MEMORY is a Muscle
8/20/19 (My Birthday)
When you don’t use your muscles, they atrophy.  And that would be an awful waste. Playing a severe form of scrabble is like taking vitamins to keep your memory alive and well.  Today I turned 77 years young and yet I feel much more youthful than my age.  I attribute that to staying plugged into life, keeping up with the newest trends, and keeping myself relevant by offing something back to the community daily.  I live in an extensive senior community of more than 20,000 people.  Sadly, too many of them are coasting through the rest of their lives watching the tube and playing bingo.  When I meet some of these folks and invite them to join up with the scrabble club I frequently hear the reply, “I can’t spell;  I can’t remember, or simply I can’t.”  I’m here to tell you that ‘I CAN’T’ is a crippling excuse.  I can point to other seniors at my scrabble club who are pushing 100 years young and every week I witness their ‘I CAN’T’ performances.

How do you eat an elephant?  One bite at a time.  And that’s how you deal with the issues of memory too.  Don’t allow yourself to become overwhelmed by the enormity of the task.  Break the job down into bite-size pieces.  Don’t put it off until tomorrow because if you do I guarantee that tomorrow will never come.  Then use tried and tested techniques to achieve your goal.  YES YOU CAN.

If scrabble genuinely isn’t your thing then choose that other thing that you love so much.  Don’t be left alone drooling on the sideline.  Get yourself back into the game.


Sometimes ‘LUCK’ is something that happens to bring good fortune to random individuals.  But sitting around waiting to win the power ball jackpot or the publishers clearing house prize is fool hearty.  Newbie scrabble players tend to be the most upbeat when it comes to learning the secrets of scrabble mavens.  But as much knowledge as they soak up, the truth is there are many, many skills needed and words to learn to achieve the rank of MAVEN.  Those who have been around a while will know that “ The More You Know . . . The Luckier You’ll Become.  And that’s the truth.

My online scrabble class, ‘Scrabble 101’, touches all facets of the game.  My students ask me, “Where should I focus my time to become a better player in the shortest amount of time?”  That’s almost impossible to answer.  People learn differently.  The best learning program is one that introduces you to all the parts of the game.  Then you have to adopt a learning strategy which includes spaced repetition learning, reviewing, and self-testing on this mountain of information.  Remember, there are more than 175,000 words that can be played. I usually have my students begin by mastering the 2’s and next I teach them the value of the Top 100 Stems.  But there are miles and miles one must travel before one nears Mavenhood.

Scrabble 101 is a 21 Day, Intensive class.  Students must agree to devote a minimum of 1 hour each day to work at the challenges I put to them.  The 21 Lessons are just the beginning.  Long after the 21 Lessons are over serious student will review each lesson over and over again at a pace of their own. Each time a lesson is reviewed it is done at a deeper level.  I’ve been playing scrabble for more than 40 years, and I still learn words and strategies.

Here are the answers to yesterday’s quiz: 
1Y a rookery of Albatross; 
2E a congregation of Alligators; 
3Z a shrewdness of Apes; 
4A a flange of Baboons; 
5J a cute of Badgers
6Q a cauldron of Bats; 
7R a sleuth of Bears; 
8L a colony of Beavers;
9P a suite of Bloodhounds;
10S a sounder of Boars; 
11U an obstinacy of Buffalo; 
12H a caravan of Camels
13V a chowder of cats; 
14K a mob of Cattle; 
15W a coalition of Cheetas; 
16X a rake of Colts
17O a parcel of Deer; 
18T a pack of Dogs; 
19B a pod of Dolphins; 
20C a pace of Donkeys
21G a parade of Elephants; 
22D a gang of Elk; 
23M a business of Ferrets; 
24N a skulk of Fox
25F a tower of Giraffes; 
26I  an implausibility of Gnus

Packing My Car

I’m loading up my car for my 77 Sunset Trip, and I’m hoping to sell some of my creations along the way.  I’ll be schlepping my Backwards Dictionary, copies of my ANAGRAMS books, and both STRANGE BEGINNINGS and STRANGE ENDINGS.  I’m bringing along a printer and the binding machine to enable myself to assemble books of score sheets for eager buyers.  I’ll be carrying some sets of Whiz Cards and will be prepared to make up more per requests.  I hope to be asked to deliver my scrabble talk, ‘The Secrets of Scrabble Champions.’

I can conduct a mean house party for up to a dozen friends.  You share your house and friends; I provide the rest.  It’s great fun, and it sometimes leads to the creation of a continuing scrabble club after I’m gone.

I meet a lot of people who’d love to play competitive scrabble but they tell me that they don’t want to study to build their word knowledge.  May I suggest that you use other means to learn more words.  Here’s a puzzle I created about animals and their names when they are in groups.  Something as simple and as fun as this is one way to grow your vocabulary.  (See the answers tomorrow.)

Feeling  Lucky
I’m feeling like a very lucky guy. When one of my teeth broke off a few weeks ago it wasn’t painful and my daily routine didn’t permit me to drop everything and get to my dentist, I just kept putting it off until yesterday. I thought it was a broken implant that the doc would repair it and I would only be out of some time at his expense. WRONG. It was a crown on a tooth that had had a root canal some time ago and finally gave up the ghost. IT’S ALWAYS SOMETHING. Sitting there in the dentist’s chair (knowing that I’m about to leave town) I had to make a decision. Do I just extract it and have another hole in my head -or- do I part with my hard-earned cash to fix the sucker? Of course, as the dentist prodded the broken tooth he also looked around and identified other areas that needed attention. He could repair the damage now. I had to address the problem. 

I needed two implants and he uses a new technology that is virtually painless. Can you spell $7,200? The best part was the nitrous oxide (both good scrabble words; the anagram of NITROUS is TURIONS). The after-care pain pills are great too. I slept through the night like a baby. But I’ll basically have to put all my food through a blender for the next several days.

What did the cavepeople do? What does a poor person do? What am I going to do? Luckily I have Care Credit that pays the dentist and I get six months without interest charges. So on the way home when I stopped at CVS to pick up the pain medication I purchased a ticket for tonight’s Power Ball drawing. What will tomorrow bring?

I learned the Cub Scout Motto about 70 years ago and can you believe that I still remember it?

“BE PREPARED.’  So here I am with only eight days until my journey begins and I’m gathering all the necessities I can imagine I’ll require.  Even though I have a Garmin, I’d like a good old fashion map.  So I took a ride to AAA (I used to be a member there).  They no longer provide that service, and they only service current members in good standing.  So I went to plan #B.  I drove to Barnes & Noble and purchased a map for $5.31.  Then wouldn’t you believe it a tooth broke off in my mouth?  I am lucky to have gotten an appointment for a repair at my dentist this afternoon.  Last week I had my local print shop create five copies of my backward dictionary to bring with me.  Wouldn’t you know it?  I sold all of them on the first day off the press.  Luckily for me, the printer can create ten more copies before I hit the road. 

Then there’s my website saga.  In the late 1990s, I began my website.  I’m an Apple guy, so I used a program called iWeb.  I made entries nearly every day, including word lists and highlighting scrabble events and personalities.  Then at some point in the mid-2000s, Apple abandoned supporting iWeb.  But I had a clean copy, and I was most proficient as my webmaster so I continued onward.  Now, along comes 2017 and GoDaddy who hosts my site decides that they will no longer host iWeb.  Can’t you spell   ‘unF…ing believable’?  My site was more than 500 pages long.  Big breath!  Deep Breath!  I can handle this.  I’ll recreate my website in one of those other formats that claim to be easy:  Square Space,  Wix,  Word Press.  So I tried.  I did not find anything to be easy.  But I have a lot of friends who know about web sites.  I put out the word.  Sure, computers companies would set things up for me for $1,000+.  But this doesn’t generate that kind of money.  None of my friends could help me.  So . . . My website has been sitting there for more than a year without a single update.  Until last week. 

Happened to notice my sister’s website and made a call asking for a little help.  BING!  BANG!  BOOM!  My web site is up and running, and soon, I will be trained to make the updates on my own.  BE PREPARED.  Things seldom work out just the way you hope and expect.  Be flexible.  Look at things differently, from another perspective.  Keep on moving forward, unless you’re using my Backward Dictionary.

Someone saw me while I was lost in a project at a cafe table in Barnes & Noble book store. They watched me over my shoulder as I was busily typing a word list on my MacBook. Finally, he spoke up and asked me what the list was. I told him a little about my obsession with scrabble and tried to explain that I was creating a BACKWARD LIST of all the words in the OWL. He asked me how long it would take me to complete the task. I told him that is was an all-year project. He snickered. He said to me that any competent programmer could do the same thing in a few hours or a few days. I agreed that he was probably right . . . But I was interacting with every single word as I SEE IT… AS I SPEAK IT . . .AS I LOCATED WHERE IT FITS IN THE REVERSED ALPHABETICAL SERIES . . . AND AS I TYPE EACH WORD. My hope is to learn 10% – 15% of the wordS that I currently do not know. The guy muttered, “You’re Crazy. Get a life.” He walked away and I resumed typing and exposing myself to words. Today while I listed the words that end with the two letters Y – K in that order . . . I learned that there is only one such word in the OWL. It is ‘BOSHLYK’.

If you want to reserve your copy of my list (to be completed on or before March 1, 2020) send your $10 deposit payable to JFTSOI c/o 3367 Punta Alta #3B, Laguna Woods, CA 92637.

All of a sudden

All of a sudden, I’m feeling salmon-like. I feel the need to spawn. As you may have heard, I’m planning to drive (not swim) upstream from Laguna Woods, CA to Detroit, MI. I’m leaving on August 24. I’ll be making stops in Escondido, CA., Las Vegas, NV. Salt Lake City, UT and many points east by northeast. I’m open to invitations from folks like YOU to stop along the way to provide scrabble presentations, classes, or just for you, for a personal challenge.

My Backwards Dictionary is hot-off-the-press, and I’m eager to show it off.  Provide me an opportunity to demonstrate how it can assist you in your quest for more word power and word knowledge.

I will be Blogging all the way, so join me virtually on the road. My blogs will appear here at

77 Sunset Trip

To promote and initiate competitive scrabble across the USA, the money collected will be used to create Scrabble Classes & Scrabble Exhibitions.

I am Gary Moss, aka Letterman. I am an educator with both MS & MA in Education. For 30 plus years, I have been playing competitive Scrabble. Also, I have directed sanctioned Scrabble Clubs since 1990 and have produced and directed more than 250 sanctioned Scrabble Tournaments through the years.

My plan is to drive from my from home in Laguna Woods, CA going North and East, stopping at more than a dozen cities from August 24 thru October 12. I will be traveling as far east as Saratoga Springs, NY, and back again. I’m available to present to schools, community centers, service organizations, and individuals who want to learn about this fantastic word game. Additionally, I will challenge people to Beat The Champ (that’s me). I will share the ‘Secrets of Scrabble Champions’ and provide tips on how to organize your local club, planting the seeds. I will be the Johnny Appleseed with scrabble as my ministry.
As I blog along the way follow my ventures and join in, Words are Power!

I plan to drive from my from home in Laguna Woods, CA going North and East, stopping at more than a dozen cities from August 24 thru October 12. I will be traveling as far east as Saratoga Springs, NY, and back again. I want to present to schools, community centers, service organizations, and individuals who want to learn about this fantastic word game. Additionally, I will challenge people to Beat The Champ (that’s me). I will share the ‘Secrets of Scrabble Champions’ and provide tips on how to organize your local club, planting the seeds. I will be the Johnny Appleseed with scrabble as my ministry
As I blog along the way follow my ventures and join in, Words are Power!