Friday, July 25, 2008


I just got a year-long subscription to NYT puzzles as a birthday present from Chan. Even though it's not my birthday. And granted, I had to "suggest" it. But he came through, clicked a couple of buttons, and now he doesn't have to think up a gift when it is my birthday, and I get to do the Sunday puzzle every week without getting off my butt.

So I caught up with last Sunday's. It took me a while to get going. Oh, note, "spoilers" ahead. That word gets air (and in this case, tangible) quotes from me since I despise it. After a good while, I had no big answers and had no clue on the theme. On the clue about egg rolls, it finally hit me that CHINESE must be in there. So I put it in, and the circled letters spelled out CHES_. Since the puzzle is titled "Across the Board," I figured the other circled letters must spell out other board games. On one, I had a QU, and I went crazy picturing my (and various neighbors', and the one in Royal Tenenbaums) old game shelf, trying to visualize a five-letter QU- game. Once I got it to QUEE_, it hit me. QUEEN. It was all chess-related stuff. Then I got them all--it was the pieces: rook, knight, pawn, bishop, king, and queen. And the word chess. Getting those really helped me get the big clues, which allowed me to get 92% of the puzzle. (Online it shows you what percentage you've completed. It also has a running timer, but terribly it stops at 99:59. I was totally dicking around and watching a PBS show on bears with Kim for the first hour. So I hit the 100-minute mark and then worked on it for about an hour after that.) So my time--to 92 %--is approximately 2 and a half hours, minus time concentrating on the bears show. Usually I don't have that much done by the end of "day one."

The classic Shortz clue was "Manhattan part." It was three letters, middle letter Y. Eye? NYU? Then I got an R. RY_. Rye? That's upstate. What the frig, Shortz? I know my Manhattan. I even saw some of "The Out-of-Towners" on TV tonight and when they headed toward 50th and Park from Grand Central, I KNEW they were going the wrong way! Even though it was dark and rainy and all you could see were the doors. Sure enough, the joke was that they'd walked three blocks in the wrong direction. I told you, I'm good. So, I was pissed. What could it be? I kept thinking, What else could it be but RYE? And then it hit me. The freakin' drink "rye." Like in "American Pie," which, interestingly enough, I listened to not three hours earlier--and the Brady Kids' version at that! Have you ever heard that? It's high-larious! Just hearing the Bunch say "Satan" is worth it.

So, yeah, it was RYE. As in, you use rye when making a Manhattan. The drink, not the borough.

By the way, that movie is great. I had seen a little of the Steve Martin version, but that's it. This one, from 1970, stars Jack Lemmon and Sandy Dennis. Dennis rules. She had that "ahead of her time" thing going that Marilu Henner mastered on Taxi. I looked her up, and she was born in Nebraska (where I went to school), moved to NYC (where I used to live), and then settled in Fairfield County, CT (where I grew up) with her 30 cats (my pet of choice, besides penguins. But that's really more of a fantasy. I'd also like a seal. And a tiger cub. And snakes.). So it's a match made in heaven. Literally in this case, as Ms. Dennis is dead.

[pictured: Kim and Amazing Larry eating dinner like two weeks ago. I love when a cat sits in a chair at the dinner table. Also pictured is Danzing.]

What a great cat, what a great picture, what a great series it might be. We'll take the first two and figure out Sunday night when it comes. Have a great weekend...Amazing IS amazing....sentimental memories for me.

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Location: Rhode Island, United States