Vol. 12, No. 2,856W - The American Reporter - March 18, 2006

Ink Soup

by Clarence Brown
American Reporter Correspondent
Seattle, Wash.

SEATTLE, Wash. -- My mother spent the last few lonely years of her life = watching TV or lying in her fourposter bed laying out on the counterpane en= dless games of Solitaire.

Real Solitaire. Real cards. I could probably not deal out the cards nee= ded for a game of Solitaire with actual little bits of glossy printed cardb= oard. My equipment knows the ground rules, I have totally forgotten everyt= hing except which cards go on which.

When I tried to show her the miracle of Solitaire on the computerscreen,= she could not understand it. It was cute, but it was notSolitaire. Alzhe= imer's blocks more than memory--it also defeats the effort to learn anythin= g new.

Solitaire, as I now understand it, is, to begin with, an array of = pixels on my computer screen.

For the first time in years I haveactually noticed that there are seve= n rows of cards, one in the first, seven in the last, each with one card tu= rned face up.

There are certain quirks of my particular game that I have learned toliv= e with. For instance, the Ace of spades and the Two of spades are seldom f= ar apart. Far more often than might be accounted for by chance, they are a= djacent to each other. If I turn up the Ace, the Two will be just beneath = it or in the adjacent stack.

There is no such sympathy in the other suits. The Ace of hearts might p= ace the floor in vain waiting for its Two. The clubs, it seems to me, are = a troubled family. I have known the Ace of clubs to languish forever, thro= ugh many, many games, without ever clapping an eye on a near relative.

Oc= casionally, on a slow day, I amuse myself with deliberate misplays. If, for= instance, you try to put the Jack of Diamonds, say, on the Jack of Hearts,= the horrified leap backwards of JD from the embrace of JH, accelerated by = sexual repulsion, or perhaps anxiety, has a shocked alacrity that is like t= he best action in the old silent slapstick films.

I regret to inform you that I know how to cheat at Solitaire, at least i= nsofar as my version is concerned. If the three-card payout does not suppl= y the card you need to win, you can press Shft/Ctrl/Alt and you will get on= e card at a time. Not even this craven dodge will get you out of every sti= cky situation, but it usually works.

If, by the way, you undertake to use this stratagem, I will deny allknow= ledge of how you acquired it.

Ink Soup, as is well known, stands for the utmost probity in ev= ery walk of life, including Solitaire.

Here for instance is an example of= my ascetic and upright approach to the game. For me, the supreme pleasure= of winning a game is the glorious cascade of all the cards, a real Niagara= , beginning with the Kings, which bursts from the upper right quadrant of t= he screen and continues until the last Ace -- usually that mysterious spade= -- has fallen into place.

But if in the course of the game I have had sh= ameful resort to any underhanded ploy, however slight ... I renounce the re= ward. No, say I, non sum dignus. I am not worthy. Let others wall= ow in their ill-gotten gains, but I have my standards.

Then, the next time I am in real trouble, my left hand, unbidden, holds = down Shft/Ctrl/ Alt. And there are times when even that does not work. In= such cases I go to the gym and work out.

Copyright 2006 Joe Shea The American Reporter. All Rights Reserved.

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