In his capacity as what John Trussell has described as "a big, 350-pound chunk of [the world's] sense of humor," Derek was extremely sensitive to the funny things around him. He also possessed an excellent memory for minutiae (one might even go so far as to call it "trivia"). These two traits combined to create the phenomenon we came to know as "break triggers".
It worked like this: if a joke was told around Derek that was of sufficient power to break him, the punch line of that joke would stick in his memory. Thereafter, if at any point the punch line were repeated to him, he would call up the rest of the joke from memory and break again, unassisted. This was very useful in situations where some people present had not been present for the original telling of the joke, since it would seem to those observers that Derek had been broken by a nonsensical statement such as "Literacy!"
Break triggers I can remember off the top of my head include:
Another is the "literacy" story. This also took place in F13. We were playing Civilazation for the first time, and we hadn't realized haw bloody long the game can take... We had something like 6-8 players, and we didn't start until at least 6PM. Well, we were still playing at 3 or 4 AM, and we were making a lot of stupid jokes, most of which were funny only because of the hour at which they were told. Derek was playing Africa, and he'd just been struck with a plague (or was it a famine?) that lost him 8 population tokens, which nearly wiped him out. I made a wisecrack in an exaggerated "stupid person" voice (sort of like one of Monty Python's "Gumbys") and said "Gee Derek you sure lost a bunch of guys on that one-" then I interrupted myself, saying in a normal voice "oh, wait a minute, I have _Literacy_." I then adopted an upper-class English accent and said "I say Derek, you seem to have lost quite a few tokens on that play." We all lost it for a good long time.
If you can think of any others I've overlooked or temporarly brain-faded on, please remind me so I can update the list. I know I'm leaving some out here.Benjamin D. Hutchins