Monthly Archives: June 2008

Scrabble Blues

Well, it’s official. I need to study the word lists. I went to Detroit over the weekend for a Scrabble tournament. I played 14 games (ah, heavenly!) but only won 7. My rating will go down by 30 points or so. I had quite a few good bingos–WAYFARES, ETESIAN, REEKING, and more. My high game was 490, and my low, low, low game was 268–that was a tromping!
One of the interesting parts of the weekend was going to a bar that had karaoke and watching the scrabble folks make parodies of songs and giving them Scrabble words. It was fascinating, and maybe a tad bit uncomfortable for me. First, I have not spent very much time in bars, and second, the parodies were, for the most part, really bad–with bad singing to match. Still, I was proud of myself for getting out of my comfort zone a little bit and going–since I went by myself to the tournament and didn’t know a lot of people there.
There was a guy there who was not part of our group who was participating in karaoke and he was REALLY good. I heard him sing about three songs, and I do declare, his rendition of “Young Girl” (Gary Pucket and the Union Gap) was smokin’. Speaking of smoking–people were smoking in the bar (not used to being around it any more) and I ordered saganaki and it was smokin’ as well. I thought the whole place might go up in smoke! A good time, and I’m going to start a study routine.

Addendum: to anyone who I called when I was worrying about my brother, Paul (Including my brother, Paul)–sorry! I have a very vivid imagination, and in said imagination poor Paul was under a rock trying to gnaw off his own arm trying to get to safety and wondering why no one was looking for him. As certain kids tried to tell me years ago, I need to take a chill pill sometimes!

Thoughts about “Sister Carrie”

I just finished reading Dreiser’s Sister Carrie and I have been struck by many of the themes. I had read it as a teenager–as an assignment–and so I came to it in a very different place. I think it is a brilliant book. It was considered immoral when it was published (Frank Norris was a reader at Doubleday and accepted it, and then when Doubleday himself read it, did not want to publish it and did so only under duress–and made no attempt to market it). I don’t think it is immoral, but it is certainly amoral–it’s typically called naturalistic. In other words, characters who do “bad” things are not necessarily punished. Carrie ends up prospering in the novel, even though she has “sinned” by living with both Drouet and Hurstwood without being married. Yet Dreiser is masterful in how he shows how limited her possibilities are. She doesn’t make moral choices as much as she just drifts from one segment of her life to the next. It’s interesting to me how well Dreiser portrays how luck sometimes has a part in what happens to us. We like to think that we are in control, and think that if something good happens to us it is because we deserved it, and worked hard for it–and if someone is out of a job, ergo they must not deserve one. It’s very easy to fall into that mental trap–I’ve done it.
The other thing Dreiser does so well that it hurts is describe poverty and privation. When Hurstwood is standing in the cold, waiting to have a 15 cent bed, with the wind whipping through his thin clothes, I FEEL it with his description. In fact when I was reading it, I turned the air conditioning off!
Carrie is uneducated, and has no moral compass. It’s interesting to me that there is just one mention of her father and no mention of her mother. There is never a mention of the possibility of children for Carrie–it is an absent idea. Motherhood and family don’t play an important part in this novel.
I have to admit that it was a little depressing to read it. It’s scary to think about spending your money down until you have nothing left and you are on the streets. We have all kinds of social safety nets that will catch us in 2008 that didn’t exist in 1898. But I think it’s good to be depressed sometimes. It reminds me that poverty exists, that I need to help do something about it, and that I may be closer to the streets than I think.

The Hollyhock Festival

Yesterday was our neighborhood hollyhock festival–not to be vain, but it was pretty much conceived and executed by yours truly. I got the volunteers for the food and games, bought all the prizes, food, paper goods, etc. and it went really well. I was on tv for the second time this week. I didn’t watch the first time, because it made me realize I look like someone who has had a stroke and needs plastic surgery. I watched it this time, and it wasn’t too bad, and I didn’t sound totally retarded. But I don’t want to sound like I can’t get people mobilized. There were a bunch of us who set up tables, chairs, cleaned, got the popcorn machine, and so on.
I would say about 100 people came–free sandwiches, drinks, popcorn, cookies. Can’t wait for the 3rd year.
The hollyhocks were not blooming as fully as I would have liked at the park–mine are in full bloom. The photo above shows my blooms on the side of my house.

My new favorite flower


This is a new plant in my garden–foxglove, otherwise known as digitalis. It’s right next to some coral bells (another favorite). I planted them from seeds last year, but they didn’t bloom until this year. It was definitely worth wating for.

Giant Shower Caps

This interesting photo was taken a couple of days ago when we were unloading the previously mentioned two tons of stuff from my dad’s house. One of the things I brought was a round oak table that is in perfect shape, in part because the round table top was protected from damage by round plastic tablecloths with elastic around the edges. Well, as we were unpacking, said tablecloths were found by Mike, and he said, “What the heck are these? Giant shower caps?” This necessitated the three goofballs (otherwise known as Liz, Mike, and Patty) to wrap towels around themselves and put the tablecloths over their heads. At least the neighbors already know we’re crazy.

In the background you can see the cool ABF relocube that our stuff came in–kudos to ABF–they were wonderful! All I have to do now is drive Sarah’s stuff to Dayton and all will have been distributed. Liz and I will do that on Saturday.