Mental detritus

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Mental detritus – Stuff going on in my head since earlier today, aided by some online interaction. I may elaborate on some of these points in later articles, but don’t hold your breath.

I.  The world consists of piano players and those who are played. Be the player.

II. I did a lookup of the most commonly used letters in the English language, and they are in fact, in order from most frequent: e, a, r, i, o, t, n, s, l. The website I looked at (citing the Concise Oxford) listed all 26 letters, but I stopped here, since I noticed that the 5 most frequent consonants here are: r, t, n, s, and l. The most frequent vowel is: e (and is the most frequent letter altogether). RSTLNE are the 6 allowable letters in the television game show Wheel of Fortune for the final grand prize round. The contestant is allowed to pick any three additional letters to help them solve the puzzle.

An example of a slightly lengthy Spelling Bee puzzle. This one has one pangram of the 46 words; and 204 points if you find all the words.

III. I am among those who are fans of the New York Times “Spelling Bee” puzzle. They offer you seven letters arranged in a honeycomb, called a “hive”. Out of those letters, a puzzle solver must spell as many words as they can with only those letters. The central letter in that honeycomb (surrounded by the other 6) is a letter that must be included in every word that is allowable. So, you can’t just spell any word with the 7 letters. Your words have  to include the central letter. Words must be at least 4 letters long, and can include the same letter more than once. There is a website people frequent to obtain hints with the daily Spelling Bee, and that is Shunn.net. A term that comes up in the Bee are “pangrams”. A word is a pangram if it makes use of all seven letters in the hive. Most hives have at least one pangram, and as many as 3 or 4 in rarer instances. The Times publishes a hive every day including Sundays.

IV. I entered rstlne/A into the Shunn site as a fictitious Spelling Bee puzzle to see the stats it generated. 1,038 words and 35 pangrams. You would need to come up with an average of 1 word every two minutes over a 24 hour period without sleeping, meal or bathroom breaks to get to Genius (the highest) level. And even then you only came up with 70% of the 6,803 points, and by extension, roughly 70% of the words. Getting all of the words would take you the better part of the second day without breaks and solving at the same rate. So if you want a hive with only easy letters, be careful what you pray for.

V. “Rock became a corporate classification, just like the blues. They took off its sexual organs. Some people got paid a lot of money to bottle the rebellion of the ’60s, and that’s when it started to mean zero to me.” — Van Dyke Parks, 1973. This quote came up in Wikipedia when I was researching the artist Van Dyke Parks for a recording that was on sale at the Omnivore Records website. Remarkably, he is still alive and still making music these days. He shouldn’t have turned down membership in CSN&Y and The Byrds. I think he needed to surround himself by good musicians to turn his ideas into something more of hit quality. The 1973 quote has not aged a day over the decades.

VI. In a few days, December 5 to be exact, my New York Times subscription will lapse. It is an expensive publication, and it is mostly American news. Cancelling it is a way of recouping 240 bucks ahead of Christmas. I mostly read it for the Spelling Bee anyway, so the NYT is too expensive for just puzzles. That said, that also means I will have to say farewell to my Spelling Bee chums on Facebook, which I have had fun making comments in over the past year or so; and also had fun reading of other’s wit, folly and love of words and wordplay. It didn’t take long to find an app for my Android phone that has Spelling Bee on it. And no ads!

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