About The Diplomatic Pouch

Manus Hand, Publisher

Hi ho, everyone! Thanks for picking up the latest issue of The Zine, and thanks for your patience with me in getting it out so late. I suppose I should try to make my excuses for this tardiness before taking up any other subject, so here we go.

As those of you who have been around since the formation of The Pouch know, one of the reasons I created The Diplomatic Pouch was the apparent crumbling of Diplomacy World. Although Douglas Kent has since ably revived the flagship zine of the postal hobby, there was a period where new issues were promised on a schedule, but the schedule date came and went without issuance repeatedly. Wanting real badly to see in print the second article I had contributed to DW, I set out to create a Zine which would publish on schedule, come hell or high water. This noble goal has been tempered by real-life, and now the plan is to "publish close to schedule." I've never been two weeks late (this issue is coming out a week and a half late, and this is the worst I've ever done), and with luck I never will be.

Why, then, is this issue late at all? Well, there are a number of reasons. The number one reason is that I just didn't have or make the necessary time to edit the issue. I got busy with other things (don't worry, they were Dip-related or at least Dip-esque) and time slipped away. Second, many articles in this issue were submitted late. This isn't a knock on any of the authors, especially since I explicitly granted permission for late (i.e., after the scheduled publication date) submission. One author I know well had the unluck to fall victim to a violent attack of bronchitis, which left him laid up for weeks. Immediately after this, he was suddenly away at a conference, and then his wife was hospitalized! All during August and September! All is well, I am assured, at his household now, and I am happy to hear it. Crowning all this is that I had to re-learn the same lesson I learned last year, and that is that August 31 is a horrible choice for a pubication day because of the Labor Day holiday here in the U.S. Like last year, the holiday further screwed up any hope of getting the issue out on time. I think that from now on, you can count on the Fall Movement issue being behind a few days.

Help dippouch!

Speaking of behind, those of you who are investors or players in the LoebBourse game dippouch are surely wondering how and when this game, which has fallen behind, will get caught up. Stephen Beaulieu, the master and banker for the game, has suddenly become overbusy with real-life, and dippouch has had to take a backseat. Stephen has asked for a leave of absence from the DP Council, until his time frees up, and he is looking for a kindly soul to take over the dippouch game for him. This paragraph is a blatant campaign advertisement to help him find that person. If I can toot my own horn a bit, both Andy Schwarz and Stephen were made "Hobby Names" by their acceptance of this task, and I can promise the next Master the highest praise ever to emit from my fingers. If you can help out by taking over for Stephen, please let him know immediately at hippo@mail.utexas.edu.

Another Blatant Plug

Have you ever wondered how the world has managed for so long without a Diplomatic Pouch T-Shirt? More to the point, have you wondered how you have done without one? Well, if so, stop fretting and outfit yourself with the absolute latest in fashion! See what you'd be getting yourself into by looking at the photographs of the World DipCon, elsewhere in this issue, where you'll see yours truly and other members of the Pouch crowd all decked out in our diplomatic best.

Issue Credits

Once again, I find myself in the debt of Simon Szykman, who (as usual) did yeoman work in editing many of the articles in this issue before I freed up to share those duties with him. Thanks again, Simon! I couldn't do it without you, and I want everyone to know that.

Jamie McQuinn Joins The Council!

Many of you are already familiar with Jamie McQuinn, a longtime PBM'er who also participates in the PBEM forums. Jamie, who started his own postal 'zine, Crossing the Rubicon earlier this year, also decided he could use the extra agony of maintaining the Diplomatic Pouch's Postal Section! That section, which had pretty much languished since its inception, with haphazard additions which were made whenever something crossed my desk, is now managed by Jamie on a fulltime basis and the difference is very noticeable. Out of date information was immediately removed or updated, the zine list is filling out to become, as we hoped it would be, the definitive listing of Diplomacy 'zines. All this because of Jamie's welcome committment to The Pouch. Welcome to the DP Council, Jamie!

News on Other Pouch Sections!

And if that wasn't enough, the Pouch's PBEM section may get a leader soon. A raised hand was found and you can look for an announcement in the next issue and some new energy in the E-mail Section. With The Zine and the Face-to-Face sections in my pile, and with Simon handling the Online Resources and the Showcase (until Stephen's return), the Council is in pretty good shape.

Speaking of the Showcase, Simon informs me that a couple of the games that are being run will be finishing up soon, so look for them to appear soon for your entertainment and educational pleasure! And feel free to contact Simon if you'd like to run a showcased game, or if you have a complete game which you'd like to have on display in the Showcase. Simon can help you determine if it's the kind of thing we're looking for, in terms of being of broad appeal and instructive use to the community.

Stroking the Ego

This humble Zine, it seems, was nominated for the annual Runestone Poll, which is the rating system for Diplomacy 'Zines. Thinking that The Pouch Zine was not eligible, and that only postal 'zines were to be voted on, I was tremendously surprised to have found that not only was The Pouch nominated, but that it garnered enough votes to place ninth! And this was in a field of voters whose primary knowledge is the PBM 'zines, many if not most of whom have not seen The Pouch! Needless to say, I'm a proud papa, and I want to thank both the Runestone Poll for mentioning The Pouch and you, the Pouch's loyal readership, for ranking it as one of the top ten 'zines in the world!

Since the last issue, The Zine also received its first print (non-electronic) review! Thanks to everyone who is getting the word out about The Diplomatic Pouch!

And now, since Simon told me that if I didn't write about it, he would, I am forced to mention here my own nomination for the 1996 Don Miller Award, which is given annually for service to the Diplomacy hobby. This nomination came as a complete shock to me, and I can only say to those who nominated and voted for me that the honor is truly and deeply appreciated. At the time of this writing, the results of the voting are not known, but I consider it the greatest honor to have simply been nominated and to share the ballot with such exalted names.

Now Back to Your Regularly Scheduled Rambling....

With hopes that what I wrote above will help to put the dippouch game back on solid footing for a while, I'll turn to other matters I wanted to discuss. Perhaps no one will be surprised that my choice this issue is the sixth World Diplomacy Convention, which I (and so many others) attended at Columbus, Ohio earlier this year. Elsewhere in this issue, we've assembled remarks on the event from me and a good number of other attendees, and there are even some accompanying photographs for you to look at.

What I wanted to discuss here in the "About" article is how some of my WDC impressions tie in with The Zine. In the remarks I'm about to make, I want to be careful that I don't sound like a Howard Hughes type hermit, so in case I do, I thought I'd just say up front that I'm not. At least no one seems to think I am, but then, since I never get out, I never hear from anyone. (Just kidding.)

As has been mentioned in these pages, I have been repeatedly asked to put more "personality" articles into The Zine. While I've promised to do so, and while my (legitimate) defense for not doing so is that I can only publish what I receive as contributions, in truth I've often wondered why this has been asked for. In my experience as a PBEM player, I never really craved to know much about any of the players I played against. Sure, sometimes we would strike up extra-game conversations and I have in fact gained some close friends, but I never really thought of it as the kind of information which should be organized and presented, or indeed the kind of information which would interest people. After all, I don't have the standard board (nor anything else) tattooed on my body, so why should the readership of what I planned to be a serious Diplomacy magazine want to know all that much about me?

My attendance at World DipCon VI changed all that. I suppose it was my long (and, sadly, now re-begun) hiatus from face-to-face play which distanced me from the people aspect of the game. I am not saying this to in any way degrade the PBEM game, which I still believe is the best forum of play for the game, but there is a huge aspect of personality which is found in FTF play and not in PBEM play, and now I understand not only why I've been asked to provide these kind of articles, but also why they are wanted.

Though I had earlier corresponded via e-mail with a fairly good number of the people I finally met at Columbus, the physical meeting of them enabled a closer bonding. (I'm afraid I'm sounding like someone who lives in a cave and is just realizing the benefits of interpersonal interaction, coming out of the cave and telling everyone else who already knows about my "discovery.") To take only one example, though, while Pitt Crandlemire and I had coordinated efforts before, and while I had done the same with Simon Szykman, when we got together there was a sudden realization, I think, among the three of us, that we didn't even know how well we clicked. E-mail is fast enough and offers a good structured conversation, which enables a lot of good communication, but there is still something to be said for good old fashioned sitting down and eating with someone. Since the Con, the three of us (Larry Peery called us "The Three Dipketeers") have not only corresponded on a daily basis, but dozens and scores of times on a daily basis. Though I live in Colorado, Pitt in Massachusetts, and Simon in Maryland, plans are underway for the three of us to get together again yet this year.

As I say, this is only one example, and I have also struck up a good number of other correpondences with the people I met at the Con. There is a lot more to be said for "putting a face with a name" than even I thought, and so it is with this renewed insight, bolstered by my new and old Diplomacy buddies -- the best friends I have in the world -- that I promise the Pouch will start providing more of what you FTF and PBM players have been clamoring for...now that I understand why. I'll try to do so (for all the "personality" subjects) while maintaining a firm basis in Diplomacy, of course. I mean, after all, no one really cares what the name of my dog was when I was a child (or do you? -- it's actually a pretty good story, and now that I think about it, I sure miss that dog).

As always, I hope you enjoy The Pouch!

Manus Hand, Publisher

If you wish to e-mail feedback on this article to the author, and clicking on the mail address above does not work for you, feel free to use the "Dear DP..." mail interface.