June 10, 2005

I had completely forgotten, so I was thankful that Ginger reminded me of the new start time for her tournament, 11:30 AM. I could have left Maryland in the morning, but then I would have missed out on the NYC sleeping experience that I cherish. There's something about sleeping on the street (in a car), among the rabble, the noise, the lights, the garbage, that makes me feel truly alive.

Another reason to leave Friday night was to see one of my favorite masseuses, Maureen, who had moved away from NYC but wa sback in town for a few days. In my rush to make an 8:30 appointment I forwent dinner, on top of having worked out before leaving, as a result I was famished by the time I got out just after 10:00. I lacked the energy to seek out a hearty meal, so I settled for the first deli I passed where I could find parking, some place on 1st. I found myself thoroughly unenthused by their selection, but hungry was hungry, and so I decided to try something new, the quesadillas. Yes, I'd managed to go my entire 33 years without ever having a quesadilla--I guessed it was about time. Aw, heck, it wasn't bad. Or was it "they"? There were several slices, and I wasn't sure if that was one quesadilla or multiples.

The High Life

My urban campground for the night was in Astoria, at the intersection of 37th Ave & 29th St. I parked next to a tree and a bundle of trash for cover. The downside was a couple of hours later when I started to sweat I was afraid to crack the windows for the flies and the smell. Another problem was the street lihgt all up in my face, but that's a problem pretty much everywhere. There were also the headlights of cars passing by reflected in my back window, but there were fewer of those as the night progressed.

The night was stranger than most. It seemed to be endless. I think there was something about that particular street light that was sinister, and it played with my mind. I thought I heard a man and woman talking in a preoccupied manner. The only thing I remember was "put the chair there", and I immediately thought they were referring to the practice of reserving parking spaces with old furniture. I worried I might have taken theirs, but all I could see next to me was piles of garbage. Maybe it was a dream.

One image that sticks in my mind was definitely a dream. It involved a race, or a chase, on some type of vehicle, along an icy trail. At the end of it, a woman ended up infected by some type of organism. It started on the tip of her finger and proceded to work its way up, turning the finger green as it went. I woke up feeling rather uneasy. Later, I dreamed that my car been ticketed while I was sleep. I sure am glad that was just a dream--those NYC parking tickets are a bitch.

I heard more voices throughout the night, each time remembering to keep my head down and to keep still so I wouldn't be noticed. Finally, the voices stopped, but an hour or two later something else woke me--it was light out. And not even 6:00 AM. My first thought was the I needed to get a lot of sleep Saturday night so I could get up early on Sunday and shoot some photos in Manhattan. My next thought was that the light would make it much easier for some goofball to spot me and star messing with my car. It seemed cooler, so I was able to cover myself with a light, dark, blanket and thus appear less conspicuous.

June 11

The Garbageman Always Comes Twice

I'm pretty sure it wasn't a dream, that garbage collectors came by twice in the morning, bumping into my car as they retrieved the bags. Despite these two visits, they didn't do a very good job. Good ol' NYC.

It took me some minutes to finish waking up, and still the garbage truck was blocking my route, so I had to detour to another street to make my way to the new Starbucks, called Kaufman Studios. The store was not actually in the studios, but across the street from the American Museum of Moving Images. Kaufman Studios, incidentally, is where Sesame Street and Law & Order are filmed.

As I sat at a diner called simply Cup (just like I'm called simply Winter) and enjoyed my (expensive!) challah French toast and bananas (and fresh-squeezed OJ of course), I thought that I rather enjoyed the later start time, because it allowed me to unwind for a bit before heading out to the Adria. The diner was appropriately decorated with movie and/or TV images. I asked the barista if any stars from TV shows ever appeared. She said she had not seen any, but she had heard of some of the L&O personalities being seen.

After visiting the new store I went over to the Ditmars store for a new photograph. I was standing on the corner when a slightly familiar face passed by. It was Bert Shankle, on his way to work. He commented that I looked out of place, in Astoria, because he wasn't used to seing me there. I replied that the way I travel, it shouldn't be surprising to see me anywhere in the country.

Fresh Meat

I was early enough to pick up Woody, and we were the third or fourth to arrive at the Adria Conference Center. I was thus able to observe the progression of new Scrabble cuties arriving, three in all. I sent Ira Freehof on a mission to investigate one for me, though Chris Economos was of the opinion that I should just go talk to the girl myself. How ridiculous is that???

I had a killer game against Isaias Sarmiento. I bingoed with each blank, drew a natural, and scored well with the J and Z and two eses, but I think the reason I won by a whopping 306 points (555 in all) was that, after I challenged off TENTINGS*, Isaias just seemed to give up. He later said he just started playing for fun. Well, his crazy gambles sure paid off for me, and got me off to a helluvah start and dreams of a victory.

About TENTINGS*--I almost let it go. I would have been 49 points ahead with both blanks gone, but with the J, X, and one S unseen, who knows, Isaias might have come back still. TENTING seems like it could be a noun, and though I've been through the list of -INGS 7s and 8s a few times, it's still a damn long list to memorize, and I just wasn't sure. In the end, I just trusted that the word would have stuck in my memory had I seen it on the list, and also that Isaias was getting a little desperate. Also, he took much too long to play the word. I still maintain that if you're going to phony, do it fast and furious like Vin Diesel.

Later, during simulation, I discovered my opening HAY (EIT?) had a bingo, one that I had seen just a day or three earlier. That's why the tiles had looked familiar, but because of the blank I just couldn't put the word together. Hope that's the last time I ever miss it.

Meanwhile, one of the cuties was showing off her thong and some crack to boot. It's really a double-standard when you think about it, that it's bad when plumbers do it, but good when cute girls do. Needless to say, I was compelled to make an extra effort to keep walking back and forth past her, and I started to see why those new-fangled camera phones have become so popular.

Next up was Shane Tourtellotte who had been hungering for 1600 for months, and almost a year earlier had given me trouble in Atlantic City. My opening rack was ENQRSTW, and after all the simulations I had done I still wasn't sure when to take the points (WRENS) versus exchanging the Q. After Shane busted strong with FOrBADe, I was glad I had exchanged, because I was able to play SNOTIER. Still, after his play Shane led by 46, and only lost ground over the next five turns, only catching up after dumping UV, leaving EINST (not the best simming play) in this position...

...and drawing INTINES at 11A, hooked to APER (played by Shane). Then the game fell apart, as my I at 11A gave Shane IXTLE for 60, following by MAZERS at 1A for 65. Two turns, and led by 100, with most power tiles gone and a relatively closed board. Game over.

In retrospect, I decided I agree with the sim--UNITES at 1A for 32 instead of exchanging is a better play. Just looking at the board, the only hook for a seven, ED will open a triple-triple, and if I hooked both PA and ED, I still might have given up a good counterplay if Shane had an S. Instead of focusing on how I needed to bingo to catch up, I should have been considering whether, on that board, a bingo would be effective. Given the good chance that a bingo would open up a strong counter play, I should have just taken the points, which would have had the added effect of preventing Shane from scoring at 1A.

I can't believe I went 2 1/2 years thinking TONK* was good, but at least Stu Goldman disabused me of that notion without hesitation. Thankfully, I won the game, with solid scoring after my best bingo of the tournament, TOLIDIN, aided by a mistake on Stu's part, who forgot about the other front hook for WAT. In this case, my constant thinking about women had its benefit.

Lunch was provided as usual, and the usual fare, only at the Ramada this time, just a few hundred feet farther up the street. Stefan Fatsis' drawing power continued, and our table was soon overcrowded. I left so others could sit down and returned to the conference room. Cutie #1 was outside smoking. I knew that, ethically, I should take a stand against smoking and boycott her, but after my eighteen-month relationship disintegrated, I was once again thrust into the dating scene, and feeling lost. So I couldn't be too picky, and I did the unthinkable and went outside and said hello. Right away I could tell that there was something different about this girl. No, not the fact that she had joined the NSA of her own accord and attended a tournament on her own without ever having gone to club. No, what was really different was that she did not make an excuse to walk away when I started talking to her, like most normal girls.

Fundamental Mistakes

I got some good tiles and almost had Paul Avrin, but really bad luck plus two fundamental mistakes on my part conspired to cost me the win. First, I mistracked. The actual tile pool was ACDENRTZ?, but I had ACDDNRTZ?. Looking back at the score sheet, I could have mixed the D and E up when Paul played GEED. Anyway, because I only saw one vowel in the pool, I thought it virtually impossible that Paul would bingo out, and so I went for the points with OSAR at 15A. But even without knowing of the E in the bag, I should have worked out that if the Z and C were in the bag, Paul might still find some freaky bingo with just that A and ?. The correct play was to play WO and leave a tile. Then, if Paul played a bingo, which assumed the Z was still in the bag, either I would be able to score with SIZAR/KAURIS to eke out the win, or Paul, with only the Z, would have been stuck.

While turning over the letters in my opening rack against Verna Berg, my suspicion that I did not need to see tiles in alphabetical order to recall a word strengthened. After turning over EIFMN, I was already thinking of INFLAME even as I turned over the L and then willed the final tile to become an A. Even after 2 1/2 years, it was still relatively early in my bingo studies, and I was certain I was nowhere near reaching my ultimate anagramming capability. The burning question, is, of course, whether I am capable of reaching a state in which I can anagram every seven and eight in a matter of seconds given a reasonable level of review before a major tournament.

Anyway, Verna commented early during our game that she never did well against me (technically untrue), and our latest game turned out to be no exception.

Meanwhile, in the bathroom, I noticed three small pimples to the lower right of my lip, and one to the left. Ahhh!!! Had the cutie noticed??? Had she noticed???

Poor Stefan Fatsis had only won one game, and it was about time for his luck to turn. Just wish it hadn't been against me! But it wasn't all luck, as I started playing poorly from the get-go, missing hooking the Y onto OX for for 3-5 more points and a better leave. At the same time, I was grumbling (internally) about my clunky racks and the stupid Q. Still, it was looking okay until he exchanged 7 and drew into a bingo (hate it when that happens), sLITTED. He only passed me by 14, but then he scored 34 for BIZ and caught me E-less. The sudden turn of the tiles frazzled me, and I started to play like a punk. I challenged RETASTE--what the hell??? I played okay for the rest of the game, but the damage was done, and Stefan had a chance to cut his losses by winning his final game.

Later, I would feel truly foolish for having challenged RETASTE. Not because it was a basic stem, but because after a recent game at the Chevy Chase club, during which I challenged off some silly high-prob phony, I had admonished Stefan that he shouldn't be playing high-probability phonies against me. Just before I challenged, I saw RESTATE, and I should have known he wasn't going to risk a turn on a phony like that. But I underestimated him because of his rating--stupid, stupid, stupid.

The phony OVERTaLL* seemed good to me, and I guess it seemed good to Joan Kelly too, and got me off to a good start. The then proceeded to score like a fiend, so much so that my focus shifted to the contest next to me, Stefan versus Shane. I needed Stefan to win so that I could pick up second place. I figured I'd pick up a few ratings points for 4-3, but only because my rating had sunk so far, so a few bucks in my pocket would have made the experience more fruitful.

Casa Colombiana on Roosevelt in Flushing (or Corona?).

Average Equity Loss Per Turn

Includes total equity loss if all turns were simulated.

1 - 6.6 (93)
2 - 7.9 (133)
3 - 9.1 (126.4)
4 - 5.7 (68.3)
5 - 3.8
6 - 5.2
7 - 3.3 (35.9)

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