Eternal Sunshine #140
By Douglas Kent - 911 Irene Drive, Mesquite, TX 75149
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Quote of The Month – “They want me to defend Fleming because of my moral integrity. And if I don't defend him, they're going to have me disbarred for being unethical.” – (Arthur Kirkland in “And Justice for All”)
Welcome to Eternal Sunshine, the only zine hated universally by Biden supporters, Trump supporters, and those who support neither. Despite the polarization of the world in today’s society, loathing of Eternal Sunshine remains the one opinion that brings everyone together. Now join hands and sing Kumbaya.
I don’t have much to say this month. I hope everybody had a good New Year’s holiday, and I wish everyone a healthy and happy 2021. I’m not one of those who recites the “I’m so sick of 2020” jokes or statements. It’s been a challenging year, but the idea that magically 2021 is going to be a lot better seems unrealistic. 2020 was not the worst year of my life…but I’m not sure if that’s more an accurate reflection of 2020 or an accurate reflection of my life up to this point. I am looking forward to seeing the pandemic eventually stabilize, and with that, expanding my activities above and beyond what they were before it hit.
I’ve been thinking a lot about what I miss the most. I’ve made a concerted effort to eliminate unnecessary trips, errand, and socialization during the pandemic. I started wearing a mask long before most people, more because I wanted to lessen the chance that I might catch COVID-19 and unknowingly infect someone else (which masks are better at preventing) than my fear of catching it myself (which masks are less helpful for). Not that I don’t care about catching it; I do. I’m not a kid any longer, and I’d rather avoid catching any serious illness if at all possible. But concern for others has been a primary factor in limiting my actions. (My boss is in a few risk groups, and the last thing I want to do is bring it to him and have him get seriously ill, or worse).
Anyway, I realize that one thing I truly miss is going to movies. At times during both of my marriages I’d go to one or two movies every week. That’s something I plan to get back to, when I feel safer about it. Sadly, the modern studio and distribution systems have greatly reduced the number of movies out there for me to see, and even more they’ve reduced the number that I want to see. But I bet I could find interesting films four times a month. So that’s my plan: as soon as I am able, I will start going to the movies at least twice a month.
I’ve always been a film lover. And each year my passion for good films seems to grow stronger. But what I consider to be good (not always coinciding with what I can enjoy watching, as is evident by my short movie reviews in this zine) and what the public rushes to feast upon are not generally one and the same. I have little to no interest in the DC and Marvel superhero universes or their film adaptations; I was a DC kid growing up, but even then, my interest was limited to the comics themselves. Aside from the first two Superman movies – which were fun and campy, perfect for my age group – and perhaps the first Michael Keaton Batman, I’ve never been drawn to them. The few I saw were long and boring and either pointless or just plain bad. Deadpool would be the exception, as I found that fun and filled with sarcastic dark humor. Likewise, I lost my fascination with the Star Wars franchise after I saw Empire Strikes Back. I didn’t stop seeing the movies, but I wasn’t excited about them (and Parts I through III were cyanide for my enthusiasm). As I grew up, I realized the first film (part IV now) was just a western in space, much like The Mandalorian is now. I don’t need a giant universe of make-believe to escape into. I’d much rather escape for 90 minutes into a movie, and then let my mind dissect it and look at it from many different angles. That’s a true film achievement to me: make me care about the characters, lose myself in what happens to them, and spark the flames of analysis all in two hours or less. I don’t need, and generally don’t enjoy, being forced to consider how what happens in one movie fits or doesn’t fit with canon set from prior films. So often these days I hear a line from one of the Screen Rant movie pitch parodies when the writer is asked why something takes place, or why a character makes a particular decision: “So the rest of the movie can happen.” Occasionally consensus opinion matches my own on that score (the recent criticism of Wonder Woman 1984 is a good example, where so many called out the holes in the plot, the senselessness of some decisions, the sudden changes to the canon or the ground rules already established, and the loopholes completely ignored by the screenwriters).
I guess if I was going to fully commit myself to creating some kind of online content, that would be it: a regular series of movie reviews, focusing on the new releases each week. A love of film and a knowledge of film history are prerequisites for that kind of project. I can’t tell you how often I see reviews of films online – video or short reviews on IMDB or blogs – and ask myself why the reviewer didn’t point out how the second act of this movie was mostly lifted from this other thirty-year-old film. I generally decide it’s because the reviewer never saw that other film. Recycling in the movie business is a standard practice now, but I don’t think it is unfair to point out how some ideas were much better executed or explored in a different movie. Besides, the ability to reference other films also allows you to point out how things were done differently, or even better, in the new release compared to the old one. If you’ve never seen Goodfellas, The Godfather, and The Public Enemy, I don’t see how you can insightfully review a modern gangster film. You can still explain if you liked it or not, and give your reasons, but your point of view lacks the foundation that will help determine if I should be swayed by it. The same holds true for most other genres. Superhero films are a modern category, but it still helps to have some kind of knowledge about other adventure and fantasy films, westerns, earlier science fiction movies, and even some pulp serials. That’s the kind of viewpoint I enjoy the most, and the type I’d like to provide. Sadly, even if I decided to dive into that realm, there are simply too many other voices out there to properly gain an audience. And I question whether my opinions would be relevant or welcome. In a world where the past is meant to be forgotten, what importance does it hold? Why should I even consider the original Midway when reviewing the remake? If you never saw the first one, are examples of how it accomplished things better than the new one really valid? In my mind, yes, because it offers a source to judge the latest release by. But I truly doubt other people agree these days.
I should probably spend my time writing anyway. Not that I have made much progress there lately. I managed to get over 120 free downloads of Helplessly Hoping during my Kindle sale, but as of today those downloads have resulted in zero additional reviews and zero additional ratings. My efforts to find a wider audience for the book have mostly been met with abject failure. And the years of notes and stories for the memoir about my family and my childhood just sit there…my enthusiasm for that project has been cooled by the realization that nearly every family member has at least one or two stories they would rather not have told. If I stuck by those wishes, that’s probably five or six highly significant episodes cut out, and another half dozen amusing ones. If I didn’t abide by those wishes, I’d alienate family members for a book hardly anyone would care about anyway. So that’s on hold. My recent tinkering with fiction always turns into fact-becomes-fiction, which leads me back onto the question of whether I’d be better off telling the whole true story. I’ve been meaning to work on some idea sin the form of screenplays, but that market is even more saturated than the self-published book world, and even if it wasn’t it takes a lot more time, connections, and money to turn a story into a finished product (in this case, a movie). None of the paths ahead of me seem hopeful. I guess I’ll just wait until the next time I find myself in the writing mood, and go where my feelings take me.
In zine news, Peter Sullivan’s Railway Rivals game is starting, and Turn 1 of the new Kendo Nagasaki and By Popular Demand games can be found in this issue. It’s not too late to join in the fun and participate. Other than that, things chug along. The latest Diplomacy World came out on January 2, so if you haven’t read that yet you can find it at www.diplomacyworld.net . DW is in dire need of some more contributors and new blood; please give the last few issues a look and think about if you’ve got ideas or articles to send in. Sometimes I wonder if the hobby simply doesn’t need it any longer. Perhaps Diplomacy World is now so old-school as to be obsolete?
In the meantime, we’ve also lost a few players in the aforementioned Kendo Nagasaki and By Popular Demand games. Hopefully there will still be enough interest to continue running them. Of course, I’ll run these newly started games to completion no matter how many (or how few) people send in orders. But after that? We’ll have to see.
I guess that’s it from me for now. See you in February!
Diplomacy (Black Press): Signed up: Brad Wilson, Paul Milewski, needs five more.
Gunboat (No Press): Check out the opening in Andy York’s subzine. Only one spot left! Sign up through Andy York ONLY!
By Popular Demand: Ongoing. Join in the fun! You can join at any time.
Where in the World is Kendo Nagasaki?: Ongoing, new game just started. Join in and play NOW!
Kremlin: House rules in ES #135. Would like four or five players. Signed up: John David Galt, Kevin Wilson, Heath Davis-Gardner, would like two more but might start with one more.
Also in Andy York’s Subzine – You can find his ongoing “Hangman, By Definition” and Facts in Five, plus an opening for Breaking Away.
Coming Soon: Open to suggestions.
Standby List: HELP! I need standby players! – Current standby list: Andy York, Andy Lischett, Paul Milewski, Harold Reynolds, Jack McHugh.
Meet Me in Montauk
The Eternal Sunshine Letter Column
Tom Howell: Read your plumbing story with interest. Conrad has been fighting clogged by corrosion pipes under a slab, which I hear about occasionally.
[[My house is small enough that if I had that issue, they could dig under the slab from the front or the back of the house and replace the damaged section without having to jack-hammer access from the house itself. It’s only a 2 BR/1 bath, and half of the living room was covered from what I think was the garage (or was supposed to be the garage) so I don’t think there’s a true slab under the far side of the living room.]]
When I got to the plumbing phase on my place, I consulted a number of plumbers after reading a book or two. The consensus seemed to be that it would be difficult to put in too many clean-outs. I have one immediately downstream from the kitchen sink, accessible from the space under said sink. There is one behind the clothes washer, just after the p-trap for said machine. Neither lavatory has one, but removal of their p-traps would give access. There are two in the pantry: we added one on the extra long run from the bathtub when we swapped the tub end-for-end at the last second during tiling of the bath/shower space.
The other is on the drop from the upstairs half bath just after the washing machine drain line enters it and above the join from the kitchen. There is one in the crawl space just before the waste line exits the house, and another on the other side of the foundation.
Between there and the septic tank, there is what we put in as an RV dump, that would also serve as a clean-out access. That one is in a particularly critical spot as the drain line makes a couple of jogs around boulders before it gets to the tank.
[[To me, that sounds like a lot of clean-outs. Not “too many” but a good amount. Bathrooms rarely have one, because you don’t really need them with the p-trap access and the flange under the toilet in more desperate times. I shouldn’t be “excited” about having good large-size cleanouts, but I am.]]
Richard Smith: Don't know if you want game end comments [for Kendo Nagasaki], but I have a couple:
1. I've not played in a Kendo game before where players know that both the location and identity have been guessed by someone.
2. I've also never before got lucky on being nearest in the early rounds, but when I fluked it with Ouagadougou I was tempted to misdirect my rivals by going somewhere completely different. Instead, the lure of staying nearest and knowing the clue applies to my guess proved too strong.
[[I don’t think I’ve ever seen a game where the correct person was identified so early compared to the location. I’m also not sure how suddenly so many were able to get everything right. But that’s most likely because I am terrible at the game.]]
Andy York: Congrats on the weight loss. Hope it's giving you a bit more energy!
On the cooking/food front, cooking for one is what I've done for a long time. Yes, I do have frozen meals in the freezer for those times when I run out of time or am a bit lazy. On the other hand, I do try to cook things most nights (after my usual side salad). For instance, last night I baked a fish filet (about 1/2 lb) with cajun seasoning. Served half of it with the last of Hoppin' John I made on New Year's (fresh black-eye peas simmered in canned chicken broth, sauteed onions and jalapenos, with chopped garlic added at the end, mixed in and simmered for a 1/2 hour). Tonight was the other half of the fish with a "baked" (aka nuked) baked potato topped with margerine, garlic powder, shredded cheddar cheese and chopped green onion.
Making the Hoppin' John took about 5 minutes active time and 30 minutes cooking three days earlier (made four servings), while the fish took 2-3 minutes (unpack, prep the baking sheet, sprinkle the seasoning) and 30 minutes of baking. Tonight's meal took 3 minutes to nuke the potato, maybe a minute to fix up and, then, about a minute in the microwave to melt the cheese and reheat the fish.
The daily salad takes 5 or so minutes to dress and assemble.
I don't do fancy things that often, and many of my recipes I put in OOTW are designed for quick preparation with precut veggies in the fridge.
[[I know that I do plan on getting back into cooking more, but between not wanting to spend a great deal of time in the store (given the current pandemic situation), and the terrible job my local store does stocking the shelves, I don’t think now is the time to spend much energy on that. In a few months when I feel more comfortable wandering the aisles, I’ll start cooking again. And I’ll more than likely choose a different grocery store to go to. The one by me is right up the street, but for whatever reason the shelves there are never stocked well, meaning recipes generally find themselves missing at least one key ingredient. Even the other stores of the same name in a twenty-mile radius have a much better reputation for having full shelves. I have no issue eating leftovers, which makes cooking for one less of a problem.]]
Regarding BPD, the fact that I won is a wonder. You seem to think that I do well; but, I looked at the handy results for other games I've played in. Of the 16 I looked at, I scored in the upper 50% only 3 times with the best place at 3rd. So, winning in this game is a surprising, albeit welcome, result.
[[My money is on you to win this game too. You’re on a roll.]]
Mark Nelson: Since my wife and I are both expats we do not have any family to share Xmas with in Australia: it's about 5,500km to our nearest relatives. So we don't bother with a "traditional Xmas meal", though we did a glazed ham one year that lasted a long time. I wouldn't be surprised to learn that a majority of Australians don't bother with a traditional Xmas, a combination of our large multicultural communities and December being the wrong time of the year for a traditional Xmas meal! (Quite a few resorts offer Xmas in July packages). I wouldn't be surprised if the `median' Australian Xmas meal involved a bbq, but just guessing. Our `tradition' is to have a seafood Xmas spread over Xmas Eve to Boxing Day.
[[My only personal traditions involve watching a few particular movies, or one of a group. Babes in Toyland (it’s not a Christmas movie, since it takes place in July if I remember correctly, but it always played on television during the Christmas season), Scrooge, Lethal Weapon, Silent Night Deadly Night, It’s a Wonderful Life, and a few others are the usual suspects. For me it’s that and sit around the house, alone.]]
Even though I missed the deadline for the final round of BPD I'd play it again. The most interesting part of the game for me is reading what the other players have to say about their choices. That's why your version of the game is superior to Conrad's (sorry Conrad), he doesn't print any chit-chat from the players!
[[I generally include any comments from players, no matter how small.]]
Last year was the worst year for watching movies of any year since I started keeping a record of which movies I've watched. Only two movies! Oh, that comment is not acurate. I only saw two movies in 2008 and in 2009. In 2020 we watched Emma (I'm a sucker for any Jane Austin movie) and Frozen II.
In 2008 I watched "The Spiderwick Chronicles". I don't remember anything about it but I wrote "enjoyable". I also watched "National Treasure" which is the only movie I've ever watched in the USA. In 2009 I saw "Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince" for which I again wrote "enjoyable" and "Avatar". I didn't write any comments on the latter, but put it this way I've never watched it on TV and never will!
[[Avatar was so horribly overrated. Maximum press excitement for minimum payoff.]]
The Dining Dead – Eternal Sunshine Movie Reviews
A Good Woman is Hard to Find (Shudder) – First note: this is NOT really a horror film. More of a suspense film. I was reminded of the time I first saw Shallow Grave as I watched this, although it doesn’t have nearly as much humor, and is mostly a one-woman show. It shares a lot of tone and a few plot points with it. Yes, I really got a Shallow Grave vibe from this, which is a good thing as that has long been one of my favorite independent films; big people came from that, including Ewan McGregor, Christopher Eccleston, John Hodge, and Danny Boyle. This one is actually a Film Movement film (listed at the start of the credits), which is a very well-respected company that distributes independent art-house non-U.S. films. I subscribed to their monthly DVD package one year for Heather, although I don’t think she watched more than one or two of them. Anyway, Sarah (Sarah Bolger) is a single mother with two children, a son aged 6 and a daughter aged 4. She’s single because her husband was murdered, and since then her son hasn’t spoken. One afternoon a drug dealer (Andrew Simpson) forces his way into her flat while running from two other drug dealers that he has just ripped off. And with that action, Sarah’s self-contained world is invaded by chaos and danger. I’m hesitant to provide any other details, so if you see the film you’ll still go in fresh. A Good Woman is well-written by Ronan Blaney, and Abner Pastoll’s direction keeps the suspense oscillating between uneasiness and full-on panic, despite nearly all of the film taking place in seemingly quiet and safe locations. Keep an eye out for this one; I figure it will be on other streaming services soon.
The Professor and the Madman (Netflix) – The story of the formation and early stages of the first edition of the New English Dictionary on Historical Principles (later the Oxford English Dictionary), intended to be a complete history of every word in the English language. Mel Gibson stars as James Murray, the Scottish self-taught scholar who became the head of the project. Sean Penn plays William Chestor Minor, a retired U.S. army surgeon who has killed a man that he mistakenly thought was pursuing him; he has been found not guilty by reason of insanity and committed to a mental asylum. Murray has a pamphlet sent out with books pleading for volunteers to send cited uses of words in books from the 13th century onward, and when Minor finds one of the pamphlets, he offers his help to the project, eventually sending more than 10,000 entries. Natalie Dormer plays the wife of the man Minor killed, who visits Minor in the asylum and befriends him. I wasn’t really sure how they were going to make this stuffy-sounding subject into an interesting movie. Actually, they didn’t. It’s a general bore. Gibson and Penn are tolerable, although there’s a sense of over-acting throughout the film. But the story goes nowhere. Machiavellian maneuvering by some of the people at Oxford never seem truly dangerous. Dormer’s character may be based on truth (the film is supposed to be based on real events) but her time with Minor is cringeworthy, especially when she brings her children to meet him. The whole thing carries an air of grand self-importance. After being disappointed, I read up and discovered that Gibson and director Farhad Safinia sued the production company over interference in the making of the film, and eventually Safinia demanded his name be taken off it. Instead, the pseudonym P.B. Shemran is used). That reminded me of David Lynch and Dune. Some of the movie is at least well-shot, but as a whole the film falls flat with a loud thud. Don’t waste your time.
Monsterland (DVD) – I have no memory of how I came to own this 2016 horror anthology. It may have been a free DVD in a swag bag at Texas Frightmare, or I found it for $3 at Big Lots, or perhaps it was on clearance at Grindhouse Video when I was ordering from there and needed a few more bucks to hit the Free Shipping level. Each segment of this 2016 anthology was written and directed by different people, so of course there’s no continuity between the styles or presentation. That’s not necessarily a terrible thing, but the real problem is NONE of the stories work. They’re just…not good, despite many looking fine in appearance. First story: six college-age kids go swimming in a lake, and get attacked by a monster. But we never see the monster, and there’s no story…they go in the water, and quickly get killed. The end. What’s the point? There’s no time to build tension or character, and there’s not even a terror factor because we don’t see the monster. One of the longer stories involves a guy who has a parasite living in his head, eating his brain. It was more interesting, but parts made no sense and the “payoff” was dumb. Or take the story where a dentist is at home alone, upset and drinking because his wife is divorcing him. A guy comes to the door and threatens him with a gun, demanding he pull his canine teeth because he thinks he is becoming a vampire. The whole part about him being depressed, or facing divorce, was never mentioned again, so why put it in? The only story I kind of liked was a paper-cut animated story where a monster eats one guy and his friend calls the “monster killer” to help destroy it. It was short, interesting-looking, and funny. Anthologies are popular in the horror world, but there’s as many bad ones as there are passable. Don’t bother with Monsterland.
Rollercoaster (DVD) – I haven’t seen this movie in decades, but it was on TV occasionally in my youth. I think I asked Heather to get it for me as a birthday gift five or six years ago, and I just now got around to watching it. Turns out the screenplay was by Richard Levinson and William Link, the creators of Columbo. George Segal plays a Federal Safety inspector. When a man (Timothy Bottoms) starts sabotaging amusement parks, Segal gets suspicious about two unusual accidents so close to each other. As it turns out, the man is blackmailing the five largest amusement park companies for $1 million, under threat of him doing more of the same, taking the lives of more innocent people and driving all the customers away. For a kid who didn’t like rollercoasters to begin with, and who was (and is) scared of heights, this movie always got to me. As an adult I can still see it’s a fairly taught thriller. And there’s a good cast, including Henry Fonda as Segal’s boss, and Richard Widmark as the lead FBI agent. There’s even an early appearance by Helen Hunt as Segal’s daughter. If you happen across it, Rollercoaster is worth a watch. Nothing brilliant, but well-done and with the right mix of tension and humor.
The Ripper (Netflix) – A four-episode limited series about the Yorkshire Ripper, who murdered at least 13 women in central England in the late 1970’s. This show focused on the investigation into the murders (and the additional victims who survived), and how missteps and assumptions by the higher-ups in the police force caused the Ripper to remain free for far too long, and inevitably resulted in additional deaths. While the case is certainly interesting (and some of the chaos caused by deaths in multiple jurisdictions was reminiscent of the Zodiac Killer), as a documentary this seemed to plod along a bit too much. Part of the problem is The Ripper couldn’t decide if twists and turns in the investigation and case should be positioned surprises or not for the viewer. The police insistence that the Ripper was killing prostitutes was obviously narrow-minded (and offensive), but by showing the flaws in such opinions without presenting the evidence until later was a poor choice. There were also a lot of feminist tie-ins and interviews, some of which were interesting and made sense, and others were simply over the top when placed without context. Showing women marching with signs saying things like “Every Man Profits From Rape” strays so far from the narrative that it detracts from the points being made. That kind of ham-fisted stuff derailed a few very interesting storylines: sexism in the police force and media (and society at large), and the dichotomy of women who were finally feeling like independent individuals suddenly being told they need to stay home and never go out alone. My last criticism is that the series should have added a few more postscripts to the end, before the credits (the Ripper died a few months ago, for example, and – spoiler alert - the man with the Georgie accent was identified in 2005, and imprisoned in 2006). The Ripper was short enough, though, and while it wasn’t great, it held my interest enough for me to recommend it for true crime fans.
Knives Out (Amazon Prime) – All I heard about this movie were raves. So, me being me, I kind of avoided it for a while. Because I know that 90% of the time these days, when people pile on with praise for something, it isn’t worthy. This film is no exception. But with that said, it’s still good. Just not amazing.
Christopher Plummer plays a mystery writer. The morning after his 85th birthday, he is found dead by an apparent suicide. Police investigate, questioning the family members, accompanied by a famous detective (Daniel Craig) who has been hired by an anonymous source. The family includes Jamie Lee Curtis, Don Johnson (first time I’ve ever found his acting to be good), Toni Collette, and Michael Shannon. There’s also the nurse Marta (Ana de Armas) and a maid. This starts out as a typical whodunit, except the audience gets to see some of the thoughts and memories of the people speaking, privy to some of the truth behind their lies. But not all the truth. And then we know what really happened, and the rest of the movie is waiting to see how the truth is revealed, or not revealed. Or…is it the truth?
The final payoff is one of the weaker points of the movie, and at two hours and twenty minutes it might be thirty minutes too long. But even knowing that there are more twists and turns coming in the plot, the journey is generally enjoyable. There are a few dragging moments, but it’s still fun and worth watching. Just don’t expect all the acclaim it got to be fully deserved.
Older Movies Watched on DVD (that I’ve seen many times) – Amadeus, Shine, Babes in Toyland, Silent Night Deadly Night, The Man Who Would Be King, Trading Places, When Harry Met Sally.
8th January 2021
HELLO, good evening and welcome to Octopus's Garden, the subzeen with its very own Railway Rivals game start. It is a subzeen to Douglas Kent's Eternal Sunshine. It's produced by Peter Sullivan firstname.lastname@example.org. It's also available on the web at: http://www.burdonvale.co.uk/octopus/.
Round 0 (RR ???? B) Railway Rivals Map “B” (Lon&Lpl)
JGL [John Galt Line] black (Start: Liverpool)
John David Galt
AYUP (???) yellow (Start: Hull)
HJA (Henry John and Associates) red (Start: London)
BASH [Bradford and Sheffield Steel Highway] sky-blue (Start: Bristol)
Rolls for Round One: 7, 4, 7. Orders to me, Peter Sullivan, at email@example.com by WEDNESDAY, 10th FEBRUARY 2021.
Games in Octopus's Garden are named after Vice Presidents of the United States, in order. Garrett Hobart was Vice-President to William McKinley, from 4th March 1897 until his death on 21st November 1899. As this was before the 25th Amendment made any provision for vacancies in the Vice Presidency, the Vice Presidency remained vacant until the office was filled at the next election by a chappie you may have heard of called Teddy Roosevelt...
I was planning to do a nice, long editorial about various aspects of U.S. politics. But, events continue to move so fast, that anything I might say stands an almost-certain chance of being over-taken by events. So all I'll say for the moment is Stay Safe, Everyone, and see you next month...
That was Octopus's Garden #93, Startling Press production number 389.
Out of the WAY #29
by W. Andrew York
(wandrew88 of gmail.com)
Not much new around here in my day-to-day activities, things are still pretty much in neutral without any real chance of significant change in the near future. The holidays, for me, was pretty much as the non-holiday weeks beforehand. I did spend a bit more time in meal-making, did some annual readings and program viewings, but nothing that out of the ordinary.
Unfortunately, a few routine, but unexpectedly time-consuming, activities happened that ate into the time I was going to put into getting this into a more streamlined production flow. And, the bits I was working for Texas Talk and WAYward Thoughts didn’t come together. So, they’ll take a break this time. The Recipe is one I’ve been testing and trying for about five months, hope you like it.
Regarding the Book Reviews, five books this time. The same reasons above ate into my usual reading time. But, again, things should get back on track in short order (plus, with the cold/wet weather my walking will be somewhat curtailed freeing up some time). An idea came to me regarding the books I’m reading – see the book review section and let me know if it is something you’d like to see.
For the games, we have a winner (actually four winners) who figured out the word in Hangman, By Definition for this round. Next round will commence next issue. No movement on the Game Openings – any interest in No-Press Gunboat Dip (one spot available), Choice or Breaking Away?
C-19 is making a surge, as it is in much of the country. Austin had been one of the better spots in Texas, and still is, but we may open an overflow hospital in our convention center in the next week or two as ICUs are nearing full capacity. Vaccines are starting to roll out (shot in?), but I’m likely far down the line and expect it’ll be a few months unless things ramp up or they adjust the requirements for the groupings.
If you’re interested, Rebecca Loebe (who Doug introduced me to) is doing a Monday night concert at 8pm throughout January on her YouTube channel. Her style is what I’d called “Americana”, but is listed as “indie rock, pop rock” on Wikipedia. The series is “10 Songs and a Lie” during which she plays 10 (or so) songs and tells stories about her career and life, one of which is a lie. Near the end of the show she has folks guess which story was the lie and the first to type it in gets a prize sent to them. She archives the shows, along with an extensive catalog, on the Channel - but no chance to win the prize! One of her concerts is a nice, relaxing, time and highly recommended – check her out!
(always welcome, send them in!)
(if something shouldn’t be included here, clearly mark it as a personal comment)
[Mark Nelson] – Happy New Year! I spent most of my morning reading the accounts of the sacking of the US Capital. [WAY] – Happy New Year to you as well. Yes, that event wasn’t the finest moment of the American political experiment. It’s too early to really process what happened and what it will mean to the United States moving forward. The only upside so far is that it seems the actual damage to the building and contents is mostly cosmetic. I’ve heard of no substantive destruction to the statuary, paintings or artifacts beyond some furniture, doors and windows. It is terrible that the number of people who died from the confrontation added another overnight (Thursday).
[MN] – I remember my dad making his own wine, something he used to do very often before he had any children, but not something that has ever tempted me. (The last one I remember him making was elderberry wine). Philosophically, the idea of making my own pickles appeals to me. Practically, it doesn’t. Perhaps I’d feel different if we had a large garden and grew our own produce, but we don’t. Furthermore, we actually like having virtually no garden so that is a requirement for out next property. [WAY] – The reasons I like doing some things from scratch are that 1) I know what going into it (for instance, knowing what is in my sausage), 2) I can control the taste (keeping the amount of sugar to the absolute minimum or increasing the spiciness) and 3) it’s fun (at least if I have the time).
[MN] – Your comments about home-brewing reminded me of something I read a while ago. Some chemical engineering students in Canada released an app that allowed you to optimize home-brewing of beer. I don’t remember what you needed to measure, I suppose at least the temperature, but you added your data into the app and then it told you when you needed to add the next load of sugar (or whatever it is you needed to do). If you had the right set-up you could even have continuous measurements wified into the app.
[MN] – I remember that Babylon 5 quote! I do sometimes think that I should buy Babylon 5 so that I can rewatch it… but then the inevitable question is when would I find the time to do so? [WAY] – one advantage with the CD sets (which I have), there have commentary tracks with the actors and production teams providing background info, set stories and such. JMS has recently started doing new solo commentaries of some episodes, flavored with the intervening years’ perspectives and insights. They are available to his Patreon supporters. Unfortunately, like you, I haven’t found the time to watch/listen lately, though it is high on my ‘want to do’ list (while following along in the script books to find the subtle changes).
[Richard Smith] – Hmm, nobody else has signed up for Choice, maybe you need to cite its popularity this side of the pond – e.g. the 19-player game in Dane’s Games? [WAY] – I think you just did. Feel free to invite any of the players on your side of the pond looking for another game. I’m sure Doug wouldn’t mind added readers and participants in his games also!
“The Dissident” is a powerful movie that brings together the disparate pieces of the murder of Jamal Khashoggi, including interviews with his fiancé and first-time access to Turkish investigative material/videos/recordings and investigators, as well as viewpoints of his friends and collaborators.
I was fortunate to see an early reviewers’ release in early December, followed by an interview with the director Brian Fogel. I found the movie very engrossing and, unlike most things I watch while at home, didn’t multi-task as much as I usually do (partly by having to read subtitles). The experience comes across during much of the movie as an intense thriller, even though you know the outcome. This is partly by a substory of one of Khashoggi’s partners, Omar Abdulaziz, who is being sought by Saudi Arabia and, at the time of the documentary, was in hiding in Canada. The impression given is that, if found, he will suffer a similar fate.
Fogel was able to have a number of interviews with him, and in the post-screening talk, Fogel explained about gaining his trust. For instance, they’d meet and talk while being recorded. Then, each recording was immediately turned over to Omar to review and he would decide when, or if, to return it while limiting what content might be used. Eventually all the recordings were returning with Fogel able to incorporate Abdulaziz’s story into the narrative.
In a surprising coup, at least to me, he was the first independent person to talk to the Turkish police investigators and have access to their evidence and recordings. What they revealed is chilling, including a voice recording of the actual murder of Khashoggi and evidence of how the body may have been disposed off. The case is compelling and, circumstantially, strongly implicates MBS of Saudi Arabia.
A side story includes a dive into the mal/spyware Saudi Arabia has been using to track opposition journalists and activists. What the code can do, how it is used, and the threat it is to anyone that falls victim to it is sobering. This is an important point, but it is the one time in the documentary that brought me out of the otherwise engaging narrative.
Another point, that is brushed at in the movie, but in the post-screening conversation he emphasized is the power Saudi Arabia has with trading partners. Apparently, Fogel was initially unable to land any substantive marketing deal to distribute the film, even with the Sundance buzz. Speculation is that they were afraid of losing access to the Saudi markets, recently opened up for films. Examples in the film include continued arms deals by governments and, after a short break, business dealings with foreign firms.
The movie finally had a limited release around Christmas and, as this is published, was released on PPV platforms yesterday. If you have the chance, watch as it is a stark look at the government of Saudi Arabia, the dissidents/activists pushing for change, the death of a journalist and the cover-up after. Note - definitely not for children.
As of January 8: IMDB – 8.2/10, Metascore 81; Rotten Tomatoes: Tomatometer 95%, Audience Score 99%
(finished since last issue)
[[Comment – Would anyone be interested in seeing what books I’m reading and which issue I expect to review them in? That way if you’ve already read it, or are inclined to read as I am, you could submit your thoughts on it to run along with mine. If there is interest I’ll implement it next issue. If there isn’t any interest, that’s fine. But, in either case, you are always welcome to send your thoughts on one of the books I’ve reviewed to run in a future issue.]]
Beowulf (1992; 57p)
I’m sure many of you have at least passing familiarity with the tale of Beowulf, but likely through an adaptation to a game, play or dramatic presentation. That is unless you were required to read it for a college course you took. This was my first time reading the actual text and, as usually do with written stories that originally were oral traditions, I read it aloud. That was a real challenge, as the names don’t flow off the tongue. Examples are: Yrmenlaf and Ecgtheow.
The story has two main elements – the defeat of Grendel and, subsequently, Grendel’s mother; then, after a large time jump, a battle against a dragon. The story is much different from the adaptations in which much additional material fleshes out the core narrative while changing the emphasis more to a set piece story/plot line than a saga telling a heroic tale steeped in the Scandinavian culture and morality
Sometimes there can be some confusion due to similar names (Hrothgar/Heorogar/Hrothulf) and reintroduced characters that likely a true oral presentation, with different voices for each, might make it clearer. However, a quick look back usually resolved the confusion.
Themes of self-sacrifice, honor, obligation, respect and greater good are woven throughout the tale. There is a light touch of Christian reliance, which as noted in the introduction, may have been overlain on the pre-Christian source of the story. It certainly deserves its place in the early literature and is well worth the time to read the original text (well, as original as it can be in the 21st century).
Note - this is an unabridged reprint of a 1926 publication. [December 2020]
Daily Guideposts 2020 (2019; 428p)
The annual release by the Guideposts organization for 2020, being a collection of one-page Christian devotions for every day of the week. Most are standalone, though there are a few themed series, written by a diverse slate of 49 contributors. Each devotion includes a thematic Biblical verse, the narrative, a short prayer and a few other Biblical verses for further reading.
I find it worthwhile to use these, and others, to help focus my day and pause in the pace for thought and reflection. [December 2020]
The Father Christmas Letter by J. R. R. Tolkien (1976; 48p).
This is a collection of letters ostensibly written by Father Christmas (Santa Claus in America) to Tolkien’s children between 1925 and 1938 (with the last letter undated being probably later). Written, and illustrated, by Tolkien he starts out simply with just Father Christmas and North Polar Bear (NPB). Later letters add additional characters including the evil Goblins, the helpful Red Elves, an elf secretary named Ilbereth and the two nephews of NPB – Paksu and Valkotukka.
Many antics and doings are described, from NPB overflowing a bathtub and getting presents wet to a Goblin attack. NPB is a bumbling, but well-meaning, bear that generally comes through in the end (sometimes unexpectedly).
The illustrations are all well done and very much enhance the letters, it is unfortunate that all of them weren’t reproduced in the book. For the letters, they were written in different handwriting depending on if it was old, shakily, written text by Father Christmas, elegant script by Ilbereth or NPB (well, presumably, as I didn’t notice any of his text in the reproductions). A Goblin alphabet was created and a letter was sent using it, along with the key.
This is an annual joy, usually reading one letter per day leading up to the holiday. As I rarely decorate (why? it’s just me), this helps give me a bit of Christmas cheer and smile. Pick it up and make it a tradition in your house! [December 2020]
Life Principles Daily Bible, ed. Charles F. Stanley (2007; 1592p).
This was the Bible for my 2020 read through. This uses the New King James Version for the Biblical text, with additional material drawn from Stanley’s 30 Life Principles along with other supporting material for clarification, context or cross-reference of the text in sidebars. The Biblical text is broken up into 365 daily readings that include the next section of the Old Testament, Psalms, Proverbs and the New Testament to read the text through in one year.
This is my second time using this Bible and it wasn’t until after I started that a friend told me about Stanley’s television show. I picked up his separate book on the 30 Life Principles without realizing that the Bible echoed the material (interesting synergy there).
The Biblical text is exactly what you’d expect, while the supporting material is helpful for reference. The 30 Life Principles material is much as I stated in my earlier review of the book, though much more diffuse as it is presented over a year rather than in a condensed read via a focused book. [December 2020]
Spies in the Continental Capital by John A. Nagy (2011; 273p).
This is Nagy’s look at American Revolutionary War spycraft in the interior of America, centered around Philadelphia and some points west. Much as with his other books, the book relates what has been able to be uncovered about spies, their handlers and their activities. Very little is speculated, so some of the bits are brief or puzzling as the fate of someone may not be known or an event happened without greater context. However, it seems Nagy is trying to present as much of the material available as can be reliably determined.
It is an interesting read for an historian or someone digging into the past of spies. However, I wouldn’t recommend it to a general audience. I did find it interesting. [December 2020]
In “The Parliament of Dreams” - Garibaldi: “As bright ideas go, this one’s right up there with having my gums extracted”
Source: But In Purple...I’m Stunning! by J. Michael Straczynski, edited by Sara “Samm” Barnes, copyright 2008.
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
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.
Mustard Bistro Vinaigrette
by W. Andrew York
(last reviewed January 2021)
2 tbsp Wine Vinegar
1 tbsp Dijon Mustard
6 tbsp Oil (divided)
½ tsp Salt (fine grain)
1 tbsp Shallot, Diced (optional)
Additional Salt and Pepper, to taste
1) Mix together Salt and Vinegar (plus Shallots, if using, then continue or let stand 10+ minutes to reduce sharpness)
2) Incorporate 1 tbsp Oil then the Mustard
3) While stirring, drizzle in remaining Oil until completely emulsified
4) Let stand for about 5 minutes, then adjust salt/pepper to taste, transfer to a cruet
5) Store in the refrigerator, warming for about 10 minutes or so on the counter, and stirring if needed, before using
- The original concept of this came from an article in the local Austin American Statesman, though I found many similar ones in various cookbooks
- The reason to add 1 tbsp oil before the mustard is to have the oil ease transferring the mustard into the dressing
- I’ve tried this with both Red and White Wine Vinegar, each worked just fine
- I’ve tried with Maille and Grey Poupon Dijon, a Country-Style Dijon and a Horseradish Mustard, all made a tasty combination
- I primarily used Grapeseed Oil, however Olive Oil also worked fine
- I used Shallots in most of the recipes, but it was the only ingredient that was optional. And, yes, letting it sit for a bit mellows the bite somewhat but it is fine without resting if you don’t mind a bit stronger taste
- Though I haven’t tried every combination, the best I think is White Wine Vinegar, Grapeseed Oil and Country-Style Dijon with the Shallots
- If a cruet isn’t available, a jar with a secure lid works fine (and makes emulsifying easier by shaking!)
When I have updates to previous items, or corrections outside the games, they’ll be here. If there are none, this section won’t appear.
Update - My friend’s mother is home, but unlike it initially appeared, has not fully recovered from her hospitalization for C-19. The last reports I had were that she hasn’t fully returned to normal activities and energy levels.
Correction – when compiling the changes to Minor League Baseball in Texas, I completely overlooked the AA team in Midland – the RockHounds. They are associated with the Oakland As. Interesting, after the realignment, Oakland’s High-A team is in Lansing, where I was born and grew up nearby (when I was there, unfortunately there wasn’t a professional baseball team).
Everyone Plays Games: Hangman, By Definition; Facts in Five
Game Openings: Breaking Away (Kent, Burgess, Smith; Firth, minimum 6 players needed)
No-Press Gunboat Diplomacy, sans preference lists (6 Players)
Standard Choice (Smith, minimum 4 players needed)
Possible Game Openings: Breaking Away Variants
Suggestions accepted for other games to offer.
Standbys: Breaking Away (x1); Gunboat Diplomacy (x1)
Rules for Breaking Away. Breaking Away Variants and Choice available on the Variable Pig website (variablepig.org)
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 6:
Letter Votes: C – 1; F – 2; M – 1; U – 1 Revealed: All of Them
Words Guessed: (Davis-Gardner); (Firth) Triclinium; (Kent) Freelanced; (Lischett) Freelances;
(Maslen) Triclinium; (Smith) Triclinium; (Wilson) Triclinium; (O’Hara) Freelanced
Word: TRICLINIUM (10)
Definition: A (1) COUCH (5) SURROUNDING (11)
THREE (5) SIDES (5) OF (2) A (1) TABLE, (5)
USED (4) BY (2) THE (3) ANCIENT (7)
ROMANS (6) FOR (3) RECLINING (9)
AT (2) MEALS (5)
Never Revealed: E, S Already Revealed: L, N, P, R, W
Game Words Correctly Guessed: Infinitesimal (David-Gardner, Firth, Kent, Smith, Wilson);
Triclinium (Firth, Maslen, Smith, Wilson)
Deduction/Playing Comments per Round:
Turn One Comments:
[Dane Maslen] – This round’s word looks like it’s a noun
Turn Three Comments:
[Dane Maslen] –I appear to have 1302 words to choose from. The definition might well be something like “A <noun> <present participle> <adjective?> <noun> TO A <noun>, etc” (certainly the word looks like it must be noun), but I’ve looked through the matching words up to GRUELINGLY without having anything leap out at me. Maybe the next revealed letter will help.
Turn Five Comments:
[Richard Smith] – clue: surrounding? remaining?
[Kevin Wilson] – I know you don’t/can’t include commentary on this game as that could give things away but my guess, proscenium, is solely based on the 3rd word in the definition (the 11-letter one) being SURROUNDING. I couldn’t come up with any of the rest of the definition other than probably OK guesses on which 1-letter words are “a” or 3-letter are “for”. 1 or 2 more letters should zero us in quickly I think.
[Andy Lischett] – …my first impulse was “Tremednous” because “Tremendous” doesn’t quite work. Just offhand, working out part of the definition at this point may be more helpful than guessing the answer. [WAY] – actually, when I cooked up this game, that’s what I expected people to do. However, it seems more are trying to brute force the word than trying to get the definition figured out to give insight to what the word could be.
[Mark Firth] – Self-hint: “A light surrounding force which is a flame, left to the instant rising for remaining at quiet”
[Dane Maslen] – The good news is that there are now only a little over 100 words that could match. The bad news is that none of them seem to fit the definition! The initial 1-letter word there, together with a search for matches to its third word, leads me to believe that the definition must start ‘A _____ SURROUNDING’, i.e. the word must be a singular noun. There’s no shortage of 10-letter nouns that match what we know of the word, but most of them end –NESS, and dictionaries don’t tend to include a definition for such words, instead leaving it to the reader to deduce that it means “the state of being…” for whatever the corresponding adjective is.
One possibility that occurs to me is that maybe the word is capitalised. If so, it’ll be absent from the word lists that I am searching.
Turn 6 Comments:
[Dane Maslen] – Well, I now know that the word is TRICLINIUM. Guessing my way through the definition gives me something along the lines of “A couch surrounding three sides of a table, used by ancient Romans for reclining at meals.” [WAY] = spot on! [DM] - I considered this word last issue, but failed to spot that the definition I had found for it, namely “(Latin) a couch for reclining at meals, extending round three sides of a table, and usually in three parts” could be reorganized to match the definition we were looking for.
[Mark Firth] – I’ve chosen this answer on the basis the clue has “surrounding” and “reclining” in there. “Freelancer” looks more likely but I couldn’t think of a sensible clue for it. [WAY] – Good thinking, as Freelancer isn’t more likely.
[Andy Lischett] – My bad guess is FREELANDES. It is bad because you wouldn’t use this form of the word, and because it doesn’t fit my pretend definition, which is… “A ditch? surrounding three? sides of? a field?, each? of? the? –n—n- r—n- --r reclining? of? sails? That needs a little work but “A” is correct and “surrounding” looks good.
[Kevin Wilson] – Triclinium – A couch surrounding three sides of a table used by ancient Romans for reclining at meals. [WAY] – letter perfect!
[Richard Smith] – clue: surrounding? reclining? [WAY] –Yup
FACTS IN FIVE
***Rules Revision in Bold below***
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. Please clearly identify which individual you are using as your answer if there are multiple potential people with a given name. For instance, if the category is American Presidents, answering Washington is fine as there is only one; however, if you decided to use Bush you need to indicate whether you are submitting the father or the son. Unclear answers will be matched to score the least points. Using the Bush example, if one person submitted “Bush” and three people submit “George W. Bush” the latter would score 2 points and the former 1.
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.
Game Two, Round Two
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 L M N R V
Famous American Criminal
Mark Firth Henry Lee Lucas Charles Manson Frank Nitti Joel Rifkin Joe Valachi
John David Galt Hannibal Lector Charles Manson
Dennis Nilson R
Ramirez Joran Van der Sloot
Doug Kent Luciano Manson Terry Nichols R Ramirez Valachi
Andy Lischett Lucky Luciano C. Manson BF Nelson Arnold Rothstein Joe Valachi
Walt O’Hara Lucky Luciano Charles Manson Roy Norris Gary Ridgeway Darrin Deon Vann
Kevin Wilson Leopold Charles Manson Terry Nichols Gary Ridgeway Michael Vick
Title of Famous Painting
Mark Firth Laugh Cavalier Mona Lisa Night Watch Reply of the… View of Delft
John David Galt Last Supper Mona
Lisa Night Watch Red Balloon
Doug Kent Lunch of Boat Mona Lisa Napoleon Cross Red Balloon Venus of Urbino
Andy Lischett Lunch on Grass Mona Lisa Nighthawks Reapers… Vivisection
Walt O’Hara Landscape Snow Marguerite/Piano Nude Woman… Reaper w/Sickle Vase with Carnations
Kevin Wilson Last Supper Mona Lisa Nighthawks The Raft… Van Gogh, Self-portrait
Comedy Movie Title
Mark Firth Life of Brian Man w/2 Brain Night at Opera Royal Tenen… Viva Las Vegas
John David Galt Last Christmas M Python Grail Noelle Rick
(Nat’ Lampoon’s) Vacation
Doug Kent L Miss Sunshine M Python Grail Nice Dreams Rushmore Vacation
Andy Lischett The Long Trail My Cous Vinny Night at Opera Road to Zanzibar Valley Girl
Walt O’Hara Lars and Girl MacGruber Night Museum The Ringer Very Bad Things
Kevin Wilson Legally Blonde M*A*S*H Nat’l Lam Christ Raising Arizona A Very Har/Kum Christ
Mark Firth Mario Lemieux Mark Messier Lizzie Neal (of) Mark Recchi Jakub Vrana
John David Galt V Lecavalier P Marleau Matthew Nieto Zac Rinaldo M E Vlasic
Doug Kent Lafleur Modano Nieuwendyk Larry Robinson Vezina
Andy Lischett Guy Lafleur Stan Mitka Eric Nesterenko Jeremy Roenick Tomas Vlasek
Walt O’Hara Kevin Labanc Olli Maatta Dmitri Nabokov Antti Raanta Rogie Vachon
Kevin Wilson Mario Lemieux Al MacInnis S Niedermayer Patrick Roy Georges Vezina
Mark Firth Lemur Mandrill Nylghau (Nilgai) Rat Vole
John David Galt Lynx Mountain Lion Narwhal Raccoon Vole
Doug Kent Lion Monkey Narwhal Rhino Vole
Andy Lischett Lion Mouse Narwhal Rabbit Vole
Walt O’Hara Lemur Marmoset Nabarlek Rhinoceros Vole
Kevin Wilson Lion Moose Nutria Raccoon Vole
Note – for allowed and disallowed answers, please feel free to correct me!
Notes on Mark’s Answers: Laugh Cavalier is Laughing Cavalier; Reply of the… is Reply of the Zaporozhian Cossacks to Sultan
Mehmed IV of the Ottoman Empire; Night Watch is The Night Watch; Man w/2 Brain is The Main with Two Brains;
Night at Opera is A Night at the Opera; Royal Tenen… is The Royal Tenenbaums; Lizzie Neal (of) is Lizzie Neal (of
Loughborough) who is an English field hockey player
Notes on John’s Answers: Dennis Nilsen is discounted as he was Scottish; R Ramirez is Richard Ramirez; Joran Van der Sloot
is discounted as he is Dutch; Last Supper is The Last Supper (da Vinci); Mona Lisa is Mona Lisa (da Vinci); Night
Watch is The Night Watch (Rembrandt); Red Balloon is Red Balloon (Klee); Venus is Venus on the Half Shell
(Botticelli) [JDG] - (I know, this isn’t the real title) [WAY] it’s actually called “The Birth of Venus” so fits under a “B”
category, not “V” and was disallowed; M Python Grail is Monty Python and the Holy Grail; (Nat’ Lampoon’s)
Vacation is disallowed as that movie title starts with “N” not “V” (further discussion in Doug’s and Kevin’s Notes);
V Lecavalier is Vincent Lecavalier (Kings; P Marleau is Patrick Marleau (Sharks); Matthew Nieto is Matthew Nieto
(Sharks); Zac Rinaldo is Zac Rinaldo (Bruins); M E Vlasic is Marc-Edouard Vlasic (Sharks);
Notes on Doug’s Answers: R Ramirez is Richard Ramirez; Lunch of Boat is Luncheon of the Boating Party; Napoleon Cross is
Napoleon Crossing the Alps; L Miss Sunshine is Little Miss Sunshine; M Python Grail is Monty Python and the Holy
Grail; Vacation is allowed as the 2015 remake was called just “Vacation”
Notes on Andy’s Answers: BF Nelson is Baby Face Nelson; Lunch on Grass is The Luncheon on the Grass; Reapers… is
Reapers Resting in a Wheat Field; The Long Trail is The Long Long Trail; My Cous Vinny is My Cousin Vinny; Night
at Opera is A Night at the Opera; Road to Zanzibar is The Road to Zanzibar
[AL] – The full title of “Reapers” is “Reapers Resting in a Wheat Field”. I was actually thinking of the painting “The
Gleaners” but thought it was titled “The Reapers”, and when I went to verify that I found this very pretty
“Vivisection” just came to me in a vision.
[AL] – (earlier note) What does it say that I can rattle off criminals without a problem, but famous paintings…? I’m not
a hockey fan. I know Stan Mikita because he was around Chicago and Denis Savard and currently the
Blackhawks have Toews. In college I had friends who were big hockey fans and they went around addressing
each other in fake French Canadian accents as Jeel-bhar! (Gilbert). The remaining hockey players I know of
are Gretzki, Bobby Orr and Desjardins (Dee Zhardan) because he has a cool name.
Notes of Walt’s Answers: Lucky Luciano is Lucky Luciano(mobster); Charles Manson is Charles Manson (cult leader, killer);
Roy Norris is Roy Norris (tool box killer); Gary Ridgeway is Gary Ridgeway (serial murderer); Darrin Deon Vann is
Darrin Deon Vann (serial murderer); Landscape Snow is Landscape with Snow (Van Gogh); Marguerite/Piano is
Marguerite Gachet at the Piano (Van Gogh); Nude Woman… is Nude Woman Reclining (Van Gogh); Reaper w/Sickle
is Reaper with Sickle (after Millet) (Van Gogh); Vase with Carnations is Vase with Carnations (Van Gogh); Lars and
Girl is Lars and the Real Girl; Night Museum is Night at the Museum
[WO] – This might be the most Googled list ever. Van Gogh references are from a book in my study that was two feet
from my computer when I was typing this. It just happens to have a handy alphabetized index of paintings in
the back. I know NOTHING about hockey, so I have no idea if the players are famous but they do exist.
Notes on Kevin’s Answers: Leopold was entered as Leopold and Loebe, the first entry was used; Night Watch is The Night
Watch; The Raft… is The Raft of the Medusa; Nat’l Lam Christ is National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation; A Very
Har/Kum Christ is A Very Harold and Kumar Christmas; S Niedermeyer is Scott Niedermeyer
[KW] – There was just an article on TV recently on Leopold & Loeb. I had never heard of them before seeing the short
[KW] –A little cheat on Van Gogh. “v” is tough. [WAY] – surprisingly, it appears one of them from 1889 has that
name (others are known as Vincent van Gogh, Self-Portrait). Otherwise, it would be a reference to a type of
painting from Van Gogh, instead of a specific painting, it would be disallowed.
[KW] –I had to check but all the National Lampoon movies have official titles that include “National Lampoon’s…” so
that should count. [WAY} – That it does for that category
[KW] –My time in Lousiana helped with the mammal. I wouldn’t have any idea what a nutria was otherwise.
General Player Comments:
[John David Galt] – The initials you assigned are much harder this time; I had to do research on all the categories. [WAY] – the
letters are entirely random draw from, I believe, 27 cardstock tiles (one for each letter, plus a wildcard). I just shake the
baggie that I store them in and draw out five, then put them in order. The categories are a bit different, I draw a card
from a deck and then, based on the card, have the option to choose something on the card. Generally, they can be
category only cards or category and class with some of the classes fill-in-the-blank (such as “of (choose) nationality”). I
run through the deck, then reshuffle and restart going through it again.
Game Two, Round Three
Letters: G H I K P
Categories: Female Poet; Deceased Famous Person of African Descent; Artificial Satellites; Unit of Weight;
Modern Era Olympic Sport (non-Demonstration)
Scores by Category 1st 2nd 3rd 4th 5th Now Previous Total
Doug Kent 10 7 6 7 9 39 + 34 = 73
Kevin Wilson 8 8 5 7 8 36 + 37 = 73
Andy Lischett 8 7 6 6 8 35 + 35 = 70
Mark Firth 7 7 6 6 7 33 + 34 = 67
John David Galt 5 8 5 5 8 31 + 34 = 65
Walt O’Hara 8 5 5 5 8 31 + 32 = 63
Deadline for the Next Issue of Out of the WAY:
February 10, 2021 at noon – See You Then!
Game entries, letters of comment and other material can be sent to:
wandrew88 at gmail.com; or by post to: W. Andrew York; POB 201117; Austin TX 78720-1117
Eternal Sunshine Game Section
Lischett: Plays 12-B. Buys 2 Luxor for $200 each and 1 Imperial for $400.
Howell: Plays 8-H. Buys 1 Imperial for $400, 1 Continental for $400, and 1 American for $400.
Wilson: Plays 1-H. Buys 2 Continental for $400 each and 1 Tower for $400.
Galt: Plays 10-B. Buys 3 Continental for $400 each.
Firth: Plays 8-D. Buys 2 Worldwide for $300 each and 1 Imperial for $400.
Lischett: Plays 3-D. Buys 1 Festival for $300, 1 Imperial for $400, and 1 American for $400.
Order for Turn Five:
Howell, Wilson, Galt, Firth, Lischett, Howell
Deadline for Turn 5 is February 12th, 2020 at 7pm My Time (12 hours earlier than the standard zine deadline)
Seasons Separated by Player Request
Austria: Rick Davis – firstname.lastname@example.org - Retreat F Greece - Albania..Has F Albania, A Galicia, A Rumania,
A Serbia, A Warsaw.
England: Mark Firth – email@example.com - Remove A London..Has F Mid-Atlantic Ocean.
France: John David Galt – firstname.lastname@example.org - Has F English Channel, F Gulf of Lyon, A Paris, A Piedmont, F Tunis.
Germany: Andy Lischett – email@example.com - Build A Kiel..Has A Belgium, A Burgundy, F Denmark, A Kiel,
A Munich, F North Sea.
Italy: Toby Harris – firstname.lastname@example.org - Has F Naples, F Portugal, A Rome, A Tyrolia, A Venice.
Russia: Bob Durf – email@example.com - NRR, retreat A Rumania-OTB..NBR, plays 1 short..
Has F Black Sea, A Edinburgh, F Liverpool, A Moscow, A Ukraine, F Yorkshire.
Turkey: Jack McHugh - firstname.lastname@example.org – Build F Smyrna..Has F Aegean Sea, F Constantinople,
A Greece, F Ionian Sea, F Smyrna.
Would Andy York (email@example.com) please standby for Russia?
Deadline for S 06 is: February 13th, 2020 at 7am My Time
Diplomacy, “Wine Lips”, 2020B, F 03
Austria: Harold Reynolds – firstname.lastname@example.org - A Bohemia – Silesia, F Bulgaria(sc) – Constantinople,
A Serbia Supports A Tunis – Greece, A Silesia – Berlin, A Tyrolia Supports A Munich, A Vienna - Bohemia.
England: David Cohen – email@example.com – F Barents Sea – Norway, A Belgium - Picardy (*Fails*),
F London - English Channel, F North Sea Convoys A Norway – Yorkshire, A Norway – Yorkshire,
F Wales Supports F London - English Channel.
France: David Burgess – firstname.lastname@example.org – NMR! F Irish Sea Unordered,
F Mid-Atlantic Ocean Unordered, F North Atlantic Ocean Unordered, A Picardy Unordered, A Spain Unordered.
Germany: Mark Firth – email@example.com - F Baltic Sea Supports A Denmark – Sweden, A Denmark – Sweden,
A Kiel - Berlin (*Fails*), A Ruhr - Kiel (*Fails*).
Italy: George Atkins - GeorgeWrites@outlook.com - F Ionian Sea Convoys A Tunis – Greece,
A Tunis – Greece, F Tyrrhenian Sea Supports F Ionian Sea, A Piedmont - Switzerland (try as they might,
they cannot scale those alps, Impossible).
Russia: Heath Davis-Gardner – firstname.lastname@example.org - A Ankara Supports A Armenia – Smyrna,
A Armenia – Smyrna, F Black Sea Supports F Bulgaria(sc) – Constantinople, A Moscow Supports A St Petersburg,
Munich Supports A Silesia – Berlin, A St Petersburg
F Sweden - Baltic Sea (*Dislodged*,
retreat to Skagerrak or Gulf of Bothnia or Finland or OTB).
Turkey: Paul Milewski – email@example.com – F Aegean Sea Hold,
F Eastern Mediterranean Supports F Aegean Sea.
Thanks to Andy York for standing by as England. David has returned.
Would Jack McHugh (firstname.lastname@example.org) standby for France?
Supply Center Chart
Austria: Berlin, Budapest, Bulgaria, Constantinople, Serbia, Trieste, Vienna=7 Build 1
England: Belgium, Edinburgh, Liverpool, London, Norway=5 Remove 1
France: Brest, Marseilles, Paris, Portugal, Spain=5 Even
Germany: Denmark, Holland, Kiel, Sweden=4 Even
Italy: Greece, Naples, Rome, Tunis, Venice=5 Build 1
Russia: Ankara, Moscow, Munich, Rumania, Sevastopol, Smyrna,
St Petersburg, Warsaw=8 Build 1 or 2
Turkey: None=0 OUT!
When stabbing your ally to win,
Make sure it goes all the way in.
For if you go shallow,
He well just might al-low,
Your enemies instead to move in.
In North Africa we can find Algiers,
Where disrespect is handled with all jeers.
And it's hot and it's dry,
With no clouds in the sky:
What I'm thinking of drinking is all beers.
In Denmark we find Copenhagen,
With treasures around to be taken
But you won't find meat
At any retreat
Since they are exclusively vegan.
Edinburgh, the chief town of Scotland,
A place never to be called Hotland,
In winter it's cold,
And summer's not bold
And a kids' theme park is called Totland.
Is Paris the City of Light,
Wherever you look there's a sight?
The Champs Élysées,
Oh, what can we say?
We all like to shop in the night.
In Finland, the city of Turku
Is a place where they really work you.
Working in Summer
Isn't a bummer
If long days don't make the work shirk you.
Deadline for W 03/S 04 is February 13th, 2020 at 7am My Time
Balkan Wars VI, “Bad Way to Go”, 2020Apb08, F 14
Albania: Mark Firth – email@example.com – F Gulf of Corfu Supports F South Adriatic Sea,
A Montenegro Supports A Tirana, F North Adriatic Sea - Bosnia (*Fails*),
F South Adriatic Sea Supports A Montenegro, F Southern Mediterranean Sea – Rhodes,
A Tirana Supports A Valona – Skopje, A Valona - Skopje.
Bulgaria: Jack McHugh - firstname.lastname@example.org - A Athens - Salonika (*Fails*),
Plovdiv - Thrace (*Disbanded*), A Salonika - Thrace (*Bounce*), F
South Black Sea - North Black Sea,
A Varna - Arda.
Rumania: Brad Wilson - email@example.com - Retreat A Izmit OTB..No units.
Serbia: Andy York – firstname.lastname@example.org – A Belgrade - Nish (*Fails*), F Bosnia Hold,
A Bucharest – Dubruja, A Constantsa Supports A Bucharest – Dubruja, A Dubruja – Varna,
A Kolarovo Supports A Dubruja – Varna, A Macedonia – Plovdiv, A Nish - Skopje (*Fails*),
A Sofia Supports A Macedonia – Plovdiv, A Transylvania - Bucharest.
Turkey: Heath Davis-Gardner – email@example.com – F Constantinople Supports F Izmit,
F Izmit Supports F Constantinople, A Smyrna Supports F Constantinople.
Albania/Serbia Draw Fails
Now Proposed – Concession to Serbia, Concession to Albania, Albania/Serbia Draw, Albania/Serbia/Turkey Draw. Please vote. NVR=No
Supply Center Chart
Albania: Crete, Cyprus, Malta, Montenegro, Rhodes, Skopje, Tirana,
Trieste, Valona=9 Build 2
Bulgaria: Athens, Salonika, Sparta, Thrace=4 Even
Rumania: None=0 OUT!
Serbia: Belgrade, Bucharest, Bosnia, Cluj, Constantsa, Dubruja, Galati, Nish,
Plovdiv, Sofia, Varna=11 Build 1
Turkey: Constantinople, Izmit, Smyrna=3 Even
LOST IN ANATOLIA: What a fiasco. We are done. Long live Rumania!
Alb – Ser: Nothing more than keeping things honest. I’ve voted for the draw.
Deadline for W 14/S 15 is February 13th 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.
John David Galt:
Donald Trump in Mar al Lago, FL
Kamala Harris in Majuro, Marshall Islands
Mata Hari in Nome Alaska
Churchy LaFemme in Okefenokee Swamp Park at Waycross, GA
Alan Turing at Bletchley, UK
H.H. Asquith in Biarritz, France
Melania Trump in Atlanta, Georgia
Kamala Harris in Oakland, California
Robert E. Lee in Omsk, Russia
William Tell in Llanelli, UK
Hint to Person Placed Closest to Me:
We were born within 10 years of each other. Wrong nationality…but correct chromosome.
Deadline for Turn 2 is February 13th 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 1 Categories:
(Don’t forget to specify a Joker category, or it will be applied to Category 1)
1. A U.S. State beginning with the letter A
2. A type of lingerie
3. A brand of pen
4. Someone who played in the game of By Popular Demand that just ended
5. A Jimmy Stewart film
Joker category shown in BOLD. Most popular answer shown in italics (if I remember to do that part).
Andy York gets the high score of 41 for the round (out of a possible 43). Carol Kay and Mark Firth get the low score of 13.
Comments by Category:
A U.S. State beginning with the letter A: Kevin Wilson – “It’s college football season so of course ‘Bama.” Mark Nelson – “I will go for ARIZONA because it's been in the news so much in recent months, re US politics. But the accents are nicer in Alabama.”
A type of lingerie: Kevin Wilson – “Lots to choose from but bras seem universal.” Mark Nelson – “I do have several comments that I could make, but they might reveal just a little too much! Though if we are talking about revealing I believe that revealing less is revealing more! I wonder if something `boring' like `bra' will win... but I am going to go for chemise in the expectation that I will only score one mark.”
A brand of pen: Kevin Wilson – “Hardest of the bunch, but a classic.” Mark Nelson – “I will go for biro on the grounds that the brand name has become ubiquitous.”
Someone who played in the game of By Popular Demand that just ended: Andy Lischett – “"Me" in the category of someone in the previous game, means the word "Me", not me personally. I had chosen this as my Joker but to meet my resolution I moved my Joker to "Bra", Bro. Although I figure a lot of people will pick themselves, John David Galt (for example) may pick "John David Galt" rather than "Me".” Kevin Wilson – “Too many so go with who won!” Brad Wilson – “Andy Lischett, my hero!” Mark Nelson – “I pick Andy York because he won and I play my joker.”
A Jimmy Stewart film: Andy Lischett – “Therefore my Jimmy Stewart movie is "It's a Wonderful Life", rather than "Rear Window" or "Vertigo" or something else (not that I dislike "It's a Wonderful Life", I like it). After making my pick I asked Carol and she chose "The Philadelphia Story", then added "But 'It's a Wonderful Life' is probably more popular." Sometimes I make side-bets with myself as to what other players will pick: Andy York will choose "It's a Wonderful Life", Brad will choose "Vertigo" (duh!), and Paul will pick "Rear Window". Then again, I'm married to Carol - who is not a huge movie fan - and never would have guessed "The Philadelphia Story" for her. Without thinking about it too much, Jimmy Stewart is probably my favorite actor... not necessarily the best, but my favorite. My younger sister, however, hated Jimmy Stewart and made fun of his stammering schtick. But then she (my sister) grew up to be a Johnny Depp fan, so she never did have any taste.” Kevin Wilson – “It is Christmas season after all.” Richard Smith – “James Stewart has starred in a lot of movies!” [[Yes, and It’s a Wonderful Life isn’t even his only Christmas movie.]] Brad Wilson – “Vertigo, of course!” Mark Nelson – “I will go for "It's a Wonderful Life" which I have never watched, but is the one to spring into mind. I have seen "Rear Window" on the big screen during my brief two-year membership of the Wollongong Film Society! Should I change my mind and go for the one I've watched...no!”
General Comments: John David Galt – “Texas files suit because nobody spelt Earl Grey correctly. ;-b (Not to mention Carol Kay/Key.)” [[My post-migraine adjudication is entirely to blame. I almost had Bismarck misspelled too. Since I use Excel to make the turn result page, once I misspell something it’s wrong everywhere.]] Andy Lischett – “My New Year's Resolution is to take this game more seriously and not just pick my favorites. At least until I'm so far behind it won't matter.” Mark Nelson [sending in orders for the wrong turn] – “1. A smartphone app. The ones that I use the most often (in no particular order) are Contacts, Camera, Clock, Notes, App Store, Facebook, Gmail, The Guardian, Line, Maps, YouTube, Calculator, Google Maps, My Optus, Wordscapes, Line, iPrint & Scan, and Zoom. Some of those might not be considered apps since they come with the phone: Contacts, Camera, Clock, Notes, App Store, Calculator. My Optus is Australian specific. Doubt too many players are using The Guardian app. So I suppose it's a toss-up between Facebook and Youtube. I'll go for Youtube. 2. A World War II naval vessel. Good category! A number of Royal Navy vessels spring to mind, but perhaps that is a reason not to use one; most of your readers aren't British. It might be argued that WWII was the era in which aircraft carriers came of age, and therefore an aircraft carrier should be picked. Still, I love the romanticism of the battleship. A case can be made for either the Yamato or the Masashi since they are the most
powerful battleships of the era - and hence of all time. But no! I will go for the Bismarck! The pursuit of the Bismarck by the Royal Navy was one of the few success stories for the Brits in those dark days of the war. 3. A Rolling Stones Album. Don't own any, just a 2CD "best of". I'll go for "Sticky Fingers" since it's on my ever-expanding list of albums that I'd like to buy! 4. A type of tea. My standard tea which I drink several mugs a day is "Tetley Tea", though technically I wouldn't say that it's a type of tea. (Though I am aware that you don't disqualify incorrect answers). At work in the afternoon I often like a generic green tea. I enjoy Earl Gray, though it's a tea blend. It's not very often that I will order tea when I go out. But if I do, it's most often oolong. So I will go for oolong. 5. Something you crush. Joke answer might be "Austria in a game of diplomacy". Tempted to say "cans", but I'll be more specific and say "beer can". Joker... Not 4 or 5, I guess a wide spread of answers for those. Not sure what will happen with 3. So it's 1 or 2. Two obvious answers for 1, but there are also two good answers for 2 (Exile On Main Street). It's a 50-50. I will go for... I will chance my answer for 1 from YouTube to Facebook and then play my joker on Facebook. Silly me! Those were the questions for the final round that I NMRd on! Looking at the comments... I agree with Andy Lischett, "Sympathy for the Devil" is one of my all-time favourites.” Mark Firth – “I’d prefer BAPD next time please as makes for a bit more thinking (and until last game I’ve always done poorly at the original game).” [[I guess this round is to be used as evidence?]]
Turn 2 Categories:
(Don’t forget to specify a Joker category, or it will be applied to Category 1)
1. Someone who has played Dr. Who on TV or in a movie.
2. An opera.
3. Something made of plastic.
4. A country that Napoleon conquered all or part of.
5. A type of spider.
Deadline for Turn 2 of By Popular Demand is: February 13 at 7am My Time
Deadline for the next issue of Eternal Sunshine is: February 13, 2021 at 7am My Time (U.S. central time) – some games and subzines earlier
See You Then!