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Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Cross swords with the Sox and Yankees

Though I'm still in the red overall, I have decided to pay the $250 and subscribe to the New York Times. I'll probably only glance at the headlines as I trip over the paper leaving home in the morning (this morning, the paper and the cloud of weed smoke from high schoolkids conspired with the Times to bring me down), but the prospect of coffee and crossword in the morning is too good to resist.

The blog world has a few die-hard crossword followers. "Diary of a Crossword Fiend" has the author's daily times for the Times, NY Sun, LA Times, and Christian Science Monitor puzzles and the weekly Onion puzzle. (But beware of spoilers in the discussion of each day's Times puzzle--and that goes for the end of this entry, too.) This comprehensiveness and continuity makes for insights about particular contributors and editors. Interestingly, the Fiend raves--to his or her surprise--about the Sun's puzzle, edited by Peter Gordon, a frequent contributor to various papers over the years under a pen name:
"Ogden Porter" (Peter Gordon) caters to the geography lover in me (have you got one of those? My inner child likes to hang out with the geography lover) with "Modernized Geography": Burma-Shave becomes MYANMAR-SHAVE, Bombay Sapphire is MUMBAI SAPPHIRE, Peking Express is BEIJING EXPRESS, and a Madras shirt is a CHENNAI SHIRT.
In fact, it seems that several prominent puzzle contributors use pen names, some of which are clever anagrams:
Natalia Shore/Mike Shenk ("Another Alias")
Judith Seretto/Mike Shenk ("Just the Editor")
Marie Kelly/Mike Shenk ("Really Mike")
Lila Cherry/Rich Norris ("Really Rich")
Gia Christian/Rich Norris ("Again It's Rich")
Charlie Riley/Rich Norris ("i.e. Really Rich"?)
Sally R. Stein/Stan Newman ("It's Really S.N.")
All of this crossword talk is just to set up my joy today in filling in one of the words in the Times puzzle. Last week, I went up to Columbia University to meet a priest and picked up the Columbia Daily Spectator, which carries the LA Times puzzle. One clue for a four-letter word read, "Dominican-American American League slugger, to fans", and I gleefully wrote in PAPI, the nickname of the Red Sox's living legend. (Well, the truncated nickname, but I pushed that out of my mind.) I began to cross PAPI with other words, and they didn't fit; and to my horror, it dawned on me that the correct answer was AROD, who of course is the Yankee (and actor in much Sox-Yankees drama) who's slugging over 1.000 right now.

A higher power (Will Shortz?) must have seen this and wouldn't let the injustice stand, because last weekend the Sox swept the Yankees at Fenway in dramatic fashion. Alice's and my pal Katy Aronoff was at the first game, in which the Sox came back in the eighth inning from a 6-2 deficit and our untried Japanese relief pitcher showed up Mariano Rivera and held our one-point edge for the win. Katy, I'm going to post your description of the energy at the game, because it's just too good not to:
Oh my God, the atmosphere at Fenway... I can't even describe. It was so loud, and we were on our feet for most of the last two innings. Then there was a massive, screaming group hug in the aisle as we were leaving. Best game ever at Fenway.
These poor Oakland fans behind us who were at Fenway for the first time were really bewildered. The atmosphere was like regular Fenway x10.
And to cap things off, today, exactly a week later, the Times puzzle has the clue: "Baseball's David, nicknamed 'Big Papi'". This along with JAZZY JEFF, OZZY OSBOURNE, and 1930s pitcher (and famous pinch base-runner who deliberately got nailed in the head to prevent a double play) DIZZY DEAN. I'm just waiting for a puzzle that runs the great Ortiz quote, when he forgot he was in range of the mics at the 2004 spring training: "Give me the sticky-icky-icky!"

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Anonymous Anonymous on Thu Apr 26, 10:42:00 AM:
Dude, I'm famous! In your blog!

Two other great tidbits about the game on Friday night:

1. There was an obnoxious Yankee fan a few rows in front of us who kept standing up and cheering whenever a Yankee got a hit or a strikeout or whatever. Once the Sox rally started, he began to hunch over in his seat to the point where it looked like he was about to curl into a ball and hide UNDER the seat. There's barely room for a backpack under those tiny seats at Fenway, let alone a Yankee fan.

2. The family with young kids sitting in front of us left in the 7th inning (pre-rally). They were replaced by a pair of grizzled 50-something women who I decided must have been from Revere (if you'd seen them, you would have come to the same conclusion). They were a little disappointed when Okajima came out in the 9th to close out the game. One of the women started yelling, "BRING IN THE KID! BRING IN THE KID!" I have to admit, we were all a little skeptical. I yelped, "But Papelbon threw 25 pitches last night in Toronto!" No one seemed to hear me, but once Okajima started to get outs, there was this moment where the crowd changed its mind en masse and decided to get behind him. The Revere women started an "OOOOH-KA-JI-MA!" chant, and everyone else joined in.
Blogger Rex Parker on Tue May 01, 04:13:00 PM:
Dear god, if you are crossword fans AND Sox fans (or even if you're Yankees fans, I guess) then why in hell aren't you reading My Crossword Blog? (he asked, petulantly). Let's see, this entry ends w/ Red Sox stuff and links to my favorite Red Sox blog as well. Oh my god, one of you is getting a Ph.D. in English from Columbia!? Small world - I went to grad school with someone on faculty in your dept.

Crossword Fiend, Schmossword Fiend! (kidding, she's a friend)

Blogger Orange on Tue May 01, 10:39:00 PM:
You know what? You can save big bucks and subscribe to the Times crosswords online for $39.95 a year—can solve online or print the puzzle out before your morning coffee (or even the night before). Plus, no print newspaper to recycle. (Sorry, can't help with the weed smoke issues.)


the aforementioned Fiend

(P.S. At my blog, CS = CrosSynergy syndicated crosswords, which appear in the Houston Chronicle and other papers.)