Studying Words Is Not Enough

November 8, 2003

Auf Gang Agley

The weather turned really cold on Thursday night. I noticed this because I was crashed out at my usual stopping place, a rest area just south of Elizabeth of the NJ Turnpike, after having played at Joel's club. Also because the trip to Joel's club was unexpected, so I hadn't brough my heavy blanket or pajamas. Anyway, because it got even colder on Friday night I decided to stay in Princeton and drive up in the morning.

I was up before 7:00 and I thought I had plenty of time, but it evaported through a series of missteps. First, my laundry hadn't finished drying, so I had to wait for my long-sleeved shirt to drive. It's not the only one I own, but the only one I wear. Then I forgot my laptop and had to return to the house. Then I missed the road that would take me to the turnpike and had to double-back. Still, by the time I reached Staten Island I had plenty time, enough that I detoured to Richmond Avenue to rephotograph a Starbucks, and then to Forest and Bard to visit the third, and newest, store on Staten Island.

But as soon as I crossed the Verranzano and got few miles up I-278 I was stuck. It occurred to me that I should have taken the Belt Parkway around the south end of Brooklyn, but it was too late to turn around. I guess I should have been studying traffic patterns, and not just words. As the clock on my car (with a funky readout, due to coffee damage), approeached 9:30, it occurred to me to call information, get the number for the Ramada, and have a message delivered to Ginger to pair me and start my clock. I arrived too late to play my first game, but at least I didn't blow the whole trip. The first game was marked down as a bye, which was good for ratings purposes. But as luck would have it I was number three in the division and accordingly paired with the someone at the bottom of the group. In fact, the bottom player in the group, rated several hundred points below me. Why couldn't it have been the top player, a game I probably would have lost anyway.

In fact, I did lose against the top seed Rich Reiben. Though I drew a crapload of power tiles, including both blanks, the timing was all off. With both blanks in my hand, I played ZOoNS for 55, and then with a tight board, I feared that I wouldn't be able to find a bingo and just played FIzZIER for 54. I guess 109 points for two blanks isn't bad, and that last play brought me within 12. But I needed those 3 and 4-point tiles to score in those last four turns, and except for the B all I got was singles.


I recovered though, in my next two games, and brought my spread from -131 up to +159. I killed Ira Freehoff with three bingos, two of which I wasn't sure of, AREOLES and PEARLInG. Was already up by 130 when he layed the E on the TWS row to try and open it up, and I could have played it safe and just blocked the triple, but I wanted to recover from my horrible spread and just threw PEARLInG out there. I got greedy and tried once more, to bingo out with NUTRILE*, but there's nothing there, so I ended up giving him an extra turn to have fun going out with his AAEEIO rack.

Jim Fonti surprised me by challenging my 16-point ALLOD (only 16 points!), and after I then played ROSEATED off the O, he himself tightened up the board and couldn't recover. I couldn't have done a better job of closing things down myself.

Over lunch I chatted a bit with Ira and left him to wonder exactly what parts of my journals that he had been reading were embellished, and what parts I had left out.

Truth be told, I should have lost my fifth game against #2 Lynne Mitchnick, because of all the mistakes I made. I opened with ABOLISH, but forgot the ING. Next, with a EEEEOGT rack, I played OGEE to get rid of more vowels, but that left her a line to the TWS and 32-points. Then I scrambled to block the ING, and played IT/SI/HE/DIET, which does nothing to block the ING. Finally, I hold on to my NG for many turns and finally draw the I, and I'm so focused on my ABOLISHING that I overlook her FAE*. The Q stick helped, but I'm still amazed I won that game.

The Regularly Scheduled Bayside Odor Report, Or The Whiff of Death

This time, the odor was where it belong, in the bathroom. It was so bad that I held my breath as I did my business, as quickly as possibly, and started to feel lighthead as I fumbled with the lock to open the door and take a breath. Then I remembered I had to button my pants and wash my hands.

I could admit to having screwed up the endgame in my 10-point loss to Dolly Silverstein, but instead I'll blame it on the brain cells that died while I held my breath in the bathroom. So even though I won my last game against Karen Fishman, Dolly dicked me yet again by failing to beat Ira Freehoff, and he passed me up with a 5-2 record to my 4-3, leaving me in third place. At that point I was really cursing the traffic that cost me that first game, which I'm sure I would have won.

The Consolation Prize

As a consolation prize for having (probably) lost 2nd place to the traffic, kind Ira offered me a free dinner at his restaurant, the Comfort Diner.

About five minutes after I left, I went to plug in my laptop and couldn't find my power adapter. I rushed back to the Adria and did not see it. The hotel desk attendant said it had not been turned in, and I did not see it outside on the sidewalk or in the parking lot. I figured someone had picked it up, maybe Ginger or one of the other players. I was miffed at whomever for not having left a note at the conference center, or at the hotel desk, or simply having left the adapter at the desk. Because now I was without the use of my computer until I got that adaptor back, with maybe 2-3 hours of battery power left.

After spending over an hour getting to and crossing the Queensborough Bridge, I drove up to Spanish Harlem, but all I saw were Mexican restaurants. I had hoped to get online and look up a South American restaurant, but I didn't feel like paying the Kinko's charges. So I went down to the Comfort Diner at 25 W. 23rd St. and had me the real breakfast (served anytime) that I hadn't had time for in the morning. Great French toast, and an interesting dinner menu. Drop by if you get a chance.

I spent most of the rest of the weekend visiting a few new Starbucks and rephotographing ones already visited. More...

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