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Charlie Hatton
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Howdy, friendly reading person!
I'm on a bit of a hiatus right now, but only to work on other projects -- one incredibly exciting example being the newly-released kids' science book series Things That Make You Go Yuck!
If you're a science and/or silliness fan, give it a gander! See you soon!

R-O-C-K-B-O-T-T-O-M on a Triple Word Score

I’ve reached a new low.

You can’t imagine how difficult that is for me. At this point in life, my lowest lows have been pretty darned low. I’ve got earthworms looking at my lows and saying, ‘What is that, way down there?‘ I thought reaching a new low at this stage would require three donkeys, a tub of Crisco, and at least a class ‘C’ felony.

I was wrong.

All it took was a few silicon chips, a comfortable couch, and a few moments of boredom. And a Scrabble CD-ROM.

That’s right. I’m playing Scrabble now. On my laptop. All by myself. On several recent nights, I’ve found myself sitting on the couch, with the entire world available to me. I could watch TV. I could write. I could venture forth among the masses and make my fortune. Or I could pour a stiff margarita and drink myself stupid. All of these avenues and more are open to me, but what do I think to myself instead?

Gee. Might be fun to play Scrabble. With no one in particular.

Dorkalicious, thy name is Charlie. Somebody choke me with a letter ‘Z’ tile, please.

“Sadly, I only know twelve words — and six of those are euphemisms for breasts. If I don’t have two ‘O’s on my rack, I’m pretty much out of luck.”

The thing is, all nerdiness aside, it’s not even fun to play Scrabble against a computer. It’s challenging, sure, and it makes you think, but it’s hardly fair. It’s like playing basketball against the tall mean kid who used to hold the ball over your head and make you jump for it on the playground. Even if you win, you know it’s not for real. It’s just the bully throwing you the occasional bone to keep you coming back for more abuse. That’s not ‘fun’. That’s evil.

The software is really devious in that department, too. It’s not at all like playing a human. With a person, you can be fairly sure that if the first five words your opponent plays are ‘CAT’, ‘TREE’, ‘LID’, ‘FOOT’, and ‘UP’, the sixth is not likely to be something like ‘QINDARKA’ or ‘URAEMIA’. Oh, I’m a emia, am I? Well screw you, Mr. Smartypants word expert. Screw you and the qindarka you rode in on. Ass.

Of course, the other problem is that against a computer, there’s no way to cheat. Not that I want to cheat, mind you. If I could compete without cheating at a level above your average crack-addled tree squirrel, then that’s just what I’d do. Sadly, I only know twelve words — and six of those are euphemisms for breasts. If I don’t have two ‘O’s on my rack, I’m pretty much out of luck.

(Heh. I said ‘rack‘. That makes seven.)

If you’re playing a flesh and blood opponent, a shameful and crippling lack of vocabulamary can be overcome. You can plop down a bunch of gibberish tiles, lean in to calculate your score, and simply play it cool when your bluff is called. That’s what I do.

Opponent: Um… what’s a ‘FLYXMUK’, exactly?

Me: Flyxmuk? Oh, you’ve never heard of flyxmuk. Well, that’s the noise that’s made when a wildebeest sneezes.

Opponent: A wildebeest. Really.

Me: That’s right. It’s from Swahili, originally. Flyxmuk.

Opponent: I see. Swahili.

Me: It’s a technical term. Medical, really. I hear these sorts of things. You know, in my line of work.

Opponent: You see a lot of wildebeest sneezes around the office, do you?

Me: Well, you know… tangentially. One of our interns is part Swahili, I think.

Opponent: An intern.

Me: Well, her grandmother’s from Morocco, anyway. Or Moldavia. Memphis? One of those places.

Opponent: Right. I’m looking it up. There’s no way in hell that’s a word.

Me: Sorry, you can’t.

Opponent: I can’t?

Me: No. I… um, lost your dictionary. In the garbage disposal, earlier. Tragic accident, really. You’ll just have to trust me. Come on — would I lie about Scrabble?

Opponent: Harrumph..

Me: Ooh, and on a triple word score, too. God bless those hayfevered overgrown goats!

That’s how you win at Scrabble. Shred the dictionary and lie through your ignorant teeth. That’s how I win, anyway. Your mad lexicographical skillz may vary.

But it all goes out the window when you’re up against a computer. You can’t talk your way out of a ‘Does Not Compute!‘ error. A lump of cold, heartless steel and circuitry can’t be convinced or cajoled or fooled by hastily concocted ‘definitions’ scribbled in crayon on the back cover of Webster’s.

(“It’s an addendum! That’s how they addend it!

Yeah. That one doesn’t even work on people.

I may need to find dumber friends.)

Anyway, the point is that I’m officially a geek, and now I’ve truly hit rock solid bottom in my geekiness. Not only am I playing Scrabble — in my free time, mind you, not as some ‘community service’ mandated by the state — but I’m playing alone. And not cheating, which means I’m also losing. Alone.

For the love of a respectable social life, what shame could possibly be next? Dance Dance Revolution by myself in the basement? Jenga for one? Solitaire Clue?

Well, that last one I could win. The dork did it. On the computer. With the FLYXMUK. Gesundheit.

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