About The Diplomatic Pouch

Manus Hand, Publisher

Tsk, Tsk!

You're probably tired of me starting off each issue with an apology for the lateness of the issue. So I'll make it short, but I still feel it necessary, especially since this is the latest the Pouch has ever ever been.

So I'm sorry, and I want to thank all of you who sent me all those encouraging e-mail, saying things ranging from "Where's The Pouch?" to "I look forward to The Pouch; when will it be out?" to "I sure hope The Pouch will be out soon" to "Hey, hurry up with The Pouch, I'm having withdrawals!"

Knowing no one really cares about why The Pouch is late, I'm going to go ahead and tell you anyway. And you know why? Because I've decided that my longstanding rule that The Pouch will only cover 100% Diplomacy and nothing else is a bit harsh. I'm easing that restriction back to 99%, and even that will only apply to me. It's nice to be the publisher.

In brief, what I'm saying is that I've learned to appreciate one of the things that postal 'zines have: a bit of non-Dip banter. Well, I don't know if appreciate is the right word, but in postal 'zines, the readership gets to know the publisher just a little, at least. So, since the delay in publication was due to the effects of my own real life, I'll discuss it just a bit here. Know that I'm doing this in the hopes that it will be appreciated and not looked on as a waste of valuable space that could be used for Diplomacy. I guess that from my sparse experience with postal zines, I get the feeling that it's actually looked forward to by some readers. As for The Pouch Zine, I have always stuck hard to my own personal preference: give me Diplomacy, the whole Diplomacy, and nothing but the Diplomacy in a Diplomacy 'zine.

So don't worry; I won't be long in discussing my real life, and then, down below, towards the end of this article (just to make sure you wade through the real life stuff), I'll pop right back to the important stuff: Diplomacy and a number of significant happenings in The Pouch world.

My Real Life (Yawn!)

So okay, why was The Pouch so late? What is it in my real life that could have screwed up my priorities so much? Surprisingly, it was a number of things (I say "surprisingly" because even I am surprised that I have so much of a life outside Diplomacy).

First, there's the usual stuff, which I won't go into: work and health. I am enjoying my job a lot and find myself spending off hours with it. I had a spat with some flu-like thing for a while, and though I only missed a few days of work, the fact was that I was pretty much useless for around three weeks. Bored yet? If not, I'll also toss in the fact that a lot of the late night hours I usually devote to The Pouch were being used up by a ravenous appetite for books. I went to Las Vegas for a weekend (won a few bucks on the Denver Broncos, while there) and took a book with me. Beginning then, I found myself raging through book after book, pulling them out of my library down in my basement, etc., etc. Doing a lot of reading. It's another usual thing, but I'm doing more of it than usual.

Now the more unusual stuff. For one thing, there's my new electronic keyboard. I find myself spending a heck of a lot of time with it, banging out tunes, putting together MIDI files to make the thing play songs much better than my two-fingers worth of talent could ever do without help from the computer. I can tell a computer how to play pretty dang good music; I just can't teach my hands (or I no longer see a need to). In fact, one major reason I'm able to get this article written is that right now there seems to be something wrong with the power cord for the keyboard. Otherwise, I'd be sitting here (as I've done countless times) staring at the screen that should be busy editing Pouch articles, while my fingers jump around on the ivories and ebonies until the hour is so late that I have to go to bed (well, they're not really ivories and ebonies -- they're all plastics, of course -- but you get my point).

For another thing, my Dead Presidents Website has gotten popular again. I was featured in the New York Times Magazine (the interviews, and photo prep for which took a surprising amount of time) and then this got picked up by some local press as well. I'm still waiting for the call from David Letterman, but the New York Times guys say its a bigger possibility than ever.... A few years ago, I had a spate of publicity for the Website -- I was on The Discovery Channel at the height of the publicity -- and now history seems to be repeating itself.

Okay, Enough of That, Now Back to the Diplomacy

Well, as everyone knows, one of the biggest events in the history of the game itself transpired between the publication of the last Zine issue and this one: the gaming conglomerate Hasbro bought Avalon Hill and the U.S. rights to Diplomacy. We in the hobby are looking forward to what we hope and believe will be a dramatic push of support for The Game. Some initial contacts have been started to connect the hobby with Hasbro, let them know about us and the agreements we have with Avalon Hill. You can be sure that The Pouch will keep you up to date on anything that comes down the pike.

Events In Pouchland

Despite the appearances of stagnation between issues, much has happened here.

First, Jamie McQuinn has retired from the DP Council, after two years of hard work maintaining the Postal Section. Stepping in to replace him is one of the biggest names in the postal world; indeed, in the hobby itself. We welcome Stephen Agar to the Council, and he has already started updating and tailoring the Postal Section. Check it out and look for more updates as time goes on. Stephen has already bounced some of his plans off me, and I think postal players are in for a treat.

For another thing, Eric Hunter has taken over control of the YARS rating system currently used to rate PBEM players (in the E-mail section, of course). Thanks very much, Eric! I am perhaps the happiest person in the whole hobby to have you on board for this effort.

Oh, and speaking of PBEM ratings systems, the EIDRaS (Elo-inspired) system is still in the works (right, Tony and George?)

Okay, I Think That's It

If I think of anything else, I'll cover it in the Pouch Deposits column. So off you go, like good Pouch readers, who have been so cruelly starved for your fix. I'll just leave you with this piece of good news, and that is that the next issue of The Pouch is due out very soon. I can't promise that it'll be on time, but it sure won't be this late! Believe it or not, I've already edited much of it. (Any authors who expected their contribution to appear in this issue will probably see them in the next one.)

Enjoy The Pouch!

Manus Hand

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