Chad Kingston-MacDonald, contributor
My advice to you is to do what your parents did: Play on a real board. Oh, sure, you consistently rack up 40-point games on Scrabble for iPhone and routinely score 50-point, seven-letter bonus monsters on “Words with Friends” (a cheap iPhone app ripoff version of Scrabble). We’ve seen you gleefully gloating on Facebook about your use of the word “ejet” to score a monster 101-point play. Maybe you have all the two-letter words memorized, but then again, maybe you don’t. Of course, on Scrabble for Facebook, they’re all conveniently posted for you to skim over whenever the need should arise to recall some obscure and useless English word. (By the way, “PL” means something in English, although it is mysteriously not present on the Facebook two-letter word list).
Remember the days when you could challenge someone’s word to get such unholy garbage as “PERSISTANT” and “AMATURE” thrown off the board along with your opponents loss of turn? No longer. The Scrabble equivalent of spell check keeps such words from ever showing their ugly faces with this toothless comment: “Warning: This word is not in the dictionary. Please try again.” C’mon! So here you are with the letter set of X, V, E, A, I, U, E with an unplayed board on Scrabble for Facebook. Now, you’ve got the obvious “VEX,” which would give you a tidy sum of 26 points to the positive. But you just don’t feel … fulfilled. “VEX” just doesn’t grab you as being sexy or urbanal enough. Well, the good news is you have 10 days to obsessively rearrange the letters and, like the metaphorical monkey slamming away on his typewriter for infinity until one day he finds he has composed the entire works of Shakespeare, you discover that “EXUVIAE” is not only a sexy motherfucking word (a plural noun meaning to shed materials such as skin or hair, but what do you
care?), it scores a double letter on the X, a double word score AND a bonus of 50 points for using all your tiles — slapping down an absolutely dictatorial combo that nets you a whopping 100 points! Sure, buddy, just try doing that in person.
While you are sitting at a table playing with a group of friends staring at you, fingers tapping, waiting for you to do something more than obsessively stare like a zombie at your letters, it is much more likely that you will be forced to come up with words from your own vocabulary. You know that “XI” is a playable word, but can you define it, good sir or madam? Hm? Mmhm … I sense a “challenge” coming on. Oh yeah, “HM” and “MMHM” are examples of no-vowel playable words, along with the obscure-as-utter- holy-shit “CWM” and “CRWTH” (Welsh for “jacking off one-handed” and “give a sheep a reach-around,” respectively. Some will argue that Scrabble has never been about having a encyclopedic knowledge of words and word usage, but modern-day Scrabble makes even rote memorization a thing of the past — the same place to which interaction seems to be relegated.
Get off your lazy asses, you mobile-phoned, urbanal Scrabble snobs. Dust off the Hasbro version of the game from the top of the bookshelf, where it resides next to your 12 books on Zen meditation, invite a friend over, smoke some weed, have an English dictionary at the ready, and try not to knock any tiles onto the floor.
P.S. You won’t find “urbanal” in the Scrabble dictionary.