Wednesday, August 17, 2005


Like most computer users I find myself killing time playing solitaire now and then. When I played with a deck of cards I only knew one game. And although many variations are available (over 1,000, according to one source), I still most often play the classic version, called Klondike, on my computer.

Many famous people played solitaire. When Napoleon was exiled to St. Helena in 1816 he reportedly played to pass the time. Many games use his name to this day. Franklin D. Roosevelt was another of the many well known avid solitaire players. His favorite solitaire game was Spider solitaire. Several famous works like War and Peace and Great Expectations mention solitaire.

Whenever I play Solitaire I can't help but hear the Statler Brothers singing Flowers on the Wall in my head:

Countin' flowers on the wall, that don't bother me at all
Playin' solitaire 'til dawn, with a deck of fifty-one
Smokin' cigarettes and watchin' Captain Kangaroo

I always think of Harold Reid hitting "Kang" a half step ahead of the rest with his deep bass. Those too young to have a clue as to what I'm talking about may leave now.

How old do you have to be to understand the reference to Captain Kangaroo, let alone remember watching the show weekday mornings on CBS? [sigh] Now THAT was good children's programming.

Anyway, I usually also run through Janis Ian's hit At Seventeen:
We all play the game, and when we dare
We cheat ourselves at solitaire....

mainly because I sometimes find myself cheating. It's so easy to do when you play on a computer that allows you to undo! (BTW, 2005 is the 30th anniversary of the release of that song. Gawd, I feel old.)

At one time I played a version that timed each game and was constantly trying to "win" faster. I no longer try to beat the clock, at least not consciously. But I do find myself shifting my eyes around the screen quickly as if I need to play in a hurry. This invariably leads to eye fatigue and sometimes a dizzy spell.

Am I odd this way, or do others play quickly as well?