DC's

The blog of author Dennis Cooper

Board Game Day *

* (restored)

 

A board game is a game in which counters or pieces are placed on, removed from, or moved across a “board” (a premarked surface usually specific to that game). As in other forms of entertainment, board games can represent nearly any subject.

 

 

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GO: Jacques Roubaud

Jacques Roubaud is a poet, mathematician, novelist, and member of the Oulipo since 1966. In his book ɛ (1967) he structured a poem-sequence according to the rules of the Japanese board-game GO, which he helped introduce into France. In that book, each poem participates in three separate, intertwining sets of poetic sequences distinctly determined (1) by their representation of moves in an actual game of GO, (2) by their place in an abstract figure, or constellation of poems, and (3) by their place in a ‘paragraph’ of poems organized according to a pseudo-mathematical justification. Two examples:

I belong to the finger that strikes the la to the flow to the coat to the honey plate to the moccasin to bumblebee fur I belong to the blue seer at the window

I belong to everything not to fire yesterday nor to the nail tomorrow to everything simultaneously I have this power that is not what I can nor what I am I belong

how was I saying there are cinders that I am not wheels I have not turned squares where I have not been an angle

how was I saying there are eyes through which I have not seen without me masses have thrown themselves upon the rocks without me truths have come to the end of their chain.

I dream that you smile
that we speak at my door
of books you have read
of the weather as you please
it’s nighttime in Paris
then it rains in our wine
I dream a wet garden
then we walk the streets
like coming home from school
steps ahead of our dog
adieu adieu age of games
the age of winds has gone
and everything could be better
everything could be different
I awake among the cries
a madman in derision
calling Marie Marie
and me I am in this black
and I know you are dead
and no one awaits you

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5 Eurogames

I enjoy explaining game rules, and I always introduce the game by first describing the game concept. Every rule has a role in supporting the game concept. If players can wrap the whole idea of the game around their heads, then all the individual rules ought make sense. Players can sit down and get to work at trying to win. If they can’t get the game concept, then most likely you’ll see the “deer in the headlights” look. “Okay, you explained the game to me but… what am I supposed to do?”

A game, at its best, is more than a bunch of mechanisms. It is a coherent system of mechanisms with a theme of its own. Let’s call this theme that summarizes the system of mechanisms the game concept. There is nothing to prevent a game built from a bunch of connected mechanisms from being lots of fun, but I think that having a strong game concept takes the game up a level. It helps to focus the players’ goals. It adds meaning to the game apart from the theme. It defines the game.

Stefan Feld’s Notre Dame: Players play as well-off Parisians in the 15th century who wish to improve the importance and appearance of the city quarter around the famous Notre Dame cathedral. The primary game concept is original but simple card play players use to permanently improve their influence in the quarter. However, turn after turn, round after round, players must make choices that can have major implications. If one does one thing, then the other can’t be done. Concentrating on one aspect means automatically ignoring another, which, above all others, is particularly dangerous in the case of the gradually approaching plague….

Players choose among a series of actions which help them to score points, gain resources, or avoid catastrophes. The more you are able to take the same action during the game, the more valuable it becomes. The trick is that in each turn, a player is presented with three possible actions, and he must decide which one to play, and which ones to make available to the players to his left.

Cyril Demaegd’s Amyitis: On any given turn, a player will take one of five different actions. The Merchant and Peasant each give you distinct types of resources. The Engineer gives you immediate points and a shot at a majority battle, for more points, on the main part of the board. The Priest lets you take part in a different majority battle in a small part of the board, which help you win more points or resources depending on where you choose to play. Finally you may move the caravan – in which you spend the resources you earned elsewhere to earn: points from cards, income, faster caravan movement, or the ability to earn points on the main board, which in turn is limited by choices made by players who chose the Engineer earlier in the game.

So the game Amyitis is about… I’m not sure. Cyril Demaegd described it as having a “star structure” rather than a “line structure”. I think I understand his point. Some games, ones with a linear structure, have their elements lined up like dominoes. The first one effects the next one, and so on down, until the last mechanism which affects the victory conditions. There are some very clever mechanisms in the game, and notwithstanding the nightmare “star structure”, the interrelationships play well. However, playing Amyitis is a little like playing with sand. It can be lots of fun, but there is nothing to hold on to.

Reiner Knizia’s Stephensons Rocket: Knizia expands his fleet of tile laying games with this game about colliding railroads in early 1800’s England. There are seven different rail companies that players can expand. Each time you extend a rail, the other stockholders can veto your action, but it might cost them their shares. When two companies’ rail touch, the railways merge to become one. The game is over when only one company remains or there are no rail tiles remaining, and the winner is the player who earned the most money over the course of the game.

A game can seem more complicated than it is when its game concept is weak. In a public appearance, Reiner Knizia once said that scoring and victory conditions are good things to manipulate to get the players to do what you want. In the case of Stephensons Rocket, he took his own advice too well. He made the game work by tinkering with the scoring mechanisms at the cost of maintaining a strong game concept. The final product is a good game, but at times it seems to be a runaway train that is in constant danger of running off its rails.

Andreas Seyfarth’s Puerto Rico: The players are plantation owners in Puerto Rico in the days when ships had sails. Growing up to five different kind of crops: Corn, Indigo, Coffee, Sugar and Tobacco, they must try to run their business more efficiently than their close competitors; growing crops and storing them efficiently, developing San Juan with useful buildings, deploying their colonists to best effect, selling crops at the right time, and most importantly, shipping their goods back to Europe for maximum benefit.

“Puerto Rico” by Andreas Seyfarth may be the great enigma when it comes to the notion of game concept. There are many facets to the mechanics. Each one is essential and none seems to dominate. Is the game about the role selection? The selection of roles is a central and original concept. Puerto Rico is relatively complex for a Eurogame, and it cannot be summarized by a simple game concept. Games such as Puerto Rico cannot readily be understood in terms of their component mechanisms nor summarized by a central mechanism that drives all others. The cogs of each mechanism are too tightly meshed. The game concept is the total effect. The challenge is to create a structure that is complex enough to satisfy the designer’s ambitions, but simple enough to be comprehensible. Anyone who has taught Puerto Rico to a newbie knows that even the simple structure pictured above starts to push the limits of comprehensibility for most people.

Karl-Heinz Schmiel’s Die Macher: “Die Macher” holds together remarkably well despite being one of the most baroque of all German games. It takes about 45 minutes to teach the rules for Die Macher, and each turn has 13 phases. I don’t think too many players would tolerate that sort of complexity if its mechanisms didn’t tie so well to its election theme. When a theme is strong, the theme merges with the game concept. “Players represent political parties, each trying to get as many votes in regional elections as possible, which earns you points. You’ll attempt to manipulate your party’s policies and public opinion in order to get votes in those regional elections. Success in those elections in turn enables you to control the national agenda, which scores you more points.”

Die Macher benefits from both a strong theme and a reasonably central mechanism to maintain some conceptual unity. As games move along the spectrum from “Eurogame” to to “Simulation”, the mechanics tend to blossom around the need to recreate reality rather than to maintain any conceptual unity. For many of the best games like Die Macher – including ones with strong themes – a game is about its game concept. The game concept may be a strong central mechanism that the others all relate to. Whatever it is, it brings the entire system together so that the player knows just what… the game is about. Without a game concept, what’s inside the box can still be fun, but it may just be six mechanics in search of a game.

 

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10 board games from the 90s


‘The Grape Escape’ (0:30)


‘Dizzy Dizzy Dinosaur’ (0:30)


‘Crossfire’ (0:30)


‘Hungry Hungry Hippos’ (0:15)


‘Perfection’ (0:30)


‘Don’t Wake Daddy’ (0:14)


‘Splat’ (0:30)


‘Mall Madness’ (0:15)


‘Ludo’ (0:30)


‘Jurassic Park’ (0:19)

 

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Guy Debord: Board Game Designer
by Nathan Heller

The French iconoclast Guy Debord tends to be known in America—if he is known at all—for two things, both of which peaked in the student movements of 1968, when he was thirty-six. Debord was a founder of the Situationist International, an underground organization whose roots lay in Dada and cultural Marxism and whose whimsical slogans, creative defiance, and cryptic prose attracted dreamers on both sides of the pond. He was also a curmudgeon. His 1967 book, The Society of the Spectacle (the other thing he’s known for), was the high point in a lifetime of faultfinding, paranoia, and alienation …

Still, he thought his legacy would rest on something else. “I succeeded, a long time ago, in presenting the basics of [war] on a rather simple board game,” he wrote in 1989. “The surprises of this kriegspiel seem inexhaustible; and I fear that this may well be the only one of my works that anyone will dare acknowledge as having some value.” Debord invented the Game of War, as he called it, in his early twenties—he had no military background—and patented it ten years later. The version that finally reached market in 1987, after more than two decades, included blow-by-blow commentary on a match between Debord and his wife, Alice Becker-Ho. (read the entirety)

 

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BoardGameGeek.con

Like Fantastic Fest and, recently, GenCon, BGG is an annual Dallas-based convention focusing exclusively on board games. Twenty-five major board game vendors participate to show and debut the latest and greatest in new games and gaming products. The Flea Market is a 30-45 minute event where participants can sell off their new or used games in a flea market style. Special guests include Jason Matthews of 1960: The Making of the President fame and Tom Lehmann, creator of Race for the Galaxy.

 


BGG.con tour


‘Agricola’ at BGG.con


Library at BGG.con


‘Heroscape’ at BGG.con


‘Pitchcar’ at BGG.con


The flea market at BGG.con

 

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Ten writers & artists re: chess

‘Chess is the touchstone of intellect.’
— Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

‘Chess is as elaborate a waste of human intelligence as you could find anywhere outside an advertising agency.’
— Raymond Chandler

‘Chess is a fathead and feudal game.’
— Georges Perec

‘Chess is as much a mystery as women.’
— James Purdy

‘Life is too short for chess.’
— Byron

‘The chess-board is the world, the pieces are the phenomena of the Universe, the rules of the game are what we call the laws of Nature. The player on the other side is hidden from us.’
— Aldous Huxley

‘Chess is mental torture.’
— Thomas Bernhard

‘I am still a victim of chess. It has all the beauty of art – and much more. It cannot be commercialized. Chess is much purer than art in its social position.’
— Marcel Duchamp

‘I feel as if I were a piece in a game of chess, when my opponent says of it: That piece cannot be moved.’
— Soren Kierkegaard

‘You sit at the board and suddenly your heart leaps. Your hand trembles to pick up the piece and move it. But what chess teaches you is that you must sit there calmly and think about whether it’s really a good idea and whether there are other, better ideas.’
— Stanley Kubrick

 

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The Function(s) of Game Art

Game art functions on many levels – information design which is clarity and comprehension, aesthetic needs which provides attraction and ambience, thematic needs which enhances the story and finally a branded “look” which provides a unique, iconic look for a branded property (not “samey” looking). It is easy for many to say that none is more important than information design or that information design should never sacrifice for other needs. In reality, the addition of thematic details and aesthetic needs will always lead to a reduction in information design as the more the eye needs to take in, the more difficult it will be to take in a game situation. It is a balance that is sought after. One can certainly find a very “functional” game in terms of user friendliness. But if it does not look good, something big is missing. Cheapass games fall into this category. While many of them might work from a clarity point of view, who really is seduced in to playing them? The art in such games remains relatively non functional despite any user friendliness.

I have often heard it said of game board art, “The game art needs to be functional, not a painting to hang on the wall.” This seems a very nonsensical statement to me. Art for walls serves to enhance the ambience of a room. By the same token, the art on the game board provides an ambience to the gameplay that very pure data will never drive. I maintain that you are more likely to spend time looking at your favorite games than the art on your walls. Thus, the game aesthetics are just as important as wall decoration aesthetics for setting a mood and ambiance. How often have we stared at the wall art for 60 minutes or two hours at a time? Now how about the game art? (read the entirety)

‘Sure, Cheapass’ Kill Dr Lucky may be “functional” in terms of user friendliness, but what does it matter when it looks terrible. The art has done nothing to lure me in and give me confidence that this game is going to work beyond some homemade concoction. Someone will have to work hard to convince me to play the game. …And they did. This as opposed to the look of the game doing the selling and creating the desire from within me to really want to play. Just because it reads does not make it good art.’

‘A more recent implementation of Kill Dr Lucky. The read has taken a hit here from the previous version. However, unlike the original, I would be initially interested in playing it, were someone else interested. Compared to the original this actually looks fun wheras the old one did not. I’ve not seen this production in person though, or played the original in years, so I do not know if the board is very readable. It could have readability problems which would be an issue. The only point I make here is that art now functions to generate appeal and consequent interest as well as confidence that this will be more than a prototype.’

‘A game called Siena. Here, we have a pretty board with nearly no functionality in terms of usability. My hunch with this was that the authors had very pretty art (an old medieval fresco) that they were afraid to “blemish” with graphic detailing. Consequently, the game has legendary difficulty in playability. ‘

‘The artwork seduced me. I bought it and played a few times hoping it would get better. The artwork fuctioned both to seduce me and to give me confidence in its performance. Here, the success and function of the artwork had nothing to do with ease of play, but of aesthetics.’

‘Cards and board from Through the Ages. They work pretty well from an information design function (though the board has a little problem with the notations). However, from an aesthetic point of view the game really suffers. The amaturish, homemade quality of the art has a prototype feel to it. It lacks the richness and drama that the game actually yields. Were it not for the high praise and ratings that the game has recieved, I might have passed on it. Boy, am I sure glad I didn’t though as, for me, this is a great game.’

‘Taluva – a pure abstract infused with theme by virtue of art and bits. I can feel and even believe that there is some primitive island life in the works here.’

‘Another abstract game here – Santiago. Unlike Taluva, I don’t get a sense of time or place (other than a farm). The art really does not much support theme. It looks very dry, abstract and boring. This also falls under a failure in aesthetic application as it does not look nice or compelling. Consequently, I’m less likely to pick this game up and more likely to get bored of it as soon as gameplay shows wear. Sure it reads, but so would a hand drawn black and white pencil sketch. I wouldn’t be interested in playing that either. Just because something reads does not make it good art.’

‘Everything reads pretty good in Augsburg 1510. But there’s nothing special going on here. When I played it with my group it came up a number of times… “what do you think of the art?” someone asked. Another said… “well it reads fine…” All the while there was a reflective silence and a shrug of shoulders. It’s just that there was nothing of interest here. It’s sort of a “been there, done that look”.’

 

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12 board game movies


‘Kentucky Fried Movie: Scot Free’, excerpt


‘Battleship’, trailer


‘Scrabylon’, excerpt


‘Chińska rodzinna gra planszowa’, excerpt


‘Dungeons and Dragons’, trailer


‘Word Wars: Tiles and Tribulations on the Scrabble Circuit’, trailer


‘Clue’, excerpt


‘Zathura’, trailer


‘Uber Goober: A Film about Gamers’, trailer


‘Star Wars: Interactive Board Game’, excerpt


‘Geri’s Game’


‘Oujia: The Movie’, trailer

 

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In Modern Art, players compete to gain the most money by buying and selling paintings at auctions and reselling them for profit. The game consists of four rounds–in each, works by up to five Artists will be offered for sale, and auctioned off in various ways. Players take on the roles of art dealers / collectors. It is their decision which artworks to sell, and how to sell them. So, successful players must balance two aims, firstly collecting the best artworks for their own collections, forwarding the careers of those artists from whom they have most to gain–and at the same time, raising as much money as possible by successfully auctioning off those works that don’t fit their own strategy, and picking up their own fancies as cheaply as possible.

All players take turns running the auctions, which come in many different styles. Whoever offers the top bid owns the painting and sells it at the end of the round. The price the painting fetches is based on the popularity of the artist and how well his paintings have sold in the past. The player with the most money at the end of four rounds of buying and selling wins. These Art Dealers dream of fame and riches, but dreams can vanish in an instant, leaving the player with a gallery full of last year’s art, unwanted and valueless. Only those with a nose for tomorrow’s tastes today will rise to the top of the Art world!

Modern Art creator/designer Reiner Knizia is a full-time game designer born in Germany in 1957 and now living in England. He earned a doctoral degree in Mathematics and found work in the banking industry. His first published games in 1990 were Gold Digger and Digging. Since then he has been one of the world’s most prolific game designers with over 200 games to his credit. He is particularly notable for his auction trilogy and his tile-laying trilogy.

 






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*

p.s. Hey. ** Wolf, Infinite loup! Oh, cool, thank you for responding to the gig and awesome that you liked those tracks. Hey, me too. I don’t know, I think for cooked carrots to pass my taste sensors pleasurably, they would have to be heavily surrounded with other things whose tastes cause the carrots’ flavor to seem more like a mild spice. I do think beets could make it through in the fashion you propose. Almost yum, even. I didn’t see your suggestions as to how to spend quality weekend time until just now when my weekend is kaput, but I’ll steal away from life tonight when I’m finished with the day’s film stuff. Thanks, buddy. Looks good. You rule … well, everything possibly? ** Steevee, Hi. No, French Netflix is paltry. France is very protectionist about its movie theaters, and services like Netflix are far more limited in what they’re allowed to house as a result. I think, yeah, if they’re stressed, it’s just idea of more to do and how that triggers their stress that’s the problem other than the actual work involved that’s the issue. Proving yourself and, thus, disproving their worries, is probably the solution. ** David Ehrenstein, Morning, D. There are a fair number of self-styled twin escorts, but it’s very rare when that’s a believable claim. Those two seemed as legit as legit can be determined in such circumstances. ** Bill, Hi, Bill. Were there an inordinate number of Viennese in there? A lot of Eastern European escorts zoom there to practice their biz for some reason. Ha, well, I actually really like the personal, blabby profiles and even seek them out. If you think they’re long now, you should(n’t) see them before I edit them. Enjoy — or enjoyed, I hope — LA! What happened? ** Misanthrope, Four, not bad. If I had guessed which ones you would like in advance, those would have been my guesses. Interesting. I do like Brussel sprouts. So there you go. Ouch, huggies to your big toe. I like this Dundee d.l. meeting plan in motion. Gosh, maybe I could even pop over. I will, of course, let you know next time I’m bound for NYC. I’m actually participating in a performance in NYC on August 3rd, but via Skype, so that doesn’t count. ** Alistair, Hi, A! I’m good. Yeah, reasonably chill weekend, thank you. Refreshed and ready to hit the editing room again now. I’m glad you liked ‘Okja’. I loved that Sontag quote re: Bresson you shared on FB, as I think you already know. Enjoy the heck out of LA, my friend! ** S., There are a shitload of escorts within at least driving distance of you. I just don’t include them very often because their profile texts tend to be boring for whatever reason. An American escort with a good profile text is a rare beast indeed. ** Sypha, Hi, James. Yeah, I read on FB about that stuff re: your ex-friend and the forum and that Weird Fiction community. What a mess. I’m sorry you’ve had to go through all of that stress and public bullshit. But I really appreciated what you said about the community around here. I’m so very, very happy that this place is almost entirely evading the Trump catharting and social justice warrioring and outrage addiction that seems to have swept almost every online gathering place. It’s almost kind of miraculous. ** Alan, Hi, Alan! Oh, that’s fantastic news! At long last! I’ll score a copy of Sujatha’s book. Wonderful, wonderful! I hope you’re doing really well, and thanks a lot! ** Dóra Grőber, Hi! What’s the tattoo? Was the tattooist of help on the translating gig front? I hope the job hunt turns up something worthy of you soon. There are few more stressful things than looking for employment, that’s for sure. I hope your weekend was as pleasurable as possible. Mine was all right. I saw a dance/concert thing — Anne Teresa De Keersmaeker choreographing to a live performance of Steve Reich’s amazing music piece ‘Drumming’ — and it was excellent. There was a big riot here in Paris right next to where I live on Saturday. People protesting a concert by a controversial Congolese pop star at the ultra-nearby venue Olympia that went out of control. Cars burned, tear gas, millions of army/cops. The whole area was completely blocked off. It was kind of exciting. Otherwise, I just tried to catch up on stuff, hung out with Zac, wandered about, etc. Back to work today. And you? What happened during your Monday? ** Thomas Moronic, Hi, T! Thanks, buddy! I’m very happy and excited to get to see you! Kiddiepunk and I were anxiously awaiting your visit in the form of words yesterday. I’m good. The film is proceeding extremely well. I couldn’t be happier about it. Tick tick tick … until your Friday! Love, me. ** Jamie, Hey! I know, nice line, right? I’m good, The dance/music piece was really excellent. I’m glad your newish hood isn’t a horror. I’m kind of the same about mine. It’s not my thing at all, and I really miss my old hoods in the 10th arr. and Bastille/Marais, but it’s tolerable with some occasional bonuses. Great about the good Writing Gang meet up. Dude, we are so hanging out here in Paris, and doing an amusement park. In fact, I think, if you’re down, we should go to Parc Asterix. It’s a lovely, fun park, and it’ll be way, way less jam packed than the Disney parks. But we can do the Disneys instead easily, ‘cos I love them too. So are you now on a different brew of meds after the hospital visit? You’re such an experiment. Generally I love experiments, but the body is a troublesome venue. Are you feeling better/okay? Back to the movie work today. Yes, I’m raring to go. I think we’re going to finish and watch the new pass of the film today, and then we have until Friday evening to finish the film’s color work, which I think we can do. I hope your trip to total heaven today was completely total and not to mention heavenly. How did it go? Exciting. Grandfather clock love, Dennis. ** _Black_Acrylic, Hi, Ben. Yeah, but his reviews were all by one guy. Who sounds a wee bit crazy and obsessed. But still. Yes, this Dundee meet-up thing George mentioned is pretty enticing to ponder! Have a big blast at the Skype meeting! Greatness! ** Right. Someone I know requested that I restore Board Game Day, and I did, obviously, and maybe some of the rest of you will find that delightful or something else? See you tomorrow.

14 Comments

  1. My friend Chris Curtis who is a buyer at Amoeba Music here in Los Angeles started up a board game section in the store. And on top of that, there is a board game cafe in Glendale, that I never been to, but read about it in the press. It’s called “Game Häus Café.” http://gamehauscafe.com They have a library of board games that people can play at the cafe. I think board games are back on the radar! Interesting post!

  2. I remember greatly enjoying “Monopoly” as a kid.

    Speaking of Guy Debord. . .

  3. Dennis, yeah, I won’t lie, my health hasn’t been too great this summer and these recent events have only exacerbated problems in that area. So I just need to walk away from it for now and just avoid these people and their constant negativity and anger. I actually deleted that screed I posted yesterday because I worried that maybe some of the Weird Fiction writers I’m still friends with might wonder if I was talking about them (I wasn’t), but I certainly meant what I said re: this community. It’s just frustrating to have one’s character attacked by total strangers who don’t even know the first thing about me, though the irony of (mostly) straight white people accusing some of my friends and I as bigots/bigot enablers is mordantly amusing, especially seeing as how some of my friends are very progressive (though in a cool way). I don’t pretend to be a progressive, I’m really just a boring moderate liberal/meat and potatoes Democrat, but I’m certainly not a racist or a fascist, as you know. But some of these people see things in such black and white terms… I just think human beings are more complicated than that: hell, I’ve been in retail for 20 years now, have worked (and served) people of all different races, political affiliations, religious beliefs (or lack thereof), so I think I have a good grasp on some of the complexities of humanity. But with some of these SJW internet activist types there’s a certain righteousness in the way they act and present themselves, as if they’re convinced that they’re the zenith of morality, that almost borders on religious zeal. I just can’t relate to that way of looking at the world. I wouldn’t say I’m a good person but I wouldn’t say I’m totally bad either… I just am what I am (while hoping that my good qualities, and I know that I have some of those, outweigh the bad).

    Anyway, enough of that nonsense, I’ve wasted far too much time talking about this and following it on social media these last few days anyway. So, board games. I do love them, and often designed my own when I was a kid. Clue by far was my favorite (the movie is also very funny), though I always found it curious as to how come the people investigating the crime couldn’t instantly tell what weapon had been used to kill Mr. Boddy. I mean, the knife would leave an obvious stab wound, the revolver would leave a bullet hole (unless the assailant used it as a blunt force object), the rope would leave strangulation marks around the neck: only the wrench, lead pipe or candlestick would leave marks that might not be as obvious to differentiate.

  4. Hi!

    Actually, the tattoo is a quote from ‘Closer’. It says ‘PALER, SMALLER, LESS TOUCHING’ and I’ve been in love with these words ever since I first read the book. Now it’s finally here. Right above my right elbow. I’m so happy!
    The guy promised to ask around so maybe, maybe there will be something in the end.
    The dance/concert event sounds very exciting! I’ll see what I can find about Anne Teresa De Keersmaeker! Wow. I would’ve shat my pants if a riot like that had happened so near my home. Shocking. Jesus.
    Besides getting the tattoo, I mostly just did the usual things today. I read and wrote some. It’s only half past 8 but I’m so sleepy, haha.
    How was your day? How’s the film doing?

  5. Hooray for board games! I want to invent a board game. Did you/do you have any faves? Hannah and I play Scrabble a bit, but she’s taking to regularly whupping my arse, so I have to up my game. I’m unbeatable at Bananagrams though, but I’m not sure that counts as a board game. Hungry Hungry Hippos was like a fantasy game to me, but when I finally got to play it I lost interest pretty quick. Same with the Magic Robot too, but I lusted after that. Every one of those chess quotes is perfect too. I want to play Modern Art.
    I’m so pleased that you’re up for Parc Asterix, or some other hanging out, and pretty damn excited! Yes, yes yes! I spent some of my train journey looking at pics of PA and it looks amazing and a wee bit scary. We fly over on the 30th and Hannah’s birthday’s on the 1st Sept, so maybe the 31st? Wooooohoooo!
    How was Monday? How did the new pass of the movie go down? Are you edging closer to your desired creation?
    I’m on so many different medicines that it’s ridiculous and half of them just seem to be to counteract the bad effects of the other ones. I’ve even got one of those pill boxes with the days of the week and different times marked on it, like an old lady. But I’m kind of feeling like I’m getting on an even keel, so that’s cool, thanks for asking.
    Work today was sadly not the heavenly day I anticipated, but ain’t that just the way? My boss started rambling about spending all the cash on more animation again though, but I’m starting to suspect he does that just to keep me sweet.
    Hope Tuesday’s movie making moves and whatever else you’re up to go very well. Any other plans?
    Complicated love,
    Jamie

  6. In the U.S., Netflix distributed Bong Joon-ho’s OKJA theatrically as well as streaming it. I heard that there was some controversy, particularly in Cannes, over the fact that they just streamed it in France. Bryan Fogel told me they’re only releasing his film theatrically so that it might be eligible for a Best Documentary Oscar.

    Did you happen to see the Facebook post I wrote about N.W.A. and the thread that followed? By the time an African-American man told me I should criticize Kendrick Lamar for using the N word, I felt like I had gotten in *way* over my head and could only respond by writing mostly about my own use of the word “queer,” which is not exactly a parallel but is the only thing I could think of that didn’t sound like whitesplaining. But oddly enough, the mentions that were also made of the Rolling Stones in that thread inspired me to listen to several of their ’70s albums as I edit the Bryan Fogel interview. IT’S ONLY ROCK’N’ROLL actually sounds way better than I remember it!

    I’m excited to see Mario Bava’s Viking film ERIK THE CONQUEROR tonight!

  7. In relation to what Sypha said, I’ve never experienced anything like it or been the target of it, but I did wonder what would happen when my review of THE BEGUILED, which I saw and wrote at a time when there was zero controversy around the film, was published in a period when it had become the year’s most controversial film (so far). No one accused me of racism because I devoted a total of one sentence to the subject of its (non-)treatment of slavery; in fact, the only reaction I got was another critic E-mailing me his more negative review. But I have the feeling that people are walking on eggshells. I’ve always felt a certain sense of anger and alienation towards American culture; simply being gay will do that to you. But I have a new sense that the left – and I mean both most Democrats and the “woke” culture that extends beyond them – is just as screwed-up as conservatives. No one seems to have any answers to our current cultural and political malaise. There’s a new book out called KILL ALL NORMIES, which I’ve been meaning to order since a friend E-mailed me a review of it from Jacobin, that sounds like it expresses all my qualms about social media much better than I could do so myself; essentially, it suggests the “alt-right” has done a great job of branding itself and finding new followers, even borrowing from the ’60s counterculture and prior socialists and communists, by using memes, humor and irony while the left is busy with petty fights over language and minor ideological disputes between people who basically agree with each other. The way the “woke” left presents itself – I think these are the people Sypha refers to as “SJWs,” a phrase I’ve abandoned since it got co-opted by the right – just seems totally unappealing to me, even though I share their commitment to some version of LGBT politics, anti-racism, feminism and trying to at least modify capitalism to something more humane. These days, I use the word “woke” as an insult.

    • Yeah, it’s funny, this Saturday I met up with an online friend in Providence and we were discussing all of this and I observed that with many of these people, they just seem very militant, very grim, never laugh, always angry and outraged all the time.

      And there does seem to be a sense that they want everyone to conform with what they think. Like with my former friend, he decided to check out the blog of another friend of mine, the Weird Fiction writer Mark Samuels. Now, Mark can be pretty right-wing on some issues and is unabashedly Eurocentric, but that doesn’t automatically make him a fascist/racist goon. My former friend went through some blog posts and was like, “Well, why isn’t he talking about writers who are POC? Or women? Or gay?” So from that hunch he just came to the conclusion that Mark had to be homophobic/racist/sexist. If he had just e-mailed Mark he could have had his mind put at ease, but instead he resorted to an unprovoked public attack. I mean, what is he, a psychic who now knows about every single book a man has or has not read (as, unlike me, Mark does not post his reading lists online). And are people being policed on their reading habits now? One could just as easily look at the books read by my former friend and say, “Well, where are all the Asian writers? Or Mexican? Or South American? Or Native American? Or Saudi Arabian?” And you can nit pick even further: “You’ve only read five Asian writers? Why not 10? Or 15? Or 20?” It just seems really fucking ludicrous to me, one should read the people one wants to read without worrying about hitting some arbitrary quota. What makes the whole thing even more odious is that this year Mark’s been dealing with health issues and homelessness, so this is really the last thing he needs.

      • I actually do care deeply about some of the issues the people you call “SJWs” do. For me, programming Iranian films under Trump’s America is a political act, although I should make it clear that first and foremost, I’m programming films that I think are great. If I am able to continue working as a film programmer, I want to program a range of neglected directors from around the world (although one of the filmmakers I most want to show is a white American man.) But a lot of this stems from my own experience: I know that watching Iranian films, which I’ve been interested in since I saw Kiarostami’s THROUGH THE OLIVE TREES and CLOSE UP in 1995, and having a close friend who is Arab-American has changed the way I view the Middle East and Islam is a positive and concrete political way. I can tell the difference when I talk to my parents. I’m not telling people they should hit some quota, although I think Americans would benefit from being way, way, way, way more interested in world cinema – and, of course, other forms of art made outside the U.S. – than they are now. So I guess I can see both sides of this. I want people to see the way other cultures tell stories about themselves. But I’m not going to call them racists if they don’t want to come. And there is an automatic assumption in huge chunks of the arts that everyone must be liberal/progressive/leftist and if they’re not, there’s something wrong with them. I think LGBT culture has a big issue with this too, and it’s impossible for me to even mention this on social media without someone jumping to the conclusion that I’m defending gay Trump voters. It’s kind of weird how gay leftists have a tendency to champion diversity and then write articles like one Huffington Post op-ed piece I read which essentially said “all openly gay men should be intersectional socialists who support a Palestinian state.” How exactly do 14-year-olds from fundamentalist backgrounds in Oklahoma who are struggling with their sexuality now and know nothing about politics get to that point?

  8. boardgames or preinterweb lol those were the good days lol candyland and the one with the gatekeeper are my favs. thinking of seeing ace frehley this week the guys in fl are as dry as sunbleeched bones. escorts where? found a guy in a mexican mask and a hapsburg jk. lol im growing tired of the grindr and bar game even tho its exiting youngins are hoes and like my old ass. in the words of my bestie, pay it. xo

  9. Greetings from LAX! A little sad that I’m flying home soon; as usual I enjoy my LA trips. This one was even better since I did zero driving (my main complaint about LA) and just rode the metro and bus.

    I really just had Sunday to kick around. Hung out with Darin Klein (whom I think you know, was at the Hammer, now at the Broad), went to the Broad, Amoeba, spent too much time at Amoeba and didn’t get to Hauser and Wirth. I did score goodies at Amoeba, and a copy of Little Joe #4 at the Last Bookstore, yessss.

    Bill

  10. The Don’t Wake Daddy game reminds me that Martin Kippenberger made some really great art around the idea. This is a painting from 1994. Some of them were hung behind mini fences so the viewer couldn’t get to them iirc.

    The bad local news is that right now Dundee is having a heat wave, but I managed to stay indoors for the most part. I ventured out briefly to the bank where a lady was advising on what I could do post redundancy, and she agreed that seeing the university careers advisor would be a good way forward. Business plans and startups were mentioned but I’m not quite ready for that stuff as yet. Anyhow, positivity abounds. The Yuck ‘n Yum meeting this afternoon went really well and there’s lots of exciting things afoot. Apparently the Generator gallery are up for publishing a compendium book of all our zines in the new year. And the Seattle SOIL show is still very much on. That one could incorporate writings from DLs if anyone fancies it, we’ll keep you posted.

    And then me and Alex watched Twin Peaks, so yeah today was a good day.

  11. Dennis, I’m sure you remember Blur’s video for “Country House,” where they get trapped in a board game, “Escape From the Rat Race.” I like that video.

    Btw, when I said yesterday “Maybe I shouldn’t mention it here,” I meant that I didn’t want to jinx it. I forgot to add that. Duh.

    But yes, do pop over if you can. I would’ve mentioned it earlier but just assumed you would have something going on. If it’s at all a possibility, jump right in. All are welcome.

    I can’t figure out if I had gout or a strained tendon in that stupid toe of mine. I’m thinking the latter because it came on slowly and has dispersed slowly. I’m fine now, just a bit tender down there in the ol’ talon.

    Ha! The Skype NYC thing sounds interesting. I hope it’s fun and a success.

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