Dashed Hopes

Friday, November 19

While I was indeed disappointed that my 7-0 win in Bayside had only yielded 20-odd ratings points, I was satisfied that my resulting rating of 1555 put me in an excellent position to cross the 1600 threshold without even a stellar performance. As of Tuesday, the average rating of the players was 1517. At that average rating, a 10-4 record would do it!

Of course, I had to go and post my dream about Stamford, and along with it my ambitions, thus putting pressure on and perhaps jinxing myself.

Close Call on I-95

Me. Programming. Inattentive. Rearview. Trooper. Heartbeat. Lane change. Escape. Whew!

The Strong Force

There was no need for the detour, really. The new Starbucks in Rye Brook was only 10 miles from Stamford, and I could easily have visited after the tournament. I wasn't jonesing for coffee either. In fact, I needed food more--the one slice of pizza I had picked up turned out not to be as filling as I had imagined.

In an article written about me a few months earlier in the Washington Post Magazine, the writer had exercised a bit of creative license when he wrote that I was slaloming up the freeway. Had he been riding with me on Friday night, however, that description would have been accurate. I was a few miles from the exit to Rye Brook, it was about 7:45, and I had not yet decided that I would detour to the store, yet I got sucked into following a silver hatchback that was aggressively weaving in and out of traffic. I, on the other hand, was making an effort to maintain a minimum level of safety. "Safety" being loosely defined, of course.

It was like I needed to push my timetable as far as it would go, and farther (or is that further). It was a combination of hopeless optimism, working out distances and the best possible scenario, even when I knew that Friday night traffic was sure to lead to delays.

I concluded that perhaps the very act of racing to arrive on time, and arriving late for no good reason, helped to create a certain frenetic mindset that allowed me to get wholly sucked into the game. Given my overall past experiences starting games with less time on my clock, I had reason to think the tactic, unconscious or not, was working.

Of course it hardly needs to be recounted that when I exited I-95 I immediately became lost and missed the direct route to Rye Brook. I ended up having to go through Port Chester and curse at slow cars in front of me as the clocked ticked closer to 8:00 PM. And of course the Starbucks was not clearly visible, and I passed it up and had to call for more specific directions. I was okay, though. I had found a good radio station, 107.1 "The Peak", and as I pulled into the parking lot it started playing a Tori Amos song, "Taxi Ride", track fourteen from her Scarlet's Walk album. It was almost 8:00, but I got in and out of the Starbucks in a jiffy and even took a quick photo (which was kind of silly since I planned to return the next day, or Sunday, during daylight hours).

On the other hand, it was possible the Rye Brook might be hit by a comet in the next couple of days. If that happened, a crappy picture was better than no picture.

It was 8:02 when I got back into my car, and my first thought was that according to the rules my clock wasn't started yet.

U2's "Vertigo" next on the radio, and I swung to the rhythm and tried to hold my speed back on Westchester Avenue, as I knew cops were around and probably itching for some Friday-night action. Sure enough, they had a couple of people pulled over on the street that led back to the interstate. I had to pull around them two troopers, and because of the distraction I missed that I had crossed over into Connecticut. The distance was the same no matter what state I was in, but once I realized I had crossed over, I felt better. It was an illusion, of course, but I felt that I was somehow "closer" to Stamford.

The Connecticut Turnpike was curvy, and it was hard to make notes of ideas and times, as well as continuing to go through my customized set of top 2000 high-probability sevens. I almost passed up some cars right in front of a trooper because of my distracted state, but I caught myself at the last minute. Once we passed the trooper, other cars sped up, and I made good time to my exit. Traffic was flowing smoothly and I was able to go through a mental checklist of things I would need when I raced into the hotel--pen and scoresheet, that was it. And a place to park.

8:13, and I was at exit 5, three more exits to go, and potentially 10 minutes gone off my clock.

It goes without saying that I spilled some of the coffee I had just bought.

My mind seemed to race more and more as I approached the exit, and despite having my attention divided by the traffic, the speed, the coffee, the radio, and LeXpert, there was still room for silly ideas to pop out of nowhere. Like "cockrisky numbgiblets", for example. No idea what that means.

The closer I was to the Holiday Inn Select, the more cars that seemed to be in my way, but I soon pulled into the parking lot. Given the importance of winning 10 games, and the potential prize money, it was silly of me to even question the attendant about whether parking was free, but that's just me, cheap to the last.

Five Fewer Minutes? Bah!

My clock read 20:02 when I sat down against Florence Spanfelner (not Spanfelder). Howie made a point of saying that he had started my clock despite Florence's protests. I had witnessed these explanations before, and I really didn't understand why there was the expectation that a player might be upset to find his clock started. Anyway, by the time my clock got down to 16:34 Florence's time had ticked down to the same level. Hah!

I fumbled through awkward racks for eight turns until I ended up with IOLRTS?. The E bingos were obvious, but they only fit adjacent to a TWS, so I spent a lot of time trying to find a word beginning with SO, which would have been my most defensive play. Despite the lost five minutes I had made up, I ended up getting into time trouble as I tried to score and keep Florence from a bingo. But in the end, the critical play was my decision to challenge SURFAGE* that led to my win.

After the game I learned two things. First, a 400 score is required to get an extra raffle ticket in Division B, not 375. Second, DON'T ASK SHERRY ABOUT RAFFLE TICKETS!!! Grrr... I think I was misinformed on purpose by my sneaky opponent so that I would get the infamous Sherrie scowl that always makes my nuts shrivel up. It didn't matter though--I wouldn't be neating them, as I had found out recently that my barista friend in Bridgeport had found a girlfriend with a hard "G", dashing my hopes that I would ever get the nod to come into her bedroom from the futon in the living room.

I commented to a couple of players that, a year ago, I would have let SURFAGE* go, on the basis that I would still be up by 25. And I would have lost, because I was holding EIOOUTN and Florence would surely have drawn any or all of the Q, U, and blank still in the back to enable her to catch up and win.

Return of the...

One down, nine to go, and I immediately ran into a roadblock as Annette Bailey got off to a running start with AROINTs, then HAIRNETS, and then the 36-point JAY for 176 points to my 51. But then she tried to play TAL*, and the knowledge of her rack allowed me the comfort of a rack-balancing play, EAU, which led to WITHIER. 99 more points in the next three turns, and I had come within 6 points, though I didn't know it because I had misadded and given her 30 extra points. As it was, I felt the need to score, not exchange, so I played BUNION for to leave EE, hoping for the best. But REGEARS/GREASER didn't play, and with those tiles the only way to score was dangerous. I had to play the 5-tile AGREE to hit the TWS, and as a result I drew the Q with all the As and Ts gone. I drew the Q, too late too exchange, and that was the game.

My tiles were horrible, but nevertheless I had to try and decided what I might have done differently had I realized the score was closer than it was. Maybe exchange instead of BUNION. I don't know.

The Throat Strategy Backfires

The confidence boost I got from challenging SURFAGE* worked against me against Pam Grazette. After building a healthy lead with 48 for QUITE and then HEAVILy, I got bold and challenged her TRILLERS, which allowed to play WaRISONS along the triple and leap past me. I should have just taken the 36 points. Marginally better tiles on a very tight board allowed me to build up a lead... which I promptly blew by focusing on not opening a bingo line and forgetting about the X. But I was saved once more by better end tiles, and, coincidentally enough given my misadding of the last game, by the fact that she had herself for more points and thought she would win. I'm not sure if she would have found enough points to win had she realized she was behind, but I was relieved for the slight advantage. Either way, that was my first nerve-wracking, hands-trembling game of the tournament.

When Winter's in the Way, the Cats Will Play

As I drove to Nicole's in Bridgeport, traffic southbound on I-95 seemed at a standstill. Sucked to be anybody trying to get to Manhattan on a Friday night, I imagined. I hoped the construction would not continue into the weekend, as I'd be driving that route in the morning.

It was a full house at Nicole's tiny apartment. Since I had last visited in February, Nicole had added a stray cat. Great. Her girlfiend was there too, in all her cuteness. I understood from general experience that it was considered inappropriate (and sometime dangerous) to hit on another man's girlfriend. But did the same apply in the girl-girl case? Is it considered cheating if the affair is across sexual-preference boundaries?

4:05 AM, and the cat was still messing with my duffel bag. I guess they only sleep during the day, because for the remainder of the early morning the two continued to make quite a racket.

November 20

Morning Madness

At 8:02, the Benadryl had not yet worn off. I felt like a zombie. My mouth was dry. I wanted to sleep more, but I remembered that I had pretty much skipped lunch and dinner the previous day--skipping breakfast could be killer.

It was taking me minutes to wake up, and as I scratched my ass and tried to get my bearings I suddenly remembered that I wasn't alone, and that Nicole or the cute roommate could walk out of the bedroom at any moment.

I stumbled into the shower, but the water did not have the usual effect of waking me up. I kept dropping the soap, and it occurred to me that I would need to cure myself of that habit if I ever went to prison. If? I supposed "when" would be a more appropriate term. I also debated an ethical question, whether it's okay to urinate in another person's shower if you aim the stream directly into the drain so it doesn't actually touch the shower. Discuss.

For once, I was determined not to let the time get away from me, so I decided on a to-go breakfast, a bagel sandwich from the Star Cafe just around the corner from Nicole's. It's just as well I took it to go--the place was packed with cops, and I'm never comfortable around so many.

I stopped at the Target in downtown Stamford. I found it unusual to see a "big box" store downtown, and it was no surprise that to make it work they had to construct a parking garage. The shopping floor was several levels up, and as I looked for the toiletries aisle I experienced an odd sensation as I tried to reconcile my past experience that every Target I'd been in was always at ground level with the knowledge that I was an undefined number of floors above street level. My internal gyroscopic altitudinator must have been off-kilter.

I paid for my toothpaste, and as I was about to give back the wasteful plastic bag, the cashier told me to leave it in the bag so they wouldn't think I was stealing it. Ah, one of the disadvantages of having a large retailer downtown with all the shifty characters. I explained that I was taking the box of out the bag so I could take the toothpaste out of the box so I could put toothpaste on my toothbrush so I could go into the bathroom and brush my teeth. She scowled at me. Clearly she did not appreciate the value of dental hygiene, and I bet her teeth are going to be rotted out when she's only fifty.

AITCHES started me off well against Sharon Swerdloff, and I went on to see tiles that were a great deal more manageable than on Friday night. Despite my uncertainty, I took a chance on making the blank a W for wEEDIEST and thus avoided the triple-triple that Sharon would surely have found had I slotted a D, N, R, or S in that spot.

Poison, poison, poison, and more poison plagued my racks against Judy Steward, and only barely did I perservere. WUD seemed okay to open. The leave was bad, EIOU, but the word was slightly defensive. DOWIE would have scored more but left UU. At least EIOU gave me the possibilty of drawing into a good rack. No suck luck. AEIOOUG, and back into the bag they went. At club in Baltimore that week a player sitting next to me expressed the opinion that he would have kept an E

My first morning win had earned me a place at table 4, and I had hope that I might actually make it to table 1, as had been prophesized (in my dream). But my record so far had also earned me a date with the #3 player, who proceeded to, in his own words "...get everything at the right time." He followed that admission with "good game". Seems to me those two ideas do not go together.

Meanwhile, at the adjacent board, a frustrated player asked for a second opinion and had to be told (repeatedly) by the directors that second opinions were not allowed with the new adjudication software. While he was up at the director's table, the other three of us came to the conclusion that he was just frustrated.

Crap! OPENEST and PENTOSE, both words that had occurred to me, are good! I wouldn't have won, but I wouldn't have lost so much spread and ended up dead last among the 4-2 players.

My goal was 10 wins and a 1600 rating, but I wouldn't turn down a place and so money, so I was heartened by the fact that the only undefeated player was in the bottom half, and I had beaten her before, and recently too, at club.

I returned to the playing room early enough to witness Joe Edley doing some of his infamous stretching. Now, that's the kind of footage we need the next time we have ESPN coverage, so people won't thing Scrabble players are all a bunch of overweight weenies.

As if a little bird told him I was writing about him, Joe Edley came over, and I had to shift around so he wouldn't see I was writing. Edley, of course, noticed my machinations--nothing gets by him. While I had his attention I asked about why tournaments were limited to twelve rounds per day, and why the length of games was strictly defined to be 25 minutes. Fundamentally, I agreed with him when he said that one could argue about the details all day and that a line had to be drawn. I just happen to like moving those lines more than most people.

In my first game after lunch, I finally stumbled big time. The other two games I had lost had been out of my control, but I really blew it in a back and forth game against Marty Fialkow. He started off strong with JILTED and JETTY, so much so that after an exchange yielded AUDIENTs I was still behind. But I immediately drew BENDERS and took the lead, and then QAT for 32 for FORGE ahead (his word). But then Marty got a 58-point EX play to cut the lead, and then I really blew it. I challenged RESH, then had to exchange, while Marty scored 163 in four turns to build a bingo lead. I had the other blank, and there were lines open, but I once more missed ARENOsE, the play that could have gotten me back into it, and then Marty did what does best and closed down the board. Game over.

Meanwhile, In the Bathroom...

I had to admonish Jeremy Frank for trying to play footsies with me while I was standing at the urinal. That business might be appropriate while seated at a gaming table, but not in the bathroom.

I had my second dramatic game in a row against Frank Romano, whom I had not played since a year ago Stamford, when he beat me by hooking the phony HYPERS*. Needless to say, I was still pissed. It looked like my revenge was assured when I leaped ahead with THEATER, then VIOLAtE, and then, after he used his blank for TRIPpED, a 59-point FIX to maintain a 143-point lead with the game half over. But then he got QUIZ for 64, BARON for 34, and DEMOTED for 75 to come within 24. I was holding IIBNTSS, and I was worried because my rack wasn't conducive to scoring on our board. I played NIBS for 16 and he played YA for 28--lead down to 4 points. I wasn't really concerned with a bingo leave given the configuration of the board, I wasn't thrilled at all when I drew SATINE+T. I needed scoring tiles. A 30-point TAJ play was a possibility, and suspected all the high-point tiles were on Frank's rack, so I went for the hail Mary pass and played TOR for 3 to create a hook. Pulled a U. Sweated, sure that Frank would block. He didn't, playing TAV for 18 instead to empty to bag. Frank's tracking was spot on, and I guess he had utmost confidence in my word knowledge because as soon as he looked at his tiles he said "SINUATE, right". I guess I should take that as compliment.

Next up was Alan Kraus, and even while I waited for him to finish his game (with 22 seconds on his clock to his opponents nearly 10 minutes), I was mentally preparing myself to play quickly. As it turned out, it didn't matter, because the game turned out, as Alan himself put it, "brutal". While I fully acknowledged my mistake against Marty, I was convinced that the other three games I had lost because of tiles, pure and simple. With four losses, the chances of my achieving ten wins were extremely slim, and that realization took quite a bit of the wind out of my sails. I had been holding off on buying tickets for a Dar Williams concert on Sunday night right there in Stamford, partly because I didn't know if I'd be tired and want to catch up on sleep, but also because I wasn't sure if I'd enjoy the show if I was disappointed by a poor performance.

Five-five and I'm out, the rest doesn't matter I want the tile gods heads on a platter I want the blood to spill and spatter I'll go home a punk instead of looking phatter My skills rendered irrevlant By tiles that were heaven sent To my opponents, that is While I got warm piss

I was hoping a good dinner would improve my mood. Nicole's girlfriend suggested La Hacienda in central Stamford. I ordered a platter of flautas. When I received my food, I immediately noticed it was about the smallest plate of Mexican food I had ever received for an equivalent price. The food wasn't awful, but neither was it great. What really sucked, though, was the slowitude of the service. I was almost finished eating when I noticed the time was 6:55. I'd been feeling tired and thinking about skipping the speed tournament, but if I took a nap for an hour, hour and a half, I might be more up for it. But the waiter was just taking foooorever to take our plates, then bring the check, then bring the change. By the time I got out of there it was 7:45, and a nap seemed unlikely.

As I walked back to the parking garage with my hands in my pockets and my shirt buttoned, I imagined myself like Bob Dylan on the cover of his seminal album. Don't ask me why. I can't explain half the shit that pops into my mind.

Bow wow wow wow, wow wow, wow wow. Bow wow wow wow, wow wow, wow wow. Bow to the mother fucking wow! See what I mean.

The expert workshop ended at 8:30, and speed Scrabble was not starting until 9:00, not 8:30, but I managed to find a table to crawl under and a pillow. I didn't drift off like I had hoped, but I did feel a little better. I crawled out from the table when I heard Terry Kang about to play a practice game, and it was against Matt Graham. I had never seen Matt play any kind of Scrabble, except in Word Wars, and watching him play speed was quite a hoot. He got away with WINCHLY*, among others.

With Matt Graham and Joe Edley, speed Scrabble looked to be very exciting, if I got to play one of them. I seem to be slow to get into speed mode, and I lost big to Sal Piro. I beat Terry in the second round, and this earned me a spot across from Joe Edley. Amazingly, I recovered from his two bingos and evened it late in the game, but then he pulled away with the phony CANRATA*. Even though AAA bingos are well beyond the range of my studying thus far, in a regular game, I would have challenged simply because I couldn't win otherwise. But I guess I was mesmerized by the Edley mystique because, as Terry put it, I didn't even blink and just let it go. Two big losses resulted in a huge negative spread, and even though I rebeat Terry in the final round I couldn't touch Phil Kretschman's spread, and, as I had anticipated, he won the class prize.

November 21

Things Change

The cats had been quiet, for the most part, on Saturday night. What plagued me instead was thirst, and, as the morning approached, an intensifying headache. So much so that by 7:30 I could no longer sleep and just had to get up and head out. At least I would have plenty of time to try and relax before the mornings extremely important games. I was wrong. I decided to try a bagel sandwich from a shop in Stamford I remembered from the spring, so I skipped the Star Diner and drove straight into Stamford.

But, like Batman told the Penguin in the underrated Batman Returns, "Things change." The bagel shop wasn't there. I lost all my spare time looking for another, and in the end I had to settle for some place I passed, the Bull's Head Diner . These diners I've seen all over Connecticut, Long Island, and maybe NY and NJ too share a similar style of building that I just don't like.

I finally remembered I wanted to pay Matt for the next Philly tournament to avoid having to use up a check, and because of developments in the past six months, I was able to easily get the cash. I'm talking about Bank of America! But don't think I'm excited about anything other than the convenience of not having to go to a grocery store to get cash back and avoid a fee. BofA's service still sucks. But they are nearly everywhere, and that works well with all my traveling. I stay with Sprint PCS for the same reason, although I suspect all phone companies suck, so what's the point in switching.

Joe Edley teaches me about blanagrams, but he concedes they have no practical application, for me. Now bananagrams, on the other hand...

The Mad Sharpener Strikes Again!

The previous night, before the speed tournament, I had noticed a girl standing outside the playing who seemed out of place, simply because she was flat out drop-dead gorgeous. I made up an excuse to say something, and she commented that she was waiting for her boyfriend inside. Who was the lucky guy, I wondered. Well, Sunday morning as I sat down for my first game, she was there again, and sitting next to Mr. Lucky Bastard himself. I could tell that Kevin and I were both wondering the exact same thing, the same thing that guys all over the world wonder when faced with the same situation.

But my mind quickly returned to the game, and the nerves began. I had a long and painful history of suffering at the hands of the lowest-rated player in the field. On top of that, I had promised to give Kevin his due for all the time he had beaten me on ISC, and if he won I'd have to quite Scrabble. When I drew a blank, I began to feel better. Better still when I got a bingo down. Then I drew the second blank, and I thought the game was in the bag. Kevin came back, though, with LEADERS, and I wonder if I should have burned that second blank along with my V to kill the remaining S hook. Given that a T and E hook remained, I suspect that would have been too defensive. No, I think I should have opened up the board instead so I could get a bingo down more quickly. As it was, I had to struggle to keep from being overcome, and I won, but just barely.

Meanwhile, distractions abounded. First there was a dispute at the next table. I only heard snippets, but I think one player thought she saw her opponent switch a couple of tiles after hitting the clock. I might also have heard something about a hand reaching under the table and up a skirt, but that's probably just my preverted imagination running away with me again.

Then there was the player who was determined to achieve the perfect degree of sharpness for his pencil. Since I had my back to the director's table, I thought it was several people sharpening penciples, and it wasn't until Kevin, down under three minutes on his clock, dyelled out, "Is that pencil sharp enough yet, XXX" that I realized it was the same person. Kevin asked Howie to do something, but how was just cracking up. Finally, the Mad Sharpener walked away, and Howie, wisely anticipating that he would return, took the sharpener and hid it, much to the amusement of half the room. Probably one of the most light-hearted moments of tournament that had turned out mostly miserable after such a hopeful start.

After the game, Kevin said that one day he would beat me, and I replied that it was inevitable. He also expressed hope that we would meet again soon. I said no offense, but I hoped to play some higher-rated players. Well, sooner came really soon. According to Howie's explanation, the fact that repeat pairings were delayed until the 11th round resulted in groups of players being paired the same for round 12 as round 11. So Pam and John Babina were once again next to Kevin and I.

He finally got me. The draw was about even, and I played a more open board, but I think my critical mistake was when I finally played my bingo ARrANGE. First of all, ANERGiA would have been safer, but I didn't see it. Since I couldn't avoid slotting the play next to a TWS column, I should have hooked it under the T instead of over, to open up two triples, so that I could take the one Kevin didn't. And I know this tactic; I do it all the time. So why not this time?

So Kevin finally got me, but since we split games, I didn't feel the need to quit Scrabble and take up putt-putt golf instead. I really meant it when I said it was inevitable, just as I believe to be inevitable that I will one day beat Matt Graham, Joel Sherman, Joe Edley, Marlon Hill, etc.

The previous day, Howie had announced that Mrs. G has lost a substantial amount of money, and he didn't want to make any accusations, but he encouraged players to look in their bags, just in case. When I went outside to check on my 13th round pairing and saw Mrs. G sitting their, my first thought was to ask if she had found her money. But I checked myself, thinking that my asking might make me look suspicious, like an arsonist who can't resist standing in the crowd watching the fire. Then I wondered if I was overanalyzing.


After positioning me on the losing end of four one-sided blowouts, the tile gods hadn't finished with me yet, and Charmaine Wolfe proceeded to draw eight power tiles and score well with each, to the extent that even when I made one of my best plays of the tournament, exchanging AIO, leaving OPXY and drawing into the 81-point PROXY, I was still down by 64. Her 33-point QUIT put her pretty much out of reach, but since she went over time by 2 minutes I might still have pulled it out if the gods had delivered at the end instead of just teasing me. When I pulled my second power tile, the final S, I set up an unblockable triple line with FECK. Then I proceeded to suffer through AEOOGNS, AEIOONS, and AEEICNS. And the cruelest cut--with AEEICNS, dumping the A gave me a shot at a playing bingo with the O, L, or R. But of course, they were all in Charmaine's rack, and, as a final insult, in her out play, ORAL.

At 6-7, the best I could hope for was to preserve my rating, and the fact that I was playing #2 Jim Kille would improve my chances by boosting the avergage rating of my opponents. But I had to win, and for the sixth time I never had a chance. Seems to me that, in a fourteen game tournaments, six blowouts seems awful high. 11/28 on blanks, and 65/140 on power tiles in general. Not the worst draws I've ever seen, but bad enough to put too many games out of reach.

A couple of things about the game did amuse me, however. Before we picked up the tiles, Jim asked if I could spot the phonies on the board. I recognized OUTDRAFT*, LEECHIER*, and RESTLER* as phonies without difficulty. Jim had played them against his previous opponent, and said to him, "Please try that against me." Well, Jim wasted no time, playing EXtRAND* on his second turn. It had been much too long since I had looked at my list of sevens containing an X, and given that he had a blank and was sure to bingo anyway, I think it was the right play to let him have it rather than risk allowing him to score on the triple he opened.

And near the end of the game, with about five tiles in the bag, Jim passed. I suspected Jim had the other blank, and given that, if I drew the Q I wouldn't be able to play it. So I passed too. Jim thought about it, and then he passed, and so we ended the game after six zero-score turns with a board that was still playable, a first for me. Jim wondered why I had passed since it was the last game and spread didn't matter, but on principle I think cutting my losses was the right move. With Jim holding the blank and U, had he drawn the Q that would have been another 36 points for him, or at least 20 if I got stuck with it. Anyway, it was funny to see the game end like that.

Needless to say, I was out of their lickety split, and only the traffic due to some parade delayed my rush to I-95. I drowned my sorrows in a Colombian restaurant, Delicias Colombianas , I found in nearby Port Chester, on the way to photograph the Rye Brook Starbucks. The food was okay, but I don't understand why so many of these places give out these flimsy-ass plastic knives and forks that make it nigh well impossible to cut meat.

It didn't hit me until later that I had been 5-3 at one point. That meant that I had lost 5 of the next six games. Yikes!

While I finished writing at the Starbucks in Rye, there was tension as some guy with a queer, and somewhat disturbing, look on his face kept pestering a lady who was on the phone. It seemed like he knew her. I hope he knew her. But she ignored him. When get got up and walked away, I hoped he would not return with a firearm.

As I walked to the bathroom before leaving the Starbucks, a lady dropped a penny. It rolled along the floor in an arc, and when it struck a teenage boy's tennis shoe it bounced straight back and rolled in the opposite direction. Truly, that was the coolest part of my weekend!

November 22

Late Friday or early Saturday after a set of games I had witnessed Kevin McCarthy and Katie Devanney walking down the hall singing the lyrics to a popular hip-hop song. Now, of course I was shocked that a fourteen-year-old girl would be using such profanity. But what really bothered me was that I could not place the incredibly familiar lyrics. I kept running the lines through my mind throughout the weekend, to no avail. Finally, on Monday, I gave up and googled the lyrics. Ah... so obvious. Eminem's Business. Always a good Scrabble song.

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