Sunday, March 6, 2011

Under the Influence: Bingo by Proxy

Every once in a while, I come across a fact that stops me in my tracks while my mind whirls around to catch up. Often, they're not even significant facts. This week is a case in point:
  • If you are into bingo and enjoy going to bingo halls as your form of gamboling, as my grandfather does, you no longer have to actually participate in order to play. You can, instead, have a computer play for you, and your sole job is to yell out "bingo" when the computer tells you that your ticket has reached a bingo.
This has driven my thoughts in circles over the last few days. What would the point of playing bingo with a computer? I consider the fun of the game being the dobbing of the numbers and the anticipation of the correct numbers being called. When I play, it's a stretch of my telekenetic abilities (still dormant, but there's always hope) to influence the next ball that is dropped. I get a thrill out of the chance of the game.

Were I not actively playing my card, there would be no thrill. I'd simply be sitting in a noisy, crowded hall listening to someone call out nonsensical letter and number combinations, which is about as much fun as listening to someone spout sporting stats for their fantasy football players.

However, my grandfather loves the computer. It takes the stress of the game away, I suppose (I've not consulted him on his reasoning, so this is speculation). He doesn't have my same mistrust of computerized programs, not knowing how easy they are to rig or how often they fail. When it comes to anything gamboling, I'd trust humans above computers.

But using the computer to play bingo allows my grandpa to socialize rather than fixate on his cards. It changes the environment and his perspective of those around him. He's no longer annoyed by people who talk too loud next to him. He doesn't have to worry he missed checking one of his sixteen or thiry-some-odd tickets when each number is called. Like many others, he could bring a book, leisurely sit back and wait for his tickets to cash in, or not.

Which brings me back to my point: Why play? Why not simply meet up with people and socialize without the computer and the bingo and the announcer speakers blasting out the latest number? The only answer that makes sense is the money: It's a form of gamboling, and my family does like to gambol. As a form of gamboling, it's a longer game than a regular slot machine, and I don't know the odds, but it seems that the time-to-money-spent and the time-to-money-won ratios would be better on bingo than on slot machines. If you're not going to fool yourself into thinking that you're playing bingo because you so thoroughly enjoy the sport of the game, and you recognize you're their just to try to win money, then I suppose the computer makes sense.

Which brings me to a major writing (and life) directive: Perspective is everything. So is motivation. Key points to consider whether deciding how to play bingo or when developing a character. So I asked the question of my characters: Would you play bingo using a computer to do the work? Faye's answer: No. Blake's answer: Yes. Huh. I wasn't expecting Blake to take the other side of that argument.

Whole Foods and I have different perspectives on things, too. For instance:
  • When Whole Foods posts on their Facebook page that they're having a Fair Trade tasting "event," this can be exactly one table tasting exactly one product. In my perspective, an "event" involves at least three attractions, and that's still a rather pathetic "event." Lesson learned: Whole Food "events" are nothing to get excited about.

I'm being stocked by certain words. You may notice this in your own reading. You haven't seen a word in a while, or you haven't ever seen it before, and suddenly it's everywhere.
  • This week, ennui and raison d'etre kept popping up in the oddest places. Hubris haunted my thoughts, too. I stopped myself from saying it at least five times in the last week, mainly because it sounded rather pompous. But there it was, judging a variety of people (and myself) in the back of my thoughts all week long. 
This week's nonfiction and fiction influences:
  • O magazine
  • Jennifer Ashley
  • Karen Marie Moning
  • Janet Evanovich
  • Boston Legal
  • Samantha Who?
  • The Spy Next Door
  • Top Gear

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