BY20 - What They Fried For

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Friday, May 21, 2010

I guess you could say I was a late bloomer. While most males learn to masturbate at an early age, I was well beyond puberty before I became aware that there was such a thing as sexuality or sexual pleasure. As a result, I spent more than a year with a fire down below that I could not understand, and a man can only go without release for so long.

One night, while I was riding my bike back from the comic book store, I passed an apartment complex on fire and joined the crowd of onlookers. Since a young age I had been fascinated by fire, much to the irritation of my parents who were quick to administer spankings and whippings every time I burned a rug, the yard, or when suspected me of being responsible for the fires that kept sparking up in the woods behind our house. Naturally I found the apartment fire fascinating, and I pushed myself through the crowd up to the front, where I could smell the smoke and feel the heat on my face. That night I also felt something new, the heat penatrating my jeans and enveloping my loins, and I found that I liked it. When I heard the sirens of the fire engines, I actually wished that the trucks would break down so that I could feel that heat in my loins longer.

Well, the firemen did arrive, but not before the heat and more than a year of sexual tension combined to create a glorious explosion, a feeling completely new to me and so powerful that I had to steady myself with my bicycle to keep my knees from buckling. From that moment on, my sexuality was inextricably and irrevocably bound to fire.

It was a fire of a different kind that moved me to board a plane to Durham on Friday night, when I should instead have been traveling up to New York to see Denzel Washington in Fences. Instead I was flying to North Carolina to try and pick up eight games on Wancel, aka the Wandering Witch, aka Miss Voted Most Likely to Need a New Hobby.

What's that you say? It's unfair to call her a witch? Well, ladies and gentlemen of the jury, I present to you the facts at hand. On Friday, May 21, in the Year of Our Lord 2010, Miss Linda Wancel was in the Great State of New York, as shown on New York City traffic cameras. On Saturday, May 23, Miss Wancel was in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, as reported on the NASPA web site. And on Sunday, May 24th, at 11 in the AM, Miss Wancel was seen by mine own very eyes in the Historic City of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Now how, ladies and gentlemen, could a person with no special abilities, a person suffering the limitations of advanced age, how could this person travel across all these locations in such a short span of time. Clearly the answer must be witchcraft. Witchcraft and devilry!!!

But seriously, how much Scrabble can a person play? Doesn't she have any other hobbies? Knitting, perhaps? Damn, she really needs to find a man to keep her home weekends--it's just unseemly for a woman to play so much Scrabble, don't you think? Somewhere out there lives a man, a lonely man, a man who needs the sweet loving that Linda could provide. Like this guy, for example. Or this guy. Or how about this one? COME ON LINDA, THESE GUYS ARE LONELY AND WAITING FOR YOU!!! Don't let them down by playing in stupid Scrabble tournaments every weekend.

I probably hated the flying more than anything (who doesn't), but at least Friday night's flight to RDU was smooth an trouble-free. I was disppointed to find that Budget did not have an HHR for me, but at least the Sebring had back seats that were slightly larger than usual (for the kind of car I typically rent), and that made sleeping a little easier. Another plus was that I did not have to wander much to find a good place to park, the parking lot of the Kroger next to the Southpointe Starbucks. And in the Kroger I found a manager's special, some damn good fresh-squeezed orange juice for just 99 cents. All in all, it was a good night, and I felt no need to buy matches and lighter fluid, instruments through which I can often find relief from my stress.

However... the tournament hadn't started yet.

Saturday, May 22, 2010

The satisfaction I had felt the night before quickly faded in the overcast morning, as my weekend began to go pear-shaped. I needed to photograph the Starbucks in The Commons, inside the Harris Teeter, which was convenient because that breakfast I'd had in Charlotte had been pretty darn good for the price. Unfortunately, I guess not all HTs are the same, and that particular one did not have the breakfast buffet. Oh, well--another business to add to my "hot" list.

At the Starbucks I asked about a locally-owned breakfast place (I prefer to keep out of those chains), but the baristas' did not think there was anything like that nearby. I headed downtown just in case, and on the way I passed a nifty-looking place called Foster's, and I was pleased to see biscuits on the menu. My excitement was quickly dampened, though, when I learned that all of the biscuits had herbs--none were plain. Geez Louise, how hard is it to split the batter in half and make some uncontaminated biscuits! AARRGHH!!! BURN, BURN, BURN!!!

A bit west of downtown I spotted a Whole Foods, but before I reached it I spotted a cafe called Mad Hatter's Bake Shop, where the employees all wore hats, of course. Unfortunately my breakfast wasn't as charming as their sartorial spirit. The biscuits were far from the best, and the bacon was too hard. The eggs were fine, but they could not redeem the place. Bah.

The playing room in the Golden Corral was a tight squeeze--I can see why David has a player limit. I appreciate that his pairing program had me at table 1 for all the rounds--made things easier for me. Ostensibly, the same could be said by my field--my rst five opponents were all in the 1100s and 1200s, a first for me. If there was every a better chance for me to go 8-0, I can't remember it.

Well, that was my attitude, at least, going into the event, but even as early as my first game I had a clue. Though I won handily, by nearly 300 points, the game could have gone south early if I hadn't blocked the easiest bingo line (because that was my best play, not because I was being defensive). When Marylin Pomery commented that she had had the bingo, I brushed off her remarks, but I should have been concerned that her revelation was a foreshadowing of what was to come.

I slipped up against Teresa Schaeffer. I overdrew my first turn and lost the blank, and then I missed TARTARE and did not bingo for another three turns. Only won by 50. But I had greater worries than just spread.

I should not then have been surprised when the very name game saw me wholly outdrawn by Anne Hay for a 3-point loss!!! Unbelievable. Anne was at least apologetic about it--I have to give her some credit for being deferential, which is the proper tone that all low-rated players should take when dealing with top experts. Oh, if only more intermediates and novices adopted this attitude, perhaps I wouldn't feel the need to set so many fires. Oh, yeah, you guess it--somewhere in Raleigh/Durham that night, flames were going to rise.

Next, Bruce Shuman, and while I scored well with three bingos, I could have done better if I had not thought that my own R(E)HANDLE was a phony. Not only did I pass up the opporrtunity to play (REHANDLE)D for 42, but if Bruce had hooked the word, I would have challenged!

For those unfamiliar, I should mention that Golden Corrall is a decent enough place. I won't say any of the food is great, but it's not bad, and there is a lot of variety.

Suran Bertoni first after lunch, and when she played IN(S)TILLS off my opening DOOLIES, I had a feeling that the tiles might go her way. I decided to play more aggressively. Finding myself just 40 points ahead after FOUN(D)ERS, I decided to push it and play UNWA(I)VED*. Good thing, too, because even after losing a turn to (E)F(R)IT and letting me get away with BETHE(W)* for 45, Susan hit big with the rather improbable (B)ISCOTTI for 89. Then I scored 37 for BEAN to lead by 113, but she came right back with ADZ for 44. Her next turn was (E)CHOED for 36, and she had the final blank, so it's a really good thing I took a chance on (H)ALfPIPE. I won big, sure, but the game always seemed like it could be luckbagged away from me.

Fifth round, my first serious opponent, assuming you count Matthew Bernardina as a player on the rise. Got him with both blanks, but I might have been a little too greedy. Leading by nearly 100 points, I wanted to bingo again and get some more of that anti-Cree spread (now available in convenient gelcaps), so I left the final bingo line open. Matthew was able to bingo himself. A loss didn't seem possible, but his bingo cost me spread. Should I have blocked the line?

Annotated Game

Something about the way the day was going spurred me to continue playing aggressively, and it's a good thing I did. I secured a tremendous advantage for myself by playing BECOLOR* and then challenging Ryan Fischer's attempt to hook it with sACKING (for over 100 points). I wasn't able to stop the bingo, but I still maintained the lead and momentum for the rest of the game.

Final round, Mathew Bernardina (maybe he is on the rise), who needed to beat me by a lot to catch my spread. I didn't really fear losing the tournament, but I wanted to secure that five-game anti-Cree streak going into Philly. Unfortunately I let Matthew get away with DeMIST(E)D*, in part because I only had one spot for CL(I)eNTAL, and he went on to play ANGELUS and TINWARE for four bingos in a row!!!

Annotated Game

So I won the tournament, and $170, almost exactly my airfare, but I lost two games and still left feeling like I got burned at the stake. It was okay, though, because my flight back to Philly wasn't until morning, and $170--a fraction of that, really--buys a lot of stress relief.

Those of you who are news junkies like me might have heard recent reports about how America is exporting its style of mental health to other countries. Some consider this a negative because they have the viewpoint that American doctors overdiagnose mental illness and overprescribe medication. Had I grown up under different circumstances, or perhaps just ten years later, I might have been a victim of the American psychiatric establishment. Many of my schoolmates certainly were--it almost seemed that most of the students at the gifted and talented magnet school I attended were in some sort of therapy or on some sort of medication. I, on the other hand, maintained a calm and seemingly stress-free demeanor, thanks to the discovery I had made.

They were two discoveries, really. First, the aforemention discovery that I could derive sexual release from fire, and secondly, the discovery that fire offered me a sense of power that seemed to ease all my adolescent angst. I made this second discovery one hot August night in 1987, when I finally mustered up the courage to set something more substantial than than trees and animals aflame. For months I had been wandering around unfinished neighborhoods in my part of town, looking at the unfinished houses, and imagining what they would look like in flames. That night, while walking around the skeleton of one such, imaginging myself pouring lighter fluid on the wooden beams and striking a man, I heard what sounded like music. I stood very still and cocked my ears, and I was able to ascertain that the music was definitely coming from the inside the house, from upstairs. Nervous, I crept up the stairs, down the hallway, and peered into a moonlit room. There, oblivious to the world for the music (some song by Heart) and for their ecstacy, were a young couple engaged in the act that I had not yet managed to procure, though not for lack of trying. In an instant my heart filled with a jealous rage, and before I could think about it I had retrieved one of the cans of lighter fluid from my backpage, removed the cap entirely, and poured the entire contents onto the boy's back.

One flick of a match later and the boy was in flames, he and the girl both screaming. Undeterred, I grabbed a loose scrap of wooden beam from the floor hit the boy with it until he stopped moving (but not burning), and with the girl in shock I only had to strike her one right on the head to knock her out. I ran downstairs and dispersed the contents of my remaining cans of lighter fluid throughout the house, and I set the whole place aflame and ran.

Oh my god, the rush was amazing. The sense of power I felt is indescribable. All my worries, all my stress, all my angst seemed to fade away, replaced by elation. My only concern at that moment was my strong desire to stay and watch the house, and the fornicating sinners, burn. Thankfully I got control of myself, and I made my escape, hopeful that I would be able to see the blaze on the news. Sadly, no TV crews arrived that night, although the fire and the deaths were mentioned in the next days' paper.

From that night on, my life has been one of impeccable mental health. In a way, those two youths were heroes (to me, at least). Their deaths resulted in my discovering a method of stress relief that surpasses any medicine, any therapy, any new-fangled mumbo jumbo like yoga or medition. I think there is something magical about fire, about burning. I think the was created just so that we could burn it down, and I am every day thankful that I made this discovery while most of the rest of the world is content to live just half a life. I only wish I could someday find the parents of those kids and explain the necessity of their children's deaths, explain what they fried for.

By now you should have guessed it, that from the Golden Corral I headed straight to the nearest Home Depot where I bought the tools I would need later that night. Conveniently enough, I was able to stay in the parking lot and take a nap, for I needed to wait until late into the night, the 3:00 AM hour, the God hour, to travel around the city in search of buildings to burn. Mostly buildings, I should say, because sometimes burning a car could be satisfying. Hummer's especially--I can hardly pass one of those monstrosities without wanting to douse it in accelerant.

Loyal readers of my blog, or followers of my Starbucking project, might have also guessed by now the real reason that I have moved so much for the past 15 years, and the reason I began Starbucking, so that I would have a plausible excuse to travel all over the country. The reason criminals get caught is because they make mistakes, and one of the greatest mistakes a person can make is to commit a crime in the place where he lives. After that first arson I did the research and I learned to avoid all the ways in which police catch stupid criminals.

Given my approach to setting fires, it is nearly inconceivable that I could ever be caught. Just take Saturday night for example. I chose three different locations between Durham and Raleigh. I chose a house, an office building, and a trailer. I disposed of all the evidence at the scene of the crime, in the fire itself, and even if something survived there would be no fingerprints, no evidence to trace it back to me. I prepared well, buying a different type of accelerant for each fire--gasoline here, paint thinner there, foam somewhere else. I thus considered it unlikely that the police would link all these fires to the same person.

Really, I don't see how police could ever catch an arsonist who flies in and out of a random city and strikes at random targets. The cops simply have no way to connect the crimes, so for them to even suspect the fires were set by the same person is a stretch. From their point of view, only a crazy person would travel across the country to set random fires with no apparent motive. Little do they know they are dealing not with a crazy person, but a criminal genius.

Sunday, May 23, 2010

After my night of fiery mayhem I naturally set my alarm for the last possible moment, but I did not have to worry about any delays because I had decided to risk parking in the lot of a hotel, behind the Waffle House, just a mile from the airport. Hotel lots are always risky because management is not going to want you there if you're not paying for a room, but if the hotel is a big one, there's a good chance you might not be noticed, especially if the parking lot is not well-lit.

I knew I was going to be sleep-deprived, and I had the choice of choosing a later flight that got in at 10:21, but it's a good thing I didn't. It was folly to think I could get to my car and then downtown in time for the first game--heck, that would have been as silly as all the times Jack Bauer drove across L.A. during the commercial break in countless episodes of 24. To make matters worse, the tournament wasn't even at the Hyatt Regency! Dammit--Connie pulled the ol' switcheroo, and I found myself walking over a mile to the Bellevue, as fast as I could with a coffee in one hand and my board in another.

Made it in time, though, to greet and beat a waiting Sue Gable. Behind me, at table number 1, was Weera Saengsit, and I wondered if I could go 7-0 with him in the field. Well, turns out the question was moot because I had the misfortune of being paired with the accursed Mitch Brook. For some reason he's managed to draw crazy against me in our last two or three games, and Sunday was no different. Full disclosure--I fucked up and missed VENTAIL, but that doesn't negate Mitch's goddamn luck.

Same goes for his partner in crime, Jeff Jacobson. Granted I made a poor choice right away by trying to play FLEIGE* in the hopes of getting the tiles I needed for an eight (my leave was A). In my defense, I should be able to drop a turn against anybody under 1800 and still win the game... unless I get outdrawn!!!

Three games in, my tournament was already over! I was livid. The peaceful easy feeling that I had achieved from my night of arson was all of a sudden gone, all because of these assholes. Can you believe how selfish and sociopathic my opponents were, to outdraw me like that when the consequences would be that later that night several families would lose their homes, and several business would lose their offices? Hey, I can't be held responsible for what I have to do, not when my actions are a direct consequence of the injustices foisted upon me by others.

With additional losses, to Steve Glass and Weera, the tournament was indeed a disaster, and only saved from being a complete catastrophe by Vince Castellano's missing his out bingo to allow me a second win, of three total. My tournament was ruined, for sure, but it wasn't just that. I had been looking forward for months to the finale of Lost, one of the most excellent television shows ever. I even had plans to drive down to Wilmington to see it on a big screen, but after the disaster that was the tournament I couldn't bear to watch the finale with the way I was feeling. Unbelievable, I had to forgo Lost and instead drive past Wilmington and down into Baltimore so I could ease my angst with some soul-purifying flame.

I hope this blog serves as a lesson to readers, that actions have consequences. Steal from a man what is rightfully his, and somebody has to pay the price. Now I'm not confessing to anything, but the next time you open up the paper and read about this fire here or that blaze there, you go ahead and wonder if somebody somewhere did somebody wrong.


#1 - W - Pomeroy    
5.8 FLEW  
0 (F)UJI  
0 BOO  
0.7 AE(O)NIC  
0 AAH  
0 REX  
0 GL(A)IkETS*  
4.2 TWA  
0 H(O)  
0 (S)EG  
2 (E)M(Y)D D(E)M(Y) (only 99% sure)
#2 - W - Schaeffer    
6.1 ODE  
5.7 FRIT(T)ED  
2.9 PA(R)EU  
0 JE(E)RS  
0 (F)AX  
2.3 S(T)UNK  
2.2 VOLI(N)G  
1.7 MEM(E)  
19 TAIGA  
8 T(A)D  
#3 - L - Hay    
1.5 VOICI(N)G  
6.8 IODI(C)  
0.3 -AEEMOQ (E)  
8.4 PI just exchanged and drew crap--need to score and block that
3.6 Q(I)  
0 JET  
0 F(A)BS  
0 (I)M(I)D  
4.8 WREN  
16.9 MORT(A)R  
34 (T)ORT  
0 ARVO(S)  
#4 - W - Shuman    
0 BOB  
0.4 AlASTOR  
2.6 (Q)U(A)RK  
0 VAW  
6 PA  
0 (PI)NA  
14.6 GIL(D) GUI(D)!!!,GUIL(D)!!!--ugh
12.6 INIA (REHANDLE)D (really thought it was phony)
0 (H)UDDLE  
0 GL(E)ET trying to draw A,I,or O
19 (A)XE(L)S  
0 SCRE(W)  
#5 - W - Bertoni    
8.2 MEA(LY)  
4.2 RI(S)KER  
0 QI  
0 BETHE(W)*  
5.3 BEANO PAEON (more defensive)
13.7 UM  
0.7 (FA)NGA  
0 NA  
13 RU(E) RUI(N)
#6 - W - Bernardina    
1.6 JIAO  
0 PIX  
0 BALE  
0.4 YETI  
0.1 WO(L)FED  
0 HAME  
4 ZA  
0 CL(I)eNTAL  
2.6 COXA  
0 V(I)P(E)R  
0 (L)UBE  
0 GOS  
#7 - W - Fischer    
#8 - L - Bernardina    
R1C1 R1C2 R1C3 R1C4
R2C1 R2C2 R2C3 R2C4
R3C1 R3C2 R3C3 R3C4
R4C1 R4C2 R4C3 R4C4

1 - W - 0.8 (12.7)
2 - W - 7.3 (94.3)
3 - L - 5.1 (76.3)
4 - W - 4.2 (58.7)
5 - W - 3.5 (45.1)
6 - W - 0.8 (12.5)
7 - W -
8 - L -


#1 - W - Gable    
1.1 MY  
3 DYADS LADY underlap
0 (F)UND  
0 AVOW  
0 (O)UREBI  
13.2 M(ODE)S L(ODE)N
5.7 N(I)X  
4.4 LIT  
13.9 -DQRWT (EN)  
7.4 OF  
0 (TO)R  
3 QI  
#2 - L - Brook    
39.1 challenge ExHUMER  
0 TAOS  
9.5 GHIS  
0 CLOYE(R)*  
0 Q(U)AD  
0 W(E)ND  
0 F(A)NG  
0 A(G)ON  
2 (Q)I  
0 (A)N  
#3 - L - Jacobson    
17.8 lose turn (FLIEGE*) (intentional phony)  
0.4 FIE  
0 UM  
0 HILI  
0 WOT  
3.7 SUITE  
12.8 VEN(A)  
0 (Z)ONE  
0 PIN(TO)  
8.6 (REV)ILER  
11.4 BOITE  
33 C(A)GER  
0 (J)OY  
#4 - W - Castellano    
3.3 CLAVI  
4 Z(I)PS  
0 Q(U)AG  
0 FEAR saw RAFF at 7D but not 7E--WTF???
0 IF  
9.8 URE(A)  
17.8 ROO(T)Y  
0 (E)X  
#5 - L - Glass    
0 LEZ  
4.7 SORN  
0 SWOP  
3 BAI(ZA)  
11.2 v(E)T  
0 Q(I)  
0 G(IT)  
0 SU(B)LET  
#6 - W - Saengsit    
0 AWA  
1.2 SOARINg  
0 JOYIN(G)  
0 (D)OLOR  
2 CEILE(D)  
--- F(E)Z  
0.3 UnNAILE(D)  
2.5 OX  
4.5 AC(T)IN  
--- BR(A)V(E)  
0 (A)GIO  
0 HE  
#7 - L - Saengsit    
0 V(E)NOM  
5.8 PU(L)L  
0 W(R)Y  
42 (E)DICT CUITTl(E)D,(E)DUCT (unsure)
0 FlAUNTE(R)  
0 AX  
3.7 (T)HEW  
8.9 DOL(L)  
4.8 OI  
--- GENT Quackle wants to play off a tile but there are no bingo lines
4 pE(D)  

1 - W - 3.7 (54.9)
2 - L - 12.6 (188.6)
3 - L - 3.7 (92.5)
4 - W - 4.3 (55.5)
5 - L - 6.3 (88.5)
6 - W - 1.5
7 - L - 5.8 (69.2)

Avg: 5.1>

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