Yes, I Finally Got Off My Ass and Wrote A Blog Entry

 My excuses for not writing in the Scrabble blog for months:

1)    I have to cater to Marty’s every whim and desire, which leaves me little time for anything else.

2)   I’d forgotten my WordPress password.  After trying over three hundred combinations, I finally got in!!

2)  We’ve had a very long winter in Central Illinois, so I’m probably still in shock that it’s not 15 degrees outside. Also, I’ve had recurrent bouts of bronchitis made worse by stress caused by students who ask questions such as the following:

            Student: Why did I get a C on this paper?

            Me: Because you wrote a C paper.

            Student: What do I need to do to get a B on a paper in this class?

            Me: Write a B paper. 

             I add that we’ve gone over this in class when I handed out the departmental grading guidelines in addition to sample A, B, C, and D papers. (My other two classes were great. One class even brought me Hostess Twinkies, which I don’t need but which I like. I told the students I had a deprived childhood because of my immigrant parents’ ban on snacks with funny names.)

            I hear fellow teachers and parents complain that students come into college with poor grammar skills. I don’t know if this is true. Most of my students know what a sentence is, though the term “phrase” throws them off.  For the most part they use the correct verb tenses. It’s their vocabularies that leave much to be desired. Examples: “The character has a mental mentality” and “The story gives off a feeling of badness.” One solution would be to have them play Scrabble.

            I’ve learned a lot of new words playing Scrabble.  It’s true that many are words I will never use in real life: ENTASTIC, DORMIENT, CENTROID, NONINERT, and INERRANT.  Okay, maybe I would use the latter two, as in “The students are very chatty today. They are unusually NONINERT” and “The professor is INERRANT.”  

            Some of the words I learn from playing Scrabble or studying Scrabble word lists.  Others I learn because Marty is my Scrabble coach.  He takes his job seriously.

            Marty: What’s ORIENT with an M and a C?

            Me:  MACRONITE.

            Marty: There’s no A.

            Me: MERCINTO.

            Marty: Nope.

            Me:  Can you give me a hint? What does it start with?

            Marty:  I.

            Me: You what?

            Marty: No, it starts with an I.

            Me:  IMONCERT.

            Marty: You’re not even trying, Daiva.

            Me: What’s the second letter?

            Marty: N.

            Me: INMOCERT?

            (Prolonged and disgusted silence on Marty’s part.)

            Marty: It begins with a five letter prefix.

            Me: INERT something?

            Marty: You have a Ph.D in English?????

            Me: Okay, I get it. INTER something.

            (Look of intense concentration on my face.)

            Me: INTERMOC is a word?

            Although my anagramming skills leave much to be desired, I’ve done fairly well in my last two Scrabble tournaments. I think I won something in the Arden Cup, and here in Pittsburgh I’ve placed second in Division B!

Yes, I’m not in Charleston, but in Pittsburgh, which I love and not only because I placed second in Division B and won a lot of money and 12 ratings points.

Other things I love about Pittsburgh:

1)    The views from way up high. You can look down and see the city and the rivers and the sports stadiums from several lookout spots. I must admit, however, that Heinz Field, home of the Steelers (not a good SCRABBLE word, BTW), is somewhat effeminate what with all that gold, and also kind of small, at least compared with Soldier Field.

2)    The fact that the name Heinz in everywhere, which makes it easy to sound knowledgeable about the city: “You make a right on Heinz Street and then you’ll cross the Heinz Bridge until you get to the Church of Heinzology.”

3)    The Cathedral of Learning, which includes the International Rooms, of which the most impressive is the Lithuanian room.

4)    The food, including the all-you-can-eat breakfast buffet at the Holiday Inn Express. I also like the way people here spell BURGER: BURGHER. (Which IS a good Scrabble word.) You know, after Pitts-BURGH.

5)    The people. Most of the people. Maybe not the drivers. Yeah, the drivers aren’t that great. I think it’s all the hills.