2006? Craps. It's A Dice Shoot.
I called a friend in St. Augustine, Florida this morning, and we were talking about how things in life can change so quickly. Another friend of ours had left Washington to move to Scottsdale, Arizona, stayed there a short while, then shifted to Carmel-by-the-Sea in California. Once she got to California, all of these dramatic shifts happened in her life: health, family, work, yet when I heard from her at Christmas the card was a photograph of the sea with a breezy "ping me in e-mail so we can catch up." I got the real story this morning from the St. Augustine friend who was more in the know than I was.
Over the weekend I had been thinking about my previous year and ongoing problems I am dealing with that would carry over into 2006, as well as that big "unknown" of the future. Ironically enough, a friend here in Washington had given me a book for Christmas called, Dice: Deception, Fate & Rotten Luck, written by sleight-of-hand artist, Ricky Jay. After hearing about the California friend's multitude of new issues facing her this year, I started thinking about the randomness of change and what we can have land on the table as our life plays out.
In the book, the small chapters cover the history of dice, deceptions with dice, and when a die dies. Jay has a vast collection of dice, and many of the pieces were made of celluloid. These cellulose nitrate dice were the industry standard until the middle of the 20th-century at which time they were replaced by the less flammable cellulose acetate which has a greater stability rate. As you can see from the photographs, celluloid dice can dramatically decompose: the dice stay stable for decades, then crystallization begins on the corners, spreading to the edges. Nitric acid is released in a process called outgassing, and the dice split, crumble, then implode. Mr. Jay had a photographer who specializes in studying decaying objects photograph his collection, and I have included some of Rosamund Purcell's pictures of the dice along with this piece.
The modern rules for craps are: a player rolls two dice. If they total seven or eleven, he wins; if two, three or twelve are rolled, he loses. Any other total rolled out is called his point, and he must then try to throw for his point. If he rolls his point before seven comes up, he wins, if seven comes up first, he loses. Crapshooters often think if they handle the dice a certain way, it will alter the outcome of the game. I wonder what random rolling techniques I will be shooting and how it will affect my odds this year.
NPR : Ricky Jay: Crumbling Dice
** Dice Photographs by Rosamund Purcell