me mention how much I loved Poe, especially her album “Haunted.”  (I’d seen her open for Depeche Mode on the “Exciter” tour, and her performance blew me away.  This was also the first time I realized the knit hat fashion statement one of her band members was sporting was completely stupid…there’s little reason to wear a knit ski hat on stage at an outside venue when it’s over 100 degrees).  He told me that Delirium’s Rhys Fulber had a side project called Conjure One, and the singer who appeared on many tracks on their album “Extraordinary Ways” under the name “Jane” was in fact Poe.  She was suffering through a litany of legal and label problems which have only recently ended.  I ordered a copy and still play the album start to finish every few months, usually on Sundays when I’m writing or being introspective. 

10.  Four Seasons in One Day by Crowded House – I’ve been a fan of Neil Finn since I first heard “I’ve Got You.”  He has such a penchant for catchy tunes, and often they exhibit a yearning or darker emotional face than is immediately made apparent by the music.  I could have easily included the Split Enz songs “One Step Ahead” or “Six Months in a Leaky Boat” here (more likely the former), but no Enz song ever measured up to “I’ve Got You” for me, even if “One Step Ahead” was a distant second (I did post it as an honorable mention prior to this list starting).  This particular song has a very quiet beauty, and is one of those lyrical creations that means different things to almost everyone who listens to it.  Sometimes I prefer not to know what the songwriter meant until long after I’ve attached my own significance to a song.  I’ve since learned Finn wrote this song about how you can never predict the weather in Melbourne.  Fortunately, it’s poetic enough that you’ll take it in many other directions.

11.  One Way Out by Allman Brothers Band – When I was seven or eight, I heard “Rambling Man” and liked it.  But unfortunately, my young brain assumed it was representative of whatever else the Allman Brothers Band had done.  It wasn’t until a couple of years later that I learned Duane could be heard on “Layla” and bothered to investigate.  In retrospect, there’s no chance I wouldn’t have uncovered the fallacy of my belief sooner or later.  This isn’t my favorite Allman Brother’s song now, but “Eat a Peach” was the first of their albums I bought, and for a while it was one of my favorite songs on that.

12.  One More Time by Joe Jackson – The first song on his first album.  Also the song they opened the show with when I first saw him live.  Granted, like most people, it wasn’t the first song of his I heard.  That was “Is She Really Going Out With Him?” which I might have been introduced to watching an episode of “Hot Hero Sandwich.”  By the time I went to buy “Look Sharp!” the local record store already had a poster on the wall alerting me to his new album “I’m the Man.”  And the rest, as they say, is history.

13.  No One is to Blame by Howard Jones – Howard Jones was all over the radio, so there was no real way to avoid him or his huge hair.  My mind has always sort of linked his music with that of The Thompson Twins, probably just because they were both being played nonstop on certain stations during the same period.  But by the time I heard No One is to Blame he seemed to be maturing as a songwriter, but I’ve always found most of his lyrics to be a little trite (at least on the bigger hits).  The remixed version of the song made for the single release, which I think Phil Collins produced, is my preferred mix.

14.  One on One by Hall & Oates – I’ve never been huge H&O fans, but I’ve appreciated their ability to fashion pop hits, sometimes with a bit of a soul edge.  I most enjoyed the two new songs included on “Rock and Soul Part 1” and then the next studio album “Big Bam Boom” (although there were a few songs on “Change of Season” I enjoyed more than I expected).  But their radio hits were always listenable at a minimum, and this track was one I rarely turned the dial from when it came on.

15.  Breaking Us in Two by Joe Jackson – “Night and Day” was a great album, above and beyond the two singles, and Joe’s foray into the MTV Video world.  But as much as I loved the album, I have a fondness for the live version of this song even more, with the beautiful acoustic guitar solo.  I love how Jackson continually reinvents his own songs.

16.  One Thing Leads to Another by The Fixx - I’m not sure which Fixx album I love more, “Shuttered Room” or the much more successful “Reach the Beach.”  But both had some great songs on them, and it was refreshing to hear singles that fell a touch outside of the standard radio fare.  My older brother always suggested that if I liked The Fixx, I should go two steps further and focus on David Sylvian’s Japan.  I’ve enjoyed Sylvian’s solo work more than the Japan period, but I digress.  For a few years, The Fixx could do almost no wrong in my eyes.

17.  One Slip by Pink Floyd – As Floyd forever fractured into the Gilmour-led band and Waters’ solo career, I didn’t feel it necessary to pick a side.  I was pleasantly surprised at how well “A Momentary Lapse of Reason” turned out, even if I had a sneaky suspicion that Waters’ description of it as “a perfect impression of a Pink Floyd album” was probably rather accurate.  The mixtape I used to play in my Walkman as I rode to New York City every morning (to the disdain of the older commuters, forever asking this teenage greaseball to turn the noise down) included two Floyd songs: this one and Corporal Clegg.  I especially loved Levin’s bass work on this song.

18.  Be My Number Two by Joe Jackson – Another Joe Jackson song where I prefer the “Big World” tour live version to the original studio song.  I killed off a cassette copy of “Live 1980-1986” before I ever got the CD edition.  Joe Jackson never disappoints live; he collects a great band – of varying sizes – and builds an impressive playlist of originals and covers.  It’s an adventure every music fan should experience at least once.

19.  Two-Faced Man by Gary Wright – Wright’s “The Light of Smiles” remains one of my favorite albums, even if it was generally ignored when compared to “Dream Weaver” which preceded it.  I was fortunate to have the LP, as CD versions were impossible to find for decades.  (I also had an 8-track recording of a King Biscuit broardcast during the Light of Smiles tour, which I later transferred to cassette and then – years later - mp3).  A student of music, I took those albums and worked my way forwards and backwards in his career, all the way to Spooky Tooth when looking in reverse.  And as a Beatles fan I was thrilled to learn about his long friendship with George Harrison.  When Wonderwheel was finally released, more than 40 years after it was recorded, I was certain to pre-order a copy.  This live Dick Cavett performance is the Wonderwheel band (including Mick Jones), performing a catchy tune from one of his unsuccessful solo albums after he left Spooky Tooth…and with a special “friend” joining them.

20.  Six Underground by Sneaker Pimps – Okay I know Kelli Dayton didn’t write any of the songs, and she wasn’t integral to the project or its production.  But the first album “Becoming X” was the only Sneaker Pimps album I really liked.  “Splinter” is probably a decent album in its own right, but it’s an entirely different flavor, one which I can get elsewhere in more desirable ways.  “Becoming X” was a personal favorite when it came out, and while I don’t listen to it that often any longer, “Six Underground” remains a track that appears in my head at least once every few weeks.  Kelli had the perfect voice for this song.

21.  Thirteen by Big Star – I know it’s obligatory to be a Big Star fanatic if you identify as a Wilco fan.  Fortunately, I’m much more a Jay Bennett fan that a typical Wilco fan (I don’t have the idol worship of Jeff Tweedy many do, and my involvement with the upcoming documentary “Where Are You, Jay Bennett?” only strengthened my opinions in this regard).  And as for Big Star….I really like a few of the tracks on their debut album, but it was nothing earth-shattering.  And I don’t credit them with being supremely influential.  “Thirteen” is a good song.  Enjoy it, taking it for what it is.

22.  Sixteen Miles (to Seven Lakes) by Gordon Lightfoot – This song appears on his first album, when he was still much more of a folk artist, and long before he struck it big.  I never owned that album, so I first heard this song on his compilation “The United Artists Collection.”  I’m not in love with everything he did during that period, but this one gets me good.   A very pretty lament.

23.  Edge of Seventeen by Stevie Nicks – It was Lyndsey Buckingham in the studio who turned Fleetwood Mac into a monster in the music world, as much as it was the various personalities and songwriting abilities in the band, and the deadly tension as relationships fizzled and then imploded.  The best example of this are the details behind “Dream” from the “Rumours” album, and how Lyndsey turned it from a “boring” demo that the rest of the band didn’t even consider for the record into a worldwide smash.  But it was Stevie Nicks who was the first to discover the joy of a successful solo career, mainly by following that same methodology: write some songs, and then get friends to come in and produce them into magic.  “Bella Donna” also was the first sign of her friendship and partnership with Tom Petty and Mike Campbell.  (I love the story of how, during the early work on the Petty album “Let Me Up, I’ve Had Enough,” Campbell played Stevie a demo tape of “Runaway Trains” before any lyrics had been written.  She proceeded to take that music and privately write an elaborate song, and then asked Petty if she could record it.  “Uh, no, sorry, I’m using that song for our new album, he never should have played you that.”  I wish I could hear Stevie’s version).  Anyway, “Edge of Seventeen” was a huge FM radio staple for years to come after this album was released.  It’s a prime example of when Stevie can rock out instead of weaving delicate melodies.  She still kills the song live (I saw her on the 24 Karat Gold tour a few years ago).

24.  Twenty-One by The Cranberries – I first fell in love with the Cranberries’ sound while shopping in a run-down Foodtown in Rahway, New Jersey, hearing “Linger” on the overhead speakers for the very first time.  Amazingly, that turned out to be only a middle-of-the-pack song for me on their breakthrough album.  And then “No Need to Argue” was a half-step up from that album, which I didn’t think was possible; I really appreciated how it was a little darker.  We lost a real talent when Dolores O’Riordan died.  “Twenty-One” is my favorite non-single track on the album.

25.  21 Things I Want in a Lover by Alanis Morissette – Alanis gives us two obvious choices in the category, but I’m sticking with the lesser-known because I prefer it.  I think it was released as a single in only a few countries, and the album it comes from (“Under Rug Swept”) was considered a disappointment after “Jagged Little Pill” and “SFIJ,” so it’s easily forgotten.  “21 Things..” has a great guitar part.

26.  I Would Die 4 U by Prince – There will never be another “Purple Rain” just as there will never be another Prince.  I was a sophomore in High School when the album came out, and it was simply everywhere at the time, but had so many great tracks that you really never got tired of it.  It was such a complete work, a 1980’s Sgt. Pepper, but orchestrated by one man instead of a band.  “I Would Die 4 U” is probably the best dance song on the album.  When I’m listening to music and considering the mixes a band selects these days, I am reminded of Prince’s rude for working in the studio: if you want to know if a particular instrument track is necessary in the mix, you should be able to listen only to that instrument and the vocal track and still have the song work for you.  Otherwise you don’t need that instrument in the mix. 

27.  Nothing Compares 2 U by Sinead O’Conner – Prince’s penchant for using “2” and 4” in his titles makes it way too difficult to avoid his music on this list.  And despite the general public’s willful ignorance when it comes to who wrote this song, we all know and always have known.  Sinead’s powerful vocals turn a good song into an unforgettable single, and the simple video – built around a close-up of her face – was a perfect choice to carry it into the MTV universe.  I was generally sad that she shot herself in the foot with her anti-Catholic grandstanding, but I also recognized that like so many other great singers, she would only be as good as the material she chose to record.

28.  Funk #49 by James Gang – Joe Walsh has always been a very erratic talent, limited more by his substance abuse and awful work habits than anything else.  But even in his worst period he was able to crank out some very listenable albums; “Ordinary Average Guy,” as an example, was a really good album, with only one or two songs worth skipping, but Walsh was barely coherent when it came out.  Anyway, pre-solo and pre-Eagles, we have his James Gang youthful period.  I’ve never found their albums to be especially worthwhile; I’m a fan of the singles, and think Walsh’s music matured and developed leaps and bounds after he left in 1972.  In their own way, they were a proto-grunge band twenty years before the movement started. 

29.  England 2–Columbia 0 by Kirsty MacColl – One of the most overlooked talents in modern popular music, even more so in the States.  But it always seemed the universe was maneuvering to thwart all her efforts.  A record delivery strike decimated her first single.  A label collapse eliminated her second.  Her stage fright and self-consciousness limited her live performances.  Her refusal to shut up and do as she was told (and her obviously high intelligence) relegated her to darker corners of the business.  Even with the terrible tragedy of her death while saving her children from a speeding luxury boat, the fact remains that she was considering leaving music behind entirely (and not for the first time).  “England 2 – Columbia 0” was from her last album, released shortly before her death (by a label that dropped her weeks before tragedy struck).  “Tropical Brainstorm” is immersed in island rhythms, inspired in part but the time she spent in Cuba, Mexico, and South America.  Like a lot of her music, it doesn’t fit easily in the world of simple pop music.  Kirsty never much worried about that; she followed her own path, win or lose.

30.  Play That Fast Thing One More Time by Rockpile – The worst thing Rockpile (Nick Lowe, Dave Edmunds, Billy Bremner, and Terry Williams) could ever have experienced was for the label issues that kept them from doing an official album together to finally get resolved.  Prior to that, Edmunds and Lowe could work on each other’s albums, which helped define roles and rotate who was in charge.  They’re very different people, with different styles and different outlooks on life.  Edmunds is five years older than Lowe, so to him Nick was always a kid.  Lowe loved to replicate the energy of a live performance in the studio, while Edmunds preferred overlays of tracks, and would do fifty takes of a guitar part to get it the way he wanted.  And Bremner was relegated to backing status while no “official” band existed, in part simply because he didn’t have any solo albums of his own.  They’d all tour together, rotating songs and lead vocals and throwing in a ton of covers.  When they were finally able to record “Seconds of Pleasure” the cracks that had formed split wide open.  No longer was there a performer and a producer and rules over who decided what.  The fun was over, and so was the band.  This song could be considered a swan song for them, in a way.  They never really reconciled, and never played live together again as far as I know.  Edmunds did co-produce one song on an album of Lowe’s eight years later, probably for nostalgia’s sake.  If you want a peek at the differences between Lowe and Edmunds, do a Youtube search for “Rockpile Born Fighter” which was filmed in 1979 during the concurrent recording of Lowe’s “Labor of Lust” and Edmunds’ “Repeat When Necessary.”

Octopus's Garden

Issue Ninety

10th July 2020


HELLO, good evening and welcome to Octopus's Garden, the subzeen with its very own Railway Rivals openings. It is a subzeen to Douglas Kent's Eternal Sunshine. It's produced by Peter Sullivan It's also available on the web at:


So, I’m back. Although I guess I’ve never really been away. But my nascent interest in the games hobby was re-kindled by Virtual Dixiecon back at the end of May. Where I got viciously stabbed, what I thought at the time was one turn too early by my notional ally. The fact that he went on to achieve an outright win in the gane and win the whole tournament somewhat shook the solidity of this presumption.

Given that there’s currently a lack of train games in this fine periodical, I’d like to start a game or two of Railway Rivals. Let’s start with:

Railway Rivals Map “B” (London and Liverpool): Five wanted.

Map is at

To get on the waiting list, e-mail me, and (if you aren’t already) join the Eternal Sunshine mailing list at

Railway Rivals Postal Rules

X1 Except where noted, these are based on the 5th edition rules, published in April 1990. Players and g.m.s should read these rules as well as the postal amendments. 

X2 The GamesMaster (g.m.) decides all disputed points. You may appeal against his rulings to a mutually-agreeable third party (usually David G. Watts), but changes are unlikely !

X3 Players may correspond, make/break agreements, etc, as in Diplomacy.

X4 The g.m. will accept late moves until the game is adjudicated. Clear unambiguous errors may be corrected by the g.m., in line with the player's perceived intent. Otherwise, moves are made as ordered, if possible.

X5 The g.m. will typically provide an electronic copy of the map to players at the start of the game, in order to avoid the need to charge players for printing and posting a paper map.

X6 The g.m. will attempt to contact players who NMR.

X7 If a player still does not submit orders or otherwise contact the g.m. then the game will be held over and a stand-by appointed. If the original player does not submit orders by the next deadline, the stand-by will replace them for the rest of the game, and the original player will be dropped. Other players may make their orders conditional on whether the stand-by takes up the position. 

X8 With NMR!s in rounds 10, 11 & 12, the g.m. may decide not to appoint a stand-by. The game will still be held over, as in X7. If the original player does not submit orders by the next deadline, they will still be dropped. Their track may be used by other players at half normal cost until the end of the game. This means players may use up to 20 hexes (=10 points) per race.

X9 There are normally 12 rounds and a preliminary round in which players give preference lists for start towns and colours.

X10 Players' rail companies may go into debt at any time, but interest is 20% per round, fractions rounded up.

X11 Players orders to the g.m. should include : game name ; round number ; name or initials of the rail company ; colour ; date ; player's name. Moves must be clearly set out and helpful to the g.m. (e.g. known payments to other players should be shown). Changed moves must be dated. If the g.m. makes a mistake because you didn't observe this rule, it's your fault!

X12 If a player's builds involve paying over 15 points to another player in any one round, they pay in full but the other player receives only 15. 

X13 Where both tracks are built in the same round, the payment for building alongside the earlier track is 1 per half-hex ; plus 1 for the junction as usual.

Building stage

Y1 there are a fixed number (normally 6) of building rounds. The g.m. sets three die rolls per round (e.g. 3, 6, 4) so all players have the same building allowance. (The three rolls will normally total 11 to 15; there are no 1's and few 2's. There may be 7's or 8's on large maps, if the g.m. says so at the start). Moves by all players are simultaneous; but if you enter a hex even 1 hex behind an opponent, you must pay them. (See X13).

Y2 Builds are written thus : a, b, c refer to the three rolls (not 1, 2, 3) ; (Start point) is in ( ). Use town names when they are built to or through; e.g. 2b) (F39) - Richmond - C39. All builds are firm, and not conditional on what other players do.

Operating stage

Z1 Normally each key number comes once in rounds 7-9, and once in rounds 10-12. Usually there are 6 operating rounds, with 6-9 races in each. Players may usually enter just over half the races offered (e.g. 4 from 6 or 7, 5 from 8 or 9), although the g.m. will normally specifically state how many races can be entered. All races must be at least 6 hexes long by the shortest route that could possibly be built. 

Z2 Sectoring schemes are as follows, unless the g.m. says otherwise :

Z3 A run with no entrants is held over and offered as an extra run next round (unless it cannot be run, in which case it is held over until it can be run). There is no limit to how many times a race may be held over, but any races held over in after the final racing round are lost.

Z4 Routes in the races must be clearly and unambiguously indicated to the g.m.. However, it is not usually necessary to list every hex, or give the route length. The payments to other players should be shown e.g. : run 13, Phil - Charleston : (Phil) - G38 own track ; pay CVR (Blue) 4, G38 - F35, and 5 to NGB for F35 - E31; own track E31 - Chstn

Z5 There are 4 types of runs ;

Joint runs : both must submit identical orders ; or one may specify as ordered by XYZ. You must still give details of any payments to third parties for using their tracks.

Exchange of Running Powers (XRP), allowing payments of over 10 to the other. These are normally for the same race, but may be for 2 different runs in the same round. If in the same race, players do not have to run along the same routes. If the conditions set out by one player are not followed by the other, the runs do not take place. Payments to and from the other partner, and to other players, should be given in your orders as normal. 

For both joint runs and exchange of running powers, you may submit alternative orders for use in case the other player doesn't agree (e.g. run joint or XRP with another player; run solo; enter a different race, etc.) These are the only occasions when conditional orders are allowed. 

Z6 Players may submit orders for track to be built at the end of the round, according to the limits set by the g.m. Typically, this is 12 - 14 pts for round 7, decreasing by 2 points per round; but the g.m. uses his experience to set suitable limits. This limit does not include payments to other players for joining/building alongside their track, i.e. it is a limit on the terrain/physical points only. If none of the players makes any builds after any round, then no further building will be allowed in the game. The g.m. may curtail unwise builds which give excessive payments (over 15) to one player, especially towards the end of the game. 

Z7 Actual racing is done by the g.m. using an average die (2-3-3-4-4-5).

((These postal rules are based on those dated March 1986 by David G. Watts, and are reprinted with permission.))

Last updated: July 2020

That was Octopus's Garden #90, Startling Press production number 386.



Out of the WAY #23

by W. Andrew York

(wandrew88 of




Much of the same here, walking most mornings but not going out much. I did stop by the gym, not completely comfortable with things so if I go out early enough it isn’t too hot and the sun isn’t beating down. That may change the further into July and August – we have a week of 100+ days ahead. And, on the plus side as I’ve added some additional walking routes, one with quite a bit of shade, I’ve found two, new to me, parks nearby – at one I even found a doe and her fawn snacking on some bushes. The doe was there the next time I visited, but didn’t see the fawn.

The biggest “event” was my book order finally coming in at BookPeople so I headed downtown on Monday. I was shocked with the extremely light traffic, not a single slowdown on the previously bumper to bumper commuter routes. Drove by my old Agency on the way home, very few cars in the state lots.

On the subzine’s game front, I’ve reviewed the rules for the Breaking Away variants and Fragments. For the former, I’ll consider those for a potential future game. For my time GMing the game, staying with the standard version is probably prudent. For the latter, I’m not sure that I want to dive into that right now as it seems a heavy GMing effort. Again, I’ll keep it in mind for a potential future offering. The third game, Choice, looks like it could be fun. So, I’m opening that up. Once I have four or more players I’ll get that one going.







                For the past few weeks I’ve tried a bit of an experiment while walking – basically waving at drivers when walking against the flow of traffic (on the sidewalk, when possible), employees inside storefronts that I see through their windows or saying “Morning” to folks outside. It’s something to do besides listening to the radio, as I can’t effectively read while walking.

I’ve been very surprised that the majority of folks respond positively – from a smile, nod or a raised finger (no, not that finger, the index finger) to honking, enthusiastic waving and in one case, a passenger stuck their head out the window while waving with both hands. Today, a semi blew their air horn after waving. The most negative response from drivers, if you can call it that, are the folks that appear to notice me and then quickly fix their eyes directly forward to avoid having to respond. Unfortunately, a number of folks have no idea that someone is waving as they are talking on their phone or texting, have on headphones and are absorbed in the music or otherwise distracted and not paying attention to driving.

                The store employees, for the most part, smile and enthusiastically wave back. Folks outside usually respond back with a wave or greeting, with the exception of most folks that are also out walking/running. Many of them stay fixedly on the sidewalk, few cover their faces and many don’t respond. One out power walking barreled onto a section of sidewalk adjacent to the traffic lane and a guardrail on the other side even though I was almost at the end of it and, if she had briefly waited, I could exit that area and then she could continue. Instead, eyes fixed ahead, no mask and in the center of sidewalk she steamed ahead regardless of anyone or anything ahead. I ended up having to move to the far side of the traffic lane to avoid getting run over. Nary a “pardon me”, hello or returned greeting.

                As I’ve been doing this for some time, there have been a couple drivers who start waving before I do – I guess they recognize me! And, I should note, sometimes I can’t tell the reaction – heavily tinted windows, glare on the windshield, trying to avoid someone/car coming at me. Otherwise, I might have said vast majority of folks react positively as, of the ones I’m able to observe and that see me, the vast majority do react positively.

                So next time you’re out and about, slow down, take time to wave at your neighbors or give them a hearty “Good Morning” – you might just brighten their day and lift their mood.




Texas Talk


Anyone watch the PBS showing “Ann” on Great Performances – the one-woman Broadway play by Holland Taylor about Ann Richards? If so, what did you think about it? Heath’s comments are in the lettercol.




For this month, since we discussed the locations of the various Texas capitals in the last column, let’s talk about the capitol buildings. For the locations prior to moving to Austin, the “capitols” were generally hard-scrabble buildings, some with dirt floors, that were temporarily used for government offices (and residences!) and, in one case at least, rented.

Texas has had three permanent capitol buildings in Austin. Unfortunately two are no longer with us, the first being a log cabin near the river which was replaced in 1853. That second capitol building was a two-story structure on a small hill which burned down in 1881. It was definitely the most prominent building in the still small settlement when built (hard to call it a town at the time). Initially it housed virtually all of the state government functions, though additional buildings had been and were being built such as the Texas Land Office of the Archives War fame.

Fortunately, plans for an improved capitol building were already in the works when the fire happened and in six years it was built on the same site as the previous building. In the interim a temporary structure housed the governmental functions and allowed the legislature to meet.

Elijah Myers (who also designed Michigan’s capitol building) was commissioned to draw up the plan with a few stipulations – including the requirement that it would be taller than the nation’s capitol building. And, at 302 feet, tops it by several feet – as they say, everything is bigger in Texas.

Using pink granite from the Hill Country, it was transported by a purpose built rail line to Austin which is still in use as a freight line. Also, the Austin Steam Train Association runs various excursions along the route and you can see granite blocks that fell off during transport and were left where they landed. The granite was excavated using convict labor and paid for by land grant swaps, mostly in the Panhandle. It was completed in 1888. The dedication events were from May 14-19 and drew 20,000 visitors – quite a draw for a town that only had roughly 14,000 residents.

Once completed, the government moved in to fill the space and it has been in use ever since. It is a traditional classic style four-story building with one wing housing the Senate and the other for the House. The Chambers are near the ends of the two wings, with a rotunda in the center, including an apartment for the Lieutenant Governor behind the Senate Chamber. Various other departments were originally housed in the building, including the Agriculture Department. Supreme Court and the Treasury.

As the state grew, the government also grew with more and more people crammed into the building, even with most other departments moving out to their own facilities over the years. Eventually, to accommodate the continually expanding legislative staff, the building was subdivided to create small offices, including splitting high ceiling space into two “stories” of office space. This eventually led to a cobbled together set of cubbyhole offices with electricity, and computer networks, haphazardly strung to connect the spaces, with piles of paper files stuffed in every available corner. It definitely wasn’t a place one wanted to visit and the employees hardly wanted to work. Inevitably, there was a fire in 1983 which, mercifully, didn’t destroy the building. However it was a wake-up call to the state leaders.

This led to several major projects to alleviate the dangers including building or converting several nearby office buildings to move legislative staff out of the capitol space (only the most senior legislators retain offices in the building itself). Additionally, under the lawn to the north of the building a massive excavation took place to create a three story underground complex including legislative offices, hearing rooms, cafeteria, gift shop and additional two stories below that for parking.

Once completed, the lawn was mostly restored leaving an open air rotunda extending three stories below ground, two skylight sections and ramps to the parking. Additionally, tunnels were added to the new legislative buildings and some of the nearby existing state office buildings such as the Supreme Court and the Texas Workforce Commission.

Once most of the staff was moved out, the capitol building was mostly restored to its original state with all of the subdividing removed and electrical and computer networks properly installed. Areas were created to provide more historical context (the original Agriculture Office has displays of agricultural products and the Supreme Court area appears as it once did, with many original pieces of furniture. This allows much improved access, enhanced historical context to the building and more space for each legislator, visitors and for committee hearings.

The renovation included other changes to the building, including removing the original statue of the Goddess of Liberty from the top of the dome and moving it to the Texas State History Museum. When you look at it up close, it actually is pretty ugly; however, the exaggerated features were necessary for someone looking up from ground level to see it at the top of the dome. One point of shame for Texas, when it came time to put the new statue on the dome the state didn’t have a heavy lift helicopter available. It had to borrow one from the Mississippi National Guard.

In the rotunda there are portraits of each Texas governor which, each time a new one is added, shift - with one portrait moving up to the next story on each level. If you eat in the cafeteria (in the underground Annex), the food is decent and you don’t know who might be next to you. Once I was at a table next to where our current governor was eating (he was chief justice of the state supreme court at the time).

Many events happen at, or on the grounds, of the building. Near Christmas there’s an annual Tuba concert, there’s always hoopla when a governor is sworn in, during legislative sessions demonstrators make their voices heard and each fall The Texas Book Festival is held over a weekend (it was started by Laura Bush, unfortunately it’s virtual this year). However, you might want to avoid the annual Stillwater Rattlesnake Round-up promotion when they release the critters in the Annex’s outdoor rotunda (it used to be in the building’s main rotunda, until the Annex was built).

If you visit Austin for more than a brief time, you should stop by for a tour. Per the Planetware website it is the 6th Top-Rated Tourist Attractions in Texas behind the San Antonio Riverwalk, the Alamo, Space Center Houston, Big Bend National Park and Padre Island National Seashore. The guides are well versed, you can see statuary by Elisabeth Ney of Crocket and Travis as you enter, famous paintings, while steeping yourself in Texas history. Also, on the grounds, there are many monuments scattered about.


Sources: personal visits and tours of the Texas and Michigan Capitol buildings (the former included an arranged behind the scenes tour of non-public spaces); The Daytripper, episode S11 E13, “Texas Capitol, TX”; personal trips on Austin Steam Train Association tours; The Portal to Texas History website at the University of North Texas (; “A Taste of History” supplement to the Austin American Statesman from May 17, 2020; A Modern History of Texas by David G. McComb (1989); personal visits to the Bob Bullock Texas History Museum; Texas State Preservation Board website (; “15 Top-Rated Tourist Attractions in Texas” by Lana Law (May 6, 2019) on Planetware website (





Letter Column

(always welcome, send them in!)

(if something shouldn’t be included here, clearly mark it as a personal comment)


[Heath Davis-Gardner] – First of all, Ann Richards was a great lady. Kind of a personal hero of mine when I was younger. Do you think all this stuff about Texas becoming a battleground state based on demographic changes, etc., is legit? [WAY] – Actually Texas switched from a solidly Democratic state to a strong Republican one by the 90s. Richards was the last Democratic governor, replaced by George W. Bush. From that election in 1994 all State level elected positions have been held by Republicans. But, of late, there have been some strong showings by Democrats such as Beto O’Rourke. So, I could see Texas being in transition away from a reliably Blue state to a Purple state within this decade. Whether it would swing all the way back to a solidly Red state, which it was for the 100 years after the Civil War, I couldn’t even guess. I would prefer the State not be completely tied to one political party but be one that elects the best candidates, that are promoting the positive policies of either party (or an independent or third party), to achieve the best for the State and its citizens in a cooperative manner (stepping off my soapbox, sorry).

                [HDG] – Could we see another governor like Ann Richards in Texas? [WAY] – certainly, but only if/when the polarizations of the parties softens and both sides work together in a bipartisan manner.

                [HDG] – Your descriptions of the heat make me glad I’m not in NC anymore. The hottest it gets up here in Madison is still pretty hot .. we get several days in the 90s every summer, and it’s humid as hell with all the lakes around… but it’s nothing like the misery of a 100+ degree day. NC didn’t used to get that hot, but in the last few years it’s cracked 110 pretty much every summer. [WAY] – OK, something I’ve not mentioned before in here, though with a few folks it might have come up in conversation. For many years, I’ve very much tried to keep acclimated to the outdoors. What that means is in the winter I keep the temperatures in the apartment low (around 60ish) and in the summer rarely use the air conditioner (mostly only if ill/feverish or if hosting folks, which I rarely do anyway). It’s not due to the cost of running them, though it does save a few dollars. It’s to keep me acclimated to the weather outside. That doesn’t mean I don’t use fans, draw shades if the sun is shining in a window or drink iced tea (which I do a lot of, year round - unsweetened). However, windows are open (no, not in the winter!). On the plus side, many of my friends “melt” if they have to leave their homes but, for me, no issue (though some stores run VERY chilly to me). Yes, I do run the a/c on low in the car (especially if it’s been sitting in the sun in a parking lot. [Later] This idea did start as a reaction to the cost of heating/cooling an apartment. Many years ago I lived in an apartment that was VERY poorly insulated. My “normal” electric bill was about $80-100, but when heating the apartment into the 70s and cooling it into the 70s my electric bill would tick up by $200-300/month (numbers by memory, so may be a bit off). My current apartment has vastly better insulation so the cost increase wouldn’t be significant, but I’m used to it now so why change?





Random Review


                Short review this time, and this is completely random.

                Years ago it was recommended I buy/try some Glenfiddich Single Malt Scotch Whisky. I picked up a 12 year-old bottle (and it wasn’t cheap then – today at Total Wine the 750ml bottle runs $44.99). I tried it at the time and wasn’t impressed. So, it’s sat on my shelf for close to a decade (at least) – it’s now at least 20-25 year-old scotch. The other day I had some sparkling water that had been sitting around for some time so decided to try a scotch and soda (1 shot scotch mixed with 6oz of sparkling water) with ice.

                This time, I quite liked it. Very smooth, not too “alcoholy”, great for sipping. Of course, in Texas this time of year, the ice quickly melted which diluted the scotch/soda pairing but not too badly. So, I was thinking, when this bottle runs out, I should replenish it was a 20-some year old bottle. Checked the cost at Total Wine and they had 21 year-old, 750ml, Glenfiddich bottles for only $209.99. So, won’t be doing that! Maybe I should pick up another 12 year-old bottle and put on the shelf for a decade before opening.

                About the same time, I picked up a set of three 200ml Talisker single malt scotch whiskys on another recommendation (10-year, 18-year and a Distillers Edition (apparently from 1992, bottled in 2005)). Again, I had tried them, but not too impressed and they also sat on my shelf for a good decade (as I vaguely recall the boxed set was around $60 then). As the Glenfiddich tasting went well, opened the box of these. Two bottles (the 18-year and the Distillers Edition) had their corks deteriorate so I haven’t tasted them. However, had a scotch and soda with the 10-year (now 20+ year) scotch. As with the previous tasting, now am duly impressed and quite like it. Getting a bottle (750ml) of 25-yr Talisker at Total Wine, only a low $779.99, with a 10-yr bottle going for $74.99. So, it seems I’m in the same situation – when this is gone, its gone.

                Oh, and if you’re interested in the Distillers Edition? I could only find it on auction sites without prices listed (well, one had a “reserve not met” note). However, I didn’t look at more than a couple places so could very well be out there. Another missed investment opportunity!





Mini-Book Reviews

(finished since last issue)


Free Country: A Tale of the Children’s Crusade by a slew of writers/artists (2015; 208p)


                This graphic novel is a reworking of the 1993/1994 Vertigo comic book series. The reasons for the reworking are detailed by Neil Gaiman in the introduction, but it boils down that the original bookends (start/end issues) were created by Gaiman with the middle issues independently written by others and the story never meshed. So, the two bookends were polished and a new middle created to better serve the needs of the story.

                The basic story line is that most children go missing from a village. One of the remaining children contracts with Dead Boy Detectives (previously created by Gamian) to resolve the mystery of the disappearances. In doing so, they discover the Free Country and a plot to bring other children to the alternate dimension/location. While doing so, other characters from the early Vertigo lines (some of Gamian’s, some from the other writers).

                As with the Vertigo comics of the times, even though it is a book about children, it really isn’t a children’s book – I’d rate it about PG-13. Worth reading if you like Gaiman’s storylines, darker graphic novels or fantastical tales. [June 2020]


Kingsman: The Secret Service by Mark Millar, Dave Gibbons and Matthew Vaughn (2014; 162p).


                This is the graphic novel that spawned the two Kingsman movies, and which the first movie is loosely based on. The movie, to no one’s surprise, adds quite a few additional bits, subplots and events. However, the graphic novel is a decent read with some surprises. If you enjoyed the movie, you would enjoy this with the opposite being true.

                Generally recommended if you like spy novels. [July 2020]


Roanoke Island by Jennifer Brozek (2015; 88p).


This is an adventure supplement for the RPG Colonial Gothic. The RPG is set in American Colonial times, with a Lovecraftian undertone. So, there is some magic with Elder Gods and their minions spiced with lots of secret societies, agendas and competing goals.

This particular adventure is split into two scenarios, the first set before the Colonial period in the late 1500s and involved the founding of the Roanoke Colony and its subsequent mysterious abandonment (an unsolved mystery to this day). The second is set at the time of the American Revolution and involves an inquisitive man’s journey to discover the secret of the lost colony by bringing together a team of adventurers to assist. The two halves may be played in any order, but in my opinion the earlier scenario should be completed first to allow a better continuity to the knowledge exposure common to both (basically some of what you find out in the later scenario could alter the first where it is more natural for information gained from the earlier adventure to already be known through written records, society knowledge, etc.).

I have not played, nor GM’d, the scenario; however, it looks well designed and would be a solid basis for a GM to bring it into an existing campaign (playing the first scenario as a “one off” to set the scene for the second one). They also easily could be used as two stand-alone adventures to give the RPG a test run.

Note – it has been some time since I read the RPG core rules however, my memory of them was favorable (I bought this supplement years ago). But, I can’t give the RPG a thumbs up or not based on that faint memory. Why did I read this now? I just happened to come across this while looking for something else and realized I’d not read it.

Recommended for GMs of Colonial Gothic or for other GMs that feel this supplement could be modified or incorporated into their existing campaigns. [June 2020]


Sharpe’s Skirmish by Bernard Cornwell (2002; 63p).


                This story was originally written as a promotional item for a book release in Great Britain. However, it was reissued after Cornwell’s revision as a chapbook by the Sharpe Appreciation Society for a fundraising effort. In the story, set after Sharpe’s Sword, Sharpe’s command is escorting a Commissary Officer and his men to inventory and repurpose captured French firearms found stored a decrepit fortress in an out-of-the-way village. It is considered light duty as Sharpe is still recovering from injuries suffered in the previous book.

                While there, besides the usual challenges in working with a civilian/military officer and in keeping his troops on a fighting edge, inevitably trouble finds him when the French army unexpectedly move in his direction. He and his men are called to foil the enemy’s plans using interesting tactics and his usual flair.

                A nice, though brief, story that reveals a bit of the mystery behind his time in India as one of the men on the Commissary team served with him there. If you are a fan of the series, by all means seek this out (it does seem to be available, both in electronic and physical formats). I definitely enjoyed it! [July 2020]


The Walking Dead: Volume 1 – Days Gone Bye by Robert Kirkman and Tony Moore 2015; 142p)


                This graphic novel includes the first six Walking Dead comic books. I came late to following this universe, in starting the comics and catching the tail end of its original run. Having watched the entire television series, I was curious how, and when, it deviated from the comics. And, even from the early episodes, there are subtle differences,

                I won’t go through the background as I’m pretty sure everyone knows the basic storyline. If you like the show, you most likely will enjoy the comics – I’m planning to eventually read through them all. [July 2020]




Babylon 5 Quote


In “War Without End, Part 2” -        Delenn: “Why do your people always ask if someone if ready right before you’re going to do

                                                                                something massively unwise?”

                                                                Sinclair: “Tradition”


Source: But In Purple...I’m Stunning! by J. Michael Straczynski, edited by Sara “Samm” Barnes, copyright 2008.





Recipe of the Month


Recipe Philosophy: Except for baking, recipes are only suggestions. I rarely precisely measure, eyeballing most everything. The

                listed measurements, for the most part, are estimates from the last time I made the recipe. Feel free to adjust to meet

                your personal tastes – and remember, it is easier to add “more” of something than to compensate when “too much” has

                been added.


For ingredients, if you don’t like raw onions, omit them or replace with celery to retain the crunchiness. If you like food with

                more spice, add an extra jalapeno or use habaneros instead. On the other hand, if you don’t like spicy food, replace the

                jalapeno with a bell pepper. Optional items are used when I’m looking for a variation or making it for individuals

                with specific preferences or allergies.



Braised Greens

by W Andrew York

(last reviewed July 2020)


Ingredients from the last time I made this (serves 2 large or 4 small servings)


1                     Bag of Pre-washed Spinach

¼             Large Sweet Onion, diced

2              Jalapenos, diced

6              Medium, Fresh, Mushrooms – Mix of White and Cremini (sliced or quartered, depending on size)

                Grapeseed Oil

                Garlic Powder

                Salt (Fine and Kosher) and Pepper




1)       Pour Grapeseed Oil to cover the bottom of high-sided skilled or 2-quart pot, should be some extra to coat the greens

2)       When oil is hot, add onion, jalapenos, mushrooms and a couple pinches of fine salt.

3)       Cook stirring occasionally until lightly browned

4)       Add Spinach in batches, adding additional amounts when the existing leaves cook down

5)       Add Garlic Powder, Kosher Salt and Pepper to taste




-          This is another extremely versatile dish, for instance I’ve used Mustard, Collard, Beet and Turnip Greens, Chard, Bok Choy and Kale by themselves and in combinations; plus added in spare Broccoli and Cauliflower leaves, Arugula and such to add some texture differences and flavors

-          Instead of the Grapeseed Oil, any other cooking oil could be used. Or, cut up 2-3 strips of bacon and cook before adding in the onion (adding additional oil if not enough rendered from the bacon or you drain off the bacon fat). Adding a lug or two of toasted Sesame Oil at the end can provide a nice layer of flavor

-          If you don’t want it spicy, omit the jalapenos or, if you’d like it hotter, substitute habaneros. Alternately, if you want heat without the peppers, a few dashes of hot or chili sesame oil at the end will provide some heat

-          If you have fresh garlic, mince 3-4 cloves (or to your taste) and add in shortly before the spinach has cooked down while omitting the garlic powder. If you add the garlic too early (say, with the onion), it will likely burn before the dish is finished. While I don’t mind it too much, some folks really don’t care for it

-          Regarding the serving sizes, this generally makes two good sized sides for a meal or, if using as more of a garnish (for instance, to make a bed for grilled white fish) you can generally make four of those portions





Game Section


Everyone Plays Games: Hangman, By Definition; Facts in Five


Game Openings: Breaking Away (Kent, Burgess, Smith); No-Press Gunboat Diplomacy (5 players, 2 openings);

                Choice (minimum 4 players needed)


Possible Game Openings: Breaking Away Variants

Suggestions accepted for other games to offer.


Standbys: Breaking Away (none); Gunboat Diplomacy (none)


Rules for Breaking Away. Breaking Away Variants and Choice available on the Variable Pig website (




Hangman, By Definition


This is a five round game, with each round consisting of a variable number of turns. The winner will be the person who wins the most rounds, with a tie breaker being fewest total number of turns in those winning rounds. Second tie breaker will be the most number of letters guessed (by total count revealed, not by individual letter).


Each round will consist of identifying a word of at least six letters. Along with each word will be the first definition given. All words and definitions will be identified by blank spaces. Words and definitions are verified in a dictionary that was my high school graduation gift (slight hint to those who might want to find the edition).


The goal is to guess the word in as few turns as possible. Each turn, all players will submit one letter to be revealed. The letter submitted by the most players will be the letter revealed in the next turn. Ties will be broken by a randomized method. Additionally, each player should submit a guess for the word. Once the word is correctly identified (spelling is important), that round will end and a new round will begin. All players who guess the word in the same turn will share in the win for the round. If the word is not guessed by the end of six turns with no letter being revealed, no one will win the round.


Along with revealing letters in the word, letters will be revealed in the definition. There are no bonus points for guessing any part of the definition, it is only there to help players figure out the word. No guesses about parts of the definition will be confirmed or displayed except by the letter revealed in that round. The letters “E” and “S” can never be chosen as the letter to be revealed.


Game 1, Round Two, Turn 1:


                Letter Votes: vote now!                      Revealed: pending next issue


                Words Guessed:   pending next issue




                Word:                     __  __  __  __  __  __  __  __  __  __  (10)


Definition:             __  (1)    __  __  __  __  __  (5)    __  __  __  __  __  __  __  __  __  __  __  (11)   


__  __  __  __  __  (5)    __  __  __  __  __  (5)    __  __  (2)    __  (1)    __  __  __  __  __ , (5)


__  __  __  __  (4)    __  __  (2)    __  __  __  (3)    __  __  __  __  __  __  __  (7)


__  __  __  __  __  __  (6)    __  __  __  (3)    __  __  __  __  __  __  __  __  __  (9)


__  __  (2)    __  __  __  __  __  (5)


                Never Revealed:  E, S                         Already Revealed:


    Game Words Correctly Guessed: Infinitesimal (David-Gardner, Firth, Kent, Smith, Wilson)


Player Comments: Next Issue?





                                                                        FACTS IN FIVE


Rules:     There will be five rounds, the cumulative high score at the end of the fifth round will be the winner. Anyone may join anytime with a starting score matching the lowest total from the previous round. Anyone missing a round will add the lowest score of that round.

                Each round will consist of five categories and five letters.  Each player submit may an entry for each category which has a key word that starts with each of the letters (twenty-five total entries). Key words are generally the first word; however articles (the, a, etc.) and modifiers (“red” in red bicycle for “R” in “mode of transportation” or “general” in General Lee for “G” in “Military Leaders”) are not key words. A word in the category may not be the key word (“bank” in “Bank of America” for “B” in the category “Banks”). For given names, the last name is the key word, if married it will be their post-marriage last name. However, in the case of commonly used stage names, that name should be used (in a category of female singers, ”Q” could be “Queen Latifa” and “Cher” for “C”). An entry may only be used once per round.

                One point will be scored for each entry that unarguably meets the letter and category. An additional point will be added if anyone else also uses the same valid entry for the same category. Maximum possible score in a round is 50 with a lowest possible score of 25, presuming an individual submits a valid entry for each category and letter in that round.

                Research is allowed, collaboration between players is not.


Round One


Bolded - Scores 2 points for matching another entry; Crossed Out - scores 0 points; otherwise scores 1 point.


REMINDER - Last names are generally the key word, not first names.


  Players                                 G                             I                              T                             R                             P


Tobacco Product Tradenames

    Heath Davis-Gardner     Golden Virginia    India Kings          Trinidad Cigar      Romeo y Julieta   Prince Albert

    Mark Firth                        Gitanes                  ITC                         Time                       Rothmans             Players

    Doug Kent                        Galan                     Irene                       TRUE                    Regal                      Parliament

    Andy Lischett                  Gitanes                  India Kings          True                       Rothmans             Pall Mall

    Kevin Wilson                   Gudang Garam    India Kings          Tareyton               Rothmans             Pall Mall


Hand Tool

    Heath Davis-Gardner     Gimlet                   Ice Pick                 Trowel                  Rake                      Pliers

    Mark Firth                        Gimlet                   Iron                        Tweezers               Rasp                       Plane

    Doug Kent                        Grinder                 Ice Pick                 Torque Wrench  Rasp                       Pliers

    Andy Lischett                  Grease Gun           Ice Pick                 Torque Wrench  Ratchet Wrench   Pliers

    Kevin Wilson                   Grinder                 Impact Hammer  Trowel                  Rasp                       Pliers


Nobel Science Prize Winner

    Heath Davis-Gardner     Guillaume             Ignarro                 Thomson               Ramsay                 Peebles

    Mark Firth                        Glaser                     Ignarro                 Todd                      Rontgen                Pavlov

    Doug Kent                        David Gross          Louis Ignarro     Kip Thorn            Peter Ratcliffe      James Peebles

    Andy Lischett                  Goodenough         Louis Ignarro     David Thouless    Michael Rosbash Saul Perlmutter

    Kevin Wilson                   Murray Gell-Mann Louis Ignarro  Kip Thorn            Wilhem Rontgen Linus Pauling


Living American Fiction Writer

    Heath Davis-Gardner     John Grisham     Kazou Ishiguro     Donna Tarrt          J. K. Rowling        Thomas Pynchon

    Mark Firth                        Grisham               DR Ignatius          Cecilia Tan           John Ridley           P Powell

    Doug Kent                        William Gibson    John Irving          Anne Tyler            Richard Russo      Thomas Pynchon

    Andy Lischett                  Grisham               John Irving          Turow                    Anne Rice             J. Patterson

    Kevin Wilson                   John Grisham     John Irving          Alexander Theroux Rick Riordan    Huck Palahniuk


Bakery Products

    Heath Davis-Gardner     Ground Biscuit     Iced Bun               Torte                      Red Velvet Cake Pie

    Mark Firth                        Gateau                   Iced Bun               Teacake                Roll                        Pasty

    Doug Kent                        Gingerbread          Inipit                      Tart                       Roll                        Pie

    Andy Lischett                  Ginger Snap         Injera                     Tart                       Rye Bread             Pie

    Kevin Wilson                   Gooey Butter Cake Italian Roll        Tart                       Red Velvet Cake Pie


Note – for disallowed answers, please feel free to correct me!


WAY’s Notes on Heath’s Answers: Prince Albert Pipe Tobacco; Charles E. Guillaume; Louis J. Ignarro; JJ Thomson; Sir William Ramsay; James Peebles; Kazou Ishiguro is not American; JK Rowling is not American

WAY’s Notes on Mark’s Answers:  ITC seems to be a tobacco product manufacturer, not a product in itself; P Powell I assume you means Richard P Power, but he’s dead, the only other P Powell I’ve found is P H Powell who appears British and may be a pseudonym as no one knows who that actually is, but who authored several books in the ‘50s.

WAY’s Notes on Doug’s Answers: Irene I can’t find as a tobacco product


Round Three


Letters:                  B             E             F              M            O            

Categories:            Insects; Famous Engineers; Weapons; Dog Breeds; Non-American Historical Monuments or Sites


Current Standings


NOTE – it was pointed out that in the previous issues game report, for the last two categories, I inadvertently entered Mark’s answers in Kevin’s slots and vice versa. The result is Kevin was shorted a point and Mark’s was inflated by a point. The “previous” column below reflects that adjustment.


Scores by Category             1st           2nd         3rd          4th          5th          Now                        Previous                 Total     

   Kevin Wilson                      8             9           8              7              8              40           +              73           =              113

   Doug Kent                           5           10           8              7              8              38           +              72           =              110

   Heath David-Gardner        6             9           7              5              8              35           +              73           =              108

   Andy Lischett                   10             8           6              7              7              38           +              56           =                94

   Mark Firth                            6             7           7              5              7              32           +              59           =                91


Player Comments:


[Heath Davis-Gardner] – I feel like I’m doing terribly at this but am somehow in the lead. We’ll see how long that lasts. Haha.

                [WAY] – no comment


[Mark Firth] – Feel like I did a lot of looking up this time, as subjects were something of a mystery. [WAY] – No worries, so did I!


[Andy Lischett] – Here is an updated list, courtesy of the internet. I should have thought of Rothmans cigarettes as they were also big Formula 1 racing sponsors. [WAY] – You weren’t the only one that needed to do research.




Deadline for the Next Issue of Out of the WAY:


August 5, 2020 at noon – See You Then!


Game entries, letters of comment and other material can be sent to:


                wandrew88 at; or by post to: W. Andrew York; POB 201117; Austin TX 78720-1117


Eternal Sunshine Game Section


Diplomacy, “Indestructible Machine”, 2020A, S 03


Austria: Rick Davis – - A Budapest Supports A Vienna – Galicia, A Bulgaria – Serbia,

 F Greece Supports F Ionian Sea - Aegean Sea (*Cut*), A Vienna - Galicia.

England: Mark Firth – - F Denmark - Helgoland Bight, F North Sea Supports

 F Skagerrak - Denmark (*Dislodged*, ret to London or Norwegian Sea or Edinburgh or OTB),

 F Skagerrak - Denmark (*Fails*), A Yorkshire Hold.

France: John David Galt - F English Channel Supports A Yorkshire - Belgium (*Void*),

 A Marseilles Hold, F Mid-Atlantic Ocean Spends the Turn Fishing! (Hold), A Paris - Burgundy (*Fails*),

 F Spain(sc) Supports A Marseilles.

Germany: Andy - F Baltic Sea – Denmark, A Belgium Supports A Burgundy,

 A Burgundy Supports A Belgium (*Cut*), F Holland Supports F Norway - North Sea,

 A Kiel Supports F Baltic Sea - Denmark.

Italy: Toby Harris - F Ionian Sea - Aegean Sea (*Fails*),

 A Piedmont Supports A Venice – Tyrolia, A Trieste Supports A Bulgaria – Serbia,

 F Tyrrhenian Sea - Western Mediterranean, A Venice - Tyrolia.

Russia: Bob Durf – - F Black Sea Supports A Constantinople – Bulgaria,

 A Finland – Norway, F Norway - North Sea, A Rumania Supports A Constantinople – Bulgaria,

 F Sweden - Skagerrak (*Fails*), A Tyrolia - Vienna.

Turkey: Jack McHugh -   F Aegean Sea Supports A Serbia - Greece (*Cut*),

 F Ankara – Constantinople, A Constantinople – Bulgaria, A Serbia - Greece (*Dislodged*, ret to Albania or OTB).





From: St. Petersburg Associated Press: The Russian royal family is perhaps undergoing its greatest scandal since Czar Bob violated Swedish neutrality to steal the Scandinavian country's supply of meatballs. Dubbed "Buildgate" by the treacherous yellow press in Moscow, the Russian people are outraged by the forgetfulness of the Czar to remiss in a build. Czar Bob in a press release blamed it on shadowy figures either from or named 'Kent.' (The release was unclear)


"Normally you see, Kent gives us ample warning. Well, he didn't! Or at least I didn't notice," he said in a sullen tone that did nothing to sooth his disquiet peoples.


Deadline for Summer/Fall 03 is: August 8th, 2020 at 7am My Time

Diplomacy, “Wine Lips”, 2020B, Fall 1901


Austria: Harold Reynolds –  - F Albania – Greece,

 A Budapest Supports F Sevastopol – Rumania, A Serbia Supports F Albania - Greece.

England: David Cohen – - F North Sea Convoys A Yorkshire – Belgium,

 F Norwegian Sea – Norway, A Yorkshire - Belgium.

France: David Burgess –  - F Mid-Atlantic Ocean - Spain(sc),

 A Picardy – Burgundy, A Spain - Portugal.

Germany: Mark Firth – -  F Holland - North Sea (*Fails*), A Kiel – Denmark,

 A Ruhr Supports A Yorkshire - Belgium.

Italy: George Atkins - -  A Apulia – Tunis, F Ionian Sea Convoys A Apulia – Tunis,

 A Venice Hold.

Russia: Heath Davis-Gardner – - F Gulf of Bothnia – Sweden,

 A Moscow – Sevastopol, F Sevastopol – Rumania, A Ukraine Supports F Sevastopol - Rumania.

Turkey: Paul -  F Ankara – Constantinople, A Armenia – Ankara,

 A Bulgaria Supports F Sevastopol - Rumania.



Seasons are Already Separated by Player Request

Deadline for Winter 1901 is August 8th, 2020 at 7am My Time


Supply Center Chart


Austria:          Budapest, Greece, Serbia, Trieste, Vienna=5                                                    Build 2

England:         Belgium, Edinburgh, Liverpool, London, Norway=5                                           Build 2

France:           Brest, Marseilles, Paris, Portugal, Spain=5                                                        Build 2

Germany:       Berlin, Denmark, Holland, Kiel, Munich=5                                                         Build 2

Italy:               Naples, Rome, Tunis, Venice=4                                                                        Build 1

Russia:            Moscow, Rumania, Sevastopol, St Petersburg, Sweden, Warsaw=6                   Build 2

Turkey:           Ankara, Bulgaria, Constantinople, Smyrna=4                                                   Build 1




Thought for the day:  To play Diplomacy is to amuse ourselves by pretending to commit in 1900 crimes against peace the likes of which people would be hanged in 1945 for having committed.


[London, September 5, 1901]

Question #1: Why will vampires not seek employment cleaning mirrors?

Answer: Because they can't see themselves doing the job.


Question #2: Why have all of the mirrors in the Elysée Palace been covered up or removed?

Answer: [crickets chirp]


Die KaiserinPeepin’ A: Hey, stay outta my boudoir, y’hear?


Anonymous: To paraphrase Saturday Night Live’s paraphrasing of Sarah Palin, I can see Turkey from my back yard.  Along with lots of other vermin, large and small, everything from deer to hummingbirds to turtles.  The mild winter we had helped as well.  This guy puffed up to try to impress the ladies.




London: Yes, Belgium is English by right,

All others get out of our sight!

The Germans and French

Leave a terrible stench

And their chances of winning are slight.


Limericks for Wine Lips by Anonymous:



A woman from Constantinople

Lost her favorite jewel: an opal.

It was found by Sam Eppy,

A priest who was peppy,

And the opal is now episcopal.


There was a young lass in Marseilles

Whose guy wouldn’t do as she’d say.

“You must support me in Spain

Or you’ll feel the pain

Of a kick in the nuts every day!”

Black Sea

The Black Sea is an oversized lake

Where Turkish and Russian fleets make

A battle each season

Without any reason

Except for some SCs to take.


Nobody thinks that Albania

Should be the subject of mania.

The place is so boring

That their music is snoring!

I'd rather take over Rumania.


You need not be clever like Merlin

To trash-talk the city of Berlin.

It seldom is sunny,

The Germans talk funny,

And they won't take cash in pounds sterling.


As night starts to fall in the Ruhr,

The sky goes to blacker from bluer.

When armies pass through

They lose quite a few

To ladies with knives and allure.


It's unfair to call Budapest.

He's nicer than most of the rest

Of Austria's neighbours

Who do it no favours

By making its player depressed.


Our invasion of Poland was flawed:

You can't win a war with chutzpah.

We lost our brass band

When they got stuck and

Things went from badda to Warsaw.


In Bohemia we find Prague City

Where people say things wise and witty.

But only a Dipper

Who's not feeling chipper

Would say that about this little ditty.


In the small zone known as Syria,

Armies so seldom appear-ya.

The place is remote

To get to by boat,

And to the Turk this won't endear-ya.


The province of Spain has two coasts,

The people who live there will boast.

This fact can cause slips

In the placement of ships

That make you look dumb as a post.


From Ankara the Turkish First Fleet,

Will leave port today and will seek

Enemy Russians

To give concussions

Then will beat a hasty retreat.


Wine joke of the day: Do librarians like white wine?    No, they like theirs well red!


Judge to Jury: Members of the jury, you are instructed to disregard those last moves.

Balkan Wars VI, “Bad Way to Go”, 2020Apb08, F 11

Albania: Mark Firth – mogcate@aol.comA Montenegro – Tirana, F South Adriatic Sea - Ionian Sea,

 F Trieste Hold, F Valona - Gulf of Corfu.

Bulgaria: Jack McHugh - -  A Arda Supports F Varna – Constantinople,

 A Macedonia – Salonika, A Salonika – Epirus, A Thrace Supports F Varna – Constantinople,

 F Varna - Constantinople.

Greece: Kevin Wilson – ckevinw@gmail.comA Athens Supports A Skopje - Salonika (*Void*),

 F Gulf of Corfu - Malta.

Rumania: Brad Wilson – - A Bucharest - Transylvania (*Fails*),

 A Cluj – Transylvania, F Constantsa - Dubruja (*Fails*), A Dubruja - Izmit (*Bounce*),

 F North Black Sea Convoys A Dubruja - Izmit.

Serbia: Andy York – - A Belgrade Supports A Cluj – Transylvania, A Croatia – Cluj,

 A Nish Supports A Skopje, A Skopje Hold.

Turkey: Heath Davis-Gardner – - A Constantinople Hold (*Disbanded*),

 F Cyclades - Aegean Sea, F Izmit - South Black Sea, A Smyrna - Izmit (*Bounce*).


Supply Center Chart


Albania:          Montenegro, Tirana, Trieste, Valona=4                                                 Even

Bulgaria:         Constantinople, Plovdiv, Salonika, Sofia, Thrace, Varna=6                    Build 1

Greece:           Athens, Malta, Sparta=3                                                                       Build 1

Rumania:        Bucharest, Constantsa, Dubruja, Galati=4                                             Remove 1

Serbia:            Belgrade, Bosnia, Cluj, Nish, Skopje=5                                                 Build 1

Turkey:           Izmit, Rhodes, Smyrna=3                                                                    Even

Unowned:       Crete, Cyprus




T/A/G/S to R/B:  Continue as you are and TAGS your it (the target that is).


S to A:  I can’t support your ideas as long as you’re pinching me with your Rumanian ally.


A to T:  Hang in there, B/R can’t kill you before we can come to help.


BUCHAREST: We salute the brave Greeks -- before they are exterminated!


AEGEAN SEA: Never liked Turkey, even on Thanksgiving.


G to T:  I thought we’d agree no one in CYC!


Deadline for W 11/S 12 is August 8th at 7am My Time


Where in the World is Kendo Nagasaki?


The Rules were in Eternal Sunshine #131, read them if you want a detailed explanation and examples.  Basically, this is a guessing game, trying to guess the mystery person and their location (both chosen by me before the game started).  Closest guess gets a public clue and notification they were the closest.  Everyone else sees the clue but has to figure out on their own who was the closest that turn.


Turn 1


Tom Howell:

Izumo no Okuni at the Grand Shrine of Izumo in Shimane Prefecture, Japan


Will Abbott:

Justin Welby in Atlanta, GA


Simon Langley-Evans:

Paul Ateriedes in Paris, France


John David Galt:

Hunter Biden in Nairobi, Kenya


Kevin Wilson:

Wayne LaPierre, Jr. in Lagos, Nigeria


Andy Lischett:

Dub Taylor in Gibsland, Louisiana


Richard Smith:

Anna Von Hausswolff in Gothenburg, Sweden


Dane Maslen:

Tedros Adhanom in Geneva, Switzerland


Heath Davis-Gardner:

Scottie Pippen in Mexico City, Mexico


Jack McHugh:

Barack Obama in Nairobi, Kenya


Mark Firth:

Cersei Lannister in Beni, DR Congo


David Burgess:

Elton John in London, England


Hint to Person Placed Closest to Me:

I died before you were born.  Wrong nationality…but correct chromosome.


Turn 2


Will Abbott:

Henrik Ibsen in Edinburgh, Scotland


 Simon Langley-Evans:

Ivanka Trump in Beijing, China


John David Galt:

Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez in Helsinki, Finland


Andy Lischett:

Little Richard in Macon, GA


Kevin Wilson:

Chaka Zulu in Nagasaki, Japan


Dane Maslen:

Christopher Columbus in Xining, Qinghai province, China


Heath Davis-Gardner:

Bessie Smith in Oslo, Norway


 David Burgess:

Benjamin Franklin in Philadelphia, PA


Tom Howell:

Billy Graham in St Petersburg, Russia


Jack McHugh:

Charlemagne in New Delhi, India


Richard Smith:

Erwin Rudolf Josef Alexander Schrödinger at Catacamas, Honduras


Mark Firth:

Bonnie Prince Charlie (Prince Charles Edward Stuart), in Benidorm, Spain


Hint to Person Placed Closest to Me:

I was born less than twenty years after you.  Correct chromosome.  Doubtful we ever met.


Turn 3


Will Abbott:

Albert Einstein in Sapporo, Japan


John David Galt:

Britney Spears in Nagasaki, Japan


Heath Davis-Gardner:

Elon Musk in Dubai, UAE


Simon Langley-Evans:

Kate Bush in Mexico City, Mexico


Andy Lischett:

U.S. Grant in Vicksburg, Mississippi


Richard Smith:

Marquis de Sade in Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso


Kevin Wilson:

Al-Mansur Ali the first, in Abidjan, Côte d’Ivoire 


Tom Howell:

Pope Pius VII in Vatican City


Dane Maslen:

John Ashe in Minneapolis, MN


Jack McHugh:

Indira Gandhi in Moscow, Russia


David Burgess:

Robert Peary at the North Pole


Brad Wilson:

Walt Whitman in Riga, Latvia


Mark Firth:

Nicholas Aloysius Adamshock (a.k.a. Nick Adams) in Chernobyl, Ukraine


Hint to Person Placed Closest to Me:

Our lifetimes overlapped for the most part.  We both had work published, but on different subjects.


Deadline for Turn 4 is August 8th at 7am My Time

By Popular Demand


I’ve run this game (or By Almost Popular Demand, a slight variant) a number of times in Eternal Sunshine.  The rules are simple: I supply you with five categories.  You send in what you think will be the most popular answer for each category.  Research IS permitted.  You get one point for each person who submitted the answer you gave.  So, if you and two other people send in the same answer that’s three points.  You also get to choose a Joker category, where the points are doubled.  So in the example I gave, you’d get six points in that category if you chose it as your Joker that round.  If you don’t specify a Joker, it gets applied to the first category listed (so you don’t “lose” the Joker).  Always answer for every category: any answer is legal, and will earn a point even if you’re the only person to give it.  High score after ten categories wins.  Any player who joins after the first round starts with the lowest score so far; if you join starting in Turn 3 and the person doing the worst has 27 points so far, that’s what you start with.  Also if you miss a turn, you get the lowest score that round rather than zero.  This makes the game more competitive and keeps you playing even if you arrive late or forget to play one turn.


Turn 5 Categories:

(Don’t forget to specify a Joker category, or it will be applied to Category 1)


1. A past leader of France

2. A river in Asia

3. A military battle that took place in what is now Germany

4. An Australian province

5. A film where the spoken dialog is in a language other than English


Joker category shown in BOLD.  Most popular answer shown in italics.

Andy York, Dane Maslen, and Mark Firth all score 42 (out of a possible 47).  Will Abbot’s pizza party scores 6, with Richard Smith scoring the lowest total of “real” answers with 18.


Comments by Category:


A past leader of France: Mark Nelson – “Your "What If" history question is how different would recent    European history be if de Gaulle hadn't vetoed UK joining the EEC in 1963?  (And also in 1967, I only knew the 1963 veto before writing this).  Suspect that Napoleon will be the winning entry here.  Kevin Wilson – “Hey, if you get an airport named after you then you just be famous.”


A river in Asia:  Mark Nelson – “I will go for the Yangtze on the grounds that it is the longest, though I am also tempted by the Mekong as there have been some interesting TV series based around the idea of travelling down the Mekong since it passes through: China, Myanmar, Laos, Thailand, Cambodia,  and Vietnam.”  Kevin Wilson – “The biggest, longest, etc. so hopefully the most popular too.”


A military battle that took place in what is now Germany: John David Galt – “#3 was a hard one.  There were pretty much no important battles in either World War or even the Franco-Prussian War that took place in present-day Germany, so I either had to pick one from the Thirty Years' War, or write the Battle of Berlin which wasn't really even a battle.”  Mark Nelson – “My first thought was the Russians taking Berlin at the end of the   war, but can that honestly be described as a battle? To go off on a tangent, one movie that has been on the TV a couple of times recently which I really enjoyed was "The Death of Stalin" - banned in Russia I believe.  Interesting question. "A military battle" rather than "a battle"?  Tempted to go for the Battle of Austerlitz, if only because I think that Napoleon will be a popular answer to question~1.  I will go with my first choice: the battle of Berlin.  [[Of course the question isn’t “was it a battle?” but rather “will other people think it was a battle?”]]  Kevin Wilson – “I guess it makes sense but surprisingly there were few battle actually fought in Germany until the end.  This was the first major one I found that was in Germany, other than the bombardment of Berlin.  I had never really thought about it but just as no part of the war was fought on US soil, excluding the attack act Pearl Harbor, there was little on original Germany soil until the end.  You don’t think of it until you need to answer a question like the one posed.  All the famous/well known battles were in the Pacific or not on German soil.  It was in Belgium or France, or in the east, especially in Russia.  Sometimes you wonder just how the allies succeeded.  I know a game isn’t life but my son and I have been playing back-to-back games of Axis & Allies and so far the Axis has won every time.  We’re now on our first game of the 1940 series with the combined map.  The damn things covers the whole pool table.  It must be 2.5 X 5.0 feet.  It’s still early but the Axis are off to another strong start.  Even if only remotely “historical” the fact the Germans didn’t stroll into Moscow and the Japanese blockading the West Coast of the US is fortunate.”  [[When I selected this category, I knew it would be a bit difficult, although I also figured at least a few people would default to Battle of Berlin.  But I also thought people might look to Leipzig and Lubeck.  I thought “what is now Germany” would direct people to battles that took place in places that weren’t Germany when they happened, but are now.]]


An Australian province: John David Galt – “#4 seems like a trick question.  Australia has states and territories, not provinces.” [[Yes, I realized when building the Turn 5 spreadsheet that I left it as Province…Canada was the original country I was going to use.]]  Mark Nelson – “I will go for New South Wales  since I live here.”  Kevin Wilson – “I assume you mean Australian states not provinces.  At least that’s what I went with.  Go with the people or go with the most people (NSW includes Sydney) or gamers like Brad Martin in Perth.  I almost went with Western Australia solely for that reason but most are likely to go with the population, so NSW.”


A film where the spoken dialog is in a language other than English: John David Galt – “#5 is the best I can come up with -- part of it is in Japanese.”  Heath Davis-Gardner – “A pretty broad category, interested to see if there’s any sort of consensus for this one.” Mark Nelson – “Difficult category, since there are so many options!  I will go for Parasite, which I've not watched, on the grounds that it's the only non-English movie to win the Academy Award for Best Picture. It therefore seems "safe" as the popular bet, though I am usually wrong at predicting what other people will vote and accordingly just go for the answer that appeals to me.”  Kevin Wilson – “No clue here and this is the first listed from a Google search.  I’m not that much of a film buff so I’m sure there are others out there that are better answers.”


General Comments: Simon Langley-Evans – “A better round for me last time- was thrown by the streaming service as I’m not a great user. Hard to know where to play the joker this time, so I’m hoping that Parasite is a good choice. Being the winner of the Best Picture Oscar hopefully keeps it in everyone’s minds. For the Asian river I was torn between the Ganges and Yangtze. Hoping de Gaulle is the obvious choice for the French leader.”  Andy Lischett – “Gee, 29 points without trying!  This Round is tougher. #1 is easy, #2 is between Mekong and Ganges, #3 isn't so easy. The Battle of Berlin in WWII was more a bunch of pitiful skirmishes, but for a week I couldn't think of anything else until I thought that there may have been a Napoleonic battle in Leipzig, and the internet says I am right. #4 is between NSW & Queensland, and for #5 I'll pick Rashomon because it's a better movie than Das Boot, which may be the most popular answer. There are a lot of famous Italian and French movies but none (except This Man Must Die) that I especially like. Ach! I just remembered M, with Peter Lorre, but I'll stick with Rashomon.”  Dane Maslen – “Categories 3 and 5 are likely to score me one point each, while 2 has several good answers available, so the joker had to go on 1 or 4.  With British players of a suitable age, I would expect De Gaulle to spring readily to mind, but in this field he could well be readily overlooked.  So, NSW for the joker it is.”


Turn 6 Categories:

(Don’t forget to specify a Joker category, or it will be applied to Category 1)


1. Something that comes in a can.

2. Something that comes in a box.

3. Something that comes in a bottle.

4. Something that comes in a bag.

5. Something that comes in a roll.


Deadline for Turn 6 of By Popular Demand is: August 8th at 7am My Time

Deadline for the next issue of Eternal Sunshine is: August 8, 2020 at 7am My Time (U.S. central time)


See You Then!


(See Mark Nelson’s letter for our discussion of this map)