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by The Impeccably Arranged Snark of The West Pacific Master Dispatch. . 631 reads.

The Western Post - May 2021

Announcements!

  • Join in on drafting LinkCommend TAO, the most recent Regional Commendation nominee. You can get involved in the Hall of Nations and discuss things like the Regional Commendations by becoming a citizen Linkhere!

Hall of Nations Update
By Aluminum Oxynitride and Zoran, respectively former and incumbent Speakers

Regional Commendations – April was a busy month for the Hall of Nations. The Regional Commendation of Elegarth was finished, put to a vote, and passed 23-0. The next proposal is up for discussion and the member that is being discussed is for Tao the watcher.

TWP Inquisition – The TWP Inquisition continued with Guardian and Minister-without-Portfolio Fuentana. Fuentana has answered quite a few questions already and here are some highlights:

Q: What do you think TWP should represent for other regions?

A: The nicest snark and snarkiest niceness and the snarkiest, nicest tradition of excellence in all of NS. Basically Bran Astor’s art, The Holy Principality of Saint Mark's heart, and Dilber's crabs.

Q: What is your favourite thing about TWP?

A: I would say it's the region's senses of community and excellence. In a week I will have really been in this game for two years, though I did start a nation around 2008 or so that I recently found and revived—for newer players, it pays to read everything in the game so that you understand what NS is and what it isn't. I find it astounding (and fascinating, really... but I'm not an anthropologist or sociologist) that there are people who have been logging onto this cutting-edge-for-the-Internet-in-2003 website since 2003 and keep coming back. In this simulator, they've simulated some amazing stuff to build real, not simulated, communities. And what TWP does is fun, or at least the kind of fun I like the most. I got hooked on puns and haiku because of TWP. It was a great diversion that allows me to use my brain but not on my RL stuff, and it gives me a space to be creative. TWP has refined this so well that some other regions steal our ideas at a flattering rate.

Q: Which would you rather fight, 50 duck sized Varaniuses or one Varanius sized duck?

A: Yes. But the shipping and handling to get Vara here will be more than the cost of a Vara of cheese.

Q: How did you become the Poet Laureate of TWP?

A: I'll frame my response as encouragement for getting more involved in TWP and in NS in general. I spend my days reading and writing about dense thinkers and the words they use, so there's a lot of words floating around. In fact, I like words quite a bit. When I was a kid, I loved spelling bees, English grammar, and thinking about words. So when I eventually discovered that TWP celebrates words through puns and haiku, I came to embrace that. I think that earlier generations of players developed characters that they simulate. TWP has a collection of people with well-defined characters and long histories in this game. When I joined NS for good in April of 2019, I didn't know about OOC/IC, and I didn't know how I could fit in when it was clear that people knew each other for years. So for the first several months of playing, I lurked and stayed an issues player.

It was not until the fall of 2019 that I decided to join in on the fun, and the initial impetus was Punday Monday. Then I noticed that the rhythm was Punday Monday, Haikuesday, etc. I decided that it would be fun to write punny haiku. Pretty soon, I was learning about how to write real haiku, and it became more than just fun—it became a meaningful weekly diversion. I really didn't think anything would come of this, but out of the blue Bran declared me Poet Laureate of Haiku because I was regularly writing punny haiku, and gradually some pretty good real haiku. What's the lesson here? To find your place, play to your strengths and interests, and people will notice. Funny people do funny things. Inquisitive people ask questions (also, Vara). Artists make art. Snarky amusing people amuse people with snark. Community people do things to build community. DJs DJ. So if you find your niche, go for it and people will notice.

Q: If you could be TWP Delegate for the day, what would you do?

A: Turn the WFE into cheese to troll Zoran.

Elections – Finally, and the biggest story, democracy lives on in the West! The Hall of Nations election schedule resumed after the forum changes were finalized. The Hall now only votes on two positions, the Speaker of the Hall and the Guardian of the Hall of Nations. This election had a large turnout with 32 members voting.

Aluminum Oxynitride (ALON), Fhaengshia, Santos-Dominius (iOctagon), and myself (Zoran) were nominated for the Speaker position. ALON was the only one to decline, as they had served an extra long term due to reworking the purpose of the Hall of Nations. Zoran won the election with 16 votes, followed by Fhaengshia with 11 and iOctagon with 5. As the person elected I would like to thank all the members of TWP that voted for me during this election. I promise you that I will fulfill as many of my promises as I can during my three month term.

Four members were nominated for the Hall of Nations Guardian position: Fhaengshia, United Adaikes, Varanius, and myself. United Adaikes garnered 15 votes to claim victory, with Varanius earning 12, Fhaengshia 3, and Zoran 2. When asked about their victory, Adaikes said, “As a relatively new player, I want to thank the Hall, especially those who trusted and voted for me. I will make sure that what I promised will be delivered and I am just a TG/DM away if you want to suggest or talk to me with anything!”

WAR Update
By Teralyon, Minister of World Assembly Recruitment

Greetings dear reader, I’m Teralyon the new WAR Minister! I will be taking over for the fantastic Nieubasria as they will be moving on to head other special projects but have thankfully agreed to also remain a part of the WAR ministry and allowed me to pester them whenever I need something!

Now for the WAR update itself. We have seen some nice growth over the past month, but I am greedy and think we can grow even bigger and better. I obviously want our dear leader, Dilber, to have many more endorsements and will be starting new campaigns to make our beautiful region stronger in the NSverse, and while of course remaining Snarky and Free. Additionally, I feel we have untapped talent and potential in the region and my goal is to find them and use the resources we have to make them shine!

Now is a great time to become a leader in TWP. If you, dear reader, have thought about getting more involved, but don't know how, just send me a telegram and I'll be glad to help!

Card Club Update
By Giovanniland, Card Czar of the West

Welcome to another update about the West Pacific's Card Club! It has been two months due to the last one, mostly because of a lack of interesting TWP card-related events in March. However, we've now got some interesting news that you can read below.

Firstly, Punday Monday rewards are up and running, with even more interesting prizes than before! In mid-April, Legendary cards were awarded to the winners of March due to a high quantity and quality of puns posted during that month, as well as an increasing stock of those cards to be used as rewards. The winners of April will receive similar awards during this week, when time allows. Secondly, the Hall of Nations will now use cards as part of its Member of the Month initiative. This was implemented after the election of Zoran as Speaker, and the Card Club will be happy to provide these rewards. As with any other West Pacifican award, this prize is also tied to merit, therefore be sure to contribute to the Hall of Nations activities and/or take part in one or more of our ministries to increase your chances of being chosen.

Last but not least, it is with great pleasure that I congratulate two members of the West Pacific that have recently completed impressive collections! Fhaengshia and Mediobogdum have finished their goals of collecting all 169 legendary cards of season 2, and their collections can be seen here and here respectively. Therefore, join me in giving a round of applause to them for this achievement. For now, these are all the major card-related news in TWP, but stay tuned for a possible update next month with more interesting content.

Social Scientists Recommend Real Scientists Stop Wedgying Them
By Throck Morton of Podium

After years of continued ridicule and abuse, a bunch of nerds who call themselves social "scientists" have made an announcement recommending that real scientists stop wedgying them for being stupid nerds. "Frankly, the level of blatant disrespect and unprofessionalism against us social scientists is ridiculous," said über-nerd Abercrombie Milhouse in a statement with a load of other nerds supporting him from the anonymous safety of the comment section. "The social sciences are just as valid and applicable as any other science, and to claim otherwise further divides us in a time when we are at risk of being delegitimised, or even rejected entirely," he stated idiotically, clearly unaware of how much of a nerd he was, "and all walks of science must make efforts to reduce the amount of verbal and physical incidents if any progress is to be made in increasing field unity."

Immediately after the broadcast, Milhouse was found strung up by his heart-speckled underwear atop a towel rack, wriggling stupidly as a bunch of infinitely cooler geologists pointed and laughed at him. Immediate projections from an equally cool group of statisticians foresee up to a 500% increase in wet willies, swirlies, and 'kick me' paper applications against social "scientists,” and have celebrated accordingly by performing all three on their pet sociologist.


Travelling to Creativity: Burning Marsupial III
By Blue Bubble

Burning Marsupial III. If it was a physical place, it would be a place where there is a lot of indie music playing while everyone has 3 of everything.

The festival was hosted on Discord from the 18th of April to the 25th of April. The main organizers were Fuentana and Bran Astor, but the fantastic team of Giovanniland, Marinas Island, Takura, Teralyon, and Xoriet, also aided in the planning. Furthermore, our Delegates Altino, Dilber, and East Durthang helped manage the festival and took part in the festivities. For the festival goers, the funky Discord server meant less traveling, and we had participants not only from the main regions The West Pacific, The Pacific, and Karma, but also others across NationStates.

The Main Event

Getting involved included a range of forts, DJs, and triggering bots in the general chat. Burning Marsupial 3 had the chance to win a champion coin through 5 Fort categories and the Wheel of Jeopardy. Fort Album Cover was the place to post your mixtape cover, while Fort Mixtape was available to post your genius playlists themselves. Fort Photograph gave us to show off your best snaps with the best lighting, and there was plenty of pet pics included. Fort Quill was full of lovely written pieces, a spread of stories and poetry. Fort Kickass is a mystery to all trying to win the fort—upon trying to find out what it is, I was sent from organiser to organiser to try and work out what it was. Even the winner, Bran Astor couldn’t explain it, but Dilber managed to inform me that it is a nearly indescribable fort to discover who can find the funniest and kickass image or GIF. It definitely lives up to its name. The other winners were Blue Bubble (myself) for Fort Album Cover, Big Bad Badger for Fort Mixtape, Beansburrow for Fort Photograph, Nublark for Fort Quill, and Giovanniland for the Wheel of Jeopardy.

Other places to chat included the Wheel of Jeopardy, where you could put your brains to the test in a collection of topics from flags to Harry Potter, the “by 3 they come” chat, where everyone posted things relating to 3 such as music, pop culture, and sayings like “3 is a magic number”, and the DJ Chat, which was the key part of Burning Marsupial. The latter was a place to chat about the current DJ sessions hosted by volunteers of the festival, and there was a range of good vibes played—from Indie, to Modern Broadway, Non-English, and Folk, we all enjoyed the tunes played over the course of the week. The general chat was also full of fun discussion between old and new friends. Highlights involved the mocking of Zoran by triggering a bot to speak about Zoran’s love of cheese, amazingly crafted Floridaman Zoren posters by Marina, and jokes saying “Hello last thing someone said after ’I’m’, I’m Harry” by the Harry bot.

Monday was where things started to happen, including the Giovanniland vs Xoriet banjection marathon, which ended with an inconclusive decision—Gio had the fastest launch of just 2 seconds, but Xor’s 58 banjections beat Gio’s 53. Perhaps next year will bring the return of this epic duel, and crown a winner once and for all? On Sunday, the closing was announced, and goodbyes were said. The following day, the champions of the fort were announced, and the server was removed. A week of fun was over, but for most of us, our friendships were far from.

Why Burning Marsupial?

I asked our organisers of this wonderful event what the history of it was, and its unusual name. Burning Marsupial started in 2019 when the current Delegate (Halo) asked for a festival TWP can host with The East Pacific as a way of support for the Best Pacifics Treaty, and Bran thought a Burning Man inspired event would be fun.

In relation to the name, Fuentana said: "It's a combo of two things: first, we'd need to time travel to the earlier days of NS. There was a time when spam was a major issue, and when the regional message board only showed the last ten posts. One of the strategies that TAO a former delegate deployed to build community and combat bad behavior was to call all miscreants marsupialists as they clearly suffered from roofur madness. TWP pioneered the use of silliness to combat spam on the game, and at one point a former ally embraced the true doctrine of anti-marsupialism. Burning Marsupial was a shared event that celebrated both things."

Further Questions

After learning about the history behind the name, more questions were presented to Bran Astor and Fuentana. I asked what Fuentana and Bran enjoyed most with planning and participating in the festival.

Bran: I like coming up with the art theme each year. The first was pretty simple and reflected the common anti-marsupial stance of TWP and TEP. The second year adopted Victorian absurdity. This year was a retro space samurai travel agency. Aelitia and Fujai were the primary artists for BurMa II. As for participation, I set it up and back away. I'm better in the background.

Fuentana: I think our VC DJ activities were a wonderful success! I am sure we've done similar things before, but it was nice to have a full roster with something every day. It was a bit like our live music performances for Festival of the Perfections.

As an early teaser, I inquired about the plans for next year, if that has even started to be discussed:

Bran: “BurMa IV is up to whomever is Delegate of the West next year. The torch has been passed to Fuentana in terms of seeing the future task through.”

Fuentana: “Nothing comes to mind yet, but given the creativity that this region has cultivated I am sure that there will be something wonderful that will unfold.”

I also asked what their favourite submission of the festival was:

Bran: Badger's Stoney Lonesome special.

Fuentana: Your album cover and playlists! It was a great aesthetic that resonates with Burning Marsupial.

As a summary, I have asked the TWP discord and our festival hosts for Haikus summarising how they have enjoyed Burning Marsupial III, as this was a festival to enjoy being creative and make friends. This makes it unsurprising that Giovanniland from TWP and Marina from The Pacific gave me a delightful response. Bran refused to answer this question in the form of a Haiku, while Fuentana mixed it up with a Limerick.

Marinas Island wrote:As in past BurMas,
Fort Photography brought joy
To all who entered.

Giovanniland wrote:A week-long event,
called Burning Marsupial,
ended yesterday

Our region and friends:
NPO, Karma, the West
Joined to celebrate

Banjections, DJs,
Albums, quills, trivia all
happened in BurMa

And yesterday came
Badger with the trebuchet
to purge everyone

Bran Astor wrote:Yeah, nope, sorry there.
We have way overused them.
They've stopped being fun

Fuentana wrote:This party had Alti, plus Xor:
The Pacific's famed cat Senator
Zoran said he hates cheese
It's bad as roofur disease
And the whole festival trolled him all the more

I would like to thank both Fuentana and Bran Astor for this mini interview with me about this festival, the TWP discord for at least reading my question, and Giovanniland for helping me with this article. Teamwork makes the dream work, and that is how the success of Burning Marsupial III has come to be. I hope next year’s festival hosts more creativity and friendship making, of our alliances with other regions.


A Year of Regional Commendations
By Giovanniland and Aluminum Oxynitride, former Speakers of the Hall

In the West Pacific, Regional Commendations are honors given to worthy residents of our region that have contributed a lot to our community, similar to the commendation proposals in the World Assembly Security Council but focusing on the regional achievements of the nominee. The project was started in 2020 by then-Delegate Bran Astor. Since then, eight proposals have been drafted and voted on by the Hall of Nations. In this article, you can read more about their history, learn which TWPers have been commended, and read about their contributions to the region.

Early History: Creation and Development under Giovanniland's Speakership

Regional Commendations were officially created after a statement given by Bran Astor to the Hall of Nations on February 17, 2020. This announcement was part of a greater Hall of Nations reorganization that not only replaced Minister elections with Deputy Minister elections, but also conferred new duties to the Speaker and Deputy Minister positions. One of the new tasks given to the Speaker was to start drafting these Regional Commendations, in the model of the WA Security Council, but "much cooler as they're fur [sic] us by us," in the former Delegate's own words. This effort would help newer TWPers to learn more about West Pacifican history, and also prepare the region to draft SC commendations for some people commended regionally. Therefore, under the then newly-elected Speaker Giovanniland, the Hall started to plan and discuss this idea.

The first discussion on Regional Commendations started on March 3, 2020. Several nominees were mentioned, especially Westwind for having the longest consecutive Delegacy in the West, and Winnipeg for maintaining the regional forums for nearly a decade, not only covering a part of the cost but also doing administrative and technical tasks. A vote by the Hall was then made to decide who would receive the first Regional Commendation, and the latter prevailed with 16 votes versus the former's 8. The commendation for Winnipeg was then drafted, mentioning Winnipeg's hosting of multiple regional forum versions since 2006 and the current version since 2012, along with the enormous amount of time and effort needed to maintain those forums a secure and fair place for the regional community. It was then put to vote at the end of the month and passed on April 2 with 17 votes for and none against.


The flag of Winnipeg, first West Pacifican to earn a Regional Commendation.

Another discussion for potential nominees began in mid-April, with the consensus being to regionally commend Eli, also known as Wickedly evil people. Eli served the most terms as Delegate of the West, re-stabilized the region after the West Pacific Dominion was dissolved, and excelled as a model for future Guardians by constantly having the 2nd most endorsements. Unfortunately, there was some delay due to the Hall of Nations elections and other events, and the proper drafting only started on June 1, after Speaker Giovanniland's re-election. Commend Eli went to vote two weeks after and passed on June 18 with 31 votes for and none against.

The other Regional Commendation of the May-August term was Commend Altino. Unlike other commendations, this one was proposed by then-Minister of World Assembly Recruitment Nieubasria mid-June, serving as a case study of the applicability of this project in the Security Council. Altino has contributed to several NationStates regions such as TWP and our ally Karma. The proposal focused on her contributions as Commander of The West Pacific Armed Forces, creating the pirate theme and training future Commanders. Hall of Nations members then voted on whether to regionally commend Altino or not, and it passed with 25 votes for and none against on July 18. The text of the Regional Commendation then served as inspiration for the TWP-related clauses of the SC proposal of same name. However, the proposal ended up failing unlike our Regional Commendation.

In the third and final term of Speaker Giovanniland, three more Regional Commendation nominees were chosen: Bhang Bhang Duc, Big Bad Badger, and Neenee in the 4th, 5th, and 6th discussions respectively. Bhang Bhang Duc was chosen for contributing to regional culture via their snark and Astronomy Spots, serving as Guardian and Delegate, and having expertise in Security Council matters both in TWP and elsewhere. The proposal was put to vote at the end of August and passed on September 2 with 22 votes for and none against.

Meanwhile, Big Bad Badger was chosen for spearheading the writing of the Manners of Governance that established the modern government during their Delegacy, having administrative positions in the regional forums and Discord server, and for holding the record of purging over a thousand nations from the region to make it a better place. Badger's commendation was voted on by the Hall in October and passed with 26 votes for and none against.

Finally, Neenee made meaningful contributions not only in early TWP history as Prime Minister, Regent and Minister of Foreign Affairs, but also in recent times as Guardian and Delegate of the West, for example the cultural contribution of organizing the Celebrate TWP festival. However, it was officially voted on after the election of a new Speaker, Aluminum Oxynitride (ALON), and the vote ended on November 24 with 24 votes for and none against.

Recent Commendations under Aluminum Oxynitride's Speakership
Amid the start of the Hall of Nations transition to a new purpose, ALON decided that the Hall would continue drafting these commendations, albeit in a different way than before. Under ALON's speakership, the citizens researched the nominee, instead of the Speaker starting the thread already with a first draft as it was done earlier. The project was put on hold due to the discussion on Hall of Nations changes but returned after the New Year.

The first Regional Commendation built under this method, and also the first of 2021, was for Bran Astor, as decreed by the newly-enthroned Delegate Dilber. This was by far the longest text of any proposal, listing a myriad of reasons such as their terms as Minister of Internal Affairs and 49th Delegate of the West, the designing of high-quality works of art for several aspects of the region, the organizing of several festivals like Festival of The Perfections and Burning Marsupial, as well as the creation of the Cultural Trust to replace the Ministry of Cultural Affairs. It was passed on February 2, 2021 with 24 votes for and 1 against, the first commendation in which a citizen was opposed.

Most recently, the latest proposal was to Commend Elegarth. Some of the reasons cited were Elegarth's trading cards collections of all legendaries, their ratifying of several treaties, their creation of Punday Monday & Weird Video Wednesday, and their stabilization of the region after the United russoasia incident in which the foreign military organization DEN temporarily took the delegacy. It was then passed on April 19, with 23 votes for and none against.

Analysis and Conclusion

Except for the first two Regional Commendations, the number of votes cast per proposal has been consistently between 22 and 26. Overall, an average of 24 votes were cast on each proposal. The graph below illustrates the number of votes each proposal received and whether they were “for” or “against.”


Graph of votes per Regional Commendation. The first five were passed under Giovanniland while the last three were under ALON.

Commend Winnipeg had the least number of votes (17). This is possibly because some people were doubtful about whether or not the project would succeed. In contrast, the second ever commendation, Commend Eli, had the most votes (31). It is worth noting that Commend Eli was voted on not long after the Drewpocalypse in April, which greatly increased Hall of Nations membership for the next few months. Only one vote of those was cast against a proposal, namely on the Commend Bran Astor vote.

Another interesting aspect to focus on is how many people participated in each discussion. Excluding the Speaker, there were 13 different citizens who commented on the Commend Big Bad Badger and Commend Bran Astor proposals, whether contributing content, supporting the proposal, or motioning for vote. Commend Eli follows shortly with participation from 12 different Hall of Nations members. The proposals to regionally commend Winnipeg, Altino, and Elegarth also had a fair number of commenters: eight, nine, and six, respectively. Sadly, the proposals Commend Bhang Bhang Duc and Commend Neenee earned the participation of just 4 and 3 citizens respectively, but nevertheless they were well-written and still passed.

In conclusion, the project of Regional Commendations garnered a lot of activity from the Hall of Nations over the past year and has certainly helped many members to learn more about West Pacifican history. The latest Hall of Nations election cycle recently finished, with Zoran being elected as the new Speaker. Already, they have started a master thread to discuss potential nominees and brainstorm ideas. With many new ideas being presented during the campaigning, we look forward to what Zoran and future Speakers will add to this project!


Fuentana’s Faves: Toto Live, BurMa Style

By Fuentana, Poet Laureate of Haiku

One of the legacies of Bran Astor’s Burning Marsupial festival is the live music component. Bran has a similar feature called Live From Stony Lonesome. In that spirit I have compiled a list of favorite live versions of music by Toto. This is a hobby of mine: I love seeing the nuances of every live performance. Sometimes there are real remixes, and other times the subtlety is in the guitar solos and riffs, the drum fills, the bass lines, and the tone. I have chosen three versions of three of their most famous songs, but I was tempted to include some lesser known and forgotten tunes such as Georgy Porgy and Waiting For Your Love.

Toto supplies a lot of love and Linkgets a fair amount of hate, but I think opinions have shifted over time as music critics recognize that in their heyday, Toto made simply good pop music, warts and all. If you listen closely to the originals, you will usually hear a lot of precision and perfection except with the vocals. That is a testament to their musicianship that obvious blemishes such as flat or sharp singing can be overcome by the overall product. And in any case, perhaps part of the problem with Toto as a studio band is that in a sense, it is too good—with David Paich’s songwriting and work on the keys, Steve Porcaro’s flair with the synthesizer, Steve Lukather’s melodic guitar work, and Jeff Porcaro’s inimitable grooves, the band could not help but generate crisp music. Was it formulaic? Yes, but not at the level of Nickelback. Note Linkthis author’s linkage of the two bands. You don’t get Michael Jackson’s Human Nature and some of the subtleties on the Thriller album without Steve Porcaro (Human Nature) and Steve Lukather (one of the key leads in Beat It + the connection that brought in Eddie Van Halen for the solo).

I personally think that their only weak spot was in vocals. David Paich is good (certainly better than I am), but not stellar. Purists love original lead singer Bobby Kimball, and there is no doubt that he was great live. But he tended to be sharp (listen to the studio version of “Rosanna” for Kimball’s part in the first verse), even sometimes indecipherable (try to make out what he is singing in “I’ll Suppy The Love”). By the early 2000s, Kimball’s voice was close to shot, such that Toto often used special effects and somewhat hidden vocalists. There are exceptions (see Live in Paris 2007 above and that album’s version of Rosanna) where Kimball brings energy and precision, but if one is looking for perfect pitch, unfortunately this performer was lacking. Joseph Williams is proficient.

Africa

“Africa” is a transcendental song: it has inspired artists to Linkcreate installations that play the song on loop in a Namibian desert. And thanks to Weezer’s recent cover, a new generation of music fans is discovering (or rediscovering) “Africa”.

Above, I noted that vocals were a bit of a concern. With that in mind, I’ve ranked the live in Poland version at the top. That lineup of Toto featured the versatile Amy Keys and Mabvuto Carpenter on the major backing vocals and stellar bass player Nathan East also on vocals. As for the rest of the band, the Toto core of Lukather, Joseph Williams (essentially the next major lead singer after Kimball), Steve Porcaro and David Paich plus Simon Phillips on the drums play with remarkable precision and taste. Williams carries a lot of energy onstage and tackles the high notes of the chorus with aplomb (though if you listen closely, he seems to sing his voice out near the end of the song), and the harmonies and backing of the rest of the group coalesce excellently. This live version includes a simple yet excellent bass solo by East, followed by a fun call-and-response breakdown that crescendoes into a jazzy singing of the famous intro riff. Underneath it all is jazzy percussion perfection from Phillips: listen to his fill just before the third chorus for that elegant simplicity.

The 1991 live version in Montreux is energetic but a bit flat vocally, but I give it a pass because of the energy. Whether it was natural or substance-driven is another question... In any case, it was Jeff Porcaro’s final live performance with the band, and whether natural or substance driven, his performance was memorable, including a concluding drum solo that makes everyone go bonkers. Watch for his facial expressions throughout the live video for signs of someone enraptured while playing (even if he might be drugged out of his mind). Mike Porcaro is also excellent on the bass throughout this performance.

I include the 2007 live version because it features two of the greatest studio musicians in history: Gregg Phillinganes, the former music director for Michael Jackson; and the Gandalf of bass Leland Sklar. This was a huge performance on Sklar’s part: unfortunately, Mike Porcaro was ill and could not perform—it would later be revealed to be due to amyotrophic lateral sclerosis. Sklar was asked to sub, and he had something like a matter of days to learn the whole set. Purists may not like Phillinganes’ vocal performance on “Africa” since he was a little too elaborate during the verses, but I find it to be quite dynamic. His ad libs during the final chorus and outro are especially effective. Also, Bobby Kimball sings his “I bless the rains” with good strength and tone.

Rosanna

The 40 Tours Around the Sun live album has some notable lows (they lose tempo twice during Africa, and the voices don’t blend so well), but this version of Rosanna is a definite high. By this point, Simon Phillips had left the band, and Toto had gone with a bit of a carousel of bass players: Nathan East, Leland Sklar, and original bassist David Hungate. For this album, they added Shem von Schroeck, brought back percussionist Lenny Castro, and featured Shannon Forrest on drums and Warren Ham on vocals, saxophone, and flute. Shem made for an interesting choice because he is a solid bass player and an opera singer. Ham also is a very good vocalist and multi-instrumentalist. Forrest was good for the band at this point. While Simon Phillips was more like Jeff Porcaro in his sense of grooves and subtle artistry (Phillips is in fact much better than the late Porcaro), Forrest is more of a rock drummer and Phillips is a true jazz drummer. (For an interesting aside, check out this video of Linkjazz drummer Larnell Lewis hearing Enter Sandman for the first time and playing it by ear).

The 2018 live version of “Rosanna” features excellent cinematography (note how well the cameras capture the crowd singing along with a lot of passion, including the pretty girl who is lost in the song) and perhaps the best live version of Steve Porcaro’s synth solo. He plays with such fire! It also feels fresher and more energetic thanks to Forrest’s drum work: the prechorus has a “driving” feeling thanks to the active bass drum, and the overall tone is much more aggressive. Also watch for Joseph Williams’ eyes to almost pop out while singing his part of the verse.

The other two live versions feature Phillips on the drums, and if you listen closely to the 2013 version, he pulls off a remarkably complex thing with the ride cymbal. 2007 is a fun version because of the jazzy intro and the breakdown after the synth solo. Phillinganes leads the band into a jam to Birdland, and it is fun to see the interplay of great musicians—especially Sklar on the bass since he seems to simply follow along and revel when he recognizes that they’re riffing off of Birdland.

Hold The Line

In reality, I prefer the live in Poland version, but I have to show some love to the OG lead vocalist Bobby Kimball. It’s hard to find a more recent live version of Hold The Line where Kimball can really deliver, and in 2007, he delivers with slightly raspy but soulful and powerful vocals. Listen to the ad libs during the chorus. I also enjoy Steve Lukather’s solo here because he blends expressiveness with impressive (to be honest, underrated) speed as a shredder.

The second favorite is from that excellent 35th Anniversary Album. It’s funny to see someone headbanging at the start of the video because Hold the Line isn’t really that hard of a song compared to true headbanging rock songs, but it is a testament to the quality of the live performance that fans were caught up in the emotion of the moment and the quality of the playing. What makes this version more fun is the duet style between Joseph Williams and Amy Keys. Her final soulful, “It’s not in the way that your love sets me free” gets me every time. Bonus: if you watch closely at the end, Simon Phillips loses a drum stick and doesn’t miss a beat.

The early 90s version has a fun soulful breakdown and audience interaction led by Jenny Douglas. I also like that the chorus harmonies sound a bit like a gospel chorus. There’s a full feeling. I am not sure if the melding of a grunge-like rock sound with these vocals is 100% successful, but it is good enough, and Douglas really steals the show with the breakdown and buildup. The interplay among Paich, Lukather, and Mike Porcaro is excellent too. Sadly there is no video of this version, but Linkthis video gets you close enough to the feel. That version is from roughly 1990 with Jeff Porcaro on the drums, but the lead vocals are by Jean-Michel Byron, who did not fit into Toto at all. Still, you get a feel for how good the band could be live.

I also want to note that The Western Post wants to celebrate our region’s favorites. If you want to come up with similar favorite lists with food, music, video games, and more, let us know and submit a piece! What are your faves?


Culture in Focus
By Giovanniland

Hey there! I am proud to present this brand new column called Culture in Focus to you, dear reader. You might be thinking about its purpose, is it NationStates culture? I am afraid not, since we already have awesome articles about the cultural events and happenings that take place in the West Pacific each month. This column will rather focus in various real life cultures that one or more members of this region experience in their daily lives, and the first edition will feature myself talking about my own real life country.

For those not in the know, I live in the South American nation of Brazil. I was born after the peaceful revolution that made Brazil a democracy again in the late 80s, and as such I can tell you about our modern culture but also talk about important things of the past. I know what some of you unfamiliar with our culture may be thinking: that we speak Spanish and our capital is Buenos Aires, that we all celebrate Carnival and play football every day of the year, that we all live in favelas and monkeys run around the streets, that crime is everywhere, and that all women here are beautiful. Now, most of these stereotypes are just outright false, or greatly exaggerated, and I hope that by reading this article you can learn something new about this interesting culture.


Regions and states of Brazil.

I'll start by talking about history. Before the Age of Discovery the land was inhabited by native peoples just like in the rest of the Americas, but then in the 16th century the continent was divided by the Spanish and Portuguese. Interestingly, the original border would have made Brazil much smaller and confined to its northeastern regions, but through conquests and treaties it achieved the shape it stands today. Sadly, even though the colonial period brought development into the country, it also tainted our history due to the mistreatment of indigenous peoples and slavery of Africans brought from their home to work in sugarcane plantations, the latter of which continued until 1888 and still leaves its marks on our society today. After the independence in 1822, the culture was also enriched by the arrival of many immigrants such as Germans, Italians, Arabs and Japanese. This history helped to shape the modern Brazilian culture, which is the main topic of this article.

Of course, we can't talk about culture without mentioning our language. So, the people from Brazil don't speak Spanish or "Brazilian," but rather a version of Portuguese that's quite different from the standard European. Due to this distinct history, Brazilian Portuguese features a large amount of loanwords from Tupi-Guarani languages, and some of these indigenous words have even been adopted by English, such as petunia, jaguar and piranha. The language has also evolved into several regional dialects, because of the great land area and diversity in the country, and is spoken by approximately 99% of the population. The other 1% are Amerindian language speakers or European immigrants who speak a dialect of their own home nation's language.

However, any uniformity in language disappears when talking about ethnic groups. The country is almost evenly divided between European-ancestry whites (49%), and people with mixed indigenous, black and white ancestry (43%). The two main minorities are people with full black ancestry (7%), and then Asian immigrants and indigenous peoples (1%), which form two big social movements for greater recognition and equality – other existing social movements are for women and LGBTQ+ people. Finally, to finish the demographics section, I'll talk about religions. Owing to long periods of history in which Roman Catholicism was the only legal religion, 64.6% of Brazilians are Catholic. However, Protestantism, Atheism and Spiritism have also risen recently, with 22.2%, 8% and 2% respectively.


Feijoada, considered by many to be the national dish.

Another important part of Brazilian culture are the dishes. The unofficial national dish of Brazil is called feijoada and is displayed in the photo above – often made of black beans cooked with pork and other meats. That the cuisine varies greatly by region, reflecting the national history and influences by various ethnic groups. Some regionally important dishes are moqueca (a stew with seafood and palm oil) and acarajé (a fritter of white beans and onion filled with dried shrimp and pepper) in the Northeast, pão de queijo (cheese bread) in the Southeast, and churrasco (barbecue) in the South. A fun fact is that I made some themed nations for card farming about famous Brazilian dishes: such as Pao de Queijo, Vinagrete, Feijao Tropeiro, Moqueca, Acaraje, Quindim, Mousse de Maracuja, Pudim de Leite, Bolinho de Chuva, and Torta Holandesa. The drink that is often considered as national is the alcoholic caipirinha, made with lime, sugar, and cachaça – a liquor from distilled sugarcane. However, Brazil is also known for its production of coffee beans, and therefore coffee is a popular drink throughout the country, an aspect of culture that was satirized in the novelty song Link"The Coffee Song" recorded by Frank Sinatra.

Brazilian music is also widespread in society and comes in various forms according to the region one lives. Perhaps the most world-famous of them is samba, a style with mixed European and African roots that is one of the icons of the yearly Carnival. However, there are several other styles present in Brazilian musical history ever since the days of colonization. A prominent classical music composer was Heitor Villa-Lobos, who wrote several pieces of music with inspiration from Bach's works. In the 20th century other popular musical movements emerged, such as MPB (música popular brasileira, i.e. "popular Brazilian music"), bossa nova, and tropicália – the latter of which sought to criticize, through music, the military's authoritarian rule from 1964 to 1985. However, advice from a Brazilian: in my personal opinion I would definitely not recommend certain contemporary styles such as sertanejo and Brazilian funk. Other forms of art are also prominent, such as literature and visual arts, in which examples of people who left a strong legacy are Machado de Assis for the former and Tarsila do Amaral for the latter.

Finally, even though I am trying my best to resume Brazilian culture so this article doesn't take nearly the entire length of the newspaper, I can't end it without talking about sports, of course. A well known fact is that our nation has the most FIFA World Cup wins, earning the first place in the 1958, 1962, 1970, 1994, and 2002 editions, is the only team to qualify for every competition, and also has had world-renowned players such as Pelé. However, football is not the only sport to be played in Brazil. Volleyball and basketball are also very popular, and in the former Brazil also happens to be the most successful and best ranked team. There are many other sports with a fair amount of athletes, although my favorite one (chess) is not very prominent, as seen by the lack of Brazilian players in the top rankings of chess.

I would have a lot more details to talk about Brazilian culture if I really wanted to, but in order to keep this article succinct I will finish it here. Therefore, I hope you learned something new about my country by reading this article, and if you are interested in this topic feel free to telegram me or search about it in the internet. And now comes the special aspect of this column – if you liked this concept, then I invite YOU to talk about your own real life country's culture, which will then be featured in upcoming editions of the Western Post. Please contact me (Giovanniland) by telegram or by Discord DM (Giovanniland#8272) if you are interested in taking part of the Culture in Focus column, and see you all in the next edition!


Comic Alley

Floridaman Jones and the Cheese of Doom by Teralyon


Punday Monday Highlights
By Gryphonian Alliance

Every Monday, TWP hosts its RMB event where members of our region post the funniest, wittiest, and cleverest puns they can think of. This month had some excellent entries, which is why I'm glad to share a few of them with you here. Enjoy!

Maxime Vachier-Lagrave wrote:Giovanniland indeed has a strong suit in curd farming. Their inflation methods are also brie-lliant.

I'm sure he's fondue his collection!

GreatOceania wrote: Thanks for explaining the word “many” to me, it means a lot

"Hey I heard you became a mathematician?"
"I mean, yes. I'm also a bit of a co-median."

The Holy Principality of Saint Mark wrote:I’ve started using garlic in my magic act. First I start by crushing it, adding basil and some pine nuts and then I blend them all together with some Parmesan and olive oil... Then…hey…pesto!

I have a magic trick where I make a set of ceramic plates stand up on their rims.
I call it the Great Voilà China.

Of knowhere wrote:Why did the Sun never got into college? Because it already has quite a million degrees!
How do you get a baby astronaut to go to sleep? Rocket.
Where would an astronaut park his spaceship? At a parking meteor!

Why did Jupiter cheer up Neptune?
Because he was feeling a little blue!

People from every region are welcome to join us every Monday for some of the best puns in the world of NationStates. To spice up the deal, the TWP Card Club is even giving out legendary cards to the winners from each week. So if you like good puns or just want to win some prizes, be sure to check it out. Hope to see you there!


Foreign Affairs Feature: Flags of the World
By the Foreign Affairs Ministry Staff

Welcome to another Foreign Affairs Feature! For this month's newspaper, the entire staff of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs decided to make a joint feature, instead of previous ones focusing on one region. That means this feature focused on several regions across the NationStates multiverse, and what better way to search more about regions than looking into the history and details behind their flags? Therefore, the ministry members sought to contact people in their own assigned regions to know more about these regions' flags, and here is what they wrote.

Zoran – As the name of the region implies, Balder has a lot of influence from Norse mythology and the flag is a reflection of this major aspect of the region’s culture. According to Fooooooooo, the flag came about from a design contest the region held about four years ago and the designer of the winning flag was Grunenburg. The flag features two ravens which are portrayals of Huginn, which comes from the old Norse word for “thought”, and Muninn, which comes from the old Norse word for “mind”, who flew across the world of Midgard and brought information back to Odin. The rune in the center of the flag is the Fe rune which means “livestock, wealth” due to livestock being associated with wealth in Norse society.


Lazarus – Current Flag, and two previous versions

Hertfordshire and Jammbo – The flag of Lazarus, compared to most other regions, is a relatively simple one which certainly helps it stand out against the rest. The design is rather eye-catching yet still easy to describe. The Lazarene flag sports a white bird of medium size on top of a semi-dark green background. The green background corresponds well with what is the main colour of Lazarus as a whole. As for the bird, this is the most interesting part of the flag. It is a white avian with 4 wings that hold 3 small holes at regular intervals along the base of the wings, 2 per side on the upper pair and 1 per side on the lower pair. There are also two medium size white dots below this bird which I can only assume is a tail. Of course the most noticeable thing about this flag is that the avian creature on it has 4 wings. This is very much what some scientists believe the earliest birds were like, such as the Yanornis genera of birds. Upon consultation with New Rogernomics, I found out that it was in fact a type of mythical bird called the phoenix, something that has existed as a symbol of the region for much of it's existence in different forms. It once had two wings for instance. On the head, there are 3 strikingly long feathers that are certainly far longer than previous iterations.

There have also been other emblems previously used in Lazarene history. The second one is an old flag of Lazarus, featuring the phoenix with two wings and 3 stars hovering above it. I'll admit, I didn't realise the modern phoenix was one at first because of what this flag looked like and how surprisingly different the two designs are. In the third flag, the phoenix in the coat-of-arms-esque design is more rounded and simple compared to the the other designs, with somewhat sharper features that make it stand out even among the busy imagery (and lovely font) of this socialistic emblem.

Fhaengshia – The flag of the LKE is pure black and defaced with the region’s coat of arms. The heraldic composition of this coat of arms is enshrined in the Armorial Act (2020). The act describes the coat of arms in explicit terms as follows: an eagle displayed and inverted or; beaked and taloned or, holding in its dexter talon an olive branch or, and in its sinister talon an olive branch also or. In heraldic language “or” means gold. Usage of the flag is highly regulated and is never to be used with the ripple effect.


The Pacific (New Pacific Order) – Main Flag, Imperial Flag, and War Flag

Bobki – The Main Flag consists of 4 blue triangles and 4 black triangles with one 5-point star in the centre, created to be simple in order to be easily identifiable from all the other flags in the region and NSverse. It was designed by Francos Spain, the founder of the New Pacific Order, and was firstly used on 1st September 2003, right after the August Revolution. The whole flag represents the NPO’s core values: Peace, Strength and Prosperity and reminds the region to uphold those them. The flag is used in all of the branches of NPO: Nation States, Cyber Nations and Torn. Its main name is Franco's Banner, but it can also be called "the Black and Blue" and "the Sacred Standard of Pacifica."

In the Imperial Flag the star is shiny, and it is enclosed by a laurel wreath. The flag is used by the Emperor of the New Pacific Order, any past emperor is allowed to use it but no one else in NPO has permission to use this flag. It was also firstly used on 1st September 2003 by the first emperor, Francos Spain. Meanwhile, the War Flag is exactly the same as the original flag but instead of the blue and black triangles it has red and black ones. It is used by the Legio Pacifica, the army of the New Pacific Order, although the date of when it was first has not been precisely determined. Finally, most of the departments create their own versions of the flag by simply adding their logo/symbol.

Teralyon – The flag of The Sasquatch Republic known as the Antreefa flag may seem simple at first glance, but it is far from it and that is what makes it so special, every part of is done with intent. Some may notice a resemblance to the real-world Doug flag of Cascadia, this is because the flag of The Sasquatch Republic is inspired by the Doug flag and the great Pacific Northwest.

Now if you thought that was all the Antreefa flag was about then clearly, you have never met the amazingly wonderful, creative and talented people of The Sasquatch Republic! For example, you may have noticed the three trees. Well, these play into the theme of the mighty Sasquatch’s home, the nature of the forest, but that is not all those trees represent the three trees have a twofold meaning. Firstly, the motto of The Sasquatch Republic “Here We Stand” and secondly the trees represent an arboreal play on the Iron Front's three spears.

As stated before every part of The Sasquatch Republic flag represents something and is intentionally there. From top to bottom, the hand drawn trees, the color choices, the use of Spanish fess to increase the white space which symbolizes The Sasquatch Republic’s room for creativity. The flag is a great representation of The Sasquatch Republic’s cultural and artistic approach and how whomever you are in NS, whatever you've done, you can experiment in The Sasquatch Republic with something new.

Zoran – The Social Technocratic Union (STU) is an UCR that, as the name implies, espouses the ideas of a technocracy. It's a close knit community due to its small size and this plays a role in the creation of the flag. When asked about the story or the meaning behind the flag, the founder of the region, Technocratic Founder (also known by some people as Josh), said that there is no real deep meaning behind the flag. “We had a design contest when there weren't many peeps in the region,” he said, “and we combined some ideas and elements and someone mocked that up, then Momus fixed it up a bit.”
The flag has no real symbolic meaning according to the region's founder but the flag reflects aspects of technocracy such as its emphasis on scientific and technical knowledge. But like most things in the STU, the flag is the way it is because it is “a reflection of Josh’s tastes” to quote Josh when asked about this.

That is all for the edition, hopefully after reading these descriptions you can know a bit more about the flags of some of the regions TWP has relations with. Interested in Foreign Affairs? Be sure to know how to join by reading the Ministries section of our Guide, and then be ready to discover new regions as well as know more people!


The Haiku Review: Every Month For You

By United Adaikes, Fhaengshia, and Fuentana, Poet Laureate of Haiku

Introduction

We’re trying out some different flavors with this month’s haiku!

Adaikes’ Faves

Willow Gate wrote:I once met a man
On a sport forum online
Our friends egged us on

Shared interest (sport)
Plus mutual attraction...
We were soon married.

Three children later
We can no longer take part
But watch on TV.

Bhang Bhang Duc wrote:It’s not the contents
That rile me. It’s the bloody
Too cheerful jingles.

Giovanniland wrote:A week-long event,
called Burning Marsupial,
ended yesterday

Our region and friends:
NPO, Karma, the West
Joined to celebrate

Banjections, DJs,
Albums, quills, trivia all
happened in BurMa

And yesterday came
Badger with the trebuchet
to purge everyone

Comments:
[1] Taken from International Day of Sport for Development of Peace, Willow Gate’s love story is presented in haiku form, from the history to the outcomes. :)

[2] This was when we had a review on ice cream as the topic for Haikuesday. BBD even shared that he used to look forward to the ice cream van back when he was a kid. Today’s a different story.

[3] This was during Tell A Story Day, after the recently-concluded Burning Marsupial 3. Gio’s story-telling of the participants and what transpired during the festival shows his wit and creativity in doing his haiku.

Fhaengshia’s Faves

Westwind wrote:I'm dreading the coming pollen season of the pines and firs.

Puddles get covered
In yellow pollen like scum
Upon the surface.

The Warriors of Determination wrote:Homework everyday
Can't seem to get a break bruh
Here goes coffee then

Hertfordshire and Jammbo wrote:What am I even doing?
Aimless wandering,
To scenic nowhere.

Comments:
Westwind’s poem highlights the duality of changing seasons. With being home to a particular duality of former TWP Delegates: All Good People and Wickedly evil people, we appreciate the subtleties of the double-edged sword that is life.

An ode to the drink that aids so much of the world’s productivity. One of the thematic drinks of the region. Nigh unavoidable in modern life, coffee is the drink that lets you power through this mortal coil.

And from our recent Burning Marsupial Festival, a haiku reflecting all so many people’s thoughts in all sorts of festivals. Where the experience of the present and the journey are so much more important than the destination.


Fuentana’s Faves

This month’s favorites are from our Discord-based Burning Marsupial festival.

The Orion Star System wrote:Patiently waiting
Love I cannot give myself
Hopes and dreams betrayed

Muenster, Gouda, Brie
Enthralling scents fill the air
Zoran’s Kryptonite

Marinas Island wrote:An orange tinting,
A well-tempered rind outside.
A wheel for Zoran.

Zoran wrote:My disdain for cheese
Should not be deemed a disease
I hate cheese with glee

Comments: Friendly trolling with artistic flair? It doesn’t get any cheddar than this! Bonus points to Orion for a lovely haiku, to Marina for customary flair and precision in writing, and to Zoran for being a patient, good sport.

Afterword

Remember that every Haikuesday, we’re writing with different themes. But stay tuned for next month: we might have a surprising twist in our Haiku Review.

Want to get more involved? Contact any of the authors to join our work as members of The West Pacific Fine Arts Society, a branch of The West Pacific Cultural Trust.

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All your chocolate belongs to Darkesia
The Western Post Staff - Delegate-in-Editor-in-Chief: Dilber Editors: Fuentana, Fujai, Giovanniland – Staff: Aluminum Oxynitride, Blue Bubble, Bran Astor, Fhaengshia, Gryphonian Alliance, Nieubasria, Overthinkers, Podium, Recuecn, Teralyon, United Adaikes, Zoran, and LinkYOU
All your chocolate belongs to Darkesia
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