Eternal Sunshine #136

September 2020

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


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Quote of The Month“Ad hoc, ad loc, and quid pro quo! So little time! So much to know!” (Jeremy in “Yellow Submarine”)


Welcome to Eternal Sunshine, the only Dipzine published by someone who has the complete collection of Dr. Katz, Strangers With Candy, and The Prisoner all on the same shelf.  I’ve heard rumors about another publisher having two of the three, but not all three.  This makes me better than you, and therefore you must bow to my wishes and send me tribute.


Toby – Age 4 or so, a few months after we adopted him


It’s been a very sad month for me.  A few weeks after ES #135 came out, Toby started sneezing and swallowing a lot.  He was still eating and drinking and using the litter as always, but he was just clearly not feeling well and generally unhappy.  For the first time in years he spent the night on the couch instead of coming to bed with me (where he nearly always slept between my legs for most of the night, curled up resting on one of my thighs). 


Since his preliminary diagnosis of likely GI leukemia a few months ago, I’ve been paying extra attention to his health.  He was moving a bit slower, and not playing as much, but otherwise was just as affectionate and happy as always.  So on a Monday morning I took him to the vet.  Honestly, I wasn’t sure I’d be taking him home.  In my mind it could have been something simple, or it could have been a symptom of something far more serious.


My vet is in a new location.  Their clinic was heavily damaged in a tornado last October, and plans to rebuild had been hampered first by all the other damage in the area, and then by the pandemic.  When I took Toby in for his shots in May they were in a temporary location, sharing space with another vet in a desolate strip mall.  Now they’ve moved to another shopping center five miles from their original location.  Despite the slow loosening of lockdown procedures in this area, they are still conducting contactless visits.  The vet tech comes and gets your pet from your vehicle, and they call you with diagnosis and information while you wait.  I was hoping I didn’t get “that call” on my ell phone.  I’ve been mentally preparing for that day, but I didn’t want it to be now.  My hope was that Toby’s health would hold on for Thanksgiving.  It would give me a reason to cook, and share all the turkey he wanted with him.


The vet was pretty certain this was just a case of sinusitis.  Toby’s lungs were clear, his breathing was good, and all the congestion and other problems seemed to be centered around his head and sinuses.  She gave him two shots – antibiotics and an anti-nausea shot to help him with the mucous he was swallowing – send sent him on his way.  That second show also made him drowsy, so I knew we’d sleep all day while I Was at work.  The plan was to see how he responded over the next three days.


In some ways, Toby seemed to get worse, sneezing and congestion-wise.  But some of that could be attributed to the antibiotics starting to work, slowly clearing out whatever he had stuck in his sinuses.  He still had an appetite, and continued to act semi-normally.  He was just not feeling well, and not very happy about it, but fighting through things.  Instead of greeting me at the door, Toby would be laying on the couch when I came home.  He’d get up for dinner, and when he needed to drink water, but mostly stuck to the far end of the couch otherwise. 


Friday, I picked up some feline antihistamines for Toby on the way home from work, in an effort to help him get through the last part of this illness.  I was supposed to give him half a pill twice a day.  Unfortunately, Toby is not a cat who goes for “cat treats” so heh refused to even consider being tricked into eating a pill pocket.  But I also felt he was sneezing less.  So I manually gave him ¼ of a pill Friday night, which he took a bit unhappily but like the good boy he always is.  Saturday I did the same, and by Sunday he was sneezing less than once an hour.  It looked like he’d beaten the sinus problems after all.  Despite that he was still sticking with the far end of the couch, and not coming over looking for affection (although he would accept is when I offered it).


Some major storms started moving through out area the following week.  I was achy on my own, so I wasn’t surprised so see Toby showing more discomfort too.  But his appetite was also suddenly dropping.  He was still eating, but not nearly as much.  Not a good sign.  And then when I came home from work on Tuesday, Toby’s respiration rate was elevated, close to 60 per minute.  It wasn’t labored breathing, but I’ve had pets long enough to know this was a bad sign.  He did come over twice that night to lap on my lap, which I was very happy to see.  But I knew that if he wasn’t better Wednesday morning, I had to bring him back to the vet.


And that’s exactly what happened.  His appetite was only slight, he seemed to be very uncomfortable moving, and his breath was still rapid.  So off we went.  I called the vet and warned them I was coming in and that I was afraid this could be the end.  My vet was off on Wednesdays, so I got an appointment with another one of the vets on staff.  This is the same clinic I’ve used since I first moved to Dallas in 1994 and – with one notable exception (a vet who only lasted there six weeks) – I’ve found their level of service to be without compare.  I’d started with the founder of the clinic late in his career, and moved on through two other vets as they came and went at the clinic.  So even though I wasn’t going to see my vet, who was familiar with Toby, I wasn’t concerned about him getting the best available care.


But because I’d been going there for so long, and because they trust me to have a good handle on my pets and their health, they decided to prepare for worst-case scenario.  With that in mind, I was allowed to bring Toby inside myself and stay with him; even when doing contactless visits, the clinic was allowing a small number of family members inside for euthanasia, as long as everyone wore a mask.  There was no guarantee how things would turn out, but just in case I was staying with him, and we were sent to Room 6 which seems to be a room reserved for possible sad goodbyes. 


The vet tech came in and got a bit of updated history, weighed Toby (he’d lost two pounds since his last physical in May, and a few ounces since he came in for his sinuses 10 days prior…he was a big cat, but never fat, just a big long body), and took his pulse and respiration.  Then the vet came in and we talked.  I expressed my concern that unless the breathing was due to Toby being in a lot of pain, I was afraid he might be showing signs of heart failure.  I’ve dealt with that before in cats, and rapid breathing generally accompanies it, although in my limited experience I could hear heavier wet breathing too (as fluid begins to accumulate in the lungs).


The vet was..well I was going to say more upbeat, but that would be inaccurate.  He was less apocalyptic about Toby’s condition.  He explained a number of things that could be going on, and was doubtful that this had anything to do with the diagnosis of GI leukemia.  He certainly wasn’t ready to throw in the towel yet.  We agreed to do blood work and an x-ray to try and narrow down the real problem.  It was entirely possible that Toby was starting to get diabetes (a little cat litter stuck to his foot was pointed out as a sign that his urine may be thick, a symptom of diabetes), or had an internal infection of some other kind.  Or, as I considered, he may simply be in a lot of pain from the rapid changes in barometric pressure and the storms that we’d been going through since Monday.  The older you get, the more such things affect you, and of course with the infection he just dealt with he might be more sensitive than ever.


My vet has a great facility, so lab work could be done in-house in less than 20 minutes.  They took Toby out to get the blood and take the x-ray, and then brought him back to me.  I held him on the table and kept him company the best I could, trying not to cry too much (for Toby’s sake).  I’m an emotional being, and unapologetic about showing my love.  Toby was by best friend, and my constant companion during the last four years since Heather left.  Sanka was cute and loved too play, but it was Toby who was so smart, so wise, and loved to spend every moment he could with me.  During the two months of me working from home during the lockdown, Toby stayed by my side or in my lap all day long, and couldn’t have been happier about it.  Sanka loved to be played with and petted, but since Heather left she’s become more demanding in her own way.  Where in the old days Sanka and Toby would lie near each other and were happy about it, over the last four years Sanka only wanted affection when she could get it without Toby being around.  Since Toby was always first to climb into my lap, Sanka would stay back and watch from a distance.  Toby was fine with sharing, but Sanka wasn’t.  She wanted all the attention, or none of it.  The two of them had become more roommates and less “brother and sister” during that time.  Toby would still give Sanka kisses on the head when she was willing to accept them, but it was up to Sanka to decide when she wanted to be nice to Toby.  Worse, when Toby would go to the vet (regardless of whether Sanka went too), she’d hiss and swat at Toby for days afterward.  If he “smelled like the vet” she was pissed about it.  So between being sick and going to the vet, Sanka had been terribly mean to him the last two weeks. 


I had promised Toby many times over the last few months that I would do everything I could for him, but also that I would protect him from pain and unhappiness, and when things got bad, I would be strong and do the right thing.  I was standing there whispering calming things to Toby when I started wondering if I even wanted to consider pain medication for him if that would be medically helpful.  Wouldn’t that keep him sleepy all the time?  Quality of life is very important with a pet.  Was it worth Toby being doped up but not in pain to keep him around a few months longer?


It only took about fifteen minutes for the vet to return, paperwork in hands.  I could see by his eyes – even without being able to see the rest of his face – that this was not going to be good news.  And it wasn’t.  Toby was probably suffering from pancreatitis, which was eating up the protein he put in his body.  But that diagnosis was not conclusive, just suspected, and whether it was mild or severe was entirely up in the air.  And it wasn’t a major concern, because my original fear seemed to be correct: Toby was now suffering from congestive heart failure, and it was progressing rapidly.


There are therapeutic options, but in a cat Toby’s age, with Toby’s other major health issues, they weren’t especially attractive.  Good vets, as a rule, try not to tell you what to do in situations like this.  They know there are a lot of considerations: time, money, quality of life, the rest of the household, medical history.  But even in this case the vet made it a point to say: “If this were my cat, I wouldn’t put him through all of that.”  I already knew the ending had been written, but it was helpful to hear confirmation from him.  When I brought Toby in, the vet’s position had been “let’s not rush into anything, there may be no reason to say goodbye.”  Now it was exactly the opposite: “please do the right thing and say goodbye.”


I’ve been through this sad event many times, and was familiar with the procedure at the clinic.  They take the animal out of the room and insert a catheter in the leg, to make administration of the drugs easier.  Shit, just writing about this is making me cry again.  They bring the animal back to you, and let you spend what time you need together.  During those minutes I praised him, petted him, told him how much I’d miss him, even said goodbye for Heather since I knew she’d want me to do that; we adopted him together and loved him together, and it was only during the last four years that it was me caring for him alone.  I thanked Toby for being so sweet, for lying on my lap the night before so I had that final memory, and for amazing me so many times with his intelligence and perception.


Then the vet comes in with three syringes.  The first is just to flush the line and ensure the catheter is places properly.  Then they inject a fast-acting sleeping agent.  This caused the cat to fall unconscious, but only for a few minutes, so there is no time for delays.  And finally, the fatal injection, stopping all heart, lung, and brain function.  Peacefully, Toby was gone.  The only thing he did was look over at the vet during the second injection, probably because he sensed a change in the temperature in the fluid.  He never complained, never cried, just went to sleep…and was gone.  Like the good boy he always was, he left me quietly.


And just like that, I’d lost my best friend.  Forever.


I stayed with him for a few more minutes, talking to his lifeless body as if he could still hear me.  Saying goodbye one last time, and satisfying my anxious brain that, yes, he was dead; he wasn’t about to come back to life somehow.  I knew I would never feel this magnificent feline climb between my legs as I started to fall asleep ever again.  I’d never see him run like a panther from the bedroom to the living room window, crying in happiness and calling to me or Sanka to play with him.  Those were now just precious memories.  I kissed him on his sweet fuzzy head, between his giant radar ears, the ultimate farewell.  And I left.


The last photo I took of Toby, 36 hours before he left me, as he laid on my lap.


So now it’s not my “family” of me, Toby, and Sanka.  It’s just me and Sanka, and it doesn’t feel like a family any longer.  Toby rarely made noise, but this small house feels empty, and I believe everything echoes more than it used to.  Sanka alternates between occasionally looking for Toby and seemingly being calmed by his disappearance.  She still whines for play every fifteen minutes, but she’s also started spending time with me on the couch.  The one “obstacle” to that, which only she was bothered by, is now gone. 


It’s difficult for anyone else to understand about Toby.  I’ve lost any cats through the years, and cried over every one of them.  But none of them was like Toby.  Smarter, much more clever than any other cat.  More perceptive.  More affectionate.  And so loving, of everyone and everything.  Heather and I once tried to rescue a tiny kitten we found at our old apartment.  It wasn’t an hour after we’d brought him inside that Toby was trying to teach him to play chase.  “Look, I run after you, and you run under the bed.  Okay now you chase ME.”  Toby was always a very old soul, more like a dog than a cat, more like a child than a dog.  He was too damn smart to be “just a cat.”  I love Sanka, she’s sweet and fun and cute and does things that are both endearing and annoying at the same time.  But she’s a cat, as much as I love her, she’s a cat.  Toby was so much more.


Goodbye, my handsome baby boy.


Okay, so…the zine.  Acquire is starting this issue.  That’s generally a fun game, even with the conditional orders the players need to come up with.  Kremlin is getting closer to filling.  Diplomacy and Woolworth each have two players signed up; if you want to play Woolworth, better sign up now, because if nobody else joins that opening by the next deadline I’m removing it.


I’m waiting to hear from Peter Sullivan about the fate of Octopus’s Garden.  The last time we touched base, he’d been unable to generate any interest in his Railway Rivals opening.  Like the Woolworth opening, I imagine he’ll decide to drop the idea and in that case we’ve seen the last of the subzine for the time being.  [[Later update, Peter DOES have a few nibbles so the opening is still there, jump on the opportunity now]].  Of course you still have Andy York’s fine subzine to play it.  And I believe there will be a Gunboat gamestart this issue? 


As of this writing, I have nothing in my letter column, but that’s okay.  [[A letter from Mark Nelson arrived later]].  If nothing I put in here inspires you to write a letter, you shouldn’t force yourself.  The audience changes over time, and so does the zine by necessity.  I run the games because I enjoy it, I write the movie reviews and my other commentaries because I feel like it.  I don’t need any kind of response to make it “worth my time.”  As long as people keep sending in their orders for the games, I know there are readers enjoying various aspects of the zine.  If that ends, the zine will too (again).  At the moment it doesn’t appear to be a problem.


That’s it from me for now.  See you in November!

Game Openings

Diplomacy (Black Press): Signed up:  Brad Wilson, Stan Johnson, needs five more.

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

Gunboat (No Press): Check out the opening in Andy York’s subzine.  Only one spot left!  Sign up through Andy York ONLY!

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

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

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

Acquire: House rules and player aids in #ES 135.  Signed up: John David Galt, Kevin Wilson, Mark Firth, Andy Lischett, Tom Howell.  Full, starts this issue!

Kremlin: House rules in ES #135.  Would like four or five players.  Signed up: John David Galt, Kevin Wilson, Heath Davis-Gardner, would like 2 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


Mark Nelson: Having worked at home for the last five months or so I made the poor decision a few weeks ago to use our weighing scales. After seeing the shocking numbers, confirming what I already knew, I've had to face the facts and I've started going for a short walk every day (as much as possible). Since there's a few steep roads around where we are (as we are built into a hill) even a short walk leaves me huffing and puffing.


[[Keep at it.  I’ve dropped almost 30 pounds.  If by some miracle I could lose another 20 I’d not want to lose beyond that.  All it has taken is a bit of exercise, smarter eating, and the elimination of late-night snacking.]]


I can't claim to have watched The Blair Witch Project on its opening weekend, but I did see it at the cinema:  29th October 1999. My very short comments on the movie were "good. A little longer. no gore/witch!"


[[Blair Witch 2 was a decent standard horror film as well, but got panned because it isn’t in any way a sequel to the first.]]


1999 seems to have been a pretty good year. Of the 22 movies I saw that year I still rate some of them: East is East, Election (which I called "a modern masterpiece", but noways I think it's one of those movies that you really enjoy the first time you see it but it's not as good on rewatching... so perhaps I don't rate it after all), Happiness, Pleasantville, and Shakespeare in Love. I also seem to have liked "the Last Days of Disco", that one is not often repeated on TV (if at all) - I don't think I've seen it since.


[[I loved Election, and pulled out my DVD earlier this year.  It holds up, but it loses something over time.  Reese Witherspoon was terrific.  Happiness was also a great movie, and holds up better.  A great follow-up to Welcome to the Dollhouse.  Damn, I miss the time when there would be at least one good art house movie to see every week.  Now it’s one a year.  Shakespeare in Love was okay, but terribly overrated.]]


Movies that I wasn't too impressed by include "Cruel Intentions" (crap remake of Les Liaisons Dangerous), Mad Cows, Never Been Kissed, Patch Adams, and Waterboy. (Though the last is perhaps a guilty pleasure since if it's on I'll watch it for a while).


[[Patch Adams was horrible.  And the next time Adam Sandler does or says anything funny, it will be the first time.]]


The Dining Dead – Eternal Sunshine Movie Reviews


Population 436 (Tubi) – I was looking for a quiet but creepy sort of movie to watch, and came across this title.  The description didn’t make the plot sound especially original, but because Jeremy Sisto starred in it I decided to give it a try.  After all, he was in the wonderful and quirky May (which you all need to watch if you’ve never seen it).  Sisto plays Steve Kady, a U.S. Census worker who is sent to examine the rural town of Rockwell Falls.  Since 1860 the town has recorded a population of 436 in each census, so Kady is supposed to determine if those records are accurate.  After getting lost looking for the road, he finally locates the town’s border, only to blow out two tires in a huge pothole.  He’s rescued by Deputy Bobby Caine (Fred Durst, lead singer of the band Limp Bizkit, although I didn’t know that’s who it was; he does an adequate job in the role and attracts no special attention positive or negative).  The Deputy gives Kady a ride into town and arranges a tow for his disabled vehicle.  Once there, he’s presented to Town Hall and welcomed by the Mayor and promised full cooperation.  “Treat strangers like family” seems to be the town motto, and Kady is quickly welcomed into the community.  You can see where this is going, I’m sure.  Inevitably the idealistic setting harbors secrets.  This kind of film has certainly been done better (I’m a huge fan of the original Wicker Man, and back a few issues I reviewed Midsommer) but every movie has its own spin and specific ideas.  I don’t think the real build of suspense worked as well in Population 436 as had been intended, yet I was still interested to see how writer Michael Kingston and director Michelle MacLaren would wrap everything up.  It wasn’t the ending I had an issue with, but I did think the final confrontation between Kady and Caine was a foolish scene that made no sense and added nothing to the plot.  With all of that said, Population 436 is a nice-enough diversion.  And you can watch it for free on Tubi.


Reckoning (Netflix) – Sherriff’s Deputy (I think, can’t even be sure about that) haunted by his old case of five girls murdered.  New partner, already thinking another missing girl is part of the old case.  Sherriff worried about his Deputy, “the department can’t afford to lose you again.”  Blah blah blah, I made it about fifteen minutes into this 10-episode mess.  It’s terrible.  Cliché after cliché.  Bad acting.  Ponderous dialogue.  It’s supposed to “show the darkest corners of the male psyche through the eyes of two fathers, one of whom is a serial killer.”  Please, just do yourself a favor and avoid this piece of garbage.  That is all.  We now resume our regularly scheduled programming.


My Darling Vivian (NHDocs Festival) – This documentary tells the story of Vivian Liberto, who was Johnny Cash’s first wife and the mother of his first four daughters (including singer Roseanne Cash).  The tale of their young love and early relationship is one of deep affection, and letters…lots of letters.  Sadly, Cash’s drug problems and womanizing took their toll, leading to their eventual divorce.  Then Cash married June Carter, and a Nashville country music fairytale marriage was born, where Carter “saved” him from his demons.  In many ways, Vivian became “the other woman” despite her status as the first wife.  The music industry basically erased her existence from his life, and if you’ve ever seen I Walk the Line you already know how badly Hollywood treated her.  Through this film you get a much more accurate picture of her life, her struggles, and her undying love for Johnny Cash.  In some ways Vivian’s story mirrors that of Cynthia Powell, John Lennon’s first wife.  But in its own way Vivian’s is even darker and more tragic.  From another woman claiming her children as her own on television, to the death threats she received when certain parts of the print media came to the mistaken conclusion that she was black (at a time when “the mixing of the races” was a death warrant in the south).  It’s a very moving film, told through the eyes of her four daughters and their memories of her, and I strongly urge you to see it, especially if the only knowledge you have of Vivian is from watching I Walk the Line.  She’s never painted as an angel or decorated with perfection, which is part of the reason the documentary is so strong. 


Passengers (Tubi) – This was one of those “let me watch something I’ve never heard of before I go to bed” movies, while I was sitting on my couch debating whether I needed to take Toby to the Emergency Clinic, or if he could wait to see the vet on Monday (we waited).  In this film a grief counselor (Anne Hathaway) is assigned to work with five survivors of a plane crash.  But she soon thinks she’s involved in a mystery – and perhaps a sinister one – when the survivors have different memories of how the crash happened, some contradicting the suspicion of “pilot error.”  And then, the survivors begin to disappear.  This is one of those movies where the writer had an idea and tried to write a screenplay around it.  The character development is lousy, and the acting isn’t very hot either.  When the great Diane Wiest (who plays a neighbor) seems like she can’t act, you know to blame the writer, the director, or both.  Probably both in this case.  In the end the only character I even cared a little about was one of the passengers, played by the usually good Clea DuVall.  Even she came across as overacting, but at least she gave the viewer something to work with.  In the end, you just want to fast forward to see how it ends.  Oh, and when you find that out, you’re bound to be disappointed in the “big plot twist.”  Skip this movie unless it’s just a time kill.


1BR (Netflix) – I can’t give much of a review for this movie, because I saw an offhand comment a friend on Facebook made about it, and that turned out to be a major spoiler for me.  I still enjoyed it, but it would have been better if I didn’t know anything other than the plot setup.  Sarah (Nicole Brydon Bloom) has moved to Los Angeles to try and break free of her father and start her own, independent life.  While planning on taking extension classes and becoming a costume designer, she’s working as a temp at a law firm and living in a cheap motel with her cat.  Luck seems to be on her side when she finds a very nice apartment complex with a vacancy, and they choose her from dozens of applicants as the new tenant.  But there are strange noises in the walls at night, she’s having trouble sleeping, and she’s illegally smuggled her cat into the No Pets Allowed apartment.  And her wonderful neighbors?  There may be more to them than meets the eye.  The movie is okay; there are some interesting ideas.  But the execution seems lacking, the supporting characters feel paper-thin, and I was simply left wishing it had been different somehow.  Like a lot of movies, it isn’t awful – there some decently-built suspense – but it wasn’t all it could have been.  Flip a coin to decide if you watch it or not.  It sounds like some people enjoyed it more than me so consider that too.


Willow Creek (Amazon) – Comedian Bobcat Goldthwait wrote and directed this found footage film about a couple (Bryce Johnson & Alexia Gilmore) who go camping in the Pacific Northwest in an effort to reach the site of the infamous Bigfoot film footage shot in the 60’s.  I suppose it’s a given that if you don’t enjoy Found Footage films, you won’t like this one.  If you do, it’s better than most.  The relationship between the two main characters helps to heighten the anxiety; the woman is a lot less “into” this trip than the guy, and the stranger things are, the more pissed off and short-tempered she becomes.  And unlike a lot of these movies, nobody does anything completely stupid that a normal person might not do.  This film was a nicely tense way to distract me from real world stuff and finish up my weekend.


I’m Thinking of Ending Things (Netflix) – I love Charlie Kaufman.  Three of my favorite films are Being John Malkovich, Adaptation, and Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind.  Anomalisa was a risky but generally successful jump into dangerous waters.  Still, he is at his weakest when he is both writing and directing.  Synecdoche, NY was good, but missed its mark.  And I think the same holds true here, for different reasons.  Kaufman shoots high but doesn’t hit the target.  A young woman (Jessie Buckley) accompanies her boyfriend (Jesse Plemons) to his childhood home, to meet his parents (Toni Colette and David Thewlis).  Like anything Kaufman does, it’s multi-layered and requires focus to enjoy.  And I did enjoy this film, overall.  But despite his best attempts, Kaufman’s adaptation of the book by Iain Reed has grand vision but falls short in execution.  I’m told that if you’ve read the book the movie “makes more sense.”  I don’t really need it to make sense, not in a conventional way.  But if knowledge of the book means you got a lot more out of the movie, than Kaufman’s need to split his creative energy between writing the screenplay and directing once again caused him to lose some of what he could have created had he stuck just to the adaptation.  That’s part of how things work when Kaufman is at his best; he writes the screenplay and lets someone else figure out how to successfully translate it into visual concepts.  When Kaufman wears more than one hat, something has to suffer.  There is still a lot to like here.  Buckley’s performance is particularly strong, and the film touches on loneliness, uncertainty, aging, nostalgia, memories, regret, and other topics with a keen vision.  In the end, it could have been a tremendous film.  Instead, it’s just good.  That’s a lot better than mot of the choices these days, but I’m afraid I may mourn what could have been more than I will celebrate what is.  That, in itself, is a lesson in life.


Luther: Season 5 (Amazon) – I love this show, but there were four years between the pervious season and this one.  Idris Elba has shown all of his chops in Luther, and had a great supporting cast of characters to play off of.  For those who’ve never tried the show, Elba plays DCI John Luther, on the London police force.  You’ll see some of the familiar faces here from prior seasons, and a few new ones.  But this is the weakest of the seasons.  It isn’t for a lack of trying, but there are just too many moving parts and not enough time to really make any of them feel meaningful.  I doubted there would ever be a Season 5, and now I doubt even more that there will be a Season 6.  The thrill is gone, in a way.  Too much repetition, too many times playing on the same field until it’s worn down.  I was still glad to watch it, but it only reminded me how absolutely stellar the first two seasons were.  3 and 4 were entertaining.  This one had a few moments of tension, but none of the hard emotion on the screen felt real.  I know these actors can – and have – done better, so I place it at the feet of series creator Neil Cross.  He went to the well one too many times.  I’m certain fans asked for this, but like so many other things in life, the anticipation was better than the event.  Worth seeing if you’re a die-hard fan or the show, but otherwise you can skip Season 5.  That is, unless they do another season eventually.  One final note: I know a few people I talked to were not pleased with how they wrapped this season up.  I didn’t mind it, because I recognized the symmetry.

Octopus's Garden

I’ve continued doing some publicity for this game opening, and we do have at least some movement this time. So let’s see if we can get closer to filling:

Railway Rivals Map "B" (London and Liverpool): John David Galt, Mark Firth. Three more wanted. Map is at

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

Out of the WAY #25

by W. Andrew York

(wandrew88 of



In some sad news, the two new games that were to start this issue won’t debut. One of the Breaking Away team managers suggested waiting for six players rather than starting with four – to reach the “sweet spot”. I polled the other managers and they all agreed that waiting is a good idea. So, if you’re interested in playing in that game, let me know.

In the case of the Gunboat game, I polled all the players to ensure they still wanted to play – especially as there are no standbys. I also wanted to get a feel on preference lists. In the end, only six players remain standing and we won’t be using preference lists. So, one more person needed to launch that game and, as noted, any volunteers for standby lists for any of the games offered would be appreciated.

I’m going plug an annual, local, event that raises funds for HAAM – Health Alliance for Austin Musicians. They usually have several stages set up at walk-up event spots around the city where Austin musicians will play a short set while soliciting donations for the group. It’s a neat way to sample different artists and grab a bite to eat. Last year I went and sat through a couple sets at the Whole Foods store in NW Austin, eating a fresh made sandwich from the store and dropping a few dollars in the collection cup.

This year the in-person events have obviously been cancelled. So, they’re moving online with three of the four sessions also being shown live on a local FOX TV outlet. Some of the groups/artists scheduled to play include Jack Ingram, Asleep at the Wheel, Ray Wylie Hubbard, ShinyRibs, Lavelle White and Band of Heathens – a wide range of genres and styles. It’s planned throughout the day on September 15 – if interested in a day of music check out for details and then kick back on Tuesday for tunes (and, if you’re so inclined, make a donation for a worthy charity).

Below is the usual, except for the Commentary. Expect that to return next time with a new title. In the games section, the first letter that is in the word is revealed in “Hangman, by Definition” and in the Facts in Five game the players are shaking out into two groups that have close scores with two rounds left. If you’re interested in joining the next game, why not watch this one play out to see what it’ll take to play.

Take care, be well and stay safe!





Texas Talk


                One of the more unique United States military units was the Camel Corps that, for its brief period of existence from 1855-65/66, was primarily stationed in Texas. The person behind this experiment was Secretary of War Jefferson Davis under President Franklin Pierce (yes, the same Jefferson Davis that became the President of the Confederacy). After trying unsuccessfully twice to have a bill passed to directly fund the purchase, a senator from a mid-west state tacked it on to a roads and bridges infrastructure bill which passed.

                The $30,000 allocated funded the purchase of 73 camels, a mix of Bactrian and dromedary. The camels were shipped, on two voyages in the specially refitted US naval vessel USS Supply, to the Texas coast with 75 being delivered (apparently a couple of calves were born while at sea). From there, they were moved to Camp Verde (about 50-60 miles NW of San Antonio), their primary station.

                The results of various exercises and trials showed that the animals were unsuited for combat use; however they excelled in support roles. As beasts of burden, they could carry much larger loads than mules (or wagons pulled by mules) for longer distances, while needing less water and mostly being able to sustain themselves without the use of fodder. Despite meeting all expectations and goals outside of combat, resistance and skepticism in the military leadership stymied any further attempts to fully implement or expand the program.

                One of the tests involved 25 camels being part of the supply column in an expedition to determine a route to the Colorado River from Ft. Defiance in Arizona. In this, though having some initial problems being integrated into the march, they performed superbly. After reaching Fort Tejon in California, the return expedition was much smaller leaving some animals behind.

                As a side note, apparently Robert E Lee, while stationed in San Antonio in 1860, led a long-range patrol that included camels. He filed a very favorable report on their use; however, it is conjectured that in the run-up to the Civil War the report didn’t receive substantial circulation. Additionally, once the war started, most of the proponents of the effort, especially Jefferson Davis, were on the side of the South further discrediting the use of camels in the US Army.

                During the Civil War, Camp Verde in Texas and the bulk of the Corps fell under jurisdiction of the Confederate military. Surprisingly, considering their need to use all available resources, the Rebels mostly used them to carry supplies between posts in Texas or in bringing cotton to Mexico, avoiding the Union blockade. Even the 1862 New Mexico Campaign apparently didn’t use them to augment their supply train.

                The smaller number of camels in California were apparently used for no substantial purpose by the Union, only some local hauling nearby. In February 1864 they were sold off to private buyers.

                Once the War ended, and control of the remaining animals in the Camel Corps returned to the US military, the experiment was ended. The remaining camels were sold off, mostly to circus and amusement concerns with some being used by private ventures as beasts of burden. Yes, there are feral camels found in Texas but none of them were from animals “released into the wild” by the military.


Sources: A Modern History of Texas by David G. McComb (1989); Family Encyclopedia of American History published by Reader’s Digest (1975); Session on the “US Army Camel Corps Experiment” given by Doug Baum (texascanekciros,cin) at the virtual Central Texas Mensa’s Regional Gathering on September 5, 2020; fact checking with Tom Green historian Curtis Milbourn; Military Review website (; National Park Service website (; US Army website (





Letter Column

(always welcome, send them in!)

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


[Andy Lischett] – In a similar vein to your waving at the lady… Carol and I live on a road that loops around, sort of at the pointy end of a teardrop. We were expecting a package from FedEx and watching for a truck because they would not leave it if no one was home. In the afternoon FedEx truck entered our loop heading north and stopped in front of the house across the street. The driver looked at that house, then looked at our house, then looked at the street sign, then back at our house and then got out of his truck and walked to where Carol was pulling weeds.

                He asked her if the house is 1996 Victoria because he could not find the address on the building, and Carol apologized and told him that we’d just had the house painted and I’d forgotten to put the house numbers back up. He gave her the package and got in his truck and left – heading north in the loop – and a minute or so later he came out of the loop – headed west – stopped across from Carol and shouted, “Your house looks great!” [WAY] – always nice to get an unexpected compliment!

                [AL] – In no way am I a Foodie but I scan through your recipes because I enjoy your enthusiasm. This month I read more closely and came across the sentence, “For ingredients, if you don’t like raw onions, omit them or replace with celery to retain the crunchiness…” and my first thought was, “For ingredients, if you don’t like raw onions, omit them or replace with Cheetos to retain the crunchiness…” [WAY] – that’s a thought, but I don’t think the results would likely work out. Kids might like it better though…

                [AL] – I use Duck Duck Go on my Imac but the Ipad pushes me to Google, which I don’t like. I realize that Google has to make money, but it annoys me that they sell high listing positions even if you ask for something else. For example, CJ Pony Parts sells parts for old cards. Needing a part and trying to spread my business around I Googled “Virginia Classic Mustangs” and first up was CJ Pony Parts. That’s not what I asked Google for. [WAY] – I’m not familiar with the Mac operating system, but there has to be some way to set a different default search engine in the browser’s settings/options/preferences menu…or in your Favorites or Bookmarks put in Duck Duck Go and click on that if Google pops up. Also, though again I don’t know your operating system, many browsers search functions allow you to put something like –“CJ Pony Parts” (minus sign, with the result you don’t want in quotes) to eliminate those responses in a search. Let me know if any of those ideas work out for you.


[Dane Maslen] – I found reading about your salad quite interesting. I have a salad every day, but it has almost nothing in common with yours. [WAY] – in my experience, in America, when you reference a “salad” it is generally understood that it is a lettuce based salad (or other green leafy veggies). If you’re referring to other types of salad it is generally specified - pasta salad, pea salad, etc. [DM] - Usually it consists of beetroot, capers, chick peas, Chinese leaf cornichons, hearts of palm, jalapenos (red or green), olives (green or black), silverskin onions and sun-dried tomatoes. No toppings, though there some olive oil from the sun-dried tomatoes.

                I’ve no idea if American English and British English use the same words for all those things… (picture appended). [WAY] – For the most part, everything is understandable. I’ve always called cornichons just that, hadn’t realized that there were varieties as I’ve only seen one type. The only thing that jumped out as something I wasn’t sure about was the “silverskin” onion – looked them up and here they are pearl onions. Now, if you started referencing rocket or aubergines you might have folks’ scratching their heads.

                From the picture, and the ingredient list, I would consider it more of a vegetarian crudité plate (could be an appetizer plate, if a smaller portion). For the ingredients, I’ve certainly had all of those things in, or alongside, a salad. However, I’m not a big fan of hearts of palm, sun-dried tomatoes and beets with most of the rest preferred in a crudité situation rather than a lettuce salad.


[Richard Smith] – Regarding board game conversions, I did take a look at the S.O.B. website – impressive stuff! As you say, for the traditional monthly zine orders model you do have to compress and/or conditionalize the play somewhat and hope the game still “works”. I guess playing via email is a sort of halfway house between that and playing online at Board Game Arena (or similar). My latest conversion attempt in VP is Feudality, which is a little bit silly but one of my favourties. [WAY] – I’ve always enjoyed Chris Hassler’s GMing efforts through S.O.B. and his recent uptick in email game offerings have been a very welcome distraction from the “homeboundedness” of this current time. I’d suggest signing up for a game and seeing how you like it. Note - quite some time back I played a few Dip games on the automated servers and didn’t enjoy the experience so have not tried them again. But, I’ve some friends that dearly love that style of play – I guess the human GM adds an element I prefer.


[Matt Velentgas] – Good work on losing weight. It sounds like you’ve found a program you like to follow and is reasonable. I need to get back into working out, I’ve mainly been focusing on eating well, and super focusing on work. [WAY] – he recently landed a new job.

                [MV] - I still really enjoy the job. Like I mentioned having a regular schedule again has been very good for me. I’m actually sleeping better than I have for years. [WAY] – Excellent, glad things are moving in a positive direction.

                [MV] – I did find a person at work who was into boardgames. He mostly has played Euro games, but I introduced him to “Conflict of Heroes” which is a fairly easy hex and counter WWII skirmish game. I’ve never seen someone so excited about a game, so we will be playing again this week. [WAY] – And a bonus to go with the new job! How long until you start bringing your miniatures and setting up a scenario in the lunchroom or a spare office?

                [MV] – I saw 1917 the other night. I quite enjoyed it. [WAY] – As did I, very well done.

                [MV] – Not much more to report. I’m continuing to read “Our Friends Beneath the Sand”, which is about the French Foreign Legion. I’ve made some good progress on painting some Arab figures to fight against the FFL figures I have painted. [WAY] – Excellent addition to your collection, look forward to seeing them sometime – hopefully soon.





Random Review


                This review is probably not one that many will find useful, as it is about a local Austin company; however, their model they use is one that is generating very positive reaction within the community. If only more businesses would put some of these practices into use then customers’ attitudes towards them would definitely improve.

                The company is TSO Chinese Delivery ( and, as you’ve probably figured out, they provide delivery of Chinese food to your house. You can also do pick-up at one of their locations (originally two on the northside of Austin, they just opened a third location on the southside). The first thing that makes them standout is delivery (limited areas around each storefront) is free, and no tipping is allowed. Presumably that also means no discount if you pick-up the order yourself.

                The next item out of the ordinary is they don’t have an extensive menu, they have a smaller menu of items that use a number of the same ingredients. So, this means you don’t have an unending set of choices while they don’t have to maintain stocks of little used ingredients (that likely go bad) and the chefs can become very familiar with the recipes to improve consistency.

                As you order each item, there may be options such as adding broccoli to a lo mein dish (for a $1 upcharge), setting the spiciness level you’d like or make it gluten-free (again, a $1 upcharge). The description clearly identifies if an item is dairy-free, nut-free, gluten-free, etc. within the base description which helps if you need to watch for those things. Once you’ve completed your order, you go through a checkout process where you can leave precise directions to ensure correct delivery. They also allow you to opt in if you want chop sticks and such so they are not delivered just to be tossed. You do receive your fortune cookie and soy sauce packets regardless.

                Once your order is placed, you’ll receive an Email acknowledgement with an estimated time for delivery. You’re next contacted by text when your order begins cooking. Follow-on texts occur when the driver leaves the storefront and when the driver arrives at your location – the last time it was 14 minutes between starting preparation and delivery, not bad! The drivers all use company cars fully painted/marked as being from TSO Delivery so there is no chance of confusion. They arrive, greet you and leave the order where you ask them to for a contactless handoff (in my case, usually in front of my neighbor’s garage).

                The portion sizes are very large, considering. A “bowl” of soup is generally enough for two servings and the entrée literally fills the container. I generally order an appetizer, a bowl of soup and an entrée (I have a monthly coupon for $10 off a $25 order which is about what those cost). That amount of food will last me 3-4 dinners (depending if I have a side salad beforehand).

                The customer service is also something that stands out. The drivers have been cheerful and friendly. The one time I contacted them directly I had ordered a “Large Wonton Soup” thinking it would be one of the “bowls” with extras included in the broth. When my order arrived, I pulled out the container with the soup in it (same size as the “bowls” I was used to), but it was just broth and a few bits of green onion. Also, I had a container that looked like someone else’s order – it had large dumplings, pieces of shrimp, large amount of greens, etc.

When I contacted their online customer service, they immediately apologized and credited my order for the cost of the soup (and still let me keep the $10 off coupon). We exchanged a couple of follow-up notes, then he realized what the underlying issue was – I was supposed to pour the broth into that other container as it held all the “extras” I was missing.            

So, the issue was entirely on my end and when I went back to look at the item order’s picture it was exactly as I received. However, they still gave me credit for the soup. As was noted in our local free independent news weekly’s (Austin Chronicle’s) food section a few weeks back (as best memory recalls) that they could be confused as a subsidiary of HEB, a regional grocery chain known for its customer oriented culture  – high marks indeed.

                I do have two nits, but they are a minor irritation compared to their overall operation. Two of my early deliveries had minor spills, in both cases a sauce cup lid came lose and when the appetizer container slide off the top of the stack of food it spilled. The second is I haven’t quite figured out their spiciness levels. There are basically four choice – Not Spicy, Mild, Spicy and Extra-Spicy. I’ve ordered Spicy, which to me was a 1-2 on a 5 point scale, the next time I ordered Extra-Spicy and it arrived as a 6. I then order Spicy again and it was maybe a 2. I generally like 3-4, so next time I order I may need to clarify how best to receive what I’d like.

                Their marketing is generally low key, apparently depending on word of mouth to increase customers. I first found out about them when I received the sheet of monthly coupons in a local, free, monthly community newspaper (Community Impact Newspaper). As $10 off $25 is a decent deal, especially if you get 4 meals out of it, I tried them. Since then, I receive 1-2 emails a month generally having some type of time-limited special. In the spring (as memory serves) it was on a $15 or greater order if you added the code you’d receive a free cloth face covering. A recent one was if you order their new Basil Shrimp entrée you’d receive a free order of pot stickers.

I must say, TSO Chinese Delivery has exceeded my expectations across the board. I wish more companies would put customers ahead of their added profits, to ensure that they receive a good, plentiful, product in return for their money. But, alas, most only look at the bottom line and short term gains instead of the long term benefits of building a loyal customer base. Hopefully, TSO will soon be making expansion plans and opening a storefront near you. If you see one has arrived, try it – you most likely will like it.





Mini-Book Reviews

(finished since last issue)


Afrika Korps in Combat, The edited by Bob Carruthers (2012; 128p).


                This book is a collection of short articles and other pieces written during the war and reprinted in this volume. Obviously, this book is focusing on the German Afrika Korps, pieces mostly composed after the El Alamein campaign. There is very little specifically about the Tunisian end-game or the early days of their deployment.

                The pieces are a mixed bag, including some on weapons such as the initial impressions of the Tiger tank and the utilization of the 88mm anti-aircraft gun in an anti-tank role. Others deal with tactics such as minefield preparation and constructing strongpoints. Lastly, there are bits on supply considerations and unit organizations. Most of the articles are two-five pages long, longest is eighteen pages and is a summary of operations in North Africa 1940-1942 that was written in October of that year.

                The articles were mostly prepared by Americans and aimed at giving the military a current look at their opponent, as seen from the Allied perspective. Of such, there are understandably some assumptions and mistakes do to the lack of firm knowledge and the Axis perspectives.

                Overall it was an OK book, and a quick and easy read. I’m glad I didn’t pay the $14.95 list price, picking it up at Half Price Books for $4.95 which is more reasonable for what it provided. I wouldn’t recommend the book unless you’d like to see some contemporary American analyses of the German war fighting machine in North Africa. [August 2020]


Alpha and Omega by Harry Turtledove (2019; 467p).


                In this alternate history, Turtledove postulates two deviations from history – that, in Israel, there is a strong political movement to build the Third Temple which has a “museum” that has recreated many of the temple furnishings for ready use and, in America, a red heifer is born (needed for purification rituals). You can guess in what direction this heads, set in the current volatile Middle Eastern environment. However, there are all sorts of twists, turns and unexpected happenings.

                Overall, I was a bit disappointed in the book. It started out much as other Turtledove with introductions of the various characters/points of view, setting the table for the story and teasing at the rest of the book. The middle of the book was excellent - well-paced, engaging and entertaining. However, the ending and denouement were disappointing. It started well, but the further along it went the more unsatisfying it became. The “big reveal” I’d pretty much figured out and, in the end, it seems that it petered out rather than presenting a strong, satisfying conclusion.  Though billed as a stand-alone novel, a few weak hooks are present that could be used as the basis for sequels which I hope aren’t attempted.

                Another nit, which seems to be creeping more and more into Turtledove’s writings over the years, is the repetitious use of color bits. The one that stands out in this book is – how many times do you need to detail that eating shwarma is a messy proposition for most folks. Once or twice should be sufficient, then only trot it out if it is needed to move the plot along (the sauce from the shwarma falls on the on-call phone, shorting it out so they miss the ransom call). It doesn’t need to be stated every time a character stops for a quick bite.

                Only read if the topic grabs your interest. [September 2020]


Beloved by Toni Morrison (1987/2004; 324p).


                I have a stack of notable, but unread, books and this Pulitzer Prize winner was on the top of the pile. It is an unvarnished look at the post-Civil War black community through the lens of former slaves. Through flashbacks and conversation, much of the horrors of slave life is depicted, even for those whose owners weren’t depraved or sadistic.

                The main character is haunted by her time enslaved, the escape to the North and memories of an attempt to recover her and her children. This cloud creates a compelling, and sobering, story that the reader must reconcile within themselves. I don’t want to discuss more of the story, it is better to experience it as written and processed as the words are read.

                It is definitely worthy of the Prize, and should be on a recommended reading list for all. [August 2020]


Essay on Man and Other Poems by Alexander Pope (1994; 99p).


                This will just be a brief acknowledgement that I read the book, rather than a reasoned review. That’s because I’m not a fan of poetry and, beyond sometimes enjoying a well-constructed rhymed verse, it usually is beyond me to make sense of it. However, I try every so often but still am glad when I’m at the end of the book – as I don’t have another poem to read the next day. [August 2020]


Fredericksburg: A Guided Tour through History by Randi Minetor (2010; 114p).


                This book would be very handy to have with you during an actual visit to the town. Though it says a “Guided Tour through History” the book mostly deals with the three days of the 1862 battle pitting Burnside’s Union Army against Lee’s Confederate one.

                The book opens with a good summary of what led to the battle and mini-bios of the key participants. Then, a guided tour of the area with thirteen stops leads the reader through the unfolding battle. It appears it could be all (or most) achieved via walking, but it’ll likely take much of a day. There are also directions on driving with tips on parking.

                Each tour stop is well described in the context of the battle. Tips for what you can see, where to see remaining battle marks from bullets/shells and how best to look at sites still in private hands from public areas. Pictures enhance the descriptions and let you know what to look for.

                The book closes with a section on other historical sites in town and nearby, as well as some tips on places to stay and eat during your visit (currently ten years out of date). Also, two maps, one on each inside cover, show the positions of the units on the second day of battle with the other showing the tour stops on a modern map of the area.

                A good read to give a brief peak into this Civil War battle. Recommended if it sounds of interest to you! [August 2020]


Invisible Ink; Spycraft of the American Revolution by John Nagy (2010; 381p).


                In this book, Nagy provides an overview of the art of spying and deception starting in the years leading up to the American Revolution and throughout its course. In doing so, he delves into the mechanics of using ciphers, covert communication and deceptive practices. All manner of spies are discussed (loyalists or patriots, turncoats or traitors, depending on which side you’re on). Individual accounts of some, such as Dr. Benjamin Church (subject of a later book), are included to convey how they operated and were exposed. Overall, it gives the reader a decent foundation of the topic. In the back are numerous appendixes with actual codes charts, maps (would have been more valuable if I knew they were there while reading the book) and one bit speculating about another potential route of communication.

                However, especially earlier and mid-way through the book, the narrative is a bit dense and hard to follow. At times it seems he’s relating the experience of one spy and, without much notice or segue, is into another one. Also, trying to follow the individual stories is a bit difficult as individuals appear with little context and then vanishes a sentence or two later. Adding some more detail and depth to these cameos would have improved the narrative flow.

                That said, the last chapter on “Deceptive Battle Plans” was probably the best one. Weaving the events leading to Yorktown with Allied efforts prior to D-Day and Schwartzkopf’s liberation of Kuwait brought the key points out clearly. It is telling as this is the longest chapter with the most detail and well presented.

                Recommended only if this is something you are interested in learning about. However, if you don’t want to buy the book but can find a loaner copy, I’d read the chapter mentioned above. I learned some things about the maneuvering prior to battle that I wasn’t fully aware of that adds to my appreciation of Washington’s achievements. [September 2020]


Light Fantastic, The by Terry Pratchett (1986; 277p).


                The second of the DiscWorld novels has the same two main characters as the first, introduces a couple more supporting players, while being structured in a completely different manner than the initial book. Instead of four short stories loosely collected into one novel, this is one story from beginning to end, without chapters and very little pause (scene changes are signified by a couple blank lines, then the text returns).

                The book is fantastic to read, with comedic writing, word twists, scenes that seem headed in one direction but end up somewhere completely different. And, the ending is a completely unexpected twist that has you smiling.

                Rincewind and Twoflower, along with the Luggage (yes, this is definitely a character) continue their journey, experiencing adventures, meeting people and just plain bumbling about as the book unfolds. Also, some events back in Ankh-Morpork involving the Unseen University and its staff provide a backdrop to the outcome of the story. And, more of the flavor of DiscWorld, its mythology and inhabitants are revealed.

                A thoroughly enjoyable novel that is definitely recommended. For maximum enjoyment, I’d read the first book before tackling this one; but, it is not necessary and you can start here if that’s what you can find. [August 2020]


Searching for Stars on an Island in Maine by Alan Lightman (2018; 226p).


                Lightman is the first person at MIT to hold dual faculty appoints in science and the humanities. Trained as a theoretical physicist, he later earned a degree in the humanities. He is a prolific writer, and works to merge hard science with soft science and humanities to reconcile the contradicting viewpoints.

                This book is a series of short essays that are thought-provoking and contemplative. They cover subatomic concerns, astrophysics, philosophy, the purpose of life and many other things in between. Well written and very approachable, explaining things in a manner that informs and inspires.

                Recommended, though I’d read it as I did – one section a day with a little bit of time afterward to reflect on the passages. Also, though each can be read as a standalone piece in any order, it is better to read them in order as approaching some of the later ones can be enhanced by the earlier writing. [September 2020]


Sandman Graphic Novels:


Season of Mists by Neil Gaiman and others (1992; 224p).


                This has the Sandman going to Hell, and the events that ensue as a result of that visit with Lucifer. The story is full of surprises, dabbles into various pantheons, personal responsibilities and the consequences of decisions. Also, more of the background of Morpheus’s realm is revealed.

                The introduction by Harlan Ellison is classic Ellison in tone and irreverence and worth reading on its own. As an added treat, at the end of the graphic novel, Gaiman wrote fake biographies of the contributors accompanied by “tintype” style photographs. They are humorous and an amazing complimentary bookend to Ellison’s introduction

                Again, there is graphic violence in some scenes, a bit of torture and, if you’re describing Hell, torments by devils are mandatory. So, not for the younger crowd. Otherwise, highly recommended as are all of this series. [August 2020]


A Game of You by Neil Gaiman and others (1993; 192p).


                Some characters from the first book return in a look into childhood fantasy and their attempts at world-building in the realm of dreams. Again, the lines between dream and reality bend, choices made have consequences and the meaning of personalities, identity and self-worth are touched upon.

                Samuel R. Delaney provides the lead-in essay and provides much better, and more detailed, look into the foundations of this graphic novel. It’s well worth reading before starting and after finishing.

                Some violence in this volume, but not quite as graphic nor torturous, though George’s post-death experience can be a bit unsettling for some. Well worth reading, and recommended. [August 2020]


Fables & Reflections by Neil Gaiman and others (1993; 264p).


                This is a collection of eight standalone stories, plus a shorter piece that was part of a preview edition for the Vertigo line. The stories cross the span of history, strongly based on the historical record with twists that touch into Gaiman’s dreamworld. The introduction is by Gene Wolfe and discusses some of the backgrounds behind the stories.

                The research Gaiman had to do, pre-internet, to create these stories is amazing. The first story is built around the only Emperor of the United States (yes, there was one). The next jumps to Paris during the French Revolution (setting up a future installment) while the following one deals with the myths of medieval Europe. Others touch on the personal background of Rome’s first emperor, Marco Polo’s trip to China and the mythos of ancient Greece.

                Well written, thoroughly readable and thought provoking. Recommended with the usual caveat of some violent so not for the younger crowd. [August 2020]


Brief Lives by Neil Gaiman and others (1993; 284p).


                This novel consists of an eight story arc, pulling in many characters already introduced and some new themes. In reading this, I realized how much Gaiman must have pre-planned events and characters so that they can pop up early on and not be featured until later or tidbits/teasers from the first stories foreshadow an installment written years later – definitely this is the work of a master storyteller.

                The central theme of this one is a journey – one of Dream’s brothers/sisters (Destruction, gender is a bit fluid for the Endless) dropped out of the family hundreds of years before, now another sibling (Delirium nee Delight) wants to find him. After asking others of the Endless to help her, Dream is finally enlisted to aid in the quest which involves earthly travel, the finding of an oracle and reveals more of Morpheus’ backstory.

                Highly enjoyable, and recommended. However, mature audiences only. [September 2020]


Worlds’ End by Neil Gaiman and others (1993; 168p).


                The umbrella tale over these six issues is travelers trapped in a severe storm finding refuge in the World’s End Inn. Upon arrival, you discover the guests are from across time and realities. The price of staying there, having food and drink, is a story. Six of those stories comprise the volume including the backstories of the two individuals we follow to the Inn, a faerie story using a character introduced early on in the series, a tale from the late days of sail and others.

                The introduction is by Steven King and is an interesting read.

                Overall, the book and some of the stories invoke homages of classical works and structure. For instance, the umbrella tale is in direct parallel to The Decameron while the sailing story (Hob’s Leviathan) bring has the feel of Mody Dick. All in all it is a masterfully weaved installment in the Sandman universe.

                Recommended, but as before, older folks only. And, as King points out, “,,,I’d argue that that doesn’t mean it’s full of gore, sex and naughty words (although there are some of all those things, thank heavens); it means that if you’re not old enough to chew this stuff for yourself, may you’d better go back to [super-hero comics]…”. [September 2020]





Babylon 5 Quote


In “Whatever Happened to Mr. Garibaldi” - G’Kar: “If you’re going to be worried every time the universe doesn’t make sense,

                you are going to be worried every moment of every day for the rest of your natural life.”


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





Recipe of the Month


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

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

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

                been added.


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

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

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

                with specific preferences or allergies.



Yummus (akin to Hummus, sans tahini)

by Monika Reti (with permission)



No, I didn’t come up with this – during one of the week-long GISH webcasts, Monika did a session aimed at kids – GISH Kitchen Adventures. I listened in and she showed how to prep vegetables to create tableaus as crudité plates. For instance, slicing (a mandolin is preferred) cucumbers to create a tree trunk with basil leaves for tree leaves, edible flowers to provide color, hollow out a patty pan squash to be a bowl for this recipe and other fun presentations to encourage kids to prep and eat veggies.


Ingredients from the webcast (by memory):


1                     15 oz can of garbanzo beans, drained (organic in the webcast)

2                     lemons

1                     garlic clove, peeled

Olive Oil


Paprika (optional)




1)       Put garbanzo beans and garlic in food processor (see notes if you don’t have one)

2)       Pulse the food processor to make a rough paste

3)       Add a bit of salt, juice of one lemon and a little olive oil

4)       Pulse the food processor to combine the ingredients, then drizzling olive oil to bring to a smooth consistency

5)       Sample, adding juice from the second lemon, additional salt and olive oil as needed to your individual taste

6)       Serve, topped with a dusting of paprika if desired, with a vegetable tableau




-          If you don’t have a food processor, have the kids use a potato masher to combine the ingredients. It’ll be a bit more “chunky” but still tasty. However, I’d crush and mince the garlic clove prior to mashing it to ease the melding.

-          When I made this recipe, I did add four garlic cloves as I’m a garlic lover, and all of the second lemon – it was excellent! It didn’t last the week, eaten with carrot sticks, cucumber spears, tortilla chips and just by itself

-          If you’d like a little spice, consider adding a little chili oil at the end or dust with cayenne pepper instead of paprika. However, and this also goes with extra garlic, remember you can always add a little more but, once added, you can’t take it away. So, add the extras a little at a time until you get it just right.


When I asked Monika for permission to run the recipe in this subzine, she provided a “grown-up” version for consideration. It follows. However, I have yet to try it – but I plan to!


Pure de Garbanzos

by Monika Reti



Monika’s Notes: We like to think that this recipes kicks store-bought hummus out of the park, and we hope you agree! Our pure de garbanzos does not use tahini (hummus does) and is clean and light. Sure, you can purchase pre-made hummus and doctor it to look lovely to serve, but making fresh pure de garbanzos is easy and delicious.


Ingredients (serve 6):


1                     15oz can of garbanzo beans, drained

1                     garlic clove

1-2          lemons, juiced

                a few healthy swirls of olive oil

garnish:  a handful of parsley and a generous sprinkle of Spanish smoked paprika


you’ll also need a food processor or a high-speed blender

serve with pita bread or chips. Fresh veggies give a healthy and colorful crunch




                                Pop the garbanzos and garlic into the food processor and whizz away. With the motor running, add enough

                                                olive oil so that it reaches a smooth consistency.

                                Add the lemon juice, salt, and pepper to taste. Adjust the seasoning until you’ve achieved a perfect balance of

                                                acidity, creaminess, and saltiness

                                To the serve, spread the pure onto a serving platter and smooth the top. Draw a little swirl, using your spoon or

                                                spatula, that you fill with extra olive oil. Sprinkle with Pimenton De La Vera and a Hoppcooks-flick

                                                of parsley sprinkled on top.







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.


Regarding the GISH review, as noted last time, I did end up signing up for the week long effort. As it was the same week I put this together, I did let me other teammates know up front that I probably wouldn’t do many tasks. A couple others also had to bow out do to real world events (non-C19 hospitalization, traffic accident aftermath, etc.). Unfortunately, most of the team didn’t participate or communicate – but those that did I had good exchanges with. It should be noted I was on a “Fun” team rather than a “Serious” team, so no one was expecting to have an all-out effort to collect as many points as possible.

                There was one item I completed, spending a good chunk of one day working on my Excel skills (sadly, very rusted). The challenge was “Create a Writer’s Block”. My first thought was cutting a pencil in half and attaching it to the two sides of a wooden block (not the most imaginative idea). I then thought of adding writers’ names to the side of the block, but that led to something clicking – a block could be a city block.

                So, I created a map (in Excel) of a “Writers Block” in “Imagination City”. I put six residences on the block, such as Neil Gaiman’s Dreamscape and Anne McCaffrey’s Weyr. The streets were Shakespeare related (Bard of Avon Trail, Globe Theater Access) and the adjacent blocks included ones for Artists and Inventors. Hopefully it’ll rate highly.

                During the week they had a series of webcasts including a “SPN Game Night” with cast members from Supernatural and a sing-along with members of the music group Kansas. Others dealt with handling Imposter Syndrome, a Rob Benedict concert (yes, Chuck himself, did a gig), urban gardening and cooking with kids. Many of these resulted in new challenges such as, after the Imposter Syndrome session, to create a piñata filled with your negative thoughts and video the traditional fate of it. And, see this month’s recipe from another session.

                There were well over 200 individual challenges, including several dozen aimed at children. They included such things as making a bicycle for two – designed for social distancing, create a stitched together video showing your team members individually singing “Carry on Our Wayward Sun” (instrumental clip provided by Kansas), creating a National Geographic worthy display of cut vegetables depicting a jungle scene (et al), donating to an effort to buy mosquito netting to combat malaria, getting an elected official in Congress to create a fun video on a playground to promote “Get out the Vote” and “doing something that you’ve always had on your bucket list but never attempted”.

                Even with the light interaction from my teammates, and the limited time I was able to devote to it (I did make most of the webcasts), I think it was worth it. If I was “in it to win it”, I wouldn’t have enjoyed it near as much. But, as joining it “for the fun of it” fits what effort I want to commit to and get from the GISH program.

                If this sounds like something you’d enjoy, or something you’d like to commit to, I’d certainly suggest you look into it, join the GISH website/download the app and see where it goes in the future. From the fun viewpoint, the cost can be minimal and the time commitment what you want to do. And, even if you only provide some meals to kids or take the extra step of donating to buy mosquito nets or for other efforts, you are working to improve the world.


Regarding the whisky discussion, I was able to track down Bruichladdich’s Classic Laddie. At the local liquor store, the only option to get it was buy a Wee Laddie Tasting Collection with three 200ml battles, one each of The Classic Laddie, Bruichladdich Islay Barley and Port Charlotte Scottish Barley. Thankfully it was on sale…

                I’ve only tried the Classic Laddie (as before, one shot with about 6oz of sparkling water) and found it very good. Smooth, mild, coy taste with a nice afterglow. (Note – I’ve not learned the proper way to taste and report on beverages, this is just my impression and I may not be using the correct terms). It is something I would buy again, presuming the price is reasonable.

                Hmmm, as I was putting up the box the bottles came in for the recycle bin, I found a pocket with a brochure about the distillery. While I’ll read it later, I did see their description of the whisky:


“A clean, fresh dram the colour of summer barley. The nose opens with barley sugar and a hint of mint before freshly

cut wildflowers. A little water released caramelized fruits, lemon drops and pear. Ripe green fruit, brown sugar and

sweet malt bring closure.”





Game Section


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 (none); Gunboat Diplomacy (none)


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





Hangman, By Definition


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


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


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


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


Game 1, Round Two, Turn 3:


                Letter Votes: I -1; L -1; M -1; N -1; O -1; R -1; U -1                   Revealed: N (dice roll decision with d8)


                Words Guessed:   Agricolist (Davis-Gardner); Natterjack (Firth); Abjudicate (Kent); Combustion (Lischett); Abbreviate (Maslen); Xylotomous (Smith); Manuscript (Wilson)




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


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


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


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


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


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


                Never Revealed:  E, S                         Already Revealed: N, P


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


Player Comments:





                                                                        FACTS IN FIVE


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

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

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

                Research is allowed, collaboration between players is not.


Round Three


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                                 A                             D                             G                             N                             T


Living Head of State

    Heath Davis-Gardner     Abdullah II           Diaz-Canel            Gustav of Sweden  Netanyahu       Trump

    Mark Firth                        Aliyev                    Duda                      Geingob                 Naruhito               Tupou VI                              

    Doug Kent                        Ader                       Duda                      Gustaf                   Ninisto                   Trump

    Andy Lischett                  Abe                         Duterte                  Guaido                   DS Nguesso          Trudeau

    Kevin Wilson                   Jacinda Ardern     Rodrigo Duterte Franciso Guterres Naruhito               Justin Trudeau                                  


Musical Play Titles

    Heath Davis-Gardner     Annie                     Damn Yankees    Guys & Dolls       Newsies                 Three Penny Opera            

    Mark Firth                        A Fun to For         Dancing Years     Godspell                No, No, Nanette  Tommy                                

    Doug Kent                        All That Jazz        Damn Yankees    Guys & Dolls       Newsies                 Tommy                                

    Andy Lischett                  Amadeus               Doctor Dolittle      Guys & Dolls       No, No, Nanette  Thor Mod Mille

    Kevin Wilson                   Aida                       Damn Yankees    Grease                    Newsies                 Thor Mod Mille


Wine Product Tradenames

    Heath Davis-Gardner     Ace of Spades      Dom Perignon    Gallo                     Napa Valley          Talbott                                  

    Mark Firth                        Amisfield               Dona Javiera        Gimblett Gravels Noilly Prat            Tintilla Estate                     

    Doug Kent                        Antonelli               Don Paris               Grace                     Nanni Cope          Three Lions                          

    Andy Lischett                  Albert                     Digby                     Gallo                     Naia                       Thunderbird

    Kevin Wilson                   Antonelli               Dom Perignon    Gallo                     Nobilis                    Tattinger                               


Female Authored Book/Novel Title

    Heath Davis-Gardner     Anne Gr Gab      Dispossed, The    Gone w/Wind      North and South To Kill a Mockingbird    

    Mark Firth                        Anne Gr Gab      Daniel Deronda   The Gras is Sing   Northanger AbbyeTerritorial Rights               

    Doug Kent                        Anne Gr Gab      Diary of Y Girl     The Giver              North and South To Kill a Mockingbird    

    Andy Lischett                  “A” is for Alibi     Death on the Nile The Guns of Aug N or M?                 Ten Little Indians

    Kevin Wilson                   The Awakening    Divergent               Gone w/Wind      New Moon            To Kill a Mockingbird                                                                    


Jazz Musician

    Heath Davis-Gardner     Louis ArmstrongMiles Davis         Dizzy Gillespie    Wayne Newton    Art Tatum                           

    Mark Firth                        Louis ArmstrongMiles Davis         Dizzy Gillespie    Nifty Naismith     Art Tatum                           

    Doug Kent                        Marshall Allen      D’earth                  Gillespie               Noonan                 Trubic                   

    Andy Lischett                  Louis ArmstrongEddy Duchin        Dizzy Gillespie    Jimmy Noone       Mel Torme

    Kevin Wilson                   Louie ArmstrongMiles Davis         Dizzy Gillespie    Fats Navarro        Cecil Taylor                                                                                        


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


Notes on Heath’s Answers: Regarding the response Gustav of Sweden, it appears Gustav is a variant spelling of Gustaf so is

                allowed; Anne Gr Gab is Anne of Green Gables; Gone w/Wind is Gone with the Wind, he also notes “fun Fact: my

                grandmother was a cub reporter with Margaret Mitchell at the Atlanta newspaper while she was working on this novel!”

Notes on Mark’s Answers:  A Fun to For is A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum (he asks if he gets bonus points

                for including “way” – I’m afraid not); Anne Gr Gab is Anne of Green Gables; The Gras is Sing is The Grass is Singing;

                regarding Nifty “No-tooth” Naismith, the Gums King, I can find no reference to the person however, if you can clarify

                or give me a reference I’ll give you credit.

Notes on Doug’s Answers: Anne Gr Gab is Anne of Green Gables; Diary of Y Girl is Diary of a Young Girl; I presume Trubic

                is Aaron Trubic, the only Trubic I could find tangential to the jazz genre.

Notes on Andy’s Answers: Regarding the response of Abe, at the time Andy submitted it he was the prime minister of Japan,

                resigning a few days later – however, he wasn’t the head of state, that being Naruhito; regarding the response of Guaido,

                he was declared the acting President and is recognized by many nation, even if Maduro isn’t stepping down. DS

                Nguesso is Denis Sassou Nguesso; Thor Mod Mille is Thoroughly Modern Mille; The Guns of Aug is The Guns of


Notes on Kevin’s Answers: Gone w/Wind is Gone with the Wind; Thor Mod Mille is Thoroughly Modern Mille; Cecil Taylor is

                Cecilmments Taylor


Round Four


Letters:                  A             D             M            S              * (Wildcard)         

Categories:            Member, Legion of Nations; Religious Orders or Denominations; Pacific Island; Past US President;

                                                European Poet


Current Standings


NOTE – it was pointed out that in the previous issues game report Irene is a cigar brand, and verified. Also, the P Powell submitted by Mark was Padgett Powell and verified. That adds 1 point to Doug’s and to Mark’s totals and is reflected below in the previous score.


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

   Kevin Wilson                    8              8              8              7              8              40           +              153         =              193

   Heath David-Gardner      7              8              7              9              9              40           +              148         =              188

   Doug Kent                         8              9              6              8              6              37           +              149         =              186

   Andy Lischett                   6              8              6              5              7              32           +              133         =              165

   Mark Firth                          7              7              5              6              8              33           +              127         =              160


Player Comments:


[Doug Kent] – My answers for Jazz Musician would have been a bit different if I were to include Jazz Fusion, but that is technically a different music form so I expect players will stick with true jazz.


[Kevin Wilson] – Living Head of State – Some are actually heads of government not of state [WAY} – that’s fine, in most definitions it practice it’s basically the same thing [KW] - but I couldn’t bring myself to say Trump for the letter “T”. Besides I’ve decided to interpret the topic to include heads of government. Looking at a list of the heads of government/state it’s kind of scary how many names I recognized as authoritarian types. Why are we humans so enamored and so easily swayed by authoritarian types. [WAY] – some might say that folks would rather be strongly led than have the patience to wait for consensus. [KW] – I had to include Arden too. Why do the Kiwis always seem to have their shit together? [WAY] – anyone want to field that one?

                [KW] – Surprisingly the wine category was tough. I’m not a wine drinker. I’m a beer and whisk(e)y drinker – mainly bourbon but I like the Canadian and Irish blends too. I’m not a big scotch drinker, at least not the real peaty/smokey stuff.

                The musicals and books were fun to check out to find the 2 or 3 that nothing came to mind. I have some reading to catch up on.


[Andy Lischett] – For Heads of State, Guiado is ONE of Venezuela’s. I’m not big on wine and all I could initially think of were Mad Dog 20/20 and Boone’s Farm. Also not big on jazz but – oddly I immediately thought of three Gs: Kenny G., Dizzy Gillespie and Stan Getz. I’ll bet that if I put “Anderson” there must be a hjazz musician with the name. Aha! I just through of a T and two As (Steve Allen & Louis Armstrong). I’m so smart.





Deadline for the Next Issue of Out of the WAY:


October 7, 2020 at noon – See You Then!


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


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


Eternal Sunshine Game Section


Gamestart – Acquire – “Blind”


We’ve got five players signed up for this game, so away we go. 



Kevin Wilson –; John David Galt; Mark Firth –; Andy Lischett –; Tom Howell –


Order for Turn One:


Wilson, Galt, Firth, Lischett, Howell, Wilson




Deadline for Turn 1 is October 9th, 2020 at 7pm My Time (12 hours earlier than the standard zine deadline)


Diplomacy, “Indestructible Machine”, 2020A, W 03/S 04

Austria: Rick Davis – - Build A Budapest..A Budapest – Galicia,

 F Greece - Bulgaria(sc) (*Bounce*), A Serbia - Bulgaria (*Bounce*), A Vienna – Budapest,

 A Warsaw Supports A Budapest - Galicia (*Cut*).

England: Mark Firth – - Remove F London..A Edinburgh Hold,

 F Helgoland Bight - Holland (*Fails*), F North Sea - Belgium.

France: John David Galt - A Burgundy Supports A Marseilles,

 F English Channel Supports F North Sea – Belgium, A Marseilles Supports A Burgundy, F Spain(sc) - Gulf of Lyon,

 F Western Mediterranean - Tunis.

Germany: Andy Lischett – - Build A Berlin..A Belgium Hold (*Dislodged*, retreat to Ruhr

 or Picardy or OTB), A Berlin Supports A Munich, F Denmark Supports F Skagerrak - North Sea,

 F Holland Supports A Belgium (*Cut*), A Kiel Hold, A Munich Hold.

Italy: Toby Harris - Retreat F Western Mediterranean - Tyrrhenian Sea..

 F Ionian Sea Supports A Trieste – Albania, A Piedmont Hold, A Trieste – Albania, A Tyrolia – Bohemia,

 F Tyrrhenian Sea - Western Mediterranean.

Russia: Bob Durf – - Retreat F North Sea - Norwegian Sea,

 Disband A Vienna..Build A Moscow.. F Black Sea Hold, A Moscow - Warsaw (*Fails*), A Norway Hold,

 F Norwegian Sea – Clyde, A Rumania Supports A Bulgaria - Serbia (*Void*), F Skagerrak - North Sea.

Turkey: Jack McHugh -  F Aegean Sea - Eastern Mediterranean,

 A Albania - Serbia (*Disbanded*), A Bulgaria Supports A Albania - Serbia (*Cut*), F Constantinople - Aegean Sea.








Deadline for Fall 04 is: October 10th, 2020 at 7am My Time

Diplomacy, “Wine Lips”, 2020B, Spring 1902


Austria: Harold Reynolds –  - A Budapest – Vienna,

 F Greece Supports F Ionian Sea - Aegean Sea (*Cut*), A Serbia - Bulgaria (*Fails*), A Trieste – Tyrolia,

 A Vienna - Bohemia.

England: David Cohen – - A Belgium Hold, A Edinburgh – Norway, F London – Wales,

 F North Sea Convoys A Edinburgh – Norway, F Norway - Barents Sea.

France: David Burgess –  - NMR! F Brest Unordered, A Burgundy Unordered,

 F Marseilles Unordered, A Portugal Unordered, F Spain(sc) Unordered.

Germany: Mark Firth – - A Denmark Hold, F Holland Hold, F Kiel - Baltic Sea (*Bounce*),

 A Munich Supports A Ruhr, A Ruhr Supports F Holland.

Italy: George Atkins - - F Ionian Sea - Aegean Sea (*Fails*),

 F Naples - Ionian Sea (*Fails*), A Tunis Hold, A Venice Supports A Trieste - Tyrolia.

Russia: Heath Davis-Gardner – - A Moscow – Livonia,

 F Rumania - Black Sea, A Sevastopol – Armenia, F Sweden - Baltic Sea (*Bounce*), A Ukraine – Rumania,

 A Warsaw - Silesia.

Turkey: Paul Milewski – paul.milewski@hotmail.comA Ankara Hold, A Bulgaria - Greece (*Fails*),

 F Constantinople - Aegean Sea, F Smyrna Supports F Constantinople - Aegean Sea.


Would Jack McHugh - - standby for France?  Hopefully David will return.

Deadline for Fall 1902 is October 10th, 2020 at 7am My Time




[A general observation of Paul Milewski:] As I am playing Turkey in Wine Lips, I decided to finally get around to reading "The Ottoman Endgame" by Sean McMeeken, a copy of which I bought some time ago and which has been in one of the piles of books lying around my study that I've been meaning to read. What the Diplomacy board shows as the south coast of Bulgaria is territory acquired by Bulgaria after the First and Second Balkan Wars (1912-1913), in which an alliance between Bulgaria, Serbia, Greece, and Montenegro not only soundly defeated the Ottoman Empire (which in the game is simply called Turkey) but reduced its European territory to what it is today (almost nothing).  The depiction in this game of borders in the 1900 Balkans is a fantasy and a distortion, to say the least.  I wonder what Calhamer was thinking.




Norway's at the top of the world,

With vistas that make your head whirl.

It borders St. Pete's

And leads to defeats

That can make the Russian's hair curl.


Diplomacy puns are a crime,

Yes, even if placed in a rhyme.

Prepare to be blue

If you say that you

Livonia day at a time.


Moscow's the hardest of all.

It led to Napoleon's fall.

General Winter,

Death notice printer,

Will lead to invaders' recall.


Piedmont a mountain of pies?

That's nothing but slander and lies!

But mountainside bakers,

Amazing pie makers,

Make it seem so to your eyes.


Plovdiv's the name of a town

That cannot be said with a frown.

It's known in the area

Of central Bulgaria

As a good place to put on a crown.




Balkan Wars VI, “Bad Way to Go”, 2020Apb08, F 12

Albania: Mark Firth – – F Crete Lost in a Labyrinth (Hold), F Malta Savouring Olives (Hold),

 F Trieste Sips Wine (Hold), A Valona Supports A Salonika.

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

 F Constantinople Supports F South Black Sea – Izmit, A Epirus – Athens, A Salonika Supports A Epirus – Athens,

 F South Black Sea - Izmit (*Bounce*), A Thrace Supports F Constantinople.

Greece: Kevin Wilson – ckevinw@gmail.comA Athens - Salonika (*Dislodged*, retreat to Sparta or OTB),

 F Gulf of Corfu Supports F Sparta – Epirus, F Sparta - Epirus.

Rumania: Brad Wilson - - A Belgrade - Nish (*Dislodged*,

 retreat to Transylvania or Hercegovina or OTB), A Bithynia - Izmit (*Bounce*),

 A Bucharest Supports A Belgrade - Nish (*Cut*), F North Black Sea Supports A Bithynia - Izmit.

Serbia: Andy York – - Retreat A Belgrade - Montenegro..F Croatia Hold,

 A Montenegro – Belgrade, A Nish Supports A Montenegro – Belgrade, A Oltenia - Bucharest (*Fails*),

 A Transylvania - Galati.

Turkey: Heath Davis-Gardner – - Retreat F South Black Sea - Dubruja..

 F Aegean Sea Supports A Athens (*Ordered to Move*), F Dubruja – Varna, A Smyrna - Izmit (*Fails*).


Supply Center Chart

Albania:            Crete, Malta, Montenegro, Tirana, Trieste, Valona=6                             Build 2

Bulgaria:          Athens, Constantinople, Plovdiv, Salonika, Sofia, Thrace=6                   Even

Greece:            Sparta=1                                                                                              Remove 1 or 2

Rumania:         Bucharest, Constantsa, Dubruja=3                                                       Even or Remove 1

Serbia:             Belgrade, Bosnia, Cluj, Galati, Nish, Skopje=6                                      Build 1

Turkey:            Izmit, Rhodes, Smyrna, Varna=4                                                          Build 1

Unowned:        Cyprus.






Deadline for W 12/S 13 is October 10th at 7am My Time


Where in the World is Kendo Nagasaki?


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


Turn 1


Tom Howell:

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


Will Abbott:

Justin Welby in Atlanta, GA


Simon Langley-Evans:

Paul Ateriedes in Paris, France


John David Galt:

Hunter Biden in Nairobi, Kenya


Kevin Wilson:

Wayne LaPierre, Jr. in Lagos, Nigeria


Andy Lischett:

Dub Taylor in Gibsland, Louisiana


Richard Smith:

Anna Von Hausswolff in Gothenburg, Sweden


Dane Maslen:

Tedros Adhanom in Geneva, Switzerland


Heath Davis-Gardner:

Scottie Pippen in Mexico City, Mexico


Jack McHugh:

Barack Obama in Nairobi, Kenya


Mark Firth:

Cersei Lannister in Beni, DR Congo


David Burgess:

Elton John in London, England


Hint to Person Placed Closest to Me:

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


Turn 2


Will Abbott:

Henrik Ibsen in Edinburgh, Scotland


Simon Langley-Evans:

Ivanka Trump in Beijing, China


John David Galt:

Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez in Helsinki, Finland


Andy Lischett:

Little Richard in Macon, GA


Kevin Wilson:

Chaka Zulu in Nagasaki, Japan


Dane Maslen:

Christopher Columbus in Xining, Qinghai province, China


Heath Davis-Gardner:

Bessie Smith in Oslo, Norway


David Burgess:

Benjamin Franklin in Philadelphia, PA


Tom Howell:

Billy Graham in St Petersburg, Russia


Jack McHugh:

Charlemagne in New Delhi, India


Richard Smith:

Erwin Rudolf Josef Alexander Schrödinger at Catacamas, Honduras


Mark Firth:

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


Hint to Person Placed Closest to Me:

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


Turn 3


Will Abbott:

Albert Einstein in Sapporo, Japan


John David Galt:

Britney Spears in Nagasaki, Japan


Heath Davis-Gardner:

Elon Musk in Dubai, UAE


Simon Langley-Evans:

Kate Bush in Mexico City, Mexico


Andy Lischett:

U.S. Grant in Vicksburg, Mississippi


Richard Smith:

Marquis de Sade in Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso


Kevin Wilson:

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


Tom Howell:

Pope Pius VII in Vatican City


Dane Maslen:

John Ashe in Minneapolis, MN


Jack McHugh:

Indira Gandhi in Moscow, Russia


David Burgess:

Robert Peary at the North Pole


Brad Wilson:

Walt Whitman in Riga, Latvia


Mark Firth:

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


Hint to Person Placed Closest to Me:

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


Turn 4


Will Abbott:

Voltaire in Timbuktu, Mali


Kevin Wilson:

James Watt in Niamey, Niger 


Richard Smith:

John Wolcot at Nouackchott, Mauritania


David Burgess:

Ernest Hemingway in Zurich, Switzerland


Andy Lischett:

Marilyn Monroe in Monrovia, Liberia


Heath Davis-Gardner:

Voltaire in Monrovia, Liberia




Simon Langley-Evans:

Mark Twain in Seoul, South Korea


John David Galt:

Queen Victoria in Puerto Vallarta, Mexico


Jack McHugh:

Boris Pasternak in Warsaw, Poland


Dane Maslen:

Walt Whitman in Anchorage, Alaska


Mark Firth:

Joseph Priestley in Marrakesh, Morocco


Tom Howell:

Thomas Paine in Accra, Ghana


Brad Wilson:

Joseph Conrad in Warsaw, Poland


Hint to Person Placed Closest to Me:

You’re the closest in distance, and I have been correctly identified…just not by you.  We were born in the same country.


Turn 5


Will Abbott:

Joseph Priestley in Rabat, Morocco


Brad Wilson:

Thomas Paine in Dakar, Senegal


Tom Howell:

Thomas Paine in St. Louis, Senegal


Kevin Wilson:

James Watt in Dakar, Senegal


Simon Langley-Evans:

Walt Whitman in Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso


Andy Lischett:

Thomas Paine in Rabat, Morocco


Dane Maslen:

Joseph Priestly in Kano, Nigeria


Richard Smith:

James Watt in Dakar, Senegal


John David Galt:

Queen Victoria in Kinshasa, Congo


Heath Davis-Gardner:

Joseph Priestley in Lome, Togo


Jack McHugh:

Walt Whitman in Brest, France


Mark Firth:

Marquis de Sade in Bamako, Mali

Hint to Person Placed Closest to Me:

I’ve been correctly identified, but not by you.  We were born within 10 years of each other, and died within 10 years of each other as well.


Deadline for Turn 6 is October 10th 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 7 Categories:

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


1. A blood type.

2. Something that cuts.

3. Something that bites.

4. A musical (film or stage).

5. The color of a condiment.



Joker category shown in BOLD.  Most popular answer shown in italics (if I remember to do that part).

Kevin Wilson and Andy Lischett each get the high score this round with 38 (out of a possible 41). Brad Wilson scores the bottom with 14.


Comments by Category:


A blood type: Kevin Wilson – “I thought A positive as that’s mine and the most common but O negative is the universal and likely better known.” Dane Maslen – “The first category could go horribly wrong.  Initially my answer was 'O', but then I decided to check on terminology, whereupon I discovered (or rather was reminded, given that it's something I knew in the past) that O, A, B and AB are blood groups, whereas O+, O-, etc., are blood types.  I suspect, however, that some players, perhaps even many, will give a blood group rather than a blood type as an answer.”  Richard Smith – “Hmm, not sure if the blood type should include the positive / negative part.”  Mark Nelson – “I don't know what my blood type is (my wife is always shocked at this). I will go O-positive since I understand that it's generically the most common.”


Something that cuts: Kevin Wilson – “I also thought of words having a teenage daughter.  She wields words better than a blade sometimes.”  Heath Davis-Gardner – “Also, the words of my ex-wife lingering in the recesses of my subconscious, but let’s just go with a knife.”


Something that bites: Kevin Wilson – “I guess not technically a bite as bite implies teeth but we call them mosquito bites and it is the season.”  Simon Langley-Evans – “I have never personally been bitten by a dog, although my mother has always been convinced that every dog on the street is poised to tuck in to our flesh. I have been repeatedly bitten by a mosquito overnight, but refuse to let that influence my choices.”  Mark Nelson – “That sounds a bit personal...I will go for dog.”  Heath Davis-Gardner – “Do I go with the joke and say Reality here? Is that reference in the wheelhouse of this player base? I don’t know. I’ll just say a dog.”


A musical (film or stage): Kevin Wilson – “I almost made this my Joker.  I love live staged shows, especially musicals.  My wife took me to see Hamilton while it was in Chicago last year.  I loved it.  And now that it’s on Disney+ I’ve watched it two more times.  A great show, fun to watch and wonderful music.”  Mark Nelson – “I'm not a big musical fan. I’m pretty certain that "Chicago" is the last musical that I've seen at the movies (22.0.2003). I was going to write that it's only the musical I've seen at the movies, but I've got a feeling that I saw Paul Robeson singing Ol man river in a movie one year at the Leeds Film Festival. I suppose that must have been the 1936 version of Showboat. That was before I started keeping track of the movies that I watch...I suppose the question is should I go for an old one or a new one. I think I will go for a classic, The Wizard of Oz.”


The color of a condiment: Kevin Wilson – “Red, the color of the two favorites in my house, ketchup and salsa.”  Simon Langley-Evans – “For the condiment I assume that most people will go for tomato ketchup, which is of course the very emperor of the condiment world.”  Dane Maslen – “Originally I was going to go for 'black' on category 5 because of black pepper, but then I decided, perhaps wrongly, that people would think of salt as the most obvious condiment.”  Mark Nelson – “If I think condiment, I think mustard. Probably the mustard I use the most often is a grainy mustard, but the classic mustard to me Colman’s English mustard. I will go yellow.”


General Comments: Simon Langley-Evans – “The last round caused me great concern, so I was very surprised to get the highest score.”  Mark Firth – “Sticking with first thoughts on 1-3, although I think dog will win the third. 4 I had Hair but am switching to survey result (sample size: one); 5 is probably going to be red for ketchup, but to me condiments were always just salt and pepper.”


Turn 8 Categories:

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


1. A city in Japan other than Tokyo.

2. A character in Peanuts.

3. A flavor of flavored water.

4. An adjective that begins with L.

5. A Henry Fonda film.


Deadline for Turn 8 of By Popular Demand is: October 10th at 7am My Time

Deadline for the next issue of Eternal Sunshine is: October 10, 2020 at 7am My Time (U.S. central time) – some games and subzines earlier


See You Then!