Author Archives: Dan Thurot

Foucault in the Woodland, Part Four: DTR or DTF?

Who wore it better?

May I never repeat the awkwardness of my first DTR.

DTR. “Define the Relationship.” My friends, most of whom were older and more experienced, spoke the acronym in ominous tones. It was an essential step of middle school dating, as serious as your first hand-holding or first footsies or first furtive kiss. To a ninth-grader, it was the equivalent of proposing marriage without knowing the answer beforehand. We’d gone on a few dates. School dances. Group hikes. Now we crouched together in a treehouse (oh no), as good a time as any to pop the question: “Are you my girlfriend?”

Over the past three parts of this series, we’ve examined how Root reflects a Foucauldian understanding of power and politics. Today, we’re looking at how that extends into the realm of sex and relationships — and how governments transform sexuality into an extended DTR that will not end no matter how vigorously we try to flee the treehouse.

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That Time I Spoiled That Time You Killed Me

As a kid who grew up with Aladdin, I'm unnaturally afraid of drowning in a giant hourglass.

Time travel is like paprika. There’s a huge difference between a little and a lot. And I say that as a time travel apologist.

Peter C. Hayward’s That Time You Killed Me is all about time travel. If we stretch our metaphor to the breaking point, it’s an entire mountain range of paprika. Fortunately, Hayward has the good sense to dole it out in pinches and scoops rather than shovelfuls. And there’s really no way to talk about it without some minor spoilers.

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Book-Space! #22. Mind MGMT

Whoa! It's been so long that Wee Aquinas hasn't shifted to his new form!

Everybody knows psychics aren’t real. What Mind MGMT presupposes is… what if they are? Join Brock, Summer, and Dan as we discuss Matt Kindt‘s graphic novel, including professional conspiracy theories, non-professional relationship advice, and our mutual bewilderment when people say they don’t like the art. Listen here or download here.

Next time, we’ll be reading about dragons via Uprooted by Naomi Novik.

Touch the Cloth!

counterpoint: it's about as daring as the Holy Roman Empire is aptly named

As any would-be casino thief can tell you, there are ideas and then there are executions. Hit the Silk!, from the same publisher that brought us Stop the Train!, opens with a sterling idea. Desperate to pay off a major debt, you and a few friends have decided to rob a MONEY PLANE. The heist goes about as well as any MONEY PLANE heist can go, which is to say the engines have been shot out, the pilot is dead, there are bags of money bouncing through the air like startled chickens, and there aren’t enough parachutes for everybody.

And then there’s the execution.

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Of Aglets and Eyelets

I really only wanted to show off that I know the word "aglet."

I’ve always been jealous of people who could transform knotted shoelaces into elaborate cat’s cradles. Or, frankly, people who could tie their shoes without them coming undone five minutes later. There’s a reason I’m a socks-in-Birkenstocks kind of guy.

Amabel Holland’s Eyelet is a game for those folks. For me, it’s closer to therapy.

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Le Temps des Cerises


Mark Herman’s Fort Sumter was a lean, rangy filament of a game. After initially falling for its charms, I soon found its leanness and ranginess a little too emaciated, with not nearly enough muscle and fat beneath the skin. One of the reasons I play historical games, after all, is to see how the history is modeled, not to merely see it sketched out as the titles of locations and cards.

Enter Red Flag Over Paris. Designed by Frédéric Serval, it uses the system and leanness of Fort Sumter while still piling on, well, everything else. Its topic is the Paris Commune, the brief but fierce revolutionary outpouring that would prove so influential on Karl Marx — and become a stain on the early days of the French Third Republic.

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Love Is a Ghost Train Howling

I took the cannonball down to the ocean, across the desert from sea to shining sea...

There is something initially morbid about London Necropolis Railway, and not only because Daniel Newman’s latest offering is set during a cholera epidemic and will release in the third calendar year of our own century’s mismanaged public health crisis. The historical Necropolis Railway was the solution to the bodies piling up in the streets, a line only twenty miles long but devoted entirely to the business of death and mourning. In Newman’s care, the whole thing takes on the pallor of a funeral celebrant both jaunty and jaundiced. More than that, it’s imbued with an uncommon dignity.

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Please F— the Teleporter

oh captain I didn't see you there

According to Star Trek, teleportation deconstructs you at the atomic level, beams your particles elsewhere, and then reconstructs those exact same particles in exactly the same format. You’re fine. You’re you. You aren’t obliterated every time you request an emergency teleport to the bathroom. Never mind all the times teleportation goes wrong and creates an evil clone or merges a redshirt with a booger monster. Those are… not what happens with teleportation.

Propaganda. Starfleet’s working overtime to keep you from knowing the truth. Every one of those starships is staffed with an army of unknowing buffer clones.

Ian Zang’s Please Fix the Teleporter is a five-minute game about the harsh realities of teleportation. Theoretically, anyway.

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The Synoptic Solution

A member of my group mentioned that this looked like a game of telephone. And, well, pretty much.

I’ve been pondering the idea of game design as devotion. In the centuries leading up to the Renaissance, so much European and Near Eastern art and entertainment was principally religious, drawing on shared stories, imagery, and even, one hopes, depth of feeling. Could the same be true of a board game? We have yet to realize the extent of what cardboard might express, although the medium seems better suited to models than emotions. There are, however, exceptions. Ben Madison’s awe at the sweep of Christian history in The Mission. Amabel Holland’s short-tempered but sanguine Nicaea.

And now, Jeff Warrender’s depiction of the composition of the gospels in The Acts of Evangelists. It would be a mistake to dismiss this one out of hand.

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Slam Dunc

Now do Bene Tleilax. Duncan cards for you, and you, and you! Duncan cards for everybody!

Expansions always make for peculiar reviews. One of the realities of writing about lots of board games is that there’s precious little time to revisit anything. Even the most impressive titles often fall by the wayside. Paul Dennen’s Dune: Imperium proved an exception, reappearing on my table again and again thanks to its smart hybridization of deck-building and worker placement. Now it has a major expansion, Rise of Ix, along with the usual burning questions. What’s changed? Are there new avenues for a house aspirant to pursue greatness? Doth the spice flow?

I’ll say this much: the Dennen who designed Rise of Ix must have played this thing a thousand times, because he understands exactly what makes Dune: Imperium tick.

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