Monthly Archives: March 2015

Wodehouse Trope-ical Bingo generator now online

Wodehouse-Bingo-cardVersion 1.0 of the Wodehouse Trope-ical Bingo generator is now online. You can go to the generator by clicking here or by clicking the picture of the bingo card. I hope we can give the cards a dekko when we next meet and perhaps go through some of the tropes for refinement.

Right now, there are 54 general tropes and 26 Jeeves and Wooster tropes. There will be additional categories for the Blandings, Mulliner and golf stories and maybe an American category. Click here to see the master list of tropes.

The provisional rules of the game can be found here. It will still take some fine tuning to ensure that someone will always win. I think the success of the game will depend on skillfully pruning the list of tropes.

General vs specific
It’s fun to wrack one’s brain looking for obscure tropes. Someone suggested “irreproachable Mechlin lace,” which I liked, but other than Right Ho, Jeeves and The Code of the Woosters, I can’t think where else it occurs. Of course, I haven’t read every last bit of Wodehouse so it may occur many times, but maybe not enough times to qualify as a trope.

On the other hand, I had worried about a trope being too common, like the Empress of Blandings for the Blandings stories. Now I realize that for game play, you really do want tropes that appear in almost every story.

How not to win
Wodehouse-Bingo-patternsIn regular bingo, someone always eventually wins. Usually each player gets three cards and those cards are marked with all the numbers 1 through 75. The ball cage has balls marked with the numbers 1 through 75 and if all the balls are drawn, everyone could theoretically win at the same time as the last ball is drawn.

But it’s possible that even with each player getting three cards, that no one will be able to match enough tropes sufficient to win, if we limit ourselves to five tropes in a row, column or diagonally. It might be necessary to allow additional combinations to better the chances of someone winning.

I suppose it could be possible to pare the tropes down to 25 (actually 24 because of the free square) that appear in every story, although that would be quite an accomplishment (easier within a category). That way every card is eventually a winner, but would it be as much fun. Surely some of the appeal is to pick some obscure tropes that have people scratching their heads.

I could also give the program easy and difficult settings. In the easy setting, it only generates from the 24 tropes found in every story. In the difficult setting, it draws from a much larger set of tropes.

By default, the program will present a card with an accompanying list of the tropes and their definitions. By clicking Hide Descriptions (2-up), you can print two cards on a sheet, but with no list. You’ll need to print the master list of tropes separately (they can be listed alphabetically or randomly). Cards are best printed in landscape mode.

Fine tuning
Right now, if choosing a category, the generator picks twelve general and twelve category specific cards. It does not intermingle the tropes; they are separated by the free space. I will next modify the program to either intermingle them or to use only the category specific tropes when a category is selected.

I’d appreciate any comments below. Perhaps we can play a couple of rounds of Wodehouse bingo at our next movie night and really put it through its paces.


Taking French Leave; Something Fresh May 10

something-fresh-overlookAt our March meeting, the members of the Secret Nine acknowledged that French Leave was something different from the P.G. Wodehouse formula we had all come to expect and love. Those assembled would not say that it was a sub-par effort by the Master, but there was general agreement the plot was just not quite right.

Of course the seven members present cannot speak for the whole group and even among the seven, there was some variation. Original member Mike thought it so funny he was in danger of … well, no need to go into specifics. Newest member Mike and member Shawn agreed with this correspondent that the plot didn’t seem like a real Wodehouse plot. Of course we’d done our homework and knew the plot was one borrowed from Wodehouse’s good friend Guy Bolton, but speaking for myself, I uncovered that information after reading the story, while preparing to sound knowledgeable when we discussed it.

may-10thStill, there was a lot to like in the story and we praised many of the characters. As usual, there was talk of who could be cast in a movie adaptation (ignoring the fact Bolton’s basic plot has been filmed several times).

We also welcomed back member Larry, whose holiday abroad was recently marred by a mysterious illness, no doubt the work of our arch enemies. The date of our next conclave was also set, May 10, unfortunately Mothers’ Day, although anyone should feel free to bring their mother to any of our meetings. The next novel to be discussed is Something Fresh (aka Something New in the States).

We also talked about attending another cricket game. Original Mike is our liaison to the Colorado Cricket League and we’ll try to get a schedule—never an easy task. It was agreed that we will provide our own refreshments this time, with a sign-up sheet so that we’ll have more to eat than just cucumber sandwiches.

Again, the idea of a Wodehouse miniature golf tournament was floated and there seemed to be general agreement. This might be the alternative if the cricket game does not coalesce.

Wodehouse Trope-ical Bingo

wodehouse-bingoFinally, I mentioned an idea I have had lingering in my brain for a while. I want to create Wodehouse trope-ical bingo cards that we can use either as discussion aids or as an occasional game.

Here’s how it might work as a game. Before a meeting, a browser-based program will generate bingo cards filled with both general tropes and tropes specific to the type of Wodehouse book we’re discussing (Blandings, Jeeves and Wooster, Mulliner, etc.). Each member gets a card (probably more than one) and within a set amount of time, the squares must be marked if that trope is mentioned in the story (there will be an accompanying sheet explaining the tropes in full). The first person to fill a row, column or diagonal wins.

Of course the danger to this style of play is that no one wins. Alternately, the game can be played by calling off a list of tropes (from a computer-generated list). You can only mark a square if that trope exists on your card AND is used in the novel. This second method can also be used with the first method if there is no winner with the first method, or as a tie breaker. We could also impose penalties if a trope is marked when not present in the story.

I’ll make this a publicly accessible computer program so anyone can use this. What I need from the members of the Secret Nine (or any Wodehousean) is suggestions for tropes. Suggestions should come in this form:

PAYBACK: Any instance where a reference in a story is Wodehouse getting back at a detractor. General usage

MUM: Any instance where a character’s name is pronounced differently than spelled. General usage

GANYMEDE: Any reference to the Junior Ganymede club. Jeeves and Wooster

Being a trope, it must occur more than once. So PICTURE RUFF or wearing a picture as a ruff would not be appropriate, but CAR TROUBLE would be.

Oh, tropes should not be more than two (preferably) words long to fit in the squares and I would prefer any suggestions be left here as comments.