Apocalypse Now

Tom and Harry

A WaterBird Game


Move 1: "Purple Haze" in 3

Harry won the toss, and made his first move. He tapped the words "Purple Haze" into the GameBoard displayed on his IBM clone at position 3, and pushed the "send" button. He already had his second move in mind: "Orange Crush".

When Harry's move popped up on Tom's board, Tom guessed his old friend was likely thinking about Hendrix and maybe LSD -- which wasn't an area that he, Tom, wanted to focus on. So he reminded himself that neither of the players' first moves can score, and decided to nudge things in the direction of US military history -- a topic he was more familiar with, and one where he might well be able to leave Harry stranded...



Move 2: "Civil War" in 4

Tom played "Civil War" in the 4th position.



Move 3: "Orange Crush" in 1

But Harry didn't pick up Tom's bait. Instead, he played "Orange Crush" in position 1 as he'd planned. He claimed three links with "Purple Haze" in 3, one because both are songs, the second because both are the names of chemicals, and a third because both have a color in their name.

A typical Harry move, Tom thought to himself -- all rock'n'roll, and seemingly nothing to show for two years of college education. Besides, can you really call "Orange Crush" a chemical? Soft drinks may contain a lot of additives, but it's not as though they're manufactured by Dow Chemical.

Just to collect his thoughts together, Tom asked who had written "Orange Crush" and what album it was on, and Harry told him it was a song about the defoliant Agent Orange used in Vietnam, from the REM album, "Green".

Okay, okay, Tom thought. Maybe Orange Crush was made by Dow Chemical after all.



Move 4: "Greens" in 8

After a little thought, Tom played "Greens" in 8 with an air of triumph, claiming seven points: two, because "Green" connects as a color with both "Orange" and "Purple", another because the "Greens" as a political party would be opposed to destruction of forest ecologies, and thus to Orange Crush as a defoliant, another for the connection between "Greens" and the album, Green, one for the Irish St. Patrick's day Green contrasting with the Orange of the Orangemen in Northern Ireland, and another with "Civil War" at 4 because that's what the conflict between Orange and Green in Ireland boils down to, and one more for the color connection between Green and the Grays and Blues of the American Civil War. A little scholarship, a little creativity -- this was going to be a walkover.



Move 5: "Purple Heart" in 5

If Tom wanted a military Game, Harry would oblige him. He played "Purple Heart" in position 5, claiming two links, one (Purple to Purple) with "Purple Haze" at 5, and one to "Green" at 8, because Green Berets often won Purple Hearts.



Move 6: "Altered States" in 2

Tom figured he had Harry on the run, and could afford a little subtlety in his next move. He played "Altered States" in 2 for three points, one because "Purple Haze" (at 3) is a drug, one with "Orange Crush" at 1 because REM stands for rapid-eye-movement, i.e. dreaming, which is an altered state (he toyed with the idea of claiming it also stands for random excess memory, which comes to the same thing if you think about it), and one (he was very proud of this) with "Civil War" at 4 because the Civil War had to do with the secession of the South, which had to do with altering the States...



Move 7: "Apocalypse Now" in 9

This was the point where Harry moved decisively onto Tom's turf to rout him. He played "Apocalypse Now" in position 9, claiming six points: one because it was a film, like "Altered States", one because it's set in the Vietnam War, which was a "Civil War" as far as the Vietnamese were concerned, two because it involves a psychedelic drug episode (connecting to both "Purple Haze" and "Altered States"), and another because there's a fogger-flare on the river at one point in the movie, which the Sam Bottoms character actually calls "purple haze" -- and a sixth and last point because Kurtz, the character played by Brando in the movie, is a Green Beret colonel -- and for all Harry knew, he'd probably won a Purple Heart or two into the bargain.



Move 8: "Hearts of Darkness" in 7

Tom, who loved the movie as it happens, and revered Coppola, was surprised and a little irritated at the way Harry had scooped him on his own territory, and played "Hearts of Darkness" in the 7th position, claiming three points, one because it was the name of the documentary about the making of "Apocalypse Now", one because the name was based on Joseph Conrad's short novel, Heart of Darkness, which also provided the original idea for "Apocalypse Now", though both these facts would probably be new to Harry -- and a last point for the connection (Heart to Hearts) with "Purple Heart" at 5.

Tom felt confident that Harry couldn't do much with either of the two positions (6 and 10) that were left -- he could hardly imagine himself scoring more than two points from either one of them, and with the score now running 13-11 in his favor, he was pretty sure he could at least match anything Tom came up with.



Move 9: "Glory" in 6

Harry went in for the kill, playing "Glory" in 6th place, claiming seven points!

One with "Civil War" at 4, because "Glory" figures in both the opening line ("Mine eyes have seen the glory") and the chorus ("Glory, glory, hallelujah!") of the Battle Hymn of the Republic, which was written as a Civil War anthem. Another because it was the Union flag's nickname -- "Old Glory" -- during the "Civil War". Two more because "Glory" is the name of a film (link with "Altered States" at 2) about black and white "Civil War" soldiers (yet another link with 4). Yet another because "Tunes of Glory," an old Alec Guinness flick he once snoozed through on cable, was about the "civil war" between two Scottish colonels during peacetime (another link with 4). One "because you can certainly call glory an altered state" (link with 2) -- Tom had to admit that Harry was beginning to show signs of real thought here: maybe his college education was brushing off on him after all. And finally, "because you could say that glory figured in what Willard's commanders called Col. Kurtz's 'temptation to play God' in Apocalypse Now (link with 9)."

Tom felt the last link was stretching things a bit, and began to complain. But Harry reminded him that his own "altering the States" link was quite questionable, too, and Tom decided to let things rest.

Seven points, Harry had just claimed. Leaving him with 5 points to make up just to break even, and six if he still hoped to win. Tom frankly didn't see how he could do it...



Move 10: "The End" in 10

...and then he had a brainwave. The Game, after all, was only a game, and winning or losing wasn't really so very important in the Bigger Scheme of Things. He'd play "The End" in position 10, and claim three points -- one (with "Apocalypse Now" at 6) because the Doors song of that name was featured in the movie, one (also with 6) because "The End Times" was what the word "Apocalypse" was all about, anyway -- and the last one (with "Glory" at 9) because in The End Times, Christ is supposed to return "in clouds of glory"...

I may have lost the damn Game, he thought to himself, but playing "The End" as my final move is a hell of a neat way to wrap things up.

"That's it," he tapped into his computer. "The End. Finis."



Apocalypse Now

A WaterBird Game


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