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|Wednesday, February 13th, 2013|
I have a lot of old puzzle books I've picked up here and there. Going through them, I find there's some overlap and reprints. For example, I have series 90 of the Margaret Farrar-edited Crossword Puzzle Book (1963). Puzzles from this book are also part of Crossword Treasury series 10 and 11, which I also own. I went through, crossing out duplicates, but ended up not completing everything because the pages were too brittle (and the puzzles were... old).
Moving into the Maleska era, I did NY Times Sunday crosswords, vol. 15 and 18. These were more modern though still not what we're used to today. Eugene T. Maleska's Crossword Book of Quotations was going smoothly, until I noticed that the book was part of a crossquotes omnibus I already did. In this pre-computer era, typography was inconsistent (varying lengths of blanks) and one puzzle even had messed up numbering. The quotes were highlighted in yellow, and the full quotation was given in the answers.
I had the 60th anniversary S&S collection (1924-84), series 133, co-edited by Farrar and Maleska. Then we skip to series 146, edited by Maleska and John Samson. I had several puzzles with 1 or 2 squares wrong, because the material was obscure. Much better were series 258 (2007), Mega 5 and Mega 6 (ed. by John Samson). I like the Mega books (I've found errors, but there seem to be fewer with time), but wonder if I'll ever catch up.
Editor Mel Rosen chose the puzzles in RH Editor's Choice. I did volume 1 and did not see any other volumes, so ordered a compilation. Even if I once did them, I'll never remember by now. I also did Mel's Casual Crosswords, vol. 5. I hesitate to call puzzles "too easy" but with hints and tags for multiple words, maybe this series is not geared for me.
Just before the 2011 tournament, I ordered The Wrath of Klahn and Patricks' Puzzle Pandemonium. B&N delivered astonishingly fast. I might have done these before in other venues, but I never remember puzzles and figured they'd be good practice.
I'm a completist, so I got the enhanced edition of Crasswords (ed. Francis Heaney) even though I did the original. The intro helpfully pointed out which were the new puzzles, so I solved those and will give away the book. Words in Blankety-Blank SCRABBLE Crosswords by Frank Longo had the constraint of being Scrabble-legal.
I'm not an opera fan but David Kahn's The Metropolitan Opera: Crosswords for Opera Lovers is a lovely little book. So is Jeffrey Harris's Sit & Solve Pop Music Crosswords, and I am a pop music fan. Another small-size book is Patrick Blindauer's Hip Pocket Crosswords which probably does fit in a pocket, though I kept it on the dining room table. Last of the smallish (but high quality) books I solved was The Penguin Classics Crossword Puzzles, ed. by Ben Tausig.
Almost done! It helps that I have almost nothing to say about the puzzles themselves (how do crossword bloggers do it?). I am not above reading People Magazine, and also not above doing their puzzles (except for find the difference in the pictures. No thanks). Celebrity Puzzler Holiday Special doesn't have the best puzzles in the world, but they're OK and good for testing pop culture.
Lastly, I just finished a whole book of Triple-Stack Crosswords by Martin Ashwood-Smith. That is my idea of fun.
I haven't blogged in months. It would be nice to clear away the pile of puzzle books, and there isn't much to say about them, so I'll do those. Non-crossword puzzles first:
I proofread the following for Conceptis/Puzzlewright. Sometimes I was asked just to do a sample, but I went back and finished later because I love this type of puzzle: Kooky Kakuro Puzzles; Second-Degree White Belt, Green Belt, Brown Belt and Black Belt Kakuro. I liked those so much I bought all four regular (color) belt kakuro books and finished those, too.
Every so often I succumb to the lure of a sharpened pencil and do sudokus. I learn techniques, only to forget them again. Basically, I don't know what I'm doing, but these can be relaxing. There's always a nagging feeling I'm wasting my time and then I put sudokus aside for another long period. I solved:
The Original Sudoku Book 2 (Nikoli) - This was on my dining room table and eventually, I managed to do them all.
Xaq Pitkow, Sudoku 2: Medium to Hard - After the mediums were done, the hards were just too hard and I gave up and gave the book away.
Frank Longo, Third-Degree Brown Belt Sudoku - gotta support my friends. Also, these were the right level of difficulty.
Will Shortz, Sweet Dreams Sudoku: 150 Fast, Fun Puzzles; Devious Sudoku: 200 Very Hard Puzzles (don't think I listed these before) - I won these and got around to doing them.
Thomas Snyder, The Art of Sudoku - These are expertly hand-crafted. While some of the artistry went right by me, I did notice cool shapes and patterns.
Les Foeldessy, Next-Generation Crosswords - Did all 100 puzzles in one sitting. LOVED these crossword variations, also known as gryptics
. I do not know the author; this is unbiased puzzle love.
Patrick Merrell and Helene Hovanec, Coffee Time - cute little book with facts about coffee interspersed with puzzles. I hardly ever drink the stuff, so the rapture was lost on me.
Puzzability, Sit & Solve, Crazy Phrazies and Crazier Phrazies - My pals at Puzzability always keep the artistry and amusement level high. These picture puzzles aren't my strong suit, and I peeked at the answer sometimes to move things along.
Patrick Merrell, AHA!: 125 Original & Amusing Word Puzzles - Quick fill in the blank puzzles with clever clues.
Most people I know from the National Puzzlers' League adore cryptics, but I'm not a huge fan. Too much work and thought. Yes, I'm shallow. I can appreciate good work, though, and while I won't slog through culturally alien British cryptics, I do American ones now and then.
Henry Hook is an absolute master of these puzzles. His Hooked on Puzzles series (Simon & Schuster) from about 20 years ago included cryptics, as well as regular crosswords (which I solved a long time ago, saving the best for first), acrostics, rebuses, trivia, logic, number puzzles, and a few that defy description. I finished volumes 1-4. I also did S&S Hooked on Cryptics, series 1.
S&S also put out the Book of Cryptic Crossword Puzzles, edited by Eugene T. Maleska. These are by assorted authors and while not Hook quality (except for the ones actually by Henry), are OK. I finished series 1, 4 and 5 (1980-7).
|Saturday, July 7th, 2012|
|Time Warner cable TV on the iPad - NOT
I was passing by Time Warner cable and saw a sign about an iPad app that lets subscribers watch TV. Researching it when I got home, it seemed less useful since you have to access with your home wifi on and can't use it anywhere else. I loaded the app, and could sign in, but it said I had to be connected to my home network, which I was.
So I did a live chat with customer service who said the network needed to be Time Warner's Road Runner, even though their FAQ said it didn't matter what wireless network was used. I have Verizon Internet. After getting cut off and getting a new chat rep after being 18th in the queue I was told they could install a Road Runner Internet gateway (not free to install, no charge after that). But why would I want a second wireless network (which might interfere with the other one, for all I know) just to occasionally watch TV on a small iPad in the other room? Oh well. I deleted the app and sent a Contact Us form saying they needed to change their FAQ.
It might be just as well. Reviews in the app store were not favorable.
|Saturday, June 23rd, 2012|
|I never forget a grudge
I've been reading the NY Times a lot more on my new iPad than I ever did on the Web, and caught an article on obits
that brought back an old resentment: the Times did not find my father noteworthy enough to merit an obit. I wrote about it here
|Friday, May 4th, 2012|
I'm very late to the party, but finally saw "Rent" (at New World Stages, in the same exact theater that housed "Toxic Avenger") Sunday night. The play itself was OK, but I really loved the score. Had only previously heard "Seasons of Love." I went home and stayed up until dawn listening to the soundtrack 3 times in a row (on Rhapsody - twice from the Broadway show, once from the movie; prefer the show). I'm listening to it again now. Want to get the piano book, but need to compare the show and movie versions and check out the arrangements.
As with "Toxic Avenger," I'll surely see "Rent" again, now that I'm familiar with the music.
|Monday, March 19th, 2012|
57 Montague Street in Brooklyn Heights was where my parents lived when they were first married (my father's old bachelor apartment), and I lived as an infant. I realized while lying awake Friday night just steps away at the Brooklyn Bridge Marriott, that this also must be where I was conceived in July of 1951. Surreal!
during lunch break at the tournament, 2008
infant En in 1952
|Thursday, March 15th, 2012|
|Resting puzzle hands with music
I never got around to blogging the last 2 ACPTs in detail (world's worst blogger!), and here we are on the eve of another one. I'm always a nervous wreck. My skills have eroded a bit with age (I have a big birthday next month), but with a few top people not coming this year, who knows what's possible? I encourage all A's and B's not to compete so victory can again be mine <evil grin>.
I always have some puzzle books going around the house (have completed several books I also need to blog about. Yeesh), but hadn't downloaded any online puzzles since last spring (oops). I learned that the Merl Reagle and Boston Globe puzzles now keep only one month of archives. So does the LA Times, but I can get those from uClick (paid subscription). I downloaded what I could but won't have time to do them all. I should be solving on paper, but I've done so many puzzles my hands hurt. Even the online puzzles hurt my hands (sucks to get old), and I'm wearing one of those wrist gloves. So I need a break.
My escape drug of choice has always been music, so I hit Rhapsody. I was thinking about my favorite female singer, Patti Austin, who was on Quincy Jones' wonderful "The Dude" album, so played that. I suddenly remembered hearing Patti singing "I.G.Y." on an obscure late-night show with David Sanborn, and Googling found the clip
(1988). Then I found this great live version of "Razzmatazz"
. Oh, and there she is more recently at Quincy's 75th birthday concert
. Why isn't this woman more famous? I always felt she could sing rings around Whitney
(still sad about Whitney's death; such lost potential).
I was supposed to see Patti live at the Nokia a year or so ago, but she canceled due to illness. Turns out she's singing Friday at Carnegie Hall
. Darn! Very tempting, but I already made tournament plans.
One of the Brothers Johnson was in the band on the "Razzmatazz" clip, so after the Patti festival, I listened to their greatest hits album (which I also own on CD). Love them! I always use "Stomp" to test speakers, headphones, etc.
I have more music-related bloggery (on the eve of Whitney's funeral, I saw Aretha live at Radio City!) but this entry is long enough so that'll have to wait.
|Thursday, February 23rd, 2012|
|Books I never finished reading
I need to remember that it's OK to abandon a book. I tend to read on and on, hoping (usually in vain) it will get better. Recently, I didn't finish the following books:
"Circles" by Abigail McCarthy - The wife of Senator Eugene wrote this 1977 novel about Washington. The language seemed stiff, and I gave up after 32 pages.
"Ask Again Later" by Jill A. Davis - This may be a perfectly good book, but when the narrator's mother got sick, I had to stop reading (my mother died last year).
"Hollywood Savage" by Kristin McCloy - Usually I like novels about Hollywood, but couldn't get into this one. The pace was slow and the diary format, with clipped language, was off-putting. Miles is stranded in Hollywood working on a script, thinking his wife back in New York is having an affair. He meets a woman who seems intriguing, but I don't know (or care) what happened because I stopped on p. 44.
"Person of Interest" by Theresa Schwegel - I haven't watched the TV show of the same name, but based on its description, don't think it's related to this book. I wasn't riveted by this story of an undercover Chicago cop, his wife and teenage daughter, and stopped after 70 pages.
"The Rhinestone Sisterhood" by David Valdes Greenwood - I read 172 pages of this nonfiction look at beauty queens in small-town Louisiana, but just wasn't invested in these people or their activities. As an urban nerd, maybe I'm not the best audience for this book.
"Great Books" by David Denby - Film critic David Denby re-takes the Columbia College core courses 30 years later. I did finish this book, but skimmed over the discussion of the actual literature, which was just too intellectual for me. Yeah, I'm shallow. Since I went to Barnard, I did enjoy the glimpses of life at Columbia. I'm giving this book to my nephew, who is bound for U. of Chicago which has a similar core.
|Friday, January 13th, 2012|
|Might as well finish the old diary
The entries in the childhood diary got very sparse. Sometimes I wrote "Dear Diary" at the top with no entry, and there are lots of blank pages.
4/1/60: Today is April Fools day. I April fooled mommy. I told her her dress was torn. Evelyn [housekeeper] April fooled me. She called me up. I made some magazines. They were the "Calling All's." Like, "Calling All Linda's."
4/4: We had our carpet delivered.
4/5: Our carpet was put down. Nana came back from her cruise. She went to Nassau, Kingston, Jamacia, and Curaco.
4/29: I went to brownies today. We're doing a play called the Seven Plea's. It's done in pantomime. Then we went outside. My friends and I wanted to get some balls so we went inside but the door to the place where the balls were was locked, but B found a secret entrance so we got the balls and went outside, but then our brownie leader told us to put our balls back because the costodian found out. [what a sentence!] But then some boys bothered us and they almost saw B's underpants.
4/30: We took our bikes outside for the first time.
5/5: I got a haircut.
6/23: Today is the day before the last day of school. Today I brought home my folder, my crayons, and my notebook.
10/22: Today I had a piano lesson. The songs I had were [songs]. Linda and I thougt we saw a kidnapper, but now I doubt it [!!]. A and her friends tried to capture us, but we got away. I played Chienese Jump Rope with S and I got up to Frontsy. We were going to make Halloween pictures, but we didn't make them, because we couldn't find paint.
10/23: S came over today. We played Chienese [same wrong spelling as above] Jump Rope and Hopscotch and Star Reporter and Dear Diary. You played that with a ball and bounce it.
10/24: I have a cold so I can't go to school today. I'm watching T.V. now and I'm watching a show called Fun at One. I think it's a very babyish show, but there's nothing else good on so I have to watch it.
11/17: Mommy came to school today to see me work. She saw Spelling Test, Book Reports, Newstime Reports, Music, Gym, and that's all. Then I went to a birthday party. It was L's party. Her Aunt Cookie was there. She is a stage entertainer. She taught us how to Cha-Cha. Then, everybody had to speak or sing alone into the microphone. I told a joke. We had spagetti & meatballs for dinner. The present I gave her was "Foto Fun." Her Aunt Cookie did the Cha-Cha and the Mambo for us.
12/31: Tonight Felice is sleeping over at our house, by the way Linda and I are on a diet. We have one speical treat day a week.
1/31/61: Today was my brownie (59!) troops talent show. I played the piano. I played Theme from No. 3 and J announced it "Theme from Loberstreen." I also played A little polish dance. The piano was a little out of tune.
2/1: There is a terrible snowstorm going on now. It was 2 below zero yesterday at dawn. I am sick right now.
2/23: Today we're having our winter vacation and went to see a movie called 101 Dalmations. It was in color. We came back at 9:30. I had matzoh and orange juice for a snack. Right now it's 10 to 10. I had dinner in a diner called The Frontier [in Glen Cove]. I had roast beef, peas, spinach leaves, and red jellow. Daddy & Mommy didn't want their peas, so I ate their peas. Linda & Daddy had hamburgers (charcoal broiled), Mommy had pork chops in tomato sauce. Linda and mommy had cheese cake for dessert. We all had salad with a good dressing on it. The movie was in the Cove. It took place in London.
3/7: Today I didn't go to school. I went to the lab on Middle Neck Rd. to get a blood test. It was a different kind of needle that looked like tinfoil. Since I didn't talk or scream when I had the test so mommy gave me the choice of a Barby Game or a charge account game. Daddy left both games in his car but he came home at 5:00. I chose the Barby Game. I will get the charge account game for my birthday. Both games were supposed to be for my birthday.
12/1: Today we went to the photographers to have our picture taken. His name is Henri Millaire. Today we had music. We didn't have assembly because the 6th graders are rehearsing for the Christmas Program. [I think this is the picture:]
12/2: Today S came over. We rehearsed book club reports. We also made posters. I started Maida's Little Shop for about the 20th time, it seems. We all saw Huckleberry Finn on T.V. today. Right now it is 10:00 P.M. and Dance Party was just over. For our snacks we had frozen vanilla Metrical.
12/3: Right now Mommy & Daddy are at a formal. The Formal is at the Waldorf Astoria Hotel. It is for the hospital. Right now it is 9:20 P.M. We are watching the Groucho Marks show. There is a man there who weighs 387 pounds. He comes from Sweden and Groucho keeps thinking he is from Japan. The real estate section was not very good today. [I used to cut out house plans for "Fingertown"] Today we found out that the Herald Tribune comics are in black and white. The secret word on Groucho Marks show is "Chair." No one has said it yet. For snack I had Vanilla Cherry, Lemon Chiffon, and Chocolate. Linda had the same snack as me, except instead of lemon she had Coffee. [Metricals?]
5/1/62: Today we had our big cleanup for our room. L lent me more comic books. I don't really think it is fair or honest, but it isn't too illegal. [Huh? Did I think everyone should buy their own comic books?] We had language in the Iowa tests today. P.S. I got a new American Girl [magazine] today (May, 1962).
12/27: I had a piano lesson today. [lists songs] Christmas was Tuesday. I got Golferino, a bike, a sweater, a beauty parlor doll, "pjs" (pajamas), a toilet paper holder, $4, and a perfume kit. I gave Aunt Pauline & Uncle Mack My son, the folk singer. Mommy, a ribbon basket for candy, Daddy, a pencil holder. Nana, a tray. Papa, a pen & pencil set (pink!). Linda, two Barbie dresses, and Evelyn, a powder jar. It is 3:00.
|Thursday, January 12th, 2012|
|More from Little En, 1960
2/1/60: We got sterio
2/4: Mommy went to a concert
2/5: N came over today.
2/10: I went to M's house for lunch.
2/11: I went to the dentist and to M's for lunch.
2/16: L came over.
2/19: Mommy had a dance lesson in our house.
2/26: L slept over tonight. She made a fortune teller for us.
2/27: Felice (our cousin) slept over.
2/28: I ate dinner at Nana's house today.
2/29: I went to the eye docter. I have to wear glasses. And I went to have them fitted.
3/1: I ate lunch at I's house.
3/2: We went to M's house.
3/3: We had a bad snow storm. [research shows NYC got 14.5"]
3/4: I got glasses
3/6: I ate lunch out.
3/7: I had library today. I only took out one book. It was called Henry Huggins.
3/8: Today I went to S's house.
3/9: Linda can be a brownie.
3/10: I went to get more glasses.
3/13: I ate dinner at Nana's house.
3/14: The light's blew out for a hour and a half.
3/15: I saw a movie in school
3/16: I had half a day in school
3/17: A lady from the girl scout house called and said I could be a brownie in troop 59. Meetings are on Friday.
3/18: I had brownies today. We made tamborines. Brownie dues are 10 cents.
3/20: I went to J's birthday party today.
3/23: Mommy had a conference with Miss Salami, the speech teacher.
3/24: Mommy had a conference with my teacher, Miss McCann. P.S. I got a good report.
3/25: Nana went on a cruise today. We went to see her off, that is we see the ship. It was a lot of fun. The ship was called "Nieuw (New) Amsterdam."
3/28: I went to E's birthday party today. A lot of my friends were there. [this is my next-door neighbor E]
3/29: It's my Aunt Pauline and my cousin Felice's birthday. Felice is twelve years old. I don't know how old Aunt Pauline is.
3/31: I got the chickenpox today.
[omitted more piano lessons and library]
I have a "Math Notebook" from 7th grade where not much math was getting done. I loved Mr. Grosso's class and did well, but much of the notebook is devoted to doodles (I was not a great artist and could only draw girls' heads) and Beatlemania.
In case you can't see, within their faces it says "I Love Paul," "George is Eh," "I like Ringo" and "I hate John." Sorry, George and John. Note "Love to Lovey" in the Paul section, an homage to the alleged autograph
I also wrote a composition about Paul, just for myself and not for school. Given recent behavior around Paul, there's still a lot of the silly 12-year-old in me.
|Sunday, January 8th, 2012|
|He didn't really write "Love to Lovey"?
Update on some Paul McCartney memorabilia
I always wondered if the Beatles autographs my British pen pal Joan sent were real. Joan said in a letter dated 2/8/64 that she'd gone to the airport and gotten autographs. The Beatles actually were at the London airport on 2/5 (coming back from Paris) and 2/7 (going to the U.S.). It's possible she was there, but the signatures looked too neat to have been scrawled in an airport with hundreds of screaming fans. It did look a bit like their handwriting, but also a bit like Joan's handwriting.
I recently found the autograph book and decided to get it checked out, as all four Beatles signatures on one page is now worth quite a bit (and probably more if anyone else dies). I found a service that evaluates autographs based on a scan, for $7. They have experience with Beatles. To get a certificate of authenticity would cost $70 + certified postage, so I just did the scan. The result:
The Beatles signatures (all Four) in autograph book::
Not likely to be genuine: Our authenticators believe that the item, if physically submitted for examination, would likely not receive our certificate of authenticity.
**Please note this based upon a scan. The only way to truly examine and authenticate an autograph is to physically examine the signature, the ink and the item that has been signed.
* * *
I'm impressed that they didn't say it looked real, thus encouraging me to pay more to send it in and get the certificate.
As contrast, here's an authentic (according to the Web) set of Beatles autographs:
The little square of sheet that Paul allegedly slept on did come with a letter of authenticity; at least, he was in the hotel at that time.
|Saturday, January 7th, 2012|
|The Way-Way-Way-Back Machine
diary was not the first one I ever kept. I found a shiny gold diary from 1960-62. It's mostly January-April 1960 when I was 7-8 years old, so it's pretty simple. Mostly, I went to the library and took out x books, or had a piano lesson and studied y pieces. The entries all say "Dear Diary" and "Love, Ellen" and are in pencil, usually printed but sometimes in script. Here are some excerpts (will initial most names, did not correct spelling) [current comments in brackets]:
1/1: I had a very Happy New Year. A lot of our relatives came over, and on Christmas we got bikes and we're riding them today. [We were Jewish but usually exchanged presents on Christmas, since it was easier to get the family together.]
1/4: School vacation is over and I went back to school. I had fun at school. I had Library today and I took out [books]. I got a haircut.
1/5: I went to school again today and my class saw a movie called Air Around Us. I do have a lot of enemies, their names are [9 boys and 1 girl], That Boy and that's all. Linda is partly an enemy [Oy. Sorry, sis!]. My class did some air experiments, here is one of them. You take a glass, put a tissue in it so it won't fall out. Then turn it upside down and put it in water, then when you take it out it'll be dry.
1/6: I did something funny today, but after a while I thought I shouldn't have done that. I took some of Kathy's things (Kathy is a girl in my class). I took her dictionary work and her pencil. [Sorry, Kathy, what was I thinking?!] In class we learned some script letters, they were a & n. I had speech and gym today. We played a game called Kick It and Run in gym. I made a home run.
1/7: Kathy found out about the dictionary papers but not about the pencil. I saw a movie called Air is All Around Us [different than Air Around Us?]. It was very good. I watched a lot of good programs on telivision. I ate lunch at school today and I sat next to B and L at table number four.
1/8: I had an exciting day today. In school I learned two more letters in script, they were c & m. Kathy found out about the pencil. I signed my name in Kathy's brownie autograph book.
[I found this note, which I must have not sent:]
1/9/60: Today is Nana's birthday. Nana went on Dance Party last night. Dance Party is a show on channel 13. M came over.
1/10: I played house up in the playing room. I went to Nana's house and ate dinner there.
1/11: Mommy went to the Girl Scout House today to register us as brownies. Linda might be one, but they don't know about me. I went bicycle riding today. I watched Telivision too.
1/14: I had Music in school today. At night, I went out to dinner. I saw a movie too. It was called Gigi. After that, I went to Steffens and had a snack.
1/15: I made (my class made) a telephone and my class got their first call today. [no idea how we did this]
1/16: I ate dinner at a friend's house. Her name was M. Then I went to sleep over with my sister Linda at Nana's house. Nana is our grandmother. I had a good time.
1/17: I went to my Aunt Marion's house. I watched my cousin Arthur play his French horn while my Aunt Rhoda played the piano to his song.
1/19: I had a very big splinter. Daddy didn't take it out yet.
1/21: I went over to L's (a girl in my class) house. We played house and she was playing with her doll while I read her brownie handbook.
1/22: S (a girl in my class) came over. We watched T.V.
1/24: I went ice skating with Daddy and Linda. Aunt Helen came.
1/26: L came. We played with dolls.
1/27: I went ice skating with D. I had fun.
1/29: I went to R's birthday party. [R was one of the boys listed as an enemy above.]
1/30: Nana Birdie came here. I had a piano lesson. The names of the songs were [songs].
1/31: Nothing special happened today. [There were increasingly more entries like this, to the point I just wrote "N.H." for nothing happened.]
* * *
That's enough for now. I omitted a few more library trips and piano lessons.
|Wednesday, December 28th, 2011|
|Identity theft apparently did not exist in 1969
I found a spiral-bound notebook from freshman year of college where I recorded assignments, reminders, etc. I carried this everywhere. Inside the front cover were listed:
Home address and phone
School address and phone
Mailbox number and combination
Gym locker number and combination
Bank account number
Social Security number
Yeesh. Good thing it wasn't stolen.
|Wednesday, November 30th, 2011|
|Not completely hunky-dory
While we were waiting for the windows, my neighbor mentioned a laptop was stolen from someone during installation. They think it might have been an opportunist who walked in amid the hubbub. I immediately worried about my laptop, which was hidden in a sealed area, but it was still there when I returned. To get it, someone would have to not only break the plastic wall but move a lot of stuff to find it (I'm being purposely vague about where it was hidden). Or maybe they did find it and put it back since it's 7 years old and hardly state-of-the-art.
While the laptop appeared to be untouched, last night I noticed that the one thing in the entire apartment that wasn't sheathed in plastic was gone: some bells
hanging from the front doorknob (which would jangle if anyone tried to come in). They are not costly, but have sentimental value - now-deceased NPLer Twisto got them in China and gave them to me on my 40th birthday. As mentioned earlier, I'm also pretty sure the workers opened the seal to use the bathroom, but the Beatles box sets I threw under a chair in that hallway are still there (and hopefully so are the contents of two Miami boxes of clothes I haven't yet gone through, atop that chair - I can't see anyone wanting that stuff, but the bells aren't pricy so who knows). I put some jangly plastic beads on the doorknob and ordered new bells, just to have some continuity.
On Monday night I removed all the taped plastic tents, so while the plasterer was there Tuesday, everything was out in the open except for electronic items encased in loose plastic. However, I didn't notice anything else gone. Yesterday afternoon after he left I was lying contentedly on the still-bare (until the job is complete and I move some furniture back) tract of rug near the window with the sun streaming in, when I realized my skirt was wet. A patch of rug under me was soaking wet (apparently with water). Nothing was dripping from above (though when I got up on a chair and touched the ceiling it left a line of dust, so I'll have to sweep the ceiling and walls). I lifted the rug up and a spot of wood floor underneath was also wet, but this was probably from the rug. I wiped the floor dry and left a bowl there just in case, but everything was dry this morning. So hopefully the plasterer just spilled some water.
Luckily these aren't huge hassles. I'm still nervous that more could be missing, and am kicking myself for not being there to watch (though if it happened Monday, I would have hated being present during the very noisy and dusty work). I'm the type of person who doesn't leave my pocketbook unattended for a second, and double-locks the door to take the garbage down the hall. (Note to potential burglars: I'm just being paranoid; my possessions aren't particularly valuable unless you're into chick-lit books, semi-old magazines, and Nana clothes.)
|Tuesday, November 29th, 2011|
|Life in my building
The new windows are in, and they plastered today. Last step is Friday or Monday. It's gone fairly smoothly. No word on when screens are coming, and the blinds can't be put back until then, so I'll have to live with blanket, towel, and/or brown paper covering the windows for a while.
The best byproduct is that I've met more neighbors the last 2 days than in the prior 36 years. Because my neighbor down the hall has an elderly mother in a wheelchair, they were allowed to spend installation day in a basement conference room I never knew existed. We were talking as we opened our doors to let the workers in, so they had me join them. Today, I sat in the lobby during the plastering (it wasn't as messy or noisy, but I'd rather not be around) and met several other neighbors waiting out their window installation. All had been in the building a long time and we never saw each other before (partly because we're on low floors and don't often take the elevator).
In the spirit of housecleaning, I finally trashed my childhood bed that's sat in the closet since 1987, and a dilapidated bedroom couch that basically served as a book repository. NYC requires these to be wrapped, so I used some plastic sheeting on the couch, and bought bed bags for the mattress/box spring. I had to tip a worker to carry them out, as well as tip the plasterer (who rang the bell after he was done to ask if he did a good job - I hadn't been there when he finished. The work appears to be OK, but I was kind of forced to tip), and 2 other guys when they hung up the plastic (the concierge sent them up Friday morning - I was struggling, and this was a huge help). Turns out the guys came back at 8:30 am on windows day to help me finish; we couldn't seal off the bed, computer area, and bathroom since I had to live there, but I was unclear if they were coming back and had already done it. Total tips: $110.
I'll clean up more when the job is complete, but I haven't noticed the massive dust some are complaining about. However, the workers apparently broke the seal in the bathroom hallway to use the bathroom, as an untaped closet in that area blew out dust when I opened the door. Grrr, should have taped it anyway (the untaped bedroom closet inside a tented area was fine). Still, not too bad.
Found out from a neighbor that the guy on the other side of my terrace divider feeds birds, which explains their recent influx and the associated droppings (ugh). I don't have the heart to complain about him, since he's disabled and this is one of his few pleasures in life. They suggested using a fake owl to scare birds away. Speaking of wildlife, I hear there are rats in the parking lot at night (shudder), and my neighbor had a BAT fly in!
|Friday, November 25th, 2011|
|Windows and books, story of my life
Today would have been Mommy's 83rd birthday (moment of silence).
In preparation for Monday's window installation (which generates massive dust), I've been busy taping plastic sheets from floor to ceiling with blue painter's tape (harder than I thought - the drop cloths are the consistency of saran wrap, the tape keeps sticking to itself, and it's hard to work on the ceiling from a precarious stepstool). I've done almost all the bookcases and part of the large living room area I want to block off. As I walk by the rustling plastic, I yell, "Stay up!" since I don't think I did a great job. I need to find the porter tomorrow to make sure I'm on the right track, and have given the workers enough room.
Can't do the bedroom until the last minute since I need to live here, so I'll have to get up around 3 am to finish (they come at 7:30), when I'm usually not even asleep yet. Ugh. Or maybe I should sleep in the bathtub? Plus they ran out of brown paper to cover the windows (supplies were supposed to be available all weekend), and since they removed the blinds Wednesday you can see right in (I'm on a low floor). I taped a blanket to the bedroom window and a towel to the living room.
Small plus - they unstuck my bedroom closet door (also Wednesday) so I can now close it, and just need to throw some tape over the edges to seal it (after removing any clothes I plan to wear). I have a list of 21 things to do before Monday (down from 26, so I've done a little). Not to mention all the moving around of stuff already done in the recent past.
Still haven't removed the books from the couch and turned it on its side (it better stay up, too!). Probably won't blog about all of those books (which I've divided into 7 groups) this weekend so some will end up temporarily under the bed. I've already sealed off the shelf where I store books to trade away, but there's room on a rolling cart for books I'm keeping so I'll talk about some of those:
"Tan Lines" by J.J. Salem - A decadent rock star, feminist commentator, and actress (really sugar daddy's mistress) share a place in the Hamptons and... things happen. Unabashedly trashy, and I loved it. The author's next book was supposed to be "Bikini Wax" but he just came out with "The Strip," so I'm not sure if the title changed.
"Save As Draft" by Cavanaugh Lee - Told entirely in e-mails, text messages and other electronic communication, this novel traces the life and loves of a young lawyer. Lightning fast read.
"Courting Kathleen Hannigan" by Mary Hutchings Reed - Another lawyer. The more I read about the practice of law, the more I know I'd hate to be a lawyer. That doesn't stop me from loving books like this, about office politics, trials (groan) and tribulations.
"The Manny" by Holly Peterson - You tell a story about rich Manhattanites, I'm there. In this one, a high-powered news producer thinks her son needs more male guidance (husband is distracted with his own career) and hires a "manny" who happens to be gorgeous, sensitive, and about to take off with his own high-tech company. You can guess what happens. Pretty good. I had the U.K. edition, so the language was almost quaint.
"When Harry Hit Hollywood" by Mara Goodman-Davies - Rich people in Hollywood, another favorite topic of mine. Notorious billionaire bachelor Harry marries Jessica (no pauper herself), and creates a stir. I read this a while ago and don't remember much of the plot, but I liked it enough to want to read the previous book about these characters.
"The Hole We're In" by Gabrielle Zevin - I saw Zevin's movie "Conversations With Other Women" and heard the author herself during Spirit Awards season a few years ago. This novel is about the Pomeroy family, who struggle to make ends meet. I liked the beginning segment on the family's crazy debt more than the end focusing on the Iraq War-vet daughter.
"Lost and Found" by Carolyn Parkhurst - Pairs compete on a reality show much like "The Amazing Race." I like the real show and this was just as much fun.
"Little Pink Slips" by Sally Koslow - A magazine gets taken over by an eccentric celebrity and mayhem ensues. The author was formerly editor-in-chief at McCall's, which was renamed Rosie after new boss Rosie O'Donnell... but this may be purely coincidental.
"The Spellman Files" by Lisa Lutz - The Spellmans are a quirky family of San Francisco private investigators. The characters are funny, original, and not always angels. Looking forward to other books in this series.
|Tuesday, November 22nd, 2011|
|Puzzles - punny and otherwise
I don't know how the bloggers do it. I find it hard to write about puzzles. I finished these books:
"Simon & Schuster Mega Crossword Puzzle Book #9" (ed. John Samson) - With 300 puzzles, these books are so large I may never catch up (I still have #5-8 and 11 to do). I saved some puzzles with errors, but despite that, this is a decent series:
DIANES clued as "Feinstein and Fossey," who are actually Dianne and Dian
"Momma's triplets?" for ENS
Title "Dry Hard" where DY is added to theme entries (am I not getting something?)
Both "Actor Omar" for EPPS and "'House' actor Epps" for OMAR appear in opposite areas of the same crossword (worse, a 2001 TV Guide puzzle contains "Rin Tin ___ K-9 Cop" and "TV canine ___ Tin Tin" crossing each other!)
"Like many business cars" for LEAST. Well, it works phonetically
"The Chiffons' '___ Fine'" for HESSSO (oops!)
Also edited by John Samson is "Are You Smarter Than a 5th Grader Crossword Puzzles." At my level, I shouldn't be buying books for 5th graders, so I can't really complain that these weren't crosswords but quizlike criss-crosses. I was going to return the book, but decided these puzzles on topics like explorers, capitals, aviation, math, antonyms, etc. couldn't hurt. It was OK. Still, it's better suited for less hardcore solvers.
"The New York Times Crossword Puzzle-a-Day 1995 Calendar" (ed. Eugene T. Maleska) - Although the calendar was released in 1994 at the beginning of the Shortz era, Googling showed the puzzles were actually from 1987 though they don't correspond to the exact dates. This sat on my dining room table forever as I inched through it (there are 6 15x15 puzzles/week), relieved to finally finish December. The type was small (it's a desk calendar) and the clues were often old-fashioned crosswordese. Not a snappy experience, but not horrible.
I started Richard Lederer and Gayle Dean's "Merriam-Webster's Word Play Crosswords" vol. 1 a while ago and found the puzzles a bit "off" and not always accurate, and only resumed recently. There is a volume 2, but I have enough other puzzles to do. Some of the weird puns:
"What a dog who is not up to scratch will do?" FLEE
"Relative in Cannes?" NICE
"Twiggy: a ___ and a lack?" LASS
"Comedy of Eros?" LOVE
"Sin caused a lump in his throat?" ADAM
"TAMER clone?" RAMET
To be fair, these do have question marks and the puzzles are supposed to be punny. And I just looked up new-to-me word RAMET and it means "an independent member of a clone" (oh, OK).
"Brain Games Celebrity Puzzles" by Rhonda Markowitz (puzzles by Myles Callum, Mark Danna, Ray Hamel, Alan Olschwang, Stephen Ryder; additional puzzle editing by Trip Payne) - This reminded me of the People Magazine puzzle collections, with crosswords, acrostics and a few variety puzzles. The puzzles are straightforward and not very exciting, but competent and feature intros packed with celebrity facts.
|Monday, November 14th, 2011|
|How's that book cleaning thing going?
Well, I've been blogging up a storm about all the books I've read and they're flying off the table. Oh wait...
If I don't finish before the window replacement, I'll just have to box these books in a separate place. I've done a ton of rearranging, sorting, moving, cleaning, clearing throughout the apartment, and it looks like I've done nothing. Two weeks to go.
This set of books is college-related. My own experience applying to college was memorable
and I like reading about this topic, as well as what happens once you're in college.
"Acceptance: A Legendary Guidance Counselor Helps Seven Kids Find the Right Colleges - and Find Themselves" by David Marcus - This is a nonfiction account of some students at Oyster Bay High and their counselor Gwyeth Smith, but it reads like a novel. Loved it.
"The Price of Admission" by Daniel Golden - If only I'd known I'd be a future crossword champion, I probably would have gotten into the schools that rejected me (Will Shortz's proteges do extremely well in college admissions). Or perhaps if a parent was a huge celebrity, active legacy alum, or zillionaire. Or if I'd played an obscure sport (nope, crosswords aren't a sport). This book talks about all those things (not the crossword angle). It's a little disheartening, but that's reality. As an example not discussed in the book - assuming she's remotely qualified, would any college reject Emma Watson? Yet I have my doubts she'll return to graduate Brown. Many of these child stars leave to continue their careers (hello, Olsens!), which admittedly are more happening than sitting in a classroom.
"Jane Austen in Scarsdale: Or Love, Death, and the SATs" by Paula Marantz Cohen - This is part of a series of modern novels based on Jane Austen works, in this case "Persuasion." I saw and barely remember the movie, but still enjoyed the story of a Scarsdale college counselor dealing with her competitive charges, once-rich family, and former lover newly back in town (now attached, oh NO!).
"Restless Virgins: Love, Sex, and Survival at a New England Prep School" by Abigail Jones and Marissa Miley - This nonfiction look at Milton Academy barely fits in the college category. While the students do apply to and get accepted by colleges, most of their time seems to be spent hooking up and indulging in other teen behavior. Classes and studying are barely mentioned. Not my kind of place.
"Binge: What Your College Student Won't Tell You" by Barrett Seaman - I am so glad I'm not in college these days, as I'd be upset by all the binge drinking and drugging that reportedly goes on. My own experience in the early '70s was very tame (or maybe it was just Barnard). As detailed in this book, students are doing all sorts of things on campus with administrators seemingly looking the other way and no real supervision. Efforts are being made, and it's not all chaos, but... ick, drinking.
"Halfway Heaven" by Melanie Thernstrom - Harvard isn't paradise for everyone (they rejected me as an undergrad so I can't speak to that, but I did go there for grad school which was "eh"). This is the sad story of a troubled student from Ethiopia who in 1995 killed her Vietnamese roommate and then herself. The book delves into the backgrounds of the individuals involved, and Harvard's less-than-ideal treatment of the incident.
"Nothing But the Best: The Struggle for Perfection at the Juilliard School" by Judith Kogan - I used to think I wanted to go to Juilliard, but my piano playing wasn't nearly good enough to even attempt this. The school as portrayed in this 1987 book does not sound appealing, even to those with more talent. It's pressured, competitive, impersonal. No sugar-coating or coddling for world-class musicians.
"Cheer! Three Teams on a Quest for College Cheerleading's Ultimate Prize" by Kate Torgovnick - I love watching cheerleading, dance, gymnastic and similar synchronized routines (and was, after all, a majorette), so this book should have been up my alley. But the description of 3 very different schools' paths through competitive cheering was not too interesting. There wasn't a whole lot of drama, and I got bogged down in descriptions of moves I wasn't familiar with. This might have been better as a documentary, where the visual aspect could be better portrayed.
|Sunday, October 23rd, 2011|
|Gradually moving the books off the table near the window
My building got new windows 20 years ago, but these have proved unsatisfactory. It's drafty in cold weather, and people have reported water leaks. One of my windows had a part peel off last year, and it broke again after being fixed. The guy came once more and used some sort of super-glue. I was supposed to leave it alone for a few days but was so scared it would break that I haven't touched it all year.
This problem is moot since they're replacing all the windows. This has been going on since July, and mine are scheduled in about a month. I remember no inconvenience the last time, but this time we're asked to move things away from the window area, and cover everything else. There's a long memo detailing what we have to do; it's a total pain. I'm dreading it (not to mention that I'll be without window coverings for several days and might have to live my life in the bathroom since I'm on a low floor and the other rooms can be seen from outside), and have started moving things off the couch under the window which I'll have to turn on its side against the wall since there's nowhere to move it. Miles to go...
The computer is near the window, and I'm not sure if just covering it is enough, or I'll have to move it (running the risk of not being able to hook it up again). Next to the computer under the window is a table piled with books I've read that need to be blogged. So I need to get caught up on blogging (though I guess I could put the books elsewhere). I like to group them in some way, and this entry's theme will be: disappointing books from authors I've previously enjoyed.
"Guilty Pleasures" by Lawrence Sanders - I've liked many of Sanders' mysteries but this book about a rich, decadent Florida family had no mystery and little action. An incest subplot was particularly icky.
"Queenan Country" by Joe Queenan - Joe Queenan is a very funny guy and I especially like his writings on movies. This British travelogue left me cold, possibly because I'm not that interested in England. After the lead-off story of a Liverpool cabdriver who claimed intimate knowledge of the Beatles, I lost interest and gave up after 56 pages.
"The Man of my Dreams" by Curtis Sittenfeld - I loved the author's "Prep" so much I got it in hardcover after reading the paperback. This will be traded away. I wasn't enthralled with protagonist Hannah's coming of age tale, which seemed to go on and on in its angst.
"Don't Make a Scene" by Valerie Block - I loved the author's "None of Your Business" so much that I got another copy after lending mine out. This one, not so much. Diane programs a Village revival house cinema and has apartment problems and man problems. One relationship was especially distasteful.
"Chasing Harry Winston" by Lauren Weisberger - I liked "The Devil Wears Prada" but this was just eh. The heroines are fabulous and gorgeous, but I kept getting these 3 BFFs confused with characters in another book I was reading simultaneously.
"Some Nerve" by Jane Heller - The coincidence that dominates this story is ridiculous. It's revealed in the book jacket, but I won't spoil. A celebrity journalist in LA loses a big story and is banished back home to Middletown, where (gasp)... no, I won't spoil it. Didn't buy a word of it.
"Queen Takes King" by Gigi Levangie Grazer - Some of Grazer's books are better than others, and this is one of the others. Power couple (literally named Power) starts divorce proceedings when husband Jacks' (short for Jackson) affair with a hot newscaster is exposed. Some of the ensuing events are just icky.
"Certain Girls" by Jennifer Weiner - This eagerly awaited sequel to "Good in Bed" was a bit disappointing, though I'll keep it in my collection. Daughter Joy, born at the end of the first book, is now approaching her bat mitzvah and is one of the more annoying tweens on the planet. A wrenching plot twist near the end added to my discomfort. Still, I'll read anything Jennifer Weiner writes.