By Douglas Kent,
On the web at http://www.whiningkentpigs.com – follow the links to the Diplomacy World section for this subzine, old Diplomacy World articles (and even some full issues in .pdf format), Message Board, Chat Room, and other items of interest. Or just go there directly at http://www.whiningkentpigs.com/DW/
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Quote Of The Month – “Constantly talking isn't necessarily communicating.” (Joel in “Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind”)
Welcome back for another issue of foolishness and rude body noises. And Chex Mix – my latest addiction. I’ve enjoyed snacking on the Original flavor for many years, but in the last few months I’ve started eating far too many bags of Chocolate Turtle or Peanut Butter and Chocolate flavor Chex Mix. If I keep this up, you’ll see me on one of those exploitative daytime talk shows, being lifted out of the apartment by a crane after they remove one of the walls. Okay, I really only want to lose about ten pounds right now (all in my waist) but it sounds more dramatic the other way, doesn’t it?
Perhaps I should be more concerned with my mental health, which continues to be the area I am focusing on. My obsessive tendencies continue, as you might expect. Do you know what I did the evening after I released Eternal Sunshine #3? I started work on Eternal Sunshine #4 of course. By the time Heather came back from her hair appointment so we could go to dinner, I had three pages finished. However, I made a mental commitment to spend the rest of that weekend working on The Screaming Adventures of the Whining Kent Pigs (the book on my family and childhood which I’ve been toying with for years – not that I actually made any progress recently), and editing a few articles for Diplomacy World which had been submitted by Europeans who needed some help with their written English. Sort of like getting the work out of the way first, although I don’t consider this subzine work in the slightest. For a change, I’m actually enjoying myself! What a tragedy if I should get used to that, don’t you think?
The contents of this issue are changed a little bit as I attempt to get back on a similar schedule to Jim Burgess and the zine proper. First of all, I have decided to hold off on publishing the first turn results to By Popular Demand. As the printed version of the zine announcing the first turn categories hasn’t gone into the mail yet, instead what I am going to do is list the Turn 2 categories this issue but no answer for Turn 1. This way if you have already sent in Turn 1 answers, you can go ahead and send in the next turn. But if you haven’t joined the game yet, you can send in both turns at once and not experience any kind of penalty. We’ve got about 10 people playing so far, but in a game like By Popular Demand the more the merrier. Give it a try! The worst that can happen is you completely embarrass yourself, come in last place, and forever have to wear a sign around your neck that says “I Lost By Popular Demand in “Eternal Sunshine” and All I Got Was This Stupid Sign to Wear Around My Neck.”
The other missing item is the book review section, but that is simply because I haven’t finished any books this month. I’m in the process of reading three or four now, but a busy month kept me from actually getting to the last page of any of them. So do not fear, the book reviews will return as soon as I finish something!
Heather yelled at me the other day. This was an emotional, heart-felt yell, not one of those everyday “would you please stop singing that song to the cat over and over again, you’re making me want to poke my eardrums out with a screwdriver” yell. It’s easy to tell the difference. I have a built-in measuring device, known as the black hole of my stomach. When it starts to hurt, it means she’s really yelling.
We had gone to the movies, to see this rather good suspense flick called “The Lookout.” In it, the main character crashes his car by doing something stupid, and it winds up killing two of his friends, injuring his girlfriend, and putting himself in a coma. When he wakes up he can’t remember the accident, but that isn’t surprising since all of his short-term memory is pretty much screwed up royally. He gets involved with some bad people, and they plan on robbing the bank he works at as a janitor, with his help. Aside from trying to deal with his brain damage, and how miserable he feels about taking a life people around him envied and turning it into one people pity, he has to deal with the guilt of what he did to his friends. He can’t remember the actual accident, but he remembers right before it, and he knows it was his fault. He also knows he feels like he is, and always will be, a piece of shit for doing something so stupid. Everything he is now, everything he has to do, all the adjustments he has to make to cope with forgetting things, each one reminds him that he did this to himself.; And deep down, part of him believes that he deserves it.
On the way out of the movie, Heather started trying to draw a comparison between the character and me – that he’d learned through the course of the movie to get on with his life, to believe in himself even if it is just a little bit. And he had started to forgive himself. Why couldn’t I do that? After all, his character had killed two people, his friends who he cared about. I hadn’t killed anybody, so why should I be so hard on myself? Why did I have to hate myself so much?
I believe Heather knew my answer before I said it. I shouldn’t have said it at all, I guess, but we try to be honest with each other. Even when we know it’ll upset the other person. I told her that sometimes – not all the time, but sometimes – I still believe I killed Mara. Or at least I somehow could have prevented her death. I know it isn’t true, but I still think it is. Sometimes.
So Heather yelled at me. Not because I said that, not because I was being too hard on myself the way I always am. She yelled at me for all the things I say about myself in my head, things she knows I don’t say out loud. She yelled at me because she can’t stand to have someone say such terrible things about somebody she loves. It hurts her. Just as it would hurt me if someone said those things about her. So I try to control it, and I try not to talk about it.
But it’s still there.
And when Heather asks me why I have to feel so bad about myself, why I won’t do more to work on my problems, why I won’t consider taking medication for my depression – or at least for my anxiety, which seems to be getting worse and worse – I tell her the truth. Half the truth anyway, because there are two halves to the answer. There’s the first half, where I don’t want to take medication because I am afraid it will make me a zombie like last time…make it so I simply don’t care about anything, so instead of trying to do the right thing I’ll do something stupid like last time I was medicated, and go back to prison or hurt someone or worse. I know that’s really an irrational fear, because I’m a different person now than I was then. And I’m in a healthy relationship with someone who sees me every day, who has experience with depression, with mental illness, and with medication. If something isn’t working, if I’m reacting badly, Heather would certainly see it and make sure we did something about it.
Then there’s the second half. I’m afraid to take medication because somehow I am afraid that it WILL work, and that I won’t be the person I am. It might sound backward to other people, but my mind has built a sort of Catch-22 around the whole thing. I hate myself, I have to search to finds things about myself that I like or appreciate…but I am still me, and that’s who I have always been. If I take medication, and I change, and I learn to live with myself and like myself and forgive myself for all the wrongs I have committed in my life – real and imagined – will I still be me? Or will I be someone else? I may hate myself, but I exist. I am. And non-existence is what terrifies me more than anything. I don’t worry about dying. I worry about not being. About nothingness, void. Not an emptiness – a nothingness.
Then again, there’s the third half. Sometimes, when I feel really lousy and I am picking apart all the bad choices and mistakes I’ve made in my life, finding all the minute ways I could have done things differently where everything would have worked out better…on those days, I don’t want to try medication because I am afraid it’ll make me feel better. And I’m afraid that will be letting myself off way too easy. On those days, I don’t think I deserve to feel better.
There’s a line in one of my favorite movies, Defending Your Life. There’s examining Albert Brooks’ life after he dies, and his lawyer points out “There’s one person you were really cheap with, time and time again. I wish you would have spent more on him. You!” I can relate to that better than you might imagine. Doing anything for myself is a real struggle, and over the last few years it has gotten worse. I treat myself like crap. I don’t spend time thinking about what I want, what I might enjoy, what makes me happy. Instead I obsess about meaningless crap.
The smallest act of kindness towards myself is a major victory for me. If I buy myself a book or a CD or a DVD, that’s like a tremendous accomplishment. Today I went to Braums about bought a container of ice cream, and even that simple tribute required a ton of arguing inside my head. Should I go to the trouble of driving the extra block? Then I’ll have to get out of the car, walk through the store, find the ice cream, pay for it – spending money I could save or use for something more important – pull out of the driveway onto a busy street…is it worth all the effort, when I don’t really deserve the ice cream in the first place?
I’m not sure what I would have to do in order to deserve the ice cream though. That’s the catch; there is no particular accomplishment I’ve set out for myself, no goal to reach. So since I never set a goal, I never meet one, and therefore I never reward myself. When I was in prison they used to sell these 10-packs of “Fun Size” Milky Way bars at the commissary, for maybe two dollars; 20 cents for each little Milky Way. I’d but them, and decide I’d only eat one on days when I really deserved it. Four months later I still had half the pack left and I probably gave two of the bars away to other people, which means I ate a grand total of three mini Milky Way bars in four months...because I didn’t think I had done anything to deserve them.
It sound stupid when I read it on the page, but in my brain it makes more sense, believe me.
I have decided I am ready to try medication for my anxiety. It is getting worse then ever. Six years ago when I first went on medication, that’s what it was prescribed for. I hadn’t gone to a psychiatrist or anything though. Instead, my regular doctor who I went to for problems like sinus infections and flu shots had noticed one of my eyes twitching uncontrollably, and asked me what the deal was. I told him I thought it was just nerves, which wasn’t surprising since I hadn’t had a vacation in 15 years, and I worked nine hours a day five days a week with no breaks while people screamed at me whether I did my job well or not. They weren’t screaming *at* me, not usually, but it felt like they were. I was drinking heavily, I had terrible headaches, and I was angry all the time at home (or that’s what I was told – I’m not really sure how true that part was). The doctor decided to prescribe me something for anxiety.
Unfortunately the medication didn’t do much for me – all it did was numb me out completely, and remove all of my sexual urges. When I told the doctor about those results, he chose to add a second medication on top of the first. This helped restore my sexual desires somewhat, but zombied me out even more. By the time I had stopped taking the pills, I had lost my job, has committed what turned out to be a Federal crime (although I didn’t find that out for another year), and didn’t much care about either. Then I came back to reality. Ouch; like waking up from a coma.
I have higher hopes for medication this time. I’m supposed to have a psychiatric evaluation sometime in the next month, and then we’ll discuss the options. I wish I could talk to my father about his anxiety disorder, find out the specifics – maybe I’m suffering from the exact same thing he did. A little late for that conversation now though.
I’ve run out of steam for today, so I’m going to go ahead and post this and move on to something else. I haven’t felt that creative the past week, but I shouldn’t be surprised…even as my 96-hour panic attack is dissipating, I’m left very tired and drained; so drained that I actually don’t feel like beating myself up for not accomplishing anything.
Hmm, I guess that isn’t such a bad sign after all!
official, at least as far as I’m concerned:
approximately twenty miles from where I work, and each morning I have to make
decisions about which way to get to the office.
Within a five minute drive I can reach I-635, I-30, and
think that in today’s age of instantaneous news, cameras everywhere you look,
and cellular communication, that information of this type would be rapid and
accurate. It isn’t, at
least not here in
What is amazing to me is how frequently I get the critical update just AFTER I’ve driven past my last opportunity to select a different route to work. I know it doesn’t happen every single time, but it sure feels like it. Clearly because the backup is so many miles long, the accident must have taken place quite some time ago, but somehow it hasn’t made it to the traffic reporter’s desk until immediately after I swing around the blind curve . Why can’t radio, television, or the internet find a way to provide faster and more reliable updates?
irritation level is increased because of how terrible
I’ve only found one way to combat this merging/sneaking problem, and I can’t do it alone. I drive a tiny Hyundai two-door hatchback, and I can’t intimidate people properly in that. What you do is get into the second lane, but straddle BOTH lanes at once so nobody can sneak around you on the right. This stymies the people who want to cut in front. Usually if I try this maneuver, a truck or a large pickup will see what I’m doing and try to lend their assistance. We’re all stuck in the traffic, but I’ll be damned if I’m going to sit there for an extra five minutes so other people can swing around me.
I sheepishly do have to admit that on occasion, I too try the same sneaky move, when the blocked lane has a particularly long and inviting empty length…or when doing so will get me through an intersection before the light turns red. Yes, I’m a hypocrite, so what? I try not to do it very often, but more importantly I always add a little something to try and make the other drivers less angry when they see my zip by. I call it “The Idiot Move.” When you approach the blockage, you start shaking your head in confusion and waving your arms around in a shocked and surprised motion, as if to suggest you had no idea the lane was blocked. This generally results in somebody nearby (whether they generally qualify as a “good person” or not) giving you the “okay you idiot, merge in here and next time watch what the hell you’re doing, didn’t you wonder why traffic was so backed up?” opening. Always make sure you return the favor with a “thank you” wave in the rear-view mirror. Now you’ve gotten past the blocked lane, and made someone feel superior and generous all at the same time. If you squint and twist the logic enough, or if you have a Masters Degree in Justification, you could actually convince yourself that you’ve done a good deed!
The Hoax – When I first saw the trailer for
this movie, I knew we'd have to go see it, as I have been familiar with the
story for years. The Hoax is the true story (well, as true as you can get
when the person giving the account lies about everything) of Clifford Irving, a
writer who is desperate to get a book published. His first book, about a
famous art forger, was well-received but sold poorly. Now his new novel
is being dropped by his publisher after Life Magazine gives it a poor
review. Out of ideas, out of money, nearly out of hope,
What follows is a complex and farcical tale of lies building on top of each other, of intrigue, and of one man's inability to tell the truth about anything unless it serves his own purpose. With his best friend/researcher and estranged wife as accomplices, he tries to devise a way to finish the book and collect the large advance due both him and Mr. Hughes, all the while hoping to convince the publisher and the public that the indirect denials from Hughes are untrue.
Richard Gere puts on a decent performance as
Overall the film is enjoyable, if not completely satisfying. And in the end, one is left wondering how much of the account we've been shown is true, and how much has been altered by time and Irving's silver tongue over the years to fit whatever truth he is now professing (he later wrote a book about the experience, from which most of this movie is adapted). Really, how can you trust an admitted liar to tell you the truth about himself?
First Snow: I'd heard a couple of good things
about this movie, so when Inland Empire left
First Snow tells the tale of Jimmy Starks, a salesman on the verge of what he hopes will be his big break. Stuck for an afternoon on a desert highway because of car trouble, on a whim he has a fortune teller read his future. The reading ends when the fortune teller gives Jimmy his money back and abruptly ends the session.
Returning to his home in
This hypersensitivity to the fragility of human life causes Jimmy's world to begin to crumble, and brings focus on all his personal secrets and internal battles of conscience. The mere knowledge that he could die at any moment causes him to dig the holes of his life deeper. Watching for all the different ways you can die makes you realize how many of them are out there waiting for you.
The question First Snow attempts to answer, whether it is a curse or a blessing to know your death is approaching, is never successfully explored. Guy Pearce is a tremendous actor (see Priscilla Queen of the Desert or Memento as examples) but his character feels either one-dimensional or, more accurately, non-dimensional. I never developed any feelings for him one way or the other. Whether he lived or died was unimportant to me. In fact, I felt nothing for ANY of the characters, except some sympathy for the position of the fortune teller (J.K. Simmons).
I can't say the movie was unenjoyable, but the ride could be compared to one of the long, empty roads Jimmy drives in his travels, and the conclusion was rather obvious and unsatisfying. Still, I would give it a strong C+ or a weak B-.
Seen on DVD – Paradise Lost 2: Revelations (B
– I don’t know who is guilty and who is innocent, but it still seems like there
was simply not enough evidence to convict these kids, and it really brings up
the point that defendants rarely have the means to put up a proper defense); Sherrybaby (B – Nice job by Maggie Gyllenhaal
as a convict coming back to her daughter and family, but the plot was a bit
obvious at times and some of the settings were a bit too close to home for me
to enjoy thoroughly); Slacker (B, I like to watch this maybe once every three
years. The “Madonna Pap Smear” is a
classic, as is all the JFK conspiracy talk.
I always sit there wondering “Where do these people get the money to
live?”); Merchant of
W. Andrew York: Sat down and read ES #2 and #3 in one sitting. Must be pretty bored, huh?
Considering I was working on ES #4 when you sent this email, boredom can be contagious. Although in my case I think I was using it as an excuse not to work on my serious writing projects.
Actually, things are slowing down a bit from the hectic past few weeks at work. The outsourcing has happened (last Sunday) and we're now working through establishing/negotiating our working relationship. So, even though I put in another week with extra hours, I did get out around noon to begin the weekend and now am starting to get caught up on the things that have piled up in the meantime. Tomorrow I have to tackle delayed housekeeping - at least the weather won't be trying to draw me outside. We're expecting
temps as low as the mid-30's with rain/sleet overnight. No reading in the sun or going poolside! However, I might go downtown to the 29th Annual Spamarama (a festival for your favorite canned ham-like product).
Somehow outsourcing always seems like a great plan, until it happens. Then when it is too late to change the decision, the downside begins to reveal itself.
You ask about cons in
. Well, the only true gaming con I've been to in years is the annual Milleniumcon here in Texas . I did a write-up a few issues back in BTW and definitely will be going this year. It's in November (I think) and a websearch will find it quickly. Otherwise, a number of the sci-fi cons have a gaming track such as ArmadilloCon (August in Austin ) that I've written about in BTW. I've never been to AggieCon ( Austin in the near future), but I've heard there is some gaming there along with the sci-fi content. It's been some time since I went, but there used to be an annual gaming con in College Station . It wasn't very large, but had a decent selection of gaming events. San Antonio
You’d think Dallas/Fort Worth would have more cons of some type, but no. I’m hoping over the next few months to at least attract enough DFW-region players to my
Diplomacy Yahoo group, so we can arrange some kind of small face-to-face game and see where it takes us. Dallas
As for Burroughs, I've only seen the movie version of "Running with Scissors". It peaked my interest enough that I'd like to read some of his writings. However, my 'to read' pile is growing at 3 to 4 times the rate that I'm actually able to read them. So, I don't know when I'll get to anything he's written.... That being said, an actual "
" publication probably would percolate near to the top. Kent
I wouldn’t hold your breath though – while I am writing more these days, both here and in my blog, and trying to compose true written pieces or essays instead of simple rambling, I have a ton of work to do before a “book” comes out of anything. Then I’ll have the internal battle of deciding whether to show it to anyone, followed by the external battle of trying to find someone who wants to read it! At least my decision to show a few people the play I wrote about how Heather and I met has resulted in some positive feedback of sorts. And the essay I wrote on my father’s death, which I posted to a Yahoo writers group for critical comments, has generated some praise (from the two people who read it). I may reprint that essay here in June in commemoration of Father’s Day.
Brendan Whyte: You wrote “I currently subscribe to ZERO print magazines, so I concur with that view." Ahem. You sub to Damn the Consequences.... don't you? Or is someone intercepting them on the way to you box? Or impersonating you and you credit card?
Ha! I wish I could use a credit card or Paypal to pay for it! But no my friend, I was referring to nationally-distributed magazines which one might buy in a retail store (or which a library periodical department might order). I actually get four Diplomacy zines in the mail now: DtC, off-the-shelf, Northern Flame, and The Abyssinian Prince. I’ve also written to Andy Lischett to see about getting Cheesecake again.
Jim Burgess: Charlotte and I saw “Next” yesterday and boy I didn't think great actors like Nicolas Cage and Julianne Moore (both of whom are among my very favorites these days) could look THAT bad at times, with some horrible dialog adaptation/creation (from the Philip K. Dick, but not anything like the original as my dim memory remembers it). Some of the movie was fun, but on the whole, sheesh! On the other hand, I hope you both saw “Hot Fuzz”, which was the best comedy I've seen in years (if you like that British sort of feel, gone slapstick).
Nicholas Cage is a strange case. Sometimes he is so perfect for a role, and puts so much into it. Other times it is almost as if he is sleepwalking through a movie, uttering his lines like he is thinking about which bank he deposited the check into, and mentally making his shopping list for that afternoon. I know he is a big comic book fan, and likes to do goofy action or sci-fi movies as a change of pace, but it makes me wonder if anybody even reads these scripts before they are set into production.
Unfortunately, we didn’t wind up making it to see “Hot Fuzz” this past weekend, as we were too busy wandering all over the mall trying to find a ring that Heather might be happy with. She wants something non-traditional, white gold, onyx, antique style with filigree…diamonds are optional. The one ring she really wanted was suddenly “discontinued” when we went to the web site to buy it. Figures! I’ll give you all a further update as events warrant.
Diplomacy (Black Press): Graham Wilson, needs six more.
Balkan Wars IV (Black Press): Signed up: Jack McHugh, Graham Wilson, needs five more. Rules and map on request.
Colonia VII_B (White Press): Fred Hyatt’s worldwide variant. Signed up: Jim Burgess, Graham Wilson, David Partridge, needs 6 more. Rules and map on request.
I’d really like to see some activity on these sign-up lists. Help! If you know anyone who might be interested in these openings, please send them my way.
For other multi-player games, I’m considering offering Acquire or Kremlin if there is any interest from the readers. Suggestions for Diplomacy variants or other multi-player games are welcome.
By Popular Demand
The goal is to pick something that fits the category and will be the "most popular" answer. You score points based on the number of entries that match yours. For example, if the category is "Cats" and the responses were 7 for Persian, 3 for Calico and 1 for Siamese, everyone who said Persian would get 7 points, Calico 3 and the lone Siamese would score 1 point. The cumulative total over 10 rounds will determine the overall winner. Anyone may enter at any point, starting with an equivalent point total of the lowest cumulative score from the previous round. If a person misses a round, they'll receive the minimum score from the round added to their cumulative total. And, if you want to submit some commentary with your answers, feel free to. The game will consist of 10 rounds. A prize will be awarded to the winner.
NOTICE: As I mentioned at the beginning of the zine, I decided to hold off publishing the Round 1 results so that more people would have a chance to join in the fun once the printer version of the zine went in the mail. If you have already sent in answers for Round 1, please go ahead and send in Round 2 answers now. If you haven’t, send in BOTH Rounds 1 and 2 now. Next issue I will publish the results from both rounds. Any questions, just ask!
Round 1 Categories
1. A popular breed of dog.
2. A Beatles album.
3. A Confederate state during the US Civil War
4. A newspaper comic strip.
5. A metal other than gold.
Round 2 Categories
1. A brand of laundry detergent.
2. A musical instrument.
3. A Steve McQueen film.
4. A member of Monty Python other than John Cleese.
5. A country in
Deadline For The Next Issue of Eternal Sunshine:
June 1st, 2007 – See You Then!