Friday, May 28, 2010

Coda: Why Stop Now?
Envoi for my puzzle blog.

1) Writing Career
I started this to keep in practice when the economy tanked all over my markets. Things have picked up to the point that dropping everything on Friday has gotten inconvenient. Yeah!

2) Vox Clamantis in Deserto
I never asked for a cult fan base but the radio silence has been deafening. When I started, I had one follower. Yippee! For a while I just had that one follower. Not so yip. Then my one follower decamped, leaving me feeling like an orphan puppy in a rain storm. Over the months I've had one viable comment (thank you). The rest have been foreign and of dubious linkage. I should have suspected that I'd want to hear from folks. I was one of those annoying kids always saying, 'Mommy, Mommy, look at me' or 'Mommy, Mommy, watch this.' What else is a blog but 'Hey Internet, watch this'?

3) Utility
I take it as read that people who create are higher on the food chain that those who comment. When I had a book column, I soothed myself that I wasn't a book critic as much as a book hunter, helping books find good homes. With a puzzle blog, reader and puzzle have already met. I did locate a few cool websites but wasn't really adding any new data to the system.

I so wanted to be a person who'd had a blog for a year. The symmetry appealed. However, the arbitrariness of the goal could not hold out against the above.

I will miss the Constructor's Corner.

Katherine Walcott
Puzzle Fan

Friday, May 21, 2010

Friends in Low Places
by Harvey Estes
edited by Mike Shenk
May 21, 2010

Commentary: Back at ?
Taking a blog break for a day, a week, forever ....
you'll be the second to know.

"Create because you love it & it brings you joy,
not because this is your assigned hobby."
BrickJournal Issue 5, Volume 2, Spring 2009, p20

ACPT Countdown Clock: 300 days
Friday, May 21, 2010, to Friday, March 18, 2011.

Katherine Walcott
Puzzle Fan

Friday, May 14, 2010

Insurance Claims
by Marie Kelley
edited by Mike Shenk
May14, 2010
Marie Kelly is "Really Mike"

As of this posting, full answers not yet available on WSJ's crossword puzzle page. Therefore, take these answers with a condiment of sensibility.

Theme: HMO inserted to make the clued phrase.
SINGH MOLE SPACING {23A Distance between golfer Vijay's blemishes?}
CASH MOTOR OIL {29A Singer Johnny's auto care product?}
DISH MONEY LAND {41A Area where chefs get paid?}
SLIDING SCHMO ALE {63A Brew whose mascot is a jerk coming home lying down?}
RAHM ON THE SHOW {87A Barack's chief of staff making a TV appearance?}
SHAH MOVED ICE {101A Ousted Iranian monarch got a job hawking sorbet?}
MATH MORON OF HONOR {109A Title awarded to the student who does worst in algebra?}
I was hoping for a common and therefore comment-able root between the five MO__ words. No luck: Middle Low German, Classical Latin, Anglo-Norman (2), & ancient Greek. I guess "mo" is an easy noise to make in English & we use it for all manner of adaptions.

Admissions of Defeat: 1 square
ETHELS {119A Waters and others}/ALFRE {100D Emmy winner Woodard}. I guessed A at the intersection ?THELS/ALFR?. Drat. I can't seem to get that last square for a perfect score.

Commentary: Book Recommendation
Brainiac: Adventures in the Curious, Competitive, Compulsive World of Trivia Buffs by Ken Jennings (Villard 2006). Jennings was the fellow with the 75-game Jeopardy! run in 2003. He writes about that interspersed with the history of trivia. Answer: buzzer management, nerves, and knowledge. Question: What are the important factors for playing on Jeopardy! in order?

Naturally, every person wants their particular patch of turf to be greenest and bestest. "And, unlike a game of pinochle or an issue of Easy Crosswords magazine, trivia often delivers content that's far from trivial." [p152] Ok, I'll give him easy but what about hard crosswords? What position could be less trivial that the White House Chief of Staff? Plus we have to manipulate words from from Disney to DISH MONEY. Ack! Thppt! Our patch is better. Furthermore, he has the nerve ! to call Stamford, "an elite national tournament for even the geekiest of endeavors."[p236] OTOH, coming from someone who calls himself a "nerd folk icon," [p235] this might be a compliment. But really, it's a distinction without a difference. What could be a better audience for a Jeopardy! book than a hardcore crossword puzzle crowd?

Wordplay got me doing crosswords regularly. Brainac got me watching Jeopardy! again. Is it life-changing if the change is small?

Commentary: Shortness excuse
The paying word pile that delayed last week's blog took the rest of this week to wrestle to the ground. I find my desire to wiggle my fingers over the keyboard severely limited at the moment. (Except for talking about books. I could do that from a coma.)

ACPT Countdown Clock: 307 days
Friday, May 14, 2010, to Friday, March 18, 2011.

Constructor's Corner: Marie Kelly
"I realized going into this puzzle that the resulting theme answers would be pretty peculiar, which means that they're more challenging to clue in a way that makes them sound sensible. I hope I succeeded with at least a couple of them.

"My favorite answer that didn't fit into the finished puzzle because I had no answer of the same length to balance it: ELECTRIC SHAH MOVER. (I imagine some kind of golf cart-like vehicle with a Peacock Throne mounted on it.) So the SHAH had to settle for a shorter answer.

"I also had BRING HOME THE BACH MOON on my list. That would have been funny after last week's Capitalist Pig puzzle."

Thank you Ms. Kelly.

Katherine Walcott
Puzzle Fan

Saturday, May 8, 2010

Capitalist Pig
by Dan Fisher
edited by Mike Shenk
May 7, 2010

Full answers available on WSJ's crossword puzzle page.

Theme: Piiiiigs Iiiiiiin Puuuuuzzle*
BRING HOME THE BACON {22A What the capitalist pig will do by working} - One page says the phrase is from a 12th C church in England, two others say a boxing match in the 20th C. The first theory is awfully specific for 900 years ago. In the second case, the phrase must have already had currency for the sportscaster to use it, otherwise why not bring home the pancakes? Either way, a ghoulish thing for a pig to do. And - apparently - an illegal thing for chefs to do. Bacon fandom.
GRUNT WORK {36A What the capitalist pig did in his first job} - We've all done grunt work. The OED says it began with the workers who stay on the ground to help electrical linemen. Are there linewomen out there? Either way, they too have a fan base - and targeted products.
THE PICK OF THE LITTER {43A What the capitalist pig's financial clout gives him when shopping} - Okay, I also thought it meant best.
SILK PURSE FROM A SOW'S EAR {69A What even a capitalist pig can't make} - But the chemists at Arthur D. Little can. Really, ya gotta look.
LIVING HIGH ON THE HOG {88A How the capitalist pig enjoys his wealth} - Another ancient seeming phrase with a modern pedigree.
PEN PUSHER {99A What the capitalist pig was earlier in his career} - I got nuthin.
CONGRESSIONAL PORK {115A What the capitalist pig embraces when elected to office} - Wiki says this originates with a 1863 story by Edward Everett Hale. That is one cannibalistic porker. For those who wish to watch the CPs in action.

News To Me: 13
FIDO {6A Name that means "faithful"} - I thought it just meant dog.
ENOUNCES {84D States} - as in enunciate, from the French enoncer (with'). OED

Movie, TV, Radio & Book
EGAN {31A Richard of "A Summer Place"}
SIAE {42A Phillips of "I, Claudius"}
FIBBER {1D Molly's husband} - famous radio duo & owner of famed closet.
SO BIG {10D Nickname of Dick DeJong in a 1924 novel} - Edna Ferber, Pulitzer in 1925.

AALTO {109A Architect known as "The Father of Modernism"}

INCA {123A Kingdom of Cuzco native} - Peru.
HIPPO {83D Kruger National Park sight} - South Africa. Krugerrand should have been a tipoff, but no.
NICOSIA {91D Divided world capital} - Cyprus. Divided Greek & Turkish.

EBB TIDE {62A Hit for Vic Damone & the Righteous Brothers} - & Sinatra
AGER {80A Milton who composed "Hard Hearted Hannah"} - Ella Fitzgerald
OYE {116D "Oye Como Va"} - Tito Puente & Santana

Admissions of Defeat: 2
SIA__mystery letter__/OWN TO {30D Acknowledge} - Could have been OWe TO.

Admission of Incomprehension: 1
ISES {74A Follower's suffix} - ??

I had thought this would give me opportunity to pontificate on the importance of pigs in our culture and pig idioms in our language. Instead surfing showed me that the world is a vast and weird place. I keep learning this lesson and then finding out it is even more v&w than I had thought.

*The Muppets have their own Wiki. That's fame.

ACPT Countdown Clock: 314 days
Friday, May 7, 2010, to Friday, March 18, 2011.

Katherine Walcott
Puzzle Fan

Friday, May 7, 2010

Capitalist Pig
by Dan Fisher
edited by Mike Shenk
May 7, 2010

The paying gigs interfered. Tune in tomorrow, or by the end of this weekend at the latest.

ACPT Countdown Clock: 314 days
Friday, May 7, 2010, to Friday, March 18, 2011.

Katherine Walcott
Puzzle Fan

Friday, April 30, 2010

by Judith Seretto
edited by Mike Shenk
April 30, 2010

As of this posting, full answers not yet available on WSJ's crossword puzzle page. Therefore, take these answers with requisite grain of salt.

Theme: Literature with an E
FEATHERS AND SONS {21A Book about characters like Icarus?} - Ivan Turgenev

WEAR AND PEACE {31A Book about concerns of an army tank maintainer?} - Leo Tolstoy

HEARD TIMES {41A Book about a newspaper's audio version?} - Charles Dickens

THE LEAST OF THE MOHICANS {63A Book about a tribe's smallest member?} - James Fenimore Cooper. Diary of a Crossword Fiend has a point, “How come we never just call him Cooper?” Compare JFC to the rest of these authors, although Seuss is usually Dr.

RABBIT RUNE {83A Book about a symbol found on a prehistoric burrow wall?} - John Updike

AS I LAY DYEING {93A Book about a relaxed beautician?} - William Faulkner

THE CAT IN THE HEAT {107A Book about a pet basking in sunlight?} - Dr. Seuss

Word of the Week: ISOGRAMS
{11D Words with no repeated letters}
Pursuing this intriguing concept led me to
Word Ways: The Journal of Recreational Linguistics
Making the Alphabet Dance by Ross Eckler
Language on Vacation: An Olio of Orthographical Oddities by Dmitri Borgmann
How can I go so quickly from complete ignorance to I must have this?

Recreational linguistics, also called logology, is the study of words, particularly letter patterns. Logology can also refer to the study of corporate logos, which are all about the visuals. Logos also has a biblical application that is above my pay grade. Therefore logo can be text, graphics, or content. English is weird.

News To Me: 6
ENVOI {33D Poetic summary} - related to a diplomatic envoy because the final words are sending the poem out into the world. So says the OED.

PATEN {54D Eucharist plate}

HAVER {65D June of “Scudda Hoo! Scudda Hay!”}

MARNI {73D Dubbing legend Nixon} - “Miss Nixon is the singing voice of Deborah Kerr, Natalie Wood and Audrey Hepburn in the Motion Pictures and on the Soundtracks of The King and I, An Affair to Remember, West Side Story, and My Fair Lady.” Legend indeed.

HUG {109D Bear's offering} - for any other reason than bearhug? Given the venue, a stock tip? I recently learned about the bear subculture from Logo TV. Forget heaven & earth, there are more things in my immediate neighborhood than are dreamt of in my philosophy. BTW – and yet another use of logo.

EMO {110D Dashboard Confessional's music} - What the heck *is* emo anyway?

Admissions of Defeat: 1 or 2...
...depending how you count. Took flyers on a nest of 5 squares involving 5 words. Got 4 of the squares and 3 of the words.

Correctly guessed
??T?R {68A Gunpowder ingredient} - NITER, after giving up on wedging in peTER, as in salt-.
PAT?N {54D} – PATEN, as above
CA?N? {60D “Deathtrapco-star} – CAINE, as in Michael. Particularly difficult as I kept reading Death Wish.

Missed the intersecting D
O??R {75A German border river} & E?I? {64D Writer Blyton} - ODER & ENID not OsER & ENIs. A reasonable guess, if wrong, no?

ACPT Countdown Clock: 321 days
Friday, April 30, 2010, to Friday, March 18, 2011.

Added later.
Constructor's Corner: Judith Seretto
"When I came up with the idea for an e-books puzzle, my first thought was prefixing titles with an E to make new titles. After a bit of work on this idea with no good examples, I realized I had to be a bit more flexible.

Here are a few of the titles I came up with that didn't fit into the finished puzzle: THE RED PEONY; THE GRAPES OF WREATH; INVISIBLE MEAN; and the very questionable THE GOLDEN BOWEL."

Thank you Ms. Seretto.

Katherine Walcott
Puzzle Fan

Friday, April 16, 2010

Joint Accounts
by Alice Long
edited by Mike Shenk
April 16, 2010
by ?
edited by Mike Shenk
April 23, 2010

Delay of game.
I will be volunteering at a horse show next week. Like a backed-up drain, that has pushed my chores from next week into this week. No time for puzzle fun. I will get to the 4/16 and 4/23 puzzles but it may be May.

ACPT Countdown Clock: 335 days
Friday, April 16, 2010, to Friday, March 18, 2011.

Back soon.
Puzzle Fan