What's An Eight-Letter Word For A Hackneyed Opening?
1. Have A Friend Buy You Drinks. One of my favorite NPLers, Joe "Toonhead!" Cabrera, came to town this weekend and we spent Saturday afternoon watching Cars---which is, by the way, a wholly underrated movie, flat-out gorgeous to look at, and what can you say about Paul Newman when his voice acting gives him limitless gravitas and makes you want to cry?---after which we went to a place called The Overlook, which apparently used to be the place where all the big cartoonists hung out. Their work adorns three of the walls, with The Phantom and Little Orphan Annie and Hagar the Horrible and tons of others, including a terrific tableau from Sergio Aragones. (The New Yorker lover in me was thrilled to see S. Gross and---even better---to wind up eating next to one of C. Barsotti's felt-tip dogs.) I don;t know what made Joe so generous---was this a business expense? Is tax-deductibility that important?---but he bought me drinks all afternoon because it was two-for-one rum and cokes until nine. Speaking of nine, that's how many rum and cokes I had---about triple my normal limit---and I went home, went to sleep, and really don't remember much else about Saturday.
2. Have a Friend Burn You DVD's. Last week I got a care package from my friend Cary, who likes to discuss movies with me but apparently got tired of suggesting, for conversation, movies I hadn't seen. So now, beside my computer, I have The Mothman Prophecies, Kung Fu Hustle, Shaolin Soccer, Open Range, For Love of the Game, Arthur (the remake, I believe), Delicatessen, Constantine, and one of the commentary tracks from the original Planet of the Apes. If a 24-hour flu bug comes through town, I can be safely holed up for about 18 of them.
Last night I saw The Mothman Prophecies (quite weird and interesting---ignore the title and dive in!), and I would have watched more, but then this other thing happened...
3. Play Online Scrabble. I'm back! I'd forgotten this one thing about Scrabble that makes it so addictive to me: it generally takes only twenty minutes to play. You go to some site called ics-dot-something, download the free software, and in seconds you're ready to troll for competition. When I left Scrabble after my first three tournaments, my rating was about 1360. Now, after four years, I'm back and I startlingly suck. It's not the words that are a problem (although I've forgotten my threes and fours, and actually challenged TRET yesterday). It's the dumb errors like not keeping track of tiles, and---worst of all---not noticing the bad moves of others. Yesterday someone played PRRETTY---yes! Two R's!---and I let it slide because I was so focused on my own rack. Thumping myself soundly on the pate, I then made an even worse error by not challenging (sigh) the nonword IH. I don't think "ih" is a word in any language in the world. But I let it pass, and the guy got 24 points. Oy. Anyway, that's what kept me busy all weekend, and even if you account for the cost of a good session of Rolfing to get the feeling back into your limbs, that's a pretty cheap weekend.
P.S. Are the ICS ratings the same as official Scrabble ratings, or do they use a different system? Because right now I'm struggling to beat people whose ratings hover around 850. That can't be right, can it? When I was playing Hasbro's Scrabble against the computer, I was eating 1650s for lunch.