Take your broke rack home

Blog Name: So many books, so little time

Blog URL: http://enna-bookmania.blogspot.com/
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Location: Boston : Massachusetts : United States
Blog Summary: I can't go into a used bookstore without buying something.
This blog has been active since: 2007, March
Post: Take your broke rack home / March 6, 2008

Take your broke rack home

I have never really liked Scrabble. But for some reason, when you put it online and give it a catchy new name, I become addicted to it. I refer of course to Scrabulous, the most excellent time-waster I have ever seen. I am really not very good at it, but I usually have at least five games going at once. (I have to draw the line at playing at work though – I would never get anything done!)

Inspired by my new addiction, I decided to finally read a book that I bought a few months ago but hadn’t gotten around to yet – “Word Freak,” by Stefan Fatsis. The author is a Wall Street Journal reporter who decided to devote a year to Scrabble to see if he could become an expert level player.

Fatsis started hanging out with several of the best Scrabble players in the U.S., a motley collection of mostly unemployed, unsocialized young men who spend all of their time memorizing word lists and quizzing each other on anagrams. At first he is somewhat disdainful of all the time they spend on Scrabble, but soon enough he becomes sucked into the crazed world of competitive Scrabble.

These people are not joking around – it’s not unusual to see words like SUQ, ZINCOID, LIAISES and ACAROID appear on the board. Players compile and study lists of the letter combinations most likely to produce bingos (which use all 7 letters on your rack), lists of two letter words, lists of words that include BOAT, etc, etc.

An aside: My most glorious Scrabulous moment so far involves making ZANY with a triple-word score, with the Y hooked onto JAUNT to form JAUNTY. That totaled about 80 points, which is nothing compared to the moves that the elite players make all the time.

Fatsis profiles many of the major players and delves into the history of Scrabble as he relates his personal quest to reach the expert level. The game was invented by architect Alfred Butts in the 1930s and eventually bought by Hasbro (Mattel owns the international rights).

Both companies have been making quite a fuss over the huge popularity of Scrabulous and are threatening to shut it down. In my opinion, that would just alienate all of the new Scrabble fans (like me!), which seems like a marketing fiasco. Hopefully they can come up with some kind of agreement… I’m optimistic that it hasn’t been shut down yet :)

Btw the title of this post comes from this fantastic song, “Scrabulous,” a parody of “Glamorous,” passed on to me by Mimi37 (who always beats me at Scrabulous! Grrrr). My favorite line: “If you ain’t got no vowels take your broke rack home.”

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