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The Column

Putting Down the Pieces

I got 758 lines on Tetris this week. I don't have anything funny to say about that - I'm just telling everyone.

I admit that it was palm pilot Tetris, which is easier than old school Nintendo Tetris because it only has nine levels instead of nineteen. If I'd gotten 758 lines on old school Nintendo Tetris, you'd have heard about it on the news by now.

"This just in: a young man in New York City has no life. Back to you, Skip."

I didn't set out to score that high. I didn't even think I'd finish my game. I just wanted to pass the time on the subway. I was going from 59th street to Astor Place - about a fifteen or twenty minute ride. I'd played Tetris on my palm pilot just once before, and my high of 242 lines had been recorded on the old school Nintendo Tetris (which is harder than palm pilot Tetris).

That I even remember my high score says one of two things about me. I keep track of my personal bests so that I can either
a) constantly improve on them
b) brag about them to anyone willing to listen.

Since I'm writing 800 words on my high score, which do you think it is? Actually, it's a combination of the two - I keep track of my personal bests so I can constantly improve on them for the express purpose of bragging about them to anyone willing to listen.

I know my rushing record on Madden 93. I can tell you how quickly I've beaten each level of Minesweeper. And I even know how far I've gone on Sprint PCS's Crab Catch. But that last one is only because my phone records the records. If everyone had Crab Catch on their cell phones, I'd also memorize my high score in case anyone mentioned theirs.

"Oh yeah? My right thumb is WAY more talented than yours."

The time on the subway passed quickly while playing Tetris, and I arrived at Astor Place at around 150 lines. The real benefit of palm pilot Tetris (no offense, Nintendo Tetris) is that you can just shut your palm off and resume play during your next period of boredom. I had a meeting to get to, so I put it away and figured I'd finish my game on the ride home.

My problem was that the address of my destination was stuck in my palm pilot, buried under 150 lines of bragging rights. If I looked it up, I'd lose the game. And 150 lines is not something you throw away on a simple business meeting.

Luckily, I recognized a friend on the street and did not have to miss my meeting. Um, I mean I didn't have to reset the game. Yeah, cause that's the choice I'd have made, I swear.

I passed 242 lines on the ride home. By the time I was pulling back into 59th street, I had eclipsed 300. I seriously considered staying on the train a few more stops. I could take it to the end of the line and back downtown, couldn't I? I realized the idea was ridiculous. But only because I'd have to get off and then get back on while the train turned around. I decided to pause it and walk home before resuming. If I couldn't pause it, who knows what I would have done. It's a good thing I wasn't playing Crab Catch.

When I got back, I had a LOT to do. I had 62 unanswered e-mails, a show later that night, and an empty bag despite my trip the next day. But I sat down, turned my palm pilot on, and went for it. I felt that if I could get 500 lines, I could do anything. Except maybe interact with someone in a social setting.

Despite coming back from the dead a number of times, a few unlucky pieces finally did me in. Though I also blame my roommate for coming home and interrupting my concentration. I came close to pulling it out - my much-needed straight piece was one square away from resurrecting me. I guess it's good that I finally lost - it'd be pretty pathetic if I were still playing. Though simultaneously very impressive.

I didn't use my palm pilot the rest of that day, hoping I could run into someone and show them my score. I finally realized how ridiculous I was being. So I just took a picture of it and moved on.

Besides, I'd have to reset it if I want to try to beat that score.

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