I have spent the last few weeks in the studio with my band ” The Heartbroken” writing, playing guitar, singing and since my last column (and probably a big reason why there wasn’t one last week), playing a lot of Sudoku. I was never a gaming person, never enjoyed Monopoly, never liked playing the odds, or for that matter, never liked anything more challenging than Super Mario Brothers, but there is something about this game that defies anti- addiction. Two weeks ago when I first tried it, I was absolutely terrible and as a result it has now consumed me like a really bad fever because– unlike a lot of games including “swinging bells” — Sudoku is something one can actually get better at with practice. Therefore, it is hard to tell at this point if the $175 I won at Casino Nova Scotia last week ( for those of you who are wondering, I only put twenty down and played for fifteen minutes) while playing the Blackjack table for the very first time was luck or skill, though I am edging towards luck as I defied the other players who were screaming ” Don’t Hit, Don’t Hit”. I hit and got twenty-one five times out of seven. Recording an album can be as thrilling and emotionally captivating as gambling, it can bring you up, and then throw you down if something in the mix doesn’t work. And unless you are producing, engineering and playing all the instruments yourself, it can be incredibly tedious and just a tad boring. Thankfully, as I sit on the couch and beam my ears to the speaker, as we layer each song with textures and colors, I have something to look at besides the wall, Sudoku allows me to listen to the music without overanalyzing it. I wish I could say that Sudoku was the end of my gaming obsession but, in fact, it appears to be just the beginning. If I was a twenty year old movie star living in Hollywood, I would check myself into rehab based entirely on Pete’s ( The Heartbroken) Iphone game “Flightplan” . Ah, the intensity of trying to land planes on a three inch video screen makes me convulse more than eight scoops of chocolate ice cream as I try to beat my own high score( eat your heart out Stu). There is no doubt I need help, so thankful my Mom is coming for a visit, will send her Lindsay Lohan’s way when she’s through cleaning up my act.
When I woke up Saturday morning I had a feeling something was off kilter, I immediately checked my phone and saw that I’d missed calls by almost every member of my family and I started to feel a little woozy. Unless it’s your birthday or someone’s had a baby, a cluster of calls pretty much means something is wrong, so I held my breath as I listened to the messages and hoped for the best. It turned out my little nephew Finlay fell and broke his leg, which is bad enough but apparently the break was so bad, he has to stay in traction in the hospital for three weeks. Initially the thought of that three year old ball of energy and life strapped to a bed for three weeks made me want to cry, but then the positive outlook overdrive kicked in and I got to thinking about how a lot of really creative people had a time when they were hospitalized as children including Joni Mitchell who had polio as I child. I will start by saying that yes I know polio is way different then breaking a limb but the point is a lot of musicians and writers say their time in hospital or quarantine in their bedrooms was a time of spirited imagination where they emerged as artists for the first time- most likely because they were talking to someone imaginary, but at least it’s a silver lining. Maybe little Fin can take this time and learn Sudoko, a reasonable thought considering I used to see kids doing it all the time which lead me to believe I too could conquer it. I found myself in an extended period of self torture this morning sitting in my neighborhood coffee bar because I thought I’d try Sudoko to pass a few minutes and all I learned is that I am in fact an idiot. There was a time when I tutored math, where I was responsible for someone else’s learning curve and here I sit exhausted after a two hour battle with a puzzle I almost killed myself to complete. Apparently the scoring goes something like this -under 13 minutes, genius, 13-17 , scholar , 17-21, smart, 21-25- not bad, 25+ keep practicing, I think two hours plus means I should go back to grade one-yikes. Maybe there’s some room in that hospital bed for auntie cause I’ve got some learning to do.