Sunday, April 8, 2012

Crossword Puzzle World

After we both lost our jobs, dealing effectively with our investments became much more important. But whom do we trust for advice? At the very least, the ideal person should know more than we do.Clairvoyance would be really useful too. We interviewed several people finding one that we both liked..and then he just disappeared. Steve found one person he liked but I wanted nothing to do with him and refused to go to joint meetings. Why? Steve told him I was busy packing to go to Italy and he told Steve to make sure that I visit the city that makes all the wine.

And what city would that be? If he lived in Crossworld Puzzle World, it would be Asti. As it was, he couldn't remember the name of this wonderful city. I suggested that we have no more dealings with him. Why? Just because he doesn't know geography doesn't mean he doesn't know investments.
I disagreed. In this person's defense, Steve let him play with a bit of what we have and he did well but now he is gone, probably blown away in that tornado (he lived in that neighborhood).

During my Mass. exile, we watched a lot of TV catching up on The Big C , Homeland, and Madmen (all I love). We also watched several On Demand movies including Wordplay. This is a movie about crossword puzzles: how they are edited, created and solved. I loved it. According to the movie, the best and the hardest crossword puzzles are the NY Times Sunday ones. (I think the London Times puzzles are much harder but maybe that is due to the different cultural references). Who creates these puzzles? Not English or history professors full of arcane knowledge at their fingertips as one might guess but mathematicians and musicians. They are more able to plan patterns. Indeed my neighbor and ex-co-coach of my soccer team creates crossword puzzles. He is a mathematician. He even has had some accepted by the NYTimes though for now, he is a Monday/Tuesday type of guy (puzzles are easier in the beginning of the week).

Who likes to solve these puzzles besides yours truly? Quite a diverse lot including people that you would think would not have the time  to tackle these. This was my favorite part: a group of people solving the same puzzle (which we saw created in an earlier scene) and thinking aloud. These people included a Yankee pitcher, Bill Clinton, Jon Stewart, the Indigo Girls and Ken Burns. Busy people all but they spoke to how puzzles relax them and help them tackle the problems in their jobs.
 They also showed a crossword solving championship. Most of the top people seemed to be Jewish middle aged men. No Asians at all. But usually this one woman comes in the top ten and even won it outright one year. The championship in the movie ended up being won by a college student. This was surprising to all. True, ability to make connections quickly has no age limit but he didn't have the years to build up a store of arcane knowledge like most of the contestants.

While I was hurriedly packing to go to Boston, I threw in a book of Sunday New York Times Puzzles rated Extra Difficult. What makes these particular ones hard for me was they were created all 30 years ago: different cultural references. I do pretty well with the current ones (a friend saves them up for me). I also like the WSJ ones. these are much easier than the NYT.

Over the years you learn the fill-in vocabulary around the central 'tricks'.
Swiss River: Aar
Italian wine city: Asti
Baseball brothers: Alou
NHL Rookie of the year: Orr
Chemical: enol
Common answers: Dies Irae; Jai Alai, esta, etre, nein, aloe, stet, ogee

Knowledge of French and Spanish: most useful. Sports questions I defer beyond the obvious to Steve. a recent puzzle had  the terms hot corner and suicide squeeze. I got them but had no idea what they meant.

I probably spend way too much time on these. I limit myself to one Killer suduko and one cross word a day...otherwise I would find myself doing these and nothing else. they do make me happy.

It is Easter. I am making the family dinner for Josh's and Naomi's family. Looking forward to the dinner though not the making. Yesterday was spent in part buying supplies..I think it is well under control.

To my dear readers: Happy Easter and Passover! This year, the two Easters (my SIL is Orthodox Christian) and Passover are all at the same time.

The menu:
Marinated Roast Pork with mustard sauce
Stir-fried Brussels sprouts with bacon and garlic
Pear salad with butter lettuce, cherries, honey chevre, roasted pecans, shallots in a pear-chamgagne vinaigrette (already made it: tastes good)
Crescent rolls (for Naomi)
Orzo with mushrooms and shallots
Raspberry tart (not homemade but I was trying to go easy on myself..if I knew the pears were going to be good, I would have made a ginger-pear crisp.)


Anonymous said...

Happy eater from the netherlands. I spent it with my husband, mother, mother in law one son and his girf friend. We had dinner together was a nice time.

Will you explain to me: what is a passover? We have two easter days here.

For your crosswordpuzzle:
dutch river: ee

Sue in Italia/In the Land Of Cancer said...

Passover is the Jewish celebration of the Jews' exodus from Egypt (my husband is Jewish). The last supper Jesus had was a Passover Seder.
The pharaoh would not let the Jews go until many plagues occurred: the last one being the death of first born sons. To escape 'the angel of death' Jews put the blood of the lamb on their doors so their houses would be 'passed over'.

Anonymous said...

Thank you for the explanation. Do you celebrate the passover at the same time with easter every year?

Delicious meal you describe!

We have had:
ossestaartsoep met walnootcrotons
beenham met witlofslade en aardappelkroketjes
ijs met peer chocoladesaus en slagroom

My husband normally cooks, but he has a broken list (i hope that is the good word) and i am not a cooking queen. But all went well and we had a good time with the family. My oldest son and his girlfriend were away on holiday but the rest was here.

greeting Carla

Sue in Italia/In the Land Of Cancer said...

The two Easters and Passover are determined by three different calendars so only occasionally are they at the same time. since Dutch is a Germanic language along with English, I was able to translate most of what you ate without help.

Anonymous said...

That is clever of you!!

How many languages do you speak?? I can cope in english, french and german. My native language is not Dutch but Fries. I live in the north of the netherlands, in the provence friesland and we have our own language.It is an official language and you can use it for example in courtand in official documents and we teach it also in school, but off course my dutch is also very good.

Friezen live here for a long time. There are found remains more then 4000 years old. To protect their farms against the surrounding waters the fiezen build TERPEN. High piles of mud. You can still find them back in the landscape. the town i live in, Leeuwarden, is build on three terpen and is very old. We also have a lot of old buildings, some more then 1200 years old (churches). A lot of houses in the city are build more then 600 years ago. We walk on history in our town.

greetings Carla

Sue in Italia/In the Land Of Cancer said...

I can speak like a 6 year old in French and Italian. I can say simple things in German and Spanish. I had to know how to read German for my job as an organic chemist (journals used to be mainly published in German) but never really learned how to speak it.

So is Fries much like Dutch? I am afraid that I never heard of this area. Not much history here in Michigan. Our town was settled less than 200 years ago. Many long time locals were descended from immigrants from Swabia (SE Germany). The University of Michigan is here which attracts people from around the world. Most Americans do not know another language and even if they do, they won't speak it.

Anonymous said...

Fries is older then dutch (and english)It is also an germanic laguage. I shall give you a few examples

see you-tot ziens-oant sjen

greetings Carla

Carole said...

If you are interested in puzzles you might like to check out a series of posts I did on cryptic crosswords and how to solve them. I find them so much more satisfying than normal crosswords. Solving cryptic crosswords

And good luck with your journey from another survivor.


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