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New Orleans is a weird presence in Disney's remake of The Lady and the Tramp

November 21, 2019 • 3:34 PM

While many of you were watching and re-watching the latest installment of Baby Yoda and the Masked Mystery Man on Disney+, my five-year-old was insisting we watch The Lady and the Tramp live-action remake. Over the course of the movie, I had a gradually growing sense that something about this new movie was odd, but couldn’t quite put my finger on it.

That feeling persisted until the two dogs watched a jazz band from the roof of a Mississippi river boat that very clearly was not on the Mississippi River, a moment when everything became clear.

Trade Deadline: A dice-based baseball roster strategy game

November 10, 2019 • 11:17 PM

About a decade ago, I went through a Strat-O-Matic phase. This year, I sank more than 100 hours into an Out of the Park Baseball save. Both experiences were fun, but recently I started thinking there ought to be a less time-intensive way to simulate baseball roster management.

Trade Deadline is the game I came up with.

All you need is a pair of dice, the two-page instruction manual, and the six-page Player Type Index, which I’ve linked below. If you’re into fantasy baseball, or Strat-O-Matic, or tabletop games, or all of those, get four or five friends together, give it a whirl, and let me know what you think.

Trade Deadline Instructions and Player Type Index (PDF)

(Photo: "Dice" by Ella's Dad | cc-licensed CC BY 2.0)

"The Americans" and "The Joy Luck Club"

November 3, 2019 • 10:39 AM

Elizabeth and Philip Jennings could have remained childless, if the show’s creators wanted. The Americans could have been a show about Russian spies in their thirties who constantly defy the KGB on whether or not to have children, for example. As is, they could have moved away from Stan Beeman and Pastor Tim. Paige didn’t have to learn about her parents’ secret lives. Paige and Henry could have been killed at some point.

Instead, every moment of the show revolved around the Jennings children, which is why, as I plowed through all 75 episodes over the past couple months, I kept coming back to The Joy Luck Club.

How I fear flying

November 3, 2019 • 10:23 AM

I’m holding The Fiancee’s hands with both of mine.

"Don’t worry," she says. "I brought lotion this time so my hands won’t dry out from your sweat."

Inside the world of Strat-O-Matic tournaments

November 3, 2019 • 10:22 AM

In 1961, a college student named Hal Richman started selling a dice game that purported to simulate baseball. He called it Strat-O-Matic, and since then, through the personal computer revolution and the rise of video game consoles, it has persevered and survived.

The game’s structure is simple. Every player in Major League Baseball has a card with certain outcomes and attributes printed on it, based on his actual performance. Managers playing Strat have precise control of the simulation, from choosing pinch hitters to positioning infielders, to deciding when to send a runner for a critical extra base. To start, they set lineups. Then, for each at bat, they roll three six-sided dice and a 20-sided die, check the dice’s results with the outcomes on the cards, determine the situation in the baseball game, and roll again. Games can be over in fifteen minutes, or they can last an hour, and when they are completed, managers are apt to pore over their scorebooks to relive that clutch double or see where everything fell apart.

‘Urges contrary to swallowing’: An amateur enters the strange world of competitive eating

November 3, 2019 • 10:21 AM

David A. Arnott recently took approximately eight years off his life by doing this…

It came about as many exciting things do, on a whim. For some reason or other, in early April I found myself on the Nathan’s Famous Hot Dogs web site, staring at a blinking message soliciting applications to compete in the company’s annual hot dog eating contest that culminates with an orgy of consumption at Coney Island on July 4th, broadcast by ESPN. On a whim, I entered the competition’s qualifier in Charlotte, NC. My friends and family weren’t exactly thrilled by this decision.

“I suppose it’s better you than me,” my dad said.