10:43:59 am on
Tuesday 04 Aug 2020

Advice for Gordon Sondland
David Simmonds

I feel sorry for Gordon Sondland (above). Sondland donated a million bucks to the inaugural committee of Donald Trump and was rewarded with the ambassadorship to the European Economic Union. Little did he know at the time that he was to be called upon as the point man in a Trumpian scheme to squeeze the Ukrainians for inside dope on Joe Biden; that he was going to receive a subpoena to testify before Congress about it; that testifying would cost him his job when the articles of impeachment derived from his testimony were voted down by the Senate.


A lousy tee-shirt.

Trump is vengeful and he got his revenge. All that Sondland can do about it is wear the proverbial tee-shirt. “I paid a million bucks for a job negotiating cheese tariffs,” it reads, “and all I got for it was this lousy tee-shirt.” 

Still, Sondland must be aware that if you make a pact with the devil, you must prepare for him to act devilishly. Sondland is said to have a nine-figure asset base to comfort his fall. Thus, he may be worried more about filling his time than paying his bills.

How will he spend his new-found free time? It doesn’t sound like running the Oregon-based hotel empire that built his fortune is going to provide him much new job satisfaction. I’ll bet that he comes out with a book, to be published in the fall when the presidential election is at its boiling point.

That will fill his agenda for only a few weeks. What else is he to do? I have only one word for Sondland, and, no, it’s not plastics, it’s Azul. 

Azul is a board game that I learned to play this winter. I think it’s fabulous. Here is the deal with Azul.

The game asks you to imagine you are King Manuel the first, of Portugal. You discovered Moorish decorative tiles at the Alhambra palace in southern Spain. You are so taken with these tiles that you want to use them to decorate the Royal Palace of Evora.

That’s quite an imaginative leap for a humble resident of Prince Edward County to make. It’s made easier by the fact that the currency of the game is one hundred colourful plastic tiles, divided into five styles. These tiles you learn to use, strategically.

Your task is to tile a pattern on a wall at a better rate than your playmates. You take turns to pick tiles from their factory, which you assign to a row on the floor. Players pick up on the strategy involved quickly.

After you filled out a floor row with tiles, you assign a tile to the wall. The patterns you make on the wall ultimately determine the points you will receive. The game takes roughly forty minutes from start to finish and can be played by two-to-four people. It sells for roughly $60.

Azul requires strategic thinking at several levels. What tiles are my adversaries collecting from the factory? Should I try to block them or concentrate on my own plan? Should I work on a difficult to fill floor row or go for an easier one? What pattern on the wall will generate the most points for me?


Games must be chosen with care.

Board games, such as Azul, are good. Players engage face to face with your family and friends. You’re not stuck in silence watching the television together or, worse, listening to you own headphone connected devices.

These games must be chosen carefully. Play Monopoly and you wind up dying a slow, drawn out death, as the winner triumphantly takes you to the cleaners. Play Scrabble and the same person always wins and it’s not the one with the largest vocabulary, but the one who knows the rules of Scrabble, such as acceptable two letter words with no intrinsic meaning. Play Settlers of Catan and watch your civilized playmates turn into ogres. With these negatives, it’s no wonder I’m pitching this game to Sondland. 

Meanwhile, Trump continues to amaze as the man who gets everyone else into trouble, but he escapes near-certain personal defeat at the end of every chapter. The FBI investigation; the Mueller report; the impeachment: they’re all history now.


Ensnaring Trump.

Joe Biden, the man he was so worried about, seems to be doing a great job of sabotaging his own candidacy that he doesn’t needs any help from Trump; Sanders, in fact, has endorsed Biden. Maybe Biden and Sondland can bond and commiserate over a game of Azul. Maybe they’ll come up with a plan that finally ensnares Donald Trump.

Some readers seem intent on nullifying the authority of David Simmonds. The critics are so intense; Simmonds is cast as more scoundrel than scamp. He is, in fact, a Canadian writer of much wit and wisdom. Simmonds writes strong prose, not infrequently laced with savage humour. He dissects, in a cheeky way, what some think sacrosanct. His wit refuses to allow the absurdities of life to move along, nicely, without comment. What Simmonds writes frightens some readers. He doesn't court the ineffectual. Those he scares off are the same ones that will not understand his writing. Satire is not for sissies. The wit of David Simmonds skewers societal vanities, the self-important and their follies as well as the madness of tyrants. He never targets the outcasts or the marginalised; when he goes for a jugular, its blood is blue. David Simmonds, by nurture, is a lawyer. By nature, he is a perceptive writer, with a gimlet eye, a superb folk singer, lyricist and composer. He believes quirkiness is universal; this is his focus and the base of his creativity. "If my humour hurts," says Simmonds,"it's after the stiletto comes out." He's an urban satirist on par with Pete Hamill and Mike Barnacle; the late Jimmy Breslin and Mike Rokyo and, increasingly, Dorothy Parker. He writes from and often about the village of Wellington, Ontario. Simmonds also writes for the Wellington "Times," in Wellington, Ontario.

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