Catch-22: Chapters 33-37

Chapters Read: 33. Nately’s Whore, 34, Thanksgiving, 35. Milo the Militant, 36. The Cellar, 37. General Scheisskopf

Page reached:: 377 of 448 (84.15%).

Status Report: Holy smokes, the bodies are starting to pile up. In the last 50 pages this book his gone from Hogan’s Heroes to Platoon.

Not that that’s a bad thing. After a hundred pages of holding pattern, having main characters expire left and right strikes me as a pretty good indicator that we are approaching resolution. This is how Hamlet ended too, as I recall.

For those of you who have not yet started the book, it’s probably too late to jump in now and still hope to finish by Friday. Thankfully, Heller summarizes the entire novel in the chapter Nately’s Whore, with this passage:

The middle-aged big shots would not let Nately's whore leave until they made her say uncle.

"Say uncle," they said to her.

"Uncle," she said.

"No, no. Say uncle."

"Uncle," she said.

"She still doesn't understand."

"You still don't understand, do you? We can't really make you say uncle unless you don't want to say uncle. Don't you see? Don't say uncle when I tell you to say uncle. Okay? Say uncle."

"Uncle," she said.

"No, don't say uncle. Say uncle."

She didn't say uncle.

"That's good!"

"That's very good."

"It's a start. Now say uncle."

"Uncle," she said.

"It's no good."

"No, it's no good that way either. She just isn't impressed with us. There's just no fun making her say uncle when she doesn't care whether we make her say uncle or not."

"No, she really doesn't care, does she? Say foot."


"You see? She doesn't care about anything we do. She doesn't care about us. We don't mean a thing to you, do we?"

"Uncle," she said.

She didn't care about them a bit, and it upset them terribly. They shook her roughly each time she yawned . . . Each time she slumped over with her eyes closed they shook her awake and made her say 'uncle' again. Each time she said 'uncle,' they were disappointed.

You can only have it if you don’t want it. Catch-22.

Good Gift Games Guide 2007

The 2007 Good Gift Games Guide appears in The Morning News today.

Previous G3 Guides:

And all my defective yeti game posts are available in the archives.


It was, as always, tough narrowing the field of good G3s down to just 10. Here are a few more, that just missed the cut.

Take It To The Limit (Burley Games, 1-6 players, 30 minutes, $60, family puzzle): This one was actually on the main G3 list until the very last moment, when I decided it was just too similar to Quirkle to merit inclusion. Nearly 25 years ago, Peter Burley invented Take It Easy, a clever Bingo-Meets-Jigsaw-Puzzles game that would unfortunately jam an Eagles song into your brain for weeks on end. Though that title is now out of print, Burley just released Take It To The Limit, an expanded version of the game that promises to get an entirely different Eagles song stuck in your head. As in its predescecer, Take It To The Limit has player placing hexagonal tiles and trying to form high-scoring, unbroken lines from one side of their gameboard to the other. Success requires a lot of luck, to be sure, but a little foresight will go a long way. [No Official Page | Boardgame Geek | Funagain]

If Wishes Were Fishes (Rio Grande Games, 2-5 players, 45 minutes, $35, family strategy): Catch a fish and you can do one of two thing with it: throw it back and have a wish granted, or sell it at market. Selling earns money and money’s the goal of the game, but the wishes confer a host of benefits to the recipients. What to do, what to do? The only board game I know of that comes complete with giant rubber worms. [Official Page | Boardgame Geek | Funagain]

Iliad (Asmodee Editions, 2-6 players, 45 minutes, $25, card): One of my favorite light strategy games is Condottiere, in which player struggle for control in Renaissance Italy. The same designer now brings us Iliad, which employs the same basic mechanisms but does away with the gameboard, tightens the playing time, and turns the who enterprise into something a bit more suitable for casual play. [Official Page | Boardgame Geek | Funagain]

To Court The King (Rio Grande Games, 2-5, 30 minutes, $30, dice): Yahtzee’s been done a million times over, but never quite like this. Roll dice, set aside the ones you want, key rerolling until you get (or failt to get) a specific combination. Nothing new so far. But To Court the King has a number of characters; roll the dice combination associatd with a particular charatcer, and you’ll get to use his special ability for the remainder of the game. The Jester allows you reroll a die; the Magician lets you change the value of a die to anything you want; the Nobleman gives you two additional dice; and so on. Works best with only two players, though three and four work as well. [Official Page | Boardgame Geek | Funagain]

Taluva (Rio Grande Games, 2-4, 40 minutes, $30, famiy strategy): Like the lovechild of Carcassonne and Settlers of Catan, Taluva has players building a volcanic island, and expanding their settlements with huts, towers, and temples. The rulebook is only 4 pages long, and an entire session can be completed in half an hour, but it feels like there’s a lot of game in there. [Official Page | Boardgame Geek | Funagain]

I’d also like to point out that, while it comes nowhere close to being a Good Gift Game (too long, too complicated, and requiring a few plays to fully appreciate), Twilight Struggle was by far my favorite game of the year. Read my review here.

Second Opinions

Don’t trust the yeti? Here are the highlights of some other “2007 best game of the year” lists.

German Game of the Year:

Deutscher Spiele Preis (A.K.A., “The Other German Game of the Year Award”):

International Gamers Award:

GAMES Magazine Awards:

Canonical G3s

While we’re on the subject, here are my all-time favorite G3s.

Ticket To Ride (Days of Wonder, 2-5 players, 45 minutes, $40, family strategy): Went directly to the top spot on my “Best G3s List” when it was released in 2004, and hasn’t been dislodged yet. In fact Ticket to Ride: Märklin, a newer edition of the game, even manages to improve upon the formula. Why is TtR so great? It’s familiar (much of the play is based on rummy), appealing (who doesn’t love trains?), easy to learn (figure five minutes for explaining the rules, tops) and competitive without being confrontational. Read my full review here. [Official site | Boardgame Geek (original) | Boardgame Geek (Märklin) | Funagain (original) | Funagain (Märklin)]

Carcassonne (Rio Grande Games, 2-5 players, 30 minutes, $25, family strategy): A serene game in which player collaborate and compete to build a pastoral landscape, full of roads, cities, farms, and monasteries. Since its release in 2002 a dizzying number of sequels and expansions for Carcassonne have been published, but the original is a fine introduction to the series. One of those rare games as accessible to kids as it is interesting to adults. [Official site | Boardgame Geek | Funagain]

Settlers of Catan (Mayfair Games, 3-4 players, 90 minutes, $42, family strategy): The game that launched the “German board game” craze of the mid-90s. Each players owns a small settlement on a island, and strives to become the dominant civilization by building roads, erecting cities, amassing armies, and raising sheep (yes, sheep). Trade is the key to success, as players may freely swap the natural resources they harvest; because these transactions can happen at any point during the game, every player is engaged all the time, even when it’s not their turn. A marvel of elegant game design. [Official site | Boardgame Geek | Funagain]

Slide 5 (Endless Games, 3-10 players, 30 minutes, $7.50, card): Curiously, many of the most enjoyable games are those that provoke the most agony in the players. Slide 5 (previously called Category 5 and, before that, Take 6!) is a prefect example. The deck contains cards numbered from 1 to 104. Every round begins with each person playing a card from his hand face down. After all are revealed simultaneously, the cards are added to rows in the center of the table in ascending numerical order. But if your card winds up as the sixth in a row, you take the other five as points–and you don’t want points. I’ve been playing this one for about a decade, and still enjoy every game. [Official site | Boardgame Geek | Funagain]

Lost Cities (Rio Grande Games, 2 players, 30 minutes, $23, two-player card): My default recommendation for a two-player game, unless I know the person well enough to suggest something more specific–and even then it’s often the one I advocate. Lost Cities is essentially rummy, but with a specialized deck and the tension-quotation set to overdrive. Despite its simplicity, I routinely cite it as one of my favorite games of all time. [Official site | Boardgame Geek | Funagain]

Wits & Wagers (North Star Games, 4-7 players, 30 minutes, $30, party): Finally, a trivia game for people who don’t like trivia games–like me. Every question has a numerical answer; players write their best guesses onto erasable cards, and then throw them into the center of the table. Now everyone has an opportunity to bet on which responses are correct, and they are not obligated to wager on their own. A game in which knowing who’s likely to know something is as useful as knowning the thing yourself. Read my full review here. [Official site | Boardgame Geek | Funagain]

Transamerica (Rio Grande Games, 2-6 players, 30 minutes, $28, family strategy): It’s so simple it’s just barely a game, but lots of fun nonetheless. Players are randomly assigned five cities on a stylized map of the United States. On every turn players build railroad track in an effort to connect all their burgs. But because no one “owns” any given stretch of track, you can link into your opponent’s network and use it to further your own goals. A typical game takes half an hour and can be played by persons of all ages and game-aptitude. Read my full review here. [Official site | Boardgame Geek | Funagain]

San Juan (Rio Grande Games, 2-4 players, 45 minutes, $25, card): Your goal: construct the town of San Juan, capital of Puerto Rico. Every card in the deck is a building, each with it’s own unique ability. To put a building into play, simply place it in front of you, and then discard additional cards from your hand equal to it’s price. A light “civiliation” game (i.e., one where you start with little and slowly build up your infastructure), it is one of those rare multi-player games than actually works great with only two. Read my full review here. [Official site | Boardgame Geek | Funagain]

Hoity Toity (Uberplay, 3-6 players, 60 minutes, $35, family strategy): In Hoity Toity, players purchase antiques and earn points by showing off their collections to others, while dispatching burglers to swipe the valuables of opponents and employing policemen to capture rival thieves. This game uses a game mechanism called “blind bidding” which is one of my least favorite, so it’s a testament to Hoity Toity’s quality that even I think it’s terrific fun. Read my full review here (the game was previously called “Adel Verpflichtet”) [Official site | Boardgame Geek | Funagain]

Apples to Apples (Out of the Box, 4-10 players, 30 minutes, $30, party): The Judge turns over an adjective card, like “Soft” or “Respectable;” everyone else slaps down Noun cards from their hands as quickly as possible. The Judge then decides which played card best matches his own–if the description is “Slimey,” will he select “Frog,” “Used Car Salesman,” or “Bill Clinton”? Perhaps the most accessible and laughter-inducing party game I’ve ever played! [Official site | Boardgame Geek | Funagain]

Catch-22: Chapters 24-32

Chapters Read: 24. Milo, 25. The Chaplain, 26. Aarfy, 27. Nurse Duckett, 28. Dobbs, 29. Peckem, 30. Dunbar, 31. Mrs. Daneeka, 32. Yo-Yo’s Roomies

Page reached:: 335 of 448 (74.78%).

Status Report: Sorry about the hiatus in status reports, folks. I spent much of last weekend reading Michael E. McCullough’s papers on gratitude in preparation for my Morning News essay on the subject. Then, the library informed me that my copy of Catch-22 was due, and I was unable to renew it because holds had been placed on all available copies. WTF LITERATI!!!!!¡!! When I initially checked the book out, there were no holds at all, so I can only assume that much of the Greater Seattle Area is frantically trying to jump into NaNoReMo 2007 at the last possible moment, a hypothesis corroborated by the fact that I had to visit five bookstores before I could rustle up a new copy. (“I know we had copy a few weeks ago,” the staff at the first four bookstores told me, “but now it looks like we are out …”)

ANYway …

The article about Catch-22 I linked to last week contained this passage:

The doubling of the digits [in the title of Catch-22 happens] to emphasize a major theme of the book: duplication and reduplication. When the book was first published, critics objected to its monotony and repetition. 'Heller's talent is impressive,' said Time magazine, 'but it is also undisciplined, sometimes luring him into bogs of boring repetition. Nearly every episode in Catch-22 is told and retold.'

Nice of Time to do my summary for me.

For this block of chapters the reader is like a paper boat caught in the eddies, looping around and around, hopefully gathering enough momentum to eventually escape and continue his journey. That’s an observation, not a complaint–though it’s probably best that I took a little break before tackling these hundred pages.

I do have a gripe, though. In my Layer Tennis commentary, I mentioned a concept called douche ecossaise. Literally the term means “alternating between very hot and very cold showers,” but it was later adopted by Le Theatre du Grand-Guignol to describe their macabre performances, which would switch back and forth between humor and horor and, in doing so, enhance the effect of each. was the reigning venue for all things macabre. The sudden shift between horror and humor–two opposing emotional “temperatures”–each heightening the effect of the other. Heller does this to good effect throughout the novel.

But in a few places he takes the joke a bit too far. In chapter 24, he has Milo bombing the American camp and getting off scot free; in chapter 31., he has Daneeka mistakenly reported as dead, and all the folks in the camp refusing to recognize that the doctor walking around in their midst is, in fact, still alive. The first scenario you can attribute to satire (after all, Milo is essentially a metaphor for capitalism, and a business conspiring with America’s enemies to make a buck isn’t exactly far-fetched), but the Doc. Daneeka bolding strides into the realm of farce. In doing so, it lessens the horror of subsequent events, rather than heightens them. Turn your story into a cartoon and no one is going to recoil in shock when characters are killed by falling anvils.

Criticizing a subplot of Catch-22 for being absurd is like complaining that trash compactor on the Death Star is scientifically implausible, I know. But a book as labyrinthine as Catch-22 needs some internal logic to keep things cohesive, and I thought these two vignettes violated what little the novel contains.

Favorite Passage:”What about my wife?” Colonel Scheisskopf demanded with disgruntled suspicion. “I’ll still be able to send for her, won’t I?”

“Your wife? Why in the world should you want to?”

“A husband and wife should be together.”

“That’s out of the question also.”

“But they said I could send for her!”

“They lied to you again.”

“They had no right to lie to me!’ Colonel Scheisskopf protested, his eyes wetting with indignation.

“Of course they had a right,” General Peckem snapped with cold and calculated severity, resolving right then and there to test the mettle of his new colonel under fire. “Don’t be such an ass, Scheisskopf. People have a right to do anything that’s not forbidden by law, and there’s no law against lying to you. Now, don’t ever waste my time with such sentimental platitudes again.”

Games: Coloretto & Zooloretto

Sometimes the simplest games are the most fun. And sometimes, not so much.

Take, for instance, the titles on my selection of Ten Great “Two-Minute” Card Games. Despite their simplicity, each has it’s fans. No Thanks! has been my filler of choice for the last few years, and I’ve been playing Slide 5 for a decade or so.

But one game on that list that has always left me cold is Coloretto. The game is played with a deck containing cards of seven different colors (the cards have no value; only their color counts). On a turn, a player does one of two things:

  • Turns over the next card from the deck and adds it to one of the rows; or
  • Takes a row of cards and drops out for the remainder of the round.

There is one row for every player (e.g., four rows in a four-player-game), and each row may contain a maximum of three cards. Once every player has taken a row, a new round begins.

When taking a row, a player puts the claimed cards into his play area. His goal is to get as many cards as possible in three colors only, and to avoid taking cards in any additional colors. At the end of the game, cards in the three chosen colors count as points, while cards in other colors count as negative points.

The central dilemma in the game quickly becomes apparent: you may draw a card in a color you desire, but you can’t keep it; instead you must add it to a row and hope that another player doesn’t claim that row before your next turn. Even if the row does gets back around to you, it’s unlikely that it won’t have been “poisoned”; upon drawing a card they don’t particularly want, players will often assess the available rows, identify one that is attractive to another player and add the junk card to it, thereby lessening its value considerably. This is what makes the game so tense–and occasionally maddening.

The “draw a card or take a row” element of Coloretto is the sort of twist that I typically love. But, for some reason, Coloretto just doesn’t do it for me.

So why is it on my list of “great” two-minute card games, you may ask. Well, I appear to be in the minority regarding my opinion of the game. It has a composite rating of 7.2 on Boardgame Geek, which is fairly phenomenal for a game this light. And, truth be told, I recognize its brilliance–which is to say, I appreciate Coloretto without particularly enjoying it. There just doesn’t seem to be enough game in there to hold my interest.

Enter Zooloretto. Designer Michael Schacht took the central mechanism of Coloretto and added sufficient bells and whistles to make the thing interesting, but not so many that the game leaves the realm of light, family fare.

Each player begins with a zoo, complete with three animal enclosures and a barn. Here again you can elect to draw on your turn, but now you draw tiles from a bag instead of cards from a deck. The tiles show either one of eight animals (kangaroos, flamingos, gorillas, etc.), market stalls, or coins. A draw tile must be added to one of the rows–or, in this incarnation, trucks–in the center of a table. A player may instead take a truck, distribute the animals and stalls in his zoo, and drop out for the remainder of the round. An enclosure can only hold one type of animals; animals that cannot be fit into the main zoo are relegated to the barn.

So far, pretty much the same as its predecessor. But this game introduces the concept of money, which can be spent to shuffle animals around, steal them from other players, or discard them entirely. (“Paulie Panda has been sent to live with Uncle Chester, who has a big farm he can roam in …”) Market stalls can also be used to eke out a few extra points here and there. As in the original, too much of a good thing is bad: at the end of the game you score points for animals in your enclosures, but lose them for the unloved critters in the barn.

Zooloretto is cute, easy to learn, short (figure 45 minutes a game), and not too confrontational (though there is an element of screw-your-buddy in the mix). My only gripe is that there are a couple of obscure rules regarding money that strike me as both overly finicky and largely unnecessary (yeah, I know I’m a hypocrite: lambaste Coloretto for having too few rules and Zooloretto for having too many). Minor grievances aside, though, Zooloretto is one of the best family light strategy games of 2007.

It Came From the Comments: Dissension! Dave writes: “I feel exactly the opposite. I find Coloretto to be a perfectly pleasant card game and Zooloretto to be unnecessary complication of the mechanics.” I’m sure a lot of people feel that way, though I’ve heard plenty take my position as well. I suspect it comes down to this: do you prefer elegance (Coloretto), or the “board game experience” (Zooloretto). I’m squarely in the latter camp.

Also, here’s Michael on Zooloretto’s suitably as a “family game”: “The first game ended in tears from my son, the second in tears from both of them … I think you underestimate the meanness of this game.” Actually, I don’t–much of the game comes down to making life miserable for your opponents. My mistake, I think, is calling this a “family game.” I was using “family game” as shorthand for “light strategy game for adults,” not “great for the yungins.” I will correct that now.

Odds and Ends

I’m busy working on a thing for a guy, so I’m going to fall behind the reading schedule for a few days. Will get caught up over the Thanksgiving break.

In the meantime, here’s a fascinating article about why Heller’s original title for the novel, Catch-18, was changed. A warning for those participating in NaNoReMo–it looks like there might be some spoilers in there. I don’t know for certain, because, at the first hint of them, I skipped ahead to the origins of The Postman Always Rings Twice and My Man Jeeves. Thanks to Zan and David for passing the article along.

Also, you may recall that I recently urged Democrats to please oh please not vote for Clinton. Now Eric Berlin explains why Republicans should steer clear of Gulliani. Seriously, Dems and Repubs should just make an agreement in advance: we won’t nominate our New Yorker if you won’t nominate yours. I don’t know how, in a time when the United States desperately needs unity, we wound up with the nation’s two most polarizing figures as front runners in a Presidential election.

Catch-22: Chapters 22 & 23

Chapters Read:22. Milo the Mayor, 23. Nately’s Old Man

Page reached:: 235 of 448 (52.46%).

Status Report: In the last thread, Greg remarked: “Is anyone else finding their humor being infected by the circular logic and non sequiturs used in the book? The witty remarks I make daily to friends and colleagues have started to sound like dialog from Catch-22.”

I thought nothing of the comment at the time. But the following day, I posted this to an online forum I frequent:

When more of a company's stock is purchased, the price per share goes up, right? And when more of it is sold, the price per share goes down. So say I buy a huge amount of company X's stock--so much stock that it actually causes the price per share to go up. Then I immediately sell it for a profit, causing the price to go back to it's original valuation. Then I buy it again ... and so on, continually making a profit out of thin air. Someone explain to me why this doesn't work--or does it.

And the day after that, I read chapter 22, in which Milo Minderbinder pretty much does exactly this.

It’s true! I’m infected with Heller-Ouroboros!

P.s. Halfway though, sucka.

Favorite Passage: “You put so much stock in winning wars,” the grubby iniquitous old man scoffed. “The real trick lies in losing wars, in knowing which wars can be lost. Italy has been losing wars for centuries, and just see how splendidly we’ve done nonetheless. France wins wars and is in a continual state of crisis. Germany loses and prospers. Look at our recent history. Italy won a war in Ethiopia and promptly stumbled into serious trouble. Victory gave us such insane delusions of grandeur that we helped start a world war we hadn’t a chance of winning. But now that we are losing again, everything has taken a turn for the better and we will certainly come out on top again if we succeed in being defeated.”

Words Looked Up:

    Pomade: A perfumed ointment, especially one used to groom the hair.

    Panatella: American Spanish, meaning ‘a long thin biscuit’ and Italian, meaning ‘small loaf’.

    Concupiscent: A strong desire, especially sexual desire; lust.

    Crump (as in “Tubas crumped”): 1. to crunch or make a crunching sound, as with the teeth; 2. (of an artillery shell) to land and explode with a heavy, muffled sound; 3. to make a crunching sound, as in walking over snow. (Hmm, I think Heller mighta just made that one up.)

Scholar Squiggle

So how is Squiggle?

Well, I’m glad you asked. Squiggle is terrific.

He started preschool a few months ago, a small class run by FEAT (Families for Early Autism Treatment). Ten students total, ranging from the middle to the high-end of the spectrum. One boy shares Squiggle’s hyperlexia, and I understand they get along like constants and vowels. They spend their free time happily writing words and numbers–if not “together,” exactly, then at least in close proximity to one another.

At the Easel

(An aside here, for the young men of Teh NetarWeb: don’t make the same mistake I did and fail to become a special education teacher. It’s a field populated exclusively by smart, beneficent, and heart-breakingly lovely lasses. I am so totally not kidding about this. Four years at a university and I did not spend as much time in the company of pretty college girls as Squiggle has in the two years since his diagnosis.)

The preschool occupies the upstairs floor of a house of worship, which means that I now got to church several times week. A very strange twist of events for a guy like me. It would be as if a religious person were to attend one of my Secret Atheist Meetings, where we plot our War On Christmas and write letters to the Supreme Court urging them to replace “In God We Trust” on coins with “Ask Us About Our Secular Humanism!” We are of course deathly afraid that Squiggle might catch The God while he’s there, but we have a plan in place: if anyone speaks to him about how to live a meaningful life or help his fellow man, he knows to immediately pull his emergency copy of “The Basic Writings of Bertrand Russell” from his backpack and hold it in front of himself while slowly backing away.


Squiggle is still not much of a communicator. He’s great at labeling things and he vocabulary is pretty vast, but he rarely makes requests or tells us things unprompted. It’s like the idea of doing so doesn’t even occur to him. Still, there are great improvements. He’s begun using complete sentences, which is a pretty big deal. He’s gotten better at selecting from a verbal list of things to choose from (in the past he would just reflexively repeat whatever you said last). And he’s become drunk on the intoxicating power of “no.” In the space of a few months he went from a Know-It-All to a No-It-All, cavalierly nixing all of our proposals.

Me: It’s pretty late. Do you want to go to bed?

Squiggle: No go to bed.

M: Do you want to read a book?

S: No read a book?

M: Do you want to do a puzzle?

S: No do a puzzle.

M: Do you want to sing a song?

S: No sing a song.

M: Do you want to play a game?

S: No play a game.

M: Well, then what do you want to do?

{Long pause while Squiggle considers.}

S: Go to bed.

He’s gotten to be such a contrarian that he naysays all comers, even himself. One recent morning he was in the next room coloring, and I heard him sing: “Take me out to the balllllll game. Take me out to the–no song!” {Silence}.

Punk'in Patch

By the way, someone asked what Squiggle did for Halloween. The answer is: fell asleep in the car on the way over to our friend’s house. We threw him on a spare bed and he snoozed through all the mayhem.

S’okay, he didn’t have a costume anyhow, just a stylish shirt with pumpkins on it. And he got plenty o’ Halloween at preschool that day. While he was there, I got an IM from The Queen:

The Queen: When I dropped him off, his teacher was wearing pumpkin glasses
Q: But she had to take them off
Q: Because they were terrifying the kids.

Me: hahaha
Me: That’s the great thing about Halloween with autistic kids
Me: they’re easy to scare.
Me: “Today we’re going to drive to pre-school …
Me: by a different route!!”

Anyway, long story short, Squiggle is healthy, happy, charming as all get-out, and just about the–no post!

Catch-22: Chapters 19-21

Chapters Read: 19. Colonel Cathcart, 20. Corporal Whitcomb, 21. General Dreedle

Page reached:: 209 of 448 (46.65%).

Status Report: In my recent review of Primer, I wrote: “I’m a total sucker for movies that break open your head and punch you in the brain, so Primer was right up my alley. … It’s one of those films, like Memento and Mulholland Dr., that pretty much necessitates repeated viewing.” These movies have come to be known as “puzzle films,” because rather than simply handing the audience a linear narrative, the director instead distributes clues throughout the picture like a farmer throwing seeds into a field. It’s up to the viewer to find all the relevant information and piece it back together, to have any hope of understanding the plot.

Now, here’s a passage from General Dreedle:

Major _____ de Coverley was an ominous, incomprehensible presence who kept him constantly on edge and of whom even Colonel Korn tended to be wary. Everyone was afraid of him, and no one knew why. No one even knew Major _____ de Coverley's first name, because no one had ever had the temerity to ask him.

At long last we know what the underscores are about. And the reader is learning additional details about other previously underexplained events as well … so long as he’s alert enough to spot ’em.

This aspect of Catch-22 really appeals to me. Though it’s unlikely that I’m going to immediately read the book a second and third time after completion, to see what I missed the first time through.