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Chronicle of the NonPop Revolution

The Essay
Show #236
The Tournament
David Gunn

Around the third week of November, many western sentients, no matter how tradition-resistant they think they are, still find themselves basting wattle-headed poultry carcasses and debating 17th century land rights with animatronic Pilgrims, when they ought to be preparing for the annual whiskers six-draw tournament. This year falling on November 22nd, Weaselween -- hard and fast, like a locomotive dropped from the top of the Kuala Lumpur gazebo where the competition took place -- les favoris six dessinent le grand défi attracted no fewer than eighty teams, yet simultaneously no more than twelve, one logical implausibility among many that the game champions. In an attempt to place the contestants on a more level playing field, the Rules Committee this year installed gimbals on all of the tables at which matches were played. Unfortunately, a subsequent rule change disqualified all card sharpeners and handlers who used matches, or any incendiary device, as part of their stratagems. Employing for the first time a round robin type of competition, the players were required to dress up in giant bird costumes and keep the grounds clear of worms in ever-widening circular sweeps when they weren't engaged in actual tournament activity. This led to the first fatality of the tournament, as the lone player from Tuktoyatuk, Northwest Territories was concentrating on the slithery nematodes before him when he should have been dodging the locomotive that had broken loose from the gazebo above him.

Grabbing an early lead in the sesquipentafinal contest was the team from Brazil, whose 40 players repeatedly bested their opponents by sheer corporeal volume alone. The deftness of their sleight-of-handlers also figured into Brazil's dominance, as they proved to be the first team on record to successfully utilize, let alone comprehend, a thumb and gander abstraction. Here's how they did it: The card sharpener drew a conclusion from the discard pile, passed it to the backup referee representing Utopian Linoleum, Brazil's cardversary, who then began to send out digital signals -- that is, finger gestures, not analog computer data. An observant handler from the more physically capacious of the two teams deduced that the finger motions, when recontextualized into hand shadows, suggested a metaphysical goose, a male one, one with opposable thumbs, and one that had the ability to formulate abstract ideas. This handler further noticed that the goose's bill was covered with krill-sized organisms that had arranged themselves into a pattern that spelled out E=mc², which, of course, was Albert Einstein's winning six-draw formula. The handler then frantically motioned to his teammate to get rid of her Bunyip Queens, a radical strategy in itself. She did so, though how she managed the feat when it wasn't her turn to play isn't known and may never be satisfactorily explained. The referee, a competent player in his own right, saw the writing on the wall and immediately ceased his gesticulations. But it was too late. The writing lingered there long enough for the Brazilian team to memorize the words, which were an assortment of whiskers six-draw witticisms. When it was their turn again, they recited the numerous japes and quips en masse, a rich cacophony that was not unlike 400 owls attempting to outwit a giant badger in the rain. So impressed was the judge-in-absentia that, after all of the six-draw jokes had been uttered, and just before a second locomotive plunged onto the playing field from the gazebo roof, she awarded forty face card fandango to the Brazilian players post-humorously.

As is the custom of the tournament, the final competition was postponed until next year, meaning that, should the Rules Committee at last amend this particularly bizarre convention, the November 2000 games will have to deal with in-arrears finalists from the past 565 years.

The bizarre conventionality of Kalvos & Damian's New Music Bazaar, on the other hand, is absolutely current, as this 236th episode will likely bear out. "Bear Out," by the way, is both a speculative six-draw dealer's subterfuge, and the Wisconsin college mascot that will, in a future essay, have more than customary relations with Kalvos.