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May 2023 - "Ycladd in mightie armes and silver shielde, / Wherein old dints of deepe wounds did remaine," -ES

Board Game: Carcassonne
Board Game: Chess
Board Game: Gin Rummy
Board Game: Hearts
Board Game: Scopa
Board Game: Sea Salt & Paper
Board Game: Tigris & Euphrates
Board Game: Tikal
Board Game: Acorns
Board Game: Tori Shogi
Board Game: No Mercy
Board Game: Strike
Board Game: The Royal Game of Ur
Board Game: Trike
Board Game: Turncoats
Board Game: Unpublished Prototype
Board Game: 7 Wonders Duel
Board Game: Dominion
Board Game: Meridians
Board Game: Noodlin'
Board Game: Pig
Board Game: UNO
Board Game: Disci
Board Game: Just One
Board Game: Qawale
Board Game: Yahtzee

 10   Carcassonne (27 all-time)
 10   Chess x4 (109 all-time)
 10   Gin Rummy x2 (6 all-time)
 10   Hearts (10 all-time)
 10   Scopa x2 (11 all-time)
 10   Sea Salt & Paper (8 all-time)
 10   Tigris & Euphrates x2 (23 all-time)
 10   Tikal (16 all-time)
 9   Acorns (2 all-time)
 8   Tori Shogi NEW!
 7   No Mercy x3 (24 all-time)
 7   Strike (42 all-time)
 7   The Royal Game of Ur x2 (8 all-time)
 7   Trike x2 NEW!
 7   Turncoats x4 (14 all-time)
 7   Unpublished Prototype x3 (22 all-time)
 6   7 Wonders Duel (6 all-time)
 6   Dominion (18 all-time)
 6   Meridians x2 NEW!
 6   Noodlin' NEW!
 6   Pig (3 all-time)
 6   UNO x11 (33 all-time)
 5   Disci x2 NEW!
 5   Just One (2 all-time)
 5   Qawale x2 NEW!
 5   Yahtzee (2 all-time)

A lot of great gaming. Look at all of those green boxed 10s. But even all of those lesser colors, those lesser numbers... I'm satisfied with all of my gaming this past month. It was a good month. I had 19 people show up at my chess club and that was wonderful.

Acorns is probably a 10. I'm just giving it some time. The best "game day" this month was playing cards with Abigail while waiting in line early at the Ithaca book sale. SS&P and Acorns. I'm hoping to make playing those two games with her a regular routine on the Saturdays that I don't have to work. She enjoys both of the games which makes me enjoy both of the games even more than I already do.


Ithaca book sale? Yeah, it was May. I bought a lot of new books.

I read a lot, but nothing really to report, bits and pieces of a whole lot of things. I'm okay with this, but it doesn't make for any tidy monthly reports.

Slow reading.

I'm close to finished with Moby-Dick and still think it's among the greatest things I've ever read. I'm reluctant to finish it, but I also think that I'm just going to immediately re-read, maybe a chapter a week or so, forever into the future. I'd be okay with that. It feels like hyperbole, but it really isn't. It's a capital-G capital-B Great Book.

I'm about halfway through my read of Brothers Karamazov and find myself crying at odd times. Enough about that.

I'm reading J.G. Ballard's The Drowned World, which was sardonically cool Climate Fiction before Cli-Fi was a thing. If pushed, I'd describe Ballard's prose as swampy, heavy, florid, and in this context I only mean that in the best possible way.

I'm also reading (and so far greatly enjoying) Richard Brautigan's The Hawkline Monster. Brautigan has been recommended to me a few times over the years. This "Gothic Western" finally caught my interest and got me reading.


As for motion pictures, I'll probably wait and write more later. In the meantime, here...

Top Ten Movies From Each of My Co-Workers' Birth Years

Without commentary. These lists are a mix of nostalgia, half-remembered appreciations from many years ago, and a strong handful of favorites that I either rewatch fairly frequently and/or already know forwards and backwards from past repeated re-watches. 1970 obviously defeated me. I'm not sure if it's a particularly weak year or if there are just a bunch of gems that I'm ignorant of.

Speaking of my ignorance, while looking up movies from each year, I inevitably came up against many, many films that I haven't seen, at least two or three, sometimes up to a dozen or so, from each year, that I think would have great chances of making my list if I had seen them.

But I haven't seen so much. One alternate timeline for me has me living on the streets, scrapping together money for movie tickets.

Here goes:

Ride Lonesome
North by Northwest
Rio Bravo
The 400 Blows
Day of the Outlaw
Some Like it Hot
Anatomy of a Murder
The Shaggy Dog

Eyes Without a Face
Comanche Station
The Apartment
The Time Machine
North to Alaska
The Virgin Spring
The Magnificent Seven

The Hustler
Blast of Silence
An Occurence at Owl Creek Bridge
The Parent Trap
One Hundred and One Dalmations
Through a Glass Darkly
The Steamroller and the Violin
The Absent-Minded Professor
Presentation, or Charlotte and Her Steak

Claire's Knee
Five Easy Pieces
Even Dwarfs Started Small

F for Fake
Mean Streets
The Wicker Man
A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving
Fantastic Planet
The Friends of Eddie Coyle
The Sting
Charlotte's Web

The Muppet Movie
The Great American Chase
Wise Blood
My Brilliant Career
Camera Buff
The Plumber
Lupin the Third: The Castle of Cagliostro
Rocky II

Return of the Jedi
Local Hero
Sans Soleil
Pauline at the Beach
Tender Mercies
Superman III

Nausicaä of the Valley of the Wind
The NeverEnding Story
Paris, Texas
Blood Simple
The Terminator
Stranger Than Paradise
The Brother From Another Planet
The Muppets Take Manhattan
The Karate Kid

Return to Oz
Back to the Future
Better Off Dead
The Stuff
The Breakfast Club
Follow That Bird
Pee-Wee's Big Adventure
The Goonies
After Hours
Day of the Dead

The Fisher King
Rubin & Ed
Barton Fink
Terminator 2: Judgment Day
What About Bob?
Thelma & Louise
Toy Soldiers
Black Robe
Boyz n the Hood
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Fri Jun 2, 2023 11:33 pm
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No, No, November 2022 - "They tango till they're sore / They take apart their nightmares / And they leave them by the door" -TW

Board Game: Carcassonne
Board Game: Chonkers
Board Game: Gin Rummy
Board Game: Hearts
Board Game: My First Carcassonne
Board Game: Bacon
Board Game: Nein Nimmt!
Board Game: Egyptian Ratscrew
Board Game: L.L.A.M.A.
Board Game: Meow
Board Game: Minimisere
Board Game: Parade
Board Game: Skip-Bo
Board Game: Vidrasso
Board Game: Ziegen Kriegen
Board Game: 10 Days in Africa
Board Game: Spoons
Board Game: Trivial Pursuit: Genus Edition
Board Game: Alexandros
Board Game: Elfer raus!
Board Game: Bagh Chal

 10   Carcassonne (25 all-time)
 10   Chonkers (18 all-time)
 10   Gin Rummy (4 all-time)
 10   Hearts (9 all-time)
 10   Kids of Carcassonne (15 all-time)
 9   Bacon (2 all-time)
 8   Nein Nimmt! (10 all-time)
 7   Egyptian Ratscrew x2 NEW!
 7   L.L.A.M.A. (6 all-time)
 7   Meow x4 (94 all-time)
 7   Minimisere (2 all-time)
 7   Parade (4 all-time)
 7   Skip-Bo NEW!
 7   Vidrasso x5 (7 all-time)
 7   Ziegen Kriegen (15 all-time)
 6   10 Days in Africa x2 (4 all-time)
 6   Spoons (3 all-time)
 6   Trivial Pursuit: Genus Edition NEW!
 5   Alexandros NEW!
 5   Gay Gordons (6 all-time)
 4   Bagh Chal x3 NEW!

I'm just posting this out of habit.

I don't have much to say about November.

I didn't keep good records.

But I did log each play because that's a habit now.

I read some stuff. I listened to some stuff. You know, some real serious consumption.

I'm still reading and enjoying Moby-Dick. I'm not in any rush and I like it that way. I hope it never ends.

I've been distracted by reading newer 2022 stuff; I read the first sentence, first paragraph, first chapter, then give up on it and make fun of it. That's what I do.

If you can't write, take a crap on those who do.

Thursday evening game nights are slowly catching on.

Home gaming has been good.

I've become a little less averse to online gaming.

I was glad to pop into the OG Con briefly and get in a Parade session with Mark. I'm sorry I missed the game show. I had been playing card games with the kids all morning and had already told them that I would drive into town to get a pizza at 5p and bring it home and have a pizza and movie party. I don't even remember what we watched now! I do remember that I missed the game show!

I'm behind in getting plays in, but live plays of Vidrasso (which were all of the ones logged above) on BGA have been a good time, even though I'm still not convinced I like the game and know that I'm bad at the game. That said, I think I'm one of the few people who has beat Chris C in a game, though he won the overall points for the two game match. I know it was just a fluke, but I'll try to remember to brag about it when I'm feeling down as I see my place in the rankings continue to plummet with more games.

I'm remembering now that I need to update the Noirvember list. My viewing fell apart.

I did get out to the theater twice, seeing The Menu and Del Toro's Pinocchio. I liked the first. I purposely took a cat nap during the second; make of that what you will.

I'm enjoying Tulsa King far more than the show deserves. It's ridiculous, but there's something about how it owns its silliness that I like. If all of the episodes had dropped at once, I'd have already given up on it. But as something that I get once a week, it's almost like a candy treat.

This is the part of the monthly recap post in which I just give up and post a video:
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Fri Dec 9, 2022 10:20 am
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October 2022 - "If neither there nor here, neither the living nor the dead, then what?" -EG

Board Game: Babylonia
Board Game: Jass
Board Game: Cowbell
Board Game: Great Plains
Board Game: Pentalath
Board Game: Push It
Board Game: Tsuro
Board Game: Fliptricks
Board Game: Jekyll vs. Hyde
Board Game: Kluster
Board Game: Oh Hell!
Board Game: Strike
Board Game: Dragonheart
Board Game: Fearsome Floors
Board Game: Genesis
Board Game: Medici vs Strozzi
Board Game: Ponte del Diavolo
Board Game: Startups
Board Game: The Crew: Mission Deep Sea
Board Game: Elfer raus!

 10   Babylonia (37 all-time)
 10   Coiffeur-Jass NEW!
 8   Cowbell NEW!
 8   Great Plains (9 all-time)
 8   Pentalath x2 (20 all-time)
 8   Push It (26 all-time)
 8   Tsuro (8 all-time)
 7   Fliptricks x6 (41 all-time)
 7   Jekyll vs. Hyde x4 NEW!
 7   Kluster x2 (11 all-time)
 7   Oh Hell! (6 all-time)
 7   Strike x5 NEW!
 6   Dragonheart (2 all-time)
 6   Fearsome Floors x2 (12 all-time)
 6   Genesis NEW!
 6   Medici vs Strozzi (2 all-time)
 6   Ponte del Diavolo NEW!
 6   Startups x2 NEW!
 6   The Crew: Mission Deep Sea x8 NEW!
 5   Gay Gordons x5 NEW!

I'm looking at those ratings and thinking that ratings are stupid.

At 37 plays, I've kinda stalled out on The Babylonia Century challenge. Back when, I thought that I liked it enough to crowd out all other new-to-me plays.

I do still think it's great. I just don't want to play it all the time. It's probably not a 10. Do I bump it down? Is this a moment when I go in and revise all my ratings? But ratings are stupid and don't matter. Why don't I leave them alone?

What is a 10? Coiffeur-Jass? Played once and an instant ten. But is that because I know I'll rarely get it played due to its length? It's another game I can say I love and then never play?

Cowbell made a great initial impression. Will I ever play it again? Or will it become another Mittlere that I say I love and never play? I see a pattern.

Great Plains can't be an 8 because I don't want to suggest it anymore.

Same with Pentalath.

I did just bump up Tsuro's rating to an 8 because I do want to suggest it now. I want to leave it out and play with my kids more often. How long will that last?

The rest of those 7s are honest, I guess, games I usually want to play, but not always.

4 face-to-face plays of JvH and probably about the same amount of live BGA plays with strangers. It's clever. I like it. So what? At 2p, there are so many options.

How about The Crew Mission Deep Sea? How dare I rate it a 6? Meh. I had some fun. I think I like Crew 1 better. I found the point numbers on the card weird. The original ramped up to everyone having a task, sometimes multiple tasks. In Crew 2, you can draw high numbered tasks on high missions and still only have two out of four people with tasks. It just isnt as satisfying with not everyone having personal tasks. I don't really need either, but I do gladly admit that its cooperative element is well done.

Finally, Parlett's Gay Gordon's is better with the correct rules, but it's still not my thing. It's probably better than Klondike, but Klondike has the advantage of being deeply familiar from youthful repeated computer play.

Other Stuff

I've been out of touch with anything new. Mostly listening to "comfort music", old favorites, which this past month meant John Fahey and Elvis Costello.

I still think of All This Useless Beauty as a weak Costello album, but I've been giving it more listens this year.
“It’s easy to theorize songs for people, but they don’t always work out. For instance, I wrote ‘Why Can’t a Man Stand Alone’ for Sam Moore, but he didn’t take it. Now when I think about it, the song has too many words. Sometimes lyrics can get in the way of expression.” — Elvis Costello

October: Slashing Through Cinema.
November: Noirvember 4: What kind of a dish was she? The sixty-cent special- cheap, flashy, strictly poison under the gravy.

Key: RR=re-read, +=loved it, DNF=did not finish (but read enough to have a strong opinion)

Clap Your Hands
That Kookoory!
The Three Billy Goats Gruff
Time to get out of the bath, Shirley
Wait til the Moon is Full
Wanted: The Great Cookie Thief

21st Century
+Treacle Walker - Alan Garner

20th Century
Catherine Carmier - Ernest Gaines
The Custard Heart - Dorothy Parker (Penguin Mini Modern)
Notes on Nationalism - George Orwell (Penguin Mini Modern)
RR+ Space Chantey - R.A. Lafferty

Pre-20th Century
Aphorisms on Love and Hate - Friedrich Nietzsche
RR+ Esther

Daisy Kutter: The Last Train - Kazu Kibuishi

Again, ratings are stupid, even if it's just a + for "loved it".

What does that tell you about anything?

Space Chantey is maybe my least favorite Lafferty novel. I just happen to think that a weak Lafferty novel is better than most everything else.

Catherine Carmier had some weaknesses in its style, with shifting of authority in the telling, sometimes descriptions of eyes communicating with eyes with accompanying descriptive interpretation, sentimental guck. But, there are also passages in it describing the rootlessness and alienation from place and loved ones that are strong and I think will resonate with many of us who have been uprooted and alienated.

The only book that I really hated was the small Nietzsche collection. Even that had a few punchy sayings that I enjoyed. Nevertheless, I'm convinced that no one should take relationship advice from Ol' Frieddy.

You're all wondering why I haven't mentioned Moby Dick. If I loved it so much, how could I not have finished it?

Instead of repeating myself, I'm going to plagiarize myself and copy and paste something I wrote recently in a private geekmail.

Re: Moby Dick,
I'll probably write something similar to this in my next monthly recap, but here's where I'm at on it:
I still love it. I still think it's very funny.
After an initial burst of reading, I've been reading it slowly. My friend Ben made fun of me, teasing me that I was just avoiding it because I don't really like it. But nah, that's not true. I'm reading it slowly because I really, really love it. I savor every chapter, often re-reading all or some of it right after finishing it. Often reading a bit out loud to my wife or sending sentences via text to friends.
I'm reading slowly because I don't want this new-to-me experience to end. I want there to always be more new Moby Dick for me to read.
And, if I'm being completely honest, I'm also reading slowly because I'm afraid. I'm afraid that at some point this joyous romp of a novel that I'm reading is going to turn into some serious slog. Why else does this novel have the reputation it has? How am I the only one that understands how much fun this is? I'm afraid that maybe the tone shifts and by the end, all that anyone can remember is devastating existential despair. Maybe.
But, yeah, I'm still loving it, and right now I would (and have been) recommending it to everyone.

One More Thing

Caveat Lector: the fact that I share anything here, above, below, anywhere I write anything on this site, is not necessarily (it usually is far from) a full endorsement of either the thing itself or the person or persons behind the thing.

Non-gaming stuff found online that made me pause and think.
At least with the superstimuli of food there is the belief that some foods are objectively better than others, which helps curb our worst impulses of consumption. In comparison, as the supersensorium expands over more and more of our waking hours, the idea of an aesthetic spectrum, with art on one end and entertainment on the other, is defunct…
In a world of infinite experience, it is the aesthete who is safest, not the ascetic. Abstinence will not work. The only cure for too much fiction is good fiction. Artful fictions are, by their very nature, rare and difficult to produce. In turn, their rarity justifies their existence and promotion. It’s difficult to overeat on caviar alone. Now, it’s important to note here that I don’t mean that art can’t be entertaining, nor that it’s restricted to a certain medium. But art always refuses to be easily assimilated into the supersensorium.
The internet has enabled us to live, for the first time, entirely apart from other people. It replaces everything good in life with a low-resolution simulation. A handful of sugar instead of a meal: addictive but empty, just enough to keep you alive. It even seems to be killing off sex, replacing it with more cheap, synthetic ersatz. Our most basic biological drives simply wither in its cold blue light. People will cheerfully admit that the internet has destroyed their attention spans, but what it’s really done away with is your ability to think. Usually, when I’m doing something boring but necessary—the washing up, or walking to the post office—I’ll constantly interrupt myself; there’s a little Joycean warbling from the back of my brain. ‘Boredom is the dream bird that broods the egg of experience.’ But when I’m listlessly killing time on the internet, there is nothing. The mind does not wander. I am not there. That rectangular hole spews out war crimes and cutesy comedies and affirmations and porn, all of it mixed together into one general-purpose informational goo, and I remain in its trance, the lifeless scroll, twitching against the screen until the sky goes dark and I’m one day closer to the end. You lose hours to—what? An endless slideshow of barely interesting images and actively unpleasant text. Oh, cool—more memes! You know it’s all very boring, brooding nothing, but the internet addicts you to your own boredom. I’ve tried heroin: this is worse. More numb, more blank, more nowhere. A portable suicide booth; a device for turning off your entire existence. Death is no longer waiting for you at the far end of life. It eats away at your short span from the inside out.
Can poetry and music ‘stand-in’, as it were, for the religious life in those individuals who cannot make the Kierkegaardian faith-leap into ‘actual’ religious belief? Cannot make the leap because it’s not in us, because it doesn’t make sense to us, or because — a person of faith might suggest — we are too prideful in our mortal humanity to open ourselves to the divine. It’s probably one of the three. And to answer my own question straight away: no, they can’t. I don’t think poetry and music can substitute religion in life.
I say so with a certain sorrow, for, like Kermode, poetry and music are very important to my life, and in them I often find the transcendence, the holiness of which he speaks here. But I don’t think his larger point is correct, actually. I cannot avoid the self-knowledge that this merely secular pseudo-faith lacks the blood, the force — lacks, the stationed and parrhesiastic surrender to absolute otherness — of religious faith in the Kierkegaardian sense I just mentioned — which is to say, in the sense that Kierkegaard understood the Christian idea of eternity as something applied to every moment of human existence.
In his foreward to Truffaut's letters, Godard wrote: "Francois is perhaps dead. I am perhaps alive. But then, is there a difference?" Now Godard, like Truffaut, is perhaps dead. You could say the same of Robert Johnson or Herman Melville or Sophocles or Homer. But the work is absolutely and indisputably alive. Work that, whether we viewers are ready for it or not, makes us free.


I'm feeling the need to get off of BGG again. It has become a cliche. I don't care.

There were a couple of days this month in which I did not pick up any screens at all. No desktop. No tablet. No pocket communication computer (how can anyone honestly call these "phones"?). Those were the best days of the month.

I'm going to write a few more geekmails and send out some packages.

I'm going to update the noir geeklist. (Join us.)

I'm going to unsubscribe to a bunch of stuff again.

I'm going to keep getting rid of more games.

And so on.

I sometimes wonder how bootleby is doing.

I think about Lee, who loved Babylonia, who was angry about dying. How is he? Is he?

I think about others who are gone. Maybe I should write letters.


I began re-reading Wes Jackson's Becoming Native to This Place yesterday afternoon.

Spending so much time online connects us to all sorts of things, but disconnects us from our present surroundings. I type this as my younger children are discussing and distributing last night's Halloween candy in the next room. Shouldn't I be in there stealing their candy?

Some speak of online presence as disembodied. It's not quite right. Maybe our online actions are ethereal, but we're still bodied. I'm sitting here at the table, my bottom firmly planted on a chair, starting to feel a little sore from sitting too long, my fingers clacking on a laptop keyboard. A slight ache in my neck, maybe from the way I slept last night, maybe just from being old, because if I start to pay attention to it, I notice aches in other places. I really should have just gone for that walk I had thought about taking when I first woke up.

I can talk with knowledge about 20-year-old German games and recent Japanese games, yet I couldn't name half the weeds growing in the ditch in my front yard. It does seem like there's something fundamentally wrong about that.

Maybe I should go door to door around my block (it takes 6 miles to go "around the block" out here in the country) and ask around to see if anyone is interested in a Coiffeur-Jass night. It's probably a better way than most to become widely known as the neighborhood nut.


I'm rambling. Got to go.
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Tue Nov 1, 2022 12:47 pm
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May 2022 - "A fool must now and then be right by chance." -WC

Board Game: Dickory
Board Game: Tak
Board Game: Unpublished Prototype
Board Game: Amazons
Board Game: The Rose King
Board Game: Qin

 10   Dickory (22 all-time)
 8   Tak x2 (33 all-time)
 8   Bacon
 6   Amazons NEW!
 6   The Rose King (10 all-time)
 5   Qin x4 (5 all-time)

Springtime arriving meant more time outdoors and less time at the table. It was a busy month. I'm hoping for more regular gaming in June.

I added another Parlett game to the database - Arm's Length
I haven't had a chance to play it yet, but I'm eager to do so.
Parlett wrote about it: "Much to my surprise, I've invented another card game. Whether or not it works remains to be seen, as I'm finding it increasingly difficult to find a fourth player, not to mention a third and a second. Let me know if you get a chance to try it out."
I love this. I love that he is carelessly (in the best way) making this available "whether it works or not". I love traditional card games and I love David Parlett.

This comment that I wrote regarding Strategies for Staying Sane on BGG is good enough that I'll share it more broadly here.

It's not too late to sign up for NaNoNeGaMo.

For those following my drama over the last few weeks, an update. I stayed strong in my rasolve to not pra-order any new games. I rasisted the strang temptation for NewRa.


Other Stuff

I don't think I finished a single book in May. I dipped into several, scattershot, nothing sustained. Mostly non-fiction and a few short stories. I haven't had any desire to read any novels. I need to either find something that's great, pulpy plot-driven fun or find something with lovely language to savor slowly. Maybe I need to re-read something. Anyhow, no significant book reading to share here.

If you want, you can stop reading now and read another John's great old blog post: "Doing" Vs. "Having Done"

External image

From gallery of trawlerman

Sentient was mostly good, though its ending is rushed, consequently unsatisfying.

I still have a lot of Pluto left to read, but I'm enjoying it. I'll keep reading.

I've also read the typical amount of random new-ish Marvel comics. Meh. Mehrvel.

I was recently reminded of The Holy Consumption. I thought I'd have to access it through the Wayback Machine. But, nope, the site is still there. And it's still worth checking out. I'm still fans of all of those guys. I'm trying really hard to not spend any money on anything right now, but I'm tempted to catch up with Nilsen's Tongues, both the five issues that have already been printed, and the subscription for the next five.

Scorsese wrote:
I mean, On the Waterfront [1954] was different, because that became, in terms of behaviour, the way I understood people around me. My world. But noir, the tone of it, and the locations, not simply The Naked City [Jules Dassin, 1948]. You go to Night and the City [Dassin, 1950], for example, it takes place in London, but that is the story: a man running in the middle of the night, in a double-breasted suit, owing money, to somebody. A loser. No happy ending in that one. This guy is doomed. And I saw it, I saw it happen. It’s all gone now, they’re all dead now, but it just was…When people say, ‘Oh, melodrama’ – well, yeah, but it was happening. It was the reality around us.
Chesterton wrote:
Some innocent educationalists and philanthropists (for even philanthropists can be innocent) have expressed a grave astonishment that the masses prefer shilling shockers to scientific treatises and melodramas to problem plays. The reason is very simple. The realistic story is certainly more artistic than the melodramatic story. If what you desire is deft handling, delicate proportions, a unit of artistic atmosphere, the realistic story has a full advantage over the melodrama. In everything that is light and bright and ornamental the realistic story has a full advantage over the melodrama. But, at least, the melodrama has one indisputable advantage over the realistic story. The melodrama is much more like life. It is much more like man, and especially the poor man.
I chose not to write anything last month about moving images. I'm overcompensating here this month by writing a little something about everything I watched. For whatever reason, it was this art form that got me the most excited in May.

The Pirate was the best new-to-me movie that I watched all month, maybe all year. Directed by Vincente Minnelli. Starring Judy Garland and Gene Kelly. The writing is great. The direction is great. The acting is great. Judy Garland is better in this than anything else I've ever seen her in (and yes, she's consistently great). Read Josh Larsen's excellent review if you're at all interested.

I also recommend the new Potrykus short film that premiered on the Criterion Channel: Thing from the Factory by the Field. If you've got a Criterion subscription, go ahead and watch it without even reading the description if you can. I won't write anything about it except to say that it was a pleasant surprise and it's currently my favorite film of 2022. Potrykus is one of the few American film directors (the list is probably less than 20) that I'll watch every new film eagerly without any hesitation.

The next best thing I watched, also on Criterion (if you don't have a Criterion subscription, why not?) was Railway Station.

I didn't recall ever even hearing of Stick It, so when someone told me that it was the film they've re-watched the most in their life, I felt compelled to check it out. And it's a lot of fun. I don't know if I would have appreciated it in '06. I appreciate it now. It was written to be quoted. There are so many perfectly stupid lines, knowingly delivered. The message at the end of the film, basically that joy in play together (there is an argument for worker solidarity embedded here) is superior than biting and devouring one another, was a surprise and a delight as it played out. Surprisingly, I recommend this one.

I finished Outer Range, which disappointed me in all the ways I thought it would. It gestures at big mysteries, but fails in both directions. The attempts at answers are unsatisfying. This being so, the show fails to ever go full bonkers into the unknown.

Better Call Saul season 6 initially started slow (and maybe the distance between this season and last season had muted my interest), but it ramped up fast, with the midseason finale ending on a brutal and shocking scene that encapsulates everything I love about "the Breaking Bad universe," in which all actions have consequences, intended or unintended.

I've had superhero burnout and it seems that that's all that has been playing at the local cinema. I haven't even wanted to see Eggers' viking movie. But the Saver had Father Stu, which seemed like it might be a pleasant enough drama. It didn't quite work for me because Wahlberg always plays Stu as charming, when he is a washed-up boxer and when he becomes obese and disabled, all the time, charming. This was the fault of script and direction as much as Wahlberg being unable to dial back the charm. I think the film fails because Stu is never pathetic and disgusting, like all of us are so often, and I'm sure the real Stu was.

Another "religious" movie that didn't work for me was Resurrection from 1980, a film that has largely been forgotten, still remembered mostly for Ellen Burstyn's performance, which is fine. It's just barely competently made. It has weird tonal shifts and a central idea that is undercooked and underexplored. Because of a lack of serious following through on ideas (Sturgeon's "ask the next question"), its basic idea becomes implausible and absurd, making the whole thing implausible and absurd. I'm willing to "suspend disbelief" for all kinds of ridiculous reasons, but only if there is some sort of internal coherence in what is being presented.

I re-watched When Harry Met Sally and feel the way I've always felt about it. There are some good to great individual moments, but I don't have the patience for the basic romantic comedy structure in which two characters are presented as obviously meant for each other, then are presented for two hours as repeatedly making decisions, that sometimes seem artificially bad decisions, that delay their coming together until the end when the obvious is accepted and made manifest. I can only guess that many people love this structure, as it is an enduringly popular one, but it usually frustrates me more than it delights me.

And I watched some cartoons and pre-1900 Muybridge stuff that I hadn't seen in a long time.

I wrote above that I had superhero burnout. That's true. I also found myself at the end of the month sucked into a matinee of Dr. Strange in the Multiverse of Madness, drawn in by Sam Raimi's involvement. After every superhero movie, I shake my head promising that it will be my last. It was no different here.
Scorsese wrote:
Many of the elements that define cinema as I know it are there in Marvel pictures. What’s not there is revelation, mystery or genuine emotional danger. Nothing is at risk. The pictures are made to satisfy a specific set of demands, and they are designed as variations on a finite number of themes.
Overall, I hated DSitMoM. What's not there is revelation, mystery or genuine emotional danger. But. There are a few moments in which Raimi did seem to exert control over the franchise committee, in which visually interesting scenes were allowed to play out, which is maybe the best I can hope for in a Marvel movie. Two notable sections were the music duel, with its lovely (and deeply silly) evocation of Fantasia, and the dead-soul-powered-zombie-Strange, with its mix of practical and digital effects that hearkened back to Drag Me to Hell Raimi, if not further back to Evil Dead glee in gore.

This is all you need.


You still want more?
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Tue May 31, 2022 8:40 pm
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April '22 - "in order that the things that cannot be shaken may remain"

 10   Babylonia x4 (34 all-time)
 10   Dickory (21 all-time)
 10   Magic: The Gathering x8 (291 all-time)
 10   Scopa x2 (8 all-time)
 8   Awimbawé (2 all-time)
 8   Bridge City Poker (2 all-time)
 8   Chonkers x2 (16 all-time)

Lots of non-gaming "real-life" stuff going on in the month meant fewer gaming opportunities, but all of the games I did play were games I really enjoy, and it was a refreshing month of no new-to-me games. That's one of the goals, right? Stop exploring so much and just play the good games that are already known and loved.

The highlight of the month was getting back together with Ben for some in-person gaming. If you like Magic, and specifically if you enjoy drafting, I can't recommend enough the joys of live booster drafting.


I quit a couple more new 2021 books.

Loon sent me a copy of Arkham Asylum - A Serious House on Serious Earth, which I promptly read and meant to write something about, then never did. Sorry, Loon.

Otherwise, my reading has been pretty scattershot. Bits and pieces of books, essays and articles, returning to some short stories.

I can't find "Interurban Queen" anywhere online to share. :-(


Last Days of Disco
1883 (all of it)
Outer Range (first 4 eps)
Euphoria (first 4 eps)
Better Call Saul Season 6


Meh. I fail to be impressed.

I don't usually write detailed film (or novel/story) reviews/responses here because of BGG's RSP policy. That applies here, except that I guess I don't even want to write one or two short sentences about any of the above. Morality is a matter of tracking shots. Tracking shots are a matter of morality. Sometimes, often, discussing structure means discussing values. There are interesting conversations to be had. I don't want to have them on BGG.

I have definite strong opinions about all of the above. The bottom line is that I don't recommend any of it.


I'm even disappointed by new Better Call Saul episodes (I've only watched the first 2). I'm sad to write that.

I need to re-watch some old favorite sometime soon. I'm feeling the need for something perfect. Maybe a Roman Holiday re-watch is due.


Lots of great new "country" music. I only put country in quotes because the albums that I enjoyed wouldn't get played on country stations and they'd probably appeal most to individuals who say they "don't like country", which seems to me a crazy thing to say, most often due to an ignorance of the breadth of the tradition.

The new Orville Peck, Bronco, is among the best albums I've heard all year. Also very good are Paul Cauthen's Country Coming Down, Molly Tuttle's Crooked Tree, and The Waymore's Stone Sessions. More indie folk-rock, the new River Whyless album, Monoflora, was also enjoyable.


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Mon May 2, 2022 5:27 pm
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Jan '22 Review - "Somewhere between 40 and death." -BH

Knowing that I won't be playing any games this evening, I wrote this month-in-review post for the monthly Deep Cuts thread, but since that hasn't been posted yet, I figured maybe I'd get back in the habit of monthly review blog posts. Here goes...

 10   Chess x2 (69 all-time)
 10   Dickory x3 (14 all-time)
 10   Go x2 (14 all-time)
 10   Scopa x4 (6 all-time)
 8   Chonkers (12 all-time)
 8   Crescendo NEW!
 8   Poker (2 all-time)
 8   Push It x3 (24 all-time)
 8   Tak x3 (31 all-time)
 8   Tuhao x3 NEW!
 7   Copyright x2 NEW!
 7   Jumping Jacks NEW!
 7   Memoir '44 x2 (6 all-time)
 7   Perudo (15 all-time)
 7   Qwixx (6 all-time)
 7   Würfel Poker x3 (5 all-time)
 7   Xiangqi x2 (4 all-time)
 7   ヒーフー!! (Hii Fuu!!) NEW!
 6   Backgammon NEW!
 6   Pig NEW!
 6   Seven Spades NEW!
 5   Can't Stop (8 all-time)
 5   Patience (6 all-time)
 5   Ricochet x3 NEW!
 5   Same Difference NEW!
 5   TOPPEN x3 NEW!
 5   War NEW!
 N/A   Nein Nimmt! x4 (8 all-time)

Gaming was good this month. I probably still played too many new-to-me games, but at least there was a balance of old favorites played. The best new-to-me games were Texas Hold'Em, Crescendo, and Tuhao (all of which I've written about on my 2022 new-to-me list). Everyone has heard of the first. The latter two are fairly deep cuts, with me being the only person (who didn't design the game) to log plays of either one. Crescendo was very good at 4 and might be even better at 3. Tuhao is a brisk little 2-player climbing game which gives a nice climbing fix in a super-short playtime.

I've already given up on my plans to read ALL OF THE 2021 BOOKS. I don't know what I was thinking. I enjoyed Harlem Shuffle, then I enjoyed Crossroads, and I thought everything was going to be great, then I started Far From the Light of Heaven and gave up on it (I couldn't handle the present tense narration), followed by Razorblade Tears, which I gave up on (such ugly prose, preachy, and cliched), followed by The Lincoln Highway, which I gave up on (I couldn't tolerate the switches between third person and first person narration). Maybe I'll try a few more, but... I don't know. It's starting to seem like a waste of time.

One joy of the past month has been following along (and reading ahead) with RavingLoon's "100 greatest comic storylines of all time" Challenge, which has spurred me on to re-reading a few old favorites and trying to read bad superhero arcs that somehow made it on this popular "best" list.

I wasn't watching much this past month, but there were a few gems. Probably the best film I saw all month was a '43 screwball comedy, The More the Merrier, starring Jean Arthur, Joel McCrea, and (the real star) Charles Coburn. "Damn the torpedoes; full speed ahead!" Highly recommended. An episode of The Muppet Show starring Milton Berle was also a delight, which led to me watching Berle clips on YouTube, including a clip of Bob Hope as a guest on the Berle Show, which then led my 7yo son to say to his mother, "I know how old you are: between 40 and dead!", which I thought was done with great delivery, truly funny, but his mother didn't appreciate the "joke".
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Mon Jan 31, 2022 3:10 pm
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August '21 - "Will ye submit your necks, and chuse to bend / The supple knee? ye will not, if I trust / To know ye right, or if ye know your selves / Natives and Sons of Heav'n possest before / By none, and if not equal all, yet free, / Equally free;" -JM

Board Game: Botticelli and Beyond: Over 100 of the World's Best Word Games
Board Game: Chess
Board Game: Haggis
Board Game: KeyForge: Call of the Archons
Board Game: Nakanuki Paradise
Board Game: Penguin Pile-Up
Board Game: Reign of Witches
Board Game: Rook
Board Game: Schotten Totten
Board Game: What the Heck?
Board Game: Carla Cat
From gallery of BoardGameGeek
Board Game: Dominoes
Board Game: Regicide
Board Game: The Toledo War
Board Game: A Fake Artist Goes to New York
Board Game: Boxes
Board Game: Deep Sea Adventure
Board Game: Earthshine
Board Game: Jenga
Board Game: Office Boy
Board Game: Round the World with Nellie Bly
Board Game: The Game of District Messenger Boy
Board Game: The Game of the North Pole
Board Game: Tic-Tac-Toe

 10   What Sort of a Game am I? NEW!
 10   Chess x6 (64 all-time)
 9   Haggis (5 all-time)
 7   KeyForge: Call of the Archons (19 all-time)
 7   Nakanuki Paradise x3 NEW!
 7   Penguin Pile-Up x3 (5 all-time)
 7   Reign of Witches x3 (4 all-time)
 7   Rook x3 NEW!
 7   Schotten Totten x2 (15 all-time)
 7   What the Heck? x3 NEW!
 6   Carla Cat x2 (5 all-time)
 6   Clear the Dungeon x5 NEW!
 6   Dominoes x2 NEW!
 6   Regicide x2 NEW!
 6   The Toledo War x2 NEW!
 5   A Fake Artist Goes to New York x5 NEW!
 5   Boxes
 5   Deep Sea Adventure (2 all-time)
 5   Earthshine (5 all-time)
 5   Jenga (2 all-time)
 5   Office Boy NEW!
 5   Round the World with Nellie Bly NEW!
 5   The Game of District Messenger Boy NEW!
 5   The Game of the North Pole x2 NEW!
 5   Tic-Tac-Toe x11 (18 all-time)

I'm posting this before August is even over. What is happening? I've been in a reflective mood and it's highly unlikely that I'll play anything else this evening. So let's be done with August already.

Gaming was split up between family gaming, "last days of Jake" gaming, and rare solo gaming.

Family Gaming

I won't spend too much time defending Tic-Tac-Toe or moralistic 19th Century board gaming. They're both pretty bad.

But the 19th c. games, with their dice-driven determinism get pretty silly (and therefore fun for my purposes). It is strange to think that the entire 19th century "board game industrial complex" was attempting to program children to think that their decisions did not matter, to accept their lot in life, and maybe one of them will see some blind luck to get them to the top of the office.

And Tic-Tac-Toe? It's a kids' game. As a paper-and-pencil kids' game, teaching really basic decisions, positioning, blocking, it is absolutely fine at what it is.

Rook was probably the new-to-me game of the month. I spent a pleasant afternoon with three of the girls playing the 2v2 team game. We played three times in a row, switching partners each time.

The boys (9yo and 7yo) have been playing a lot of Chess lately. In order to encourage them to keep playing and keep getting better, I've told them both that I'll pay them $100 whenever they beat me for the first time. I felt pretty confident that this would be years away. There was one night this month that came close. It was late in the evening, I had had a few beers, and I was in my bedroom getting changed for bed when my older son came in and asked if I wanted to play Chess with him. I made the mistake of saying "sure". He played White. I played Black. I forget how he opened, but he basically goaded me into bringing my Queen out early, which is rarely a good idea unless you know all the tricks, and which I shouldn't have done. I put pressure on his castled king and thought I'd get an early checkmate. At some point, I seriously blundered, losing a rook, then immediately losing another piece, all for no good reason (well, see my excuse above). I just wasn't paying attention to the game like $100 was on the line while my son was making no mistakes at all, playing a great game of which I was proud of. I started sweating, thinking that I was going to lose this game, happy to be beat by my son, but not thinking it would come this soon. Long story short, he was in a winning situation when he forget about that pressure I had on his king and moved the one piece he shouldn't have moved. I checkmated his king, breathed a long sigh of relief, then said "goodnight".

What the Heck? (or, as my 17yo calls it, WHAT THE HECK ABOUT YOU!?!) and Nakanuki Paradise (played to the rhythm of Hey Nakanuki) instantly became favorites. Everyone else enjoyed A Fake Artist Goes to New York more than I did (I had fun, but meh, I'm a party pooper). Trying to give Citadels another chance only confirmed for me that I don't quite like it (I will try a few more times now that I've purchased it), with my chief complaint just being that it seems to play longer than it should.

I had great fun playing What Sort of a Game am I? while hiking in the woods with my family. It's the sort of thing that BGG has no place for and it's almost ridiculous (it is ridiculous) to log a session of it, which is why I went ahead and did so.

Last Days of Jake Gaming

As regular readers know, I had begun in-person local gaming with Ben at Ben's lovely new house near my office. We had great sessions of Tak and 2p Babylonia. I remembered that Ben had met and liked Jake at a Saturday game day, so (almost-)weekly 2p gaming became (almost-)weekly 3p gaming, knowing that Jake would inevitably leave us at some point. That time has finally come.

Ben's schedule changed during the month so Jake and I had one 1v1 session and the only night the three of us got together involved two push-your-luck games and more pleasant chatting than pleasant gaming.

My ratings are always volatile. It's probably generally true that my ratings best reflect whoever I last played a game with. These sessions with Jake had my ratings dropping and raising like a Reiner Knizia game about money.

Haggis 9 -> 9
Stable. If anything, I think that I continue to like Haggis more and more. It's almost a 10 for me (and probably is even if I won't admit it yet). Jake liked the game but was turned off by the wagering, which I may have been house ruling anyway? I was playing that bets paid double if won or paid out the bet value to opponent if lost. The standard Haggis rules are that bets pay out their value either way. I think that the doubling comes from Sean's newer 3/4/5/6 player Haggis rules. I like the dramatic swinginess that comes from the doubling so I always play with it now. I think Jake likes the game but has decided to go in the other direction when he plays in the future, not having any bets at all!

Keyforge 8 -> 7
Keyforge may have even briefly been a 9 at some point. I still think it's a fun game, but it can feel like you're just riding out what your deck is doing to you instead of making more meaningful choices. Not that there aren't more meaningful choices. I still think that you can make better or worse choices depending on which deck you're using and how the cards are distributed and drawn each game, but it is a light game. And for a light game, it can sometimes go on a bit longer than it should. It's also annoying to look up and remember all of the keywords after not having played for a year.

Reign of Witches 7 -> 7
The Toledo War New = 6

RoW is still marvelous in how much game it packs into so few cards.

Schotten Totten 9 -> 7
We played Schotten Totten twice. After the first play, Jake was grumbling (in a cheerful way) about the game mostly being luck. Having felt that I had genuinely outplayed him that match, I insisted on a 2nd play to demonstrate that skill is more important than luck in the game. That second game, I was able to draw into straight flushes repeatedly, drawing exactly the perfect card each turn. This incredible run of luck was both amusing and utterly destroyed my confidence that skill mattered more than luck in this game. So it goes.

Deep Sea Adventure 4 -> 5
Earthshine 7 -> 5
My rating of DSA was entirely unfair. I know now after another play that the game is not a 4. It's definitely a 5.
After we played DSA, I busted out Earthshine to prove that it was the superior push-your-luck game. It was fine. The entire gaming session really just cemented for me the understanding that push-your-luck in most of its formats is something that I'll tolerate and sometimes enjoy (we laughed plenty), but it's just not for me.

Bonus: Solo Gaming!
proving that it is lawful, and hath been held so through the ages, for any, who has the Power, to call to account a Tyrant, or wicked King, and after due conviction, to depose, and put him to death;

I was tempted to write up a full review of Regicide. The problem is that I can't work myself up to giving it more than a shrug. I'm kinda baffled as to why this game right now is getting all the attention that it is getting (except that it's fun to be part of the conversation, which is inevitably why I've now played it and am writing anything at all about it).

If you want good reviews with fine rules overviews, check out Demetri's take or Sam's take on the game. See also Toucana's review.

I've only played twice. Both solo games. The first time I made it to the first king. The second game I made it to the last queen. The game is hard. I think stupidly hard, in that a player can make the best decisions and still lose because of the way that the cards flip. This is fine, acceptable, for a solitaire game to pass the time, but that's all this game is, a solitaire game to pass the time. As such, I don't think it rivals the best solitaire games. Honestly, I'd rather play Klondike.

I don't even think that Regicide is the best solitaire game with a theme of killing bad court cards. I'd rather play Clear the Dungeon, which I did, several times this month. Clear the Dungeon is the better solitaire game (to my tastes) because it actually feels like a classic solitaire game. And to be totally fair to Regicide, this is probably because it was designed as a co-op game and not as a solitaire game. Maybe it's better in that multiplayer co-op mode. I'll never know. From what I've read, it's probably actually a 2p game, with the designers admitting that good play will result in something like a 50% win ratio with 2 players and much less than that in a 4p game. I haven't seen any stats on the solo game. I can only say anecdotally that reading through the forums and comments seems to show a 0% win ratio.

Enough about Regicide. Here's more about Clear the Dungeon.
A-10=1-10, J=11, Q=12, K=13, Jokers=wild
Separate out the court cards. Shuffle them and deal them out into four piles of three cards each, top card face-up.
Draw three number cards at a time. Play number cards to the court cards. The first two cards on a stack must total higher than the court card value. The third card can be any value, but must match the suit of the court card being attacked. Once these criteria are satisfied, clear that court card and flip up the next one. If you ever have a card in hand that you can't use or don't want to use, discard it. After you've played/discarded all three cards, draw three more cards.

Clear the Dungeon is simpler and has that "classic solitaire" feel. It's also pretty tough. Out of 5 plays, I won once. That's a 20% success ratio.

Eh, whatever. The two are doing different things in a similar space. I'm being that grumpy guy shouting, "Why is everyone playing THAT game when I think that they should be playing THIS game." This shouting, this grumpiness, is probably not going to win anyone over. And the observant reader has already noticed that I rate both games a '6', indicating that I think they're both good games that I'd be happy to play when I'm in the mood, if and when the mood ever strikes.

I know that there's no real competition between these games. There isn't and there doesn't need to be. I just happened to stumble onto both of them in the same month so can't help but compare them.

It's striking to me that one is blowing up and hitting the big time while the other game with a nearly identical theme has been ignored. It's hard not to notice that there's some serious Influencers Influencing going on here. There is a weird wind of hypegeist happening. (Note: I am NOT saying that opinions/reactions have been dishonest or disingenuous).

There's also the Industrial Effect. Regicide has a commercial version, which is driving interest, which is driving sales, as evidenced by the "where can I buy a copy?" threads popping up now, despite that the game plays just the same with that deck of cards you already have in your closet. I played with a cheap bridge deck and had fun. But Regicide has official artwork and an official production. It's a Real Game.




Other Stuff

-I've been reading Orwell's 1984 for the first time. Yes, the first time.
-I finally read Jacques Ellul's Prayer and Modern Man. Highly recommended, but really only if that title calls out to you. If not, it's not for you. I'm planning on digging into some of Ellul's tech (technique) criticism in the next few months.
-David Parlett's Botticelli and Beyond is excellent. The first "game" in the book is "Knock Knock Jokes". Maybe our view of games here on BGG is weak and anemic? Maybe we need more robust playfulness? The answer is a resounding yes and yes. Of course then I start thinking that I need to get off of BGG. Do I need to be on BGG reading threads arguing about what exactly a "classic euro" is when I could just tell jokes with my loved ones? Sigh. I'm still here, not going anywhere, but it's always something I think about.
-All this Regicide talk has had me pulling Milton off the shelf; I had the great pleasure of taking a Milton course (and an English Lit I course) with Milton scholar James H. Sims way back in '97. It remains one of the most satisfying courses I've ever taken. I've been a Milton fan (nothing close to a scholar) ever since.

-I discovered and have been enjoying the Folk on Foot podcast.
-Donda finally dropped so that's probably all I'll listen to for the next month.

-It was fun to watch Destry Rides Again with the kids.
-His Kind of Woman is an example of the type of smart script that is the template for ever meandering crime movie that is more about atmosphere and character than plot. I could watch Mitchum and Wyman (and Price!) all day.
-re-watching Johnny Guitar was a joy, and chatting about it with Ben and Jake was fun.
-I finally watched Herzog eat his shoe.
-I'm glad that Steve Gutenberg isn't in any movies any longer.
-I really, really enjoyed Machine Gun McCain. It's hard to go wrong with Cassavetes, Falk, Rowlands, but Falk and Cassavetes are never in the same frame, which would be a misstep except that they're supposed to be ex-friends in this one and maybe that wouldn't be believable; and the few minutes of Cassavetes-Rowlands interaction is pure gold. And even if it didn't have three of my favorite American actors of last century, I think I'm predisposed to enjoy any film that begins or ends with a song that explicitly names and narrates the life of the film's protagonist.

How's that for a wall of text? No images besides those squares at the top. I think I'm trying to be aggressively unwelcoming right now. Who bothers to read long rambles/rants?

Here's an image:
External image

Werner Herzog wrote:
Give us adequate images. We, we lack adequate images, our civilization doesn't have adequate images. And I think our civilization is doomed, is gonna die out like dinosaurs if it does not develop an adequate language or adequate images.
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Tue Aug 31, 2021 12:52 pm
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July '21 - "And probed till he has felt the core, where, packed / In pulpy folds, resides the ironic ill." -TEB

Board Game: Maskmen
Board Game: Memoir '44
Board Game: Northern Pacific
Board Game: Penguin Pile-Up
From gallery of BoardGameGeek
Board Game: Fireball Island: The Curse of Vul-Kar
Board Game: Hula Hippos
Board Game: Money!
Board Game: Mr. Face
From gallery of BoardGameGeek
From gallery of BoardGameGeek
From gallery of BoardGameGeek
Board Game: Spot it!
Board Game: Bouncers

 8   CUPID: Tricks & Tactics x2 NEW!
 7   Maskmen (3 all-time)
 7   Memoir '44 (4 all-time)
 7   Northern Pacific (10 all-time)
 7   Penguin Pile-Up (2 all-time)
 7   Stephenson's Rocket (2 all-time)
 6   Bonanza NEW!
 6   Fireball Island: The Curse of Vul-Kar NEW!
 6   Hula Hippos (17 all-time)
 6   Money! (2 all-time)
 6   Mr. Face NEW!
 6   Nugget x2 NEW!
 6   Portland x2 NEW!
 6   Sacramento x2 NEW!
 5   Spot it! (2 all-time)
 4   Bouncers NEW!

I've continued to regularly update my 2021 new-to-me geeklist so it seems silly to repeat all of that here. If you're interested, go check out that list. I praise CUPID, rant about BGG database issues, and reluctantly admit that I dislike a Parlett game.

The best "old-to-me" gaming was probably the session of Memoir '44 with my son. Right now, his only strategy is to throw everything he can at me regardless of terrain or odds, hoping that the dice will bless his recklessness. It hasn't worked out for him so far.


Other Stuff

I'm done with Wheel of Time. Whew. There are genuinely good moments in the series, but the entire final book and the concluding moments were less than satisfying.

I listened/re-listned to a lot of stuff from the 20s/30s/40s. It's more than a little bit sad to me that so much good music is hidden away or forgotten, often on purpose, because there is no longer any money in it (if there ever was). Re-listened to some 2018 stuff for the guild. The usual rotation of Fahey, Molina, post-punk, and ambient/drone.

No stand-up this month. Huh. I did revisit early 00s Fensler videos. Porkchop sandwiches.

I watched an episode of The Twilight Zone with the kids. "Mr. Denton on Doomsday" is probably my favorite thing that Dan Duryea ever did, and he had a lot of good roles, for both film and television.

It is maybe true that I spent too much money at this year's B&N Criterion 50% off sale. I haven't binge-spent like this on discs in quite a while. Still, I'm pleased with what I purchased.

The best new-to-me film of the month was The Bride Came C.O.D., a screwball comedy from '41 starring James Cagney and Bette Davis. There's nothing new here (it's basically a not-quite-as-good remake of It Happened One Night), but the chemistry is strong and most of the jokes/gags land.

I was frustrated by The Green Knight, which is sometimes lovely and sometimes fascinating, but always wrong in its choices. It is an adaptation of Gawain, but it is not a faithful one. It's a subtle deconstruction of the story, which is fine, but also not at all fine, sitting poorly with me.

Here's what I quickly wrote after getting home:
(warning: minor spoilers for a new film and a nearly 700-year-old story)

Spoiler (click to reveal)
The Last Temptation of Gawain? Lowery channeling Kazantzakis/Schrader/Scorsese more than the Pearl poet?

This was the first new film I've seen in a theater since March 2020. I was expecting to love it. I hated it.

I've read Sir Gawain and the Green Knight at least a half dozen times throughout my life. This isn't it.

Of note:
In the source material, Gawain is good but ultimately fails and is shown mercy.
In this adaptation, Gawain is bad (at least a bit of a scoundrel) but ultimately succeeds (after his dream temptation) and needs no mercy.

It's possible that I would have been kinder to this if I hadn't been as familiar with the source material. The message of the film, in the end, is to accept painful truth and honor over survival. I'm down with that.


Gaming Stuff Outside of the Scope of BGG
I used to do this bit where I recommended game-related stuff that I had found. I should go through my old posts and see what I called it.

-I've been subscribed to Mark Ball's Riffle Shuffle & Roll channel for over a year and have enjoyed it, but not watched every episode. For learning game rules, I have preferred Gather Together Games' no-nonsense no-fluff videos. Anyhow, I've become a big fan of Mark after learning and enjoying CUPID, so I've gone back and watched more of his videos. This one in particular is so much fun to watch. His wife has such an infectious smile as she is somehow both incredibly supportive and just barely shy of full-on mocking any seriousness devoted to a channel about playing games. Abigail often suffers through me watching game rules videos. This one made her laugh out loud several times. I think she enjoyed it more than I did, which has never happened before.

-I subscribe to Five Games for Doomsday, but I rarely listen to it unless something about the guest intrigues me or the games tagged resonate with me. In the most recent episode, both grabbed my attention. Bruno Cathala is maybe my most respected living game designer that I never quite click with. This interview is fantastic, and not only because he praises Knizia and recommends that all designers pay more attention to abstract games.
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Sun Aug 1, 2021 12:48 pm
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May '21 - "By blood we live, the hot, the cold / To ravage and redeem the world:" GH

Board Game: Babylonia
Board Game: Tak
Board Game: Kluster
Board Game: Mini Kubb
Board Game: Cavum
Board Game: Lucky Little Luxembourg
Board Game: Memoir '44
Board Game: Railroad Ink: Blazing Red Edition
Board Game: Würfel Poker
Board Game: Yellow & Yangtze

 10   Babylonia x3 (24 all-time)
 8   Tak x6 (28 all-time)
 7   Kluster x2 NEW!
 7   Mini Kubb NEW!
 6   Cavum NEW!
 6   Lucky Little Luxembourg NEW!
 6   Memoir '44 (3 all-time)
 6   Railroad Ink: Blazing Red Edition NEW!
 6   Würfel Poker x2 NEW!
 6   Yellow & Yangtze NEW!

I'm still in something of a gaming slump.

But I'm now at 24 Babylonia plays, which is almost 1/4 of the way to 100. It'll take a long while because I'm not focusing on it, but 100+ plays honestly feels like an effortless thing to achieve..

My plays of Tak with my friend Ben were the highlight of my month (my rating should go up), reminding me again that I enjoy simplicity. The other highlights were playing Memoir '44 with my son and Railroad Ink with Abigail, even though I could take or leave either one of those games.

I didn't actually play Mini Kubb. I decided to start tracking lawn game plays this year because I'm disappointed that there is no LawnGameGeek. Kubb is always great fun.

Kluster was my best impulse buy in a long while. I only played it twice, but then it saw a ton of play in the house by the kids, especially when one of their uncles was in town.

I think that part of my 'slump' is feeling again the weight of the Unplayed and Unread, and the Already-Played&Read-Unwanted. I made a lot of progress in May, giving away something like 80 books and moving dozens more games to the Departing Bench (the place things go before they leave the house), but that progress is hard to process and feel great about when there are still stacks and boxes of books (and games) in the basement. I wish I had the strength to just drop them all off at the thrift store. The hardest part of getting rid of games (books, anything) is the desire to know that they've gone to a good home. But getting good games to good homes requires time and effort. Giving away games requires time and effort. Selling games requires time and effort. The trap that I've built for myself is that I'm too often 'managing' the stuff I own instead of 'enjoying' the stuff I own. I'm feeling alright, though, because I've been taking serious, tangible steps every month now. Less shuffling around of stuff, more serious purging.

My June gaming goals are: getting in some gaming with Jake before he leaves the area, playing more Tak, and re-establishing weekly gaming with the family, which somehow just stopped earlier this year amidst busyness and then never resumed. I'll also add the easily accomplished goal of buying no new games during the month. Nope. Not even one. Not gonna do it.


Other Stuff
Outside of gaming, I've been pretty satisfied.

I finished Wheel of Time book 11, Knife of Dreams, which was Robert Jordan's last book before he died. 10 was the lowest point of the series, so it was satisfying to see Jordan pull off a tidy finish to many of the sprawling threads that he had let loose, setting everything up for The End (which of course is still three fat books away). I'm glad that my final taste of Jordan was a positive one, because when Book 12 starts, it's immediately clear how much of a better writer Sanderson is than Jordan. But instead of despising Jordan, I loved him more because it was obvious that Sanderson loved him, taking the best parts of Jordan's writing (worldbuilding, the repeated minutiae of character tics and interpersonal relationships, sometimes flat, sometimes real) and celebrating Jordan's style, taking it up and breathing new life into it. I'm about 1/4 through Book 12. I hope that this freshness continues unabated through the rest of the series.

Even though I've been reading bloated fantasy novels, I still care about great literature. LaffCon5 is happening online this year if any of you want to join in on an event celebrating my favorite author of the 20th Century:

I was listening to a large variety of music, but got to 2010 in the music guild at the same time that I discovered an old CD copy of Glen Galaxy's 2011 album Thankyou in my car trunk, which I've been listening to on repeat in the car ever since. Also re-listening to a lot of Fahey (mostly The Voice of the Turtle), new Oldham stuff, old Molina stuff, and the entirety of 50 Cent's Get Rich or Die Tryin' for the first time ever. And I just last week discovered Martha Redbone's 2012 William Blake album, Garden of Love, which is great. And I've been falling asleep to ambient music from a Spotify playlist titled Floating Through Space, which I've found wreaks havoc on the AI's 'Release Radar' and 'Discover Weekly' recommendation formulas. The SpotBot thinks I'm a genuine spacebient connoisseur.

I didn't watch any new comedy specials, but I re-listened to Paul F. Tompkins' Freak Wharf, Neil Hamburger's Hot February Night, and Richard Pryor's 'Craps' (After Hours).

I watched a new episode of The Simpsons for the first time in a couple of years. It was the recent Morrissey episode, which started pleasant and playful and ended a bit too snarky and cruel for my tastes (yes, I'm aware that many think that contemporary Morrissey is too snarky and cruel himself. I get it, but I don't think that meanness begetting meanness does anyone any good).

I watched about half a dozen feature films during the month. Godard's Sauve qui peut (la vie) and Wender's Paris, Texas were the best new-to-me, both exploring the terror of communicating with loved ones or, really, anyone at all.

I've been disgusted by the state (non-state) of current 'cinema' (where streaming services give you the option to watch at 2x speed because they know their product is garbage, not worth your time). It was absolutely refreshing to watch personal, meaningful films by master filmmakers, who understand the language of motion pictures and manifest their ideas so skillfully in that language.

External image

External image


'On Another's Sorrow'
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Tue Jun 1, 2021 11:32 pm
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April '20 - "and the youths marvelled to behold the mighty fleece, which gleamed like the lightning of Zeus."

Board Game: Air, Land, & Sea
Board Game: Hierarchy
Board Game: Yōkaï no Mori
From gallery of BoardGameGeek
Board Game: Chartae
Board Game: Condottiere
Board Game: Elements
Board Game: Greedy Kingdoms
Board Game: Heul doch! Mau Mau
Board Game: Push It
Board Game: Schotten Totten
Board Game: Scopa
Board Game: Chain Mail: Adventures of Earthshine
Board Game: The Mind
Board Game: UNO
Board Game: Unpublished Prototype
Board Game: Onitama
Board Game: Lockpicks
Board Game: Rummy

 8   Air, Land & Sea (3 all-time)
 8   Hierarchy x10 NEW!
 8   Yōkaï no Mori x2 (21 all-time)
 7   Adder x3 NEW!
 7   Chartae x3 (13 all-time)
 7   Condottiere x2 (3 all-time)
 7   Elements x4 (6 all-time)
 7   Greedy Kingdoms x2 NEW!
 7   Heul doch! Mau Mau x5 NEW!
 7   Push It x3 (20 all-time)
 7   Schotten Totten x4 (6 all-time)
 7   Scopa x2 NEW!
 6   Chain Mail NEW!
 6   The Mind (13 all-time)
 6   UNO x3 (9 all-time)
 6   Unpublished Prototype x11 (18 all-time)
(This is for 3 different Button Shy games that don't have BGG entries yet: Cityline x2, EarthShine x4, Royale x5)
 5   Onitama (8 all-time)
 4   Lockpicks NEW!
 4   Rummy x2 NEW!

61 plays. Almost entirely lighter family stuff.


Hierarchy is my new-to-me Game of the Month. I played it ten times in one day. That was only yesterday. I expect it to get more plays immediately, then it will probably become a game that gets sporadic plays, but when it does, it will always be 'best of 5' or 'best of 7' matches. The heart of the game is 14 double-sided cards, 7 dealt to each player. You take turns playing a card to the center in ascending numerical order, subject to changes in rules modified by text on the cards played. Each hand dealt feels like a fresh new puzzle. And what's significant is that when dealt what feels like a bad hand, the game is still fun because then it becomes a struggle to make that hand work. Whether it does or not, the game is over in a flash, so instead of getting worked up about a bum hand, it's fun to just deal out another immediately. I didn't time how long our games were lasting, but I'd guess that each play was less than 10 minutes, most less than 5 minutes. The game is definitely an odd duck, a perfect information "abstract" "micro" card game. It's not for everyone, for sure, but it's definitely for me.

I wrote about Adder: Realtime Chase System in my recent Button Shy post. I was planning on writing up a new post about the January and February packages that have since arrived (including Hierarchy praised above). Maybe I still will. I haven't played Adder since that initial day of play, but I have great, fond memories of it and would be happy to pull it out again right now. One common refrain in my praise for Button Shy is that they make games that make me smile, make me laugh, make memories.

Greedy Kingdoms and Heul doch! Mau Mau were both acquired in trades, influenced by comments that hanibalicious and others have made 'round the 'geek. I don't know that I really care about Greedy Kingdoms, though I did have fun teaching it to two of my kids. It's pretty much a basic "resource conversion engine building" game with a neat bluffing attack mechanism that brings it into a sort of 2-player duel feel without quite as much direct nastiness (though there is still some of that). I liked it, but didn't love it. Heul doch, on the other hand, was an instant hit, and will probably remain in the family collection until it's worn to bits (and it's already getting pretty ragged after less than a month). It is casual, but fun, inevitably leading to silly outrage, which inevitably leads to charitable offers of a napkin to cry into.

Scopa is the last new-to-me card game on the list (I've played Rummy before; it's just my first time logging a play on BGG). It was relaxing and fun to play, and I'd happily play it again on any lazy afternoon. Any game that has survived as long as it has is worthy of anyone's attention. It's a simple "fishing" game in which each player is making simple decisions each turn, but it all adds up to something satisfying, with luck being present, plenty of it, but not necessarily decisive. I'm pretty sure that there are levels of play here beyond my rudimentary beginner play. Anyhow, I enjoyed it.

I already wrote about Chainmail. Fun enough solo game, which I'll be happy to play again on those rare days when my family leaves me all alone at home. I also already wrote about Lockpicks. It passed the time when I played it, but it didn't leave me ever wanting to play it again.

Finally, the three currently logged as "unpublished prototype."

Cityline was a much more enjoyable Roll & Write for me than Lockpicks. There's still a puzzle element to it, but the joy of the game is in building your own skyline with your own little doodle icons in the buildings. It's like any game you've played in which you've lost, but you're still satisfied because you've built up something nice in front of you. I played it twice and almost played it again this morning (but played a different new BS solitaire game instead).

EarthShine is a stripped down Push Your Luck Joy Machine. It's probably best with 2 or 3, but it was also good with 4. I wouldn't play it with any more than that. The game involves rolling the D20 polyhedral 'dice chain' (to steal a descriptor from DCC). Start with the d20 attempting for a roll of 12 or less, then d12 rolling for the d10, d8 for d6, d6 for d4, d4 for d2 (coin), d2 flip for beautiful shiny Moon. At any time you can stop rolling for new dice and instead use the dice you have to attempt to meet a set number to win gems. Gain 4 gems and you win. Or. Gain the Moon and you win. It was a delight.

We played the rules wrong to Royale. They're not that difficult. I just accidentally added my own rule that made the game worse. We still had a ton of fun. I'm on the fence as far as how much I like this one, but I'll report back once I've played it a few more times with the correct rules. I think that a lot of people would like this one if it got a wider audience. It's essentially a *fun* version of Sheriff of Nottingham (a game that I've always liked the idea of more than the actual play).

I didn't log a play of it, but I also putzed around with my copy of A Bridge Too Far: Arnhem for a couple of hours. I set it up and read through the rules, then played through the first turn solo. It was... fine? I appreciate the system. It's clean and simple, though it has some chrome (mostly the barrage and bridge destruction rules). I definitely enjoyed the low counter density and zero stacking. It's the type of wargame that appeals to me. And yet this time, this one didn't. I didn't feel the need to keep playing it. I didn't think that I'd have any more fun than I'd already had setting it up and learning it (and I did have a good time doing such). I didn't think that I'd learn anything new about this historical situation through any further play. So that was that. I cleaned it up and put it away. If anyone wants a copy, let me know and I'll send it in the mail to you for free. (Claimed!)

That was a lot of rambling text block. Next month, I need to remember to take more photos.


Air, Land, and Sea continues to get more love from me. Yokai no Mori as well. Chartae is becoming a staple as well and might get a bump up to an '8' next time because it deserves it. Condottiere is a game that I once owned and sold. I got a new (old Eurogames) copy in a trade. I like it better this time. :-) Schotten Totten got dusted off and given some love. It fell flat last time I tried to play it, but this time we saw it shine. I'm glad to give it some more plays and expect that its rating may also rise. I think that it is at least as good as Lost Cities, playing in a very similar tension space, but playing out so differently.

Other Stuff
I bought a new simple boombox with a cassette tape deck, which made me happy.
I made my first 90 minute cassette tape mix for the first time in a long time. That was nice. The real benefit of cassette (and vinyl, of course) is that there is no possibility of a "shuffle" mode. Order and sequence become important again. Even if it's the whim of a certain moment on a certain day, there was this specific connection between these two songs in this order and now, through the mix, they become more permanently bonded together, a synthesis of connections between seemingly distinct things.

Is there any interest in a BGG Snail Mail Cassette Mix Club? If even one person responds yes, then I'm creating a new guild. I'd also be interested in swapping out mix cds (obviously easier and more affordable than cassettes right now) or just swapping playlist mixes regularly. Some sort of music club sounds fun right now. We can call it the BGG Snail Mail Cassette Mix Club even if no cassettes ever get made or shared.

I love Jason and the Argonauts. I hadn't seen it in many years. It was a joy to share it with my kids. If you can believe it, Apollonius of Rhodes' original work is even better than the (very loose) film adaptation, but I won't recommend that right now because it's been a while since I've read it. I do recommend this film. Make some popcorn. Grab some good beer (stout for yourself, root for the young'uns). Have a good time.
From gallery of trawlerman

I read a lot.

Highly recommended if you're aching for a savage alternative to LotR that rivals it in sad beauty (which things like AGoT just don't achieve, but this book does):
The Broken Sword by Poul Anderson

Highly recommended if you're looking for great new fiction that puts the speculative back in SF (what if our Artificial Intelligence machines are more interested in their creators' stories than their logic puzzles? where is meaning and self-understanding found?):
Anthropocene Rag by Alex Irvine

Highly recommended if you want to read (or re-read) one of the all-time greats of AmLit, a canonical book that you can cross off your to-read list (in order to put it on your evergreen re-read list) and it only takes a couple of hours to read instead of a couple of weeks:
"Bartleby, the Scrivener: A Story of Wall Street" by Herman Melville
You should pick up the lovely print edition from MHP: (go ahead and buy a dozen copies and just start throwing them at people from six feet away)

One More Thing
Crazy times, huh?
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Fri May 1, 2020 7:52 pm
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