No Increase, No Lap Dance, No Schmoopie


March 26, 2004

Automobiles, Automobiles, and Automobiles

At club the previous Monday, I had been telling another player how I needed to study more and compete less. And for most of the week I was determined not to even try to travel to one of the weekend's tournaments, not unless the trip coincided with picking up a car, which I was still trying to buy. But the car in Alabama, almost identical to my poor damaged baby, was bid up too high, and nothing else looked promising. My thoughts turned to making plans to meet my schmoopie, AKA my number one fan in Springfield, IL, with whom I had been talking for months. But a flight would end up costing me near $400, only to see her for barely more than a day. There was the possibility of whoopie, but I had to weigh that against ratings points and more money for a car. I thought it was too much of an expense, so I toyed with the idea of a cheaper plan for the weekend, the tournament in Hudson, which was really not that far away.

I faced myriad logistical difficulties. While I might have lacked the discipline to abstain from playing, I had enough control at least to set a budget. There would be no $300 plane flight--not when I needed to buy a car, and with my job ending soon. But if I could get there for just gas money, that wouldn't be so much to spend. However, another problem was that the rental car I would have for the weekend only allowed 150 miles a day, and the overage charge of 25 cents per mile would make the extra 500 miles to Hudson and back prohibitively expensive. So I started working out possibilities.

One possibility was to take advantage of Enterprise's ridiculously low $9.99/day 3-day weekend special by renting a car in Jersey, driving it midway to the middle of Pennsylvania, then renting another from Enterprise out there to drive the rest of the way. The problem was that I only had one credit card with a $300 limit, which meant I would have to use my check card for the second car, and the Enterprise restrictions would not permit me to take the car from PA to Ohio. Plus they would have run a credit check, and I might not have passed.

Stefan Rau made a surprise appearance at club in Philly on Wednesday, and I learned he would be driving back to Pittsburgh on Friday. This opened up yet another possibility, if I could find a ride back. The next day at work I began looking at ride share, one-way flights, and Auto Driveaway. Auto Driveaway had a car in St. Louis that needed to be driven back to Hightstown, just minutes from Princeton, and this led me to come up with my most outlandish travel plan. I would catch a ride with Stefan to Pittsburgh, catch a ride with some player from the area to Hudson, crash under a bridge somewhere, then catch a ride from another player southwest after the tournament to meet my schmoopie somewhere and have her drive me to St. Louis where I would pick up the car and drive back to NJ. Whew!

By coincidence, a post appeared on Friday morning on the Craig's List rideshare forum requesting a ride to Cleveland to pick up a car bought on eBay. I called the guy, Marcel, and asked if he would be willing to rent from Enterprise at the halfway point and trust me to return the car, but, as I expected, he wouldn't go for that. But if I could manage to drive out there, having him tag along would help cut my expenses.

The plan I actually worked out turned out to be much simpler. Just as I had all but given up, it occurred to me to ask one of the interns that rents a room in the same house where I stay if we could swap cars. Ulf didn't have a problem with it at all, and so I contacted Marcel and made arrangements to leave that night.

After work, I went home to take a nap, because Marcel didn't want to leave until midnight so as not too arrive too early, because he would not be able to meet the seller until 11:00 AM. Try as I might, I didn't manage to sleep a wink in the two hours I lay on my mattress. So I finally called him back and said we need to leave earlier. We agreed to meet in Hoboken at 11:00, in front of a bar called East L.A.


Risky Business

I arrived in Hoboken a bit after 11:00 and had double-around to block because traffic was too heavy on a Friday night to pull a u-turn on Washington Street. I managed to stop in front of East L.A. and Marcel spotted me. He brought his girlfriend along to keep him awake on the way back. After a stop at CVS and the gas station, I handed the wheel over and moved to the passenger seat to navigate our way onto I-80. Marcel paid for the gas I spent getting up to Hoboken, agreed to pay for half the gas the rest of the way, and gave me $15 for the rental car. So basically the trip to Hudson would be free.

As we left, I was a little worried at how Marcel would weave a little as he fiddled with his coke, candy bar, and Kaopectate. Actually I was more worried about the Kaopectate--he never mentioned anything about diarrhea on the phone. I don't know if I would have gone for that. I envisioned having to make many long stops to wait on his bowels.

I had one scary moment when we stopped at a picnic area, while I was in the passenger seat, so I could find a tree to hide behind. I realized that if I took the car keys I would appear untrusting. But if I didn't, I would risk their taking the car. I decided to take it on faith, and I just took my phone and wallet, trying to do it as surreptitiously. While I was outside, I saw the car move backward and nearly panicked. Thankfully, Marcel was just using the momentum to shut the car door.

When I returned to the car, I decided I had not prepared properly by checking this Marcel guy out, or taken precautions. To save a few bucks, I had taken some measure of risk. I would need to plan better the next time.

It was hard to see to type on my laptop because the car didn't have a light just on my side, so I settled for browsing 6s until I started to get a headache, at which point I tried to sleep. After a short while I took over the wheel so Marcel could sleep for about 30. he said that was all he needed until about 5:30 AM, when I'd have to take over. I think I took over a little earlier than that, and drove until I had to rest, and since we were ahead of schedule I pulled us into a rest area and everybody slept for a while. Finally Marcel took over and drove us into Erie.



March 27, 2004

Big Fish

Next to the Starbucks was a large art fish, similar to the art cows and horses visible around other U.S. cities a few years ago. I wondered what type of fish it was, and what its connection was to Erie. After visiting the Starbucks and picking up a power bar, I took over the wheel and drove is into Euclid, OH. We squared up on the gas and found the body shop where Marcel was meeting the seller.

We double-checked the address, and we were sure we had it right, but the place, a warehouse park with all the bays closed, seemed like a strange place to do a car deal. It was almost 11:00 AM on a Saturday morning, but yet no one was about. Marcel had expected me to drop him off and leave, but since I had more time, I decided to stick around in case the seller didn't show up.

After not too long, Marcel pointed to the car coming across the parking lot. The seller, a rather scruffy-looking fellow with a distrustful air about him, parking next to us and got out of burgundy Saab convertible. He had an eastern European accent, maybe Russian. Marcel's girlfriend began to transfer their things to the car as he reviewed some of the car's issues with the Russian before doing the paperwork. I noticed the Russian seemed nervous, and in a hurry. His movements were so jerky that he started to make me nervous. Marcel seemed too preoccupied with his new car to notice.

All of a sudden, the Russian stared down the parking lot behind me and cried out, "Oh, shit!" I'm not used to this kind of drama, so it took me a couple of seconds to react. I started the car and swerved around, intending to get the hell out of there, Marcel be damned for having gotten me into some shit. But the car swerved towards me and cut me off. I cursed that I was in a rental car and not at liberty to get it scraped it like I could if it were mine. Probably best that I didn't try to outmaneuver them, because they had guns, and in a split second one of the group was out of the car and pointing at me through the winshield. I had only had a gun pointed at me once, and that time it was a cop, so I hadn't felt too worried. But this--this was different matter. I kept yelling "I don't know this guy! I just gave him a ride! I don't know this guy! I just gave him a ride!"

"Shut the fuck up!" was the only reply I got, in an eastern European accent coming from a heavily muscled swarthy looking guy wearing a Patriots jacket and a wool cap. I kept my hands on the steering wheel, just like I'd been told to do in defensive driving when pulled over by a cop. Meanwhile, the other two thugs had gotten out and one had a gun in the seller's face. The other had a gun on Marcel. I couldn't hear what they were saying because my passenger side window was up, and I wasn't about to make any sudden movements. I may not have ninja skills or super powers, but I'm smart enough to stay still when somebody with a gun tells me to.

Time seemed like it was standing still as I waited to see what would happen, but at the same time I kept thinking about how I was going to be late for Scrabble. The thought that I might actually die out there did not really cross my mind. I guess I've always thought I was immortal, and that I'll always be okay.

I don't know what the whole ordeal was about, or what the eventual outcome was, and I guess I really shouldn't ask questions. All I know is that one of the hoods looked at me and said "Get the fuck out of here." I floored it. My heard didn't stop beating until I was on I-271 doing about 90.

I headed towards a new Starbucks in Lyndhurst. On the way, I received a call from my schmoopie with bad news--just as she was on the verge of figuring out a plan for driving towards Ohio to meet me, she got work that her grand-uncle was in the hospital and might pass within 72 hours. So of course that put the KYBOSH (new six I just learned) on any travel plans.

The new Starbucks was in one of these huge trendy commercial developments that I, in my enlightened anti-development mentality, have grown to dislike. Across the street was a California Pizza Kitchen, and though pizza is messy in the car, I didn't have the energy to hunt around, and I wanted to make tracks to Hudson, so I placed my order and went over to the Starbucks.


With My Mind on My Money and My Money on My Mind

I wasn't sure if registration was at 1:15, or if play started then, so even though I had plenty of time yet, I experienced momentary panic when I thought I had taken the wrong interchange and doubled back. Turns out I was just looking at the wrong part of the map, and furthermore I needn't have worried, because "producer" (as he later described himself) Chris Sheppard had not even arrived yet, and director Heidi Nemeth was registering people. This was the most laid back tournament I'd been to in a while. I didn't mind at first, because I had time to eat my pizza. But then I started to get anxious, because I was in fact fatigued and hoping to get out of there right around 8:00 PM, playing 7 games with no delays between pairings or a dinner break. But as it turned out, each round was paired only after all games were finished, and there was indeed a dinner break, and a long one. I worried about how I would hold up 'til 10:00 or 11:00 at night.

I learned that the tournament was one open division, which was an interesting change of pace. With at least a few players rated above myself, I speculated about the opportunity for ratings gain. Little did I realize the true danger of that format.

My ratings obsession came in handy in speeding up the pairings because I was able to help Heidi prepare the pairings more quickly by looking up player rating on the list that I always keep on my laptop, downloading it as soon as it's posted.

When I saw that my first opponent was rated 927, I had two thoughts. First, if I lost I would kill myself. Second, that I needed to pile on as many spread as possible in the hopes that a higher spread would result in my being paired with a stronger opponent. Then when I looked at a blank in my opening rack, I was not pleased, but rather worried that I would use up my luck against my weaker opponents and have none left over for when I really needed it. After the game I groused at a couple of mistakes that had cost me points. One, playing SERIAtES instead of SERIEmAS (to try and draw a challenge), and two, being unsure if COXAL was good, and thus burning the X for 18 points so I could try and draw into a 5-letter C word (CLOUD) for a 40-point play. COXAL would have scored 52, possibly drawn a challenge, and given me an extra turn.

My next opponent Karen Smith was a 1248, and I'd been beaten up so badly by sub-1400s in the past few weeks that I didn't take it for granted. I would rather have played a stronger player. I started strong with OUTEARNS/N, and then 25 for QUAG and 33 for SWOP/QUAGS. Then she took the lead with sHoRTEN, but I came back with a 57-point COX. I maintained a good lead throughout, but then after exchanging six tiles she drew into MURINES, and I started to worry. I won by 31, but I was sweating every turn.

During my third game, against Dean Scouloukas, a journalism student from Kent State reporting on the tournament sat in on our game. I think she jinxed me, yo, cuz I got outblanked again, and had very little opportunities. I tried not to act like a poor sport though, because she was really cute.

Aw, man! Even though Roy Nixon beat me to the first blank for an 84-point QUINTiLE, and I was only able to score 66 with my puny-ass AUNtIES, I thought I had him. But then my last rack was AFKMRXY, and I couldn't stop him from going out with READIED or DEAIRED through the D without using my A, in which case I wouldn't be able to play off my other tiles. Frustrating, that I couldn't do a darn thing. Waitaminute? What if I had played DRY? Nuts--I should have thought of that!


TRAPPED!

I wanted to stay connected to the Internet and figure out where I was going to go after the day's games, so I decided to settle for my remaining three slices of pizza, cold. The Tradewinds tea helped--everything goes better with Tradewinds. Everybody else was leaving for dinner, as we had a good 90 minutes, and since I was staying in the room they left the door open. But the catch was I couldn't leave, at least not without getting the staff to lock up. After everyone else left, I suddenly felt mildly uncomfortable, because if anything turned up missing I'd be the most obvious suspect.

Close to 7:30, I retrieve some pain relievers from my car. At 7:30, not even half the players had returned, and I envisoned being there 'til midnight. I downed yet two more pills.


It Worked!

I love it when a plan comes together. 996 Christopher Sheppard was scaring the bejeezus out of me by starting off with AVIaTION, and then three turns later playing BEAVERs (outblanked again!). But I came back with ORCEINS and some strong plays to stay in it, and then TARRIES to take a good lead. Towards the end, with few tiles in the bag, Christopher played ZESTED. I suspected it was good, but I was holding INERTIA with no hook, and if I tried to give myself a hook it would be obvious what I was doing, and I would give him a TWS. So I challenged, and I hoped that of the remaining tiles, he would choose to play JANE. And whaddayaknow, the only hook he could have given me, and he did, enabling me to bingo out and get a 500-game. After the game, Chris expressed his doubts that my AVIATIONS was any good. About a week later, I used LeXpert to determine that, of the X -TION words, only 37 do not take an S. The shortest is an eleven, MULTINATION, So for all practical purposes, I can assume any -TION word takes an S.

The victory meant little, however, because I couldn't gain any significant points playing such a low-rated opponent. I was picking up a Wi Fi signal, and so I worked out my new rating after each game. Beating Christoper garnered me all of 2 points. And in round 6 I faced yet another sub-1000, Brian Lewis. And he almost got me, by beating me to the blank for a bingo despite the fact that I was turning over nearly twice as many tiles as he was. The only thing that saved me was that his bingo came so late that he got stuck with the Q. Anothe two ratings points.

With three sub-1000s averaged into my computating, I had to win my 7th game or lose significant ratings points. In fact, there was no one in the field rated high enough to keep me from losing ratings points if I lost.


The Anomaly

In The Matrix Reloaded, a group of agents refer to Neo as "The Anomaly" because he has special powers that allow him to do almost anything within the Matrix. Then there's Matthew (not Matt) Collins, who was undefeated after six games, despite a rating of 1117. He had recently won the Columbus tournament and gained over a hundred points, so it was clear he was on the rise. But still, to win six games, some against much stronger competition--this was anomalous.

As I sat down for our game, I had a bad, bad feeling. When he beat my B with an A to start, I thought "uh-oh, the bad luck begins." And so it was that my opening rack was DEEEIPT while he had QAID. I play TEPEE and draw freakin' AADINOU while he lays down JEHAD for 36--two power tiles in the first two turns. I screwed up by challenging and he scored another 29, then 28 for QUART. Finally, a break with a 50-point RITZ/QUARTZ play and then two turns laker, FUCKS to come within seven. But after I opened two triples with WEARER for turnover, hoping to get the tiles for a big play on one of the two, I draw IIIGLLN, and he gets 37 for MEOW. I shoulda played RILLING, but I wasn't sure, so I stuck with GRILL. Then he gets the bingo RINSING, and I'm in real trouble. But then I draw one blank, and then another, and it looks like I can pull it out. But my AILMO?? won't needs an E ending for a seven, and or to end in a E for an 8, and I miss a bunch of obvious ones, like cAMIsOLE, cAMOmILE, IMmOLAtE, and MOrALIsE. So I play off MIS since I have the last A, leaving me three places to bingo from, and I immediately see bingoes in the AELOT?? that I draw. But my MIS gave Matthew a 41-point X play, and that made all the difference. I bingoed out, but lost by 14, and I could see my rating tanking right in front of me, like a thermometer in the Arctic.

Outside I ran into one of the new players, a guy who had never been to club and found out about this tournament by searching on the Internet. He was pleased with his 3 wins so far, and asked how I was doing. I grumbled that I never should have come. That if I had known about the open format, while I would have been curious, I would have had to consider it too dangerous for my rating. My only saving grace was the possibility of bonus points if I did really well in Boston.


Ts and As of a Different Kind

Tired as I was, since my schmoopie wasn't meeting me, I needed to find solace elsewhere. Plus, I hadn't been to any strip clubs in Ohio yet, and I was curious what they would be like. The closest was in Cuyahoga Falls. I called to see if they offered lap dances, and I was puzzled when some lady answered with a "hello" and I didn't hear music in the background. I said that I must have a wrong number, and she asked me who I was trying to reach. I asked if it was a bar, and she said yes. A topless bar? "Yes", she replied. So I headed in that direction, still puzzled. When I got off Highway 8 in Cuyahoga Falls to look for Front Street, I discovered that the portion in the direction I wanted to head had been turned into a pedestrian mall. So I called again to get better directions, and the same lady gave me an address different from that listed on the Internet. I wandered around for a while, half-thinking of just giving up and going to sleep. I called again for directions, and this time I got an answeing machine message in Portugese. I started to think that the number listed on the Internet was wrong, and that the lady, pissed about getting calls for the club, was just giving people fake info to mess with them.

Finally I pulled into some parking lot and got directions from some old biker dude. Turns out the place, Club Desiree was in fact in the pedestrian mall. As I walked up the mall, I said to myself, "After all this trouble, there better be some fine-ass bitches up in here, and eager to please." Okay, I wasn't really saying that. That's more like Snoop Dogg. But I'm a gangsta wannabe, waiting to become a Scrabble playa, and I gotta start thinking in the gansta lingo. Anyway, what I was really thinking was, "I wonder how long I can get away without buying a drink."

Turns out I didn't have to worry, because the place wasn't a real topless club--but rather a bikini bar. One of the waitressess explained the difference, and that there were no lap dances to be found, and then she directed me towards a couple of clubs in Akron.

I was only about 10 minutes away, so I headed down to Akron. I checked out three different clubs, none of which looked appealing. But the last one, Dreamers, was a curiosity in that, by city law, the dancers were not allowed to quote a price for a dance, and customers were allowed to pay whatever, typically $5-10. I had never before been to a strip club run like a church car wash. For $5, I couldn't pass it up, but after a while I got tired of waiting for a particular dancer to notice me and decided to leave. I was a little irritated, because when I arrived they had some special deal going on with all the dancers up on stage, at least 10 of them. But minutes later most of them were nowhere to be found. Did they all go into the back to snort coke or what?

My final option was in Brunswick, not too far from the Starbucks I would need to visit in the morning. I drove very slowly on the interstate once I spotted brake lights of the car ahead of me, and the patrol. I did think the other driver was overdoing it, slowing down to just under the speed limit instead of just over. Or maybe he knew something I didn't.

Christie's Cabaret was on a US highway, 42, which was common, but in a strip center, which was uncommon. In the lobby there were 2 or 3 inebriated middle-aged couples trying to get in. It appeared that the men had convinced the women to go, but the hostess was insisting on ID for all of them, which was ridiculous, because they were so obviously over 21. One lady became indigneous, and didn't want to pay the $7 cover for what she described as a hole in the wall, and they all ended up leaving. I entered, and in fact it was not a hole in the wall, but more like the nicer clubs I'd seen around the country. Unfortunately, the dances were not true lap dances, because the dancer had to keep a distance from me, except for in the VIP room, which was more expensive. So I gave up--no lap dance for Winter.

I've been trying to trim down my unsightly waist, and I was planning to forgo any food after eating that pizza from CPK. But I was so disappointed that I had not found a lap dance that I had to console myself with a pair of donuts instead. The cashier at the non-descript shop appeared irritated that I had made her get up from her conversation, and puzzled when I asked where the orange juice came from. I wasn't in a mood to trust the OJ if I didn't see the bottle myself, so I just stuck with the fattening donuts and headed back towards the rest area that I had spotted on the interstate. Despite having wasted time scoping out these clubs, I saved myself the trouble of hunting down a place to sleep, as my search of WalMart.com had not yielded any Wal-Mart Supercenters the area.



March 28, 2004

Trouble in Paradise?

I had an disappointing experience at the first new Starbucks I visited, in Brunswick. I asked for a short coffee and was told they did not serve that size. I explained that I had been in contact with Starbucks and had been told that short (8 oz) coffees were still served on request. The barista consulted with a coworker and they decided to accomodate me--as they should have. I had time to kill, so I asked for the manager so I could find out who had told the store not to sell shorts. She seemed wholly unreceptive, and a bit defensive, as I asked her a couple of times where the instructions about short coffees had come from. Was it because I hadn't brushed my teeth? My morning hair? I don't know, but I didn't like the treatment.

I took US-42 north towards Strongville instead of the interstate in the hopes of finding a place for breakfast. I spotted a neat looking sign for the Red Onion, and I popped in. They had a breakfast menu, but I don't know why I even bothered to look at it, as I had pretty much decided I wasn't staying when I realized it was a bar and smelled the cigarette smoke.

The next Starbucks, in Strongville, redeemed my faith, as I the barista ringing me up, after I mentioned that I had come from the Brunswick store, recognized me and asked if I was Winter. Turns out she had e-mailed me months before about visiting the Strongville store. Moments like that, when I was recognized, always gave me a morale boost and the motivation to continue. Though truth be told, it's the nature of my obsessive mentality that I would press on even if nobody noticed.

I asked about breakfast, and dismissed the first suggestion of Denny's. An off-duty partner mentioned a place around the corner called Goldie's, but she said I wouldn't be able to find a table on a Sunday after church. I checked it out anyway, and it wasn't nearly packed. I was even able to plug in my laptop, unlike a recent unpleasant experience.

As I drove to the hotel, I was working out my return plan, which would be tight, because if I reached Pittsburgh early enough I could visit two of the three new stores before they closed at 9:00. I filled my tank with gas, and I wanted to get groceries too, but no store on the way.


Opportunity

I arrived at the hotel and noticed they had rearranged the tables--the original diagonal layout was cramped. Then I noticed that I was in 5th place, and that only the top six places were marked. I knew the top two would play a match format, but I didn't know about the rest. Well, for 3-6, 3 would play 6 and 4 would play 5, and then the winners would play. But no matter how many games #1 and #2 lost, they could not lose those places. But I cared about rating, and so soured was I on my experience, that instead of calculating my best possible outcome, I calculated my worst, a drop to the mid-1300s.

Thankfully, I got a rare run of tiles against Adrian Mannella, playing the JQXZ within the first 8 turns, plus and S for a 45-point LIMEYS/SWIVED for a very healthy lead. Even when I screwed up and let him have the hook for LATTENS, after I had already challenged off LATTENS/HEPS, I was still in good shape, and it was just a matter of keeping the board tight. At the end, Adrian took a chance and opened a hook with RE. There was a bingo my AGIMRU?, but not one I know, so I just killed the spot with MIRAG?, preventing Adrian from bingoing out.

My second game with Adrian was a close one, by eight points. He wanted a recount, and unlike other opponents, he insisted on doing it by himself (which is what the rules specify, I think). Since he himself directs a club, I guess it makes sense, though I suspect he might had been a bit upset by the draw and the challenges he had lost--I certainly would have been.


Self-Lacquerization

Winning those two games gave me some hope of a ratings increase, but my opponent for the next two games was the highest-rated in the field, Jim Dodds. Clearly he's a strong player, so winning both games was unrealistic. But I wish I could have gotten just one.

In our first game, he started strong with two early bingos EULOGIAS and ROUSING. But I countered with HAWK and JAM for 77 points, and I wasn't that far behind. Then the fortuitous 42-point TRANQ off the Q he hung on triple column (who expects that?). I came within 6 with DaRTLES and began to have hope, but he killed my chances with the 44-point BERM, and then sealed the coffin with 38 for FUSSY and 37 for GOX. So close.

In my second game, I took an early lead with NUTRIAS, but then I made an actual spelling mistake, LAQUER*. Horrible. Just horrible. Winter is not supposed to make spelling mistakes. Winter should know better. Jim then took that line and played a double-double LEVIERS for 44, and suddenly he was back in the game. I managed to recover a small lead and played defensive to keep him from the bingo. I played LEK for 7 to block an N to bingo through, and then I misplayed a phony GEELE* for 6 to ensure he couldn't find a bingo ending in the same N. But he found FESTIVAl through the V, the last letter I would have blocked, and I lost by 19. So close. Again.

I can't remember if he was doing it on the first day, but during the second day's games I noticed that Christopher, instead of calling out "challenge", would call out "Heidi!" in a rather amusing Fred Flinstone "Wilma!" kind of way. I myself have thought that the rules should be relaxed to allow more creative ways of indicating the intention to challenge. Clearly some of the phrases below are only appropriate between players of specific races and/or genders.

"OK then, you want beef?"
"I beg to differ."
"When pigs fly."
"Not on your life."
"You're kidding, right?"
"Girl you trippin'!"
"Hasta la vista, baby."
"Yeah, in Crazyworld." (in a Phoebe voice)
"Nigga please!"
"Get that crap off the board!"
"I'm sorry--that answer is incorrect." (In an Alex Trebek voice)
"You and what dictionary?"
"You're challenged!" (In a Donald Trump voice)
GONG [requires a portable gong, soon to be available from NSA Word Gear]
[uncontrolled Japanese ninja schoolgirl giggling as player neutralizes clock]
"Aye yo dats wack!"
"Get out!" [requires a hard shove like Elaine from Seinfeld]
"I will avenge my brothers by representing and whipping your ass, word is bond."


I was in a hurry to leave, but I still computed my rating to see what my 6-5 record would get me. Rats. No increase, no lap dance, no schmoopie. If not for my Starbucks project this trip would have been a complete waste. It goes without saying that the "fun" of the game doesn't even factor into the equation.

Unlike some directors, Christopher had no problem with giving me my 4th place prize immediately so I could skedaddle. The prize was cash, too, which I particularly like because it saves me the trouble of figuring out how to deposit the check. I grabbed the loot and scooted on outta there, towards Akron and Pittsburgh to visit several new Starbucks...

When the April ratings were posted, I looked at the Hudson results and saw that Matthew Collins had won, and that his rating had jumped over 1500. That was a 400-point increase. Who is this guy??? And why wasn't I able to do the same? I also noticed that my number of wins and spread put me in 7th place, but because of the match format of the final four games, I ended up winning 4th. Interesting. I could see how players who ended up above me might grumble. On the other hand, I played two games apiece against mid-1500s and mid-1700s, so my competition was tougher.



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