The North Salem Winter Trials

Friday, December 7, 2007

5:25, still a mile from the hellish interchange from US-202 N to I-276 E, and traffic came to a standstill. The day's snow and rain had been brief, so the reason was a mystery, but effect on my schedule no les costly.

2.5 miles later, when the delay finally cleared, I had wasted a good 27 minutes. Part of the problem was the construction that had reduced the lanes to one. But another part is all the goddamn people. Which is why I was so incensed the night before, at a company party, when a coworker mentioned that he had five kids!!! Five??? In a world of 7 billion where only a cave-dweller could be unaware of the overcrowding, the starvation, the exploitation of the vulnerable masses by the powerful, how could anybody justify having five children? I was reminded of a Fresh Air interview from earlier in the day with a scientist who studies baboons. He made reference to the male baboon's desire to mate with every female he could, and with the female baboon's willingness to mate not long after her infant had been weaned. The baboons, of course, have no regard (as far as I know) for the consequences of procreation on their environment. Humans have the ability to appreciate these consequences. Thus, when a human fails to account for the consequences of his reproduction, he is essentially being an ape, an animal.

After my regular appointment with Bonnie, I went over to the Wal-Mart in West Windsor for a variety of items. I was disappointed to learn that, sometime in the three years since my original assignment in Princeton, that Wal-Mart had become a ghetto Wal-Mart. I define a ghetto Wal-Mart to be one at which the greeter wastes the valuable time of a patron carrying a mere handful of items by stopping him to inspect the receipt. This does not happen at all Wal-Marts--primarily at ones in or near lower income neighborhoods. I imagine the reason is those goddamn poor people always stealin' and shit. Can't trust a fucking poor person as far as you can throw him. As a result, my goddamn time buying goddamn socks and goddamn gloves and other stuff is is wasted.

I had just enough time to make it back to Princeton to see I'm Not There.. The film was interesting, as I expected, but overlong. Even with cutting out maybe 5-10 minutes earlier, it was close to 12:30 by the time I found suitable park on some side street off US-1 just north of SR-18, in a town called Highland Park. I point this out because I had no sense that I would be disturbed during the night, and I was not, in sharp contrast with Highland Park, TX, a suburb of Dallas. One of the ritzier communities in DFW, I would never get a good nights sleep there for my concern over being accosted and sodomized by the local police.

December 8, 2007

7:42, jeepers in my creepers! I woke up almost exactly when I needed to. Actually, I would have preferred 8:00 or 8:15, but as the morning delays piled on, I came to appreciate the extra 15-30 minutes.

Barely a few hundred feet north on US-1, I spotted a red neon sign that read "BAGEL". A second later, I saw the rest of the sign--"My Favorite Muffin & Bagel". Whoa--the last time I'd seen that place was far, far away. Reno, in fact. Was it a coincidence? Nope, the cashier said--a franchise. With 200 locations around the country, even. I found it hard to believe I had not seen any others in all my travels.

However, in my curiosity about the franchise situation I forgot to ask if the sop microwaved its eggs like the Reno locations. Yep, they do. Yuck.

And I almost forgot my copy of The Dark Tower. Had I done so, it would have been the third, maybe fourth, time that I had lost that book. Extremely annoying, and expensive, my penchant for losing books.

By the time I finished up at the Montclair store I realized I was going to be cutting it close. I regretted having detoured to the Woodbridge store to buy some Odwalla. All the bagel shop had was that crappy Minute Maid orange juice. It's so bland and lifeless, I hate to drink it if there is another option available nearby.

Missed the exit from the GSP to I-80--that didn't help. After stopping at the new store in the Bronx, I knew I was definitely going to be late. I grabbed my phone to call Cornelia, and as I searched for her number I had to take special care not to miss any of the interchanges, from the Henry Hudson to the Sawmill Parkway and then the Cross County Parkway and then the Hutchinson River Parkway. And also to keep my car on the road, because the curvy nature of the freeways in Westchester Country, made worse by slick roadway.

What happed to Corny's #??? What happened??? I thought I had it in my phone!!!

Well, no choice but to hope that Cornelia didn't decided to cut me. And to floor it. Which I did. Managed to proved that the little Fit will do at least 105 or 106 MPH. Made up some time, but I was looking at losing clock time for the third week in a row.

At 10:36, Joe called and I quickly exclaimed "I'm getting off at the exit right now!!!" "Okay, we'll go ahead and pair you, " he responded. Cool, I wouldn't lose time at all. Actually, other players were missing, and Joe speculated that it might be because the flyer read "SUNDAY, December 8"! Oopsie!!!

I went out to the hall to look at the pairings, and a young kid said "Hey Winter, I saw your movie." I replied, "What kind of parent let you see my movie?" "It's not that inappropriate," he said. If rated, it would definitely be PG-13. Turns out the kid is actually 14. I never would have guessed, from his size. If he's in high school, he must get picked on a lot. I hope his dad is taking him to martial arts classes, cuz anagramming never saved anyone from being stuffed in a locker.

Paula Catanese had come all the way from California to visit a friend in Massachusetts, and she implied that she had not slept much because of her drive down to North Salem, saying that she'd be lucky to win even one game. So of course she was going to completely luckbag me, to the tune of three gimme bingos, MUSHIER, RELENTs, and ATONERs. Most annoying was that she drew both her blanks late, after making little one and two-tile plays, while I was playing more tiles and failed to draw either.

Better tiles against Joan Kelly, though I found myself puzzled as to just how bad I needed to beat her. I remembered that she had outdrawn me at one of these North Salem tournaments, or maybe I was confusing her with Judy Steward. It's important to know exactly how much revenge you need to exact on your opponent.

Like with my next opponent, Andrew Friedman, who had lucky breaked his way to a 2-0 record against me. I had the blank on my first rack and thought the tide my finally turn, but dumb luck found its way to Andrew's rack once more, in the form of a 71-point AQUA to my 68-point LINDIEs. The most annoying development of the game? When I played (AD)IEU, to the TWS (the highest simming play), thus setting up a secret S hook and leaving EINR with a G play through elsewhere. I drew an S like I expected, but Andrew, that !@#$%^, knew the secret S hook! He's not supposed to know it!!! Unable to draw into a bingo despite EINRS, I had no choice but to lose, and the tournament was official a disaster.

My tiles were still shaky, and the lesser Berg took the momentum wit PRIViES. But then did did something completely wacked out, trying (P)AXILS*!!! Come on!!! I daresay, if you try a blatant brand name like PAXILS*, one that is a 5-letter X word, no less, you deserve to lose.

Some would also argue that if you lose a challenge, you deserve to lose. And I remember having lost many games after failing to recover from a single challenge early on. But Verna Richards Berg was on fire, practically mistake-proof. XENIA for 40 to start, then J(I)N for 51 a few turns later. Her lost challenge was for GLUELIK(E), my best find of the tournament. I followed it with (L)EACHY to take the momentum, and Verna thought about challenging that one too. But she had both blanks, she decided it was best to play WILDeSt and take the lead. I managed to retake the lead, but then Vernas fire tiles struck again, in the form of HINDERS for a whopping 90!!! The final ess might have saved me, but Verna was drawing it all.

Even though the tournament, at three losses, had reached the level of cataclysm, I still hoped to win second place, so I took a chance on DOUGHT against Mike Ecsedy for the extra points. I followed it up with two bingos, TRAILIN(G) and aN(T)IPODE, but Mike shot my chances of a 200 spread all to hell by hooking FOZIEST for a whopping 139!!! I came right back with VEX for 63, but the game was far from assured. Towards the end, with the second blank, I took another chance, on UNSURE(S)t, calculating that my chances of losing were extremely slim. Mike surprised me by letting it go, and I got my spread back in the positive.

Finally, Joe, and my perceived need to catch Andrew on spread, in case he won, caused me to lose my first turn with NONFORM*. Curse you, Joe, you should have let me have it. Now I'll never teach you the secrets of seducing women. I still could have won, but after making the correct endgame play, VOLAR, to tie the game I drew the J, X, and S, but no freaking vowels!!! Just one vowel is all I needed!!!

I didn't even want to think about my post-tournament rating. Thankfully, Philadelphia was the next day, and if I won 6 or 7 I might still end up ahead, right? Yes? Please? Please?

But there was one good thing--I felt nice and toasty because I was wearing my manly thermal pants under my jeans. I had just made this discovery the previous week in Canada, and I was truly loving the amazing technology that we 21st century citizens are blessed with. Additionally, I was wearing the new briefs that I had bought during Thanksgiving. When briefs get old, they lose their elastic, and this causes a man's junk to flop all around in an undignified manner. I don't think women can understand this, unless maybe they experience an equivalent sensation with old bras. Anyway, with the fresh briefs all my parts were held firmly in place, and I had one less thing to worry about. Footloose and fancy-free, that's how I like to be!


3.8 LAICH  
7 SEXING/S(MUSHIER)* EXES (wanted extra points and tile turnover)
7.4 AIDE focused on TWS line & miss other spot
8.7 BIA(L)Y  
0 WI(T)E  
0 QU(A)D  
0 FINO  
11.8 ODEA (L)EADIE(s)T
11 GOUTS because it gives up Z(E)U(G)MA
0 (L)EI  
0 KOI  
1.1 (D)AIMIO  
0 CR(O)ZE  
14.8 TRILLS (CROZE)R hook
1.5 MEW  
13.9 QuAY  
0 DUPE  
1.4* RAJA  
59??? TAUPE EF
0 OF  
0 POX  
0 TAM(AL)  
0 WON(K)Y  
0* GUI(D)  
10.7 JET  
0 (AD)IEU  
2.4 (W)HIN  
1.7 BREEC(H)  
6.7 ELF L(i)EF/(BAA)L/(JET)E
23.9* LAT(U) highest
16 EFS  
0 KOA  
3.2 VIDE  
0.8 EMU  
0 QU(I)NTE  
0 HOO(P)  
0 FA  
1.6 TOENAI(L)s  
18.8* CAWS overly defensive1
0 G(AR)NI  
0 ROT  
0 (C)EE  
0 GOOF  
9.5 DI(T)TOES*  
5.8 QAT  
0 WRAP  
13.7 R(E)V must draw S and balance rack for best chance to win
7.8 FA gambling on S to save me
1 FOH  
5.3 RAGED  
0 BOP  
0 Q(A)T  
2.8 YEW  
3.7 -EIOUU (ER)  
0 DAK  
1 (MA)E  
28.3 lose turn (NONFORM*)  
0 FRO  
0 MIN(I)ON  
6.1 MEN(D)S (LOADING)S hook
18.8 (M)ONY (LOADING)S hook
3.7 AI  
0 ZI(N)G  
18.4 SEW  
8.7 DUC(AL)  
0* VOLAR  
9 B(EL) lose track of a tile, unsure if Joe bingo
0 (E)X  

1 - L - 6.5 (77.5)
2 - W - 12.1 (158.8)
3 - L - 5.6 (72.9)
4 - W - 1.7 (24.4)
5 - L - 9 (108.5)
6 - W - 4.3 (55.4)
7 - L - 8.6 (120.1)

Avg: 6.8

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