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Bastard by Max de Radiguès

This graphic novel grabbed me from the first scenes and never let go. It starts out at a taco restaurant, where a woman named April (or is it May?) is recognized by an old friend. “I’m sorry but you must be confusing me for someone else”. She goes to a motel, where a youngster named Eugene (honest) is watching tv. She tells him “we gotta move”.

This is kind of a noir road graphic novel. Part of its success lies in its focus on the family relationship. It appears that a single mom and son are on the lam and the youngster is totally hip to what is going on – except the relationship is not exactly as it seems.

The clean and sparse drawings are very expressive and help drive the story forward, making this book a real page-turner. I’m looking forward to reading Max de Radiguès’ collaboration with Charles Forsman, Hobo Mom.

Bastard, by Max de Radiguès, 2018. Fantagraphics Books. Recommended.

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Disgraced chess player “retires” after getting caught

This is the stuff of spy movies. Chess grandmaster Igors Rausis fessed up to cheating and has “retired” from chess after being caught cheating. Apparently he was confronted with a grainy photo showing him sitting fully clothed on a toilet with a phone during a match. A phone was then found in the stall. Rausis later confessed. The articles I read did not suggest how the photo was taken. Did somebody sneak into the bathroom and snap a photo over the wall of the stall? Or perhaps there was a hidden camera in the ceiling. It seems the chess mandarins were suspicious and had been on the case.

Suspicion was aroused because Rausis had a remarkable record for a player his age – 58. He became the oldest player to rank his way into an elite club – the top 100 players in the world. Super high-level chess (and the same goes for the game of Go) has been a young person’s game.

I suppose the temptation can exist due to the strength of robot or computer players. In chess and in Go as well, the strongest AI players regularly beat the best humans. I haven’t played any chess in many years and I was never very strong at it, but I am an avid Go player (I’m puny and weak in the scheme of things, but I love the game). It’s now possible to have a crazy-strong AI in chess without having a super-computer.

In Go, I know it is possible to run an AI on a phone or iPad simultaneous to a human game. I wonder how much cheating goes on during online Go play? It would not surprise me at all to learn that there are people out there who cheat simply to look like winners. I know there are sandbaggers out there, people who pretend they are lower level players in order to win games.

It seems crazy that people would do such a thing. There have been cheaters in many sports, even at the highest levels, and in other games as well, such as bridge and also in video games. For some people the game is all about being the victor at all costs. The human condition is very strange indeed.

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Question Mark

Question Mark

I was out in the garden the other day and saw this lovely butterfly. I can’t recall ever seeing one like it. I thought it might be an Eastern Comma butterfly, but I asked naturalist Miles Hearn if he was familiar with this one and he suggested it might be the Question Mark butterfly.

I looked it up. The Question Mark is olygonia interrogationis. Apparently the underside of the wings provides camouflage protection, making it look like a dead leaf. On the underside of the hind wings, there are silver markings which resemble question marks, hence the common name.

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Kamayan feast at Tinuno

Tinuno is a Filipino restaurant located on Howard St, here in Toronto, in the Bloor & Sherbourne area. They basically serve Kamayan feast. What is that, you ask? Well, they serve a combination of grilled items, layed out on banana leaves. There are shrimp, muscles, squid, fish as well as bbq pork, ocra and eggplant, all on top of garlic sticky rice. In the corners there are piles of mangos and some orange slices.

The unusual thing about this eatery is that you eat these Kamayan feasts with your hands (you wear ultralight plastic gloves, which are provided). It’s simple grilled fare (with the exception of the skewered grilled pork, which has some kind of bbq sauce on it), nicely prepared and presented. It was all excellent. I especially enjoyed the grilled milkfish and the bbq pork skewers.

You need at least 2 people to get the feast (I don’t know what single diners do there) and the more people you have, the more grilled food they pile on. Dinner is $15/person, very reasonable for what you get. This place turns over a lot of customers. They were almost full when we arrived, but by the time we finished dinner, there was a line-up of people waiting to get in.

Tinuno isn’t the kind of place you sit around for a long time over drinks. Since the menu is so simple, you get served dinner fairly quickly after you sit down, and while there is a simple dessert menu, we were full after all that food, and headed on home after dinner.

If you plan to eat at Tinuno, make a reservation online. It’s a busy place, and for good reason – tasty food at reasonable prices. Recommended.