Thursday/ what’s today’s WORDLE?

A new word game called WORDLE* is all the buzz on Twitter.
It’s online and free, with a new word you have to guess every day, so I had to check it out.

*Launched publicly in October last year, the game was created by Josh Wardle, a software engineer from Wales living in New York, for his partner, Palak Shah, who loves puzzles. At first, the game was played by family, before it was rolled out globally, Wardle told the New York Times.

The rules are simple.
You have 6 tries to guess the mystery 5-letter word.
After every guess, a green letter says the letter & its position is correct.
Yellow means the letter is in the word, but in the wrong place.
Grey means the letter is not in the word. The little keyboard at the bottom is updated after every word.
See my approach? I put frequently used letters in the first two words, and that thins out the possibilities dramatically, from the third guess onwards.
On Tuesday, Julia Fine, a 33-year-old novelist in Chicago, went with what she knows: QUERY, as in the letters aspiring authors send while seeking a literary agent. She got five green boxes on the first try, a Wordle hole-in-one. Astounded, she posted her victory on Twitter, reasoning: “What can I do with this other than share?” – from the Washington Post

Tuesday/ a song called Mississippi

Pussycat was a Dutch country and pop group led by the three Kowalczyk sisters: Toni, Betty and Marianne. They had a monster hit in South Africa with their song Mississippi.

The year was 1977. I was in high school, with no inkling that the year 1995 would find me living on the banks of the Mississippi (in St Louis, Missouri).

I had long scoured secondhand CD stores for music from the group ⁠—with no success. So it was time for the nuclear option: order one from overseas on Discogs.com.

The cover of the CD that arrived on my doorstep, from a seller in Germany. Nooo, I thought, this will not do as the artwork for the album in my Apple Music collection. That Art Deco font does not work for me.  And how did MISSISSIPPI with one P make it onto the cover?
This album cover is much better, and I uploaded this one. Very 70’s with the lettering, their hair, their clothes and even the furniture.

Thursday/ a friendly reindeer

I was at Bellevue Square shopping mall today.
The Microsoft store had closed down. The Apple store upstairs is still open, and the Tesla showroom is still there as well.
(Funny, how it felt like ‘old news’, looking at the Model 3 and the two Model Ys on display— now that I have had my own car for 6 months).

The display window of the LEGO store in Bellevue Square. Let’s see what Santa is up to, right there on perched on the nose (Rudolph’s nose?) ..
Santa is enjoying a cup of hot chocolate with Mrs. Claus.

Wednesday/ no check for proof of vaccination

Bryan, Gary and I made our way down to The Chieftain for a beer and a bite tonight.

There’s no one at the door to check for masks & proof of vaccination, and it was not done at the table, either. At this point, all bars and restaurants in King County with inside seating— no matter how small — must check for proof of vaccination. We let it slide .. the waiter wore a mask, and the tables are very far apart. King County is 75% fully vaccinated per the New York Times.
Many other counties in Washington State lag far behind, with numbers like 65% (Snohomish), 59% (Pierce), 57% (Yakima), 51% (Kittitas).  

Thursday/ no Squid Game for me

Sorry — not sorry — Netflix, I did not sign up for shows like Squid Game.
I don’t care that it’s your No 1 show. I really don’t care.

For people that feel that they are missing out, Angela Haupt offers these tips in The Washington Post:
-Read a synopsis ahead of time.
-Focus on the corners of the screen.
-Think about something else during the stressful parts.
-Watch in small doses rather than all at once.
-Find a way to ground yourself in the present moment.
-Make up a backstory for the “scary” characters.
-Talk about it.

The article also says: If you truly don’t want to watch an uncomfortable show like “Squid Game,” experts say you shouldn’t force yourself — no matter how much you worry your social currency might drop.
Me: Have no fear. I will not force myself.

Thursday/ a LEGO Titanic set?

Rumor has it that a LEGO Titanic set is forthcoming, as early as November 1st (the LEGO company is mute).
The LEGO Creator Expert set #10294 is said to have 9,090 pieces, so it will be bigger than the Colosseum ($550, 9036 pieces)*.

*The 2021 LEGO World Map has 11,695 pieces, but it is a flat model with a large number of mosaic pieces.

(Unofficial, not confirmed by LEGO!) This is what the LEGO version of RMS Titanic, operated by the White Star Line, will look like. Reportedly it has no mini-figures (so no crew, and no Jack & Rose from the Titanic movie in the bow). It is also not known if the interior of the ship will show a few details such as part of the engine room, or the grand ballroom of the Titanic with its spiral staircase. 
[Picture from https://www.brickfinder.net/]

Tuesday/ more Looney Tunes characters

My LEGO Looney Tunes character collection of twelve little figures is almost complete.
(Daffy Duck got left behind when the package was shipped from Denmark, maybe the Bricklink seller there can send me one in an envelope).

Lola Bunny with her basket ball, Bugs Bunny’s love interest. She is a late addition to the Looney Tunes characters, debuting only in 1996 in ‘Space Jam’. She likes to say ‘Don’t ever call me ‘Doll’ ‘.
Tasmanian Devil (‘Taz’) is a scary character, moving like a whirlwind, short-tempered and with an insatiable appetite. Any music— just not Scottish bagpipes— will calm him down, though.
Marvin the Martian debuted in 1948. He has no mouth, nose or ears, and his outfit is loosely based on the Hoplites: the heavily armed foot soldiers of ancient Greece (helmet with the brush on, and skirt). The Hoplites did not have ray guns, of course.
Petunia Pig with teapot and tea cup. She debuted in 1937 in ‘Porky’s Romance’ as Porky Pig’s love interest. In the cartoon movie she has a spoiled pooch called Fluffnums and would have nothing to do with him.

Friday/ the insouciant rabbit

in·sou·ci·ant
/inˈso͞osēənt,inˈso͞oSHənt/
adjective
showing a casual lack of concern; indifferent.
“an insouciant shrug”


My package from Kopenhagen, Denmark finally landed on the porch today.
Inside are the LEGO Looney Tunes figures that were still missing from my collection, plus a bunch of bricks for building trees and foliage. I will build one figure every day. Here is the first one: the famous rabbit.

Do I even need to introduce this rabbit? Per Wikipedia: ‘Bugs Bunny is an anthropo-morphic gray and white rabbit or hare who is famous for his flippant, insouciant personality’. He debuted in director Tex Avery’s Oscar-nominated cartoon film ‘A Wild Hare’ (1940).
P.S. That is an enormous carrot!

Wednesday/ stop cheating, Zoey!

I found a new version of Scrabble to play. I play against Zoey.
Zoey is a program, and I select her ‘Grand Master’ level. There is no point in playing her at any other level, is my reasoning.
Still, sometimes it really feels as if she cheats.
Examples: putting down 7 letters* for words such as GAZUNDER and spelling UMIAK as OOMIAK.
*Using all 7 letters earns the player a 50 point bonus.

Here is an explanation of the unusual words on the board (unusual for me⁠— my apologies for any insult rendered to the reader’s vocabulary):
GAZUNDER verb, informal, British: (of a buyer) lower the amount of an offer made on a property and accepted by (a seller) at the time of final negotiations, as in ‘the couple have just been gazundered in one of London’s most expensive areas’
TYEE noun, adjective: from Nootka Jargon tayi(s) < Nuu-chah-nulth tayi ‘elder’, ‘oldest son’, ‘older brother’, ‘senior’; allegedly resembles Inuktitut toyom ‘chief’
OOMIAK noun, from Inuit umiaq, variant spelling of ‘umiak’: an open boat made of a wooden frame covered with hide used especially by indigenous peoples of arctic Alaska, Canada, Greenland, and eastern Siberia
OE noun: a small island
NAV noun: short form of navigation
ODAH noun: a room in a harem
KEEVES noun, plural: a tub or vat especially for liquids (as a bleaching kier or dolly tub)
SETTS noun, plural: the den or burrow of a badger; also: the particular pattern of stripes in a tartan

Friday/ Lego City Sports Car

I was at Bartell Drugs (pharmacy) today, and hey! saw that they have a nice little set of LEGO offerings on the shelf with toys.

Age 5+ said the box with the blue ‘Sports Car’ inside, and I thought
1. Well, I am 5+, so I qualify :), and
2. More to the point: I own a blue ‘sports car’ and therefore I have to buy the LEGO sports car. LEGO imitates life (and fantasy).

My plan is to build the little model, and then see if I can modify it so that it better resembles my Tesla Model 3.

Let’s see. The hood & general shape look OK. The headlights need to be round. The windshield will need to be extended (Tesla Model 3 has a  glass roof). The white chassis has to be blue, same as the car. Maybe I can modify the model to give it  4 doors .The wheels look OK; it might be hard to mimic the flat panels on my Aero wheels.
Back of the box. No exhaust pipes on the Tesla, of course, so those have to go. No spoiler on my car. The big brake light bar on the model’s back need to be changed. The lights on my car are up on the corners. As for the driver (me): brown or gray hair; definitely not blond!

Thursday/ the fastest mouse in Mexico

From Wikipedia:
Speedy Gonzales is an animated cartoon character in the Warner Brothers Looney Tunes and Merrie Melodies series of cartoons. He is portrayed as “The Fastest Mouse in all Mexico” with his major traits being the ability to run extremely fast, speaking English with an exaggerated Mexican accent, and also speaking Spanish. He usually wears a yellow sombrero, white shirt and trousers (which was a common traditional outfit worn by men and boys of rural Mexican villages), and a red kerchief, similar to that of some traditional Mexican attires.

Cartoons featuring Speedy Gonzales were removed from the Cartoon Network TV channel in 1999— due to concerns that the little mouse’s sombrero and heavy accent insulted Mexicans. Speedy Gonzales fans were mightily upset, though, and successfully petitioned for his return to Cartoon Network three years later.

LEGO’s Speedy Gonzales minifigure, another one of the 12 Warner Bros. Looney Tunes characters in the set from LEGO.  The character first appeared in 1953 in  ‘Cat-Tails for Two’ (as an early version) and officially debuted in ‘Speedy Gonzales’ in 1955.

Tuesday/ a wily coyote

wil·y
/ˈwīlē/

adjective
skilled at gaining an advantage, especially deceitfully.


[Description taken from Wikipedia] Here’s Wile E. Coyote, the cunning, devious and constantly hungry Coyote that  repeatedly attempts to catch and subsequently eat the Road Runner.

Instead of his animal instincts, the Coyote uses absurdly complex contraptions (sometimes in the manner of Rube Goldberg) to try to catch his prey, which comically backfire, with the Coyote often getting injured in slapstick fashion. Many of the items for these contrivances are mail-ordered from a variety of companies that are all named Acme Corporation.

One running gag involves the Coyote trying (in vain) to shield himself with a little parasol against a great falling boulder that is about to crush him. Another running gag involves the Coyote falling from a high cliff. After he goes over the edge, the rest of the scene, shot from a bird’s-eye view, shows him falling into a canyon so deep, that his figure is eventually lost to sight. This is followed, a second or two later, by the rising of a dust cloud from the canyon floor as the Coyote hits.

The LEGO minifigure depiction of the Looney Tunes character Wile E. Coyote. He made his first appearance in 1949 with Road Runner. As his contraptions go (to take out Road Runner), this anvil is a pretty simple one.
P.S. Seattle residents report real coyote spottings from time to time, right here in the city.

Thursday/ ‘I tawt I taw a puddy tat!’

The LEGO packet I opened this morning had yet another Road Runner in – ugh.
Got to open another one, I thought. The next one had a Tweety bird in.
So 4 unique mini-figures out of 6 opened so far.

I actually have one more packet to open, but I already know I will ‘have to’* buy another handful of packets. I want a Bugs Bunny and a Wile E. Coyote.
*LEGO has landed me exactly where they wanted me: a collector with an incomplete collection.

From Wikipedia:
Tweety is a yellow canary in the Warner Bros. Looney Tunes and Merrie Melodies series of animated cartoons. The character first appeared in The Cagey Canary (early version; 1941) and A Tale of Two Kitties (official version; 1942).
“Tweety” is a play on words, as it originally meant “sweetie”, along with “tweet” being an English onomatopoeia for the sounds of birds.
Despite the perceptions that people may hold, owing to the long eyelashes and high-pitched voice (which Mel Blanc provided), Tweety is male— although his ambiguity was played with on occasion.

 ‘I tawt I taw a puddy tat!’ is one of Tweety’s signature lines. Sylvester the ‘puddy tat’ had better watch out. I don’t think his baseball bat is a match for this giant mallet hammer.

Wednesday/ ‘That’s all Folks!’

Porky Pig was one of the first of the animated characters in the Warner Bros. Looney Tunes and Merrie Melodies series of cartoons. He first appeared in I Haven’t Got a Hat in 1935.

‘That’s all Folks!’ is Porky Pig’s signature line at the end of many shorts.

Tuesday/ Sylvester the Cat

I opened the second of my 6 LEGO Looney Tunes minifigure packets this morning and .. rats! it was another Road Runner. So I opened the third one, and inside was Sylvester the Cat.

Sylvester the Cat is another character from the golden age of American animation— full name Sylvester James Pussycat, Sr. His name “Sylvester” is a play on Felis silvestris, the scientific name for the European wildcat.

Sylvester the Cat, with his characteristic tuxedo black-and-white coat, baseball bat in hand. He first appeared in a 1945 Warner Bros. Merrie Melodies animated short film directed by Friz Freleng. Most of his appearances have him chasing Tweety bird, Speedy Gonzales (‘fastest mouse in Mexico’), or Hippety Hopper (a young kangaroo).

Monday/ a Road Runner in my lucky packet

LEGO’s little articulated figurines (‘minifigures’) have been around a long, long time – since 1978. Sets of ‘collectible’ ones were introduced starting in 2010; they usually come as sets of 16 in blind bags, so the collector may very well end up with duplicates before having a complete set.

I had resisted the sets of monsters, masqueraded characters, Harry Potter figures, Star Wars figures and all that, thus far.  There is a new Looney Tunes™ series out, though, that has Bugs Bunny, Lola Bunny, Daffy Duck, Tweety Bird, Sylvester, Road Runner, Wile E. Coyote, Porky Pig, Petunia Pig, Speedy Gonzales, Tasmanian Devil and Marvin the Martian.  And so the other day, I caved in and bought 6 blind bags, each with one of the characters in.
Back in the day in South Africa, these would be called ‘lucky packets’. (Bags with a piece of candy and a surprise toy inside).

I opened the first of my 6 packets, and it was Road Runner. Wile E. Coyote and the Road Runner are a duo of cartoon characters that were created for Warner Bros. in 1948 by animation director Chuck Jones and writer Michael Maltese [Source: Wikipedia].
I will open a bag every day this week, and post a picture of what I found inside. There are 12 characters in the set, so I have a shot at not getting any duplicates. (My knowledge of statistics is too rusty to work out what my odds are for no duplicates).

Thursday/ a little soirée

Our social tennis group had a little soirée after the tennis tonight, by the tennis courts at Woodland Park. There was something to drink, and a few snacks, while we hung around and chatted.
It felt great.

Post Covid19, many people are still getting used to socializing again. [Cartoon from a recent The New Yorker magazine; the cartoonist is Matthew Diffee].

Friday/ a little shopping spree

I had $50 gift card for Walmart from my insurance company, one that could only be redeemed in the store.

So off I went this morning to the Walmart in Factoria, on the Eastside.
‘For Pete’s sake, get something that you want with the card, not food or soap, or something like that’, I thought as I drove out there.

There were several spots of empty shelf space at Walmart. So they still have some supply-chain challenges, like many other stores.

Here’s my choice (the giraffe got me): a LEGO Creator set, that I can build a treehouse with. It’s 3-in-1, so the bricks can also build an airplane and a doggie, or a raft with a sail, and a crocodile.
.. and then I went to the Target store next door, to buy some groceries, and I made the ‘mistake’ (it was an intentional mistake), of checking out their LEGO offerings. So of course, I had to pick up this safari truck and lion to go with the treehouse and giraffe.

Saturday Night Live/ a win for Musk, SNL

”I reinvented electric cars and I’m sending people to Mars on a rocket ship. Did you think I was also going to be a chill, normal dude?”
– Elon Musk during his monologue on Saturday Night Live, tonight


Ever since it was announced (some weeks ago) that billionaire engineer and business magnate Elon Musk would host tonight’s Saturday Night Live episode, the haters chimed in with criticism of him, and the show for inviting him as host.

Well, he was “pretty good at running ‘human’ in emulation mode” (his words). His mom Maye (73) made a cameo appearance during his monologue, and he revealed that he has Asperger’s syndrome (I don’t believe this was public knowledge before today).

He played in almost every skit: a socially awkward guest at a post-quarantine party; a guilty priest in a parody of HBO’s latest crime drama; director of a silly Icelandic TV show; the Mario universe character Wario; a financial adviser that could not explain what (the crypto-currency) Dogecoin is, and a convincing version of himself, as head of SpaceX dealing with an emergency on a Martian colony.

Elon Musk (49) projecting his ‘geek’ prowess, in a still picture from on Saturday Night Live [Picture from Saturday Night Live Show, NBC]

Monday/ R Place to lose its place

I saw only today (it had been announced in early February), that the gay bar called R Place will not be able to renew its lease at its 619 East Pine Street location, after 35 years there.  Apparently it’s not due to the pandemic. The owner of the Pine Street building had died and the estate did not renew R Place’s lease.

The managers of R Place vowed to find a new location, but the loss of the four floors at the Pine Street location is a very big one for the LGBTQ community.
It feels similar to the loss of the beloved CC Seattle complex’s entertainment venue and bars, at the corner of Madison & 15th Avenue. (This was in Sept. 2010, to make way for the office building called the Bullitt Center).

The R Place location at 619 East Pine St. I took this picture a year ago, in Feb. 2020.
The building dates back to Capitol Hill’s auto row and is believed to have been a Ford Model T showroom, complete with a car elevator, the remnants of which can still be seen inside the four-story structure. The building must date back to say, 1911, or a little later. At that time, 31 of the city’s 41 car dealers were located on either East Pike Street or Broadway, joined by dozens of businesses catering to an entirely new class of consumers:  motorists. [Information from ‘Pike/ Pine Auto Row’ by John Caldbick at https://www.historylink.org/]