Offshore Postcard: The Tiki Bar & Why Tiki

During a break between seasons, the Offshore podcast, an excellent long form podcast that presents stories from Hawaii, put out some smaller episodes. In November they released “The Tiki Bar“, an eye-opening exploration of the complex weirdness of the Tiki fad. Paola Mardo presented the intersection of appropriation, immigrant opportunities, pop culture and race in an immersive and insightful way. For Paola it’s part of a larger project investigating Tiki bars and that engagement with the subject is clear.

Offshore Postcard: The Tiki Bar

Tiki bars became wildly popular in the United States after World War II, and were at the height of their popularity when Hawaii became the 50th state in 1959.

Even though Tiki bars bars draw inspiration from many Pacific cultures, when most people think of Tiki bars they think of Hawaii.

But the tiki bar is actually a product of Hollywood, and part of a fascinating chapter in pop culture and American history.

Offshore looks at the history of tiki bars, why they’re popping up all over the country and even the world today, and finds out more about the immigrants who served up the first tiki cocktails.

For more from Paola on Tiki bars, there’s another short podcast episode, “Why Tiki? A Deep Dive into America’s Fascination with Tiki Bars, Tropical Drinks & the South Pacific” to take in, the pilot of an upcoming podcast that has a newsletter for updates.

Over the last several months, I’ve spent a lot of time around tiki bars – reading, researching, interviewing and trying everything from a Mai Tai to a Bayanihan. This is the first episode of a podcast about our fascination with the South Pacific island dream and the pop culture phenomenon of tiki bars, where race, culture, cocktails, and Hollywood collide. Click here for more on this ongoing project.

This journey started when I came across a photo of Filipinos and other people of color lined up for a movie casting call in 1929, as well as photos of Ray Buhen, a Filipino immigrant who worked at various tiki bars in Los Angeles including Don the Beachcomber, the original tiki bar that opened in 1934, and the Christian’s Hut on Catalina Island, a tropical-themed bar financed by Clark Gable to satiate cast and crew members during the filming of Mutiny on the Bounty in 1935. Buhen is also founder of the Tiki-Ti, the longest-running family-owned tiki bar in Los Angeles, the birthplace of tiki culture.

Super Mario Land 2 DX

I spent a lot of time playing Super Mario Land 2: 6 Golden Coins on my Gameboy when I was a kid, so this morning it was exciting to learn about a ROM hacker who had released a patch that colourizes the game. The game now pops when I play it on my 3DS and hits with a heady mix of nostalgia and oh-this-is-new!


Super Mario Land 2 DX is a color hack for Super Mario Land 2 in the same vein as Link’s Awakening DX. It adds color, lets you play with Luigi (with different physics) and removes the lag.

Super Mario Land 2 DX

My sister knows I have a soft spot for succulents, so she made me this delightful knit cactus.

SIGMATA: This Signal Kills Fascists

What could be better to play than a “tabletop role-playing game about ethical insurgency against a fascist regime, taking place in a dystopian vision of 1980s America”? SIGMATA: This Signal Kills Fascists ticks a lot of boxes that get me excited, so I had to back it when I was clued in about it through Boing Boing. If something promises to kill fascists, chances are you can count me in.

Players assume the role of Receivers, the superheroic vanguard of the Resistance, who possess incredible powers when in range of FM radio towers emitting a mysterious number sequence called “The Signal.” When the Signal is up, Receivers lead the charge against battalions of Regime infantry and armor or serve as the People’s Shield, protecting mass demonstrations from the brutality of a militarized police force and neo-Nazi hooligans. When the Signal is down, however, Receivers are mere mortals, desperately fleeing from a powerful state that senses their weakness.

It’s called the Sigmata, a Signal-induced stigmata, because it is a both a blessing and a curse. At least when you’re marked by the state, you can’t sit on the sidelines anymore.

SIGMATA takes place in a dystopian vision of America where fascists have taken control of the government. The Regime fosters white supremacy, religious bigotry, and Cold War hysteria to turn America’s fury against already marginalized populations, all while plundering America’s coffers and thrusting the country into pointless proxy wars all over the globe. To punish internal threats to “Real America,” the Regime rewrote the U.S. Constitution to establish the Freedom Fist, a complete merger of military and law enforcement, which dutifully executes the fascists’ national program of mass incarceration and deportation.

The communities targeted by state violence have begun to fight back. The Resistance is bolstered by an unlikely alliance of radical leftists, libertarian militias, religious activists, and wealthy entrepreneurs, whose grievances with the Regime overpower the seething contempt they have for each other. As linchpins of the Resistance, the Receivers must take great pains to prevent the alliance from fracturing. If they allow ideology to trump strategy, the factions will fall back on their worst tendencies, handing the Regime the political victories it needs to maintain a stranglehold on the people.


Mechanically, SIGMATA is a hybrid of a traditional role-playing game and a narrativist story game. There is a game master (GM) involved, but players will be doing most of the storytelling. Players make decisions about what tactics and powers their Receivers employ during structured scenes of combat, stealth, and intrigue, but who gets to narrate the outcome of decisions depends on how well players do on their dice rolls. When a dice roll is required, a player rolls a combination of D10 and D6 dice, depending on her Receiver’s four processors (i.e. Aggression, Guile, Judgement, and Valor), hoping to get a result of 6 or higher on each die. The more successes a player rolls, the more control she has over the outcome in the story space. Rolling a single success permits her to narrate a story of marginal success, complicated by an element of tension or stress that the GM contributes to the story. Rolling several success permits her to narrate a story of dramatic success, emphasizing how skilled, strong, or courageous her Receiver is, without input from the GM.

One feature of the game that stands out for me is the metagame about the optics of the counterinsurgency:

SIGMATA also features a strategic meta-game that charts the Resistance’s progress in toppling the Regime, based on real counterinsurgency (COIN) doctrine. The Resistance’s efforts against the Regime’s military forces mean nothing if they are not also winning over the local population and the international community. The strategic strength of the Resistance not only tracks campaign progress, but influences the strength of the Signal, which the Receivers rely upon to fuel their most dramatic abilities.

The game is funded, with 9 days remaining as I write this. If you care about antifascist art or fresh twists on tabletop RPGs, this might be a perfect endevour to back.


Ravine is a “cooperative survival card game” by the team that created one of my favourite party games, Spaceteam. I’m a big fan of coop games for games nights, and this one looks like it will be a lot of fun. The game’s Kickstarter campaign will wrap up on December 7th, so now is the time to back. There’s a print and play version available to see how it plays. Knowing the team behind this game can deliver a great experience, I’m excited to get my hands on it to play and see if I can survive a night in Ravine with my friends.




Zombies, Run! 2017 November 24

I’ve started again from the beginning of the Zombies, Run! story for my morning run. It was good to be running on the Chain of Lakes trail again for the first time in a while. I managed a good pace considering I’m carrying 20 lb of speakers from a Value Village stop.

Zombies, Run! 2017 November 12

On this chilly Autumn morning I ran the last mission of Zombies, Run! season 6. It was a rewarding end to the story arc, with the sacrifice, overblown machinations and suspense that should be expected when confronting a fascist trying to launch a nuclear strike from her volcanic base. The AI subplot that began in one of the virtual races had a satisfying turn that redeemed some of the thinner tropes it used earlier.

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