"I will avenge my brothers by representing and whipping your ass, word is bond!"


July 17, 2005

A Trip to the Movies

I'm pretty sure her name was Christina. I had met her in Deep Ellum, a neighborhood of Dallas where there was night-life to be found nearly every night of the week. After our initial meeting, I saw her at a local "goth" club wearing a sheer black mesh dress that left nothing to the imagination. I became infatuated.

I can't say when I first met Christina, but it took some time to get her to go out--the year was finally 1998 when we went to a movie, a Spike Lee joint. The cineplex was close to my apartment, and after dinner I managed to get her back to my place. We were on the floor, looking over my CDs, I think, when I made my move. Her reaction was odd--she said "Thank you." We retired to my bedroom, where I did not end up getting as far as I wanted. Second base? Maybe third? I'm not sure--is there something between second and third?

She spent the night. I guess I must have been tired, because I didn't try anything in the middle of the night, nor in the morning. I just drove her back to her place. I always wondered where things could have gone had I been even more forward.

Flash forward seven years into the future, 1500 miles to the northeast, and to accomodations not nearly as plush as my $800/month apartment in trendy west Plano. No, not plush at all, but free, and I have to say that the street where I had parked my car, Schuylkill Avenue, with a beer factory and juvenile delinquents passing in the night, has a sight more character than west Plano ever will.

Heat-Seeking Death Ant

I woke up at 8:52, and in the nick of time. In the front of my car I discovered an ant crawling around. Had I continued to sleep, that ant might very well have found its way to the back and begun devouring me, one bite at a time. It was a wet weekend in Philly, and the rain brought out the insects. Mosquitos were abundant at Terry's third backyard bash and tournament, as well as more powerful stinging insects that made a sport of divebombing me until I screamed like a little girl.

Thankfully, after lunch from the deli down the block (where they put onions on my pastrami sandwich, yuck) we removed to a nearby coffee shop, Cosi (where I actually drank non-Starbucks coffee, gasp). We managed to play three games without getting kicked out, despite one participants blatant placement of a Nantucket Nectar despite the sign prohibiting outside food and drink. Well, Scrabble players are nothing if not rebels!

Anyway, in the morning I avoided the death-ant and made my way over to my usual Starbucks. First though, I picked up a hearty breakfast at Whole Foods, making up for what I hadn't gotten the night before at Terry's. Now don't get me wrong, the chicken Parmasean and lasange was excellent, but I was craving porridge, and Terry was fresh out. At least she had sarsaparilla. That's what I call orange juice with lemon or lime juice added.

In the bathroom I noticed a new kind of soap, French Lavender. As I took in the scent, I felt much more in touch with my feminine side.

The Starbucks was just across the street, but I had to move my car out of the Whole Foods lot, and the closest space I found was block down. The walk to the Starbucks was both amusing and saddening as I witnessed a crazy old seemingly homeless guy yelling nonsense. Some student walking near the guy was clearly used to such utterances, and ignoring him. I was glad that the kid diverted the old guy's attention from me.

I played a couple of ISC games and tweaked my program to download Starbucks listings. I also pulled up iTunes and let my mind wander randomly across the landscape of songs I'd found interesting over the years, but not interesting enough to by the entire album. I downloaded "Worst Comes to Worst", a track from Dilated Peoples that I had heard once on the radio. I had found the song interesting/familiar because it sampled a beat I had heard before but couldn't place. A Google search quickly revealed that the song used a sample of a song titled "I Forgot to Be Your Lover" by an old soul artist named William Bell. The sample had also been used in a song from a 1997 album by Killah Priest, and that's why "Worst Comes to Worst" sounded so familiar. I got a charge out of being able to put all this together, and from listening to the original William Bell song.

I waited as long as I could, I still got not attention from the same homely-yet-cute barista who had been working at the Starbucks for over a year. Later, on the way to the Parent Infant Center there were plenty of genuine cutie-cute coeds walking in their short shorts, and I had an epiphany. The planet was out of wack. In a rightly-aligned world, a guy like me should have any woman he wants at his beck and call. And yet this is not the case. Why is that??? And what can I do about it in the absence of a reality-alterning device like the Cosmic Cube.

The Hit List

But there were more pressing problems, like kicking the crap out of a host of players. Top o' the list was Jan Dixon, but she decided to skip out. Hmmm...

As much as I wanted to beat Jan Dixon, taking down Marlon (again), and Stefan (for knowing too many bingos, and cuz he'd been showing hints of dickness the previous night). And Scott Appel, because of his rating, and Bobbie Butterfield, for being mean, and Rod, cuz he gets to date Cecilia. And Thomas M. Hall, because he knows too many freaky sixes, and because he reminds me of that pervert Philip Seymour Hoffman. In fact there were so many players I wanted to beat that seven games just wasn't going to be enough.

As fate would have it, my first two opponents were taken right from the top of my hit list, Robinsky and Koenig. This was not a good thing, because losing to them had the potential to fuck up my entire tournament, which is why it sucked to have them both up front. Mitchell Brook was also in the mix--I had no beef with him, but I was a little anxious to see if my anti-voodoo measures would have any effect.

Robinsky drew both blanks against me again, and that made my victory all the sweeter. But I have to admit I came dangerously close to being yanked out of Zen (perhaps used incorrectly) mode. Rob hit first with SERINES, and just when I came back with POOREST, he hit again with sTAKInG! I had to clear my head. Serenity now. Serenity now. Serenity now. So I just played my game, and whaddayaknow, the tiles turned. I took a healthy lead, and I could see the Rob's hands shaking and the beads of sweat dripping down into his beady eyes. Still, despite a 50-point lead going into the end game, I couldn't be certain of victory given that the Q was still out there--hurry up, QI!!! In fact, a silly mistake might have cost me the game, or at least goodly number of spread points.

With Rob to play, I incorrectly calculated that ZARF would be worth 50, not 70. If Rob had not blocked with REE, I might still have passed on the play, calculating that if Rob hit the Z for 39, and I got stuck with the Q, I might still lose. Thankfully, Rob's 3-point play made things a lot easier for me.

My breakfast had been a little too hearty, and I ended up having to spend a long time in the bathroom. I thought I had it all taken care of, washed up, and stepped out the door when I felt that pressure in my gut and had to go back in for another round. As I sat there, I wondered--when tracking bathroom visits (don't we all), does it count as one or two when you have to go back into the toilet after having already wiped? Does it make a difference if one foot is still inside the door?

Thankfully, Koenig's game had still been in progress when I took my journey, and my clock had not been started when I returned. Not that it would have matter, as favorable as my draw turned out. A breathed a deep sigh of relief, because no matter what happened the rest of the day I'd have the memories of slapping those two punks around a bit.

Before the tournament, I had taken a little trip to the area of Philly known as Little Haiti. I've always wondered about that. Other ethnic communities have names like "Little Tokyo", "Little Havana", and "Little Moscow". So why isn't the Haitian area of Philly known as "Little Port au Prince"--too long? Anyway, I found a witch doctor who was able to temporarily innoculate me against voodoo. It kinda worked--I played a much better game, though I still missed a couple of easy bingos. Still, I almost blew it at the end when I let Mitch get perilously close.

My play of TEND missed a great play and allowing Mitch to score big. Had my end tiles of AEDKLNR been reversed with Mitch's EIIULLR, I probably would have lost and had no one to blamed but myself for letting him come close. Despite the tiles, I was still worried, so much so that I passed up KAF for 30 in favor of RAKE for 25 just in case the K gave him some freaky bingo. My relief when that game ended was even greater than against Koenig!

With about an hour and a half for lunch, I decided I had time for a hearty Colombian meal from Tierra Colombiana. It wasn't that far, but I always seem to misunderestimate just how bad Philly traffic can be, even on a weekend, and I barely made the round-trip in time. I wasn't the only one dealing with frustration, though--at the restaurant, a very chesty woman arrived to pick up a call-in order, and they had forgotten her plantains. When she left, she kept calling the staff "stupidas" over and over. Not Zen.

Excellence (Um... That Would Be Scott)

Another reason to do well at this particular tournament materialized in the form of a hot chick who appeared out of the blue after a long absence. I think I heard in some movie, or maybe on TV, that the way to impress a woman is to demonstrate excellence.

But I had to get past #1 Scott Appel. I started looking good when I drew a blank early. But he beat me to the punch with ORDAInER and then following it up with TARTRATE. After my lame bingo, ELUDiNG, the board was pretty bingo-unfriendly, and all Scott had to do was score modestly to keep his lead.

I've heard it said that the better your tiles, the more equity you can give up. No truer was this than against Dave Englehart, when, with my BEWIG and his WRING on the board, my 89 for QUEsTOR gave up a whopping 23 points of equity over the best play! I continued to leak equity here and there, kinda of like a gonorrhitic phallus, but the tiles were so good it would have been really hard for me to lose.


My four wins had earned me a date with Marlon. Ah, Marlon, who had loudly and unabashedly proclaimed (perhaps in the frustration of struggling with Taxes hold Me) that he hated losing to players who "go no game." He was, of course, referring to yours truly, the scrub of the expert division. But that's not all! Marlon wouldn't even give me props for playing the double-double DIOPTASE against Rod during Terry's tournament. He was like, that's basic high probability, those are the first you learn (yeah, most novices start with eights). For the record, Rod wouldn't give me props either, Stefan was too busy admiring his EROSION to notice, and Jan probably doesn't even know I exist.

Anyway, we got down to it, and I opened with POX. Marlon commented that Rod had just made the same opening play against Scott. Anyone care to bet that that was Marlon's final utterance of the game? He was right about one thing, though--I wasn't about to challenge his phony GInKOES*. He got that one past me, and he drew the second blank to boot. But I held my own with the pedestrian ANTISERA, and in the end Marlon mistracked me for an S, which might have been the reason he lost. It's hard to say, from the extensive post-mortem, whether he could have survived that V at the end.

Finally, after all the grumbling, and cursing me out for hurrying him to sign my scoresheet, Marlon conceded that that was one of my better games. I guess from him, that's high praise.

5-1 got me my revenge match against Bobbie Butterfield. Though she didn't realize it, we had beef! First of all, word on the street was she had made some very unkind remarks, things that Jesus would most definitely not have said. More importantly, during our last encounter she had practically abused me by unflinchingly taking advantage of my drunken stupor. She did not follow thegenerally accepted Scrabble rule that a player is supposed to get a free turn or a free blank for every five shots consumed. Well, truth be told, I was so out of it that I wouldn't have been table to tell if she flinched or not. Anyway, going into the game I was thinking, "I ain't drunk now, so watcha gonna do, @#$%&!" Well, after an ugly series of moves during which I (mistakenly) did everything I could to avoid exchanging, Bobbie broke the game wide open with a bingo-bango, PALACES, then SILKIER. I said "nice", and Bobbie said "you're welcome." She actually thought I was complimenting her play! Yeah, like I'm going to give props for SILKIER. Come on!

Anyway, my GAUNTER didn't play, and being down 127 I was loathe to fall further behind, but I needed to bingo, so I went all in on the AENRT leave, and I hit. Then I drew a blank and hit again, and I was back in it!!! The end game would have been a toughie regardless, even if things hadn't gotten totally wacky. After FIRE, Bobbie exchanged, and when she slid the bag away from her we noticed a tile. I assumed she had accidentally caused the tile to fall out of the bag, and I've had at least one experience in which something similar to that was ruled an overdraw, so I called for Matt. He ruled that there was no penalty--oh, well, I hadn't been expecting one. I made my play, HOT, Bobbie played MOO at 1M, I played INN (O13), and then, as Bobbie was thinking about her next play, she gasped! She had figured out what had happened--the extra tile, an I, had not come out of the bag--it had come off the board, from SILKIER!!! Once again, I called for Matt (a little too loudly this time, I was told by another player who was trying to concentrate). We explained the situation, and I explained that it was easy for me to undo my plays and reset my rack, because I record my leave. Bobbie doesn't, but it was to my advantage for the board to be reset (because she had scored 27 with MOO), and so I had no choice but to trust that she would reset her rack to what it was. I felt slightly secure, because from her reaction after MOO I guessed she had drawn the Q, and of course it was going back in the bag.

Anyway, she still drew the Q, but her blank saved her from the stick, and it ended up being the Z that saved me from a loss.

6-1 earned me second place and would put me squarely into the 1800s, I was sure. But in sharp contrast to my pre-1600 days, I didn't rush to get online, because finding out my new rating wasn't as important--I fully recognized that I had to add a lot of words to my arsenal before I could be truly confident that I belong in the 1800s. What was important rather was a validation of my pet theory that where I slept had no bearing on my tournament performance. Heck, look what happened to clubmate Dave Englehart? He (and Linda Oliva) had joined us for dinner at Terry's but left before Taxes Hold Me for their motel. I offered to guide them to my campground on Schuylkill, which I was perfectly willing to share, but Dave politely declined. Look what the comfort of a motel got him.

Terry and Stefan had already left, so I went in search of dinner--specifically, a Wawa. I had an insane craving for that roast beef and mashed potatoes from a few months before. I finally found one, down in Chester I think, but, crap, the menu was different. The cute girl behind the counter said the menu changed daily. She might have been flirting with me, but I was too distraught that I wouldn't get my mashed potatoes too take advantage.

July 18

I left the Delaware service plaza around 8:30 and saw, within a mile, no fewer than four cards pulled over by state troopers. And another a half mile up the road. Po-po was just going crazy all up in Delaware!

I actually waited a long time, until I stopped at Starbucks for my morning coffee, to work out my new rating--1840, give or take! Of course I realized instantly that I was overrated. Still, I dared to dream of attaining greater heights. There was a problem, however. If I just glanced at the list of North American players with a higher rating, I couldn't see a single player who I legitimately thought I was better than. And going all the way down to 1800, I still saw lots of names of players I'm sure are much stronger than me. This is a problem.


Average Equity Loss Per Turn

Includes total equity loss only if all turns were simulated.

1 - 11 (176.1)
2 - 3.4 (44)
3 - 8.6
4 - 6.2 (80.4)
5 - 7.7
6 - 3.9 (54.2)
7 - 6.8 (101.6)


PlayScoreLeaveEquity LossOpponent
JOE26LNRVY18.5 (avoid Q)GIE12
IVY17LNRT + (N or R)15 (block and avoid Q)GUV14
LYRE7ANNRT4.9 (block, must keep AT) REE3
NO4AFNRTZ24.9 (set up Q play)EX36

PlayScoreLeaveEquity LossOpponent

PlayScoreLeaveEquity LossOpponent

PlayScoreLeaveEquity LossOpponent
BEIGE18EO1.6 (BOGIE??? why keep 2 EEs)VAR22
WINO24EON?.7 (WIN, NONvIEWER (who the fuck studies 9-letter NON- words???)ORDAInER77

PlayScoreLeaveEquity LossOpponent

PlayScoreLeaveEquity LossOpponent
POX24AIGS3 (why GOX???)MOTEY29
FA29UNNQT9.2 (FAUN is too risky!)WADI16

PlayScoreLeaveEquity LossOpponent
JEU25EIII2GOD20 (18)

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