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Friday Afternoon Confessional: Chess mastery

I confess that I am becoming increasingly frustrated about my new-found suckiness at chess. Each time a new game is offered to me, the balance between the possibility of breaking my bad streak and that of getting even more pissed off about losing yet again is tilted more and more toward the latter. The cycle becomes self-reinforcing as I become more and more fatalistic — I’m going to lose anyway, so why agonize over every move? The time I put into it will only guarantee a greater degree of anger when I nevertheless inevitably miss something crucial. It’s casting a shadow over my entire life, exacerbated by my team’s losing streak in pub trivia.

I confess that the more serious problem casting a shadow over my life is a near-term liquidity crunch. I believe I have everything balanced sufficiently — a hard-won skill — but apparently everyone who could help me solidify my position is facing similar difficulties. I confess that I have increasingly used finance jargon to describe my everyday activities. For instance, during my year at Kalamazoo, I could say in normal language that I intend to “pay off all my credit cards.” Instead, I tend to say that I plan to “retire debt.” I could improve that by saying that I intend to “retire my revolving debt.”

I confess that I have begun putting fruit on my cereal, a move inspired by the illustration of a potential breakfast on cereal boxes. It’s really good! Plus I was able to get a week’s worth of fruit to put on it for like $3.00, which is surely a good investment in my health and well-being. I have yet to pull out the oft-by-cereal-boxes-recommended toast and double-fisted glasses of milk and orange juice, though.

I confess that I picked up Jedediah Berry’s novel The Manual of Detection on a whim after reading a review that made it sound interesting and that all I could think of as I finished the last few chapters was that it seemed like it could be the basis for a pretty good movie, or a really bad and confusing one. It’s probably naive of me to wonder if he wrote it with that in mind — because of course he did! That’s where the money is.

I confess that I have been weirdly determined to put off the beginning of my Kalamazoo apartment search. The results of this procrastination have been positive, however — I’ve made great progress on the awkwardness book, including a complete tear-out-and-rewrite on the intro chapter, and I’ve also done a significant amount of course prep. So I’ll be all set to teach my courses and meanwhile be sleeping on a grate. Maybe I just haven’t fully convinced myself that sleeping in my office (which I’ll actually have!) isn’t an option. Presumably I’d have access to some kind of gym membership to take care of the showering issue. I’d just have to stock up on Febreeze to make sure that the “funk of man”[*] didn’t become distracting during office hours.

I confess that I haven’t been going out much the last couple weeks.

[*] A term coined by a friend from high school.


July 10, 2009 - Posted by | Friday Afternoon Confessional


  1. to win and lose is duality
    i confess i had multiple deadlines this week and already mentally welcome their outcomes, like as if failure and success is duality something

    Comment by read | July 10, 2009

  2. I confess that last night I had to leave my car at a colleagues house and stumble home on foot. Now I have to get back there to collect it, without drawing attention from my partner or other colleagues. Subterfuge.

    I confess that I know Jed Barry from back in the day, and I’m guessing he wrote the book as a role-playing game tie-in. I confess how was it?

    Comment by Adam Henne | July 10, 2009

  3. I enjoyed it.

    Comment by Adam Kotsko | July 10, 2009

  4. I confess to being one of those people who have a bluetooth headset for their phone.

    I confess to being addicted to my work week chess games with Adam. So much so that during this bad streak he is on, I saw a checkmate this morning and almost didn’t take it to encourage him to play more. I confess that I decided integrity in my game was worth more than ensuring continued chess pairings.

    Comment by Richard McElroy | July 10, 2009

  5. “Presumably I’d have access to some kind of gym membership to take care of the showering issue.”

    Research indicates that the college has an athletic center with elaborate facilities, including sauna. You’re all set.

    Comment by burritoboy | July 10, 2009

  6. I confess to enjoying The Manual of Detection, though a bit put off by its preciousness. I felt that he was trying too hard to echo the time period in which Kafka, Magritte, and Borges set their metafictions (mutatis mutandis on M.). There were some absolutely lovely passages on memory and detection, but the bowler hat nostalgia of it all made it more precious and less insidious than it might have been.

    Comment by Wrongshore | July 10, 2009

  7. I confess that even though I passed my oral exam, I am extremely discouraged; it feels more like a setback than an advance. I confess further that I don’t want to talk about it. I confess that I have been sleeping in more. I confess that I haven’t done a lick of work in a week, and I don’t care. I confess that I am enjoying Infinite Jest.

    Comment by ben | July 10, 2009

  8. I confess that I played chess last night and had to resign the first game owing to a totally boneheaded blunder that culminated in my king being in check from two sources, one of which was knight also threatening my queen.


    Fortunately, I am pleased to able to confess, I trounced my opponent in the rematch.

    Comment by ben | July 10, 2009

  9. I confess that the artwork for xkcd is sometimes so rudimentary that it interferes with my comprehension of the joke. I don’t get what’s happening in the “Form” comic linked on the right sidebar, specifically, the last panel.

    Comment by jms | July 10, 2009

  10. The stick figure disobeys the instruction not to write on that area of the form, and the soldiers who are monitoring the situation intend to take action.

    Comment by Adam Kotsko | July 10, 2009

  11. I confess my feelings are too easily hurt. I need to develop a “thicker skin” as they say, but I don’t know how to do it. Perhaps by exposing myself to constant insult I would become desensitized and ultimately impervious to its hurtful effect, but this would be really unpleasant.

    I confess that I just found toothpaste in my hair, and that this does not surprise me in the least.

    Comment by jms | July 10, 2009

  12. So the three top panels are monitors? What’s the target in the center about?

    Comment by jms | July 10, 2009

  13. I think it’s meant to be a radar display.

    Comment by Adam Kotsko | July 10, 2009

  14. Thank you.

    Comment by jms | July 10, 2009

  15. what a fashist state, being watched even signing something
    i confess i used to play with the figures placing them on the white kid’s dominoes, with the pictures of various nuts and berries on them, those made colorful beds and tables
    it was a kind of house building game so the chess figures were very useful to inhabit the house
    then i used to play daam – shashki or checkers with them before finally learning the chess itself, i liked in checkers how one can ‘eat’ multiple figures in one sweeping move, but my sister was better than me in both
    chess’s a useful game if you have a lot of time to kill i guess, but i always preferred more just to read

    Comment by read | July 10, 2009

  16. i knew something was wrong, c

    Comment by read | July 10, 2009

  17. at,
    i confess nobody corrects me except me, i find that strange
    i confess i pick up my nose sometimes unconsciously reading something and then catch myself and go to wash my hands, it would be disastrous if one’d have been watching me i guess
    but my nose is usually very clean and tends to dry up a bit
    there are some pimples on my nose this week, but i resolved it’s not my problem, if one looks at them, they would get disgusted not me, coz i wouldn’t see them
    and when i go around i usually don’t look at people’s faces so wouldn’t see their face expressions too

    Comment by read | July 10, 2009

  18. I confess that if Adam is worried about The Weblog’s rapid decline into obscurity, then he never should have postponed the weekly TV feature pending the return of a show he watches or completion of a manuscript. (Manuscripts never get completed; the writer just gives up–anyone writing a dissertation knows the truth of this statement. I say dissertation because most of us haven’t written one and a half books on top of a dissertation at this point.) I confess that I am going to go ahead with weekly TV discussion.

    (1) July 4th is the worst thing in the world. The second last episode of “Harper’s Island” (a truly horrendous show that continues to make no sense despite the airing of the final episode) was postponed on account of it. As a result, I had no option but to sit through two hours of the damn thing last night (broadcasts new episodes on Thursday in Canada and Saturday in the US). What a fucking mess of a show. Leoben Connoy and Bobby Singer notwithstanding. (And, shit, what the fuck is with the re-imagining now of “Melrose Place” with Ruby as a main character? She sucked on “Supernatural,” although better than Ruby2, and on “Harper’s Island.” But then, I guess the people who brought us the re-imagined “90210” aren’t thinking quality.)

    July 4th was also responsible for postponing the latest episode of “True Blood”–the only thing that gets me out of bed on Sunday!

    (2) Finally started S4 of “The Wire.” Poor Bubbles! Although his interactions with Prez in the school office are rather funny. Sober, responsible McNulty needs to be kicked in the balls. I’m impressed with the moral growth achieved by Carver. Likewise with Prez. And who knew that Uriel would make a good teacher? Disappointed that “gay Rawls” hasn’t made a return–why bother showing him in the gay bar in S3 when Lamar is looking for Omar?

    Comment by Craig | July 10, 2009

  19. read, Since we don’t correct you, maybe you should realize that we don’t care about your errors and stop correcting yourself as well.

    Comment by Adam Kotsko | July 10, 2009

  20. last week i didn’t watch any tv, except the concert the last song i caught, people’s names escape my memory
    i looked up some nose picking pictures to look up the word and those are disgusting, mine hopefully looks far more subtle, just at the nose wings around, mostly even outside the nose and usually i use tissues

    Comment by read | July 10, 2009

  21. okay, i get it as a request to stop chain commenting
    coz those serve usually just like kinda excuses
    from now on, a comment per post

    Comment by read | July 10, 2009

  22. i confess I’m seriously thinking about cutting out of work several hour early, and then insisting on Monday (if called out on this) that I was not only here all day but that I had a short late-afternoon conversation with the person making the accusation.

    Comment by Brad Johnson | July 10, 2009

  23. i reread don’t care as don’t mind
    coz i do care
    otoh, congrats me! coz it’s the 11th, but from tomorrow it’s like unofficially autumn

    Comment by read | July 11, 2009

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