Hanging by a Thread

Bitch do I look like an English major to you?

May 19, 2006

A competition of sorts began just miles from the house. I encountered one of those idiot drivers who was desperate to maneuver around all traffic even though the heavy rush hour traffic made the task impossible. If there had been an opportunity to squeeze between the other cars I would have taken it--I was in just as much of a hurry myself, and for a reason that was doubtlessly of greater universal importance--reaching a two Starbucks before the sun set. But unlike the other driver, I was unwilling to risk safety. Every time she pulled to close to my tail I slowed her down. This pissed her off, and she repeatedly jerked the car into the right lane to attempt a pass. But with no gaps opening up ahead of us, I saw no reason to let her cut in front of me.

Finally we approached the tollway, and I signaled left. The other driver did just as I expected and quickly swerved left and sped up to cut ahead of me in the turn lane. I was perfectly happy to let her have her way because no sooner had I started signaling than [why does the word "than" sound strange to me] I spotted a truck in the turn lane. And she pulled right behind it and three other cars. I knew that the truck would be slow to cross the intersection, make the turn, and build up speed onto the freeway. So I just passed it up, while the foolish highness-in--a-hurry lost a good minute or two.

At the toll plaza my aim was off, and one of the five quarters I had tossed missed the collector. I quickly opened the door to retrieve the quarter, and when I spotted two other coins my first instinct was to grab them. A few seconds after clearing the plaza I started to wonder if that act would be considered stealing under my own philosophy of ethicss.

No delays to the new Baytown Starbucks, but a few miles to the east I saw traffic coming to a standstill. I had to made the decision whether to exit the freeway immediately--there was no time to look at my map. Traffic moved quickly along the feeder, but we went nowhere. Eastbound passage was cut off at a turnaround, and I was forced to return to where I had exited. I figured driving, even a longer distance, was better than crawling along, so at the light I quickly scanned my map and found a route along smaller roads that I hoped would bypass the delay. When I picked I-10 back up at exit 803 the traffic was indeed moving smoothly, but the detour had taken so long that I suspected I would have been better off staying on the freeway. It's for situations like that one that I wish I possessed a device that allowed me to bookmark a moment in time and then, if the my chosen path did not work out, press a button and travel back to that same moment so I could make a different choice.

I'll never know if I would have reached Nederland (Port Arthur) while there was still light if traffic had not been delayed, but I lucked out in the end. The Starbucks was well-lit, and my photo was decent enough that I didn't feel an overwhelming urge to return for another anytime soon. I probably would someday though, when I had time to kill or when another store opened, like in Port Arthur proper.

The strady pressure on my scrotal area from 2 1/2 of driving had taken a toll, and my discomfort had evolved into very real pain. I suspected part of the problem was that the seat belt across my midsection was applying downward pressure. I considered removing the belt. I felt I could probably dissuade an officer from writing a ticket by explained what had happened, But driving without a seat belt felt strange. Still, I had to do something. When I stopped for gas just the short walk to the cashier's booth was so painful that I had to take two of the ibuprofen (200 mg) tablets I'd been given at the clinic. Then, even though the weather was cool, I changed into shorts and hoped they would be more comfortable than my jeans.

The rest area west of Lafayette was closed, perhaps even torn down, so I drove another forty miles into the city. Conveniently enough, the Wal-Mart Supercenter happened to be next to a Starbucks that I needed to rephotograph. Remembering my sweaty experience in New Orleans at the '04 Nationals, I had been worried about how much sleep I'd get in the car. I was greatly relieved that the weather was cool. Still, sleep came not easily. The scrotal pain, which had been bad enough Thursday night in an actual bed, was worse in the back of my car. I usually sleep curled up, but that put pressure on my scrotum, and I needed partly stretch my legs in order to ease the pain.

May 20

Between 5:00 and 6:48 I drifted in and out of dreamland. Then I decided it was too close to 7:30 to risk falling into deep sleep, and I walked into the Wal-Mart for some necessitibles. Remembering my delay in Ardmore I made up a jingle, "When you go into the Wal-Mart, don't go slow. If you must visit the Wal-Mart, go, go, go." I was reminded of Jason Katz-Brown and how he use to chant "I wanna be like Brian". Well, the mantra worked for him, didn't it?

Good thing I didn't cut it closer, because mantra or not, by the time left Wal-Mart, added motor oil, photographed the store, and reached the freeway, the time was 7:22. I only had 135 miles to drive and one, maybe two, Starbucks stops, so I had plenty of time. But I'd had "plenty of time" so many times before, hadn't I? And I didn't just want to reach the Holiday Inn by 10:45 at the latest (to avoid panicking Lila and/or losing my spot), but I wanted time for beignets. Yummy yummy beignets!

No delays to Baton Rouge, and I was exceedingly grateful for that when I saw that traffic westbound was at a standstill. Construction. I fervently hoped that they would wrap it by by Sunday evening's return. The manager at my latest contract mandated a 9:30 AM meeting every day, and this really screwed up my travel plans. At past jobs, after a weekend trip I would typically arrive at the office in the afternoon. No point in arriving tired and not being able to focus on work. Heck, the company wasn't even getting a good value for their money by forcing me to arrive early when tired, but I wasn't about to argue with them. Not as long as I get paid.

I had a long chat with the manager of the new Starbucks about the situation in New Orleans and how only five of the fourteen area stores had reopened. It turned out the manager had an interest in Scrabble, and when I mentioned the tournament he said he had been thinking of starting regular tournaments at his store and wanted advice. I directed him to the NSA web site and suggested he contact the Baton Rouge club. When I reached the Holiday Inn I found Annette and suggested she contact him.

I went over to College and Bennington for another photo, and outside I found a worn polaroid. I like finding those and wondering who the person is, what the story behind the photo is, and what will become of the person.

Because of the delay I neeed to head straight to New Orleans instead of Covington. During the drive I continued anagramming sevens. I came to AEIITTV, but nothing came to mind. Then I had to turn my attention to traffic for a bit. Yeah, I know, I don't usually need to look at the road to drive, but sometimes the special bond I have with the road is affected by external forces. Sunspots, maybe. Anyway, before I returned to LeXpert my mind started to wander, and I thought back to an episode of The Practice that guest starred Donnie Wahlberg as a troubled young man involved in a hostage situation. The star of the show, attorney Bobby Donnell, referred to how a judge would "vitiate" some agreement, and Donnie's character aggressively questioned Bobby about what the word meant.

I finally returned to LeXpert, but I still couldn't unscrabble the letters. When I finally hit the Verify button and saw the word, I marveled at how one part of my mind could have known the word but another part couldn't unscramble it.

Meanwhile, the pain around my scrotum had subsided not in the slightest. I loosened my shorts and inspected myself for swelling. None that I could see, the pain was real enough.

As I neared the Superdome I caught an interesting sight, workers walking around on the roof. What a job that must be.

I reached the Holiday Inn shortly after 10:00 AM. I wondered if I could leave the car in front for a couple of minutes and let Lila know I'd arrived, but then I spotted Keith Savage and asked him to relay the message. The woman with Keith immediately told me there was a restaurant in the hotel. Oh, how little did she understand the depths of my beignet addiction. To the best of my knowledge I had never visited New Orleans without having (at least one) order of beignets from Cafe du Monde. Heck, I remember that one time I was returning home after a trip and happened to learn R.E.M. was playing in New Orleans. After buying the concert ticket, I had about $20 left, maybe less, but I still had to have my order of beignets and fresh orange juice ($3.35). After the show I returned to the French Quarter for another hit. Before I reached Cafe du Monde I ended up distracted by a homeless girl who asked for a ride to the Burger King. After giving (and I use the word "giving" loosely) her about seven dollars, I was left to calculate down to the quarter whether I had enough for more beignets, orange juice, and the gas to get me to Beaumont. I got there, but it was close. Still, I wasn't nearly as bad off as the girl. She was heading east, running from something in San Antonio. I wonder what that was, how far away she managed to get, and whatever became of her.

Back in the present, I lucked out and found parking just a block down from the restaurant. I crossed the street and walked along the sidewalk past the shops east of Cafe du Monde, and midway down I passed a homeless man muttering to himself. Inside the cafe an attractive woman smiled when she saw me. I could tell right away that it was my t-shirt that had caught her eye. She found it amusing that I would wear a Starbucks t-shirt to Cafe du Monde. But not amusing enough to give me her phone number or offer me a place to crash for then night, unfortunately.

Man, those beignets sure smelled good. Rather unlike the homeless man who was still sitting on the bench when I passed by again. Man, did he reek.

When I returned to the hotel and found the Ragtime room, I was surprised by a couple of things. The entry fee was high, $70, more on par with East coast events. And the turnout seemed awful light, around 40. I figured that we would have gotten a lot more Texas players if only because of the draw of visiting New Orleans and getting a chance to drive around and see just what a mess the government had made of things. And to chide the locals for having returned instead of leaving the city to be turned into a national park.

Having fallen under 1600, I really needed to start New Orleans off on a positive note so I could maintain a healthy attitute throughout. Everybody knows that Scrabble is not fair, but what happened in my first game, against a player of a rating I would have considered an easy match just a year earlier, goes beyond simply unfairness to outright cruelty. I drew an A to start, and a blank in my first rack, but HNRRVW to go with it. Not a reason to get depressed by any means. Blank + dreck happens all the time. And even when Gloria Simoneaux played LEADMEN I shrugged it off. But when my exchange of HRVW yielded CFGNOR? and no bingos I could see, my mental defenses started to crumble. Still I tried to compose myself and make the best play.

Stop the presses! I finished simulating my first play while waiting for my second game, and when I started simming that CFGNOR? rack my jaw dropped to the floor when I saw that I had missed the 3-tile overlap. It had taken me all of half a second to see the bingo, but I immediately dismissed any chance of hooking it and started looking for eights. Unbelievable. Playing like that, I was a forgone conclusion that I was in for a beating.

I spent quite a bit of time trying to excise that game from my mind before I sat down to face Jeff Reeves. I desperately needed to focus on the game at hand. But I drew an A and Jeff drew an O to decide who started, and that was exactly what Gloria and I had drawn. A bad omen, no doubt, and I worried the game would go the same way. Well, it wasn't nearly as bad, by any means. Instead, it was just ugly. First AOOUVWX. Then a few reasonable rack: EILNOUX, BEIILNO, BCEINPO, BCEFIRT. And then all dreck broke loose: CIIRSUW, AIIGKWY, EEGIIORW, DDEIIPS. It wasn't until five turns later, when I played (JO)INT to leave DIRS that I finally saw the possibility of a bingo. I drew into ADINRSU, but there was nowhere to play it. With that G at 15O open and both blanks unseen, I figured Jeff had them and wanted to block the line. But I desperately needed the points, so after much agony I decided to score with DURAS and hope to draw a blank. Amazingly enough, Jeff did not have the blanks, and I drew both for the win. If I had taken fewer points to block that bingo line, I probably would have lost.

I finally managed to beat El Swifto, and without drawing the bag either. But it was far from easy. I took an early 72-point lead with the Z and J, but then Swifto cut it 53 for the X. My next play was right on target, but then I stumbled for two plays while Swifto gained ground as he demonstrated his word knowledge. Going into the endgame it looked like Swifto was going to continue his domination, but I caught a lucky break. CaNINGS* looked fishy, but I was spared from having to decide whether to challenge because I was able to play Q(A)TS for 44. Then I drew the other blank, eked out the win, and even pushed that speed demon on time some. Whew! What a relief!!!

3-1 was my best starting record in a long time, and I yearned for another win. But it was not to be. Instead, I faced a most Savage Time against eventual tournament winner Keith. I blew my chance early on when I screwed up my first play. With Keith's THiSTLE on the board, from a rack of BCIRTWZ, I could have played a really sweet word, a word I've known since even before I started playing competitively. But I missed it, and the rest my game quickly fell apart.

From Savage time to ibuprofen time as the pain intensified. The pain caused me to have to keep shifting around in my chair. To add to the irritation, I kept having play on the middle board at each table. Actually, they were two tables joined together, and so the table legs were in the way of the two players sitting in the middle. I kept hitting those legs over and over with my chair as I shifted. And on top of all that, there was an onslaught of flies invading the room. Grrr...

Crap! Midway through the first day I went to charge my phone and realized I had left the charger back in Houston. And because I had been using the phone all morning to call new Starbucks to see if they had opened yet, it was almost out of power. Not a good thing when you're driving around in a car that your mechanic says might stop running at any moment.

I started off quite well against Jerry Dynes, but one bad break was all it took to send the game spiralling out of country. I successfully challenged off BERATES that he tried to hook to NAPE. The only other bingo line was a C at O8. I didn't see an eight, but I would have blocked regardless... if, after playing HEME (IOU) for 36 (missing HOMIE), I had not drawn EIIOSUU. I gave up making silly 5-point blocks with crap leaves long ago (taking advice from Sherman, actually), so I exchanged. Jerry played through the C. I knew that with a B and a C the eight was probably beyond the range that I had studied, but the seven should have been in the 10,000 I had studied. Wrong. It's actually in the 10001-15000 group. So I challenged. Two turns later, Jerry played CLAQUER. Another challenge, another turn lost. Later, I screwed up one more time, missing ABDORTU to an E. But by then it was too late. With all his extra turns Jerry had drawn both blanks, and he would have won regardless. But I still shouldn't have missed the bingo.

Bad tracking almost cost me the game against Conrad Braud. Actually, the game wouldn't have been so close if I had challenged off BURLIES*, but I wasn't 100% sure and didn't want to risk losing my 45-point Z counterplay. Anyway, Conrad was leading going into the endgame, but I held some pretty good tiles with bingo lines still open. I saw a new bingo DACITES, but it wouldn't play, so I played off TAD hoping I could draw into a bingo. But I was denied!!! I drew into CEIISUY, and I was sure I was sunk. I hated to give up my S, but I played SI(Z)Y for 21 to bring me within 6 points of Conrad and a leave that, while not great, was not pure poison either. The bag had plenty of Is, so I was loathe to leave myself with two. Meanwhile, Conrad continued to score--my TAD for 21 had given him UNAI for 24 and then GO for 20. After SI(Z)Y my leave had been ECIU, and I drew AIN. Not great, but UNCIA scored 22 and brought me within 4 points. The B was the last tile, and it, plus tracking, saved me. Conrad played I(N)TAKE through my UNCIA allowing me the possibility to win by scoring 22 with BI/(A)B/(K)I, but only if Conrad couldn't go out with his last two tiles. I was pretty sure he had an L, but I had no idea what the other tile was. Thankfully I had over 6 minutes left and was able to recount the board and discover his other tile was an N. If I not been sure he couldn't go out, I would have had no choice but to go out myself for 14 points and hope to pick up 4 more points in a recount.

El Swifto was standing nearby analyzing our endgame when his father showed up and mentioned Chili's. I asked why he would want to come all the way to New Orleans to go to Chili's. He said that there wasn't any parking down in the French Quarter. Well, that wasn't going to stop me from getting my mandatory red beans and rice. I first started off on foot, but then decided it was too far and went up to the garage for my car.

Sure it took me a bit of time driving around the French Quarter before I finally found a spot on the east side of Esplanade, but it wasn't wasted time--in my opinion the French Quarter never gets boring. But don't misunderstand--I would still have preferred that New Orleans be preserved but not rebuilt. Would that I had had as good luck finding a restaurant as parking. The place I chose, Fiarello's, is nothing to recommend. The beans were far from the best I'd ever had, and the rice had grains that were either burnt or uncooked. And the waitress, though European and moderately attractive in a worn-out kind of way, managed to maintain a dour expression on her face for the duration.

I returned to the hotel because El Swifto had suggested playing a few games, but he was nowhere to be found. So with time to spare and money in ny pocket, Saturday night would have been an opportune time to finally check out of the (in)famous New Orleans strip clubs. Except, that is, for a couple of things. First, I was utterly devoid of sexual desire. I was hopeful it was due to the discomfort I'd been feeling for two days. Second, even if I had been in the mood, a lap dance was out of the question. At a minimum I'd suffer excrutiating pain, and at worse I'd reopen the incision.

It occurred to me that my situation, if it persisted, would definitely be considered an example of irony. My next though was, naturally, of the Alanis Morrisette Morissette (darn those Canadians and their hard-to-spell names) song and how it has perpetuated the misuse of the term. Though I will admit, even what must be a simplified explanation on Wikipedia is lengthy and a bit difficult to understand. I'm pretty sure I'll die rotting in a prison cell somewhere, and my final thought will be, "I never really understood irony. I shouldn't have dropped out of AP English."

Well, even though I wasn't tired, I lacked the patience to wait around for El Swifto. Before leaving to find a campground for the night, I headed to the hotel restroom. The television in the bar was tuned to news program discussing the mayoral election. The person being interviewed, and I mention that he is black only because it's relevant, said of candidate Landrieu that "he knows what to axe for." I was a little taken aback that a person would go on a news show and use a pronounciation that might make him appear uneducated. Or maybe I'm totally wrong here. Maybe it's just that, ever since Bush Jr. came along and popularized the mispronounciation of the N-word, it's become acceptable to use vernacular pronounciations even during (supposedly) higher (read: political) discourse.

I had not been able to get the new Starbucks in Marrerro on the phone. I knew the store had opened with just five baristas and kept limited hours, so I took it on faith that it would open early enough on Sunday morning for me to visit. 6:00 AM, according to the sign I saw when I reached the store. I hoped to wait at the Wal-Mart, but it had closed at 9:00 PM. I wasn't surprised, given the general issues with staffing in the New Orleans area.

The area near the Starbucks and the Wal-Mart seemed to be primarily residential, but not quiet residential like in different parts of the country I had visited where I could find neighborhood streets empty by 9:00 or 10:00 PM. No, I had the feeling that these people might be hanging out in yards and on front porches for hours to come. That's one of the good things about colder weather--residents don't hang out in front of their houses. Anyway, I regarded the entire New Orleans area, including Jefferson Parish, as a potentially dangerous and lawless place, kind of like the Old West. I had no faith that the residents would respect my right to be left alone on a public street, and so I kept driving until I found an quiet industrial area.

I first chose a street, either Enterprise Drive or Commercial Drive, that directly intersected a main thoroughfare, Lapalco Blvd. I wanted privacy, but I didn't want to be completely isolated in case there were evildoers about. I also wanted to be parked next to another vehicle so I wouldn't stand out. As I was about to the change into my shorts I heard a voice ask "Can I help you?" I had failed to notice a man either in the truck or in the building. I told him I just needed a place to sleep, and his attitude changed from suspicious to understanding. He said I could pull into the driveway, and that there was fresh water from a... damn, what's the word? Not a faucet--faucets are indoors, right? Where do you plug in a garden hose?

The man drove away, and after a while I decided that I didn't want to take any chances that he would change his mind and call the police. People will sometimes genuinely offer to help you but then have second thoughts. It happened in John Grisham's The Broker. The lead character, in hiding in Italy, gave a letter to a passenger at an airport for delivery to his mother. The girl promised to put the letter in the mail when she reached the states, but she later changed her mind, started imagining that it was a letter bomb, and just threw it away (instead of turning it in to the authorities). That bitch!

I drove around the block and chose a different spot, on Day Street, next to a field, between a tractor trailer cab and a small car with a plastic drink cup (at least 32 oz) on its roof.

Two days had passed, so according to the post-op instructions I was free to sleep without the athletic supporter. I was fine at first, but then the ibuprofen wore off, and I started to feel some pain and had to keep shifting around to ease the pressure.

For whatever reason my night was filled with many dreams, from the mundane to the fantastical. In one I noticed a light through the back window. My first thought was it was a cop. Great society we live in, where anybody who doesn't fit the norm (or isn't white or rich) has to worry about getting Rodney Kinged just for trying to sleep. Anyway, it wasn't cop, but a big pickup, maybe a Hummertype vehicle. A woman was driving. The woman in the passengers seat ran out of the car and into the house. Then I woke up, and I saw there was no light, no vehicle, and that the field was still a field. No house.

Later I had one of my most bizzare dreams. I was in a taxicab inside a huge dirt racing track and/or arena, and I was trying to get away from people out to kill me. The driver resembled Wyclef Jean, probably because of an indie flick I'd seen One Last Thing. But unlike the benevolent taxi driver he played in the movie, this Wyclef pulled out an automatic weapon, prompting me to jump out. I ran, very fast, around the arena while the others shot at me. Somehow I ended up inside a house, and my gender might have switched to female. I was still pursued, and I wanted desperately to get out of the house. But from every opening (mostly the airconditioning vents), oozed very large, very thick, pink worms. Very disgusting. I hope that dream never comes true, because I do not ever want to encounter oversized pink worms.

It appeared that I was not the only one in need of a place to sleep. At some point during the night a large tour bus pulled in front of me and parked where the small car had been. I had not seen any building that looked like a parking area for buses, so I figured the driver was just camping out for the night before picking up his passengers in the morning.

May 21

Sunday morning started out in a glorious fashion. From Wednesday morning, when I was notified that an appointment had become available at the clinic, to Saturday evening, I had experienced something that had never happened in the 20+ years since puberty--complete lack of arousal. First due to anxiety about the surgery and then because of the resulting pain. For a brief moment on Saturday I had started to wonder if maybe the doctor had botched the operation and that I would end up like Bob Dole for the rest of my life. A very scary thought. I'd have to agree with Joey Tribiani on that one.

But no need to worry, because as of Sunday morning "little Winter" was back! "Guess who's back, back again."

I finally got up at 7:09. I first headed over to the Wal-Mart for some food. My speedy Wal-Mart mantra was useless at this one, because they were so short-staffed that two registers were open. Over at the Starbucks I chatted with the assistant manager for a while and then posed for a photo. By the time I reached Cafe du Monde I had to take my beignets to go, but that was fine because I was able to catch a report on NPR about Netflix. This was particular relevant to me now that a film distribution deal was imminent--it was almost a certainty that Starbucking would be available via Netflix, where it would probably do better than in theaters.

As I drove to the Holiday Inn, I couldn't help but dwell on the personal weakness that driven my to Cafe du Monde yet again for more fattening fried dough.

I reached the Holiday Inn at 8:52, but I had to stay in the car to listen to an NPR interview with Edward Norton, one of my favorite actors, about his upcoming movie Down in the Valley.

I saw a player, Conrad in think, outside smoking, so I figured I couldn't be the last one to arrive. Still, one of Lila's helpers was in the lobby looking out for stragglers, and he urged me onward, saying they were waiting. However, people still hadn't taken there seats in the playing room, and that gave me time to snap a few photos.

Even draw and decent playing against Helen Joffee--I don't know where I went wrong to lose by 19. For whatever reason that game irritated me, pissed me off a bit even. The scrotal pain didn't help matters any. In fact, I think it's safe to say that no matter what endeavor a man is involved in, if things aren't going well, scrotal pain only makes them worse.

As I walked to the restroom I was pissed enough to start reconsidering playing Chicago. I tried to clear my head of those thoughts, as I had already decided that traveling Memorial Day weekend would be a strategically bad decision for my Starbucks project. A long trip to Asia after my contract ended in August had to be the priority.

I finally took a look at the results, and after seven games I had been in fifth place, well positioned to come in the money had I not lost that first game of the day! AARRGHH!!!

Outside in the hall, I mentioned the fruit flies to XXX, and she said she thought they were gnats. I'm no entomologist, but as I watched one of the little buggers crawling up and and down my laptop's LCD I swore it looked like a fruit fly to me.

In the final game of the round-robin portion yet another inconceivable event occurred... I went over time, for the first time in a tournament game (to the best of my knowledge). But it's worse than that. I had already worked out opponent Bill Clark's play and what my play needed to be and that I would win if he couldn't score big with his final tile. So when he played ZOrILS to the unblockable KI, I could have won by playing (Z)IG immediately. Instead I looked around to see where he would play the I, and then I heard the gentle-yet-thundering beep of the Pocket SamTimer, and my heart sank. A 5-point loss. The only thing I have to offer in my defence is that during the entire game I had had trouble seeing the readout on the timer from my angle. I wanted to comfort myself by thinking that had it been a regular SamTimer, or even to my left instead of my right, or without the glare, that I wouldn't have forgotten to notice the time. But ifs wouldn't bring back that game, and wouldn't change the fact that I probably needed to win three straight games to get my rating above 1600 again.

Losing that game took me to a low that I hadn't felt at all in Ardmore, not since Dallas.

I was paired with Bill Clark a second time, and my draw was no better. But I last-minute gamble on my part, ENDRIN(E)*, plus Bill's failure to see the 22-point Q(I) my play set up, allowed me to win by five. Two crazy endgames in a row.

I couldn't help myself. I headed over to Cafe du Monde for lunch. On the way I spotted April McCarley walking off some frustration. She asked me to bring her back and order of beignets, and I was glad to oblige. Spreading the greasy dough around always made me feel a little better. Kind of like Ice-T in the classic "I'm Your Pusher". Can you believe he went from "Cop Killer" to a cop himself on Law & Order: SVU???

WTF??? I thought they were at least trying to keep the French Quarter clean???

Problem with endgame simulator, Cason's game, forgot the details, not import, Jason's probably already fixed it.

The Curse of Bill Clark continued into a third game. After three straight game, he had drawn 4 of 6 blanks, 10 of 12 eses, and half the JQXZ. And I wans't even able to make use of all my power tiles--I got stuck with the Q in that last game. That was my fault, because I played off the U. But after he drew the critical S to go up by 89 with just six tiles left in the bag, my only hope was to leave myself AEER and bingo through the D, which would have been much harder with a U. Anyway, I had to tell him that I hoped I didn't have to play him again. Being outdrawn three times in a row by the same player is just too much.

After the game El Swifto chided me for having let UVEAT(E)* go and suggested I study my four-vowel sixes. I rolled my eyes. Like I don't have enough words to study already. I didn't lose the game because of Bill's phony six. I lost because he bingoed with each blank and then drew the critical es.

Days later, when I simulated my second game against Helen Joffee I got a glimpse of what Katie DeVanney will look like in some 40-50 years if she doesn't stop playing phoneys. First I(N)KILY and later ENNER(V)E, both played extremely quickly. Before the game Helen had mentioned reading my blog, so I had to wonder if she had read about my recent time troubles and was trying to push my clock. It didn't work, because I was playing fast myself so I could get on the road more quickly. But still, I wasn't inclined to challenge those words for only 24/26 points with the scores so close. Towards the end of the game, she might have phonied one more time, but I'm not sure. With Helen to play from this position, my scoresheet reads "TOD" for 18. I can't see where to score 18 with TOD except at 13A, which would have produced O(BO)*. I wasn't low on time, so if that's indeed what happened, I don't know how I missed it. Good thing I ended up winning the game or I would have really beat myself up.

I was greatly relieved to have won that game. At least I'd, according to El Swifto's guess, get nudged back over 1600. Made me feel a little better as a rushed off to my blazingly hot car and made for the Lake Ponchatrain Causeway.

For no particular reason, I started anagramming those four-vowel sixes.

For no particular reason I found myself choking as took a sip of my coffee from the Covington store, and I ended up having to spew.

May 23

Holy Moses!!! With Quackle's improved ability to simulate, with a History tab that displays a record of plays and scores, I noticed that Bill Clark had undercounted RESTERS at 53 (which doesn't even make sense) instead of 63, and with those 10 points he would have actually won our second game!

Maybe a year after a wrong turn resulted in my hearing a cover of Bruce Springsteen's "Atlantic City" on XPN (one of my favorite radio stations in the country), I finally decided to go ahead and pay $25 smackers for the rare CD on eBay. The song was good, but not as good as the fantasy I'd built up in my mind over the course of a year. Kind of like when I encounter a girl only briefly and then spend months or years creating this ideal vision of her.


22.5 FR(A)NC FORCiNG  
9.9 -CGONQ Qi
5.2 YO sUrROYA(L) (other bingos sim worse)
2.4 WAUR  
6.2 N(A)DA  
9.9 EH HaJ(I)
11.4 JO(C)K KOJ(I)
1.1 AVOW  
7.2 LUX(E)  
6.1 PEON  
6.8 CURS  
0 YAK  
0 WOG  
4.9 PED  
1.4 (JO)INT  
0 FrOtHIN(G)  
0 Q(I)  
0 VIDS  
3.7 ZO(O) miss WAITED hook
14.2 INERTIA miss WAITED hook
23.8 TAWDR(I)Er  
0 HOES  
46.5 CHE(W) XERIC/unsure (BIS)E,unsure CIR(Q)UE
22.5 XERUS  
2.9 (B)OG  
0 ZO(U)K  
1.5 J(I)LTED  
0 IWIS  
24.6 BU(D)S  
6.7 A(L)IENER  
0.1 POOL  
5 MI(L)O 00(L)ITE
5 VI(T)AE  
0 EF  
0 Q(A)TS  
0 MOA  
0 (V)EERs  
0 CL(E)W  
11.2 V(I)S(E)  
2.6 (J)IN  
0 InTRUDE(D)  
1.4 Q(I)S  
0 NO(R)  
6.6 (C)URE  
14 MUDDY  
4.5 AI  
13.4 CAB  
19.6 MI(R)  
0 LEA  
6.4 PION  
7.4 ATTIC  
5.8 HEME  
--- -IOOUU  
30 lose turn  
34 lose turn  
9.2 13k Z(I)N  
7.4 VOLT  
12.2 ERGO  
1.7 VUM  
2.9 QAT  
0 JET  
0 HAAF  
0 ReORD(E)RS  
1.8 VEE(R)  
14.7 CR(O)WD  
13.8 TAD  
6.2 SI(Z)Y  
0 BI  
0 (W)E  
0 B(E)GS  
2.8 DOXIE  
10.4 PRA(W)N  
1.3 DIVE(R)T  
10.9 M(E)TALInG  
12.1 DAH(L) DAH(L)IA
13.1 BI(DE)T  
1.1 EAVE  
8.6 (B)IT(T)Y (B)UT(T)Y
0 OH  
19.1 SAW  
3.5 CA(R)P  
18.2 (E)TNA  
.9 (V)ER(A)  
10.3 D(WE)LL  
10 (Z)IG over time
9.5 GAMA  
5.6 (C)AW  
2.6 GO(N)OF  
5.9 sPANIEL  
14.6 ZO(O)  
0 JIG  
0 KA  
2.9 ID  
0 R(A)D  
7.4 (TO)W(S)  
0 AN  
0 ENDRIN(E)*  
0 Q(I)  
10.3 HEARD  
13 FIB  
0 IMI(D)O  
14.5 MIB  
32 DW(E)LL worst play of tournament
5.9 (E)XIT  
5.8 HE(L)MING  
.6 DIDO  
5.7 OY  
6.2 THAWIN(G)  
0 JOE  
.6 TOE  
10.5 AE  
14.3 Q(I)  
5.1 (A)DZ  
0 MEsA  

Average Equity Loss Per Turn (now using Quackle!)

1 - L - 7.7
2 - W - 3.2 (42.1)
3 - W - 11.4 (136.7)
4 - W - 4.2 (54)
5 - L - 6.8
6 - L - 14.9
7 - W - 2.9 (41.1)
8 - L - 5.8
9 - L - 11.2 (156.6)
10 - W - 5.4 (87.1)
11 - L - 9.7
12 - W - 5.3

Avg: 7.4

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