Archive for the ‘Blather’ Category

Crosswords in Brooklyn and Cross Words at My Shoulder

February 25, 2010


I am very bad at one-handed typing.  That’s just one of the things that I have found out about having a separated shoulder.  Another thing is that when something else goes wrong, it is impossible to cover for it.  I attended the American Crossword Puzzle Tournament last weekend at the Downtown Brooklyn Marriott, and I had a really nice time.  I met some smart, funny, dedicated people.  I partnered with a just a lovely 3rd grade teacher from Boston during Friday night’s visual clue Siamese Twin Crossword puzzles.  I met a crossword puzzle constructor from New Hampshire, a pilot from Hawaii, and the president of a Pillowfighting League.   Seriously.  I had lunch at the Arby’s that took over Gage and Tollner’s space.  I also tried to solve six puzzles on Saturday and completed 3 of them.  You can just feel the But coming, can’tcha? 

Well, BUT, the pain in my shoulder was still enough to affect my performance, both as a blogger and a solver.  I forgot to bring a camera to the proceedings.  I found that painkillers do not help cognitive skills (Shocker!), and when my wife’s nagging sinus infection took her down, I was unable to attend Sunday’s finale.  Plus, the pilot from Hawaii had broken his shoulder blade and I was not even the best one-handed crossword puzzle solver there!   

I managed to finish 151 out of 161 rookies and 632 out of 643 entrants overall.  So uh, maybe I’ll just volunteer next year.


I grew tired yesterday and did not finish the post.  I went to an orthopedic surgeon today, and while I expected him to tell me that I just needed to keep my arm in a sling and rest up, I now know that I will need surgery to repair my separated shoulder.  Turns out that I has a Grade 5 separation, which means my collar-bone is 300 percent out variance.  in layman’s terms, it is sticking up 3x higher than it should.  The operation should be within the next 2 weeks, but it is arthroscopic surgery and should be minimally invasive.  Sigh.  I don’t really know what else to type save that I will try to have a puzzle up tomorrow.


Comings and Goings

February 3, 2010

Triviography Breakdown

Friday’s puzzle was a lot of fun for me, as the format of picking places in Manhattan allowed me to poke around the city both virtually and physically.  I both learned some new things and got to reminisce about places past.  Some of the pairs that I chose for the “which is further uptown puzzle/quiz” were done strictly for wordplay i.e. two Terminals, John Jay Park or College, but others were trips through time and space for me.  For instance, I went to college at Fordham University’s Lincoln Center Campus and still have a nostalgia for Lincoln Center and the surroundings.  Also, at one point of my life just about everyone who I was close to worked or lived on West 57th Street, so Carnegie Hall was a stones throw away.  I remember the GM Building for my early childhood as a place to stop near F.A.O Schwatz’s, and with the state of the American automotive industry, I thought putting it and the Chrysler building together in a puzzle was timely.

I also wanted to use two fictional addresses, and I had found one for Nero’s Wolfe’s brownstone, but I could not find any other landmarks for any other fictional New York private eyes!  That’s when the Fantastic Four’s HQ the Baxter Building jumped into my head, and fortunately when Stan Lee was creating his Marvel-verse he put things in locations he knew.  Avengers Mansion is pretty much the Frick Museum BTW.

As for Extra Virgin and Diablo Royale, the two restaurants I picked for the “West Fourth is further uptown than West Tenth” question, I must admit that I have never even set foot in either place (anyone know if either is any good?).  I just needed two restaurants and I liked the contrast of the names.  The whole West Fourth Street crossing West Tenth, Eleventh etc. is one of my favorite things to throw at newbies to the city.  Blows their mind every time, and it also gives the Village its reputation of difficulty in navigation.  This preserves what little charm the West Village has left.  Speaking of which:

Heinz Dept. – O. Henry’s and the Bar Was Called Jimmy Armstrong’s

In my musings post after Puzzle #30 I had asked for some help regarding two places that have disappeared from New York landscape, the Greenwich Village Eatery O Henry’s and a bar that a great friend of mine worked at (bloody well ran) on West 57th Street.  My sister found the location of O. Henry’s from a blog called New York Songlines, and according the site’s this virtual walking tour of West 4th Street, the location, 345 6th Avenue is now a bank.  Talk about the village losing its charm!  The bank in question is now a Capital One Bank and that is now directly across the street from a WaMu.  Sigh.  There is pretty much nothing else about the place on a google search.  I may have to, like go to a library or something for this one.  Shudder.

The bar who’s name I could not remember was Jimmy Armstrong’s.  This Clinton neighborhood joint had some tales to tell, but it too had the bad fortune to close in 2002 so precious little appears on the internet about it, but I did find a post mortem in the Times about it.

And so it goes.  New York is change isn’t it?  For those of us who desperately want to leave a mark in or on the world New York is a cruel place to live.  Beloved places vanish, majestic buildings crumble and as the people who made these places “places to be” pass on, the memories also recede.  What made O. Henry’s a long time village staple?  What made Jimmy Armstrong’s so inviting?  Mostly the people who ran the places and the people who came.  When they go, the rest of us get a bank or now a chain “pub” in the case of Armstrong’s.  In fact, right now in New York if the people who make a place special die or fall on hard times the chains are all too eager to gobble up them up and spit out a high-rise or a retail hell in their place.  I find this more than a little sad.  Which leads me to:

Brooklyn’s Loss is Seattle’s Gain

Scott M.X. Turner is one of those guys that makes something special.  He fought the Atlantic Yards Project, he hosted the Rocky Sullivan’s Pub Quiz, and he did great graphic design work for the fair people of Brooklyn (yours truly included, the Puzzling New York Blog’s logo and banner are his work).  Scott is unfortunately for us Brooklyn dwellers leaving us for the Emerald City.  I have only known Scott for a few months, but he has been more than generous to me with his time and energy.  He went to great lengths to focus my ideas for this blog’s look.  He allowed me to do many guest rounds at the pub quiz to promote my blog even though my following was nil, and he was a great “talk”.  Politics, sports, music, you name it he was sharp and game.  I will miss having him around, but Seattle won’t know what hit it.  If you want to catch Mr. Turner’s final go at quizmastering check him out tomorrow at 8:00 PM.  Need Info?  Sure thing.

Off My Chest

December 10, 2009

A Quick Announcement

The Holidays are upon us, and I will just wanted y’all to know that I will be taking some time off for the festivities.  I will continue my puzzle schedule the next two Fridays and then after the answers and musings on Dec 21 and 22, I will take the next two weeks off.  I will resume the puzzling goodness after we bid adieu to the “Oughts” and puzzles will flow forth again on 1/8/2010.

A Quick Rant: Bedford Avenue Bike Lanes

I really, really, really don’t want to use this blog to talk politics.  I am here to have some fun with the City and more amuse than enrage, but I just can’t let something go and I have to get it out.  This rant is political in nature, so I will say right off that I am of a liberal bent, and if you don’t agree with my world view that is absolutely fine.  I don’t think what I’m going to express here is terribly left leaning, but I will just want those of the conservative and easily offended mindset to just take a pass on these words right     about       NOW.

I dislike being treated like an idiot and marginalized.  The recent mayoral election has made me feel both of these things.

I have never liked term limits (in fact I voted against them TWICE), but I understood when a majority of New Yorkers who take the time to vote disagreed with me, uh, TWICE.  The fact that Mayor Bloomberg did an end around two public referendums to get on the ballot for a third term was beyond infuriating to me.  There were many justifications used by Mr. Bloomberg and his constituents, chiefly that NYC was in too great a crisis to not let him run, and that he was a different type of mayor, i.e. a mayor freed from traditional politics due to his independent standing. 

The crisis argument never washed with me.  Nobody let Giuliani run for a third term after the 9/11 attacks, and as dire as the economic problems that the city faces are they are NOTHING compared to the months after 9/11.  The argument that Mr. Bloomberg is not a traditional political beast was just too weak of an argument for me, and then I found out about the Bedford Avenue Bike Lanes being removed.

Backstory and my main point here:  Mike Bloomberg, like him or not, has a vision for New York City.  A big part of that vision is making New York more open, and greener.  The bike lanes that have been created under his tenure are a big part of that.  Bike lanes were opened in Williamsburg for commuters to use the Williamsburg Bridge to get to work from Brooklyn to Manhattan.  Some of these bike lanes, especially down Bedford Avenue went through Hasidic neighborhoods and the Hasidic community found the bike riders somehow offensive, especially “scantily clad” women.  So the Bloomberg administration had the DOT remove the bike lanes to appease a constituency that they needed in the 2009 election! 

Mike Bloomberg’s claims of “no politics as usual” is a total crock.  He, like every other mayor before him and probably everyone after him as well, will attend to his constituents first.  Don’t treat me like an idiot and say otherwise.  More importantly, remember that this is an example of how our mayor is willing to forgo his own vision for the city to appease a relatively small community that supports him politically.  This is not the bold leader that he portrays himself to be, and is very depressing to see that we will have four more years of favors to friends and allies and partisanship from Gracey Mansion. 

Now ranting is all fine and good, but I always felt that the best way to counter those who make treat me like an idiot is to come up with a clever way to fight back.  Now some activists have already taken it upon themselves to fight the Bedford Avenue Bike Lane Removal.  Well, I would like to add my idea for the whole situation.  If the Hasidim are all worked up about nubile young women riding their bicycles on their streets, then I have the perfect protest.  These women should continue to use Bedford Avenue for their commute, but where the lanes have been removed, they should get off and walk their bicycles through the neighborhood nice and slow.  Make the Hasidic community look at you longer than if you were just riding through.  I say these ladies should be pleasant and not verbally abusive, but they should continue to dress as they see fit and walk leisurely through the blocks that have had the bike lanes removed.  If they also happen to have a skirt a hair shorter than usual or a slightly sexier outfit on, so be it. 

I will gladly volunteer to chair a committee to form the “Tastefully Sexy Walk Your Bicycle Up Bedford Avenue” protest, and I don’t even ride a bike.

Hammer, Hammer… Saw, Saw… Drill, Drill…

October 1, 2009

Still working on stuff.  Come back tomorrow for an update.

We Are Experiencing Technical, Physical, Secretarial, and Emotional Difficulties… Please Stand By

August 13, 2009

Technical:  Computer can’t find camera to upload pictures and online connectivity problems…

Physical:  I have hurt my back and my son was under the weather…

Secretarial:  I am on the Board of a Co-op building, apartment closings et al…

Emotional:  A bit bummed and overwhelmed by all this, thanks for the concern…

So, Tuesday’s post got flushed.  I hope to have Friday’s puzzle out, but the Internet Gods are angry my friends.  We shall see.