Triumph of the Pigeon Boy

Saturday, September 1, 2007

Woke up feeling lousy once again, and the reason was a combination of caffeine withdrawal and hunger. I had decided to skip dinner, as I was doing more often of late, in the hopes of trimming some fat off my obscene gut. Every view of myself in the mirror was discouraging as I witness the signs of aging, and the likelihood diminished that I would ever attain the body of a 25-year-old beach volleyball player.

The number of Scrabble dreams I experienced had been increasing since my return to the East Coast. Two earlier in the week were pretty morbid, involving pain and blood, but Friday night's was more mundane and realistic, placing me at the Liberty Bell tournament itself. I was noticing that since my return to the East Coast and near-continuous playing, Scrabble was consuming my thoughts more and more, whether awake or asleep.

With barely a minute to spare, I walked into the playing room and soon noticed Jeffrey Jacobson peering at the pairings list... in the Division 1 room!!! Uh-oh, I thought, a bad sign. And sure enough, the top division had been expanded from six to ten, and my hopes of playing each of the top players four times, and possibly beating the She-Wolf four times in a row, were dash.

Of course, just beating the She-Wolf once was a task worthy of Beowulf. Given that she only won by 31, a key turn in that game was my challenging CEPS. I was 100% sure that the word was no good, at least not in the old word list. But I was 100% wrong, and after the tournament I wracked my brain to figure out why I had seemed so sure. I finally decided that it must have been from reading the word used as a shortened version of "except" in an older novel, Light in August, or The Grapes of Wrath perhaps.

Still, I decided that there was something unnatural about the She-Wolf's 9-game winning streak. She must have been sacrificing animals to have that kind of good fortune. It wasn't just CEPS. It was also that a good play, MELEE, gave her HEX for 58. I saw it coming, but it was still the best play for my rack. And with BIRS(E) she held, and it looked like she wanted to challenge, but since the play gave her 36 for QU(IET, she let it go. Again, just dumb luck.

Poor Jeff. STRAIFS*??? Why would he even try that? More interesting, though, was the noise that I heard a few turns into that game. An odd voice, a bit electronic, like that of Stephen Hawking, but deeper. Since I'd never met that Marlene character before nor heard her speak, my first thought was that she had some type of throat condition, maybe that implant after throat cancer or something like that. But then the voice became recognizable, and I realized it was a player who probably needs to stop smoking. The voice would earn him a new nickname, except that I could not figure out which Transformer he sounded most like? Couldn't be Megatron, because to be deserving of the Megatron name he would have to be much more of a Scrabble badass. Starscream? Frenzy? I tried not to put too much thought into because, as you might imagine, being able to accurately determine which Transformer best fits a given Scrabble player is probably not going to get me a date anytime soon.

I barely had time to enjoy my opening EULOGIA against Steve Glass when he deflated my hopes SOUNdlY. Without that bingo advantage, I felt I needed to be aggressive, but, alas, Steve didn't think WAITAB(L)E* was plausible enough to let stand. A few turns later he bingoed again, COPILO(T)S, and that was that. At least he tought me a new word, though--JINNEE. Just when I thought I knew all the variants of that word, another one comes along.

Really pissed after losing to King by 2, and my mood wasn't helped by Shahid's pointing out that PARKE(T)* was a phony, nor by King's pointing out several mistakes he made. But what was really upsetting was that I was able to confirm that I had, in fact, play at the end, YUPON, which might have won if King didn't see his 11-point play. But even more upsetting than that was that I wanted to win so badly that I actually considered cheating, in the form of using my ability to cloud minds to make King see three fewer points on a turn. But that is a line I must not cross--my special powers must be used only for good.

Passed up lunch with the guys so I could process. Walked over to Lee's Hoagies instead of taking my car as part of an attempt to transition to more environmentally conscious behaviors. It was more complicated than just saving gas, however, because to save the gas I would sacrifice time that I would otherwise have used to simulate games. In general, doing anything faster consumes more energy, and given that the human life is limited, trading off energy for time is completely rational. In my case it is a little different, since I am immortal, but I'm still racing against time with regards to Scrabble study because of all these young punks coming up who seem to have nothing better to do than memorize word lists.

Some environmental decisions are easier like finally buying a reusable bag at Whole Foods. Actually, even that was going to cost me time, because I would invariably forget the bag and have to go back out to my car, but with time I should get into the habit (depending upon just how quickly my mind is deteriorating).

Two weeks later, I have only managed to remember the bag only once.

A great excitement washed over me when I sat down to face Marelene Milkent and looked at my tiles. But alas, instead of the much-needed E, Marlene gave me POX, and my AINOQTU went a-wasted. I really want to play that word. Can't say why. It's not that exotic. Maybe because of my math background. Anyway, the game ended up a tie, which was disappointing, but what was more disappointing was discovering I could have won by seeing an out-in-one play, AADINT through a C.

As if to balance the miserable draw he had in Dayton, Lucky Buck Man drew like a fiend to paint a perfect picture of an unwinnable game. (D)IAtOMIC, (F)LUORITE, LANNERS, and AGENETI(C) within six turns, with the appropriate Z(I)NG to ice the cake, and it was immaterial that I lost a turn to TH(O)N* and later to (COUDE)S*. Still, I wish I'd stop playing phoneys against the guy who can come in 3rd at Nationals--that's just not smart!

The most noteworthy thing about my game against Engeldave was the frustration I felt about my opening rack EINORST. Why couldn't I have had that rack against Looby???

High drama in Philadelphia as I was "gently" sideswiped by a car changing lanes on Roosevelt Blvd, about 2 miles east (north) of the I-76 interchange. When the driver made no indication that he would pull over, I called 911 and reported that I was following. The dispatcher was not responding with the urgency that I would logically ascribe to a pursit in progress. In fact, after several minutes of questions, by which time we had reached City Line Avenue, she seemed more concerned with covering the City's ass, explaining that if there was any type of collision because of my pursuit, I would be held liable. And then my phone cut off! Middle of a heavily populated area, and my phone decided to drop the signal. I tried several times but could not get one, and I finally resorted to going into roaming mode, which I knew was going to cost me.

The new dispatcher seemed downright rude as she explained that she wasn't going to send any police to intercept the pursuit. The only option she was giving me was to pull over and wait for police to meet me. That's our tax dollars at work. Since I had my dinner to eat still and plenty to read, I waited at a Hess gas station for nearly an hour, and then I had to call again, and finally, maybe 75 minutes afterwards, two officers showed up. Rather than asking to see the damage or for an explanation, they were more concerned with getting my ID, registration, and insurance, as I were the criminal. Then they proceeded to chuckle and laugh at whatever was on their computer screen, which should have been a search for the license #. After a while they reported that they could not find any car registered with that tag, which I took to mean that that is where the matter was going to end.

So basically the shoot-a-nigga-for-no-reason Philadelphia PD was telling me they didn't give a fuck about my little hit n run. Is it any wonder why most people, at one time or another, have wanted to put one in the back of a cop's head. NWA had it totally right.

Sunday, September 2, 2007

Woke up feeling better than the previous morning, and ready to put aside the previous day's record and get down to business. I found it interesting that I had not felt nearly as bad about my 2.5-win first day compared to how bad I felt after starting with 2 wins in Dayton. Just half a point, but a huge difference in attitude.

I guess part of the reason I didn't feel so bad is that I had gotten all the top-rated opponents out of the way, so I expected to win the first two games of the day, and furthermore there was no way that the She-Wolf could score another win. No way!!!

Not that Shahid and Mark Miller were pikers, mind you. Either one could pose a threat, and in fact they both did. Shahid outbingoed two to zero and would have won had he chosen the correct endgame sequence. Against Mark, I did hold a slight lead going into the endgame, but with a tight board and only one-point tiles, had I not been able to play (O)ESTRONE I might very well have lost that one.

And then it was time to once more face the She-Wolf and her animal-sacrifice-powered voodoo. For whatever reason, the She-Wolf did not make her sacrifice before the start of the days games, and instead took a bathroom brake that could only have been long enough to sacrifce a small animal (all she could fit in her purse, really). Well, it wasn't big enough, because I finally grabbed ahold of some seriously favorable tiles, good enough to maintain a slight lead for most of the game, even after blowing a turn trying to hook ZOWIE. I knew one of them, YOWIE/ZOWIE, takes an S, but I couldn't remember which. I also found myself wondering if DATA takes an S, and after the game the She-Wolf admitted she had been praying for me to try it. But I played it safe and managed to find the late easy bingo to allow me the win. Finally!!! I couldn't help myself, I had to proclaim to the room that the streak had ended. The displeasure on the She-Wolf's visage was evident even as she looked away sheepishly.

But my elation was short-lived. That rascal Jacobson was heck-bent to break his own streak and glump my thirbidity. I could have extended my winning streak to five, my longest in memory, but Jeff had to go and choose that moment to score a lucky 64-point Z play and then a 50-point Q play, both of which allowed him to keep up with my almost flawless play through the endgame. And then, as often happens, my tiles turned disastrous, and I began to screw up, enough to lose by 7 points. Oh, the shame of it.

More interesting, however, was another strange sound that I noticed (why always against Jeff--am I that bored?). Koenig was to my left, and every time he wrote on his blue tablet, I heard the sound of pigeons, either cooing or flapping their feathers, or both. Thus was born a new nickname.

Extremely favorable tiles allowed me to break a second losing streak, against Steve Glass this time, and with 195 spread the tournament was looking up. If I could just get past the King, I'd be in decent shape. But no, I was outblanked once again, just 2 for 12 blanks on the day, and despite what looked like a decent game, all it took was one missed play to kill me, and then a bingo I should have found, SELENA(T)E, to kill me.

Another close game against Marlene, but I managed to pull it out at the end and extend my record to 7.5/5.5. With two of the lower rated players up next, I was still in contention to pass Steve for 3rd.

With five wins on the day, I might have been in a mood to go on Matt's Great Brazilian Meat Expedition, but I just wasn't that hungry. I couldn't see paying around $46 for the small amount of meat that I would be able to eat.

Instead, I opted for a movie. Jeff seemed interested, and his suggestion was 2 Days in Paris, a movie that had slipped under my radar. It turned out to be rather entertainting, and thus Jeff took a long step towards atoning for having deigned to beat me.

Monday, September 3, 2007

No Scrabble dream Sunday night, perhaps because I was feeling okay about my 7 1/2 record and not as anxious.

Got the goods against Looberkefloober, but unlike Dayton I didn't blow it. Not that I played great, mind you. John's opening MY flustered my ALOOPR?, though there were three playable bingos, and after the game John say two of them almost instantly (of course). Still, I found ALiENOR (wow!!!) two turns later, and John never managed to get a bingo down, while I drew the other blank for gROUSES. Finally!!! She-Wolf, Glass, and Looby--three streaks broken.

Engeldave almost got me, shy 6 points, but I prevailed. I had expected to finally pass Steve for 3rd place, as he had to face Looby, but, tarn-farn it, Steve won. Still, with Shahid and Mark up next, I gave myself fair chances at taking third. My chances would be better, of course, if there were more games. With such a small Division 1 field, I suggested to Matt that we take a vote to add more games. Matt wasn't too keen on the idea, and Pigeon Boy was more vehemently opposed (of course).

I did win those two games, and Shahid beat Steve, but holy cripes, Marlene beat Looby. I moved up to 2nd, but that actually worked against me because Pigeon Boy was gibsonized, which meant... that I had to play Looby again! Nut! I would much rather have had Piegon Boy playing Looby and me taking on Steve.

With 32 for ZO(A) on my first turn and a blank on my second turn I thought I had a chance. But I missed ACIMNU? and drew AGUUUW? as punishment. Meanwhile, Looby bingo-bangoed, BREEzIL(Y) and AD(E)NINES, and thus my ANtIWEA(R) still left me 62 points behind. But then Looby fizzled, OORIE for 20 and an, while I scored FOU for 36 and a sweet overlap PHAT for 38 to almost tie the game. But, as expected, John's exchange yielded a bingo, and my having played MANIC came back to bite me in the ass. As soon as I played it I wondered if it took an S, and sure enough John hooked his bingo there. It was one of those situations in which letting the bingo get by would probably cost me the game, but if it wasn't good I might have a chance. You can guess what happened next.

My loss meant a turnabout, because all of a sudden I found myself rooting for the bane of my existence, the fearsome She-Wolf (though somewhat less fearsome that weekend). Not that it mattered for my rating, but that cash never hurts. She did end up winning, and so I got Steve on spread and took away my hefty third place prize.

A few days later, I saw my ratings gain, to 1731, wiping out the loss I took in Farmington. When I considered the words (and phonies) I learned from Hoekstra, Epstein, and Armstrong, the trip didn't seem like so much of a waste anymore.

I suppose I should give a shout-out to Pigeon Boy's amazing 18-1 run. If not worthy of the Golden Dragon fist, because of the one loss and the weaker players in the field, I'd still give him Bronze, maybe even Silver. Still, it's hard to understand how a person named "Pigeon Boy" can win that many games.


3 JET  
35.9 lose turn (CEPS)  
0 BITT(Y)  
0 GAGA  
0 VANG  
5.4 MELEE  
0 BIRS(E)  
0 AM pass up bingos intentionally
0 SpURReD  
5.3 HURT -IIUU (I needed points!!!)
6.7 (V)OILE  
0 RAX  
0 AYE  
2.9 RHO  
5.2 ZETA  
0 (Z)IGGED  
0 CL(A)NG  
22.1 ARC block line
32.6 Q(I)  
19.8 O(I)  
0 JOE  
40.3 lose turn (WAITAB(L)E*)  
0 PIX  
0 BO  
0 D(O)CKET  
11.1 QU(I)T VENG(E)
0* LEV(ER)  
7.2 TOR(Y)  
1.8 D(A)R(N)  
12.1 RIT(Z) (U)NTRIM (saw but unsure)
6.5 THEM  
3.5 MOWN  
3.9 VAR(V)E  
0 BANI  
14.7 (E)LF block
0 G(OWNED) block
5.2 QUOTA  
10.3 MIN(I)  
0.8 DOE  
0.9 GARNER(E)D  
0 BL(E)W  
0 LUNY  
0* COVE(R)  
4 DA(F)T  
1.7 FROM  
2.8 CYB(E)R C(O)DEB(to)RS (not best, but impressive)
0 G(I)D  
37.7 lose turn (TH(O)N*)  
10.1 TH(A)NE D(O)TH (unsure)
0* HA  
46 lose turn ((COUDE)S*)  
0* JUN  
0 QI  
14 (W)YE  
0 QUI(E)T  
5.9 -CHNUVW  
1.5 WAI(R)  
15.6 CUD DUCkAI(L)
0 (e)JECTA  
0* (A)ERObIAS  
3 LOX  
0 QI  
0 WONK(Y)  
3.6 FIEF  
6.2 COTAN  
1.1 WOLD  
9.2 AG  
--- BRIT  
0 J(I)VED  
0 AB  
16.6 (K)EX  
76 POR(N) (E)ARDROPS (unsure)
0 RADS  
0 FAB  
--- S(U)NG  
0 JOT(A)S  
0 FROW  
24.1 DUM(A) NIZ(A)M
1.9 Z(I)NG  
32.6 LED  
0 QI  
0 T(H)ERE  
0 FE  
0 (Z)OWIE  
0 HAJ  
4.4 QI  
0 GR(A)CE  
30.6 lose turn (ZOWIE)S*  
0 (E)MAIL  
0.7* (V)OID  
6.5 PI(TI)ES  
2.5 INKY  
0 ENTErIN(G)  
0.7 HELIO  
0 JA(G)S  
0 K(a)RT  
2.8 (JO)LTED  
0 VIE  
8.5 (L)EX crappy leave but blocked bingo lane
4.5 WO(T) this one probably lost it
3.9 (YO)URN  
8.7 TO(L)L T(R)ON(A)
12.9 (R)OBIN death
0 (N)I(C)E  
0 AXE  
2.9 KEP  
0 LA  
15.5 CU(R)E  
1.8 (J)UN  
0 FU(C)I  
25.8 SING GRIF(F) (unsure)
0.8 VINES  
0 AVA  
0 UDON  
4.3 KEA  
0 GEE  
0 UP  
14.7 EF the losing play
5.3 ABORT  
19.2* (H)E SELENA(T)E
13.7 OARED  
4.5 GHI  
0.8 FIE(L)D  
10.7 (M)IKED  
0 CARB  
12.5 ARTI(S)TIc  
0 YU(c)H  
2.5 WE(A)N  
20 LORE  
19 GRIST  
0 VA(W)  
4.8 AL (ANR?) ALL
2.5 ALiENOR  
0 WINO  
0 J(AWE)D  
2.8 (ZIN)E OEUvRES,RESOlU(T)E (not best),SO(ZIN)E (not best)
3.4 gROUSES  
3.4 VAL(O)R  
0 YOND  
0 Q(U)AKE  
5 MAY  
10.2 ZOO WAZOO (saw after hitting clock)
0 WAIL  
4.5 YIP(E)  
4.7 KAF  
0 NU  
--- EQU(A)L  
2.5 -LOQV (AS?)  
0 WYT(E)  
6.9 NUTRiAS  
0 PROM  
28.5 LOTI T(R)OLLIES (saw but thought TROLLEYS)
8.4 LEY  
0.9 (C)ELT  
12.1 (E)XES  
0 ROC  
18.3 QUA(G) QUAN(G)O
1 ON  
0 ZA  
0 TR(OWE)L  
26.6 (H)IM gamble he doesnt know hook
0 JUS  
0.9 (L)EGAtEES  
0.9 FOP  
0 YA  
6.3 VAULTS was sure Mark had S
9.2 EX (A)PEX
6.9 T(A)RP  
22.4 JOINS improper defense
8.1 INIA  
3.6 MOUES  
11.8 FIGHT block line
8.4 MANY  
10 ZAs  
0 OI  
0 IO(N)  
0 ZO(A)  
0 -GUUUW (A?)  
0.9 FOU  
0 PHAT  
33.3 lose turn ((MANIC)S)  
0.3* (BI)LLED  
24.7 ERA (FA)UX
18.1 (FA)X  
0 CAY  
0 (HON)K  
3.5 SUQ (MU)D
0 P(I)G  
0 (A)D(D)  

1 - L - 5.1
2 - W - 6.7 (100.5)
3 - L - 6.5
4 - L - 4.8 (63)
5 - T - 2.2 (24)
6 - L - 12.6 (164.1)
7 - W - 6.7 (85.3)
8 - W - 9.4
9 - W - 8.7
10 - W - 5.5
11 - L - 3 (42)
12 - W - 6.7 (87.5)
13 - L - 4.9 (59)
14 - W - 7.5 (90.5)
15 - L - 5.9 (76.7)
16 - W - 5.2
17 - W - 7.0
18 - W - 5.5 (88.5)
19 - L - 6.3 (94.6)

Avg: 6.3

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