Monday, March 07, 2005

Playing the game

Tonight was a night that tested my vow not to blog directly about work (because theater types like to do nothing so much as Google themselves obsessively. Yes, you.) I had an interesting conversation this evening with a producer who produced a show of mine last summer, and who may or may not be mounting another, larger production. (Interestingly enough, one of the actors in that production kept a blog, and was journaling his rehearsal experiences, both good and bad. The producers found his blog via the aforementioned obsessive Googling, and much freaking out commenced.)

So, as I said, it was interesting. We got to know each other a bit more. We discussed things. And I can say no more about it.

But it did put me in mind of a game that was a favorite with my Other Grandmother. She loved card games. She taught me this one; come on over, and I'll teach it to you. It's called Manipulation.

No, seriously.

It's a basic variation on rummy. The object of the game is to win by getting rid of all your cards. Shuffle two decks together. Everyone gets seven cards to begin. To get rid of cards, you have to lay them down in groups of three or more: the groups can either be by rank (tens, threes, jacks, whatever) or else little straight flushes (six, seven, eight of hearts, for example.) Every turn you have to draw at least one card, and discard at least one card. If I drew a nine of hearts, I could either tuck it on the end of the six,seven, eight straight, or if there were a group of nines already down, I could place it there. If I drew a card that couldn't be discarded, and no other card from my hand could be gotten rid of, I would have to draw cards until it was possible to discard something.

I once figured out the maximum size of a hand of cards in this game: twenty six (because after that, you'd have to have three of something.) A few times, I did get very close to that number, which is a feat in itself.

Manipulation starts to get interesting when players configure and reconfigure the groupings of the cards that are down - you can rearrange the cards in any way you like, as long as all cards are safely in groupings of three or more when you are done. You can steal a five of clubs from the fives pile (as long as there are at least three of them left), a four of clubs off the fours pile, and put them together with your three of clubs. Someone else can come along, put the four and five back where they came from, and swipe the three to go with the two other threes that are in their hand. Or, they can pull out a two of clubs and tuck it onto the end of the grouping you created, piggybacking on your work. You get the picture.

So there we would be, whiling away a summer afternoon playing cards with our Other Grandmother; she was fierce, as is the whole family when games are concerned. With her cigarette dangling and her glass of red wine handy, she'd growl "You forgot to draw a card. YOU FORGOT TO DRAW A CARD! COME ON! COME ON!"

And much freaking out commenced.

We'd quake with our hands of cards and our little cans of Vernor's ginger ale, quickly learning that Manipulation was an art, and you'd better master it to survive.

So back to my phone call. Were there attempts at manipulation? Oh, yes. On which side? Both? Or neither? Who was showing his hand, and who was holding his cards close, waiting for another turn?

We shall see.

1 Comments:

Blogger Charlie said...

That is a very smart, many people are getting fired from their jobs these days for blogging about work.

11:31 PM  

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