Don't Tase Me, Bro! (or from Ecstacy's perspective, "Cruzin")

Sunday, September 23, 2007

7:39, plenty of sleep under my belt thanks to the precautionary fake benadryl I had taken. The flip side of the pill was increased drowsiness in the morning, but I shook it off and decided to use the extra time to blog about a very good idea.

Drove from my special place near Front and Wall across lower Manhattan to reshoot a Starbucks at 195 Broadway, but no luck. The scaffolding that I had seen a month earlier had only increased, and it looked like it would be a while before I could replace the lousy photo I had taken during my early Starbucking days. Why can't they just leave these buildings alone?

On the way I drove down a narrow stretch of Pine St. and squeezed past a photographer shooting a very attractive model wearing long black overcoat. I really wanted to stick around and see what, if anything, was underneath the coat, but if the choice is being watching and doing, I'd rather be a doer and take my own photos, even if they are of buildings and not of naked women (the best job in the world).

Breakfast from the Bagel Buffet on 6th Ave, and once again I felt the urge to embark upon a project to eat a bagel from every bagel shop in New York City. I have to fight that urge, however, and not give in to my mildly obsessive tendencies. There simply isn't world enough, nor time.

After finding a worthwhile photo opportunity nearby and then finishing my blog, I finally made it onto the FDR and sped north, as fast as I could manage with one hand on the wheel, half and eye on the asshole in the grey minivan, and the rest of my attention making a note of the boat speeding along the river with a machine gun bolted to its front. It's the evildoers, it's the evildoers, I thought!!! Thankfully, it turned out to be just the opposit, the Coast Guard. Come to think of it, I'd never seen a Coast Guard vessel before. I feel safer already.

I was able to go a little faster on the Major Deegan, especially with both hands on the wheel (most of the time), but not nearly as fast as the two motorcycles that sped by. I was doing 80, and they were gone in an eyeblink and must have been doing at least 100. Oh, to be young again!

One more stop, the first Starbucks in any of the various towns named Pleasantville, and I left with plenty of time to reach the tiny Lions club parking lot with time to spare. Blocked in a couple of cars, but put my name and phone # on a sheet of paper and set it on my dashboard in case somebody needed to get out, and set my phone on vibrate.

Inside, I expressed surprise when Terry indicated that she was in our division. She expressed indignation at my surprise and reminded me that she had a winning record against me. Well, we'll see about that.

Terry also expressed some surprise at my taste in women. She did not seem to understand that a man in my position cannot be too choosy.

Hoooly shiiit, but what a way to start a tournament in which you can only lose 1 game, by getting viciously outdrawn by the #9 player (of 10). I worried when I played VAV (leaving FOOD) that the tight board would hurt me if Peter Barkman got lucky, and sure enough he had SnOWMAN. I didn't want to close up the board, but an overlapping FOOD scored 38 to bring me to 56 to his 75, and I decided to play it that way. Peter scored 28 with TEA, further tightening the board, not good for me, but he spent so much time that he was down around 17 or 18 minutes, and at that point I decided to make time a factor and quickly played HEP for 25 even though it gave him an easy play to the P on the triple. Next, G(A)LL was probably dumb, because without the S took hook it or MOAT, the board was dead for me. LE(G)AL would have created two lines. Later, though, I realized that GALL took a Y, maybe, and I could have scored big with TWEEDY/(GALL)Y and opened the board too, but I chickened out. That miss really hurt. I finally had to exchange 6 to try and draw some good stuff, and a few turns later I exchanged yet again, 7 this time, but still no S or blank. Why? Because Peter had them, SNOReRS for 65. Even after my AX for 56 he led by 64, but his time was down to around 3 minutes. From that point on, he made mostly small plays, and I tried to score while playing as few tiles as possible to draw the game out. When he went over time, and scored QU(I)D for 34, I felt confident event. I was able to hook QUID with EARN, leaving the Y on my rack, and that paid off two turns later with BRINY for 41 to put me over the top. Holy Moses, but what an escape!

Yes, Jim, I realize that failed to play ORS/(ZEE)S. I wasn't 100% sure of the word, and it was more important to win the game at all costs.

After the game I had time to look around for a corner near a power outlet in which I could tuck myself. The only spot I found was near the other bathroom door, which meant that I got to spend a lot of time treated to the sounds of nature heard through the door. Meanwhile, I was a little hungry and finishing off the leftovers from the previous day, and I had the Rubbermaid container on my lap. Suddenly, a really intriguing sound started emanating from behind that door, and I leaned over to hear better... and dumped half my meal onto the floor. Grrr...

AARRGHH!!! I finally had a chance to play OU(T)JINX, but I missed it. I made up for it next turn with JA(R)INA, but then I missed FONDUEs. I was still going to bingo, with the EDS? leave, but the effect of having missed the bingo was that my next play gave Verna a double-double 108-points for vISAGED. Hey, waitaminute!!! According to Quackle, it was only 92 points! Let me see if I can go find Verna real quick. Okay, got the 16 points back. But she also overcounted her next turn, ULNAD, by two points. Goddamn it Verna!!! Yes, it was probably my fault, but I was trying to push her on time. But those 18 points might have affected how I played the endgame. The reason it mattered so much was that when I finally did bingo, I only scored 59 for iDONEO(U)S, missing 73 for (S)EcONDO. The end game was close, and Verna had the last S that was very helpful for the win. Of course, playing my tiles perfectly would also have been helpful for the win.

Next up Andrew Friedman, and I was really hating these goddamn low-rated players getting the momentum against me. Same thing had happened most games in Philly. This time, YEARnER, for a bunch of points because my EEEEOTZ rack had left me basically two options, the safer ZE(D) leaving EEEOT, or (D)OZE which left the hook but a better chance at drawing into a bingo. A couple of turns later I got down IdEA(T)ION, but Andrew came right back with DARNERS, then BOX for 49. I finally got back in the game with INSOLES, but after (E)NACT, leaving FJT (and missing the higher scoring FACT where Andrew later played KUNA), I managed to not draw vowels, and that killed me.

Barely snuck past Joe Bihlmeyer, who, like all my previous opponents, got the blank down before me. You have no idea how much that streak of preblanking was pissing me off. Of further irritation was that I had my first chance ever to play MEUNIERE, and Joe blocked it, with a chump-ass (Q)I, and for 12 points at that. Just... like... a... freakin'... billy goat! That's why I don't play Scrabble with goats, because they are always mucking up the board. Something about the goat mentality, that are fundamentally opposed to an open board. If you poll a hundred farmers, 2 out of 3 would rather play Scrabble against a cow, a pig, or a sheep than against a goat.

As interesting as goat Scrabble is, the most interesting part of the game was the decision I had to make late, with the board tight and a lead but fizzling tiles.

Joe was only 45 points behind and had just played MA to set up a potential 30+ play that I could not block. NTH at L11 was the play, but I did not see it, and I finally decided to risk opening up the board with THORN to both score and clean up my rack. Even if I he bingoed, I hoped that by scoring and cleaning up my rack I could prevail, and it did, but the decision could have been disastrous if Joe had drawn the J instead of me.

I take it back--there was something even more interesting about that game. A strange phenomenon that occurred towards the end--my nipples, for no apparent reason, began tingling. I do have a possible explanation for this, but you really don't want to know.

Before our game, 4-0 Michael Ecsedy admitted that he had gotten some favorable draws. I hoped to end his streak, and I fervently thought "Don't outdraw me, bro!" My opening OUTLIER looked like a good way to start, but two turns later Michael took the lead with COS(T)LIER, and then mid-game that @#$%^& got down the blank before me!!! FOR THE FIFTH MOTHERFUCKING TIME IN A ROW!!! I suspected SAX(O)NIEs might be good, but it left me 122 down, and I had a strong feeling I would lose otherwise, so I challenged. Didn't end up mattering, because Michael then played oV(E)RPASS, and thus in the span of two turns he had burned through 6 power tiles. FUUUUUUUUCK!!!

Against Joan Kelly I finally got down a blank first M(O)DERNLy, right after RICOTTA, but my N made like a bra and gave her FIRM(N)ESS, and that plus 53 for AXE gave her the lead. Over the next three turns she built up a lead, and then I got down ILLITES--in the triple column!!! She thought and though and though, and finally commented that she was using too much time and played the double-double VIoLA(T)ER. She added that she had probably missed a 3x3, and I saw it right away. Wow, but did I escaped getting zinged, and I was able to retake the lead with Z(I)NGY for 66 and had the more favorable tiles from there.

Once again, what was most interesting was the resumption of my nippular tingling. It started when Joan was looking for the triple-triple, and just the whole idea of nipple-tingling was so funny that I started cracking up. I stifled the giggling as best as I could, and as a result I shifted around in my seat a lot and twitched. This caused my t-shirt to rub up against my already-sensitive nipples and stimulate them even more, which caused me to shift around even more, ad infinitum. Across the table at the next board sat Verna, and she observed my twitching and gave me a warm smile, probably thinking that I was just nervous about the game, having already lost three and all. Little did she know what was really going on.

Going into my final game I saw that if Andrew beat Verna by enough, and I boosted my spread by about 300, I might just take third place. Winning the game outright was much more important than the third place prize money, but when I learned my final opponent was the Bottomless Well, I was torn. Should I go for spread? Joe didn't help by opening with SLODJ* for 42. The play looked dubious, and very much like the phony Frank Tangredi had played against me in AC, but I just wasn't sure of the order of those tiles. I decided to let it go, and I formulated a plan to take advantage of the play later. Further, I was determined to bingo on the triple, so I risked FLAtNES(S). Next play, I played out my strategy and hooked HEW to SLODJ*. Sure enough, Joe, held, but he let it go. A few turns later, he himself decided to hook WISE to the word, and I politely wrote down his word and made like I was going to track right before I called "challenge" with zero hesitation, just like Joel Sherman taught me. As disppointing as the tournament turned out to be, with my dropping rating and all, it was all worth it for that challenge.

I stuck around to clap for Billy Goat's second place, return to 1600, accomplishment, and while I waited I wished that I could go into a coma for 5 days until Baltimore to avoid having to suffer the shame of spending a week under 1800.

On the way back I detoured to Delicias Colombianas in Port Chester for some comfort food. Unfortunately, the meal was far from the best I'd had there, and when I reached Manhattan and remembered the Creperie, I came to regret that I had filled my belly. A couple of crepes would have made me feel much, much better. A good crepe was sooth nearly any sorrow.

Monday, September 24, 2007

The previous Tuesday, an issue with management that had been weighing on my mind was resolved, at roughly the same time that I noticed that cross-tables had been updated with my new 1807 rating and peak ranking. Because of this, I spent most of the week in a state of quiet elation. I felt like a whole person again, where under 1800 I was only 3/5 of player, as defined in the Consitution. Yes, that 3/5 bit is truly in the U.S. Consitution--why the founding fathers are still spoken of with admiration despite having written that piece of crap is beyond me.

Anyway, my pride and joy was short-lived, cut short by fiendish low-rated luckbagging rabble as viciously as if they had been Gestapo wielding tasers. Monday saw me in a funk. I felt like a shade of my former self. It was going to be a long week until Baltimore.


0 VAV  
1.4 G(A)LL  
13.4 TEEL  
4.1 -IINNRU  
20.6 WE unsure of (GALL)Y
4.1 EYED  
0 AX  
0 RAMP  
0* QU(I)D  
0.7 EARN set up Y
12 (B)ROS only 99.9% sure of ORS
0 JA(R)INA  
1.3 DOVE  
0 V(I)G  
19.9 iDONEO(U)S  
0 Z(A)  
15.9 TYRO CRYPTO,TYPO,PYRO (unsure), P(L)OY (outright miss)
5.6 WOL(F)  
0 P(L)IE  
15.7* UP  
0.3 (D)OZE  
0 CE(R)ITE  
0 FIAT  
0.7 (D)AMP R(I)P (give up 7 points for an AIMNS leave???)
7.4 INDR(I)S the losing play
3.8 UM MU (blocks a line--I needed multiple lines)
15.7 (E)NACT FACT really truly the losing play
6 F(O)RTH  
0 JI(N)GLE  
0 P(R)O(d)  
0 QI  
0.6 YUP (Q)UIPU (Joe just exchange so try to keep tight)
13.2 ALIYA  
0 TR(A)InFUL  
6.5 P(L)OT  
6 ZI(N)C block line
25.8 VI(G) block PLACE DRS hook cuz dont know T
0 (ZINC)S  
5.2 (R)ANDY  
10.5 RAZ(E) AZU(R)E (stupid miss)
3.8 QU(A)  
0.9 WOVEN WOVE (should have kept N but hoping to hook WOVEN)
0.5 -AEIIO  
0* KORAI  
37.7 lose turn (SAX(O)NIEs)  
0* F(R)OG  
0.8 DUE(L)  
0* T(o)IT  
44.5 lose turn (I(L)E(K)*/E(X))  
0 ICE  
0 TONI(C)  
14.7 M(O)DDERNLy  
1.8 HOA(R)  
0.9 JOG  
4.2 RIS(E)R  
0 OHO  
0 Z(I)NGY  
2.8* WYE  
0 COP  
2.8 BUD  
0 L(E)V  
43.5 (P)UP PRINTOU(t)
8.3 (C)ORNY  
11.5 -IIIOORT know Joe no have blank so try for it
8.3 ITeRAT(E)D DeTRITA(L),TI(L)TyARD,DRATTI(N)g (unsure)
0 MOO  
13.7 -EEOQ (AEN)  
3.6 ACE  
0.4 UNITE  
7.7 EIK(ON)  
10 RUTIL(E)  
0 ZI(N)  
4 R(E)AR  

1 - W - 5.9 (93.8)
2 - L - 6.9 (96.7)
3 - L - 3.4 (44.8)
4 - W - 8.1 (113.9)
5 - L - 7.4 (103.9)
6 - W - 2.6 (31.2)
7 - W - 11.0 (187.9)

Avg: 6.5

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