State of the Union 2019!!

5 years and going strong!!  From 6 to 25, 6 to 15 and 20 to 60.  That is how far Club 34 has grown in weekly attendance and overall membership since April 2014.  We only lost a few people last year but gained so many more.

Richard Stein was our biggest loss, moving his talents to Seattle and Microsoft in June.  Richard’s family lives in Newport Beach so he will visit us from time to time but his weekly Tuesday night participation has been sorely missed.  Zach and Sheila Bulthuis were welcome additions early last year.  Their youthfulness and bubbly personalities were a welcome addition to our Club but sadly they moved to New Mexico in November with only their promises to return from time to time for business and family.  Jim Porter left us as well because he’s Jim Porter and decided to give up Scrabble for at least the time being to pursue other interests.  We thought we had lost Bill Lapinski and Holly Derheim too but I have been in recent contact with them and they both promise to return in January after a 3 month hiatus.

On the brighter side of things, Club 34 welcomed several new members to our Family during 2018.  We witnessed the inaugural appearances of several new but yet old players to the local Scrabble scene.  Donna Dwaileebe promises to return even to our Friday session in 2019.  We were so happy to see Evelyn Davis come back to us.  Evelyn had been a fixture during the Penny Baker days 20 years ago.  Ken Louie with his fine Scrabble talents and his youthfulness is retiring now and promises to be a regular player next year.  Renee Kahn from Ebay fame has returned as well.  And last week in our final session of the year came to us Beth Byrne, a charming equestrian from Long Beach, on her white horse no doubt.  Beth returns after a 15 year absence and promises to be a regular all day Tuesdays and Friday as well.  I personally am so happy to see her back in the fold.

We met two players last year brought to us by existing members.  Desiree Engel introduced Melissa de La Fuentes to our Club several months ago.  Melissa told me at the time she would not have time to come back to Club 34 but that turned out not to be true!  Najat Reikes brought us Agnes Guilas, a sales person she met at South Coast Plaza.  Unfortunately, Agnes was in a serious motor vehicle accident soon after and is recovering at home.  But I have reason to believe she will return once she has fully recovered from all her injuries.

David Postal and I embarked on a not too successful advertising campaign but it did bring us Nancy Toussaint, a very pleasant lady who will be with us on a regular irregular basis from now on.  A few weeks ago Jason Marks and family showed up on a Tuesday night.  Jason has 2 daughters, ages 10 and 12, who want to play Scrabble, and promise to show up next year.  They observed us that night and seem excited about the game.  That got me to thinking in a big way.  What if I could get some young folk to take part in Club 34??  I then spoke with two members of Club 34 who have young children about the possibilities of their participation.  More on this later…

I established the Meetup Site 5 years ago.  Results have been disappointing.  People came and went, others didnt come at all!!  I was about ready to drop my membership even tho yearly dues are only $125.  Just when I was ready to do so came to us 2 TWO angels, Itzi Burns and Lisa Ocone.  I cant say enough nice things about these two ladies who have made Tuesday night Scrabble much more exciting than ever before.  So there you have it.  We lost 4 players but gained l2, not a bad return for your money.

Club 34 continues to grow and prosper, so much so that I decided to open a Friday session to all members.  For almost a year, a group of us has been meeting at the Monkey House Cafe on Friday mornings for lunch and a few games of Scrabble.  It all started very innocently.  As I remember back then, we were going to meet at a local Soup Plantation that morning.  When it was discovered that it had closed down, Lorry Higgins called me with the news.  I suggested that we meet at Monkey House and that is how it all started.  Everything was fine for awhile but the Monkey House is not really conducive to Scrabble playing.  It is very noisy, its cold inside the restaurant, the chairs and tables are not comfortable and the food selection is somewhat rigid.

Therefore, I got this brilliant idea a while back that as long as I was going to the Monkey House every Friday, why not just open the Club up to another 4 game session at the IHOP.  I polled the club and the interest was overwhelming.  Once I secured the playroom for 11-3 on Fridays, it was a go!!  I got commitments from 9 players to attend every Friday:  David Poder, Bruce, Paul Trachtenberg, Renee Kahn, Elly, Inge Weinfeld, Lisa Ocone, James Cassidy and Cindy Helphrey.  Another 15 to 20 committed to once or twice a month.  Unfortunately, some of the so called ‘Monkeys’ wanted to remain there but they will always be welcome to come back to the IHOP:  Lorry Higgins, Gretchen Cowans, Brian Reiss, Jane Crane, Barbara Creighton, Jan Goldstein, Pat Yarnell, Pat Reed and Esther Kisich.

Therefore, Club 34 is very proud to announce its first Friday morning session to be January 4, 2019.  Come and enjoy the fun..  I hope to have a wonderful turnout.  I feel as if this will allow even more players to come join our Family that cant make it on a Tuesday..

2018 is over.  The final stats can be viewed on our Stat Page within our amazing Web site.  Based on a minimum of 100 games, the player with the most wins and highest percentage at 77%  of total games played was David Poder.  The highest bingo % goes to Bruce Dambrosio at 1.9%.  The most games played at more than 360 go to Najat Reikes, David Poder and Bruce Dambrosio.  Bruce also had the highest game of the year at 629.

Speaking of statistics, there will be a major change in 2019.  After 25 years of dedication and hard work, Tom Titus is retiring from his weekly stats reporting.  He has decided to pursue other interests like deep sea fishing and needlepoint.  We want to thank him for his tireless dedication and endless years of perfection.  But thankfully there is a new sheriff in town.

What would I do without Amnon Meyers?  He voluntarily started compiling our yearly stats last year and just recently told me he was going to make Club 34 his home Scrabble club from now on.  He should be attending every Tuesday from now on, collecting the stats and through his computerized program publishing weekly and yearly stats from now on.  The stats should be error-free and even more expansive than ever before.  He promises to have our average scores, all of our bingos and much much more…

I have carefully evaluated each member’s performance throughout the year, spoke with various members, and decided to make a few changes regarding club divisions.  No one will move down from Div A to Div B.  I spoke to a few players about this but they wanted to stay in Div A.  But the following players will move up to Div A:  Evelyn Davis, Renee Kahn and Paul Rickoff.  Welcome aboard guys.  Your game will start to improve dramatically..

I probably wont do much advertising in 2019.  I will rely on the Meetup site, the Internet and all of you to find us more players to be part of our Family.  Club 34 will never run the risk of shrinking or getting smaller as other local clubs may be experiencing.  That will never happen under my watch!!  Therefore, I will reinstall our awards program with a few changes..

If you go 4-0 for a session, you get $l..         8-0 for the entire day brings $5.  If you score 3 bingos in one game, whether you are in Div A or B, you get $3.  For a 100 point word, $1.  For a 500 score, $l and $2 for a 600.  If you get a 700 point score, you get $50, our undying love and devotion and a spot on the 6:00 news.  But dont get too excited!  They are pretty hard to get.  It took me 21 years and lots of Scrabble games before I scored a 728 in November 2017 at another local club….

Our Club Championship took place in September and will continue to take place in September of each year.  I was lucky enough to win this tournament with the first ever Club 34 trophy with my name engraved on it.  I hope someone can take it away from me next September.

Our Christmas dinner was a huge success LOL but next year it will take place at a local restaurant.  Save your $$ cuz all costs will be covered by our voluntary donations.  I dont think it will be very cheap especially if alcoholic beverages are to be included..

There will be a few procedural changes for next year.  Don Platt will continue to be our noise Czar whether he likes it or not.  His deep baritone voice is perfect for the job.  With the return of Bill Lapinski, I will ask him again to handle the room temperature situation which he has so admirably done in the past.

Please be on time.  Games start promptly at 1pm, 6pm and 11am!!  In fact, please arrive at least 5 minutes before.  Pairings can be a nightmare if you dont come on time.  Instead of texting me that you are on your way or will be late, just come ON TIME…  PLEASE…………..  And try to stay for all 4 games.  I have had to start taking anti migraine medication because people can only come for the second game, leave after the third etcccccc…………….. Its a nightmare……………….

Turn off your cell phones BEFORE you enter the playroom.  It is very distracting.  Some of us are frequent abusers of this rule.  You know who you are so turn them OFF………………..

And now for the finale…..Most of us are as old as dirt!!  Did you know that ‘dryasdust’ is a good Scrabble word??  Not ‘oldasdirt’ but thats what Club 34 is for the most part.  We are old and getting older.  Im doing my best to find younger players and drive down the median age of our Club, but most of us are still pretty old.  Only people such as Desiree Engel stay young eternally but not the rest of us.

So let it be known that you heard this for the first time ever!  Scrabble Club 34 will be the first EVER germophobic Scrabble club in the world!!  If you have a cold, fever and chills, a serious cough on Tuesday or Friday morning, stay HOME……………  If your speech is slurred, if you have no feeling in your arms or legs, if you are having chest pain or shortness of breath, stay HOME or go to your local emergency room. And please do not schedule a doctor or dentist appointment, the delivery of a new television or washing machine etc on a Tuesday or a Friday.  And if you go out of town, leave Wednesday and come back Monday, otherwise known as the Maxine Marcus rule…

If you just have a slight cold or cough, you may come to Club 34 but you have to wear a MASK.  Our new Health Czar Dr. Najat Reikes will be sure you do.  Dr. Reikes is a licensed doctor of Public Health and expert in infectious disease.  She will be carrying facial masks on her person at ALL times while at the Club Tuesdays.  She will make the determination that you need to wear one.  If you dont want to, you will HAVE to go home..

And there you have it.  I think I haveve covered just about everything.  Let 2019 be the best year ever for Club 34.  Merry Xmas and Happy New Year to all of Club 34 and its members and extended families…


David Poder, Director

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