Archive for the ‘Manhattan’ Category

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.

Just Showing Up

July 29, 2009

First Some Business:

I am just thrilled to announce that I have been invited back to do the guest round at The Rocky Sullivan’s Pub Quiz in Red Hook, Brooklyn this Thursday, July 30 at 8:00 PM.  The quiz is a blast, and MC Scott M.X. Turner makes sure that a grand time is had by all.  If you are available and near Red Hook on Thursday night, then use the above link for directions and go, go, go!

So, About Word Ladders…

Apparently the secret to word ladders is finding the right starting and ending words.  The three word ladders that I came up with for this week’s puzzle took all of 45 minutes to construct.  Which is funny, considering what happened when I tried to do a word ladder for the previous week’s puzzle.  After days of dead ends, I shelved the whole bloody thing and finished the Sister Cities puzzle the night before (and day of) posting.  The problem was that I was trying to make a word ladder that went from WOODY to ALLEN.  Even though five letter words gave me a bit more flexibility that four letter ones, it turns out that there are precious few words you can turn ALLEN into, and switching the double vowel of WOODY to the double consonant of ALLEN proved to be my undoing.  I am still fooling around with this one, and getting WOODY to ALLEN one letter change at a time is pretty much my first “Holy Grail” of puzzle construction.  Anybody got Galahad’s cell?

I really wanted to use Woody Allen for a puzzle to launch back into my sadly languishing Tuesday posts.  The Woody Allen themed puzzle was to be a bridge to a famous line of his:  “80% of success is showing up.”  I haven’t been showing up for my Tuesday posts, and this is no longer acceptable for me.  So in an effort to “show up” we have today’s post, and I would also like to introduce a new second feature to the Tuesday post:

From the Heinz Dept.

‘Cause I have a lot of ketchup to do (nyuck, nyuck).  There were many puzzles that I wanted to expand upon or offer tidbits that I learned while making them, but I did not get to.  I will be posting these things here, and I am going all the way back to my first word pyramid for the inaugural dispatch from the Heinz Dept.  One of the answers that I needed for this puzzle was “scone” and I figured that I would just Google “Best Scones in New York City”  and find out what Time Out or the Village Voice ranked as the best place to get a scone in our fair metropolis.  Well, the scone is apparently the red headed step child of baked goods, as no NYC periodical has rated “The Best Scone” in any of their ubiquitous Best Of issues.  Undeterred, I poked around sites like Chow hound and came across Alice’s Tea Cup.  Their scones were rated highly by users, I checked out their website, liked what I saw, and so I used this establishment for the scone clue.

Well, as fate would have it, one of the “you’ve hit a certain age” medical test that I went for (turns out nothings wrong with me BTW) was nearby the Alice’s Tea Cup that is located on West 73rd Street, and so I actually set foot in the place and had breakfast.  I can honestly say that the place is very charming in its quirkiness and the food was very good.  Of course I tried a scone and it was great, but the tea that I had was also very good and needed no enhancement from milk or honey.  If you are on the Upper West Side and looking for breakfast/brunch stop, go ask Alice.