A few notes from the Internationals:
-I would like to publicly congratulation yanis on yet another stellar showing. With a Street Title under his belt and two back-to-back appearances in the Final 16, his place among the RPS elite is assured. I'll be the first to say it - yanis is the new Marc "Fistful o' Sneer" Rigaux. I look forward to future interactions with one of the great up-and-coming players in the sport.
-The 2008 Outreach Award goes to the Minneapolis Hustlers. I would like to thank Rev and Tax for supplying myself, Urbanus and the Hood with beer, food and cab fare for the duration of our visit. Although they chose to make their donations through the medium of dice and RPS, I'm sure they would have been just as happy to mail in a check and avoid the bother.
-Two out of two RPS professionals prefer Philadelphia cream cheese to Norwegian cream cheese.
-The Library at the Imperial Pub made an acceptable, if sorry, substitute for Good Tymez. No karaoke or internet access, but larger and with pitchers and a sizable smoking deck. They also turned a blind eye to the friendly dice game on the back deck.
-Norwegians are especially susceptible to prank phone calls, including fake interviews from non-existent newspapers as well as the classic "Is your refrigerator working?" gag (for best results call a sleepy but polite Norwegian at midnight and ask if his refrigerator is running. When he checks and responds in the affirmative, yell "Well, I guess you'd better go catch it then!" before hanging up.
-"Two bums don't make a smoke." - Taxman, the Hustlers
-It's been awhile since I've provided a tourney summary with strategic analysis. No, I'm not talking about the dog and pony show on Saturday night. I'm talking about the REAL tournament; the 2008 International Invitationals. 15 of the top players in the world descended on our hotel room for a buy-in, winner-takes-all, single elim, Half Hustle tournament. With only 15 players, a bye had to be awarded. I nominated Urbanus; Urbanus nominated Pete. With no objections, Pete played Urbanus for the bye. Pete won, and the bye was awarded to Urbanus. The remaining field was matched at random.
Round One Philly's Paper Tiger, along with his unorthodox priming style, was no match for the verbal taunting of the Hustler's Reverend Roshambo. The Hustlers moved two in with the Taxman defeating Australia's Scissorsista. In what could have easily been the final match, I faced my hero Master Pete Lovering. No verbal or physical games would avail me here; I had to clear my mind to the point of vacuity in order to have any chance, and eventually, to succeed. Norway's Pal "The Wall," despite testing positive for hapa, was unable to defeat one of Philly's top female players, Mr Is. Mikkel "The Pickle" avenged his fallen but hairy countryman by defeating Philly's Baconshark. Not satisfied with this, one of Norway's newest players, "The Sledgehammer" delivered a nearly-fatal blow to David Bowie's Package, and the dreams of PJ "Rhymeswithsausage." Sledgehammer made use of an opening ritual by rolling up both of his pant legs to the knee. He also used his trademark priming style, jumping up and down instead of moving his arm. Norway's Bob the Builder was then savagely beaten by Lauren "The Hood" Hood of Philadelphia. Urbanus gets the first round bye.
Round Two In a tense Hustler-vs-Hustler match, Taxman moved the Reverend into a lower tax bracket. This put the Taxman into the "#1 Hustler" spot, formerly owned by Bo aka "Dr Rock" aka "Rocky" aka "Rockmaninoff." Bo didn't make it this year, prefering to stay in Minneapolis and tend the daisies. My next match required me to finish the dreams of David Bowie's Package by defeating Mr Is. The Hood mauled the Pickle, while an amped Sledgehammer demolished Urbanus, who was clearly not warmed up for the match. It's tough on the road.
Round Three Taxman vs the Hood. Tax had the height advantage, but the Hood was heating up. She conceded some early points only to come on strong in the end. As for me, I knew the only way I would defeat the mighty Sledgehammer would be to adopt his unorthodox style. I also rolled up my pants legs and delivered my throws while jumping, giving me the win.
Finals Rosh vs the Hood. It was an honor for me to play against someone who is not just a friend, and not just one of the top female players on the Pro Tour, but one of the top players period. She's beaten Pete Lovering in International competition, and lost to the Midnight Rider at the Atlantic Yards smackdown. I knew I had to change up my game, so I went with Drunken Style. Deceptively mobile footwork and an arrhythmic delivery style threw off any chance of the Hood reading my tells. I won the match and the tourney, and collected my winnings.
-While I'm bragging, I also won a 150 player exhibition tournament before the screening of some RPS movie that was filmed about ten years ago. Nothing ever became of the movie, and I barely remembered being in it, but the director (Mark, I think) was on hand offering popcorn and a soda for the "last person standing" in a match against one person on stage. All audience members started off on their feet, remaining standing if they won or tied a throw. As the field wound down to five, I turned my back to the stage; I already had the game in the bag. After winning, I made my way to the stage and snatched the snacks from Mark, in the process snarling "At least I got something out of it." (my involvement in his production.) The popcorn gave me a stomach ache.
-Most Notable Absence: The 2008 Internationals were definitely missing a presence from previous years. And no, I'm not talking about the Saint. Or Doug and Lisa Walker (I could never figure out what they did, anyway; they're not players...) Or even Good Tymez. I'm talking about an Internationals institution since 2003 whose absence left the entire player pool deeply saddened. I refer to nothing other than the lack of karaoke this year. I suppose Good Tymez made it easy; karaoke on request at a place you're going to be anyway is hard to beat. I know I was worse without my annual dose of Urbanus tearing up Wham Rap or "One Thing Leads to Another" (a song Taxman claims Urbanus "ruined for life" for him. I know what he means; the original barely holds a candle to Urbanus' superior cover.) Next year we really have to get on top of this. Perhaps karaoke AT the official players' reception wouldn't be a horrible idea?