Outfitter Under the Stars

A lot of modern literature leaves out that Vampires suffer from Arithmomania: a compulsion to count things. In this respect the most accurate TV portrayal of vampires isn’t The Vampire Diaries, but Sesame Street. Traditionally for defense one would carry a pocketful of seeds, like mustard seeds to scatter in front of the vampire, which would slow them down because they’d feel the need to count them all.

Our original products were things like mustard and collard seeds, traditional crossbows with wooden bolts, silver crosses, garlic, etc. But then we got forward-looking and started app development. Our big one is the app that will count things for you. You snap a picture and the edge detection algorithm gives you a guaranteed accurate count. Of course we track our users and what they count. Industrial users are easy to weed out. We take special interest in users that count everything, and are mostly active at night. We then entered into a data sharing agreement with the FBI and Interpol. We correlate our nocturnal power users with suspected mass murder incidents. Did you know that the FBI estimates that at any given time in the US there are 50-300 mass murderers? Probably only about 10-25% of those are vampires by our estimates.

To be clear, we don’t actually hunt those with bloodlust, we’re just the outfitters. There’s always a range of hunters from semi-pro to professional who need our supplies. We try to discourage the rank amateurs, as we prefer repeat customers. We resell wooden bullets that were designed for crowd control, and offer an increased charge behind them. A quieter option is our pneumatic-driven wooden harpoon: the Van Helsing. You do have to carry SCUBA tanks on your back to drive them, but they’re quite effective I’m told. Other big sellers are our semi-automatic and pump-action crossbows. The advent of full-spectrum LEDs had led to our new Cyclops 10 million candlepower flashlights with extra UV boost. Our users report they’re nearly as effective as native sunlight. Heck, they’ll even turn a plain-blood a bit crispy. Carry these and a six-pack of our garlic-infused flashbangs and you’ll be all set and we’ll turn a tidy profit.

I hope you can tell from the above descriptions that new technologies have swung the balance of power markedly toward the vampire hunters. We were safely behind the scenes as anonymous arms supplier to the adventurous. At least we were until the day we got the email that simply read “We know who you are.”

Caramel-Nut Popcorn


  • 1 cup light brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup butter
  • 1/4 cup light corn syrup
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 12 cups popped popcorn (freshly poped is best)
  • 3 cups nuts - coarsely choped (we use peanuts and cashews)


Pre-heat oven to 250 degrees Farenheit.

Mix: popcorn and nuts together and separate the combination into 2 square pans 13x9x2 (ok to use flat cookie sheets: a little messier, but cooks better)

Combine: brown sugar, butter, corn syrup and salt in saucepan under medium heat.

Stir constantly until mixture boils. Let boil for 5 minutes then remove from heat.

Stir in baking soda until mixture foams (about 1 minute).

Pour mixture over popcorn-nuts until evenly coated.

Place pans into oven - stir mixture every 15 minutes (4x times) for an hour.

Ready to eat. Eat warm or cold.

How to Play Rook

About Rook

In the days of my youth (mid '70s) in a small town in Georgia, we teens would play Rook. There are a number of variations of the game as listed in the official rule book from Parker Brothers. The version we played wasn't any of them. So in the interest of posterity, here's the rules we went by:Rook is Parker Brothers four-suit numerical card game: "The Game of Games". A Rook deck contains four suits: Red, Green, Black and Yellow. There are numbered cards from 1 to 14 in each deck. This plus the Rook Picture card gives us a total of 57 cards in a Rook deck. In a four-person game we take out the 2s, 3s and 4s. This leaves us with 45 cards we actually play with.


Certain cards count points. The 5s count 5 points each, the 10s count 10 points each, the 14s count 10 points each, the 1s count 15 points each and the Rook counts 20. This makes for a total of 180 points in each hand.


Rook is generally played with four people. The players who sit opposite each other are partners and constitute a team. The two teams play each other in the game. A game is won when a team reaches a pre-determined number of points, generally 500. A game of 1000 makes for a long game.


The cards are delt face-down, 10 to a player. The remaining five cards are placed in the middle of the table with the top card face up. This is the "nest", "kitty" or "widow".


After the cards are delt, the person to the dealer's left starts the bidding. The minimum bid is 100. This bid represents the number of points that person feels that their team can capture if they have the priviledge of calling trumps. Bidding proceedes to the left. Bids must be a multiple of 5 (100, 120, 135, etc up to 180). A person can either bid higher than the previous high bid or drop out of the bidding on that hand by saying "pass". The highest bidder (after everyone else has passed) has the priviedge of calling what suit is trumps. The winner of the bid picks up the five cards in the middle of the table, discards five cards of his choice back into the "widow" and calls trumps.

Play Begins

The person who took the bid and called trumps plays a card face up in the middle of the table. Play then proceeds to the left until each player has played a card. These four cards constitue a "trick". The person who played the strongest card takes the trick and retires the cards onto their side. This is called "taking a trick." The person who took the trick gets to lead the first card for the next trick. Play proceeds through 10 tricks as each player plays all their cards.

Play Details

Whatever suit (red, black, green, or yellow) is led, i.e. is the first card played in a trick must be played by each player. If a player doesn't have a card of the suit that was led, he may play a card of any suit. In playing, the strength of the card is its numerical value, except for the "1". It is like an ace, the highest card in each suit. So from lowest to highest, the cards in a suit are 5,6,7,8,9,10,11,12,13,14,1. The trump suit is the highest suit. If red is trumps and black is led in a trick a player who is out of black may play a red card. If no other player plays a higher red, the person who played the red (trump) card takes the trick. The Rook card is the highest of the suit called as trumps and must be played as a trump card.


At the conclusion of the hand each team counts up the point cards they captured in their tricks. If the team that won the bid makes at least their bid, they keep all their points. If they failed to make as many points as they bid they "go set": that is whatever they bid is deducted from their score. The team that didn't win the bid keeps whatever points they made in any event.


Whoever takes the last trick also gets the five cards the winner of the bid set aside as the "widow". It is also possible to call "no trumps": i.e. the highest card of whatever suit leds wins. In this case the Rook can be played at any time and takes the trick. If a person who took the bid can't decide what to call trumps, he can let his partner call trumps. If the bidder discards the widow first, there is no increase in the bid. If he wants his partner to call trumps before the discard, the bid is increased by 5 points. Some people play that if the Rook comes up on top of the widow, all players must "bid blind" i.e. bid without looking at their hand. A special bid is "shoot the moon" this means the player bids 180 points. If the fail, they go set by 180 points, if the make it they get 500 points. In the bidding process, if nobody wants to take the bid, the dealer must take it for the minimum bid, usually 100 points. If a player is delt a hand with no point cards, he can call a mis-deal and get a new hand delt.

Historical Footnote

Why was Rook popular in the South? In the Bible Belt, some considered playing with a standard 52 card deck to be sinful, so they played Rook instead. Rook is somewhat of a "redneck bridge" in that the partners, bidding, trumps and play are somewhat reminiscent of bridge, but much simplified.

Be sure to check out the Rook Followup page.

Rook Followup

In response to my page about Rook, I got this response in April 2007:


I'm writing regarding the rules for Rook on your web page. I have been
researching this game, and summarized the main official variations. This
information may be useful to you - you can check out my following posts
(under the handle: EndersGame). As far as I can tell, the variation you
described is called "Buckeye", and is so described in the book Rook in a
Book published by Winning Moves.

Playing with regular playing cards

Official Rules For Four-Player Partnership Rook

These posts may also be of interest:

Reflections on whether or not to use the Rook card

Relationship between Rook and 200 (Deux Cents)?

In short, I've discovered that there are two official variants for
four-player partnership Rook:
1. Kentucky Discard (Tournament Rules)
2. Regular Partnership (Original Game)
There is also a third popular way of playing:
3. 1-High Partnership
Most variants are based on these official methods of playing:
1. Variants based on Kentucky Discard (Tournament Rules): Kentucky Discard
(Original Rules), The Red 1, Buckeye, 200 (Deux Cents)
2. Variants based on Regular Partnership (Original Game): Dixie, Display,

As for versions of the game played with regular playing cards, there are
two main versions popularly played:
1. 200 (Deux Cents) - based on Kentucky Discard
2. Princeton Rules - based on 1-High Partnership

But I won't deluge you with two much information in this email message,
instead I humbly refer you to the first two thread links above for more
info. I have spent quite some time analyzing the official rules, and the
different variations described online, and I am quite confident that the
analysis in my posts in the forum is quite accurate and I hope it will be
helpful to you and perhaps help the content you have produced become more
comprehensive and complete:

I'd welcome your comment or feedback, and feel free to make use of this
information in your work, whether website or book.


Mama Manno's Baklava Recipe


  • 1 box (1 lb) filo dough, defrosted according to directions on package
  • 1 lb butter (salted), or 1/2 lb butter and 1/2 lb margarine
  • 4 cups finely chopped walnuts (see note 1 below)
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1 tsp cinnamon


Prepare syrup (recipe below) and let cool while making baklava. Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Mix walnuts, sugar, and cinnamon together. Melt the butter in a bowl. Use some of the butter on a pastry brush to butter a 13x9 glass baking dish.Open and unroll filo roll. Keep the roll covered with a very slightly dampened towel all the time you're not taking sheets off (see note 2 below).Peel one sheet of filo from the roll, place it on a flat surface, and brush it with melted butter. Use plenty of butter and cover the whole sheet but don't leave pools of butter. (As you use butter don't stir the solids up a lot, use the butter off the top.) Take another sheet, lay it on top of the first sheet, and butter it. Repeat with 2 more sheets of filo (total of 4 sheets, each buttered). Sprinkle 3/4 to 1 cup of nut mixture over this filo stack. Don't put nuts closer than 1/2 inch to the short sides. Along one short side of the stack, fold over 1/2-inch of dough and butter the fold. Roll the stack into a log. Place the roll into the baking dish and butter the roll. Continue to make rolls with the rest of the filo, using 4 sheets for each.Using a sharp knife slice each roll diagonally into slices about 2 inches wide. Place baking dish in the bottom third of the oven and bake until very golden brown ("red"), about 25-30 minutes (use more time if necessary, be sure baklava is well-baked). Pour about 2 cups of cooled syrup over hot baklava. If all the syrup gets absorbed add more until a little is left around the rolls. When baklava is cool you make remove slices and place in paper muffin cups for serving.


  • 4 cups sugar
  • 2 cups water
  • 1 Tbls honey
  • 1 Tbls lemon juice

Combine sugar and water in a saucepan and boil for 15 minutes. Add honey and lemon juice and boil for 5 minutes more. Remove from heat and cool before pouring over hot baked baklava.


  1. The nuts should be in very small pieces - a hand-grinder works best. A food processor may be used but don't let them get ground to powder.
  2. Handling the sheets of filo requires a gentle touch. Don't worry about tears in the sheets, just place them and butter them and they will work fine. Keep remaining filo covered with the damp towel all the time - if the sheets dry out they become very brittle. If the sheets stick together too much the roll has becore too wet, so leave the towel off until they separate more easily.
  3. Pronounce "baklava" with the accent on the first syllable.