A card game. To play, start with a full deck of cards, and deal them to each of four players. Each player will have thirteen cards (hence the name). On the first hand, whoever is dealt the 3 of spades will go first, and must lay down the 3 of spades, although it can be in combination with other cards. After that, players take turns playing cards in clockwise order from whoever went first.

Whoever begins the round chooses what kind of round it will be, and every player must play a similar trick or pass. Once a player has passed he or she may not play again until another round has begun. Once all but one player has passed, the remaining player may continue the round or begin a new round by laying down a new card or combination of cards.

Legal combinations to play include laying down just one card; two, three, or four of a kind; or a straight of three or more. If all the cards in a straight are of the same suit, the player who played them may say "same suit", which will allow only another same suited straight to beat it. After a straight is played, everyone else must play a straight of the same length, but with the highest card being higher than the highest card of the previous straight.

One of the stranger rules of the game is that the highest card in the game is the 2. A card is considered higher than another card if either the number of the card is greater, or the suit is higher. Suits go from highest to lowest in the order of Hearts, Diamonds, Clubs, Spades. The only thing that will beat a two is either a higher two or a "Two-killer". Two-killers consist of either 4 of a kind, or 3 consecutive pairs of cards. If double two's are layed down, only two sets of 4 of a kind, or 4 consecutive pairs will beat it. The pattern continue's if three two's are layed down. If a single player gets all 4 two's, they automatically win.

A player wins by laying down all of his or her cards first, and the game continues until all but one player has laid down all their cards. Then a new game is usually played, except that the winner of the previous game goes first in the new game.

Although there are lots of rules and many of them seem to have been made up almost at random, it really is a rather fun and addicting game. It's especially great in a school setting because no scorekeeping is required, unlike many other games. Next time you and three friends have a deck of cards and nothing better to do, give it a try.

The superstitious association of the number thirteen with bad luck came from an earlier belief that if thirteen people ate together at a table, one would die within a year. The root of this was of course the Last Supper, where Jesus and his twelve disciples were the thirteen diners, and the Crucifixion that followed that night is the bad luck. Since Good Friday is the calendar marker for the Crucifixion, I guess someone just tacked the Friday on there and that compounded with 13 led masses of people to believe that Friday the 13th was an all-time low for good luck. Now there are 13 clubs in some large cities that make a sort of game of superstition. Every table has thirteen diners who break mirrors before eating, have funeral dirges played, open umbrellas, and probably do all sorts of other things.

A mathematician whose name I can't recall stated that if fifteen people of random ages and lifestyles were chosen to eat together, the odds were approximately one to one that one would die in a year. I don't see why they even have to eat together, but I'm not a superstition mathematician either.

Thirteen

COPYRIGHT NOTICE
Musical composition copyright ©1971 Ardent Productions, Inc.
Original material is copyrighted ©2002 and may not be reproduced
in any manner or distributed outside of everything2.com without
the author's express written consent. All rights reserved.

Lyrics reproduced under fair use policy as defined here.

Author: Alex Chilton
Performed by: Big Star
Album: #1 Record (Stax Records, 1971/Fantasy Inc., 1992)
Recorded at: Ardent Studios, Memphis

Personal notes
I've been a fan of Big Star and Alex Chilton for many years now. Pretty much everything they ever recorded is an absolute masterpiece as far as I'm concerned, but let me tell you something... this song is different. Sure, its pure honesty and directness is similar to a couple of other tunes on their first album (particularly "Give Me Another Chance"), but it's not really fair to count it as a Big Star song, because it didn't start out as one.

This song is unlike any other in the Big Star catalog because Alex Chilton wrote it more than ten years before he joined the band. Before the Box Tops. Before the booze, drugs, intimidation and cynicism. Before the beginning.

The title comes from Alex's age when he wrote this song: Thirteen. You might think an average kid that age wouldn't be able to compose a tune like this. But Alex Chilton wasn't your average kid. Sure, the lyrics are pretty simple. It's pubescent teen angst in a nutshell, and that's where the heart-wrenching beauty of this song finds its source. But not in the usual way you'd think.

Simply reading the lyrics here won't give you the full impact of this composition. It's been covered by other musicians, including Garbage and Elliott Smith (who does an amazing rendition of it), but nothing compares to hearing Alex perform it. It is raw and beautiful in a way that few songs are. Written for acoustic guitar, it is a youthful expression of yearning and patience, of insecurity and determination that I have never heard expressed in song by anyone quite like this.

If you've aged past 25 years or so, hearing this song will almost certainly transport you back to the days when you were on the cusp of puberty, and felt those first stong and undeniable pulls toward your blooming sexuality and the tricky, scary, walking-on-eggshells feeling of first love. There have been a lot of songs written on this subject, but there are very few which are as poignant as this one. Alex's heart is truly on his sleeve here, which is rather out of character for the same man who wrote "Holocaust" and "Life is White". This song gives some insight into why the sad experiences of the Box Tops and Big Star were able to affect him like they did.

But you don't have to know anything about the history of the bands or Alex to get the message. It's a remarkable song in its own right. It's a universal snapshot in time, and every one of us have been in that picture before.


Lyrics:

Won't you let me walk you home from school?
Won't you let me meet you at the pool?
Maybe Friday I can
get tickets for the dance
And I'll take you,
Oooh oo oo

Won't you tell your dad, "Get off my back"?
Tell him what we said about "Paint It Black"
Rock and Roll is here to stay
Come inside, well it's okay
And I'll shake you,
Oooh oo oo

(instrumental bridge)

Won't you tell me what you're thinking of?
Would you be an outlaw for my love?
If it's so, well let me know,
If it's no, well, I can go.
I won't make you,
Oooh oo oo

Director: Catherine Hardwicke.
Writers: Catherine Hardwicke, Nikki Reed

Two young girls sit on a bed. Literally numbed by drugs, each dares the other to strike her, harder and harder.

They draw blood.

They laugh.

Co-authored by a teenage girl (who also plays one of the film's principals) and loosely based on her own troubled life at 13, this 2003 film has won awards and created a fair bit of controversy. I found the movie neither as good nor as bad as its strongest supporters and harshest critics claim. And despite its problematic nature, I found it gave me a few things to consider afterwards.

The film tells the tale of young Tracy (Evan Rachel Wood), an intelligent but naive girl who courts popular, troubled Evie (Nikki Reed) and wins her over after stealing a woman's purse and splitting the score. The film becomes a kind of coked-up after-school special, in which the two teens descend into hard drug abuse, theft, sexual experimentation, and self-mutilation, all before failing the seventh grade.

Young Nikki Reed, whose real life (partially) inspired the film, chose to play Evie, the bad influence, rather than Tracy; she says she has already lived that life once. Holly Hunter turns in an impressive performance as Tracy's mother, a recovering alcoholic who tries perhaps too hard to be a pal to her children and her own troubled circle of acquaintances. Deborah Unger plays Evie's willfully blinded guardian with conviction; even at the end, she does not truly grasp what has happened to her manipulative ward.

Thirteen proves less exploitative than 1995's Kids (the film to which it is most often compared). While many of its scenes shock, serious sexual activity occurs off-camera. The film also provides a context and a contrast which Kids lacks. We see something of the homelife these girls lead, and we also see, by contrast, the more typical adolescents in their seventh-grade class. Unlike Kids, Thirteen does not try to pass off its principals' wild lives as average contemporary teen behaviour. These girls are atypical; these girls have gone over an edge.

Hand-held digital cameras give the entire film a grainy, documentary quality, but the sense of reality sometimes seems forced. Wood and Reed go over the top-- though 13 often seems that way, even for more typical teenagers. The actress's actual young ages (14, 15) give the film a disturbing power it would otherwise have lacked and, overall, both girls do an excellent job. Nikki Reed, in particular, is convincing and disturbing.

More serious problems present themselves in the execution of this film. Individual stories have their own idiosyncracies, but when those particulars appear onscreen, they may not play as the filmmakers intended.

I'm fairly certain the film intended to present the various aspects of their rebellion as they might happen. The result, however, is that the film blends together all forms of teen rebellion, without any sense of distinction. We're left with the impression that navel piercing, tongue piercing, lesbic "practice" kissing, hard drugs, oral sex in middle school, and theft are all pretty much equally dangerous.

The film also has a disturbing, if likely unintended, racial subtext. The boys with whom lily-white Evie and Tracy have sex are nearly all Black. This may simply be a reflection of the particulars of Reed's Los Angeles life, but I rather wish they had handled this particular with greater care. I certainly hope that "dating Black" wasn't supposed to be yet another one of the unspeakable dangers into which the film's white adolescent girls are tumbling. The only significant Caucasian with whom they become involved is a young man who, after a few troilist kisses, dismisses them as "jailbait".

Finally, the film suggests our culture's obsession with beauty plays a negative role in the lives of these girls. Tracy, after all, wins Evie's attention by showing off her looks, Evie's mother undergoes plastic surgery, and a "Truth is beauty" advertisement appears in the background at significant moments. Yet the film sold itself with actors who are exceptionally beautiful, a fact which arguably weakens the implied criticism. (at Sundance, Hardwicke had to remind the men in the crowd that Reed was underage).

Thirteen, then, is far from a perfect film, but it has many fine, if harrowing, moments, and deserves an audience. I suspect we shall see more of its stars and creators in the future.

Thirteen won Best Director at the 2002 Sundance Film Festival.

Cast of Thousands, chapter 22

They separated to change. Jess tingled with the hope and joy of making a new friend. She whizzed through her clothes and took off for Chorus, afraid of pushing her luck with Mo by hanging around her too much. She lingered in the multi-purpose room, staring at the soda machine and fantasizing about buying a Yoo- Hoo just to see how it tasted. She almost never had sodas at home, and especially not sugary milky fake-chocolate ones.

Reluctantly, she crossed the room and went to Chorus. That class was a real buzz-kill. The girls behind her didn't try too much today, but she spent the whole time waiting for them to start something.

The three of them were busy gossiping about some other girl they knew who already had a boyfriend. "Oh my gawd, she is such a slut," one of them was saying. "Like, he totally only wants her because he thinks she's going to put out."

"Do you think she's gonna?" another one gasped.

"Like... whatever. I don't even care, she is such a skank. I think it's just sad."

Jessica listened to this with half an ear, wondering in the back of her mind whether they actually thought someone their age was going to have sex with some twelve-year-old little boy. Or vice versa. They sounded like every parent's idea of a good public service announcement for abstinence.

Finally the class was called to order and music handed out. They had been practicing a medieval round for the past week. At the teacher's command, they all creaked lugubriously through the dirge. "Ah poor bird, take thy flight, far above the soo-oo-rows of this sad night. Ah poor bird, take they flight...."

The song might have been pretty if it had been performed by actual singers. Their sopranos were shrill, and the baritones sounded like they were mumbling. Everyone in the middle, Jessica included, just creaked rustily through it.

"That was terrible! You're not paying attention. Melanie, put that book away, and you three, stop talking and start singing with the rest of us!"

They tried it again, with slightly more success. The teacher sighed. "I never thought I'd say this about this song, but let's take it a little faster this time. Come on, everyone, pick up the pace!" She smacked the podium with her pointer in rhythm to the words. "AH poor BIRD, take thy FLIGHT. Not 'aaaaah poooooor biiiiiiird, taaake thy fliiiight.' Try it again."

Everyone gasped the song out in staccato bursts in their efforts to comply with these orders. Jessica personally thought that Ms. McFarland should know better than to give such emphatic examples to a class of literal-minded seventh-graders. They were now singing, "AH! Poor BIRD!! Take thy FLIGHT!!"

Ms. McFarland rubbed her forehead tiredly. "Better. That was better."

The rest of the hour went much the same way. Jessica enjoyed herself more when they moved to songs that had already been well-rehearsed, which didn't sound good but at least didn't stop every few minutes for correction. She could sing freely that way, and her voice got more or less lost in the crowd so it was unlikely that the girls above her would pick on her about that. As the school day ended, Jessica ran outside humming snatches of medieval madrigals under her breath, and found her mother hanging out in the old truck she used for hauling furniture around, kicked back with her heels on the dashboard, blasting country music.

Jessica said teasingly, "Mo-om, you're embarrassing me!" and climbed in.

"Wouldn't be doing my job if I weren't." Joyce turned the engine on and pulled out of the parking lot. "So how was school?"

"Uh...." Jess looked blank.

Joyce laughed. "You can't have forgotten already! You just came from there!"

"My secretary will have to get back to you on that," Jess said in professional tones. "Why do you have the truck? Did you sell something?"

"Yep," Joyce said with some satisfaction. "Place in Dixon took a desk and gave me an order for three more."

"Yay Mom!" Jess cheered.

They parked in the driveway of their little house. Leaping through the kitchen door, Jessie sang loudly, "Ah poor BIRD! Take thy FLIGHT! Far above the SOOORROWS of this sad NIGHT." She punctuated the words with bounds up the stairs. Missy flattened herself against the ground, running for cover.

Chapter 23?

Thir"teen` (?), a. [OE. threttene, AS. reot�xc7;ne, reotyne. See Three, and Ten, and cf. Thirty.]

One more than twelve; ten and three; as, thirteen ounces or pounds.

 

© Webster 1913.


Thir"teen`, n.

1.

The number greater by one than twelve; the sum of ten and three; thirteen units or objects.

2.

A symbol representing thirteen units, as 13 or xiii.

 

© Webster 1913.

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