Cheeps and Chirps for April 2017 (more catch-up)

June 23, 2017

By Matthew E. Milliken
MEMwrites.wordpress.com
June 23, 2017

You got it: Yet more catching up from my Twitter feed!

• ZOMG Donald Trump!

Read the rest of this entry »


Cheeps and Chirps for March 2017 (catching up)

June 19, 2017

By Matthew E. Milliken
MEMwrites.wordpress.com
June 19, 2017

More catching up from my Twitter feed!

• ZOMG Donald Trump (and comrades)!

Read the rest of this entry »


General notes on East Coast road trips, or: More morning motivation

June 17, 2017

By Matthew E. Milliken
MEMwrites.wordpress.com
June 17, 2017

I recently made one of a number of hometown pilgrimages that I undertake each year. On Wednesday, the eve before my return to North Carolina, my Parental Unit and I were discussing what time on Thursday I planned to depart. (I’d asked to be awoken by 9 if I wasn’t already up and about.)

P.U. then asked if I was trying to get back to the Old North State for any particular event. “Nope,” I responded flippantly.

Actually, this answer was in the nebulous realm between truth and untruth. I typically play free bar-league poker in Raleigh on Thursday evenings, and I prefer to arrive in time to participate in the early game, which begins at 7 p.m. (There’s a 20-minute grace period for late arrivals.) So there was that incentive for returning to Carolina by a particular time.

Read the rest of this entry »


Chronicle of a phantom gas leak

June 14, 2017

By Matthew E. Milliken
MEMwrites.wordpress.com
June 14, 2017

I was sitting in my parent’s family room with my Parental Unit and the dog Friday night when the three of us heard a chirp!

This, of course, is one of the minor nuisances of modern life: A gadget with (usually) a dying battery starts emitting plaintive noises, which will continue until either the battery (usually) is replaced or the power supply fails altogether.

When the chirp! repeated itself, I heaved a sigh and decided to go looking for the ailing device. I stood in the front hallway near the stairwell, but the detector there didn’t seem to be the source of the chirping. I went into the kitchen and held the stand-alone carbon monoxide detector to my ear, but that didn’t seem to be the origin of the noise either. I moved from spot to spot on the first floor, ears pricked, and I even went to the top of the staircase on the second floor. But the chirps kept coming, and I still couldn’t ascertain the source.

Read the rest of this entry »


Robert does me dirty: In which a terrible man beats me terribly at free poker

June 13, 2017

By Matthew E. Milliken
MEMwrites.wordpress.com
June 13, 2017

Time for more tales of free poker!

Last night, shortly after the late tournament consolidated from two tables to one, blinds were 10,000–20,000; as it happened, 20,000 was all that the fellow in the big blind had. I was sitting in first position with suited ace-10, both hearts. Naturally, I called. So did Robert, the player on my left. A third player did as well.

The flop, it seemed, could hardly have been better for me. The first card out was an ace; then came a four, followed by a second ace. That gave me three of a kind. I checked.

Not so Robert, who went all in for 65,000. The other live player folded; I counted Robert’s chips, sorted through mine and announced that I would call.

Read the rest of this entry »


June 3, 2017, mall Scrabble recap, part 3

June 9, 2017

By Matthew E. Milliken
MEMwrites.wordpress.com
June 9, 2017

The seventh round of Saturday’s Scrabble tournament was a repeat match between me and O—. It turned out to be incredibly dramatic.

O—, playing first, had a bingo with her second move, MUTATING 65, which put her up, 89-11. I had a sound answer, however, in KEX/EM/XU, a 66-point play utilizing the top row–center column triple-word-score bonus that the bingo had exposed.

Two turns later, I had a bingo of my own: rEFINERY, also a 65-point play, which leapfrogged me ahead, 143-118.

Then my lead started to grow. After she and I exchanged 20-point plays, O— had a power outage, making seven straight words that scored as little as 4 points (on two occasions) but no more than 12 points.

Read the rest of this entry »


June 3, 2017, mall Scrabble recap, part 2

June 8, 2017

By Matthew E. Milliken
MEMwrites.wordpress.com
June 8, 2017

The fourth game — and the final one of the tournament’s morning session — pitted me against N—, a North Carolinian whom I’d beaten a few months ago in our only previous meeting. I began with a rack of CEGHLTT and started the game by playing TETCH*, a 28-point phony. (TETCHY, TETCHIER and TETCHIEST are valid.)

N— answered with a 28-pointer of her own, COOEED, which I challenged — unwisely, as it turned out. Cooee is, per Dictionary.com, “a prolonged, shrill, clear call or cry used as a signal by Australian Aborigines” that has been adopted by that country’s settlers; it can also be a verb meaning to utter the call cooee. Upshot: COOEES, COOEED and COOEEING are all valid, and I forfeit my second turn. The score remained tied, however, as N— used her next move to swap out all seven of her tiles.

The two of us played a nip-and-tuck game until turn 9. I started the round with a rack of AILOSV? and played VOE 9, which tied the score at 146 apiece. N— responded with CORSETE*/LATE, a 65-point bingo.

Read the rest of this entry »


June 3, 2017, mall Scrabble recap, part 1

June 7, 2017

By Matthew E. Milliken
MEMwrites.wordpress.com
June 9, 2017

I returned to Scrabble tournament play at Durham’s Northgate Mall last Saturday. Despite having had another night of abridged sleep, I was feeling pretty excited about the day ahead of me.

The event started with my facing S—, an older North Carolina player whom I’d beaten in our only two previous meetings. Playing first, he swapped out five tiles, letting me open with LOVE 14. S— then used the O to put down a 70-point bingo, PIMENTOS. I considered challenging but opted not to, which is fortunate; PIMENTO (referring to spice) is valid, and its plural can be spelled with either -S or -ES.

My second play, FAILED/FA/AN/IN/ES, garnered 36 points. But S— answered with a nifty 47-pointer, CROAK/CLOVE/RES/OD, which I challenged because I was unsure of RES. Since that three-letter word is valid, I forfeit my next move. I trailed, 117-50, entering turn 4 — hardly a great start.  Read the rest of this entry »


Play, interrupted: Theater in the round

May 31, 2017

By Matthew E. Milliken
MEMwrites.wordpress.com
May 31, 2017

Continued from my previous post.

The fourth act of The Seagull takes place four years after the first three segmhs. The schoolteacher and the groundskeeper’s daughter have married, unhappily, and now have a young child. Both Kostya and Nina have had some success in the theater. But as the still passionate young man tells us, her personal life has been a disaster: She bore a child out of wedlock, and after the baby died in infancy, she seemed to lose a certain quality that had made her performances not only believable but in fact celebrated. As it happens, Nina has returned to the island, but she refuses to see anyone.

The scene unfolded on the sheltered porch of a pool house. I sat on the lawn taking in the play with the rest of the audience. The sun had sank beneath the horizon, and most of the natural light had faded. Every so often, I felt a gentle tap somewhere on my body. Rainclouds were moving in.

Read the rest of this entry »


Play, interrupted: Theater in place

May 31, 2017

By Matthew E. Milliken
MEMwrites.wordpress.com
May 31, 2017

On the evening of Memorial Day, I drove to a residential street in a rural area near the county line separating Durham, home of the city of Durham, and Orange, home of the towns of Chapel Hill, Carrboro and Hillsborough. I went there to see a production of The Seagull in which a friend of mine was appearing. The show was being performed on the spacious grounds of a home; that is, it was entirely outdoors. It ended up being a memorable evening.

I’d previously neither seen nor read The Seagull, which Anton Chekhov wrote in 1895. This version was a 2012 adaptation by the British playwright Anya Reiss, which the local company modified slightly for the United States. Chekhov’s drama is set on a rural Russian estate, and the characters talk of running in Moscow’s exalted social theatrical and literary circles, while Reiss’s narrative takes place on the Isle of Man, with London standing in for the Russian capital. The staging I saw purported to be on a lavish, isolated Ocracoke Island estate on North Carolina’s Outer Banks; New York, naturally, was substituted for London/Moscow.

The estate is owned by Sorin, an elderly Supreme Court justice (at least in this telling), who lives with his young nephew, a passionate, impulsive would-be playwright named Konstantin, a.k.a. Kostya. All of the action revolves around two visits made to the estate by Arkadina, Sorin’s sister and Kostya’s mother, a famous stage actress. Her younger lover is Boris Trigorin, a critically and popularly acclaimed novelist, who indulges a mutual attraction he has with Kostya’s sweetheart, a local naif and wannabe actress named Nina. They’re not alone in having wandering eyes; aside from Sorin, his groundskeeper and a local schoolteacher, each of the other characters in the play is tied to one lover but makes a play for another.

Read the rest of this entry »


%d bloggers like this: