Oct 11, 2011 Ned Campbell Uncategorized
As an editor, I have to be extra choosy with my words. I was doing this long before I got involved in journalism — as an avid player of Scrabble.
Don’t get me wrong: I don’t mean to suggest that playing Scrabble prepared me for this job. If anything, editing a newspaper forces me to shut out the Scrabble playing part of my brain. For example, using two-letter words like “za” and “qi” is generally frowned upon in the newsroom. And just to be clear, I don’t get paid extra for using z’s and q’s in my stories.
And yet I continue to persevere, playing Scrabble even when I know the words it adds to my vocabulary will never be any use to me at work.
My history with Scrabble is, for the most part, typical for someone my age. I started playing in middle school with my family, faced off against with friends when they had the attention span for it, and when it was invented, I began playing online Scrabble. When Scrabble became accessible by smart phone, I bought the app, and eventually gave in to the “Words with Friends” craze (For those who don’t know, Words with Friends is an app that rips off Scrabble, but is more popular and user-friendly).
But before Scrabble made it to the smart phone, and this is where my story becomes unique, I started the Fredonia Scrabble Guild. It seemed to have all the necessary components for taking off: interest from my peers, uniqueness and most important, a Facebook page.
Except the Fredonia Scrabble Guild never got off the ground. I started the club during winter break when most students were home visiting family. The club’s Facebook page still bears this description: “We use the Scrabble beta application for its convenience, but come spring semester, look for Scrabble house parties, Scrabble at Sunny’s, Scrabble everywhere.”
The club was successful in getting more Fredonia students playing online Scrabble with each other — so successful that no one felt the need to actually meet up and play once the spring semester started. Of course, I will take the blame for not organizing any Scrabble house parties, though no one ever complained that I didn’t.
Thankfully, not all Scrabble groups are as fleeting as the Fredonia Scrabble Guild. Recently, Syracuse resident Mary Carney started the CNY Scrabble Club, which met for the first time two Sundays ago at the DeWitt Community Library in Shoppingtown Mall. The good turnout proved that local residents do feel the need to play Scrabble in person, as well as Carney’s dedication to promoting the club.
I was there to meet Carney and take photos, but was easily convinced into playing a round of Scrabble. I had about an hour free, which was all the time it took to finish a game against Manlius residents Dave and Madeline Bodner (I promised them I wouldn’t use this column as a chance to boast about winning, so I won’t mention the final score).
I had a great time in that hour getting to know Madeline, a retired seamstress, and Dave, an engineer who has been retired from New York Telephone for almost 30 years. “That was about three name changes before Verizon,” he said. I also enjoyed the moderate-paced, respectful play.
Madeline said her husband has taught her to be a pretty good player, admitting, “I’ll never be as good as he.” Dave quipped: “Why, ‘cause I know some really weird words?”
I’m glad I stuck around for a game, and plan to return this Sunday and with at least one friend. I’m officially hooked on “real life” Scrabble thanks to Carney’s club, and can proudly say I recently deleted my Words with Friends app.
Ned Campbell is editor of the Eagle Bulletin. Reach him at email@example.com.