Wussy Boy Wins It All, Part One

Friday, November 2, 2007

Friday night was a later one than I would have preferred. I arranged to meet an old high school classmate for dinner in Princeton, except that it wasn't really in Princeton. I was at the CVS on Nassau Street, but Patrick was a good 15-20 minutes north on Route 27. By the time we hooked up and found the restaurant, it was around 9:30. The food was great, excellent fried green planatains, and the discussion of social issues related to predatory lending was meaningful. I had to beg off around 10:30, though, to go find a place to camp so I could get up early.

I continued up Hamilton Street into New Brunswick until I found a reasonably dark space next to a park where my car wouldn't stand out. I had a pretty tough time getting sleep, but I managed to drift off. At 3:05, I woke up to do my business. I looked ahead and in my rearview mirror for any passersby (yes, even at that late hour), and I noticed a man walking along the sidewalk. I was waiting for him to pass by car when, to my extreme surprise, he tried to open my passenger door. I did not react, and I don't know if he noticed me or not, because he went over to the next car and tried both doors. Then he tried the car behind mine and then walked across the street. He tried the doors of a small bluish car and then peered through the window and started banging on it. Very strange behaviour, if his intent was robbery.

I wasn't about to go back to sleep with this fool around, so I drove up the street some and dialed 911. Now let me be clear here, that I despise cops, and according to the code of hip hop and urban life according to which I try to live, I am opposed to snitching, too. However, my loathing of the police was trumped by my aversion to having my car broken into. It's kind of like how Lando Calrissian had no love for the Empire yet turned Han Solo into Darth Vader. Except that hoodied-up thief didn't look nearly as cool as Solo.

Snitching was easier said that done, however. When I reported my location, around Hamilton and Woodbridge, the first dispatcher said that was Somerset county and transferred me to a different police department. That dispatcher, in turn, transferred me to yet another department. Apparently it truly is hard to figure out where the fuck you are in New Jersey. With the third dispatcher, I had to explain several times that I only had one name. Finally he said he would send a unit.

I drove back up the street, and that guy was still there, leaning against a car this time. After a while I came back and saw that two patrol cars were pulled over, and the cops were interrogating the guy. I drove past again, and the officers were leaving the scene. On more pass, and I did not see the guy any more, not walking down the street, not down any of the side streets. Was he carted off to jail for several rounds of anal rape for however many hours were left in the night? We'll never know.

I found a different campspot, near some newish-looking hospital. Shortly after I parked the wind picked up, which was really cool. I hoped that it would be strong enough to rock my car--that's always a very soothing feeling, the rocking. Just like being a baby again. The downside that particular night was that the wind caused the shadows of the trees on the brick wall to sway back and forth. I was sure that when I woke up in the middle of the night I would perceive the shadows as demons out to get me.

But first I would have to get to sleep, and that proved difficult after the excitement and driving around because of that car thief. I cursed him as I tossed and turned. By 4:51 I still had not managed to fall asleep, and I felt like Josh Duhamel's generic blonde poster-boy soldier from Transformers, during the climax when Devastator is approaching from one street, Starscream lands on a nearby, and Blackout lands atop a nearby building. I believe he said, "We are so dead."

At some point I was seconds from falling asleep when some fool in the distance decided to start howling. Fucking asshole.

Oh, and there was the ambulance. That's the downside of trying to sleep near a hospital.

And finally, as if to emphasize the point that it was already morning, a sanitation truck.

November 3, 2007

I woke up at 7:13, 2 minutes before my alarm would have gone off, and not a minute too soon. My timing looked fine as I visited new stores in North Brunswick and Bensonhurst, but as soon as I got back onto the Brooklyn-Queens Expressway hell froze over. By which I mean to take, the exprerssway was hell, and traffic was practically frozen. Took me some 30-40 minutes to drive just a few miles. Once I cleared the jam, I floored that sucker to an extent that I had never done so before in NYC. It's not easy, really. Both the BQE and the LIE are curvy. Not in a good way, like a woman, but in a bad way, like almost scraping the side of my car several times. I've said it before, and I'll say it again--if you have to keep your eyes on the road and both hands on the wheel, it's a poorly-designed road.

For once I remembered that the ramp from I-495 to the Cross Island Parkway N has been closed, so I took I-295. But those DOT bastards suckered me again, with another counterintuitive ramp. Fortunately, there was a southbound exit within a mile, and I only lost 2-3 minutes, tops. No time to hunt for parking, so I just took a chance with one of the Sprint (or is that Spring/Nextel) spaces and rushed into the room. As I had hoped, they had started late, and I had not been forfeited. In fact, I had a whopping 6:07 on my clock! I'll roll with six minutes against any player, and I felt no pressure at all against the Bottomless Well. To be fair, Joe was rather kind in offering to play during lunch, but the gesture was unnecessary. I may not be in the same league as Graham or Mallick, but 6:07 seems like an eternity. Enough for a 212-point win at least.

Next, Marjorie, and I have to confess that, unsympathetic as I am, I felt about about she started. Took me no time at all to challenge INTABLE*. Even if I could have found a double-double with my CEEIRU?, I couldn't have respected myself in the morning for letting it stay. The challenge was easy. Figuring out if any of my tiles gave her a bingo was harder. The S, the V, D--those came easy. But what else was there. And was my bingo EUCRITE or ECURITE*? Well, I got my bingo right, and then Marjorie stunned me. INTABLE* was surprising enough, but to try again with LABIENT*--whoa. Was this the same person who was on a tear in the early rounds in the Big Apple, the same person who started my slide from being a contender to the low point where I finished? I almost started to feel bad for her. I was almost relieved when she opted not to play (U)NITABLE* and played BLIN(K) instead. But only almost, because just like their is no crying in baseball, there is no forgiveness in Scrabble. There is only revenge, and the 200+-point challenge-fueled revenge is the sweetest.

Then it was time for the Bihlmeyer, he who had dreams of channeling an energy vampire and draining away my life-sustaining ratings points. PINWALE was a good start for him (not an easy find, in my opinion), and I reacted with an approach I have been favoring of late, burning my S for a small number of points, 31 in this case, rather than dinking off some tiles in the hopes of a bingo (from AEEISTW). I then got lucky with 40 for JE(T)ON, 40 for CRIB, and 40 for PILAF, and all of a sudden I was very close, with Joe's time dwindling. I wasn't about to give him advice, not when losing was a real possibility, but I felt a little bad that he was still having time trouble. Granted, as long as he exhibited a tendency towards time trouble I would show no mercy and take advantage, but I genuinely hoped he would get it under control. Joe's a fairly likeable character, and I sort of saw him as the son I would never have. After the tournament, Joe pointed out that he hadn't done anything too stupid, and he was right--it was actually I who made a stupid blunder by failing to notice (SITH)S*, which I knew 100% doesn't take an S. Still, I counseled him to watch his time.

When Andrew Friedman followed (M)ORAINEs with HUH for 35 to take a 48-point lead late in the game, I thought I was done for. Then I realized I had (R)EDIGEST and DIGESTE(R). I briefly considered playing the former, which would slot the R in the triple column, in the hopes of getting a challenge. Given that Andrew held DIGESTE(R) for so long, maybe I would have gotten the challenge, or maybe I just could have gotten burned by the triple. Later, at lunch, when I recounted the store, Goldy responded with an expression in Hebrew. The closest I've gotten to learning Hebrew is watching the baristas at Starbucks, but it was clear what Eric's opinion of my idea was. I'll never know if the gamble would have worked, but of course Quackle wouldn't do it. Can't always trust Quackle, though. After DIGESTE(R) Andrew scored 21 to go up by 11, but I held ABEIQST and had hope of winning. I played Q(I), and Quackle likes it, but had I anticipated the possibility of Andrew's (D)IVINE, it would have been better to block with (D)EBITS. But I didn't want to empty the bag and give Andrew the certainty of knowing what I had, nor did I want to leave myself AQ and risk drawing something bad like a V.

When I sat down to play Jeff Jacobson, I felt myself beginning to crash and immediately downed that DoubleShot from Bensonhurst. Fortunately, my brain was not completely dead, and I was able to find unusual plays (for me) like G(R)UM, (G)ARTH, and WANtONS. And what was probably the kicker, BET(H)EL for 34 to extend my lead from 46 to 80 and almost guaranteeing me the game. Most interesting was this position. With a 94-point lead, should I have played off two Rs, leaving INOR?, in the hopes of bingoing and extending my spread, or was I correct to be a wussy boy and play IRONs for 31 to prevent Joe for bingoing there?

I was really feeling the fatigure during my game against poor un-un-defeated Ira, having his worst tournament ever. Again, I might have felt some sympathy, if I were that type of guy. What I did feel was my brain slowing down. The plays just weren't snapping to the fore of my brain like that should have been. Thankfull, I took a chance on DOGGIER, got the extra turn, and then I found ALE(R)TEST. Though I was playing slow, and Ira was trying to take advantage and push me, I had the goods for another 200+ victory.

I caught a bit of a second wind against Eric Goldstein, but my tiles, which had been pretty decent up to that point, turnd to dreck. This prompted me to try TOPIA*, from AHIIOPT, but Eric wasn't having it. He went on to bingo with DEFIERS and then pulled the blank out of the bag for RELOANs. On the tight board, the only way to come back would have been to draw into an S-hook bingo, but Eric drew the other blank, and I drew one of the two remaining esses too late to do any good.

Final round, for some freaky reason, again with the Jacobson. Bad for my rating, but I figured I'd get another easy win at least. Not so, not so. Jeff opened with PHIZ, bingoed with FlOTAGE, and iced his power-tile cake with QUAR(T). Meanwhile, I had the blank on my rack, but I couldn't see anything in EIILTY? or, most frustratingly, a 3x3 through the E with AIILLT?. Then, when CLIMBeD wouldn't play, I played LIMB(E)D to set up my C along the triple line, and lucky Jeff happens to have the other one. I did bingo, VACAtI(O)N, but for just 62, and I was still down 53. I had to slowly crawl my way even with Jeff over the course of four turns, and his drawing the final high-point tile, the X, didn't help. Finally, when it looked pretty bad, with an AEEEIUS rack, I managed to stay even with U(V)EA/(X)U, and then miraculously I drew into EMERIES. It was still a toss-up, depending on what Jeff played. He made his choice, and I got my bingo (hooked to UVEA, which I used to think didn't take an S until I learned better), and that did it.

Another 6-2 win, blah, blah, blah. Hardly counts when the real competition was in Cape Cod. Even though I'd get back over 1700, 1800 was looking pretty far away with the fields I'd be facing in the coming weeks. Plus, I was fatigued, headached, and hungry.

After stopping at that Colombian restaurant again I headed into Manhattan to visit yet two more Starbucks in the Macy's at Herland Square!!! That's four already--how many do they need???

I checked the web site and saw that the Landmark was playing 24 Hour Party People, a movie that I had missed and then heard about repeatedly because of Steve Coogan. I headed downtown as far as Houston and stopped at a parking space on Varick to see if I could nap until midnight. Woke up around 11:45, right on time for the movie, but feeling so tired that I decided to blow it off. I had the sense that it was becoming a cult classic and would probably screen again at midnight somewhere.

Instead I headed to my my usual campground on Front St. On the way, I suddenly developed The Thirst, a mighty thirst for something juicy that water could not sate. I could not find any shops or delis open, and I finally gave up and went into a Donkey Donuts. The problem with that was the danger of the Donkey Kick, which is the urge that comes over me for a donut combined with the bloated feeling in my gut after I've consumed the offending pastry. The last thing my ever-expanding paunch needed was more fatty sugary dough, no matter how yummiliscious. If I had crazy anagramming skills and freaky board vision, then I might be able to get away with a paunch and still attract the attention of the cute girl. But a no-talent hack like me, possessed of no redeeming qualities (is that insecure enough for you, Eric)? No, the only way I'd get the cute girl was with washboard abs. Women, as we all know, are genetically incapable of resisting hard abs.

I managed to toss the donut after just five bites. If I could just find a private place to throw up, I might avoid an that extra inch.

I headed back towards Front, and as I turned onto John Street, I passed the Jubilee Market. Curses, I thought! If I had just found the market earlier I would have avoided the donut and wouldn't have to force my finger down my throat!


8.2 YAR  
5.7 -HIILNUU  
5.8 POTT(Y)  
0.3 JET  
5.9 WERT Joe low on time so clog board
0 CAD  
0 PAVE  
0* FAUN  
25.4 (F)OIN VALONI(A)s
3.1 AVAST  
0 B(I)RK  
3 DOS  
6.1 (Q)UAERE  
0* D(A)Y  
2.3 WIT  
0 FAG  
3.4 Z(A)P kill H line
0 OX  
29 lose challenge (GLACIATES)  
0 JOW  
0 (J)O  
0 -BEEIU  
0 EGO  
7.8 TAWIES*  
0 JE(T)ON  
0 CRIB  
8.5 PILAF  
6.9 (A)BO (Y)OGEE
0 ERGO  
5.7 TYE  
6 (N)ARC block to frustrate Joe's time trouble
4.3 (EX)ING preemptive line kill
13.8 SITH why won't Quackle block???
0 (Q)I  
0 O(V)OLI  
2.3 JAG  
3.7 MELANiN  
22.7 ARM  
0* (C)EE  
0* Q(I) (D)EBITS was the play
0.1 FI(E)RY  
3.8 G(R)UM TH(R)UM
10.1 (G)ART  
1.4 GLANCE  
0 (Q)ADI  
0 JUDO  
8.7 (L)ATENT  
0* WANtONS  
2 P(L)UM  
0* IRONs  
0 ZI(N)  
3 V(AT)  
0 A(G)IO  
0 HAE  
0 TAJ  
7.5 (V)IE  
15.1 -DIIRYQ  
6.6 FERRETs  
0.8 AVIDI(N)  
0.3 QAIDS  
0 AB  
0 (D)OXY  
0.7 ADD  
7.8 -LNNTUW  
0 MUSK  
0 AGOG  
0 TITI  
34.4 lose turn (TOPIA*)  
17.7 TOPI  
11 ANE 10 HA
8* WR(I)T  
8.6 QA(T)  
0 (J)OWL  
1.3 LIMB(E)D  
0 VACAt(I)ON  
6.5 POTTY  
4 ORT  
4.8 GANEV  
12.2 U(V)EA  
0 KO(A)  

1 - W - 5.3 (79.7)
2 - W - 5.2 (83.1)
3 - W - 3.6 (57.5)
4 - L - 3.9 (42.6)
5 - W - 2.8 (36.5)
6 - W - 2.9 (40.9)
7 - L - 6.6 (105.5)
8 - W - 9.6 (115)

Avg: 5.0

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