Attack of the Frankentang Monster

Friday, March 16, 2007

As I slogged my way up the NJ Turnpike on Friday night, I worried that Cecilia coming down from Boston might not make it, unless she was already in NYC for some reason. My concern was strictly motivated by my desire to steal her ratings points, mind you, and for no other reason.

The first restaurant I noticed after crossing the Holland Tunnel was Cafe Espanol, on Bleeker. While waiting for my black bean soup, I sat at the bar nex to an attractive young woman. I started to pull out my laptop when (gasp!!!) the woman actually spoke to me. I could tell she was drunk, or on the verge, so I did my best to be polite while ignoring her. Drunk women are trouble and, unless he is in a position to take advantage, generally not worth a man's time.

Saturday, March 17

The ice and snow I saw heading to Manhattan was nothing compared to the ordeal I faced in the wee hours. I had parked a block north on Front Street, in front of the Starbucks so I could download the episode of Smallville that my VCR had inexplicably failed to record. Around 3:30 my sleep was disturbed by a repetetive scraping noise, and I peeked out from underneath my blankets to see a man shoveling right next to my car. My paranoid self was inclined to think that the man was piling snow around my tires to trap me, but he was just scraping snow off the sidewalk. My download had finished, so I decided to my back to my usual, more isolated, space, and thus began a 30-minute ordeal of inching forward, backing up, twisting the tires back and forth, using my baseball bat as a makeshift bat. I finally managed to free myself, and I set off in search of a safer parking space. Due to some road closures, I was forced along a series of one way streets onto a small street at a slight incline. The street had clearly not been driven on much during the snow, and the snow was pretty deep. I tried to break through by picking up as much speed as possible, but I got stuck again!!! Worse this time, and had it not been for the driver of a van who helped push the car back down the include as I hit the accelerator, I might have spent the rest of my days there.

I did eventually find a parking space that was not completely blocked by snow, and after settling down from the previous hours' "excitement", I slept. When I woke up at saw that the time was 8:09, I worried about whether I had overslept. No, I had plenty of time I realized. Bayside was barely 15 miles away, even with the snow. No, my time issue was that I wanted to stop and reshoot one or two Starbucks, plus I needed breakfast. After taking a wrong turn off the Williamsburg Bridge, I ended up deciding to skip Atlas Park to save time. I was delayed trying to parking in front of the Haab Mexican Cafe (for a waffle), but I still had plenty of time to reach Bayside. Until the last minute Woody, that is. To be more specific, a call from Woody asking to be picked up. Woody was pretty lucky that I even saw his message, because I had left my phone off after the movie. Regardless, Woody was the only Scrabbler rocking the Starbucking movie logo--I couldn't very well leave him stranded.

We didn't reach the Adria until 9:40, but there were no worries, because Ginger had arrived late, as had other players, and she was still waiting for Seth and Cecilia who surprised me by making the trek down from Boston. The real surprise, however, was that they were not planning to play Philadelphia. I mean, if they'd already drive 210 miles, what was another 100 miles to Philly? They coulda made the drive back that night--come on, Seth, be a man!

Everybody seemed to be taking the delay in stride, although Ginger did kinda look like she had forgotten to take her happy pills that morning. She didn't seem to appreciate the steady stream of questions coming at her from left and right.

Going into my first game ever against the amazing Seth Lipkin, I had a sense of foreboding. He might have been lower-rated, but I was sure he had been studying some words, and despite a recent slip-up, the man was on the rise. A recipe for an upset, I was sure. My concern eased some when I saw my opening rack, SPiKING, and after a 42-point LUGED (that many points???) and another bingo, RAREBIT, I calmed down and settled in for a pretty smooth ride to victory.

I presume Seth forgave me for my better draw since I had donated $20 to If you have not yet donated to this amazing web site, you definitely should!

Next up was the long-anticipated match up with Eric "When-Did-He-Hit-Experthood?" Goldstein. I remembered Eric from the lower divisions, and then one day, while away from the East Coast, I woke up to find that he had suddenly broken into the big time. Could those games against Matt Graham have anything to do with it? Anyway, I had gotten the better draw in North Salem, and after exchanging AU from AENST to draw ATONERS, it appeared I might be in for a good draw again. Eric complimented me on my "good find" . Some might think his remark sarcastic, but I gave him the benefit of the doubt and assumed he was referring to my having found the correct tiles to exchange. Double-double tANNAGE followed, then the J, then VEN(O)M for 36, and it liked like I might run away with the game again. But meanwhile, Eric was starting to explode all over the board--ORNiTHE(S) followed by NEUTERS followed by another bingo rack. It was just my great luck that Eric missed R(E)LAPSED to try SPARLED*, which I slapped off the board instantly. I'm still not good at figuring out all the eights that might play off my opponents' racks, so I just took 45 points for RISKE(R) and let Eric play the bingo to come within 8 points. That turned out to be a huge mistake, because my subsequent racks went to hell, and it was only one more extra turn, for challenging off MYC/(VENOM)Y*, that allowed me to win by 7 points. Whew!

My miserable tiles continued on into my game against that non-studying @#$%^& Frank, and like the astronaut's best friend he blasted off to victory. I missed no bingos, and I did not give up a huge amount of equity on any given turn, but of course the little mistakes here and there added up. One key play that I missed, however, couldn't have turned the game in my favor. JUST takes an S!!!

For Joe Bihlmeyer, snow put the "oh-no" in Ohio, where he was stuck at the airport. The effect on me was a bye, which I did not want because one fewer game would limit the amount of points I could gain (assuming I beat Joe). On the bright side, I had my bye right before lunch, and this allowed me to head down the street to the Starbucks. I walked in wearing my Starbucking shirt, and for the first time it produced an unintended effect. A person of indeterminate sex asked me about the shirt, and when I explained about the movie, she started yammering about how she had visited all the Starbucks long ago. Ooookay. Thankfully she took the hint when I put my headphones on.

Though it had been years since our last game, I still remembered the sting of my loss to Charelene White, and I did not take the game for granted. She bingoed first with OPIATES, and the hairs on the back of my next bristled. Oh, I had the blank and my bingo alright, but I wanted more than a win--I wanted to run up the spread something awful. A few turns later I started a run for it with AIRlINE and then EQUATE for 72, but Charlene came right back at me with CURVIES(T). I hit again with JOSH for 82, and I couldn't really complain about my luck, scoring that much off the Q and J, but I only won by 58. Grrr...

Nothing spectacular in my game with Vera Bigall. HOARSE(N)S followed by 56 for pOESY, and Vera never seemed to get it together. Still there was frustrating, when, at the very end, she set up an unblockable out bingo to cut my hefty spread, and I was left wondering what I could have done during earlier turns to prevent the setup. If preventable, my mistake didn't cost me the game, only spread, but I had to wonder why I kept making that same mistake over and over. I remembered earlier games that I had lost because my opponent was able to set up an unblockable opening. But I do pride myself on one thing--I resisted making any comments about Vera's name.

After her brilliant win in Saratoga Springs, I expected Cecilia (aka CeLe aka Celicious) to be nothing less than a tough opponent, and thus I was greatly relieved to open with ABATERS followed by NeARING. She scored well with ZA (46) and (e)X(A)CTED (51, great play), so I took nothing for granted, but after my MU(D)DLERS and extra turn for a 168-point lead, I stopped being concerned about winning and started focusing on trying to make sure I had enough spread for 2nd place. Another couple of good plays, the phony UN(eXACTED)* and SLIPPI(ER), which cost me a turn, helped CeLe cut the spread, but I bingoed yet again, R(E)LEaSED, and got the spread I need.

Cecilia, indecentally, did not seem to share in my preoccupation with the spread at the other table. Go figure.

Well, Frank had done it, gone 7-0 in a field that, if not necessarily strong, was certainly not full of patzers either. With a well-received play running in Los Angeles, and sizeable revenue from breakfast-drink endorsements, it truly seemed like Tango was king of the world (like Leonardo DiCaprio).

After dropping Woody off at the bookstore (or so he claimed), I headed into Manhattan just in time for my massage appointment, and there I confirmed I suspicion. Stacy was indeed the former "Josie"--the alias was due to her providing sensual massage. Once she started making enough money from her writing and switched to straight massage, she went back to her original name. Stacy seems pretty intelligent, and discussed a variety of topics, the most interesting of which was whether or not any women would be involved in sex work absent the desperation of having to survive. We did not see eye to eye, however. Stacy insisted that she had been "desperate" because she wanted to pay for an expensive Manhattan apartment without having to spend many hour teaching college courses so that she would have enough time to write her book. I saw her decision as one of choice, not desperation.

Incidentally, on the way to Stacy's I passed several people trying to shovel stuck cars out of the snow. I could feel for the poor bastards.

did not want to te (no idea what I was going to write)

was trying to pay for (ditto)

Las Isla, pretty good Latin food. Should have made a note of where it is or taken a photo. I thought I took a photo. Where's the photo??? Grrr...


* indicates discrepancy between valuation and win %.

0 VIOL  
0.4 WI(N)Y  
8.8 Q(I)  
9.1 (L)ORICAE ignored (Z)A
4.9* AROUND  
30 H(A)RM H(A)DJ
0 OH  
0 -AU(AENST)  
0 (A)JAR  
2.4 VEN(O)M  
10.6 GOU(T)Y  
2.9 RISKE(R) I(N)KIER (12 fewer pts)
1.9 P(E)WIT  
4.1 FIE  
11.3 AW WI(T)A(N)
5.4 COU(P)E  
6.8* BI(T)  
33.2 VOILA (B)OLIVIA (not best play)
3 (D)UE  
0 MAX  
0 V(OWE)RS  
3.9 DREG  
0 NIELL(O)  
5.1 F(O)B -BFVZ
0 (F)IZ  
0 J(U)ST  
15.1 MIC(A) (JUST)S hook
14.8 VIOLS  
0* EIK(O)N  
0 QA(T)  
9.3 TAU A(q)UAT(I)NT
4.2 TrANSIT  
3.4 AIRlINE  
13.6 IO(N)IC OC(U)LI
0 JOSH  
15.2* RE(A)M  
11 M(O)D  
8 G(OR)  
0 JIAO 8G  
0 Q(I)  
10.7 pOESY (56) YO (27)
0* (S)KIP (S)PIK
4.3* (G)HAT  
0 ROOTE(D)  
4.3 NAE NEE (D'OH!)
1.8 T(R)OUPE  
6.4* MIR  
4.2 WEB  
18 TOW  
16.6 (V)IA  
0 GUR(U)  
0.5 NeARING  
0 QA(T)  
0 FOY  
0 O(F)AY  
10.6 MIC ChEMISE,SEMEmIC(not best)
7.6 -AIIE  
0.3 R(E)LEaSED  
41.4 lose turn  
11.3 (O)WE (leave board open 4 spread)
19 VI(D) VINI(C)

1 - W - 6.5 (84.8)
2 - W - 6.3 (87.6)
3 - L - 4.1 (53.7)
5 - W - 10.9 (131.1)
6 - W - 4.7 (66.3)
7 - W - 8.1 (113.5)

Avg: 6.8

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