Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Shabbat Games

I played three games last shabbat:

Anagrams: I was invited to the house of a family that I didn't know (we were put together by a mutual friend). While walking there, it came up that I played games, and that the wife played Scrabble and Anagrams. I mentioned that I tend to not find people who can play at my level, which was interpreted as a challenge. It was, I suppose. A few weeks ago I mentioned the same thing to a different couple whom I entertained at lunch for the first time; we played Anagrams and we all did about equally. I was pleased, since Anagrams is a game you really want to play with people who are about the same skill level as you.

So I played Anagrams with the wife after dinner, and she cleaned my clock. First off, I tend to draw tiles from the bag slowly; if I don't see an immediate match or letter for which I'm waiting, I scan the words trying to think of ways to rearrange them with one or multiple letters. This takes me some time. So I draw a tile and then hesitate for up to 30 seconds before drawing the next tile.

This was terribly frustrating for her. She fired me as tile drawer and started drawing tiles every five seconds. I think this speed tends to favor shorter words comprised of the tiles in the center. But she was still able to store in her brain the specific letters she was waiting for and the words to which to apply them; I wasn't able to do it that fast. I think I ended with three words to her fifteen or so.

Glen More: After playing this at Eitan and Emily, I asked Ken to pick me up a copy which I received this week. It's a nifty game engine. After playing twice, I still don't understand the implications of skipping tiles, but I kind of started to get an idea about it that I can flesh out during my next play. There are only a certain number of tiles, and you don't get to go until everyone else has passed your tile; skipping not only makes that take longer, but it gives other people free turns. I'll get it eventually. And, because of the rest of the tile laying mechanics and random tile order, there will still be a lot of game to play.

I played with Abraham and Sarah after lunch. I thought I had very bad sente during the game, but I only lost 52 to Abraham's 58. Sarah had 51.

Homesteaders: After playing with Abraham and Sarah's baby for a while, we wanted to play another game. This time I thought I was doing well, but I still lost out to Abraham in a close game. I took a third round Gold Mine, but it couldn't compete with Abraham's second round Steel Mill (even though Sarah took the other Gold Mine). Abraham had 68, I had 58, Sarah had 52 (or something like that).

Sunday, June 10, 2012

10 recent things about me, movies

"The sale of MP3 Downloads is currently available only to US customers located in the United States." -Amazon.com, on my attempt to "purchase" a free MP3 download.

When I did nothing else, I wrote a lot of good content on this blog. When I devoted my time to Purple Pawn, this blog suffered. Now that I'm devoting my time to writing a book, I can't seem to blog at all. Priorities, priorities.

10 recent things about me:

- I am no longer writing for Purple Pawn, although I may still contribute something now and then. David Miller is now head honcho of the site.

- I had a harder time than I would have anticipated meeting my ex-wife and her boyfriend, here from the US together for the first time. I was snarky to her and I also took it out on someone else at shabbat lunch the next day (this someone adamantly insisted that Obama was a Muslim, so she deserved it, but still). I've apologized to both of them.

- I have backed two projects on Kickstarter, one on 09/05/2010 and one on 08/22/2011. I haven't received any of my backer rewards yet, though I get occasional updates from the project owners.

- You should read The Hunger Games trilogy. Seriously.

- I've been posting session reports on the Raanana game group blog.

- I'm actively looking for dates on Frumster.com and SawYouAtSinai.com. I thought my profile was pretty boring, so I changed it, and I changed my criteria for a match to be: "Able to intelligently discuss Joni Mitchell, George Elliot, and James Kugel." My first date question is generally: "What books have transformed your life?"

- My first cousin visited Israel for the first time in her life. Actually, she left America for the first time in her life. Her trip has had ups (in Israel and Italy so far) and downs (in Ukraine), but she has had her eyes opened and her mind blown a number of times over. Which is good. And she now loves felafel.

- I played Reef Encounter with Abraham and Sara on a shabbat. It may be that I'm just too unfamiliar with the game, but it seems so chaotic and random until two thirds of the way through the game; it's probably even worse with more than three players.

- I'm officially staying in Raanana for at least another year.

- Movies I watched:

  - The Avengers: Basically Iron Man III with support from the other super hero guys. It's great fun and destruction, as I'm sure you've heard. It's still kind of odd that Thor and Loki, supposedly gods, are so piddling compared to humans; last I heard, Thor's hammer would break the heck out of anything it hit. Apparently not.

  - John Carter: Actually pretty fun, too. But the existence of a breathable atmosphere, as well as life on Mars in more than one sentient race, and that one of these races is able to cross-breed with humans, is hard to hold in one's head. Still, I think this one will have a long underground life, not unlike Tron and (to a lesser extent) Dune.

  - Girl with a Pearl Earring: A beautiful movie that I watched right after reading the book. The book lingers on some rich scenes in a way that the movie doesn't, but the movie hits all the right parts. About a poor woman who works for a painter and ends up helping with the paintings to her (and the painter's) surprise (and not in any salacious way).

  - A Dangerous Method: The story of Freud, Jung, and their patient/protege Sabrina who must first acknowledge her penchant for masochism and then her attraction (eventually returned) for Jung. It was interesting here and there, but the proper and dull reserve of the two male leads made for a boring movie that I abandoned about two thirds of the way through.
  - My Dinner with Andre: Always thought I would be interested in seeing this. It's not really a great movie, but it's nice enough if you like listening to a decent storyteller for two hours. The other guy - Wally - gets to say "Really?" and "So what happened next?" a lot, except for a little bit in the middle. Other than its audacity for a setting, I can't see why it's so famous; other heavy talking movies, like Before Sunrise and After the Rehearsal, are better.

  - 12 Angry Men: Still an absolute classic and a powerful movie. I think its only misstep is in showing us the accused at the beginning; it works better when you don't know his race or looks, except from the descriptions in the dialog.

(Bassie, you should stop reading here.)

  - The Reader: Half a torrid sexual affair between a 15/16 year old boy and a 30 year old woman (who thinks he's 18), and half a trial of several Nazi guards.
    You get to see as much as you want of both Kate Winslet and newcomer David Kross, from every angle. (They waited to shoot the heavy stuff until his 18th birthday; Kate supposedly had to help talk David through the scenes and put his mind at ease. I find that difficult to believe; I would think that shooting explicit sex and nude scenes with Kate Winslet would be an 18th birthday present dream for most boys.) It was way more explicit than it had to be. A little flesh and some tasteful shots of them lying in bed together would have conveyed what was required.

    More powerful and striking was the trial and the seeming lack of comprehension on the part of the guards as to what they did wrong and then how they try to find someone else on which to pin the blame. And then the odd friendship that follows the sentencing. It was interesting.

  - Hysteria: The story of the invention of the vibrator, as well as the genesis of the idea that women could, in fact, have orgasms - and not simply hysterical paroxysm as a temporary cure for the fictitious female hysteria. It's a comedy, which was unnecessary, since the actual history is comedic enough. Maggie Gyllenhaal provides anachronistic spunk as a woman who already knows that women have orgasms and that the doctors are too stupid to recognize it (and has no inhibitions in discussing it with these doctors).

    It's light predictable fluff. It's funnier if you think watching women (with only their faces exposed) have sitcom-style orgasms next to a working bored and tired doctor is funny, which I didn't really.