A man on an intermission

Monday, 28 November 2005 — 5:54pm | Scrabble, Tournament logs

Thoughts and ideas have outpaced my WPM to the point where, were it not for my philosophical affinity for the primacy of written communication in an educated society, I might as well carry a tape recorder everywhere I go, start up one of those newfangled “podcasts” and be done with the whole shebang.

I never got around to writing about Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, Rent or Good Night, and Good Luck, all of which have given me so much to say that I can’t possibly hope to make the time to do them justice. And that’s not even considering the hours whiled away playing Mario Kart DS online, possibly the worst thing to happen to my precious piano fingers since cramps-in-a-jar, but one that offers the new-to-the-franchise pleasure of – how do the juvenile delinquents put it nowadays – pwning some n00bs.

More on all of this later, I’ll bet. Don’t bet against me. I’ll lose.

Other than that, two quick observations come to the fore.

If Scrabble be the game of kings, then it is a contest as marked by coups and regicides as a song about Oliver Cromwell set to a Chopin polonaise. On Saturday, when Calgary held their annual one-day, twelve-round Marathon tournament, I won $10 for losing with a score of 422. (The score was tied, but she played ID for 5 and bled a 20 off my Q for 447. I think the new dictionary will have something to say about that come March.)

I emphatically did not win $10 for earlier losing with a score of exactly half that in my worst game in years, and probably the lowest-scoring game in the entire 28-player event. I can’t speak for the goings-on in the bottom division, but even they usually have little trouble clambering over 300 – it’s the upper stratosphere that eludes them. As one of the Division 3 players remarked with pitying incredulity: “211? That’s all you got?”

Loath as I am to blame the tiles, when all you draw are a J, a W and a whole lot of dreck worth 3 points or less that never congeals into a bingo thanks to a sustained assault on the part of the letter I, you can’t do a damnable thing.

I landed another $10 for playing 16 bingos – low for twelve rounds. The Bingo Ace prizewinner, at this level of play, usually approaches an average of two a round – maybe more. It tells you that everybody was shutting the board down with a good deal more vigour than necessary.

All of that was my first observation. My second one is briefer still: I can’t understand all the talk – or “dithering”, as it were – about Canadians not wanting a Christmas election. This is an early present, as far as I’m concerned. It won’t be the single most exciting thing this Christmas, but between a Mel Brooks musical, a Spielberg assassin drama and the lifelong dream project of Wellington Santa Claus himself, comparisons are hardly fair. Speaking as someone who has no taste for partisan politics and would be happy to do without it, this is still going to be the most interesting (and more importantly, entertaining) event in Canadian politics since probably the Quebec referendum: fun to watch, fun to read about, and fun to remember. I can hardly wait to see Calgary blanketed in red, green and Tory blue. It’s going to be one hell of a palette.

A ceasefire between Christmas and the New Year? Ludicrous! If rabid shoppers are going to be lining up in droves for marginal Boxing Day discounts, that’s as good a time as any to lug the war machines of party propaganda out into the open. There’s no time like a holiday for people to sit back and actually think, or better yet, joke about the issues.

The emergency mobilization of every faction in the country is, true to our climes, just so cool. It’s like all the fanfare and glory of little Johnny going to war, without any of the death, dismemberment or yucky psychological damage – a civil war of words, to wit. Taste it. Savour it. Indulge in it to excess. Then meet the sweetness of victory or bitterness of defeat, and taste it all over again.



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