August Rambling: Deep dark secrets

I wrote this blog post about my ambivalence about blogging on the Times Union website.

WD40
The Hook-Up Culture Is Getting 20-Somethings Nowhere. On the other hand, Casual Love.

How we get through life every day.

Nixon’s still the one. And What We Lost 40 Years Ago When Nixon Resigned. See Harry Shearer recreate Richard Nixon as he preps and delivers his resignation speech. Plus George Will Confirms Nixon’s Vietnam Treason.

New Zealand’s non-partisan Get Out the Vote campaign. I don’t see such things often in the US. Sure, there’s get our SUPPORTERS to vote, but that’s a different animal.

Deep Dark Fears is “a series of comics exploring those intimate, personal fears that mostly stem from your imagination getting darkly carried away.” Read more about it.

Rod Serling’s closing remarks from The Obsolete Man episode of The Twilight Zone. “It remains profoundly prescient and relevant.”

All these in a 48-hour period: How games’ lazy storytelling uses rape and violence against women as wallpaper and Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY) has come forward with several stories of being called “chubby,” “fat,” and “porky” by her male colleagues in Congress and Fark prohibits misogyny in new addition to moderator guidelines and Snappy response to sexist harasser in the tech field.

Modern Office with Christina Hendricks.

FLOWCHART: Should You Catcall Her?

Guns and The Rule of Intended Consequences.

What our nightly views might look like if planets, instead of our moon, orbited Earth.

Cartoon: Pinocchio, Inc.

Remember when I wrote about flooding in Albany this month? Dan explains the systemic reason WHY it happened.

Arthur makes the case against “the case against time zones.” I’m not feeling the abolition of time zones either, at this point.

Nōtan: Dark and Light principles of Design.

The jungle gym as math tool.

The disaster drafts for professional sports.

The Procrastination Doom Loop—and How to Break It.

One of my favorite movie quotes, maybe because it’s so meta: “That’s part of your problem: you haven’t seen enough movies. All of life’s riddles are answered in the movies.” (Grand Canyon, 1991)

Seriously, Rebecca Jade, the first niece, is in about four different groups, in a variety of genres. Here’s The Soultones cover band – Promo video. Plus a link to her latest release, Galaxy, with Jaz Williams.

Tosy’s U2, ranked 40-31 and 30-21.

Who Wants To Be A Millionaire? Paul McCartney and Heather Mills, 2004.

August 22, 1969: The Beatles’ Final Photo Shoot

Coverville 1043: The Elvis Costello Cover Story III, in honor of him turning 60.

4 chairs, 4 women; 4 women, no chairs.

12 billion light-years from the edge. A funny bit!

Don Pardo, R.I.P..

Lauren Bacall: always the life of the party. And cinema icon of Hollywood’s golden age, 1924-2014. A Dustbury recollection.

More Robin Williams: on ‘cowardice’ and compassion. Also, a Dan Meth drawing and Aladdin’s Broadway cast gave a him beautiful tribute. Plus, a meeting of Yarmy’s Army and Ulysses.

Jaquandor remembers little Quinn. Damn middle recording made me cry.

The Wellington Hotel Annex in Albany, N.Y. was… murdered in plain sight in front of hundreds of onlookers. “If I were a building, this is how I’d like to go.” Here’s another view.

SamuraiFrog’s Muppet jamboree: C is for Clodhoppers and D Is for Delbert (who evolved) and E is for Eric the Parrot and F is for a Fraggle and G Is for the Gogolala Jubilee Jugband.

New SCRABBLE words. Word Up has identified some of the new three-letter words.

I SO don’t care: one space or two after the period. Here’s a third choice.

The ultimate word on that “digital natives” crap.

Whatever Happened to the Metric System?

Freedom from fear.

Ever wondered what those books behind the glass doors of the cupboard might be thinking or feeling?

The New Yorker thinks Yankovic is weirdly popular.

Here’s a nice Billy Joel story.

Pop songs as sonnets.

House of Clerks, a parody of House of Cards.

Saturday Night Live Political Secrets Revealed.

This Sergio Aragonés masterpiece is included as a fold-out poster within Inside Mad. His priceless gift to all Mad fans shows over six decades of Mad contributors and ephemera within a mish-mash of Mad office walls. The only thing missing in this beautiful mess is a key. Doug Gilford will be attempting to label everything you see with brief (pop-up) descriptions and links to pertinent pages…

Hello Kitty is not a cat. You may have known that; somehow, I missed it.

You May Have Something Extremely Valuable Hiding In Your Change.

Improved names for everyday things

GOOGLE ALERTS (me)

I wrote this blog post about my ambivalence about blogging on the Times Union website. J. Eric Smith, who used to be a TU blogger, responds at length.

SamuraiFrog responds to my response to 16 Habits of Sensitive People. Also, per moi, he does his #1 songs on his birthday: 1987-1996 and 1997-2006, and 2007-2013. I’ll go back to this myself, eventually.

Dustbury on the theme song to My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic, which a passage in Schutte’s Mass resembles more than slightly. He discovers a Singapore McDonalds product.

Jaquandor answers my questions about vices such as swearing and politics/American exceptionalism.

He also writes of buckets and the dumping of the water therein, which Gordon thinks hurts nonprofits. Snopes, BTW, debunks the claim that 73 percent of donations to the ALS Association fund executive salaries and overhead.

Do you know that ABC Wednesday meme I mention with a great amount of regularity? I think this recent introduction I wrote explains it fairly well.

Book Review: Word Freak

The early chapters alternate between the competition narrative and the history of the game, from inventor Alfred Butts; to the various game owners…


On my train ride to Charlotte, NC, earlier this year, having finished the Motown book, I started reading Word Freak: Heartbreak, Triumph, Genius, and Obsession in the World of Competitive Scrabble Players by Stefan Fatsis. This was another library sale book purchase. I finished it a few mornings later.

The book is part history of the game, part autobiography. Fatsis, a Wall Street Journal sports reporter who can be heard regularly on National Public Radio, writes about his evolution from playing pickup Scrabble games in Greenwich Village (lower Manhattan) to his improbable rise through the ranks of high-ranking Scrabble players. He describes the elite competitors, who play at a level far beyond those 30 million players who compete in American living rooms. The “freaks” include a vitamin-popping standup comic; a former bank teller whose intestinal troubles earned him the nickname “G.I. Joel”; a burly, unemployed African American from Baltimore’s inner city; the three-time national champion who plays according to Zen principles; and Fatsis himself, who we see transformed from a curious reporter to a confirmed Scrabble nut.

The early chapters alternate between the competition narrative and the history of the game, from inventor Alfred Butts; to the various game owners (Selchow & Righter, Coleco, Hasbro, Mattel UK) and their response/responsibility to competitive Scrabble, which, unlike chess, has intellectual property restrictions; to the words themselves, how best to learn them – anagramming! – and how legitimate words are determined in the US and in international play.

If the latter chapters were a little bit too much “inside baseball” – will Fatsis make it to the next level? – it was still an interesting read. I particularly enjoyed the description of Albany, or more specifically, “Outside Albany, at the Marriott in suburban Colonie, along a highway [Wolf Road] lined with strip malls and corporate parks.” And Ron Tiekert, using a rack of EENRSU?, spelling AUBERGiNES through an existing A, B, and G, making the blank an I, IS extraordinary. —

X is for Ex, Xi, Xu

“I box in yellow Gox box socks.” – Dr. Seuss


I used to play the board game SCRABBLE a lot when I was a child, especially with my great aunt Deana. The goal isn’t to make the longest, or best words, but rather, to get the most points. So, here are acceptable two-letter words that one can use in the English-language edition utilizing the letter X. Getting an X – worth 8 points, same as the J, and more than any other save for the Q and the Z (10 points each), can be eXhilarating or eXhausting, depending on the words on the board and the other letters in your tray.

Knowing these short words will help, especially when building words in two directions. (BTW, there are sets available in several different languages, and these examples may not apply.)
AX (oh, you knew that one)
EX the letter ‘x’ (spelling letters can be useful; ar, ef, el, em, en – the latter two also printers’ measures)
OX (you had that one, too)

XI the 14th letter of the Greek alphabet (other Greek letters in this category: mu, nu, and, of course, pi)
XU a minor currency of Vietnam, 100 xu = 1 dong

“Knowing which words are acceptable – even if you have no idea of their definitions – is a perfectly legitimate strategy, and all expert players have memorized all the two-letter words and often the three-letter words as well.”

Here are the three-letter words that use the letter X:
AXE BOX COX DEX FAX FIX FOX GOX HEX KEX LAX LEX LOX LUX MAX MIX NIX OXO OXY PAX PIX POX PYX RAX REX SAX SEX SIX SOX TAX TUX VEX VOX WAX XIS ZAX

Some of these I know, though others, not so.

But wait! I recognize one of these words from literature.
Specifically: “I box in yellow Gox box socks.”
— Dr. Seuss (One Fish, Two Fish, Red Fish, Blue Fish) c. 1960, 1988

Is gox a REAL word?

Apparently, YES! It means “gaseous oxygen”. (Which really confuses me because I thought oxygen usually WAS a gas. It seems to me that it’s rather like saying “liquid water”, instead of “water”, to differentiate it from ice or steam.)
***
The peculiar thing about this particular post is that I wrote it nearly six months ago! I KNEW I’d need a good idea for X, and I didn’t want to waste it! Thus my accidental use of the badge for Round 6, rather than the badge for Round 7, which I’ve since corrected.

Also, you’ll note that ABC Wednesday has a new home! For a bunch of technical reasons, the link below is now the correct location.

ABC Wednesday – Round 7

30-Day Challenge: Day 18 – Favorite Board Game


I have always loved board games. I used to play them all the time. As a kid, my favorite game was SCRABBLE, which I used to play with my great aunt, and from time to time as an adult, usually with my in-laws.

With children, I love to play SORRY. As Jaquandor explained, this is a game that by the time a kid is 4 to 6, can play an adult straight up.

I found this out when I used to play with my late friend Nancy’s son Jeff when he was about 6 in 1978 or 1979; I would not give him an advantage and he’d beat me almost half the time. Likewise, my daughter is very good at it. In fact, we often play with her stuffed animals as surrogates as well, with each of us essentially playing two colors, and she’ll often come in first and second, or at least first and third.

I’m quite fond of Monopoly. I could tell you what the purchase price and basic rent for every property on the board; unfortunately, it’s a game that really requires multiple players, and that has not been the situation I’ve found myself in of late. For our wedding, we received an Albany-based Monopoly set that I’m pretty sure we’ve never used.

I went through a phase of playing a lot of Trivial Pursuit in the 1980s and 1990s, but some people didn’t like the fact that I won too often – it’s a curse – and I probably haven’t played this century.

The game I play most often at this point is backgammon. It’s a game I learned at a bar appropriately called Bacchus in my college town of New Paltz, NY from my friend Anne. Then I didn’t play for a long time. Now I play my friend Mary at work at least twice a month at lunchtime. It’s a fairly easy game to play, though it takes a little while to ascertain the best strategy. The board often shows up on the back of checkerboards, and the game is available online, so one can hone one’s skills.

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