The King and I

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Took the scenic route from NYC in the middle of the night, and stopped in Neshaminy so I could get some breakfast at Whole Foods in Philly. The store on Callowhill is one of the few I've found that makes buttermilk biscuits. Unfortunately, they had been out for a few days, and thus continued the horrendous morning's hijinks.

Flash back to Neshaminy, where I ordered oatmeal along with my coffee in case strike-related traffic delays through Philly forced me to skip Whole Foods. I forgot to ask for a cup of ice, so I got back in line. Several customers had entered in the interim, and I had to wait a good ten minutes to get back to the counter. In that time, another barista had arrived, and when I asked her for the ice, and nothing else, she gave me a look and half-scoffed. Bitch. Even not realizing that I had already made a purchase, she had no business reacting the way she did.

Dang, I'm still getting ahead of myself. My troubles started even earlier, in the parking lot of the Wal-Mart. I had some trash stuffed between my seat and the car door, and whenever I opened the door the two remaining wall-posting stickers from Bayside fell out on the ground. I picked the sheet up twice, but the third time, I just let it lie. I was half-asleep, but that's no excuse.

A was reminded of a story about a man in a town. One day the authorities came to round out members of a certain group--the gays, for example. The man did nothing. Later, the authorities came back for the Asians. Again, the man did nothing. Then the Muslims, and once more the man stood still. Finally, the authorities came for him, and there was no one left to speak up.

According to Wikipedia, the term "the banality of evil" is a term used to describe the thesis that great evils in history are not executed by fanatics or sociopaths but rather by ordinary people. What is more banal than littering, I ask. It was thus appropriate, when I got up later that morning and had a chance to reflect upon my actions, to worry about whether I started the slide down that slippery slope of evil. Ignore a piece of litter one day, and then next thing you know I'll be flying a plane into a building. I shudder to think.

Flash forward to the exit from the Starbucks. I had intended to exit out onto US-1, but I was so irritated by that rude barista that I accidentally entered the Pennsylvania Turnpike instead. Besides the toll, I was unsure of how many miles I'd have to drive to the next exit, so I took a chance and pulled a risky maneuver, turning around into the exit lanes and pulling into the parking lot next to the toll plaza office. The attendant inside said I could just present my ticket upon exiting and I'd be fine, and I was not spotted by any state troopers, so I was not delayed any further.

Anyway, at the Whole Foods, my disappointment over the missing biscuits was severe. Add to that the usual disappointment I feel at Whole Foods whenever I reach the cash registers. Like Starbucks, Whole Foods is consistently good at hiring attractive young women. But while many Starbucks baristas look like stuck up bitches, the women who word at Whole Foods tend to look more like artsy brainy eclectic types. They look like women who like literature, museums, music, indie flicks, etc. Exactly the type of women I would love to date. But that's kind of hard when you are invisible. And so every time I visit Whole Foods I'm torn between lusting after the cashiers and hating them for not noticing me. Love. Hate. Love. Hate. Kind of like Radio Raheem in Do the Right Thing.

The effect of my combined disappointment was deep. Besides the biscuits, that particular Whole Foods is special to me because of my intimate relationship with the Xcelerator warm air dryer in the bathroom. Long distance relationships can be tough, and even more so one party is attached to the wall of a faraway bathroom. I cherish my visits to that Whole Foods so I can consort with my beloved Xcelerator, but after the morning I'd had, I just wasn't in the mood. I hope Xcelerator forgives me.

On an unrelated note, I had been listening to a report on NPR about a new book titled Denialism. The book explains that rational people can often have irrational beliefs, and during the interview the author talks about the issue of vaccinations, how many people, especially parents, are fanatically opponents, and also organic food, how others are fanatically insistent on nothing-but. Well, by coincidence, there was a sign behind the bakery counter warning users that the same knives were used to cut regular bread as organic bread!!! OH MY GOD!!! THAT'S HORRIBLE!!! I'm referring, of course, to some fanatical douchebag's deciding to complain, which is my guess for how the sign originated. Thing of it is, one of the reasons to favor organic food is concern for the environment. Well, the material used to make those signs consume resources. Unnecessary resources. What pyschologically deranged douchebag prompted Whole Foods to put up those signs is actually hurting the environment, unnecessarly, because I doubt anybody ever died from eating a slice of bread touched by a knife that had previously touched something non-organic.

Interesting. I'd driven that route many times before, south on 21st St from Callowhill, and I had never before noticed Winter Street followed by Spring Street a block later. Actually, looking at the map, I see why. Winter Street ends, and Spring stops at 21st and then resumes farther east.

So anyway, my morning was horrrible, and you might thing that all the irritations were bad omens that were going to cause me to go 0-7. It doesn't work that way, thankfully, and I'm going to say that what really happened is that I got my bad luck out of the way early.

Kind of. Right off the bat, an early bingo to my opponent, Steve Oliger. Seemed like I was suffering an unusually high percentage of early opponent bingos, and that was killing my win percentage and rating. Both blanks, three bingos in all for Steve, while just one for me. Despite this, I probably had had a winning endgame, but I couldn't see the right sequence of plays quickly enough.

Annotated Game

I saw some of the best tiles in a while against Jan Dixon. Four bingos, POINTER, LOOPINg, TOnGUES, and D(EF)ROSTER (the only good one) within five turns. Like Jan said, that hard to come back against.

Double-blanked again, by Connie Creed, but a critical decision and a bit of luck allowed me to win anyway. Holding EORTUUY and a 5-point lead with 11 tiles in the bag, I was torn between scoring with YURT and hoping to draw something good, playing YOU to leave ERTU and hoping to draw a bingo, or playing YOUR for the extra three points. After countless sims, I was sure that Quackle would never go for the EOU leave, but the question of whether to keep the R was unclear to me. I decided to keep the R, and that saved me. I did not draw into a bingo, but I did manage CROZE for 80 points to fend off Connie's bingo.

Connie complained and complained about that game, and she looked over it with Stefan, David, and Terry. During the game she had agonized over whether to risk emptying the bag, and she was right to be concerned. Later, during the sim, Quackle revealed that she had a three-tile play that would have left one tile in the bag and yielded an out-bingo. I'll leave it to you to see.

Annotated Game

Lunch was simple and light, but at least I was able to prepare my own sandwich, and the chips were tasty.

Earlier I had elected not to put any additional money on my game with Vincent Castellano, primarily because I just wasn't feeling lucky. And I guess I wasn't really, just two power tiles, but I was able eke out a 9-point win. Check out turn 12. Quackle doesn't like R(OW), but I think it was critical. I would have lost without it.

Annotated Game

Meanwhile, the headache that had been developing over the course of four games kept getting worse. I downed two fake Excedrin before that fourth game, and I had to down two more before the next game. Those first two didn't seem to have worked, and don't know what hurt worse, the headache, or the tiles I drew against David Koenig. I gave up just 18 equity. David gave up more than that with the bingo he missed. Bah.

Annotated Game

Next up, Stefan Rau. I suspect he does not respect my game, and I know he will try phonies against me. I challenged off the first, PR(E)MENDS*, but a few turns later PRESTER drove me crazy. Seemed like it was in the top 10000, but it just didn't seem at all familiar. Turns out it's just outside that range, which means I've only anagrammed it a couple of times, and that's why I didn't recognize it. I did good to let it go, but I screwed up the S-hook block by playing VOME(R) instead of MOVE(R), and that would hurt a few turns later when Stefan hit it for 45. Stupid. The game ended up being close, and that mistake could have lost it for me. However, despite being double-blanked, I played another low-equity loss game and managed the win.

I'm still not sure about UNAI on turn 10, but my thinking was that I did not want to give up critical points by exchanging, that I wanted to block what seemed like the easiest spot, and that if Stefan managed to hit that spot and cut my lead, it would reduce his chances of bingoing.

Annotated Game

Finally, Richard Popper. I played a much worse game, and in fact Ricard had the win at the end but did not see it.

Annotated Game

Whew. That was close, to win that game to go 6-1. I could just as easily have gone 4-3 had Connie and Richard seen their wins (or 5-2 if I had seen my win against Steve). While rating is somewhat important, ultimately what I was pleased about was dropping up fewer than 20 equity points in three out of seven games. Not sure if I'd ever managed that many excellent games in a one-day tournament.

Opponents' Bingos

My Bingos

Missed Bingo Turns


#1 - L - Oliger    
0 EX  
0 VO(W)ED  
6 SHE  
4 GUSHER UGH (for 15 pts vs 44--no way!!!)
1.2 WIC(H)  
15 (JURA)L slowing game down and preserving vowels
18.4 (Z)A(G)  
9.4 (T)ED slowing game down
0 TAJ shoulda played GI(R)O first
5 (W)OG  
#2 - W - Dixon    
4.2 TOnGUES  
0 FAINE(R)  
0 QI  
0 A(R)EAE  
0 JE(T)E  
15.6 BRA  
19 challenge AERILY  
0 ANTI  
#3 - W - Connie Creed    
4 OX  
0 GIG  
0 BOD  
3 GOD  
4.6 DENTS DOTES (NS better than OS... hmm)
0 WHI(G)  
0 YOU  
2 (H)UT  
#4 - W - Castellano    
0 VETO  
2.4 -BHNNPVW  
0 cEMETER(Y)  
0.5 HOY  
0 G(A)NEF  
6.8 BUCK running low on time
6.5 (Z)OA  
14.6 R(OW) block QIS is critical!!!
24 (G)ONG  
#5 - L - Koenig    
2.5 NTH  
3.6 (T)RACT  
0 QUEY  
0 DODO  
0 VEIN  
2.8 YOW  
0 JEU  
7.3* IMAGO  
0 FIE  
0* FIAT  
#6 - W - Rau    
2.9 TIP  
0 FL(E)NCH  
0 QI  
5.4 VOME(R)  
0 (Z)OEA  
0 DONA  
0 JEU  
6.5 UNAI  
0 OKRA  
4 XI  
#7 - W - Popper    
39.4 POP C(R)OPPIES (unsure)
0 Q(I)  
8.3 SINCE  
0 JEE(R)  
1.5 HOE  
4.3 WAY  
0 UNM(E)lTED  
0 GAD  
0.7 -DKLNN (SX)  
3.2 NEIFS  
0.3 EX  
4.7 VIB(ED)*  
0.7* (B)AIL  
6 GA(l)  

1 - L - 7.2 (107.2)
2 - W - 3.5 (45.70
3 - W - 1.1 (13.6)
4 - L - 6.1 (79.2)
5 - W - 1.5 (18.2)
6 - W - 1.6 (18.8)
7 - W - 4.6 (69.1)

Avg: 3.6

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