Not a Funny Blog Entry

Or maybe it is?

What’s funny anyway?

Dying is easy, comedy is difficult, said Groucho Marx or maybe it was Karl Marx, or perhaps Jack Lemmon or Edmund Gwenn (Santa Claus) or Madonna or Miley Cyrus.

I paraphrase and tell my students: “Dying is easy, writing is difficult.” They think I’m either crazy or a genius.

Scrabble is difficult and often not funny, though it is fun, at least more pleasurable than grading English 1000 argument papers that begin with “In my opinion, I believe….”  and “In today’s time…” I’ve told them they can’t begin a paper with “In today’s society,” but apparently they’ve found a loophole. They make up their own citation styles, a mixture of MLA and APA and God knows what else. I’ve told them that at least two of their sources need to be print sources.

“What do you mean by ‘print’ sources’?” a student asked.

I patiently explained, then added: “Are there any more questions?”

“Can we go now?”

Writer’s block isn’t funny, either, though I suppose having nothing to say is better than writing a really crappy essay or story or Scrabble blog entry.

But I DO have something to say.

I’m frustrated. The new Scrabble words go into effect January 1st, which means I should be seriously looking them over. There’s some confusion as to whether there are lists for these words or whether they have to be culled from the new dictionary like lentils from the ash heap in the original Cinderella story. Also, a lot of players are moving to Collins Scrabble, which uses the world dictionary and includes many more words. Should I start studying the new words when I have papers to grade and committee meetings to attend and WebMD to peruse? Should I go bi-Scrabble and play Collins? What to do, what to do?

I don’t like change. What’s so bad about being stuck in a time before Al Gore invented the internet, before Lil’ Wayne rapped bling bling, before some disaffected, unwashed youth became all emo?  The Scrabble Dictionary Committee should choose a year and stick with it.  (Note: bold-faced words are currently not in the North American Dictionary and I’m too lazy to check whether they’re good in Collins.) Or maybe we should revert to a previous time period such as the Renaissance or the Middle Ages. The Dictionary Committee could read everything that was written during the time of Chaucer and compile a new dictionary.  I know only one Middle English word that is good in Scrabble, and that is the glorious yclept.

I should add that I’m not the only person losing sleep over the new words. Melissa Anders Routzahn posted the following on Facebook:

“I was dreaming last night that I was studying new words, such as the  pair  GULU*/LUGU*. Now I’m going to have an extra level of anxiety when I’m playing, because I’ll be wondering if I’m putting down real words or ones my brain made up in my sleep.”

Melissa is NOT an anxious person unless she’s eaten the wrong cheese or her ale is not up to snuff, so her FB post must be taken seriously.

Other changes I’m conflicted or not crazy about:

1. For months on Facebook Scrabble I was drawing great tiles and plowing over my opponents like the Patriots (or the Packers or fill-in-the-blank) mow down the Bears. Now, all of a sudden, I’m losing games to players who’ve played a month of Scrabble in their entire lives.

2. Nigel Richards. He should always be in the top five of any tournament. (Yeah, yeah, I know that he won the smaller tournament.) The slow overshadowing of Richards by human players is unnatural. To quote from King Lear: “These late eclipses in the sun and moon portend no good to us. “

3. Recent changes to my PayPal account. Recent changes to policy blah blah blah.

4.  Recent changes to my body. I don’t mean the added pounds and drooping boobs—the added pounds actually help to prop up the boobs. No, I mean my head. No, not in that way. In a neurological I-don’t-know-what’s-happening way. The left side of my head goes numb and I’m getting headaches on the same side. They’re different from my migraines and not really painful, just scary. I’ve had an MRI done. I’m claustrophobic and was hoping the MRI guy would give me some Valium and maybe some extra to take home, but he just told me to relax. It wasn’t too bad except for the sound—construction workers drilling on my head. The results were normal. Doctor tested for diabetes, thyroid disorder, vitamin B deficiency, MS, and LSD. (Just kidding about the last one. Acronym overload.) Everything okay. So I’m set to see a neurologist at the end of JANUARY.  (Insert bad swear word here.) I’ve been to a massage therapist and feel all “floaty” afterward, but the numbness remains. My head is okay in the morning and gets progressively worse as the day goes on. I don’t feel it when I’m teaching or really engaged in a project, so it may partly be psychological. My psychiatrist doubled my dose of anti-depressants and told me to start using my SAD lamp and also to get back to exercising. We’ll see.  My fears: 1) I have some rare disease that will completely incapacitate me or 2) the neurologist will tell me to cut out all caffeine. If you know me, you know which is more fearful.

Marty is still in London.  He participated in the Mind Games tournament. Oops—Mind SPORTS. We Skyped for the first time. (Will skype be on the new words list?) There are many advantages to Skyping but one disadvantage is that you can’t really knit or grade papers or study Scrabble words if the conversation gets boring.

Marty wanted me to write about his best games. He sent me five or six via email.

Maybe next year.





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