Monday, October 28, 2013

Making Friends With Words (And Enemies With Grammar)

It appears that playing the popular online game Words With Friends (WWF) can lead to some positive social outcomes. There is documented evidence on the Internet of a number of WWF games between random opponents leading to romantic connections and even a few actual marriages. I wonder if any of those romantic WWF relationships started out with a game like this?

But don’t worry, I won’t be wasting your time with stories about love on the Internet…there’s plenty of websites already dedicated to that – you could even get on Fitness Singles if you want to create one of your own. Rather, I just want to give you a quick, practical overview of how playing Words With Friends can help improve your cycling...not just your love life.

Perhaps one day, somebody at the AIS (or maybe even the Carmichael Training Systems Performance Centre in Aspen, Colorado) might reference this work for an important exercise training study. I live in hope.

The benefits of the game of Backgammon have already been explored in great depth, and in much the same way, the game of Words With Friends can also be used as a mental tool to help give you the edge.

WWF is similar to the popular board game Scrabble, but subtly different – or at least different enough to avoid a lawsuit. It basically just looks a little different, has slightly different values and uses a few different words…much like New Zealanders.

I’ve had some great battles on the WWF board – which should not be confused with the WWF ring, in which I have very little experience.
As a key point of difference with Scrabble, in WWF there is no penalty for attempting a disallowed word. You simply get to keep on trying until you submit something acceptable. This means that by systematically trying out different letter combinations, you can actually improve your vocabulary. For the serious cyclist, this is where the benefit lies.

As a competitive road rider, a larger vocabulary allows you to shower abuse on your fellow competitors in a much more creative and intelligent fashion. Consider the following examples.

Instead of simply shouting “Don’t drop the wheel you idot!”, the clever (and WWF-adept) road cyclist might instead offer something like:
“I would not recommend abnegation of the velocipede anterior to your own at this exigency.”
Instead of shouting “Do a turn you lazy prick!”, the vocabularily-superior cyclist might say: 
“At least a token travail on your behalf would certainly serve to succor our breakaway’s cause.”
While mountain bikers aren’t anywhere near as proficient as road riders with verbal abuse, a bit of vocabularial empowerment might help to save the life of a few innocent kittens whose demise is sealed as soon as anybody so much as mutters the word “epic” out of context.

So, instead of “What an epic descent!” you could offer something along the lines of:
“That declension was certainly a puissant impasse.” 
Obviously being careful, in the MTBing context, not to confuse “puissant” with “piss ant” as the meaning will be completely lost.

What you will notice is that although WWF can improve one’s vocabulary, unfortunately it cannot assist with grammar. The preceding paragraphs are, most likely, rife with contextual inappropriateness and more tense-related issues than a remedial massage consultation with Scooter from Impact Massage in Fitzroy.

Scooter has become an important WWF training partner and arch nemesis – the Hulk Hogan to my King Kong Bundy, if you will. Some of our games have actually been more enthralling than GoPro footage of a morning commute ride – but I won’t bore you with the details.

Scooter got so sick of my creative word use that he started “The List” and said that as a punishment for playing words that most people (including myself) had never heard of, let alone used in conversation, I would have to write a blog post that included each word on “The List”. So here it is, incorporated in to some stylish (cough, cough) MTB ride report-style prose:
Like a jefe in the business of fun, it was time to discard the izar, dust off the full-face helmet and lift the baud rate of excitement. Relaxing in to the beautifully flowing trail, the reigns fell loose in their territs on the 650b, carbon-fibre thoroughbred. A mere glimpse of reddish hero dirt snaking its way downhill was all that was needed to rif any inhibition and shog the senses into a state of heightened arousal.
After reading that paragraph, I’d strongly advise you to take a moment to compose yourself, wipe the vomit off your iPad and then try to forget that it ever happened.

Or why not challenge a complete stranger to a game of Words With Friends? Who knows, it might be the start of something wonderful, or at least make you a better bike rider.

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