A constantly changing, convoluted narrative leads the reader to unexpected delights in Frederick Reiken’s ‘Day for Night’

July 3, 2015

By Matthew E. Milliken
MEMwrites.wordpress.com
July 3, 2015

Frederick Reiken’s 2010 book, Day for Night, is hard to characterize. Technically, it’s a series of connected stories; however, it reads like a novel. (The indicia page indicates that three of the 10 chapters were previously published as stand-alone stories.) Each chapter is narrated by a separate character; each is connected in various ways — some of them obvious, others not so — to people or events in other chapters.

The woman at the heart of Day for Night, if such a disparate book can be said to have a heart, is Beverly, a New Jersey physician with two teenage daughters who is poised to adopt Jordan, the 13-year-old son of David, her terminally ill boyfriend. She narrates the opening chapter, in which a young Florida tour guide takes her, David and Jordan to swim with manatees. In the next section, the narrator becomes the tour guide, Tim, whose bandmate, Dee, has spent much of her life fleeing her family, a secretive and mysterious Utah clan.

Chapter 3 takes the form of the deposition of a veteran FBI agent who interviewed Tim and Dee in Salt Lake City because they were seated on an airplane flight next to Katherine, a strangely elusive fugitive suspected in a bombing, a kidnapping and other crimes going back nearly 15 years. The agent later encounters Katherine as she spirits away Dee’s brother, Dillon, a badly injured young man who appears to be a captive of his odd parents.

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The more you know: Tisane, ingesta, digesta and other Scrabble anomalies

July 1, 2015

By Matthew E. Milliken
MEMwrites.wordpress.com
July 1, 2015

Time for a Scrabble rant!

This post revolves around a single high-scoring play in game 5 of the tournament that I played on Saturday, June 27. But before I recap what happened and explain why things were so screwy, I want to discuss a key part of the game.

A bingo, as faithful readers know, is a move that uses all seven letters on a player’s rack. A bingo yields the points scored that such a move would normally score plus a 50-point bonus. Competitive games among really good players tend to average at least one bingo. Typically, in tournaments, the player who bingos the most will win the most games.

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Scrabbling: Recapping my June 27, 2015, tournament (part 4 of 4)

July 1, 2015

By Matthew E. Milliken
MEMwrites.wordpress.com
July 1, 2015

Game 7 began innocuously enough. Alas; soon, it devolved into a rout.

I played J., a cheerful local fellow. After three turns, he held a 77-53 lead, mainly thanks to his second play, AX 30.

But on turn 4, J. laid down FRIENDlY 69, giving him a big lead. And two plays later, he sprang a second bingo, MEAThEAD 66. I was down, and down big: I trailed 238-117 at the close of turn 6.

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Scrabbling: Recapping my June 27, 2015, tournament (part 3 of 4)

June 30, 2015

By Matthew E. Milliken
MEMwrites.wordpress.com
June 30, 2015

Game 5 started off as a massacre and ended as one, too. But it nearly took an interesting twist along the way…

My opponent was a fellow about my age, a local player whom I’ll call T. On the first move, he bingoed with SNORTEd 61. I replied with HID 16. On T.’s second move, he bingoed again with MOISTURE 61. That gave him a comfortable 123-16 lead midway through turn 2.

I had one hope to make the game competitive, which involved the word MOISTURE. T. had played this vertically through the O in SNORTEd. The second bingo was on the board’s center column; its final letter was on the 14th row.

That meant that if I could put an S or a blank on the end of MOISTURE, I’d be able to score a huge play using the triple-word-score space — a bonus that would apply to MOISTURES and to whatever word I formed on the bottom row.

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Scrabbling: Recapping my June 27, 2015, tournament (part 2 of 4)

June 30, 2015

By Matthew E. Milliken
MEMwrites.wordpress.com
June 30, 2015

My third game in the tournament was against a college student, C. The game was pretty nip and tuck in the early going, but C. got some separation in the seventh turn by playing STICK 32. I responded with DAsH 45, with the first and last letters respectively covering a triple-word-score square and a double-word-score square.

A few turns later, I played FIZ; having the Z on a triple-letter-score space gave me 35 points and a 206-166 lead halfway through turn 10. In the next round, however, C.’s VINES 32 cut his deficit to 222-212.

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Scrabbling: Recapping my June 27, 2015, tournament (part 1 of 4)

June 29, 2015

By Matthew E. Milliken
MEMwrites.wordpress.com
June 29, 2015

I was behind almost from the get-go.

The first two plays in my first game in the Scrabble tournament in which I played on Saturday were my YETI 14 and my opponent’s ICY 16. Deficit: minus-2. On her second turn, L. played LEAF over two bonus squares for 47 points. I trailed, 63-36, and things would only get worse from there.

On turn 5, I decided against making a play that would have made ABO. L. used the spot I’d passed by, playing QAT for 35.

On the 10th turn, I thought I might have a chance to catch up. I played SHUNT on dual bonus tiles for 45 points. That narrowed the margin to 216-176.

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June 26, 2015: The Supreme Court extends marriage equality to all, and history is made

June 27, 2015

By Matthew E. Milliken
MEMwrites.wordpress.com
June 27, 2015

I don’t remember much about when or why I first started thinking seriously about gay marriage. I do know this, however: I used to be on the wrong side of history and justice.

I’m the kind of moderate who usually prefers to split the difference rather than award one or the other side an outright victory on any given issue. Gay marriage initially seemed to me to be frivolous — a pointless expansion, and perhaps even an outright redefinition, of marriage. If homosexuals could obtain civil unions that afforded them all the same legal rights as marriage, then why was there any need for gay marriage?

Granted, many states didn’t allow civil unions for homosexuals. This left life partners at the mercy of blood relatives and courts who were often hostile to their interests when one member of a couple was hospitalized or died. Still, civil unions were a reasonable intermediate step. If they could be implemented throughout the nation, I thought, it would moot the struggle over gay marriage.

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My trip to the eye doctor (part 2)

June 26, 2015

By Matthew E. Milliken
MEMwrites.wordpress.com
June 26, 2015

And now, I continue the story of my trip to the eye doctor

When the examination was complete, the doctor walked me over to the spectacle showroom. I heard him asking two assistants (opticians? I dunno) who was up; one replied that neither was. “You’re not the only one in this office with a sense of humor,” I said to the doctor as he left. We both smiled, as did the optician (technician?).

Looking at the frames on display, I was quickly drawn to a pair that closely resembled the ones I’m wearing now. I didn’t like the fact that they had Nike swooshes on the side, but after perusing two or three whole cases, they were the spectacles to which I was most drawn.

Some of the rectangular frames were attractive, as were some that lacked rims on the bottom of the lenses, but I was afraid they’d look goofy on me. And so I went with the first — really, the only — pair that I’d picked.

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My trip to the eye doctor (part 1)

June 26, 2015

By Matthew E. Milliken
MEMwrites.wordpress.com
June 26, 2015

On Thursday morning, I drove myself to my appointment at the eye doctor’s office.

Like my recent trips to the dentist, this visit was long overdue. Not only had it been a few years since my last eye examination, it had been a number of months since my most recent pair of glasses had fallen apart. (Fortunately, I had a backup pair that was in excellent condition.)

Some of the equipment in this doctor’s office seemed to be a bit more modern than what I’ve seen in other ones. The assistant (optician? technician?) started me off with a machine that did a retinal scan. One procedure, which in other places had involved a machine blowing tiny puffs of air into each eye, now was performed by a puffless device.

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More memories of recent losing hands

June 22, 2015

By Matthew E. Milliken
MEMwrites.wordpress.com
June 22, 2015

Another day, another tournament.

It is, in fact, the third hand of a tournament. There are about six people at the table. I’m in the big blind.

Players fold until the action gets to Dave, a player I’m fairly familiar with. He raises to 700. Another player — I believe the man in the small blind, immediately to my right — calls.

Action comes to me. I peek at my hand and see dual kings.

Huh.

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