This evening I spent re-watching the excellent 1988 anime OAV Demon City Shinjuku and completing a review, which is now posted at Destroy All Monsters. I've now managed four reviews in four days, working toward a goal of seven in seven.
Some weeks ago, I ordered the other two Sin City graphic novels that formed the core of the recent movie, "The Big Fat Kill" and "That Yellow Bastard." (I already own the first edition of the original Sin City story, later titled "The Hard Goodbye.") They arrived today -- w00t!
For the trivia itself, Abbott and Haney zeroed in on baby-boomer nostalgia. The game concerns itself with useless information, yes, but useless information of a very specific sort: detritus from the 1950s, 1960s, and early 1970s, which flattered the baby boomer by making his golden years seem vital, even historic. The theme held for questions ranging from foreign affairs ("Which eye did Moshe Dayan wear a patch over?") to television ("Who was Howdy Doody's twin brother?") to the Beatles ("Who replaced Pete Best?"). Abbot and Haney added just enough happy-hour impishness to keep the game from becoming too earnest. What's the largest diamond in the world? Why, a baseball diamond!
Trivial Pursuit became a great repository of middlebrow culture. Flip through a stack of cards at random and you assemble a list of middlebrow writers (James Thurber, Gore Vidal), movies (Mutiny on the Bounty, Love Story), and television shows (Gunsmoke). In 1983, a marketing consultant named Linda Pezzano shipped board games to actors featured in the entertainment questions. Pat Boone, Gregory Peck, and James Mason sent back adoring fan letters, which Selchow & Righter used in promotions. When Time reported that Trivial Pursuit had become popular with the cast of The Big Chill—the quintessential boomer flick—the game attained a newfound cachet. To win at Trivial Pursuit was to achieve something greater than mastering a board game. It was to achieve mastery of one's subculture: to have successfully determined which bits of information to retain (anything about Gunsmoke) and which to discard (anything about Rimbaud).
...Whether one memorized the questions or not, the original Trivial Pursuit contained a finite amount of entertainment. As the years passed, Abbott and Haney worked furiously to reinvent the franchise, creating new editions like "All-Star Sports" and "Baby Boomer" (which seemed slightly redundant). Purists, though, ignored the new games and gravitated back to the blue box; 23 years after its American debut, the original edition still accounts for a huge percentage of Trivial Pursuit's 80 million units sold.
This runs counter to the spirit of most board games—like Monopoly and Scrabble—which promise endless permutations. Trivia, it turns out, is nonrenewable. The Genus Edition so ably flattered boomers that they saw no need to buy later editions that included questions about, say, Melrose Place. What about children of boomers, Trivial Pursuit's other major demographic? They were warned away from the original—the box declared, "Age: Adult"—which of course made mastering the original game even more enticing. To compete at Trivial Pursuit, and maybe answer a question or two, was to secure a seat at the adult table. I remember my grandparents' astonishment when I correctly answered that Radar O'Reilly's favorite drink was Grape Nehi—a fact I'm pretty sure I learned directly from a Trivial Pursuit card. However sacredly boomers regard their nostalgia, it turns out their children regard it as more precious than their own.
Then came the Internet: How could Trivial Pursuit survive in the age of Google? The Internet has rewritten the rules of the game. The old measure of the trivia master was how many facts he could cram into his head. The new measure is how nimbly he can manipulate a search engine to call up the answer. The ABC show Who Wants To Be a Millionaire included a lifeline called "phone-a-friend," in which a desperate contestant was supposed to call upon the knowledge of a smart companion. Seconds after the contestant dialed for help, you could hear the guy on the other end pecking away at a keyboard—Googling—and I thought, This is it. Trivia is dead.
I love Trivial Pursuit, but I don't get much chance to play. Still, as long as Googling isn't allowed during a game session, the game should still reward the large amount of useless knowledge I have crammed into my head.
The other day, when selecting an item or two from my Amazon.com wish list, I happened upon the entry for an obscure, apparently direct-to-video flick called American Yakuza, starring Viggo Mortensen and Ryo Ishibashi (Audition). I bought it on a whim, since it was cheap and my lovely wife's a big Mortensen fan. It proved to be a stylish and entertaining flick. Taken from a story by producer Takashige Ichise, it tells the ever-popular "conflicted cop undercover among honorable gangsters" story, although there are no doves flying around in the climactic shootout.
Two reviews in two days, working toward a goal of seven and seven. My review of Rouge (Yin ji kau), a romantic Hong Kong ghost story starring the late Anita Mui and Leslie Cheung, is now posted at Destroy All Monsters. I'd chanced upon the DVD at my local library several weeks ago.
I don't have much comment, save that I was hping the selection would be less obviously doctrinaire. Still, Benedict may have some surprises in store, and at age 79, he's unlikely to have the long tenure in office his predecesor did.
Sharing our Five Year Old's experiences surrounding her first loss of a pet has given me occasion to reflect, and a greater insight into her personality. One thing we've known about our Five Year Old is that she's very dramatic, but her reactions to the loss remind me that she's also genuinely sensitive. She took her responsibility to feed her fish very seriously, and she blamed herself for its death. (One of the things she kept repeating when she discovered it was how sorry she was.) She also seems resolved to remember her fish -- one of the reasons we got one of those craft project mosaic blocks was so she could create a stone that will help her remember. (She made a picture of the fish using the mosaic pieces.) Cecilia spent the weekend talking to anyone who would listen about her fish, and I think talking it out helped her come to grips with her feelings.
I found myself with conflicting feelings as I shared her grieving. Of course, I would have gladly protected her from the pain she felt, but at the same time, loss is an inevitable part of life, and if one is overprotective, one's kids will be woefully unprepared for life. I've been impressed with the maturity Cecilia has shown in dealing with her loss -- she's expressed her emotion as part of accepting what happened, and that's enabled her to move on. And I made sure to tell her how proud I was of her, and how sorry I was that she was sad.
She has a new fish now, and she checked on it several times after we brought it home. Fortunately, goldfish (and non-gold carp) are fairly hardy creatures, and since we've taken steps to avoid a repeat of the accident that doomed the first one, we hope she'll enjoy caring for this fish for quite some time.