Harry won the toss, and tapped "Memphis Slim" into his computer at position 4.
Harry never liked opening with one of the positions down the centerline of the board, and position 4 had that off-center feel that he preferred.
Tom didn't need to worry about Memphis, or Slim, or Memphis Slim as yet -- because neither Harry's not his own first move could score any points. So there wasn't even much sense in playing into a position that connected with Harry's move at 4.
Tom played "Delta of Venus" at 1.
He'd been reading Anais Nin's little book of short stories by that name, stories she wrote for a dollar a page for a "collector" of erotica -- unfortunate man, he was furious because her tales were too literary, too well written for his taste. "I'm not paying for literature," he said. Anais Nin, meanwhile, was brainstorming strange erotic situations with her friends in the houseboats and lofts of Paris, Henry Miller among them, then sitting down to hunt and peck at the keyboard of her typewriter: another dollar, another page, another loaf of bread or glass of wine...
Harry didn't know any of this. "Delta of Venus" popped up in position 1 on his screen, and he interpreted it to mean a woman's pubic hair, nothing more than that.
Typical Tom, he thought.
If he'd known "Delta of Venus" was a book of erotica, he might have played "Venus in Furs" by Leopold von Sacher-Masoch at that point, and claimed two links (i) because both were books of pornography, (ii) because both had the name "Venus" in the title.
But he didn't know "Venus in Furs" either, which was probably lucky. Because if he'd played "Venus in Furs", the whole Game would have taken a different path entirely, and that smartass Tom would have countered with "Justine or the Misfortunes of Virtue" by the Marquis de Sade, and claimed (i) that both Venus in Furs and Justine were works of erotic literature, (ii) that the names of their respective authors were linked in the term "Sado-Masochism", (iii) that they were both titled gentlemen -- the Marquis de Sade and the Chevalier von Sacher-Masoch respectively, and indeed (iv) that their two titles of nobility were linked in the title of James Cleugh's study of the psychology of sex, "The Marquis and the Chevalier"... for a total of four points and yet another indication of his socalled overwhelming kickass intellectual superiority.
But Harry didn't know "Justine" either. And Tom had left position 6 vacant.
Harry played the pool player "Minnesota Fats" at 5, claiming links (i) for Minnesota and Memphis, two American place names, (ii) both starting with M, (iii) each of which has a public figure named after it, (iv) whose second name has to do with, well, girth: Slim and Fats.
Meanwhile, Tom had been thinking about linking "Delta of Venus" to another kind of love triangle, but "Memphis Slim" and "Minnesota Fats" between them reminded him of Fats Waller and Fats Domino... but he didn't know how to choose between them -- until he remembered that the leader of the erotic cult known as the Sect of the Phoenix in Colin Wilson's book The God of the Labyrinth is called the Domino.
So Tom played Fats Domino at 6, for four points. He claimed links (i) and (ii) to 5 and 4 respectively for the names containing "Slim" and "Fats", and (iii) with 4 because Memphis Slim and Fats Domino were both black musicians... and (iv) to 1, for connecting two quasi-erotic novels, one called "Delta of Venus", the other featuring a "Domino" character...
Harry thought about "Delta of Venus" and he thought about Memphis Slim, and he didn't know much about Venus beyond the fact that it was a planet and some kind of ancient goddess, but he put the words Delta and Memphis Slim together, and they suggested the Delta Blues...
So Harry played "Mississippi John Hurt" at 2, and claimed links with 4 because (i) both Mississippi and Memphis are the names of places in America (ii) beginning with M, (iii) each of which has a public figure named after it, (iv) who is a black musician -- these American place names beginning with M used in the names of celebs are pretty cool, he thought, I must build up a repertoire -- and also (v) with 1, on account of the connection between "Delta of Venus" and the Delta bluesman...
Tom shook his head in amazement. Harry didn't seem to read much or study much or do much of anything except party, but he was certainly racking up points in this Game.
Tom thought about his love triangle idea again. The connection between adulterous triangles and the triangle of the "Delta of Venus" appealed to him, and he wanted to play the connection while he could -- because otherwise he'd think of it off and on for days... He ordered a quick scan of all "love triangles" in memory, and "Tristan and Iseult" popped up -- followed by a little mental flag on the name "Tristan".
Try as he might, he couldn't see a connection he could make with Minnesota Fats, but he played "Tristan, Iseult and King Mark" at position 3, claiming links (i) with 1 for two kinds of love triangle and (ii) with 2 on the grounds that John Hurt's name spoke of pain (iii) as did the blues he sang, while Tristan's name came from the French "triste" meaning "sad" -- so that You could read the story of Tristan and Iseult as one long story of the wounds of love -- one long, sad hurting blues... three points.
Harry was on a roll with names. "Slim Pickens" he played at 8, thinking of the scene from Dr. Strangelove in which Pickens is the cowboy pilot who "rides" a nuclear bomb to earth.... Four points, (i) and (ii) with 5 and (iii) and (iv) with 6 -- names of two celebrities in each case, and then there's the old Slim and Fats routine again...
Tom came back with "Mississippi Toothpick" at 7, claiming (i) for "Toothpick" with "Pickens" at 7 and (ii) for Mississippi and Memphis at 4, and (iii) -- this was an obscure one, but it was neat enough he hoped the referee would agree with him, with 6, for Domino as an erotic character and Mississippi Toothpick as an erotic toy.
At which point the referee, who had perhaps been a little lenient up to now, and hadn't interrupted the Game once to question any of the links claimed, butted in with a "personal message" post to both players demanding an explanation of the third claim in that last move of Tom's.
"And what the hell *is* a Mississippi Toothpick, anyway", he wanted to know.
And Tom posted back, "It's a bone that's found in the penis of a racoon, that helps the male in his sexual performance -- and coonhunters often remove them and wear them in their hats."
Harry was thinking of putting Muddy Waters at 9 (another great musician, and another Mississippi reference) , but all this talk of penis bones made him chose Jelly Roll instead. "Jelly Roll Morton", he input at 9. Points claimed (i) with 7 for the double penis reference, (ii) with 6 for two black musicians...
And Tom, not caring that he could only claim one point for the voodoo - blues - jazz - rock connection with Jelly Roll at 9, played "Hear that Long Snake Moan" at 10.
Ten moved into his own files and pulled up Michael Ventura's seminal article, which he had scanned out of Co-Evolution Quarterly, he loved it so much. It is, in Tom's mind, *The Definitive Article* on how all of rock'n'roll is a voodoo trance when you come right down to it -- and Elvis gave white folk their bodies back to dance with, after Descartes split the body apart from the soul...
"That's it, folks. Harry wins once again, 15 to 12 by my calculation -- and Tom, that includes an extra point I've awarded you for symmetry. With the Delta of Venus at the top of the board, that Long Snake of yours in your final move at the bottom of the board was a tasty choice."
"Thanks, Ref. And that was a good one, Harry -- it looks like today isn't the day, but one of these times I'm still gonna whip your ass," Tom posted back.
He then attached the Ventura article to his final transmission: "And, hey, both -- read this article by Michael Ventura, would you? It's too cool, way cool, way too cool..."
He could be right...
Game and original Board by Charles Cameron
Graphics by David Hughes <firstname.lastname@example.org>
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HipBone Games rules, boards, sample games and other materials are copyright (c) Charles Cameron 1995, 96, 97. See Concerning Copyright for full copyright details.