Monthly Archives: May 2016

May 25, 2016

Game log 5/16

5/30/13: “Humble Weekly Sale: Telltale Games.” $5 for eight games, two of which I played soon thereafter:

The Walking Dead (5 episodes, 2012) [feels like a real TV show. In the world of computer games that’s a revolutionary achievement. It was widely hailed as a major milestone for the form — rightly — so I wasn’t going to miss it, even if that meant putting up with a lot of zombies and “desperate measures” apocalypsploitation. I enjoyed it even though it wasn’t for me]

Puzzle Agent (2010) [a tasty, atmospheric cartoon, unfortunately made to house a series of flimsy unprofessional puzzles. But the art direction is clearly a labor of love, and it’s very short, so it managed to leave a good impression despite itself]

That left the following six games:

Back to the Future: The Game (5 episodes, 2010—11): Telltale Games (San Rafael, CA) [12 hrs]
Sam & Max: The Devil’s Playhouse (5 episodes, 2010): Telltale Games (San Rafael, CA) [15.5 hrs]

Back to the Future is certainly superficially impressive as a piece of licensing work — the Marty McFly impersonation deserves some kind of award — but underneath it’s still flat and dumb and gawky in all the ways adventure games usually are, which puts it into an embarrassing uncanny valley of quality. Neither offensive nor lovable.

Sam & Max: The Devil’s Playhouse has all the same limitations, but the material better suits the style. It’s Mad Magazine loopy mayhem, which is inherently more forgiving. The puzzle design is occasionally clever, and the experience benefits from the variety and unpredictability inherent to zaniness. Still dorky, though.

Adventure games have always had an unfortunate tendency to be creatively undercommitted, by which I mean that the player can sort of smell the world of the programmers the whole time. Telltale games prior to The Walking Dead seem to have tried to counter that by deliberately doubling down on “story” and “characters,” without addressing the real problem, which seems to me more one of confidence than craft. The result is that the games feel simultaneously undercommitted and overcommitted (as in “why are you acting like I care about these stupid paper-doll characters?”) — which is the way of dorkiness.

Poker Night at the Inventory (2010): Telltale Games (San Rafael, CA) [4 hrs]
Hector: Badge of Carnage (3 episodes, 2010–11): Straandlooper (Donaghadee, Northern Ireland) [9 hrs]

Poker Night at the Inventory isn’t really a full-fledged game, just an experiment at creating the illusion that you’re in a social space with four other characters. The illusion basically succeeds for about 20 minutes, and then dies as soon as dialogue begins to repeat. It was striking to observe myself feeling the intimidation and shame that I would feel at a real poker table. (“Dammit, even Strongbad is more worldly and competent than I am!”) I stuck with it for a couple more hours because I was interested in getting some poker experience, but eventually I came to see that playing against these spastic AIs hardly even counted as poker.

Hector: Badge of Carnage was distributed by Telltale but isn’t actually a Telltale game, and it has a very different personality from anything else here. It’s in the tradition of Leisure Suit Larry, willfully “seedy” and “naughty,” which means at heart actually innocent, but still not my kind of company. I will grant that the artwork is well done, a nice stylistic solution to the longstanding problem of doing 2D adventure games in high resolution. Might this be the only game I’ve ever played from Northern Ireland? Not sure.

Puzzle Agent 2 (2011): Telltale Games (San Rafael, CA) [2.5 hrs]
Wallace & Gromit’s Grand Adventures (4 episodes, 2009): Telltale Games (San Rafael, CA) [12 hrs]

Puzzle Agent 2 is a weak retread of the already watery Puzzle Agent (see above), reusing art and, inexcusably, the exact same story. I got the sense that it was put together as quickly and cheaply as possible, maybe by interns and meek new hires who didn’t dare introduce any new ideas or improve on any of the things that ought to have been improved. Graham Annable’s visual style is still compelling, but the game couldn’t be more superfluous.

Wallace & Gromit has all the same problems as Back to the Future and Sam & Max (and the Telltale Monkey Island game that I played a few months back), but the gentle domesticity of Wallace & Gromit’s world put me in a mindset more accepting of inanity. Playing this game is nicely congruent with doing some knitting, or waiting for a Rube Goldberg contraption to butter your toast, so even at its dullest — and it is frequently quite dull — it at least feels cohesive. As usual, brand-matching is Telltale’s real forte, and here it’s second to none; I had no doubt that I was puttering around in the company of the actual Wallace & Gromit. (Wallace’s voice is another top-class impersonation. If only Kermit the Frog had been so lucky.)

Meanwhile in the present day:

4/21/16: Stephen’s Sausage Roll, purchased new for $29.99 — by far my largest single expenditure on a video game in at least 7 years, probably much longer.

Stephen’s Sausage Roll (2016): Increpare Games (= Stephen Lavelle) (London, England) [31.5 hrs]
Jelly no Puzzle (2013): Qrostar (= “Tatsunami”) (Japan) [8.5 hrs]

This is the second commercial game by the designer of English Country Tune (which I mentioned in the previous game log) and, like that game, is an exquisite collection of Sokoban-variant puzzles. They are truly hard but never cruel; they generously communicate everything about their own solutions except for the new insight that each puzzle requires the player to reach. There is something stirring about the abstract, musical quality of this kind of communication; it’s an art of taste and feeling, as much as any other art. The best such puzzles are designed by people who have an ear for that musicality, and Stephen Lavelle is a gifted composer in this medium. He also has a good sense of the aesthetic value of entering that abstract thought-space, and the game knowingly cultivates an atmosphere that sensitively complements the puzzle-solver’s inner atmosphere.

Playing this (and The Witness a couple months back) has reminded me that it’s possible to feel really and truly engaged by every minute of a game. After one hasn’t been for a while, it’s easy to find one’s standards dropping involuntarily.

In the Steam discussion forum for the game, in response to the many people who showed up to say “$30 you gotta be kidding me,” the developer posted a list of what considered to be “amazing free puzzle games,” the first of which was Jelly no Puzzle. So after I was done with Stephen’s Sausage Roll, I decided to play that (free, for Windows or Android; sorry, Mac, though you can still play a version of the first six puzzles here).

Jelly no Puzzle (that’s Japanese for “Jelly Puzzle”) is similar to Stephen’s Sausage Roll in that it is concerned with abstract communication, but different in that its communication is almost always a deliberate misdirection (which is only occasionally the case in SSR). You “read” each puzzle until you understand what it requires, then figure out how to put that into action… and only then do you realize that the implied solution has in fact been subtly blocked. Then the real puzzle begins. The true solution is always something that goes somehow against the flow implied by the layout. The challenge here is to recognize all the ways the puzzle is influencing your thinking in order to be free of them, and engineer a stubborn solution that disregards the insinuations but actually gets the job done. This too is a mode of communication, sort of like a magician tricking an audience.

I will admit to looking at hints for the last two puzzles, after being stuck for nearly an hour each. The rest I proudly did by myself.

May 23, 2016

The Twilight Zone: 13. The Four of Us Are Dying


directed by John Brahm
teleplay by Rod Serling
based on a short story by George Johnson
starring Harry Townes, Phillip Pine, Ross Martin, and Don Gordon
with Harry Jackson, Bernard Fein, Peter Brocco, Milton Frome and Beverly Garland
music by Jerry Goldsmith

Friday, January 1, 1960, 10 PM EST on CBS.

Watch it on Netflix.

Happy New Year to all Twilight Zone creators, writers, producers, and narrators! It’s 1960! The year you turn… 36! Just like Arch Hammer, that unscrupulous, lowdown, no-good man! (Readers, please be aware that I had written the previous entry before watching this one and had no foreknowledge of Arch or his age.)

With this in mind, let’s consider the opening text as subconscious self-portraiture:

His name is Arch Hammer. He’s 36 years old. He’s been a salesman, a dispatcher, a truck driver, a con man, a bookie, and a part-time bartender. This is a cheap man, a nickel-and-dime man, with a cheapness that goes past the suit and the shirt: a cheapness of mind; a cheapness of taste. A tawdry little shine on the seat of his conscience, and a dark-room squint at a world whose sunlight has never gotten through to him. But Mr. Hammer has a talent, discovered at an early age. This much he does have: he can make his face change. He can twitch a muscle, move a jaw, concentrate on the cast of his eyes… and he can change his face. He can change it into anything he wants.

The seedy con-man in Rod — now the star of two consecutive episodes — is the embodiment of moral anxiety. “What evil am I secretly capable of?” This episode is basically the same as all stories where magic powers — particularly invisibility — are the road to voyeuristic corruption: first the nervous audience is tantalized and titillated by the thought of unlimited sex, money, and cruelty without consequence; then the villainous magicians get their deserts, and we go home feeling relieved to be relatively powerless.

“Voyeurism” is really just an expression of normal impulses, filtered through social phobia: the desire to be with people without suffering the risks and terrors of being known to them. The existence of “invisible man” cautionary tales — in fact, the very notion of “voyeurism” itself, this idea that wanting to look at people even though you’re scared of them is a DIRE PERVERSION — is a product of social-phobic self-flagellation, which is to say a product of social anxiety itself. I.e.: “I like people, but people don’t like or accept me. Oh god, if they ever found out I like them, I’m sure they’d think I’m a super-creep. And since I really want to fit in, I’ll try to get in line with that opinion and agree: it’s true, I’m a super-creep. Oh god, what creepy things might I do? Thank god I don’t have the power to turn invisible, or you can bet I’d spend all my time being downright cheap and tawdry. A cheapness of mind; a cheapness of taste.”

But “The Four of Us Are Dying” brings it even closer to home, by making Hammer’s “most odd talent” be one of transformation, rather than disappearance. If Rod isn’t sure who he is — an innocent kid in idyllic Binghamton? a boxer in the ring? a soldier killing men in the south Pacific? a calculating ladies’ man? a husband and father? a hack writer? a TV producer in a suit? — he may well feel that in any given role he’s a phony, just playing a part for his own gain, hiding behind yet another convenient mask, living out his life in a personal twilight zone. And isn’t that, after all, a writer’s “most odd talent”? You tell lies about yourself, and sell them to anyone who’ll buy. Last week he was “Fred Renard.” This week he’s “Arch Hammer.” The question is, who is he when he checks into the “Hotel Real”?

In other words, Rod’s not even sure he’s entitled to the make-believe on which the show is founded; even this kind of escape is potentially dirty.

And we don’t have to have written it to share in his discomfort. Being audience to fiction is just as protean as inventing it; just as guilty, if you’re susceptible to that kind of guilt. There’s something noir about enjoying something like noir, make-believing your way into a wonderland of neon and cigarettes and dames that really, properly, aren’t yours.

Why not a beautiful dame? Why not? I never had a dish like that! I’ve never been loved like that! Why shouldn’t I?

This story — this girl, this money, this nocturnal glamour — is as much an undeserved fantasy for the audience as for Hammer. Who are we this week? This is a dream, and in a dream, we can be anyone: we just have to think of a face.

Oh god, we’re such creeps!

I’ll admit that the first time I watched this episode it didn’t really hang together for me because I couldn’t feel my way into that basic dream-guilt; I don’t share it with Rod. The episode just seemed like a series of disconnected ideas — especially the melodramatic scene with Mr. Marshak, which felt tonally arbitrary and more than a little silly.

It was only on second viewing when all the above clicked for me — oh, I see, the feeling is supposed to be guilt — and suddenly the Marshak scene made sense too. It’s a classic dream moment: in the midst of all the fantasy of changeability — I’m a cool cat! I’m a tough gangster! I’m a macho boxer! — suddenly deep, dark familial guilt rises up and pins you down. The scene confused me the first time around because I took it literally, as just some weird speech intended for the random boxer from the poster. But of course in a dream, the dad is just as protean as the self; for Rod, dreaming this episode, this dad is the dad. We’re to understand that underneath the borrowed face, in some mythical sense, Marshak has the right man after all. Hammer himself deserves every word, just as he deserves the bullet.

“I gotta concentrate! I gotta concentrate!” he pleads, trying to out-think society yet again, but the inescapable Other who represents emotional truth cannot be escaped, and kills him. To invisible men, the fear of being made visible is indistinguishable from the expectation of death, so here, out of left field, is that death you ordered.

Beyond the sudden contrivance of it, it’s also unsatisfying that the “figure of truth” is just some guy operating under a misapprehension. It would be a more effective ending, I think, if Mr. Marshak was made a little more weird and biblical when he showed up at the end, a little more like an avenging angel.

(A father killing his own adult son is a relative rarity in fiction, no? Nice paired casting, by the way. I thought maybe they really were father and son. Nope.)

I mean, look: I’m trying as always to speak to the psychological root here, and I mean what I’m saying, but the fact is, this is a goofy and clumsy episode. As I’m sure you already agree. Great neon lights set, though.

• The “scattered clippings” on the bed (see above) are just repeated duplicates of the only two clippings actually used in the episode. I guess he bought several copies of the paper.

• More of Serling’s undercooked pretentiousness (a la “And When The Sky Was Opened”): “Mourning becomes you, Maggie.” / “Me and Electra.” What could possibly be the point of this meaningless and utterly inapt allusion? (No, this doesn’t relate to my comment about a parent killing a child; Electra kills her mother in revenge for her mother having killed her father. Like Hamlet. If you want to make a case for how this relates to “The Four of Us Are Dying,” be my guest, but I’m skeptical.)

• I note that Rod oddly neglects to end the episode by reminding us that it all happened “in… The Twilight Zone.” And it feels wrong not to hear it. Why, after all, are we tilting up to the stars if he’s not going to tell us what zone this is?

George Clayton Johnson, author of the source story, will be back with original scripts later, from which we’ll get a better sense of his personality. The original story here, apparently called “All of Us Are Dying,” isn’t available online so I can’t speak to it; reports are that as usual Serling dumped just about everything but the premise. It is worth noting that in this case, the story was unpublished when Serling bought it, and though it did later see print, is generally considered as an appendix to the Twilight Zone episode rather than its precursor.

Passing thought while rewatching: This is the greatest TV series of all time. Look what craziness it gives us the opportunity to see! And think what variety of further craziness it’s going to encompass! It’s a true thrill. And such a show is no longer possible.

The reason this can’t be done again (and why all attempts at reboots seem weak) is because we don’t have a sturdy no-frills directorial standard practice anymore that can accommodate all this stuff convincingly. There is no artistic tradition today that could so easily scoop up this particular story, say, and deliver it, as-is, without aesthetic strain. None of this acting, none of this camera technique, is conceivable in the present culture. And that seems like a sign of cultural weakness. We should aspire to be capable of anything. The cult of originality has deprived us of the reassuring competence of generalism. I’d gladly trade back, if we could.

Now that’s out of the way, I can admit what this episode is really all about: ladies and gentlemen, Mr. Jerry Goldsmith!

30 years old, with only three film scores under his belt, but already clearly embarked on his life’s work of writing terrific, inventive music for mediocre productions. My considerable enthusiasm for his sound world (plink thunk wah-wah buzz whoosh snap!) is sadly dampened by the fact that most of it is wedded to junk. Even with this score, I find myself wishing the episode were better just for the sake of the music. This is great stuff.

Composed and conducted by Jerry Goldsmith.

Recorded December 4, 1959, 7:30AM–12:10PM, Goldwyn Studios

16 players:

Maurice Carlton, Nicholas Dann, Herman Gunkler, Ralph Lee, and Jack Stacy, reeds
(= 2 flutes, 3 clarinets / 2 alto saxes, 2 tenor saxes, baritone sax)
Leonard Mach, Uan Rasey, and Manuel Stevens, trumpets
Marshall Cram, Edward Kusby, Randall Miller, and William Schaefer, trombones
Sam Furman, piano
Robert Stone, bass
Milton Holland and Bernie Mattinson, percussion
(= drum kit / vibraphone / xylophone / marimba / bongo / boo-bams / gourd)

Incidentally, my source for this stuff also gives the date for the “sideline” call (i.e. the on-camera musicians) and thus the date the bar scene was filmed:

September 3, 1959, 7:30AM—5:30PM (Sideline), 4:15–7:15PM (Recording), MGM Studios

3 musicians: Sam Furman, Maurice Carlton, and Robert Stone (all of whom, as you see, played the real score, too. The trumpet player with lines, however, is an actor.)

May 15, 2016

The Twilight Zone: 12. What You Need


directed by Alvin Ganzer
teleplay by Rod Serling
based on the short story by Lewis Padgett
starring Steve Cochran and Ernest Truex
with Read Morgan, Arline Sax, William Edmonson, Doris Karnes, Fred Kruger, Norman Sturgis
music by Van Cleave

Friday, December 25, 1959, 10 PM EST on CBS.

Watch it on Netflix.

Yes, that’s right, we’ve skipped all the way to Christmas, because last Friday — i.e. December 18, 1959 — The Twilight Zone was pre-empted. Press release follows.

“Iran: Brittle Ally,” an hour-long television portrait of the oil rich U.S. ally which shares a 2,000-mile common border with the Soviet Union, will be the third program in the “CBS REPORTS” series on Friday, Dec. 18, 10:00–11:00 p.m. The program will be presented just four days after President Eisenhower visits Iran on his tour of Asian and Middle Eastern nations, and will include scenes of his visit.

CBS News Correspondents Edward R. Murrow and Winston Burdett will narrate the special filmed program. They will interview Shah Mohammed Reza Pahlevi, as well as other Iranians from various walks of life, and American citizens living and working in Iran. Among those on the program will be Abol Hassan Ebtehaj, until recently Managing Director of Iran’s Plan Organization; David E. Lilienthal, former Director of the Tennessee Valley Authority, who is currently supervising the building of a similar project for the Iranian government in Kuzistan; and Col. William A. Kuhn, Deputy Chief of the U. S. Mission to Iran.

Iran, historically known as Persia, is a constitutional monarchy and has been ruled by kings for 2500 years, longer than any other country in the world. Geological surveys indicate that the country fairly floats in oil. The huge refinery at Abadan is the world’s largest, with a daily production capacity of 410,000 barrels. On the Dec. 18 program, viewers will see phases of the oil industry at Abadan as well as scenes of Iran’s two next best-known world export industries, the production of caviar (from the Caspian Sea) and the weaving of (Persian) carpets.

This program sounds like an admirable and surely expensive piece of work by CBS News, so I don’t begrudge it pre-empting the Twilight Zone. As far as I can tell, Iran: Brittle Ally is no longer extant (though a transcript survives). What does it say about our culture that 60 years later, The Twilight Zone is available in pristine condition for anyone to watch, whereas Edward R. Murrow’s interview with the Shah of Iran (of “actual history” fame) has apparently been lost or destroyed?

IT SAYS NOTHING, is the answer. It just happens to be that way. (Also, if it did say something, it wouldn’t necessarily be something negative.)

Anyway, that’s a little blast of The Glaringly Bright Zone — a quick taste of “historical time,” which serves nicely as a palate-cleanser between bouts of mythical time. (That’s why CBS ran it, presumably.)

Now back to our regularly scheduled Twilight.

What You Need is sort of a “goose that lays the golden eggs” story. In this one the goose happens to win, but it doesn’t change the message: “this is why we can’t have nice things.”

(Which is an expression that I deeply dislike. It’s a nugget of pure resentment — ostensibly “something everyone’s parents said” but actually a quite dysfunctional thing for any parent to ever say — now being compulsively passed around in the culture as a supposedly tongue-in-cheek “wisecrack” that is, in fact, tacit perpetuation of the same resentment. “Joke” resentment is always more insidious than overt resentment; it’s like a cockroach that can squeeze into any crack.)

Anyway, it’s not a very good episode, but it’s an interesting spin on the magic-man Santa Claus motif, since it’s about dread of the impulse to abuse him. The lead character (“Mr. Renard,” eh?) represents Rod telling himself: “aw, even if there were a magic man, I’m sure I’d still manage to louse it all up, what with my venal nature.” As usual — as always — the essential conflict is just one fantasy identity chasing another. This time it’s the lowlife and the kindly old man. The test pilot and the nerdy little dork and the ordinary suit weren’t invited to this one, but there’s always next week.

It’s starting to be almost embarrassing how they all happen to be 36.

This episode, in fact, aired on Rod Serling’s 35th birthday (Jesus’s 1959th), which we can read as an anxiety gauge. It means that he gave himself about one year’s forgiveness, intuited about one year left between himself and his day of reckoning. The protagonists have to be 36 — rather than say 66, or 16 — because to Serling, by 66 the question “what sort of person” is already decided (either “a kindly old” or “a mean old”); at 16, any answer to the question “what sort of person” is too obviously provisional. Whereas 36 is the age when the question is answered decisively and irreversibly: the official life-narrative will finally stand revealed! This is what “drama” promises and threatens, so obviously, he thinks, the subject of any drama ought to be at that age. You can hear it in his voice, that to 35-year-old Rod, nothing promises high stakes more chillingly than saying “Protagonist. 36 years old.”

As usual — exactly like I said about Perchance to Dream and The Lonely — the heart of the episode is a dream dialogue between the two halves of the self, the way of nature facing off against the way of grace:

“I don’t need a partner. I don’t need anything. I’m content.” / “Your partner don’t satisfy so easy.”

“Serenity, peace of mind, humor, the ability to laugh at oneself. Those are the things you need most. But it’s beyond my power to give them to you.”

Then we get a convenient ending where the magic man has in some passive sense tricked Renard. This is, as usual, a psychologically phony way of contriving a conventional resolution. In this case it’s also not very satisfying because the particulars are so dumb. “Suddenly, everyone was run over by a truck.

Frankly the whole premise is vague. Is it just that the guy magically knows what people will need? Or is it that he magically arranges good fortune for them, and these props are obscurely the instrument of it? The baseball player at the beginning doesn’t actually need a ticket to Scranton in any magical way; once he has a reason, he can just buy one. What he needs is the job itself, which is offered to him out of the blue immediately after encountering the old man. So did the old man do it, or not? Seems like our writer didn’t really care about the distinction; the important thing is just that this old man is a magic-man Santa Claus. That much comes through crystal clear.

The real underlying premise is just the standard fantasy that life is a story and all our uncertainties are just uncertainties about the text. “Oh I see, then I get hired to coach that team in Scranton. Well that answers that!” This fantasy has such deep roots that it hardly even feels like a fantasy. We can play along without it being spelled out coherently.

Rod is admirably blasé about rules; rules would just weigh these dreams down. When he does give rules, they usually feel inserted, disingenuous. “The things you need you need just once.” Oh?

This story had the rare distinction of having already been adapted for TV, on ABC’s Tales of Tomorrow in 1952. That version is almost entirely faithful to the original story (from the October 1945 issue of Astounding Science Fiction) — except for a moral hedge at the very end.

The original story has actual science fiction in it, and also sort of a point to make about ethics: that perfect knowledge is incompatible with standard morality. Whereas the Twilight Zone version, as usual, strips the scenario down to its simplest paper-doll dream-image, and then invests it with vague psychological angst.

It’s like the stories are adapted for the show by being read to a nervous child and then a script is written based on the child’s drawing. More or less, I think, this is indeed how it works. The child’s name is Rod Serling, and the drawing is in his head.

We think of cultural material as always being siphoned upward, from a state of “folk” where it’s born wild, toward increasingly self-aware sophistication. It’s good to remember that sometimes it also goes the other way. Rod Serling is sort of like the Brothers Grimm, but instead of culling his stories up from the dreamlife of the illiterate commoners, he’s plucking them from the literate world and melting them back down toward unselfconscious fable.

Anyway, the Tales of Tomorrow version is pretty good. It’s certainly interesting viewing as an example of relatively ambitious live TV from 1952; the three-camera technique is already impressive in its way, but the impression is strong that TV still saw itself as “visible radio.” That’s an antiquated point of view but I found it can also be stimulating — how luxurious it is, after all, to be able to see all these people!

Story author Lewis Padgett, by the way, was a pseudonym for the husband-and-wife team of Henry Kuttner and C.L. Moore. Apparently in at least some of their jointly-credited works, they genuinely split their writing — trading off sessions at the typewriter — so there’s no knowing which of them wrote this one, or which parts of this one. (I suspect that if I really studied their individual styles I’d have some guess, but I haven’t and I’m not going to. I’ve read “Mimsy Were the Borogoves,” also by “Lewis Padgett,” but that’s it.)

Van Cleave’s music isn’t in the same league as his score for Perchance to Dream, but it’s not bad — the “magic” arpeggio figure is nice, and I respect how he manages to apply it constantly without wearing it out. Good use of organ, too. I’m not sure “God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen” is so tremendously apt that it needs to be in every scene; I guess Rod must have said “play up the Christmas-y aspect of the story, ’cause it’s airing on Christmas.” And since there isn’t really any Christmas-y aspect of the story, Van Cleave must have felt it was incumbent on him to hit it pretty hard.

Composed and conducted by Nathan Van Cleave
Recorded December 9, 1959, 9AM – 12:15PM, Goldwyn Studios.

9 players:
Joseph Krechter, clarinet / bass clarinet
James Decker, James McGee, and Richard Perissi, horns
David Filerman, George Neikrug, and Olga Zundel, cello
Jack Cookerly and Eugene LePique, organ / piano / celeste